From time to time, we like to open a window into what life is like here at SHIFT. We pride ourselves on our smart, dedicated (and who can forget ballsy) culture. This week, we check in with Julie Staadecker, an Account Director on our Boston consumer team. Julie gives us insight into her role and offers lessons learned and advice for fellow PR pros.
Give us a rundown of what a day in the life is like as the Boston Consumer Team Account Director?
The best thing about PR – especially in agency life – is the crazy, fast-paced environment. I chose this path because I didn’t want my days to be the same. One hour I might be leading strategic media approach; the next I could be at a local fair handing out product samples to engage directly with consumers. And no one aspect of my job is more important than the other.
Some of the commonalities of my days are people and plans. On the people front, I’m lucky to work with a strong team of smart, creative, fun colleagues. I spend at least a bit of time every day ensuring that these team members are meeting their individual and client goals and giving project guidance.
Planning is also a big part of my day-to-day: whether that be researching and putting together a presentation for a prospect, or pushing myself and my team to think BIG for current client plans and making sure we are marching towards our metrics. If not, we will immediately pause to re-strategize.
I also have fun every day! It can be hectic and stressful at times, so finding small moments to laugh with my teammates is really important.
Throughout your career, you’ve worked with both large brands and small brands. What are the major differences that may not be so obvious about working with both? How do you balance splitting time between both?
While the goals for a large client versus a small client may be drastically different – the way we reach these goals have similarities. As a data-driven agency, we focus our efforts in concrete evidence and research. How we get creative for client campaigns is what I find can be the biggest difference.
Smaller brands are typically the ones willing to experiment. Big risk can mean big, positive change for a company looking to make its name in the media. They are flexible and open to change. For example, one of my favorite clients is Print Syndicate, owner of sites like LookHuman.com, that sells quirky, sarcastic apparel and home goods based on social media trends. No pitch topic is off the table. Among other angles, we are currently pitching “Dog Tees to Turn your Ruff Day Around.”
Larger brands may be less willing to take chances, often sticking with traditional (yet still successful) PR tactics, but have larger budgets to pull off big-scale events and other holistic media campaigns.
It’s not difficult to balance the time between smaller versus larger companies. Each project takes on its own life and everything is based on urgency. For example, in working with McDonald’s of New England, our team could pitch stories all day – and we often do – but our other clients also need media love, so we ensure they get it consistently. It’s definitely an exercise in prioritization.
Where do you see the future of PR heading? Are there any common practices you think will fade out and be replaced with new tactics?
That’s a tough question! While I don’t know what the “next big thing” will be, I believe PR and marketing will continue to become inseparably intertwined in the years ahead. When I began my career in PR, pitching traditional media was easy – pick up the phone, tell reporters about your story, and boom – coverage. Now, it takes hours of time and effort to get even one response. With reporters becoming harder and harder to crack, it’s important to think creatively, rely on pitches that are different, and leverage hard news/statistics. I don’t think the value of PR will decrease, but proving that value and bolstering it through marketing will become more and more important.
Typically many companies – even Fortune 100 businesses – are working in silos when really earned, owned and paid media groups need to work together. Communications professionals will need to gain more broad knowledge rather than remaining niche experts if we want to evolve with the market.
Has there been a moment over the years of your career that really impacted you as a PR professional?
One of the first programs I ever worked on was Yoplait’s Save Lids to Save Lives program that benefits Susan G. Komen. While the PR effort at the time was fairly straightforward, seeing my work generate awareness – and therefore funds – for charity made me realize the power in PR. At the time, I was questioning staying in the field, so this reaffirmed my career choice. The ability to create and tell a story that influences people still gets me excited.
If you could leave entry-level and future PR pros with a bit of advice, what would it be?
Use wrinkle cream…and start early.
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