This Is How I Get It DONE
Welcome Season 5 of our series This Is How I Get It DONE, where we take a moment to interview members of the PR In Canada & Profectio community members to find out more about the person behind the desk, how they got their start, their current role (and everything in between). For our sixth episode of Season 5 we talked to Melanie Rego, President, Founder & President of ELEVATOR Communications [TCO].
I run a full-service Public Relations agency out of my Toronto office and have a team here, and in Calgary and Montreal. Most of my days are spent connecting with people: networking, reaching out to prospects (i.e. new biz), planning sessions with my management team and checking in with clients.
There’s never a day without a challenge (which I’m always up for).
I look back at the last twenty years of leading this gig and realize that I still have a LOT of work to do educating about our craft. Trying to avoid saying “PR” which is STILL – to this day– considered a tactic (press release). Encouraging marketers to consider a Public Relations approach that helps shape or drive marketing plans as they seek to build their brands and businesses. I will not give up. I truly believe that we are having our moment and we’re experiencing lift-off. Yay!
I’m very proud of the team I’ve built today. We have an incredible management team and several talented staff that are enabling us to become a solutions-driven, NEXT LEVEL Public Relations company.
Tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.
I went to Cambridge University and finished with a BA Hons and an MA with no clue what I wanted to do when I grew up. I quickly figured out that putting myself out there, asking lots of questions, and being open to trying new things and most importantly knowing myself (what interested and excited me and made me happy) were what led me to my very first job as a Fashion PR intern in London (there were no job applications, it was all about networking and who you knew). It was really hard work (managing BIG personalities), but I realized that by never giving up I was able to hop around to a couple different agencies within three years, making more money and with more responsibilities.
I came back to Canada (I was born in Montreal and grew up in Scarborough) and spent another four years learning how the industry worked here. Next stop? Launching my company and never, ever looking back. It’s our twentieth anniversary this July (2021) and we are one hundred percent the best we’ve ever been. I’ve loved every minute
What made you decide to launch your own agency?
I had the privilege of working for three female-run boutique agencies in London, England in the early ‘90s, was given the opportunity to go after new business and landed Oakley UK at age 23. I knew I could do it and I loved every minute of feeling like I was building something.
One word to describe your work style AND what you do:
What is a typical workday like for you?
Wake up. Have breakfast with my teen-aged daughter when she’s with me (or when she wants to be with me – ugh!), get some form of outdoor exercise in, and wash and dress for work. I still read the print edition of the Globe and Mail most mornings (or evenings when I don’t have time) and then review my calendar. There’s usually time blocked for business development 3 days a week, meetings to connect with my management team, and for working on things that I still love so very much like brainstorming brand-building concepts; ideating on ‘that’ perfect message for a business; celebrating daily wins with my team. Checking in with clients makes me happy – I learn something new about their businesses and themselves every single time. Finally, I settle into emails (don’t really like this part of the day). Emails, too many emails. And what’s the ever-increasing amount of CC’s????? And why can I never have an empty mailbox! I love a quick call/video call. We get ‘there’ WAY faster. On an ongoing basis, I’ll always have financial planning to do, forward planning for business growth and of course, planning my life, too! We’re kicking off a 20th Anniversary marketing campaign so I’ve also got lots of exciting initiatives in the works – more on that soon.
What was a moment in your career that really helped define how you work today?
I worked at a very large global Public Relations agency for a whopping four months. I stayed month four to make it clear that I wasn’t fired at the end of the probation period. But it was a real eye-opener into bureaucratic inefficiencies, working for work’s sake, zero room for piloting revolutionary new ways of doing business and not a whole lotta action. Just a whole lotta bullsh*t. Oops. Couldn’t resist.
How do you balance family-work?
Easy. There’s no question in my mind that family comes first. If there are any issues at home I tailor work accordingly to support my family, all the while ensuring that I’m progressing and continuing to advance the company.
9-5 is LONG gone, what is one shortcut or life hack that works for you?
It’s one of those words that people underestimate. Prioritize. If you can prioritize the absolute essentials that need to be completed on a given day you’ll enjoy the rest of your day/evening feeling like you’ve accomplished your goals. Another is decide what time you need to end your day and work back from it/list your deliverables that work within the time frame. Some days it could be 6:30 pm, others it could be 2:00 pm. Finally, make sure as a courtesy that your team knows your start/stop.