Leading by Example: Nick Schittone
October 27, 2022
Everyone: Meet Nick Schittone. He’s our Chief Growth Officer in charge of new business and partnerships. He’s been with Hothouse since nearly the beginning and has been integral in getting us to where we are now. Let’s hear his thoughts on Hothouse’s past, present and future.
Haley Robinson: I hear you haven’t always been in advertising. Where did you get your start?
Nick Schittone: I actually started in the music business working with artists like Duran Duran and John Mellencamp. Then I went to a startup called College Television Network to oversee their programming and to pitch brands to advertise with us. That sparked my curiosity about marketing and what brands were looking for. I was fascinated by the whole concept of conceptual pitching. It got me thinking about joining the marketing side of things. Eventually, College Television Network was later acquired by MTV and became MTVU.
HR: How did you find Hothouse?
NS: After my time at MTVU, I was networking with a lot people in the entertainment business. I met someone from Turner Entertainment who said they valued my marketing approach and that I should meet Jon Katinsky, President of Hothouse. There were three people at Hothouse at the time. They were focusing on entertainment marketing and thought I could help them get in the door with other entertainment brands. I was first hired to just help out, but then we won the E! Entertainment and Disney business. We found some good traction and I was invited to be VP of Business Development. I became really fascinated working with brands. Even though I didn’t have the pedigree background of an agency, it became a great fit for me since I love learning about people and their backgrounds, along with the work that they are focused on to see where we can help. I’m essentially a storyteller for the agency.
HR: Where do you see Hothouse’s “fit”?
NS: Hothouse is ideal for brands that have lots of creative and content needs. We work best when we can play a role in content strategy and content creation by partnering with marketing teams and/or with in-house agencies.
HR: How have you helped shape the agency to how it looks today?
NS: There are two perspectives to that. First, as the New Biz lead, I’ve helped the agency find new places to do business. All the relationships we have today came through our new business process, gaining and growing clients. And as a part of the leadership team, I’ve also helped determine what the agency needs to do to keep growing and remain relevant in the marketplace.
HR: Why are you excited about helping clients get to their “next”?
NS: I think an agency’s role is to spark initiatives that brands aren’t doing today and aren’t typical. When brands come to Hothouse, they should see us coming back to them with thought starters, ideas, and approaches that make them say “this is interesting, let’s explore further and build on this together.” We’re bringing something that’s different, a fresh perspective, and/or a creative solution that they haven’t thought of themselves.
HR: What has been your biggest contribution to the Hothouse culture?
NS: I try to be the agency’s ambassador. That person that knocks on doors and says, “learn more about us because I have amazing people you should know.” So culturally, I get to know everyone at the agency. I am curious about their talents because I want to put them in front of the right brands. I want to elevate our teammates and put them front and center in a conversation with the right brands and people.
HR: What is your leadership style?
NS: I’m very relationship oriented. I get to meet a lot of people and like to be curious, ask questions, hear other’s stories, and connect the dots between people. I’m a matchmaker, so I think about ways to match our story and people with the brand side. Ultimately, my leadership style is to connect people and support where needed.
HR: What’s been the biggest change/shift in the industry?
NS: When I started in the business, there was an emphasis on TV and branding-type creative. Over the years it’s changed to more engagement-style creativity. It’s more about getting people to have a relationship with the brand. And that’s accelerating at a greater pace because of data and brands have come to expect immediate results. It’s unfortunate if ideas aren’t bold enough early enough because they can be overlooked by the data. I know the role of data will be bigger in the future and I hope creativity will also be equally valued since marketing’s purpose is to meaningfully connect with people through storytelling and a call-to-action. People want to connect emotionally with a brand, and not be “targeted”. We need to create messaging that really speaks to people and touches them.
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