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The Race through Richmond

There’s a feeling in this city, before even the smallest of snowstorms hit, when the masses stock up on necessities and determine their fight or flight approach.  As 100,000 of the world’s best cyclists from more than 70 countries and 450,000 spectators transcend upon Richmond for the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Road World Championships, that feeling is once again in the air.  With road closures and an intentional influx of people at a level never previously seen in this area, locals are faced with the options of staying put to experience one of the greatest global sporting spectacles or heading out of town for the nine-day event (many of the latter are cashing in on social commerce opportunities like AirBnB). Richmond2015

From September 19-27, men and women will compete in 12 World Championship races through the capital city of the Commonwealth.  A sampling of these races include: Elite Men and Women, Under 23 Men, and Junior Men and Women.  This will be the first time the annual event has been held in the United States since 1986.  Recent locations include Ponferrada, Spain; Florence, Italy; Valkenburg, Netherlands; and Copenhagen, Denmark.  The location is chosen by the UCI through a competitive bidding process similar to the Olympic Games.

Eyes from across the globe will be fixated on our beautiful River City; the event will be covered by more than 500 media outlets and broadcast to a worldwide audience of more than 300 million people.  Live digital streaming of all races will be available via a new, state-of-the-art Richmond 2015 mobile app for iOS and Android devices.  International exposure is not the only benefit for the host city; the Road World Championships are expected to have an economic impact of $158 million on the state of Virginia.

One of our Superior Production Exchange neighbors, Tijo Media, was recently named the official video partner of Richmond 2015, the organizer of the 2015 UCI Road World Championships.  We even offered a “helping hand” for one of the promo video spots, but sadly, Christine’s champagne toast was edited out!  Check out the video here:  http://richmond2015.com/2015/09/02/richmond-2015-partners-with-tijo-media/.

Wireside’s HQ is located directly on one of the racing routes and we are certainly gearing up for the all of the excitement to come!

How Did Forbes & BusinessWeek Rank YOUR City?

Over the past year or so, the great city of Richmond has made itself better known by earning placement on dozens of publications’ “best cities” lists, developed to inform readers on where the bests spots for food, culture, education or market opportunity are hidden across the globe.  For examples, see Parade’s Best and Worst Cities for Celebrating the 4th of July, The Huffington Post’s 8 ‘Under-the-Radar’ Foodies Cities worldwide, and 10best.com’s Best American Riverfront Cities, where Richmond respectively ranked #1, #6 and #10.

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Maybe you’ve seen RVA’s skyline pop up on such a list or two, but what you may not know is how Richmond – geographically and culturally nestled somewhere between north and south, political and civic, urban and rural – has achieved a citywide rebrand in just a few short years.  Or better yet, what it has to offer against the larger American “meccas” in this competitive global economy.

Allow us River City dwellers to proudly turn that key for you and unlock just a few of our headquartering city’s secrets, with the help of some of the biggest names in media and research:

  • According to Forbes.com, Richmond is the principal prospect for finding business or a partner to propel your company forward. As the capitol of the #1 State for Business, we tout “business-friendly government policies and strong incentive offerings,” and a thriving market for the technology industry.  9.8% of Virginia’s private sector workforce is tech-based, and job creation has experienced a surge with data center construction, expansion and management – which also means Wireside is aptly located for success in B2B, high-tech public relations.
  • And here is what makes those abovementioned points possible: according to the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research, Richmond is the happiest city in the country.  It makes good, practical sense; businesses thrive where people thrive.  While economic giant New York City landed city #1 for unhappiest, Richmond was “topping the table” for most content, “a ‘glass half-full’ town.”

So ask yourself: How’s your business – half-empty or half-full?  Here’s a better question: How can Richmond help?

 

 

Photo by and courtesy of Tim Wilson/Fine Art America.

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.

Hail to the Redskins – New Richmond Residents!

Training_centerThe reigning NFC East champion Washington Redskins unveiled their new $10 million dollar state-of-the-art training facility in Richmond on Monday, July 8.  The team will call the Richmond-based Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center home during their three-week training camp, which kicks-off Thursday, July 25.

No stranger to pomp and circumstance, the Redskins welcomed community leaders and members from across the Commonwealth to a lively grand opening celebration.  The ceremony began with a performance from the Richmond All-City Marching Band, parachute jumpers gilding through the air and onto the new field and the singing of the National Anthem by former American Idol finalist and Richmond native, Elliot Yamin.  Guest speakers included former Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones, Bon Secours Virginia Health System CEO Peter Bernard, and Washington Redskins Senior Vice President and Executive Producer – Media Larry Michael.

The new training facility will offer both entertainment and an economic boost for the Richmond region.  Fans from across the country can see their favorite Redskins in action before the season begins at no cost.  During Richmond’s inaugural season as training camp host, it means getting a unique first look at how RGIII has bounced back from his knee injury, or how well 2012 stand-out rookie Alfred Morris will perform his second year on the field.  The value of the training center has a far greater reach than simply entertaining fans and preparing players for their next run at a Super Bowl championship.  The facility will bring an estimated $40 million investment to the city of Richmond and hundreds of new jobs.  The economic impact of the training camp alone is estimated to be around $8.5 million a year.

For those of you that don’t know, I am a die-hard football fan so having an NFL franchise training camp right around the corner is like music to my ears.  I had the privilege of being a part of the on-site media relations team for the grand opening celebration.  It was an incredible experience to witness the immaculate facility, which was constructed in only a mere five months, weeks before the doors open to the public.  Let the countdown to training camp begin!

Happy Golden Anniversary to AMA Richmond

50thparty1On Wednesday, June 26th the Richmond chapter of the American Marketing Association celebrated a huge milestone – its 50th Anniversary – with a party at Hardywood Brewery in Richmond and Wireside was happy to join in on the festivities.

Hardywood is one of the many craft breweries that have popped up all over Richmond and is a great venue to grab a cold beverage on a hot summer day, while listening to music and visiting with friends.  They also host a weekly food truck round-up on Thursday nights that has a rotating cadre of 12-15 different food trucks and a weekly farmer’s market on Wednesday evenings.  It seems that you could go to Hardywood every day of the week for a different event!

At the AMA Richmond event, there was an outdoor tent set up for people brave enough to weather the afternoon thunderstorm, as well as a private bar set up inside where people could sample some of Hardywood’s brews.  They also had food catered from two local food trucks – Grate Gourmet Fusion Pizza and Boka Tako Truck.  The food was delicious – I highly recommend checking out where their food trucks are parked in Richmond, or heading to Hardywood on a Thursday evening – to try them out.

It was great to get to network with marketing and communications industry people and celebrate such a great organization.  For anyone looking to meet fellow marketers and work on career development, the AMA is offering a promotion waiving the $30 registration fee for new professional memberships.  Hurry up and sign up as the offer is only for a limited time.

PR & SEO – A New Partnership for the 21st Century

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There has been a good deal of press lately about the relationship between Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and public relations (see Huffington Post article from last week).  Right on time, PRSA Richmond chapter held a morning panel on PR and SEO entitled, “PR + SEO: Let’s Get it On.”

Brian Forrester of Dynamic Web Solutions spoke first.  He said that measurable marketing is king – people expect results from their spend – and search marketing is in its Golden Age.  As more and more content is moving online, it is more important than ever that people be able to filter the authoritative content from the junk.  SEO promises to do this.  By ranking sites based on their number of backlinks (i.e., quality links from external sites) search engines filter results based on most important (or popular) content.   In other words,  in order to rank high on Google’s search engine, public relations and marketing professionals must get others to link back to their company/client sites.  But how do you get backlinks?  You can’t make someone link to your site.  The link between PR and SEO becomes more clear as SEO success is reliant on public relations professionals’ ability to promote content to a wider audience that can generate these backlinks.

And according to the next speaker, Shannon Lehey of Unboxed Technology, the trick is to create content that is of interest to others that they will naturally want to link to.  Remember, it isn’t enough to just put out content, you need to create content that is authoritative and will appeal to others.  In order to create good content, first work to create a clear content strategy with a cohesive brand voice.  A solid content strategy is like glue,  it ties everything in together.   And, by taking the time to know your brand and your audience, you can create content that others want to share, generate backlinks and increase SEO.

The third speaker was Ken Shafer, the SEO guru at Snagajob.  He offered some practical tips on how PR professionals can best measure SEO success.  He recommended two sites to measure new links – moz.com and ahrefs.com.  (Ken prefers ahrefs.com because it is updated in real-time.)  He suggested creating a spreadsheet with a column for PR that would pull in search engine traffic driven specifically through public relations-related activities (e.g., press releases, blog posts, etc.).  This way public relations is no longer seen as “fluff.”  Instead, public relations professionals will be armed with concrete, measurable data of how well  a campaign performed.

So, there you have it.  In the 21st century, SEO and public relations will be inextricably linked.  SEO will need public relations to push out and promote content for its success and PR will rely more on SEO to provide concrete ROI measurements for campaign success.

Office Space Available in our Creative Building

Come join the creative community in the Superior Production Exchange located in the Shockoe Bottom area of Richmond at 1901 E Franklin Street. Surrounded by a plethora of creative organizations currently calling the Superior Building home base, your company has a unique opportunity to join this positive and energetic work environment.

3 spaces will become available in the next 5 months. If you would like to join us in this creative space, please check out the current space available.  Please contact the building manager at 804-514-5268 or secamrichmond@gmail.com for more information.

We look forward to seeing you in our hallway soon!

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