Jessica Bensten, Creative Director
Tell us about your personal life.
I’ve been married almost ten years to my husband, Everett, who is a lawyer in the Hampton City Attorney’s office. We have two kids, Jackson (7) and Abby (3), who keep me very busy! Both sides of our family live on the Peninsula so we are blessed with an amazing support system. That’s actually how my husband and I met – our grandparents lived across the street from each other for 50 years!
How long have you been at RCG?
My ten-year anniversary is coming up in October. I came to RCG as a newlywed after my first post-college job and started as an account manager. I had also studied graphics as well as journalism and PR while at JMU, so I slowly started handling a few design projects here or there when I wasn’t doing media relations. My job eventually evolved into creative director.
What do you love about creative services?
I love the process. There’s something so fulfilling about taking a client’s communication need and coming up with a creative solution from concept to design and execution. We work with some pretty spectacular Hampton Roads businesses and nonprofits so it makes me proud to see our hard work turn into a successful website, ad, brochure, annual report or billboard.
What’s a memorable project that sticks out to you? And why does it stand out?
That’s a really hard question. How do you narrow down ten years of work? If I had to choose something a little more recent, I’d probably say the 20-page magazine insert I designed last year for the Virginia Dental Association Foundation’s MOM project. It was the organization’s 15th anniversary and we worked hard to come up with a way to highlight the past, present and future of the organization. Over the years, the foundation have donated millions of dollars of free dental care to Virginians and I wanted to do that gift justice. I really think we did — we got multiple compliments on the finished product!
How has creatives services changed since you began at RCG? What has stayed the same?
When I first began at RCG, I did mostly public and media relations, which means we outsourced the majority of our graphic design work. Digital printing was just gaining ground in our region, so we used mainly offset printers. If someone needed artwork that was too large to email, we burned a CD. Even our video equipment wasn’t digital! (This is starting to make me sound old)
What hasn’t changed? The quality of our work and the attention to detail. We work faster by having a designer right here in the office, plus turnaround times at the printer are quicker than they used to be.
What’s the best piece of advice you give people about design as it relates to marketing?
An open line of communication is key to good design. It is difficult to sit down with a client and gain an accurate assessment of their design needs if all they tell me is to “just make it pretty.” My best advice is to have samples of design work you like, have colors in mind and finish your copy writing before you start on a project. And, know who your audience is…we can take it from there.
What do you do outside of work?
I’m very active at CHKD because both of my kids were treated there. Jackson was diagnosed at one with a childhood cancer called Neuroblastoma, and will be in remission for five years at the end of this month! That is so hard to believe. Abby was born prematurely and spent four months in the NICU. Naturally, I want to give back. This is my third year serving on the NICU Family Advisory Council and I am also on the inaugural hospital-wide Advisory Council formed this year.
In addition to my volunteer work, I started a blog called “Mothering Miracles” last July to be a resource for other families going through health issues. I honestly thought it would just be my mom and dad reading it, but my articles have been published on the Huffington Post over a dozen times, as well as other major online news sites. Some of my favorites are 10 Reasons Preemies Are Rockstars, 20 Things a Cancer Mom Knows By Heart and Never Second Guess a Second Opinion.
What’s it been like to work with Joel for all these years? And you’re STILL sane?
I have no idea how I haven’t been institutionalized by now! All kidding aside, Joel and Sara Jo have been wonderful employers, and our team works really well together. The Rubins foster a creative, collaborative environment and these ten years have gone by in a flash.
As they say: time flies when you’re having fun.