Using values to redefine “agency life”.
Spend a few minutes in our office and it won’t take long to pick up on our culture—we care about doing great work, but we manage to have a lot of fun while doing it. Any time I’ve asked why I love my job, I immediately think of the incredible team we have. There’s not a day that goes by that we aren’t pushing each other to think bigger and celebrate wins every step of the way. So when we learned Clyde Group was nominated as one of PRNews’ Top Places to Work in 2019, we weren’t too surprised (though the news did spark a round of cheers in the office). As everyone who has worked at a PR agency knows, the job description includes challenging assignments, thankless tasks, and the occasional very long day. Most of us are probably guilty of venting about the challenges of “agency life,” triggering images of long hours, late nights and bottomless pots of coffee (or, in my case, Mountain Dew). As a small but fast-growing agency, we could have found ourselves falling victim to living the stereotype pretty easily. But we decided early on that Clyde Group would carve out our own culture and redefine what “agency life” means here. Our efforts to create a different type of agency experience began by identifying and defining our core values, which today guide everything we do. Sure, they hang up around the office for everyone to see, but those would just be words. Our values are so central to our work that they’ve invaded our slack channels, influence the way we do team and individual shout-outs, and guide how we conduct our employee performance reviews. Clyde Group Values People First This is basically our PC way of saying “don’t be an asshole.” Whether it’s talking to clients, pitching reporters or communicating and collaborating with one another, Clyde Group employees are always respectful, courteous, and give each other the benefit of the doubt. Period. This mentality guides the way we interact with one another and has eliminated the office politics often associated with agency life. We end each week by doing a roll call of shout outs over slack—which have literally been known to last for hours. New employees coming from other agencies frequently say the biggest surprise is how nice and supportive everyone is with one another. It’s my goal to never lose that, even as we continue to grow. Think Big Every agency claims to be creative, but we built them right into our core values. We hire people who are never satisfied with the status quo. Throughout the company, we’re always exploring new ways to reinvigorate how we approach our work, from company benefits to client strategy to relationship building. Solutions First We value a solutions-oriented mindset. There’s no place for “why not”; the Clyde mindset is “that’s awesome—now how do we do it?” Our media specialist recently identified inconsistencies across how account teams were building media lists and tracking pitching efforts. On his own, he developed a new system, tested it out in a couple of accounts, and then trained the entire agency on how to adopt the system to strengthen our media relations skills. We don’t just see problems, we solve them. Excellence “Good enough” is never good enough. By valuing excellence, we refuse to settle for mediocrity. We get things right and we deliver for our clients, our partners and for each other. We hold ourselves to incredibly high standards, which benefits both colleagues and clients. Fail Forward I love this value so much I’ve incorporated it into conversations with all three of my kids, teaching them to celebrate the risks they’ve taken and identify the lessons they’ve learned in their mistakes. At Clyde, we push boundaries and encourage each other to think differently. When we fail, we do so together and then learn and move forward. Every Friday, we recognize small failures with #FUF (Fail Up Friday), talking through our mistakes and the lessons we’ve learned. Failures are opportunities to learn, and we want our team to turn them into positives and never feel weighed down by them. Laugh Often Loudly (LOL) It is so much fun to work here. Clyde Groupies are some of my favorite people in the whole world and they make me laugh constantly. Open offices are controversial and aren’t right for everyone, but ours helps us stay close and creates a sense of inclusion and fun. We have done karaoke and escape rooms and baseball games (go Nats!), but some of my all-time favorite memories are much more organic than that. When the music comes on in the office on Friday around 4, and people start milling around the couches, cracking jokes, and sharing YouTube videos… that’s when it gets really good. Clyde Group Rising My favorite value was inspired by one of our original employees who just embodied everything we wanted Clyde Group to be. At 25 people, we are a small agency. At just five years old, we are a young agency. And everyone who joins understands that because we’re small, and because we’re young, some things are still being built and figured out. We don’t have all the answers yet! But this value is all about being willing to do whatever it takes to figure it out together. At Clyde Group, everyone’s voice is important. Everyone understands that no job is beneath anyone. We cheer each other on, celebrate success, and we’re excited to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. These values grew out of collective input from our entire team, and I know our continued growth and success are due in large part to our commitment to each value. Just as importantly, they play a huge role in making Clyde Group such a uniquely rewarding place to work. We’re not content to let “agency life” be defined by negatives, and with our values as our foundation, we’ll continue striving to be a top workplace. At this point, I’m confident that no one on our team would accept—much less expect—anything less.