Professor publishes book based on her business

By Hannah Newman

Whether it’s writing Marvel Comics or strengthening the power of self-development, Eisner-Award-winning author and communication professor Sheena Howard has completed every project with a passion to challenge societal norms. 

Howard expanded her experience in building a name outside the world of academics with her newly published book, “Academic Branding,” that shares written guidance on how to increase visibility, authority and income without the expense of a publicist particular to higher level education degrees. 

“I don’t want my research to just be in the basement of college libraries, I want it to impact regular people who do not have the privilege to obtain a Ph.D.,” said Howard.

She has been building an incentive to write “Academic Branding” since she began her Ph.D for communications in 2007. 

“Academic Branding” is the written version of Howard’s business, Power Your Research, a platform that works with tenured professors who are looking to broaden the power behind their name as a professional without the financial burden of hiring a publicist.

“Building your brand is entrepreneurship, and entrepreneurship in a lot of ways is the exact opposite of what they teach in school,” said Howard. “I can talk to students in a different way, I can bring my experience into the classroom.”

Howard had mentioned that using class topics in her career is the best way to show students that what they are learning can help them outside of the classroom. Howard used the diffusion of innovation theory, a component of a communications course to show students that the theory can help them build a brand.  

Technological advancements travel through society and cultures, as an example of how she applied a concept from the classroom to another career. 

“I am not just giving my students theoretical examples,” said Howard. “I’m showing them that I’ve used communication-based theories to build a business, which is invaluable.”

Freshman psychology major Adrienne Bishop, who is a student of Howard, said her lessons go beyond curriculum.

“Howard’s reputation as this powerhouse academic is really translatable into the classroom,” said Bishop. “The lectures she gives don’t feel like lectures, they feel like a conversation.”

Howard began Power Your Research in 2020 during the peak of COVID-19, when Rider began to lay off teachers, which led her to take action in pursuit of a sustainable career. 

“I have a young son, so I thought, ‘What could I create that I wouldn’t need to leave my house to run and would make me some money?’”she said. “I spoke to my accountant and he said, ‘The way to make money is to do what you’re good at and not what you love,’ which is the exact opposite of the era we live in.”

Howard knew as a single mother that entrepreneurship would return as much support as she dedicated herself to the building process.

After testing out the program on a few clients who provided feedback on the quality of the service, Howard was able to transform the approach into a business.

“Most of us have creative things we want to do outside the confines of a classroom,” said Howard. 

Whether it’s writing a comic or pushing herself to the next level, Howard has kept passion in her pocket, making success for herself and others a part of what she wears daily.

“Your work has a higher purpose, you just need a roadmap,” said Howard, a sentiment displayed on the Power Your Research website.

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