• Nicky Regazzoni

What's your #VirtualPReality?

Last week George and I hosted a Twitter chat on behalf of the PRCA Virtual PR Agencies Group that we co-chair. The topic was "Virtual Agencies: Vices, Virtues and Viability" - #VirtualPReality.

We organised the chat to provide insights from experienced virtual agency leaders into the reality of running a PR business set up from day one to be virtual. Now that all agencies are virtual, albeit temporarily, there's been a lot of interest in the model and the pros and cons. We wanted to share our collective learnings to help agencies currently running dispersed remote teams and trying to maintain and protect culture without an office hub...

The chat "attracted a big crowd", according to our co-hosts at the PRCA:

  • 426 tweets

  • 71 chat participants

  • Media participation from PRovoke News

  • Highly influential Twitter users including @PRCA_UK, @SparklyPinchy, @Ingers1975 and @dannyrogers2001

  • Potential reach: 1,481,857

The hour-long chat covered a number of interesting themes, including:

  1. What 'virtual' really means in terms of a PR agency operation

  2. The variety of different models our agency leaders have adopted in terms of the mix of perm/scalable team, fixed & remote locations...

  3. The main benefits of the virtual model - accessing a broad range of talent, being able to compete fiercely on price due to lack of office overhead...

  4. Conversely - the issues and challenges faced with managing a dispersed team

  5. Tips for embedding #flexibleworking into business practice

  6. The operational side of running a virtual agency with a flexible workforce, in terms of forecasting business and access to the right people for a brief

  7. How to build a company culture in a virtual environment

  8. How to keep pace with market trends & keep the offer fresh and team skills up

  9. How #Covid19 is affecting our category; impact on the #PR agency landscape

  10. How to standardise workflow & ensure robust governance in a virtual business

I recommend popping over to Twitter to read the full conversation, as each question generated a number of insights, different perspectives and sideline conversations! However here are some of the most salient tweets from some of our PRCA group agency leaders...

@HelloDifference founder @AngieWiles emphasises access to a broad range of talent which can be tapped into according to the need of the client and the brief on the table... MD @Mrs_Wadds is a fan of the unconventional model which allows business and work to 'mould' around work life...

Jo Field of JFG Communications and Women in Transport mentioned the importance of socialising with regards to virtual team building and nurturing a sense of culture...

@PlaytimePR founder Lesley Singleton points out the mental health benefits that are enjoyed when work and life fit properly together rather than jostling for headspace...

Charlie Le Rougetel, owner of Big Top PR on the role of trust in #flexibleworking...

Helen Neal of HN Communications talks about the value of offering a bespoke senior team...

Last but not least, Anne Bleeker who is based in Dubai running In2Consulting identified the fundamental importance of robust, accessible technology to a virtual PR agency...

Thank you to the PRCA and all the founding members of our Virtual Agency Group for participating in the Twitter chat and sharing views on running a successful, sustainable virtual agency. We'll be hosting another discussion soon on a similar theme - follow @prnetwork and #VirtualPReality for details.

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