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Streamlining operations isn't about processes, but best practices

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By: Kevin Winfield, Managing Director

When leading PR agencies, we are constantly looking for innovative ways to increase productivity, minimise team burnout, boost sales, and enhance profitability. The past year has been particularly uncertain for many PR agencies, with even some of the largest firms reporting fewer profits throughout 2023 and smaller agencies noticing a significant reduction in their new business pipeline.

Many of us have faced similar challenges throughout the years and, as a result, understand the importance of resilience and pivoting to a new focus. Agency leaders used this time to look internally to get their house in order and find ways to improve internal operations to better serve their clients, empower their employees, and utilise their existing resources.

Working Like Clockwork

I recently attended Clockwork, the agency process and operations conference. Hosted by Agency Hackers, this day-long event featured various inspiring leaders sharing their insights and real-life experiences on how agency leaders can enhance their operations. Manish Kapur presented a particular talk that resonated with me, in which he challenged us to rethink how we approach operations. 

When we think of operations, we often envision rigid structures and processes that hinder our creativity and growth. As PR professionals, we thrive on the freedom to think and approach challenges with a creative mindset. Manish Kapur's perspective mirrors this, emphasising that operations are not black and white. The most successful are those who approach operations with a level of flexibility, allowing for creative problem-solving.

Instead of enforcing processes for the sake of consistency, the key is to establish adaptable best practices. These serve as a guide, outlining the steps and tools teams need to make decisions or face challenges. However, these guidelines and tools must allow for team flexibility, enabling them to make decisions based on the specific situation. Best practices should be fluid, evolving to meet our ever-changing business needs.

The PR world is constantly evolving at a breakneck speed - we just have to look at tools such as AI and its impact on the industry. The technology has grown rapidly in the last six months, and how we use it has also changed. Suppose we are genuinely going to enhance our operations and improve efficiency. In that case, we can't afford to waste time rolling our rigid processes that will undoubtedly need to be updated a few months down the line, which is why flexible practices are the best way forward. PRs are experts at pivoting and finding new solutions; our operations should be no exception.


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