Trisha Pierce was recently named president of SmithGifford, an agency based in Falls Church, Va. The agency also recently took home the most awards at the AAF DC ADDY competition, winning a total of 17 (12 Gold ADDY® Awards, 5 Silver ADDY® Awards, in addition to the Best of Category-Collateral and Best of Category-Print). Capitol Communicator had the following Q&A session with her.
Trisha, please provide us a short bio.
As president of SmithGifford, I oversee client relations and operations on all accounts, while also leading the charge on agency growth. Before my 10-year adventure in advertising and marketing, I began my career in sales and business development. That experience, with its numeric goals and finite quotas, was a very useful foundation that helped me become a results-driven, strategic thinker and problem-solver. For me, nurturing deep client relationships, developing insightful business strategies and collaborating with incredible creative minds is all in a day’s work.
How has communications changed in recent years?
The seemingly endless choice of media channels we have today results in more brands talking over each other to reach consumers. So as marketers we have an even stronger need for engaging, strategic, truthful messaging and branding. We’re seeing a movement toward authenticity in everything – whether it’s the food we eat, how and where things are made, or the soul or mission of a company. When it comes to communicating your brand promise, be honest to yourself, your consumer and your audience, and they’ll reward you for it.
What skills will it take to be a success in the coming years?
Someone once asked me, “Would you rather know a lot about a little or a little about a lot?” The only way I can answer that question is BOTH. It’s two sides of the same coin. I believe we need to focus on the details, but still see the bigger picture, and vice-versa.
What lessons have you learned that you want to share with others?
If you can’t answer this question, then you’re not learning, growing and living. Lessons should be plentiful and endless. With that said, here are some that are top of mind:
- Be a “growth partner” at your company, not just an employee
- Be curious about everything and you’ll never lose interest
- Shut up and listen (my personal favorite).
Who are your role models?
I’ll give the simple answer first: Everyone. I learn from the people around me by recognizing the very best in them and interpreting those qualities through my own filter in hopes of bringing out greatness in myself. That said, I do have a slight issue with what traditionally defines a role model: “a person looked to by others as an example to be imitated.” I would say, learn from your role models, but please don’t imitate, as that has the net effect of the world staying the same. Be yourself and strive to be even better than the ones before you.
If you didn’t go into communications, what field would you have gone into?
I’ve always wanted to have my own “gig.” The challenge is turning a passion into entrepreneurship, not the other way around. So in the meantime, let’s just say I’m in “training.” Pass me on the road during my daily commute and I’m almost surely listening to one of 30 podcasts I engage with religiously. It’s a perfect way to pass the time and show up to work inspired and invigorated. Maybe one day I’ll venture out on my own as an entrepreneur, but right now I’m pursuing ideas less traveled with our clients every day.
What are the things you like to do when not at work?
Planes, cranes and automobiles.
- Planes – While I actually hate flying, I love to travel. It’s a conundrum that I deal with in order to see every inch of the world.
- Cranes – I have this deep obsession for modern architecture, spending hours reading Dwell, stalking the amazing renovations on Houzz.com and sketching out the perfect abode. There’s just something about a simple, well thought-out living or workspace that I love. It’s truthful and calming – not trying to be too much or something it’s not.
- Automobiles – Since the age of 15, I have loved the world of “moving metal.” The aesthetic of different models and brands over generations really intrigues me, but then couple that with raw driving power and I’m hooked. One of the coolest things I’ve ever done is order a car from Germany, fly there to pick it up, drive it on the Autobahn and then have it shipped home. It’s a must-do for all car geeks out there!
Is there anything else we should know about you?
My “rock” is a french bulldog named Banks. Having my best friend, who you can see in the picture, in the office daily is the best therapy–and not just for me, as he reminds us all to take breaks and not take everything too seriously. Just please excuse some of his sounds and smells–having a smushed face ain’t easy.