Manchester-headquartered PR agency Roland Dransfield has launched a new initiative to keep the city’s creative industry thriving in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The agency, which set up in the city 24 years ago, is dubbing the scheme ‘We Built This City: Creative Exchange’, in a nod to its podcast which was launched last month.

The Creative Exchange will allow businesses across the city within the tech, media, digital and creative sphere to ‘plug the gaps’ left behind by staff members who have had to be placed on furlough as a result of the escalating Covid-19 situation.

Agencies in Manchester will be able to make the skillsets of their teams available to other agencies – meaning, for example, that if an agency has an existing client or a new business opportunity that it needs a specialist skill or additional resource for – which it now doesn’t have access to as a result of the Government’s job retention scheme – it can draw from other teams in the city.

The database of participating agencies and teams will be centralised, with Roland Dransfield setting up a dedicated landing page on its website for agency peers to be listed as being open to exchange.

CEO and founder of Roland Dransfield, Lisa Morton, is hopeful that the scheme will enable agencies and creative teams to ‘put rivalries aside’ and come together to support one another.

“Many creative businesses have had to furlough valued team members, as they’ve tried to respond to requests from clients to pause work, or retainers, indefinitely,” explained Lisa. “However, they still have clients to support, and will be pivoting – as we have been – to find new strategies, working hard to replace lost income with new revenue streams and to work hard to keep doors open and jobs secure.

“Roland Dransfield has been viewing the acronym ‘PR’ differently for some time now, choosing to interpret it as ‘purposeful relationships’. It feels more relevant now than ever – never before have we had to come together so suddenly as a sector to support each other in such difficult times.

“When you’ve had to furlough people with vital skillsets to protect your business and the wider team, it can feel like a massive blow. The We Built This City: Creative Exchange will provide our fantastic creative industry with a built-in support network, offering the ability to maintain the standards that we’re known for as a creative sector in this city.

“We should all feel comfortable in asking our peers to support us, to either secure new business or retain existing clients – and fill those gaps that we’re experiencing in our own teams.

“There must be a tacit agreement and Manchester spirit of trust that nobody needs to be less than 100% confident in that exchange of value or the safety of its client relationships. The creative exchange would mean that, in effect, it would be possible for an agency to ‘loan out’ on a billable hourly – or a straight swap – basis, a member of its own team even to a competitor agency at this time.

“Hopefully any billable time will be at mates’ rates because we’re Manchester and that’s what we do. This is not about profit; it’s about keeping your fellow Mancunian businesses and our phenomenal creative sector alive.”

The initiative is backed by the Manchester Publicity Association (MPA), the largest not-for-profit representative body of its kind in Europe.

Christian James, chair of the MPA and MD of If Agency, said: “The MPA is 100% behind this amazing initiative. As agencies are forced to furlough members of their team, there is a real risk they will find themselves, on occasion, unable to fulfil client requests. Creating an accessible Manchester talent pool is a bold and beautiful idea to protect Manchester’s media, digital and creative community against this happening. There’s nowhere else on the planet other than Manchester that this could happen.”

Agencies and businesses that would like to participate are encouraged to contact

Roland Dransfield was established in 1996 by Lisa Morton, and has offices in Manchester and London.