#GWA2016: A Newbie Reacts

Lawson Header.jpg

By Helen Newling Lawson

Lawson Conference Swag.jpg
Did I mention the swag? Generous sponsors brought tons of samples and plants to writers eager to learn about the latest and greatest introductions.

I came to the 2016 Annual Conference and Expo in Atlanta as a newbie both to the organization and as a first-time conference attendee. I might not have normally invested the time and money this early in my transition to my “dream job” as a garden communicator. But as a local, living in Suwanee about 30 miles northeast of Atlanta, I had the good fortune to be spared the travel expense. This was an opportunity I just couldn’t pass up. So despite not knowing a soul, I headed down the road to see if this event could really measure up to the excitement I saw brewing on the Facebook page.

My first impression was one of an incredibly welcoming and encouraging group. People were so excited to greet a “new-bee,” I started to wonder if they were competing for a secret prize! I was also struck by the diversity of skills and mediums that members represented. I met podcasters, bloggers, TV videographers, editors, columnists, manufacturer reps, speakers, authors, PR pros, photographers, social media advocates, and more. Continue reading “#GWA2016: A Newbie Reacts”

Everything But the Writing: Preparing Social Media Savvy Posts


By Gina Iliopoulos

Is an audience necessary in telling our stories? Would we write them anyway even if no one was listening? In today’s world of social media the value of the written word is often judged by how much engagement it generates from an audience. In other words who’s reading what you’re writing? When we’re gearing our words to drive engagement our hope is to reach as many people as possible. How do we do this?

Members of the online public look to leaders in the community. As garden communicators if we can connect with them and garner their support we will expand our reach dramatically. So now it’s getting a little more complicated. We’re not just writing. We’re connecting on multiple levels with both those we wish to educate and those from whom we learn. How do we do this without going crazy? Continue reading “Everything But the Writing: Preparing Social Media Savvy Posts”

A Buyer’s Challangea: Behind the Scene at a Retail Nursery

Moore DSC_0132.JPG

By Steve Moore

I began my career as a nursery/landscape buyer in the early 1980’s. One of my first impressions after being promoted to this position was, to borrow a famous cliché, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore!” I was suddenly responsible for stocking three thriving retail operations in the Houston, Texas area and a landscape division complete with multiple architects on staff.

Moore DSC_0592.JPG
Calloway’s employees help their customers achieve success in their garden, no matter what size

I had worked for many years in our retail division, so I had a nodding acquaintance with many of our suppliers. But buying large-size trees and shrubs and thousands of ground covers was something that I had to learn, and quickly. Luckily, all of the suppliers had been long-established by my predecessor so I just had to follow through with the orders in place. This gave me an opportunity to get to know them and to learn how they might assist on future projects.

As time marched on, we closed our landscape division and concentrated on our retail stores. Then the owner sold the company to Calloway’s, a group of retail garden centers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Five years later I found myself moving to the North Texas area to carry on my work in our corporate office. Now I was responsible for buying products for 19 stores in two very different geographic areas. Luckily there was an established team of merchandisers that assisted me as I got my feet on the ground. Continue reading “A Buyer’s Challangea: Behind the Scene at a Retail Nursery”

GWA Atlanta: Finding What I Was Looking For

Atlanta Botanical Garden.jpg

By Carol Michel

When I was asked to write a blog post about my experiences and impressions of this year’s GWA: The Association of Garden Communicators conference in Atlanta, Georgia, I answered, “Sure, happy to do so.”

Then came the time to write the post, just a week following the conference after-tours that took us to Athens, Georgia. What was my impression? Continue reading “GWA Atlanta: Finding What I Was Looking For”