Agency Rethink: The Need for Creative White Space

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Advertising and PR agencies have been forced through some serious changes in recent years.  Some have transitioned better than others. One thing that hasn’t changed much is the tendency for creative agencies to work the heck out of staff. Nights, weekends and long hours are the norm, especially when the all important pitch or client presentation is around the corner.

But in an industry that relies on creative, nimble minds to succeed, does it make sense to beat our folks’ grey matter to a mushy pulp? (In case you’re too brain dead to answer, I’ll jump in here… Absolutely not.)

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Something’s Gotta Give: Ad & PR Agencies Need to Give People Time & Space

Young folks are willing to work hard, not matter what nonsense you’ve read about Millennial work ethic.  They just don’t want to be abused as a matter of standard operating procedure.  Forbes just reported that America leads the world with a whopping 30% of employees working nights and weekends.  How else could anyone be expected to get through a mountain of work?

I’m not saying that people at Cercone Brown don’t suffer from the same “productivity” overload. It’s not odd to send an email at 4:30 a.m. or 11:30 p.m and get an almost instant reply…even if it wasn’t asked for or expected. Still, advertising and PR shops need to change the way we think.  As we move further away from the Great Recession, we must, too, move beyond bare-bones staffing.

In order to be at its best, an agency needs creative white space: time for staff to read, think, create and problem solve.  This just won’t happen when everyone is running just to stand still.

Trust me.  As a advertising and PR agency owner, I know it’s hard to change.  We’ve been stung too many times by fickle cutbacks and budget changes.  But as the economy improves, so does the job market.  To attract and keep talent, quality of life is paramount.  And this doesn’t mean mobile-phone tethered vacations crammed around insane hours of work shifting.

It does mean rethinking how we do things, starting with giving ourselves  and our people the space to be the best we can be.

— Len Cercone