Last December, Buffer (I’m a big fan) caused quite a stir with this post where it talked about it’s culture of transparency and it’s decision to post ALL employee salaries on the web for everyone to see.
Quite a decision, right? I can’t remember too many companies doing this kind of thing in recent memory. I mean, there’s transparency and then there’s TRANSPARENCY.
Buffer is taking a pretty extreme view of transparency here, but it is a core value of the organization. So, who are we to argue? If they have success and the team agrees with this philosophy, then why wouldn’t they do it? After all, this is a nation of at-will employment, right?
But, as I read Buffer’s post and thought about the notion of open salaries, I started wondering: Would this be a good idea for PR firms, too?
I mean, in the tech world, this “culture of transparency” almost becomes a recruiting tool. I’m sure that’s one of the reasons they took this approach. It differentiates them, which helps them recruit in an increasingly competitive landscape.
The PR world faces a similar challenge–especially when it comes to digital talent. Could this open salary model help a PR firm differentiate just like it has for Buffer?
The way I see it, the open salary model has its pros and cons, just like anything else. On the pro side:
The ultimate motivator
By publishing ALL employee salaries, don’t you motivate pretty much everyone? The people making less money are motivated to match their peers–and the folks making more money are motivated to stay one step ahead of those peers. Doesn’t everyone win in that model?
Makes negotiating a lot easier
One of the toughest thing about looking for a new job is negotiating salary. It’s always a tough process. You don’t know what’s fair, exactly, and everyone is keeping their cards pretty close the vest until you sign on the bottom line. With open salaries, you know exactly what the salary is for the job going in. No negotiating. The salary is what it is. Take it or leave it. It reminds me of a used car place named Poquet Auto we frequent here in the Twin Cities. We’ve bought three cars there so far because we love their policy–we post fair prices and DO NOT negotiate. Would the same theory hold true with salaries in PR?
But, there are also a few cons:
You have to post EVERYONE’S salary
I mean, there’s a reason this doesn’t happen right now, right? I’m no expert, but my guess is the senior people in PR make some pretty good salaries. And, from experience, I know the junior folks don’t make quite as much. So, my guess is the gap is pretty big from junior to senior. Now, this is fine since again, it is at-will employment. But, posting those big senior-level salaries may cause additional angst among junior-level staff (not saying I agree with this–just that it could happen).
It could actually hurt your recruiting efforts
Sure, this open salary structure will attract a certain kind of individual. The kind of individual you would want to attract if you really believed in the open salary structure. But, let’s say you’re Buffer and you have your eye on this extremely talented programmer. He’s skilled. He’s experienced. And best of all, he’s a great guy. The model employee. BUT, he doesn’t like the open salary thing. It’s a dealbreaker. He wants more, and he doesn’t want his salary open for all to see. After all, he’s entitled to that, right? So, you have to pass. You have to pass on the talent you so badly want.
That’s the way I see it. If I owned a PR agency, I’m not sure I’d adopt the open salary model. But, I’m curious: What do you think? Could this work in the PR field?
As the “Big Game” approaches this weekend, there’s one thing I always like to check.
No, not the money line.
The prop bets.
My favorites from this year’s crop include:
“Will Knoshown Moreno cry during the National Anthem?”
“Will Michael Crabtree mention Richard Sherman in a tweet during the game?” (God I hope not)
“Will the power go out in the stadium during the game?” (LOL Super Bowl)
But, after watching a funny conversation on Twitter with fellow Twin Cities PRs/social media marketers George Fiddler and Andrew Miller, I’m enthralled with a whole new category of prop bets: The Real-Time Marketing prop bets!
So, let’s get this going right now! Let’s have some fun with this. Here’s my line-up of 15 Real-Time Marketing prop bets. If you care to wager, please email me at arik@arikhanson. I am NOT kidding!
1–Number of worthless branded hash tags featured on ads during the Super Bowl: Over/Under–127
2–Number of different shapes Oreo will construe its cookie in for Facebook posts/Instagram pics/tweets: Over/Under–8
3–Number of “clever” tweets clearly written by advertising firm copywriters: Over/Under: Too many to count
4–Number of times the #beatspills (this is a real thing) tweet about Richard Sherman during the game: Over/Under 23
— Beats By Dre (@beatsbydre) January 27, 2014
5–Number of tweets by Carmax forcing the #SlowClap hash tag upon us: Over/Under 13
6–Number of tweets, Facebook post, Instagram pics, Snapchats, YouTube videos, Quora posts and Pins brands post congratulating the winning team: Over/Under: 1,452
7–Number of tweets by brands simply announcing the score: Over/Under: 8 (yes, I am predicting this will happen)
8–Number of brands who won’t be able to resist the chance to blantantly push their products in a tweet while trying their best to be relevant to viewers of the Big Game: Over/Under: 34
9–How many Vines will Dunkin Donuts post during the “Big Game?” Over/Under–16
The lights are going out on the last regular season game in San Francisco, and our players will miss the ol… https://t.co/LzRx7a9WPk
— Dunkin’ Donuts (@DunkinDonuts) December 24, 2013
10–Number of hash tags used that will exceed 20 characters: Over/Under–15
11–Number of times brands will reference the cold/snow/wind chill in an attempt to “connect with consumers”: Over/Under–23
12–How many times will SEGA use the hash tag #beastmode to promote the release of its newest re-claimed video game: Altered Beast 2: The Return? Over/Under: 7
13–Number of “jokes” brands attempt using the Omaha snap-count Peyton Manning’s been using all season long: Over/Under–45
14–Number of times Campbell’s will tweet about it’s Chunky Soup line using the #potroast hash tag during the game (nickname of Denver’s Terrance Knighton): Over/Under: 4
15–How many Photoshopped photos of NFL players will GoDaddy use in its tweets playing off this commercial? Over/Under: 8 (love this commercial, btw)
16–How many times will M&Ms (Mars) use the #whathappenedtopeanut hash tag (#buriedinsnow?) during the Big Game? Over/Under: 12
17–Will Bose attempt to pick a Twitter fight (hello publicity stunt) with Beats in the pre-game as Richard Sherman parades around Met Life Stadium with his Beats headphones on? Money line: 220/150
18–Number of tweets Toro will send during the game offering to help clean off Met Life Stadium (in the event it’s snowing during the game): Over/Under: 9
19–How many brands will tweet the following: “RT if you’re excited to watch the Big Game tonight!” in a lame attempt to gain RTs: Over/Under: 34
20–Number of times Hydrox Cookies will tweet at Oreo during the Big Game, continuing to claim that it was, in fact, the first creme-filled chocolate cookie: Over/Under: 21
21–Number of times Arbys will ask Bruno Mars when it can have it’s hat back (after Bruno Mars steals Pharrell’s hat and wears it during his live halftime show performance): Over/Under–7
I’ve been out of the corporate/agency lifestyle now for four-plus years. Technically, I work for myself. I am my own boss.
But, I still have to manage up.
Every day I am managing client expectations and “managing up”. So, even though I’m not longer an “employee”, I still have a boss. Multiple bosses in fact–they are my clients.
So, managing up is a skill I’m constantly working to hone. In fact, I’ve been working to hone it now for almost 20 years.
While I can certainly always improve in this area, I thought I’d share some tips and advice that have been “politely” shared with me over the years–or tips and advice I’ve seen work effectively first-hand.
Help your boss relieve pain points
When you’re part of a corporation or agency, one of your chief un-stated goals is always quite simple: Help make your boss’ life easier. In other words, help make what’s bothering them go away. Is your boss’ boss all up in her face? What can you do to take work off her plate so she can deal with that a bit more. Is your boss dealing with stress at home? Maybe there’s a project you can help a bit more with that would free him up a bit more to spend more evenings off the computer. Is your boss looking bad in meetings because she doesn’t know enough about digital marketing? Maybe you can help educate her a bit, in private, so she gets smarter–with no one else being the wiser. Find out what’s really bothering your boss–and work to help them get rid of it. Those pain points will quickly turn into gold stars in that upcoming review (people still give out gold stars, right?).
Be hyper-cognizant of your boss’ time
When I sat in for a client on maternity leave a few years ago, I had weekly hour-long meetings on the schedule with her boss (and one of my primary clients). I remember spending time prepping for those meetings and organizing my thoughts for each one. Making sure I had a crisp agenda. Organizing any content or plans that needed her approval–and making sure I had hard copies I could throw in front of her at a moment’s notice. I treated those meetings as they should: A precious opportunity for me to spend an hour with someone who’s locked away in meetings all day. I knew I had to spend that hour getting her approvals on urgent items, getting her input on strategic initatives, and figuring out other ways I could help relieve her pain points (see bullet #1 above). Use your boss’ time wisely–it’s precious. To them, and you.
A little bit of ass-kissing never hurt anybody
Managing up doesn’t come without a little ass-kissing. Sure, that comes in different forms. I tend not to be the guy who’s going to fawn all over his boss in hopes of a quick promotion. But, the fact remains: Bosses are human beings. They have egos, just like you. They want to feel loved. They want to be respected for their work. And they want that work to be recognized by their peers and bosses. So, would it really kill you to compliment your boss every once in a while? “Great work on that media campaign.” Or, “I really thought that memo you wrote from our CEO was spot on.” I mean, this isn’t that hard. And, it doesn’t have to come off like some sort of corporate suck-up. Really, it doesn’t. But the fact remains: stroking your boss’ ego is always a good idea.
Create and maintain a “Arik is Awesome” folder
Picked this one up from a good friend, actually. She said for any job she’s had, she always starts an email folder that’s dubbed “Amy is Awesome.” In this folder she catalogues all emails from internal partners, customers and vendors that laud her good efforts. Then, at the end of the year, when it comes to review time, she has a healthy does of emails singing her praises to show her boss. What better third-party validation of your work? Instead of YOU saying you’re awesome–your colleagues and partners are doing it for you!
Do great work–and work independently
Want to really manage up well? There’s really just one thing you need to do really well: Do great work. Consistently. And work independently. Most people who manage people want to hire great people who do great work. If that happens, everyone wins. The employee looks good because she’s doing great work. Your boss looks good because her employee is doing great work. And the company looks good because the employee is doing great work. Sometimes, the best “managing up” you can do has nothing to do with “managing”–it’s all about keeping your focus on the work at hand.
Know your boss’ hot buttons
Sometimes managing up has more to do with avoiding the hot buttons than it does relieving the pain points. Case in point. I once had a boss who employed what I would call more of an “authoritarian” management style. Needless to say, this particular boss was a top-down manager. So, chain of command was important. Unfortunately, this was many moons ago and I was much “greener” than I am today. I had run into an issue with my boss and we didn’t see eye to eye. So, I thought it would be a good idea to approach my boss’ boss and see what he thought. Once my boss found out I had gone directly to her boss, she didn’t like that so much. I got a severe slap on the wrist, and I looked bad in front of both my boss–and her boss. The lesson I learned? Know and understand your boss’ hot buttons and DO NOT push them. Unless you really want to get fired.