COVID-19 has impacted all facets of life, and as offices now work remotely, the pandemic has also impacted PR agency structures.
Fully remote workforces have showcased there is a need for new approaches to team management, workflows, and tools and technologies at agencies. As an agency leader myself, I’ve taken the time to reflect on this need to think about what COVID-19 has taught me about my own approach to PR.
New approaches to team management
The pivot to remote teams brings challenges, but also great opportunities.
It’s important to keep communications transparent across an agency. By hosting frequent teamwide meetings, as well as smaller-scale check-ins, you’re able to keep lines of communication open and also offer support that is so necessary during these uncertain times. Agency tone and communication are also key, now more than ever. Whether talking internally or with clients, practice empathy and ensure authenticity in every communication.
That said, it’s crucial to take a more flexible approach based on the needs of team members and clients. Consider adjusting schedules based on homeschooling or caretaking needs and give employees the option to still take days off to mentally reset.
The future of agency workflows
What some might consider a “new normal” has opened the door to new workflows and ways to make PR planning more flexible. We’re using agile development, particularly The PR Sprint™ Workflow, to enable collaboration agency-wide.
We first implemented this style of work in 2019, and have continuously developed and refined an agile approach to PR planning. The workflow has made a positive impact within our agency with 92% of the agency saying it fosters teamwork and collaboration and 83% agreeing that it leads to new ideas and brainstorming.
Implementing new technology
Since adjusting to becoming fully remote, our team has also implemented monday.com, and we quickly pivoted our Sprint model to be available online. Tools such as this allow teams to generate results and foster collaboration in a virtual environment. When looking to make work for employees easier and evaluating new workflows, you should also consider other technologies that can work for your team.
Slack is a great tool to communicate with team members and collaborate across accounts. Zoom also provides a platform that can allow for face to face communication, locally and globally. Think about using these platforms beyond the day to day routines of an agency. We’ve been able to establish even greater connections on our team through morning coffee chats, afternoon water cooler conversations, virtual book clubs and even the occasional competitive trivia night.
By offering employees an optional way to be involved in activities, you can further boost creativity and collaboration.
Implementing an agile mindset during a crisis allows PR professionals to pivot strategies and adjust to unforeseen changes or obstacles. In the same way that we are advising our clients on how to navigate the impacts of COVID-19, we must also take a step back to evaluate how agencies can adjust their own structures to best move forward.
Tiffany Guarnaccia is the founder and CEO of Kite Hill PR and founder of Communications Week.