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SmartBug Media® Founder Ryan Malone Nominated for Orange County Business Journal’s 2020 Innovator of the Year Awards

August 7, 2020

Inbound Marketing Agency’s Innovative Qualities Include Its Pioneering Creation of a Fully Remote Agency Workplace Culture, Inspiration for a World Certification Day, and Its Market Lead in Customer Endorsements

IRVINE, Calif., August 7, 2020—SmartBug Media®—a leading Intelligent Inbound® marketing agency that assists businesses in generating leads, increasing awareness, and building brand loyalty through inbound marketing, digital strategy, design, marketing automation, and public relations—today announced that its founder and CEO, Ryan Malone, has been nominated for the second year in a row as an Innovator of the Year (IOTY) by the Orange County Business Journal (OCBJ). The nomination highlights the company’s track record of innovation as an early adopter of remote work, commitment to professional development, and positive work-life balance values for its employees, earning SmartBug® rapid growth and impressive accolades over the past few years.

According to the OCBJ, the 2020 IOTY Awards recognize innovators who are changing the status quo in Orange County, California’s community of business. The program is designed to celebrate innovators who are creating game-changing ideas, processes, products, services, and business models.

“I am honored to be considered as one of Orange County’s business innovators,” said Malone. “Despite many challenges faced by all businesses in 2020, all of the novel ideas and processes we put in place years ago and have built and improved upon have helped us weather a global crisis from a position of strength. Our innovative qualities reinforce our leadership in the market and make us the destination of choice for top talent.”

Malone’s ongoing commitment to providing SmartBug employees with challenging careers along with the flexibility to spend more quality time with their families and make lifelong memories forms the cornerstone of its game-changing business model. Founded in 2008 as one of the country’s few fully remote marketing agencies, SmartBug already had strong remote processes and best practices in place by 2020, making it a trusted authority and advisor to other companies navigating the challenges brought by the global pandemic. In order to help other organizations make a sudden transition to remote work, Malone has spent time lending his expertise to events, webinars, podcasts, and editorial pieces, sharing his advice for creating strong, productive remote workforces. 

SmartBug’s flexible workplace culture, along with Malone’s Healthy SmartBug initiative—which uses employee feedback to develop and improve corporate policies that help its employees remain happy, healthy, safe, and resilient—make the company attractive to top talent who want to strike a healthy balance between their career and personal life. In addition, investing in the professional development of its employees is an essential part of SmartBug’s company culture. 

Each quarter, SmartBug shuts down the company for a Certification Day, dedicating more than 800 people hours to training and enabling each of our employees to spend that time taking online classes and tutorials and earning certifications. This practice, conceived by Malone three years ago, inspired HubSpot, Inc. to partner with SmartBug last month to host its first World Certification Day. On that day, businesses around the world were encouraged to provide ongoing education opportunities to employees during regular working hours, with donations from each certification earned benefiting UNICEF. SmartBug also hosts SmartBugapalooza, an annual four-day leadership development conference designed to encourage team building and cross-functional work. 

FInally, SmartBug’s remote work business model, commitment to professional development, and high standards for creating best-in-class client work have contributed to its rapid growth and an impressive list of accolades over the years. In addition to being HubSpot’s highest-rated partner in the world, one of only nine HubSpot Elite partners worldwide, and HubSpot’s 2018 Global Partner of the Year, SmartBug was also named to HubSpot’s Partner Advisory Council (PAC) for the second year in a row. 

The company has also been named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies three years in a row, has been named to the Adweek 100: Fastest Growing Agencies list, and has won a number of Great Place to Work awards and 12 Comparably awards. In addition, SmartBug has been recognized with hundreds of awards for its client work, including more than 100 of the industry’s prestigious MarCom Awards over the past two years alone. This is Malone’s second nomination to the OCBJ’s Innovators of the Year Awards, and his company has been named to OCBJ’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies List twice.

About SmartBug Media

SmartBug Media® is a globally recognized Intelligent Inbound® marketing agency assisting businesses in growing revenue by generating leads, increasing brand awareness, and building customer loyalty through content marketing, sales enablement, web development, marketing automation, and public relations.

As HubSpot’s 2018 Global Partner of the Year, SmartBug® is the highest-rated HubSpot partner in the world today. The company has not only been named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies three years in a row, but it has also been named to the Adweek 100: Fastest Growing Agencies list and won a number of Great Place to Work® and Comparably awards. With hundreds of awards for client work—and a team holding a combined 650 marketing certifications—SmartBug is fully dedicated to delivering client success and an unparalleled agency experience. For more information about SmartBug Media, visit

For SmartBug Media Inquiries, Contact: 

Jennifer Tolkachev
SmartBug Media 
949-236-6448 x865