How Pat Welch Built Her Business by Choosing Collaboration Over Competition [Podcast]

How Pat Welch Built Her Business by Choosing Collaboration Over Competition [Podcast]

On today’s episode of the PR Talk Podcast, host Amy Rosenberg shares her conversation with one of Portland’s most impactful business leaders: Pat Welch, co-founder and CEO of the recruiting agency Boly:Welch. During their talk, Amy and Pat discuss the origins of Boly:Welch, the current state of the hiring market and the outlook for marketing roles here in Portland.

A Fruitful Partnership Begins

Pat’s history in Portland began in 1975 when she moved to the city from Boston shortly after graduating from Boston University with a filmmaking degree. She started working in recruiting early, handling direct hiring and candidate placement with the Portland firm Murphy, Symonds and Stowell. Pat eventually took time off to raise her children, and when she returned to the firm a few years later, she met Diane Boly, who’d been hired to cover Pat’s job. 

Pat mentioned there was concern at the firm that she and Diane would be competitive with each other because they both worked in the same role. Instead, she and Diane hit it off immediately. Rather than competing with each other, Pat and Diane joined forces and worked as a team, sharing commissions equally and quickly becoming the firm’s top performers.


The Birth of Boly:Welch 

Pat points to one moment that ultimately led to the start of Boly:Welch. Like the bosses that they’d eventually be, she and Diane asked their boss to set up a 401(k). Because Pat and Diane were the only employees who wanted this benefit, their boss offered to make them independent contractors, marking Boly:Welch’s unofficial launch. Before long, their boss decided to sell the company, and rather than working for the new owner, Pat and Diane collected their receivables, rented office space and launched Boly:Welch. 

Today, the firm employs more than 50 people and is one of Portland’s most recognizable companies. While Diane retired two years ago, Pat continues as CEO with the goal of fostering the collaborative and family-friendly environment she and Diane began nearly 40 years ago.    


Examining Today’s Employment Landscape

No conversation with Pat Welch would be complete without hearing her thoughts on today’s employment landscape. Pat believes that the employee/employer landscape has shifted dramatically thanks to COVID. It changed how employees approach their work, and many employers have struggled to keep up. However, an economic recession could quickly swing the pendulum back in the employer’s favor. One example Pat cites is remote work. Boly:Welch began 100% remote work early in the pandemic and has since returned to a flexible hybrid model. She believes it’s unlikely that 100% remote work is here to stay, and a hybrid model is much more likely.

Pat is also very concerned about the quiet quitting trend gaining steam online. She says employers must engage teams by giving them opportunities to buy into the culture and enjoy the people they work with. However, when employers provide those engagement opportunities, and employees still won’t give the work their best effort, they’ll typically be the first to go when the economic landscape changes.  


Career Tips for Marketers

While the current hiring landscape for marketers is strong, Pat says that jobs tend to fluctuate during recessionary periods. She recommends new marketing grads seek out temporary roles or internship positions to gain experience before searching for full-time opportunities. Pat also believes taking a strategic approach to building your career is important. Marketers can take a leapfrog strategy to find short-term jobs outside their desired position or industry and use the experience they gain to land roles closer to their long-term career goals.


Collaboration Wins Over Competition

After a fruitful career, Pat Welch is a shining example of what’s possible when women choose collaboration over competition. The legacy she and Diane Boly built in Portland will outlast them both. 

Listen to the entire episode to hear more of the conversation between Pat and Amy, including how Boly:Welch supports their employees’ work in the community through paid time off, matching donations and more.  

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About the Guest: Pat Welch

Pat Welch founded Boly:Welch with her partner Diane Boly in 1986. Together they built one of Portland’s leading recruitment firms providing customized recruiting and consulting solutions to an array of  Pacific Northwest employers. Today Pat serves as the company’s CEO while also serving on the boards of multiple local non-profit organizations.

Pat Welch with Boly:Welch

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Prevent Quiet Quitting with Employee-Centered PR

Prevent Quiet Quitting with Employee-Centered PR

If you pay attention to business news, you’ve probably seen endless headlines describing new employee recruitment or retention challenges. Right now, it’s “quiet quitting,” which is a catchy phrase for overburdened and underappreciated employees no longer working beyond their job description. A year ago, everyone talked about “The Great Resignation,” when employees left their jobs in droves to take advantage of better opportunities. While these two trends are distinct, they both emerge from an evolving employment environment that places the employee experience at the forefront. Now more than ever, employers need to cultivate the best environment possible to attract and keep the best talent.

Ideally, employers would focus their efforts on fair and equitable compensation while sustaining positive and supportive environments. Some could go even further by creating generous employee perks like unlimited vacation time or flexible work hours. However, many employers don’t realize that public relations can also play an essential role in employee retention and recruitment. Adding those marketing efforts to the more tangible employee benefits like pay and perks can go a long way towards building a more attractive employee experience. Here’s how.


PR Raises a Company’s Public Profile

Everyone wants to work at a great company that does cool work. What’s even better is when that cool company gets public attention for the great things it does. Earned media provides important external validation that can raise a company’s public profile, establish a good reputation in its market or industry and boost employee morale. After all, employees can talk about a work initiative until they’re blue in the face, but it just won’t have the same clout as a well-placed media story.

Sustained media coverage — even in smaller community outlets — makes a company more recognizable. As a result, employees will be prouder of where they work because their friends, family and community know what they do. And when potential employees see that positive coverage, they’ll know cool things are happening and may be more likely to apply for an open position in the future.


PR Can Be Egalitarian

A growing number of employees resist strict hierarchical office structures and desire more egalitarian working relationships. Fortunately, the right PR strategy can help underscore the value a company places in its employees by telling stories about their accomplishments instead of highlighting only the business or its executive team. Employee-centered PR promotes the company by promoting its team.

Beyond shaping the stories a company tells publicly, this approach can also influence the type of PR content a company produces. Rather than simply pitching company-centered stories to the media, they can promote their team by placing employee-authored articles in industry magazines, booking team members on relevant podcasts or sending a rising star to give a keynote address at an industry event. Not only does this approach display a company’s trust in its team to represent them publicly, but it also provides its team with meaningful career development opportunities.

Besides leveling the employee landscape, employee-centered PR also gives organizations a human face, making them more relatable. Putting the team front and center in public-facing marketing will make employees feel more seen and appreciated. At the same time, people outside the organization gain insight into an exciting company that obviously values its team’s expertise.  


PR is More than Corporate Vanity

People often mistake PR for corporate vanity. In reality, PR is a technique for positioning a company’s message to an audience. Many times that audience is potential customers. But in a competitive recruitment and retention environment, PR can also be a fantastic tool for targeting current and future employees. Telling the right stories in the right places can boost the employee experience while making the organization more attractive to potential and prospective employees. After all, if an organization wants to hire the best employees, it must diligently curate its public image at all times. 


Be Prepared to Meet the New Trend

We’ll undoubtedly see more urgent news stories about a future crisis in hiring and retention. In the meantime, employers should optimize their compensation models and perks to create an attractive environment for their employees. Sharing those new developments with the public, along with the other incredible things their team is up to, should also play a critical role in their overall recruitment and retention strategy. That way, when a pithy new phrase is coined during the next hiring challenge, employers can rest secure in the knowledge that the environment they’ve created for their employees is second to none. 

Using Thought Leadership as a Recruiting and Retention Tool

Using Thought Leadership as a Recruiting and Retention Tool

There’s been a lot of talk in the media lately about the so-called Great Resignation, where Americans, spurred by the pandemic and a host of other sociological changes, have left their current jobs en masse. Data shows that an average of 3.95 million workers quit their jobs each month in 2021, which is the highest average on record.

These developments have caused some soul-searching with business owners and executives, as they struggle to hire and keep employees. Some are offering more perks, increased pay, and permanent work from home in an attempt to satisfy a new breed of restless workers. But one factor many of these discussions overlook is the content companies create. When produced authentically, thought leadership can be an effective and invaluable recruitment and retention tool.


Finding Your Content’s Purpose

Public relations is certainly feeling the shockwaves of the Great Resignation. I’ve written before about how poorly some firms treat their teams, overworking young and eager employees until they’re so burnt out that they change careers or move to work independently. When I started Veracity, I wanted to do things differently.

I often struggle to find enough team members to get the work done as my business grows. But I never struggle creating content. Whether my podcast, blogging, or my book about how to do PR, I love exploring the mechanics and strategy of PR. Some traditional thought leaders might say I’m taking the wrong approach. After all, the CEOs and business owners who will hire my firm won’t care about how to draft a press release correctly. They’ll just trust us to do it. So the content I create isn’t really a sales tool, and my audience isn’t really potential customers. In reality, I’m making all this content for other PR people.

That doesn’t mean these are wasted efforts. Far from it. When I can speak transparently and honestly through my content, I’m speaking directly to my key audience: my staff, my future staff and my future business partners or referral sources.


A Potential Employee’s Experience

The content I produce also gives prospective employees and clients a pretty good glimpse of who I am and what I value. This connection was made even clearer for me as we went through the hiring process of our latest employee, Cailyn Tegel. Before she applied for the position, Cailyn consumed Veracity’s content and then used that information to make her application materials more relevant for us. Here’s Cailyn offering her perspective of the hiring process:


“After graduating from college, I started my job search immediately. During this search, I came across so many different companies with all their ‘why you should work here statements. Some companies were well rounded, and others weren’t. One thing I made sure to do when applying for jobs was to learn as much about the company/employers before I even tried to apply. My thought was if I could find five reasons why I wanted to work specifically for that company, then they deserved my time for creating a customized resume and cover letter.

I dropped a lot of companies from my qualifying work list because of their lack of information. Yes, I knew what they did and who their clients were, but I didn’t know who ‘they’ were and if I would even fit with their team. I know this may sound crazy coming from someone who just graduated, and you would be right to think that, but applying for jobs is a job in itself, and I wasn’t going to just settle for some random job fresh out of college. I wanted something that made sense for me, something I would enjoy every day with people I connect with.

When I came across Veracity, the first thing that got my attention was that they didn’t just make a random job post on LinkedIn; they created a blog post with the job details. They had me hooked! Not only did I find out the qualifications for the position, but I also learned a little history on Veracity and the owners. After visiting the website, I immediately noticed a difference; there was so much information, blogs, podcasts, social accounts, etc. I was overwhelmed with knowledge, which is good because I knew who I was tailoring my resume to. When I sat down for my interviews, I knew what they would sound like and what they were looking for. I was fully prepared to tell them exactly what I loved about their company (honestly), and I knew enough about the Veracity team because of their thought leadership.

I think any company can benefit from using thought leadership from a hiring standpoint. Recruiting employees with thought leadership will also help with retention since you will get candidates that already know what to expect at your company. I wanted this job because I could tell I fit, and honestly, I can say working here has proved that point even more.”

At this point, content creation as a recruitment tool begins to fall into place. When I produce the type of content I love, there is an ultimate purpose behind it, which is more significant than sales: finding and keeping employees.


The Work Benefits When Everything’s Aligned

As my team grows, I come to find that I really enjoy and depend on them, not only to do the work but to make the work better. I realize that having a larger team ensures that things don’t fall through the cracks. But more than that, I need to bounce my ideas off my team and also run my gut-checks through them to see if I am right or wrong about certain situations. 

I also find that I don’t need to bring all the ideas to my newer employees. Instead, I can come to meetings with a problem or lack of ideas, and then the team solves the problem or brings the ideas for me. I’ve learned that having a team means so much more than growth. It brings confidence and capability to the work.

A side benefit to all the content I create is that I can use it all for training purposes. If anyone has a question, I can point back to a video, book chapter, or podcast I’ve done. This way, the content lives forever and is repurposed time and time again. Also, it saves me a lot of time and ensures that my directions are clearer when all the steps are listed in written form.


I’m Probably Being Selfish

In many ways, my content has become an entirely selfish affair. It’s what I like to talk about; it speaks directly to the people I not only want on my team but that I’d also rather hang out with; it helps me with my clients and preserves my sanity in what would otherwise be a lonely, uncertain job, all while ultimately saving me time because I do not have to repeat myself.

As we all reckon with what the Great Resignation means for the workforce, I think business owners and executives can spend less time agonizing over the why and think more about the what.

  • What are we putting out into the world?
  • What is the purpose behind these efforts?
  • What do we want to express?
  • What do we want people to understand?

Over the last couple of years, I’ve learned that I don’t work for my clients. Instead, I work for the Veracity team. By providing them with education and growth, they’ll naturally take care of my clients. This entire process begins with my content.


Featured image courtesy of Christina @ via Unsplash