To paraphrase a popular chain restaurant slogan: When you’re at Red Agency, you’re family. That’s how James Wright, CEO Red Agency APAC and CCO Havas Group ANZ, thinks of the Australian PR agency, founded in 1987. Sure, that includes the occasional argument about the work, but it’s always tempered with respect and what’s best for the client.
It’s a mindset that has paid off with the team picking up major awards over the last few years, most recently PR Agency of the Year at the 2017 B&T Awards.
We spoke with Wright, Red Agency’s Executive Director Jackie Crossman, and Business Director Grant Richmond-Coggan about the win, how they continue to create “incREDible work” for their clients, and the benefits of an agency retreat.
Congrats on your big wins at this year’s B&T Awards. You were up against a very strong shortlist. What do you believe makes you Australia’s best?
James Wright: We have been consistently competing and winning for around five years now. We have picked up a host of titles during that time and this year we have won at every domestic show. I know everyone says it but we really have created a truly unique place to work with an incredibly talented group of Redsters. I often say that I go to work every day with my mates and do great work. It is as simple as that.
And we are great mates—a work family. That means we argue and fall out regularly, and we fall back in just as fast because it is about respect, wanting to do the very best work, and not taking anything personally. We constantly look to improve and evolve, challenge our clients and ourselves, and have a great time whilst doing it. The results speak for themselves.
Agency culture is a huge part of your success. How do you motivate the team to keep driving client business forward?
Jackie Crossman: High performance and constantly challenging the status quo are in our DNA and key to achieving our mission of delivering incREDible work.
Rather than asking why, we ask why not, and urge the team, no matter how junior they may be, to do the same. We deliberately seek out the best talent aligned with our mission, then empower them to perform beyond client and industry expectations, and reward them for excellence.
Best-in-class training is at the heart of our operation. In the past 12 months, we have delivered an average of 42 hours of training per team member. This ensures everyone is equipped to produce the best work, evolving their skills ahead of the market, and advancing their careers.
Our annual Red Retreat, which sees every Redster in our Australian offices gather for three days of inspiration, learning, planning, team building, and plain old-fashioned fun, reaffirms our commitment to one team, one dream. We honor groundbreaking work and performance through showcases, awards and rewards, and send two future leaders to SXSW in Austin, Texas, each year—they then present key findings and innovations back to the entire team. We recognize that no matter what we’ve achieved, we can never rest on our laurels, and we are determined to continually raise the bar for the benefit of our clients.
How do you promote teamwork?
Grant Richmond-Coggan: Quite simply we live and breathe our global philosophy—Better Together. Communications is not a lone ranger’s game, we collaborate across all levels and skill sets, delivering the sharpest strategies and creative platforms.
We thrive off of diversity, encouraging everyone to bring something to the table. We promote this with team awards and team-building exercises throughout the year, but specifically at our annual agency retreat. Ultimately, everyone can clearly see the benefit of great teamwork, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
In the last year, what do you think has been the agency’s biggest accomplishment?
JW: We were already a big PR agency by Australian standards before this year and we have grown 70% again. To do that without screwing up the rest of the business—in fact, I would say our business is stronger—is an amazing achievement.
It’s testament to everyone up, down, and across the agency, who all pull in the same direction. We haven’t lost a client and have kept an incredibly high staff-retention ratio. For me personally, though, the best accomplishment is when I look up from my desk and feel immense pride and privilege to work with the individuals and team we have.
And what do you look forward to for the next year?
JC: We’re super excited about executing a cluster of trailblazing campaigns currently in the works or still to be dreamed up for clients across a broad spectrum of industries. This includes pro bono work for causes close to our hearts, for example, putting Endometriosis, a debilitating disease affecting 1 in 10 women, on the federal government’s medical research funding list. We want to raise awareness of the disease to speed up diagnosis, improve treatment, and infuse understanding by employers, teachers, peers, friends, and families of sufferers, and the broader community.
We’re also eager to witness how technologies like artificial intelligence and Blockchain will transform our lives and our industry. Finally, we look forward to seeing every Redster stretch their knowledge and skills beyond what they can even imagine in their quest to realize their full potential. And we’ll be inspiring and supporting them to do that every step of the way.
If there’s one piece of advice you’d give to agencies looking to be recognized as best in class in their local markets, what would it be?
GRC: Never settle for what you have, always strive for more, and continually challenge yourself, your staff, and your clients to evolve and push the boundaries. Go beyond best practice and define next practice.
Anything else you would like to add?
JW: 2018 will see us do more of the same—we want to create the most ambitious and provocative campaigns in the market. And have a lot of bloody fun whilst doing it.