- Posted by Semaphore
- On 20/10/2017
BY STAFF WRITER:
A new on-demand PR economy is emerging as we head into a future that’s more unpredictable than at any other time in history.
Over the past few decades, the world economy has seen steady growth and relative stability since World War II. But business and economic environments are now more turbulent than ever. Uncertainty, unpredictability and short-term cycles are replacing long-term recurring patterns. #MTBPS 2017 and other economic crises aside, technology disruption is the new normal.
This turbulence increasingly impacts businesses as they have to rapidly pivot to stay competitive.
The need to quickly change plans, shrinking budgets and a lack of specialist skills are driving a new on-demand PR economy.
A new PR model is here
In this environment, businesses can engage independent contractors short-term, outside a retainer, and only when work is available. Another advantage is accessing older freelancers with deep experience. Traditional agencies can’t always afford the salaries of very seasoned workers, which sees them move in-house to other corporates.
About a third of American freelancers and a quarter of UK peers now work in the ‘gig economy.’ Platforms like Upwork, Freelancer.com, Fiverr and Mechanical Turk offer virtually any skill imaginable. However, PR’s creative thinking and localised nature makes it hard to commoditise and buy it on such a piecemeal basis.
Getting the best of both worlds
Instead, business owners should find the middle-ground between online marketplaces and traditional PR agencies. Look for top quality local PR professionals who understand your space and test the fit for an ongoing, agile partnership. In South Africa, platforms like Flexy that vets professionals before they’re added can help you find a good match.
Many PR freelancers are also part of collectives – small communities of experts who collaborate around specific practice areas. These can include brand experts, photographers, digital specialists, and designers. Referrals within this trusted network can help avoid the headache of managing unknown contractors who might mess up a project. Although, to be fair, lackluster results are also entirely possible in big-name agencies.
When you should still go big
An independent contractor isn’t the answer for every businesses. Some brands need to simultaneously launch a campaign in several territories, use expensive technology, or do serious lobbying. For this you might need the sheer scale, brand image and financial muscle of a large traditional agency.
PR needs a sustained effort over time to work best. And an independent partner can deliver as effectively as any agency peer. But if you have a specific short-term campaign, ad hoc needs, or are still testing the market and it’s too early to commit to a significant investment, on-demand PR might be exactly what you need.
If you’re a PR freelancer who is part of a collective, please post your details and core focus below so we can make access to this new on-demand PR a little simpler.