Patrick Johnson is the CEO of Hybrid Theory – a digital services partner for brands and agencies. We spoke with Johnson about what his typical working day looks like currently, and how it has been affected by Covid-19.
Please describe your job: What do you do?
As CEO of Hybrid Theory I lead the business on its global journey to evolve the marketing industry. I oversee the company and ensure we’re always bringing together the best tech and talent to create engaging and effective advertising in a transparent way. We are an ambitious organisation and understandably I have a large focus on growing the company through new business and being a partner to our clients.
How has your typical day been impacted in the short term by the pandemic?
I’ve really seen a change in two ways. In the first instance, it has positively impacted how much time I spend investing in my employees and their wellbeing. The pandemic is never something we could have anticipated and ensuring the team is happy and supported has been a real priority for me.
The second is the number of conversations I’m having with companies who are looking to adapt and partner in this business climate. I’ve been speaking daily with companies that want to be bolder, and it’s opened up some interesting opportunities and new ways of thinking.
What are your favourite tools and techniques to help you get your work done at the moment?
I’ve definitely been using communication platforms more, much like all businesses with teams working from home. As we have scaled quickly, consistency can be a challenge, but we have used the virtual world to accelerate our company-wide training from management through to new starters all around the world. It’s been fun and I have learnt a lot! There really are no boundaries when it comes to communicating and it’s been a good opportunity to put our focus onto this.
Which companies have impressed you during the pandemic?
There have a been companies that have stood out for me for their transparent approach and effective communication with employees. Goodstuff is a great example. Andrew Stephens did an excellent job communicating with staff during some quite difficult situations and it was very open, thoughtful, and empathetic communication.
On a very different scale, I also thought IBM’s decision to commit to changing its working practices very early on into lockdown was an extremely bold step, especially from a massive business. It was perhaps even the first to talk about its new-normal office expectations in the future. It’s the brave, transparent and innovative style of these companies which achieves the cut-through.
What changes are you making to help your company connect with how people are feeling and experiencing the pandemic?
It’s really important for us to stay connected. We hold weekly updates across the business where we’re very open and clearly communicate what’s happening across all aspects of Hybrid Theory. We also send care packages and we’ve enforced every second Friday off to give the team a chance to take some time out, and we have encouraged this to be away from a screen.
Something which we’re finding really important is providing an outlet that’s not work – so getting people out and about. We’re supporting memberships so everyone can pursue outside interests that give people a different area to focus on.
What trends have you seen in the last few weeks in your sector?
Clients have been emboldened to make decisions. When the pandemic first hit, those that were choosing to be bold were clients that were either doing very well in this environment, or those to be first-movers. Now that more brands have had time to re-strategise, we are seeing an acceleration in engagement.
The crisis has also forced clients to tackle certain problems because as everything changes, they don’t have a choice but to address them. For example, we’re working with clients on connecting their ecommerce and bricks and mortar marketing strategies, helping them to bridge the gap between teams as previous siloed approaches become outdated.
What advice would you give a marketer right now?
Consumer behaviours and habits have changed significantly as a result of the pandemic and they will continue to do so. This is an opportunity for marketers to seize opportunities using real-time feedback on how their audiences are changing. It will be important to take what you knew about your audience before and marry it up to what is going now. Also any feedback that can power outside digital delivery is a plus.
What does long term planning and strategy look like now at your company?
We’re excited. We’ve been working to a two-year plan on where we thought the industry was going next, which we’re halfway through, and we’re sticking to it. We successfully rebranded to Hybrid Theory during the middle of a pandemic and we’ve won awards where we continue to outperform on digital delivery.
We’re been fortunate to be rewarded by new clients, and are tracking close to pre-pandemic growth targets so we’re in a fantastic place right now. Two of our core cultural values are always be ready and stay the course – these have certainly rung true recently and we’re ready for what’s in store next.