Minnesota State University, Mankato - B.S. in Marketing
Renee Weatherby has figured out how to turn an okay situation into the ideal.
When she relocated to New Jersey with her husband, a good referral and good timing helped Renee score a gig handling the New York Times' account for White Star Media/Smyth Media Group, a print and digital media advertising company. But while the company was a good fit, the job wasn't. Rather than jump ship, Renee pushed to work on the client side of the business. She started with one account and worked to gain trust, eventually earning the freedom to handle all client accounts; a position she loves.
And after six years of commuting 80 miles round trip to New York each day, Renee now only has to travel from her bedroom to her home office. She moved to California in February, but was able to keep her job, working from home and spending one week a month in New York or with clients.
Along the way, Renee's picked up plenty of workplace savvy. One of our favorites: "If I make a mistake, I don’t make it someone else’s problem. I come up with a solution." Read on for more straightforward advice and why Renee thinks the ad industry is wide open for women willing to put in the time and energy.
I don't just show up; I do my best every day.
How did you discover your current job?
I discovered this job by word of mouth and a referral. I had been working at an advertising agency in Minneapolis for two years as a national newspaper buyer and really liked my work. I was also getting married and moving to New Jersey, as my soon-to-be husband had accepted a position on the East Coast. And at the time, my company did a lot of business with my current company, so my boss contacted them about my move.
White Star Media/Smyth Media Group had just won a huge piece of business -- The New York Times -- and would be handling all of the return on investment (direct response) advertisers. And because I had national newspaper experience, they brought me on as the NYT coordinator. I didn't find the job challenging or fulfilling, so I pushed to work on the client side of the business. I started with one account and worked very closely with my boss on all media plans, and now I handle all client accounts and have been given the freedom to run my own show.
What is your typical day like? What types of things do you do in your job?
My typical day involves a lot of time on email and the phone interacting with our clients and publication reps. My key responsibilities are to develop print (newspaper, magazine and alternative media) plans for our clients based on their demographic targets and ROI objectives.
Media costs are important for our clients, as they're all selling a product from their ads and the goal is to break even or make a profit. I spend most of my day researching publications and negotiating highly discounted rates as we try to buy at an 80 to 90 percent discount.
After I've researched and negotiated rates, I put together a comprehensive plan that includes publication demographic, rates, dates and rationale, then I present it to the client. After it has client approval, I'm responsible for booking the media and trafficking materials. And after placements have run, I analyze results to make further recommendations.
What is the most rewarding part of your job? The most challenging?
The most rewarding part of my job is working with our clients. I've been working with most of our clients for about five years and they're all awesome. I've enjoyed learning the ins and outs of each working relationship and developing a great rapport. I like presenting new ideas to clients, especially when the ideas end up working. I also love that our clients cross several different categories (diet, home goods, food, etc.), so I get to work with a number of different publications. Each day is different.
What is the biggest personal sacrifice you have to make because of your job?
Living in New Jersey for six years was a huge personal sacrifice for me. New Jersey/New York can be a grind and it was hard for me to be away from family. I commuted 80 miles round trip to work each day and traffic was usually an issue. The commute really wore me out in more ways than one, but I'm thankful I liked my job and the people I worked with. My sacrifices paid off because I moved to California in February and I was able to keep my job. Now I work from home and will spend about one week per month in New York or with clients.
What is one lesson you've learned in your job that sticks with you?
The lesson I've learned is to speak up, because my thoughts and ideas matter. From day one, my boss has always asked for and listened to my ideas and opinions and I've always felt like he values my input. We're straight with one another, good or bad, and even though he's my boss and I respect that, he's always made me feel like an equal. (Don’t get me wrong though; I know who's boss!)
What do you feel is the biggest challenge for women today, particularly females in your industry?
The great thing about my industry is it's dominated by females and several are at the top or own their own companies. I feel that as long as you work hard and put your time in, the industry's wide open.
Who are your role models?
My parents (especially my mom) are my role models. My dad is my role model because he's been successful in running his own business and I like his no nonsense approach to work. He taught me that there's a lot more to a job than just showing up.
My mom is my role model because she's the hardest worker I know. She raised three kids on her own and put herself through school while raising us. I appreciate that she didn’t do everything for us and really empowered us to do things on our own. I know I've carried that with me and I think that's why I've been successful.
What are some of the rules you live by?
I don’t just show up; I do my best every day.
If I make a mistake, I don’t make it someone else’s problem. I come up with a solution.
I'm always trying to go with the flow and not sweat the small stuff, but that's easier said than done.
What advice do you have for women who want to be in your industry?
Be confident and don’t be afraid to make decisions or mistakes. In my industry, people tend to start young and rarely do we have someone later in life transition to the industry. I've seen a lot of women who are just out of college come into the industry and act like “girls." I feel like they think acting cute will get them somewhere, and it drives me crazy because ideas and intelligence will get you so much further.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
That;s a really hard question. I would still like to be with my company, but I hope we're 10 times as big. I would like to have a family and also find that balance between work and home.
What are three things you love aside from your job?
I love being with my family, which usually involves traveling back to Minnesota (or wherever they may live) to visit. I love to cook and try new recipes. I also love fashion - especially a great shoe.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I love my job and feel so fortunate. I got the job because of luck and timing, but I'm responsible for my growth at the company.
-Interview by Keriann Strickland