Why small agencies will thrive post-coronavirus

PRCA research recently talked about the state of the PR industry during the COVID-19 pandemic; despite almost half of agencies furloughing staff or making redundancies, there’s still optimism.

We buy from the people who understand us and meet our needs, argues Holly Ward
We buy from the people who understand us and meet our needs, argues Holly Ward

We all know that solid foundations and a passion for what you do serve you well in times of crisis.

If you consider the businesses that are thriving right now, they tend to have one thing in common; aside from selling something we all need, they have positive energy and real passion.

This can’t be easily contrived, it has to be authentic.

From food to fitness gear to the local greengrocer doing home deliveries, we buy from people and businesses who understand us and meet our needs.

The same goes for client-agency relationships. Clients work with agencies that understand what they want and do it without ceremony.

It’s a symbiotic relationship that can withstand crises.

Smaller agencies are particularly adept at working in collaboration with clients and these relationships are, by necessity, based on trust.

When a brand chooses a smaller agency to work with, it looks at the individuals involved as much as the agency name and credentials.

When you’re in it together, the will to succeed is greater, the walls come down and the work is far better.

When you make the decision to set up on your own, you create your own rules, such as only working with like-minded people.

This can be a risk but ultimately provides security.

During the COVID-19 crisis many agencies have had to pause work with some clients, and increase efforts for others.

Many of us will have used the Government's furlough scheme to some extent, but being small often means being nimble, and having agility means you can contract and expand as the need arises.

Another interesting by-product of this situation is that creativity has flourished.

From the big-ticket TV ads that refer to the lockdown to many influencer campaigns, there’s been far more out-of-the-box thinking than usual.

Attitude to creative risk has relaxed.

When a global pandemic wipes out businesses, closes schools, stops people getting together and kills many innocent people, why not do something a bit different – particularly if it can make people smile?

Business founders have always been able to tough it out – you don’t go it alone unless you have a great reserve of resilience to keep you going.

In fact, it takes a certain insanity to do it at all, and that insanity is what I think of as the unmitigated optimism of the entrepreneur.

The industry that bounces back will be smaller and more compact, but also more efficient – and, I imagine, more valuable to its clients than ever.

Holly Ward is co-founder of The Forge

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