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Wright Awards 2016 – Celebrating the outdoors, Colorado, and Commerce

Wright Awards 2016 – Celebrating the outdoors, Colorado, and Commerce

“How did I get here?”

Last night I was sitting in a row of chairs at the Space Gallery in Denver, looking at the people, companies, personalities, and stories around me. Sometimes I just feel so lucky, so fortunate, so grateful that I’m sitting where I’m sitting.

I’m talking about the 2016 Wright Awards put on by Chuck Sullivan and his team at Something Independent.

When talking to Chuck he says that Something Independent is all about celebrating the intersection between lifestyle and commerce as it pertains to companies in Colorado.  And the Wright is simply an amplified extension of that celebration.  And it is so Colorado.

What does that even mean? So Colorado.  Distinguished guest and speaker, Luis Benitez, head of the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office (and celebrated climber) found a great way to say it.

Colorado is all about crazy.  Crazy ideas. A spirit that feeds off being told “you can’t do that”, “you shouldn’t do that”, “You’re crazy to do that.”  That’s when Coloradan’s shine. That’s where the magic happens.

The program to The Wright says: “The Wright is about a mindset.  A belief that hard work combined with meaningful relationships establishes a foundation from which to forge ahead. A mindset that does not have to wither as a company scales, but instead has the power to unite across both time and place. Nowhere is this mindset better fostered than in the adventure found outdoors.  So is in the spirit of the Rocky Mountains that we proudly bring you The Wright.”

It was incredible to experience12 contenders, from all over Colorado and representing a wide array of industries from: Zipline design, farming, backcountry safety gear, camping, clothing, manufacturing, cycling, standup paddling music, iceclimbing, and development.

The Wright 2016 Program -  Judges & Contenders

The Wright 2016 Program – Judges & Contenders

Each contender puts on a 90 second video before the audience. A curated judging panel – of industry insiders, alumni, and journalists – grades the contender videos on 5 categories. My favorite being storytelling. How well did you tell your story? The level of creativity and connection in each of these videos was nothing short of fantastic. Each video made an emotional connection and proved why each of the contenders made it to the final 12. The event, emcee’d by the every enthusiastic Dave Bacon – this year with a cane – is an interactive affair and the contestants find out with the judges and everyone else the final 3.

All videos can be seen HERE.

The Wright - Emcee Dave Bacon

The Wright – Emcee Dave Bacon

Everyone was on the edge of their seats as the three finalists, Bonsai Design (Grand Junction), Ouray Ice Park (Ouray), and South Main (Buena Vista) were announced. The representatives of each company were then called to the stage and grilled (questioned) by the panel of judges.  Governor John W. Hickenlooper stopped by and asked the first question while enjoying a cold beer. The judges deliberate on the spot and a winner is chosen based on their live answers. In the end, Buena Vista’s South Main was named the winner but as all the contenders said over and over again all 12 contenders are winners for making it this far.

Colorado Gov. Hinkenlooper on left, esteemed Judge Mike Arzt on right

Colorado Gov. Hinkenlooper on left, esteemed Judge Mike Arzt to his right

The Wright is unlike any other award and award night I’ve experienced. Chuck Sullivan described how The Wright is about re-framing what we believe. Looking at things through a different lens.  This night and award certainly embodies that.

Hopefully someday we’ll be up there, competing for an iron hammer. I can think of any better dream come true.

Congratulations to all the 2016 contenders and South Main for taking him the anvil.  A special thank you to EO Colorado for being one of the sponsors of the night (and my sponsor for my ticket!)

Until next year. Feel free to comment below if you have any thoughts about The Wright or the outdoor industry in Colorado.

No Such Thing As Ditch Digger’s Block

No Such Thing As Ditch Digger’s Block

** Feature Image by Mike Arzt.

This past weekend I had the distinct pleasure of helping to organize an event for the world renowned graphic designer, Aaron James Draplin of the Draplin Design Company.

Through a series of cosmic events all lining up perfectly Aaron was on a tour promoting his super awesome book Pretty Much Everything.  We were fortunate that he was able to swing through Denver and spend an intimate evening with our crew.

The event was full of stories and experiences shared from Aaron’s career. It really has been an amazing ride to this point and if you’ve ever met Aaron he’s full of life and a takes a real blue collar approach to his profession and art. I’m certain Aaron would see this as the highest compliment.

Aaron Draplin tagging his logo at The Public Works, photo by Mike Arzt

Aaron Draplin tagging his logo at The Public Works, photo by Mike Arzt

There were many, many takeaways from the event but the one that stuck with me was a question he received about creative block.  When asked about creative block he looked as though he almost didn’t understand the question.

“Creative Block? I don’t believe in creative block. This is my work.  What’s all this creative block stuff? Have you ever heard of a ditch digger stop to complain of ditch digger block?! Hell no!  You just keep digging until you hit the bottom and the hole is done!”

I have found myself walking around mumbling to myself. There’s no such thing as ditch digger’s block…

Let me know what you think. Do you think it’s possible to get creatively blocked or is it just an excuse for not plowing through and getting your work done?

Just a man and his guitar. Aaron Draplin in Denver. Photo by Mike Arzt

Just a man and his guitar. Aaron Draplin in Denver. Photo by Mike Arzt

The WILDSTORY Digital Public Relations Process

Our clients are friends, partners, dreamers, crazy, passionate, entrepreneurs and visionaries.

They all have a WILDSTORY and we’re honored to share them. Here is a brief look at our digital public relations process when working with new clients.

The WILDSTORY Digital Public Relations Process:

  1. Meet the client.
  2. Get to know one another.
  3. Tell us more! We want to hear your story and find out how we can help.
  4. We put together our vision on how to make your story WILD!
  5. We present our ideas of what makes your brand cool.
  6. You review, then tell us, “Go for it!”, or, “No, try again”.
  7. We finalize a digital public relations plan and agree on a scope of work.
  8. We jump in to experience your brand!
  9. We set out to show the world what you see.
  10. We deliver great work.
  11. We perform regular check ins and tweaks to the program.
  12. Final step…High Fives and Good Vibes!

Tips & Tools

To learn more about some tips and tools we use throughout our digital public relations process, be sure to check out our blog post on 10 Public Relations Tools That Make Our Lives Easier.

Lastly, please feel free to contact us directly.  You can always send us a message via our contact form or email me directly at: mgutman at wildstory dot com

Public Relations: Are You Really Listening?

Public Relations: Are You Really Listening?

Close your eyes.  No, seriously – Close. Your. Eyes.

Now what do you hear?  Don’t be so quick to open your eyes. Even if there’s no apparent sound in the room, take your time.  What do you hear?  Maybe the hum of your computer?  Maybe the voices of your colleagues? Maybe the sound of silence? Yes, that does exist.

To be honest, I never really thought about how much our other senses, light sight, get in the way of one another (like hearing).

Yesterday, I had the fortunate opportunity to be the guest of one of our dear friends and partners, FiveFifty, at an eye-opening (yes, pun intended) event with Mike Hess.  Mike likes to describe himself as “the token blind guy in the room.” It would be easy to write Mike off as just that but within five minutes of hearing him speak it’s clear he just might be the coolest (and smartest) guy in the room.