Joining millions of businesses around the world, our team will be working remotely for the foreseeable future. We're also committed to practicing social distancing in our personal lives to keep ourselves and our extended families and communities as safe as possible. We are a very small agency, with just two full-time employees on-site and the rest of our team virtual, so in many ways, remote work is easier for us than it may be for larger organizations trying to manage the behaviors and routines of numerous employees. As a business owner, my goal is to maintain open communication channels between my staff and clients. Offering kindness, patience and compassion is so important, especially during this enormously stressful time.
Instead of writing another “Tips on How to Work from Home” article, I’d like to use this post to give a shout-out to the software companies we utilize every day to keep our agency processes moving forward efficiently and accurately. I’ll start with our media planning and buying software, move into a few of our production/organizational tools and finish with our data and reporting dashboard. I’m excited to share these great products with you and encourage you to check out the links I’ve included to each service for more details!
Media Planning and Buying
Those of us in the paid media industry know that using Excel spreadsheets to keep media authorizations and insertion orders organized is not a sustainable solution. From day one, I knew we needed a cloud-based, secure, integrated media planning and buying software system to plan, book and reconcile our media campaigns. After some starts and stops with other commercial media planning software, we landed on MediaPlanHQ and haven’t looked back! MediaPlanHQ is based in Montreal, Canada and its founder, Robert Maltais, is fluent in French and English, making for some fun language exchanges! As one of their early adopters, we’ve been fortunate to have the chance to beta test some of this software’s newer features. And, the information exchange goes both ways. The MediaPlanHQ team welcomes our feedback and has responded positively to our requests for new system capabilities resulting in a better product. Here are some recent updates:
Anne’s Review: I highly recommend MediaPlanHQ to anyone running a small-to-midsize advertising agency with a full-service media department. You’ll find their team to be extremely responsive and resourceful and the platform itself to be user-friendly and reliable.
Timekeeping and Billing
We’re pretty sure the timekeeping, estimating and billing capabilities of Harvest are the best around. Even when I was solo-preneuring in the early days, I began using it to track my time and to manage my client billing. Now that the company has grown, we have remained avid fans of this robust and affordable software. Here are a few of the features that we really like about Harvest:
Anne’s Review: Five stars for Harvest! Time tracking, estimating and billing are made simpler with this comprehensive and easy-to-adopt system.
Media campaigns require managing a vast number of details. A typical media production calendar includes dates for planning sessions, client presentations, campaign approvals, media specifications, copy deadlines, creative trafficking, and the list goes on. Enter, Asana. The name means “seated” or “situated” in Sanskrit and that’s just how we feel when we use it: calm, steady and assured. We rely on it to keep ourselves organized every day. Some cool software features include:
Anne’s Review: I can’t say enough about Asana. Having used all of the major competitors over the years, this one is my pick for best production management capabilities.
Media Metrics Reporting
Lastly I would be remiss if I didn't talk about the importance of having a robust and accurate media metrics reporting dashboard to collect campaign data and share it with our clients. Using a Cloud-based system to connect all of our paid media API's and set up this data in customized, easy-to-read dashboards is an important differentiator between our agency and others in the digital advertising arena. Here are some key attributes that we look for in media metrics software:
Anne’s Advice: Don’t rely exclusively on the digital vendors to send you a report off of their own dashboard. Invest in your own measurement tools and collect the data yourself.
The systems I’ve described here are the foundation on which Richardson Media Group’s operations and media planning services are run. Each tool fills a different but essential purpose in the daily management of our agency. We benefit from having them at our fingertips wherever we work, making recent remote work adjustments easier and less stressful for everyone.
If you’d like to chat further about any of these tools, or share some of your favorites for keeping your virtual team productive and healthy, please drop me a line. More than ever before, I hope we can share our experiences about how to successfully navigate these scary times and keep conversations open even if our doors are metaphorically closed. Hopefully, it will make social distancing and the sense of isolation that often comes with remote work a little easier to manage.
Over the summer, our house was full of college-age kids. Two of them happen to be mine, and then there were the extra friends who ended up staying with us for a while. Running a modified boarding house makes me quite happy, actually. From the time they started school, I've always encouraged my children to bring their friends around. It's when everyone keeps coming back - for food, sleep, laundry facilities or just to pull up a chair for some thoughtful conversation - that I know I've done something right!
Richardson Media Group has embarked upon a journey to become a more sustainable, socially responsible business. We recently joined New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility. Our team has regular conversations about how to apply what we are learning about social responsibility to our professional services business. Now that we are shining a brighter light onto our collective purpose, we realize that our sustainability story began years ago.
Brenda Brooks, Former Director of Admissions at UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law, Joins Richardson Media Group
Brenda's background in college admissions and enrollment management makes her an invaluable addition to our team.
This summer, Brenda Brooks became the newest member of the Richardson Media Group team after spending the past 12 years in college admissions and enrollment management. Much of her career centered around developing strategic recruitment and communications plans with a strong focus on lead generation and conversion.
Anne Richardson, principal and media director at Richardson Media Group, was recently profiled by New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility, a nonprofit organization driving the social responsibility agenda in New Hampshire. The profile, which originally appeared on the NHBSR Featured Member Spotlight, is reproduced below.
Saturday dawns. The temperature outside is hovering around 20 degrees, and I hear the wind rattling the window panes in our old Victorian as I head downstairs to put the coffee on. My first cup in hand, I settle into the couch in front of the big wood stove that’s been beaming heat into the living room all night. A novel I’ve been meaning to finish reading sits waiting for me, as do a few precious hours of quiet time. Now, if I could only find my glasses?
When entrepreneurial women get together to share their stories of business ownership, you can almost guarantee the room will be a-buzz with positive energy. And that’s exactly what happened when I had the privilege of joining two fellow business owners behind the podium at a recent Chamber Collaborative of Greater Portsmouth breakfast event.
It’s human nature to seek out comfortable grooves and settle into them. Routines, schedules, relationships, habits (even unhealthy ones) tend to stick to us and can be difficult to alter. Most people resist upsetting the delicate balance of things, especially if there’s nothing wrong with the status quo.
Suffice it to say, change can be frightening.
There are five universal truths to establishing and holding onto successful business partnerships:
What does it mean to be fearless? This question can be answered in so many different ways. After all, fears come in all shapes and sizes. What’s scary to one person is no big deal to another. Being fearless doesn’t necessarily mean you are never afraid. I would argue that fearlessness simply implies a willingness to face one’s challenges head-on.
In addition to her role as owner and media director here at RMG, Anne authors the majority of our blog posts. Favorite topics include the entrepreneurial journey, media planning and buying, and forming productive agency partnerships.
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Richardson Media Group, Inc.
75 Congress Street, Suite 214
Portsmouth, NH 03801
Phone: (603) 373-8866
Hours: Weekdays 9 to 5