Why More PR Efforts Should be Coordinated Around Veterans Day

Why More PR Efforts Should be Coordinated Around Veterans Day

My PR team is always looking for opportunities to draw some media attention to our clients for doing something positive.  As part of this effort, we often coordinate media efforts around various holidays and shared cultural events. Out of all the dates on the calendar, I never expected Veterans Day to become my favorite. Both because of what it represents, and the media opportunities it has provided our clients.

Veterans Day has long been one of those specialty holidays recognized mostly by those who have a personal connection to the military.  It’s not part of a three-day weekend, and people often mix it up with Memorial Day which honors the fallen vs Veterans Day which recognizes the living who have served.

My team took Veterans Day efforts to an entirely new gear this year, and I want to share what we did. Not to brag, but in hopes of sparking your imagination or participation for Veterans Day next year.

The Veterans Day Giveaway Idea

We have several HVAC and plumbing clients. One of those companies was founded by a Veteran after WWII, and the company is now lead by his granddaughter (3rd generation).  Five years ago, we launched a now annual Veterans AC Giveaway Contest where the public could nominate a Veteran or their family member in need of a new AC unit or furnace. After verifying nominations and choosing finalists, the public was given the opportunity to vote for the recipient, with the prize awarded on (or around) Veterans Day.

That single contest has expanded.  In 2020 we held the contest in five different cities spanning the U.S. from Miami, Florida to Spokane, Washington. Yes, the contest is a nice thing to do and it’s generated publicity and stories in each City we’ve done it. But it’s much more than a contest.

Our goal is to share personal stories of local Veterans and active duty members that most people never hear about. These are the men and women who left their homes, their families, and their friends to dutifully serve our country across the nation and around the world. Their stories are incredible. Like an Arizona man who joined the Army after the attack on 9/11 to protect our nation and came back with a life-changing injury from a rocket propelled grenade. Or the Florida man who joined the Navy at age 17 and got to take a newly commissioned ship through the Panama Canal. Or the woman who was the first female in her family to join, and now copes with the debilitating effects of PTSD.

In our eyes, they are all heroes. They all deserve notoriety.  So we share their stories using videos, blogs, social media, and often the news media will help us reach a wider audience. These stories have helped old friends reconnect providing them with a sense of hope and some comfort during an increasingly stressful time.

It amazes me how grateful these Veterans are to be recognized. I am also impressed by their shared bond. They understand what it’s like to be too far from home, and why it’s so hard to talk about what they experienced. We are saddened by how many suffer from mental trauma and inspired by how many of them volunteer to help other Veterans heal.

The other major effort we launched was the #VetDayPledge.

The idea started in 2018, when one of our large construction related clients was looking for ways to recognize their employees that were Veterans. We suggested that the company gather employees on Veterans Day a job site or in their warehouse and simply invite all the Veterans to the front of the group to lead their co-workers in the Pledge of Allegiance.  We used smartphone video to then share it with media and post it on social media.  The response from employees who participated was so positive that the construction company expanded it to multiple cities and job sites the following year.

This year, with permission from the client we decided to expand the idea to include any company willing to participate.  Our only request was that anyone who participated include the hashtag #VetDayPledge to unify the message and make it easier for others to see and hopefully participate on their own. In addition to sharing the idea with other companies (clients and non-clients), we invited other PR firms to share the idea and created a website www.VetDayPledge.com with free resources and tips for companies to do it on their own.

I’m so proud that during this campaign’s first year going national and mainstream that we had participants from 10 states!  While some videos came from our clients, the majority of the participants were not!  In addition to several businesses, an elementary school participated, as did a senior living community!

A Wisconsin TV station even did a news story about one of the participants. You can watch the story by clicking here!

We’re excited to grow the #VetDayPledge further next year and believe that without the election (and COVID) related distractions, even more businesses and organizations will participate.  This idea has become a passion project.  We love that it’s a simple, no cost idea that anyone can do to thank our Veterans and their families.

Ultimately, the most important thing for companies to remember when doing a PR campaign around Veterans Day or Memorial Day is to do it for the right reason. We believe that the VetDayPledge and the Veteran AC Giveaway Contest fit that purpose.  Sure, it might generate some positive publicity for our clients, but most importantly, it generates recognition for those who’ve served and sacrificed- the individual veteran, and their families alongside them.

There are lots of great ideas that companies are doing to recognize Veterans. Share them below and help us inspire others!

Giving Back During a Pandemic

A lot of people are feeling helpless right now. We have been cooped up for months trying to do whatever we can to feel productive and hold on to some semblance of normalcy. With quarantine and social distancing protocols in place, non-profit organizations are also having a hard time keeping up with the need for their services. Many fundraising and volunteer events have been cancelled due to the global pandemic, but you can still get involved with virtual volunteering efforts.

We at 10 to 1 Public Relations took time to show how much we support the work that Teachers across the Valley are doing by writing virtual notes to a teacher through the Valley of the Sun United Way’s website. These cards will be sent to teachers and resource staff in the communities that Valley of the Sun United Ways closely works with and will remind our teachers how valued and appreciated they are. It’s an easy and fun team building exercise, which will make a huge impact to those receiving them.

In addition, our client Plexus Worldwide, a leading direct-selling health and wellness company, has been utilizing their paid volunteer time off policy to gather teams of employees together for virtual volunteer projects. At the start of the pandemic, Plexus joined HandsOn Greater Phoenix, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization that puts volunteers to work where they are needed most. To show appreciation to medical staff on the frontlines, Plexus employees expressed their gratitude by sending heartfelt letters, cards, and emails to HandsOn Greater Phoenix, which handed them out to medical personnel who are working tirelessly to fight COVID-19. HandsOn Greater Phoenix is still collecting letters, you can contact them directly to see how you can get involved from home – a great idea for a family activity!

In addition, Plexus team members also recorded themselves reading their favorite children’s books for the children at Ryan House. Ryan House’s mission is to embrace all children and their families as they navigate life-limiting or end-of-life journeys. During this challenging time, Ryan House is limited on the number of children and guests they are able to have at their home, but they still want to continue to provide activities that they would normally have for the children. Click on the link or contact them directly to see ways you, your family, or your friends can get involved.

So how else can you help? After months of staying indoors, most people have gone through a DIY or home improvement phase. You can put that decluttering to good use by donating any clothing items, athletic equipment, furniture, office supplies, games, bedding, and other items to charities throughout your community. Collection bins are usually located at schools or near grocery stores, so you can either look up a location online or put the items in your trunk and keep an eye out for a donation bin.

You can discover the wide range of volunteer opportunities at Family Promise, a local Valley organization determined to help homeless and low-income families achieve sustainable independence through a community-based response. Some of their events include organizing a supply drive in your neighborhood, recording yourself reading a story, or helping someone write a resume. Other local organizations that could use your help are Cancer Support Community ArizonaSt. Vincent de Paul, and The Salvation Army – Metro Phoenix, to name a few.

Afterall, just because we’re stuck inside, doesn’t mean we can’t give back.

How to Pull Off an Employee Photo Shoot During COVID

It had been a few years since my company last did head shots or team photos. Then, COVID hit and the team started working remotely. In addition, we gained two new employees in the last seven months.

I knew I didn’t want to wait to get new photos until after the pandemic was over, so I accepted that different employees have different comfort levels about gathering in a group until the risk is fully gone. The challenge became how to schedule a team photo shoot during COVID, thus creating a new library of company images that can be used both in the short, and long-term. 

Knowing a lot of other companies are going through a similar thought process, I thought it would be helpful to share our process and considerations of how to coordinate a company photo shoot during COVID.

Tips on coordinating timing and staff attendance:

  1. Give everyone plenty of notice of your plans to do the photo shoot.  This was important for several reasons. First, it allowed everyone to get comfortable with the idea of coming into the office, even for an hour or two. Second, it gave people time to schedule hair appointments, coordinate care for their kids at home, etc.,
  2. Respect their comfort level in returning.  Getting everyone together at once we knew was going to be out of the question from a distancing standpoint, so we scheduled out blocks for each employee.
  3. Take advantage of overlap times.  We purposely scheduled overlap time as one person was leaving and another arriving.  This allowed coworkers to say hello in a smaller environment, but also provided an opportunity to take some (socially distant) group photos. For example, during the overlap times we were able to spread out in an office or in a conference room to take some team interaction photos.
  4. Be smart about assigning times.  Accepting it likely a shoot may run late, we made sure the first person of the day was the individual who had the shortest available window (due to childcare considerations) to help them get out on time.  Also, the newest member of our team was hired during COVID and had never met his co-workers in person (only via Zoom).  To maximize the in-person interaction opportunity, we scheduled him accordingly between other coworkers.

The other part is figuring out what photos you need- not only now, but for the next year or more. We knew we needed individual headshots, but we still wanted team shots, candid photos, options for social media images, our websites, etc.  We also didn’t want our photo shoot to become obviously dated by COVID to the point a new photo shoot would be needed post vaccine.

Tips for the Actual Photo Shoot:

  1. Set Up Reusable Backdrops: Setting up and testing lighting takes a lot of time, so pre-designate key backgrounds that can be used flexibly, and repeatedly. We had two key backdrops. One was in our main Lobby where our company logo is on the wall. The second we set up all-white backdrop with paper to take general photos. The white backdrop was ceiling to several feet on the floor for team members to literally stand on during their photos. This was designed to allow for easy cropping, adding of backgrounds, colors, etc. 
  2. Head Shots: This was relatively straightforward, but we wanted options. We had each employee take headshots in two locations, with both a formal and business casual outfit. This was designed to give us options and alternatives based on the need.
  3. Extra Headshot tip: Make sure at least one of your headshot backdrops are easy to replicate in office without the professional photographer.  The thinking is if you add new employees, you will want the option to take a photo on your own and still have it generally match your other team members without having to hire a photographer to come out and try to copy the earlier set of headshots.
  4. Mask photos:  In addition to normal photos, we also had each employee take a headshot wearing a mark, and some with it half-off (including one making a face).  The idea being we could do a quick slide/Instagram slide of 3 from mask on to mask off. 
  5. Group Photos:  This was particularly hard since we weren’t going to all be together at the same time.  Working with the photographer (we used Rick D’Elia who did an awesome job), we came up with a few ideas that worked. One was a layer approach- where a background with chairs was set up and wouldn’t be moved. Each team member was then photographed in a different spot and everyone was layered together afterward to make up the complete photo.  The second idea was what we called the Album Covers.  On the all-white backdrop, we tried to copy some iconic group images. One easy example would be the cover of the Abbey Road album cover. We all pretended to walk down the street, and we’ll be cropped and layered onto a street scape. The hope is when people see it, they’ll immediately think of the Beatles cover. 
  6. Prop Shots: We had about a dozen different props.  Each member took photos with them on the white background. The idea of these photos was that they’d be great for social media.  A prop example is we had several American flags.  We’ll now have several photos of co-workers holding flags which we will have the option to use for holidays and events like July 4th, Veterans Day, Election Day, etc.  Another example was everyone brought their favorite piece of sports equipment (a tennis racquet, swim goggles, etc.)
  7. Multiple Outfits: Each employee was encouraged to have 4 outfits (one formal, 3 casual).  The idea was to switch out outfits for the “prop shots” and office candids so that it didn’t look like every photo was taken at the same time on the same day. 
  8. Fool Around and Have Fun: The best photos aren’t always planned. Make sure you tell your photographer to have fun and take candids.  A great example is while taking photos of an employee at her desk, the photographer saw some animal slippers below her desk (yes, she wears them sometimes at work).  The photog loved that, so he took a photo of her at her desk in her animal slippers creating a really fun image.

While a ton of work getting it set up, the entire team agreed it was a great experience and great to come back into the office, even temporarily, after six months working at home.

As to the pictures themselves- they came out great! You’ll start seeming us slip them into our social media posts and website soon.  We’ve now got great library of individual and team photos that can be utilized both during COVID, and afterward.

-Josh Weiss, President of 10 to 1 Public Relations

10 to 1 Public Relations Receives New Review!

At 10 to 1 Public Relations, we know it’s your reputation on the line, so we help clients build and protect their credibility before, during, and after a crisis. It doesn’t happen overnight. You need 10 good things to be said about your company for one bad thing said. That’s why we focus on creating a bank of genuine, positive awareness to build trustworthiness – so you can grow your business today and be more resilient in the future, because your reputation is your credibility. We believe that the best results are those intentionally delivered, working overtime to control the story.

The best product launch PR plan starts with experience. Strategy, execution, media relations – we’ve done it.

Making sure we provide our clients with the best services possible is our number one priority. That’s why we decided to create a profile on Clutch, a B2B ratings and reviews site. This makes it easy to browse real reviews from our clients on their experience with us! In fact, we just received another 5-star review on our profile! An excerpt of the review, along with a project summary can be found below:

“10 to 1 Public Relations’ professionalism and punctuality were impressive.” –Production Manager, Afterthought

Our team helped Afterthought manage a crisis by drafting PR statements that would help to improve the negative situation. We also assisted with customer and community interactions.

Here are some other recent reviews on our profile:

“I have complete confidence in their ability to write content that matches our tone.” –VP Sales & Marketing, Worzalla

“They truly are a team of good people – they’re in it for the long run to get the best results.” –CEO, Envoy America

The value of creating a positive brand image and perception is impossible to calculate, but possible to make the difference when clients are deciding whether to hire you or a competitor. Clutch’s sister site, The Manifest lists top companies and agencies to help you with your search for the perfect partner. Browse through PR firms and read through company descriptions, former clients, and notable projects to find the best fit for your business. See why The Manifest listed us as #2 among 100 of the top PR firms around the world.

Ready to get started or simply looking for more information? Fill out the contact form on our website and someone from our team will get back to you shortly!

Surviving the Election News Cycle

With fewer than 50 days to go until the 2020 General Election, PR pros and casual news consumers alike will have noticed the continued focus on the election during each news cycle. Election-related stories will continue to be a major part of our daily news diet, even amidst a continuing global pandemic, raging wildfires in the west, discussions about social justice, and other pressing issues.

Local and national media alike have been doing a great job to help voters get the information they need to participate in the electoral process. This is despite documented outside efforts to spread misinformation about the election.

At 10 to 1 Public Relations, we’ve been doing our part to build confidence in the electoral process by helping our client Runbeck Election Services, an elections services company focused on delivering election printing, equipment and software solutions, explain the technicalities of how the vote-by-mail process works. This year, Runbeck is planning to print 15 million vote-by-mail packets, four times more than they produced in 2016, as demand for vote-by-mail soars as a safe method of voting during the pandemic.

In the past few months, we’ve helped connect Runbeck to local and national media to explain how vote-by-mail is a safe and secure process which can be trusted by the voters to deliver legitimate results. Here are just a few recent stories featuring Runbeck:

As we have been working on these stories, we believe there is really one way to survive the oncoming onslaught of election news coverage as we get closer to November 3. Make sure you are paying attention to trusted and verified sources on the election.

Here in Arizona, according to the Arizona Secretary of State, you must register to vote or update your voter registration on or before Monday, October 5 to participate in the 2020 General Election. If you plan to vote by mail, you must request a ballot or join the Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL) on or before Friday, October 23. It is recommended that you mail back your ballot as soon as possible and not after Tuesday, October 27. If you still have your vote-by-mail ballot after October 27, you can drop it off at a voting location or drop box before 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 3.

All Arizona voting information can be found at Arizona.Vote, or visit Vote.org for other state-specific voting information, deadlines, and instructions.

Because one thing is for sure: You can’t complain if you don’t vote.

By Erica Fetherston, Sr. Account Exec. at 10 to 1 Public Relations

It’s Okay to Have Imposter Syndrome

Do you ever feel like an imposter? That at some point other people will realize you don’t have the answers? Here’s what got me thinking about these questions.

One of our clients hosts an annual convention each year where more than 10,000 people gather at a big resort to celebrate their success and to introduce new products.  We’ve attended the event for the last six years, and it’s a really well-done event. Last year was in Las Vegas, and this year was supposed to be in Nashville, but COVID-19 forced it to become a virtual event.

Anyway, this year’s virtual convention is just days away, but it got me thinking about last year’s event. One of the breakout sessions featured one of the more successful Ambassadors (Independent Sales Representatives) where she admitted to a room full of her peers of equal stature (around 1,000 people) that she was an imposter. She said she felt like a fraud. That people were fools on her team to think she knew all the answers and knew exactly what to do all the time. In truth, she was just making it up as she went along. Trying to copy what her mentors were doing and demonstrating for their teams and demonstrating it to her own team.

I thought she was talking about me. A year later, I still do.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m still extremely confident in my team on the work we’re doing for clients. I’m proud that we’ve won a lot of awards for our work. I’m thrilled that we continue to grow and have added clients despite COVID – that we’ve adapted to new realities that will result in us coming out of COVID stronger than when it started. All the same, I keep looking at my team and others in the industry expecting them to finally realize that I’m an imposter. That I don’t have all the answers and that I’m making it up as we go along.

And that’s the point. The point the convention presenter made in her confession. It’s okay to feel like an imposter, and it’s okay not to know all the answers. The key is to share the answers you do have as it helps lift those around you up.  It’s okay, no, completely appropriate as a leader to ask for opinions of your team and of those you consider mentors to help you make decisions when you’re unsure of what to do next.

I’m lucky to have a team where I can ask and trust their opinion. I’m lucky to be part of IPREX, an exclusive network of independent PR firms from around the globe where I can ask dumb questions and learn from leader of other amazing PR agencies that I’d love to emulate.

What I’ve learned is that it’s not a one-way street. They’re asking me questions back and requesting my opinion too.  Just as that convention speaker told the group, just because you feel like an imposter sometimes, it doesn’t mean you don’t have value to add.

Here’s the sad truth. We’re all just a bunch of posers seeking validation and approval. Imposter syndrome can be real, but it doesn’t change the work that needs to be done. It doesn’t change what you already know and can share with others. The final lesson is to follow your gut even when it’s not popular or when you’re unsure of what to do. Because in the end, you’re the one staring yourself in the mirror once time tells you if you were right or wrong.

– Josh Weiss, President of 10 to 1 Public Relations

Video Series: Public Relations Tips To Get Through COVID-19

As the novel coronavirus has spread across the globe, business as we have known it has been upended. While we work together to stop the spread of COVID-19, there are things companies can be doing to position themselves to withstand the pandemic, help the community, and ultimately come out of this crisis stronger.

Public relations can play a role in delivering on these goals. 10 to 1 President Josh Weiss has created a video series of brief videos to give you ideas on how you can best position your company utilizing basic public relations and crisis communications tactics.

You can check out our video series below or on our YouTube page.


PR & COVID-19: Share Your Expertise

https://youtube.com/watch?v=4rCj5Sf89oY%3Ffeature%3Doembed

PR & COVID-19: Find Opportunity for Every Story

https://youtube.com/watch?v=atS6Rv0KRDs%3Ffeature%3Doembed

PR & COVID-19: Walk Through Your Warehouse

https://youtube.com/watch?v=emdFN9dWdA0%3Ffeature%3Doembed

PR & COVID-19: Pivoting The Right Way

https://youtube.com/watch?v=pnpAuAJ82Dg%3Ffeature%3Doembed

PR & COVID-19: Follow The Leader

https://youtube.com/watch?v=3eroAMKpMNM%3Ffeature%3Doembed

PR & COVID-19: Be Honest With Your Customers

https://youtube.com/watch?v=E0drKp1XgoM%3Ffeature%3Doembed

More videos will be added on a regular basis – stay tuned!

Welcome to the Nerd Zone

Out of nowhere, a silly gif image made me swell with pride as a small business owner.

A couple weeks ago, a new employee joined my team.  At the end of her first week, she sent a note to her coworkers thanking everyone for making her feel so welcomed and for helping her to learn our processes, resources, etc.  

Another employee quickly responded with a gif of Stephen Colbert saying: “Welcome to the Nerd Zone, My Friend!”

I know that shouldn’t be one of the gratifying moments I’ve had as a business owner, but it felt that way.  Building a culture for a company is hard. You can be a good person, but not fit because company culture is a mix of personalities, passions, and experiences.  Culture is more than simply the employees that work for the company, but the clients that employees serve.   It’s why we have a “no jerks” policy (which includes both co-workers and clients).

I say this admiringly… while they might be cooler than I am personally, collectively my team is a super cool collection of nerds, dorks, and dare I say it, geeks. We aren’t for everyone, and we don’t want to be.  I want to work with people who are passionate about earning stories and getting results for their clients.  I assume those same likeminded people enjoy working here because we’re focused, like to work, and abhor office drama.  

Our clients tend to be similarly driven- albeit individually as people most are more “cool” than we are.  It’s when we see the same nerdy passion that we know we’re a good fit.  A “normal” person might think a company is boring.  It’s hard for some outsiders to see that electrical contracting has so many interesting stories attached to it, or that there are so many different neat facets and angles to topics like orthopedics or generic medicines. But get together two people with a similar interest or knowledge base and the excitement and passion you witness during a discussion can become riveting. 

That’s what we look for in a client. People who think their business or industry is fascinating, even if the general public (or a reporter) may not initially see it.  Passion is what’s contagious, and we want to catch your disease. Don’t forget, the word influenza (flu) is very similar to influence.   We want to spread your “cool flu.” 

Yes, we’re proudly in the nerd zone. You’re welcome here, too.  Click here to drop us a line and join us in the zone. 

What’s with the Marble Wall? Explaining Why Companies Should Invest in a Signature Piece

When I first told people about my idea for a custom designed marble wall, some asked me if I was losing my marbles. It’s not your typical office artwork. There are flashing lights, bells and things that twirl. But once they see the 10 to 1 Public Relations marble wall, everyone loves it and just wants to watch it for a while because there are so many moving elements. 

The response grows even more favorably when they hear the story behind it and recognize how it visually demonstrates our unique strategic approach to public relations. They love how we’re using the marble run to showcase our team’s success on a regular basis, too.

I’ve been asked several times for the backstory on it, so I’ll share that in a moment. What I really hope this article does is encourage companies to invest in and promote some type of signature piece in their office that describes their brand and approach to achieving success.  Not just for their clients that visit their office, but for their staffs as well.

There are actually two different audiences that you’re doing this for. First are your office visitors, as you’re trying to give them something visual that they can remember that ties them to your brand or strategic approach. The second is your staff who see it or interact with it regularly.  It serves as an excellent reminder of your philosophy and the company culture whenever they see it and provides reinforcement and acknowledgement for their great work in promoting the brand. 

With that out of the way, here’s the backstory on our marble wall.  We recently moved into new office space and wanted to create something that would really stick out as a signature for the office.  Something worthy of sharing on social media, but also something that fit the company brand. 

To create this signature piece, 10 to 1 Public Relations commissioned an art piece that is a 4 ft. wide by 3 ft. tall marble run with a public relations theme that reflects our philosophy. 

We believe it takes 10 good things to be said about a company to make up for one negative comment, and our public relations strategies for clients generate lots of positive stories to create a “good will bank.” This helps our clients inoculate and protect their brands and their people when that negative story eventually occurs. 

We started out with an idea for a selfie-friendly wall graphic in our conference room that would reflect our philosophies towards PR. While the designs on their own were impressive, none felt right for 10 to 1 PR. 

Our team was trying to think of something unique around the 10 to 1 philosophy, and someone brought up the “drip” analogy that I use when describing our strategy to prospective new clients. The drip analogy refers to how small seemingly minor stories on their own (like new hire announcements or minor contract announcements) can add up to have a big impact. Like drips out of a faucet, if collected the water adds up and can be used however it’s needed in the future. We tried to think of alternatives to a faucet analogy and thought of a marble run where the marbles could each represent a different story and could be collected at the end like drips. 

That night I searched for artists that created marble runs and found Matthew Gaulden of Rolling Ball Structures. I sent an email to him and we quickly started talking about what a public relations themed marble run might look like. Ultimately, we came up with the following.

  • Bells that sound like the NBC news theme
  • A spinning “Breaking News” sign
  • An “On Air” light that would turn on
  • A press conference scene which would flash like flash bulbs
  • A spinning microphone
  • Reference to print and online media
  • A television set
  • A social media carousel

Matt added some additional elements including a waterspout where the marbles would drip out and be collected.

Every week, our team now counts out how many stories we helped our clients earn, and we do a “Running of the Marbles” to celebrate these successes. We then collect those marbles and add the count to a separate jar for the year. 

Since January, we already have more than 900 positive stories for our clients, and that number continues to grow daily. 

Every time we run the marble wall and share on social media our new count of stories generated for clients, it serves as a reinforcement; reiterating to our team, our clients, and our supporters that our 10 to 1 long-game public relations approach and strategy work, making it an office signature piece worth sharing. 

Click here to watch a short video with a tour of our new offices including the marble wall.

How our “No Jerks” Policy Has Helped Our Business

Did you know we have a “No Jerks” policy? It applies to both our co-workers, and our clients.  While the phrase may seem lighthearted or written to amuse, we’re serious about it.  And yes, we believe it’s helped our business.

Here’s what the “No Jerks” policy means. 

From a co-worker perspective, it means saying “Good Morning” when you walk in the door and meaning it.  A willingness to share snippets of your “real life outside of work” and taking a genuine interest in the passions and stories of those you work with.  It means showing mutual respect, knowing that all ideas are worth considering no matter who they come from.  It means having each other’s back publicly, but pointing out mistakes not to impugn, but to improve in private. It means knowing it’s okay to make a mistake, as long as you’re willing to learn from the experience.

As it relates to clients, it means it’s okay to turn down a customer, or even to fire them if necessary.  It means that we get to choose our clients similar to how they get to choose us as their PR Firm. Do we think they are ethical, and that they treat their customers fairly? Will they talk to us with respect and seriously consider our comments?  Granted, they don’t need to accept all our advice, we just want to contribute and help our clients see the potential brand benefits or risks of their decisions.  We aren’t “yes men” and we don’t want to be. Where’s the fun in that!  Our clients needs to know and accept up-front that we’re always going to share our honest opinions and suggestions in private, but they can have confidence that once the final decision is made we’ll back their call publicly 100%.

The “No Jerks” policy follows something else we started a few years ago, called (excuse the language) the “a**hole fee”.  It’s a lot like it sounds… and we only have pulled out this threat a few times.  Here’s how it works:  Let’s say a client who we normally have a great working relationship with is aggressively over-focused on a truly superficial detail or is uncharacteristically being verbally rude to a member of our team.  Jokingly, I’ve told them we understand their issue and we’ll do our best to fix it, but if they keep up being abusive to us I’m going to add on an a**hole fee. In both scenarios the individual stopped cold… and after about 5 seconds started laughing and said okay, I get it, I’m sorry.

We believe that the “No Jerks” policy has helped our company because it allows us to focus as a team and company on what’s really important. It helps us remove all the time wasting headaches and distractions quickly.  For example, it requires us identify staff and partners where their personality and how we believe they’ll interact with fellow staff and clients is considered just as important as their professional talents.  It also makes it okay to pass on potential clients where we fear they have unrealistic expectations, or where we just have a gut feeling that they aren’t a good fit or that we won’t enjoy working with them.

And yes, it is fun to say we have a No Jerks policy too.

Oh, and for the record—the “No Jerks” policy wasn’t our idea.  We adapted it from one of our IPREX partners, Dallas-based SPM Communications.  IPREX is a global network of Independent PR firms, and 10 to 1 Public Relations is the sole Arizona member of this exclusive network. We had the opportunity to meet the SPM team last year and tour their offices where we learned about “No Jerks”.  We liked it so much we “borrowed” it!  We’re pretty sure they won’t think us jerks for doing so!