Here at The Wendt Agency, we have been fortunate enough to welcome five new team members in the last 14 months. It’s been wonderful for us, but we wondered how the newest Wendt-ites were feeling about things. So, we asked them how things were going and, honestly, the answers are too amazing not to share.
March is National Women’s History month. This spotlight calls attention to all the accomplishments of strong, smart, and determined women who have influenced public policy, growth of companies and organizations, and initiatives to make our lives and world better. At Wendt, we can look to our own history to celebrate a woman who guided our company for 50 years. Her name was Zelma Hay Schroder.
Zelma was born in Belt, MT in 1906. This was a time when women couldn’t vote, but also when the push for broad-based economic and political equality and social reforms for women had begun. When Zelma graduated from high school, she went on to get her degree in journalism from the University of Montana. She decided that advertising was going to be her path. She was hired by L.W. Wendt in 1929 to be a copywriter for his advertising agency. Then the great depression hit, and Wendt was operated in L.W.’s basement, where they made calendars and advertising specialties to keep the agency afloat. In 1944, L.W. moved from Great Falls to Washington D.C., and he made his son, Wallace, and Zelma equal business partners with the charge to continue to build Wendt as a strong and successful Montana business. They worked side-by-side for over twenty years building their business, expanding their footprint all across Montana, and constructing a brand-new building to house the agency on the north side of town. Zelma led the construction effort, a role that was not typical for a woman during that time.
Wallace passed away in 1968 following heart surgery, and Zelma was named President. In the midst of emotional turmoil, the agency was reorganized to bring forward two vice presidents and a secretary to be a part of Zelma’s leadership team. As the agency’s chief executive officer, she led Wendt for 11 more years. During that time, the agency’s client list grew throughout the Northwest, and Wendt’s professional staff doubled in size. Zelma recognized the importance of being actively involved and giving back to her community. She gave her time to numerous organizations, including as president of the Columbus Hospital advisory board (Benefis Health System), chairwoman of the College of Great Falls President’s Council (University of Providence), the Chamber’s Community Betterment Committee, Cascade County Mental Health Association, and the YWCA board. She was named Woman of the Year in 1979 by the Great Falls Advertising Federation. Zelma retired from Wendt in 1979 at the young age of 73. She gave 50 years of her life to her passion—Wendt.
When she retired from Wendt, Zelma said, “I’ve never believed men got all the brains and women were meant to sit back. And I was fortunate to be among the people who accepted me as a person. I did my job and that caused me to float to the top.”
We honor Zelma today, as she has paved the way for other Wendt women leaders to be successful in growing and sustaining this company for over 90 years.
Several years ago, we contracted with a local firm to do some professional business consulting with the Wendt team. These consultants also happened to be my aunt and uncle. At the same time they were doing this work for us, they were in the process of opening a new office in downtown Great Falls. Many friends of theirs had provided décor to help make their offices feel welcoming and comfortable. One of the gifts was a 3-foot tall stuffed shaggy dog. Well, my aunt and uncle did not feel that the addition of a stuffed shaggy dog to their beautiful office was the bomb! So, in comes this stuffed shaggy dog to one of our staff consulting sessions. Cheerfully, regifted to the Wendt team! Promptly, he became a treasured part of our group. He was dubbed Augustus Gus. Now, it would be fun to report that that name has some sort of extraordinary significance to our agency. But frankly, it does not. That’s okay, it’s still a great name! We gleefully welcomed Gus, the cool new mascot, into our agency world.
Now Gus’ job description is varied, and as an integral part of Team Wendt, some of his responsibilities include:
- Stand up straight when someone walks by, and hope for a pat on the head, but don’t beg
- Lounge in offices that are not being occupied by staff — at the moment
- Make new staff members feel welcomed, warm, and fuzzy
- Join all holiday team functions, and happily participate whenever someone carries you into the event
- Be totally huggable when children stop by the office to visit, or make them cry if you’re in the mood
- Hide in dark places and scare the heck out of teammates whenever possible, then roll around laughing on the floor, or strike a pose for a social media post
- Never blink when guarding the front or back door from intruders
- Allow “real” dogs in the office, as long as they don’t stay forever
- Happily wear hats, wigs, scarves, or masks, even when they are uncomfortable
- Keep your hair messy and convey confidence that a messy mop is fashionable at any time
- Be the namesake of Wendt’s Spotify account and proudly own it
- Always maintain a distinctive stare
Gus provides a tremendous amount of entertainment, comfort, and joy to our space. We can’t imagine agency life without this quirky, kind of cute, mostly ugly, stuffed mutt.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that the question is not if there will be a crisis, but when there will be a crisis. In some form or another, things will not go exactly as we planned. It could be anything from a mistake someone in the office makes to a world-wide crisis, but it will be something. Having a strategic crisis communication plan in place and ready to go can help your business get through the situation and recover. And yes, the time to create that is before the crisis actually happens.
A well-crafted crisis communication plan provides structure during a very chaotic time. It’s a roadmap giving you solid directions on where to go and how to deal with the less than ideal situation your company is navigating. It helps you communicate both inside and outside of your company, keeping everyone up to date on the situation and ensuring the information is consistent across the board.
So, where do you start? Here are a few questions you should ask and answer to create a successful crisis communication plan:
- What is a crisis?
- Yes, you should actually define this. Not every issue or problem is a crisis, so figure out what is a crisis for your business so you can plan accordingly.
- Who manages a crisis?
- Someone needs to be in charge, or you will find yourself with everyone in charge and that’s not helpful at all.
- Who needs information?
- Probably lots of different people – managers, employees, customers, vendors, shareholders, government officials, the media, your owned social media, etc. Make a list and check it twice.
- What information do they need?
- Your employees will have different questions and concerns than the local media. Figure out what info is most important to each of the groups you need to inform, who is responsible for getting them that information, and how that information is distributed.
- Who is the official company spokesperson?
- Who is the public face of your company?
- If there are different contacts for the media or employees – make sure that information gets distributed to those people, so they know who to reach out to.
- How detailed do you need to be?
- Maybe you just need a single crisis communication plan or maybe you need several to allow for some specific potential crises. Both can work but take the time now to figure out which is the best fit for your company.
Once you’ve answered these questions, you will have a solid start to your plan. Remember, you won’t have time to create your crisis communication strategy when you are in the middle of a crisis. You will have a lot of other things to deal with. So, spend a little time now to create one – trust me – you won’t regret it.
The closing of one year and the start of a new, is often a time of reflection, goal setting, and new perspectives. While one may be reflecting on their personal growth over the last year, setting resolutions for a healthier diet and more exercise, or vowing to watch fewer cat videos on YouTube, the new year is a chance to start fresh. It is a time to orient yourself toward new goals and commitments. The same holds true with marketing and advertising. It is a time to reflect on the campaigns that were completed throughout the year and evaluate their performance – who your message is resonating with and what tactics are driving the most awareness and sales. However, the end of the year is not the only time these types of conversations and evaluations should be taking place. We are huge proponents of digging deep into data and gathering insights and measurable outcomes of all marketing campaigns – whether in the first quarter or fourth, there are always lessons to be learned that will guide future marketing decisions and strategy.
With all marketing efforts, the goal should always be to optimize your strategy. This is impossible to do if you are not measuring results on an ongoing basis. In addition to campaign completion reporting, it is critical to constantly monitor and optimize your advertising. Regularly view your analytics to understand how people are reacting, measure the conversions that are happening during the campaign, optimize creative assets that are having stronger performance, monitor social posts, and proactively respond and adjust as needed in real-time – all examples of data gathering and reporting that are invaluable to the success of any marketing campaign. Reviewing data such as website analytics, blog leads, email open rates, social media engagement, conversion metrics, and SEO performance on a regular and frequent basis will help align your decision making and strategy with your defined goals and KPI’s.
So, if you find yourself still in the new year mode of creating those resolutions and are not already conducting regular reviews of your marketing activities, consider developing an action plan around the types of data you are able to collect. Then schedule regular check-ins to review this data, gather insights, and use these to shift your future strategies as needed.
Jennifer Fritz, Vice President of Client Services
The Wendt Agency
“No one can do everything, but everyone can do something” – Max Lucado
During a period of transition my family experienced years ago, I found myself in a place of need that I had not anticipated, and this brought me a great deal of embarrassment. We were struggling to cover our day-to-day expenses, and we did not know how we would give our children the magical Christmas we had experienced as children. Someone in the community had heard of our situation and asked if we could use additional gifts for our family. I declined as there were certainly families with a greater need than ours. However, this “angel” did not take no for an answer, and a few weeks later called with pick-up information for our family’s gifts. I, again, told her other people were in greater need than us, but she stopped me and said, “There is a point of grace in receiving, and you will pay it forward in the future, I have no doubt. “
Fast forward to 2020 and I am so thankful to be spearheading the Wendt holiday giving program this year. As a new employee, I was not surprised to learn that Wendt has a tradition of giving during the holiday season. Each year we strive to give back to our community in a meaningful way.
Giving Back to Our Community
This year we chose to adopt the Youth Resource Center and our team collected items from the center’s wish list to aid them in their mission of, “Meeting the physical, social, and emotional needs of vulnerable youth in a low-barrier, safe, secure, and loving environment.” The YRC provides access to a hot meal, snacks, laundry, internet access, and even a shower to disadvantaged young people in our community. In addition to basic needs, they also provide service coordination so a young person in need of medical, dental, or even behavioral health services can receive this assistance right there at the center. The Wendt team loaded up the center’s shelves with canned food, snacks, water bottles, gift cards, and so much more. By giving just a little, the Youth Resource Center will be able to do so much for some of the most vulnerable in our community.
With all the challenges 2020 has brought, I believe it has also strengthened our sense of community. We are looking out for each other more than ever. There have been numerous opportunities for me to give and receive through the years. I am so thankful to have found a company that values community and looks for ways to give back all year long. No one knows when they may be the one that needs assistance. It is essential that we all show grace and compassion as we move through this life. If we keep our eyes open and our ears tuned, we will be sure to find a need we may be a part of fulfilling.
Jennifer Beisecker, Accounting Assistant
The Wendt Agency
November is the month of giving thanks. And giving thanks requires action.
What if we worked to create a culture of gratitude in our homes and offices? What would that look like? Let’s start with a gratitude definition that I came across recently that helps zero-in on what gratitude is and what it can do for us.
Gratitude is observation. It’s paying close attention. It’s noticing the things that are already here and pausing long enough to see them and think, look at this – isn’t it good? Gratitude is a way of shining a light on things; it’s a way of seeing deeply, and of letting that seeing ripen into appreciation. When we move through the world with gratefulness, when we notice the good things, suddenly good things are everywhere, and the details and the people and the moments of each day transform. They go from being the things we expect to being something exceptional.
Gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. It helps us feel positive, appreciate wonderful moments, improve our physical and mental health, helps us manage challenges, and builds solid and connected relationships. There are so many ways that we can express gratitude:
- A simple thank you, for a simple task
- A handwritten note of thanks and appreciation
- A smile and hello
- A pat on the back – physically or a shout out
- Acknowledgement or celebration in front of others
It’s so easy to show appreciation with a simple thank you.
We should not take others or their actions for granted. Being thankful for your mate for taking out the garbage, for your coworker for making another pot of coffee, your child for getting their homework done. These expected daily tasks should be celebrated and appreciated. It builds trust, connection, and engagement. Simply said, it will lift their day right along with yours.
For many, the holidays can be filled with sadness, anxiety, or depression. Those with severe anxiety disorders hopefully seek and find assistance with professional help. But sometimes we’re just feeling a little disconnected, sad, or anxious. Research and common sense tell us that being thankful can actually lift our spirits. When we focus on the positive things in our lives instead of what is lacking, we can bring clarity and joy to our lives.
So, who doesn’t want more gratitude in life! Here are some simple ideas on how to show it:
- Tell three people why you are grateful for them and why they matter in your life
- Randomly place post-it notes around your work (or home) space expressing gratitude for those on your team
- Try to find the good in someone you don’t like
- Be grateful for yourself! Do something nice for you today
- Create a Thankful Jar – and fill it up
- Surprise someone with a thoughtful, and inexpensive (or handmade) gift
- Create your own list of reasons to be grateful, post it in a prominent place to remind yourself that there is always something to be grateful for – or start a gratitude journal
- Give someone your vote of confidence
- In a group, draw names and write a note of gratitude; leave the note in a place to be found by the person you intended
- Tape gratitude notes to candy bars and hand them out
- Call a friend and tell them why you are grateful for them
- Make an effort to use grateful and kind words in all your interactions today
Thank you for taking time to read this blog and I hope it inspires you to find more ways to show, share, and practice gratitude! What are you shining a light on today?
Brenda Peterson, President/CEO
The Wendt Agency