Leading Ladies: Michelle Pugh

Now that Labor Day is in the rear-view mirror, it's back-to-school and back-to-work!

That means it's also time to resume our Leading Ladies series, which took an unplanned hiatus in July and August as I traveled around the country doing back-to-school segments.

If you need bit of motivation to get back into the work mind-set this month, Michelle Pugh may be just the person you need!

Let me introduce you to...

Michelle Pugh


What do you do?

I am a brand manager for Eric Rob & Isaac, a full-service marketing firm in Little Rock, Arkansas. I plan and execute comprehensive marketing-communication plans for clients, some of which are Mountain Valley Spring Water, First Security Bank, Saline Memorial Hospital, University of Central Arkansas and Arkansas Heart Hospital.


Where are you from, and where did you go to school?

I am from a small town in Arkansas called Wynne and attended school at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas.


What attracted you to working in advertising?

When I was in high school, my mother encouraged me to join the yearbook staff. I did and quickly fell in love with the tasks required to put together a publication. I worked really hard on the staff, eventually becoming the editor my senior year, and went on to be named editor of the year by the Arkansas Scholastic Press Association. When I decided that I was going to attend Harding University, I immediately got in contact with the yearbook advisor to inquire about positions on the Petit Jean yearbook staff. The advisor at the time was quick to let me know that he did not allow freshmen on his staff. Being an overzealous 18-year-old, I scheduled an appointment with the advisor, took my portfolio and resume with me, and insisted that he hire me to the staff. The advisor told me that he was not sure what position he would have available but decided to go ahead and hire me for the staff.

Long story short, after a year working on staff, I sat down with one of my other advisors to discuss options for my major, and she shared with me that she too had always wanted ‘yearbook’ to be her career. She said that an advisor had encouraged her to go into public relations, as many of the skill sets needed to make a publication are also used in public relations jobs. I switched my major and never looked back.

How did you get your job?

An advisor at Harding told me about a position open at Eric Rob & Isaac, so I decided to apply. I was asked to an interview but did not hear anything for a couple of weeks after the interview. My husband and I were committed to moving to Little Rock for him to attend school, so I decided to start applying for every communication job available. That very day, I received a call from Rob Bell at Eric Rob & Isaac offering me a job as an account executive.


What your typical work day like?

Every day is a little different when you’re working for an agency. Some days I wake up at 5 a.m. and get ready for an all-day TV shoot in a hospital, and other days I’m preparing to present a marketing plan to a bank or university. Still other days I spend all of my time responding to emails or helping clients solve marketing problems that arise. Every day is a little unpredictable but it’s fun that ways.

Advertising is an ever-changing industry, and when you’re working for an agency, you’re expected to be on the forefront of the trends. There are many times when I work a long day and then come home to take an online class or read articles in order to stay in front of my clients’ needs.


Are there any myths about working in advertising that don’t match up to reality?

There are definitely a lot of extremes that aren’t quite true, but many of the ideas you see in shows like Mad Men or Scandal are actually a reality on some level. At the same time, there are many days when I describe myself as a professional emailer because I spend the whole day responding to client emails and just making sure everyone has what they need when they need it.

What are your five favorite movies?

To be honest, favorites stress me out. Ask anyone that knows me; I do not have favorites. And now with Netflix, I watch a lot more series than movies. Some shows that I like right now are Scandal, Grey's Anatomy and The Walking Dead.

What inspires you?

There are a lot of things that inspire me, but from a professional standpoint, I’m definitely inspired by success. And not just success in my professional life but success for my clients. I have the opportunity to truly help my clients grow their businesses and be the best companies they can be, and that inspires me. I get to work with a lot of different industries, and every day I get to help tell their stories of success, whether that be through a social post, digital ad, TV segment, employee newsletter or print ad (yes, we still do print ads).


What advice would you offer to new grads starting their careers?

I’m kind of a long-winded tactical person, so it’s hard for me to give one piece of advice. However, I’ve found that it all boils down to working really hard and being passionate about everything you do. Passion is contagious, and if your employer or, in my case, clients can see passion in your work, then you’ll be successful in whatever you do. 

Thank you, Michelle!  You can connect with Michelle on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.

Have a great week!


* All photos courtesy of Michelle Pugh.