Member Spotlight: Michelle O'Grady with Team Friday
Team Friday @ The HUB LA
The Hub is picking up our member spotlight series that showcases our lovely organizations in house, their impact on the community, and why they do what they do. To kick off the series, we sat down with founder and CEO of Team Friday, Michelle O’Grady. Team Friday is a marketing and communications agency dedicated to serving social impact companies, campaigns, and non-profits. They’ve been in Hub for almost 6 years and have become an integral of our community here. Below is an excerpt of the interview I was able to have with Michelle about how the agency started and what inspired them to move into the social impact marketing landscape.
Give this a read for some weekly inspiration and follow them on instagram here or head to their main site to get involved.
Team Friday: Inspiring and Uplifting
5/13 @ Hub LA
Alina: My first question is about some of the impact of your organization. What do you do ya'll do? What is your background?
Michelle: My background was in fashion and consumer product lifestyle marketing. Which I think is a really interesting intersection to how I got into the work of social enterprise, social impact, and public policy. I moved to New York in my 20s and I'm a native Angelino. And I kind of looked at socioeconomics in a different framework once I moved to New York and got to see how policies and things impact people and the visible redlining that was happening in communities that, you know, I don't think you see in Los Angeles as much because you can drive through and around neighborhoods that you don't necessarily have to interact with. So you're just not thinking about it on that equity and privilege level as top of mind as you are in New York or anywhere where public transportation is the main source of getting around the city right? So I think that really opened my eyes and then when I moved back I joined my neighborhood council as the first step. I come from a long line of people that have done community impact (and) I think I just strayed away from it because I liked the more glamorous ideas around business and marketing. I was an agency director when I decided to leave my job and start my own agency. And so, you know, we were just having a conversation on how we quantify impact but it's like we've been able to work on so many different projects from parks to housing to voting and everything in between. I think what's exciting about our agency is that we do think big system. Because we have our hands in so many pots we see the layers of expertise and what needs to be brought to the table in order to be effective in messaging and in campaigns.
A: So ya’ll are a marketing agency.
M: We're a marketing and communications agency that focuses on social impact companies. So that's everything from CSR (corporate social responsibility) to individual campaigns, like giving campaigns, to advocating for Public Policy. We're not like a one size fits all cover agency. So we only work with a select number of clients a year and then really dive in to what needs to happen for those campaigns to work or the narratives to be uplifted.
A: Right. Because I'm sure that it takes a very very specific lens in which to-
M: Exactly yes. A specific lens and then also we look at it in a big system. What does this need to do? And how do we over arch it into the bigger framework of what's happening in the media? How do we tie it back to newsworthy stories? How do we tie it back to advocacy? How do we tie it back to certain political figures, that are motivated by certain things, so it's really strategic? It's a narrow strategy and then a bigger system strategy that we look at.
A: The next question I was going to ask was why you specifically created Team Friday but you’ve touched on that a little bit.
M: I can expand on that a little bit. I think like one of the biggest- I think after I moved to New York I came back and was still working in various similar fields. And was doing a lot of marketing in communities of color. I'm mixed race I'm Irish Mexican. And so I was seeing, us do a lot of marketing and a lot of aspirational marketing, in lower income communities and I really had to question whether that was ethical or not. And when I had that- and this is all stemming from like this big epiphany that I had in New York- when I realized that I just wasn't comfortable doing that anymore it really crystallized a need to take what we know about what corporations do in the marketing and communications landscape and parlay it down into social advocacy to build that up.
M: You know, even at least the technical capacity playing fields of what trained marketers and business leaders are trying to do. And all of my team comes from/has worked in a hybrid of corporations and social impact and so they really understand that game of, ‘this is what a corporation is going to do to get their message out and persuade and create that behavior to make that happen’. And so we really wanted to create an agency and a system that would be able to utilize those methods but for good in a better setting to actually help the people that are being impacted and targeted.
A: I just like picturing you guys like on the battlefront.
M: There aren't a lot of agencies that understand. I will say like what makes us unique is that I don't think there's a lot of agencies where people have worked in the corporate world and are coming back down. You're seeing that more often, but I think when we started seven years ago it was really clear that there wasn't a lot of that. CSR was still a thing but it was still using traditional agencies in traditional business right? And they weren’t trying to get embedded with communities where I think that that's where we are. I grew up in Atwater Village in Los Angeles which gentrified like literally overnight with the announcement of like the L.A. River. And so you were able to see communities and small businesses and everything dismantle in like one second of a narrative. And so how do we look at narrative and really understand what it actually is? (It’s) something that I was really interested in in my free time and then I was just like. Why am I not just doing this?
A: Marketing and advertising is like currency now.
M: It is! I mean everybody has a personal brand. Everybody has currency in that exchange and so how are we using our voice or how are we using that currency for good, and for true good, not just like the touchy feely stuff. I think we're seeing more people do that which is so exciting. But I think when we started seven years ago I wasn't completely sure where that was. You know. In the landscape.
A: That's some layered stuff. How does The Hub help your community impact or why did it end up be a good fit for the organization?
M: So this is my second time at the Hub. I had originally started with a business partner but ended up not working out six months into the business and was looking for a home to help cultivate it. And so I was at the Hub five years ago six years ago?
A: Oh wow.
M: Yeah. And so this is kind of like a coming home. You know the Hub has always been a place to allow space and to think strategically and to collaborate. You know we helped Jessica Meaney like create Investing In Place out of the Hub and so there's a number of organizations that have since left the Hub that we've been a part of those conversations from the very beginning (that) are now thriving in other spaces which is exciting. And so I think the Hub has always been a place where I've always identified that change is possible and if you meet the right people then really cool things could happen. We had a Whole Foods, like, gosh five years ago, I hosted a Whole Foods dinner here in partnership with the Hub that ended up bringing social food advocates to Whole Foods as a brand. And they're still partners that work together today that came from that dinner. So I think it's just a matter of creating a space that is also not just like the physical space but then also the community space where people can collaborate, people are friendly, people are talking, people are interested whether you work in an online field or not. You just know that the people in the room (are) very supportive of causes that are aligned with your values which I think is important.