The ingredients for a successful agency

The ingredients for a successful agency

As a business owner, I am constantly seeking gems of wisdom to help me navigate the complexities of running an agency. One of the best gems of wisdom I’ve heard has come from Sir Richard Branson, who said, “if you look after your staff, they will look after your customers.”

Ever since I on-boarded my first staff member in 2009, employee engagement has been a key driver of our success. Over the past eight years, I have recruited and worked alongside employees of all ages, backgrounds and personality types, and each with their own strengths and areas for improvement. Naturally, some staff have left over the years to pursue other ventures, but almost unheard of in this industry, is that my first time employee is still working with the company.

Recently I came across Holmes Report's “Best Agencies to Work For”, and much of it resonated with me. I felt compelled to share my own learnings on what makes a great office culture.

Agency culture, work flexibility and work life balance

1)    The Holmes Report points out that employees consider agency culture, work flexibility and work life balance as some of the top reasons they like their agencies. Elevate has achieved this recognition from its 12 strong staff base, through providing stand up desks, casual Fridays, the ability to work from home when suitable, staff awards and most importantly, a strongly encouraged work-life balance. We have several senior staff who have joined Elevate having experienced ‘burn out’ out at other agencies, and it’s evident that when you offer a work life balance, flexibility and strong employee culture, you get the very best from your team.

PR professionals value the creativity and passion among colleagues

2)    PR professionals are inspired by passion and creativity within the agency according to the Holmes Report. At Elevate, we encourage this both formally and informally, through shared knowledge between colleagues at our monthly workshops, and an open plan working space, that gets shuffled regularly. Our monthly workshops enable one staff member a month to share their expertise in a subject area with the whole team, while our office layout ensures teams are exposed to creative brainstorms and passionate media pitches.

Boutique agencies have the most engaged employees

3)    Perhaps not surprisingly, boutique agencies have the most engaged staff base as cited in the Holmes Report. I think this comes down to accessibility for staff with decision makers in the agency. While our team of 12 is still relatively small compared with other agencies, it has grown significantly over the years. To ensure we maintain the small office feel, we have allocated smaller teams within the agency, allowing each consultant direct access to a senior member of the team. As the owner of the company, I am also not at the mercy of a higher power, meaning decisions and budgets can be approved quickly. This makes a huge difference to consultants with great ideas.

Empowering my team has seen an increase in employee engagement with our brand, and this shows in the work produced for our clients. Our clients sign on for longer retainers or increased projects, and are driving new business through word of mouth. Focusing on our team also reaps considerable commercial outcomes. It is far more cost effective to retain a happy team that retains a happy client base, than it is to recruit new employees and source new business!

I am certain it is our thriving team culture that was one of the reasons Elevate was named the National 2017 PRIA Small Consultancy of the Year by the Public Relations Institute of Australia this month. 

If you would like to work with a team of passionate, enthusiastic, high performing PR, events and digital media professionals to help grow your brand through strategic communication, please don’t hesitate to contact me on  


About the Author - Mel Deacon

Mel is the founder and CEO of Elevate Communication. She started the company in 2007 and has built it into one of the most successful, independent communication agencies in Australia.

In a career spanning more than 20 years, Mel has worked...

Other Posts by Mel Deacon

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