To Top

Life & Work with Tracy Polansky

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tracy Polansky.

Hi Tracy, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?

I am the Founder and President of The Polansky Group… We are marketing, PR and media specialists.

I always knew I wanted to go into media and marketing in some fashion and I think growing up the daughter of entrepreneurs, that I wanted to run my own business too. Not so much because I wanted my name on the door, but because my currency was going to be flexibility. I wanted it all. A family AND a career and knew that you couldn’t give both of those the same amount of attention at the same time all the time and saw entrepreneurship as an answer. So flexibility had to be my non-negotiable.

When I was a little girl, I can remember going to work with my Dad, who was an Executive Recruiter and listening to him make phone calls or watch him as he interacted with his staff. He treated everyone with the same respect and kindness no matter who he was talking to. He would come home and talk about his day at family dinner, whether a good or bad day, with passion. I remember my Mom going to volunteer at various places including our schools and church with the same kindness, passion and dedication as my Dad had. I remember sitting and listening to those conversations intently – paying attention to what they said. I was taught a strong work ethic by both of my parents, a trait all of my siblings and I have today.

I started my career off traveling around the country doing events for companies like VH-1, Coca-Cola, Seventeen Magazine and Sega. It was a fabulous way to be dropped into the business, work a stupid amount of hours young, and absorb everything I could from ANYONE that was willing to teach me. I was a sponge for knowledge just like I was as a little girl in my Dad’s office. I asked the president of that marketing agency to interview me even though I had no experience and hadn’t finished college yet but knew that if he would just give me a chance – that I could and would make a difference. He did meet with me, gave me a chance and always told me that it wasn’t because I was the most qualified by a long shot but that I was willing to put myself out there and ask. I ALWAYS looked for mentors and was lucky to have a few that I still talk to today. I went on to work for a non-profit as a Sr. Marketing Director, at NPR in underwriting and started my own agency in 2001. This December will be TWENTY years!

I was never adverse to risks in business – but always took calculated risks to the best of my ability.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Not at all. When I started my business, I really did not have any entrepreneur training and wasn’t really even sure what I wanted to do. I quit another job I had because the boss was a jerk and decided to start my own business at the encouragement of my husband and some colleagues but had no clients lined up – I was only 29 at the time and didn’t have enough experience or confidence to know what I was doing. I started out trying to be “everything to everyone” in marketing, branding, events, PR, media buying, production, etc… I never said no and didn’t do a great job at anything. I was miserable and convinced that I made a huge mistake. I reached out to a woman that I had met years earlier and asked if I could pick her brain – she met with me and told me to start saying no to things and to spend more time figuring out my path. After about 2 years of running myself ragged, not really providing the client service that I had decided I was going to build my business on and not feeling that passion I saw my parents have, I decided to focus on 3 areas of marketing and industries and fairly quickly, I became profitable and happier.

Of course, there were other struggles too… kids, staffing, vendor partners, covid, etc….

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I still LOVE what I do. I unequivocally do. I love to meet with clients and talk about their pain points and figure out how best to achieve their goals. We basically act as a CMO-for-hire for small to medium sized businesses that have neither the need nor maybe the budget to hire a full time Marketing Professional but has the more Jr. staff to execute the goals lined out. We primarily focus on general marketing, PR (public relations) and media buying.

Many entrepreneurs and C-suite execs have been ingrained with a “figure it out” or “DIY” mentality, which means they try to complete these tasks without the aid of paid experienced specialists. It is true that an individual can find and gain enough knowledge to complete the above tasks, it really is not rocket-science – HOWEVER, the time, energy and effort it takes for the owner or C-Manager to successfully carry out an experienced and comprehensive marketing strategy would certainly impact the business and if they are ‘learning’ marketing then who is running the business?

Therefore, businesses that have neither the time nor inclination to DIY are left with a choice…either hire an employee or hire an outside agency. AND that is where we step in.

We take the pressure off the owners and take over until the process is completed, whether that is hiring someone, handing off the more junior level work internally or continuing to handle through our firm.

We started working with owner-operated business, and our propensity still lies there but with businesses that have billings of $2.5 million to $15 million as a sweet-spot.

What sets us apart is our billing methods, our attention to detail, our team and our experience.

Can you talk to us a bit about happiness and what makes you happy?
My kids and husband. Playing Tennis. Traveling with friends. Teaching fitness classes. Volunteering.

My father passed away suddenly this past year from COVID and I was very close to him. I have heard cliches for years about “no one wished they worked more on their deathbed” and you “can’t bury your money, toys, etc with you” and I never paid a lot of attention to that. But when a friend lost her husband young and suddenly, I realized that you do only get one life and life is for the living. I decided to make sure that the people in my life knew that they were important to me, that my family and friends deserved to feel like they mattered and I needed to feel like I was meant to be here and make a difference. I put people and things that I love first and I work hard to NOT give any attention to things that don’t bring me joy. Do I succeed all the time? NOT AT ALL… but I am a work in progress.

Contact Info:

Image Credits

Madeline Steinlage
Betesy Mooney

Suggest a Story: VoyageSTL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Local Stories