- Former Employee, more than 1 year★★★★★
A company run on cynicismJan 9, 2023 - Content Manager in New York, NYRecommendCEO ApprovalBusiness Outlook
If you’re someone who’s terrific at context switching, and a very competent (and patient) writer, Animalz was once a pretty neat gig. The pay was and remains awful relative to US market rates, but the previously high-trust, low-oversight management approach meant it used to be easy for skilled people to do work and own their own calendars by-and-large. This made the place a mecca for people who worked to live, instead of those who live to work, and for people who had other projects/businesses/side-hustles to also give their attentions to. However, I am currently talking about a completely different company (the Animalz of the past) than the one I am about to talk about (the Animalz of the more-recent-past and present).
Animalz is an absolute textbook of mismanagement – in my time the company went from being in a position of imperious advantage through the COVID period to being in an absolute death spiral now. The company is awash in cynicism at every level. Shocking rates of pay compared to market averages. No-clue leadership team rinsing the company for massive salaries and reciting Monty Python bits during All-Hands despite catastrophic staff churn and client churn. Product announcements than come to nothing. Deafeningly insensitive attempts at DEI. If you’re a writer here you’ll pretty quickly start wondering why you’re doing a lot of customer success and strategy work, despite the fact that: there is almost certainly a CSM and a strategist on your team; they both get paid more than you; and, in the present climate, their jobs are more secure than yours. Idiotic org chart management has plagued Animalz for two years at least while prior management play-acted that the company – a standard-issue content farm – was actually a technology startup. CSMs, for instance, are redundant for a company that sells something so simple and that most clients, unfortunately, treat as a tiresome irrelevance anyway. No one in the ‘product’ division ever had a clue about product, and the Animalz array remained sadly undiversified despite the fact that the company would now be printing money if they’d invested in, say, video content during the pandemic. As with all mismanaged companies, incentives for Animalz employees are absolutely all over the place. Knowing that there’s not enough work to go around, the leadership team decided to impose production quotas. This was such a self-own that, despite the initiative ostensibly being put in place to increase output, it led to the company firing or downgrading a number of their best people just because they hadn’t been given enough work during a given month to meet quota or, as is incredibly frequently the case, because the work they’d done had been improperly billed. Animalz has no institutional memory and does not account for historical productivity; it arbitrarily assigned a uniform quota, and anyone who was below it after a couple months was sent to the slaughterhouse, irrespective of specific circumstances (including being on vacation, illness etc.). Again, these quotas are mandated despite: a) a lack of available work b) a lack of training for new CMs, several of whom I mentored and who had horrific experiences here c) imbalanced distribution of duties among the team, so that CM workloads frequently get overwhelming, while non-CMs bear no responsibility whatsoever for deliverables or performance d) the fact that you as a writer are not even going to be paid market rate for your experience or skills, while doing 2.5 jobs, at least This complete waking nightmare for writers is not made any easier by Animalz’s pointlessly over-elaborated editing schema. While individual editors here are good at what they do, the editing norms at Animalz appear to take it as given that all of the company’s writers can’t write, and that all of the readers of the company’s work aren’t bright enough to understand even the most familiar turns of figurative language. Not a good basis for getting the best possible work out of your writing stable. Training and institutional knowledge access are both non-existent. I’d be astonished if the company still exists for all intents and purposes in a year – best case scenario it will have morphed into an AI content farm (a Christmas which a great many of the more turkey-minded staff seem weirdly enthusiastic about). Plenty of other perfectly good writers will have been ground through the mill by then, whatever the outcome.Continue reading
Other Employee Reviews
- Current Employee, more than 1 year★★★★★
A great fit for me, but not perfect for everyoneJul 7, 2022 - Content Marketing ManagerRecommendCEO ApprovalBusiness Outlook
A few days into my career at Animalz, I knew it was a great fit. However, because of past toxic job experiences, I was wary that I was in a "honeymoon" phase that would eventually wear off. Over a year later, it still hasn't worn off! No company is perfect, but what makes Animalz stand out is that leadership genuinely cares about their people and is working to make things better. Sometimes that progress is slow, sometimes it creates growing pains, etc. But I've been in places where no progress is made at all...so dealing with growing pains feels far better. It's a sign that they're continually trying to make things better and are always willing to admit when they're wrong and need to change direction. Agency life in general can be hard. It requires a focus on production, which can be stressful. But over the years they've reduced the number of articles to a manageable amount after listening to their employees. They're also working on ways to reduce the emphasis on production numbers. That's not an easy task in an agency environment, but they're willing to take it on for our sake. As far as workload, the expectation is 8 articles a month (on the months you don't take PTO). If you come from agency life, you know how manageable this is compared to most agencies that require you to write an article a day sometimes. The feedback process is hefty, so in general, the articles do take longer from start to finish, but it's so nice to be able to focus on quality over quantity.
If you haven't been in a position where you're writing full-time (or if you have no agency experience), there might be a steep learning curve to ramp up to the production required. So if you're genuinely not interested in writing full time, this probably isn't the position for you. The company is also facing growing pains right now (largely due to restructuring how teams work). This is natural with any company, but if you're easily stressed out by change then maybe consider applying 6 months from now when things have stabilized.Continue reading
- Former Employee, more than 1 year★★★★★
"Learn. Burn out. Leave." The Usual Animalz StoryMar 2, 2023 - Content Marketing Manager in New York, NYRecommendCEO ApprovalBusiness Outlook
Not counting the extremely incompetent leadership, Animalz has some of the most talented people in content marketing. It's a privilege to work with them every single day. This agency is therefore great if you're relatively new in your content marketing career, and would like to strengthen your skills and hold yourself to a higher standard. To some extent, this agency is still regarded as one of the best content marketing agencies on the planet. While that reputation is now dying as a result of poor leadership, having the Animalz logo on your resume may help open some doors in your content marketing career. The job is also completely remote, which is a huge plus if you're not so big on commuting.
As many other reviews have pointed out, Animalz is currently in a death spiral. Morale is extremely low. Burnout is the norm. Employees have been leaving in droves. And customer churn is at an all-time high. The root cause for all of the above? An incompetent and inexperienced leadership team that looks like a bunch of children pretend-playing at running a company. Except, actual children tend to show signs of empathy for those around them, which the current leadership severely lacks. For starters, there is a huge disconnect between what’s promised to the clients (quality) and the internal expectations (quantity). Animalz has always positioned itself as a premium content marketing agency, offering attention to detail, great customer service, and top-notch content; all the qualities of a true “white glove” service. However, certain people in the leadership — who, mind you, couldn’t write a single blog post to save their lives — believe that producing content of that level is like snapping your fingers. If you fail to deliver a certain number of articles every 3 months (which you most likely would) you’ll get placed on a performance improvement plan by a certain, miserable person in the leadership. And if the stress of your job being constantly at risk isn’t enough, you get lumped together with a “Customer Success Manager,” whose JD is to essentially crack the whip on you to “GET THINGS DONE” because they can’t be bothered to manage expectations with the clients. Ultimately, you’ll end up getting burnt-out which you’ll never really recover from. These issues have been brought up with the leadership team MANY times. Employees have been voicing their concerns and letting them know that something about the process needs to change. Unfortunately, the leadership team simply refuses to listen to anything that those on the ground — the actual people earning revenue for the company — have to say. After completely ignoring the cries of the poor CMs, team leads, and editors below, what does the leadership do to “fix” the burnout problem? Planning a total organizational restructure that adds even more responsibilities to the people who are already overworked! That itself opened up an entirely new can of worms, as some seriously talented people were denied new “senior-level” positions for reasons that are extremely foolish. Now, those people are actively planning their exits from the company. I’m not going to go much deeper into this mess because it’s a dumpster fire of such a large magnitude that it’ll make this review super long. The point of sharing this was to show you the severe incompetence of the Animalz leadership. There are also little to no growth opportunities. Sure, you’ll learn how to write an incredible blog post, and pick up on some SEO and reporting skills. But that’s where the growth ends. The only way up is being a total suck-up. If you’re cool with that, there’s no stopping you from breaking the glass ceiling. But if you’re not, you’ll be forced to take initiative, and prove your worth and skills “on your own time.” And even then, if someone on the leadership team has a personal problem with you, you’ll end up staying where you are for the rest of your duration at Animalz.Continue reading