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PAN and Our People: Celebrating 25 Years

Phil Nardone

“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.” –Vince Lombardi

The fear that comes with starting a business is something only an entrepreneur will ever truly understand. But a driven entrepreneur will match that fear with passion, grit and determination to be the best version of himself or herself, no matter the course.

Over the past 25 years, I have felt more than my share of fear. Fear that our move from the suburbs to the city would be too large of an adjustment for such a small firm. Fear that our decision to focus on the B2B space would limit our firm’s potential to grow. Fear that I wasn’t prepared to lead a group spread across multiple locations as we closed the deal on our first acquisition.

The best advice I’ve ever received was, “If it scares you, do it.” So, I did it.

Not once over the past 25 years did I let fear get in the way of our success as an agency. We’ve gone from a small group of 30-somethings convening in the living room of my Andover home, to 150+ PR and marketing professionals globally driven to change the way we tell stories across the B2B tech landscape.

We’re innovative. We’re insightful. We’re creative. And we’re passionate.

If you asked me back in 1995, I could never have imagined that PAN would celebrate such an extraordinary milestone as an independent agency. We survived The Great Recession, we’ve challenged the meaning of “traditional PR” and we’ve evolved to become a data-driven firm that moves ideas and brings our clients’ stories to life – with impact leading the way.

Through it all, the one thing that I never feared was whether or not I chose the right lane to drive in. As I reflect on the past 25 years, the one thing that solidified my passion for PR is simple: the people.

How Our Employees Have Evolved Over 25 Years

In the mid-’90s, traditional PR was focused on analyst and media relations. We used MediaMap or Bacon’s to comb through a list of publications. And from there, we would pitch news to reporters via phone or fax before email became mainstream. Press releases were printed and mailed out by hand. Things were different. Business was different.

Twenty-five years later, PR is so much more than this. Our agency and our people are integrated, and we’re celebrating that. We’re versed in everything from traditional media and broadcast to social and paid media, to measurement and analytics. The skillsets have changed, and so has the employee mindset.

Next-gen PR and marketing professionals want a workplace that challenges them, but also one that is purpose-driven and supports their career growth. They want to create their own pathway in content marketing or analytics, whereas 25 years ago everyone had the same job title and we “all did PR.”

As our people have changed, so has our agency. For decades, people have been at the core of every change we make. Whether it was our move to integrated marketing or the launch of PANID (our inclusion and diversity group), this year we celebrate the fact that our people have driven us to evolve for the better.

Our Clients Make us PAN

Back in 1995, we were hired to write releases, pitch media and physically clip the coverage. It was standard operating procedure. Back then, you won because your people made the difference.

Today, people still make the difference – but the value has shifted. We are brand builders, reputation managers and creative storytellers who have become an important part of our clients’ marketing teams. It’s made us continue to roll out innovative, yet executable programs that provide us C-suite visibility we finally deserve as an industry. 

For that, I thank our clients. The brands who trusted in us when we first started out, and the ones who are still sticking by our side. For taking a chance on PAN, for showing us the road to collaboration and for sharing in the many successes we have over the last 25 years.

It all started with two clients: my college roommate giving me a shot through his growing network of medical trade shows (PriMed), and a New Hampshire-based company called Storage Computer trusting an unknown, yet passionate PR firm. It continues today with an incredible group of emerging growth and well-established companies leaning on PAN to differentiate and connect their brand to growing audiences.

People Drive Business Decisions

With change comes important business decisions, and our people have been at the forefront of every milestone at PAN.

Our move to Boston in 2011 stemmed from feedback from employees, candidates and clients that our office 30 miles north of the city was inconveniently located. They wanted to be where the action was taking place. Our acquisition of Vantage PR? People-driven, based on the need to have a presence on each coast for clients and employees. Even PAN’s expansion to New York was influenced by our people, as several expressed interest in working remotely to be closer to family.

At PAN we have always valued both the personal and professional needs of our employees. This year, we celebrate how we’ve created a welcoming culture and flexible workplace centered around people. From our recently expanded maternity leave benefits, to our work-at-home policy, and our dedication as an agency to giving back within our community through PANcares – PAN has come a long way.

How Our People Have Changed Me

The impact of our people extends beyond the agency. Since 1995, I have grown as a leader because of the PAN family.

I have learned to let go and create swim lanes for my executive team to manage and own different areas of business.

I have adopted the “never forget where you came from” mindset and have encouraged my leadership team to do the same.

I have listened more, asked more questions and no longer aim to be the loudest voice in the room.

I have focused more on taking care of myself personally and, in return, become stronger professionally.

I have realized that it’s the people who you surround yourself with that make, as Vince Lombardi said, “applying the best of ourselves to the task at hand” that much easier.

So, CHEERS to the last 25 years – made possible by the people at PAN and the clients who trusted us with their brand. This year and the many more to come are because of YOU. And for that, I am eternally grateful. Thank you.

marketing and PR careers

Topics: Culture

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