THIS WEEK’S BIG QUESTION: Does the virtual agency concept have a future?

Three agencies have disbanded virtual outfit Avalanche after it was dropped by Oracle

Three agencies have disbanded virtual outfit Avalanche after it was

dropped by Oracle

Mark Adams

Text 100

’I don’t believe that there is a future for virtual agencies. PR is

about building relationships through personal interaction. These can be

supported by technology. Virtual agencies are a complete anathema to PR

It is a people business by definition and virtual agencies by definition

are not. The real future is for organically-grown,

culturally-integrated, long-term PR agencies with an absolutely common

ethic and value system.’

Bob Seltzer

Ogilvy PR Worldwide

’Yes absolutely. Telecommunications has made it possible for distance to

become irrelevent. For the client, it allows talent to be accessed no

matter where you are in the world. Why fly people all over the world to

meet when they can conference through video and computer? The future of

the virtual agency is not only possible, it is inevitable.’

Alison Campbell

Oracle Corporation UK

’Creating a virtual team from the best people in each country - both

agency and in-house - is the strongest approach for successful


The quest for a consistent global brand creates a clear need for common

goals and co-ordination, but whether this should be formalised with a

’virtual agency’ entity is still open to debate. It is important to

remember that the best people with the right attitude and a clear brief

can make a success of any structure.’

Lisa Francis

Virgin Net

’I believe it can work for the right organisation. There’s no problem in

the virtual part - any PR practitioner not online is going to be left so

far behind, they may as well stay in bed. Avalanche’s ice melted because

the virtual team was made up of competing agencies. I can’t think of any

agency that would truthfully be willing to brainstorm and share their

ideas, proposals and best practices with their competitors.’

Neil Pattie


’It’s not easy to paper over the cracks arising from the sheer

competitive nature of agencies forced to work together. Agencies have

different cultures and will vie with eachother for the client’s

attention. It is on an international scale that I would expect the real

problems to occur. The world isn’t an homogeneous place.’

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