Women In Media’s Tara O’Keefe: “What Worked Yesterday Doesn’t Today And Certainly Won’t Tomorrow”

Women In Media’s Tara O’Keefe: “What Worked Yesterday Doesn’t Today And Certainly Won’t Tomorrow”
B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine

According to QMS’ group sales manager, Tara O’Keefe, it’s plain that the media cannot rely on past learnings for the promises of future success.

The Women in Media Awards, presented by Are Media, are just around the corner, with the cream of the media industry set to be recognised and celebrated for their courage, innovation, and leadership.

Among the Australian industry’s best and brightest in media sales and account management is Tara O’Keefe, QMS Media’s group sales manager, and a nominee at this year’s awards.

In the lead-up to this year’s event, O’Keefe spoke to B&T about how she’ll be using her recognition as a force for good, while also explaining why—if at all—being recognised for your efforts amid the chaos of 2020 is worth it.

She also explained what her antidote to the industry’s “chaos of the every day” culture would look like.

Tara, is being recognised as a professional working in advertising, marketing, or the media important?

The idea of recognition is an interesting one. As women, we are somewhat programmed to shy away from the spotlight and hold back on announcing our accomplishments. My initial thought is to be humbled in the nomination.

On reflection, I feel this recognition is vitally important in, more broadly, acknowledging the achievements of all women in the industry and personally, building my confidence and enabling the opportunity for growth in my own abilities and my career—this encouragement can be so underestimated.

How will you leverage your recognition as a Women in Media finalist as a force for good?

For me, it is all about setting an example. Promoting the ambition to be curious, to question the traditional ‘norm’, extend the opportunity for change and do it with care for others. We as a collective need to forward think—not anticipate the future, as this year has shown us it is unpredictable, but instead arm ourselves with the ability to adapt, change and innovate.

I like to think that we (both men and women) need to use this time to do better and be better—both for ourselves and for the future of our industry. It would be a great opportunity to use my voice to reinforce the positives of change and adaptability. There is an essential need to care both about what we do and how we do it.

Do you work for a living, or work because you love what you do?

This is an easy one… as cliché as it is, I work because I love what I do. I am a strong believer in if you cannot go to bed excited for the curiosity for the next workday, you are in the wrong job!

I have seen this proven many times now that people loving what they do produce the best work, both as a team and as individuals.

What aspect of your industry, or your role, would you change for the better?

Firstly, change is a constant. When I consider change, I would prioritise, as there are so many elements I would love to bring up, from sustainability to the attention economy and moving away from ‘cost per’ world.

However, I think right now and even pre-COVID time, we live in a certain chaos of the every day. We as an industry have created a frenetic world, an ‘always on’ society. So, I would like to change the perception of time by giving it back as greater value in the future. We can give it a new currency—the time we give to others and the time we keep.

This will be evident in how we interact with clients—ensuring we are meaningful, considered, and thoughtful with the time we give to them and the time we take from them.

Do we have a right, as media professionals, to advocate, to influence, and to change people’s behaviour?

There is no denying changing people’s behaviour is the basis of our industry: that is a simple fact. Brands and organisations exist to influence consumers—yet I think we have a social responsibility to protect how this is implemented.

Is it our right? I do not know—but it is the role we are able to perform and demonstrating real social responsibility will translate to greater consideration to people. As individuals and as consumers.

Influencing by communicating options and demonstrating benefits is a value to people when it is done genuinely, honestly, and transparently. That is a positive exchange.

There has been a whole industry created to influence the Gen Zers of the world, who aspire to be Influencers. I guess this shows both the appetite and the potential.

The saying goes there will be those that follow and those that lead— media owners, buyers and marketers must consciously understand the ramifications and what this means. When done well it is art or science or both, told as a story—but when done poorly it is fake, disingenuous, and dangerous. And that is something the industry must steer clear of. Always.

In shaky and uncertain times of change, will playing it safe, and falling back on tropes, get businesses through?

No. Plain and simple. What worked yesterday does not today and it certainly will not work tomorrow. We cannot rely on what we once knew or how it was once done.

Brands and businesses, if they have the means to, need to be there for the rebound. We need to prepare them for this. Whether this is providing flexibility in cancellations for plan b and sharing new learning on measurement, this is our responsibility. The adapters of the world are those that will be there with the name up in lights. In change, adapting businesses will thrive again.

Where is your industry’s biggest opportunity? And where is your industry’s biggest danger?

The industry is experiencing significant change, and we have never been more opportunistic. If we were to focus on the Out of Home industry, the change is substantial and will only continue to develop. We are about to head into 2021 with a completely different landscape then what we left in 2019. Which leads us to data and how throughout the year 2020 data has played such a significant role.

For us, at QMS we have launched a data and measurement tool, DYNAMiQ, that has changed the game. This now allows us to track real-time audiences and to tell the story of rebound with a transparent lens. As we move into this new era of measurement and automation in OOH, we have a duty to ensure the playing field is level and we can collectively send the right message for our clients. Too many options can dilute the quality.

The danger is in losing the human element and the connection piece with the customer, especially for the sake of a sale.

The Women in Media Awards will be held virtually on Wednesday 28 October 2020.

If you’d like more information about the event, head to this website.

You can also check out who made this year’s shortlist, here.

Thank you to all of our incredible sponsors for making the event possible!

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Tara O'Keefe women in media awards

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