Waggener Edstrom Communications

  www.waggeneredstrom.com
  www.waggeneredstrom.com
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4 people found this helpful  

Great grounding in PR; less opportunities/support as you move up the ladder

  • Comp & Benefits
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Senior Management
  • Career Opportunities
Former Employee - Account Executive  in  Bellevue, WA
Former Employee - Account Executive in Bellevue, WA

I worked at Waggener Edstrom Communications

Pros

Across the board, WaggEd employees are some of the absolute smartest, hardest-working professionals in the industry. Regardless of which account group you work on, the agency does a lot to create opportunities for learning and development, especially for those new to the PR field. If you happen to land on an account with good clients (i.e. those open to new ideas and less interested in heirarchy), even lower levels of account staff can cultivate strong relationships and feel like they "own" projects. If civic engagement and social accountability is important (implementing enviro sustainability policies, allowing employees time to volunteer/take part in their communities, corporate support for charitable giving, etc), Waggener Edstrom does a fantastic job. As long as you're vocal about how you want to ensure your work/life balance, most of the time managers and leadership can accomodate. A lot of cool things have been done lately to build up digital/social media and integrated communications (PR, marketing, advertising, etc) expertise across all agency roles, so there are many opportunities to grow beyond typical PR job descriptions.

Cons

Making the transition from entry-level employee to longtime "lifer" is difficult--there's a big dropoff of retention among those with 2-5 years of experience. The promotion cycle slows down moving people into account team "lead" levels (i.e. account manager through VP, and sometimes SAE), and many times individuals are promoted based on a single trait (client service) rather than demonstrating a full range of good managerial skills (leadership, looking out for subordinates, committment to creativity and improvement, etc.). Many times decisions are made that put the agency and its people a distant second to client wants/needs/demands--especially on the Microsoft account--so employees can end up feeling like they get stuck without a voice. Salaries aren't terrible for an agency but when people aren't getting the projects, opportunities or work/life balance they want, it's really hard to pass up better offers from competitors or go into a different aspect of the communications discipline. It IS possible to change teams if you're getting burned out, but there isn't a lot of support/information shared about how that will impact your career growth.

Advice to ManagementAdvice

-Leads need to make a committment to their own continuing education efforts and those of their employees. This should be clearly spelled out to clients so they understand they won't get the best of their agency if time for training, workshops or whatever isn't prioritized.
-Fix Studio D's abiltiy to execute on projects (more workers, less fancy titles) or else stop pushing digital ideas on clients. If there aren't resources to actually do the work we're selling to clients, it just adds unnecessary frustration and blame.
-Identify managers who've experienced a high turnover rate with their direct reports and take steps to either improve their skills or change their responsibilties.
-Make team or account changes smoother and more effective. If someone is unhappy enough to proactively request a move (as opposed to being recruited), take care to place them somewhere that's a good fit--otherwise they will go from being on the fence to fully dissatisfied.
-Prioritize Waggener Edstrom employees over clients--ESPECIALLY on the Microsoft account. Excellent client service can be delivered withouth sacrificing the health and happiness of your people.

Approves of CEO

152 Other Employee Reviews for Waggener Edstrom Communications (View Most Recent)

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  1. 2 people found this helpful  

    A good work experience

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee  in  Bellevue, WA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Bellevue, WA

    I worked at Waggener Edstrom Communications

    Pros

    Great people
    Good compensation
    Work life balance
    Strong ability for growth
    The talent doing the actual work is very high.

    Cons

    Dishonesty at the executive level
    Lots of cat fights
    Lots of Hugs and Half truths
    The digital arm of Waggener Edstrom has not hit a stride

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Lots of opportunities are lost by not nurturing cross team collaboration. Spend more time building partnerships with global offices and employees.

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
  2. 12 people found this helpful  

    Work-Life Balance and Management Issues Sour an Otherwise Great Workplace

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Senior Account Executive  in  Portland, OR
    Former Employee - Senior Account Executive in Portland, OR

    I worked at Waggener Edstrom Communications

    Pros

    The salary and benefits are great in my experience, the office is nice, and an effort is made to make employees feel welcome. Infrastructure teams offer scheduling flexibility (particularly to working mothers). Many great co-workers. Looks wonderful on a resume (interviewers nearly always mention it in a positive light). Dynamite internship program. Great place for the young single go-getter "rock star" to climb the corporate ladder relatively quickly.

    Hours provided to volunteer, and many in-house events such as health fairs, etc.

    Cons

    The biggest and most glaring is a lack of work-life balance, and inflexible scheduling. All teams claim to be the exception to the rule in the interview process, but the reality (particularly on the MS account teams, which is most of the agency) is that the workload is consistently such that a team member can't properly accomplish their assigned tasks without putting in 60-70 hours per week. It wasn't unusual to see multiple team members still working away at 6:30 or 7 pm or even later, and then leave to go home and work more on their laptop.

    The leadership tends to be out of touch. Example: One set of VPs "gifted" one of the account divisions with half-day Fridays for a month, "provided all work had been completed", only to be met with snickers from all, who knew there was no way all work could be completed even in a full week. The VPs left at noon to "Set the example" each Friday--everyone else continued until all hours as normal.

    Woeful lack of understanding of true integrated digital communications. Their unwavering commitment to the old ways of PR (leadership is comprised of 20 year veterans, account teams of recent U of O grads) and to superfluous amounts of rigid process keep them from making real impact in many cases. This is particularly detrimental given their tech focus, where the competition is often faster and nimbler.

    Infrastructure teams are much less glamorous, less often in the spotlight, but also offer much better work life balance. Those teams seem happier and healthier than the account teams, and would recommend them much more readily. Also MUCH more flexibility in scheduling there.

    If cheery verbal encouragement and a good financial/benefit bottom line are worth 60 hours of your week, you can grow here quickly and effectively. Otherwise, I personally recommend you look elsewhere to find an agency where overtime is the exception, leadership is willing to invest in the mid-levels as much as the interns, and big ideas are welcomed with open arms.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The nice facilities, great benefits and verbal overtures about how much WE values its employees make for a great entrance to the agency. The leadership seems to really believe in these ideals, its just that they just never seem to realize that the values are only being lived out in a verbal fantasy world. In reality, overworked talent gets burned out, underappreciated, overloaded, over-critiqued, looked over, and so on. When each new wave of once-eager talent suddenly and unceremoniously departs, management never seems to question why or attempt to curb the tide. Please start to question it--ask why people are willing to leave a job with a good salary in this economy, even if the person tells you they just "found another opportunity". They may just feel too unappreciated. stifled, or insignificant to tell you the truth on their way out.

    Also,

    -reduce the excessive attention to process over impact, you're wasting talent and hundreds of hours on needless briefings, re-caps, meetings about meetings, etc.
    -learn the fundamentals of true digital communications , and then lead with them. You have the size and resources to compete with the big agencies, if you are willing to truly innovate.
    -don't let your mid-level people get lost in the fray. They are some of your strongest talent. If you had a way to develop and invest in them as much as the interns, your retention would go up. VPs and Interns are largely the only ones with exposure to our founders, for example. Promote them more--recognize them more, rather than only remembering to meet with them when there's a new project to drop on them or when they are being reviewed.
    -re-vamp the annual company meeting. It's not helpful in its current form. We want to meet other teams, interact with top leadership, get REAL answers (not PR answers), and dream together. We don't care if it's messy--but it should have more real substance.

    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO
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