Five Tips For Leading A Virtual Team

by Megan Shroy

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- Originally published by Forbes.com

It’s no secret: The self-employed movement is taking our country by storm.

An Intuit 2020 report estimates that by 2020, more than 40% of the American workforce will be independently employed as freelancers, contractors and temporary workers. This rapidly growing trend can be characterized as a good thing, particularly for those who work remotely, as well as for their employers. Appealing personal benefits include hand-selecting clients, ensuring projects are tailored to the individual’s unique skill set and interests, and having the flexibility to set one’s own schedule.

But the research behind virtual workers is most compelling in that they tend to put in longer hours and are often more productiveaccording to a New York Times article.

One of the greatest challenges of managing a group of employees who don't sit under the same roof, however, is providing the structure and support they need to do their best work. Here are five strategies to engage a remote team and set them up for success from day one.

1. Select Individuals Who Can Thrive

Consider bringing on potential hires first as freelancers before extending an offer for contracted and/or longer-term employment. This approach helps ensure they fit the company culture, develop rapport with colleagues, and can adjust to and succeed in a non-traditional work environment. In fact, providing short-term opportunities during a trial period gives both parties the chance to determine whether or not the relationship is a match.

2. Provide Meaningful Professional Development

High-performing and motivated workers — even those who are based in remote locations — are constantly seeking new and better ways to do their job. From challenging the status quo to improving their skills to mastering a new technology, they deliberately seek out a company that provides opportunities for continued growth. Begin by surveying employees to establish what types of continuing education they are most interested in and then build this professional learning into your budget and calendar (be it monthly, quarterly or standing). The possibilities are seemingly endless, from bringing in a subject matter expert for a workshop to enrolling in an industry-specific webinar to watching and discussing a TED Talk.

3. Make Connecting Easy

The richness of face-to-face communication cannot always be replicated virtually. Additionally, when remote team members work on small teams, it can be easy to feel isolated over time. Provide opportunities to collaborate in-person, through such methods as team meetings at your company headquarters, annual planning and team-building retreats at an inspiring location, client presentations, networking events, and conferences or other professional learning events.

When these planned interactions aren’t possible, offer the next best thing: video conferencing and screen sharing through a program like Zoom.

4. Build A Social Network

Using the groups forum on Facebook allows team members to post articles of interest, announcements, questions, ideas and reminders. It is also an effective way to connect teammates for instant messaging and to celebrate client wins, birthdays and develop camaraderie with one another outside of work. Consider Slack or Yammer for team communication platforms with more robust features.

5. Give Back

A strong company culture extends well beyond policies and practices. A Forbes article points out that more than eight in 10 millennials (81%) expect companies to make a public commitment to good corporate citizenship, per a study conducted by Horizon Media. Create a sense of goodwill among employees and foster relationships with the communities you serve by partnering with non-profit organizations and offering support in the following ways: volunteer opportunities at various locations near employees or as a team event, financial assistance through a monetary gift-matching program or in-kind donations that deliver desired goods and services.

Embracing the remote business model and developing tangible ways to build up your virtual workforce will likely result in a well-adjusted and happier team — which directly translates to increased loyalty, higher-quality output and, ultimately, more satisfied clients. The encouraging news is that myriad companies have demonstrated that it is possible to extend a dynamic, established company culture beyond office walls and provide the resources that non-office staff need to succeed.

Meet Our Team: Q&A with Brittany Rouse

Photo Courtesy Wright Photographs

Photo Courtesy Wright Photographs

What types of projects did you work on before joining the team? 
I graduated with a degree in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Illinois, and was convinced that I was going to go on to be an NFL sideline reporter! After a brief stint handling game day media relations for the Chicago Bears, I realized my passion for working with the media, and took my first PR job at Golin, an award-winning PR agency based in Chicago. 

Before coming to Approach, I was working with clients like McDonald's, Walmart and adidas, handling PR and marketing efforts for their various new product launches, sports initiatives, celebrity campaigns and non-profit programs.

What makes you great at your job? 
I'm very detail oriented, and live for a good showflow, timeline, action plan - you name it. I also love to write, and relish the opportunity to take bits and pieces about a brand or product and weave them into a compelling press release, media pitch or blog post for my clients.

How would you describe your ideal client?
My ideal client is a great communicator, very collaborative, and truly values our strategic counsel and recommendations as PR professionals. They willingly share their vision and goals upfront, challenge you along the way, and are the first ones to celebrate with you after a job well done!

What do you love about working with the consultants on the Approach team?
I love that we're all driven PR professionals that share the same values both professionally and personally. There's always someone willing to brainstorm, problem solve, review a document, or share a glass of wine with. Together, we're challenging the way PR has typically been done, and we're having so much fun doing it. 

What is a word you would use to describe the Approach Marketing team or culture?
Smart. I am constantly in awe of everyone's talents, and the work that this agency produces. 

How does the virtual agency model benefit your career and personal life?
To be honest, I used to love the big agency world. As a young twenty something, the big city office, long hours, whirlwind travel and high-profile weekend events were a thrill. But somewhere along the way, I got married, moved to a new city and welcomed two babies. Suddenly, I found myself at a crossroads, still wanting to pursue my career, but also wanting to be present at home. I couldn't fathom missing the important milestones with my children.

The virtual agency model at Approach is my best-case scenario in this phase of life. I can send my kids off to school and get right to work from my home office without skipping a beat. Now I can be there for the school parades, class parties and field trips, without compromising the needs of my clients. 

Where do you live and what do you love about your city?
I am a Naperville girl at heart now living in Champaign, Illinois thanks to my husband! Over the last six years, I've grown to love this University town amongst the cornfields with its weekend football tailgates, unique local shops, beautiful parks, and a slower pace of life. The tight knit community and kind-hearted residents make it an ideal place to raise a family.

When you're not working… where will we find you?
Probably at Target wandering the aisles aimlessly with a Starbucks drink in hand wondering how I managed to fill an entire cart when I only came to grab diapers…

On a more serious note, you'll find me with my two kids playing around the house, twirling at dance class or attempting Pinterest projects, or with my husband trying a new restaurant or cheering on the Illini.

What accomplishment (career or personal) are you most proud of?
My children are by far my best and most beautiful accomplishment, and I'm proud to have altered my career path over the years to allow for more work-life balance. 

I will also always remember the day I first placed a story in ESPN the Magazine, my holy-grail media placement when working on the McDonald's All American Games. I still have the issue proudly displayed on my bookshelf in my office!

What is the most memorable compliment you ever received?
When my former supervisor and mentor told me he was sure I would be his boss someday.

What advice would you give to someone starting their career in PR and marketing? 
Work hard, think smart, always go above and beyond, and never forget the value of building relationships. 

What is your favorite quote?
"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass...It's about learning to dance in the rain."

My approach to life is... 
Infuse kindness into everything you do, and life will change for the better. 
 

Rethinking Earned Media Measurement: Three Metrics That Matter More Than Impressions

by Brittany Rouse

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Not so long ago, I sat at my desk physically cutting out print placements and measuring them with a ruler to determine their “worth” for clients.

Crazy, I know.

Dusting off that memory makes me feel like my mother when she talks about living in a time before the Internet, cell phones and Starbucks—but I’m not THAT old, and, trust me, this was common practice around the industry when I was fresh out of college.

We may not be pulling out the old ruler anymore, but, honestly, much of how our industry measures PR success has remained the same despite all of the communications advancements in recent years.

It’s time for a change.

Get your hands on pretty much any PR recap report and you’ll still see the usual suspects highlighted: total number of clips, impressions garnered and some ridiculously-inflated unique monthly visitor metrics.

It’s no surprise that some PR professionals still hang their hats on these. After all, these are the figures that are still most readily available when analyzing results, and they’re what C-suite members have grown accustomed to seeing.

But here’s the real question… so what?

Impressions aren’t king anymore.

Sure, without an impression nothing else can happen. But what matters most these days is what happens next.

Did someone trust or find that impression worthy enough to engage? Did they click, sign up, share it, stop in or actually buy something?

Beyond the impressions, these are the types of things we tout for our clients:

  • Audience Reached—Every client dreams of that perfect placement in the Wall Street Journal. The name alone carries serious cache, and the circulation is huge, so how could this not be a homerun for any brand?

    Despite the big name, your placement is going to fall on deaf ears if your product resonates most with middle class moms because more than 70% of WSJ subscribers are male. So while you’re bragging about that little feature on page 25 of the Journal, your potential customers are drooling over that other product featured on Ellen’s latest audience giveaway during the three o’clock hour.

    What’s the lesson here? The best placements don’t have to be in the biggest outlets; they just need to tell a killer story in a medium that’s going to reach your target customer.

  • Engagement—A consumer taking action also shows value. A visit to your website, redemption of a coupon, a social share or comment, a check-in at your location—these all tell you that seeing a piece of your creative content drove an actual behavior related to your business. And when that happens, everyone wins!

    Analytics tools can also help to illustrate correlations between media coverage, social content and website visits so you have a clear picture of what’s working.
     
  • Sales and Revenue—Finally, let’s talk about actually taking it to the bank. Say you’re the owner of a local boutique and Jennifer Aniston walks in to buy a shirt. You quickly snap and share a photo of her checking out – with her permission, of course. Next thing you know, you can’t keep that shirt on the shelves. That’s tangible value right there.

    On the flip side, if that same photo prompted 2,000 “likes” on Facebook but weeks go by without selling a single shirt, you can’t claim much value for your business. [Except for the fact that you can forever claim Jennifer Aniston once shopped at your store, but I digress…]

Is the impression dead? Not yet.

But there are far better ways to prove PR and marketing worth.

Who knows, perhaps a few years down the road we’ll be reminiscing about not so long along when PR pros used to tally this thing called “impressions.”

Brain Food: Our Book and Podcast Picks

by Liz Woerth

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I’m a proud book nerd.

In 2016, I read more than 100 books.

This year, I’m somewhere in the 60s, which makes me a bit anxious.

I blame the decrease on the number of podcasts I subscribe to—which exceeds 15 these days.

When people find out how many books I read, they ask how I have the time while working and parenting young children. My response is always that I prioritize it and read in my “fringe hours:” first thing in the morning before everyone wakes up, in the evening and before I go to sleep. I also listen to podcasts and/or audio books if I’m doing any type of household chore, cooking, driving alone or exercising [my primary motivator for working out is that it’s podcast time].

Reading and listening to podcasts are my favorite ways to unwind.

And while most of what I read is fiction, I wanted to share a few recommendations for your to-be-read (TBR) list and podcast app.

I found these to be inspiring reads/listens on the topics of business, time management and personal growth.

Five Books

1. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
by Cal Newport

In today’s distracted world, deep work is king. While many jobs [mine included] do not allow for unplugging for hours at a time, we need to choose to limit distractions because, Newport argues, “focus is the new IQ.” Also check out Cal Newport’s So Good They Can’t Ignore You.

2. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking
by Susan Cain 

“There’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.” Susan Cain uses research and case studies to show how extroverts and introverts excel in different business environments and the different types of influence that introverts and extroverts have. It’s an engaging read for those who are outgoing and those who are more reserved in both business and personal contexts.

3.     Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead
by Brené Brown

Perhaps there’s someone out there who hasn’t read Brené Brown? I’d start with The Gifts of Imperfection, but I enjoyed this one even more. Her messages about vulnerability and human connection will resonate.

4.     Shoe Dog
by Phil Night

I’ve always been interested in origin stories of successful companies, and this is a fascinating account of one of the most iconic brands—and the real-life challenges of founding a company and managing people.

5.     The E-Myth Revisited
by Michael Gerber

An interesting read for entrepreneurs and small business owners, which highlights three functions in a business: The Entrepreneur, The Manager and The Technician. Gerber highlights three stages of business growth—Infancy, Adolescence and Maturity—and shows how the role of functions change as your business grows. It’s a little less applicable to a service-oriented business, but still worth a read.

Additional book recommendations from our team: Designing Your Life, Great Teams, The Tipping Point and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

Five Podcasts

1.    How I Built This with Guy Raz
I only wish I’d discovered this podcast more recently so I could binge the backlist of episodes. An absorbing listen about entrepreneurs and stories behind the businesses they built. Check out the episodes with Reddit, Instagram, Rent the Runway, Zappos…I could go on. 

2.    The Accidental Creative
My colleague, Becky, turned me onto this one, and it has become one of my favorites. It offers practical tips for succeeding in client service. Check out these episodes: The Art of Radical Candor, The Assassins of Creativity and Being a Strategic Storyteller.

3.    Longform
Longform is a high-quality podcast about how journalists got their scoops and broke major stories—and they have the best guests. The episodes with Terry Gross and Ira Glass are especially insightful.

4.    Tim Ferriss Show
This one is often recommended as Tim’s interviews are useful and interesting, and he offers tactics, routines and tools to apply in your own life. These episodes are my favorites: The Not-To-Do List—9 Habits to Stop Now, Productivity, 5 Morning Rituals That Help Me Win The Day, How Creatives Should Negotiate.

5.    The Lively Show
I stopped listening to The Lively Show last year when Jess started traveling the world and the subject matter changed, but it’s worth binge-listening to any of the first 100+ episodes for intuition-based tips and advice from business and thought leaders.

Additional podcast recommendations from our team: The Art of Charm, The Minimalists, The Smartest Person in the Room, The School of Greatness, Reply All and Annotated.

What have you guys been reading or listening to lately?

The Power of PR: A Fresh Take on Wizard World Comic Con Outreach

by Megan Shroy

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The Incredible Hulk (a.k.a. Lou Ferrigno), legendary Star Trek and Star Wars illustrator Joe Corroney and Barry Bostwick of The Rocky Horror Picture Show all under one roof. 

That's some serious star power. 

Each year, Approach Marketing partners with Wizard World Comic Con Columbus to dazzle central Ohio audiences as comics, celebs, cosplay and pop culture converge.

And 2017 was no exception. 

A fun and funky event, Wizard World Comic Con is a convention that celebrates the best in movies, television, gaming, live entertainment, comics, sci-fi, graphic novels, collectibles and much more—with fans young and old showing off their best costumes on the convention floor.

Based out of Los Angeles, Wizard World, Inc. produces gaming and pop culture conventions all across North America. With celebrity, artist and author meet and greets, they give die-hard fans a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see their idols in person.

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What Brands Need to Know About the Latest FTC Disclosure Guidelines

by Monica Bhandarkar

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The FTC had a busy month. It brought its first action against a social media influencer for failing to include appropriate disclosures on sponsored posts, published an FAQ for its endorsement guide and turned its attention to affiliate marketing.

This stirred up lots of questions, so last week the FTC hosted an #Influencers101 Twitter chat to give brands and influencers more clarity on the subject.

It’s clear the FTC is ramping up its enforcement efforts. If you missed any of this, no worries. We’ve rounded up what brands need to know about influencer disclosure on social media.  

So, when should influencers disclose on social media?

The short answer: Always.

What about built-in disclosure tools on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram?

The FTC says built-in disclosure tools like YouTube’s paid promotion overlay, Facebook’s branded content feature and Instagram’s paid partnership tag are not enough. It’s possible that as these tools evolve the FTC will shift its stance, but for now, influencers should include their own disclosures.

Essentially, if a brand and influencer have a relationship, then clear and concise disclosure is a must. Below are specifics on what this means for each social channel and type of content.

Facebook, Instagram and Twitter Disclosure
In text-based posts on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, for example, this can be accomplished with #ad, #paid, #[brandname]Partner or ad (no hashtag required). The tag must be easily visible; placement at the beginning of an update is ideal. Do not bury the tag in a long list of hashtags.

Snapchat and Instagram Stories Disclosure
Influencers must superimpose a disclosure on images and videos shared on Snapchat and Instagram Stories. In a series of images or videos, the disclosure should appear on each one.

Pinterest Disclosure
Influencers have two options on Pinterest: Disclose in the pin description, or superimpose a disclosure on the image they are pinning.

YouTube Disclosure
Product review videos on YouTube must include disclosure both verbally and in the text description. This ensures people who watch the video without sound are still aware of the relationship. 

#[brandname]Partner Disclosure
This is new: The FTC accepts the use of #[brandname]Partner as sufficient disclosure. (For example, #DisneyPartner or #NikePartner.) The hashtag #partner is not enough—it must include the brand name. Similarly, #ambassador is deemed too ambiguous and doesn’t make the cut.

Giveaways and Freebies Disclosure
If a brand provides an influencer with coupons, product samples or giveaway items, then the influencer must disclose its relationship with the brand. Even in situations where the influencer isn’t paid nor is there any expectation the influencer will post about the brand, the influencer must disclose.

At Approach, helping brands build relationships with influencers is central to what we do.

Our account management teams work directly with influencer partners to ensure they understand disclosure requirements. And, we review every piece of sponsored content generated by influencers to ensure these requirements are met. Our one-to-one attention is critical to protecting both our clients and influencer partners.

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Meet Our Team: Q&A with Jennifer Lefkowitz

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What makes you great at your job?
I love working with people—getting to know them, their company and what they are trying to accomplish from both a business and marketing perspective. From there I like to dig deep, uncover hidden gems about the company or their employees and find ways to infuse creativity into their communication strategy.

How would you describe your ideal client relationship?
A relationship that includes open communication. Clients hire us to be their communications counsel and the best relationships stem from those where the clients are open to our strategic direction and guidance, and as their agency, we are equally receptive to their vision and feedback.   

What do you love about working with the consultants on the Approach team?
Even though I’ve chosen to work remotely as an independent public relations professional, I still crave the camaraderie and opportunity to collaborate with team members on projects. Everyone at Approach has dedicated many years working with different clients, companies and agencies. Together, we form a great network of seasoned public relations professionals who understand the importance of quality work, top-notch client service and the ever-changing world of public relations.

What is a word you would use to describe the Approach Marketing culture?
Smart! We’re also a group of creative and energized professionals. I’m very impressed with all the wonderful consultants I’ve had the opportunity to work with at Approach and I’m so lucky to have the opportunity to learn from them.  

How does the virtual agency model benefit your career and personal life?
Approach has provided me with the opportunity to collaborate with smart, creative and visionary independent public relations and marketing professionals from all over the country. We’ve chosen this path because we’re committed to making it on our own for greater ownership over our professional and personal lives. I think there’s something to be said for this type of determination and entrepreneurial spirit.

Where do you live and what do you love about your city?
I lived in Chicago for 12 years and it is an incredible city to live and work. We decided to move to Columbus, Ohio and raise our family in the same suburb where I grew up. The large number of people who move back here when it’s time to raise a family, is a true testament to the strength of our tight-knit community. 

When you are not working, where will we find you?
I love spending time and traveling with my family, repurposing old furniture, and sweating at hot yoga, Pilates or an Orange Theory class.

What accomplishment (career or personal) are you most proud of?
Personally, my best accomplishment are my kids. Professionally, I’m thrilled that I’ve been able to define my career on my own terms by becoming an independent public relations practitioner.  

What industry trend or technology are you excited about?
Given this digital age, we’re seeing more people go out on their own and start their own company. The ability to consult or hang your own shingle provides the opportunity to take your career in a different direction – one that is steeped in passion. Think about all the coworking spaces that have popped up in your city. They weren’t there 10 years ago. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well!  Our industry really lends itself to that and I see more and more of it happening, and I’m excited about that.

What advice would you give to someone starting their career in PR and marketing?
You’re going to make mistakes. Learn from them. Definitely find a niche you’re passionate about so you enjoy the work you do. And don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. This is where you’ll find opportunities!

My approach to life is...
Have fun. Just savor everything. Life’s too short so you’ve got to just enjoy every moment and take everything in. Figure out what’s important to you and what’s not, cut out the negative and embrace the positive.

Homes For Our Troops: Building Homes and Rebuilding Lives

by Megan Shroy

As a PR agency, Approach Marketing has the privilege of partnering with clients to design and implement programs focused on philanthropy, community engagement and helping companies give back to their customers and the neighborhoods where they do business. 

This is the good stuff, my friends.

We recently worked with our longtime client, Vivial, to create a corporate giving initiative in support of two causes near and dear to their heart: the military and education.

Vivial Values was born, with a keen focus on improving lives and supporting those who are in need or have dedicated their lives to protecting our country.

Last month, I had the opportunity to travel with CEO Jim Continenza (pictured below) to kick off Vivial Values in a grand fashion. It was such a touching experience that I had to share this story…

Megan Shroy, Approach Marketing and Jim Continenza, Vivial

A Seeing Eye Dog, aptly named Deacon, is Army MSG Eric Marts’ faithful companion.

In fact, the Labrador Retriever never leaves his side.

In 2006, while bravely serving our country, two explosive device blasts in Fallujah, Iraq caused traumatic brain injury (TBI) that took Eric’s vision and resulted in multiple surgeries for neck and shoulder injuries.

Following his service, Eric moved home to a Minnesota trailer park with his wife, Bobbie. Eric’s daily life presented a new set of challenges: The hallways were narrow, making it difficult for Deacon to do his job, and the bedrooms weren’t large enough for Eric’s equipment.

Their five grown children and grandchildren didn’t all fit inside.   

And, with no security system, Bobbie was afraid to leave Eric alone in case strangers approach the home.

This was not the life a hero deserves.

As part of Vivial Values, Vivial partnered with the nonprofit organization, Homes For Our Troops (HFOT) to help give Eric, Bobbie and Deacon a specially-adapted home that’s designed around their needs.

HFOT builds mortgage-free, custom homes nationwide for severely injured, post-9/11 veterans to enable them to rebuild their lives. These veterans are among the nation’s most wounded with missing limbs, varying levels of paralysis and, as in Eric’s case, TBI and blindness.

Honored at a ceremony attended by more than 100 community members, Eric received the keys to his new home in August. After enduring so much, Eric now has the chance to live in comfort and safety.

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Jim Continenza proudly delivered the opening remarks at this special event.

“It is thanks to men and women, like Eric, that we at Vivial are able to freely and safely do business in our country,” he said. “A year ago, the leaders at this company sat down and said, ‘All of the money we’re spending on golf outings, sporting events, you name it—let’s take that money and give it back to causes that mean something to our customers and employees.’”

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Partnering with HFOT, Vivial is committed to helping establish a stronger network of assistance for those who have bravely worn the uniform and put their lives in danger.

Helping our clients, like Vivial, connect with organizations like HFOT is a dream.

I’m thrilled that I was able to be on-site at this event and watch Eric and his family receive their home. I’ve never been prouder to support Vivial—they are truly a company that cares about the communities they serve.

To learn more about Vivial’s corporate giving and Vivial Values campaign, click here.

This is one of the very best parts of PR: being able to share the remarkable work that our clients are doing day in and day out.

If you are interested in creating a community engagement or philanthropic initiative, please contact me personally at megan@approachmarketing.com.

Managing Motherhood: How to Find Balance as a Working Mom

by Megan Shroy

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Pop the champagne, ladies.

You’ve taken the workforce by storm.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, almost 47 percent of U.S. workers are women, and mothers are the primary or sole earners for 40 percent of households with children under 18 (compared with 11 percent in 1960).

In short: We’re killing it.

As the founder and president of a PR agency that employs seasoned consultants—the majority of whom are working mothers—I’ve found that many career-driven women, myself included, face a challenging question when we also have a family: How do I manage it all?

As mothers, we crave that elusive balance between building our professional practice and being present in our personal lives.

But unfortunately, many industries—especially PR—don’t offer the flexibility that’s needed to find it.

So, what’s a gal to do?

Sacrifice time with our kids?
Turn down challenging opportunities at the office?
Give up on our career path?

Absolutely not.

Life is a juggling act, particularly when we have fulfilling jobs and a family at home.

Deciding what’s best for your family and for yourself is, of course, different for every woman—and is dependent on the situation.

I’ve spend the last decade trying to prove that having a big job and being a good mom at the same time is possible! I’m here to tell every working mother that you can find better work-life balance by making some minor adjustments in your daily life.

In my early years of business ownership, I devoted countless hours to growing the agency. As Approach Marketing grew, so did my family. After introducing two children to the mix, I knew something had to give.

Here’s my big tip: At work, pursue the things you love doing and that have the biggest impact on the company’s success…and let go of the rest.

I recognize that might sound counterintuitive. But, growing my business means narrowing my focus so I can contribute the very best of myself to the agency and my family. When I’m about to start a new task at work, I’m constantly asking myself:

  • Is this generating revenue for the business?
  • Are my clients better off with me involved in this project?
  • Is my team benefiting from my participation here?
  • Is this contributing to the overall growth of Approach Marketing?

Also, sharing the workload allows other talented teammates to contribute to the prosperity of the business while advancing their own careers. In this scenario, everyone wins.

Below, our team of award-winning publicists and power moms offers some top-notch advice about what’s working for them—and how it can work for you.

How do you prioritize both work and family responsibilities?

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“Over time, I've learned that there will be phases where my work is the priority, and I can't be home with my family in the evening due to meetings, events or travel. There are also phases where family commitments take priority, and I need to shut down early to be at curriculum night or start work a little later so I can volunteer at a school event. Balance ebbs and flows, and keeping this in mind will help to reduce guilt.”

—Liz Woerth

What processes have you established so that you're organized and efficient (i.e., able to meet client responsibilities along with personal goals)?

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“I live and die by my calendar. I update it multiple times a day as meetings shift, deliverables are completed and unexpected items come up. It’s what keeps me sane as a full-time working mother of three. This also allows me to look at my day and ensure I’m taking a breath somewhere along the way. That might mean a mid-morning coffee run with the windows down and music up (not KidzBop). It might also mean planning for an earlier start to my day so that I can meet timelines set for myself or a project. I also have lists. And my lists have lists.”

—Janice Zielinski

What tips do you have for carving out personal time?

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“It’s important for me to have personal time to recharge and refresh. I always try to find time at least 3–4 times a week to work out, whether it be running or yoga. I block my calendar and make this a priority. And after my daughter goes to bed, I try to stay up for a bit. Even if I’m tired, I need that alone time to really ensure that I feel ready to take on the next day.” 

—Jamie Rothfeld

At the end of the day, what helps you find balance and feel present with your family?

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“Having two girls, it’s important to show them that women can be moms and have a career, too. When they ask me about working, I talk to them about how much I like my job and how they’ll find jobs they enjoy when they grow up. But I don’t want my kids to remember me always being on my phone or computer. I find that if I’m able to step away and be truly present with my family in times that I’m not working, it allows me to be fully present and engaged when I am working—which leads to better service for clients and better results.”  

—Julie Daubenmire

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“It can be easy to let work creep in when spending time with family, like during evening hours or on weekends. As much as possible, I disconnect from work at the end of the workday and on weekends so that I can give my family undivided attention.”

—Monica Bhandarkar

What does successful work-life balance look like for you?

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“While the response to this question is different for everyone, I’ve learned that part-time work is ideal at this point in my life [with a baby at home]. I look forward to working—and need to feel like I’m contributing to the greater good and helping move something forward. But I also need a flexible schedule because I want to take care of my daughter. The key has been establishing dedicated work hours and sticking to them, which includes early morning conference calls and reserving blocks of time in the mid-afternoon and at night to power through deliverables. Being able to pursue a fulfilling career and raise my child simultaneously—and be fully invested in both—is a privilege I don’t take for granted.”

—Mary Franz

I suppose my last piece of advice to all the working mamas out there is to give yourself some grace. You are doing the best you can.

Oh, and every now and then, look yourself in the mirror and say, “You are a badass.”

Because you are.

Make-A-Wish and Goldfish Swim School Make Magic for Local Wish Kids

by Megan Shroy

Earlier this month, two of our clients teamed up to dream up a fun way to raise awareness and money for a great cause (one that is also near and dear to our own hearts).

The result?

Pool parties. Pancakes. Balloon animals. Silliness. Fundraising. Magic.

For Lisa Armitage, Lizzie Cowgill and Katie Lee of Goldfish Swim School, giving back to the community and bringing joy to children is all in a day’s work.

So, when they asked Approach Marketing about getting involved with the local Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana chapter, we were delighted to make the introduction.

Just as we suspected, the organizations were pretty creative with their events.

Goldfish Dublin hosted a pancake-flipping breakfast with beloved Chris Cakes, and the Goldfish Swim Schools of Dublin, Westerville and Indianapolis sold Wish Fish to help raise funds for Make-A-Wish. Approach Marketing will be matching the funds raised at both events.

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To top it off, Goldfish hosted pool parties at their individual locations to celebrate the strength and courage of local wish kids from Columbus and Indianapolis.

These parties were non-stop romps thanks to all the vendors who happily provided services—including, the Sunny 95 Treat Truck, Simply Amazing Entertainment, Paulette’s Princess Parties, Cow Town Twisters, Buca di Beppo, Olive Garden, Fazoli’s —and, of course, the incredible Goldfish staff members who came out in full force to make sure the event went off without a hitch.

It’s moments like these that bring a smile to my face and fill me with pride. I loved seeing our clients join forces to make an impact and deliver joy to the people who need it most.

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