Merritt McNeely named CEO of Flock and Rally

Merritt McNeely has been named chief executive officer (CEO) of Flock and Rally, a woman-owned integrated communications and marketing agency headquartered in Columbia.

McNeely, who has served in an executive role at Flock and Rally since spring 2018, now will lead strategic planning, financial management, business development and more for the company, serving as the agency’s key spokesperson.

“Since Debi Schadel and I co-founded the agency in 2010, we have shared a passion for forging connections and fostering collaboration in our community,” says Tracie Broom, co-founding partner at Flock and Rally. “It is a dream come true to empower a trusted colleague to assume the role of chief executive. Merritt’s skill, experience and commitment to our unique company culture — as well as our shared vision for measured growth — make her a natural fit for the position of CEO.”

McNeely is an award-winning marketing and communications professional with a track record in client services, staff management and oversight of vital business activities.

“This is a full-circle moment for me, having worked with Flock and Rally as a client multiple times over the years,” said McNeely. “It’s been an honor to be part of this agency’s remarkable growth in the last four years, and now, it is a privilege to be entrusted to lead this amazing team as we continue forward.”

McNeely joined Flock and Rally in April 2018 as vice president of marketing shortly after Broom and Schadel bought the firm’s office building on historic Arsenal Hill in downtown Columbia. As the firm’s first executive hire, McNeely brought with her a strong background in advertising, marketing strategy, relationship building and more. In 2020, she was promoted to executive vice president, a role in which she managed the agency team while providing high-level client services.

Since McNeely assumed a leadership role at Flock and Rally, the company has more than doubled in size and revenue. McNeely is responsible for bringing on several major clients, promoting in-house staff, building out team infrastructure and vastly increasing the agency’s capabilities — all in the midst of a pandemic that has required immense resolve and flexibility.

Additionally, she has led Flock and Rally to garner dozens of awards, including a Gold ADDY award for The COMET’s “Saving Sarah’s Seat” campaign, three Silver ADDY awards for the South Carolina State Fair, and numerous awards from both the South Carolina Public Relations Society of America and the International Association of Business Communicators’ S.C. chapter.

“Flock and Rally is evolving while remaining true to our original mission: to rally our community around great ideas,” says Debi Schadel, co-founding partner at Flock and Rally.

“With Merritt at the helm as CEO, we are positioned to do more for our clients and community than ever, providing an even richer experience for those with whom we work.”

From 2013-2018, McNeely was the director of marketing and membership for the South Carolina State Museum. She led statewide marketing and communications for “Windows to New Worlds,” the 2014 grand opening of the museum’s new observatory and planetarium, and she co-founded and co-chaired the Total Eclipse Weekend, Columbia, S.C. campaign.

McNeely worked closely with Flock and Rally on the campaign, which drew hundreds of thousands of travelers to the Midlands for the total solar eclipse of 2017.

From 2005-2013, McNeely served as the executive director of the Five Points Association, where her accomplishments included the installation of a new fountain at Saluda Avenue and Blossom Street as well as the creation of a public art monument at Harden Street and Santee Avenue to honor the band Hootie and the Blowfish. Serving as the youngest chair of St. Pat’s in Five Points, one of the state’s largest annual music festivals, McNeely implemented long-lasting, key upgrades, and under her leadership, the association reached its highest membership numbers to date.

McNeely currently sits on the Five Points Association’s Board of Directors as an at-large member. In addition to years of board service and multiple leadership roles with the Congaree Vista Guild, McNeely served as president of the board from July 2018 to July 2020. McNeely has served on numerous boards and committees, including Columbia Design League, the Animal Mission and the Babcock Center Foundation.

She is a recipient of the Columbia Business Monthly’s “50 Most Influential,” the State Media Company’s “20 Under 40,” Columbia Regional Business Report’s “Women of Influence,” The Free Times Power List’s “Next 50” and “S.C. Women in Business 2022” honors.

McNeely attended the University of South Carolina and earned her degree in Public Relations from the school of Journalism and Mass Communications. She has presented at national conferences such as the 2016 American Alliance of Museums conference and the 2019 Public Relations Society of America’s international ICON conference.

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