Monica Hare is the Head of Gear Patrol Studios (GPS), the creative partnership and content marketing arm of Gear Patrol, an NYC-based lifestyle publication focused on the intersection of products and life’s pursuits. Monica came to GPS from Buzzfeed where she led media planning, account management and account strategy teams globally across three US regions and six countries. That was preceded by management, strategy and producer roles at organizations such as Publicis Groupe and Disney. Monica will be leading GPS’ continued growth and excellence with a focus on branded content and data capabilities. Outside of work, Monica spends time with her wife and two step kids traveling, reading and biking
THERE’S AN INTERSECTION BETWEEN THE PUBLISHING AND MARKETING WORLDS, BUT WHAT’S YOUR VIEW ON THIS OVERLAP, GIVEN YOUR EXPERIENCE IN BOTH SPACES?
There’s a fair amount of overlap between what’s thought of as traditional agency life and the new breed of publisher-based content creation teams—Gear Patrol Studios included. But there are also key differences which create opportunities for learning such as timing and audience expertise.
When moving from the agency world to the publishing world, the first thing I noticed was the pace. Pitches that would have taken weeks to prep at an agency will have days on the publishing side, so you quickly get used to working with smaller teams and much less time, while still upholding smarts and creativity. I also learned that as a publisher, clients come to you based on your expertise in your audience. I routinely find myself asking, “Will my audience like this?” which is precisely what the vast majority of our clients want us to ask.
MAGAZINES GEAR THEIR CONTENT TOWARD ATTRACTING A CORE CONSUMER BASE. WHAT DOES THIS LOOK LIKE IN PRACTISE?
The real trick in working for a branded content studio at a publisher is striking that delicate balance between the publisher’s editorial voice and the voice of the brand you’re representing. We aim to walk that fine line and find the universal truth that ties everything together so that the piece makes sense for the brand, the audience and our publication’s core principles.
WHAT CAN AGENCIES LEARN FROM PUBLISHERS, WITH REGARD TO THEIR APPROACH?
In a lot of ways, the medium is the message or at least a chunk of it. Once I switched to publishing, I realized that the vast majority of what the audience takes away is directly tied to the how, the where and the when. I’ve learned that the more you can be native to that moment, the more the message will be accepted and internalized by the audience. These days, presenting the concept in a way that integrates seamlessly into your audience’s daily digital lifestyle seems to gain more traction than concepts that are presented in a manner that feels disruptive to their lifestyle.
WHEN IT COMES TO HELPING ADVERTISERS HONE IN ON KEY CONSUMER BASES, WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU SHARE?
Find ways to integrate seamlessly into the channels and publishers where your consumers reside, while also offering value and service. This is how you create advertising that simply feels like useful, entertaining content. If this is done correctly, consumers won’t even care that it’s sponsored content—in fact, I’ve found that they appreciate it because you’re speaking to them with a how, a where and a when which works. Indeed, when you’ve earned the audience’s respect and attention this way, you can even begin to introduce lower funnel calls to action like “click to purchase,” so that it’s seen as service and not salesy.