“Don’t be too busy making a living that you forget to make a life. I’m proud I have been able to grow this business and still have a family — to prove that having a big job and being a good mom at the same time is possible. I’m reminded over and over again that being a working mom is so much harder than I ever gave my mom credit for. It’s the most challenging and rewarding job. I’m also proud that I’m raising a daughter who can see what it’s like to be a woman in business and who is learning that anything is possible.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Megan Shroy, president and founder of Approach Marketing, a virtual public relations and marketing firm that has nearly doubled in size every year since its founding in 2010.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I started my career in PR working at big-name agencies in both Chicago, and then in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio. I loved (and still love!) the fast-paced nature of agency life. Getting to work with national brands. Landing top-tier media placements. Coordinating national press tours and special events. It was a sometimes glamorous, sometimes not, always busy career.
In 2009/2010 when the recession really started to take a toll on marketing budgets, I saw many clients no longer able to afford the agency. I knew these businesses were still in need of outsourced support, but there wasn’t an alternative model. I decided to go out on my own with the mission of providing “big agency” best-in-class marketing support without all the overhead. As a result, Approach Marketing was born, and today we have 20 consultants working throughout the country in a virtual model.
Why did you found your company?
I started Approach Marketing in 2010, as I had watched many clients no longer able to afford the high-priced monthly retainers associated with the agency. I knew that these businesses still need PR and marketing support, and I believed I could do it better, more efficiently and more affordably by reinventing the traditional PR agency structure.
At Approach, we bring together a network of independent PR and marketing consultants working throughout the country and pair their expertise and availability with our clients. Because we operate 100 percent virtually, clients get the benefit of working with top talent without all the costs associated with the big agency, such as fancy office spaces and inflated account teams.
The other reason I started Approach was because I wanted to have more control over my work-life balance. In my early career, it was no big deal to pair long hours with extensive travel (which is necessary to thrive in the big agency). But as I settled down and looked toward starting a family, I knew that was unsustainable. With the Approach model, consultants choose how much they want to work, and are matched up with clients that have similar demands for service. This provides a level of job flexibility unheard of in traditional agencies.
What is it about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
It’s surprising that in 2018, many companies are still slow to adopt work-from-home or virtual working arrangements. When I started Approach in 2010, co-working wasn’t a thing and the idea of a virtual agency was completely new.
I believe we have and are disrupting the PR industry in two ways.
First, through the level of talent clients can afford under our business model. In traditional agencies, most of the actual work is done and implemented by junior-level associates, either right out of college or with only a few years of experience. At Approach, all our consultants are coming to the table with 10+ years of experience. These are professionals who in their previous roles sat in very senior positions. Because we offer work life balance, we are bringing over top talent from the nation’s leading agencies and providing that experience to our clients each and every day.
Second, workplace flexibility is no longer a “nice to have.” It’s something people are coming to expect. When I started Approach, I had no idea if this model would attract people to work with me or not. But what I’ve found is the flexible model is a major selling point in recruiting. Approach consultants choose how many hours they want to work, and we match them up with accounts that are a good fit with their expertise, interests and service needed. This has been attractive to moms in particular who want to be able to continue their career, but have the flexibility to work from home and spend their off hours with family.
We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors?
My dad has always acted as a mentor to me in business. He’s taught me a lot about the importance of relationship building, taking calculated risks and how it’s okay to be aggressive from time to time. More than anything, he’s always been willing to listen, talk me through challenges, teach or simply root me on — such great qualities in a mentor.
How are you going to shake things up next?
My team will tell you that I’m passionate about results.
In our industry, it is very difficult to promise results, especially when it comes to earned media. This has always bothered me, and recently led me to develop a guarantee on media relations that Approach offers our clients. As a business owner myself, I want to understand what I’m going to get from a big investment like a media campaign.
Our new mantra is — live and die by ROI. We now track against and report on meaningful key performance indicators in real time and guarantee that we will meet those KPIs or we work for free until we do. A big differentiator when it comes to our service offering is the fact that we believe marketing is measurable.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough. Every year I set very big goals for myself and for Approach. It took me a long time to get comfortable with this practice. I think half the time I say my goals out loud, people think I’m crazy. But I truly believe that if you’re not a little intimidated by a dream, it’s not a big enough. You are capable of more, you are meant for more. Think big, go for it.
Don’t be too busy making a living that you forget to make a life. I’m proud I have been able to grow this business and still have a family — to prove that having a big job and being a good mom at the same time is possible. I’m reminded over and over again that being a working mom is so much harder than I ever gave my mom credit for. It’s the most challenging and rewarding job. I’m also proud that I’m raising a daughter who can see what it’s like to be a woman in business and who is learning that anything is possible.
Good things come to those who hustle. I’ve always approached my career with the attitude that I might not be the smartest person in the room, but I can always be the hardest working. You may see me struggle, but you will never see me quit… not for our clients, not for our team, not for myself.
What’s a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Share a story with us.
The Tim Ferriss Show is a favorite podcast. I also have both of his books ‘Tools of Titians’ and ‘Tribe of Mentors.’ These resources have really taught me the value of a morning routine. Tim has spoken to more than 100 interviewees that stand out in their fields about morning routines. Listening to these has helped me develop my own morning routine that allows me to begin each work day in my very best state of mind.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
I love Rachel Hollis. I was listening to her podcast long before ‘Girl, Wash Your Face’ blew up, and am a true fan.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can also find me on Instagram and LinkedIn @MeganShroy.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
Originally published at medium.com