Tell us a bit about yourself and your current role?
I’m a Comms Planner at Mediahub’s Boston office, where our team is the strategic arm and consumer mouthpiece for the agency. Day-to-day, this can mean everything from developing, fielding, and analyzing primary global research to exploring emerging cultural truths in whatever form, channel, or touchpoint they present themselves. At its core, my role is to uncover human truths and translate them into actionable insights for our planning teams, our creative media department, and our clients, where I work across a variety of different brands, including FOX Entertainment, Slack, and Navy Federal Credit Union.
Staying ahead of rising motivations, behaviors and their subsequent impact on media is a major part of what we do. We regularly publish thought leadership using proprietary research that is dedicated to understanding meaningful consumer-driven behavioral shifts and their impact in media on relevant verticals, ranging from a look at the reshaped pandemic-driven perception of pharmaceutical and healthcare companies to uncovering a consumer-driven approach for authentic, meaningful brand commitment to supporting activism and allyship.
Personally, I’m originally from the Dallas, TX area -- after spending a few years in Austin, I made the jump to Boston after college, sight unseen. I’m a massive music fan who reignited my vinyl collection during the pandemic and picked up a serious coffee habit somewhere along the way, so I really owe it all to the Talking Heads and my Chemex.
How did you get your start as a strategist? What led you to pursue it as a career?
I’ve always been the person in the room asking “why?” Luckily for everyone else around me, at some point my vocabulary also expanded to include “how”, “when”, and “what does this mean?”. I was studying advertising because I knew that I would never get bored, and I was determined to make my innate curiosity something actionable. From the minute I heard about the role of a strategist, I was captivated. At UT Austin, I was lucky to have peers, programs and mentors that nurtured this. When I started interviewing after college, from the first interview with the comms team at Mediahub I knew it was where I needed to be.
What set of skills do you believe it takes for a strategist to thrive in the current advertising landscape?
Strategists are dynamic by definition. Change is something constant and something to be celebrated. Leaning into it, understanding it to the best of your abilities, and articulating it in a way that’s true to your audience is paramount to thriving. Learn the tools you need to uncover these truths, be a sponge to the world around you – on-screen and off – and embrace growth fearlessly. A personal process looks a million different ways to as many people but crafting miniature checkpoints in the discovery process helps give shape and form to what could otherwise stall out at idle curiosity. At the end of the day, media-actionable insights are the ultimate priority. If it doesn’t alter the course of the media plan or doesn’t connect to a touchpoint in media, it isn’t an insight.
What’s the most challenging aspect of the job? What helps keep the work interesting for you?
We’re all collectively swimming in data, and the difference between consumption and absorption can be thin, especially at the rate that culture moves – the trick is in the balance. The other side of this is also what keeps things interesting – there’s never a true stopping point, always more to learn, and the possibilities are endless.
The challenge and satisfaction of pulling back and authentically crafting a strategy that resonates across both audience and client is one of the most rewarding aspects of the job.
Is there a part of the role that you feel is often misunderstood?
I feel that the general misconception of a strategist can swing wildly both ways – someone either too in-the-weeds to find the meaning behind the numbers in front of them or too big-picture to be actionable. Data doesn’t exist in a vacuum and pulling the red thread through from statistic to insight is what we are driven to do. For my work, that means merging data-driven insights with cultural truths and knowing where, how, and why the dots connect in media.
Do you have any advice for those looking to work in a similar role?
Don’t just understand your audience but uplift them in the process of your work. Motivations, behaviors, passions, and mindsets are key pieces of the puzzle, but at the core we’re seeking human truths for a specific group that align with a business problem. Knowing your audience is a significant portion of the job, but truly disruptive insights carry the ability to empower.
How do you keep your finger on the pulse of culture? Where do you look for inspiration?
For all the reasons listed above, there’s quite a bit of research that goes into my day to day. Setting aside time to comb through research vendors, past studies, rising social communities, interesting articles, podcasts, Twitter threads, subreddits… it’s all more than necessary. At the same time, finding the human touchpoint tying it all together is the most inspiring. Speaking directly to the source and keeping our audiences at the core of the work is often the difference between what’s just interesting and what leads to an answer. As an advocate for authentic, meaningful connection between brands and an audience, it’s equally important to carry that piece through every step of the way.