Meg Hargreaves, Vice President of Client Services, CQ-Roll Call Group
SIPA: What was your first job out of college and how did you get into this business?
HARGREAVES: I was a Communications/History double major in college. I interned at a local PR firm, where I wrote press releases and managed the press clipping files. After college, I naively marched into DDB&O on Madison Avenue to get a job as a copywriter (see Take Risks below!). I was told to “go back to school and get more experience.” So I back-burnered my Madison Avenue dreams and instead went straight into “management” by managing an ice cream parlor in my hometown. To this day, I still have nightmares about taking apart and reassembling soft ice cream machines. My career in publishing began when I landed a job in McGraw-Hill’s Government Relations department tracking legislative and political activity.
Has there been a defining moment in your career? Perhaps when you knew you were on the right road.
Three come to mind. I summited Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2002. I keep a picture of the summit on my office wall to remind me that I can get through anything.
Then in 2003 David Foster was president of the board of directors for Pike & Fischer (a BNA subsidiary), where I worked. He single-handedly convinced me I had what it would take to jump from group publisher to president and CEO. I credit him with giving me the push and confidence I needed.
When I left BNA in 2009, I had some big questions to ask. What did I enjoy doing? Where did I enjoy doing it? How did I get here? I realized I love what I do…and that the most important things to me are working with people I admire on products and services that are highly respected in an environment that is fun, creative and fast-paced. So I created that environment myself by launching Rush River Media. I was really enjoying consulting for SIPA members and other industry colleagues when my old LexisNexis boss, Keith White, now at CQ-Roll Call Group, came calling.
In brief, describe your business/company?
CQ-Roll Call Group is a political news and information provider covering Capitol Hill. We provide legislative tracking, news and analysis, and grass-roots advocacy tools to those who wish to influence American politics and government, and we’re part of The Economist Group. As vice president of client services, I am responsible for keeping our clients happy 24/7 via account management, customer service and training initiatives. It’s a fun, fast-paced and highly collaborative environment.
What are two or three important concepts or rules that have helped you to succeed in business?
I’ve been lucky enough to have had great bosses and mentors who have consistently believed in me, encouraged me and challenged me to push myself. They helped me grow professionally.
Take risks—it’s how you learn, in both your business and personal life. You’ll never know what you’re capable of if you don’t try. Marching into DDB&O, moving to Washington, D.C., jumping into the dot-com fray, becoming president at P&F, were all risky moves. I don’t regret any of them.
And it’s all about relationships…valuing and maintaining them. My original job at McGraw-Hill was really the only job I proactively applied for. My other opportunities came purely through networking. SIPA is a great way to make sure you nurture and maintain relationships in the industry.
What is the single-most successful thing that your company is doing right now?
Right now CQ-Roll Call Group is all-hands-on-deck for Election Day. We also have some very exciting announcements. Watch www.cqrollcall.com later this week for details.
Do you see a trend or path in 2010 that you know you have to lock onto? Any key business models?
Mobile is critical. Unfortunately no one is doing mobile particularly well given its nascence. Keeping your eye on the mobile prize will be critical in the next 18 months given the forecasted growth of mobile adoption/take up rates, especially on the iPad front. While expanding reach beyond your core market is also a key to growth, that’s a tall order in a tough market. The pursuit of “adjacent” markets versus new markets is probably a safer bet during the ongoing economic recovery. Lastly, the easiest way to delineate yourself in a crowded market is through excellent customer service.
What are the key benefits of SIPA membership for you and your team?
SIPA has been a wonderful organization for helping me learn from people in the industry, and it’s rewarding to be able to give back by being a board member, co-chairing next week’s Miami conference, etc. As a board member, I get to interact with the best and brightest in the industry and have formed long-standing friendships. The networking is second-to-none, and I am constantly amazed at the level of sharing that goes on. SIPA is truly unique in that regard.
Where did you grow up?
A small town on the north shore of Long Island called Miller Place.
What college did you attend? Is there a moment from that time that stands out?
I attended the University of Scranton, way before Scranton became famous because of “The Office.” There were more defining moments than I can count. Luckily, none of them is on Facebook.
Are you married? Do you have children?
I am married to Phil DiFalco. We have two “four-legged kids,” both rescues. Callie is a Samoyed/American Spitz mix and Bernie is a Great Pyrenees…or rather a Not-So-Great Pyrenees…cute as can be, dumb as a brick.
What is your favorite hobby and how did it develop in your life?
Travel. We try to take one big trip each year. Last year we rode the Tran-Siberian Railroad from Beijing to Moscow, with a week-long stopover in Mongolia. Great adventure. This year we are biking Tuscany. Suffice it to say, we have a long bucket list.
What was the last book you read and movie you saw?
I just finished a quick 30-minute read, “Johnny the Bagger: A True Story of Customer Service” –great book to get for your entire team if you are trying to boost your level of customer service. I’m also reading “Delivering Happiness: The Path to Profits, Passion & Purpose” by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh. Another great customer-focused book that I highly recommend. For fun, I just read: “The Glass Room” by Simon Mawer. Very good. Last movie I liked was Julie & Julia. I’m still hungry.
I’m looking forward to seeing everyone in Miami next week! Don’t forget to register!
As Hargreaves says, “The networking is second-to-none,
and I am constantly amazed at the level of sharing
that goes on. SIPA is truly unique in that regard.”
Experience that firsthand at
next week’s Marketing Conference in Miami!
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SIPA’s 27th Annual Marketing Conference
Nov. 10-12 at the Ritz-Carlton in Miami Beach
View complete agenda and expert faculty here
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