Top 5 Tips for Team Success: Agency Edition

It doesn’t matter if you work at a public relations agency, digital advertising agency, or traditional advertising agency, part of agency life is working on account teams. After working at a student-run agency, I’ve learned just how crucial it is for all account team members to work together.

The team dynamic in a student agency is different from a regular agency because students are also collaborating and helping one another with classes, internship and job recommendations, and general student life advice. Working together in all of these mediums helps us encourage and push one another to grow and succeed.

In the Roxo student agency, we have three account teams. Each team works with 1-2 clients a semester to produce high-quality deliverables. This semester, I worked as a Copywriter on the Pink team and worked with my teammates to produce the best possible work for our client I learned a few things about how to achieve success as a team:

1. Get to Know Your Team

When teammates get to know each other better, there is a stronger sense of trust and comfort. This means that the team is more likely to have an open atmosphere that invites ideation and collaboration. Imagine if during a brainstorming session, every one of your ideas gets shut down. How would you feel? You’d probably be much less likely to contribute in the future, and this is what we want to avoid.

Trust is everything, and we achieve trust through team bonding.

I vividly remember meeting my team for the first time -- I didn’t know anybody. However, my team met regularly on Zoom and in the office, which helped us get to know each other. My team also spent time getting to know one another by gathering and socializing outside of our time in the office.

The first time we got together, we got coffee together at a local coffee shop near campus. It was so fun getting to learn about my teammates’ families, lives, and interests. This was such a success that later in the semester, we met for happy hour at one of our favorite restaurants in Fort Worth. Spending time with each other and sharing parts of our lives truly bonded us and built the trust we needed for our team’s success.

2. Communicate Often

We’ve all heard it a million times: communication is key. But does anybody ever explain why communication is so important?

In short, communication is essential because, without it, we are lost. When we talk with our teammates, message one another, and meet over Zoom, we communicate. Team communication also includes listening to what our teammates tell us and engaging with their communication. If you sent a message to your team but nobody responded or liked the message, you wouldn’t know if the group understood or comprehended it. To avoid this confusion, it’s important to like messages, answer questions, provide edits and comment on teammates’ work, and even send encouraging emojis or memes in the group chat.

Essentially, communication means that when you have something to say, you say it. Every teammate's voice matters; you could be the only one who notices a potential problem with an idea, and speaking up can help avoid a crisis. If a team member has a question or a concern about a deadline, deliverable, or creative choice, they should feel encouraged to speak up. Teams with an open, inclusive collaboration style are typically the most receptive to healthy feedback and criticism. This is the kind of team environment we should all strive for.

3. Be Open

When teammates are open-minded, team members feel comfortable and are more willing to share ideas, resulting in more innovative and creative deliverables. In this safe space where ideas don’t get shut down, even shy team members will feel comfortable sharing.

An open-minded teammate does not just listen to other team members’ ideas, but this person truly wants to hear the different perspectives that people bring to the table. This accepting person thinks about these ideas on a deeper level, giving every idea a chance because they understand that being open to new ideas leads to better creative ideation. Essentially, the more ideas, the merrier. Or in the world of a student-run agency, the more ideas, the more creative the final concept will be.

4. Let Your Ideas Fly

Brainstorming is a common occurrence in agency life. When a team brainstorms together, there is a synergy that cannot be matched. Throwing out ideas is the name of the game.

There is an underlying assumption that people will suggest “bad” ideas, and that’s ok! In an article about brainstorming tips for agency teams, the author says, “And no matter how far-fetched or pointless an idea seems in the beginning, it might become vital to the project’s success later down the track.” Sometimes our “bad” ideas are actually a golden ticket to achieving the big idea.

Reaching the big idea is extremely difficult if team members are hesitant to speak up about ideas. It’s just like choosing a restaurant for dinner with a group of friends. Isn’t it easier to choose a restaurant when your friends offer more choices?

Eventually, when enough ideas are on the table, the big idea inevitably shows itself. A team that isn’t afraid to brainstorm together is much more likely to be a successful team.

5. Trust Your Teammates

Although it may not seem like it, this can be a hard piece of advice to follow.

On teams that are made up of such talented people, there is potential for butting heads. When it comes down to it, it is rare for people to agree 100% of the time. With this being said, teammates can still find happy compromises with innovative ideas.

If we shift our frame of mind to think about how talented our teammates are, it is much easier for us to accept and support the creative ideas and work that our teammates continuously produce. When it comes to agency life, we need to remind ourselves that although teams work cohesively, each teammate has a specific job. If we remember where our responsibilities lie, it is easier to sit back, relax, and trust our teammates to do their work and do it well. This sense of trust is essential for a happy and successful team.

Nicole Adams is a Strategic Communication and Communication Studies double major at Texas Christian University (TCU) in Fort Worth, Texas. She is a Copywriter at the student run agency Roxo, TCU’s in-house advertising and public relations agency located in the Bob Schieffer College of Communication. Nicole enjoys trying new restaurants for her food Instagram @Nicoles_eats, watching romantic comedies with friends at home, and starting her mornings with avocado toast and a long walk.

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