The Art Of Relationship Building: Sonya Matejko, Situation

by Dasha Ovsyannikova

New York, United States
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Sonya Matejko
Communication Manager Situation

Describe your job to us, what’s your title & what do you do?

My name is Sonya Matejko, and I’m the Senior Manager of Communications at Situation – a digital agency that helps brands build passionate communities. In my role, I focus on elevating the agency through thoughtful exposure.


How did you arrive at your current role?

I began my career at SapientNitro (now Publicis.Sapient) on the awards team. Using the knowledge of knowing what’s trending in the world of advertising and leveraging all the connections at various competitions, publications, and conferences, prepared me to take on the role of Communications Manager when I first started at Situation. I was incredibly excited to hit the ground running and use my unique set of skills to amplify Situation across the industry that I had a bird’s eye view in already.


What are your main tasks at the agency?

My main tasks involve mapping out the most effective ways to expose Situation to the advertising industry as well as to prospective clients. Some of the ways in which we’ve seen successful exposure included:

-       Curated events (we’ve partnered with the Ad Council as well at the Shorty Awards in the past on panel events)

-       Thought leadership (our leaders have been featured on Smartbrief, Muse by Clio, Ladders, Shots, Mandatory, and, of course, AdForum)

-       Speaking opportunities (our executives have been seen speaking at conferences such as Advertising Week, MediaPost, InfluenceHER, Women in Digital, AEF Talent Week as well as at places like Fiverr, Google, and the Rubin Museum of Art)

-       Digital exposure (everything from how we represent ourselves on social media to email marketing—we even recently transitioned to a new CRM system to amplify our communications and contact database)

-       Award show juries (this gives our staff an inside look into where the industry is headed, gives them the opportunity to set the barometer for “great work” and offers networking opportunities with other brands or agencies)



What key skills are required to thrive in this role?

If you’re going to work in communications, the biggest skill you need to understand is the art of relationship building. In the world of comms, it’s all about who you know and who knows you. Most of these relationships are also truly authentic after connecting with folks outside of email and out at coffees, lunches, workshops, events, etc. The more genuine connections you have in your world, the more voices that will be willing to share your message. In my opinion, these relationships must come from a good-intentioned place in order to thrive. Other skills that help in this role are organization, time management, a positive attitude, sharp writing skills, an eye for detail, and the ability to see the larger picture outside of the task at hand.


What’s the most challenging aspect of the job? And the most rewarding?

The most challenging aspect of the job is staying on top of real-time news and jumping on last-minute or fleeting opportunities. This requires having everything super organized so you can always divert and make magic happen.

The most rewarding part is being able to celebrate the agency, the work, and, of course, the talent behind it all.  Every time I can put a spotlight on something at Situation, it truly warms my heart to see something or someone get the recognition they deserve. I’d say this is the #1 reason why I love what I do.


How has PR evolved since you first began working in the field?

The most significant shift I’ve seen happen is the increase in pay-to-play opportunities. As publishing, media, and advertising continue to evolve, so does PR. That’s why it’s more important than ever to build authentic relationships with your community so that it comes down to more than the agency’s wallet.


What advice would you give to a newbie?

Your best advantage is to always look from 20,000 feet above. Where is the agency going? Where is the industry headed? What are the untapped opportunities? Where should you really invest that you’re not investing now? Take the time to reflect on your choices from a grander picture in order to make the choices that will have a lasting impact in the long term.