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Highwire Reviews

Updated February 22, 2018
48 reviews

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3.5
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Emily Call Borders, Kathleen Gratehouse, & Carol Carrubba
38 Ratings

48 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • I also really appreciate the work from home on Friday program as well as the overall flexibility with my schedule Highwire (in 14 reviews)

  • Work life balance seems to be a big focus (in 7 reviews)

Cons
  • Fast paced - comes with the territory when you are working in a tech PR agency (in 10 reviews)

  • Upper management uses fear tactics to get results (one director mention he/she is constantly in fear of getting fired) (in 8 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Smart, creative and effective PR agency"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Account Director in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Account Director in San Francisco, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Highwire full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Highwire was my fifth PR agency and the best experience yet. The company values its employees and invests heavily in training and staff development, as well as offering generous profit-sharing, benefits and flexible work styles. The team has very high standards, which produces great results for clients. The client roster is impressive and provides plenty of opportunity for interesting award-winning work. Agile workstyles adopted by Highwire mirror those of clients and create efficient teams. The company has an entrepreneurial spirit and empowers staff to actively problem solve and create new initiatives.

    Cons

    It's an agency, so client load balancing is a factor. All agency's struggle to manage the peaks and troughs of client activity. Highwire actually manages this better than most other agencies. The 4 account maximum for junior staff enables them to be immersed in the client's world, without being pulled in too many different directions. That said, sometimes you'll encounter the perfect storm of client busyness. That's agency life.

    Advice to Management

    Continue to keep/protect the essence of Highwire while tinkering and making improvements.


  2. Helpful (4)

    "It was ok"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Mid Level in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Mid Level in New York, NY
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Highwire full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Writing Coach, managers, workshops, wfh fridays, summer fridays (if you got to take them)

    Cons

    hard to find footing, lack of support, no consistency

    Advice to Management

    You must figure out a way to instill positive attitudes among your employees and also need to recognize not everyone works the same, and that's what's so special about a work place. Each person is an individual you're bringing in who may not necessarily work or act the same as the "highwire" way but letting people go is not the way to solve for this. Each person could be bringing you new ways of thinking and exciting ideas. You need to be open to listen to them...many folks leave after 6-10 months there is a lot of potential for the company you just have to be open to listening to your employees! It's a talented group. Questionable manager styles often times I'd have my meetings in unprofessional environments and it didn't seem like my concerns and what I needed to grow were taken seriously / understood at all. Questionable expectations - clients and workers are given unreasonable / often times unreal expectations which burn out employees quickly. Additionally, we are often told VPs and above give you fake deadlines to put pressure on employees - I've never seen this scare tactic work well. Which is why there are a lot of people that don't stay past 6 mos. No support - junior staff while often smart are so over burdened by their own work there is not a lot of room to get help and manage in a way that works well for your team. On multiple accounts when trying to put a sense of organization / cadence in place was told that "We have never had a problem in the past we do this the highwire way. If it's disorganized it is not our way it's your way of managing" - this clearly is not true. Many accounts are disorganized, deadlines often are missed, morale is low in NY and SF (NYers are pretty siloed few people are "friends" - a lot of passive aggressiveness if something happens on an account. Have walked into rooms with junior folks crying in the past...you truly have to have a personality that fits in here if you want to succeed here. Clique - there is an in and out group so if you know how to play politics and have been around the block in agencies you'll be fine. ou'll see that "favoritism" for employees is seen in this way.) I did find some supportive mentors, as in any agency you have to figure that part out for yourself. There will always be helpful people and those that are not as helpful. - I found that the writing coach was great (often she'd review my pitches, press releases, etc. and would rave about them while certain managers internally claimed they were hard to understand .

  3. Helpful (3)

    "Read ALL reviews (good and bad) and judge for yourself"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Account Manager in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Account Manager in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Highwire full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    • Opportunity to work with big-name tech companies
    • Fast-pace environment - ideal in PR world
    • Occasional massage visits
    • Work-from-home Fridays
    • Summer Friday’s (agency closes at 3 pm)

    Cons

    • Bureaucracy when it comes to decision-making
    • Priority are the clients (vs. the people who work hard to meet those clients’ needs - which is a “pro” if you’re a client)
    • Upper management uses fear tactics to get results (one director mention he/she is constantly in fear of getting fired)
    • Appears to be high turnover on a weekly (not monthly) basis
    • Higher-ups apply “false heat” to their account teams, as opposed to positive reinforcement
    • Principals do NOT yell at employees (contrary to what’s in other reviews). However, they do speak loudly, including when they are critical. This can especially be uncomfortable to junior staff in an open office environment

    Advice to Management

    (this is my second attempt to post this review, as it was previously removed)

    This does not come from a place of bitterness, but of genuine concern for the stability of the agency. If you do not want high turnover, please please PLEASE pay attention to the concerns that your staff may have. Do not come off as disconnected and out of touch. Invest in your staff (not with professional development courses, which are great), but really get to know them. I’ve seen really great and talented people leave for the reasons I stated above, including most recently someone at a high level. This is clearly a decent agency with great clients. But it can be even better. The culture must change, though, and it starts at the top. Then (and ONLY then) will you see a decrease in turnover.


  4. Helpful (3)

    "Not an ideal place if you’re starting your PR career; you will leave that place discouraged"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Account Manager in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Account Manager in New York, NY
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Highwire full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Writing coach who makes herself available and genuinely wants you to get better

    Competitive salary

    Weekly yoga sessions

    Healthy food in the kitchen (no junk food)

    Cons

    Break-neck pace (much faster than your typical PR agency)

    Account teams are made based on availability, not by expertise, leading to too-heavy teams

    Hardly any opportunities to be creative, regardless of what they tell you.

    Unreasonable expectations, which leads to faster burnout

    Passive-aggressive demeanor among management makes it discouraging to 1) ask questions, 2) come up with proactive ideas

    Advice to Management

    I’ve seen interns and junior staffers enter this place excited and very eager to learn. Some have come away second-guessing their PR careers. It shouldn’t be that way (and if you’re an intern or junior staffer reading this, know that HW is the exception, not the norm when it comes to PR agencies).

    The truth is, people at all levels leave Highwire after a short amount of time - most recently a Senior Vice President. If management insists on saying that everything is fine, then don’t change a thing (its their agency and they have the free will to do anything they want). But if things stay the same, they simply cannot complain about the high turnover rate. Start listening to your employees and make them feel proud to work for you. All they want is a place they can be loyal to and work hard for ... not just another “job.”


  5. Helpful (1)

    "Great clients, management and colleagues"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Highwire full-time

    Pros

    The agency is filled with incredibly talented colleagues. It’s a great place to jump start your career with some of the best names in the tech industry as clients and the smartest people in PR leading them. Upper management is easily accessible to junior staff, extremely supportive, understanding and put a focus on professional development.

    The culture is also incredible. The entire NYC office gets along and are people that are fun and make the everyday stress of agency life worth it. With offices in both the East and West Coast the company culture is very consistent, but also fitting for the city.

    Some of the pros:
    - Frequent trainings
    - Amazing work life balance
    - Dedicated writing coach
    - Work from home flexibility
    - Weekly bagels and probably the best snack selection out there
    - Dedicated manager and mentor

    Cons

    - Monthly fitness classes that often aren’t a fit for everyone. Agency needs to invest in an actual gym benefit/reimbursement/ or corporate partnership somewhere.

    - Upper management can be out of touch with how long tasks really take

    Advice to Management

    Comes with the job that we’re on our computers all day, would be great for the company to invest in ergonomically designed workspaces. Sure, what we have looks good, but it causes a lot of strain to sit/stand and stare (down) at computers all day.


  6. Helpful (2)

    "Great place to grow your career"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Highwire full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Highwire has a fast paced environment and is growing very quickly. However despite the pace and growth the team supports each other and there are allot of opportunities to grow and progress your career.

    Highwire provides a collaborative environment where employee wins are celebrated and asking for what you want is a mantra you will hear on a regular basis. Information within the agency is always shares, there is no bureaucracy and your creative ideas are embraced and encouraged.

    The agency also comes with some great perks like work from home Fridays, summer hours, excellent training program, profit sharing bonuses, 4% 401k match, 100% paid medical, dental and vision, generous PTO, donation match and curiosity benefit.

    Great place to work and different from other PR agencies in the best way. You are truly empowered to trail-blaze and take your career to the next level.

    Cons

    The PR industry is known to be fast paced but the Highwire culture keeps things fun and light hearted with it's work hard/play hard mentality.

    Advice to Management

    Keep the focus on the people with the growth


  7. Helpful (6)

    "Account Executive"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend

    I have been working at Highwire full-time

    Pros

    Great office and location in SF

    Cons

    Power dynamic, politics, poor management

  8. "Great agency to work for"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Highwire full-time

    Pros

    Great location, dedicated co-workers, interesting clients, great benefits and perks at the office.

    Cons

    Like most agencies, the work is fast paced and you'll be expected to put in the hours. However, their generous WFH policy helps you keep your sanity.


  9. "Great Opportunities for Passionate Hard Workers"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY

    I have been working at Highwire full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    -Colleagues are fun, passionate, creative and extremely dedicated.
    -Benefits and perks are fantastic, good work/life balance.
    -Interesting clients.

    Cons

    It's a PR agency, so of course it's fast-paced and a lot is expected of you. It's definitely a work hard/play hard environment.


  10. Helpful (7)

    "Don't work here if you value your happiness"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Highwire full-time

    Pros

    -Work from home flexibility
    -Bi-annual profit sharing / bonuses
    -The opportunity to work with some cool and innovative clients, which can strengthen your resume and give you some good business press experience

    Cons

    Highwire's principals brag that the agency is called "Highwire" because they like to think that like all balancing acts, it's one that requires talent and finesse. That’s true, but Highwire's culture is also like walking a tightrope: lots of tension, fear, and largely a solo act, with a long and frightening way to fall if you make the slightest misstep (and no teammate support). The culture is toxic and unsupportive (unless you are in upper management and have the benefit of shoving all the hard work onto your underlings). The numbers speak for themselves: probably at least 30 employees leave in a year (a ~50% turnover rate), and quite a few after less than six months and without another job lined up (that's how desperately people want to get out).

    To name a few problems:

    -Very little appreciation for the work you do. Sometimes projects you’ve bent over backwards on in order to meet deadlines are received without any acknowledgement. And because managers kind of suck at being responsive and on top of their own work/inboxes/deadlines you have to chase them just to determine if they even saw your work since it’s also unlikely they’ll circle back with feedback.
    -Managers “delegate” (as they should) but when it’s needed, aren’t willing to buckle down and take on their fair share of work even if the rest of the team is overworked
    -Hypocrisy: Managers get away with incompetence at the higher levels and often don’t really know what’s going on on their teams
    -Lack of empathy from management: For example, principals and management were often out of touch with what's going on on the ground and would promise unachievable things to the client without checking with the day-to-day team to see what’s realistic. They aren’t cognizant of how much their sometimes ridiculous demands add to the workload and how feasible and necessary they are, or maybe they just don't care.
    -Lots of office politics: Extremely difficult to get promoted without jumping through new hoops all the time. Would rather hire unqualified people from outside rather than promoting existing employees who are already performing at the level above them.
    -Passive-aggressive culture, lack of support, and managers who would rather complain behind your back than talk to you man-to-man to try to understand your POV. Minor things often blown out of proportion or portrayed to leadership in ways different than they actually occurred.
    -Management knows that they have a culture problem (hard to ignore with their crazy turnover rates) but you’re unable to share constructive feedback without it being perceived as “pushback”
    -As other reviewers on here have alluded to, the principals are the problem. They are close-minded tyrants who refuse to listen to professional opinions or approaches different than their own without them thinking YOU have a problem. (Look in the mirror.) Even those in upper management are scared of expressing something different than what the principals think, which is sad and pathetic. They also don’t mind having loud uncomfortable conversations about (or with) employees out in the open. Since culture flows from the top, it’s no wonder Highwire's is so miserable.

    New employees (maybe the only ones who are satisfied), once you get out of your initial Highwire honeymoon period you realize how extremely poisonous, passive-aggressive and unsupportive the culture is and will start dreading every Monday. Don’t work here if you value your happiness.

    Advice to Management

    Maybe actually try listening to your employees for a change and asking them what they'd like in order to feel supported and valued - without getting defensive and thinking these are only a "them" problem, easily solved once these unhappy and supposedly disposable employees leave. It's not, it's your problem.


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