Alum Alex Bratton's Transition to the Media World

Wednesday, December 12, 2018
By: Caitie Buteau, English Department 2018 Fall Digital Media Intern
Alex Bratton

Having just graduated the NBC Page Program, Alex Bratton (English '17) is looking ahead to her career in the media world. The Page Program, which takes a class of twenty Pages every three months, is a rotational program that lasts a year. Bratton started last August and for the first three months spent her time completing the ambassadorship period where the heads of the Page Program teach its Pages about NBC and all the properties it encompasses, in addition to giving tours of 30 Rock and working on shows. Alex says she really enjoyed the program’s start because it gave her the opportunity to bond with her classmates since they were together a lot. After the initial three months, each Page is given three, three-month assignments. Bratton tells me, “One is in content which is like production, one is business, and one is consumer which is mostly marketing assignments. You kind of rotate around all three to get a holistic understanding of the media landscape.”

Having just graduated the program a few months ago, Alex decided that she wanted to continue working in the business side of NBC. Prior to being in the Page Program, Alex “went in thinking [she] would be really interested in production and that’s where [she] figured [she] would end up [since she] had worked at a production company beforehand” and enjoyed her previous experience. However, thanks to the rotational aspect of the program, Alex was able to see her preconception that all business is finance was not true. She describes her role in NBC as “more a form of relationship building” with her original business assignment (that got her interested in continuing in that field) being in content distribution. 

Content distribution as a whole ensures that NBC’s content distributors such as Hulu or Dish carry NBC, CNBC, Telemundo, Oxygen, Bravo, and etc. and maintains the relationship between NBC and their various distributors so that negotiations during contract renewal go smoothly. Specifically, Alex tells me that her job is on the partner marketing team for NBC, CNBC, Telemundo, and Universal. The example she gives me as to what she does is “if Hulu wants to promote the Emmys they're doing... a whole takeover with like ads and their homepage etc….[she will] go to lNBC and be like Hulu needs images of these specs and this length of footage for a TV spot.” Alex basically acts as a communication link and manages the relationships between NBC and its distributors.

Before deciding she wanted to go into media, Alex had decided to pursue English because she enjoyed learning about and reading the various stories that were told within the discipline. For Bratton, she felt going into media was a natural transition from English. Within the media world, she explains that “there’s a ton of jargon and being able to translate that out and, even just being able to communicate with other people in general, because media is its own form of communication” is a highly desired skill. She tells me that her experience with the English Department at Duke helped her “preparation wise [with] that ability to communicate [which] has helped [her] job in every way” and has allowed her to continue her love of storytelling and has connected it to something more than just classroom readings. 

“English is extremely applicable to the harder subjects as well…I met a woman last weekend and… [s]he works in a hospital but doesn't do anything medical. She writes the pamphlets for patients and has to know about the medical stuff but breaks it down so the patients can understand,” according to Bratton. “[She] think[s] that communication is a really useful tool no matter what field you go into. So, whether it’s the sciences [or something else], you need someone that is able to communicate all the jargon and make it accessible.” And really, it is the same with media or, even, government work. Being able to change industry terms to something the public can understand is not something many people can do with ease. Knowing that, Alex Bratton wanted to utilize the communication skills she learned through the English Department at Duke to do just that, and help be a bridge of communication for large companies like NBC and Hulu.