Rebecca Hall: President & CEO, Idea Hall

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Bio:

Rebecca Hall is a thought leader and celebrated entrepreneur in the PR, branding and marketing industry. She graduated from Chapman University, where she has served on the Board of Trustees and as Alumni President and is currently a member of Chapman’s Board of Governors and Chapman 50. In 2003, Rebecca founded Idea Hall, a hybrid marketing, branding, and public relations firm based in Orange County. Today, Idea Hall is one of the fastest growing and most sought-after integrated creative firms in Orange County, ranked No. 3 by the Orange County Business Journal’s “Best PR Firms” list as well as a “Best Places to Work”.

As a leader in her community, Rebecca serves on several boards including Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Orange County and the Center for Real Estate at University of California, Irvine. Rebecca is an active member of OC/PRSA, where she has received the organization’s “Distinguished Service Award” and her Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) and serves as a member of the organization’s Counselor’s Academy.

How did you get into the industry?

When I was a student at Chapman University, I took an advertising class and my professor happened to be the president of public relations and advertising at Taco Bell. She served as a mentor for me throughout my undergraduate studies and generously pointed me in the direction of an internship. This internship is what sparked my interest in the world of PR and marketing and gave me the opportunity to work on national campaigns for a variety of consumer brands through media relations, event coordination, media pitching, press conferences and more. I really enjoyed the fast-paced and creative environment and, most of all, I liked being a part of something bigger.

Any emerging industry trends?

A trend in the creative industry that I am starting to see more and more of is the integration of public relations, marketing and branding – something Idea Hall has offered clients for 15+ years, all under one roof. Now, we’re starting to see other agencies follow suit. When we pitch new business, our integration is key, and we make sure to educate our clients on how to think across channels.  

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

There’s an inherit challenge and opportunity in the gig economy. The creative industry today has truly embraced the concept of contractors – giving firms the opportunity to mitigate over hiring and ultimately avoid financial risk. However, as an agency, we’re also competing against the pool of freelancers.

The freelance industry has grown tremendously since the last economic downturn. During this time, a lot of people were forced to become contractors and eventually did not see the value in going back to one exclusive employer. Also, the evolution and availability of technology today enables people to work outside of a traditional office, so we must embrace working with this new system.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the business?

In 2003, I founded Idea Hall from my dining room table with a laptop and one commercial real estate client. At the time, a lot of agencies lacked a strong corporate culture and work-life balance, two things that I found unappealing. This inspired me to create a company where people come first, there is a strong corporate culture and that would be a magnet for like-minded talent. I believe that if you secure the right talent, then the clients will follow.

My vision for the business, is to be a powerhouse boutique agency based in Southern California and a growing engine for great ideas. My desire is for Idea Hall to be a place where all employees continue to learn and grow in today’s digital age by continuously evolving the way we operate as new trends and tools emerge.

What's next for the business in the near future?

In celebration of Idea Hall’s 15th anniversary, we are launching our own content series called Brainchild. This series will highlight entrepreneurs and dreamers and go behind the scenes to share their experiences about their inspiration, how they brought their idea to life and what the journey entails– all with the goal of inspiring others to bring their own ideas to life.

Each video will take the viewer on a short journey through the subject’s creative process, vision and execution. The first video in the series features David Gonzalez, president and founder of World of Dance.

This project represents our passion for creativity and we hope it motivates people to follow their own passions and discover new ideas in new places. If you’re interested, the series is now available via Brainchild’s Vimeo channel https://vimeo.com/brainchildseries.

Your key initiatives for the success of the business?

What keeps the agency thriving is our ability to retain and grow our existing clients. Most of our growth comes from bringing new ideas and offerings to our clients and the referrals we receive due to our excellence in customer service. The key to success is not only winning new business but keeping our existing clients happy by fulfilling our promise.

Your most difficult moment at the business? (and what did you learn?)

During my second year in business, I was offered a full-time position from my biggest client, but I declined the offer because I was dedicated to growing my agency. So, naturally when the client hired a new chief marketing officer, Idea Hall was let go. While it was tough at first, this situation taught me to not to put all my eggs in one basket, and instead focus on building and growing the agency. As a part of that, I had to learn to step back from account management duties to fulfill my role as the company’s chief executive officer by growing clients and earning new business.

So, while it was tough at the time, this turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened to me because it taught me how to actually build and grow a company. And, as a result, today Idea Hall is one of the fastest growing and most sought-after integrated creative firms in Orange County, ranked No. 3 by the Orange County Business Journal’s “Best PR Firms” list as well as a “Best Places to Work.”

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

Our clients appreciate our commitment to serving as partners, our expertise in creating informed strategies and our ability to efficiently execute on tactics that result in new business. Our ideal experience for clients is that they feel taken care of and know that we are working hard on their business. At Idea Hall, we want to exceed our clients’ expectations and we work hard to ensure that there are no negative surprises. Ultimately, we want our clients to feel that we are critical to their success.

How do you motivate others?

I always encourage my employees to continue learning and growing by challenging themselves. I also do my best to lead by example regarding work ethic and character, and I’m committed to creating a positive and supportive work environment. When I make a mistake, I admit to it, and I teach my employees that it’s okay to make mistakes. We’re all human – but we must learn from our mistakes and move forward. At Idea Hall, it’s a team effort and when things don’t go as planned I make sure to problem solve side-by-side with employees.

I also acknowledge when people are doing a great job and encourage them to recognize each other’s contributions. At Idea Hall, we do this through employee of the month awards and “high-fives” and “plus ones” in our monthly company meetings in which we open the floor and encourage employees to share how their colleagues have contributed to their client’s success or have gone above and beyond in the workplace.

Career advice to those in your industry?

My advice is to always be learning. Stay up-to-date on business and industry news, take initiative and don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and find mentors who can serve as a resource throughout your career. Most importantly, make sure you give the right effort. Effort doesn’t always mean time commitment, but rather, strategic thinking and planning. Your career is a marathon and you must know when to sprint and give that extra effort.  

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