Today we’d like to introduce you to Phyllis McElroy.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Phyllis. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I knew early on that I wanted to help build brands. I was always fascinated with commercials and was eager to learn graphic design in high school. I majored in marketing in undergrad and fell in love with storytelling, so it became clear that melding the two together had become my art and passion.
Public Relations seemed like a natural fit for graduate school, and I never looked back from there. Throughout my journey, I’ve consistently taken communications/marketing roles, further fortifying my foundation in traditional marketing and PR. Then, I adopted new formats and formulas as brands began to embrace digital platforms more. I feel grateful for the knowledge I have in both spaces.
As brands were migrating, I began to look for more digital-heavy roles. I soon landed a role at BFG Communications where I managed all digital content for Church’s Chicken while stepping in on different needs for several other brands – Sutter Home and Menage Trois wines were a couple of my other favorites.
One of the biggest surprises to me was, even as late at 2015, brands were still trying to find their footing in the digital space. It was hard for me to believe major brands had no Instagram budget, but it was also an exciting time for me to be the one who had a say in the strategy that would set that budget.
I learned so much in that role and outgrew it. A few years ago, I was honest with myself and a big part of me wondered what it would be like to consult full-time. Luckily, Atlanta is a city of entrepreneurs and you don’t have to look far to find someone who is starting a new business, and it just so happened that I had been amassing a network of new business owners. Some had small asks, others wanted large scale campaigns conjured up and executed, from start to finish. So, when enough of those people started calling me for help, I followed my heart to freelance.
Has it been a smooth road?
Gosh, the road has definitely been rocky. I was a young mom (I have two daughters), so balancing my daughter’s needs with my career was incredibly challenging, but I just set quarterly goals and took it one day at a time. It also meant that I had to have clear boundaries around my time. This made me more efficient, even today because my time is valuable. If I’m out networking with someone, that’s time being taken away from my girls so, I was always mindful of that. On the flip side, the work still has to get done so, there were a lot of sleepless nights and I have perfected cat-napping.
I had other challenges which are not foreign to other women starting out; questions around being good enough and the ups and downs of invoicing clients and getting paid on time. However, these things come with the territory. If you don’t believe you’re good enough, why should anyone else? Also, when it comes to business practices, I adopted tools to help me along the way. But mainly, I stick to a daily/weekly schedule and that helps me stay on top of things.
Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I am a marketing consultant specializing in digital marketing/public relations. I basically help businesses brand themselves online. What sets me apart from others is my approach: on one hand, you have storytelling and its ability to draw people to you, and on the other side, there’s the offer cycle. Brands have to be VERY clear on who they are and what they stand for, especially in the digital space where authenticity is king.
I’ve also created a 30-day Instagram challenge that gives brands a blueprint on what to post on a daily basis for 30 days. I find that the majority of business owners need some type of guidance if they are not yet at a stage where they can afford to hire a strategist.
So much of the media coverage is focused on the challenges facing women today, but what about the opportunities? Do you feel there are any opportunities that women are particularly well positioned for?
I think more than ever, women have an opportunity of sisterhood. Yes, there has been an exorbitant amount of coverage on the challenges women face on a daily basis – especially for women of color – but there has also been an outpouring of love and acceptance amongst women that seems unprecedented.
In this age of self-care, women have the opportunity to both be imperfect and badass at the same time. Take Sarah Blakley for example, on Instagram, she gives her followers a peek behind the curtain of her life. From managing one of the most popular brands today to investing in women and their businesses and then coming home to her four children and fun husband. It is not lost on me that she is in charge of what she wants people to see and she CHOOSES to show her wacky Sunday pancake breakfasts and traveling with her family. She also shows her blunders and mistakes and all of the wildly wonderful ways she continues to believe in herself and she helps other women believe in themselves too.
Women are primed to take on new business ventures in any industry and they are no longer waiting for their turn. They are cruising down their own lanes without the help of the mainstream. And honestly, this is why I help them brand themselves. I’m inspired and I want to be part of the reason these stories get told.
- 30 Day IG Challenge $30
- Website: www.phyllismcelroy.com
- Instagram: @phyllismac
- Other: https://www.phyllismcelroy.com/product-page/30-day-instagram-challenge
headshot in black – LaSundra “Sunny” Davis