Nancy McDonald is the Founder and Lead Consultant at NMD PR, a public relations consultancy specialising in fintech and technology disruptors.
With over ten years experience working in the communications industry, Nancy has worked with some of the world’s leading QSR, FMCG, automotive, Australian startups, lifestyle and retail brands and Australia’s leading major events.
Balance the Grind spoke to Nancy about starting her career as a video journalist, transitioning over to public relations, a typical day in a life of running an agency, not sending emails after 6pm, and more!
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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your background and career?
I started my career at News Corp at 19 years of age, working as a video journalist and news reporter.
After an insightful five years there I moved into public relations and worked within some of Australia’s leading PR firms in Melbourne and Sydney as lead on Kraft Heinz, Hyundai, Honda, Hungry Jack’s and various other businesses.
Then in late 2017, I launched my own consultancy, NMD PR, which operates as an extension of its client’s teams, providing hands-on senior level support and strategic thinking with a particular focus on tech and fintech companies.
2) What is your current role and what does it entail on a day to day basis?
My current role is founder of NMD PR and lead consultant.
No day is the same, which is why I am forever grateful for the role I have created. One day I might be helping one of Australia’s most exciting neobanks promote its strategic overseas investment before finalising its plans to list, then reviewing the latest new model for Hyundai that’s headed for the Australian market.
Another day it might be meeting one of the various exciting businesses that are about to raise capital with Equitise and kick off an Equity Crowdfunding campaign.
Other days its launching an exciting new booking functionality or partnership for travel business The Bali Bible and TRAVLR.
Nearly always, its securing press with some of Australia’s leading media and working 1:1 with the founders of the businesses I represent or working with their excellent teams on their PR and communications strategy.
3) What does a typical day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
A typical day is a morning coffee at Salina’s coffee in Bronte Beach, Sydney followed by a Pilates session at The Well before heading into the office on 33 Hall Street, Bondi Beach with the crazy talented team at 33 Bondi and Bondi Advertising.
At least three times a week I’ll be pitching an exclusive story for one of my client’s, most recently it was for Australia’s fastest growing Ag-tech business DIT Technologies from Toowoomba who have just partnered with Australia’s largest export business Wellards with its doser machines and technology.
Then it will be creating a PR strategy for a client working out which media titles will be most relevant for their announcement.
At least everyday, I’m touching base with the Equitise team about the various client’s they’re working with as they’re constantly busy and launching new campaigns all the time.
4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you prioritise your workload?
When I know I’m coming into a busy period, I like to draft emails the day before so that they’re ready to go out early the next day.
I’m a big scriber and need to write everything down in a notebook – always. I also like to plan my next day at the end of each day so that I have a clear plan in place whilst also allowing for flexibility as it’s imperative for my client’s.
I’ve always been good at time management but it’s really important to have priorities set for each day and week and stick to timelines, most of all deadlines. I am also a stickler for having calendar invites in my diary with lots of detail.
Because we work to an hours billable model, most of our day is planned out and needs to run efficiently to strict time deadlines – it makes for a rewarding consultancy career and benefits our clients most of all.
5) In between your job, life and all your other responsibilities, how do you ensure you find some sort of balance in your life?
One of the most rewarding parts of my new consultancy career is the level of work life balance I have and implement on a daily basis.
The last ten years of my career I always worked 12 – 14 hour days plus, up early and working well into the evening with little quality breaks, working in an ‘always on’ environment.
Whilst I’m a big fan of hard work and value solid work ethics above all else I’ve also learnt the tremendous benefits of taking time out to reset, find balance and find passions outside of the 9-5 work day which have enhanced my mindset and approach to all I do.
I recently learnt vedic meditation from Matt Ringrose at Bondi Meditation Centre and its become part of my daily routine. I also break-up the day with exercise or even just some fresh air and going for a walk in the outdoors.
I also try not to send emails, make calls or shoot off text messages after 6pm, both because if something is left to that late in a day it’s not efficient and out of respect for my client’s time, my own and the media’s unless its business critical.
So many people send off redundant emails and messages these days but being ‘always on’ is not always strategic or impactful and can limit productivity and the quality of the work you produce.
6) What are some of the things you do to take time out and recharge?
Daily I like to exercise and have immersed myself in both the Bondi and Bronte community since moving to Sydney from Melbourne.
I’m a student of Matt Ringrose at Bondi Meditation Centre, run in the 440 run group down at Bronte, hit up sessions with East Side Crew with trainer Troy Stewart and make myself part of the furniture at The Well in Bondi.
When the sun is shining, I also try and plan into my day some time out for a beach swim or to get some vitamin D – (all the benefits of living in Bronte and working in Bondi).
With that said, when its busy and client’s need me, they’re my number one priority but in between I like to find balance so I am focused, calm and refreshed when they call on me for strategic input or deliver results quickly and effectively.
7) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?
Honesty is my number one quality and it’s what I pride the business on being with our clients and with our approach.
We’re not motivated by big billables and hefty project fees but on becoming strategic long-term partners with our clients.
Working agency side, the bottom line is so often distracted from the quality of the work, the human relationship and understanding what success looks like to a business from their PR or communications.
We rarely enter into retainers with client’s unless it’s the most efficient way to work together and rather prefer small projects that are broken down into a clear hourly rate. We’re an extension of our client’s teams, working as their PR expert.
8) Are there any books you’ve read that have helped you with work-life balance?
I like to seek inspiration from a range of sources but of late I’ve been reading a lot of Brene Brown who is a legendary writer and speaker.
Most recently I’ve been reading her Dare to Lead book. I also really enjoy reading real life stories, learning insights and how people achieved success and got to where they are today.
Most recently I’ve been reading Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog which is excellent and a very interesting read.
9) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
Finding your passion. I love what I do and the work I do for my clients so I am always making the most of my day because I am passionate and highly engaged in what I do.
The other thing is a full phone battery, I’m never without a charger or a USB cord – working in communications being contactable and being able to contact clients and contacts is imperative.