Cue the confetti: Bloom celebrates its tenth anniversary in 2022. In the last ten years, the agency has earned a reputation as a desirable place to work and a trusted partner to organizations across the United States and around the world. But beyond our award-winning campaigns and client-centric approach, you might ask, what makes Bloom so special? It’s simple: the people.
Bloom was built on a foundation of giving with a mission to make an impact in the communities in which we live and work. As a long-time philanthropist serving the community through nonprofit leadership positions, Brianna McKinney founded Bloom in 2012 to combine her successful integrated communications background with over 25 years of nonprofit volunteer experience, blending passion with purpose. Throughout the last decade, the agency’s roots grew into a thriving business with a culture of passionate, like-minded people with big hearts and a fierce passion to help others, affecting change both personally and professionally.
A decade ago, Brianna created a business model that at the time was entirely new in the agency world—an agency with a mission to be financially successful while supporting the community at the same time. “As I was considering the kind of agency I wanted to create, incorporating my passion of giving back, I was frequently told that it wouldn’t work,” she said. “Many peers and advisors tried to deter me from working with nonprofit clients in addition to mission-driven for-profit clients, saying the money isn’t there, warning me that my company would fail. But, I stayed the course.”
Beginning in Austin, Texas, with a one client portfolio, she funded the agency solely by her own sweat equity; and for the first three years steadily built a portfolio of meaningful relationships and impactful results for nonprofit and purpose-driven, for-profit clients, proving her concept was not only viable but sustainable. By 2015, Brianna had expanded her team in Austin and opened an office in Portland, growing Bloom’s footprint into the Pacific Northwest, her birthplace and a place she considers a second home. She cultivated agency growth while staying true to the core values that serve as the foundation. Year after year, the agency grew in size and profitability, as Brianna became a trusted advisor and respected leader in the communications industry.
Today, as the “Great Resignation” continues to transform the workforce and challenges business leaders to rethink how to hire and retain employees, she has remained nimble. In April of 2020, Bloom shifted to an 80/20 remote/in-person environment, providing more flexibility for employees to manage their physical, mental, and family well-being. “From day one, our people have been our greatest asset,” she said. “When the pandemic hit, it was a time to lean even more into our culture where employees feel heard, supported, and empowered to persevere throughout not only the good but the challenging times. I have many employees with children of all ages, as well as many who live alone. The pandemic turned their lives upside down in an instant, and in a myriad of ways. I knew that to retain our talented team, I needed to act quickly and continue to build on our culture of trust and flexibility.” Once team members felt comfortable getting together in person again, the 20% portion of Bloom’s 80/20 model was activated. Offering intentional time together for team building and socialization through monthly Work Together Wednesdays, the option to work from our Austin and Portland office spaces as desired, while also re-activating our pre-pandemic paid monthly volunteer half-days which support nonprofit partners in both cities.
Over the years, Brianna has evolved as a leader while continually embracing her founding vision and incorporating feedback from her team on how to not only sustain but consistently strengthen and build the Bloom culture. “Many changes I’ve made just in the past year have been 100% attributed to recommendations from our people. Our leadership is constantly checking in, asking questions, and taking action on feedback provided by the team.” She has cultivated a working group that cares deeply about each other, client success, and the collective impact everyone can make to affect positive change in our communities and world. “When I started Bloom, I wanted to make sure I was providing a creative and safe place for everyone, doing great work for great people. We are constantly growing and evolving, but that culture I had envisioned has become a reality.”
Modeling strong, collaborative, and inspirational leadership, Brianna founded Bloom to demonstrate that a communications agency could be both a viable and profitable business, committed to kindness, community involvement, and support. Every day she works to set a new standard for agency culture while demonstrating that giving back, mentoring others, and leading by example strengthens the communities and the world we live in. And, not only did Bloom’s unique business model yield year-over-year growth during “normal” times but yielded a 229% growth in employee headcount in just the past two years, creating jobs during a pandemic.
“I have been so fortunate to have surrounded myself with such incredible people – team members and clients alike,” she said. “I can’t wait to look back in ten more years and see what our team has accomplished for and with our clients and communities, as well as the career growth of those on our team today, and future Bloom employees as our agency continues to flourish.”