How I Got Here: TellMed’s Tara DiMilia on finding inspiration in the future of communications

Tara DiMilia shares why the most challenging part of her job is also the most rewarding.

Tara DiMilia

Tara DiMilia is the founder, managing director and CEO of TellMed Strategies, a life science communications agency that creates marketing campaigns for biopharma companies. With over 30 years of experience in healthcare public relations, DiMilia has played key roles in starting and restructuring three companies before founding TellMed. Guided by her professional mantra, “Be curious. Ask questions. Rely on the insights of others, and trust your own expertise,” she has built a reputation for understanding the viewpoints of patients, reporters, and other audiences.

The moment I’m proudest of in my entire career is when I:

 Any single moment of pride that I can think of would be the culmination of years of work and the collaboration of many people. One such moment that rises to the top for me is when TellMed Strategies was awarded the corporate communications business for EMD Serono, the healthcare business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, many years ago. It was the first time that our team worked tirelessly, energetically, and collaboratively on such a big proposal.  I honestly doubted we would get the business, but that didn’t stop us. We had so much fun carefully crafting strategies and creative ideas, which our designer interpreted into amazing visuals. I was incredibly proud of the effort we put into it. Winning the account took my pride to a whole different level, as it not only reinforced the incredible team being built at TellMed but also demonstrated that we had successfully made the transition from a media-focused force to a true full-service agency, laid the groundwork for future pitches and doubled the size of our firm. The five years during which we served EMD Serono helped to springboard us toward other amazing clients including Anthos Therapeutics and Lantheus, among others whom we work with today, and I remain immensely proud of the collaboration, strategies, and creativity of our teams today.

The most underrated skill in my profession is:

The ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. 

I’m inspired by:

 My colleagues. I’m inspired by their enthusiasm, drive and creativity.  I thrive on their courage in saying, we should turn this on its head and do it differently. Consistently, we learn from one another and I am humbled by the way they support one another, from catching each other’s typos and expanding on a good idea all the way to offering one another childcare support. 

Inspired for the future of our profession. There was a time during COVID when every executive worried about communications. Particularly with the rise in social media, company leaders are seeing the value of communications more than ever. It was exciting to see our direct client contacts rise within their organizations. And with the complexities of science and technology quickly increasing, the need for our services will only expand. It’s an exciting time for our industry. 

A tool or a piece of software I cannot live without is:

 Outlook. It’s our guide. As a virtual company, it keeps us connected. It allows us all work-life balance and allows us each to peek into our colleague’s virtual office to know what they are up to. Some colleagues chunk their day. So their calendar is literally their to-do list and some keep their kids sports schedules so we can help each other with the juggle. 

When I am feeling overwhelmed at work

I dig in. In the flight or fight model, I’ve found that I’m a fighter. When things aren’t going the way I planned, I tend to get hyper focused on the issue. There are pros and cons to this approach, and I’m grateful to my family for both supporting me in this and ensuring I seek balance, and grateful to my colleagues for diving in with me so that we can collectively find solutions. 

The most challenging part of my job:

 The most challenging part of my job is also the most rewarding. Everyday feels like a puzzle that needs solving. As a company, we are either in hiring mode, seeking talent, or in growth mode, tapping the talent we identified. For clients, I am constantly trying to conceive better ways to achieve their goals, (should we be more creative? Are we leaning into the strategy enough?) For employees, I am always concerned if we are challenging each of them enough and supporting their growth. And, managing work-life balance for myself is a daily puzzle.  I love what I do and am excited for these challenges.  

Isis Simpson-Mersha is a conference producer/ reporter for Ragan. Follow her on LinkedIn.


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