Bernie Shimkus 20th Anniversary Interview
Recently, Bernie Shimkus our VP, Director of Research and Consumer Insights celebrated 20 years at Harmelin Media. As part of our Anniversary Interview Series, we sat down with him to get his perspective on the industry and learn more about him.
What are some of the notable changes you have seen in the industry since you started at Harmelin?
Wow. That’s a tough one since there have been so many significant changes, especially in the last few years. I certainly didn’t see myself working alongside data scientists 10 or 15 years ago. The incredible expansion and innovation from a technology standpoint has really transformed the media industry, and continues to do so with its ongoing impact on consumer behavior. The proliferation of media choices and the fragmentation of audiences within media channels are among the notable changes that have taken place. On the research side, while it’s been difficult to keep up with all these changes from an audience measurement perspective, enhancements that have taken place in the past couple of years, and ones that are taking shape now, are really exciting to be a part of.
What has been your greatest success at Harmelin?
There are two things that come to mind in terms of successes. First, I am especially proud to be part of Harmelin’s New Business pitch team and the success we’ve had in the past 3-5 years going up against some of the largest media agencies in the country, and coming out on top. Taking part in these pitches is both incredibly grueling and incredibly satisfying, with the amount of work that’s required in addition to what you do for existing clients on a daily basis. The second success is the work that I’ve done to help shape the media measurement industry. My participation on several industry committees including the Nielsen Local Policy and Guidelines committee and Nielsen Audio’s Radio Advisory Council has been extremely satisfying. Working with these groups, I get to help influence the future direction of media measurement and accountability, putting Harmelin Media on equal footing with the largest media shops in the country including MAGNA/ IPG Mediabrands, Group M, and Horizon Media.
Where do you see the industry in the next year, 5 years, 10 years?
I certainly see technology continuing to impact the industry in a big way, with consumers having more options to personalize their use of and their experience with media. Eventually though, I see the industry pulling back a bit from all the focus on technology and automation, recognizing that advertising and a consumer’s response to advertising messages are rooted in human emotions, which can’t always be explained by an algorithm.
What is the most unique trip you have ever taken?
It’s a tie between two trips that I’ve taken with my family – one to the Riviera Maya, a warm destination, and one to Lake Placid in the winter. The trip to Riviera Maya was highlighted by an amazing multi-location snorkeling adventure when we saw a sea turtle, a barracuda, and even went into a cenote as well. We also jumped off a cliff into the pool of a cenote below. The winter trip was to the Lake Placid area where my wife Bobbi, my daughter Katie and I took our first cross-country ski trip after a fresh snowfall through some of the most beautiful trails on earth! We also enjoyed a dog sled ride and a horse-drawn carriage ride through the woods at night. Just amazing.
Fun tidbit/something no one could guess about you?
I’m a bit of a fan of the great outdoors, and have a huge interest in US history as well. On the outdoor front I love to go hiking and canoeing with my wife in all kinds of locations, both locally and across the country. We have also participated in a 10-mile canoe race each of the last 20 years along the Brandywine River in Chester County, PA to raise money for a charity. And our dream retirement plans would include the purchase of an RV that we would take all over the US exploring the natural wonders of our country, and learning everything I could about the history that was made there over the past 200+ years.
What is your favorite song, movie or TV show, and why?
There really are too many to choose from to pick just one. I love everything that Billy Joel and James Taylor have ever produced. But I’m also a bit ‘old-school’ enjoying Nat King Cole and other performers from that era, as well as big band music in general. For movies, I like things ranging from The Godfather to Tombstone, and just about any comedy that Bill Murray has been in. For TV shows, one of my all-time favorites is 24. The first 12 episodes of season one are as good or better than anything I’ve ever watched.
Bernie’s colleagues have come to trust and rely on his expertise. Terry Maher, who has been on Bernie’s team for 16+ years, says, “Bernie is very bright with a tenacious appetite for knowledge. He’s determined to get the all the facts before jumping to a conclusion – whether the subject is media, marketing, politics, sports, or where to get Yuengling on tap. This makes the department a great place to learn and grow – he creates a very intellectually stimulating environment.”
Thanks Bernie for your 20 years contributing to the success and growth of our clients. Your dedication and experience make Harmelin an amazing place to work.