Alumni Spotlight: Ashton Greenwood, ‘17
Ashton talks marketing jobs and Diamond Comic Distributors
By: Spencer Derrenberger
Photo Credit: William Greenwood
Meet Ashton Greenwood, an MCS alum from the class of 2016. During her time at UMBC, she worked on UMBC’s Bartleby Creative Arts Journal and WMBC Radio. Since 2018, Ashton has been working at Diamond Comic Distributors.
In our conversation, she detailed her position at Diamond Comic Distributors, marketing in general, and her UMBC MCS experience.
Q: Could you describe your position at Diamond Comic Distributors? What are your roles and responsibilities?
I’m the Associate Marketing Manager at Diamond Comic Distributors and since we run a pretty lean marketing department, it means I wear a lot of hats. The biggest part of my job is organizing and executing the logistics and promotion of our annual outreach event, Free Comic Book Day. Free Comic Book Day is designed to engage existing comic book readers and expand readership to new fans by offering a selection of comic books, usually around 40-50, that consumers can get from their local comic shops. It takes place around the world at thousands of participating comic book shops, with an average of over 3 million comic books given away, again, for free. It’s a super fun event that generates a lot of buzz each year! My role is to build and promote the event from start to finish. First, by working with our publishing partners – companies like Marvel, Image Comics, Archie Comics, Dark Horse Comics, and more – to create that year’s list of available comic books. Each year, there’s a new set of comic books given out. Then, it’s onto promo merch (or “swag” as we like to call it): shirts, hats, lanyards, buttons, etc. After that, it’s time for my favorite part – marketing the comic books! That means interviewing the comic book creators, sharing sneak peeks inside the pages of some of the books, and keeping an active social presence. I’ll keep up with that promo until event day. On the actual day of the event, I’ll usually try to head out to a few comic book shops to get some photos and videos of the event happening in real time. Speaking of, Free Comic Book Day is coming up soon – Saturday, May 6! If you haven’t participated before, I highly recommend getting in on it!
Beyond that, I handle advertising partnerships, working with our publishing partners to build marketing
campaigns that most effectively reach the audience they’re after – comic shop owners, comic book readers, or both. I handle social media a selection of Diamond’s brands, including Free Comic Book Day, Comic Shop Locator, and Diamond Comic Distributors, among others. I also write press releases, field press inquiries, and manage our relationship with the “Comics Media” (in other words, journalists who write nearly exclusively about comics, pop culture, and all things nerdom).
Q: What qualifications or traits do you think are most important for this position?
The ability to prioritize and re-prioritize, for sure! Priorities shift pretty regularly so you need to be able to pivot and jump on something new. I want to be clear in saying this: not multitasking. I actually find that in a situation where you’re trying to juggle a lot of balls, multitasking creates more problems than it solves. In terms of qualifications, strong writing skills feel like a must.
Q: In your opinion, do you have any traits that specifically make you distinguishable from your peers?
My position relies fairly heavily on soft skills, like collaborating with publishers and building a rapport, so I’d say my generally bubbly personality has been helpful in that regard.
Q: What do you find the most exciting about marketing? Why does it interest you?
This is a great question! The thing I like most about marketing is engaging your audience and getting them excited about what you have going on. To that end, I probably like content marketing and social media marketing the most because there’s so much room to play! On the Free Comic Book Day website and socials, I always aim to keep it light and fun – we’re talking about comic books after all! We do a lot of polls and match-up brackets and make quotes and references. It’s really rewarding to see the audience get invested in certain books or characters and know I had a hand in building that hype.
Q: How do you think your experience with MCS at UMBC has prepared you for shaping your career?
I found all the different formats and opportunities for writing in the MCS program incredibly helpful! I got hired at Diamond right out of graduating from UMBC and had never actually written a press release before, but was able to pull from my experiences in MCS and make it happen. I also found the interview skills I learned as part of the internship requirement made a huge difference in my mindset and preparation during the interview process for this position.
Q: From your experience, what was the biggest or most important lesson you learned during your time as a student?
Might sound a little weird, but breaking down a big project into smaller, bite-sized chunks. There were so many times at UMBC that I would have a big project or paper and would get overwhelmed by how much would need to happen in order to finish it. Being able to break a big project down into small steps, and therefore small victories, is an approach that definitely translates to the professional world and makes a big difference.
Q: What advice would you give to a student considering a future in marketing?
First, to give some thought to what “side” of marketing you’re most interested in. Maybe it’s analytics, maybe it’s content and social, maybe it’s SEO. Marketing is an umbrella term, to some extent, and there’s a lot of ways to take it. Next, don’t take it so seriously. Marketing doesn’t have to be all “boardroom vibes.” It can be fun! I’ve had some of my best ideas and biggest successes when I let up on being stern and serious and let my creativity lead.
Posted: May 23, 2023, 6:04 PM