Phelps Reviews | Glassdoor

Phelps Reviews

Updated October 25, 2017
34 reviews

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34 Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (1)

    "An Amazing Place for Aspiring Ad Folks to Build Their Career"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Team Manager in Playa Vista, CA
    Former Employee - Team Manager in Playa Vista, CA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Phelps (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    I begin my career at Phelps right out of college as an intern. What attracted me to Phelps was the people and culture. Coming in as a newbie, I felt as though my opinion was definitely encouraged and valued. Phelps has a very "silicon startup" type of feel. They continually reinforce this culture through house-meetings, agency-wide brainstorming sessions and off-site retreats (these activities are seldom at the larger agencies) In addition, as an integrated agency, you truly do get a genuine opportunity to see multiple sides of the marketing communications business. Some other perks include:

    -Catered lunched twice a week
    -Dog-friendly workplace
    -Open workstation layout
    -Some kick-butt agency celebrations (i.e. Halloween)
    -Solid work-life balance, especially for the agency world
    -A free book (see "Pyramids are Tombs")

    Cons

    I believe that a lot of the agency challenges came from not having one large marquee client. Because of this, I found that it was challenging to continue to learn and grow in the mid-level to senior range (unless you were at the very top driving holistic strategy) In addition, having smaller clients means lower budgets, less risk-taking which arguably stifles creativity in output.

    Advice to Management

    Phelps needs to continue building a strong case to win a large client. That could mean taking big risks, which is understandably difficult for a smaller agency with less room for overhead costs. However, if Phelps was to land a BIG client (i.e. Ad Age report worthy) I think a lot of the aforementioned challenges would be solved. It would be the best of both worlds if Phelps can have one large client and several smaller ones so it's people can get exposure to both types of the business


  2. Helpful (1)

    "Store-Front Coverup for a Failing, Out of Date Ad Agency"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    -office space...open layouts with large desk space, dogs allowed, lots of windows

    -work/life balance

    -free health insurance

    -use to serve lunch 2x a week until the agency became unprofitable

    -A smaller agency so you get to avoid the corporate politics of bigger agencies.

    Cons

    -small clients with even smaller budgets

    -There is a complete lack of leadership here. And it has translated into poor organization of teams and departments and insufficient work methods. If they could realize that the handful of guys who have been there for 7+ years and do nothing but either duplicate each others work or pass it off to someone else, Phelps would be able to be run like a successful agency. Stop laying off entry level employees and start to look at the unsuccessful upper management.

    -As an entry level employee, I came in with the hopes of being part of a media training program, seeing as my position was "trainee". No such curriculum was in place. There was no media onboarding and there are not enough media employees available to provide guidance, as they are overworked and understaffed.

    -I came on board right as the agency was at its turning point, about to head to complete destruction. Lay-offs were plentiful and I would not log my overtime hours in fear of being laid off.

    -The median age is 37, which is very high for an ad agency and just goes to re-enforce the fact that the agency is full of old men with big egos who duplicate each others work. The office social life was non-existent. And I think its even more non-existent now that more and more employees are leaving.

    -Phelps has an archaic way of keeping timesheets. Be prepared to log your hours under various client and project codes and provide a detailed recap of EVERY SINGLE HOUR that you worked.

    -Upwards mobility is rare.

    -They are all about learning and growth but their tech stack is so small. They are not a proper media agency in planning and buying terms. I do not recommend working here for media experience and opportunities.

    -Lastly, Phelps is an agency that talks a big talk. It pretends it is up-to-date with their "integrated" strategy. And by integrated, they mean that creative, media, production, etc. all live in their office and work together. But in order to be integrated, you have to have a client that uses you for all those things. And Phelps didn't have that.

    Advice to Management

    Scratch everything and start over

  3. Helpful (1)

    "N/a"

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

    I worked at Phelps full-time

    Pros

    There are a few select individuals who understand and actually bring value to the agency.

    The location is in Silicon Beach.

    The office is dog friendly.

    Cons

    Phelps' struggles arise from a distinct lack of leadership. Those who lead pursue their own personal agendas that have no value to the actual benefit to the agency or the people who try to affect value to the work being done.
    The vast amount of the time is explaining to people who are vastly under qualified (with major attitude) about best practices.
    It's a classic case of inmates running the asylum.
    The group ballroom meetings and the "wall review" are a joke. It's painful how a system doesn't recognize how inefficient and navel gazing it is.

    Advice to Management

    You know what to do.


  4. Helpful (2)

    "An oligarchy in disguise"

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

    I worked at Phelps full-time

    Pros

    • Great work-life balance
    • Cool office
    • Cool campus
    • Great weather
    • Food trucks a short walk away
    • The new agency Chief Creative Officer is thoughtful, genuinely cares about the quality of the work and has a wealth of experience to learn from.

    Cons

    • Within the digital discipline specifically, the core agency ethics of 'flat structure', 'full feedback', and 'coaches who care' are not valued due to the rise of leaders with fragile egos that put their reputation and personal biases before the growth of their teammates, the quality of the work and the recommendations of experts in their discipline.

    • Instead of facing difficult internal problems directly and tackling the root of interpersonal issues through open discussion, they regularly take the easy way out and just let people go. The turnover rate is appalling.

    • Honest, direct communicators and creative thinkers beware, high level decision-making always comes down to the opinions of a select few. They advertise the agency as a place where everyone's feedback is respected but this is a blatant lie. Over the years it became painfully evident that you're not judged by the quality of your ideas but instead on political correctness and how many important people like you. In other words, be careful what you say and who you disagree with because you'll be thrown under the bus if you even attempt to respectfully disagree with the "leaders".

    • Personal account: I respectfully admonished the head of the digital discipline for mistakes made in the hiring process which negatively affected my career. Instead of opening up a thoughtful discussion about how to improve processes and move forward intelligently, I was met with hostility, blamed for "not doing enough", and over the next few months I was blacklisted behind my back and eventually let go under the guise of financial hardship. This is after serving the agency tooth and nail for almost 8 years.

    • Rampant lay-offs have destroyed agency morale and created a climate of high-level decision making motivated by fear of failure, which regularly waters down great thinking.

    Advice to Management

    Conduct a thorough audit of your digital leadership otherwise you'll keep losing good people.


  5. Helpful (1)

    "Great place to have your ideas heard"

    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 Phelps full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Phelps is a great place to get your ideas heard. They truly believe in feedback and practice it every day. This allows all people who work here the opportunity to share their ideas and be part of the creative process.

    Cons

    The new office space is great, but the location isn't my favorite. Wish there were more options for food and drink within walking distance.


  6. Helpful (1)

    "Special Agency"

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

    I worked at Phelps full-time

    Pros

    Phelps will always have a special place in my heart as it is where I "grew up" in my Marketing career.

    Due to the flat organizational structure was able to dip my hands in a lot of projects and tasks - which helped me to grow

    Flexibility and work life balance

    BBB and other internal brainstorm sessions - you always felt like your ideas were heard and taken into consideration

    Cons

    Because you focus on so many tasks you never truly become a master of one task/discipline

    At the time was more B2B focused and didn't get the Consumer marketing experience that I would have liked

    Advice to Management

    This agency has always had a lot of potential. Do what you have to do to take the next step to become truly great


  7. Helpful (1)

    "Great starting place for entry PR/advertising roles"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - PR Coordinator in Playa Vista, CA
    Former Employee - PR Coordinator in Playa Vista, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    I learned a lot coming straight out of college. Some benefits as a newbie to the industry:

    - Supportive environment to learn across departments. If you are interested in different arms of marketing, there is an open-door culture that allows you to reach out and learn from specialists in other departments.

    - Weekly company-wide meetings and brainstorms are good practice for chipping in your ideas and feedback to a large group of people.

    - Lots of other entry-level employees that are cool - made a lot of good friends there.

    - Great medical benefits.

    Cons

    - Mediocre compensation. Similar to industry standards, but still pretty low.

    Advice to Management

    Phelps has an infrastructure set up for positive feedback (with The Wall, BBB, etc.) that's nice in theory but hasn't really taken off in practice. These exercises should be used when necessary not mandatory. Also, better compensate employees.

  8. Helpful (2)

    "Unprofessional, disorganized and disillusioned!"

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

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

    Pros

    - There were catered lunches everyday. not sure if that exists anymore...

    - Several great people there to struggle along with. misery loves company

    - Work life balance. There were days where I would just not show up and no one said anything.

    - dogs in office

    Cons

    - Loosing talented professionals by the minute. The agency stretches the truth in what it offers on its site and to clients. Lots of mediocre work.

    - Too much Kool Aid sipping - bi weekly meetings that just waste peoples' times and people compliment each other for doing their jobs. many people sip and spit it out the kool aid after these meetings.

    - lots of petty drama and squabbling for projects. personal relationships overpower professionalism and degrade the work that is put out

    - poor management with no direction. glorifying one person as a God like figure is not a good strategy to put out creative work and innovation.

    - negative energy around the office. many people with their heads down so to speak, switching tabs to linkedin waiting for the opportunity to jump the sinking ship that is this agency.

    - Finally, as someone part of a lay off group, we were invited into a "New Business" meeting and then told by management we needed to vacate the office the same day. Other employees were corralled into one of the aforementioned Kool Aid meetings while lay offs were escorted out. VERY unprofessional and cruel if you ask me.

    Advice to Management

    Diversify the people in your agency. Don't glorify individuals. Don't act like you have diverse employees or that you offer specialized services that you don't.


  9. Helpful (2)

    "A fun agency with a strong core!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Marketing Data Analyst in Playa Vista, CA
    Former Employee - Marketing Data Analyst in Playa Vista, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    An innovative, smaller agency that is built to thrive in the digital world. I throughly enjoyed my time at the agency and would happily recommend them to anyone looking for a great place to work!

    -Overall great people with great attitudes
    -Brand new office
    -Self managed (no direct boss)
    -Fun, interesting projects to work on
    -Strong culture built around feedback and collaboration
    -Amazing new website

    Cons

    -Some associates not built for self-managed workplace
    -Older accounts more difficult to get "exciting" projects approved

    Advice to Management

    Do a better job of hiring individuals who can thrive in a self-managed workplace. More effort on new business


  10. Helpful (1)

    "Special place with amazing folks!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Phelps full-time

    Pros

    My time at Phelps was very valuable to my career. I enjoyed the team-structure, in which both independent and collaborative working styles are encouraged. Not a lot of micromanaging and not a lot of ego (rare in this industry!) Pretty great work-life balance too.

    Cons

    Not the place for you if you're trying to get big client names on your resume. Creative work is good, not great -- but that may be due to the the nature (and limitations) of the clients.


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