How SPARK’s Anne Marie Holder finds fresh ideas

An early day starts before 7 a.m.—but for this agency leader its all about taking care of her team. Here’s what she sees as the keys to communications success.

Not every communicator uses coffee to power their day.

Some prefer a glass of Coca-Cola. After that, staying organized is all about relying on valued team members and using technology to track daily tasks.  SPARK Strategic Idea’s Anne Marie Holder uses her iPad, and the Notability app, to help move through her day.

She also recommends hiring the right team to help manage a stressful workload. Here’s what she has to say about her communications work as part of our Day in the Life series:


  1. What time do you wake up?

6:35am (I have to get my daughter ready for school and myself ready for the gym before going to the office)

  1. How many cups of coffee do you drink a day?

No coffee for me…Coca-Cola is my caffeine of choice. (Do you know if they offer it in I.V. form yet?)

  1. Who is the most important person at work you talk to during your day?

The most important conversations tend to happen with our Wizard of Ops, Stacey Pullen. Stacey not only manages our operations, but also our accounting and HR. As a small business owner, having a person you can trust implicitly is incredibly valuable. She understands how I think and keeps me sane. I lean on her both personally and professionally and am grateful for her every day.

  1. What’s one tool that you couldn’t live without?

The tool I’ve forced myself to commit to this year is using an iPad instead of paper. In particular, the Notability app. I take all my notes on it, update my “to do” lists and use it to store important signed documents. It’s become an integral part of how I organize the chaos that surrounds any agency owner.

  1. What’s the last thing you do before finishing your workday?

The last part of my workday (which often comes late in the night) is checking my calendar for the next day. I make sure I have everything I need for the next day’s meetings and make a list of priorities to accomplish.

  1. What keeps you up at night?

Making sure my employees feel appreciated. They do an amazing job at helping our clients’ businesses flourish, so I want to make sure our team members feel like they are also growing personally and professionally. My philosophy is to hire people who are smarter than I am and who are experts in their field. However, sometimes meetings and other priorities keep me out of the office more than I’d like, so I always make an effort to ensure our team feels heard and appreciated.

  1. What trend or change is the next big thing in communications and/or your industry?

I think the biggest swing we are seeing in the PR field is the shift to paid editorial. It’s a hard line to walk and can be challenging for our PR team, especially if we have a few clients who can’t afford “pay-to-play” opportunities. I’m not opposed to paid partnerships, but sometimes the lines are blurred since publications, content creators and writers are not always consistent with what is paid and what is not. I think more transparency, guidelines and clarification would be beneficial for the future.


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