Waggener Edstrom Communications

  www.waggeneredstrom.com
  www.waggeneredstrom.com

Waggener Edstrom Communications Reviews

Updated October 13, 2014
Updated October 13, 2014
154 Reviews
3.2
154 Reviews
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Waggener Edstrom Communications President and CEO Melissa Waggener Zorkin
Melissa Waggener Zorkin
110 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • impressive vacation package for all employees and flexible work from home polices for middle/upper management (in 14 reviews)

  • People are nice and smart; Healthcare is good and work/life balance is a priority (in 12 reviews)


Cons
  • While the benefits are great on paper, there is ultimately no work life balance (in 23 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.  

    "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

    I worked at Waggener Edstrom Communications full-time (more than an year)

    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
  2.  

    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

    I have been working at Waggener Edstrom Communications full-time (more than 5 years)

    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
  3. 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

    I have been working at Waggener Edstrom Communications full-time (less than an year)

    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
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  5.  

    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

    I worked at Waggener Edstrom Communications full-time (more than 3 years)

    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
  6.  

    Good company overall

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Waggener Edstrom Communications

    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.

  7. 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

    I worked at Waggener Edstrom Communications full-time (more than an year)

    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
  8.  

    Not a good place for minorities (if you are unlucky enough to be hired)

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

    I worked at Waggener Edstrom Communications full-time

    Pros

    Everyone works really hard do do a good job. It's a good place for people who work better in a structured environment with set rules. PR people are generally great project managers. Benefits are good and vacation time is generous.

    Cons

    Even though innovation is one of the company's core values, I don't see much room for it on a day-to-day basis. Only very few higher-level people in the company are given the opportunity to be creative and innovate. The others follow.

    The performance review process is stiff and ends up hindering the careers of the most creative people. Many employees end up leaving Waggener to work at competing agencies with better growth opportunities.

    Minorities and foreign-born employees struggle to succeed as they feel out of place in an environment where almost 100% of the PR staff are white Americans. I've met a few of these employees and all of them left company in less than two years citing they felt excluded by their own co-workers and not having the opportunity to grow.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Do not fear the different. Fear being safe.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  9.  

    Enjoyable work environment

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

    I have been working at Waggener Edstrom Communications as a contractor (more than an year)

    Pros

    Good, smart people, good feeling of community

    Cons

    Not particular to WE, but in PR, sometimes clients what to turn direction or take too long to give feedback and staff needs to turn on a dime. But this is the industry.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    n/a

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
  10. 3 people found this helpful  

    Not a good place

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

    I worked at Waggener Edstrom Communications

    Pros

    Highly ranked PR firm and interesting clients.

    Cons

    Waggener Edstrom is one of the worst places I have ever worked, If you want to be micromanaged, embarrassed by having faults and errors pointed out in front of co-workers, deal with a highly political office environment, and spend your work day with co-workers who probably won't want to get to know you because they know more than likely you won't be there for very long, go ahead and take a job there. Prepare to sit in meetings time and time again with management promising change, but failing to deliver any meaningful results. The promise of change is almost a running joke at Waggener amongst employees. People at Waggener walk around like drones because they aren't happy. Granted the company is big, but from my time there I found that employees will not be that enthusiastic about talking to you or getting to know you on a personal level.

    From my firsthand experience, Waggener Edstrom CEO Melissa Waggener Zorkin will convey to you through emails and meetings that she really cares about the agency and (according most importantly according to her) all the employees. The truth is she doesn't, and if she really does, she's doing an incredibly poor job running the agency. I could go on and on writing about why i dislike this company, but I will sum it up briefly with bulleted points.

    * They deceive contract employees by baiting them with the idea they might be hired on full time.
    * Several people working there play politics and will stab you in the back any chance they get.
    * It's a bad work environment and I was miserable there.
    * Waggener likes to think they have more influence than they really do and they are more important to their clients than they really are.
    * If the agency is so great, why do people leave (hence the high turnover rate)?
    * The criticism you will find no here is fairly consistent and accurate. Why do so many people have the same complaints?

    If you're capable and talented, save yourself some time and go for a job at a different firm. I've heard Weber is a much better agency to work for and treats their employees like humans. I can't say the say for Waggener Edstrom.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Stop saying you are going to change things and then not do anything.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  11. 1 person found this helpful  

    Those in power don't walk their talk.

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

    I worked at Waggener Edstrom Communications full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

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

    Cons

    Sorority-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 ManagementAdvice

    Decide 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.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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