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Worker, Writer, Watcher: Telling Stories

typewriter

Writing is a process, often of elimination. This is true in creative as well as professional writing. One of the hardest lessons, in both, is how to put your ego aside and actually learn from the editing process.

Here are a few simple mantras to help you embrace the experience:

A Story is a Story

Whether you are writing a press release or a short story, you need a solid narrative.  When we retell personal stories, we don’t drone on and use lots of jargon.  Instinctively, we make sure to have a clear beginning, middle and end.  For example, on a trip to Greece several years ago, I was expected to ride a mule (whose better days were behind him) up a 1,000-foot narrow cliff path with no guardrail to reach the beautiful town of Santorini. I don’t begin the story with what I had for breakfast that morning, but at the decisive moment when I heard the echoing shouts of the other mule-riding tourists bouncing up the narrow, steep, curving dirt trail and decided I would brave the path on foot.  In other words, cut out “the runway” leading up to event and get to the drama (or, in the case of PR, the news).

Remember Your Audience

We tailor stories to fit our audience and we rely on our listeners for cues for what’s working. In PR, we work within a strict time frame and with specific messages. We know who is writing the news and who is reading it, and we want them to read and write about our clients’ news too.  The best stories are those that get better with retelling, and that is what we want most in public relations—someone to pick up and retell our clients’ story.

Communication is a Two-Way Street

While your skills as a communicator may work well when you are relaying news in conversation, sitting down to write can feel like a monologue.  That’s okay. You need to process and understand all the information and get it on the page before you can edit. There are no perfect sentences. Anticipate and learn to embrace revisions.

Editing is Writing

There are no short-cuts.  You have to get past the brain dump of information before moving on to the actual writing.  This will not be easy, but you cannot get to a finished product by jumping around.

Take Advice from the Masters

“Writing and rewriting are a constant search for what it is one is saying.” — John Updike

And remember: Loving the process is an uphill battle.

 

 

 

Take a Walk on the Wireside: Interop, News, Awards, Trends, Travel, Football!

Newsletter0913We’re excited to announce the inaugural edition of Wireside Communications’ newsletter, including highlights from 2013. The newsletter will be sent quarterly and will contain news about the agency, our clients and industry trends.

Read our full newsletter here.  To stay informed of what’s happening at Wireside Communications, please make sure to sign up to receive our next installment via email.

From RVA to USC: Sending-off the Business Leaders of Tomorrow

We deliver stellar results to our clients on a consistent basis, but it’s not all work and no play for the Wireside ladies.  Outside of the office, our team is involved in a variety of activities and organizations – from PRSA, Ad Club, AMA, James River Writers to Richmond’s historical Quoit Club.

RVA_GamecocksOne group that I’m actively involved in is the University of South Carolina alumni chapter here in Richmond.  Serving on the leadership team as the organization’s communications and social media chair, I’m tasked with raising awareness of the chapter throughout the region and energizing the alumni base to get involved.  We coordinate several events during the year including football watch parties, networking happy hours and philanthropic initiatives like our SEC Alumni Blood Drive Challenge which is taking place all this month.

Our most recent event was the freshman send-off, held last week at Dave & Buster’s.  The alumni association, My Carolina, partnered with our local chapter to welcome some of the nearly 80 Richmond-based students heading to the University of South Carolina this fall.  We hosted approximately 50 guests, including students, family members and university staff.  Two days later, I traveled with the leadership team to Charlottesville, Virginia to support that area’s freshman send-off event as well.charlottesville_pic2

The caliber of students in attendance at these two events was so impressive.  Many of them had their sights set on the International Business Program, which is no surprise – it’s the number one program in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report.  With strong ties to and admiration for my alma mater, I’m confident the university will equip those students with the education and skill set they need to emerge as strong, successful leaders.  Hopefully they’ll work for Wireside when they’re through!

A Wealth of History, Right Outside Our Front Door

Richmond neighborhoods Shockoe Bottom and Shockoe Slip are home to a number of creative agencies and businesses, including Wireside Communications.  From our offices in the Old Dominion we support endless possibilities in the new world of communications.

Being a recent transplant from the City by the Bay, I knew very little about Richmond beyond its role in the Civil War as the former capital of the Confederacy.  I certainly didn’t know the part our neighborhood, Shockoe Bottom, played in the history of this nation. So, being a fan of history, I took a walking tour of the square blocks around the Superior Exchange Building where Wireside calls home to educate myself about the neighborhood.

Craig houseShockoe Bottom is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Richmond and grew due to its close proximity to the docks on the James River that were used to transport goods and people to the city. Within two blocks of Wireside’s offices sits one of the oldest structures in Richmond, the Adam Craig House, built in 1784 by Adam Craig, a prominent court clerk in Richmond.  Legend holds that his daughter, Jane Stith Craig Stanard, is the inspiration behind Edgar Allen Poe’s tribute, “To Helen.” In 1935, faced with the possibility of destruction, it was bought by Preservation Virginia and used as an arts center. Recently it was for sale.  For a million dollars you could own a piece of American history complete with an awesome outdoor shower to cool off in the hot Richmond summers!

MasonLess than one block from Wireside’s offices sits the oldest Masonic Lodge in continuous operation in the United States.  It was completed in 1787 and has been witness to many momentous occasions in U.S. history.  It was here that the residents of Virginia met to instruct their delegates before going to the Constitutional Convention and the building served as a hospital during the War of 1812.  During the Civil War, as much of Richmond was burning, a Union general (himself a mason) posted a guard at the door to protect the building from destruction.  Through it all it has stood, but currently is in need of repairs.  A recent article in Richmond Magazine noted that the building looks so derelict that a guide giving an historic tour noted that it was abandoned, even though members meet there up to four times per month.  Let’s hope that the current occupants can restore the building so it can continue to bear witness to Richmond’s, and this nation’s, history.

Pace HouseRichmond, like many cities, has had its share of triumphs and defeats.  Two blocks from Wireside’s headquarters stands a building that is both testament to its glory and its darker days.  It is referred to as the Pace-King house and sits at 19th Street and Grace Streets.  It was here that Charles B. Hill built his Italianate mansion.  According to official records, Charles Hill was an “auctioneer and local politician.” However, a person identified as an auctioneer in the 1800s in Richmond meant something different than it does today and generally meant that the person traded in slaves in addition to the items we commonly associate with the profession today.  In 1860, when the mansion was built, Richmond’s trade in slaves was second only to New Orleans’ and in 1856 just one auction house – that of Dickinson, Hill & Co. – raked in an astronomical sum of sales of $2.5 million, which translates to more than $50 million today!  Charles Hill, however, was able to enjoy the house financed by his dubious trade for only two years before he passed away.  The house was then sold to the namesakes of the house: James B. Pace in the 1860s and 1870s, owner of a tobacco factory, and Jane King in the 1880s and 1890s who is notable as one of the few women to run her own business – a large ice business in the age before refrigeration.  The house then changed hands a number of times until the 1970′s when, like much of the neighborhood, it was in disrepair and employed as a tenement for Richmond’s poor.

Luckily for us at Wireside, and our neighbors that call Shockoe Bottom home, the neighborhood has seen a resurgence.  Today, there are new owners of the Pace-King house who are renovating the property.  The neighborhood is alive with new restaurants, coffee shops, creative agencies and more.  In subsequent posts we’ll introduce you to some of the folks who work here and are leading the Shockoe renaissance.