Unruly engagement, creativity and collaboration is built on two things: People and Places

Unruly Places

Today’s interview is with Sarah Wood of Unruly Media and follows on from my recent interview: Social business is not just social media, it takes real transformation – Interview with Brad W Martin and Vala Afshar of Enterasys.

Founded in 2006 by Scott Button, Matthew Cooke and Sarah Wood, Unruly has 120+ full time employees and offices in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Detroit, LA, London, Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, Stockholm and Sydney.

Unruly has delivered, tracked and audited 1.65 billion video views across 2,000+ successful social video campaigns for over 400 brands since 2007. Milestone campaigns include T-Mobile’s Life’s for Sharing series, Evian’s global Roller Babies hit, Old Spice’s Man Your Man Could Smell Like campaign and Coca-Cola’s Happiness series.

Unruly’s mission is simple: to deliver the most awesome social video campaigns on the planet.

However, it was when they ranked No. 27 in the Sunday Times’ 100 Best Small Companies to work for in 2012 that I decided I’d like to find out more about what makes them tick and what makes them so successful.

This interview makes up number forty-six in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things and helping businesses innovate, become more social and deliver better service.

Here’s the highlights from the interview I did with Sarah:

  • Content marketing is becoming increasingly popular as it can apply to both global brands and local brands all things in between.
  • Content marketing has an inherent resilience
  • Just realised some research related to The Superbowl that says that 50% of all views of video content related to The Superbowl comes one month after the event.
  • Unruly Media were featured in the Sunday Times Best Small Companies in 2012 and were recently placed Deloitte’s Tech 50 in the UK and EMEA.
  • Most proud of the Sunday Times award.
  • Entered because they want to get feedback from their people as they had been growing very fast over the preceding months and felt that they wanted to get some objective feedback about how they were doing as founders and management.
  • One of the things they found was that people who had joined the company early felt very differently about the company and how it should be run as compared to those that had joined later when the company was more established.
  • Culture is a big part of their success and growth and one of the things that they do to keep things fun and exciting is create opportunities for people to do and try new things. Things that take them out of their work comfort zone.
  • We encourage people to do new things. If it doesn’t go to plan then that’s okay but all of this is backed up by training and support as they are all learning new things all of the time.
  • They take an ‘agile’ approach to their software development and their culture, where they are always making small incremental changes.
  • To this is tough as it demands lots of communication.
  • Their culture of creativity and collaboration is built on two things: People and Places.
  • They don’t have an HR team. They have a People and Places team.
  • When they recruit they look for PANDAS (Positive and passionate, Anything is Possible, Nurturing with no ego, Determined, A+ players and Social creatures). If you get someone with those qualities then they are very likely to want to brainstorm, collaborate and share ideas.
  • Combine that with the right Places where people can come together.
  • Sarah believes the kitchen table is the most important bit of furniture that you can ever have in a business as it a place where people can come together and chat.
  • They look to create spaces where people can have random meetings and chats. It’s all about enabling serendipitous exchanges between people that wouldn’t normally speak together.
  • You need 1,000 ideas to find the one great one.
  • All of this has a positive impact on productivity and retention but, also, delivery and execution is key to that and to building trust. Not only delivery to the client but to each other. Internal delivery is just as important as external delivery.
  • To facilitate cross functional working, communication and trust they run a series of ‘squads’ all of the time on different projects, where they have different people from different departments all working together as it helps bring different perspectives and ideas to the work that they are doing.
  • It also helps people to break out their silos.
  • It allows them to play out different roles and learn different skills.
  • It is great for personal development but it is hard to do as there is quite a lot of admin involved. However, the benefits outweigh the costs.
  • Sarah’s top tips: 1. Spot opportunities for the business and your staff; 2. Encourage creativity and collaboration; 3. Adopt a zero tolerance for a blame culture; and 4. Believe anything is possible.
  • Word of mouth, according to McKinsey, is behind between 20-50% of all purchase decisions and 92% of all consumers trust earned media over bought media or advertising.
  • Just launched Unruly ShareRank, which uses big data and a proprietary algorithm that helps businesses understand if their video content is likely to be a success or not. You can find out more here.
  • Also, just launched a pop-up university, City Unrulyversity for Budding Entrepreneurs, designed to inform, inspire and empower the next generation of Tech City entrepreneurs.

About Sarah (taken from her Unruly bio)

Sarah Wood COO Unruly

Sarah Wood is co-founder and COO of Unruly. She’s responsible for ensuring Unruly delivers the most awesome social video campaigns on the planet. Sarah convenes an MPhil course in Online Video Culture at the University of Cambridge and has been voted UK Female Entrepreneur of the Year, 2011. She spends way too much time watching clips on the Viral Video Chart with her kids.

You can connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter and check out what Unruly is up to at their site (www.unrulymedia.com) and on Twitter (@unrulymedia).

Comments

  1. Adrian,

    I love the kitchen table idea

    It is so blindingly obvious now I have read it

    I know that Google make a big thing about the quality of food in their staff canteens and the use of long refectory tables that promote communication.

    Most of the companies I have worked with have cut canteen costs, invested in snack bars so you can take away a sandwich and go and be “productive” whilst eating and working in your cubicle.

    As they say “penny wise and pound foolish”

    James

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