Open-door policy prompts PR agency to restructure

Generally directing its guidance toward the communications firm’s extensive list of clientele, this time, Dixon Schwabl’s team members were counseling themselves.


If you were to walk through the doors of Dixon Schwabl today, the high company morale might make it hard to believe that just over a year ago, employees were anything but optimistic about their work environment.

Given the integrated communication firm’s expansive roster of clients—more than 200 nationally—its success and talents as an agency were never a question.

What caused uncertainty was a mounting number of internal concerns—more specifically, plans for growth within the firm’s PR department.

Embracing the company’s open-door policy, when these workplace anxieties were voiced in late 2011 and into 2012, Kim Allen, managing partner of public relations, knew something had to be done. Allen realized that it would involve everyone on the department’s 13-person team.

Employing a textbook SWOT analysis, the group divided into smaller teams to brainstorm solutions to improve the department’s structure. In the end, and along with the aid of Megan Connor Murphy, vice president of public relations, the team decided to develop key departments within the PR division based on employee experience, interest, and current clients.

Six divisions and areas of expertise were chosen in total: business-to-business, consumer, public affairs/economic development, special events, not-for-profit, and social media/digital.

Since making its decision to restructure, Dixon Schwabl has never looked back; its PR team recorded a banner year, in fact.

In 2012, Allen’s department saw a 20 percent increase in gross revenue while gaining two national, high-profile accounts—the 95th PGA Championship and Kennedy Space Center. Concurrently, the firm’s special events and business-to-business divisions each saw a more than 100 percent increase in gross revenue.

As a result, not only has team morale increased, but the success of the PR department has sparked an interest in other departments to restructure, as well.

This all culminated when the firm landed a spot on PR News’ list of “2012 Top Places to Work in PR.” Describing its new work environment, PR News writes:

“‘Fun’ is a line item in Dixon Schwabl’s annual budget, so there are funds available for every employee. In addition, managers are given a budget to use on their team. Teams regularly have lunches, happy hours and other events at area restaurants to encourage camaraderie and teambuilding.”

We’re happy to add to the PR team’s accolades by naming it the 2013 PR Daily Awards winner for Best Corporate PR Team. Congratulations.

Want to get recognized for your hard work? Find out about Ragan and PR Daily’s award programs here.

Alan Pearcy is the associate editor of PR Daily.com

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