I once heard our good friend Aarron Walter talk about developing the MailChimp brand from the very beginning, which is a great story. One point he made doesn’t often come to mind when we think about the word ‘brand’: copywriting. A brand is many things, but the importance of the words—voice and tone, as they call it at MailChimp—can’t be overstated.
At The Iron Yard, we’ve worked hard to keep the importance of words close to my heart and top priority wherever we use them, from advertising to videos and from blog posts to our website. To date, there have only been two people who have written 99% of what we’ve produced. As we’ve grown into the largest immersive code school in the country, though, the amount and new types of writing needed has outstripped our ability to keep pace. A few months back, I began the search for a writer.
Finding a versatile writer is a tricky thing. Candidates seem to be strong in one or two areas, like journalism or blogging. Things like writing ad copy, drafting a press release or editing content for a specific format on the web are different beasts. Constantly moving between all of those contexts and maintaining the voice of the brand throughout is a tall order.
After weeks of searching and reviewing the results of difficult writing challenges, we found someone who not only cares as much about The Iron Yard’s mission as we do, but who is also a phenomenal, multi-talented content creator.
Meet Lelia King, our new Communications Director. Here’s her background and the story of her journey to The Iron Yard.
Hi! I’m Lelia. I’m a writer, communications nerd, PR pro and content strategist. I recently moved to Greenville, S.C. from Charlotte, N.C., where I worked with Charlotte Center City Partners (CCCP) as communications director. Before that, I worked with Goodwill in Charlotte on PR and social media, and in past lives I’ve done consulting, freelance writing, and I worked for a big agency in Atlanta after graduating from The University of Georgia (Go Dawgs).
A few weeks after I started working with CCCP in Charlotte, our CEO Michael stopped me on the street and gave me this piece of advice: “I want you to develop your own voice. Don’t just expand on what we’ve done before or try to assimilate to what exists here. Your perspective is unique and valuable.” Not only did his words stick with me and continue to encourage me during my time with that organization, they also represent my career path to date.
When my husband and I moved to Charlotte in 2009, I had been through a layoff and was struggling to survive – much less grow and thrive – as a communications consultant and freelance writer. I had a few years of experience, but I was hungry for more. I wanted to stretch myself, continue learning and improving, get out of my comfort zone and find a path that really fit me – not just a path that I was supposed to want.
Over the next six years, I was able to do all of those things and much more. I ate breakfast and met smart people at Social Media Charlotte (shout out to my #SMCLT folks!), joined a strong and passionate team at Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont, dove into a life-changing master’s degree program with the Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte, and finally, I found my voice after joining CCCP as Director of Communications and after time with a number of mentors.
A bunch of people have helped me along the way through informal mentoring, offers to connect with people, encouragement and, sometimes, tough love. What I’ve taken away from my experience so far is how easy and how important it is for me to help others, however I can, as they try to find their own paths. We all need to help each other. We’re all in this together.
That being said, I’m excited to join a team at a unique company that is doing exactly that. As Communications Director for The Iron Yard, I’m going to apply my passion for all things communications, writing, and content strategy to a company whose mission is all about helping people – in this case, helping people gain skills, confidence and connections as they pursue careers in tech, or launch startups, or develop new ideas.
The Iron Yard is going to open up a whole new world for me. I have tons to learn but I couldn’t be more ready to jump in with both feet. For those who I’ve worked with in the past, thank you. I hope our paths will cross again. Thanks for walking along with me on this lifelong journey.
For The Iron Yard family – I can’t wait to meet the rest of you. Let’s get started!