Waggener Edstrom Communications

  www.waggeneredstrom.com
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Waggener Edstrom Communications Reviews

Updated Jun 30, 2014
All Employees Current Employees Only

3.2 142 reviews

74% Approve of the CEO

Waggener Edstrom Communications President and CEO Melissa Waggener Zorkin

Melissa Waggener Zorkin

(107 ratings)

64% of employees recommend this company to a friend

Review Highlights

Pros
  • impressive vacation package for all employees and flexible work from home polices for middle/upper management(in 13 reviews)

  • The company is very committed to work/life balance(in 9 reviews)


Cons
  • Zero Work Life Balance: With paying for your internet/mobile, you are expected to be on call 24/7(in 22 reviews)

  • Long hours and unclear and inconsistencies on expectations for what it takes to keep moving up(in 10 reviews)

142 Employee Reviews
Relevance Date Rating
in
    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    Those in power don't walk their talk.

    Account Manager (Former Employee) Seattle, WA

    ProsWonderful, friendly people.
    Good work-from-home option.
    Nice benefits.

    ConsSorority-based team leadership: you've gotta be "in" with the right leaders to be recognized as a "rock star."
    Lot of talk from the CEO about "people are our #1 asset," but the long work hours and the lay-offs every year are hallmarks of a place where *clients* matter most and where budgets aren't managed in an upfront, smart way.

    Advice to Senior ManagementDecide what your core approach really is: PR? Integrated comms? Media relations?
    Don't say you're transparent: BE transparent.
    Prioritize other practices as much as you do the Microsoft account.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
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    • No Opinion of CEO

     

    Trial by Fire... Demanding and driven

    Director (Former Employee) Portland, OR

    ProsOne year at Waggener Edstrom is like a tour of duty in a war zone. Challenging, exciting, great people in a dynamic industry, the best of the best in public relations

    ConsHard, unforgiving culture, with many talented people that are well meaning and dedicated ... a very polifical organization where information is king

    Advice to Senior ManagementNurture the potential in the good people that are there. Actively encourage learning, even when it comes as the result of a unintentional mistake. Be a little kinder.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
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    • Approves of CEO

    3 people found this helpful  

    Great place to learn

    SAE (Former Employee) Bellevue, WA

    ProsI was at WE for just under 4 years and had started out learning the trade. I got a lot of experience, coaching and which has proven invaluable in growing my career. They are a very service oriented company which is a skill set you can take anywhere.

    ConsAs you try to climb the ranks, you realize that it's a very political organization. It's hard to advance, even if you have the skills, if you aren't in PR and if you're not in one of the big MSFT groups, like Office or Windows as they have the budget. Long, long hours, lots of stress and very low pay.

    Advice to Senior ManagementProvide better growth opportunities and pay better.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Approves of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    Wonderful people, you'll never stop learning and growing, wish the salaries were more competitive.

    Account Manager (Current Employee) Seattle, WA

    ProsThe people are incredibly smart and fun to work with, and the agency invests a lot in growing its high performing employees.
    Very committed to social responsibility and giving back to communities.
    Solid benefits package.
    Strong work/life balance.
    Opportunity to define your career path.

    ConsThough the salaries are fairly competitive with other large agencies (especially when you look at the benefits package as a whole), WE salaries aren't competitive with in-house PR roles. The company loses a lot of really great talent because of this.

    Advice to Senior ManagementKeep listening to your greatest asset, your employees.

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

    • Culture & Values
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    • No Opinion of CEO

     

    Pretty decent place

    Account Executive (Former Employee) Bellevue, WA

    Pros- Decent pay once you advance
    - Good benefits
    - Great clients
    - Lots of exposure to press (job is what you make it)

    Cons- Too many levels of management
    - Decent training, but not application of training by most
    - Passive-aggressive behavior by some, but not all
    - Some weird cultural things that lead to advancement

    Advice to Senior ManagementBe more open with respect to what it takes to move up.

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

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Approves of CEO

     

    Good challenge for long-timers to stay current. Some tendency to overlook experience for "new and hip." It's a balance.

    Senior Analyst (Current Employee) Portland, OR

    ProsOpportunities for creative thinking abound. Think outside the box, always add one ounce more of value, and you're good.
    CEO Melissa Waggener is deeply caring and committed to helping others in the world.
    Good work-life balance - but tends to be in exchange for career advancement.
    Oft-maligned Studio D team is coming into its own.

    ConsPR teams can be very cliquish. Less of this is seen on other businesses. In Portland and Seattle (at least), not a lot of diversity - although this doesn't seem to be intentional. Just hard for people outside the narrow norm to fit in and succeed.

    Advice to Senior ManagementYour people are amazing and care very much. Listen to them, even if what you hear is sometimes painful. Don't shoot the messenger - instead, look in the mirror.

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

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    • Approves of CEO

    4 people found this helpful  

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

    Account Executive (Former Employee) Bellevue, WA

    ProsAcross 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.

    ConsMaking 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 Senior Management-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.

    • Work/Life Balance
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    • No Opinion of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    Time FLIES by, SO busy 24/7, but it is worth it as I'm lucky to have clients that imrpove the world!

    Assistant Account Executive (Current Employee) Seattle, WA

    ProsDedicated to world changing ideas, great salary and friendly workplace, lots of vacation days, at least one flex day per week to work from home

    ConsYou feel bad if you work just 9 hours a day, yet you're told not to bill too much time to one client, so it's confusing/frustrating

    Advice to Senior ManagementJust hire more people so they can work 8 hours a day.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

    • Work/Life Balance
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    • Approves of CEO

    2 people found this helpful  

    A good work experience

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee) Bellevue, WA

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

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

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • No Opinion of CEO

    12 people found this helpful  

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

    Senior Account Executive (Former Employee) Portland, OR

    ProsThe 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.

    ConsThe 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 Senior ManagementThe 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.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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