elizabeth held

Tell me about your background and what drew you to Subject Matter.

After graduating college, I worked at USA TODAY’s editorial page, fact-checking op-eds and reviewing and soliciting After graduating college, I worked at USA TODAY’s editorial page, fact-checking op-eds and reviewing and soliciting submissions. It was a crash course in all things opinion media. From there, I was a reporter in the Orange County Register’s D.C. Bureau.

I realized the world of daily journalism wasn’t for me and joined a boutique public affairs firm before joining Subject Matter in I realized the world of daily journalism wasn’t for me and joined a boutique public affairs firm before joining Subject Matter in 2018. I love that there are so many different types of smart people at Subject Matter. Everyone has a different skill set and I learn something new from my colleagues every day.

What is a typical day like in your current role as a senior director of content?

One of the things I love about my job is that there is no such thing as a typical day. Almost every day brings something different, as I help my clients shape their messages and write deliverables: speeches, white papers and blog posts that will break through the noise and get attention from their key audiences.

Is there a particular campaign you are most proud of?

Subject Matter does so much great work in the public health space. I’m incredibly proud of the work we did with the March of Dimes to bring attention to the maternal mortality crisis in the United States. My coworkers laid 700 receiving blankets out on the National Mall—one for every mother in the U.S. who dies from pregnancy-related complications each year.

Working in the creative space, how do you get inspired for a new campaign? 

For me, everything starts with research. I read everything I can on a topic to understand it and to see how it’s being presented. I want to know the issues, the players, the media environment, what’s being said and, critically, what’s not being said. From there, I start to think about how we can fill in gaps and put a surprising twist on what’s already out there.

You created a newsletter, “What to Read If…” that recommends books. What inspired you to create this and what kinds of books are you currently reading?

I love nothing more than shouting about my favorite books (a very long list), and I’ve always believed that there’s a certain I love nothing more than shouting about my favorite books (a very long list), and I’ve always believed that there’s a certain magic to finding the right book at the right time in your life. So, with What to Read If, I pair news events and pop culture happenings with books. For example, I recently recommended Ann Patchett’s wonderful essay collection, These Precious Days, for people reflecting on the second anniversary of the pandemic since Patchett wrote the book in the early months of lockdown.

I read broadly across genres. I just finished And Now I Spill the Family Secrets, a graphic memoir by Margaret Kimball, about mental illness and intergenerational trauma. I’m listening to The Last Thing He Ever Told Me, a thriller by Laura Dave, while walking the dog. 

You joined WWPR in the fall of last year. What drew you to WWPR and what are you looking to gain from WWPR this year?

I love to be surrounded by smart people who can teach me more about the world. Joining WWPR seemed like a great way to do that! I’m excited to meet people in person as the world reopens. 


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