• September 2015

What Makes Richmond Such a Great Town for PR?

Inkandescent Public Relations officially opened its second office in Richmond, VA, at the end of 2014.

Why Richmond?

“When I was looking for a spot to open a new office, I was drawn to Richmond for its affordability, walk-ability, and sense that anything is possible in terms of business growth,” says Hope Katz Gibbs, founder and president of the PR, marketing, web development, and publishing firm, which also has offices in Arlington, VA.

“What I also love about Richmond is its art, music, and food scene,” says Gibbs, whose new office is located at 1719 W. Main Street. “This is a place where you aren’t just working, working, working to make your business a success — you can enjoy your life while you build your business. What a relief!”

What initially attracted Gibbs to the River City was her daughter, Anna, whose first choice for college was VCUarts.

“Anna had won several awards for her photos in high school and set her sights for college on the photo/video program at VCU,” explains Gibbs. “While my husband (illustrator Michael Glenwood Gibbs) and I didn’t want our daughter to put all of her eggs in one basket, we knew that this would be the perfect school for her. We came for a tour in the spring of 2013, and I remember thinking, ‘Holy Moly, this city is vibrant, easy to navigate, and filled with endless possibilities. I want to live here.’”

A rising junior this year, Anna now lives in a house in Richmond’s historic Fan District. Gibbs says she was so enamored with the neighborhood that she immediately found a realtor (Jenny Maraghy of Joyner Fine Properties) and started looking for a house after signing a lease for office space with Bruce Boykin of Eck Enterprises. Within two months, she had moved into both properties, and now happily rides her bike to the Inkandescent office.

From an investment standpoint, Gibbs believes this is a fantastic time to buy into Richmond.

“Big cities like DC — and the surrounding suburbs of Arlington, Fairfax, Bethesda, and others — are dense with people, making housing extremely expensive, traffic unbearable, and the business community less open to new ideas than it was just a few years ago,” she contends.

“The livability of Richmond makes it a place that more people are going to want to live in the years to come. Once high-speed rail comes to town, I forecast that business owners like myself will pour into Richmond because this is a place where you don’t work hard just to survive. This is a place where a small business can thrive.”

Having Inkandescent Public Relations make an imprint on Richmond is important to Gibbs.

A journalist since graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1986 (for The Washington Post, The Miami Herald, USA Today, Costco Connection, and dozens more), Gibbs got into the PR business in 2001 when she put her graduate studies in educational leadership from GWU to work as the director of communications for the City of Fairfax Schools. In 2006, she added the futurist think tank Social Technologies as a client, and raised their press mentions from one per year to 25 per month.

By 2008, Gibbs knew she could help more small businesses increase their visibility, so she incorporated The Inkandescent Group, LLC.

In the years since, her firm has helped more than 250 small-business owners grow their web presence, build strong social media and marketing campaigns, and get featured in prestigious news outlets including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, USAToday, and the “CBS Early Show,” among others.

  • Be Inkandescent: In January 2010, Gibbs launched Be Inkandescent magazine, an online publication that features a high-profile Entrepreneur of the Month, Tips for Entrepreneurs, and columns by small-business owners who write monthly on the theme of the issue about relevant topics in their industry. Cover stories have included Washington Caps owner Ted Leonsis on “The Business of Happiness,” musician Michael Franti on “Doing Business Like a Rock Star,” Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey on the topic of “Conscious Capitalism,” and Banana Republic founders Mel and Patricia Ziegler on “The Art of Launching a Wild Company.” Be Inkandescent magazine currently gets more than 1 million visits/month.
  • Inkandescent Networking: In 2011, when the economy was beginning to recover and more small-business owners needed to connect with each other, Gibbs launched Inkandescent Networking, a website that lists business networking events from NYC to Miami, provides profiles on hundreds of small-business owners, features a daily cover story about entrepreneurship, and provides valuable networking tips.
  • Inkandescent Speakers Bureau: By 2012, Gibbs had been booking her clients as speakers throughout the country, and decided to expand the service to include more top-notch leaders. She created Inkandescent Speakers Bureau, which now includes nearly two dozen professionals who are keynoters, panelists, and workshop facilitators.
  • Inkandescent Radio: With podcasts being all the rage, 2013 marked the launch of the Inkandescent Radio Network, which currently includes more than 200 podcasts with entrepreneurs, authors, artists, restaurateurs, truly amazing women, and more.
  • Inkandescent Books: In 2014, Gibbs launched the Inkandescent Publishing Company to publish books by her clients, and in March released “Wealth Management Rules,” an ebook by Certified Financial Planner Rita Cheng. On Aug. 18, Gibbs published her first book, “PR Rules: The Playbook,” a 200-page guidebook designed to help small-business owners, students, and others master the art of PR, marketing, advertising, social media, and sales. Chock full of interactive exercises, interviews with experts, and case studies, it’s being touted as the go-to DIY guide for entrepreneurs who need to bump up their visibility. Learn more at PRRulesPlaybook.com. It’s the second title published by the Inkandescent Publishing Company; six more books are in the works.

Looking Forward

In 2015 and beyond, Gibbs says she is eager to learn more about the local business community, participate in Richmond-area events, and hopefully become a resource herself for small-business owners in the region.

“I’m currently spending half of my time in our Arlington office, and half in Richmond,” Gibbs shares. “And every time I get off the highway and drive into town, I breathe a sigh of relief. I am so happy to be here, and I can’t wait to see what the future will bring.”

Learn more about Gibbs’ firm at InkandescentPR.com.

Sign up for a free subscription to her monthly business magazine at BeInkandescent.com.

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