In this episode, Stacy sits down with Ian Drummond, who is both her husband and her co-partner at Hollywood Branded, which is an agency that focuses on creating pop culture partnerships, such as product placement, influencer marketing, and celebrity endorsements, for brands. The two discuss how they have managed to create and maintain company culture during this time, as well as all there is to know about Hollywood Branded’s internship program.
Hollywood Branded Refresher Episodes
Check out some of the past episodes we’ve covered on our Marketing Mistakes podcast
- EP229: Strengthening Your Family and Your Business with Jay Feitlinger | StringCan Interactive
- EP223: How to Market a New Travel Business with Yann Barbarroux | Flyion
- EP222: Creating a Content Strategy for Your Brand with Kristin Bryan | The Chef Sisters
Hollywood Branded Content Marketing Case Studies
The following content marketing case studies below provide even more insights.
- Hip Hop Artists: A Streetwear Company’s Greatest Marketing Tool
- Brands Naming A Celebrity As Chief Officer Of A Company Is A Trend
- Mental Health And Company Culture With Michelle Dickinson
The Path To Becoming A Certified Influencer Marketer With Hollywood Branded
Get ready to learn a ton of how-to’s and the tips and tricks of our trade, as you advance your influencer marketing game!
- Full-Length Training Videos
- Transcripts – Infographics
- eBook Guides
- Case Studies
- Hollywood Branded Surveys
- MP3 Downloads
- Animated Videos
- Additional Educational Material
- Quizzes & Exams
- Certifications In Influencer Marketing
We GUARANTEE that this class series will provide you with the foundation to make campaigns successful for your brand.
Thank You For Tuning In!
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them). I’m Stacy Jones, the founder of influencer marketing and branded content agency Hollywood Branded. This podcast provides brand marketers a learning platform for top experts to share their insights and knowledge on topics which make a direct impact on your business today.
While it is impossible to be well-versed on every topic and strategy that can improve bottom-line results, my goal is to help you avoid making costly mistakes of time, energy or money, whether you are doing a DIY approach or hiring an expert to help. Let’s begin today’s discussion.Speaker 2 (00:31):
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them) Here’s your host, Stacy Jones.Stacy Jones (00:36):
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them). I’m Stacy Jones, and I’m so happy to be here with you all today and want to give a very warm welcome to Ian Drummond. He’s a super special guest, and I’ll get into that in just one moment.
Ian is the COO of Hollywood Branded and my co-partner at the agency where we specialize in creating pop-culture partnerships for brands through product placement, influencer marketing, and celebrity endorsement. And a little secret for those in the know, he’s also my husband. I truly could not have ever asked for a better partner in life or business. I struck gold.
After a 26-year career as an administrator and educator for high school and middle school, Ian officially changed career paths and he joined Hollywood Branded back in 2019 after our agency went viral around the globe, thanks to some phenomenal PR coverage that just kept spreading.
And he came on board to oversee our agency’s growth and expansion, where he’s put his incredible management skills to use in helping keep the team organized, hiring new team members, and also making sure everyone’s rowing in the same direction to hit target goals.
Today, Ian’s going to be sharing how our agency ensures we hire the right fits for our company’s culture, including our internship program. Some of the tactics we use may just make you laugh out loud, but they work incredibly well. And in fact, we’ve dialed in on how to have a successful remote team and internship team thanks to that foundation and a lot of help from technology.
Today we’re going to learn what works from Ian’s perspective, what should be avoided, and how some businesses miss the mark. Ian, welcome. I’m so happy to have you here in the room beyond my office joining us today.Ian Drummond (02:19):
Thank you. It’s nice to join you from our living room.Stacy Jones (02:22):
There you go. So when you came on board, we did not have an official strategy in hiring. It was kind of… Not hiring anyone, for internships specifically. It was kind of, we posted out a job application, we would get hundreds of resumes in, someone would take a stab, choosing who we’d actually bring on. It wasn’t really a formal process.
And you have completely reinvented the wheel, all for the better. Can you share a little bit about what that looks like for us and what you like about it?Ian Drummond (03:01):
Sure, of course. Yeah, the internship program is my favorite part of my administrative duties, of course, because admin duties are admin duties and they’re things that I have done for many years in my career. But this leap to a different field was a little daunting, but the internship program lets me keep the focus on education, and that’s so important, and is the most important thing with our internship program.
So we want to make sure that the interns that we’re bringing in are also focused on education, and we can make it the right experience for them because they really want to be a Hollywood Branded intern, not just any intern for this semester, they really, really want to be a Hollywood Branded intern. That’s what we’re looking for when we dive into this hiring process, and there’s many steps that go into it.Stacy Jones (04:00):
For all of our listeners, you guys obviously know that I am super into education. I mean, come on, we have over 250-odd recorded podcasts explaining how to do things, how to meet with people who are experts who can tell you how to do things better.
With interns, it’s the same thing. We’re looking for people who want to come on board and really embed themselves in our agency, learn about what we do, and contribute and grow and contribute and grow, and really play an active role.
And from day one when they first submit their resume to us, we try to make that happen. So Ian, can you share a little bit about what we do and how it works?Ian Drummond (04:42):
Yeah, of course. The beginning of the process is the same as anybody advertising an internship, however, what we like to do is in our listing we want to make sure that we’re fun and the way we present the listing shows the interns, potential interns, that we’re a fun pop-culture marketing agency.
And we kind of have a little bit of leeway with how we advertise, it’s not so stiff. And we get a lot of applicants for every semester that we advertise. And then where it gets more interesting as you work your way through the different parts of the process; so they apply through a link in the listing, and they end up on a board and we do some paper screening, but for the most part if you’re interested, you’re going to have a good chance at going to round two.
Round two is where it starts to get more interesting, and many of our applicants will screen themselves out.
Stacy Jones (05:52):
Ian Drummond (05:52):
Yeah. It’s very tough to make a decision, and paper-screening for a regular position, you’re going to look at different experiences. But when you’re looking at internships and the students that are coming to you, really, they’re all going to pretty much have the same resume, right?
They’ve had a handful of internships, they have done not a whole lot that’s outside of what you would do going to college and getting internships and maybe working. So they need to set themselves apart, and we do that through step two.
Stacy Jones (06:28):
And what we used to do, because I was just not a big fan of reading through hundreds of resumes of interns who really, as Ian just said, it all says the same, they all blend to each other, how can you tell if one junior at a college ‘A’ is better than junior at a college B? Because they’re not. They’re just exactly the same on paper.
And so I would make them go through this big hoop of filling out a survey through SurveyMonkey so that they actually would either do it or not do it. So literally everyone would get invited, you send your internship resume over to us and we’re like, “Great. Thanks so much for applying. Here’s a survey you can fill out.” And they would fill out the survey.
And quite frankly, as Ian just said, a ton of them would just cut themselves out, they won’t even bother. And if someone can’t even bother filling out something that’s going to take them 5-10 minutes as a survey, you don’t want them as an intern. That’s super clear. But we’ve come and taken it even a step further than that. Ian, you want to share?
Ian Drummond (07:30):
Well, yeah. This is where we lose a lot of applicants, and rightly so, because the applicants that we don’t lose are the right types of applicants to interview. And the next step in the process, because we’re a pop-culture agency and we want to stay current and we want interns who are current, we ask them to submit a TikTok video.
Minute or less, that’s your parameters that you’re given on TikTok, so you can’t string together a bunch of videos to include everything you want to include. You get a minute, that’s it. Sell yourself in a minute and sell the reason why you’re applying to Hollywood Branded within that same minute. That’s all you get. And we’ve got some pretty creative applications through that process.
Stacy Jones (08:23):
Like really awesome TikToks, and then quite frankly, some really not-so-awesome TikToks too.
Ian Drummond (08:28):
Not-so-awesome TikToks, but you know what? We’ll take a not-so-awesome TikTok if it’s somebody pushing themselves outside their comfort zone, because we respect that and we want interns who are willing to put themselves out there. It’s all part of the learning process.
Stacy Jones (08:28):
Ian Drummond (08:44):
And if you’re not willing to do that, you’re not the right fit for Hollywood Branded as an intern.
Stacy Jones (08:54):
So they do a TikTok video, then what?
Ian Drummond (08:55):
So they do a TikTok video and we’ll go through all the videos and laugh and applaud and whatever. Some of them, like I said, are very creative, very clever, and some aren’t so much but the content is awesome, by and large.
Then the next step for those that were brave enough to submit this and post it and leave it up until the next round, they get invited to a panel interview. And what that is, is not that they’re interviewing with a panel of us, but they’re interviewing with a panel of other intern applicants. And so they’re going to get measured next to each other. And it’s usually four to five interns in each group interview.
Stacy Jones (09:44):
So here they are, they dial in for the Zoom meeting, and up pops four or five of their peers staring back at you on a screen.
Ian Drummond (09:55):
Stacy Jones (09:55):
Ian Drummond (09:56):
Stacy Jones (09:58):
And so what is the expectation there that you have for them who are participating? What’s the plan there?
Ian Drummond (10:07):
What’s great about the panel interview is that we’re not looking for one intern. And if we were looking for one intern, that might be a little unfair to do it in this format.
But we’re looking for more than one and I make that very clear at the beginning, so that they understand that we’re looking at not just their answers but their interactions with each other. And that’s very important because you’re building a team. It’s a 12-week team that you’re building but you’re still building a team.
And they need to be able to interact with each other because they’re going to be working on projects together. So it’s really interesting the way that you can see those who can and those who cannot work in a group setting.
Stacy Jones (10:52):
Yeah. Because you’ve seen some and I’ve chimed in later on looking at videos, but you’ve seen some people who are absolute stars of their own show.
Ian Drummond (11:01):
Stacy Jones (11:01):
And it’s just not what we’re looking for.
Ian Drummond (11:04):
You don’t get to be a star until you’ve had a lot of experience in this field. So they’re all students and they all get to learn. Even if we absolutely loved your TikTok video, that may give you some extra points; but when you come into that interview, we’re going to look to see how you interact.
And there’s a question within that interview where they’re actually put on a group marketing campaign. They get 10 minutes to come up with a pop-culture marketing plan for a brand and throw together whatever they can do.
And, really, that question is the biggest question in the entire interview, because we can tell so much about how they listen, listen is a very important thing, how they interact, the ideas that they come up with. Creative ideas are great, but if you’re coming up with creative ideas in a silo and a vacuum and you’re not listening to what other people say, it’s not really the type of team member we’re looking for.
We want to hear… someone hears someone’s idea, they catapult off of that and they say, “Oh, yeah. And then we can do this with that. And then how about this?” And those that you hear that are just flinging ideas out there, even if they’re great ideas, if they’re not building off of each other, they’re not a fit. They’re not someone we’re going to want.
Stacy Jones (12:37):
And where does it sometimes go sideways?
Ian Drummond (12:42):
Where does it go sideways? Within the interview I would say that… Well, I think it’s just that this panel interview takes people out of their comfort zone even further, right? Where it can go sideways is where they don’t know how to either… Well, they just don’t know how to interact. It’s plain and simple. That’s it.
They either want to be the first person to answer every time or they wait until everybody else answers because they’re not comfortable and they want to hear what everyone else has to say, both of those are bad decisions, right? You don’t always be first, you don’t always be last. And you want to just read the room and be cordial and be a team member.
I’ve really seen some interns absolutely blow it, especially, as I said, in the group question, where they just want to get their answers out because they know their answers are so creative and so great. And maybe they are, but-
Stacy Jones (13:55):
It’s fictional. It’s made up. It doesn’t matter.
Ian Drummond (13:58):
It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. And what matters is that you hear each other. And I’ve seen it going all sorts of directions. Now, I tell them whatever budget, it’s an unlimited budget, so the ideas they come up with are pretty astronomical. But it’s fun to listen and really neat to hear really just how they bounce ideas off each other. And you get to see really so many different characteristics of them as young people.
Stacy Jones (14:35):
And it’s also important because we are a pop-culture marketing agency, right? So it’s seeing who actually is in tune with pop culture. If they don’t know what the current TV shows are, what the current streaming series are, feature films, they don’t know music artists, they don’t know social influencers that are mega massive influencers that everyone in their peer group knows, it’s a problem.
Because that’s what we do as a living as an agency and we can’t teach someone to have a passion just for entertainment either.
Ian Drummond (15:08):
Well, yeah, that’s exactly right. And without giving anything away, because maybe there are some future interns listening to this podcast. But we do have a series of questions that address those various criteria, and we’re able to assess if they’re familiar with what is current and what’s happening in all the different mediums of pop culture.
Stacy Jones (15:32):
So then panel’s done. What happens next?
Ian Drummond (15:37):
So panel’s done. And it’s recorded via Zoom, which is another reason why Zoom interviews are great. I go back to it. Well, before I even go back to it; at the end of each panel, I know if there’s a standout or two, and so I make sure that I note that before I move on. Because depending on how many group interviews we do, things will start to blend together.
But there are definitely people who will stand out. That’s your obvious picks. But generally, there’s more positions available than just those that are exceptional and stand out right away. And so having that recording, going back to the various questions, especially the group question in recording, reviewing it with yourself, and we look at how they interact and what they have to say.
Because sometimes it’s a tough call and we’re looking at the interview and maybe we still haven’t made the call and we may have to go back over their TikTok video because we want to see what is something that can set somebody apart if they’re one of the last interns selected. Of course, they never know they’re one of the last interns selected.
Stacy Jones (16:57):
And so then they get the announcement and alerted that they’ve been hired and then they’re onboarded, and what happens then?
Ian Drummond (17:06):
Well, they’re not in yet. They get a conditional offer. And basically, the conditional offer is that we need to know that you can write, because we’re going to be asking you to participate, like the rest of our staff, in our blog writing.
And so they receive a template as to what a Hollywood Branded blog looks like, and they’re asked to submit a writing sample in that format. And they’re directed to our website so they can see some Hollywood Branded writing samples.
We want to know a couple of things here, one is: can they write in this pop-culture voice? Can they write well? And we also want to know if they can follow through with the task assigned, right? Given that their internship is based on this. Because if they do not do their blog, then they do not get the position. They don’t get the formal offer unless the blog writing sample is submitted.
By and large, the TikTok and panel interview has resulted in a lot more, pretty much a perfect percentage of interns who submit the blog. Whereas we had the blog as a criteria before we added these other two steps, and we did lose some applicants because they couldn’t follow through.
All the steps are about follow through, wanting something, showing that you want something, showing that you’re determined and committed to proving yourself.
Stacy Jones (18:52):
Ian Drummond (18:52):
Stacy Jones (18:53):
And even if someone follows through and does all three of those, there might not be a spot for them. But there’s always a future potential spot for those people who actually have managed to follow the steps and shown that they have a passion for learning as well.
Ian Drummond (19:08):
Absolutely. Generally though, we won’t ask them to write the blog unless they are-
Stacy Jones (19:15):
Coming on board.
Ian Drummond (19:16):
… Coming on board conditionally. Blog is your last step and then you’re on, so yeah.
Stacy Jones (19:23):
And then day one; they come to our agency and it doesn’t stop there. This is where it actually starts, because we’ve made a commitment to educate these interns so that they can actually learn while they’re with us for their 12-week time period.
Having interns is not something that’s just easy for our business. And for anyone who doesn’t have an internship program, do not think of this as just free labor that people are coming on to help you. Because you are going to actually need to give them more than you get back, and you should just expect that from day one.
Because these are individuals who are learning. They’re there to help and they are passionate about helping and they’re hungry to help and they have that interest in learning so that they build their resume and get a future job and make a good impression so that you can be a reference for them.
But you actually are responsible now for making sure that they’re not sitting there running errands, which doesn’t work so well in this COVID world, or filing or just doing really boring things, because that would be a waste of their time. And you have to make it where it’s something that’s beneficial.
And I will tell you that our team has figured this out from Ian, from myself, from our team leads throughout our agency, where we get raving fans and reviews from our internship program, and it’s because we do that. We provide such an immersive, intense, educational opportunity where people can actually show their best efforts, where they want to keep their internships going and to come back for a second-stage internship.
All the things that we’ve done, starting from what Ian’s talked about with the TikTok, with making sure we have the panel interviews, making sure that you have the blog, people are vested from day one, they want this. And so we’re getting people who have drive and that passion that I said, and that actually want to better themselves and develop skills. And it’s been a game-changer for us.
Ian Drummond (21:33):
Yeah, agreed. As you were saying, just to echo that, it’s a symbiotic relationship here. You are getting a level of free labor, but that should never be the intention of a company, that they’re going to run an internship program so that they can have free labor.
Reason why you get the free labor is because they’re learning to do what we’re all doing. And so it’s more of learning through experience, and that’s the important thing, and talking about the different experiences with them.
If you can learn from filing, I guess. That’s nothing we’ve ever asked an intern to do. We’ve never asked an intern, even when they were all in-house, to go get lunch, get coffee. I know, I’ve heard all the negative things about that.
Our interns, as you said, they get a very in-depth learning experience. They get to do, to a degree, what many of our staff members are doing. They get the support in all aspects of the program. They get some really cool experiences that they wouldn’t get otherwise. They get to sit in on client calls and production calls and read scripts and all sorts of fun stuff that they would not normally have the opportunity to do.
And they get to become a part of the team, and we embrace them as part of the team. And as such, they get to experience the team culture and the things that we do to keep our company running from a high morale standpoint that we’re all dealing with during the remote COVID era.
Stacy Jones (23:23):
Changing topics a little bit, can you share [inaudible 00:23:26] a little light on how our agency has approached dealing with COVID and remote employees and building a culture and keeping people who are very far away, in some cases in other states, still actually aligned? Sometimes other countries. We have employees all over the world. So how do we actually do it?
Ian Drummond (23:47):
That’s a good question. And I think… We didn’t know what we were going to do, nor did most people know. And I think there’s still plenty of businesses that are trying to figure it out.
I would say, honestly, we floundered for the first few weeks as to we didn’t know what people were doing. We didn’t know what the interns necessarily were doing that we had on board at the time. And we had to really just dial in and create check-ins and utilize our tools.
And so one of the first things that we did that was advantageous was going back to something that we used to do in the office and doing it remotely and doing our morning coup. A morning coup is where we all come together, first the team, and once we talk about what our day looks like, then we bring in the interns. And the interns are going to talk about what they’re doing for their day.
And we’re tracking this information and we’re giving them the tools to stay organized and be able to know what they were doing and remember what they were doing when all this is done. So we utilize Monday, which is a great software program, for those of you who don’t know it, if you don’t have a project management software program and you’re thinking about one.
We love Monday. I know there’s others, and people love their others, but Monday really works well for this, for us.
Stacy Jones (25:10):
Especially if you like things that are super colorful and fun and you have people who are creative on your team. I specifically chose Monday as a project management system because it’s kind of like pinning things on Pinterest.
If you have anyone who’s visually aligned then they will love it, and they’ll be more likely to use it. Your people who are more analytical are more naturally suited towards project management databases, so it’s not going to matter which one you use.
It’s getting the buy-in from people who are a little more creative, a little less about making to-do lists. All of a sudden, Monday makes it fun for them, and so you get them on board. So your team actually is working together in a more organized fashion. So that’s our shout-out for them.
Ian Drummond (25:55):
Yeah. Exactly. And if you’re using the Google platforms, which are great, I think just Monday takes it to the next level.
And then what we’ll do when our team meets first thing in the morning, we’ll talk about what they’re doing and where they could potentially utilize interns. They’ll put it up on the Monday board that the interns are going to be looking at when they log in at 9:00 in the morning, West Coast time.
And when they come in, if their slate is not full, which generally it is not, then they can look at the different projects or we can tag them, assign some projects that they can move over into their to-dos for the day. And they can have structure to their day based on what we can assign them to do and what they can learn from doing that particular day.
It’s a great way to have everybody at the same place to start the day. Depending on who’s the project lead for whatever project they’re working on or assisting with, there’s different ways that the different project leads will communicate. They might Slack throughout the day. They might send them a message through Monday. They might say, “Meet me in my Zoom room for 10 minutes and let’s go over and let me walk you through it.”
So there’s different ways, but the tools are all there. We have all the tools to create a virtual office that allows us to stay on top of things without actually being there. And then, of course, to end our morning check-in is the best part which we bring them into.
Stacy Jones (27:39):
And before we go into that, I will say, so our office uses Zoom. I mean, we pretty much live and breathe on it all day long, we’re on it. I’m pretty much on it all the time.
But one of the things that we have done that I think was really successful was we created a line that’s a team line that anyone can jump on for any reason at any time. So anyone can always connect, including your interns. They’re able to start meetings themselves so that they can get together as a team and work together.
And when we assign in terms of bigger projects, we really try to do it in a team format so that it’s not just one person solo out there doing it. So they have a little bit more support, especially not being in the office. And I think that’s been something that we’ve done that’s been really successful.
We use Teams, Microsoft Office very, very little. We should use it probably more than we do. But we do use Slack a lot, and that’s something that Gen Z really enjoys as well. So we see a lot of our Millennials and Gen Xennials really gravitate towards that as far as a communication platform.
Ian Drummond (28:42):
Right. And we set all the interns up on those platforms right when they come in, and so Slack is the easiest. The interns tend to either Slack with each other or whatever they’re comfortable with.
At some point they may share each other’s phone numbers, but that’s not going to be the case at the beginning. And so they can go on Slack and they can communicate with any intern, any team member, and check in so they know what’s going on. And then, yes, going back to the end of our morning meeting.
Stacy Jones (29:14):
Yeah. And this thing [inaudible 00:29:15] something. What we do as an agency is either horrifying for people or something that they love as far as being afar. We have had clients join in on this. It is something our agency is now known for. It’s so embedded as part of our culture.
It’s something that started off in-office and it grew. And it’s even better, I would say, now that it’s a remote situation. And so Ian, drum roll, what is it that we do that gets so much talk?
Ian Drummond (29:47):
Right. So it’s called Sing For Thanks and it’s part of our thank-you program, which we’ll talk about a little bit later. At the end of our coup meeting in the morning and everybody has their plans and they either know exactly what they’re doing or they have set a time to chat with whoever the point on the project is. Then we close out the meeting with what we call Sing For Thanks, as I said.
Basically, there will be three songs, partial songs, in the form of song lyrics, that have been put up by the people who sang the prior day. And what I mean by sang the prior day is you look at the song lyrics, and if you know one, two, or all three of the songs, you’re going to identify yourself as knowing a song.
You’re not supposed to say what it is and you shouldn’t ever say what it is, because that’s not the way it’s going to work. You’ll identify and we will… Three people hopefully will sing three different songs that morning to set us off on the right track. And some of our staff and interns have the most magnificent voices, and some do not.
Stacy Jones (29:47):
Including myself. Yes.
Ian Drummond (31:00):
And we don’t care. It really is just about being part of the culture, having fun, being willing to put yourself out there, and it’s a neat way to set off on your day.
Stacy Jones (31:15):
And so lyrics are not policed by us. We don’t really care what someone puts up there. We get lots of naughty words. It’s fine. We’re an agency, we’re supposed to be fun. I’m sure if this was at many other businesses, they might police it a little bit more.
But with it, it’s something that everyone feels like they can join in. It can be the simplest of songs or it can be something that is quite complex. If you don’t actually put up a song that anyone else knows, then you’re going to be forced to have to sing it yourself.
So there’s some safety protocols in there, built-in to try to actually make sure that it’s not: stump everyone else on the song, because that’s how it used to be. And more so, it’s now: find a lyric that people are going to get and understand and make them belt it out. And we have people who belt and we have people who almost talk-sing it. But regardless, it really works.
And if y’all are curious at all about what this looks like, because Ian and I are not breaking into song right now, you can go to our Instagram page @hollywoodbranded and you’ll see snippets of it; because we will showcase some of our team members in mid-song just as a special social media treat to show our office culture out a little bit more. So I do suggest you do it.
And as I said, we’ve had clients join us in doing it. We’ve had so many different elements added to it that… It’s hard to explain. But when you have 20 faces on a Zoom call and they are sitting there trying to figure out songs and they are realizing that there’s no shame and that everyone’s going to support you, they might mock you a little bit if you get the words wrong to the wrong beat, you start singing a different song to a tune in your head that doesn’t make sense to actually the words except for you.
People are going to lovingly support you in that with a few jeers and cheers. But it really is something that has tied everyone together. And it causes just some downtime. Now, you’re talking about 10 minutes of time in a day, that everyone is just chill and sitting back and they’re having fun and they’re laughing.
It breaks down whether you’re the executive or whether you’re the intern and it puts everyone really on the same playing field, although I will have to say that the executives maybe are less on an even playing field because they have to actually know the current trending pop-culture songs that are out there that are being put up so that they too can actually sing.
Which is part of the ethos of our agency, that you have to be tied in to pop culture no matter your age, no matter your status, no matter your level. Because it’s what we do, it’s what we live and breathe.
Okay. What else do we do? So that’s not it, that’s not the end of the day there as far as team culture. You mentioned it a moment ago, the thank-you. You said Sing for hanks. So what is that thank-you element that comes in?
Ian Drummond (34:18):
So Sing For Thanks is part of the thank-you program. What we do is we want to encourage a culture of appreciation of what each other does for the company, for each other.
And so if somebody does something that’s worthy of a thanks; you’re on the wrong Zoom line and they Slack you and tell you, “No, it’s this Zoom line,” write them a little thank you and say… And we do it on a Monday board.
So anything that’s worthy of a thanks, from helping you out with a project to, well, singing your song, which is an automatic thank-you, it goes into our thank-you program. And what we’ll do is once a month we’ll go to that board and we will read all the thank-yous and direct them to the various people who are being thanked, from the people who are thanking them, and celebrate all the good things that we’ve done for each other.
And we’ll make it fun at the end by drawing some random names out for some winning gift card of some sort, just to add to the experience.
Stacy Jones (35:36):
So with all of this, the thank-yous don’t really just happen just in one day. I mean, we get so many thank-yous that we actually have to divide them up often into two different reading experiences. So we have an intern thank-you reading and then a team reading.
And it’s literally something that’s changed our agency. I think you can really say that our culture is driven by the fact that we ask people to acknowledge and thank each other for the smallest of things to the largest of things, and it changes people’s viewpoints. It changes how they look at one another. It makes people just more of a warm, receptive, and quite frankly, loving environment and supportive environment.
And so it’s not about having to prove yourself on the biggest ways of having a big win. It actually is about having just a moment where someone says thank you for whatever it may be and you feel appreciated. And I think that’s been a game-changer.
Ian Drummond (36:35):
I agree. And I think, definitely, people like to be appreciated, and those thank-you readings are enjoyable experiences for everybody.
Stacy Jones (36:46):
Okay. So beyond the thank-yous, beyond the Sing For Thanks, beyond the morning meetings, what else do you have for our listeners today?
Ian Drummond (36:55):
Well, another thing we like to do, and we did it every Friday in the summer, we scaled it back during the less daylight savings hours, but we do something called Forced Fun Friday Happy Hours.
And this is a big win. It’s an hour-long Zoom meeting at the end of a Friday week, and a Friday work week, where we just maybe have a drink, maybe not, it’s up to you, and we just chat about the week and things, and sometimes we play games.
Stacy Jones (37:34):
These are the themes, [inaudible 00:37:35] costume or you have a backdrop that’s tied to the theme that you’ve put up in your Zoom behind you.
Ian Drummond (37:42):
We ran out of themes that you could dress up for so then we started moving towards Zoom backdrops, and now it’s sort of combo. Some people don’t like to dress up, so they can do their backdrop, and some people like doing both, and some people will do just dress-up.
So we have a lot of fun with the Forced Fun Happy Hours, and we’ve had some great… We were superheroes one week, and then we did Halloween dress-up one week, and we did-
Stacy Jones (38:11):
Ian Drummond (38:12):
Pajamas. Yeah, that’s a popular one. [crosstalk 00:38:15]
Stacy Jones (38:14):
The one that was not popular maybe was the fancy formal.
Ian Drummond (38:19):
The fancy formal was not as popular but we did look great.
Stacy Jones (38:23):
We looked great. And it was right at the beginning of COVID and no one had left their house for like six weeks, so everyone was really kind of thrilled to have to dress up and take a shower and put on makeup if you’re a woman or not, and just look better. And so that was a good one, but one that we’ve never repeated.
Ian Drummond (38:42):
Right. Right. But yeah, these Forced Fun Happy Hours are popular and we try to do them once a month; and then in the summer, probably every week.
Stacy Jones (38:53):
Ian Drummond (38:53):
That’s what we did this past summer. I think we’ll continue that.
Stacy Jones (38:57):
So with all the different things that we’re doing, what would you say are the biggest wins? There’s one other thing that we do actually, you want to go into that one?
Ian Drummond (39:07):
Are we talking about the wins?
Stacy Jones (39:09):
Ian Drummond (39:09):
Yeah. So speaking of wins, at the end of the day, the last 15 minutes… And again, as we know, we start our day where we all check in and then we all check out together. So the last 15 minutes is where we share our biggest win for the day and some accomplishments that we achieved that day.
And your win could be anything. It could be something work-related that you hunted down a contact and you finally found a contact for a particular production or a studio, or your wind could just be something like you went to the dentist that morning and you didn’t have any cavities, or you had your favorite food for lunch.
It’s like, what made your day special that day? What’s your win for the day? And so we want to encourage it. And we got college students, so sometimes their win is they got their paper back and they got an ‘A’, right? Or they got an ‘A’ on an exam. That’s great, and we want to share that as well.
It’s a neat way to close out the day and it’s a positive way to close out the day, and it’s a nice bookend with that and our morning coup.
Stacy Jones (40:16):
Yeah. And it’s really teaching everyone and reminding everyone that no matter what’s happening with COVID, what’s happening with… Agency life can be very, very frenetic and very, very fast-paced and have a lot of demands.
But at any time you can always find something that was good in your day, that something that was a triumph, that something came out that was a good thing.
Ian Drummond (40:40):
Yeah, absolutely. It’s nice to get perspective on your day, because we get into it and we put our head down and we go, go, go. And it starts to feel like a treadmill if you don’t stop and acknowledge value to the different days, especially in this COVID era where we’re all at home and it can very much feel like the same day every day.
Stacy Jones (41:05):
Any last parting words of advice on culture, Ian, that you can share with our listeners?
Ian Drummond (41:12):
Well, having been a part of Hollywood Branded for this past year and a half and being a part of many different schools, culture is the most important thing to your work experience. If you’re a part of a positive culture, it makes work so much more pleasurable of an experience, it’ll make an internship a great experience.
Positive, happy, friendly culture is really what we all want to be a part of, I think. At least that’s what I always want to be a part of. I haven’t always been a part of that, and it’s very frustrating to be a part of a work culture that is not enjoyable.
And so we try to create an enjoyable work culture. We understand things happen at work. Part of any job, there’s going to be stressors, things that are not great, that’s normal. But we don’t want the not-great feeling to be what people latch onto. We want to keep that culture positive. We want to keep the environment strong.
And good energy I think brings good energy, not just with our office but with potential clients and partnerships that we work with outside of our office.
Stacy Jones (42:32):
And I think that is an excellent note to end this on. So Ian, thank you so much for joining and sharing how we actually move the needle and get people to buy into our agency from an employee and internship element and how we actually move the needle in making people have better days.
Ian Drummond (42:57):
Well, it was great to be here finally.
Stacy Jones (43:00):
After four years of listening to Marketing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them), you are now part of the show.
Ian Drummond (43:05):
I am now part of the show.
Stacy Jones (43:07):
Well, to all of our listeners, thank you so much for tuning into Marketing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them). I really appreciate you spending your time with us, and I look forward to chatting with you this next week. And until then, have a great day.
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