Like so many 📁 companies born in ▤ Silicon Valley, we believe there’s a better way.
We believed this going back to the start of the Agency in 1987. We believe it today — a mentality that continually pushes us to evolve our offering and all that supports it.
Our Mission is Simple:
Do Great Work
If you were to ask 100 PR agencies if they’re client-centric, you’ll get 100 PR agencies answering with an emphatic “yes.” Yet their behavior and reward systems don’t align with that claim. Instead, they focus on the financial side, which manifests itself with account people having to meet billing quotas and being measured by their “billability”.
In contrast, we measure our account folks only on variables that matter to clients. This doesn’t mean we don’t care about financial performance. Of course, we do so we can reward our staff and invest in the company. But it’s not the lead pin which in turn motivates our account teams to focus on the client.
We hired a HR company to survey our staff some time ago on a number of issues. They scored statements on a scale of one to ten with one being you’re delusional if you think this is true and ten being “absolutely!” Check out the following data:
Why You Should Care That We’re Independent
Consolidation has reshaped the communications industry, producing four humongous (great adjective) holding companies — Omnicom, IPG, WPP and Publicis — which control a huge percent of the budgets earmarked for consultancies.
As an independent consultancy with scale and geographic reach, we’re an outlier.
Which brings us back to embracing the concept that if we deliver great work to clients, the financial performance follows (as opposed to the numbers being the lead pin).
Our clients gain the best of both worlds:
sophisticated campaigns + high-touch management.
The Role of Clients in a Culture of Nice
Nice as an adjective has a bad rep, as if a drive for success and nice are mutually exclusive.
We are ambitious, striving to be the best in the world at what we do. Still, we can do this while caring about our colleagues and contributing to their success.
The modeling of this behavior in the day-to-day work cultivates a culture of nice, and not just from the senior leaders. We both celebrate and reward these types of actions.
Given a choice between nice behavior and nasty behavior, what’s easier on the soul?
Now comes a key part. Client behavior factors into this equation.
What has the greatest impact on your experience at The Hoffman Agency?
Our internal employee surveys over the years show that our client contacts have the second most impact on the experience of our employees after the person’s direct manager.
We don’t seek out clients with the backbone of a marshmallow. We expect our clients to have high standards. We have high standards. And if something goes awry, it should be brought to our attention with the expectation of a course correction.
You just don’t have to be a jerk in communicating the issue to our team. If it turns out that the client contact is a jerkaholic, we’ll try to steer the situation back between the lines. If that doesn’t work, we’re OK with walking away from the business. Because we’re not dealing with the suits in Chicago or New York or London flinging spreadsheets at us each quarter, we can take a short-term hit to serve our staff even if that means exiting from a mega consumer brand.
Navigating the Pandemic
How we reacted to the pandemic offers another window into who we are as a company.
The pandemic slammed us like it did every other agency. We saw revenue crater in March, 2020, reducing our monthly revenue stream by roughly 25%.
We applied three lessons learned from previous crises:
- Manically focus on the things within your control.
- It’s better to move too fast than too slow in reducing your cost structure.
- PR people tend to be optimistic souls, which serves us well during the vast majority of situations. But in a crisis, pragmatism must rule, making sure the Agency is equipped to weather worst-case scenarios.
The global leadership team rose to the challenge.
The entire agency rose to the challenge.
Our values and the Agency culture came to the fore.
In spite of a rugged H1 2020 – our version of understatement – we rebuilt our global revenue to the point that 2020 revenue matched the previous year. More important, we entered 2021 from a position of strength that ultimately resulted in the Agency’s best year in history and being named “Global Tech Agency of the Year” by PRovoke Media.