Nancy Hill, who stepped down from her role as 4A's President and CEO this summer after nine years, has created her own consultancy aimed at helping agencies—and eventually marketers and other companies—navigate the changing media landscape.
The consultancy, named Media Sherpas, officially opens this week, but the idea for the business has been a year in the making. Hill says in the 12 months before she actually left the 4A's but her planned departure was public knowledge, a lot of agencies approached her, especially mid-size independent shops, saying they could use outside counsel. These agencies, she says, benefit from having membership in the 4A's, but they don't get one-on-one attention from who someone who has a broader purview.
"It's not unlike hiring a personal trainer," she adds. "You do it because you know you want to get better and you're willing to put in the work, but you need someone to help you figure out what that work looks like."
The first practice within Media Sherpas is "Agency Sherpa," designed specifically to work on agency issues today. The practice is for all types of agencies, from PR and social to advertising and media. Some areas in which Hill will consult include new business development and agency compensation, culture and values, talent development, growth opportunities and diversity and inclusion.
One of the first Agency Sherpa clients is Marcus Thomas, a Cleveland, Ohio-based independent agency with 170 employees that works with brands such as Ohio Lottery, Dexcom and Troy-Bilt.
"It's a great time for independent agencies and I want to help them take advantage of that," says Hill.
Eventually, Hill says the goal is to have other practices, such as Publisher Sherpa for small publishing companies and Client or Marketer Sherpa for small and/or family-owned businesses and startups.
At the moment, Hill is her company's only full-time staffer, but she says she is collaborating with several people whom she can't yet announce. "The intent is to have a wide-ranging group of individuals."
Media Sherpas has no physical office, but Hill, who lives in Cleveland, says she travels very often.
As for the name Media Sherpas, Hill says she chose it because a "Sherpa" is the person who helps others get to the summit during mountain-climbing expeditions but doesn't get the glory for it.
"This allows me to take 35 years of my career and bring it all together in a place that can make me happy and be helpful to the agencies I work with," says Hill.