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Taking Advantage of All the Opportunities

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Mary Shaffer credits WOUB for teaching her the value of learning it all

ATHENS, OH – Mary (McCahon) Shaffer says her diverse experience has made her successful, and that’s something she learned was important at WOUB.  Shaffer, who is now the manager of public relations at Progressive Insurance in Cleveland, started working at WOUB as a student in 1992 and was struck by all of the opportunities the station had to offer.

“I immediately wanted to do everything. I loved the whole hands-on aspect,” said Shaffer. “WOUB taught me how to pay my dues. You just don’t walk on to the anchor desk. You must get in the field and report, as well as shoot and edit video and always say yes to overtime because that means more stories that could help propel you to your next role. I learned that very early at WOUB.”

Shaffer, who grew up in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, double majored in journalism and Spanish at Ohio University. She used all the skills she learned in class and at WOUB, along with her ability to speak Spanish to land her first job.

“I started out working on-air at a TV station in Sherman, Texas and then moved on to reporting and weather anchor positions in Abilene and El Paso, Texas. The stations in Texas valued my broadcasting experience along with my ability to speak Spanish.”

After working weekends for several years as a television news anchor and reporter, Shaffer was ready to try something a little different and her diverse background came into play again. She was offered a media relations position at Delphi Corporation, an auto parts supplier, in Mexico, crossing the border from Texas five days a week.

“I got to do a little bit of everything at Delphi,” said Shaffer. “I managed media interactions, did community engagement work, learned employee communications and dipped my toe in brand PR, as well as voiced videos in English and Spanish. It was a great place to make the move from journalism to public relations.”

After working at Delphi for five years, Shaffer moved on to various roles in public relations, including positions at the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, the Broward County Transit in Florida and now Progressive Insurance, focusing on PR.

“You have to assemble a wide range of portfolio pieces to be successful in strategic communications. You have to use all your resources, especially listening to others with different perspectives,” said Shaffer. “My advice to current students is to do everything you can at WOUB. Run, don’t walk, to work on anything you can get your hands on. Having that experience – and the drive – propelled my career.”