When did you join Approach and how have you seen it grow?
I was the first consultant to join Megan in 2011. At that time she established Approach and was bringing in more work than she could manage alone. I enjoyed the 10 years I spent working at large PR agencies, but was looking for a different path. Working virtually with my former colleague and friend, Megan, and great clients seemed like an ideal scenario. It has been gratifying to go along for the ride as Approach has grown from 1 to 15 consultants.
What types of projects did you work on before joining the team?
I started out at large agencies in Chicago working on several consumer brands, focusing primarily on media relations and event planning. From there I served as an account group supervisor on McDonalds working on global programs, consumer product launches and sports properties such as the Olympic Games and McDonald’s All American Games. It was fun and challenging to work on a fast-paced global brand with a large account team.
What do you love about working at Approach?
One of the greatest things about Approach is we shape our own career paths. We help to determine accounts/projects we work on, our schedule, new client prospects to pitch and consultants to hire. Opportunity is a word I use a lot here.
What makes you great at your job?
Relationship building comes to mind. One of my favorite aspects of this job is building and maintaining relationships with media, bloggers and influencers on behalf of a brand. Fifteen years in, there’s still nothing like pitching an idea to a reporter at the right time, which ultimately generates a great story for a client. I’m focused on the work that needs to be done so we meet and exceed our goals while building trusted relationships with my clients and team.
What is the best way to build client relationships?
Go above and beyond. Learn how the client likes to communicate and work with their account team. Check in with them regularly so you aren’t only reaching out when you need something. Uncover what challenges clients are facing and how you can support them. Remember that what they do goes beyond PR function.
How does the virtual agency model benefit your career and personal life?
I’ve worked remotely since 2007 so it’s a skill I’ve honed over the years but I’m more productive now than when I worked in an office setting. It’s flexible, which allows me to balance my work and family life. I determine my schedule and if I need to be at school for an activity, I adjust my schedule without it impacting my team or clients. Becoming a consultant with Approach has been one of the best career decisions I’ve made.
Where do you live and what do you love about your city?
I live in Columbus. My husband and I grew up here, and it’s an amazing place to raise a family, and we’re lucky because we live near our parents, in-laws, (some) siblings, nieces and nephews. In the fall, I love going to Buckeye games, picking apples and pumpkins with my family and cutting down our Christmas tree.
When your work is done, where will we find you?
When I’m not spending time with my family, you can find me with a book. I try to read 100 books every year (I’m at 102 at the end of 2016), and it’s by far my favorite hobby. I also love listening to podcasts – my phone storage is always full because of them. My perfect night after the kids are asleep would be relaxing with my husband, a glass of wine, a great book and our dog in my lap.
What accomplishment (career or personal) are you most proud of?
Raising two happy and healthy humans. Being a parent is tough, but it’s the most important thing I do. I’m also proud that I have a career I love that allows me to spend more time with my family.
What is the most memorable compliment you ever received?
I take it as a compliment when people say they can see how I am good at what I do because I tend to do PR naturally. I become passionate and persuasive about sharing the things I enjoy, both in my personal and professional life.
What industry trend or technology are you excited about?
I’m a big fan of working virtually. I started working from home back in 2007, which was a time when very few people were doing it. My boss at the time worked remotely, and she helped me make the transition within the agency when we relocated to Ohio. Some people thrive in a busy office environment, but I’ve always been self-motivated and working remotely allows me to be more productive. At Approach we are intentional about meeting and interacting in person because that’s also important.
How would you describe your ideal client?
An ideal client views us as a true partner and extension of their team. I want our clients to lean on us, include us in decision-making and trust that our recommendations will benefit the brand. Of course, we want clients to enjoy working with us and vice versa.
What do you love about working with the consultants on the Approach team?
We’re fortunate to have worked with most of the Approach consultants at previous agencies. We have been able to hand-select experienced consultants (all have 10+ years of experience) and they’re people we enjoy working with.
What qualities do you look for when adding people to team?
I look for proactive communicators — I want them to keep me up to speed and anticipate the clients’ needs and the needs of team. We look for highly motivated consultants who are comfortable stepping into multiple roles and all levels from program strategy to execution.
What advice would you give to someone starting their career in PR and marketing?
I would advise them to do several internships. Working at an agency, large or small, is a great way to gain experience. At an agency you will work on a variety of brands in multiple industries. I’ve hired people with several post-grad internships and they are almost always the most qualified and prepared candidates.
What is your favorite quote?
It’s impossible to choose one but I came across this recently and it stuck:
"Creativity is straddling the tension, leaning into the discomfort and finding your way through the dark." - Brené Brown