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Meet The Word Factory Team

The Word Factory's gear boxSeems like you can’t throw a rock these days without hitting someone who’s a content or communications specialist. The Word Factory team is different. We’re pros with a deep understanding of the enterprise, strategy and operations. We blend good writing and communications with good business, helping clients get their words' worth since 1993.

Learn about our approach to business in this Q&A Margot did with the Talking Biz News blog.

  • We're trained journalists and communicators. We know how to create content and communications tactics that engage. Our writers are working reporters who made their livings writing well on deadline. The current content cycles don’t bother us. We’re used to crafting quality stuff on a tight time frame – and we’ve developed tools and processes to help others do the same – even non-writers! And our PR team are seasoned strategists and operationalizers skilled at creating communications that get results.
  • We understand business. We’ve been in business – everything from a family-owned business to a Fortune Global 500 company – and we understand the need for content to support operations and drive revenues. We work with you to operationalize your content activities and maximize head counts, so your content team is more efficient and cost-effective.
  • We're domain experts. Though we’ve all done turns as general assignment reporters and corporate communicators – meaning we can get up to speed on any topic quickly – we do have some very specific domain expertise in business journalism, and the real estate/architecture/development and pharma/medical/wellness areas.

We're a certified woman-owned business and a SAM-certified federal contractor.

Meet our team

Margot Carmichael Lester, founder, content producer, writing coach 

I’m living proof you can be old school and au courant at the same time. I still write regularly for a print magazine (the International Cinematographers Guild Magazine), but most of my work these days is digital. I was doing brand journalism for Match.com in the early 00’s (before the term even existed) and manage our team of pros serving as virtual brand newsrooms for our clients. When I’m not slinging words, I coach professionals who want to boost their communications chops -- mostly execs working on special projects (giant presentations, reorgs, digital transformations) or upper management who desire better skills to move up the ladder.  My projects also include consulting with start-ups and Fortune 100 companies on communications and content strategy, workflow optimization and talent management/development. I've got three books to my name, including the award-winning Be a Better Writer, a guide for young writers. In my off-hours, I love to cook (and eat); listen to music and watch sports; and follow local, state and national politics — except when the UNC Tar Heels are playing basketball. Learn more about me on Linkedin.

Steve Peha, senior sentence construction specialist 

Steve PehaI’ve been writing professionally for over 30 years. After college, I was a technical writer completing many user guides for then-famous products like the Finale Music Publishing System and the Kurzweil K-250 synthesizer. In my 30s, I wrote more than 200 columns on education in The Seattle Times' Effective Learning Series, which earned me the 2001 Innovator's in Education Award from The Newspaper Association of America. I wrote Be a Better Writer, which won the Independent Publisher's Association Gold Medal for Young Adult Non-Fiction, among other accolades. My work has also appeared on popular websites like The Washington Post, The National Journal, and Psychology Today. Now I'm a writing coach and certified StoryGrid editor working with authors to tell their stories more effectively. At The Word Factory: Steve is our education lead, covering policy and practice. As an early adopter and former tech entrepreneur, he also covers technology. Fun fact: Steve and Margot are married--to each other. Learn more about me on LinkedIn.

Peter Andersen, writer & editor - Seattle, Wash.

AndersenI’ve been writing since I was a kid. In my professional life I’ve worked as a journalist, writing teacher, newspaper editor, freelancer, and technical writer. I spent 20 crazy years at Microsoft writing and producing software manuals in English and dozens of other languages. These days I focus on brand journalism, blogging, novels, and screenplays. At The Word Factory: Peter covers technology, cybersecurity, parenting and sandwich-generation issues. Fun fact: Steve and Pete have been pals since 4th grade.

Marc Borzelleca, art director, designer, style guru – Staunton, Va. 

The Word Factory's Design Guru, Marc BorzellecaI've been working in the design industry for quite a long time, designing everything from logos and corporate branding to product and package design. From 2d to 3d, large to small, corporate to funky, I've covered them all.My goal is to make the world a more attractive place, one design at a time. Learn more about my approach to design and see my workAt The Word Factory: Marc designs everything from meaty ebooks to beautiful infographics. He also designed the icon set based on our logo. Fun fact: Marc and Margot met at Griffith Park when they lived in Hollywood and volunteered together at ArtShare L.A.

Rob Brittain, retail expert, general assignment writer – Raleigh, N.C.

I’m a storyteller at heart.  And… for the past two decades, I’ve helped big businesses to tell their stories to both internal and external audiences.  In the process, I’ve written about everything from electrical distribution and mortgage insurance to hospitality and food service.  I enjoy sharing news about big business ideas, as well as about the people behind the headlines.  While brand journalism is my specialty, I also enjoy writing screenplays and blogs. Learn more about me on LinkedIn. At The Word Factory: In addition to serving our restaurant clients, Rob assists with marketing strategy and general assignment content creation. Fun Fact: Rob was an intern for Margot when he was at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Media & Journalism and Margot was running marketing for the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School.

Carolyn Evans, PR & retail specialist, director of gracious living – Chapin, S.C.

Carolyn (1)“Do what you love, the money will come.” That doesn’t always hold true, but it works for me. I split my time between social media marketing for small companies and writing about the business and product sides of the retail industry. A self-proclaimed product maven, I consider every shopping trip to be a research expedition. I’ve written for Staples, Hanley Wood Business Media and the Carrboro Citizen, and have developed marketing campaigns for Southern Lure, Lawrence & Lillian and Design Design, Inc.  Learn more about me on LinkedIn. At The Word Factory: Carolyn is our retail guru and covers small business, education and parenting topics. Fun fact: Carolyn joined the Word Factory in 1995 as its first intern from UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Media & Journalism and never truly left.

Liz Hester, writer & editor - Raleigh, N.C.

liz-2 smallLiz brings a decade of experience in the financial services industry to her work in communications. Her areas of expertise include writing and editing, content marketing, project management, strategic communications, public relations and internal communications. She worked for JPMorgan Chase and Bloomberg News in New York before returning to the greener spaces of her native North Carolina. When not writing, she’s most likely to be found cycling or spending time with her puppy. Learn more about Liz on LinkedIn. At The Word Factory: Liz covers business, especially B2B, and specializes in finance.

Jillian Lee Gray, intern - Suffern, N.Y.

Jillian began working with us in the summer of 2018. She helps us with social media marketing to tweens and teens, and participates in our social justice pro bono work. She also penned an article on summer recipes for one of our B2C clients. Her student writing has won several awards. Jillian wants to pursue a career in medicine after graduation. Fun Fact: Jillian is Margot and Steve's niece and Charlie's (see below) daughter.

Adela Mann, intern - Charlotte, N.C.

Adela2Adela started as an office assistant while still in middle school. She’s still helping us keep things orderly as our admin, archiver and dog walker. Adela also supports The Word Factory’s pro bono work for the N.C. Jaycee Burn Center, developing program ideas for high school clubs, assisting with event promotion and educational outreach, producing videos, and even penning an opinion piece for the local paper to inspire young people. Adela completed the summer Intensive Law & Trial program at Stanford, serves as the UNC-Charlotte Student Body Vice President, and looks forward to a  career in law after college.

Charlie Marcus, real estate expert - New York

Charlie Marcus works in The Word Factory's commercial and residential real estate practice.I began my career as a developer and builder in the 1990s and have financed, built and managed dozens of projects, including The Ellington Condos, featured in the New York Times in 2003 as an outstanding example of a turn-around. I also co-founded PropertyShark.com, a leading property research resource. A registered broker, I consult with developers on property selection, advise brokers on positioning and marketing properties, and coach professionals on presenting to neighborhood groups, regulatory entities, investors and other high-stakes constituencies. I also coach other professionals, helping they get and stay accountable to themselves, their families and their goals. At The Word Factory: Charlie's our resident expert on residential and commercial real estate. Fun facts: Charlie is Steve's brother and Jillian's Dad. He's also a working Broadway actor, most recently performing in Chazz Palminteri's A Bronx Tale: The Musical.

Mike Plotnick, story elevator - Maryland Heights, Mo.

Mike PlotnickSkillfully straddling the worlds of traditional and social media, Mike specializes in crafting compelling stories that connect with diverse audiences. Before launching his own consulting practice in 2012, he served as communications manager at HOK and communications leader at MasterCard Worldwide. Mike’s eclectic hobbies include fitness, dogs and cats, essential oils and the St. Louis Cardinals. Learn more about Mike at his website. At The Word Factory: Mike's covered all aspects of small business, plus architecture, design and development.

Taylor Sisk, lead writer & editor, sensei

SiskI'm a feature and enterprise writer who enjoys hearing and retelling people’s stories. I've interviewed ecologists, economists, undersea explorers, teenage philanthropists, sabermetricians, Shark Tank winners, hostage takers, Final Four champions, United Nations officials, radical priests, NASCAR legends, sexual-advise columnists, presidential candidates and death-row inmates. These experiences have informed my understanding of the interview process in particular and journalism in general. Learn more about me on LinkedinAt The Word Factory: Taylor is a true general assignment reporter, but he's our go-to on all aspects of health and healthcare (including policy), and for personality and customer profiles.

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