Editorial Director | Creative Director | Media Professional | Content Marketer
I began my professional career as multimedia designer with what is now Meredith Corporation (formerly Southern Progress Corporation/Time, Inc.). My department launched the company’s first web site, ProgressiveFarmer.com, in 1995, and I designed version 1.0 of both SouthernLiving.com and CoastalLiving.com. Contrary to most multi-platform journalists in the late 1990s, I moved from digital media to print media to become Senior Editor of The Progressive Farmer magazine, where I worked on all facets of the magazine’s repositioning from an agribusiness trade magazine to a rural lifestyle consumer publication. I was named Managing Editor of the magazine in 2008, and helped guide the magazine’s print and digital efforts, including the popular “Best Places To Live In Rural America” program.
In 2009, I left the magazine to join Advanced Content/Red Barn Media Group as its Creative Director. I’ve managed one of the largest content marketing accounts in our business niche, with leadership roles including digital asset management, direction of social media content, creative direction of both digital and print projects, and account management. I’ve also continued to create content as a writer, photographer, designer and videographer.
In the past 12 years, Red Barn’s projects have won numerous awards from the American Agricultural Editors Association (AAEA) and the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA). AAEA named me its Designer of the Year in 2012, its Writer of the Year in both 2010 and 2013 (runner-up in 2016) and its Photographer of the Year in 2016—the only person in the organization’s history to win all three of its major journalism awards.
I’ve also been awarded by Folio, the American Society of Business Press Editors, and the National Agri-Marketing Association, along with writing and reporting honors from Society of Professional Journalists, Associated Press and Southeastern Journalism Conference.
Creating award-winning content marketing requires accountability, and it has been a value of our team to provide clients with rigorous readership/viewership metrics to achieve strategic goals for content programs. That value led me to academic pursuits in the field of media effects research. I taught in the University of Alabama’s College of Communication and am a member of the school’s Institute for Communication and Information Research Advisory Board. I received the Department of Journalism’s Outstanding Research award in 2013. Recent research includes the first American academic work focused on credibility in content marketing (published in the industry’s top journal, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly). I also received the Robert Lance Memorial Award from the American Journalism Historians Association for outstanding research in 2012. I was asked by SAGE Publications to write articles defining the terms “Content Marketing” and “Native Advertising” for the SAGE International Encyclopedia of Mass Media and Society (2019), and I continue to speak at conferences and workshops on the topic, including as a panelist for the Federal Trade Commission’s report on digital marketing and native advertising practices. (Contact me if you’d like more information or documents from my experience in this field.)
I graduated from Jacksonville State University in Alabama with a BS degree in Communication and a minor in English. I was the John C. Turner Outstanding Graduate in Communication, and served as president of the Jacksonville chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and as Editor in Chief of JSU’s award-winning student newspaper, The Chanticleer. I also taught interactive journalism courses at JSU. I received my master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Alabama, and also received the department’s Outstanding Graduate Student award.
I live in Alabaster, Alabama, south of Birmingham, with my wife Charissa and son Sullivan Thomas. In 2020, I was elected to the Alabaster City Council for a four-year term. In my spare time, I serve on the boards of the Alabaster Arts Council, the Alabaster City Schools Foundation, the American Agricultural Editors’ Association, and the Alabama Governor’s School (where I also teach journalism every summer). I’ll also play piano anywhere someone will let me.