Shaped by Silicon Valley ◍
In the spirit of Silicon Valley, The Hoffman Agency launched in 1987 with the belief that “there’s a better way” to execute tech-focused public relations.
As ground zero for the tech industry, there’s no place on the planet quite like Silicon Valley.
While high-profile names, startups and venture capital dominate the headlines, it’s equally revealing to consider over one third of the population in Silicon Valley is foreign born.
It’s all part of the Silicon Valley alchemy which shaped us in the early days.
Shortly after opening our doors, HP contacted us to support the launch of a service to move their minicomputer (HP 3000) documentation binders onto compact discs. HP’s PR agency at the time – we won’t disclose the name to protect the guilty – didn’t think this was much of a story.
Agitated by the response, the HP general manager figured he would find an agency that did see a story in rethinking computer documentation. That was us.
By constructing the narrative around this nascent medium called CD-ROM, the very same compact disc that recast the music industry, our pitches landed with journalists. Naturally, the HP GM enjoyed being proven right and we gained a tagline though we didn’t know it at the time, “The story is always there.”
Fast forwarding to today —
We define communications broadly to include digital, social, content marketing, thought leadership, what we term “earned search” (SEO) and paid media as well as traditional PR.
Right, much has changed in communications over the past 30+ years.
Yet, the same Silicon Valley mentality still underpins our mentality:
- Never satisfied with the status quo
- Intelligent risk-taking
- Team-oriented culture
- Flat hierarchy (senior people fetch their own coffee and tea)
Today’s U.S. operation consists of offices in Portland and Boston as well as Silicon Valley flanked by our international offices in Europe and Asia.
When companies evaluate communications consultancies, there’s a tendency to jump to the campaign, the creative and supporting case studies.
Yet, we would argue that our workplace differentiates our offering and is the ultimate driver of client results.
The disruption from the pandemic has only magnified the importance of the workplace in the comms business. And we’re not only referring to the “Great Resignation,” though that’s part of it.
- Do people enjoy coming to work?
- Does the agency develop talent at all levels?
- Is there care for the individual?
Big picture, does the agency hear the employee’s voice and evolve its workplace accordingly?
Probing such questions during an agency review takes a certain doggedness. Here’s a window into our “employee experience” that serves as a solid starting point.
We depend on formal and informal mechanisms to gain unfiltered input from our staff. On the formal front, we conduct an employee survey every fall that quantifies a range of areas as well as gives staff a platform to share their perspectives. What follows is a cross section of last year’s survey.
You might look at the question on whether our staff looks forward to coming to work and think “danger, danger,” roughly one third of the U.S. team doesn’t look forward to coming to work each morning. We don’t see it this way. Instead, it served as a catalyst for us to explore why that was the case.
It turned out these feelings came from our younger talent who felt stretched in supporting up to five accounts. Of course, we recognize there are factors outside our control that impact each individual’s happiness. Still, by restructuring our accounts so our younger talent work on only three accounts, we alleviated this pressure point.
Knowing high performers continually raise the bar, we’re particularly proud that nearly 90% of our staff feel the The Hoffman Agency is a good place to develop their career.
Plus, data points like the 80% of staff who would recommend the Agency, a crazy high number even in normal times, gets to the heart of our ability to retain, motivate and inspire our staff.
A Few Final Thoughts on the U.S. Team
We thrive on assignments where we can make a visible difference.
This means management buys into the importance of communications.
While we enjoy working in high-profile spaces like cybersecurity and chip manufacturing, the industry isn’t the key driver. Instead, it’s about the problem we’re trying to solve – right, the harder the better – and the people we’ll be working with. We also thrive in unraveling complexity to construct stories that land with the outside world.
Our successful client relationships blur the line between the agency and in-house. We’re one team getting the job done.