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If you want results, be nice to your PR staff says Chris Blackwood, partner at Third City

When I was a kid I loved playing pinball. 

Part of playing is giving the machine a little bump, or “tilt”, to gain a minor advantage, but sometimes frustration would get the better of me and I’d give it one nudge too many. 

Detecting my dishonest tactics, the clever machine would disable my flippers as a punishment and I’d have to watch helplessly as the little silver ball rolled into the drain. Cue tearing hair out and gnashing of teeth. 

This reaction, common in the arcades of my youth, spawned the phrase “being on tilt” – describing the frustrated and unhappy mindset triggered by a negative experience. It’s common parlance in today's gaming world. 

Now the key thing that gamers accept about being on tilt is that it’s a BAD thing. The frustration makes you act impulsively, unwisely and ultimately spew value. You might feel like you're reacting with determination or grit, but you're really not operating at 100%.

I believe the very same principle applies in the world of work – especially in creative industries like ours. And it’s not just a wonky theory. 

There’s a sports psychologist called Will Jonathan who I follow and admire. He often refers to a study where the most successful NFL (American Football) players were asked to give the secret to their success. Overwhelmingly they stated that the most important ingredient was to “have fun and enjoy the game”. 

Happiness breeds success. 

I attended a Bupa event on workplace wellbeing a few weeks ago. On the panel discussion was perhaps THE thought leader on the issue, Dr Paul Litchfield and he corroborated this viewpoint. In fact, his focus had moved past the question – DOES colleague happiness matter to business? – to… WHAT initiatives can add the greatest value and how can we measure them?

Yet many of my colleagues in other PR agencies talk of the stress of agency life and how they believe it’s just in the DNA of the job. Long hours, shouty bosses and raging emotions. It sounds like some agencies are fuelled by tilt! 

But it really doesn’t have to be this way. Having a happy agency isn't just nice, it's good business! And the sooner the industry figures this out, the sooner they’ll start seeing better results too.

Chris Blackwood is partner at PR agency Third City. Reach him on Twitter at @blackwood_c 

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