To begin with, colleagues are the culture and vice versa. It surely all starts with the senior management and how they interact with each other and those below them. It’s also got a lot to do with what being inspired by people around you who possess complimentary talents. The more I work with designers, for example, the more I’m amazed by what they do. It gives me a buzz to see someone do something I never could. I grew up being told to try and be good at everything (why did we have to learn Pythagoras’ theorem?) and not focusing on my strengths. I now believe that once you realise what you’re good at, you should stop everything else and focus on being the best at whatever that is.
In creative industries, there needs to be an environment of openness otherwise the best ideas can get lost. And what is a PR agency without ideas? I guess it’s simply a copy writing shop, with people harassing journalists from time-to time. I don’t know how this is fostered. Perhaps you have a company mantra, but then how do you know if it gets read and adhered to? It may help to have a blog, but then as a regular blogger, I guess I would say that.
Finallly, I’d suggest the physical location of where you work. Taking it to its extreme, if you work in a dark box of a room, with no natural light, you’re probably not going to think as freely. And if you work sitting on a beach, you may not be able to concentrate. It’s all about the happy medium. Oh, and having zany pictures on the wall.
So, to summarise, office culture is about the senior people, the level of openness and location. In terms of a PR agency, this leads me on to two points. Firstly, push yourself to hang out with people in other marketing disciplines. Even if you’re a one-man PR band, get out there and network as it’s really inspiring seeing the marketing process from a different angle. Secondly, if you are pushing a big campaign idea forward, make sure you fly it by people outside your own team. If you work in a big agency, this is quite easy. If you’re the lone ranger, buy someone a beer and see what they think of your idea, even if they don’t work in exactly the right industry. I’m calling it the PR Agency Hygiene Factor.