Zehnder Communications, Inc.

Day in the Life: Zehnder's Sr. Account Executive, Christina Maltese

Master problem solver. Strategist. Client liaison. There are many ways you could describe what an Account Service professional does. Think of Account Service professionals as the producer behind a client’s success. 

Z Nashville’s Senior Account Executive Christina Maltese lives up to all the hype! Working on a roster of clients that includes Piccadilly Restaurants, College of DuPage, St. Tammany Parish Hospital and American Equity Underwriters, Christina has been a rock star ever since she joined Zehnder in 2016.


The below is a look into Christina’s workday as she problem solves and strategizes a menu photo shoot for our restaurant chain client, Piccadilly. Piccadilly is a classic Southern restaurant chain, with roots stemming all the way back to 1944. They specialize in home-cooked, Southern comfort food and have some incredibly delicious dishes! 

5:00 a.m.: It’s shoot day! Time to rise. My first order of business is to check for overnight and early morning updates. You never know what will happen with a photo shoot, so I always make sure that I’m prepared for everything. I grab my iPhone and check for updates, reviewing emails, and texts to make sure I’m fully prepared with the final shot list. 

5:30 a.m.: With any shoot, it’s imperative to have business casual wear that allows you the flexibility to move. This client specializes in Southern, homestyle comfort food and today, we’re shooting 16 dishes! A photo shoot, at a restaurant, means running in and out of the kitchen, assisting with food styling, helping with the background setup, cleaning dishes to prepare for the next shot, and really doing anything that’s needed to make the shoot a success all the while maintaining a perfectly fresh appearance. Today, I’m choosing a casual dress that can accommodate my anticipated level of movement. My goal? Help in any way to facilitate the perfect shot! 

5:45 a.m.: Printed copies of the shot list, check. Documents on hand for new projects to discuss with the client, check. Cell phone charger, check. Laptop and charger, check. Change of shoes, check. All the essentials are here. Time to hit the road! 

6:00 a.m.: Travel time to the shoot location is a little over an hour. Time to rally the troops, get focused and do final prep for a 12-hour day of food photography and one-on-one time with the client. Today is going to be an exciting and productive day! 

6:20 a.m.: With triple shot lattes on-hand, the Z team arrives at Piccadilly’s flagship location. There’s a quick minute for hellos and hugs with the client before it’s time to set-up for the first part of the shoot. Today's shoot is all about getting what we need to support the 2018 Holiday Campaign as well as upcoming meal promotions for the remainder of 2018 and 2019. We're executing a new strategy this year that involves compositing the point-of-purchase materials using several new, custom backdrops to feature the meals with props. There isn’t a moment to spare!

8:00 a.m.: We’re getting close to time to shoot the first dish. First, the photographer captures test shots to ensure all precise details (down to every crumb) are positioned for the perfect shot. This means making sure the lighting is right, the background is set-up properly and the scene is ready for the dishes. Perfection is the ultimate goal today. 

8:30 a.m.: Time to prep for the first Soup & Salad dish, Seafood Gumbo with a side of homestyle black-eyed peas and a fresh spinach salad with Mexican Cornbread. Mmmm! This is our first-time shooting salad dishes for this client, so we want to make sure everything is positioned just right to hone in on what we call “craveability” in food photography! 

8:45 a.m.: It’s. Go. Time. The next dishes are underway and we’re smooth sailing for the Shrimp & Corn Bisque and Cream of Broccoli Soup.

10:00 a.m.: With the Soup & Salad dishes successfully wrapped, it’s time to attack this client’s famous and guest-coveted Chicken Tender Meals. For those who haven’t experienced shooting chicken tenders, plating and styling for this type of food is extremely tricky. It's critical to ensure the Chicken Tenders appear as separate tenders versus one oversized piece of fried chicken. The perfection of Piccadilly's hand-breaded and golden-fried tenders needs to shine through in these images and it’s imperative to get this right!

10:30 a.m.: Let the plating begin! A fresh-made selection of Chicken Tenders is brought out for us to assess. We work with the food stylist to select the most-photogenic tenders from the bunch. Who knew there was such a science to shooting tenders!

12:00 p.m.: The 3-piece and 5-piece Chicken Tender Meals are finally plated. It’s time to shoot! While the photographer, food stylist and Creative Director work their magic with the photos, the Project Manager and I take a moment to discuss new Piccadilly locations that will be opening in the future and point of purchase materials that will be needed to support the grand opening as well as media tactics to support the opening. It’s exciting news! As we discuss strategy and tactical executions, I’m pulling out my laptop to brief the team and get these projects rolling on the spot.

1:00 p.m.: We take a break to assess the schedule and our overall progress. There are no second chances with photo shoots so capturing everything needed is a must. If adjustments need to be made, now is the time to do it!

3:30 p.m.: Never let a minute go to waste when you have the opportunity to be in-person with your client. As the shoot goes on, we continue quarterly planning discussions and discuss new opportunities for outdoor and local marketing to capture our target audience. 

5:30 p.m.: All the main dishes are a wrap! But, there’s still time to capture the individual shots of Piccadilly's fresh baked dinner rolls, dinnerware and napkins. It looks like we have time for Piccadilly’s famous dipping sauces too so we add those in on the fly. These will be used in future promotions in-store and in printed and digital materials. 

6:30 p.m.: Success! It’s the end of the day and the shoot is a wrap. Great job, team! There’s nothing that makes you happier than the feeling of solid teamwork with your client, the Z team and the photography team. Happy client = Happy Christina.

7:45 p.m.: We arrive at an Italian restaurant for dinner with the client to round out a successful shoot day. Cheers to the entire team for a job well done! We mastered a very aggressive shoot schedule and managed to capture more dishes, side items and props than we anticipated. Nothing is more rewarding than doing great work for our clients! Now, time for some delicious fare! 

10:15 p.m.: Back at the hotel and time to rest for a new day tomorrow. Tomorrow morning at 9 a.m., it’s time for me to switch gears to presenting a media performance report to a client in the education industry.

A day in the life of an Account Executive can be very demanding, but also very rewarding! Now, who else is craving Chicken Tenders?




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