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Television: Director • Manager • Vice President Of Public Relations


Oversee the public relations efforts for the firm's network interests.


“I'm very diplomatic,” says Judy McDonough. “That has served me well in situations that could have become confrontational. My musical knowledge and writing skills have been a key in making me stand out from the crowd. A lot of skill goes into a well written press release or a pitch letter, and that is crucial to the job.”


“The first thing I do when I come in is check my e-mail,” says McDonough. “Because we're dealing with a lot of international people, e-mail is an important part of communication. I'm involved in a lot of meetings. I assist in writing copy that will be used on marketing sheets that are used to help position the channel, so I'm often working on that. I might be describing programming that will then be translated into Portuguese and sent to a Brazilian cable guide. On a daily basis, I'm writing copy for one of our programs that's going to be in a cable guide, or a description of one of our networks that is going to be used in a marketing piece. I write press releases to announce the good news and the transitional news. I do a lot of planning to make sure everything I do contributes to the overall vision of the company.”


“To any employer, there are skills that get you hired, and there are skills that keep you in your job. It's important to be constantly learning and progressing.”

“It is crucial for a publicist to look at the big picture and consider how each release affects the overall vision. When I put out a press release that announces a promotion, I look at what it says about our company as a whole. How can I tie in that announcement to foreshadow something that is happening next month?”

“Knowing Spanish or Portuguese would be a tremendous help. Languages are a big plus; that, and studying different cultures.”

Written and verbal communications skills are crucial for success. Find a local band and volunteer to write their biography and press releases to practice your writing skills and build a portfolio.



“What I love and what I dislike are the same. It's the fact that I never know what my day is going to be like. There is a part of me that wants to be able to control the day and have my agenda. Sometimes I hate that my schedule, and what I want to accomplish in a day, are thrown off by an outside influence. I also love that my job constantly surprises me. It keeps me on my toes; it excites me; it's a blessing and a curse.”

“Public relations is not a glamorous job. It can seem that way because you're setting up interviews for Garth Brooks, or walking Deana Carter through a pressroom and flashbulbs are going off all around you. You have to do this job because you're passionate about being able to communicate your company's message. Walking through a pressroom you may be standing by a star, but you're the person who spent hours setting up those press stories and afterward, you are the person who gets on the phone, and follows through to make sure they got the information they needed. You're the one who has to stop the photographer from taking too many pictures, and the one who is going to have to get in an argument with him if he continues. Often, people don't understand how complicated the job of publicity can be. It's also a thankless job.”


It was watching The Monkees television show that first gave Judy McDonough the idea of turning her passion for music into a career. “They worked in music and it was exciting. It gave me a sense of music being a profession.” She began to educate herself early for that career, poring over Rolling Stone magazine before she was even out of grade school. She attended St. Mary's College, and in her freshman year, served as a disc jockey at the campus radio station, where she was exposed to all kinds of music she had never heard before. After her first year, she transferred to Western University in St. Louis and graduated with a degree in English literature. “English lit proved helpful because it taught me how to think and how to write, which is an invaluable tool.”

While attending Western, she got a job at a local record store and later moved up to management. “Working in a record store was a dream job,” McDonough recalls. “For the next ten years I managed record stores, and that brought me to North Carolina, where I discovered bluegrass music. That was an epiphany for me. I thought the music was beautiful and the musicianship was astounding.” The record store she managed published a free newsletter for their customers, for which she wrote articles. Her love of bluegrass led her to approach the head of Sugar Hill Records about profiling the label. “I thought, ‘Man, this is the coolest label in the world.’”

Eventually McDonough thought she would like to work at Sugar Hill, but too shy to call for an interview, she wrote a letter instead. Based upon her writing skills, and the extensive knowledge of music she had gained over time, she was offered a position in public relations. At the label she found mentors in Barry Poss and Bev Paul, and set about learning the business of being a publicist. “I really learned my trade at Sugar Hill. I learned to communicate my love for the music—my passion for it—to journalists and to get them to write about our artists.”

Three years later, it was time for a new challenge, which came in the form of an offer from Capitol Records in Nashville. She made the move, found another mentor in Lori Lytle, and learned how to take her skills to the next level through projects with artists like Garth Brooks, Tanya Tucker, and Deana Carter. “I was part of the team that landed Garth Brooks the hosting job on Saturday Night Live.” During her time at Capitol, McDonough worked with Cindy Williams, then vice president of international for the label. When Williams moved to Gaylord Entertainment to head up Country Music Television (CMT) International, she offered McDonough the chance to expand her publicity capabilities on an international scale. “The international aspect is what sold me on the job,” says McDonough, who joined Gaylord Cable Network in 1998 as director of public relations. McDonough rejoined Capitol Records Nashville a few years later, as director of media and public relations, most notably working with superstar Keith Urban. www.capitolnashville.com

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Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCareers in the Music BusinessMEDIA: PRINT, RADIO, AND TELEVISION - Journalism: Critic • Journalist • Reviewer • Writer, Radio: Music Director • Program Director • Station Manager