“Inside the mind of a writer is a truly terrifying experience.”
– Robert DeNiro at the Oscars, March 2014
Ouch, Bobby. As creatives, are we that insecure and in need of constant praise? Really? Well, maybe we’ve got the confidence and passion but like anyone, we do need to be recognized.
That’s where many agencies can maximize a terrific opportunity to show they care about the work, the work, the work. If it’s all about the work, recognize it. “Oh, do we really need to give everybody a cookie or sticker?” says The Insensitive Account Director. No. But if you did a good job in hiring talent at all, you’d know their work is worthy of recognition. Not cheesy recognition (“you win a free apple!”) but real recognition.
1. Framed Work On The Walls
Client walks into your agency and go into your conference room. Spends 3-5 minutes there. They can spend that time looking at exposed brick or they can look at some actual, real work. Work that inspires. Work that makes them laugh. Work that’s provocative. On the way in and out of the meeting they also see work hung in the hallways. Most importantly, that’s the stuff that your creatives see too – the stuff you live and breathe and celebrate. By the way, imagine a great piece your agency did as the jumping off point for a discussion vs. the typical small talk about how you took the kids up to Wisconsin for the weekend. Sorry, I fell asleep by the time that last sentence was completed.
2. Work On The Online Walls (i.e. Your Portfolio)
How is this hard? You choose a piece, you upload it. You write something about it. Done. Oh yeah – and you give credit to the creatives who made it happen. Every single one of them, plus account and production folks. Come on. I know you’ve got the time for this.
3. Give Credit In Front Of The Client
A client asks, “Who did this great line/this visual?” The standard answer is typically, “Oh, we ALL did. It was a TEAM effort.”
I know it’s a feel-good thing to say that, but it’s also perfectly OK to say, “Steve did the design and Luke did the copy. These guys did a really great job, didn’t they? ” This is your team. You brought them on. OWN IT. Why shouldn’t they be pointed out for making you look good?
4. Give Credit In Front Of The Agency
You may saying, “Oh, but how can we do that, Dan? You’re saying we should pull together a bunch of departments to just recognize our own people?” You’re overthinking this. It’s called email. You type it out. You give it some careful thought and consideration. And then you send it. Even if it’s only to your own department to say something like, “You know, I don’t always say it often enough but I’d like to personally thank (NAME) for (THING THEY DID TO MAKE YOU LOOK GOOD). I’m confident our client will love the result but even before that, I’m very proud of what we’ve put together with great sacrifice to time at home and sleep.”
If this is somehow too difficult for someone to do, it’s a problem of ego, laziness, fear, caring or a combination of all four.
5. The Internal Awards Show
Do you just want to rely on judges who don’t know your work? Creatives need tender loving care too and it’s not beneath you to celebrate their brilliance. Most Creative. The Best Ad The Client Should’ve Bought But Didn’t. Best Status Update That Uses Talking Cats. I don’t care.
It’s not that winning outside awards don’t feel great. They do. They really, really do. But is it possible that a great feeling could also be experienced by the recognition you bestow on them within your own walls? If done right and actually meaningful with something the creative craves as a reward, the answer is yes, quite possibly. Which might save you thousands of dollars in entry fees and travel accommodations. Hearing praise from you, hopefully someone they very much respect, isn’t too shabby either. Why? Unlike those total strangers, you’re the one reviewing their work each and every day.
If you notice a pattern here, it’s that each of these ways requires you to give them some PDA: Public Display of Affection. No, I don’t mean making out with them. I mean publicly declaring your affection for their work to others.
There shouldn’t be any degree of risk in doing this if you truly believe in your people.
Because ultimately, you just have no idea how much of a long way a kind word and a kind action can go in the impact of someone’s day, someone’s focus, someone’s loyalty and heck, even someone’s life.
We all could use that feeling a little more often, don’t you think?
What other ways have you awarded creatives in your agency? Share them!