Even though blogs seem like second nature now, just four years ago, our employees proposed that the agency start a blog that focused on one of our passions, marketing to female influencers. I gave the thumbs up (I didn't even know what a blog was at the time) and Womentum was born. (Sadly, it had to go on hiatus while we chased down new business.) I was fascinated at how fast the spider web of links spread from our modest site to other marketing to women sites across the country, like BlogHer, LipSticking and Rethink Pink. But keeping a blog up-to-date and relevant is hard work, so not every user-generated site ends up being a long-term resource. But when done right, a blogger can create a tiny coffeehouse on the Internet where the topics always turn you on and keep your synapses firing throughout the daily grind.
It's important as an agency leader to figure out how to stay in the zone and keep your employees inspired in a small town, where instead of an art museum on every corner there's a CVS. Recently, we conducted an internal survey to uncover how our employees stay inspired and keep up with trends. Not surprisingly, "reading blogs," came in at number one. And instead of "watching TV," a close second was, "talking to work friends about what's new."
There are several things I find interesting about this statement as an employee recruiter and wannabe retainer. Human resource pros have long said that if employees feel that they have a best friend at work, that's a strong indication of low turnover. And according to an article I read by Penelope Trunk in Time titled, "What Gen Y Really Wants," that "friendship-fact" is even doubly true of new grads and 20-something workers who will choose a job just to be with their friends.
We intentionally hire people with different outside interests in order to ensure our work is well-rounded and mirrors the heterogeneous consumer world. So we don't just have copywriters, designers and PR consultants on the payroll, we have pottery spinners, Harley-riders, guitar pickers, herb gardeners and letterpress printers, too. Because as one of our account directors once said, "You can only read so much about trends. At some point you just need to live it to get it."
With all these passions under one roof, we merely have to look inside our own agency to be inspired. Which recently sparked this idea—launch an internal agency blogosphere, where employees can go to share thoughts, new ideas, anything that makes fellow employees smarter. In a matter of hours, we had five personal blogs, countless discussion threads and forums galore (and less e-mails clogging the traffic office.) We saw employees that never speak up in meetings, posting comments and referencing what they had learned from the internal blog when offering up an idea for a client. And just like the spider webs that were created from Womentum, employees offered up their personal favorite blogs and cyber spots. Here are a few: