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The PR Agency of the Future

By Melissa Taylor, content manager at Luminous PR

We believe that the traditional PR agency needs to adapt if it wants to attract the next generation of talent.

The future is flexible

These days, it takes more than a fat paycheque to keep the PR workforce of 2018 happy.

Today’s employees — especially millennials — are less loyal than ever before. Research by Deloitte found that just 43% of millennials envision staying with their employer for the next two years. The report also found that only the minority of millennials believe businesses behave ethically (48%, down from 65% in 2017).

As well as decent pay, millennials expect their employer to be ethical, transparent, promote wellbeing, and treat them as an individual.

While building culture and investing in causes cost more time and money, offering employees greater flexibility is an incredibly easy and low-cost solution.  

Deloitte found that greater flexibility at work can encourage millennial employees to consider staying with their employer for more than three years. Research from Randstad also found that 19% of millennials view flexibility as the best perk employers could offer.

What do we mean by flexibility?  

We work with clients all over the world, operating out of a couple of small office spaces in the UK.  Technology has allowed us to be incredibly flexible — even borderless — so we’re able to run a lean operation here at Luminous.

In our mind, the world of business has changed, and your own glitzy office is no longer necessary to work with great clients.   

However, this split between two locations does cause some difficulty with accessing great talent. Allowing remote working allows us to attract the best people that are a perfect fit for our culture, without needing to worry about obstacles faced by location or excessively long commutes.

Those who do work in the office more regularly also benefit from flexibility. The team can switch working hours and lunch break to accommodate their other commitments, and can easily work from home from time to time without any worry about connectivity.  

What are the benefits of flexible working?  

Flexible working can have great benefits for an agency, its employees, and its clients.

Offering remote and flexible working allows us to recruit the best talent: we’re no longer limited by geography. We also have clients based all over the world, without ever stepping foot in another country.

It’s not just millennials that want flexible working, either. It’s a helpful perk to offer when recruiting more senior or specialised PR managers.

While the internet makes it possible to work with clients all over the world, face-to-face meetings are still sometimes essential. A team spread across the country means there’s always someone able to get to client meetings — wherever they are.

For agencies used to hosting clients, the idea of using a single-room office or hot-desking space may seem bizarre and impractical. However, we’ve not found it challenging. Almost all co-working spaces offer bookable private meeting rooms, though we actually rarely us them. Today’s clients are so time-poor, they cannot afford to visit their PR agency for a meeting — they’d prefer you to go to them. It’s more practical, and it makes them feel special. The PR agency of 2018 no longer needs a ‘Man Men style’ office to serve as their shop window. We’ve found if your work is making an impact, clients won’t care where you do it.

Allowing flexible working shows employees that they’re trusted and valued at individuals. Happy employees are up to 12% more productive, so anything that keeps staff happy is good news for an agency and its clients.

Five tips for building the flexible agency of the future  

1.     A flexible culture relies on the right people or it won’t work. Obviously not all roles are appropriate for remote working, so this should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. If a role includes frequent remote working, discuss it thoroughly at interview stage. It will only work with employees who are enthusiastic, with great time-management and communications skills. Ensure they want to work from home for the right reasons, not just because they believe it’ll be easier.

2.     You need to supply remote employees with the right tech to do their job. A laptop and smartphone is essential, but consider extras like a mouse, wrist support, or laptop stand. Remote workers should feel as looked-after as any other employees. Consider things like cybersecurity and file sharing.

3.     Schedule regular catchups for the team to keep in touch — we do one every Monday and Friday. You wouldn’t go all day without speaking to your colleagues in an office, so it’s good practice to check in with remote PRs at least once per day. Slack is good way to keep in touch with instant messages but we also use Skype for video calling.

4.     Don’t forget about culture, community, and having fun. Creating a company culture with a team split between different locations is more difficult, but it is vital for success. We use an app called Donut to help us keep in touch. Each week, it randomly pairs up employees to catch up over a call or coffee break.

5.     While flexible working may be key to keeping the next generation of talent happy, you cannot afford to abandon face-to-face. It helps form relationships between teams, makes it easier to brainstorm ideas, and can make learning and training much easier. Make time for face to face meetings regularly, and make sure these are scheduled well in advance for maximum benefit.

Luminous PR is a UK agency supporter of the inaugural Communications Week in London. With offices in London and Norwich, Luminous PR provides integrated marketing, PR, and social media to tech businesses of all sizes.