In 2008 I ran the London office of a PR agency. Like many small to medium agencies we successfully managed cashflow, profit, staff workloads, wellbeing and many other elements on top of all the client campaigns we ran.
A new client win would be a cause for celebration as it was going to make us all rich! Until that is, we realised that staff workloads were overloaded and we’d need to hire more people to deliver the new project. Although of course the new hires would cost more than the annual fee from the new client and we all going to be poor!
We would often be just about to sign a new client when they would decline our 12-month contract. Not because of a disagreeable clause, but because they didn’t want to commit to twelve months. 90% of the time we then lost them as a client.
Joshua PR was really founded as a result of those two factors.
Small to medium sized agencies have no economies of scale to fall back on and are constantly veering from overworked to underpaid. All the while more and more clients want a much lower level of commitment.
What if we could restructure the agency model so that clients could get a commitment-free solution and the agency management was smoother and easier?
That restructuring became the virtual agency model.
As far as clients are concerned we look and act the same as the traditional agency model – a team of people working on your project, with well-defined KPIs and a clear communication structure.
The difference for us is that we don’t all sit together in the same office, but are a group of freelancers who work in a variety of locations and have a variety of working patterns, but are all committed to getting the best possible results for you, the client.
No contracts mean that you can flex your budgets to suit your requirements. You can stop completely for a while and then start again when the time is right, or top-load budgets to achieve a big bang. While behind that we manage the network of freelancers so that every client project has the expertise and skills it needs, but that we also have the revenue we need to continue to run the agency.
In this model every client win is a cause for celebration.
We were the first agency to make a virtue of being virtual – when Joshua PR started some other agencies worked on a loose version of this model, but tried to keep it quiet. Now, there are many working this way, but we are the original and the best.