Editor's note: This story is part of a community-oriented, weekly article series in which Community Manager Caira Conner discusses how to get the most out of PolicyMic.
Hudson Baird, co-founder of political advocacy startup Voters Act and executive director and resident mentor with PelotonU, believes in creating opportunities for millennials to engage with large audiences. That's why he wrote for PolicyMic.
As you well know, PolicyMic is constantly advocating for millennials to join our community. There's a reason for this — (actually, there's many) — but sometimes it just helps to hear good advice from someone else.
Hudson spoke to PolicyMic about why strong writing and editing skills are critical to building any professional foundation, and how PolicyMic pundits are already well-positioned to succeed. An Austin native, Hudson graduated with a degree in public policy from Vanderbilt University. (He also lived in Guatemala, and launched a rural community development organization, so he knows a thing or two about leveraging networks).
I'll host a Twitter chat (#TalkPM) this Wednesday, (and every Wednesday) to answer your follow-up questions about the advice offered in this column, and provide input on how to make the most out of your PolicyMic experience. Have additional thoughts? Send 'em my way: firstname.lastname@example.org
Caira Conner (CC): You're one of the founders of a grassroots political fundraising platform. What does that mean? What was your favorite part of that experience?
Hudson Baird (HB): My Voters Act co-founder and I utilized a host of tools built for national political campaigns and well-funded non-profits to engage with supporters. We believed the people who needed to leverage their grassroots support the most were local political candidates who had broad support, but limited means to actually leverage their natural advantages. So we built a platform to help local candidates promote their campaigns. We loved getting to coach passionate citizens running for office on how to better publicize their campaigns.
CC: We tell our millennial community that one of the biggest advantages to writing for PolicyMic is that having a portfolio of published work leads to other professional opportunities. How important are writing, editing, & communication skills in the work you do, and the communities you work with?
HB: Writing, editing, and communication skills are critical. I cannot stress enough how vital effective writing has proved in my career. From copy writing and content marketing, to public speaking and correspondence — I'm relying on my writing foundation every day. I work with students during the day now and the biggest thing we try to teach them is how to write better, and to learn that they have to be reading voraciously.
CC: You've written for PolicyMic before. What were the advantages to using our platform to empower your cause? Do you think PolicyMic pundits can position themselves advantageously in a way we haven't thought of yet?
HB: PolicyMic was the best place I've ever written. Most of the people I work with started as bloggers, and there was always a limited distribution and mechanism for conversation. PolicyMic solves both of these problems. It allows articulate and reflective writers to get the recognition their thoughtfulness deserves, and helps foster civic engagement amongst millennials.
One suggestion I have for pundits would be to investigate publishing their popular PolicyMic pieces on other media platforms, or in their college newspapers.
CC: Like PolicyMic, Voters Act was founded on the desire to make political engagement more accessible. When a recent college graduate asks you about creating the kind of organization they want to work for, do you have any pat advice?
HB: Ask for as much advice as possible, read every book on your industry, then take the risk and try something. I regret every day not having the experience and network to find the solutions to the problems I'm confronting — but that's entrepreneurship. The alternative is to always wonder what would have happened if you chased your dream. While you have less to lose and everything to learn, risk failing and try something bold. If it doesn't work, have the courage to admit you failed, you learned, and you'd do it again.
CC: Your turn. Any questions for PolicyMic?
HB: My question is for deputy politics editor Sara Yasin. Where will Egypt be in a year?
Sara Yasin: I'm not a fan of predictions, because I think that they miss the point. Post-revolution, Egypt has been pretty unpredictable. A year ago we would not have seen that mass uprising would topple yet another leader for the country, and I don't think we would have predicted last week's tragedies. I can't make predictions, but I can say what I hope for in a year: to see Egypt on the road to stability — not through a dictatorship, but through an open, transparent, and inclusive government that would set an example for the rest of the world.
CC: Thank you, Hudson, for sharing your insights with our community!
More questions for Hudson? Follow him on Twitter (@votersact), and join our #TalkPM discussion Wednesday, August 21 at 12pm ET.