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Tackling a Tall Task

Dec 5, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Amanda Richman says that at five foot two, she’s a small person with a big job.
Ms. Richman last month was named director of digital services at MediaVest USA, effective Jan. 1.
Keeping up with developments in the digital space and figuring out what opportunities would be valuable to clients is a daunting task.
“I think it’s challenging for everyone on our team to keep on top of all the latest technologies and consumer behaviors,” she said. The real trick is to figure out how to present clients with information that’s relevant without overwhelming them.
And it’s easy to be overwhelmed with digital developments; it’s simply not a 9-to-5 kind of job.
“I don’t think anyone in digital can accomplish what they need to in eight-hour days,” she said. Digital people have to have constant curiosity and a desire to be attached to what’s next. “That’s what motivates all of us.”
Ms. Richman had been digital group client director on MediaVest’s Procter & Gamble account. In that role she worked on a number of interesting projects.
One involved working with MSN to create Style Studio, an online program of hosted video tips that worked as an advertising vehicle for 14 P&G brands.
The site exceeded goals for number of visitors, generated a good amount of repeat visitors and provided insights for how to reach prospects and relate to them online through online content.
Ms. Richman began her career in traditional advertising, but jumped into the digital world fairly early. She started her career at Young & Rubicam, working on the Lincoln-Mercury Dealers account in Denver and Detroit.
Then she got a job in entertaining marketing at the Majestic Theater in Detroit, the site of one of Harry Houdini’s last performances. With a theater, restaurant and bowling alley, it’s billed as one of the nation’s oldest entertainment complexes. There she did everything from public relations and direct marketing to booking acts and selling tickets at the door.
She decided to return to school and attended Northwestern University’s new integrated marketing communications program, where she learned to looking beyond traditional business and advertising thinking.
When she completed the program, she got a job with the entertainment marketing group at Time Warner. The group turned to digital when the company launched Time Warner Interactive and began developing content and services for the Full Service Network in Orlando, a project that turned out to be before its time.
Ms. Richman left Time Warner and moved to McCann-Erickson as managing director of its interactive division, which worked for clients including US Airways, L’Oreal and Unilever.
The group expanded through a series of mergers until the dot-com bust of 2000. At that point, she moved to Scient, a consulting firm, then returned to McCann as it pitched Microsoft’s Xbox Live account and was heading emerging media work for client Johnson & Johnson before joining MediaVest in 2005.
Working on the P&G account presented a perfect opportunity because while P&G had moved quickly into digital video, it had room to grow in other new media areas, such as search, behavioral targets, mobile and social media.
As a digital media veteran, she’s seen profound changes.
Now, “digital folks get a seat at the table and a big part of strategy development,” she said. “I think it’s taken more time than any of us would have anticipated back in ’95 and ’96, when we thought we would change the world overnight.”
Ms. Richman originally hails from Tower City, N.D., a farming community with 300 residents. At Maple Valley High School, she earned the senior trifecta, being voted co-valedictorian, best- dressed and class partier. There were only 36 students in the class, “so let’s say competition was a little light in those categories,” she said.
She then attended Concordia College in Morehead, Minn.
Growing up in a farming community, her ambitions were small.
“My source of inspiration were things like Glamour magazine and the shot of the career girls crossing New York City streets like they were going somewhere exciting,” she said. In those days, career girls were secretaries. “There was no such thing as a digital director to aspire to.”
Ms. Richman lives in the New York’s Grammercy Park area with her beagle. Her pastime is enjoying her new home.
“I still love to just drink in the architecture and the museums and the art exhibits and really appreciate everything the city has to offer,” she said. “It’s just a great Petri dish for ideas.”
She doesn’t have any traditional hobbies, nor does she cook.
“Maybe that’s a skill I do need to develop,” she said. “My mother’s actually published cookbooks, so I have to be a disappointment in that area.”
Who knew: Ms. Richman says her father’s nickname for her was “fearless.” “I try to live up to that each day,” she said.

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