How did you get started in your career path?
I fell in love with marketing when I was about 8 years old. There was an 80’ sitcom called “Who’s the Boss” and one of the lead characters, Angela Bower, was the head of an ad agency. I knew right then and there that I wanted that job. It all looked so glamourous and creative. Angela would bring home these big storyboards for a commercial she was working on, or she’d be going out to fancy dinners to pitch a new client. Angela Bower is the reason I’m in advertising, and I haven’t looked back since.
What was your first Industry related job?
When I was in college I was offered a job selling ads on bike racks by this guy that owned the rights to the advertising space. It was NOT glamourous. I worked out of my car, selling ads to local bars, restaurants and real estate agents. There was no office, no staff, not even a client list, but did I ever learn a lot. Not only did I learn sales, but had a crash course in ad design, production and operations, since I had to do all of it. I made $200 my first month and $3,000 my second month. Soon after I was hired by Pattison, the billboard company. They had a real office so it was a pretty big upgrade.
What has been the biggest challenge you have had to overcome?
Learning the difference between a business and a business model. When I worked at NEWAD, an experiential and Out of Home marketing company recently acquired by Bell Media, I was shocked by how seemingly small fluctuations in revenue and expenses could mean the difference between a fast-growing company and layoffs. I experienced the financial crash of 2008 and its effect on the ad market. It was devastating to personally explain to staff why, due to circumstances outside of the company’s control, they no longer had a job. That lesson taught me, and NEWAD, the importance of sustainable profitability and cost controls, but it was an incredibly emotional way to learn. I’ve applied those same principles at my own company, Pressboard, and when COVID hit and once again crushed the advertising market, we were not only able to weather the storm, but we actually grew in 2020.
What motivates you in your career and work at Pressboard?
I still love marketing all these years later. I am in awe of the psychology of consumerism. Why someone will pay $300 for a pair of jeans at a boutique that is made from the exact same materials as the pair at Walmart on sale for $40. How we wear a company logo (or even tattoo them on our bodies) because of what they represent to us. I fell deeper in love with content marketing when I learned how the science behind storytelling changes the way we perceive, remember, and even value the things in our world. Pressboard is a combination of my love of marketing, science and technology, all wrapped up into one.
What is one thing you wish others knew about your career?
I wish people knew how much fun I have in this industry. I own a tech business, talk a lot about data and speak at events where people wear suits. But there’s this whole other side to the industry that people don’t get to see. The late-night brainstorm session with your colleagues coming up with an idea for a pitch. The celebration dinner after landing a big account you worked for weeks on. The events and conferences where the main topic is how to be more creative. I don’t believe that there is another industry in the world where you get to nourish your inner artist and inner geek as equally and completely as marketing.
What are your predictions for the future of the media industry?
We are in the midst of a war between privacy and convenience, and it’s a war we’re fighting against ourselves. Sure, no one wants Google to know all of our personal information, and yet we want to simply walk into an empty room and expect the heat to adjust, the lights to turn on and our favorite song to play. We obviously don’t want Instagram to suck hours out of our day as we endlessly scroll, and yet we expect that our feed is perfectly full of the things and the people that we’re most interested in. We may not approve of Amazon tracking everything we buy, and yet we love that we can get the perfect gift for our kids’ birthday, on a day’s notice, in a single click, without ever leaving our house.
My iPhone knows my passwords, my credit card number and even my fingerprint, all in the name of convenience. The future of the media industry will be what it has always been, an industry endlessly chasing consumers needs and desires. I’m curious where people will decide to take us, but my bet is that convenience will win the war.
What is one piece of advice you’d give someone that wants to pursue a career like yours?
Move to New York for a year. Live in San Francisco for awhile. Fly to France for the Cannes Festival at least once. This may sound crazy at the best of times and impossible during a pandemic, but once we can travel again, get out and see the world in the cities where media, marketing and technology were born and are celebrated. We spend so much time behind our screens, looking at spreadsheets and reports, that we sometimes forget that our job is to study this complicated, ever changing human race, and figure out what makes them tick. I think that is what Angela Bower would have wanted ?
Host, The Science of Storytelling Podcast
“Best Content Marketing Platform” – Digiday