Reimagining the pan-European PR agency model – slaying the six taxes inherent in the traditional hub and spoke approach

Although Covid has robbed us of many things, it has given us the gift of time and with this the chance to reflect on our businesses and consider how effective our current ways of working have been. One area where we have seen a lot of reflection is how companies seek to manage their PR agency networks across Europe.

In the past, brands chose between working with separate local agencies or one large multinational agency. In reality both of these models have one common failing; they are both founded on the principle of having separate teams working in each market which are then coordinated through a hub and spoke model.

When we founded Tyto in 2017, we sought to disrupt the traditional pan-European model and break down the silos and inefficiencies inherent in it. We developed a new operating model we call PRWithoutBorders™ that involves a multinational team working as one across regions. This sees our international team work together across multiple countries and languages without silos. It delivers many advantages, including around 25-30% more value compared to the traditional hub and spoke model.

The way I see it, there are six “taxes” associated with the traditional hub and spoke model which Tyto’s PRWithoutBorders™ operating model addresses. These are:

  1. A tax on time: Having separate teams in each market with different levels of knowledge and understanding of the business takes up more time to manage from a client perspective. One integrated team requires just one weekly call, it produces one comprehensive weekly and monthly report and clients only have one core team to interface with. Not only, but a pan-European PR programme with a decent monthly fee allows for a dedicated PR team with plentiful counsel, support and creative input. But if that monthly fee is split two or three ways between separate account teams, budget gets wasted on unproductive admin and bureaucracy.
  2. A tax on consistency: Having one integrated team speaking from one hymn sheet is much more likely to deliver consistent messaging than if you have two or three separate account teams representing you.
  3. A tax on results: I can’t tell you how many times we secure results for clients by being able to quickly repurpose an idea in one country to another. The media moves so quickly and the rigid nature of inter-agency relationships can mean it won’t be feasible to move as quickly and results will be lost. At Tyto we can jump on opportunities as soon as they present themselves and draw on the knowledge of the wider team to propose a timely and unique response to these.
  4. A tax on flexibility: Because we operate one P&L across Europe, we are completely flexible and open to shifting budget around between markets as needs change. It isn’t possible to get the same flexibility in a model comprising multiple account teams even in multinational agencies because they each have their own separate business priorities and they need to plan and manage resources and hit their own financial objectives. With Tyto’s model the client always comes first.
  5. A tax on scale: Our model enables us to grow and scale into new markets and expand in existing markets very easily, something that presents much more of a challenge for traditional models. Clients with a traditional PR model in place who need to divert or expand activity into a new region may find themselves needing to conduct costly agency onboarding processes on a regular basis.
  6. A tax on creativity: By keeping reporting to a minimum and by pooling industry knowledge and creativity across the team, we can dedicate more time to thinking up winning strategies and creative ideas. In fact, the very nature of our borderless international set up means that we have a diverse, multinational and multicultural team. We are able to bring a range of difference perspectives to the table that help us think more creatively as a team.

Of course, these ‘taxes’ aren’t just monetary. We believe our call PRWithoutBorders™ model delivers value on multiple levels. But as we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel in pandemic terms and are left facing the challenges of a recovering economy, knowing that we are offering our clients the best value for their PR budget is very important to us and reflects our continued aim to provide perfect partnership.

Image ©Josh Boak,