Inside PR 397: The boss leaves and where does that leave you?

What obligation do creative agency founders and owners owe to their employees? Gini Dietrich, Martin Waxman and I, all current or past agency owners, discuss this in the wake of a recent high profile creative company closing.

Teehan+Lax recently announced that the partners had accepted jobs at Facebook – and that Teehan would therefore be shutting its doors. Good for them. But what about the employees? Did the fact that dozens of creative people – the people who helped the partners realize their dream – were being left behind detract from the positives of this story? Are creative agencies simply the expressions of their principals? Or are they in fact the product of the entire team? And what does the move of agency principals inside a previously-client company mean about the viability of agencies in the era in which nimbleness must be married to creativity?

Gini, Martin and I kick around our views about the arc of agency life and the types of things that we and agency principals and agency owners should or may not consider when making the next move.

Martin points out that we have become used to employees moving frequently from job to job. Many creative people today base their happiness on the challenge of the projects they are working on today. What they did last week mattered last week, not this week. What their title is isn’t so important. Where they stand in the hierarchy isn’t their motivator. Challenging creative work drives them. And if they can’t get it where they are, they will quickly and without hesitation hop over to another company that offers that to them. And then they will move again after that.

So, should we be surprised if people who are founding and running creative agencies have the same approach to the world? Probably not. So, we shouldn’t be surprised if this isn’t the last time that agency principals proclaim, “We didn’t get into this to build a company to last. We got into it to be challenged. And the challenges are elsewhere. So, we’re shutting down our company to go and do something else.”

And good for them. But that still leaves the first question. What obligation do they have to the employees who believed in them and invested part of their own careers in the success of the founders’ dream?

Gini suggests that an employer’s obligation to the employees is real, but limited. “But you have to make decisions that are good for the business first, and for the founders second. Without the founders, there is no business. So, the founders have to take care of themselves. This is a difficult thing to do, particularly when you want to do what is best for employees.”

This leads to situations in which it is difficult to untangle what really happened in order to discern how an employer has treated employees. We may see the end result – people looking for jobs. But we cannot get the complete picture of the relationships between employer and employee. “There’s always three sides to the story,” says Gini. “Their side. Our side. And the truth somewhere in the middle.”

But at the end of the day, Gini believes, owners are entitled to put their interests ahead of their employees. “Sometimes you have to make a decision that’s not best for the employees. Sometimes you have to make a decision that’s best for you and your family.”

And that’s only half of today’s episode. In the back half, we move on to discuss the importance of communicating these changes clearly, honestly and transparently. We hope that you’ll listen to the episode and find something to think about here.

Context

If you want to get a fuller sense of the Teehan+Lax announcement and the conversation it occasioned, here’s a set of articles that provide an excellent jumping off point.

And Now, For Our Next Act, the Teehan+Lax partners announce that they are joining Facebook and shutting down their agency

David Crow reflects on the announcement and what it means for the partners, the local creative scene and the employees. Read the comments as well as the post to get a sense of the debates that followed in the wake of the announcement.

Brian Krogsgard throws attention on the fact that this isn’t good for everyone. What about the employees?

Jon Lay argues that that innovative design firms can still thrive.

Ev Williams reflects on when and why to sell your company.

 

 

Inside PR 3.58: The New Business Process

The new business process is always an interesting one for agencies.

RFPs, networking, conferences, and trade shows…oh my!

During this week’s episode we talk about blogging, speaking, and other ways to generate qualified leads, just like many of us would do for our clients, and Joe shares a secret on how they recently generated 15 qualified leads for the video side of his business.

But that’s not all!

Martin throws in some face-to-face opportunities, and recommends we get away from the echo chamber.

And I share our number one driver of new business: Speaking. Joe says he has lost his appetite for traveling (me too!), but I counter that with how well it works and provide an example. Joe also makes a good point about sticking around after you speak to talk with those who are too shy to approach a speaker as he or she is leaving the stage.

But the creme de la creme is what Martin proposes agencies do when asked to write a proposal. It’s an interesting thought and one that is worth exploring.

So take a listen and let us know what you think. If you’ve tried his idea, we’d love to hear about that, too.

P.S. Between the recording of this episode and today, Chicago got seven inches of snow. So I’m no longer jealous of Joe!

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We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, join the Inside PR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoseph Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter.

Thank you to the people behind Inside PR

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

Inside PR is part of the FIR Podcast Network.

Inside PR is produced by Kristine D’Arbelles and Ashlea LeCompte.

Inside PR 2.37 – Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Comments? Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, visit the Inside PR Blubrry site, leave us a comment on the Inside PR show blog or message us @inside_pr on Twitter.

This week on Inside PR, Martin, Gini and Joe discuss the HR aspect of managing an agency and giving references.

0:27 Martin opens the show.

1:13 Martin shares this week’s topic, HR and hiring from the perspective of an agency owner.

2:37 Gini shares her perspective on giving references.

4:58 Joe weighs in and explains why it can be complicated to give references.

6:55 Gini wonders if a friend at different agency knows she is hiring someone who isn’t a good fit for her agency, should they say anything?

8:43 Martin says there is a real fine line between what can be said and what can’t.

10:47 Joe would not say anything negative about anyone.

12:30 Gini shares how her agency approaches references.

13:57 Joe highlights the legal limitations on giving references.

16:15 Martin mentions that when it is time for someone to leave, he always hopes it is on good terms as he hates the notion of the door being slammed shut.

17:05 Joe talks about how references are not as important as accomplishments are with people who have been at one particular company or agency for a long period of time.

17:25 Joe looks at someone’s ability to stick with something for a long time more than references.

20:30 Joe asks listeners what their take is on the situation as an employee.

21:05 Martin also wonders how listeners approach job seekers who ask about a place they used to work at.

21:18 Martin closes the show.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

This week’s episode was produced by Yasmine Kashefi.

Inside PR 2.28 – Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Comments? Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, visit the Inside PR Blubrry site, leave us a comment on the Inside PR show blog or message us @inside_pr on Twitter.

This week on Inside PR, Martin, Gini and Joe think back about what, if anything, they would change about their careers.

0:27 Martin opens the show.

1:44 Martin shares a comment from two listeners. The first comes from Victoria, a PR student. Victoria mentioned Inside PR as a podcast she really enjoys listening too.

2:09 Eden Spodek, who was mentioned in last week’s episode, shares the best way to approach bloggers to get them to talk about your client or their product.

3:34 Martin talks about a pharma conference he recently attended and wonders if social media and pharma policies go together?

7:07 This week’s topic comes from a comment posted on Gini’s blog. Rachael Seda asks “What is one thing you wish you could’ve done differently (or just done period) in the beginning of your careers?”

7:31 Joe doesn’t think he has any regrets.

8:43 Martin tells us what he would have done differently.

10:49 Gini wishes she realized how resourceful the people she worked with were.

12:48 Joe thinks young people need to realize the mobility they have in their careers when they were young.

15:52 Gini believes young people have a unique perspective on communications, one that they should be confident in sharing.

18:14 Martin closes the show.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

This week’s episode was produced by Yasmine Kashefi.

Inside PR 2.19 – Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Comments? Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, visit the Inside PR Blubrry site, leave us a comment on the Inside PR show blog or message us @inside_pr on Twitter.

This week on Inside PR, MartinGini and Joe discuss Terry Fallis‘ new book, The High Road, why measurement matters to Third Tuesday and how to deal when employees leave.

0:24 Martin opens the show.

1:00 Martin announces that Terry’s new book, The High Road, will be launching today!

1:44 Joe adds that if you pick it up, to do so in the e-book form.

4:33 Third Tuesday Toronto is kicking off it’s 5th season will a full-day conference, Third Tuesday Measurement Matters.

7:03 Gini mentions she recently saw Tony Hsieh from Zappos speak.

8:20 Martin introduces this week’s topic: how to deal with an employee leaving. He shares his story about his business partner, Louise Armstrong, making an exit from PR.

12:03: Joe asks Gini if she’s lost a main partner before.

13:40: Joe shares his perspective.

23:19 Martin closes the show.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

This week’s episode was produced by Yasmine Kashefi.

Inside PR 2.07 – Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Comments? Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, visit the Inside PR Blubrry site, leave us a comment on the Inside PR show blog or message us @inside_pr on Twitter.

This week on Inside PR, MartinJoe, and Gini discuss the G20 Summit in Toronto, how to deal with negative comments on blogs and how Energi PR came to be.

0:28 Martin opens the show.

0:42 Joe brings up the G20 Summit and Martin and Joe discuss how it’ll effect Toronto and Public Relations agencies in the Toronto financial district.

3:03 Joe explains that the G20 Summit will have a negative impact on the business community.

3:43 Joe asks Gini about her bicycle accident she had last week.

5:45 Martin tells us about Energi PR.

15:32 Martin tells us how Darryl Salnero helped with shaping Energi PR.

18:19 Joe asks Gini about a recent blog post that got a lot of feedback – both positive and negative.

28:14 Martin wraps up the show.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

This week’s episode was produced by Yasmine Kashefi.

Inside PR 2.06 – Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Comments? Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, visit the Inside PR Blubrry site, leave us a comment on the Inside PR show blog or message us @inside_pr on Twitter.

This week on Inside PR, Joe interviews Carol Levine and Esther Bachsbaum of Communications Meca and they discuss Meca’s recent merger with Palette PR.

0:26 Joe opens the show.

0:37  Joe announces that he will be hosting the show by himself today and explains why Gini and Martin aren’t recording.

1:37 Joe tells us that Martin’s agency, Palette PR has merged with Communications Meca to form Energi PR.

2:52 Joe interviews Carol Levine and Esther Bachsbaum about the new merger.

8:10 Joe offers up some commentary about the interview and the merger.

9:27 Joe wraps up the show.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

This week’s episode was produced by Yasmine Kashefi.

Inside PR 2.02 – Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Comments? Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, visit the Inside PR Blubrry site, leave us a comment on the Inside PR show blog or message us @inside_pr on Twitter.

This week on Inside PR, Martin and Gini discuss the role of billable hours in public relations agencies.

0:21 Martin opens the show.

1:20 Martin thanks the listeners of the show for all their comments and answers reader questions.

1:40 Joe Carleo asks why the ID tags for the have yet to be changed.

2:40 Petya Georgieva from Bulgaria asks what advice they have for someone who wants to better their understanding of the English media market.

7:18 Gini introduces this week’s topic: billable hours. The topic was suggested by Joe and inspired by Daniel Pink’s book, Drive.

15:58 Martin asks listeners to share what their agencies are doing with billable hours.

16:42 Martin kicks off the -30- segment.

21:08 Martin wraps up the show

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

This week’s episode was produced by Yasmine Kashefi.

Inside PR #199 – Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Comments? Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, visit the Inside PR Blubrry site, leave us a comment on the Inside PR show blog or message us @inside_pr on Twitter.

This week on Inside PR, Martin, Terry and Dave discuss a recent Globe & Mail interview with Fleishman-Hillard CEO Dave Senay.

00:27 Terry opens the show.

01:46 Dave kicks off the discussion about Dave Senay’s interview and his comments on the state of public relations today.

24:00 Terry wraps up discussion about the interview.

25:11 Terry introduces the -30- segment and thanks Sarah Laister for all her contributions to Inside PR.

27:21 Martin gives three tips to students and new PR grads about reaching out to professionals.

29:46 Dave closes the show.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

This week’s episode was produced by Yasmine Kashefi.

Inside PR #194 – Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Comments? Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, visit the Inside PR Blubrry site, leave us a comment on the Inside PR show blog or message us @inside_pr on Twitter.

This week on Inside PR, TerryDaveMartin and Cheryl Breen are live at Podcamp Toronto!

01:03 Terry opens the show and we hear a female voice- Cheryl Breen from Coming Up PR is co-hosting the show!

01:28 Dave recaps his -30- segment from last week regarding the relationship between PR people and bloggers.

08:53 Cheryl gives her thoughts on blogger relations and  social media from a student perspective.

11:30 Terry asks Gary Shlee for his perspective on the conversation.

15:50 Dave asks Keith McArthur for his take on blogger relations from the client side.

20:26 Katie Boland asks a question.

24:54 Jonathan of TO Tech asks a question.

27:37 Dave closes the show.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

This week’s episode was produced by Sarah Laister.