Waggener Edstrom Communications

  www.waggeneredstrom.com
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Waggener Edstrom Communications Reviews

Updated August 14, 2014
Updated August 14, 2014
155 Reviews

3.1
155 Reviews
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Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
Waggener Edstrom Communications President and CEO Melissa Waggener Zorkin
Melissa Waggener Zorkin
115 Ratings

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)

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

Sort: Popular Rating Date
  1. 1 person found this helpful  

    Stuck in the past

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    Pros

    Good salary. Stable job if you are on the Microsoft account. Good agency to learn fundamentals of PR.

    Cons

    Stuck in the past of being Microsoft's agency of record. Senior leadership is out of touch with reality, continually prioritizes pet projects instead of real business opportunity and lacks accountability.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Break into two companies, one that is Microsoft only, and another more entrepreneurial agency.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  2. 1 person found this helpful  

    A Great Place to Work, When it Comes to Agency PR

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Account Director  in  Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Account Director in Seattle, WA

    Pros

    Great opportunities, pay is competitive, challenging work, encouragement to grow skills, encouragement to volunteer, top notch clients

    Cons

    Lack of consistent criteria for what is valued in a leader, can be "clicky"

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    You should find ways to recognize middle managers more consistently. Not necessarily with money but some of the company/team awards are more geared toward junior staff

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  3.  

    Waggener Edstrom has the potential to be a great company but focuses on the wrong things

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    Pros

    Waggener Edstrom portrays itself as a great company which it may have been years ago, but it is very apparent that it focuses too much of it's efforts on keeping Microsoft alive and not on moving the company in a new direction. It's difficult for me to list any pros but If I had to pick something positive to say, it would be the benefits. They reimburse employees monthly for mobile internet as well as every two years for a new cell phone.

    Cons

    Where to begin...
    - Low salary- I was asked in my very first interview what I was hoping to make. I wasn't expecting the question so early and threw out a number. The offer I received was BARELY over the number I gave, which was substantially below what I should have been making. Also, the company does not allow employees to discuss salary or promotions with one another. It is EXTREMELY frowned upon, possible reason for termination depending on specific situation. Yes, many company's have the same view on pay, but WE goes above and beyond.
    - No work-life balance- Always too much work to do and never enough hours in the day. If you're on salary, you practically work for free. If you are hourly, it is stressed that you should not work any overtime unless it is approved by your manager. The catch about this is that most managers see that there is too much work to complete and may even see you working through your lunch/early or late but won't speak up to make sure you're actually getting paid for the time.
    - Managers- Executives put so much pressure on the managers that they're all unhappy and it's very clear to employees. It doesn't feel like they want you to succeed, but are instead worried about covering their own butts.
    - The only employees that are treated well/get perks (and they get a lot) are the employees that work directly on big accounts. What about everyone else, Melissa?

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Remember that your employees, even the little people, are who make the company run.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
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  5. 1 person found this helpful  

    Vice President

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Vice President
    Current Employee - Vice President

    Pros

    Flexibility, great people, ability to grow into what you are good at and make a name/career for yourself.

    Cons

    Leadership is sometimes blinded by 'shiny new objects' and can make decisions based on partial information.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Dive deeper - get to know what is working and what isn't from people at all levels. Take the time to solve the problem, not just temporarily fix.

    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  6.  

    "Great company"

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

    Pros

    -Respects employees
    -Great people
    -Good opportunities to move teams within the company should you wish to try a new experience

    Cons

    -Long promotion cycles
    -Lower pay overall

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Consider promoting sooner or increasing base pay for employees on the lower end of the spectrum.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  7.  

    Buildings full of smart, passionate people

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee  in  Lake Oswego, OR
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Lake Oswego, OR

    Pros

    Smart, fun, wonderful, creative coworkers. Some are young and excited; others are industry veterans with a ton of awesome experience. Interesting clients. High expectations. Strong benefits.

    Cons

    VPs and higher-level employees can feel a bit like mean girls... they have a VP club, it seems. You might fit their mold...you might not (and if you don't, then what?) We can be hamstrung by clients who play it safe, so creativity isn't always nurtured. High expectations. Great benefits feel a bit like golden handcuffs.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Industry-leading pay may result in industry-leading work. Find a way to offer more financial incentives to all levels of employment.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  8. 3 people found this helpful  

    Excellent employer but more of a U.S. Microsoft media relations vendor than global agency

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

    Pros

    Waggener is my third agency, including interning, and in my opinion, the best thing about us is we live and breathe treating employees like humans with lives outside of work. As one of many examples, strong, seasoned employees can work remotely for years if their spouses go to graduate schools in places we don't have an office. I generally enjoy myself while at work, and our office culture combines professionalism with a welcoming vibe.

    Our training is better than any other employer's I know of. All the time, we get free online and in-person presentations on our industry and client service, from coworkers, clients and prestigious external speakers.

    Everyone on the Microsoft account gets to work with content, spokespeople, and reporters (and analysts) that most PR professionals only dream of.

    We have a diversity problem, like all PR agencies. However, straight women, gay men and lesbians are in high-up positions almost always occupied by straight, white men at other agencies, so I feel less of a glass ceiling.

    This past fall, our CEO unveiled a new, smart roadmap for Waggener Edstrom, and progress toward it has been visible ever since. Communication between the very top and bottom of the company is more transparent than at the 20-person agency I worked at before this.

    Cons

    The best and worst thing about us is the business model is built around U.S. Microsoft. If you read Microsoft Glassdoor reviews, you'll get the idea. Unlike Edelman or Weber Shandwick, our culture prioritizes answering clients' short-term demands above keeping and growing agency revenue, staying on top of the direction our industry is headed, and promoting good employees to keep them from leaving. To their credit, our leadership knows this mentality isn't sustainable for agency revenue, but they haven't introduced the incentives (performance review criteria) to remedy it.

    Experience varies widely by team, and massive power differences exist among the Microsoft teams. I joined the agency on one of the least powerful teams, and almost a year later, even though my team leads tell me I'm an asset to the agency, I'm no closer to becoming an account executive than when I started, other than a Waggener competitor is trying to recruit me for AE positions. No one on my team has achieved many tangible results or met client campaign metrics, and I've been trying hard. The culture at Waggener dictates that this is acceptable and that in my situation, I should start my career over on another team. I would not have joined the agency via this team if I had known it was possible to have the experience I've had so far.

    Not a con for everyone, but the most universally important employee qualities seem to be sophisticated project management skills and patience, not knowledge of public relations (or related fields and skills) or technology. It will be a culture fit issue if you're more results oriented than relationship oriented.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Decide whether you want to grow the agency or please Microsoft in the short term, if you haven't already. You can't have both because of where Microsoft's business and the media relations industry are headed, and this contradiction demoralizes employees.

    If you want to grow the agency, overhaul the way we hire and promote to reflect that our industry is full of ambitious, millennial employees who get recruiter emails starting 2 years into our careers. Employees should be able to receive promotions at any time, not just twice a year, especially if they get an offer from another agency. Explain the long-term value of more flexible promotion timing to clients.

    If we require everyone account manager and above (because they have the client's ear and power over budget and staff distribution) to prove they know global and digital to get promoted, or hired as a new employee, we will become the industry leader. Make them go to company-wide trainings that mostly ACs and AAEs go to.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  9.  

    Great Environment, Low Pay

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Project Manager  in  Bellevue, WA
    Former Employee - Project Manager in Bellevue, WA

    Pros

    Executive leadership is very transparent about the company's directives and puts their money where there mouth is in this regard.
    Fun environment that encourages career growth
    Opportunities to explore other parts of the business

    Cons

    Pay is low given productivity expectations (much of this is client driven)
    Performance is not necessarily rewarded over seniority
    Career advancement is slow if you're wanting to stay within the same group

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Continue with transparent management style. Create more incentives for employees

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10.  

    Good company overall

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    Pros

    Good, smart people generally speaking. Positive culture. Some interesting clients

    Cons

    Not as innovation oriented as they believe and say they are. Not the most creative agency, though they think they are. Need more diversity in their hires.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Need to make the innovation talk an actual reality, because it feel like just words. Overall, the staff needs people are more creative and risk taking; they same to hire the same type of people--well organized, nice, pleasant looking but bland.

  11. 1 person found this helpful  

    All about perspective

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    Pros

    Good benefits
    Smart team members
    Swanky office (Bellevue location)
    Some of the best/newest technology, especially for MS account staff and video conferencing
    Free drinks
    Depending on what you're seeking in an environment/career, and if you can ignore the junk with a healthy dose of perspective, there are many opportunities for learning and building your resume. I did some of my best work at Waggener

    Cons

    Political organization
    WFH and flexibility claims in the interview process differ significantly from team to team (e.g. some teams encourage it while others frown upon it and evaluate on case-by-case basis)
    Opportunity for team transitions is limited and some teams will block you from moving to another (e.g. not work with HR, refuse to sign paperwork, or even bad-mouth you to the other team)
    Some of the leadership (VPs, SVPs, EVPs) are bullies and/or liars
    I sometimes questioned the ethics given incestuous dating between WE and MS clients
    Open office plan felt like a sweat shop

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The leadership training you offer should be required training for every SAE and above and not used against other staff to ridicule them (e.g. "Oh, are you using your leadership training tips on me to manage up? That's cute.")
    When you reward bad behavior by promoting the bullies, you're creating a negative environment where the leaders just leave bodies in their wake.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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