This year was a challenge in countless ways, but there were some incredible moments along the way that we wanted to highlight. This year is one we’ll never forget and here’s our blog post to prove it.
1. We learned resiliency. The hard way.
2020, the year of the pandemic. We learned that we’re better together when we stay connected and are all in this together. Turns out these cliches are all actually true. While we’ve had remote employees for many years now at Speak, we’ve learned just how much we enjoy human connection and in-person interaction. With resilience, we discovered the value in checking in on a coworker and got creative with the ways we innovated and brainstormed over Zoom.
2. We drank a lot of coffee, per usual.
After many months of being our own at-home baristas, the Memphis office got a major espresso upgrade and Nashville got a machine of their very own. We’ve been making countless lattes and americanos ever since. We highly recommend the Terra Kaffe espresso machine and are estimating we drank approximately 40,000 cups of coffee this year. We also estimate that Matt Roberts, VP of Marketings and Sales, accounted for 10,000 of that 40,000.
3. We leaned into more cinematography work.
This year, our cinematography team spent hours in the studio and onsite creating incredible content for our clients. They inspired us all year with their storytelling for My Cup of Tea, Shelby County Sheriff’s Department, YMCA, and FedEx. In addition, Speak was a finalist for the Indie Memphis Film Festival in the Hometowner Documentary category.
4. We got our GIF on.
Here at Speak, we love to talk using animated pictures, or GIFs, in our team chat. BJ Maxwell, our Director of Finance and star of a public GIF with over 420,000 views, hosts “GIF Offs” where he asks a question and everyone responds in the form of a GIF. On the digital marketing team specifically, we use GIFs for our clients’ social media. Additionally, we created our own GIF Stickers for Speak and now offer them to clients as well.
5. We centered ourselves on community during COVID-19.
We compiled a list of COVID-19 recovery resources on our site to help any organization navigate through the early days of the pandemic. In August, our CEO, Jacob Savage, put out a call to any Memphis Creatives looking for work to see how we could use their skills. On Giving Tuesday this year, Speak awarded a total of $120,000 to sixteen different non-profits across the United States as part of our digital marketing matching program.
6. We focused on our loved ones.
Working from home allowed us more quality time with those we love. Collectively, Speak celebrated seven new babies, one engagement, and more quality time with family during quarantine than ever before.
7. We dressed up.
Whether it was hat day at a virtual staff meeting, going all out in their halloween costumes, or the professional on the top/sweatpants on the bottom look, we had a lot of fun dressing up this year. Our Director of Agency Marketing, Jessica Freeman, gave the whole office a laugh when she dressed up as SiteWrench (our CMS platform) for Halloween.
8. We launched a podcast.
We got our three VPs, Kindra Svendsen, Matt Ervin, and Matt Roberts all in a room to make a podcast called A Little Off Topic. Every other week, we released an episode, featuring guests like Hope Church in Memphis or discussing latest marketing trends. Not to worry though, there were some episodes where we ventured a little off topic, like when we discussed our ultimate power rankings for Halloween candy.
9. And then a band.
Two of our employees, Wes Hunter and Andrew Smith, started Goldpark, which got signed by Hazel Street Records/Orchard Enterprises. Fun fact: Wes and Andrew met each other working at Speak. So they can thank us when they become the next Coldplay.
10. We made new neighbors.
Our Memphis crew got new neighbors as we opened up our first floor to a new tenant, Vaco, a staffing consultancy agency. Like many companies, we’ve allowed our employees to work from home the past year, so many of our team members made new neighbors when they moved to new states due to #remotelife.
11. We made headlines.
A major highlight of our year was getting to film for Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on Food Network for Uncle Lou’s Fried Chicken. This made local headlines and we had so much fun on set getting to shoot for a show we all know and love at Speak. Additionally, we were honored to be named a finalist for one of the Best Places to Work in Memphis again this year. Our Director of Creative, Josh Cooper, was also featured in CNET’s article on TikTok and Jacob Savage, our CEO, wrote a guest column for the Memphis Business Journal on how to be compassionate, creative leaders in the face of crisis. Talk about a newsworthy year.
12. We ate well.
In our internal chat, Slack, a few of our team members created the #food-for-thought channel, where the foodies of Speak send everything from their latest culinary creations to late night takeout. We also did a video shoot for Thomas Meats & Seafood, and even got to leave with a few delicious prizes.
13. We spoke up.
In February, we hosted students from Rossview High School in the Nashville office to learn about marketing and all things digital. A few months later, Matt Roberts, VP of Sales and Marketing, presented virtually to ArtsMemphis about how arts organizations could get their content online while their doors were closed. Our VP of Client Partnerships, Kindra Svendsen, spoke about User Journey Mapping Your Audiences Online at the 95th Annual AZA Virtual Conference in September. Kindra, along with Libby Smith, our Business Development Strategist, presented in a free webinar about How To Get More On Giving Tuesday for non-profits.
14. We also made time to listen.
Speak participated in #blackouttuesday across all of our social media platforms to help amplify voices that deserve to be heard. Beyond just listening, we recognize the importance of action, and Speak donated to organizations in Memphis and Nashville who work every day to combat racial injustice.
15. We leveled up.
After kicking off the new year by naming our three Vice Presidents, we made some title changes to allow more clarity and functionality across departments. We then made improvements to Speak’s very own content management system, SiteWrench. We also upped our Instagram game to showcase more of the details behind our work as well as the incredible work our clients do.
16. We grew.
We added 8 members to our team in various departments. We became plant parents, dog parents and of course, human parents. In addition to adding new members to our Speak fam, we grew our processes. Whether it was ironing out an efficient workflow or perfecting our mood board process, we pressed in to emphasize skill-development. Our HR Director, Christy Leake, spent a good portion of the year getting Speak’s internal training site ready to roll so that this can be a continued focus for our team in the new year.
17. We voted.
As the largest voter turnout in American history, this election will be a pivotal moment in history. Regardless of our beliefs, we all came together to exercise our right to vote. We helped our partners at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis get the word out on the importance of voting through the Imagine an America campaign website and the hashtag #MyVoteMyVoice2020.
18. We got competitive.
Every month we have a company-wide staff meeting. We’ve had to get creative this year about doing activities that involve teammates from across the country. A few games of pictionary, jeopardy, and team trivia later, we let our competitive sides show. The Nashville office even hosted a blind La Croix taste test.
19. We let inspiration drive us.
One of the most fun parts about client work is when we get to build a branding package, like this one we made for Raleigh Group. We dive deeper into the thought process behind the brand in this case study.
Carson Ford, our Front End Development Manager + Designer, always blows us away whenever we get to peek at his latest drawings.
20. We remembered our “why.”
We often say that it is our partners' “why” that drives us. Looking back on the incredible things our partners have accomplished, we feel proud to have played even a small part. In a year where not all companies have made it and not everyone has kept their job, we recognize the privilege it is to not only stand on two feet, but to be standing tall. With a renewed focus on our why as an agency, we look forward to all that next year has in store. Here’s to more memorable moments in 2021 and thanks for being part of our 2020.
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