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When the PR boss is away…

28th September 2016


On a random afternoon in June, I called my small team together for a catch up – no agenda, just a chance to chat openly about how everything was going. It had been a particularly busy time and we were trying hard to grow after a successful year. We specialise in travel and tourism. I set up the Oxford based agency in 2012, having come from a PR background and being freelance for four years previously.

We’d been working with an entrepreneur called Andy for a few months and he was spending a day a week with us helping with our sales pipeline – giving us new marketing tools and introducing tech to help us manage and attract more clients online.

Back to that afternoon chat. The conversation glided happily from ways to get even better results for clients, to how the team would grow and what type of roles people wanted to move into. Then Andy said “Would you let me run your business for a week?”. A little silence followed.

It was a yes as far as I was concerned and when he said “have a well-earned holiday”, I was sold. In eight years I’d never taken a week off to do my own thing – the idea sounded overwhelmingly fantastic.

We had a plan and ground rules were set. Andy would run the business – I should add that despite a wealth of business knowledge, he had no idea what a PR agency does. And I was under strict instructions to leave them to it and not meddle. I was no longer the boss.

So what actually happens when you boot the boss out and someone new takes charge?

  1. Your staff open up about what they really want and need.
  2. An external person can identify their weaknesses and train them accordingly (I’m a good boss, but I’m not a good teacher).
  3. An external person questions why you do things and less productive tasks can be stopped or altered.
  4. Staff confidence increases as they’re pushed to become more self-sufficient.
  5. The process highlights black spots where the team lack visibility of the overall business goals and vision.

I returned to work refreshed to find a highly motivated team who had a wealth of mindset and productivity tools at their disposal. I also had a new role to fulfil – a leader who would empower, delegate and motivate. Not a boss who just did that quick bit of client work or had tasks going on in isolation of my team, leaving them vulnerable if I wasn’t there.

 And what does a day in the life look like for me and the Seriously team following this little experiment?

  1. A Monday afternoon planning meeting to agree goals and objectives for the week. We also have an overview and wall calendar of monthly and quarterly client campaigns.
  2. Three daily objectives which directly support our weekly and monthly goals.
  3. A weekly review of how we can go the extra mile for clients.
  4. All tasks logged in our project management software with visibility of all tasks to all staff encouraging collaboration and wider understanding of client deliverables.
  5. Regular client-update phone calls.
  6. Post-3pm time dedicated to learning, reading and upskilling. Staff also train each other in new skills.
  7. A new business strategy combining direct mail, email marketing, blog content and automated sales funnels (nine in place to date).
  8. An eBook download published sharing mine and Andy’s experiences.

Article written by Catherine Warrilow, managing director of agency Seriously PR



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