Capitol Communicator is running “Up Close and Personal” profiles of communicators in the mid-Atlantic. In this profile we feature Kim Gallagher. Photography for the series is by award-winning Cade Martin, and hair and makeup by Patti D Nelson for THE Artist Agency.
Kim, please provide us a short bio.
I am a freelance writer and creative director whose first job out of UVA was as a proofreader for National Geographic. In off hours, however, I found myself flipping obsessively through One Show books and Communication Arts annuals. After ten years living the agency life with Eisner Communications in Baltimore, I started my own business and have never looked back.
Are you involved in any other organizations?
Two years ago, I founded Blue Book Essays, a national college essay coaching service. Working with young people to create their brand and tell a powerful personal story – and watching them blossom as creative writers – is endlessly rewarding.
What are the things you are most proud of?
Without a doubt, my proudest production has been our four children. They possess great empathy and work ethic, zero sense of entitlement.
Who are your personal role models?
From birth, I have been inspired by working women. Both of my grandmothers – one in Germany and one in North Florida – were the heart of family businesses through World War II and the Recession. My mother has worked or volunteered her whole life. But the addiction to advertising bit me while listening to the radio one morning in high school.
Probably putting hot curlers in my hair, I heard a spot for Britches of Georgetown, the preppy, cheeky national retailer that became a D.C institution. Written by the ultra-talented Kathryn Linde, harnessing the unmatched voice of Bill Brydon, the work mesmerized me. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a copywriter. So when Susan Rushford at Britches hired me for my first copywriting job without even a portfolio, it was pure serendipity. Since then, a series of people have taken similarly illogical chances on me: Byron Tucker and Bill Mitchell, my first agency creative directors. Andy Ellis, who probably doesn’t know how great he made me feel about my book, sent me my first freelance client.
And then there are partners in the hunger for great work — and the mourning when it doesn’t happen. Revered writers like John Patterson, Brian Kelley, Hugh Carson and Chris Scharpf. Visionary art directors like Margie Weeks, Jane Rubini, Al Washa, Scott Margolis, Ellen Burns and Frank Hamilton. Pit-bullish producers like Mary Holland, Angela Edwards and Judy Wittenberg. Sound emperors like Harry Evans.
Did these role models offer professional advice that helped you in your career?
1. Imagination ruled by discipline.
2. The best way to start doing great work is to stop doing bad work.
3. To switch jobs, you have to want to leave where you’re leaving and go where you’re going.
4. Do what you love, because you will end up doing it more than 40 hours a week (thanks, Dad!).
What professional advice do you have for others?
The creative presentation is the best part of your client’s day. Be a smart businessperson as well as a good creative person. Don’t burn bridges.
What’s on your Spotify and Pandora playlists?
Female country artists because their storytelling doesn’t get enough airtime. Anything my kids are listening to on those long car rides to UVA and Ole Miss because it connects me to them and to what’s going on in the world. Podcasts like The Morning Toast and We Should Talk About That: free therapy.
What’s your favorite restaurant?
My husband’s incredible cooking. He’s kind of spoiled it for us when we eat anywhere else. Also: McDonald’s Diet Coke.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?
Thank you to the gods who invented the Internet. You gave writers ultimate freedom – and allowed mothers to continue their careers while raising children.