In less than 15 years, Brodeur Worldwide has become the largest public relations and communications consultancy firm focused exclusively on technology-driven companies. It has seven U.S. branches and more than 500 employees in 55 offices in 33 countries. In 2000, PR Week named it PR Agency of the Year. Inside PR ranked it No. 1 in high technology for five years straight.
What's Brodeur's secret? The Boston-based company fosters a small-company culture, investing in employees and providing ample opportunity for professional development and growth.
Brodeur's professional development program — which won a SABRE Certificate of Excellence for best practices in PR management — developed out of the brown bag “lunch and learns” of the firm's early days. Designed to hit on skills such as creativity, technology, communication, and management, it touches every level of the organization and is tied to employees' performance reviews. Specific aspects include:
- In-house Training Sessions
Brodeur employees and a small group of consultants teach sessions on people management, media relations role play, measurement and planning, client service, presentation skills, writing, and online communications. Sessions are offered at different skill levels and are scheduled on a quarterly or semiannual rotation.
- Creativity Workshops
Employees display their photography, sculpture, writing, and other talents at the annual Creative Expressions show. A small group goes on a two-day retreat in Essex, Mass., to learn creative approaches to brainstorming and teamwork. The company has even hired a full-time “senior creatologist” to design and implement creativity.
- BookSmart Program
Brodeur's management believes that good business books can enhance employees' skills. New hires receive a specially selected book with their offer letter; current employees receive a book with each performance review or promotion.
- Corporate Retreats
Employees meet quarterly for a daylong retreat. Breakout groups address specific issues. Change, customer service, and the latest trends in business, technology, and public relations have been the focus of recent retreats.
- Professional Education Allowance
For those not enrolled in a tuition reimbursement program, Brodeur offers $300 toward job-related books or magazine or newspaper subscriptions. The money can also be used as partial payment for membership in a job-related professional organization.
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Brodeur's professional development efforts benefit employees and the organization:
- Performance Payoff
Participation in learning activities is tied to employees' performance reviews, so learning isn't just an extra.
- Employee Involvement
Employees choose their paths to career enhancement. They are often taught by co-workers, and classes are designed to fulfill job requirements.
- Varied Commitment
Company leaders provide whatever is needed to help employees achieve developmental goals, including texts, educational allowances, and time away to focus on job issues with peers.