SmartBrief

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SmartBrief Reviews in Washington, DC

Updated Jun 30, 2014
All Employees Current Employees Only

2.9 18 reviews

83% Approve of the CEO

SmartBrief President & CEO Rick Stamberger

Rick Stamberger

(6 ratings)

47% of employees recommend this company to a friend
18 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews
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    Positive working environment at a growing media company

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee) Washington, DC

    ProsThe people are the best thing about SmartBrief. Everyone is enthusiastic about our products and mission. It's gratifying to work with a group of people who all believe in what we're doing. Although there isn't always another position or promotion on the horizon, there are always opportunities to do and learn more. I've held three different jobs at the company, but I've done something different almost every year I've been there. The key is to identify the opportunities you want (beyond just a title) and start working toward them. This is a company that rewards proactive and innovative thinkers if you act on your ideas. The company also offers a a considerable amount of flexibility, depending on what your job is. I particularly benefited from that flexibility when I returned to work after maternity leave (slow transition back, some regular work-from-home days, schedule shift to accommodate my child care, etc).

    ConsIt's a small-to-medium-sized company, so there isn't always another position to move into when you think you've mastered the one you're in. There aren't necessarily a lot of promotional opportunities. But because the company is always changing, there is always something new to work on. Sometimes you just have to think outside of what you're assigned. That often means working longer hours or really moving outside your comfort zone, but it's almost always worth it to work on something that challenges or engages you. No one is going to tell you what you can do to expand your opportunities for growth in the company -- you need to find it yourself. That's an idea that can be freeing to some people and daunting to others.

    Advice to Senior ManagementMore structured training around building leadership skills.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    Better than it should be

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee) Washington, DC

    ProsThis is an ambitious company, both in the company-wide goals and in the day-to-day life of the employees. People who work here tend to be competitive and highly-motivated, and the management expects people to work hard and smart to succeed. This place is a meritocracy.

    What SmartBrief does (publishing enewsletters for trade associations) is fairly boring, but that doesn't seep into the workplace. The people here are energetic, the opportunities for development and advancement are plentiful, and there are tons of perks (lots of happy hours and parties, trips and events, sports teams, and the ever-publicized free beer machine).

    ConsThere are a lot of workplaces where you can "coast." This is not one of them. There are metrics on everything, and you are constantly compared both to your colleagues and to yourself (what you did last week, last month, last year).

    You won't be able to impress your friends and family with where you work, because none of them have ever heard of SmartBrief. You won't be able to brag about what you do all day, because it's universally hard to explain to outsiders.

    This doesn't seem like a company that you can grow old at. It's a small company, with a finite number of available positions, so it's hard to get promoted beyond a certain level. Even when positions are available, they tend to recruit senior-level candidates from the outside. SmartBrief loses good employees to better offers fairly often.

    Advice to Senior ManagementIt's obvious that there has been an effort to make improvements, especially around communicating changes and internal information, and in providing training. Don't rest on your laurels. Continue to push these efforts. There is no excuse for a company this small to do a poor job in communication, education, or integrating/orienting the workforce.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    Invaluable career experience

    Manager (Current Employee) Washington, DC

    ProsA great culture that encourages collaboration and professional development. A great place to start for entry level positions and mid level management.

    ConsGetting promoted beyond the mid level management is not impossible but extremely difficult. The common turnover deals with entry level positions with a few management positions. VPs and Senior Managers tend to get hired from the outside. I'd advise a new employee to consider their time at SmartBrief to have the shelf life of 2 years.

    Advice to Senior ManagementOpen up the communication about larger goals that transcend beyond the quarterly check ins. Many managers lack true leadership to expose and guide to the larger goals at hand.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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    Keep on doing what you are doing

    Sales (Current Employee) Washington, DC

    ProsSmartBrief is a great company that is moving from a start-up atmosphere to a maturing organization. I see lots of growth and development opportunities for myself and others in the future.

    ConsManagement has been too patient with poor performers. I am writing because some recent reviews here are totally unfair. I recgonize the people who wrote some of them; they were poor performers who were dragging down the rest of us and are now anonymously griping about a really good company and raising issues that don't exist. Why don't you take a look in the mirror instead of lying?

    Advice to Senior ManagementGet rid of the dead wood faster. We're behind you.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    2 people found this helpful  

    SmartBrief has poor benefits for women, but you get free beer!

    Sales (Former Employee) Washington, DC

    ProsSmall company, so you get to know everyone. The location is in the center of the city. They have a nice outdoor balcony. There is a Starbucks next to the building so you don't have to walk that far.

    ConsManagement does not know what they are doing. Employees receive almost no training and are expected to know what to do. If you do get hired, just plan on eating pork and beans for dinner every night, or living at home with your parents, because you will not make enough money to live.

    Advice to Senior ManagementReally no benefits for pregnant women, but you serve up all the free beer anybody wants. That speaks volumes, about what you think is important. You should really be ashamed.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    2 people found this helpful  

    Like being on drugs

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee) Washington, DC

    ProsWorking at SmartBrief is like being on drugs. It's fun, especially if you're younger. The people are genuinely nice and hang out together, the office is pretty, there's free beer, and the CEO can be quite inspiring, actually. Also, to stay there, all you really need to do is just go along with the program (not so terrible, really, not like they're manufacturing anthrax or something); you don't really need to try very hard. If having an easy, pleasant, work environment is more important to you than making money, it's a good place to be.

    ConsWorking at SmartBrief is like being on drugs. It's bad for you, especially if you're older, and really, you probably shouldn't do it. Telling other people about your experiences doing it makes them bored, at best, and respect you a little less, at worst. It feels bad to stop doing it, but after a day or two you realize your life is better for it. After I left, I discovered a lot of my more casual acquaintances had thought that I had been working for a non-profit. Must've been the "working for the experience, not the paycheck" vibe that I was giving off. If you prefer making money, building your resume, and accomplishing difficult tasks to having an easy time at work, and you could care less about having free beer at work (not at all a shameless ploy to make recent college grads work for less money, right?), maybe you should look elsewhere.

    SmartBrief is a real businessman's business (not necessarily a "Con", depending on who you are). It is very much a marketing and sales organization. Let's face it, E-mail newsletters for trade associations are boring. This is good if you're a businessman, because you have less competition. But do you really want to just write summaries of others' articles if you want a career in journalism? Do you really want to just work with e-mail and websites if you love technology? This doesn't mean it's a terrible place, it just means that senior management does best what it knows best.

    Advice to Senior ManagementTo be honest, watching management in action was one of the highlights of working at SmartBrief for me, because I would probably do some of the same things they do if I were to start my own business. They certainly know how to get good value for the talent they acquire. Also, SmartBrief seems like a solid business. But hey, so is Starbucks; just because I want to be a shareholder doesn't mean I want to work there.

    So, the advice: I think the majority of SmartBrief employees are vaguely dissatisfied, but are comfortable enough that they don't want to bother finding something else. Some like their jobs, but not as many as you seem to think. Maybe more really liked their jobs in the past? Was there a great start-up culture that isn't surviving big business bureaucrats moving into management positions? I'm not sure. I think maybe SmartBrief tries to hire ugly ducklings, and I think maybe, deep down, the CEO thinks everyone has a bit of the ugly duckling inside them. But what if they're mostly just ducks after all? Then you end up with a duck pond, not Swan Lake.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    SmartBrief

    Developer (Former Employee) Washington, DC

    ProsUnbeatable location in the heart of downtown DC, very friendly community, beer machine, interesting challenges

    ConsIncredibly sales focused atmosphere leaves little room for modernization or innovation

    Advice to Senior ManagementDetermine and focus more on long-term goals and don't sacrifice progress towards them for quick cash infusions.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    2 people found this helpful  

    SmartBrief Sucks!

    In Sales (Current Employee) Washington, DC

    ProsFor the most part, SmartBrief hires great people but as soon as they learn what's what and find out how much they could be getting paid elsewhere, they jump ship. Everyday I see new people in the halls and don't know if they are employed by SmartBrief or somehow mistakenly wandered in through the front door. Upper management is not to be trusted and it seems like they like to work people to death for the lowest wage and toss them out as soon as they start complaining. The benefits are pretty good and the office location is convenient.

    ConsAll the things mentioned above and some. The smell of death is in the air. Advertising is getting harder to sell as our clients are finding little to no return on investment. Personally I think their advertising dollars are better spent elsewhere. Email is outdated and most people are deleting our briefs without reading.

    Advice to Senior ManagementThe same advise that was given to me, "get with the program."

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    • No Opinion of CEO

    3 people found this helpful  

    It's an okay job while you wait for your dream job to come along.

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee) Washington, DC

    ProsFor the most part I work with some pretty cool, fun people. Hours are flexible and I can pretty much come and go as I see fit. Most people seem to be 'getting by' and working at this job to gain experience to move into a better one. The benefits are pretty good but the pay sucks. The company is in a time warp.

    ConsZero room for advancement. HR department is extremely unprofessional and do not set a good example for the rest of the company. I'm actually surprised that the company hasn't been sued yet. If you are not part of the 'clique' than what you think is not important. HR department is the worst that I've seen in any company. Turnover is extremely high and all the bitching and moaning is taking a toll.

    Advice to Senior ManagementGet a real HR department that knows how to set an example and handle issues. It's pointless to ask them any questions as they will not know the answer. Do something about your turn over rate. Has HR ever heard of employee retention?

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    • Disapproves of CEO

    3 people found this helpful  

    Disorganized environment which rarely has goals but does have talented people

    Intern (Former Employee) Washington, DC

    ProsFun people make working at SmartBrief worthwhile. The culture is quite relaxed and most people do not take themselves too seriously yet they remain professional.

    ConsSmartBrief really doesn't have a business model and has little idea of how to communicate what it is attempting to accomplish both within and outside of the organization.

    Advice to Senior ManagementLeadership at SmartBrief should really sit down and think about what the business is trying to accomplish. While working there there was rarely a sense of moving forward and it felt as if employees were simply there to get a paycheck but were never really engaged nor could they be because the company has little vision.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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