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Animalz

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Animalz

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February 2, 2022

Pros

Filled with great writers and editors to learn from.

Cons

Everything else. The pay is substandard, especially for content writers – the people making the actual product Animalz is selling. Content writers with any experience at all can find better pay pretty much anywhere in the current market. Animalz charges clients a king’s ransom for blogs and articles, but none of that seems to leak down to the writers. That gap is puzzling, until you see how many vice presidents, directors, and managers are stuffed into the company hierarchy. Benefits aren’t great if you’re on your own, and they’re terrible if you have a spouse or dependents. The company is clearly operating on the “hope your spouse has better benefits” philosophy of employee healthcare. The workload is extreme and is getting worse. Animalz used to pride itself on quality work, but the writers these days are given such a massive production goal that quality is noticeably slipping. And by noticeable, I mean the clients are noticing, and are subsequently churning. Worse, writers are scolded like puppies if they fall behind on production, and are said to be “letting down the team.” That management is letting down their team of writers doesn’t come up very often. When writers fall behind on these extreme production goals, work is often outsourced to freelancers who aren’t given the time, prompts, or editing support to create quality material. And so standards fall further. They won’t hire new editors at a rate commensurate with increased clients or workloads, and so standards fall even more. They really do have top talent at this agency, but management isn’t providing the framework to support them. And more of these talented individuals are leaving every day, realizing how much more money (and how much less stress) can be found out in the market right now. Onboarding was never great and appears to be getting worse, with little-to-no training on the 12+ apps the company uses. The internal organization is a mess because of it, with information being kept on random spreadsheets instead of inputted into the appropriate app with a funny animal name. All forms of dissent in the company Slack are quashed as “complaining” instead of addressed. Public call outs are becoming more frequent, where employees who made mistakes are tagged in public Slack channels with passive-aggressive messages. Morale is in the toilet, perhaps rightly so, with an everpresent air of “who is being fired or quitting next.” Lastly, and perhaps most disappointingly, Animalz is one of those companies that puts forward a progressive veneer with nothing behind it, like the storefronts on an Old West movie set. Unlimited vacation days don’t mean much when you get fired after taking them, nevermind that you have to find and coordinate freelancers yourself should you deign to take a couple days off. Which is even more frustrating, since some upper-level positions have very discreetly been given four day workweeks. There’s no true dialog with management, company all-hands meetings are basically recitals for C-Suite business jargon performances, and struggling employees are given little help. For a business based around communication, you’ll find none here.

Advice to Management

Reduce redundant upper-tier management positions. The organization as it stands now is extremely top heavy, with huge salaries going to people who seem to spend more time writing thought leadership posts on LinkedIn than fixing the systemic problems. Increase writer support. The writers are the product. They’re the only reason the structure around them (ie, the company) even exists. Animalz feels like a beautiful, expensive scaffolding around a decaying building. If the people doing the writing can’t take a breath, the writing won’t be good. If the writing isn’t good, nothing else matters.

Morale is in the toilet, perhaps rightly so, with an everpresent air of “who is being fired or quitting next.” Read More

February 2, 2022

Reviewed by: Content Writer (Former Employee)

October 19, 2021

Pros

Flexible schedules. We work to support our lives, not the other way around. Supportive culture. In my first few weeks, I expressed some self-doubt to my manager, teammates, and peers, and I got nothing but support and helpful resources. No shaming. Excellent vacation policy. You actually get coverage from others when you're on vacation (4 weeks!), so you don't work extra hard when you get back.

Cons

Everyone is in different time zones, so it can be hard to get the kind of real-time feedback you might be used to. No company match for retirement savings (I hear it's coming soon, tho)

Supportive culture. Read More

October 19, 2021

Reviewed by: Content Marketing Manager (Current Employee)

September 27, 2022

Pros

You'll be surrounded by people who care about content marketing and writing. You'll be working on a 100% remote team, so you have flexible hours.

Cons

The company grew too fast and is still catching up on defining roles and developing processes-- as a result, quality and communication suffered and customers are churning in droves. The cobbled-together internal systems are breaking and you'll spend a lot of time troubleshooting. There's no investment in ongoing training and development beyond employee onboarding and senior leadership takes a top-down approach to problem-solving instead of bringing in the voices of people on the ground. All the teams work in their own siloes and it's rare to see transparency and collaboration across teams. The goalposts of what it takes to advance in your career are constantly shifting. All of this adds up to burnout.

Advice to Management

Listen to and trust the voices of the people who are on the front lines of the work: CMs, CSMs, and Team Leads. Prioritize retention and relationship development with existing customers over company growth.

All the teams work in their own siloes and it's rare to see transparency and collaboration across teams. Read More

September 27, 2022

Reviewed by: Anonymous (Current Employee)

May 14, 2022

Pros

As other people have written, the saving grace of Animalz is getting to work with writers and editors (and some team leads) who care deeply about doing good work and supporting each other. The high degree of editorial oversight means that even if you learn nothing else, you will walk away from the company as a better writer. Unfortunately, making genuine connections with the people you work with is extremely difficult, because everyone is overwhelmed and afraid to speak openly about any issues because of an entrenched culture of toxic positivity. It is still possible to have a good experience at Animalz if: -You have a natural ability to produce huge amounts of content every week, while managing customers, coming up with content ideas, reporting on performance, and other duties -You happen to be paired with a team lead who takes an interest in you and isn’t so completely overwhelmed that they can’t help you at all -You happen to be assigned to customers with an approach to content that makes sense, and who have reasonable expectations of you. (Because if they don’t, you should not expect support from the company in pushing back on them.) -You are capable of focusing only on your own work, and ignoring the people burning out and quitting all around you, the nonsensical proclamations from management, and the company’s increasingly dire financial straits

Cons

Animalz is in a death spiral. And even if you don’t care about the fate of the company as a whole, and you check every box in the “pros” section, you will inevitably be harmed by the experience of working at a company this grotesquely mismanaged. The company's issues with burnout, churn, and work quality have already been covered by my former colleagues eloquently and at length. So I want to focus on talking about the two things that really messed me up at Animalz: toxic positivity and gaslighting. I’m aware both of those terms have been overused and robbed of their original meanings, but we can restore them to usefulness if we simply use Animalz as the universal benchmark to which all other examples can be compared. Because seriously: the place is the dictionary definition of each. I personally mark the beginning of Animalz' descent into toxicity as the day when a member of leadership imposed the “no venting “rule. This created a company culture in which it is forbidden to acknowledge problems, or publicly admit to unhappiness or stress. The enforced and false positivity has made the experience of working at Animalz deeply isolating for people, who assume that any issues with burnout and overwhelming workloads are their personal problems and not evidence of systemic failures. On top of that, Animalz explicitly rewards people for taking on duties that are *not their jobs* without compensating them for it. Your reward will come in the form of public praise for being such a "rock star," and your peers will echo this praise out of a sense of obligation, thus endlessly perpetuating the culture dominated by fake smiles and the constant repetition that "everything is fine." Which brings us to the gaslighting. As I said before, things are not going well at Animalz. But rather than acknowledge or meaningfully address that, leadership constantly tries to paper over it, and convince you that what looks like chaos is actually growth. When four members of senior leadership departed the company in three months, the CEO addressed this in an all-hands by saying that retention isn't a priority. In the face of mounting customer churn, leadership will simply change metrics to ones that it finds more favorable, rather than address the bad numbers. Every few months, leadership announces some grand new initiative or direction for the company, but these ideas are never fully thought out before they are presented, and no one can answer any questions about *how they will work*. The company is now undergoing its second major re-organization in under a year, but there's no sense of why or what it will mean on a day-to-day basis. Concerns about slipping standards and unhappy customers have led to an announcement that we now prioritize "outcomes over articles." (This would doubtlessly come as a shock to our customers, since articles are the thing they pay us for.) Oh and we're adding new products! Including video! How, you ask? No one can tell you. But the experience of having to pretend that any of the above makes sense is exhausting and demoralizing. Prolonged exposure to that kind of dishonesty is bad for your health, and I mean that very literally, since issues with sleep, substances, and anxiety are quietly rampant among the team.

Advice to Management

This advice is not directed to senior leadership, because I don't believe they are capable of accepting advice that requires real change. My feedback is directed at the leaders in the middle, who are trying to keep their own careers intact, but in doing so, are enabling a toxic culture that is doing real damage to people's lives. To you I say: you have more power than you think. You do not have to nod along with every ridiculous proclamation from leadership, or carry out their paranoid campaigns against anything with the slightest whiff of organizing. You can band together and stand up, or you can leave. If this company is going to be saved, it will only be by people like you, blowing on the dying embers of what originally made it a success: undeniably brilliant work from people who truly believed in what we were doing. Any attempts to circumvent that through new products or cost cutting will inevitably fail. It’s already failing. And the result is not just the wreckage of a company, but the wreckage of people's careers, mental health, and perceptions of you.

Your reward will come in the form of public praise for being such a "rock star," and your peers will echo this praise out of a sense of obligation, thus endlessly perpetuating the culture dominated by fake smiles and the constant repetition that "everything is fine." Read More

May 14, 2022

Reviewed by: Anonymous (Anonymous Employee)

January 28, 2022

Pros

Animalz is a perplexing animal, no pun intended. On the one hand, there are great people there who do everything in their power to make life better for their team. On the other hand, their power is limited and those with the ability to effect change have no interest in doing so. For those brand new to content marketing, or those looking to rapidly grow their portfolio, Animalz has something to offer. You will work with a wide variety of clients, likely many since churn is high. This breadth of experience is great for your portfolio, especially if you have the opportunity to work with more established clients where your work is likely to garner a nice amount of traffic or other measurable results. And for those lucky enough to work with the big flashy brands, that's something fun to stick in a cover letter. Animalz also provides the opportunity to grow your skillset, largely because you'll work with talented content managers (CMs) that are often willing to teach you a thing or two, time permitting. Animalz also changed their payscale some months ago, which for some resulted in a pay increase that put them above what many other agencies would pay. (Worth noting: the pay increase wasn't applied to everyone in a uniform manner, with many benefitting more than others.)

Cons

Unfortunately Animalz has a major churn problem, both with employees and clients. Animalz went through a period of aggressive customer growth during much of 2021, the pursuit of sales overtaking the pursuit of any meaningful change in company culture. This growth, while profitable for a select few, resulted in more work than CMs could handle, overworked editors and copyeditors, and a heavy reliance on freelance writers. Clients pay a LOT of money to work with Animalz, drawn in by promises of traffic growth, brand awareness, and above all: work done by the once-renowned Animalz staff. With customer growth outpacing all else in 2021, it became commonplace for customers to have freelance writers doing their work, unbeknownst to the client. Simply put: this is a blatant lie our customers are being sold. Imagine running a five-star burger joint and serving your customers rewrapped Big Macs. When CMs questioned upper management about the use of freelancers, the answer was often something to the tune of, "It's a temporary fix and something we don't foresee happening for long." Last time I checked, freelancer use is still commonplace for all new accounts, some having freelancers on them for months before getting a permanent CM. Training is another rough spot at Animalz. Onboarding improved over my time there, but still left a lot to be desired. Team leads are often so overworked they can't devote proper time to CMs, meaning those CMs are left trying to learn from other CMs, who are equally if not more swamped than the person trying to learn. It's a vicious cycle that leaves everyone exhausted, everyone overworked, and everyone learning on the fly (or making things up on the go). Paired with the lofty promises made to clients on sales calls, and you've got a bunch of new hires set up to fail. Speaking of training, it's worth pointing out Animalz started to pivot last year during their rapid growth and loss phase. Rather than view themselves as a content agency, they started to tell employees they were becoming a learning institution. The idea being, it's expected people join the company to learn, and then "graduate" to a better job. (The latter part is at least true for most.) There are talented people at Animalz with the capacity to educate, but those foundations weren't even in place when this messaging was used in the wake of the great employee exodus. Much like telling your passengers the sinking ship is now a swimming pool, the statement that Animalz was becoming a learning institution simply wasn't true. Maybe one day Animalz will be a learning institution, but 99% of the people at Animalz came to work at a content agency, not a content agency with so little faith in their ability to retain employees they rebrand themselves. There's also a massive issue with benefits that borders on discrimination. For those without dependents, Animalz insurance is serviceable. For those with dependents, Animalz pays none of the coverage. This means people with two or three or four dependents will easily pay upwards of $12,000 per year for insurance. If you're reading this and you have an offer from Animalz, be sure to subtract these insurance costs from anything they offer you—dependent coverage is unlikely to arrive anytime soon, if ever. (The same goes for 401k matching, which was often teased but never delivered.)

Advice to Management

Animalz had, and maybe still has, the potential to be a great agency. But, the pace at which the company is attempting to grow is rivaled only by the pace at which they're burning what goodwill they have left in the industry. If Animalz has any chance of course correcting, leadership needs to see the forest for the trees. Be brave and own up to the fact that you've prioritized profit over people, margins over mental health, and lost an exorbitant number of talented people because of burn out. Then, stop talking and start listening to your people—they have a lot to teach you.

Animalz went through a period of aggressive customer growth during much of 2021, the pursuit of sales overtaking the pursuit of any meaningful change in company culture. Read More

January 28, 2022

Reviewed by: Content Manager (Former Employee)

December 15, 2022

Pros

Animalz has a knack for hiring amazing people. The editors, writers, and most of the team leads are talented and empathetic, really focusing on teamwork. The editors especially will force you to improve your writing through their high standards, discerning eyes, and constructive feedback. I became a much better content marketer under my team lead's direction and my editor's guidance. Truly flexible hours because the workforce is globally distributed. Outside of meetings with your team and your clients, you can do your work whenever you want. If you're lucky, you get to write for big-name clients in tech, and usually will be able to gain additional experience writing across verticals. While most clients sign on for blog posts or articles, some clients request different kinds of content that you can use to fill your portfolio, like social media copy for Twitter or LinkedIn, copywriting for landing pages, whitepapers, and eBooks. The Animalz brand is relatively well-known in the content marketing world, built mostly on its past reputation more than its current state. Having Animalz on your resume alone can open a lot of doors for freelancing and job hunting.

Cons

Animalz has been rapidly spiraling toward its doom for a while now. Customer churn due to both the state of the tech industry and Animalz's high price point is ridiculously high. And employee attrition is right there too. Morale sank to rock bottom after three highly-respected editors were unceremoniously and suddenly laid off in November. Scheduled cost of living adjustments and promotion cycles were put on indefinite freeze until leadership could bring Animalz out of its financial nose dive. There are no professional development or growth opportunities like an upskill fund, structured content marketing courses (which you'd think Animalz could develop with the combined talent that lives there) -- or even time for CMs to upskill with their rigorous workloads. Given all these factors, why would anyone choose to stick with the company when the company hasn't shown any commitment to us, the employees? Leadership states that they've been focused on bettering the financials of the company first by focusing on production and developing its new AI content service, and employee retention and development have had to sit on the back burner in the meantime. In fact, the attrition has been called out as a positive because leadership didn't have to lay off any CMs to match our decreasing customer base. While I acknowledge that some of my coworkers have had nothing but positive experiences working at Animalz, that hasn't been true for myself and many current and ex-colleagues. There's a reason why the average tenure of an Animalz employee is just over a year, according to LinkedIn. It's because most sane content marketers that focus on quality of work over quantity work aren't set up to succeed at Animalz. There are so many systemic issues at Animalz, but the main problem that bleeds into all the others: The leaders at the helm of the company making the big business decisions have no idea what they're doing, and don't lead with empathy for the people actually doing the work that Animalz sells - CMs, editors, TLs and CSMs. When I started at Animalz, the agency was in the midst of a furious hiring spree to catch up with the unsustainable workloads they had signed due to onboarding new clients. My client already had a backlog before my first day because they had been waiting for me to start. Backlogs and being behind on client work is a common theme at Animalz and leadership treats it like a failure on the part of CMs, TLs and CSMs when it's a process issue. Production goals are extremely difficult for most CMs to meet. You're expected to write 8 high-quality articles or an equivalent length per month (~2 per week). This doesn't sound like much at first, but the work pace is grueling, especially with the number of times your drafts need to be reviewed if you're under L4. This makes it extremely easy to fall behind on delivery dates and your KPIs -- and then stay behind forever. And that's exactly what happened to me. I started trying to work overtime to catch up but I could never reach that unattainable 8-article goal due to my clients not giving approvals in time and the extra responsibilities we're expected to do -- client revisions for each piece, monthly reporting and client meetings, doing ideation and creating content briefs. Not to mention my own personal issues outside of work, outside of my control. Inevitably, I started burning out just 6 months into my Animalz experience. If I had to point to a single defining moment as the point of no return for Animalz, it would be when a specific person was hired to whip CMs and TLs into shape so that the company would increase production. The processes she's put in place penalize CMs for not delivering a full 8 credits every month, but doesn't allow room or understanding for the delays and issues that cause us to not be able to do so. Under her watchful eye, anyone with low monthly production averages gets flagged as underperformers. They get put on performance improvement plans, regardless of whether or not their Team Lead agrees with the decision, to try to manage them out or squeeze every last ounce of productivity out of them forcefully. Some of our international employees with lower KPIs have been placed without notice on a pay-per-credit model -- or even let go with no notice. Most importantly, we were told if you can't maintain a 3-month rolling monthly average of 6.5 articles, you can't take time off. When you put an already-worn axe to the grinder, something's got to give. For me, that was my mental and physical health. I wanted so badly to take some PTO time off to recover, but the company moved from 20 days PTO to "unlimited" PTO - with the caveat that you had to be meeting your 3-month production average of 6.5 credits. In a perfect world, where everything goes right -- yes, 6.5 credits wouldn't be unreasonable to expect. But for those of us working on the ground level, we know it's not possible for many of us - especially those with any form of neurodivergence. I was unable to take time off... and so I continued to burn out until there was nothing left of me to give until finally, I flunked out of Animalz. Despite the quality of my work constantly being praised by editors, clients, my TL and CSM, I was an underperformer based solely on quantity - which is the main metric by which leadership evaluates your work. There is no empathy for the hard, meaningful work that we do. We're treated like robots, supposed to churn out content day after day. Leadership lacks the fundamental understanding of what goes into creating content for our clients; they really believe that you should be spending two days per article, even accounting for editorial review cycles and queues, and use one day for the other work tasks heaped on us. Despite the flexible schedules, there is no work-life balance. The delivery date is supreme; I know several other CMs and I have pulled allnighters and worked weekends to get articles submitted to the editing queues on time... and pray that the editors, who are now very overworked doing 1.5x their previous workloads, can get feedback to you in time to deliver. It's common nowadays for me to see my editor log in early and work late to make sure we all get our pieces back by end of day, which is really disheartening. As a former colleague noted in their review, Animalz causes many of us to develop or worsen problems with substances, sleep, and anxiety due to the stress of the job. Because of the editorial team layoffs, there's now a huge problem with quality. Our clients pay to get really good content that's been reviewed up to three times -- usually by an editor twice and a copyeditor once. For L4+ CMs, that was one editor review and one copyeditor review. Now, the copyediting stage has been replaced for L4+ CMs... with Grammarly. A poor substitute for the careful review of our gifted copyeditor team. When concerns have been raised about this, leadership said the quality you get from Grammarly is about on par with a copyeditor's review and that if you're really that concerned, you can raise the issue with our Lead Editor and fight to get approved to put your pieces in the copyediting queue. Perhaps I wasn't the right fit for Animalz. I'm sure that this review will be ignored or publicly refuted, as was once done by our CEO in an email to all employees, as the remarks of a disgruntled ex-employee. But after talking to many current and ex-Animalz, I've come to think that most people aren't right for Animalz. Or rather, Animalz isn't the right company for most people, because the people in charge don't know how to manage it.

Advice to Management

Listen to what employees are saying and have been saying for ages instead of gaslighting them. Burnout is a serious issue. Production KPIs and minimum averages are an issue. Internal messaging is an issue. The inability to take time off either because of production KPIs or because of the massive workload awaiting you upon your return is an issue. Overly demanding clients who give mountains of feedback are an issue. Low compensation and lack of 401k matching are issues. Foster psychological safety for employees by eliminating the "no venting" policy and encouraging employees to express frustrations and problems without being put down or gaslit. When we raise issues currently, we're told that we're the only ones experiencing that issue, which makes us feel alone and unheard... until we talk to each other and realize -- no, everyone has this issue. Everyone is burnt out. Everyone is tired of being held to unrealistic production expectations. Everyone is looking for new jobs because Animalz doesn't care to retain us. Lead with empathy for team members over customers. Adjust workload expectations for CMs because not all CMs have the same kind of workload or smooth clients. Even if promotions or bonuses aren't financially possible, give recognition more boldly and loudly about the contributions that hard-working team members do make. Consider slimming down the C-suite or taking exec pay cuts before conducting any more layoffs. Acknowledge the impact that layoffs have on employee morale instead of sweeping everything under the rug as a necessary business decision. Real people and their livelihoods were affected and you have to put in the hard work to earn employee trust back instead of just telling us to deal with the reality of the company's financials. Carve out time for CMs to actually pursue professional development opportunities and upskill. Part of the reason we have such huge backlogs is that we're supposed to do ideation for our customers, but if you don't know how to do it, you have no time to learn how to do so with your ceaseless production expectations. We also have no time (or money) to take courses on skills we don't have resources on, like crafting email marketing campaigns or writing LinkedIn thought leadership. Enable employees to actually take time off instead of micromanaging and examining every PTO request against our KPIs. Institute mandatory minimum PTO. Adjust expectations with clients if there's no coverage available for CMs taking time off. Push back on unreasonable clients instead of letting CSMs get steamrolled and not advocate for CMs. Accept less of those huge one-off projects. They're poorly scoped and always come with unreasonable workloads and deadlines. Stop being hardasses on delivery dates. Most of our clients don't care as long as we communicate. There's no such thing as a content marketing emergency; stop manufacturing them. All it does is put pressure on everyone working on content to work faster and spend less time doing intentional, meaningful work. Create accountability for the C-suite. If we have to prove everything that we've done in a month, and fight to get credit for our work, leadership should prove the results of what they work on too. More than just the $$ numbers and action tours to talk about what you should do. Outline the exact action items you've done every month and plan to do next month. And maybe, consider picking up a credit of work each quarter to see just how much work goes into writing just one Animalz-quality article. I believe that Tara, the new interim CEO, is well-intentioned and trying her best to improve conditions at the company. I hope that she puts her money where her mouth is, and makes Animalz a great place to work again. I hope that she recognizes this review as the voicing of valid concerns from someone who genuinely wants to see the people at Animalz thrive. Otherwise, Animalz will continue to lose their best and brightest to tech companies like our customers -- or even other content marketing agencies.

The editors, writers, and most of the team leads are talented and empathetic, really focusing on teamwork. Read More

December 15, 2022

Reviewed by: Content Marketing Manager (Former Employee)

May 14, 2022

Pros

As other people have written, the saving grace of Animalz is getting to work with writers and editors (and some team leads) who care deeply about doing good work and supporting each other. The high degree of editorial oversight means that even if you learn nothing else, you will walk away from the company as a better writer. Unfortunately, making genuine connections with the people you work with is extremely difficult, because everyone is overwhelmed and afraid to speak openly about any issues because of an entrenched culture of toxic positivity. It is still possible to have a good experience at Animalz if: -You have a natural ability to produce huge amounts of content every week, while managing customers, coming up with content ideas, reporting on performance, and other duties -You happen to be paired with a team lead who takes an interest in you and isn’t so completely overwhelmed that they can’t help you at all -You happen to be assigned to customers with an approach to content that makes sense, and who have reasonable expectations of you. (Because if they don’t, you should not expect support from the company in pushing back on them.) -You are capable of focusing only on your own work, and ignoring the people burning out and quitting all around you, the nonsensical proclamations from management, and the company’s increasingly dire financial straits

Cons

Animalz is in a death spiral. And even if you don’t care about the fate of the company as a whole, and you check every box in the “pros” section, you will inevitably be harmed by the experience of working at a company this grotesquely mismanaged. The company's issues with burnout, churn, and work quality have already been covered by my former colleagues eloquently and at length. So I want to focus on talking about the two things that really messed me up at Animalz: toxic positivity and gaslighting. I’m aware both of those terms have been overused and robbed of their original meanings, but we can restore them to usefulness if we simply use Animalz as the universal benchmark to which all other examples can be compared. Because seriously: the place is the dictionary definition of each. I personally mark the beginning of Animalz' descent into toxicity as the day when a member of leadership imposed the “no venting “rule. This created a company culture in which it is forbidden to acknowledge problems, or publicly admit to unhappiness or stress. The enforced and false positivity has made the experience of working at Animalz deeply isolating for people, who assume that any issues with burnout and overwhelming workloads are their personal problems and not evidence of systemic failures. On top of that, Animalz explicitly rewards people for taking on duties that are *not their jobs* without compensating them for it. Your reward will come in the form of public praise for being such a "rock star," and your peers will echo this praise out of a sense of obligation, thus endlessly perpetuating the culture dominated by fake smiles and the constant repetition that "everything is fine." Which brings us to the gaslighting. As I said before, things are not going well at Animalz. But rather than acknowledge or meaningfully address that, leadership constantly tries to paper over it, and convince you that what looks like chaos is actually growth. When four members of senior leadership departed the company in three months, the CEO addressed this in an all-hands by saying that retention isn't a priority. In the face of mounting customer churn, leadership will simply change metrics to ones that it finds more favorable, rather than address the bad numbers. Every few months, leadership announces some grand new initiative or direction for the company, but these ideas are never fully thought out before they are presented, and no one can answer any questions about *how they will work*. The company is now undergoing its second major re-organization in under a year, but there's no sense of why or what it will mean on a day-to-day basis. Concerns about slipping standards and unhappy customers have led to an announcement that we now prioritize "outcomes over articles." (This would doubtlessly come as a shock to our customers, since articles are the thing they pay us for.) Oh and we're adding new products! Including video! How, you ask? No one can tell you. But the experience of having to pretend that any of the above makes sense is exhausting and demoralizing. Prolonged exposure to that kind of dishonesty is bad for your health, and I mean that very literally, since issues with sleep, substances, and anxiety are quietly rampant among the team.

Advice to Management

This advice is not directed to senior leadership, because I don't believe they are capable of accepting advice that requires real change. My feedback is directed at the leaders in the middle, who are trying to keep their own careers intact, but in doing so, are enabling a toxic culture that is doing real damage to people's lives. To you I say: you have more power than you think. You do not have to nod along with every ridiculous proclamation from leadership, or carry out their paranoid campaigns against anything with the slightest whiff of organizing. You can band together and stand up, or you can leave. If this company is going to be saved, it will only be by people like you, blowing on the dying embers of what originally made it a success: undeniably brilliant work from people who truly believed in what we were doing. Any attempts to circumvent that through new products or cost cutting will inevitably fail. It’s already failing. And the result is not just the wreckage of a company, but the wreckage of people's careers, mental health, and perceptions of you.

This created a company culture in which it is forbidden to acknowledge problems, or publicly admit to unhappiness or stress. Read More

May 14, 2022

Reviewed by: Anonymous (Anonymous Employee)

May 24, 2021

Pros

The fast-paced environment is perfect if you're super early-career and need a quick onramp into a content marketing career. Animalz has enough cred in tech that you'll easily find work in content marketing after working there (many employees joke about how often recruiters hit them up as soon as they change over their LinkedIn current company.) The company is structured best to support very early talent who can write 12k+ words per month. If you are a fast, mechanical writer, the workload is equivalent or easier than being a full-time freelancer. Animalz attracts high-quality talent and you'll work with very capable, helpful people and leave with a great network. If you have a problem, management and leadership will at the very least hear you out. Everyone means very well -- the underlying culture isn't catty or manic like most agencies. Most of the team deeply cares about the craft of writing.

Cons

Company is rapidly scaling a credits-based business model, (unusual for content agencies of their size) in pursuit of growth at all costs -- this means that both client and employee churn is high, which affects morale. Due to the rapid growth, clients are not pre-screened well enough, which means you may end up being assigned to a nightmare client the agency is unwilling to drop. The business operations processes set in place haven't been scaling effectively to match the growth, so you'll spend a lot of time chasing down information, managing "up" and learning what to ignore in order to actually get your work done. There are no account managers or project managers -- you do both of these jobs for yourself. It's usually more difficult than it should be to take your PTO because you have to personally chase down coverage writers or disappoint a client to take a week off. The speed of production is difficult to keep up with for an average-speed writer -- I'd say a true 40-hr work week is rare, and 50-70 is the norm. For anyone mid-career or further, pay and benefits are not competitive, which is why many of the employees leave to work in-house for Animalz clients instead.

this means that both client and employee churn is high, which affects morale. Read More

May 24, 2021

Reviewed by: Content Marketing Manager (Former Employee)

July 1, 2021

Pros

Animalz hires incredible people. Current and former employees are now great friends and trusted confidantes. If you're looking for a place to start your content marketing career, Animalz could be a great fit. You'll work with knowledgable people and get a lot of experience. I think the salary is fairly competitive for a first job. I believe there are people in leadership who legitimately care about the CMs they manage. They are willing to work with you to find solutions to problems and try to support you, but I think sometimes their hands are tied and they can only do so much.

Cons

Like a lot of companies that quickly expand, Animalz is experiencing growing pains, and unfortunately, it causes stress for overworked and under-compensated CMs. Salaries are transparent, but I do not think that compensation is always competitive for CMs or always logical. New graduates may make more than employees at higher levels. People with technical skills are not compensated for their knowledge. Employees with 10+ years experience or postgraduate degrees make less than those without as much experience or education. Maybe these people are just better negotiators. It is unclear. I accepted a lower salary because Animalz promises lots of opportunities for promotion, but I finally realized that the only way to get a reasonable salary jump was to leave. (After talking to other former employees, compensation was a major motivating factor. Most everyone now makes at least $30K more and has better work-life balance.) As stated above, I had great co-workers, but I rarely felt supported as a team member. CMs have so many customers and so much work that there is no support system in place if you need help or need someone to cover for you. It was hard to take vacation because I was responsible for finding my own coverage. And it is widely accepted that you will be working hard before, during, or after your vacation to make up for it. I think there is simply too much work for each CM. It is a juggling game of keeping customers happy and continually churning out content to meet stress-inducing quotas. My team lead was so busy that they rarely had time to help me with problematic customers. There just is not enough people or time in the day to provide that support and CMs struggle because of it. I liked the culture of positivity that Animalz had when I joined, but I think it has taken a turn. Now that positivity seems somewhat toxic. Employees are even instructed not to complain or vent in Slack. Transparency is talked about a lot but practiced inconsistently. You can ask leadership anonymous questions, but they can also go unanswered. When questions are addressed, sometimes leadership is noticeably unhappy with you for asking tough questions. There is a growing sense of distrust. Why do we need to sign documentation that leadership can read our DMs? Why are employees questioned about their social media posts? Are the employee engagement surveys truly anonymous? These changes in company policy and culture left me feeling unsafe and unable to function to the best of my ability. While I appreciated working for a women-led leadership team, I do not know if they have the necessary power to make the major changes that the organization needs.

Advice to Management

Listen to what employees say in exit interviews. We want Animalz to improve because we value the people who are still there and want work life to get better for them. Act sooner rather than later. Employees are unhappy, discouraged, and burned out, and promising changes or promotions months down the line might be too late. Value employees over customers. Please put their best interests first. The incredible people you consistently hire are what can make Animalz a great place to work again.

These changes in company policy and culture left me feeling unsafe and unable to function to the best of my ability. Read More

July 1, 2021

Reviewed by: Content Marketing Manager (Former Employee)

July 7, 2021

Pros

It's a very supportive environment. Other team members are always willing to help and onboarding process helps new hires to quickly learn internal processes. Lots of opportunities to learn and grow. There are plenty educational resources that employees can use to upskill and get promoted. Transparency. CEO and the leadership team are regularly informing employees on the latest initiatives and you can always request a 1:1 meeting with anyone to voice your concerns. Great clients. Some of the biggest names in the SaaS and tech world are working with Animalz so it's a unique opportunity to collaborate with these brands and help them with their content needs. Remote work and location-agnostic salary. Everyone gets the same pay (benchmarked against the US standards) so you can live anywhere you want in the world without worrying whether the company will cut your pay because of lower living costs. Work gets done mostly in an asynchronous manner. Also, Animalz won't ask you to work overtime and there's a good work-life balance.

Cons

Not all clients are great. Some clients are demanding and don't really know how SEO and content marketing works, which adds a level of stress. Marketers who don't like or know to write well will find it hard to work at Animalz as the company is HIGHLY demanding when it comes to this. But there are editors who work with marketers on each piece of content so it gets easier over time. Although the company invests a lot of effort in improving internal processes and tools, there is still work left to be done here.

Transparency. Read More

July 7, 2021

Reviewed by: Content Marketing Manager (Current Employee)

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