Writer's Block Solutions - An Interview with Valerie Rossi & Kyla Girling
Two friends are proving that good banter and honest arguments can help form a healthy business relationship. Writer and Founder Valerie Rossi and her childhood friend turned Editor and Administrator Kyla Girling run Writer’s Block Solutions. The copywriting and editing company serves communities across B.C., including South Delta where Val spent her formative years and Kyla currently lives.
Using storytelling and a journalistic approach to write and edit content for both digital and print media, their work is often used by businesses for marketing and community engagement purposes. Together the pair has 20 years of combined experience in media and communications; add their entrepreneurial ambition and interpersonal skills, and their clients are in great hands.I sat down with the dynamic pair to learn about their services and specialties and touch on some of their experiences growing up in Tsawwassen.
What was it like growing up in South Delta?
Val: My family moved across the country in the mid-90s when I was 12; the prospect of making new friends seemed exhausting. Much to my surprise, I was welcomed with open arms by people who remain my best friends today.
Kyla: When Val moved here I thought she was nuts, so I was instantly drawn to her.
Val: Tsawwassen seemed very sparkly to me, with manicured lawns and beaches for days. Because I arrived as a pre-teen, I was adjusting to my new home and also high school a year later; it felt a little like if Degrassi High and 90210 had a baby.
Kyla: We had so much fun getting into trouble together. Tsawwassen was really a beautiful, safe place to grow up, even if we were somewhat restless in our teen years. We definitely put our creativity to use and made our own fun.
What have you come to appreciate about the community as adults?
Val: I love visiting my family and my amazing friends. It's never a trip home without a chicken burger from Ossie’s (seriously, I can taste it before I even arrive) and a trip to the beach. The ocean is incredibly comforting - and a slow sunset in the open landscape is worth the eight hour drive from the Kootenay mountains where I live now.
Kyla: I’m absolutely with you on Ossie’s and the ocean. I love to travel and I find that no matter where I am in the world, I start to get a little antsy if I’m far away from the ocean for more than a few weeks. I also like how South Delta’s relatively newer local businesses - Four Winds, for example - have stepped up. There’s a lot on offer here now that’s world-class.
Tell me about Writer’s Block Solutions and the services you provide?
Val: We’re a copywriting and editing company that primarily serves British Columbia. We produce unique content that is useful, relevant, and well-written to engage our clients’ communities and attract new prospects and opportunity.
Kyla: We do press releases, website content, blogging, editorials, newsletters, social media, you name it. Q&As or profiles - similar to this one - have actually become a bit of a specialty of ours. Val employs her journalism skills to do most of the interviewing and writing and I do more of the editing, proofing, and administration.
You work with your friend every day - what’s that like?
Val: Working with Kyla is the most incredible experience. There is a very yin and yang balance to our working relationship and friendship. There is no judgment or ego when it comes to working with one of your best friends. We have each other's backs professionally and know where we stand on a personal level.
Kyla: Being friends doesn’t automatically qualify two people to be able to work together, but like Val said we know each other VERY well and fortunately it works for us! I love Val’s creativity and I think we share a similar curiosity in how we look at the world. Working together also makes it easier to stay in touch despite our busy lives and the physical distance between us.
What do you like about the work you do?
Val: We’re privileged to work with some incredible clients who provide excellent services to their communities. We feel lucky to support their efforts by telling their stories in a meaningful way. With my background in the newspaper industry, we’re primed for building and fostering relationships with media folks - and it's exciting to see our stories picked up.
Interesting! Can you provide an example or two?
Kyla: Absolutely; some of the recent press releases we’ve done - for Sweet Serenity Yoga and Wellness for example - have been about events that help raise funds and awareness for local mental health and animal welfare initiatives. When those were picked up it was exciting for our client and it was rewarding to help with such worthy causes.
Val: Agreed! The people we have interacted with are doing such good work in the world; for example, an interview we did for The Prevail Project profiled a woman aiding a refugee rescue mission under Doctors Without Borders. Helping people like that spread their message brings great satisfaction.
How does your company differ from other media and marketing firms?
Kyla: We really delve into what our clients want - even if they don’t quite know! I’d say tailoring our services is one of our strengths. Each of us is very much a “people person“ and I think that’s evident in our work, as we often centre stories around the people behind the company or initiative.
Val: Like Kyla said earlier, we’re naturally curious - and also adventurous; our approach is open-minded and professional. Obviously what we’re doing is far from traditional journalism, but we approach each assignment with fairness and a desire to get the story right, even if that means multiple sources and research. We’re dedicated to producing immaculate work, but we also have fun and try to infuse our passion into each project.How was the Writer’s Block Solutions concept born?
Val: The name, as you can guess, comes from the condition in which a writer experiences a creative stall or is unable to produce new work. We’re taking that on for people.
Kyla: Or a lack of time, or confidence in writing skills - we’re here to solve all those problems.
Val: The truth is, after I left the newspaper industry - where I was a reporter for nearly 10 years - my magazine writing became increasingly complemented by demands for newsletter and online content, along with advertorial pieces. I entered the dark side of PR and realized I loved it! Kyla and I were already working together on other projects, so after developing a business plan, we both left the so-called 9-5 grind and made it official.
What are some things you’ve worked on that you’re most proud of?
Val: Working under visionary Lauren Carbis of The Prevail Project further inspired my entrepreneurial path. Prevail produces multimedia features on women with unconventional careers and lifestyles, many of whom are entrepreneurs. I interview these fascinating women and write the Q&A portion of their profiles; Kyla is Prevail’s Editor-in-Chief.
Kyla: Almost every job provides a valuable learning experience and opportunity to be proud of our work. The industries and occupations of our clients have varied widely, from technical companies to lifestyle magazines, small and medium-sized businesses, and sole proprietors in all realms. Every day is a new adventure!
Why do you think content is a valuable form of advertisement and community engagement?
Val: Gone are the days where pop up ads or clickbait is enough to engage people. Consumers, communities, and people in general want to feel connected to the people and businesses they choose to patronize, follow, or work with.
Kyla: We’ve all been so bombarded with advertising for so long that we’re desensitized; but content can be so much more than just feeding the targeted ad machine or promoting a new fad. Storytelling is the oldest form of education and one of the fundamental ways that humans communicate; I think it’s inherently valuable and engaging. A good story stays with you, and also spreads organically.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Val: Writing is about practice and pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. I suggest keeping at it, and forming a community of people who support your craft. Be fearless and share your work; make connections, meet the right people, and ask questions that'll help you reach your goals.
Kyla: And read! Read a lot, read everything! Exposing myself to a huge range of different writing styles and ideas has been nothing but a positive experience - and in addition to increasing your vocabulary and improving your spelling and grammar, it’s good for the brain. Science says so.For more details and to reach Valerie or Kyla check out https://writersblocksolutions.ca/