The Importance of Having an Agency Ethos and Practicing What We Preach

In an industry filled with brilliant minds and creative strategists, how does an agency stand apart from the next? In addition to category expertise and excellent work, Good Word president Dania Ahmad says it's company ethos that attracts and retains clients. She writes on the ways her agency practices what they preach, and how that's helped her curate a top-tier roster of clients – and why this helps weed out clients that ultimately won't be a good long-term fit. 

One of the first lessons I learned in this business was that in order to be the best and do the best, you need to work with companies and brands you truly believe in or have an affinity for. My first job was at a large corporate firm with large corporate clients. I came to work, I did the job, I got results and all was well. It wasn’t until I started working with design brands a few years later, at a great boutique shop, that I really found my passion. Suddenly I was energized, brimming with ideas, giddy to get to work. This experience taught me that working is much more rewarding when you deeply care about the work that you do. It was this excitement, and also curiosity, that prompted me to start Good Word in 2012.

In the years since, I’ve experienced, firsthand, all of the challenges that come with running an agency – clients, KPIs, budgets, KPIs, new business, did I mention KPIs? – but one of the most satisfying things, again and again, is getting to choose who we work with. We do our best work when clients see us as partners and extensions of their team, not vendors. We are deliberate and thoughtful in the way we work, we grow, new business we pursue and clients we take on.

Now, more than 25 years into this career, I see that the things that set agencies apart from their competitors are not just in the obvious ways like structure and services offered, but rather the soft skills and personal approach. I’m a big believer in the importance of EQ and the immeasurable value of having strong instincts for what is driving someone to do or want something. Sometimes, this is almost more important than IQ when it comes to the day-to-day running of the company. Strategy, contacts and relationships are essential, but being able to intuit and anticipate our client’s needs and pivot accordingly is a crucial part of the work.

Another key for growth is “authenticity.” For Good Word, a large part of what drives this is making sure that our ethics – both business and personal – are aligned. Part of what motivates us is working with people who are doing good. We try as much as possible to consider things like sustainability practices, fair labor standards, social justice and equity when speaking with clients and learning about their businesses.

We have also made the decision to use our own platforms to raise awareness for the issues we care deeply about. This is something we struggled with a bit in the early days. We’d heard some feedback that perhaps we were taking a risk for a small agency just starting out. Until one day, when a client told us that part of what made her choose us was the fact that we choose to wear our hearts on our sleeves and amplify causes that are meaningful to us.

So, what’s the key? Finding what’s best for you, your business and your team. Find your sweet spot and stick to it.

Stop comparing and copying: It’s good business to have a handle on the competitive landscape, but there’s a delicate balance between market research and being authentic. Good Word is certainly not the only company that services brands with digital and social media strategy, PR/media relations, content creation and influencer partnerships, but we do our best to be true to ourselves, our brand identity and our company ethos. Value what’s unique about you.

In that same vein, we always keep our clients’ core mission and audience at the forefront of our work. Even when branching out to reach new demos, we do it with care and data in order to achieve genuine and authentic success.

Never over promise: We’re not so different from our clients... we want the people who choose to work with us to stick around for a good long while. Honesty and integrity are integral to this. Never promise anything you know you can’t deliver on. Maybe a client or potential client won’t like hearing what you have to say, but you’ll both sleep better at night.

Every Social Media Manager Should Sharpen These Core Skills

No modern marcomms team is complete without at least one social media pro. As social continues to take up more space in PR and marketing strategies, there's a lot that social managers need to know, but beneath all the trending content and popular platforms, there are a few core skills that make up the formula for success. Gheya Boulware, founder of Social First Solutions, explains the key skill sets social media managers must master, and how new and existing social teams can hone their expertise today. 

If you find it quite hard to land a social media management role the first time around, you’re not alone. Social media has become one of the most in-demand and competitive digital career paths to enter into. With the need for companies to scale social media marketing teams into more specialized roles, there will be more opportunities to fill in the gap – whether you're looking to become a social media coordinator, data analyst or head of social.

The core skill sets that I'll mention below are not new by any means, but if you're specifically looking to start or grow in your career as a social media manager, you'll need to strengthen all three areas to stand out in the job market and help to meet the marketing goals of the company you're working for.


Senior and mid-level social media managers play a huge part in working alongside executives to spearhead marketing decisions, maintain the company’s brand image and train other divisions within the workforce to become company advocates across their own personal platforms. Most social media managers tend to carry the technical skills of the role instead of actual influence. Aside from strategizing content and being knowledgeable of the best platforms brands should use, social media managers need to have a clear understanding of the type of talent, systems, technology and resources needed to create and distribute content. They're ultimately responsible for ensuring everyone within the social media team is equipped to take on high-stake campaigns, partnering the social media team with other divisions within a company to build strategies, overseeing budget and meeting the constant demands of the department.

Creative & Analytical

Social media marketing is both an art and a science; when they coincide, it creates magic. Carrying both creative and analytical skills helps social media managers make key decisions that'll increase ROI. From understanding brand identity and messaging to tapping into consumer behavior and cultural shifts, all of it works together to create impactful content that is evergreen, valuable and buzz-worthy. Cultivating these skill sets consistently through training is key when brainstorming impactful campaign ideas, presenting data to get executive buy-in and building long-term relationships with consumers across social media platforms.

Social Media Governance

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to social media, which creates more risks for companies that utilize it day-to-day. As social media managers work with different companies, content strategies will change based on the type of industry they're in, especially when working with highly regulated industries like banking, healthcare or government. They must ensure that employees are abiding by social guidelines, refreshing social media policies as needed, preparing for potential social media crises and engaging properly with audiences. These key areas need special attention to protect the company's reputation and loyalty.

Invest in team Training

Although there is a wealth of information available on the internet for you to sharpen these skill sets, ultimately, success comes from a combination of experience, mentorship and in-depth training; which most social media teams seem to be missing today. Companies are now looking for social media managers that are knowledgeable in emerging areas like employee advocacy and customer support, and that are well-versed in culture. They also have an eye out for social professionals who are seasoned in existing areas like campaign development and analytics.

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