Did you know we have a “No Jerks” policy? It applies to both our co-workers, and our clients. While the phrase may seem lighthearted or written to amuse, we’re serious about it. And yes, we believe it’s helped our business.
Here’s what the “No Jerks” policy means.
From a co-worker perspective, it means saying “Good Morning” when you walk in the door and meaning it. A willingness to share snippets of your “real life outside of work” and taking a genuine interest in the passions and stories of those you work with. It means showing mutual respect, knowing that all ideas are worth considering no matter who they come from. It means having each other’s back publicly, but pointing out mistakes not to impugn, but to improve in private. It means knowing it’s okay to make a mistake, as long as you’re willing to learn from the experience.
As it relates to clients, it means it’s okay to turn down a customer, or even to fire them if necessary. It means that we get to choose our clients similar to how they get to choose us as their PR Firm. Do we think they are ethical, and that they treat their customers fairly? Will they talk to us with respect and seriously consider our comments? Granted, they don’t need to accept all our advice, we just want to contribute and help our clients see the potential brand benefits or risks of their decisions. We aren’t “yes men” and we don’t want to be. Where’s the fun in that! Our clients needs to know and accept up-front that we’re always going to share our honest opinions and suggestions in private, but they can have confidence that once the final decision is made we’ll back their call publicly 100%.
The “No Jerks” policy follows something else we started a few years ago, called (excuse the language) the “a**hole fee”. It’s a lot like it sounds… and we only have pulled out this threat a few times. Here’s how it works: Let’s say a client who we normally have a great working relationship with is aggressively over-focused on a truly superficial detail or is uncharacteristically being verbally rude to a member of our team. Jokingly, I’ve told them we understand their issue and we’ll do our best to fix it, but if they keep up being abusive to us I’m going to add on an a**hole fee. In both scenarios the individual stopped cold… and after about 5 seconds started laughing and said okay, I get it, I’m sorry.
We believe that the “No Jerks” policy has helped our company because it allows us to focus as a team and company on what’s really important. It helps us remove all the time wasting headaches and distractions quickly. For example, it requires us identify staff and partners where their personality and how we believe they’ll interact with fellow staff and clients is considered just as important as their professional talents. It also makes it okay to pass on potential clients where we fear they have unrealistic expectations, or where we just have a gut feeling that they aren’t a good fit or that we won’t enjoy working with them.
And yes, it is fun to say we have a No Jerks policy too.
Oh, and for the record—the “No Jerks” policy wasn’t our idea. We adapted it from one of our IPREX partners, Dallas-based SPM Communications. IPREX is a global network of Independent PR firms, and 10 to 1 Public Relations is the sole Arizona member of this exclusive network. We had the opportunity to meet the SPM team last year and tour their offices where we learned about “No Jerks”. We liked it so much we “borrowed” it! We’re pretty sure they won’t think us jerks for doing so!