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Anatomy of a young agency

Milk and Honey describes itself as a “small and energetic” PR agency, which was founded by Kirsty Leighton, who worked before at agencies including Edelman, Text 100 and Waggener Just over a year old, the agency claims its success is down to putting “people first”. But what does this mean and how is this different from any other agency?.

Keeping it personal
Jo Cresswell, associate partner at Milk and Honey PR, explains: "In practice, this means no employee works on more than five clients. There are at least two levels between line managers and direct reports to ensure scope for growth. Regular personal development conversations take place to ensure employees are progressing and working towards their personal goals. All employee goals are aligned to agency performance objectives, meaning every staff member – no matter level – is working towards the same outcome.”

Living by brand values
Cresswell says that another key aspect of the agency is its commitment to particular values, namely energy, bravery, respect, passion, collaboration and loyalty. “These values shape our thinking and decision-making on everything from recruitment through to new business and how we speak to one another in the agency. We have made, often tough, commercial decisions not to work with businesses if our values don’t align. And have found fantastic, high-performing employees through recruiting on values and skills, as opposed to experience alone.”

Open and honest
To help keep communication lines open, Cresswell says that “No question is off the table”. She adds: “The board meets monthly and reports back to the wider team on agency performance, goals and priority areas for coming months”

Travel plans
There is also a team trip to Marrakech planned this month. Cresswell says the trip is for business planning, but adds: “We are also dedicating significant time to team training, client brainstorming and, of course, sunbathing and relaxing! That’s what we’re sure will keep our hive a happy one for years to come.”

First person

Luciana Ianari, client executive, describes what it is like to work in the agency

“I first joined Milk and Honey PR for a two-week internship in August 2017. The agency had just surpassed its six-month mark as a start-up and already had a wide portfolio of big clients in sectors such as fintech, telecoms, retail and recruitment. 

“I didn’t really know what to expect. During previous internships in larger agencies, I was largely there to help with administration tasks. However, 30 minutes after I walked through the door at Milk & Honey PR, I was attending the week’s briefing and asked to contribute my thoughts to an upcoming communications strategy.

“In those two weeks I think I must have learnt what an average intern learns in six months. With a small team of four and a growing agency, it became immediately evident that clock-watching would be a thing of the past.

“Fast forward to April 2018 and I have just passed my probation! In the last three months I have pitched alongside the managing partner, attended journalist meetings and devised pitches for all four of my clients.

“I’ve been able to achieve so much in the first three months because I’ve been given the space – but also support – to create my own ideas and be a trusted member of account teams. I always know what is expected of me, but I am always encouraged to go the extra mile – knowing that I have a team ready to catch me if I fall and applaud with every accomplishment. I was given responsibility as if I had been there since day one. All the while, right beside me, I had four people that were always there to lend guidance and a laugh – no matter how silly my question. 

“What I believe has been the most impactful element of the agency’s structure is the monthly team meetings, in which our associate partner, Jo, or managing partner, Kirsty, presents to the rest of the team an update on the agency’s performance. Both the highlights and challenges from both agency and clients are covered, with each team member asked to provide their own views. It is this transparency that has evoked an element of trust within the team. Being able to see on the grand scale what your tasks ultimately contribute to has in a way further encouraged me to go above and beyond.

“As a result of this culture, and consecutively my experience, I am a strong believer that there’s no better way to immerse yourself in PR than working at a small, newly born, agency.”

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