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How to successfully transition from mom mode to work mode on your commute

Natalie Mayrath

Mary Kate McGrath’s day-defining moment happens during a portion of the day most people dislike: her commute. McGrath, chief content officer for Gallery Media Group, uses it as a moment of transition.

“Some people hate their commute,” she says. “I relish my commute. It's my moment to transition from being mom and talking about lacrosse practice and ‘where did my stuffed animal go?’ and ‘I don't want to eat another peanut butter and jelly sandwich’ to business woman.”

McGrath appreciates the idea of work-life balance, but she’d prefer not to call it “balance,” per se. “I think of it more as a pendulum. Sometimes, I'm at work, sometimes I'm at home,” she says. “Understanding that and knowing that I kind of have two different worlds in my life makes me compartmentalize and makes me really commit to where I am.”

McGrath picked up a passion for brands from her father, who was an ad man during the “Mad Men” era. She carried that passion into a long career working for lifestyle magazines such as InStyle, Food Network Magazine, and RealSimple. Nowadays she applies it in her current role running content for burgeoning media brands like PureWow and ONE37PM. Gallery Media Group also produces podcasts, including the newly launched “CMO Podcast with Jim Stengel.”

The podcast features Stengel, a legendary marketing mogul, formerly of Procter & Gamble, in conversation with other marketing executives. McGrath calls Stengel “the grandfather of all CMOs.” She feels that the sounding board of Stengel’s extensive experience will help brands navigate the rough waters of consumer relationships and brand loyalty.

“What's tough for a brand in 2019 is the attention deficit, the attention economy is so fragmented,” says McGrath. “Everyone is a content creator, everyone is vying for space in the consumer's inbox, in their social. Finding and reaching the consumer on the daily is the toughest. I've seen Jim at work and he's very deft at navigating the tricky waters of when these brands have slipped and when they have flourished.”

McGrath believes brands can find that special type of consumer loyalty amid saturation regardless of word count or platform. If the storytelling is strong and the format fits the consumer’s schedule or needs, the medium might not matter.

“People often ask me the biggest difference between magazines and the digital world and I might be naïve, I just don't see the biggest difference between the two of them,” she says. “I guess I'm a little bit platform agnostic. The idea of telling a quality story in a certain word length or a video time slot, I think that, frankly, is silly. That doesn't have respect for the consumer. I personally consume tons of content on the subway every morning. I have 20 minutes, that's all I have and that quality content can fill it.”

McGrath emphasizes that the spending power of the female demographic in particular should not be ignored. “Women make so many of those household decisions from the car to the home that talking to them and having their attention is very powerful,” she says. “They are driving between 70% and 80% of the purchases of the United States. I think that's pretty much a force to be reckoned with.”

Follow Natalie Mayrath on Twitter.


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