Can we brag for a minute? We’re beyond proud to have been named a Boston Business Journal Best Place to Work, which is based on employee feedback. This recognition means a lot to us, because we’re nothing without our talented people who put their brains to work for our clients every day. As proud as we are of our workplace, we’re even more proud of them. We believe we’re a leading workplace, due, in part, to our 20th anniversary #amplifycastle campaign which touches everyone on the Castle team, and the hard work we put into our company retreat, where the campaign was born.
We were invited to present our best practices on leveraging a firm’s anniversary, manifested through #amplifycastle and our company retreat, at our Public Relations Global Network annual conference as a way to help our international colleagues think about their own internal and external programs.
There was a lot of interest in our presentation—how we did it, why we did it, and the early results we’re seeing from it. Here are some of the takeaways, which can apply to any business:
Last fall, we held a retreat in Vermont to create and kick off our anniversary campaign. While planning the retreat, and thinking about our goals as we headed into our anniversary, we lit upon the concept of “amplification” as the theme for our anniversary. “Amplify” applies to what we want to do with our own business (more, louder, bolder) and also what we do on a daily business for every one of our clients (powerfully delivering their messages for business success). It also applies to our individual professional growth goals. With that as our foundation, we headed north for three days for what became an incredibly powerful experience.
Our collective conversations at the retreat revealed (to no one’s surprise) that since day one, we’ve self-identified as “scrappy” (resourceful, unwavering, determined and creative in our pursuit of results), leading us to theme our retreat “Scrappy in Stowe.”
Before you plan a retreat for your own company, here are a few things to consider:
1. Think about your collective “personality” and how to leverage or enhance the group dynamic; if necessary, do team building before the retreat to ensure camaraderie and positivity
2. Build in a theme that you convey beforehand to engage and excite the team and create a point of cohesion
3. Engage a professional moderator to bring objectivity, help shape content, and lead discussions and brainstorming; one of our primary goals was that this must not feel like a glorified staff meeting
4. Develop activities that create real value/deliverables to support company goals, while fostering cross-functional teamwork
5. Follow through afterward; implement what you brainstormed at the retreat – you’ll have real results to show for the investment
Many of the ideas from the retreat became the basis for the #amplifycastle anniversary campaign. We built a steering committee to manage the strategy, and assigned subcommittees for specific initiatives (such as content, PR and video). This has been so effective, we plan to continue with these teams beyond our anniversary year. Here are a few things to consider:
1. Recognize that this as a powerful way to engage employees in the big picture of the business
2. Identify the many marketing projects you may regularly put aside in favor of client work and new business, then build teams to divide and conquer
3. Select people for teams based on their skills/interests, but consider how to cultivate interaction across the company (and provide the opportunity to learn and stretch in new ways)
4. Build in accountability and structure; everyone knows their role and also how the pieces fit together
5. Share results with the whole company and, where applicable, on social media and through your other marketing channels
Most importantly, have fun with it. Because everyone was involved in developing the program and because everyone is involved with the ongoing execution, it’s a rallying point, it’s exciting and people like being a part of it. We’ve built in great office visuals, fun happy hours and even a spirit week to keep the excitement going. This keeps everyone focused on where we’re going together, and we saw tangible business results just a few months into the execution. This effort can and does provide a return on investment through measurable business growth, as well as employee engagement, motivation and satisfaction, which are priceless.