Thursday, December 14, 2023

Work Samples

WRITING SAMPLES
Here is a link to a Google Drive with writing samples and other design examples throughout my career. 

WRITING SAMPLES



HPSD VIDEO LINKS
Videos from my time at HPSD. I wrote, edited and helped produce the innovations video. The others are interviews with local media that I did during various issues.

HPSD Secondary Innovations 

HPSD STEAM Academy

HPSD Budget Interview

HPSD Superintendent Search Interview



MDOT VIDEO LINKS
Here are some video projects and series developed during my tenure at MDOT.

THE EXTRA MILE PODCAST: Tom King
An episode of The Extra Mile podcast featuring Transportation Commissioner Tom King. I originally conceptualized the idea for an MDOT podcast, which was relatively unheard of in state government. I knew a podcast would be an invaluable way us to get information out to the public. It also was a way to communicate with the Legislature and influence the conversation around transportation infrastructure. Through interviews with lawmakers, we built many bridges at the capitol that have had clear positive results and strengthened many relationships.


MDOT SIGN SHOP

SASHTO 2022


WE DONʼT TAKE SNOW DAYS


MDOT RECAP 2022



Other samples and references are available upon request.

Friday, February 2, 2018

About that job hunt...

Well, in case you haven't heard, yours truly is the newest member of the Public Affairs team for the Mississippi Department of Transportation. It's been a long road, but the result is a good one.

One thing I love about public relations is learning new information about things I already knew. Transportation is a perfect example. Since coming on board, I've learned about traffic patterns, bridges, funding sources, weather advisories, safe driving programs, and the connection between transportation and economic development. It's interesting stuff.

Last week, we launched a new campaign called #DriveSmartMS all about driving safer and cutting down on the number of accidents and fatalities in Mississippi. Great info, some obvious (don't text and drive, wear your seatbelt), some not (what is a "diverging diamond," why are roundabouts safer). I went on both WXXV and WLOX to let people know about the campaign (and the new website: www.GoMDOT.com/DriveSmartMS). Getting back in the swing of things with media interviews felt great.

I also met and talk with Jay Hughes, House Rep from District 12. Great conversation. It's always refreshing when politicians speak openly and give honest opinions. We discussed #DriveSmartMS, the need for infrastructure funding, education, autism, and general Mississippi politics. Fun time. He's a heavy social media user, so we also discussed that.

Anyway, things are off to a great start at MDOT!


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Jas N Smith - School PR Pro & Communications Strategist


I am Jas N Smith. I have a great deal of experience in media and public relations, and I am currently looking for a position in communications, public relations, or related fields.
My background includes serving as a communication director, PR coordinator, social media manager, online community manager, and working as a television journalist. 

Most recently, I have served as communication director for the Hattiesburg Public School District, where my responsibilities included handling: 
  • media relations
  • internal & external communications 
  • crisis management
  • public relation strategies
  • project management
  • community relations
  • event management
  • social media management 
  • vendor relations
  • policy development
 ...and many other duties that I feel would apply to various situations.

In 2016, the Mississippi School Public Relations Association AND the Mississippi Association of School Administrators recognized me as the State Communicator of the Year.  I've also earned recognition and awards for newsletters (print & electronic), publications, handbooks, and photography.

I have also worked in television and network newsrooms, retail environments, and small business communication support. In these positions, I developed the ability to meet strict broadcast deadlines, problem-solve in a fast-paced environment, and resolve various issues.  In my most recent position, I oversaw the operations of the HPSD Print Shop and Communication Department staff and interns.

In recent years, I have been asked to present university students about communication, public relations, social media, and community building. William Carey University has asked me to conduct an annual session for graduate students related to communication for schools. I also a regularly speak at various community events, faith-based organizations, and parent workshops.

I am proficient in office software, HTML, copy-editing, digital photography, and Photoshop. 

Here are a few news stories that I was interviewed for:





I also filmed and edited some videos to highlight different things happening around the district.





I am confident that I can offer the communication and public relations skills you are seeking for your organization. Feel free to email me at jasnsmith@gmail.com for more information. 

Thank you.

Jas N Smith

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

My Talks With Bill Minor

Bill Minor died this morning. He chronicled some of the uglier parts of Mississippi's history for the last half of the Twentieth Century.

I had the privilege of meeting him one afternoon when I lived in Jackson. It's no secret that I'm a news junkie and I've read dozens of his columns. He was in the grocery store, and I recognized him but debated whether or not to bother him. Turns out it was no bother. He was happy to talk, and talk we did.

We spoke for almost half an hour in the aisle of the Winn-Dixie. As shoppers passed around us, he told me stories of governors and politicians, Civil Rights protests, and newsroom politics. It was a joy.

A couple of years later, I saw a story about his birthday and sent him a letter wishing him a belated happy birthday and hoping he was well. About a week later he called me to thank me for the letter. This time, we had an extended conversation about his career and mother, his thoughts on our current state leadership, and education in Mississippi. It was amazing. I even jotted notes about it in my copy of Eyes on Mississippi.

Bill was not shy about sharing his opinion, which could be politely described as "progressive." He was a much-needed voice for liberal ideas and political dissent in a state where both are rare and often derided.

I am so grateful that I got to speak with such a legend. His career was a gift to all of us. His talent and tenacity were inspiring and spoke to the core of what it means to be a "newsman." There will never be another, but hopefully, many will try because of the example he set.

Rest In Peace, Bill. You will be missed.

#journalist #journalism #mississippi #clarionledger #timespicayune #mississippinews #tribute

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Bert Case - Man of a Million Stories

Bert Case​ died. I loved that guy. I was lucky to work with him at WLBT in Jackson for a few years. He was just incredible. Anytime I got to be his photographer (which was rare), he would tell the greatest stories. No matter where we went, he had been there and knew a story about it: Floods, trains, Fordice, Elvis, and a million other awesome things. I could point to any town we passed and ask "Ever done a story there?" And the answer was always, "Oh yes, indeed. Back in 19..." Every time.

One afternoon I asked him why he always said his name as "Berrrt Case." He told me a lady saw him in the grocery store when he was just starting out as a reporter. She asked him, "Is your name 'Bird Cage'?" He said after that, he tried to over annunciate so people would know what he was saying.

He told me about when he met Elvis, about covering the 1979 flood (and a bunch of other floods), traveling across the country by train, the infamous Kirk Fordice "I'll whip your ass" incident (one of my favorites that I heard multiple times), and a ton of other stories.

One afternoon, he and I were charged with doing a story about a new building opening downtown. The owners were having a press conference to reveal the name of the building and their "big new client" who would be taking up residence. Bert wanted to scoop everyone and announce it the day before.

We knew where the client was coming from but not who it was. We went to the building they were leaving and asked about it. The building manager said he couldn't say anything and Bert went to his office to convince him to. While they were gone, a custodian walked by in the lobby. I asked her, "Ma'am, a law firm is moving out of this building. Do you happen to know which one?"

She instantly replied, "Oh yes! That's (name of firm). They're up on the 3rd floor. You can see all the boxes and everything. They've been packing up all week."

I took the elevator up and got footage of all the boxes through their glass front door with their name on it. When Bert returned, he was mad because he'd had no luck, and when I told him what I got he cackled and shook my hand. "You're a real journalist now!"

We returned to the building to film his stand-up and dig around for more info on the name. He started talking to some landscapers who were putting the finishing touches around the sign (which didn't have the name on it yet). They gave him nothing again, but while they were talking, I spotted a delivery guy sitting in his truck. I wandered over and slyly said, "Hey, man. You know what this building's called, don't you?"

"I do, but I'd get in trouble if I told you."

"Nothing? Come on, man. Help me out."

"Well, if you go inside and down the main hall the second door on the right is where they are keeping the sign."

So I slipped inside, and sure enough, right where he said was a big sign on the floor that read "City Center." I told Bert, and he stood in front of the empty sign and landscapers to film a quick stand-up. He told me to watch the expressions on the guys' faces to confirm it.

"...and tomorrow they will unveil the name of the building behind me to be City Center." Both guys' heads instantly jerked up, and they looked at each other with shocked expressions. Name confirmed. "Berrrrt Case, WLBT News, Jackson."

When we got back, Bert slapped me on the back as he told the story to Dennis Smith, our News Director, and gave me all the credit. "This guy is good! You need to get me more guys like him to work with!" I just beamed. Probably my best day at WLBT.

Rest in Peace, Bert. I consider myself lucky to have been able to work with you.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Mental Health Awareness Featured in HHS Play

I was treated to a sneak preview of the HHS Forensics production of The Boys Next Door yesterday. To say I was blown away is an understatement. The play focuses on the lives of four men living with mental disabilities in an assisted living facility and their caretaker.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month with activities centered around helping remove the stigma that is often attached to mental illness and disability. By portraying these characters with care and respect, the students' performances give the audience a glimpse of what millions of Americans live with daily.
Often, the play is emotional and tugs at your heartstrings, while it is also lighthearted and funny. One of the things I appreciated most was that the humor was never at the expense of the characters' disabilities. It was simply characters in humorous situations or the simple comedy of misunderstanding.
One of the most magical scenes was at a dance. Two characters, both with a pronounced disability, are dancing together. At first, they dance in an awkward, somewhat stilted gate, as the dance would seem to anyone else looking at them. But then it shifts, and we see the dance as these two characters feel it. They transform into graceful, synchronized figures performing an elegant routine. It was simply beautiful.
I've seen dozens of high school plays and productions, many with more elaborate sets or more extravagant costumes, but none with the robust care and emotion I witnessed in the Black Box Theater Wednesday afternoon. "Moving" doesn't even come close to expressing the impact.
I commend the students, their teachers, and the director for reaching for something special and meaningful with this play. It is undoubtedly entertaining, but it also broaches a topic that matters.
They will be bringing in some other students from Hattiesburg High School's community based class as extras in one scene, and Mrs. Nan Davis was there to help give the students feedback on their portrayal. Seeing that sweet, devoted educator brought to tears by the loving portrayal of people like the students she has served over her entire career was a beautiful thing. Her praise for the actors and the story seemed like the best endorsement you could ever hope for with a story like this. The people who know, like Mrs. Davis, they got it! They felt it. And you should, too.
The showtimes for The Boys Next Door are May 15 & 16 at 7pm and May 17 at 2pm. The show is only $5, and seating is limited, so book your tickets in advance! Tickets can be reserved by emailing: scott.waldrop@hattiesburgpsd.com

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Birthday Book Bonanza Wrapping Up (but YOU still have time to donate!)

So the Birthday Book Bonanza is finishing up next week. I plan to close the list on Friday (Feb 6), but there are still a few days to get your books in! We will collect all the books, then sort them by age/reading level and go through the librarians' requests and see how many we can fill! I'm pretty dang excited about it! I love reading and love getting to share these books with all of our students. Thank you a million times over for giving books and sharing this with me. You can still click below to buy a book and donate it to the school libraries. 

Jas N's Birthday Book Bonanza List

If you prefer to just buy books at a "brick & mortar" book store (which I think is a lovely idea), then I've provided a list of topics & titles to assist you. Main Street Books and T-Bones are both great, btw, and have a bunch of books that would be perfect...just sayin'. Also Bombshell Comics and Southern Fried Comics both have plenty of graphic novels that have literary merit and would be welcome additions to the library.

Non-Fiction:
Science Books
Biographies
National Geographic
The Max Axiom Series
The Fly Guy Series

Fiction:
Caldecott or Newberry Award Winners
R.L. Stine's Goosebumps series
Judy Moody series
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Big Nate series
Hot Rod Hamster
Magic Treehouse books
Roald Dahl books
Junie B. Jones series
Dr. Seuss
Graphic Novels

...or things closely related.