GigSesh Profile: Mea Cole Tefka
When it comes to branding and marketing experiences, companies are always fighting to stay on top of their industry and find the next unique way to present their brand. With so many forms of media and a seemingly endless number of platforms to publish on, how do you find the right direction to go in? More importantly, how do you find someone with the creative ideas to push your company to the top of market? That’s where brand storytelling and content marketing experts like Mea Cole Tefka come in.
Tefka has established herself as a top content producer by working with brands on awesome projects with seriously impactful messages. She spent several years creating breakthrough campaigns and digital experiences at big firms like Droga5 and Huge, but since 2013 has been running her own show as an freelancing Executive Creative Producer. So what does an ECP do day to day and what sort of skills does this work require? More importantly, how does one do it as well as Tefka? Let’s hear from her about her work experience and career changes that have led her to where she is today.
GS: What was the first role you had that started to shape your career as a brand storyteller / creative content producer?
MCT: It’s hard to say as I feel like I was born into my role. You know how certain things feel meant to be? My mom was an art director at one of the biggest agencies in Chicago while I was in elementary school, and she always put me into creative after-school classes. I took my active imagination and turned my love for theater into being a professional kid actor. Acting taught me a lot about being bold, challenging yourself, as well as building all the details and colors around a character and their motivations which is essential for any story to come to life and connect with an audience.
GS: How was the transition from agency life to freelancing life? How do you find new clients to work with?
MCT: I had actually been working freelance before I started in the agency world. I had worked in lots of different offices, and types of production (TV commercials, photo shoots, events, etc) before targeting agency life. Growing up running around Leo Burnett and FCB Chicago, I remembered what a magical place it was to visit. At the time I started looking to build my career at an agency, I felt like all of my various experiences made me agile and able to work quickly in changing environments.
I’m a big believer in networking. Going to events, playing six degrees of separation, and I’m comfortable cold emailing or linkedIn-ing people. I have a unique background and experience producing across media so I have to be direct about what I can offer an agency or a client. I always make sure to be specific about why I’m reaching out and want to work with someone. I’m lucky to have met so many great people and made a lot different relationships. My projects come from a combination of connections, recruiters, as well as pro-active outreach. It’s also important to me to introduce the people I know to each other for projects, or refer other freelancers I know to my network.
GS: What can you tell us about being a SXSW panelist? How’d you end up there and what knowledge did you share?
MCT: I know it’s been taken over by advertising and marketing, but I still really love SXSW for its variety of programming and unique experiences in such a great city. Speaking there twice with my colleague Andrew was awesome; we had been working at Huge in Brooklyn, and they provided a lot of support to our idea. Both times, Andrew and I worked to craft a story around our ideas as well as provide an audience with simple, actionable takeaways. We looked to use our own experience (whether in social media or fantasy football), and make that relatable as well as entertaining.
GS: What do you think are the most important skills and characteristics a person needs to be a successful creative content producer?
MCT: If I could name three key elements — it would be collaboration, organization, and imagination. Getting things done is the job of any producer, but how well you can bring a team together, keep them on track, and help to dream big can really help evolve an idea into so much more. I’m a naturally curious person. My agency work is a perfect environment for me to explore and share all the things I get excited by. In my career, I’ve also looked to align to my values of diversity and community. I think knowing what you believe in and being able to bring that out in others, makes your career more meaningful and impactful.
Whether you’re curious to learn more about brand storytelling or creative content producing or thinking about shifting from full time employment to freelancing, Tefka and many other GigSesh experts are a wealth of professional knowledge. Our experts are masters of their industry and eager to offer advice to individuals looking for career guidance. Check out our experts and see who might change your career for the better with a 30 minute call.