'Speak up for what you want': 8 questions with Royce Hall, Thrillist

Editor’s note: ThinkLA’s DIG (Diversity, Inclusion, Gender) initiative has been created to celebrate and work towards greater diversity in Los Angeles. ThinkLA and The Drum are pleased to highlight African American leaders in the Los Angeles marketing community, their thoughts on the industry and how to build greater momentum for all.

Royce Hall, VP, West Coast sales and solutions, Thrillist

​Who was your role-model when you were younger?

I really looked up to my parents. Smart, hard-working folks who always put education above all else. Also, Charles Barkley, since I grew up near Philadelphia, but you know his feeling on that...ha, ha.

What was your first job in advertising?

In 2004, I was hired by The Wall Street Journal online as a marketing manager within the ad sales group. Prior to that, I had been working at the print Wall Street Journal as an editor, but wanted to understand the “business side” of the house.

What is most rewarding aspect about your job? What makes it all worthwhile?

For me, it’s when we spend months working on a big program to support a brand and then seeing it come to fruition. Knowing you helped the brand achieve its goals while at the same time working with great people and forming deeper relationships makes it all worth it.

What's the best compliment you've ever given?

“Thanks for your help.” I try to say that as much as humanly possible.

What advice do you have for young black people in advertising?

You have to speak up for what you want. Our numbers are small, so it’s very easy to be overlooked if you’re afraid to be vocal and ask for opportunities, more responsibility, etc.

How can we support more diversity in advertising?

More companies need to make diversity programs a priority. I just saw a stat that said only 11% of ad agencies feel prioritizing diversity is a “high priority.” It goes back to my point about speaking up. If you think diversity is important, you need to speak up within your organization. When I was coming up, programs like the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund and National Association of Black Journalists were extremely helpful in creating opportunities for internships at big media companies. But that was only because people within those organizations pushed for it and supported those programs.

What's something about yourself that would surprise people?

That’s a tough one, but here’s something advertising-related: I once auditioned to be the new Maytag Repairman.

What should our industry be talking about in 2017?

The most interesting thing to me right now is the enormous role social is playing in the consumption and distribution of content.