Interview by Sarah Shumick
Megan Shroy is the founder and president of Approach Marketing, a 100% virtual PR firm. This means that Approach employees have the ability to work remotely and just greater flexibility, in general. Consultants are allowed to choose how many hours they want to work, and are then matched up with clients accordingly. As for Shroy, she drew inspiration from her own mother who went back to school to complete her degree after raising children and went on to enjoy a successful corporate career. Shroy has three children of her own and says, “I love being an example for my kids that moms (and dads) can have big jobs and still be great parents.”
Are you originally from Columbus? What is it about the city that endears you to it the most? I grew up in Columbus. After college, I moved to Chicago for a job with one of the biggest PR firms in the country, Golin. I loved the hustle of the city and the fast-paced nature of agency life. But, once I got serious about settling down and wanting to start a family, I knew Columbus was where I wanted to be: close to my family, in a city that feels “big city” but at the same time small enough to be the perfect place to raise my kids, live and work. Columbus continues to evolve, and I love being able to explore new things to do with my family.
Give us a snapshot of your career path, including past employers and positions: I started my career at Chicago’s Golin, where I had the chance to work with some of the biggest brands in the country. After moving back to Columbus, I worked with Paul Werth Associates before starting Approach.
Tell us about your current career role: As founder and president at Approach Marketing, I am passionate about growing the agency because I believe so much in the benefits that our model delivers to both clients and our team. I work closely with our Head of Accounts and Head of Talent to make sure our clients are receiving the very best service and that we are delivering on ROI, while making sure our consultants have the right work/life balance for their professional and personal goals. I also lead our new business development team. This is one of my favorite parts of the job, because I get to meet with other business leaders every day, learn about their business challenges and brainstorm creative and innovative ways Approach can help them achieve their goals through integrated marketing and public relations.
Tell us more about Approach and the “virtual model” of PR: I founded Approach in 2010 with one goal: to deliver high ROI to clients using best-in-class talent without the wasted overhead costs typical of most agencies. 2010 was the height of the economic downturn, and I saw many brands walking away from agency relationships because they could no longer afford to outsource. I knew middle-market clients needed access to PR and marketing services and seized an opportunity to disrupt the industry and create a better way.
At Approach Marketing, we operate 100 percent virtually, meaning our team of nearly 20 consultants works from home offices and co-working spaces across the country. Our consultants at Approach each bring 10+ years of experience working in senior positions at some of the nation’s top agencies. That is a level of talent many of our clients could not afford in the traditional agency.
A second benefit (and equally important!) is the flexible work model we offer our consultants. One of the reasons I started Approach is because I personally wanted to have more control over my work-life balance. In my early career, I thrived on the long hours and extensive travel that came with agency life. But when I looked ahead to starting a family, I knew that was not sustainable.
I’m proud that with the Approach model, consultants choose how many hours they want to work, and are matched up with clients that are a good fit with their expertise and service needed. This model is particularly appealing to working moms, but we also have a number of consultants who do not have kids and love the flexibility this model gives them to travel or pursue outside interests. And, I firmly believe that offering this flexibility and work-life balance is even more reason our consultants deliver the best service to clients day-in and day-out.
What gets you up in the morning? And what gets you through the workweek? Coffee. And, the drive to do the very best for my business and my family. I have three kids: one daughter and two sons, and I love being an example for my kids that moms (and dads) can have big jobs and still be great parents.
What advice or mentors have helped guide you along the way? My mom has always been a mentor and inspiration to me. When I was young, she put her career on pause to start a family. After she went back to college and completed her degree when I was a teenager, she went on to have a big corporate career. She proved that having a big job and being a great mom is possible and that it’s never too late to make a change in your life.
Explain some of your work-life balance challenges and how you achieve success in spite of the hustle and bustle? Even though Approach was founded on the principle of work-life balance, I am probably our worst offender! I am a true entrepreneur at heart and love the challenge of continuing to grow the business. To help myself stay focused and live by my own principles, I’ve had to instill some self-discipline. I’m always looking for ways to focus on the tasks that are most transformational in my business. This allows other team members to take on shared leadership and shine in areas that play to their strengths.
What do you do or where do you go to unwind? Kennebunkport, Maine, is a favorite vacation spot for my family and me. At home, I love to bake and even cook (usually with a glass of wine). I also love flexing my creative muscles with projects around the house.
What might someone be surprised to know about you? I’m a bit of a foodie, but don’t count me out on junk food like a Burger King Whopper or the Donut Sandwich from DK Diner.
If you could have a superpower, which would you choose? Is anti-aging a superpower?
What books or podcasts are you reading/listening to right now? I’m always reading, usually fun beach reads and not business books! As for podcasts, The Tim Ferriss Show is a favorite. It’s helped me learn from other business leaders and develop my own morning routine to set me up for a successful, productive day. I also love The Skimm Podcast and WorkLife with Adam Grant.
What would your autobiography be called? Every Day I’m Hustlin’
What are among the top places you’d recommend to someone who is visiting or new to Columbus:
• The North Market
• Brunchin’ and Shopping in the Short North
• The Worthington Farmer’s Market
• Tailgating on a football Saturday and experiencing a game at The Shoe
• Friday afternoon at The Memorial Golf Tournament
Which organization(s) are you involved with around the community? I have grown so much as a professional from being involved with the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) and NAWBO. I also mentor students from Wittenberg University through its CABLE program.
Tell us about a community initiative (or initiatives) that you’re most passionate about? There are so many organizations doing such important work in the community. The Make-A-Wish Foundation, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and ROX (Ruling Our Experiences–a nonprofit working to empower girls) are a few organizations I support whenever I can.
What are three things that you think Columbus needs (or wish Columbus had)?
• An outdoor amphitheater for bigger concerts
• A Rent the Runway store location
• A SoHo House–I’m dreaming, but still!
If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them? The people. You really cannot beat the quality of people we have here in Columbus.