Flack on Friday: Creativity escalates on Zoom, Italian lessons spur unity, hats entertainment

Agencies have used the coronavirus lockdown to get… erm… keep each other entertained. Flack investigates some of the more creative way PR professionals are keeping sane (or not).

The PR Zoom-off

Although the new business pipeline may be drying up, that hasn’t stopped competitive PR professionals from battling one another.

In fact, Flack has noticed a spike in creativity in one of the least likely platforms – video conferencing.

For the past two weeks, team video calls have been spruced up by some outrageous costumes and get-ups in the latest fad to grip the industry.

Leading the charge has been a Hotwire trio of group chief development officer Andy West, EMEA head of b2b Matt Cross, and development director Darryl Sparey.

They’ve stoushed with Don’t Cry Wolf CEO and co-founder John Brown and a handful of cameos chipping in.

Here is a selection of some of the finest work – so far.

John Brown set the bar fairly low with this far-too-revealing Eyes Wide Shut number early on in the Zoom-off.

Matt Cross is never one to be outdone, however, reviving Hannibal Lecter on a team lunch call.

If you think that's creepy, imagine what the Manifest crew were thinking when senior account director Emma Seddon turned up in Mordor.

Ready 10's account assistant Magdalena Chojnacka took the opportunity to turn up to a team conference call from the races.

On a slightly lighter note, Andy West had the Hotwire team running for their toy baskets with this impersonation of Woody from Toy Story.

Cross responded by destroying childhood memories of The Simpsons.

Hotwire's global marketing director, Victoria Morrison, also got in on the action – inspired by Pulp Fiction.

There were several (rightly) concerned faces when Don't Cry Wolf's Brown rocked a lumberjack outfit with a bona fide axe. It looks as if he used the axe to do the cutout of junior consultant Megan Merino's head, in a lovely tropical setting, as seen at the top of the screen.

West is getting as far away from Brown as humanly possible right now...

…while Cross has decided Brown won't be able to catch him underwater.

Maybe not, but both might have to answer to Brown in the afterlife…

An Twitter poll choosing the best outfit has Brown's Eyes Wide Shut effort in the lead. And on that note, Flack is going to leave it right there.

How will the industry top these Zoom efforts in the coming weeks/months?

A night (well, morning) at the o-PR

Away from Zoom, and other comms agencies have been adjusting to the new realities in novel ways.

First up, City of London agency Newgate has launched Italian lessons for staff. Entitled "Buongiorno [good morning], Newgate", the daily phone-in lasts no longer than a short tea break (15 minutes), allowing staff to enjoy a mini-brain workout.

The sessions are led by international opera star Serena Gamberoni; sadly, given the situation in Italy, all cultural performances there have been cancelled for several weeks.

Newgate said: "There is also a more serious point to the scheme, since parent company SEC Newgate is headquartered in Milan, Italy. The lessons, therefore, also bolster the sense of solidarity between Newgate colleagues in the UK and those in Italy, who have been providing regular video and email updates with top tips and innovative suggestions."

Newgate CEO Emma Kane said: “We are grateful to my wonderful friend, Serena Gamberoni, for taking our lessons and helping us feel a little closer to our colleagues in Italy, who have led the way in maintaining their high standards of professionalism and demonstrating great resilience and innovation in the face of adversity.”


Up on the roof

Staff at another agency, Mc&T, are keen to show that working from home has not hampered their productivity or creativity, using the hashtag #THISISMYOFFICENOW.

Some at the agency have even swapped their usually plush office space in Soho Works for a rooftop bar.

Employees seem to be enjoying a more relaxed dress code, others are making the most of a host of new co-workers, and the boss has picked up a new gym partner.

Hats entertainment

Meanwhile, at b2b specialist Skout PR:


These are strange times indeed. Which agency owners would have predicted this a few months ago?

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