Dee Anne Heath

Dee Anne Heath

By Erica Hess, Owner of Plume Communications

What’s the best way to allocate your marketing budget so potential customers see your messages at the right time, in the right place, through the right medium…and then take the right action? Today’s enormous, ever-changing lineup of devices, media, and channels can turn campaign strategy into a daunting prospect.

Enter Dee Anne Heath, managing director at EnviroMedia, an Austin-headquartered social marketing agency whose clients include car2go, Green Mountain Energy and the Texas Department of Transportation. Dee Anne loves a good puzzle, and leads a team of media buyers and planners as they negotiate, number crunch and develop comprehensive, strategic media campaigns that get results for the agency’s clients.

Dee Anne will speak at WCA’s annual Get Smart Conference on September 13.  Following the conference theme of “Fail Forward: How to Recover, Rebuild and Come Back Stronger,” Dee Anne will hold a breakout session from 8:15—10 a.m. entitled “Building a Safety Net.”

We caught up with Dee Anne to ask her a few questions in advance of next week’s event.

WCA: You’ve worked in media planning for more than 20 years, for brands like AT&T and BMW as well as issues-driven campaigns. How has the industry changed over time?

Dee Anne: When I first started, we concentrated primarily on building relationships with ad sales reps and negotiating the best deals on the placements themselves. We still do these things, but today it’s all about securing added value — developing creative promotions that drive traffic to other channels or events, and that spark conversation. For example, for our distracted driving awareness campaign with TxDOT, we complemented our radio buy by getting DJs in each city to talk about the issue on-air and on social media. Many of these DJs have more than 100,000 followers, so they were able to start a lot of meaningful dialogue with their young fans.

And of course the media landscape has changed dramatically with the move to the digital arena. Keeping up with all of the emerging opportunities, and then measuring the results, are our big challenges now.

WCA: What have you learned about building a safety net?

Dee Anne: In media, we’re dealing with so many variables — multiple versions of a TV spot running thousands of times on hundreds of channels, online and print ads needed in dozens of sizes. So we’ve developed a very thorough system of checks and balances to make sure each order is sent, accepted and tracked. And then of course there’s the back-end of tracking, measurement, payment and reporting. We run a tight ship, but when things go wrong, we use the learning experience to strengthen our process.

Building a safety net is about foresight — predicting what you’ll need to handle a situation. But it’s also about applying hindsight knowledge to make it even stronger.

WCA: What have you learned about failure?

Dee Anne: It’s going to happen! We’re all human, and there’s always room for user error, no matter how good your system is. In media, we’ve all had occasions when we’ve sent an order, confirmed that the station accepted it, and then discovered weeks later that the spot never ran because someone at the station entered it into the trafficking system incorrectly — or not at all. That can be an especially big problem if the campaign is seasonal. I’ve even heard of this happening with Super Bowl ads, if you can believe it!

As with all failures, we make the best of things by asking for future placements that go beyond our original budget. Addressing failures quickly and openly, then making things right, is always the best option.