Katie Hutchings knew she had made it in the film industry when she was sent by Warner Brothers to work at the premiere of ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II’ in New York.
“It was the best experience of my career” said Hutchings. “I knew I was doing exactly what I always wanted to do.”
Now, as VP of Marketing for Skydance Media, the Reynolds School of Journalism alum has had plenty of pinch moments in her career. In her role at Skydance, Hutchings manages the brand’s digital and social presence, works with its distributors, such as Amazon, Netflix, Apple and Paramount, and ensures that all of the company’s marketing needs are met. She is currently working on the TV show “REACHER” (Amazon) and the films “Top Gun: Maverick” (Paramount) and “The Adam Project” (Netflix).
“The big thing I have to do in my job is to delegate,” she said. “I help oversee a lot of things where I make sure that, in terms of brand equity, everything looks good.”
Although her job requires hard work, Hutchings has a passion for her career as she always knew she wanted to work in the film industry.
“I remember in eighth grade going down in my dance dress on Oscar day and telling my mom I was going to be there someday,” she said. “It’s always been my dream.”
Hutchings was born in Reno, Nevada, and raised in Las Vegas. By the time she went to college, it made sense to attend the University of Nevada, Reno. After participating in broadcast journalism in high school and being told she would do well in public relations, she decided to enroll in the Reynolds School.
“It was the best time of my life,” Hutchings said. “I absolutely loved my stay in Reno.”
Lecturer in Public Relations and Advertising Alison Gaulden was an adjunct professor at Reynolds School when Hutchings was a student and continues to be a guide to her now.
“Katie was bold and bravado, a sponge soaking up everything I shared with the class,” Gaulden said. “I continued to guide her from the day she graduated, and yet she enlightened me on the changes in the industry.
After graduating in 2009, Hutchings moved back to Las Vegas and got a job in corporate communications for a public relations firm. As a “blessing in disguise”, she was fired from her job and decided to move to Los Angeles.
“I always knew I wanted to move to Los Angeles,” Hutchings said. “I was kind of scheming and planning, and throughout that I realized [that] there will never be enough money saved, there will never be enough time.
Sleeping on his friend’s couch for the first few months in Los Angeles, Hutchings realized that breaking into the entertainment industry would be no easy feat. However, a family friend working at Warner Brothers offered her name to be considered as a temp for the company.
“I was ready to take anything at that point to get my foot in the door,” Hutchings said.
The skills she learned at Reynolds School, such as public relations knowledge and basic Photoshop and Illustrator abilities, helped her land a job managing a loyalty program for Warner Brothers.
“One thing I’ve learned is that a career path isn’t linear.”
“While I was there, I started to [think,] I have to add value,” Hutchings said. “I have to find a way to extend my time here.”
She convinced her boss to let her use Facebook, which was just emerging as a platform at the time, to interact with loyalty program members.
“I was learning about Facebook myself and I was noticing studio executives were starting to come up to me and ask me questions on social media,” Hutchings said. “I was kind of driving and learning on my own.”
Soon she realized that by authentically engaging fans with movie titles, posts saw more engagement and increased sales.
“We posted a heart emoji, before emojis were even a thing, on ‘The Notebook’ and saw that message skyrocket,” Hutchings said.
After a few years as a direct-to-consumer marketing coordinator at Warner Brothers, she then worked at a creative advertising agency as a social media manager, then as a social media and marketing manager at another company. In agencies, Hutchings worked on titles such as “Orange Is the New Black”, “House of Cards” and “Grace and Frankie”.
“I learned to take a 360 degree approach to a campaign; what I was doing was much more important than just working in social,” she said. “I helped grow the ‘Orange is the New Black’ social pages from zero to over a million in the first two seasons alone – it was the most talked about show while I was there. on the account.”
Working in agencies taught Hutchings many skills that served her well when she decided to become a freelance marketing consultant in 2017.
“Through my experience working in both the agency and the studio, I had gained this really good perspective where I understood the needs and asked for both,” she said. “I was nimble and knew how to be a little scrappy, but what I call high scrappy.”
One of Hutchings’ projects at the time was to create a program that connected various creatives with studios and brands in the entertainment industry. She has also worked with filmmakers like Lee Daniels and with brands like Necessaire, Footlocker and Paramount Pictures.
After years of agency and freelance work, Hutchings decided it was time to return to the studio side of the industry. In 2019, she landed a position as Director of Digital Marketing at Skydance, a role that has now evolved into VP of Marketing.
“One thing I’ve learned is that a career path isn’t linear,” Hutchings said. “I’m actually in a career that I didn’t specialize in; social media marketing wasn’t taught when I was in school.
The advice Hutchings gives to students and recent graduates looking to enter the entertainment field is to do an internship, use LinkedIn as a resource, frelationships with others and try everything.
“It’s a fabulous time for people if they can start applying for Zoom internships at studios to gain experience and make connections,” she said. “Put yourself in places that are going to help you take it to the next level, even if it’s not what you want or know immediately, you can always teach yourself [and] use other people as resources.
Hutchings’ ingenuity, innovative thinking, and strong public relations and marketing skills have enabled him to advance in a competitive field in an era of change with the emergence of social media.
“I saw something that interested me and I took a step forward” she says. “I took a lot of missteps along the way but, ultimately, it took me to places and in front of people I never thought I would meet.”
Even after working in the industry for over ten years, Hutchings still thinks back to his surreal time working at the premiere of “Harry Potter” and remembers his passion for the film industry.
“I can connect the world with content they love, with people they love, with stories they love,” Hutchings said. “It’s something I try not to take for granted.”