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The viability of virtual PR agencies

In the latest in our series examining different agency structures, we look at how one communications agency, Tuesday Media, uses remote working in order to have a flexible workforce with few overheads.

There is a lot of talk about how new technologies make it possible to work from anywhere, but many PR firms like to have their people sitting at desks in an office.  Naturally, this means investing in costly offices, an expense that is unnecessary according to Sophie Wilson, founder and CEO of Tuesday Media.

Wilson discusses how the agency, which is based on remote working, has “authenticity” at its heart: “When I set out to start an agency, I knew there was one thing that had to be central to all of its functions: authenticity. This seemed easy enough to implicate in my own branding, messaging, in my interactions with clients and in the nature of the work I carried out for them. What required more thought was finding how this message of honesty and integrity would fit into the day-to-day working practice for the agency and those working there.”

Meeting spaces
So if there is no actual office, where does Wilson work? She explains: “I’m based at Platf9rm which is a co-working space in Brighton. I hold client meetings down here. I’m also up in London at least two days a week where I tend to have meetings either in cafes, in clients’ offices or at Century Club, where I’m a member. I find that most people are happy to do a Skype or a Zoom/Google Hangout these days and a number of my clients are located in different territories or work remotely.”

Flexible working
Wilson believes that traditional agencies involve too much unnecessary bureaucracy and this can stifle innovation: “After some thought I decided that the best way to integrate authenticity into the structural practices of the agency was by working to develop an entirely new working model that’s lean, mean and based predominantly on flexible-working. In the first instance, I wanted to be able to provide the highest quality service in all the disciplines most relevant to building a brand and raising a business profile. In today’s world, that meant a pick-and-mix approach to professionals, across industries and cities.”

Virtual networks
Using a remote workforce makes it easier to call on different types of expertise as needed: “We call this ‘virtual networks’ model. This concept shakes up the traditional agency structure, providing quality work, without it coming at the expense of clients. This could very well be the agency of the future.”

Measurement matters
Of course, Ts still have to be crossed and Is dotted, so measurement is key, as Wilson explains: “Working flexibly shouldn’t come at the price of transparency and real, measurable results. Yet the question of KPIs is a lot easier to answer when all of your employees are trained in careful time-tracking and results measurement from the start. Accountability comes hand in hand with the authenticity that is at the heart of our agency and its ‘virtual networks’ model.”

Free thinking
Another benefit of remote working is that your people have more time to have their own lives. Wilson concludes: “Employees should be exploring and enjoying their passions and interests alongside their professional work, as it is these factors that create the kind of well-rounded person that can dream, plot and execute the campaigns that will be building blocks of the agencies of the future.”

First person

Bryce Groves, creative director at Tuesday media, discusses how being a virtual employee at Tuesday Media works for him:

“I’ve done some great work in a variety of agencies from global giants to nimble independents, but freelancing has always given me the best flexibility to pursue interesting projects, meet interesting people, and pursue my other sidelines, such as volunteering.

“Worrying about cashflow is always a pain, and I’m not much for accounting or fine diplomacy either. So being part of Tuesday Media gives me the best of both worlds, to work flexibly and remotely, but also to be part of a team and enjoy the structure and safety of an agency. All of the client relationship management, billing, contracts etc, is handled by Tuesday, which frees up my brain space to work on what I’m best at, the creative.

“I’m from a traditional advertising background, but I’ve really enjoyed being brought into PR projects and collaborating with others with different disciplines on account teams.

“I’ve also become a founding member of #TuesdayTalent, our pool of creatives that we use to bring together to respond to briefs and projects, which is not only great for work connections, but has forged friendships and social connections too.”

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