How one Sydney indie media agency is riding out Covid-19 impact

• Angie Smith: “The year is not what we thought it was going to be”

The Sydney-based independent media agency MediaSmiths launched in 2007. Founder Angie Smith had previously worked on the media side and in agencies before that. “There were a couple of reasons I started the business,” Smith told Mediaweek.

“I wanted to have some freedom away from working for someone else by creating my own business. I had seen some things working for other people in the media services industry that I didn’t particularly like so I wanted to create my own business where we would work collaboratively with clients and have a partnership with them working towards their objectives.

“I wanted to operate under my ethos and to have the opportunity to mentor staff and grow with them.”

Smith said the business started on the “smell of an oily rag”. At the beginning it was Angie, with her husband and business partner Mike Smith. “He was still working on the media side when we launched. We soon started to hire staff and we grew from that.”

MediaSmiths logo

The two Smiths met during their time in radio at ARN. “It took us a little while to get some momentum. There were a lot of learnings in the early days.”

Covid-19 wasn’t the first hurdle the business faced. A big challenge soon after launch was Angie suffering a major cerebral haemorrhage. “It put a major dent in my ability to do anything. I do remember being in hospital with a laptop, but being told to stop working and look after my blood pressure.”

Going back to work for someone else was never an option. “I was 28 at the time and being ambitious and motivated made me stick with it.”

MediaSmiths offers full service in media with research, planning, strategy and then buys the media. “We have some clients who may not have had an agency before, but they have reached that point where it doesn’t make sense for them to buy their own media. They might not have the time, the energy or the expertise to be doing it.”

The MediaSmiths has a team of 10. “We obvously plan across all mediums and something we are big on is planning holistically across all channels depending on what their goals are.

“We don’t specialise in any one client sector, having worked pretty much across everything. We currently have pharmaceutical clients, developers, legal firms, automotive and more.”

One thing they have had success with is combining radio with digital media for some clients. “That is like a good marriage that delivers good results.”

Angie shook her head when asked about the challenges of 2020, before admitting: “We have been fairly lucky. Having a diverse portfolio of clients has helped with not too many exposed to Covid shutdowns. Amongst some clients initially there was a degree of panic us none us knew what was going to be happening.

“The year is certainly not what we thought it was going to be back in January. It is not the great 2020 we were working toward, but all things considered it is not as dire as we thought it could be back in March.”

Some advertisers are wary of industry recommendations in the media that now is the time to spend to grow your business. “The rhetoric from clients now seems to be they are looking at September onwards for things to improve.”

There has been opportunities for media deals. “It depends on the vendor you are speaking to, but many have been prepared to put together sharpened deals for you if you want to spend.”

MediaSmiths was keen to join the IMAA when it heard about the new organisation.

Angie: “It’s been heartening to be part of the IMAA so far especially with the various events provided to allow for learning, support and collaboration between agencies and our all-important media partners. I just hope that the industry body can grow and that what it was built for can continue to drive real partnerships and ensure integrity as well as diversity for the industry.

When joining we saw an opportunity for indie agencies to have a voice in the industry as we had been under-represented for so long. There is an opportunity for us to stand up and showcase the amazing work we do and also the positive effect we have on the Australian economy. We are independent, Australian owned and furthermore keep the economy going through employment of staff.”

Top Photo: Mike and Angie Smith from MediaSmiths

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