• Time To Take Stock

  • Co-Founder of Pangolin, Will Cookson, on how PR agencies can use these unprecedented times to take stock.

    COVID-19 is creating a time of nationwide personal reflection. A time for people to think about what really matters in their lives; what they love, what’s working, what’s broken, and what needs to change. This should be the same for agencies across the country too. 

    Now is the time for agencies to take stock and look at the way the business is run. What areas need to be improved, changed, scrapped or developed? COVID-19 has ripped up any form of rule book, and there has never been a better time to create meaningful change that will allow agencies to emerge stronger than ever before. 

     

    Bricks and Mortar 

    Even though we have existing flexible working policies, we’ve always placed high value on the team being together in the same office whenever possible. My co-founder and I have debated at length how you can create the same sense of team dynamic, camaraderie and collective thinking when a team works remotely. 

    During this Global pandemic we’ve been forced to find that out pretty quickly, and it’s been fascinating to see how the agency has quickly evolved into a new rhythm and way of working. We’re proud to see great work still being delivered on time, to a high standard and client issues being addressed efficiently. It’s made us step back and re-assess the value we place on bricks and mortar. Who knows, perhaps the days of big shiny agency offices will be long gone after COVID-19? 

    Are You In A Relationship?

    At a time of stress or strain, it’s clear which clients, journalists and agencies you have genuine and strong relationships with. We’ve had some of the most honest and open conversations over the last few months as projects have been shifted, delayed or cancelled altogether. We’ve used this moment of reflection as an opportunity to connect with clients and assess the work we do and what we can improve upon as an agency. 

    For us, this unprecedented time has reinforced the need to work with clients we respect, and that respect us back. Moving forward, we should all reevaluate the value we place on ‘relationship’ over ‘revenue’.

    Talking over Typing

    David and I are big fans of good old fashioned conversation – it’s something we talk to the team about a lot. However, whilst working remotely we’re all inundated with a stream of constant digital chatter via email, Slack and WhatsApp and it’s often hard to keep up. Over the last few weeks it’s been fascinating to see the team evolve into prioritising face to face conversation (via Hangouts or Zoom) in order to make quick and clear decisions on projects, without the need for 75 messages back and forth. COVID seems to have reinforced the power of face to face conversation in running an efficient team and we’re loving it. When we’re back in the office we’ll be encouraging the team to continue to step away from the laptop and just talk.

    How Are You Doing?

    Although we have prioritised it in the past at Pangolin, due to COVID we’ve all become more aware of each other’s wellbeing and mental health. We’re much better at asking how each other is feeling every morning – how much energy we have, how productive we feel, how motivated we are. We’ve always aimed to create an open and honest environment for our team, but it feels more organic in the current climate. When normality resumes – whatever that might look like post lockdown – we’re going to continue our morning wellbeing check-ins to ensure people don’t start feeling isolated in the office.

    Positive Change

    COVID has demonstrated that when people are passionate about something, effective communication can create immediate change and impact. Our agencies are full of bright and dedicated people that are also passionate about other causes, charities and initiatives. This has inspired us to launch a series of new internal initiatives – one of which is ‘Pitch Perfect’ which focuses on one cause per quarter. The agency will be tasked with developing quick and effective campaign ideas, with the goal of pitching them back to the related cause as pro-bono work. It’s been a stark reminder to us all about the power of the communication industry, and the value we can add to society as a whole.