Grayling Reviews

Updated August 27, 2015
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2.5
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Loretta Ahmed, Sarah Scholefield, Peter Harris, Jan Simunek
9 Ratings

40 Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (1)

    Agency on the upswing

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Los Angeles, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Los Angeles, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    This is a fast-paced, entrepreneurial environment, so I'll agree with some of these negative reviews in that, it isn't for everyone. You have to be a smart, self-advocating, ambitious individual who earns a seat at the table every day. The spirit of the flat structure that Atomic brought into the merger still exists - regardless of title or role, your voice counts and will be heard. Managers exist more as mentors for junior team members and have a very open door (as in, there are no doors) policy. However, the BS meters are strong, so excuses won't work. This is great for people who are hard workers and don't want to silently support underperformers whose excuses are accepted by busy managers. Senior team members are invested and involved in accounts at every level, not just client meetings and plans, so lots of opportunities to learn and grow, if you grab the opportunity. The company is essentially a new company since the merger, so the management team is really focused on offering the very best to clients to build its own brand as well.

    Cons

    It's still in the process of gelling following the merger. There are challenges sometimes, down to - where are the furnishings for this office. Can we get a custodian, etc. Protocol and processes are still in development, so it can be a bit confusing.

    Advice to Management

    Keep up the effort. Be honest with employees about performance and trajectory. Don't promote to keep bodies in the room, because those aren't the bodies you want if they're completely lacking self-awareness.


  2. Helpful (2)

    Sinking Ship - Sell off the parts

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Grayling full-time

    Pros

    At one time UK and Western Europe business was strong with top name brands and companies.

    Cons

    With fall of the Europe, management finally looked at the hodge podge of acquisitions it made in the US. It is just a mess. Management changes every two years and people come and go. Bad place to start a career.

    Advice to Management

    Sell the profitable areas of the business.


  3. Helpful (1)

    Iceberg has hit

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Account Executive in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Account Executive in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Grayling full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Unlimited vacation, flexible WFH schedule with WFH Fridays office-wide, great office location, great benefits and 401k plan

    Cons

    Came in as a young Jack with a ticket in-hand to a new, tech-filled future. Hopped onboard the ship which at first glance seemed safe - filled with well-known company and the backing of a large network. I even made some lasting relationships with fellow shipmates! But the ship was no match for the looming danger it failed to see. An irreparable leak brought about by lack of vision destroys the ship's infrastructure: staff jump for their lives and clients jump, too. The ship sinks slowly, grimly. The lucky ones grasp at seats upon any rafts that they can, some making it to safety. The captain remains in the cabin. The captain has decided to go down with the ship along with others still trapped inside. BASED ON A TRUE STORY. At time of review, major layoffs across all levels and departments. Grayling has been a sinking ship since the acquisition. Major identity issues never got solved, like what kind of new business to go after, how to onboard, how to utilize office network, and how to navigate the integrated communications space. Major attrition - leadership comes and goes, and more people are leaving than being hired, leaving gaping holes that are haphazardly patched. Air of desperation has led to bending over backwards for current clients, since many have left. Top manangement plays favorites. Environment is tense and disconnected, where leadership seems to talk at teams, vs listen. Could use help training junior staff.

    Advice to Management

    You know it's bad when your even whole HR department leaves (although Grayling has since hired a new HR person). Don't claim transparency when blanket decisions are announced after-the-fact. Stop playing favorites, even out workloads, and count each staff member as valuable.


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  5. Helpful (4)

    Sinking Ship, terrible management

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Account Executive in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Senior Account Executive in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at Grayling full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Unlimited holiday time (but very unstructured), Work from home Fridays Self starters flourish Strong female team

    Cons

    - Basically no training on entry. Even entry level people are thrown into accounts and just expected to just put in the hours and figure it out. Attempts were made to add some level of training in recent times, but still the on-boarding process was awful. - Senior management is all over the place. Very out of touch with what is going on with staff and accounts, outside the flagship ones. Account managers expected to keep the accounts going with no input from management and then thrown under the bus if something happens. Cycled through a number of managing directors, all with no experience about how to run a business and deal with people. The VPs didn't seem motivated to win new accounts and would try and use employees contacts to get references rather than go out and seek some new accounts. Terrible atmosphere: People were constantly leaving and no-one new coming in. This led to some people having really big work loads with others scrambling around looking for things to make themselves look busy. Senior management were rarely in the office, choosing to work from home or what not, which meant that there would usually be a bunch of under 30s in the office at all times. - Accounts were constantly leaving and therefore people were being let go, by the luck of the draw of their account leaving because senior management didn't know what to do to keep them. - The recent merger was handled very badly so every single person from the original acquired company has left. Therefore there was very little experience among team members expected to run Enterprise accounts. Yet people formerly with Atomic (mostly consumer practice) were kept on because the new CEO knew them better.

    Advice to Management

    Don't just hire former PR people to run a company. Bring someone with management and business experience to compliment the rest of the team. Put some faith in your employees and don't just rely on outside hires. Senior management shouldn't play favorites based on friendship and not talent.


  6. Helpful (7)

    Held a lot of promise but failed to deliver

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Los Angeles, CA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Los Angeles, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Grayling full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Really great health benefits and had flexibility with work. Work from home Fridays were a huge plus and some of the clients were fairly impressive to have on the roster. The HR people were probably the best part of the company - very responsive and tried to help bad situations wherever possible.

    Cons

    the management was not committed to finding new business and did not seem concerned about their employees growing as professionals. It became a cutthroat environment with public shaming and calling employees liars without having basic facts. Junior staff was made to work long hours with no direction from senior management. Managers were not given the tools or guidance they needed to effectively manage. Reviews were non-existent and when employees pushed for reviews they were punished. Each office acted as its own entity and there is not a cohesion throughout the company. Grayling, in comparison to other top 20 agencies, does not act like a big player. No one stuck to budgeted hours and interns were expected to work extra hours without compensation. Employees were threated, yelled at and called names by managers and senior management did not show concern. Overall it was an unfortunate setting and not a place to grow one's career or learn.

    Advice to Management

    Bring in people who care about their employees and care about having a team environment. Develop a clear company culture then hire according to the culture. Keep a closer eye on individual offices to ensure proper practices are taking place and hold executive leadership accountable for missteps.


  7. Helpful (5)

    Positive Experience Turned Negative

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Management
    Former Employee - Management
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Grayling full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    The benefits were really good. I had some really great co-workers and some of the people I worked with were smart and very creative which was really inspiring. Having flexibility was really great and I loved having a partial telecommute.

    Cons

    When the company was Atomic, it was really a tight-knit, cohesive group. The culture had it's growing pains but all in all it was a great place to be and people enjoyed being there. Employees were promoted when they were ready and not based on on annual review schedule. Turnover was minimal because employees didn't have to leave to get promoted. When the merge took place, we were told that the goal of Grayling was to have a culture similar to Atomic's - laid back, simple, upbeat. Instead it became bureaucratic, political, tense, cut-throat and uncomfortable. Everyone was stressed out and it showed. About 6 months in, the turnover was really high which made the culture even more unbearable. The executive team didn't seem to care. Some managers tried to make it better but there is only so much you can so as things come from the top down and if the executive team isn't contributing the the bettering of the agency, it won't get better. Pay/promotions for performance was eliminated. In several instances, I witnessed a couple of managers belittling and even yelling at employees like that was ok. It was brought to the attention of the executive team but nothing was done, which makes that behavior acceptable and this was done to really good employees.

    Advice to Management

    Listen to your managers and employees. They are the people who see things first-hand every day. Be willing to admit to mistakes and make changes for the better. Don't tolerate hostile employees and managers and get rid of those people. They only make things worse for the good people you have. Several bad apples spoil the bunch and you are losing good people because of it.


  8. Helpful (4)

    It was a dream that couldn't come to life.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Director in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Director in New York, NY
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Grayling full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    The original dream of Grayling was to create an Integrated Corp Comm, PR and Public Affairs agency. Can enjoy very long tenures at Grayling with very little recourse of being fired. Job stability is good as is benefits. There are many Grayling offices around the world that do not make money yet they are safe and being supported by revenues from more profitable offices.

    Cons

    There is little cohesion or innovation in the fabric of Grayling. Outside of their health PR services, a few star managing directors who are able to go out win, service and support their own books of businesses; much of the efforts at growing Grayling have been complete failures. The Company has gone through several management changes and thus negatively affecting the cohesion and strategic direction of the Company every two years.

    Advice to Management

    Shrink down your footprint to a more manageable size, treat the Company as a private entity and have MD's or anyone else to go out and win business, reward any of them for doing so.


  9. Great company with a lot of opportunity

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Account Executive in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Senior Account Executive in San Francisco, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Grayling full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    While there are certainly some pain points within the organization I feel like many are losing sight of the positives. I was with Grayling for about four years and I feel that some of the negative reviews are a bit unfair. Some of the most talented people in the communications industry are at Grayling and I'm fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with them. My managers and coworkers were not only extremely professional but easy to get along with. Everyone is knowledgeable on all aspects of PR as well as other forms of communications such as Government Affairs and Crisis Communications.

    Cons

    Growing by acquisition is tough. There were definitely some situations that could have been handled differently but I think that everyone is trying their hardest.

    Advice to Management

    Stay focused on the clients and continue the great work.


  10. Helpful (2)

    I've found Grayling to be an excellent company to work for. Supervisors value my work and respect my opinion.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Denver, CO
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Denver, CO
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Grayling full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    The work load is demanding, but supervisors are flexible about working remotely. The pay and benefits are generously fair. Training opportunities are plentiful We work with some cool clients.

    Cons

    Sometimes the offices seem like "silos" as opposed to all one company, but that's just bringing previously different smaller companies under one umbrella - there will be growing pains. Management engages in ongoing efforts to bring us all together, including appointing a "Chief Culture Officer" and doing some company-wide social things like contests.


  11. Helpful (8)

    My office is fine, but the rest of the network of the network needs serious improvement.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Grayling full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Great perks (WFH Fridays, unlimited PTO, cell phone subsidy, ability to work out of other offices). Pay seems to be on par with other agencies.

    Cons

    No sense of a true "network." Each office operates independently of each other. Not only are they generally unwilling to collaborate, there's been an instance where one office undermined another to steal a client. Leadership is unstable and turnover is fairly high overall. Save for a few, most clients are small and unknown to the general public. The lack of set billable hours means accounts are consistently over serviced and often require crazy workload. Tech infrastructure for a tech PR firm is a joke. This company is generally full of "yes" men and women who are driven by money and essentially do whatever the client wants, even if it's not strategic.

    Advice to Management

    Find better leaders, create a team/network philosophy across offices, stop chasing accounts based solely on revenue.



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