How HZDG brought consistency to creative reviews

Liana Tallarico

March 31, 2017

HZ_PMSHZDG is an independent, fully integrated creative agency based in Rockville, Maryland. We spoke with Stacey DeOrzio, SVP of Client Relations, and Cary Gilbert, Resource Manager, about working on 80 projects a day and fixing an inconsistent creative review process.

HZDG started in graphic design 30 years ago

Over the years, we’ve evolved from doing traditional branding and advertising into a WBE-certified studio specializing in branding, marketing, content and digital marketing. HZDG employs a staff of 200+ creatives, strategists and specialists working in the DC Metro area, New York City, Baltimore, the Bay Area and LA. As a full-service agency, we do everything in-house and only work with freelancers or external contractors when a specialization is required.

We have a wide range of clients

Some of the most recognizable brands on our client list include Hilton Hotels and Resorts, Organic Valley and Volkswagen. We also work with a lot of local companies, such as EagleBank and Ridgewells Catering, on a mix of B2B and B2C projects. HZDG is also the digital agency for one of our local NFL teams, the Washington Redskins.

We could be working on 80 different projects a day

Because everything we do is integrated, projects are always campaign-based and we handle a lot of volume. There’s never just one piece. You need print and digital components, which means banner ads, websites, landing pages, print ads and brochures and, of course, video.

Our internal review process wasn’t consistent

With so many different types of projects, the way we were reviewing creative work varied a lot. We’d upload PDFs to our internal servers and email a file-path to that PDF to the relevant teams for review. Each person would take turns reviewing it because you could only comment on the PDF one at a time. Other times, we’d print hard copies of the creative, which meant feedback wasn’t captured in one place. Either way it was a slow process that opened us up to errors.

We looked at a lot of different solutions

After testing various review solutions for internal use, we found that most of them had way too many features and were hard to use. After attending a Hightail webinar about account service relationships, we were intrigued by their creative collaboration product and checked it out online after the webinar. It looked like a good fit for our needs.

Everyone loves using Hightail to give feedback

We tested Hightail with one of our account teams and it was a very positive experience. It’s very user-friendly and immediately made our review process much quicker. You don’t have to wait your turn to review something — people add comments to PDFs and visual files at the same time. You even see live conversations happening while you’re looking at the file.

The approvals feature helps with efficiency

We love the way you can request approval from specific people. You want the entire team to be able to access the work and leave comments, but only a few people need to be approvers. Being able to call them out and request their approval in a specific order has been very helpful.

Rolling Hightail out to everyone was easy

After the initial test, we were confident that Hightail was the right choice for our internal collaboration. Hightail’s partnership and support throughout the trial period and on-boarding process gave us no hesitation whatsoever that they were the right partner for us. This experience made Hightail a must-have for our team and we were able to buy-in from our CFO, which was no small feat. Because the product is so user-friendly, getting the rest of the team up and running was seamless. When new employees join HZDG, we just spend a few minutes showing them how it works and off they go. Some other services we tried were so robust, it was scary just to start using them.

We’re now introducing Hightail to clients

Once we were comfortable using Hightail internally, we started using it with three of our clients. Previously, we’d share PDFs with clients and collect their feedback by email. Now they can use Hightail to leave comments exactly where they want the edits. They can also access all the elements of a campaign in one place, see what’s been approved and track the creative progress from one version to the next. It’s been such a positive experience that we’re starting to introduce Hightail to more clients.

Hightail always ensures the next step is happening

We had previously used a popular project management tool, but conversations there often led nowhere. People would ask questions but nobody would take any responsibility so no action was taken. With Hightail, tasks are assigned to people with due dates attached, so the next step is happening. Nothing gets left hanging. It feels like we’re saving a lot of review rounds and jobs are closing faster than our normal timeframes.

To find out more about HZDG, visit www.hzdg.com and follow the company on Twitter and Instagram.

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