Getting to Know Our Chapter’s Independent Practitioners: Tess Wittler
As a freelance copywriter, Tess Wittler specializes in writing content for construction professionals. This includes white papers, ebooks, case studies, website content, webinar scripts (and moderation), feature articles for industry publications and more. Her clients are design-build remodeling firms, construction-related associations, building product manufacturers and construction-tech companies. Learn more about her work at tesswittler.com.
I am from Pennsylvania, yet I also spent much of my childhood in New Hampshire. I received my B.A. in English Literature at Lock Haven University, a state-school in Pennsylvania.
How long have you been an Independent Practitioner?
I started my business in August 2007 – right before the big recession. Prior to that shift, I’d worked as the Assistant EVP for a local home builders association. I loved the job, but after eight years of commuting nearly 100 miles roundtrip a day, I was ready to be home, know my community and not go through vehicles so quickly.
What’s your favorite part of having your own business?
The flexibility. Up until June 2014, my husband was in the military, so being able to work my schedule around his duty was important to me. Once he retired, we moved from Harrisburg, Pa. to Tucson so he could attend the University of Arizona and develop his second career. My business never missed a beat as a result of two cross-country moves — we moved to Richmond in July 2017 – and that is something I am completely thankful for.
What do you find most challenging about having your own business?
The ebbs and flows of work because as much as you try, projects rarely stick to schedule.
What does public relations mean to you?
I’m a writer so of course I am going to say telling stories. I believe people relate best to messages when they are weaved into a story that they can relate to and remember.
What excites you most about PR and the future of the industry?
The world is changing, and the way in which we communicate must also change. One message is no longer effective for all audiences, and while that does pose some challenges, it also creates tons of opportunity! There are so many amazing stories waiting to be told, and I look forward to being a part of making sure those stories get written and shared.
Can you share the best career advice you’ve received?
When it comes to writing, the best piece of advice I’ve ever received came from a book, Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. I remember her words exactly: “Sit down with the least expectation of yourself and say, ‘I am free to write the worst junk in the world.’”
This quote has helped me start – and push through – a lot of daunting projects.
What’s been your greatest experience or achievement in your career to date?
Working really hard to get my business to a level where we could move to Tucson so my husband could pursue a second career. My goal was that while he attended school, he wouldn’t have to take a part-time job to make finances meet. Not only did we accomplish that, but he finished school a year ahead of schedule. I won’t say it was easy – and I was utterly exhausted after working three years nonstop – but I am incredibly proud of what we accomplished.
When you’re not working, where can we find you?
We are new to Virginia, so learning about all the history that’s in the area and exploring the state is currently a high priority for us. We spend a lot of time walking around the beautiful Henrico County parks. We are also huge Washington Capitals #ALLCAPS and Penn State hockey fans, so during the season we are usually tuned into the games.
One last question: What book you are currently reading?
I always have my nose in several books at once. I’m currently listening to 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works – A True Story by Dan Harris and reading: Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller and A Deadly Wandering: A Mystery, a Landmark Investigation, and the Astonishing Science of Attention in the Digital Age by Matt Richtel (the Twin Hickory Library’s Non-Fiction Book Group read for June).