‘Year of Yes’ leads to new opportunities
Story by Alexandria Lundvall, NewsNetNebraska
2017 was Shannon Wilkinson’s ‘Year of Yes.’ Whether it was getting certified as a scuba diver or working on small interior design projects, she gave new opportunities a chance.
Wilkinson recently said ‘yes’ to being a part-time creative content director at Firespring while being a full-time mom. For the last 11 years, Wilkinson has enjoyed working at Firespring. The Lincoln, Nebraska company is one of the largest marketing communications firms in the Midwest.
Wilkinson has always been passionate about spelling, grammar, and art. She grew up with a supportive family in Gretna, Nebraska and Wilkinson attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to study advertising. It wasn’t until she committed to the major that she knew it was for her.
“Up to that point, I fantasized about going into fine arts and suddenly started wondering if I was going to have to provide for myself by selling my charcoal drawings on the street,” she said.
Wilkinson also discovered her passion for advertising, “I was interested in all of it. The art, the words—and how they come together to convince people to take action.”
During college, she had the opportunity to intern with Sterling Communications, an advertising agency located in Lincoln, Nebraska. Her internship consisted of running various versions of ads for Sterling Communication’s clients to select. Through this internship, Wilkinson said she gained a new understanding of how advertising agencies work. She was able to experience how each position fit together in the process.
After graduation, she was hired full-time as an account executive at Sterling Communications where she worked seven years before taking the next step in her career with her position at Firespring.
At the time, Wilkerson said Firespring was a small startup company with an inspiring CEO Jay Wilkinson. Although it was small, Wilkerson said the people and culture of Firespring blew her away.
“Culture is number one here. A happy team member will do anything for the company and put out fantastic work,” Wilkinson said. “Each employee aspires to live out the values of the company each day. Firespring has three values: We bring it every day, we have each other’s back and we give a sh–.”
Throughout her time at Firespring, Wilkinson has had the opportunity to work in a variety of positions. For the past four months, she has served as creative content director.
Wilkinson said she has faced dozens of challenges over the years, but the decision to step into her current role was the most challenging.
“I was replacing a talented copywriting veteran and managing a new team in a department whose processes and systems I was unfamiliar with,” Wilkinson said. “However, if I’ve learned anything in my career, it’s that most challenges turn into opportunities.”
She was right. The responsibilities of creative content director capitalize on her strengths. These responsibilities include bringing a team together, empathizing, helping solve problems, having a good eye for great content and giving constructive feedback.
As a creative content director, Wilkinson also oversees several different clients at the same time. She emphasizes the importance of knowing the style and voice of each client.
“You have to ask yourself, Is this their voice? Is this consistent with their other messages?” Wilkinson said, “Even if you haven’t seen that content in three weeks.”
When asked about her day-to-day Wilkinson said, “Some days are super creative and some days are like accounting.”
Wilkinson enjoys the balance of both. She appreciates every aspect, whether it’s reviewing time spent on projects, attending kick-off meetings or talking through the process.
Her favorite aspects of being the creative content director are proofreading papers and problem-solving with her team. Wilkinson enjoys making edits to various documents that her copywriters produce. She enjoys seeing the finished product after the hard work is done.
“A fun part of the job is looking over the copy again after it’s put through design,” Wilkinson said.
She believes that each project will succeed with the help of her team. Wilkinson also strives for team communication throughout the entire process. She is continually having quick meetings with her team to see how their projects are going. She will encourage copywriters to keep writing, as she solves a problem that they are facing.
Wilkinson’s best advice for students is to always be respectful of the copywriters and clients. “It’s important to make improvements, while still keeping that person’s voice. It is also a way to provide constructive feedback for ways to improve their writing skills,” Wilkinson said.