Welcome Jessica, new Business Director – External Communications

We’re delighted to welcome ex-Kindred Client Service Director, Jessica Duncanson, as Business Director, External Communications.

Jessica brings 14 years of experience leading campaigns for public, private and third sector clients, from £1 million fee income Government clients to consumer campaigns for BabyCentre and the British Cheese Board.

Jessica will help strengthen our external communications offer, to complement our other award-winning services.

She says: 

“I am beyond delighted to be joining Social & Local. I’ve long admired the team’s work from afar and couldn’t be happier to be coming on board. The flexible, remote model means I can get my teeth into some brain-stretching work with a great team of people and clients, whilst juggling life as a mum of three.

“Knowing that the work we do is also benefiting the community through the 50% of profit that goes to charity, is a substantially sized cherry on the top.

“SoLo is a remarkable creation and I’m honoured that, Steph and Nats, are entrusting me to help them grow their external comms function.”  

Managing Partner Steph says: 

“Many of our clients have modest budgets. Rather than appoint multiple agencies they are increasingly asking us to go ‘beyond the strategy and core creative’ into elements of implementation. We already have a strong activation team in place for Partnerships and Internal Comms, but recognised gaps in our PR & Social disciplines. We searched hard to find somebody with the experience and skills to build our offer at the highest level matched with a passion for driving forward our social business model and shared beliefs.” 

Find out what our new team member does with her lunchtimes, why she loves the Park Run and about her brush with national TV fame here

#SocialLife #socialbusiness #social&local #externalcomms

5 things you should know about Jessica Duncanson, Business Director – External Communications

  1. People and pets: Jon (husband) and a trio of children: Matilda, Florence and Ted
  2. Favourite (communications) campaign: I’m constantly in awe of the phenomenal success of the Park Run and what it can teach us about behaviour change campaigns. Who would have thought that when 13 people met to run in Bushey Park in 2004 it could lead to a community of 3 million Saturday morning runners (of which I am one, which is also surprising!)? I’m also grateful for the 2008 Magners ‘cider over ice’ campaign which made it socially acceptable to drink cider.
  3. Quote to live by: Don’t count the days, let everyday count
  4. Something we don’t know about you: when I was 3 and my mum was due to give birth to my sister, I appeared in a sex education programme about how babies are made, aired in schools nationally for the next decade. I wanted to call my sister Rocheldus, but fortunately my parents saw sense and called her Eleanor.
  5. Why the Social Life matters: Having now added 3 children to the CV of life, SoLo’s way of working is the difference between being able to work and not for me. I loved agency life, but the realities of 2 hours daily commuting and the cost (financial and emotional) of the childcare I’d need to do this, meant it simply wasn’t an option. The Social Life just makes sense. At SoLo it is not the when or where but the WHAT you do that matters. Talent and dedication (not desk time) rule. This means that whipping up a batch of my son’s favouite pepper and tomato soup at lunch time can be applauded, not scorned. It means that there’s a common understanding of the beauty of the 6am – 7am pre-school run ‘Power Hour’. And it means that there can be honesty about a school assembly, sick child or elderly grandparent in need of a morning visit. At SoLo, being a person, any kind of person, is seen as being a GOOD THING. Not just an inconvenience on the side. And what a liberating thing that is.

www.linkedin.com/in/jessica-duncanson

#SocialLife #socialbusiness #social&local 

Why smart businesses should join the (flexible working) revolution

1 minute read

Image by TeroVesalainen from Pixabay

SoLo is all about flex – our entirely remote and flexible model means our staff flex their ‘work life’ around their ‘life life’. It’s not the when or where but the WHAT they do that matters. Talent and dedication (not desk time) rule. But it’s not just people that benefit from this, it is businesses too:

  1. Virtual working keeps your overheads low – paying for people not premises makes good business sense. At SoLo, the money we save by not having an office translates directly to better prices for clients.
  2. Flexible workers are committed workers – staff want to work somewhere that’s life enhancing, but they understand that the privilege is only afforded by client acquisition and retention. As a result, we have some of the most committed people in the industry working here.
  3. Happy workers stay with you – if you create somewhere that’s a pleasure to work at, why would anyone want to leave? Staff retention stays high, clients benefit from teams with intimate knowledge of their businesses and managers are free from the headache of constant recruitment.
  4. Flexible workers are accessible – with no time wasted travelling to and from meetings teams can be more accessible and available when you want them. And flex works both ways – if you’re flexible with staff, they’ll be flexible back.
  5. Individuals with lived experiences bring ideas to work – being recognised for being people – as well as professionals – enables staff to bring unique, people-centred perspectives to their work, resulting in work that’s the highest quality.

#WorkLifeWeek #social&local #socialbusiness #sociallife #flexibleworking #flexappeal

Live, Breath, Believe

1 minute read

Image by KULADEEP KUMAR SADEVI from Pixabay

5 hours of travel pandemonium and I am in Jaipur. The mood has changed. This is the Capital of Rajahstan and it feels modern and vibrant. My hotel is a chic boutique that wouldn’t be out of place in Soho.

Over a lunch of Indian tomato soup and small puff pastries with feta and thyme, the hospitality manager sits with me and chats to me. I found out quite quickly that she has fled from her family in West Bengal as they were going to get her married and, on her refusal, threatened to kill her. She is building a new life here – starting off living in a hostel she has learned almost perfect English. She has educated herself by reading Shakespeare plays and learning the hospitality trade. WOW.

This girl CAN takes on a totally different dimension here. She wants to travel to Europe but is broke and on Indian wages it will take her a long time I suspect to save up. There is something about her – determined, savvy and hard working – I show her the British Council website in the hope that it might have some exchange or sponsored work opportunities.

The conversation turns back to my day. She shares my humour – I ask if it is OK in Jaipur to wear a dress with bare legs (I’m hot!) she says “Madam it’s OK to wear a burka in Jaipur!” I will oblige.

#sociallife #socialbusiness

Where it all began (and why they said it wouldn’t work) …

1 minute read

 

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

This summer, the passing of our 8th Anniversary had me thinking about how this little business started. Designed in 2011 as a business that would benefit the people who work for it, as well as society at large, there were more than a couple of cries from friends and colleagues of “abort, abort, it will never work!” Luckily, we didn’t, and actually, it did.

On my redundancy in 2011 (aged 55 and female), Nats and I started to build a vision for the first social advertising business. Witnessing the poor treatment of people in the ad industry in the pursuit of profit (from managers being badly underpaid whilst flogging themselves to death, to pregnant women having their roles deliberately downgraded) we sought to build something different. A company with people at its heart.  

Enter Social & Local CIC (SoLo). SoLo would see people for what they really are and what they are capable of rather than as a problem because they are a mum, carer or OAP. By making everything remote and flexible, staff would be based at home and free to organise work around their personal lives. Set up as a Community Interest Company, 50% of profit would be invested into community projects.

Despite being branded by others in the industry as ‘barking’ for believing that this remote and people-centred model could work (‘you really need a shop window, Steph!’), we held tight to our belief that business can, and should, benefit its own people and its wider community.

Roll on 8 years, and the naysayers have been proven wrong, SoLo has generated profit year on year, and invested thousands of pounds in community projects. Every day I feel proud. Neither rich nor famous but quietly satisfied that SoLo has created a working environment that changes the game – small, but respected and admired.

#social&local #socialbusiness #sociallife #flexibleworking #flexappeal

 

Social & Local completes insight for House of Commons

Adding further credibility to our award-winning services in helping large organisations with Internal Communications and Engagement, we are delighted to announce the recent completion of a major research piece for the House of Commons. By directly engaging over 20% of their 2,500 employees through online surveys, workshops and walkabouts, we have been able to deliver the insight and intelligence that will enable the development of a fresh, new Internal Communications Strategy.

“What an incredible privilege it was to spend most of my July walking the corridors of the Houses of Parliament at such an important time in history and to see the political landscape changing in real time; further to meet and listen to the stories of the army of people who keep the House going under all circumstances!”  Stephanie Drakes, Co-Founder & CEO, Social & Local 

Awards win and shortlist for British Red Cross!

We’re so proud that the Internal Engagement team at the British Red Cross have been shortlisted for ‘Best public sector/not for profit team of the year’ at the Institute of Internal Communication National awards. We’re loving being part of their journey and we’ll find out on 27 September if we’ve won!

We’re also delighted that the British Red Cross internal engagement team have also won the CIPR Inside award for best strategic internal engagement team!!

“So proud of all members of the team and a special thanks to Natalie Richards and Michelle Solomon at Social & Local who have accompanied and supported us on the journey to develop a truly insight led internal engagement strategy.” Addeel Khan, Head of Internal Engagement, British Red Cross

Launch of Social & Local 2019/20 Social Value Programme

Mental Health in the Workplace

From our lived experience, in-depth reports into mental health like the Stevenson-Farmer review, and initiatives like Mental Health First Aiders, we know there is a problem with mental wellbeing in work.  We also know from in-depth surveys that this is amplified in the creative industries sector. A recent poll across advertising agencies revealed that:

As recently as 2017, 63% of advertising and media agency staff said they’ve considered leaving the industry at some point due to work negatively impacting their wellbeing

So, we’re reaching out to agency leaders to eradicate unhealthy working practices in the advertising, PR and media industry. Focusing on our employees’ emotional wellbeing to protect our industry’s Brilliant Creative Minds.

Read more at: 100 Ways for Brilliant Creative Minds

Will 2019 be the year the agency model finally gets updated?

In the December issue of Marketing Week Sarah Vizard talked about how big brands are beginning to wonder what value is really being delivered for the mega bucks they pay – recognition is leading them to take content creation in house, in-source and cherry pick cross agency groups in providing “the full service”. Sarah noted that big agencies are responding by looking at business models that span disciplines, streamline and cost cut.

It’s interesting that the pictures painted of a 21st century (21C) update are not very exciting, creative or breathtaking, are they? It feels more like creative accounting than creative business modelling. And then we wonder why clients no longer feel the value of the “creative industries”.

So what might a 21C update really look like?

For me it’s all about agencies reclaiming their ground and to do this they need to attract back the talent – by understanding what will make talent see an “agency” as the best place to “be” as many of us used to.

Agencies must put the “glamour” back in – and today, the glamour means something different to what it might have meant three decades ago.  It means offering a unique combination of a rewarding career (Millennials want purpose over paychecks) with rewarding ways of working that allow the necessary head and heart space to be supremely and uniquely creative in adding value for clients. In this way clients will see “agencies” as uniquely useful and necessary once again and understand that they have to go the agency route to access the pool.

In support of this point, it may surprise you to read the 2018 mental health and creativity report by Tank (Australia) which asked employees about mental health in the creative industry:

Only 50% of 400 respondents answered ‘Yes’ to the question “Are you ok?”. 60% of these said they were aged 20-29 when they first realised that work was impacting their mental health.

The single word that appeared most amongst responses was Fear – with reasons for stress being given as “working late and weekends worrying they’re not good enough, seeing others not coping, the threat of redundancy, being berated and feeling watched all the time, senior leader egoism, inadequate content/time/understanding for what it takes to do our job properly.”

So why would the brightest talent want to enter an industry where that is the case?

Accepting that margin is important to shareholders and that it is unrealistic to persuade the industry en masse that Social Business (like ours) is the way to go for everyone, by thinking differently you can still make an agency magnetic.

Our agency for example decided to champion virtual networked working – we don’t have a shopfront in the traditional sense and we don’t need all the fluff that goes with it – by cutting out the commute, enabling people to work flexibly and not to be so brutally torn between their work and life commitments we provide the time and space to be creative. We deliver cost savings that make margins easier to manage and of course deliver positively against bigger issues like gender inequality, ageism and even the potential threat of a diminishing skills pool in the light of the maybe, one day Brexit.