Fly on the wall: What is it really like inside a tech PR agency office?
I’d just like to start by saying this won’t be a boring post listing our daily tasks and duties – that wouldn’t be too much fun. Instead I’m going to attempt to give an insight into what our office atmosphere is like, and the things we really care about. Like coffee. More on coffee later.
Sorry to kick things off by mentioning Donald Trump, but the way his Presidency is playing out underlines the fact that people seem to have become increasingly tribal over the last few years. Indeed, some might say that office environments have become more tribal in recent years; maybe it’s just a symptom of a vibrant PR agency, but we seem to have a few different ‘tribes’ here at Spark. To answer my earlier question, this is what life inside a PR agency is really like – people care deeply about these five key areas:
1) Radio. Stations such as Magic and Capital sit in the background, keeping things ticking over, the likes of Kisstory and Radio X bring some much-needed fist-pumping, head-banging energy while a media sell-in is in progress and Gaydio and BBC Radio Six Music provide an element of left-field oddities and even the chance to secure a shout-out when it’s somebody’s birthday! Each of these stations has a purpose, and can be championed and mocked in equal measure within the office.
This is one area where people are allowed to switch tribes as the mood takes them. However, there’s one hard and fast rule: under no circumstances play Robbie Williams (unless you’re prepared to face the consequences from one member of the team, who’s known to fly into a rage as the first notes of ‘Angel’ ring out over the office.
2) Friday drinks. Every Friday lunchtime an email is sent round providing an update of what we have available in the fridge for our (very important) 5pm drinks. When the magical hour arrives (some of us have been known to cheer), it’s time to get to work, with a variety of favourite tipples for different people around the office. Some are passionate about a refreshing gin and tonic with a slice of lime, others are staunch backers of certain brands of beer, and we even have the odd prosecco drinker. What’s the point in all drinking the same thing? We make sure every individual taste is taken care of when stocking up the Spark fridge!
3) Air con. Put simply, some like it cool, some like it hot. Others, like Peep Show’s Mark Corrigan, aim for a sensible 23 degrees. If the heating’s on too high, there’s a risk of meeting rooms becoming like saunas; if there’s no heating on, people sitting in the main office can feel like they are freezing. Again, there are strong arguments on both sides.
4) Fridge wars. Whether it’s wedging a giant sandwich into a corner, marking your hummus so nobody else eats it, or chilling the Friday 5 PM refreshments, there are a lot of people with a lot of different priorities for our beloved Spark fridge. Get your elbows out and make the most of the space we’ve got!
5) Last, but by no means least, coffee. Of course, any self-respecting British office takes its tea and coffee very seriously, and Spark is no different. In particular, two rival factions have emerged: those who drink their coffee from a cafetière, and those who drink instant granules. A lot of tongue-in-cheek words are exchanged between both sides when somebody is making a round, with the sides keen on the merits of either speed or quality. There was even talk of starting a Kickstarter fund to get a real coffee machine installed in the office, but apparently it’s been vetoed by management due to the inevitable arguments that would arise over wiping down the milk frother after use.
If you’re applying for a role here, don’t worry – we don’t bite, and our tribes don’t go quite as far as donning face paint and waving large flags.