Contributor: Caroline Coker
Q&A with the talented, creative and beautiful Madra McDonald, owner of M Public Relations. I met Madra in high school, began working with her on projects, and she has been a positive mentor to me. M Public Relations has been telling stories and building brands since 2008. 30AEats.com has collaborated with M public relations since 2008 on chef and restaurant stories, social media and in-kind marketing campaigns, and 30AEats.com has profiled Chef Phil McDonald in many stories in print and online.
If we were sitting here a year from now, celebrating what a great year it’s been for you in your current role, what would you be telling me was your best achievement?
I made significant strides on the ever-challenging journey of delegation.
When have you been most satisfied in your professional life?
When I have a healthy balance of fun, inspiring clients and a motivated creative team to collaborate with.
Who is your role model (other than your mother), and why?
My role model is every woman who has graduated to the role of motherhood, and dedicated themselves 100% to their children. Whether they choose to juggle their career path or make the commitment to being a stay-at-home mom, I have the utmost respect for mothers who have the courage to do what’s best for the well being of their children. It’s such an individual and personal choice, and the most important job in the world. Go, Moms!
What things do you not like to do?
I don’t like to find myself on the ‘all work and no play’ train, which as a business owner happens from time to time. I’ve also learned that comparing myself to others (a low-hanging fruit in our social media-obsessed world) is the quickest route to a low self-esteem and crushed inspiration.
What makes you the happiest?
Living at the beach, spending time with my family and friends, keeping the humor, food adventures, traveling, and collaborating with my creative team while representing an interesting mix of inspiring clients.
Tell us about a project or accomplishment that you consider being the most significant in your career.
I feel blessed to have been a part of several significant projects over the years, but I’d say the Taylor Haugen Foundation “A Celebration of Taylor” charity concert with the All-American Rejects tops the list for a few reasons. The cause was incredibly meaningful and the camaraderie and teamwork that rallied in memory of Taylor was so powerful. The concert raised over $65,000 for the foundation, and it would not have been possible without the gracious support of my friend Nathan Abbott who coordinated the connection with his friend Tyson Ritter, the lead singer of AAR. I think the fact that the event took place during my first year in business made it all the more significant.
Tell us the process of how you choose your clients, and then take the creative steps to brand an individual or company, and then market them.
I really try to only take on clients that I respect, believe in and relate to. If I’m not inspired by a client’s product or service, it’s going to be hard to find motivation to tell their story, much less generate results. I learned early on that money is not the #1 motivator for me, so the quality over quantity philosophy works best (at least for me personally). The first step after signing a new client typically involves an overall bird’s-eye view analysis of their present branding initiatives, materials (logo, website, collateral, etc.), history and goals. Then I customize a strategy and campaign based on the above. Managing expectations (particularly on desired results and ROI) and keeping the communication lines open are a hugely critical part of the process.
What empowered you and your husband, Chef Phil McDonald, to leave your jobs in South Walton, head to New York, staying at length, and what were your goals upon returning home?
We were both keeping busy with our businesses the summer of 2013, but we found ourselves experiencing a mutual creative rut and wanted to step outside of our comfort zones. For years we had talked about moving to Brooklyn, NY. My childhood friend, Erin Campbell, has resided there since post-college and we had visited often over the years, so when Erin presented the idea of Phil consulting for her and her sister’s newly-opened cheese shop & organic grocery, we jumped at the opportunity! We knew in our hearts that it would be a temporary adventure in NYC, so I suppose subconsciously the goal was to return back to the beach a little wiser and more seasoned in our crafts. The experience proved to be invaluable in so many ways and we’re forever grateful we took the leap!
Tell us about a time when things didn’t go the way you wanted– like a project that didn’t turn out how you had hoped.
Oh boy, over the past seven years in business there have been too many surprises or disappointments to single out just one. I will say that there is a lot to be said about the lessons learned from life experiences, no matter the outcome (positive or negative). Sometimes you learn most from the negative, so it helps to embrace it all.
Can you offer any tips for me and other readers?
Find what it is you’re passionate about and become a nerd (at it)! Try not to beat yourself up too much when you make mistakes because mistakes mean you’re trying, learning and getting one step closer to mastering your craft. Listen to and appreciate a great mentor when you come across one. And, ALWAYS listen to your inner voice–not the insecure one, but the confident and intuitive one that knows best.
Thank you Madra for sharing a bit of yourself and M Public Relations with the people of South Walton, and the readers of 30AEats.com!
Contributor: Caroline Coker was born and raised on the Gulf Coast, and has been living in South Walton, Florida since the age of five. She is passionate about health and fitness, and is graduating in Nutrition from The University of Alabama in August 2015.