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By Andrea B. Ruskin
Creative Process Expert of Blum Consulting Partners, Inc. Andrea Ruskin, gives an overview and analysis of Henry Stewart’s 2022 event in Los Angeles
Over the last few years, the rise of in-house agencies has also given rise to the community of creative operations professionals. Last week in Los Angeles, the Henry Stewart Creative Operations conference was attended by 300+ like-minded creative professionals sharing a variety of topics including, flops and flubs, the automated future of creative, the dynamics between project management and creative, and the importance of collaboration with your technology.
The event is divided into tracks, so I was only able to participate in Track 1, although I heard Track 2 offered many interesting discussions around creative work environment and how to make emotional connections in marketing and with the people you work with.
Nick Zappas & Megan Reilly from the happiest place on earth talked about the importance of pacing yourself when going through change at Disney. Creative project management is all about process, which needs to evolve to keep pace with the industry, but if you try to do too much at once it’s overwhelming and potentially threatening for the teams. They shared best practices and learnings from their internal transformation to a more robust creative project management team.
Cheryl Venable from Sony Pictures spoke about how to evaluate your internal process in order simplify and create attainable and measurable goals in the creative process from initiation, planning and executing to monitoring and controlling each project.
Amy Strickland and Kate Sullivan unabashedly shared their biggest mistakes and admitted to an awkward situation where a colleague was put in the hot seat at a team meeting which put their project as risk and caused peer avoidance at the office, until Covid hit of course, then it was easy to avoid people. Key takeaway, direct communication goes a long way to resolve creative differences.
I was also able to take the stage and focus on the importance of scoping the in-house agency for success. Many in-house teams are struggling to deliver on expectations but with a little advance planning and collaboration between agency management, marketers, and procurement, you can set up your in-house team for success.
Chris Cutino from Celtra spoke about the rise of creative demands on teams due to new products, new channels, and performance marketing all driving toward a need for more content, faster speed to market, and a variety of sizes and customization which are all optimized in a creative automation platform.
A lively panel discussion moderated by Catherine McIntyre-Velky with Jean Batthany, Harvey Marco, Brooke McAdams, and Megan Reilly about the relationship between creative project management and the creative team spurred discussions around the importance of those relationships to drive projects forward and keep things on track, on budget, and on brand.
Jilanna Wilson made a compelling case for setting up an in-house design ops practice and Scott Berchman closed out the day talking about how to avoid the inevitable chaos that accompanies the creative process.
Kudos to the Henry Stewart team and Host Kevin Brucato for putting together a focused and energetic event. I look forward to NY in May!