Laura Grifka: Educating and Enlightening the Media World One Achievement at a Time

June 4th, 2020

With all of the unrest in our world, sharing and celebrating positive news is more welcome than ever. That’s why we’re proud to highlight Laura Grifka, from our Los Angeles team, for her ThinkLA nomination for Salesperson of the Year. Tremor Video is no stranger to the award, with Director of Sales, Michelle Kim, taking home the honor at last year’s Awards Gala. 

Laura has been an integral part of the Tremor Video LA team, and, as her manager and former Salesperson of the Year nominee Sarineh Croft says, “Not only is she an incredible storyteller, she’s able to take our products and truly build solutions for her clients.”

After earning an English degree from UCLA, Laura began her career by tutoring Kindergarten students through AmeriCorps, with the hopes of becoming a full-time teacher. Though, it didn’t take long until her true calling in media came after selling live televised sports at FOX’s Home Team Sports. She then moved to Uproxx and eventually found her way into ad-tech selling custom, mobile-rich media at Kargo. 

As Laura puts it, she didn’t fully realize her love for data (and its symbiotic relationship to creative) until she joined Tremor Video, and now she can never look back.

We recently had the pleasure of chatting with Laura about her work at Tremor Video, her volunteer work, and how she’s been dealing with today’s challenging times. 

Tremor LA Team

Congratulations on your Salesperson of the Year nomination! Can you tell us a little bit about your career and your experience thus far as part of the Tremor team in Los Angeles?

Throughout the years, working with an array of brands across publishers and ad-tech companies, I never lost my educator’s mindset. I have approached each role with an understanding that cultivating my own expertise (and the ability to communicate that expertise) is invaluable to my clients’ success. 

I was drawn to my current role before interviewing, when a trusted friend shared that Tremor Video was “led by a bunch of bad-ass women,” which turned out to be absolutely true! 

Tremor Video has, hands down, the hardest working team in the industry. I am continually blown away by the innovation, creativity, and leadership of the people around me. As a member of any company, the most you can hope for is a team that inspires you daily. As a seller, the most you can hope for is industry-leading products and great educational resources. Tremor Video is continually shaping the industry on all of those fronts.

What would you say is your proudest moment at Tremor Video thus far?

Is it strange to say some of my proudest work has happened amidst the pandemic? Having great client relationships, and providing valuable research are great on any day. But coming through as an integral resource for partners during this time and helping them shape their re-entry strategy into the market has felt like some of the most meaningful work of my career.

That’s not strange at all. In fact, it’s pretty impressive. How has your philosophy or advice to clients shifted since the recent pandemic? 

I will say my educator’s mindset has also really shone through in the past couple of months. While I have always centered my recommendations in data and insights, the research we’ve been able to produce and share during this time has made a huge impact on our partners. It’s great to see weeks and weeks of research sharing turn into actionable media strategies for the second half of the year.

The pandemic has made even more clear the importance of empathy in our business. If we genuinely care about the professional and personal best interest of our client partners (on top of their brands’ business goals), we will always be a valuable resource in good times and bad. In that sense, my philosophy hasn’t changed.

What recommendations do you give for brands and marketers trying to best deal with today’s difficult times?

To brands, I say this: 

  1. It’s okay to communicate when people are struggling, but authenticity matters more than ever. Consumers actually want to hear from the right brands, so define the audiences that should hear from you during this time and leverage timely data and research to find them. 
  2. Follow behavior trends. Take your foot off the pedal in environments that feel disruptive and lean into environments where people are spending time and open to brand messaging. 
  3. Help if you can, but best to do it in a way that’s authentic to your brand. 

To marketers, I would say: 

  1. Be human. 
  2. Have empathy. 
  3. If levity is authentic to you, it’s okay to use it. 
  4. Turn on your camera on Zoom calls so we can keep the closeness of our industry going while we are all apart. 

How have you been able to use insights and creative thinking to help a brand improve their video strategy?

One of my top clients has been continually challenged with a “relatability gap” for their products. Over the course of working together, I’ve helped narrow this gap through insights and creative unique to Tremor Video by:

  1. Combining industry research with Tremor Video data insights to help them build out a key POV on the right reach/frequency to engage and drive action from their key target. 
  2. Helping them to develop first-to-market interactive creatives that will allow consumers to become more familiar with the product in ways that video cannot accomplish on its own.

Since adopting some of my recommendations, our campaigns together have averaged three to six times above IAB’s video benchmarks for click-through rates. The team now includes frequency goals and requests custom creative additions on outgoing RFPs to all partners.

Let’s talk a little bit about your life outside of the office. Can you tell us about some of your volunteer work like mentoring with SFBig, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, and others?

Laura with her “Little Sister” Elisha

My most meaningful volunteer work has been mentoring a “Little Sister” through Big Brothers, Big Sisters. It was pretty mind-blowing hearing her relationship with her education, and her aspirations for the future evolving from age eight when we met, to age eleven when she moved out of state. 

I look at the life I’ve cultivated, and I think… I had no idea these opportunities existed when I was growing up and even through college. I stumbled upon a lot of successes somewhat by accident and have a great friend to thank for introducing me to the media industry. (Thanks, Bux!) I’m driven to pay that gift forward. If I was able to expand my “Little’s” view of the possibilities that lie in her future – even a little bit – that brings me a ton of joy. 

That drive also makes me give time freely to helping people find roles in our industry, to mentoring peers both formally and informally, to connecting my contacts wherever possible, to editing an endless stream of resumes and cover letters, and to thoughtfully writing recommendations for friends and colleagues. I recently gained the nickname of “The Resume Queen,” which I’m pretty darn proud of.

Speaking of… what advice do you give to those looking to pursue a career in our industry?

The team you work with is the most important factor to consider when picking the place you work. Working on a brand/publisher you love or with a product you truly believe in makes your days feel less like work. The people you surround yourself with will be the ones who bring you daily happiness.

So, aside from your work-life and volunteer work, how have you been coping with these troubling times during the pandemic? Any new hobbies or fun social activities?

I’m actually super terrible at riding a bike (thanks, steep hill I grew up on!) It has been pretty fun taking advantage of streets devoid of cars to improve my skills, and I can confidently say that I can now ride a bike, people! I’ve also been leaning into hours-long, meditative Sunday hikes.

What does the future look like for Laura Grifka? What do you hope to achieve personally and professionally over the next five years?

I want to keep doing what I’m doing while amplifying my mentorship and leadership opportunities. I want to continue living a life well-traveled (when that’s allowed again). 

And we want to continue working with amazing colleagues like Laura Grifka!

Vote now for Laura Grifka HERE.

-Frank Pasquine, Content Manager at Tremor Video