Interview with PR Practitioner of the Year Matt Trocchio, Part 4 of 4

Hulk TrocchioBy now, you probably feel like you’ve come to know Matt Trocchio pretty well. We’re here to give you one final installment of our interview series with the man, the myth and the legend behind the Publicity Club of New England’s PR Practitioner of Year. Today, Matt talks through cultivating core values within his team and advice for those looking to join an Agency like SHIFT. Though this concludes the series, you can catch up with Matt on the regular via Twitter. Now without further ado, Part 4 of the Troch saga begins.

At SHIFT, we have our 7 core values we abide by: creative, connected, dedicated, positive, smart, ballsy and honorable. What do those values mean to you, and how do you cultivate them within your team? Let’s start with creative. 

Creative is tough, right? You can’t just teach creativity. You’re either creative or you’re not; usually if you’re in this industry, it’s because you are. We do a few things on my team to keep our creative ‘juices’ flowing. We have weekly pitch labs where individual teams come to the table with a few ideas they have and talk through it. In a way, it’s like a weekly mini brainstorm. You don’t have to wait for a new business pitch or a big campaign to do that level of thinking. It’s important to push ourselves to think differently on a regular basis.

How about connected?

When you hear the word ‘connected’, the most common thought is, “Well I have to go to every industry event and know everybody in the business.” And there is value in that. My idea of staying connected is talking to everybody in the agency and knowing what’s going on and what skill sets you can learn from others. Make sure that you are talking to your team every day. I think the biggest mistake someone can make is to just sit at their cube or in their office and only focus on their individual to-dos. Staying connected, to me, means I know what my team’s day is like, I know who’s smiling and who’s not and being able to talk through it.

How about dedicated?

For me, being dedicated is actually about working hard for your team as much as it is about working hard for the agency. A dedicated person is not just putting in the time on their accounts but also taking that extra step to help out a colleague. The most dedicated people I have are those that walk up to my office before they go home and ask, “Is there anything else I can do for you?” That means the world to me just because it means that they care, and they’re tapped in.

And for the positive value?

Positive is one of the most important values that we have here, because it’s so easy to be negative. For example, when someone gets “outed” by an angry reporter or a client shoots down an idea an employee is really proud of, it’s very easy to be negative. However, I think if you can walk in here every day with a smile on your face and be able to focus on the more positive aspects, it does make a difference. When you’re happy, people around you are happy. When people are happy, you get better results.

Cultivating positivity can mean something as simple as having an honest conversation with someone. If I notice someone’s unhappy, I talk through it, find out why and what I can do to help resolve the issue. All aspects of having an actual conversation with why someone’s unhappy can lead to them being happy.

Let’s move on to ‘smart.’

I suppose that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I think smart can be the same thing.  Staying smart means keeping up with the industries of your clients and the different skill sets that you need to learn. It’s about knowing when to chime in as much as when to stay quiet. A lot of people think because they talk the most they’re the smartest person in the room, and that’s not always the case.

I encourage people on my team to be smart by encouraging training. If you notice someone isn’t keeping up with their reading, show them how you did it or suggest specific things to read. Once again, talking through issues is really key.

And of course, how about ballsy?

Ballsy. I think that’s probably our favorite value to bring up. It’s all about taking chances without being stupid. I mean that with love.  You want to take chances and you want to push your clients, but it has to make sense. There’s a fine line, and some people learn the hard way. But we try to avoid that. If you’re having consistent discussions around ideas before you bring them  up to clients, you can walk through it and make sure it works from all angles. It’s very easy to associate being ‘ballsy’ with taking huge risks, but I personally feel it’s more about thinking differently and not being stale.

Last but not least: honorable.

You have to be true to yourself. You have to be your own person. And you have to be true to your team. I think for me the most honorable person is the one that is looking out for more than just than themselves. They have the hindsight to think, “How does this affect the team? How does this affect the client? How does this affect the agency?”

In a situation where someone on your team is not being honorable, try approaching them and explaining how it would impact them in the same situation. If someone is proposing something that you know is going to hurt three team members, flip it around and ask how they would react in the same situation. You also have to lead by example; if they see that you’re putting the team first then maybe they’ll see that’s something they should be doing as well.

What advice do you have for potential clients wondering why they should hire SHIFT?

We have a lot of great skill sets beyond just the tip of traditional PR. We offer everything from social to creative to marketing tech. I think that is great from a brochure standpoint. But ultimately what you get at SHIFT is a partner that cares about you. A handful of firms will just work just to take the money. We work very hard to partner with our clients and talk to them about what will work best for their business model. If you’re willing to accept that level of feedback. That is ultimately the difference with SHIFT.  We’re honest with you, and we’ll tell you what will work and what won’t.

Any final bits of advice that you would give to someone wondering if SHIFT as a place that they want to work at? 

At SHIFT, you’ll receive the best training ground as far as the amount of education you’ll get from the staff — from both a seeing and doing perspective. I have a lot of friends in the industry at different shops, and I’m always amazed at the differences with what we do and how many opportunities we give people here compared to other agencies. At SHIFT, the expectations of your job and where you’re going are very clear as soon as you walk through the door. In addition,  I’ve always felt valued. I’ve felt that everyone has been very upfront with me regarding what I could do here and what areas I needed to grow in.

Amanda Grinavich
Senior Marketing Analyst


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