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Why I Left the Big Agency World to Join Mainland: Account Manager Jason Heilweil Tells All

A desire to return to a smaller agency and step into a role that would give him more creative license prompted him to make the move.

By Cristina Merrill1851 Franchise Contributor
SPONSORED 12:00AM 02/16/19

At 30, Mainland Account Manager Jason Heilweil has already built an enviable resume.

Having worked for both large and small agencies such as Weber Shandwick and DKC - he has had the chance to represent major accounts that included, Jack Daniel’s, HORMEL Chili and Goose Island, while securing coverage in outlets ranging from the TODAY Show, to Fortune, to Fansided.

In late 2018, he decided it was time for a change, so he started his job search. Like so many public relations professionals, the University of Tampa graduate learned about Mainland the old-fashioned way - through the grapevine.

“Friends of mine in the public relations space in the past had heard about Mainland and about the work that was being done here,” he said. “As I was starting to consider making a change in my career path to work for a smaller agency, my friends’ feedback prompted me to take a deeper look. I looked up the Mainland website and its other channels, 1851 Franchise and, and I could tell there was a lot of great work being done here.”

Based on the clients Mainland was working with, he felt he could offer plenty of industry knowledge. He also figured he could learn. This was important to Heilweil. While he certainly wanted to contribute to the cause, he also wanted to pick up new skills.

“I had never worked with franchise companies before coming to Mainland,” he said. “The majority of my work in the past has been with larger CPG brands, working with everything from food to beverage to technology. I did a lot of work within the pet product space as well. In my professional career, I never want to find myself in a spot where I know everything. I always like to learn new things.”

He saw the posting for the Account Manager role at Mainland on LinkedIn and decided to go for it. The role has ended up being a bit different from his previous role as an account supervisor.

“As account managers at Mainland, we focus on every aspect of the business, which is similar to other roles I’ve had in the past,” he said. “But the biggest difference is on the content side. Agencies I’ve worked with in the past didn’t have editorial platforms while I was there. That was something new for me, and is a great offering for our clients.”

Mainland’s size was also a huge draw for Heilweil. While there are benefits and resources at a larger agency, he also sees many pros to working in a smaller setting. He didn’t feel as if he had as much ownership when he worked in larger settings, whereas he found smaller work settings to be more “invigorating.” Throughout his career, regardless of the agency size, what he enjoyed most is being part of a group of individuals who were prepared to work hard and bring fresh ideas.

The decision to make the jump to Mainland ultimately had to do with the enthusiasm he saw when he came in for his interview, and even though Mainland was a smaller enterprise, he still felt the resources would be solid.

It was clear to Heilweil from his onsite interviews with five various Mainland executives and account team members that he was in a special place.

“You could tell that the passion was there, that they felt their work was benefitting the client,” he said. “At the end of the day, that’s what I care about the most. I want to deliver the best work I can for clients. Knowing I’m surrounded by people who all feel that same way makes me excited  to come to work every day.”

He felt that everyone he met at Mainland brought something different to the table. He was also excited about the prospect of writing more as part of his day-to-day job and crafting media pitches.

“I view myself as a very creative person, and I’ve always loved the media relations side of the business. I love working with reporters and coming up with real quality stories they can run,” he said. “I’m also a writer on the side, so just knowing I would have the opportunity to draft editorial content was something I knew I’d enjoy here.”

Heilweil also wanted a role that would provide him a good sense of work-life balance. Previous work experiences sometimes involved having work carry into the evenings and weekends, as event planning was also a large part of Heilweil’s responsibilities.  

“To me, work-life balance is not so much the sense of ‘I want to do things on my own terms,’” he said. “I’m a hard worker and I know the people around me are hard workers. Work-life balance, to me, is the ability to come to work during the time you’re supposed to, get your work done, be proactive, not take elongated breaks and really maximize your time. Mainland respects me as a person, and because of that, I work hard.”

Heilweil remembers seeing this respect and enthusiasm when he came in for his interview.

“I think that when I was explaining to the team what I’m passionate about and what I enjoy, I was able to see in their faces the things they were excited about,” he said. “I could tell this was a place where I could fit in and a team and culture I could believe in and feel passionate about.”

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