Inspired, Integrated Ideas are Only the Beginning

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to take a tour of Dixon Schwabl with about 8 of my classmates. The full-service advertising, public relations and digital media agency is well known in the Rochester area for its extensive, wide variety of clients and projects.

Dixon is also well known for its consistent place on lists of best places to work in America. After spending some time inside the agency’s walls, it’s not hard to see why.

From the outside, the agency looks modest enough. However, upon walking closer to the entrance, visitors are greeted by a large Koi fish pond. After entering into a large, open lobby, the culture of the organization immediately begins to be felt.

White walls don’t exist at Dixon Schwabl. Lauren Dixon, CEO of Dixon Schwabl, was quick to point out that, “red paint costs the same amount as white paint.” That seems obvious enough, but the walls at the agency aren’t exactly just painted with red paint, either. Most walls are covered by very artistic murals done by local artists. Similarly, much of the furniture in the agency was specially designed by local artists.

Dixon Schwabl is the agency that brought Horses on Parade and Benches on Parade (both projects involving more local artists) to Rochester. As participants themselves, they still have their bench outside, and their horse resides inside the agency’s lobby.

There are plenty of eye-catching things to see inside Dixon Schwabl, and the artwork is incredible. But the real reason it’s a great place to work isn’t because they have design talent, it’s because of the incredible focus on the individuals who do the real work for clients.

These employees are treated like real partners in the business at Dixon. In fact, when the agency moved to it’s current office building, all employees got to write down some ideas that they would like to see incorporated. Lauren Dixon is very proud to report that every single idea was able to be used, making the building itself a collaboration. Did I mention that they have a slide that employees can use instead of the stairs?

Everyone at the agency has some control over their name plates outside of their office doors, as well. They are all designed specifically for each employee, based on the individual’s interest. They each have multiple business cards, too… One of which uses a much less official position title!

I think the best part of the agency is that the ideas of the staff are really taken into account, and they are given the freedom to be creative and innovative.

Giving my classmates and I our tour on Monday was Kathy Phelps, who has been at Dixon Schwabl for over a decade, and it is the only job after graduation that she has ever held. She started as a Public Relations Assistant, but over time developed a strong interest in special event planning, specifically. Soon enough, she was made Vice President of Special Events, a brand new position made especially for her. She was given the position and told to run with it as far as she could.

Now, special events are a huge part of Dixon Schwabl’s business, including the Finger Lakes Riesling Festival and the Strong National Museum of Play’s Play Ball.

All of these factors lead to Inspired, Integrated Ideas. What more are you looking for out of an agency?

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About Jim Mignano

Jim Mignano is a young professional practicing and learning Public Relations in Rochester, NY. He is passionate about the possibilities that digital media provide and loves utilizing new platforms for a variety of functions. James' blog is about people and the technology they use. It's about communication and persuasion... the old and the new ways of doing things... the struggle between sticking to the tried, true recipes and experimenting with intuitive, innovative ideas. It's an extension and reflection of James himself: the convergence of ambition & ability.
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