Anne Richardson, the founder of Richardson Media Group, was recently profiled by BostonVoyager, an online magazine that celebrates small businesses, independent artists and local institutions. The in-depth interview covers Anne's career in media planning and buying and takes a look at where the industry is headed in the next few years. The interview, which originally appeared on BostonVoyager, is reproduced below.
Meet Anne Richardson of Richardson Media Group
Today we’d like to introduce you to Anne Richardson. Anne is the founder of Richardson Media Group, a strategic media planning and buying agency on Boston’s North Shore. Since 2014, she and her team have developed and managed media plans for a wide range of clients, staying ahead of the changes inherent in a continuously evolving industry.
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Anne. Let's start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I started my advertising career in Portland, ME, just after graduating from college. Almost immediately, I knew it was a great fit. Eventually, my job led me back to the Boston area, where I worked up through the ranks to become the Media Director at a series of full-service agencies.
Soon after my second child arrived, I took a break from the business world to earn my M.Ed. and taught English and history in our local school district. I loved teaching, but I knew I would eventually return to advertising. In the summer of 2014, after leaving the classroom, and working for several years at a nearby agency, I launched Richardson Media Group with a handful of clients and a generous dose of enthusiasm.
I’ve never looked back.
Since then, we’ve been steadily growing, adding new clients and engaging more talent. This summer, we hired our first full-time employee, Erica Holthausen, a self-described “recovering attorney” with a mind geared for managing complex projects and making sure our business runs smoothly.
Throughout my teaching and advertising careers, the juxtaposition between creativity and process has always been where I belong. And these two seemingly disparate experiences have been invaluable in building my business. Today, we serve an interesting mix of clients across different industries and actively pursue relationships with marketing firms that don’t have in-house media departments. We frequently connect with external design, web development, video and copywriting vendors, depending on the demands of a particular project.
We thrive in this type of collaborative environment and have an affinity for managing complex projects. These professional partnerships work well for everyone involved, and they are an important part of our continued success as we look towards the future.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Anytime you take ownership over something completely, even when you do it willingly and with great optimism, there will be challenges.
One of the early questions we faced as a company was around our identity. I kept asking myself, “Who do we want to be?”
As agency founder, I brought with me a long career as a strategic media planner and buyer, and because I had been a teacher, I had also done a lot of professional and personal writing along the way. It was tempting to insert ‘content development’ into our list of service offerings, even though it became clear, almost at the outset, that this type of work didn’t align well with the media planning process.
Like many new companies just starting out, we weren’t ready to say ‘no’ to new business, so we took on a mish-mash of work: a few small website projects, a lot of copywriting, and a bit of media planning and buying. We even managed social media content for a couple of clients. It started to feel like we had lost our compass by not staying focused on our core skill set.
Looking back, we learned a great deal from that experience. We don’t need to offer a huge range of services in order to bring value to our clients, partner agencies and vendors. By defining ourselves more specifically, we’ve become more productive and built relationships that suit us better. People we meet understand what we do and how we will support them through our expertise in paid media. An added benefit is our elevator pitch is way more concise!
We'd love to hear more about your business.
Richardson Media Group negotiates and manages regional and national advertising campaigns across multiple delivery platforms. While we purchase most of our media inventory in the digital space, we also provide access to more traditional vehicles like television, radio, print and out-of-home, blending these tactics together to ensure our clients achieve their specific marketing objectives.
We research and assemble paid media strategies that focus on a range of goals from raising brand awareness to driving specific calls to action. Always looking for the ideal ratio of reach and frequency, we drive engagement with target audiences, encouraging them to take a particular action step or inviting them to learn more about the product or service the client offers.
We work closely alongside design, copywriting, video and web development teams on behalf of our clients to guide ad production and help optimize the websites or landing pages where campaign traffic is directed.
Finally, where traditional media firms stop at the media plan implementation stage, we extend our services post-buy to include robust analytics reporting and ongoing campaign optimization. We’ve been told by our clients and partners that we go above and beyond with every plan we do. That’s who we are.
Where do you see your industry going over the next 5-10 years? Any big shifts, changes, trends, etc?
What I find most compelling about today’s evolving media marketplace is how closely it reflects changes in human behavior, especially when it comes to our perpetual desire for information. Future media delivery vehicles will continue to be challenged by the race to stay relevant on even smaller and smarter mobile and wearable devices capable of bringing all forms of content to us with unparalleled immediacy.
I also see advertising becoming increasingly more transparent. Brand messaging will become less overtly promotional and more subtly blended into people’s beliefs, preferences, relationships and purchases. AI (artificial intelligence) will continue to play a bigger role in the buying process, allowing us to access more personalized data across more media platforms than ever before.
Finally, I predict new campaign measurement tools coming down the road that will tie even more closely to smart devices and the people who wear them. Seems crazy, but I can see myself reporting on the heart rate or stress level of my target audience even as I explore the target’s likelihood to purchase a pair of running shoes.
I look forward to watching all of this happen and to staying ahead of the curve on these and other new ways we may find ourselves doing business.
Photography by Raya On Assignment.