Rock Creek Strategic Marketing Reviews

Updated Oct 14, 2016

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2.9
41%
Recommend to a Friend
100%
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Rock Creek Strategic Marketing Co-Founder and President Margaret Johnson (no image)
Margaret Johnson
4 Ratings
  1. 5.0
    Current Employee, less than 1 year

    Tastes Better Than Disgruntled Former Employees

    Sep 28, 2012 - Anonymous Employee in Chevy Chase, MD
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    Great place to work. Work-life balance with peers and management that genuinely care about individuals and the team. The first place I have worked where management truly values and is proactive about personal and professional development. There are two companies - Rock Creek Strategic Marketing and Chief. Chief was stood up by one of the founders as a niche practice to focus specifically on branding.

    Cons

    I don't have any cons to report.

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  2. 4.0
    Former Employee, less than 1 year

    Great People, Lots of Work

    Oct 14, 2016 -  
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    NOTE: My last year there was 2010 but it wasn't an option available in the dropdown I started as a newbie right out of college and the people there welcomed me immediately. The culture was never forced; it just happened organically and it was so great to have, particularly at a first job. My boss was strict and driven and he forced me to be too. I'm forever thankful for that because he pushed me to be a better employee for Rock Creek and moving forward :)

    Cons

    There was way too much work to be done for one person to handle and I ended up working nights and weekends and pulling all-nighters a lot. It became unsustainable. However, this was definitely a "work hard, play hard" kind of place, so if you thrive in that kind of environment you'd love it.

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  3. 2.0
    Former Employee, less than 1 year

    New hires beware

    Feb 25, 2016 -  
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    Some great people mixed in with the psychos.

    Cons

    Unfocused, volatile upper management team that cares more about the hottest hippest technology vs. employees. Biz Dev relies heavily on government set aside contracts so the grunts toil away on boring projects while the inner circle gets the interesting high visibility work. The patients run the asylum at Rock Creek. Tendency to hire a lot of people who have advanced degrees but very little real world experience.

    6 people found this review helpful
  4. 3.0
    Current Employee, less than 1 year

    Rock creek

    Aug 3, 2015 -  
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    Great Work, Great people, Great work/life balance

    Cons

    Low Pay, Poor upper management

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  5. 3.0
    Former Employee, less than 1 year

    Unnecessarily Frustrating Place to Work

    Apr 27, 2015 -  
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    The founding principals, Scott and Margaret, are outgoing, friendly people, and the company reflects their personality. The environment is collegial and lacking in internal competition. Rock Creek respects employees’ time by not expecting anyone to average more than 40 hours per week. You’ll work hard sometimes, but you can then come in later or leave earlier to compensate for the extra hours. It’s also a very relaxed place to work if you need to take a few hours off for personal reasons. For design staff, working at Rock Creek is a truer agency experience than working at many other employers in the DC area. In other words, it’s not a print shop masquerading as something more. Management values good design and user experience. (At times, however, it can be a battle teaching clients to value these things.)

    Cons

    As others have mentioned, there are no performance reviews. My boss once joked that “either you’re doing a great job or you’re fired.” Fortunately, in my time with the company, staff departures were all voluntary (that I knew of). Yet, if you are someone who wants to do your best and wants feedback on how to grow, you won’t get it here. Also, don’t expect that any of your colleagues will be confronted about improvements they could make. With no one challenging anyone else and no honesty about tough topics, the company doesn’t improve except by attrition and hiring. Employees need to remember that this company, like nearly all others, is not a democracy. Though it is relatively small, and it is a comfortable environment for sharing your viewpoint, that doesn’t mean that management will take it to heart. In fact, management may even ask for your opinion and expertise. In times of transition, I even saw management make decisions that defied the advice of many, including experts from without the company whose advice had been solicited. So it goes. Non-design staff frequently encounter issues created by a lack of planning or formal organization in the company. This created inconsistencies in billing, filing, etc. When I worked at Rock Creek lack of good records and data made it hard to apply the structure from one large project to the next, so there was frequent duplication of effort from one client project to the next. At times no amount of fun company culture, flexible hours, or benefits could overcome the feeling that all work was Sisyphean in nature.

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    6 people found this review helpful
  6. 2.0
    Former Employee, less than 1 year

    Pros

    Great Health Benefits, Fitness reimbursement, amazing work-life balance, great owners, great team members.

    Cons

    The company has no clear vision. There is no clear cut culture despite what they say, unless you want to do Art projects with scissors and stick glue like a 6 year old. It's a circus ran by individuals with a title and no experience, it's borderline embarassing. Your director will more than likely not be qualified, poor leadership and management skills, uses fear to dictate your actions. You will never get real feedback that will help you grow, your director is more than likely threatened by your skills and work, they have no appreciation for "creativity" despite being a creative group. There is no Human Resources department so directors get away with murder, and the COO enables them. Work here if you accept to always be wrong and your director right, and will accept to be fired for no reason at all other than your director doesn't like you, and your COO is tired of hearing them complain about you. Lastly, work is not distributed evenly among the employees. The Directors and practice leads do nothing, and pick and choose the cool projects to be on and hand over the least exciting work to others. The company claims they do not micromanage but some directors, especially in Tech will micromanage you like a kindergardener.

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    5 people found this review helpful
  7. 2.0
    Current Employee, more than 3 years

    Good if you're new to the industry, but leave unless you want to get a 1% raise for the rest of your career

    Mar 30, 2015 - Designer in Chevy Chase, MD
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    - Great place to start your career, they're eager to hire junior-level people even though they say they're looking for "top talent" and "thought leaders" - Laid-back place if you make it so. - Good people to learn from. People get along well within their divisions. - There's always beer in their fridge, if that's your thing. - Work/life balance is very doable here. But again, you trade it in for growth/compensation.

    Cons

    - Low pay (currently getting paid 15-20% less than the median for this area, and management won't review your salary, especially if you're not based out of the main office. Last time I had a review my manager almost looked ashamed when she showed me what my pay would be for the next year. - "Flex time" can mean different things to different companies. Here it means that you can shave off some hours here and add them onto there. It does not mean working from home/co-work space. Management will give some people permission to work from home on certain occasions but I've heard that they make them try and take vacation for the full day. - The company is making a killing off of its government contracts without passing on the earnings to the people doing the work for those clients.

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    2 people found this review helpful
  8. 4.0
    Former Employee, more than 1 year

    Great Culture, Low Pay

    Nov 24, 2014 - Anonymous Employee 
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    Rock Creek did a great job with the culture. They were monthly lunches, holiday celebrations, and overall great camaraderie among the staff. The flex hours and 20 days of vacation were nice, too.

    Cons

    The pay seemed pretty low for the DC area, and it seemed difficult to get raises. No clear growth plans laid out for staff.

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  9. 4.0
    Current Employee, more than 3 years

    Solid Place to Work & Learn, But Could Have Been Great

    Nov 13, 2014 - Anonymous Employee in Chevy Chase, MD
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    -When I worked with Rock Creek, we put together an amazingly talented team (especially when our book of work leaned so heavily in the .gov space). We did some cutting edge work getting open source software solutions into places inside of the government they had never been. I learned quite a bit, and so did my team. -While I didn't always agree with the ownership, I always felt like the ownership cared. They did some regrettable things but being in charge isn't easy. I can forgive most of it. -Management was the best about time-off that I have ever seen at a company. They are also dead serious about work-life balance. Yes, you may work 45-50 hour weeks here and there, but that's not common. If you are way over the mark, they will do what they can to fix it. They were also extremely flexible if you had family emergency or if inclement weather hit DC. -Co-workers ran the gamut but there were some extremely talented people tucked away at the firm. It's a small place so everybody knows everybody, but it's also big enough to where you can find a niche. Good size balance.

    Cons

    -Real addiction to government work. Now, I say this not as a person who really hates all government work and I fully understand the economics of operating an agency. But still, we picked up a number of real dogs that killed morale. It was tough navigating a team when management pushed that on us. -Office was dated, and it was murderous trying to get necessary equipment. I dealt with constant issues from my team and felt powerless to fix them. -Salaries were low compared to DC average, probably trailing 15-20%. But remember that pro from above - you get the work/life balance. You're trading some money for sanity here. Also, there is huge variation between positions, but you'll have to negotiate shrewdly to get what you deserve.

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    1 person found this review helpful
  10. 4.0
    Current Employee, less than 1 year

    Great Team, I like everyone I work with (now)

    Mar 19, 2014 -  
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    People - everyone is very smart and professional. Management truly cares about my development and goals. Leadership is not afraid to get rid of underperformers. The company has had ups and downs but it is still the best place I have ever worked.

    Cons

    Not sure where one of the posters is getting that there is a lack of advancement. Two people just got promoted and they totally deserved it too.

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