Elevator PR is a boutique agency proudly breaking tradition to form meaningful connections between people and brands. Established in 2001, founder Melanie Rego was inspired to cultivate a sense of humanity that she feels was lacking in her experience working for larger companies. When creating Elevator, Melanie prioritized forming emotional connections between the agency and their clients and between herself and her employees.
“I’ve worked for large corporations and quickly realized that these large organizations do not have room for emotions and for identifying specific talents, unique to each individual within the team.” Passionate about mental health awareness, Melanie recognizes the opportunity for the marketing industry to influence positive, long-lasting change. “What I love about our craft is that we are equally as good about bringing issues to the table, taking on social causes and things that matter.
I see the amount of dollars businesses direct towards initiatives like major television advertisement campaigns, which typically serve as a means to an end. I’m left thinking, let’s take this money and align our clients with causes that make sense to who they are as a business, and do good in this world.”
For Melanie, the subject of mental health awareness is very personal her. Having been exposed to different mental illnesses in her family, she has anxiety that she treats with therapy and prescription medication. While her anxiety never prevented her from running Elevator PR with great success, she admits that living with it untreated hindered her quality of life.
“My anxiety did not stop me from being a successful businessperson. However, no one knows how debilitating it is when you have something like that. Things like waking up already freaked out about your day…unlike a physical injury, no one can see the pain that you might be feeling on a given day.” Being in a relatively artistic field such as PR, Melanie sees the correlation between mental illness and creative industries that are fast-paced in nature.
“I’ve noticed that mental illness tends to be very present in our industry of PR and marketing. Just like artists and entertainers, there are personality disorders and issues that run rampant in these fields, and I would say our field is quite similar”.
With Elevator, Melanie is committed to making a difference in the lives of her employees. She prioritizes her connection with them, and her door is always open to them to discuss any triumphs and struggles they may face. “Over the 20 years that I have been running Elevator, there has not been one year without at least one employee who had some form of mental illness.
If you ask me, ‘there is no such thing as normal’. So how can I serve my team? How can I equip them and make them feel comfortable? I try to encourage them to share with me to make sure I can support them accordingly”. Melanie is proud that as a small business, she can offer decent benefits to her full-time employees. The benefits program provides a range of tools from online support to therapists. Melanie is also able to provide a wellness budget for her employees to contribute to whatever will improve their overall wellbeing.
“Each employee gets a budget each month to do whatever they want. To buy a new skateboard if that is what makes them happy. To join a gym, to order fresh flowers, whatever they need”. The work environment at Elevator PR was carefully structured to look at each person’s strengths. Melanie explains, “What is their passion? What are they good at doing in the company? It’s a work-in-progress, but helping them streamline their strengths so that each employee is an important piece of a puzzle that comes together perfectly”.
Melanie and her team at Elevator PR are cultivating a positive, open space for her employees to come as they are and bring out their best work. This also sets a stellar example in the demanding PR field for companies to prioritize the connection between their employees and clients. As Elevator PR marks its 20th year in July, Melanie and her team plan to expand over the next five years.
When asked how she wants to contribute to the conversation regarding mental health in PR, Melanie hopes that her company will treat mental health just like physical health. Do you need to take a sick day? You got it. She continuously reminds current and new employees that they are the number one priority in the company and that their wellness comes first. “It’s important for us to make sure our employees know that every one of them is cared for and respected, and honored by their peers and by me.
To feel that it’s a safe and fun place to work, and to make sure they all know that it is absolutely essential to have a good work-life balance”. By implementing these significant changes in the workplace, Elevator is contributing to the de-stigmatization of mental illness in marketing while forming meaningful connections that improve the lives of their staff.