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Women in OOH Spotlight: Brigg Hyland

OOH Today highlights how each of the Top Women Driving Growth in Out-of-Home are making history

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by Sarah Druhan, OOH Today Journalist

Throughout the rest of Women’s History Month, we at OOH Today will be exploring how each of the selections on our list of the Top 24 Women Who Drive Growth In Out-of-Home have made their mark on the industry. While OOH has long been seen as a male-dominated sphere, every one of these women is a symbol of how our industry can and must change—and each of them has an important story to tell.

Today, the woman in our Spotlight is Brigg Hyland, Partner at The Hyland Effect.

1) When did you first know that this was the industry for you?
BH: This is one of my favorite stories. I had left a grueling job in CPG sales that I knew from day one was not for me. I had moved to be a writer for Fairchild Publications (now Conde Nast) and was quickly promoted to the sales side of the organization due to the creative feature ideas that I had developed for sponsorship, and because of the close client relationships I was able to develop.

I traveled to every major market to see clients and would always be struck by creative transit advertising which, at the time, was under the TDI banner run by Bill Apfelbaum. Everywhere I would go, I would see these amazing campaigns. One Easter, I was home visiting my parents and looking through some of my father’s Adweek and Brandweek publications. Inside, I saw an ad for TDI showcasing a beautifully wrapped bus and I turned to my dad and said: “See this company? This is what I should be selling!”  He had a look of shock on his face, put his hand to his head and said, “My VP of Sales met their EVP of Sales on a two-legged flight from LA a couple of weeks ago.  Eric Solomon’s business card is on my dresser upstairs– they want to meet you!”

I ran upstairs, retrieved the card, and sheepishly called for Eric Solomon the next morning thinking he would never remember that conversation from a couple of weeks ago.  His assistant put me through right away saying, “We have been waiting for your call!” I had my interview with Eric an hour later, met Bill Apfelbaum and they offered me a job on the spot.  I started the following week, was sent to London 6 months later and ultimately stayed for four years.

The rest, as they say, is history! I have loved every moment of this business since that day, and have been fortunate to be on both the media owner and agency side of the business which gives me a chance to work across all forms of OOH and across every market. When planning campaigns, the sky is the limit!

2) What advice would you give to other women moving up in OOH?

BH: Jump in with both feet and make sure to get to know the folks at your company—whether it is on the media owner or agency side—who are the movers and shakers and very successful at managing business, inventory and relationships.  When I first started in the industry, I hung out in the offices of now industry veterans Phil Stimpson, Bill Schwartz and others with more experience than I had to glean their knowledge and tricks of the trade. I piggy-backed on as many sales calls as possible and saw how my colleagues handled pushback, success and—most importantly—rejection. I learned that it is important to remember that rejection is not personal: it is just another chance to come back again and win. Lastly, don’t be afraid to share big ideas– no matter how crazy they seem to be! When I first developed the “Station Domination” Concept in 1995 in London and then brought it to the US, I think people thought I was crazy and that no brand would make the investment, but I persevered and now Station Dominations are worldwide and commonplace. Keep pushing!

3) How can the industry take a bigger slice of total ad spend?
BH: I think we are on a pretty good roll! Our industry needs to continue to learn and understand the business of our client’s and listen. Too often I have people send me an email saying “this is a perfect idea for X client,” and I can tell that this is being sent to me and 100 other people and that there is not an understanding of my client’s goals. Where we have grown our client spend beyond our normal budgets is through measurement demonstrating the success of OOH and in particular, coming to the table with a big idea or sponsorship that is customized to the needs and goals of the client.

4) What’s the most interesting part of your job?
BH: The most important part of my job is becoming immersed in our client’s goals and strategies and learning the ins and outs of their businesses. Because we are a boutique agency, all of our relationships are directly with our clients and we act and are seen as an extension of their in-house media team. As such, we develop deep relationships with the team members, become embedded in their growth, and can bring them proactive ideas that make sense to move the needle of their business. Today, there are often many layers between the team planning the OOH and the client. For us, better work is achieved when we are knowledgeable — and feel personally accountable– for our clients’ success.

5) What’s your golden rule for the workplace?
BH: I try to get back to everyone who reaches out to me, but inevitably with the demands of clients, sometimes emails slip through the cracks despite best intentions on my part—and sometimes they hit spam if they are not someone I know. I do go back each week and try to follow up with anyone I may have missed but tell everyone to not hesitate to reach out to me again and bring their outreach to the top of my inbox. If I am not the right person for them to speak to, I will direct them to who is and I try to be very transparent with our media partners as I spent 20 years on that side of the business. I explain where we are in the process, how the client feels about their proposal and why-and if they don’t make the plan, I encourage them to keep trying as one day things will align!

For five years, one of our partners continued to propose coasters, but they kept getting eliminated from the plan. I continued to encourage submissions and ideas as, quite honestly, it truly was a perfect fit for the client. At times it felt like the media partner didn’t even believe that we were submitting their proposals but—alas—our client is now one of their largest coaster clients!

To see more from Brigg Hyland and other Outstanding Women in OOH, read our story on The Top 24 Women Who Drive Growth in Out-of-Home.

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