Helping a PR Agency increase profits and team satisfaction

How do we ensure continuous growth while staying profitable? How do we set new goals, and execute efficienctly together with our team? In this article, I will lay out the learnings of working with a PR agency that came to me with a request for advice on how to grow the company.

Short Summary

Founded 4 years ago by Raminta Lilaite and Kristina Skindelyte, Blue Oceans PR is a Vilnius-based PR agency. Specializing in tech and lifestyle, the founders built an internationally recognized PR brand that helps clients get noticed by global media outlets and audiences. Today, the company that numbers 12 people works with well-known brands in Lithuania and abroad.

Continuous growth is challenging for many agencies at this stage of their business journey. To make growth smoother, Blue Oceans sought an opportunity to work with REMODE on remote organizational structure and strategic planning. Working together, we developed a 3-year strategic plan, and now the leadership team has a clear understanding of how to get there..

In the next sections, I will elaborate on the challenges the company faced, the sources of those challenges, and how we overcame them .

The Challenge

The growth of the company stagnated and within the leadership team, ideas on how to grow further diverted from one another. Being unconvinced about where to take to the company, they saw a decline in productivity and team satisfaction.

One of the first things I do when evaluating the potential in a client is to try formulate one strategic question. In the case of Blue Oceans PR, the challenge was stripped down to the following:

“How are we going to turn this stagnation around and move united in a new direction that we all agree on?”

In the next section, I’ll elaborate on the challenges faced, and where they come from.

Breaking Down the Challenges

At the start of my work with clients, I kick off the process with my home-made performance scoring review, where I spread 44 questions over 2 session to understand the challenges that the organization is facing.

After these sessions, I suggest a detailed chronological roadmap for the next 3 months where the company needs to put its focus to overcome the challenges. With this, we set the course for the transformational journey, no matter if is taken with us or solo.

Now let’s look at the challenges identified in this specific case, which as a matter of fact are very common challenges in any organization where the business strategy hasn’t been completed.

Challenge 1 – Realigning Management. 

The first challenge that we quickly uncovered was the need to realign the management team. In my experience, misalignment rarely happens because of poor communication. Usually, what’s at the root is the fact that the founders haven’t really worked out a common perspective for the company, its vision, mission and values. This was the case here as well.

Having a purpose in the form of an articulated mission and Vision statements, and set Core organizational values is the best solution to realigning management teams.

Challenge 2: The Need for Meaningful Goals

We identified the second challenge, which was actually rooted in challenge 1. This one I see often in companies without an articulated mission and vision statement. The lack of meaningful (stretch) goals.  Just like with a sailing trip, you need to know what your destination is, before you can plan your journey.

I call goals that lead nowhere “floating goals”. You set and achieve them, but you’re still drifting around in the ocean like a piece of driftwood. The opposite are “meaningful goals”. It is quite common for small businesses to have some floating goals. That’s because it really is tough to decide what to do and what not to do when you’re not settled on your destination.

The floating goals I talk about neither inspire nor drive teams forward. Companies need a proper goal setting framework and planning ritual in place that allows for meaningful goals in line with the overall company perspective.

Looking at the result of the performance review we identified low-hanging fruit for our client in this area.

Challenge 3: Aligning Workflow Planning and Execution

The third challenge we’ve identified was at the execution side. Execution is king, is what most people say. Personally I think so, too. Having worked with many businesses, I see this to be one of the biggest challenges. They have their goals, but struggle to get their team to accomplish them. It’s like a sports car without an engine, it looks fancy but it doesn’t get you to your destination.

A powerful way to drive execution is to work with Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). It is a framework that helps you see the steps on your stairway. The goal at the top stops being a “pie in the sky”, as you have a clear path, broken down into manageable steps. Working with my clients, OKRs are the go-to instrument in my toolbox.

Hand in hand with the OKR framework goes the stack of digital tools. It can include workflow management tools, content structuring tools, CRMs, and so on. However, tools are precisely that – tools. Only with proper leadership can they be put to real use.

The three challenges we identified provided the necessary roadmap to start working together.

How Remode brought in the solutions

Month 1:

In the first month we tackled challenge 1. Going back to basics with the founders, we did some serious rethinking on why the company was founded in the first place. We used the beliefs that were already in place to create a new perspective for the company.

We also focused on identifying Key accountability and responsibility areas, and implemented a responsibility assignment matrix called RACI (stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed). Basically, this is a team agreement of who takes what part of the business under their wing.

Through live workshops, using work documents and a digital whiteboard, we crystallized and wrote down the company’s:

  • Mission statement
  • Vision statement
  • Core values
  • RACI for the Key Positions

The newly written statements were tested with the team and after some final tweaks, the company had articulated their strategic perspective. This works as a compass for the rest of the strategic plans to follow.

Month 2:

In the second month, we used the new compass to solve challenge 2. Now that it was much clearer why the company exists and everyone agreed on its purpose, we worked on “WHAT do we want to achieve by WHEN and HOW are we going to do it?” For this, it’s not enough to think in a short-term perspective. Here, we need stretch goals. Think of stretch goals as a destination in the direction we agreed on, when we set our mission and vision. Having stretch goals means that the organization stays on course in the long run.

I like to call these stretch goals “B.I.G. goals”. Bold, Inspiring, Guiding. Goals should be Bold to be challenging and even a tad scary, so they push you to get the best out of you. They should be Inspiring, so that people (including yourself) feel excited working on them. And they should be Guiding so they are clear enough for people to make their own decisions regarding what steps to take.

The B.I.G. Goals also feed the short-term goals, in other words your Objectives and Key Results( OKRs). Think of your OKRs as different ways of reaching those goals.

Through live workshops we have:

  • Identified three B.I.G. Goals for the next 3-5 years
  • Performed an extensive company-wide SWOT to identify where the organization is right now in relation to the B.I.G. Goals
  • Broke down the B.I.G. goals into yearly Objectives
  • Broke down the yearly Objectives into quarterly OKRs
  • Identify the key initiatives for the quarter supported by the SWOT findings.
  • Involved the whole team in training on OKRs.

After this month, the founders team was excited about their new-found clarity. But we were not done yet! In Month 3 we worked on strategy execution and workflows.

Month 3

In the third month, we looked closely at the digital tools in the company. A well-curated set of digital tools goes a long way, especially when you have a new direction, with clear goals and OKRs. Executing your strategy without proper digital tools is like navigating the ocean on a sailing boat without a sail. That doesn’t work.

This is what we did:

  • Decided on one tool as one source of information and truth – Notion
  • Aligned the use of the several other tools in the company’s workflows
  • Implemented an execution workflow for the Goals and OKRs
  • Extended the RACI framework to cover roles within the team
  • Optimised the meeting / communication structure
  • Identified theKPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to measure the effectiveness of the plans.

Month 4

Nothing blows up dust more than changes inside a company. And during change, the leadership team can benefit from some coaching. After all, it’s better to start a new journey with someone who did it before.

During month 4,  I provided the necessary leadership coaching to walk the company through the changes. At the time of writing this, I’m still tuning in once in a while to see how they’re doing. I’m happy to see that almost a year after our first meeting, they’re still on course towards their B.I.G. goals.

The Results

The implemented changes were foundational, and the team will continue to build upon them for several years.

At the time of this writing,  the early results for the company are:

  • Increased clarity and focus, leading to a higher return on management
  • Optimised use of resources hanks to a clear focus
  • Improved productivity of the organization, leading to better customer results, and faster achievement of goals, projects
  • More aligned and satisfied team

All of these changes compound and have a positive impact on the company’s bottom line.

But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s how the founders see the journey:

While we see our results from this collaboration as being more longterm, we already have much more clarity of where we want to go and what kind of company we want to be. Our processes are much clearer and we have internal division of roles which is helping us to focus on our strengths. We save time by shortening normal meeting time and dedicating extra time to OKRs. We are already reaping results in profits and team satisfaction.

Raminte Lilaite, Co-founder and CEO at Blue Oceans PR

Why Blue Oceans PR chose Remode?

We chose Remode as we immediately saw this was a different level of consulting. After the first meetings we felt that we are in for some serious change and we will have to do it on our own but with a professional guide — this is exactly what we needed. Ideas and strategies were not just dropped on us, we ourselves came to certain conclusions and decisions because of skilled guidance. We believe this is the most effective way to grow an organization — at least it worked for us.

Raminte Lilaite, Co-founder and CEO at Blue Oceans PR

Lessons learned and conclusion:

Every client’s journey is unique. This case was a particular challenging one, as the implementation of the changes was perceived as quite disruptive to the traditional day to day operations.

The increased accountability and goal-oriented focus initially led to some resistance in the team. Having worked with multiple clients, this is quite common. One of the lessons learned for me was that every change, whether at first perceived big or small, needs a tailored approach in the company in order to succeed. This is where consultants can make a real difference. And I continue to develop this approach as part of my offerings as a boutique consulting agency.

I’d like to end this piece with some more words from Raminte Lilaite, Co-founder and CEO at Blue Oceans PR:

“Remode and Leon was the best investment that our company has made so far. Hire Remode if you need a clear direction for your company, if you want to get rid of wasteful processes and grow profits. Most importantly, grow team satisfaction and happiness in what you do!”

If you want to learn how your company can get more clarity, focus, productivity, and team satisfaction, feel free to reach out for a free discovery call.

Refresh. Rethink. Remode.