Washington, D.C. PR pro Melissa Mathews, president of The Mathews Group, recently noted in PRNews online that clients increasingly need flexibility and efficiency and are forcing even traditional PR agencies to recognize the need to adopt virtual or hybrid models.
Particularly for smaller businesses or sole proprietors, working with a virtual agency makes sense. The first and most obvious reason is that by its virtual nature it offers the most competitive rates – you won’t pay for overhead or administrative services. In short, virtual agencies offer:
- Quick turnaround on projects
- High value for lower cost
- Personalized customer service
- Specialized attention to your account
- No retainer fees or other hidden costs
Successful virtual PR agencies also offer great talent. The best ones are operated by seasoned practitioners who are organized, disciplined, dependable and self-motivated. Virtual agencies can expand or reduce based on client needs and have no boundaries on the talent they can offer. Virtual agencies bring the best people to the job, regardless of where they live.
Virtual agencies have built-in flexibility and little turnover so they retain staff through life changes or moves. And because they have many years in PR, virtual practitioners are more intentional and specific about integrating and collaborating.
They maximize technology to keep things running across the time zones and miles. By leveraging virtual meeting apps, as well as Skype, FaceTime and other technology, virtual agencies can be in touch with clients 24/7. In fact, working virtually means agencies offer expanded business hours, so they can offer round-the-clock coverage if a project is pressing, a benefit typically enjoyed only by large agencies.
While virtual agencies are able to establish traditional agency reporting structure with virtual frequent one-on-one client meetings, unlike brick-and-mortar agencies, they aren’t spending a lot of wasted administrative time on internal meetings.
Perhaps best of all, clients can benefit from the virtual agency’s nimbleness, which allows for rapid up-and-down scaling of resources as work demands. This is particularly attractive as the number and complexity of projects increase.
Volumes of information are available online if you are considering hiring any kind of public relations assistance. Before you decide, make certain that the representation you’re considering subscribes to the Public Relations Society of America Code of Ethics and that its principal has years of recognized professional experience.
While anyone can hang out a virtual shingle and proclaim themselves a PR professional, the practitioner you ultimately hire should prove their credibility. Ask to see high-quality samples of their work in a related field; ensure that they exhibit excellent strategic skills; and confirm that they display stellar talent as a written and oral communicator. Unless they have been recommended to you by a trustworthy source, don’t be afraid to ask for a reference or two. To protect yourself financially, ask for a proposal/estimate upfront.
They represent you and your company, so you should be confident about their abilities, reputation and integrity.