How to Write a Strategy Portfolio with Mikaela Uricheck


A strategy portfolio, like this is like an automatic green light for me.

What does a great strategy portfolio look like? Well today, you are going to see one. My name is Julian Cole, head of the Planning Dirty Academy. In my previous job as Head of Comms Planning at both BBDO and BBH, I was able to interview hundreds of planners and I’ve seen a variety of strategy portfolios.

Today, we’re going to look at Mikaela Uricheck’s portfolio. Which I think is a great example of what one should look like. So let’s get into it.

Perfect. Thanks so much, Julian. Excited to share my portfolio today that was completed through the Planning Dirty Academy. So with that, we’ll get started.

First, just a brief table of contents. We’ll be talking a little bit about my background and why I want to be a strategist. A little bit about my experience. Then do strategy on a page. I focused on Nike looking at the creative brief of masterclass and finally a comms plan of NBC peacock.

So first about me, I like to say I’m an archeology nerd turns strategist. I harnessed curiosity to solve puzzles about people across ancient and modern times. Essentially, if you ask ten-year-old Mikaela any info on ancient archeology, she’s got you. Because I’ve been innately, curious my whole life strategists, analyze culture and observe and interpret and dig for insights.

So you can call me a strategist with the shovel because I’m ready to dig. Then I just include it a little picture, collage, to show a little bit about who I am. I have a background in theater and storytelling. I’m a tour guide on campus. I really enjoy travel. So this is a little bit about my experience.

Like Julian mentioned, I’m a senior at Villanova studying communication. I’ve had internships and account and digital marketing brand strategy. Programmatic media and on campus, I do behavioral science research as a sociology research assistant. I also lead our on-campus marketing agency, which has been an incredible experience.

All of these experiences turn into four key pieces, which are research, client, services, digital, and brand experience. So first we have our strategy on a page. Through the Planning Dirty Academy, we learned that this was a quick look at strategy to get the essentials that you need on the page. So the business problem I looked at was Nike.

And I thought about what if Nike were to launch a unisex basics line. So then the business problem with that is that people see sports through a gender binary and they do not realize that people can wear and enjoy the same apparel. That’s the consumer problem. However, the insight throughout history sports have always had unnecessary distinctions.

Fortunate. Nike has challenged stereotypes. You can think about back in the seventies with the jogging movement or how Nike has turned a revolution to allow athletics to be for all. So in turn, we need to allow people to see fitness as freedom so that people feel comfortable and secure in their skin helping to increase sales revenue of the new basics line by 30%.

So with that, Nike will be successful in launching. No unisex basics the line. Our next portion of the planning dirty academy was looking at creative briefs. So I chose masterclass because I’ve been seeing a bunch of ads for them recently, but the snippets of the ads focused on the video content. And so I wondered, okay, if we were to do a creative ad for masterclass, what would that look like?

And what’s the key differentiator of masterclass. So the goal I created was that masterclass wants to increase subscriptions millennials. So then the audience is millennial maximalist. These are people who live life to the fullest and they stood at the intersection of deep curiosity of the world, but they also have fascination about a given topic.

Maybe they want to be a master chef, or they’re looking to really explore about writing or learn more about entertainment. But the problem is, although the audience is excited about all of those topics, Maximo see masterclasses inaccessible due to its price. These classes are $15 a month for the entire access or they’re $90 per class, which can be quite expensive.

However, we can use our key action to show that masterclass is worth the investment. Millennials spend big bucks on self-grooming. They’re into self-care, they’re into grooming, home care, entertainment. They’re all about self-care and taking time for themselves at the end of a busy work day. But why should self-care for your mind be treated differently?

In essence, to be the best you learn from the best. But to live your best life. You see learning is a form of self-care. So we then ever single-minded message that learning lets you put your best self forward. And this idea hinged on that insight that you can have self-care for your mind.

And that learning can be a form of self care, which will allow maximalists to buy in this leads to the creative brief, which is get millennial maximalist. Who see masterclass as an inaccessible luxury. Two trust masterclass as an investment in boosting their quality of life by revealing you put your best self forward when learning from the best in the world. It’s not only does masterclass allow you to learn from you’re the best, it’s allowing you to put your best self forward. That was the masterclass creative brief.

Working to our next assignment, which was a comms plan. So the Olympics is quickly approaching. And I thought about the fact that they were canceled in 2020 they’re right around the corner this summer. But a lot of people have forgotten about it. At the same time, NBC is trying to ramp up their peacock TV service. We’ve seen this done with other audiences and entertainment like Viacom CBS, paramount TV. And so I was thinking about what content NBC peacock might release around the Olympics. So the goal is that NBC peacock is releasing align of behind-the-scenes docu-series on the summer 2020 Olympic athletes.

You can think of this as like Simone Biles day in the life for LeBron James, but more giving a really detailed docu-series look. So the audience based off of that is the seasonal sports fans. These are people who love sports, who follow it and care about it. The problem is that people are tired by COVID 19 and 2020.

And like I said, it’s leading them to forget about the 2021 Olympics. The Olympics are this huge cultural event that people are usually really excited about, but because it’s not falling on the normal year and because of COVID-19, it’s just bringing people’s minds. So our key action is to show NBC peacock highlights the full athlete story because the insight is that champions transform the world.

So thinking about, you know, there’s people out there who have been training an extra year, not everyone wants sitting on their couch during COVID. This leads to the creative brief. So we’re going to get the seasonal sports fan who feel defeated by 2020, and don’t watch much behind-the-scenes sports content to believe on demand. Olympics content on peacock is as exhilarating as sports in prime time by showing when world-class athletes champion, the world does too. So the athlete experience is representative of the resiliency. The world has shown throughout 2020, and COVID-19 and championship is not just an athlete experience. It represents something that the world does as well.

This leads us to our comms framework for NBC peacock and the Olympics. First, we’re looking at living, which is where are these people living? What are they up to? What are they experiencing? So the barrier is that they’re feeling defeated by COVID 19 and 2020.

The comms task that we can use to solve that is to prove the athlete’s experience as resilience. The channels would be TV ads, online, video home. Then we look at where are people looking for this content and the barriers that they just don’t watch live sports anymore. Maybe they aren’t engaging as much sports content or behind-the-scenes content, the task and solution we can use this to show champions are built on and off the court.

In essence, the behind-the-scenes content matters to understanding the athlete experience. This could look like social or Vogue, 72 questions, collab. Maybe they go around the Olympic village or someone’s home gym, and they have them answer questions about their daily life.

Finally, we look at buying. So when are people going to purchase NBC peacock, specifically for this Olympic content? The barriers that they don’t value the commentary and behind-the-scenes that peacock can offer. So the comms task is that if we aluminate the hero’s journey, then they will see the Olympics as a fresh start.

The channels could be paid search when people are looking at the Olympics and then re-targeting ads later. And then finally we have a slide for feedback. So through Planning Dirty Academy, our goal was to show this to three people in the strategy field and get feedback based off of it, which I’m currently in the process of doing.

And from there we’re able to grow as strategist, implement the feedback and continue to learn and grow as aspiring strategists into our future careers.

Mikaela, that is such a good portfolio. I was really blown away. Mikaela was by far one of the best students that I’ve had in the Planning Dirty Academy and Mikaela, you have never had a full-time strategy job, is that right?

Yeah, I’m a student. So I’ve never had a full-time strategy gig before.

So I think it’s, I’m blown away. You know, you did the Planning Dirty Academy and have really soaked it in and have shown some that you’ve got the capabilities. As a hiring manager when I was hiring people at BVDO and at BBH looking for junior strategists talent, what is really hard it’s often they don’t have the background, but you have really addressed a lot of those problems with this deck. I think firstly, you understand those foundational documents, which was really good.

We’ve got the strategy on a page, so I know you can put information and make it succinct. You’ve got a creative brief and you followed the format. You’ve used to GET/WHO/TO/BY, and you’re using it all in the correct way. Often I see a lot of mistakes there. Finally, you’ve used a Comms Framework. Comms Frameworks are really, they look simple, but they’re actually really difficult to put the pieces together.

So what I’m seeing there as a hiring manager, I’m seeing someone who’s capable and she’s already showing the talent. On top of that. I think what really stood out to me is that you’ve got that skill of word craft, which is often very hard to get in a strategist as well. I mean, that, that is a sign of a good strategy.

So the Nike one already, you brought it up and it sparked my idea of. The whole idea of the gender binary problem. We always say male and female sports. And that problem that you’ve just brought up, that came from you. Like no one has written that that came from you. So I was really impressed that you got that the masterclass, the self-care for your brain.

Again, a beautiful thought and problem and insight in your show where they do spend money versus not. I, again, really, really strong work. And then finally, the NBC example to me shows you’ve got that kind of cultural nuance. You’ve kind of thought about a cultural moment, a cultural time. The inside of everyone is just tired.

Yet, sports can be that thing that lifts us up. All up. So I really love that. The other thing is you’re working off a tough field here because you don’t have any experience. It’s that old. I want to be a strategist, but you need strategy experience. But I thought the way that you address that with the archeology example, archeologists turned strategists was really good because you clearly know the themes and know what skill sets important for strategists. So you’re really bringing that through. So, great presentation.

When you’re presenting this to potential hiring managers or anyone who’s interviewing you. I think the way that you just bring it into the conversation is, Hey, do we have five minutes? I would love to show you some of my strategy work today and get your feedback on it or showing my skill set off to you.

That’s just like a nice, easy way to introduce the conversation. So I think you’ll be able to do that perfectly. And just again, Great depth there. And this, this for me is perfect. You’re not, there’s not too much information. Sometimes portfolios just go over and over and a lot, but you’re actually showing me the real hard skills there.

So I just wanted to share that with everyone, because often the question comes up. It’s like, how do you make a strategy portfolio? What does it look like? Strategy portfolio, like this is like an automatic green light for me as a hiring manager at BBDO or a big agency, this would definitely be getting the tick and I’ll be sending you through.

So the CSO, if we kind of connected and I could kind of drew you down on the information. Yeah, yeah. That would definitely be getting you a second-round interview. There’s like the connection and I can see the way you think. Do you have any questions about the strategy portfolio, how you put that together?

I think what I would be curious to know from your perspective is how to keep it brief. So I know during our Planning Dirty Academy, we worked on those comp plans and those creative briefs, but there was a lot of work that went into that. There was research and we did, you know, Goals. And we thought through all the consumer problems.

So how can people show that behind the scenes, content and research while still keeping the portfolio itself really brief so that they can do it in five to 10 minutes?

Yeah, I think you’ve got the answers there. You’ve got those three documents that you shared. So the really important ones are strategy on a page and that’s a key document. The creative brief, it keeps you really short and sharp. The other thing I think you could do. I actually think you could potentially have a couple more slides that introduce those different themes in there as well. So I wouldn’t shy away from that either have like some like setups, especially your insight slides.

I, you kind of want to give them a little bit of room to breathe. We talk about, which is just that on the slide. So it’s kind of like a revelation. I think you could have that, but what you’ve done there is kind of brought it down to those three key documents strategy on a page Comms Framework and a Creative Brief.

So I just wanted to ask you a few questions too, about the Planning Dirty Academy. What, what did you find most helpful in the Planning Dirty Academy? Because it’s clear that you’ve, I can’t, I’m just, again, amazed at how much you’ve taken in from being a student to now a resume. That’s a complete green light at most global creative agencies. So what, what was the journey for you and what did you learn?

I was looking to be a student of strategy and I think what the Planning Dirty Academy allowed me to do is to get that foundational knowledge, not only through our live sessions and the videos but also having many strategy homework or during the videos.

Taking the time to pause and think through the topics, whether that was research or what isn’t an insight or talking about creative briefs. So for instance, getting those reps in, of taking five minutes to think of what that insight was for an eBay ad before we actually talked through it, that allowed me to start to put the pieces together in my head and think for myself.

And I think prior to that, It’s hard to incorporate that thinking for yourself piece, the act of learning when you’re learning strategy and what the Planning Dirty Academy does is it makes you an active learner, which is personally the best way to learn. So that’s the biggest thing I learned was that that foundational knowledge, that active learning that putting your reps in is what allows you to build those strategy connections over time.

Yeah. And I think that’s a key point here because I’ve met a lot of, you know, young, aspiring strategists who say, I want to be a strategist. I want to be a strategist. I love strategy. I love strategy. But then I don’t have any two thing to show for it, or they don’t actually practice the discipline. So practicing the discipline actively practicing and doing the exercises is what’s going to set you apart and clearly what you’ve done here.

So thank you again. So much for this Mikaela. I really appreciate you sharing your portfolio, strategy portfolio and excited to see where you land your, your first strategy job.

I’m so excited to thank you for the opportunity to walk through this today. How can planning dirty help you? Four ways.

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