NextUP… Erin Ovadal
Erin Ovadal, account director at Max Borges Agency, talks to Sarah Joyce and Josh Moed from D S Simon Media about setting short-term and long-term goals. Erin explains what specific research communications should do before new business calls. Erin also describes how to realistically make your job fit your interests.
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SARAH: Erin, thank you for being here and talking to us today. We’re so excited to have you here.
JOSH: Hi, Erin. Thanks so much for talking with us today.
ERIN: Thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited to talk with you both.
SARAH: So, Erin, I know you’ve grown a lot throughout your career. And I know a big part of growth is setting goals for yourself. What tips do you have for communicators in setting any goals, whether they’re short-term or long-term?
ERIN: For me, I think vision setting and having long-term goals has been a huge part of why I’ve been able to evolve my career and been able to grow so much over the last five years. I think starting at your big picture goal, so where you really want to be in five years or even a year and then working backward from that. So that way your short-term goals are assisting your long-term goals. I like to start with, okay, whether I want to be in five years, what is my vision like? What do I see my day-to-day being in five years and then taking that as the framework and then breaking it down to the smallest possible element, like the tiniest step that I can take to get there? And then setting like I’m going to do one thing today that’s going to help me get closer to that or this week I’m going to make sure I do this because I know that that’s the next thing that’s going to push me closer to my five-year goals. I’m a big believer in the quote that people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years. So that’s why it’s so important to have a long-term goal that’s also supported by your short-term goals.
JOSH: What is the best way for you to manage growing new clients?
ERIN: Starting off a client relationship is really your opportunity to put yourself in a position where your client’s not just going to be a client or they’re going to see you as a vendor, but they’re really going to see you as a partner in their business. And for me, I think the way to start that is by doing a strategy up front and really researching their space, their competitors, and where they’re looking to go with their business. One thing I like to do with my new clients, especially if it’s a smaller brand who’s really just getting going, is looking to grow massively over the next 5 to 10 years instead of looking at maybe direct competitors like to look at aspirational brands for them. So, what brands they admire, what brands they’ve really been tracking with, and where they really see themselves going, I think that’s really important. So that way you understand, okay, here’s where they are now, here’s where they want to go and start to build how PR and marketing can really support them. I’m really big on asking questions about the company. I want to know as much as possible about my client’s business, even if it doesn’t relate to what I’m working on the day-to-day. Because the more you can learn about their business, the more valuable you become and the more that you can show that your work is bringing them success in the areas that they need to show success in. Whether that’s how they’re measuring marketing success or what’s most impactful to their business right now, if you can tailor what you’re delivering to them to better reflect that or to better communicate how it fits into that big picture for them, they’re going to see you as a much stronger partner and a much more valuable asset to their business.
SARAH: Erin, also was wondering when you reach out to clients, are you trying to think of your interests and keep your interests in mind? And how can communicators make their jobs fit their interests?
ERIN: Yeah. So, think there are a lot of different ways to really make your job fit your interests. Think one of the most obvious ways and the one that think people focus on sometimes even too much is you have to have a client that’s like exactly within your dream area, within your passion area. And obviously, that’s amazing. And when you can reach out to those clients and find that connection and get their buy-in from the start, they see that passion and it’s going to set you up for, you know, you’re going to be more interested in the space. You’re going to relate to them more. They’re going to see your passion come through, and what you’re doing, and that you really care about it. But think for 90% of communicators, especially those who are just getting started or are maybe building their career, their workload is not going to look like that. It’s going to take a while to build that. They’re going to be working on client’s, accounts, and tasks that are not in their interest area and maybe aren’t in their passion area. So, it’s really important to find little things about your current work that are helping you reach those long-term goals and are fitting into your interest. For me personally, I have a client who is one of the largest at our agency. There may be not a brand that I would say fits into my passion area, but they work on a lot of really cool stuff that is within my passion area for them. I plan a lot of large-scale events and media events, which is something I’m really excited about and something that helps me connect with media and allows us to reach media that are in the space that I’m most interested in, even if the client’s not directly in that space. So, it’s finding those little things that you’re doing day to day that are going to help you feel like you’re doing things within your interest area. And sometimes that’s not always going to be the case, right? Like you also have to have recognition and self-awareness to know that if you’re working at an agency or at a company that is not aligned with your interests at all, there are no opportunities to work within your interests. It’s probably never going to work for you and you’re not going to enjoy going to work each day. You’re not going to want to find areas within your passion or work to make that happen because you’re not happy and that’s going to impact you more long term than working on something in your interest area.
So, I think one thing people go into wanting to work on areas within their interest and they’re not proactive about it. Getting clients or tasks within your passion areas or that is what you really want to work on aren’t always going to be handed to you because no one knows that you’re interested in that space. You have to be vocal to your company, and those that you work with about what you’re interested in, and volunteer to take on things that are within that interest area. Maybe if it’s not in your day-to-day work and find ways to make it part of your day to day and part of your regular work. Otherwise, you’re not going to have it and you’re going to end up putting yourself in a position where you’re moving further and further away from your interests.
SARAH: Yes, definitely. As someone starting off in a sales role, I know how hard it can be to reach out to clients and get responses from companies that you’re interested in. So, that definitely takes time, but definitely finding little things every day that keep your interest up is super important, and understanding that it takes time, but also reaching out to people and using your voice to vocalize what you’re interested in. That’s really awesome!
JOSH: This has been great. Erin. Do you have any final thoughts that you want to leave with the audience?
ERIN: You know, keep working on what you’re passionate about and, you know, if there is an area you really want to grow in and you have a really big long-term goal, you can reach it. You just have to break it down to that small step and start working towards that and always be finding ways that you can incorporate that into your day to day and being proactive to make your goals happen.
SARAH: Thank you so much for talking to us today. I know I learned so much and whoever watches this will also learn just as much from you as I did.
JOSH: Thank you, Aaron. I really learned a lot here as well.