Amy OgdenAmy Ogden

It’s no secret that people are the most precious commodity at any company. This is no different at our agency, which has a knack for retaining top talent across our four offices. The numbers speak for themselves:

As a company of 55 total employees, 23 of our team members started as interns. That’s an astonishing 40 percent; and 15 team members — or 27 percent — have been with the agency for more than five years and have since grown into senior roles.

O'Dwyer's July '17 Travel & Tourism PR MagazineThis article is featured in O'Dwyer's Jul. '17 Travel & Tourism PR Magazine

Nine team members — or 16 percent — have been with the agency for three-plus years. The same number have transferred within the agency to other JPR offices.

The agency’s eight executive team members have each been with the agency for more than five years.

This retention has stayed strong through years of agency double-digit growth with 2016 topping revenue of $7.7 million.

What does this all mean? Beyond the numbers, it means the agency has a team that’s truly bonded with their coworkers and clients; it has low employee and account team turnover; and sets the standard for client service and retention. JPR has people on its team who know the brand inside and out and are a true part of its mission. 

“We founded JPR on the promise of relationships, with the media, with clients and most importantly with our own team,” said JPR Partner Jamie Sigler O’Grady. “It’s incredibly rewarding to watch our team members grow in their roles over the years and become leaders and trendsetters at JPR and in the industry.”

What does it take to retain top talent? One word: culture.

Hire for culture, build the talent

A top priority during the hiring process at JPR is a focus on cultural fit. The best team members are a cultural fit first, followed closely by top talent. Both are necessary, but culture reigns supreme. One of the top ways to gauge cultural fit is to have team members in various roles be part of the interview process. Hiring a manager? Have the actual team members who would work with that manager join the interviews. Their feedback is important.

“Ultimately, culture comes first when creating a cohesive and successful team,” said JPR Partner Sarah Evans. “We not only create an amazing cultural experience within JPR, we also bring in new team members who see our culture through a fresh lens and add to it in their own unique ways.”

Champion experiences

Cross-office camaraderie is key to success as a global agency. Twice a year, select team members are flown coast to coast and hosted at a JPR client hotel for a week of meetings with bi-coastal media. Most valuably, team members get to innovate with far-flung colleagues, swapping ideas on all platforms, and collaborating on everything from media visits and pitches to brand partnerships, influencer relations and social strategy. Bonus: They get to explore a new city, sparking the curiosity that drives the industry.

Beyond the office-swap program, team members across all offices attend the annual PRSA Travel & Tourism Conference and the agency sends team ambassadors to cross-office team retreats to build upon the brand pillar of collaboration and sharing best practices.

Empower

The agency empowers team members to wow their clients and media. The “what,” “how” and “when” is completely up to the account team. They’ve had team members create a post-trip video for a traveling journalist to relive the trip of a lifetime. For clients who participated in a philanthropic cross-country cycling race, the team rewarded them with welcome-home packages containing personal notes and healthy treats. 

Grow and guide

JPR long ago dropped the standard annual review format in exchange for a more ­fluid, ongoing growth and development plan for team members. This includes multiple check-ins throughout the year with clear goals and milestones. Each team member receives anonymous 360-degree feedback at all levels — this leads to a true understanding of his or her place in the agency and within its teams. Additionally, the agency has an internal mentorship program where team members are paired up to create ongoing guidance, goal-setting and championing. 

Create space for personal innovation

With longevity comes team members who grow personally and professionally over the years and may seek new challenges or develop new skills. The team at JPR sees this as a bonus and has thoughtfully moved team members into new roles over time based on their talents and passions.

Retaining top talent takes daily dedication to relationships, activities and results. JPR over the past 12 years has steadily risen in the ranks to become one of the country’s fastest growing bi-coastal agencies in the travel and hospitality spaces. JPR’s global roster includes more than 100 independent boutique hotels in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, Dubai, Europe, Asia and more. The agency steadily garners and retains partners including Relais & Châteaux, Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts, Vail Resorts Hospitality, Grace Hotels, InterContinental, the destination of Newport Beach and 17 Ritz-Carlton Hotels & Resorts.

While accolades are incredibly rewarding, it truly is the team behind the brand that matters the most. “Culture isn’t just a buzz word at JPR, it’s part of our brand DNA,” said O’Grady. “We wouldn’t have it any other way.”

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Amy Ogden is Vice President of Brand Development at J Public Relations