The Importance of a Healthy Work Culture

Leslie Simpson, Director of Talent. Mom of two boys. Cook. Reader. Outgoing Introvert! Stayed at home for six years with kids. Two cats, Missy and Hank. Been working in advertising for close to ten years.

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Coming to PJA was no accident for me. I had been working in advertising for several years, and as someone who was responsible for hiring talent, I thought I had the best job in the world. When my last company decided to move, I was faced with a commuting conflict. That said, I wanted to […]

Coming to PJA was no accident for me. I had been working in advertising for several years, and as someone who was responsible for hiring talent, I thought I had the best job in the world. When my last company decided to move, I was faced with a commuting conflict. That said, I wanted to stay in the industry. I wanted to work at a place that valued its employees as much as they valued the work they did.

I literally approached Phil Johnson almost two years ago and asked him, “Does PJA have a Director of Talent?” While they didn’t at that time, he seemed intrigued. The timing wasn’t right, but we met for coffee anyway. It took some time, but when PJA started growing and needed to fill some key positions, Phil called me. We met and talked and realized that this could be a good fit all around. So, Phil and Mike O’Toole offered me a three month contract to hire about dozen or so positions. What can I say? I think I knew the day I walked in and spoke with Phil and Mike that I was in the right place. It felt like home. Lucky me! Three months turned into six months, which turned into a full-time position. So, with that, now let me talk about what culture means to me.

Culture is the character and personality of your organization. It’s what makes your organization unique and is the sum of its values, traditions, beliefs, interactions, behaviors, and attitudes.

I’ve always strongly believed that culture is as important, if not more so, than your business strategy. Why? Because it either strengthens or weakens your business and the objectives that it’s trying to achieve. Culture is so significant and here are reasons why.

First and foremost, a great culture attracts the most essential part of any company. The talent! I’ve learned that people are less complex then one would think when looking for a job. I have spoken to countless applicants over the years, from interns to C-level executives. One key question that I always ask during an interview is, “What do you want out of your next job?” And almost every single time, the answer remains the same. “I want a place that I enjoy coming to every day. Where the people are happy to be there and teamwork and collaboration are as important to the organization as the work we do.”

Money is important. Benefits are important. I mean, it’s why we work, right? Well, sure. That’s part of it. But, as individuals, I think most of us have a need to do something meaningful and to be appreciated. Getting paid well for a job well done is a nice tradeoff. But there are intangibles that are just as important, such as recognition, transparency, and rewarding communications.

Lastly, culture affects performance. It has been proven over and over that companies with a strong culture tend to out perform the competition in financial performance and are generally more successful all around.

So remember, always be selective in your search for employment. Do your research. Talk to people who work at these companies. Make sure the place you are going to commit to go to five days a week, eight plus hours a day, is a place you can call home.

More from this author:

    PJA Presents: Tweeting Inside the Lines: 5 Social Marketing Solutions for Regulated Industries

    Hugh Kennedy, Partner, EVP Planning, Healthcare Practice Lead. Hugh joined PJA in 1992 and still loves coming to work. He also writes The Secret Life of the Life Scientist, a blog about marketing to those who discover. Hugh has three Swiss Mountain Dogs, two children, and one husband.

    The natural conservatism of marketing in regulated industries – healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and financial services – can suck the life out of social media and dull its original intent—to promote direct interaction. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Social media in regulated industries can solve three unique problems. And some brands have caught on. […]

    The natural conservatism of marketing in regulated industries – healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and financial services – can suck the life out of social media and dull its original intent—to promote direct interaction. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Social media in regulated industries can solve three unique problems. And some brands have caught on. They see that an early mover advantage is still out there for regulated industries, and they are creating thought-provoking content that elevates their brands but doesn’t land them on the wrong side of regulations.

    …and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tweeting Inside the Lines: 5 Social Marketing Solutions for Regulated Industries from PJA Advertising + Marketing

     

     

     

    The Art of the Purchase: 5 Steps to Selecting a Marketing Automation Platform

    Greg Straface, VP Business Development,. Head of business development at PJA Advertising + Marketing for the last 10 years, a Dad of two wonderful daughters, an avid runner, and the owner of the smartest border collie ever whose name is Scout.

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    At the beginning of the year, we decided that PJA needed to invest in a Marketing Automation platform to tie our front-end sales engine together with our overall marketing efforts. Purchasing a Marketing Automation system will help our business development efforts focus on things like identifying new leads and moving existing leads from the top […]

    At the beginning of the year, we decided that PJA needed to invest in a Marketing Automation platform to tie our front-end sales engine together with our overall marketing efforts. Purchasing a Marketing Automation system will help our business development efforts focus on things like identifying new leads and moving existing leads from the top of the marketing funnel along a path to become sales-ready. It will also let us score prospects based on their interaction with things like emails, visits to the Web site, and other content. We can then cultivate these prospects by using nurturing efforts through social channels and emails, driving them from initial engagement, through a sales meeting, and hopefully a contract.

    Today marketing automation is so much more than just a delivery vehicle for your content. It’s a multi-channel platform that collects vital data from campaigns that allows for greater analysis and reporting, which in turn leads to greater ROI for your company.

    As we began our purchase process, we realized that we needed to take into account not only our needs for today, but our needs for tomorrow. We needed to ensure that we could grow with our platform choice, and this is something each of you should take into consideration as you evaluate your own needs.

    Here are some steps that you may want to consider for your organization as you review marketing automation platforms:

    Step 1: Establish what your goals or objectives are for this purchase. For example:

    • Are you looking to drive better alignment between sales and marketing?
    • Do you need to improve the quality of leads you’re currently getting?
    • Are you looking to drive better conversions and revenue?

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    Step 2: Measure your platform requirements:

    • Develop both a technical and non-technical check sheet of requirements to compare the different marketing platforms.
    • Do your homework – read what the analysts, experts and industry influencers have to say about the platforms you’re considering.
    • Narrow your list to a manageable selection based on your requirements and industry feedback.
    • Have each vendor give you a presentation and most definitely get a demo.

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    Step 3: Test the platforms against a real-world marketing scenario

    • Develop one or two marketing plays that you execute on each platform. The sales team’s of each vendor will highlight all of their platform’s strengths, but will underplay their weaknesses.  Executing the test plays will quickly allow you to see where each platform has strengths and weaknesses.
    • If there are areas where the platforms are under performing, or lack a specific need or capability, establish if that need will be available in the future.

    Step 4:  Develop a short list and ask broader questions

    • Once you’ve completed your real-world scenario and tabulated the results, narrow the choice to your top two or three platforms.
    • Put together a pro and con sheet for each platform.
    • Establish your MUST haves from the pros and cons list.

    (Our pros and cons list was fairly challenging as we found that each platform was missing a core technical requirement. By asking questions we learned that some platform vendors were in the process of developing a key feature that we wanted for the next version of their platform which helped keep them in the consideration set.)

    Step 5 Final Selection

    • Narrow your choice to two to three platforms.
    • Ask your final questions regarding your requirements.
    • Don’t be afraid to ask for features that are only available in a higher priced tier. You’d be surprised what you’ll get once a vendor knows they are in the final round and are close to a sale.
    • Begin the larger question around financials and how their platform can fit your budget.
    • Make your final purchase.

    Finding a marketing automation platform that fits everything your organization is looking for can be a challenge. So, be sure to do your research, consult with your team so you’re all aligned, and you’ll be sure to land on a platform that will help achieve the goals your looking to accomplish.

    Three Questions About Native Advertising With Taboola’s Founder & CEO Adam Singolda

    Graham Spector, Social Activation Manager. Graham is here to make sure our social media efforts for our clients and here at the agency are in tip-top shape. When he's not Tweeting, Instagramming, or "Liking" pages you can likely find him at a concert or BBQ joint nearby.

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    Improved SEO, a stronger social following, and overall visibility – the list of reasons why more and more brands are investing in native advertising could go on and on. Just two weeks ago, even the New York Times jumped into the native game. Its a far cry for the platform once regarded as a play […]

    Improved SEO, a stronger social following, and overall visibility – the list of reasons why more and more brands are investing in native advertising could go on and on. Just two weeks ago, even the New York Times jumped into the native game. Its a far cry for the platform once regarded as a play for click-hungry blogs and labeled as deceptive for blurring the lines between editorial content and advertising. So it begs the obvious question: What changed? What made brand after respected brand hop on this bandwagon and start distributing their content in a once controversial fashion?

    For starters, native advertising has been an essential step for any brand looking to reach the engaged digital user through original content. The format is fairly straightforward: content appears on the owned properties of a credible publisher, in such a manner that makes it nearly indistinguishable from the publisher’s original material. Best of all? Most native platforms allow buyers to serve up their own content, putting the power in the hands of companies both large and small.

    One of the largest and fastest-growing native service providers today, Taboola has been around for the last seven years tackling all the majors issues facing this evolving model. Taboola’s Founder and CEO, Adam Singolda, was kind enough to walk us through some of the big questions facing native today.

    What impact has advertising on social sites like Facebook and LinkedIn had on services such as Taboola? Has it been a threat, or mutually beneficial?

    I think the main difference between Taboola and sponsored social updates [on sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook] is the context in which the content is served. When you’re browsing your news feed, you’re in a certain state of mind that is different than the one you have when you’ve finished reading an article on a publisher site about finance, news or technology. We can say the same for search engines, when users are in more of a hunting mode for content rather than a discovery mindset. Looking at the big picture, I think it’s important for companies to become familiar with a variety of different marketing products to see what works, what doesn’t, and when. Many of these formats will be complementary, while others may compete.

     What do you see as a benchmark of success for BtoB content with native advertising? Are there any specific examples of brands or campaigns that you think are strong?

    We now index over 5 million pieces of content on our platform including articles, videos and slideshows with a Cost Per Click (CPC), a budget, and targeting goal behind them. BtoB marketers typically track engagement and the quality of the users when consuming the content on their sites, as well as conversion metrics and Cost Per Action (CPA), using tracking codes that Taboola provides. This is a highly accurate benchmark that can be more telling than the traditional Click Through Rate (CTR) metrics. A good example of this is a leading marketing software company that uses educational materials, such as how-to ebooks and templates to generate leads at a highly attractive CPA with Taboola. Imagine growing your customer base without ever introducing a single banner, focusing on storytelling and making your content discoverable.

    Another typical use case is a BtoB campaign designed to lift awareness for a new product or market. For example, one of the world’s biggest software vendors used Taboola to drive traffic to a video-intensive website they built to drive awareness. When it comes to brand lift, a good benchmark might be the number of content views (e.g. a video plays longer than X seconds), as well as engagement/earned-media metrics, such as social shares, and post-click activity like purchases.

     Any predictions for native’s integration into mobile for 2014?

    We believe native will play a key role in mobile monetization, and we’ve seen a massive increase in mobile content marketing at Taboola over the last 12 months. We believe we’ll continue to see very high growth for three reasons:

    • The natural fit of the business model of paid content discovery. It’s hard to imagine that users will click a mobile banner and buy a product on their mobile device with five minutes to spare in a cab or waiting for a doctor, but it is reasonable to assume they would read an article on a news site like USA Today.
    • The ease of use of smartphones as an amazing device for content consumption. Between apps like Flipboard, Netflix, and Pandora, we’re all accustomed to consuming content on mobile.
    • The increase in mobile usage globally. The mobile consumption trend is only growing, as some publishers already report that 50% of their audience comes from mobile devices. This is true on a global level as well. In India/Asia-Pacific regions, for example, the growth in mobile offers huge opportunities.

    We have many partners who use our API to integrate Taboola’s content discovery to create a native discovery experience as part of their application workflow, making for a great user experience, something we’re very excited about.

    In conclusion, my conversation with Adam easily confirmed what many of us already suspected: native is poised for quite the year. The model is applicable to almost any content producing industry, and the results are crystal clear for the brand almost instantly. I think native will remain in the “digital toolkit” of many agencies for quite some time, but before it can work itself into the strategies of the more reserved brands, some challenges may lie ahead. There has been a lot of talk about the steps the FTC has taken to regulate and monitor native advertising services, and regulated industries simply won’t be able to participate until some guidelines are set in place. If brands are looking to generate overall awareness and see increased click-rates, there’s simply no better solution. After a promising past year, I honestly can’t wait to see what comes from native advertising in 2014.

    Follow Adam on Twitter

    Follow Graham on Twitter

    Is it Time to Retire The Creative Department?

    Ben Resnikoff, Writer & Associate Creative Director. Ben doesn’t have a novel in the works. Or a screenplay. He likes short-format pieces such as ads, brochures and websites. Oh, and old cars. Don’t get him started on that.

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    Lean back. Unclench your teeth. Take a breath. Your job is safe. I’m not suggesting we get rid of copywriters and art directors and replace them with robots or user generated content. That would be shortsighted as I like this job and it supports all of my favorite habits – like eating. I’m actually talking […]

    Lean back. Unclench your teeth. Take a breath. Your job is safe. I’m not suggesting we get rid of copywriters and art directors and replace them with robots or user generated content. That would be shortsighted as I like this job and it supports all of my favorite habits – like eating. I’m actually talking about something much more fundamental: losing the title Creative Department.

    Really.

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    Recently I had the opportunity to help out with a really interesting program PJA created for Red Hat in conjunction with CIO Magazine and Harvard Business Review – it’s called the Enterprisers Project (check it out at enterprisersproject.com).  Specifically, I wrote a post (just one of a series) about how the CIO’s job is changing so radically, the title Chief Information Officer might not be appropriate anymore. That brought into focus something I’ve thought about off-and-on for years, but never really followed through to completion. Calling it a Creative Department – and by extension, writers and art directors “creatives” – actually does harm to the agency and the creative product. By the very nature of the title, it presupposes nobody else in the agency is – or should even try to be – creative. And that’s a huge problem that plays out every day in every agency across the country. Maybe around the world, even, but I don’t know what they call the Creative Department in Uzbekistan.

    Creativity is inherent in every agency position and should be pushed and celebrated just as it is in the so-called Creative Department. Let’s break it down by job function:

    Account Team – Those who apply their skills to craft a strategy that’s both smart and evocative leads to results that are much better – and you get there much faster. Know what that takes? Creativity.

    Planners – Try to prove it doesn’t take creativity to drill down through the fluff most research unearths and reveal the hidden insight that will make the work meaningful. You can’t.

    Digital Strategy – Is there anything here that isn’t creative once you get past the name? It’s all about finding new ways to insert brands into conversations that people aren’t sure brands belong in – and make it seem perfectly natural.

    Media – If you’ve been paying attention the last few years, you know that placement is just as important as the message (sometimes more). Coming up with a disruptive, meaningful placement that drives the point home takes, you guessed it, creativity.

    Production – Budgets keep getting smaller. Printing and shipping keep getting more expensive. Everyone wants a video produced on an iPhone, not realizing all the background elements (and expenses) it takes to make that happen. Finding ways to deliver big ideas on budget takes lateral thinking. Lots of it.

    Development – As far as I can tell, anything short of placing an ad on Google’s homepage is possible. But figuring out how to code those ideas is often much harder than coming up with them in the first place. So yeah, there’s a bunch of creativity going in that department, as well.

    Finance – There must be more creativity here than in the rest of the agency combined. How else are we going to recoup all those 3-martini and matinee lunches everyone in The Creative Department always seems to be taking?

    In closing, I’ll just say I don’t know what the new title should be. So I’m asking you to be creative and come up with some suggestions. Please share them in the comments below.

    Thank you.