Top 3 Things I’ve Learned Interning at Rhudy & Co.

In January, I became Rhudy & Co.’s first official intern. Even though it was only a month, I’ve spent time learning the ins and outs of strategic communication and have truly fallen in love.

The Team
From my first day I was given a position where people spent time valuing my input. The world of strategic communications is very hands on, and it often takes many minds working together to make our mission flourish. Creating innovative ways to go about business strategy, video production, content, and design work does not happen without the ability to listen and the intention to make a positive impact.   

I believe that a large part of why Rhudy & Co. is successful is the relationship that we have with each other. When clients come to us with a challenge, it truly feels that we work together as a family to meet the challenge.

The team is a family, the work is rewarding, and the story of my experience with Rhudy & Co. is unlike any other.

The Story
I chose communication as my major because it is broad, even though I’ve known specifically what I’ve wanted to pursue for 12 years. I promised myself that I would branch out and try something that would still provide me with graduating credits, but would be different from the field of Meteorology where I hope to land.  

I believe that Rhudy & Co. has undergone some of that same process.  When they opened their firm in 2003, they were the traditional public relations firm focusing on tactical execution with much less strategy than we use today.

In the business now, we have several meetings with different clients and amongst ourselves where we focus on strategy and the tactical execution comes later. In order to maintain a company of our kind, it was important to evolve along with the birth of social media platforms and the growing strength of technology.  

This culture is comforting for a 20-year-old college student, and potentially for others, as many often fall into a rut of believing we must have all of the answers today. However just like Rhudy & Co., the world will change, we will move accordingly, and it will all work out for the best.  

The Work
I’ve heard people say, “I’m majoring in communication because it’s easy.” For some time, I thought that it was a safe choice, because I knew I’d never be presented with tough mathematical problems and no one would ever look to me in desperation in the same way that one may look to a doctor.  

Our job is literally to create ideas that don’t yet exist.  

I was wrong in my thinking.  It turns out that we have fun, we’re easy going, our environment is beautiful, but our industry is in fact rich with hard work.

Sure, classes may feel straightforward, but in real-world application, I’ve seen some of the most brilliant minds work together on really tough projects. We may be presented with an issue where managers and employees miscommunicate, or we need a new way to inspire members of a company.

If you’ve ever tried to think of a new color or taste, that’s how difficult this work is. The most amazing part of it all is watching the company come together in high spirits and make the impossible possible.  


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Dominga Murray, a sophomore at Hollins University, is majoring in communication and hopes to one day be a meteorologist.  The oldest of three children and the proud mother of two cats, Dominga’s greatest accomplishment is serving as the founder and director of a nonprofit called Helping Hands. This June, she’ll compete for Miss Virginia.

Remembering My Friend, Builder & Client Rich Napier

My friend Rich Napier was just 66 when he died last week.

The Richmond native fought a short, but courageous battle against gastric cancer. Diagnosed in April 2017, Rich ultimately made the difficult decision to wind down his business at Napier Signature Homes, an award-winning custom home and remodeling company, to focus on his health and spend more time with his wife.

Over the past 12 years, Rhudy & Co. Strategic Communications had the opportunity to work with Rich on his marketing and public relations campaigns. I met Rich through a fellow communications consultant who said, “This guy is awesome, and he needs PR help.” She was so right.

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A fast friendship
In the spring of 2006, Rich and I met, talked and immediately laughed like we would later do many times over the coming years. He always had a smile. We quickly realized that he actually built our house for another family just five years earlier. Months earlier before Rich even knew us, he delivered a set of floor plans to our Realtor as my wife and I contemplated buying his brick Georgian.

Rich initially worked with Rhudy & Co. on a PR campaign for the 2006 Richmond Symphony Designer House that he built as the first-ever brand-new house for the longtime fundraiser. The 7,600-square-feet showplace in Midlothian was arguably Rich’s greatest construction. He was a master builder.

Living the golden rule
When I met Rich in 2006, Rhudy & Co. was working with Ukrop’s Super Markets as its public relations firm. As I learned about Rich’s family business and how his father, Oscar, opened a real estate firm in 1958, I couldn’t help but think about the similarities between the two family-run businesses that also included two brothers. Oscar even owned two grocery stores before getting into real estate.

Both the Ukrop and the Napier families treated others how they’d personally like to be treated. As a family business, we’ve strived to do the same at Rhudy & Co.

In Rich’s own words
In a 2001 news article, Rich said, “I’ve sold some homes that didn’t make money but made people happy. It’s part of the business. It goes back to the work ethic ingrained in us by our father. There’s a lot personal satisfaction in building a home, watching it come out of the ground and serving customers. We’re helping people all the time … changing families and lives.”

Rich demonstrated the golden rule throughout his life: He was honest. He was straightforward. He thought of others first. He always did the right thing. He gave back. He delivered more than promised.

I saw this time and again as I interviewed dozens of Rich’s clients. His customers raved about his integrity and his attention to even the smallest of details. Rich took the time to do things right.

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He sweated about where to put electrical outlets to highlight beautiful millwork and why drywall corners should be rounded. As a result, Rich’s home building legacy lives on in some 130 Richmond-area homes, identified with a small marker our firm made for the coat closet. Thanks to Rich's younger brother Jim and Jim's daughter Megan, the family real estate firm continues through Napier Realtors ERA.

Giving back
As passionate as Rich was about his custom homes and remodels, he was equally as committed to giving back to his industry via volunteer leadership roles and to the Richmond community.

In his late 50s and early 60s, when many people typically dial back in their careers and community, Rich ramped it up. In recent years, he served as president of the Powhatan Rotary Club, where he supported dozens of charities, and helped found Backpacks of Love, a community feeding program for kids in Powhatan, Cumberland and Buckingham Counties. His legacy will live on.

Back in 2001 Rich said, “There are a lot of people that want to take shortcuts. I don’t do it that way. All you can take with you from this world is your reputation.”

And Rich did just that.

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Jonathan Rhudy loves to study floor plans, and if he wasn’t running a PR firm he just might be selling real estate or operating a grocery store.

Read more about Rich's amazing life in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

UZURV It! - Meet an RVA Innovator Inspiring Us

Innovation is all around us, especially in our hometown of Richmond, Va.

From startups creatively connecting with customers to Fortune 500s reinventing their core processes, our Rhudy & Co. team is inspired by the entrepreneurial approaches in #RVA. This year, we've launched a blog series, "RVA Innovators  Inspiring Rhudy & Co" to share more about these innovators. 

Do you know an RVA innovator we should highlight? Send us a Facebook message with the details.

Do you know an RVA innovator we should highlight? Send us a Facebook message with the details.

Making Uber and Lyft better
Taking Uber and Lyft to the next level, a local Richmond innovator – Matt  Donlon, founder and CEO of UZURV, developed a reservation services app that allows you to “UZURV” your ride in advance.

UZURV is headquartered in the historic Hofheimer Building in Scott's Addition. Originating in Richmond in 2015, the service has quickly grown and UZURV is now in 108 cities across the country. About 23,000 drivers are using it.

“It’s really gone viral,” Donlon said. “Part of that success is that we are investing in our drivers. They have a business card and a code they give to introduce people to UZURV. Customers get their first three rides free and the driver gets residual income – 7 percent of all future reservations just for introducing that customer to UZURV.”

Hatching an idea
And while Uber and Lyft and other ride-sharing disrupters have been challenged in court in several localities, the 2017 Virginia General Assembly passed the legal framework to allow UZURV to be recognized as the first Transportation Network Company broker in the nation, pre-arranging rides with specific Uber or Lyft drivers.

Donlon himself continues to serve as an Uber driver – where he and his partner, Harold Frans, hatched the idea for UZURV and where he can best keep his hand on the pulse of the business. He gave former Virginia Secretary of Education Anne Holton her first UZURV ride to the train station.

We are most successful where Uber and Lyft don’t do well,” Donlon said. “Chesdin Landing is a perfect example locally. UZRUV does great business in those dead zones.

How UZURV works

  • UZURV only handles reservations and does not provide transportation directly. Think of it as the “Open Table” for ride reservations.
  • After downloading the app to your smartphone, you can request a pick up date and time well in advance of your trip.
  • Another cool thing about UZURV is that you can select your favorite driver as well as services and amenities you are seeking in a car service – infant car seat, military base access, etc. You select the service you want to use – Uber or Lyft and the service type (size and/or luxury vehicle) and add an incentive (it automatically starts at $3; you can make it more or less).
  • The only downside for our instant gratification-seeking selves is that you have to wait for a driver to accept the reservation and the only way you will know is by checking back on the app.

With a recent Richmond airport trip requiring a 6 a.m. departure, I wanted to ensure I didn’t have to wait 15 minutes, when I summoned my ride.

Three drivers accepted my reservation and I selected “Kristen,” had an online iPhone “chat” with her to confirm details and describe my house. The process was seamless; she was at my door before 6 a.m. and delivered me to the airport for less than $20.

The app is available for download at the Apple App Store and Google Play store. To find out more, go to https://uzurv.com/

Sande Snead frequently ubers to local restaurants especially downtown where parking and walking in heels can add to the value of paying for a ride. She UZURVs for early morning airport departures or destinations further afield.