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At home with the licensing industry: The Roald Dahl Story Company

How is business continuing for the industry now working from home is the new normal? Source talks to Rebecca French, senior licensing manager, about how The Roald Dahl Story Company has adapted.

With the licensing industry now working from home due to COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns, Source talks to key licensors, licensees and agents to find out how they are keeping business going.

Today: Rebecca French, senior licensing manager, The Roald Dahl Story Company

How is the team’s day now structured, with everyone working from home?

We are very much keeping to our normal daily structure and not much has really changed. We connect as a full team once a week as we would normally, and each sub team connect daily. The only difference is perhaps our work attire and when the new co-workers – be they kids or pets – decide to make an appearance!

Could you provide a rough timeline of your day?

Personally, my day starts with checking what day it actually is! Then, like much of the nation, I jump around the living room with the nations PE teacher Joe Wicks. Being a parent, I then ensure that both my children know what they have to do for the day and use a home-made wall planner to try and set a schedule to follow. I then try to focus on what needs to be achieved that day and get going.

How is the communication with licensees and retailers continuing? How important is it to continue keeping these lines of communication open during this time?

It’s hugely important that we keep lines of communication open now more than ever. Licensing doesn’t happen without licensees and retailers and we are very much in this together and are looking at ways we can help our partners though these unprecedented times and ensure that when this passes that we are in the best place to pick up and hit the ground running.

Which projects are you able to move forward on right now?

In licensing, prior to lockdown we were working on new product launch plans with a number of new partners and some of these may be postponed. Encouragingly, those that were planned to launch towards the back end of the year are very much still on the agenda, although we are of course working on multiple scenarios. While retail doors may be closed, like all licensors we are already used to working far out and we are busy planning 2021 activations.

The new Witches movie is still on schedule to hit theatre screens in October, and Katie Price, our head of books, has been busy signing off on all the tie-in publishing.

We have a big focus on new preschool publishing for 2021, so Katie has been busy approving a range of new titles and road testing some product ideas on her children in between the home schooling. It’s great to be able to consumer test product before hits the shelves.

Speaking of home schooling, Roald Dahl’s stories are widely used in schools, and we already provide teachers with lesson plans and fun activities for kids to enjoy.

We have seen a significant uplift in traffic to our website www.roalddahl.com and the marketing team have been very busy looking at how we can support further through this period. We have some new exciting activity to be made public soon.

What piece of advice would you give about how best to continue to feel like a team while WFH?

Keep talking. Everyone of us has that person in the office that you go when you need a break or some support and the fact that we are not in the same physical space is not preventing us from finding the time to chat. While we can’t go for lunch or to the pub for some downtime with colleagues, we can still do it virtually.

We have a number of non work focused SLACK groups that are helping to keep us all sane – my personal faves are ‘parent sanity support’ and ‘virtual wine’.

How are you keeping up morale?

Everyone’s experience of this is different and we use our team meetings to share how we are getting on. Our perceptions and needs can be completely different. Each of us have different ways of coping, and hearing how team members are dealing with this can help others.

We have been having a weekly Wednesday night quiz which has been fun, plus many of us take part in early morning Zoom Yoga and HIIT classes (with the video off!) which gets the day off to a good start.

Best thing about WFH?

It’s great to already be home as soon as the laptop closes.

Just some of the Roald Dahl team's pets (L-R): Bear (owned by md Luke Kelly), Clem (owned by financial controller Nerinne Trueman) and Ron and Bert (owned by partnerships assistant Grace Tedstone).
Just some of the Roald Dahl team's pets (L-R): Bear (owned by md Luke Kelly), Clem (owned by financial controller Nerinne Trueman) and Ron and Bert (owned by partnerships assistant Grace Tedstone).

What’s the one thing you’ve discovered about each team member since WFH that you didn’t know before?

We are clearly a team of animal lovers and the appearance of any one of the many pets on our team hangouts can incite a chorus of “awwwwwws!”

If you have children, how are you managing keeping them entertained/educated while you work?

There is a funny piece on social media with printable Ofsted inspection signs for home school windows…. I’ve given myself a ‘Nice Try’.

What advice would you give to people in the business who are worried about the future?

Not one of us know what the future will be like after this. Just do the best you can. And looking at cute animals is good for your health so above are a few of the Roald Dahl Story Companies new co workers.

If you or your team would like to take part in this feature, simply email Samantha Loveday on saml@max-publishing.co.uk.

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