Steph honoured in Timewise Power 50 Awards in hat trick of awards success for SoLo




Steph has been named in the 2020 Power 50 awards: a roll call of 50 powerful executives in the UK – who all happen to work part-time or flexibly.

The award completes a hat trick of awards success for Social & Local, with Stephanie recently named as one of 50 Female Frontier honourees by industry-leading brand, Campaign magazine; and  Social & Local being shortlisted in two categories in the 6th Annual Better Society Awards.

The 2020 Timewise Power 50 Awards have been compiled by Timewise, a flexible working consultancy, following a nationwide search. Co-founders Karen Mattison MBE and Emma Stewart MBE publish a fresh list annually, in order to prove ‘what’s possible’ when you work part time or flexibly.

Steph says:

“What an honour to be recongised for this award, thank you Timewise.

“I set up Social & Local following redundancy from an advertising firm in 2011. At 55 and female I knew there was no future for me in the advertising world. I started to build a vision for the first social advertising business. Witnessing the poor treatment of people in the industry – from terribly-paid, over worked managers to discriminated-against pregnant women, I wanted to do things differently.

“Social & Local was designed to put people at its heart. The idea didn’t float with everybody at the time, but this award just goes to show that the world is finally changing – in favour or more flexible, humane working practices. I hope what I have shown in my own small way is that doing the right thing by your people goes hand in hand with business success.”

Flexible hiring and working practices are integral to SoLo. The entire team works flexibly and remotely to suit their lifestyles. A ‘virtual’ Skype office and good communication between colleagues about when and where they are working ensures that deadlines are hit, and client needs met.

For Steph, this means starting early (6am) with a morning break to walk her dog and visit her husband in his Nursing Home. Others work around the school run and into the evening, maximising time with their children. The result is fulfilled, creative, diligent, professional staff and happy, retained clients.

Timewise co-founder and judge Karen Mattison MBE, who led the initiative from the start says:

Success doesn’t come in one shape or size. With 9 in 10 people wanting or needing flexibility in their next job – it is vital we find and showcase modern day role models to aspire to. Stephanie is blazing a trail – all whilst working part-time or flexibly. Achieving serious success, in less days. Not only proving that it can be done – but how. The Timewise Power 50 exists to award innovation like this. Every person who tells their story openly, helps to make change happen.”


Social & Local CIC shortlisted in 6th Annual Better Society Awards

We’re happy to share the news that we’ve been shortlisted in the 6th Annual Better Society Awards. The news comes just weeks after Steph was named as one of 50 Female Frontier honourees by industry-leading brand, Campaign magazine.

The Better Society Awards celebrate the efforts that commercial organisations make to create a better society, and are organised by the Better Society Network.

Social & Local scooped nominations in two categories: Consultancy of the Year and Impact Company of the Year. We were particularly excited to be recognised alongside huge businesses like RBS, Aviva and Deloitte.

The judges applauded Social & Local’s commitment to social impact, our entirely remote-working model, and the fact that we are one of the only Community Interest Companies (CIC) in the business. We were recognised as an inspiring example of what can be done when business puts humanity at its heart and for proving that a people-centred business model is not only the right thing to do but goes hand in hand with business success.

Social & Local Managing Partner Natalie Richards says:

“We founded Social & Local as a CIC because we felt there was a better way to do business. Our industry – the creative industry – has a poor track record in looking after its people and flexing to their needs. We are proof that anyone can earn a living doing what you’re good at and do good too. We might be a micro business but our mission is big!” 

 The winning companies will be announced on 14 May.

5 things: what the millennial generation thinks of the generation following in its footsteps (Gen Z)

Image by Gary Cassel from Pixabay 

Millennials – born between 1980 and 2000 – are both the 20th century’s last generation and its first truly digital one. We spoke to eight millennials from across the UK to find out how they want to live, what stops them, what they view as the biggest issues facing society, and what they think of the generations before and after them. 

5 things: what the millennial generation thinks of the generation following in its footsteps (Gen Z)

  1. A theme that emerged repeatedly in our interviews is the perceived lack of values held by Generation Z: “From what I’ve seen they don’t seem to have as strong values” (N, 33, London); “I’m not sure that people below 25 really have values, their values are more concerned with how many likes they can get on social media” (C, 32, Leamington Spa).
  2. In the eyes of millennials, Gen Z are consumeristic and looking for “instant gratification”. With saving so difficult and many of the things that previous generations strove for (property) out of reach, they are looking to other forms of consumption to express themselves. As a 32-year-old from Manchester summarizes: “Fundamentally the generation below differs [from us] very much. They are commodity driven – the big acquisition is so untenable and the inability to save enough means that there is a huge push on owning the nice things that can be seen and shown. This generation is much more about having and spending now and not saving.”
  3. Generation Z is also alleged to be lacking in work ethic. One respondent said: “I don’t see a strong work ethic, many of the people that work for me are temporary – not driven by a career.” Another said: “I think they are even more flighty than we are – I manage some under-25s and they’re more kind of – let’s just see how it goes. They feel very entitled e.g. benefits in the workplace, they [unrealistically] feel they deserve pay rises and promotions”.
  4. One respondent from Glasgow was kinder in her view. For her, Generation Z does not lack in ambition, but has expectations about how they will and won’t work: “I think they are as ambitious as we are – but want to work a lot more flexibly. They are more entrepreneurial and want to work for themselves, less forced to go to University and they are able to make decisions more freely”. Lack of resilience (in the workplace and more widely) also emerged in several conversations.
  5. There is sympathy for Gen Z as the generation that has grown up with social media. “I think they are under a lot more pressure because they have grown up with social media at school and university. Social media is no longer innocent – they have multiple Instagram accounts to present different images – they are very image conscious” (J, 30, Glasgow).
  6. While most of the views we heard about Generation Z were negative, some of our millennials were willing to give credit to this generation for its open-minded approach to life – something that millennials might learn from. Our respondent from Glasgow noted that Gen Z is “even more open minded around things like gender and different variants. It’s still a learning curve for me.”

Millennial Life: what millennials think of the generation before them

Photo by Slavomir Ulicny from FreeImages

Millennials – born between 1980 and 2000 – are both the 20th century’s last generation and its first truly digital one. We spoke to eight millennials from across the UK to find out how they want to live, what stops them, what they view as the biggest issues facing society, and what they think of the generations before and after them.  

5 things: what the millennial generation thinks of the generation before it

  1. There is a feeling amongst millennials that their generation is more adventurous and ambitious than the generation that came before it, perhaps even “flighty” or “selfish”. A respondent from London told us: “Previously people have stuck to a path – we go travelling, do things differently from our parents; we are more conscious of our footprint in the world”.
  2. Millennials believe that they place greater emphasis on people and experiences with their friends, while their parents favour material items. They are “very into material things and are more likely to buy from
    big corporations, rather than thinking about where something is made or who made it” (J, 30, Glasgow). Their children, on the other hand, “share feelings and look towards activities for happiness, rather than buying things” (C, 30, Manchester).  
  3. This investment in relationships puts an additional time pressure on the millennial generation, that didn’t exist for their parents, because people don’t tend to live close to friends and family so much anymore. A respondent from Manchester told us: “My friends live all over the country and therefore it takes time to travel and see them regularly. As a generation, we are time poor.”
  4. There is a strong sense of progress, that the millennial generation is more open-minded and more tolerant than its parent’s generation. “My parents’ values are very internal looking, whereas I feel this generation is more outwards looking – we have so much more information giving us the chance to have a bigger perspective” (K, 34, London). “My perception is that my parents have similar values to me, but the generation as a whole is not quite as open to people from different walks of life or backgrounds. [They identify] ‘in’ and ‘out’ groups. They don’t spend time with ‘out’ groups and dismiss them, just because their opinion differs. My generation is more open, tolerant and accepting of diversity” (C, 32, Leamington Spa).
  5. This follows through to the environment. Awareness of the environment is very much considered to be a younger person’s pursuit… “[We are more] environmentally conscious than the previous generation” (C, 30, Manchester).


Millennial Life: what stops millennials living out their values?

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Millennials – born between 1980 and 2000 – are both the 20th century’s last generation and its first truly digital one. We spoke to eight millennials from across the UK to find out how they want to live, what stops them, what they view as the biggest issues facing society, and what they think of the generations before and after them.     

5 things: millennials strive to be ethically and environmentally conscious. What stops them living out these values?

  1. Although millennials strive to live with ethics and environment at the heart of their conscience, our commodity-driven economy sometimes makes it difficult to keep hold of what is important to them – friends, family, experience… “It can be difficult when you are inundated by a commodity driven economy to keep the focus on the importance of the experience” (M, 32, Manchester).
  2. Whilst they are inclined to keep people and planet at the heart of how they live, an impediment they face is the (lack of) availability of products that align with their values. Which products can they trust? And where is the information that tells them what values lie behind the goods and services they want to buy? To some it feels as though the market hasn’t quite caught up with consumer expectation for (a) information, (b) proof of good behavior.
  3. Millennials are financially restricted, partially because many have mortgages (perhaps the last generation to do so), lifestyles to keep up with (though many claim to shun these), and other financial commitments. “I probably don’t [live by my values] as much as I would like. Like everyone, we all want to be ethical and environmentally aware, but ultimately look for price” (C, 32, Leamington Spa).
  4. One thing that is not a problem for millennials is peer pressure. Whilst previously peers may have influenced their actions, this generation has become more comfortable within its own skin as it approaches its late 20s and 30s. Our respondents reported that they are now able to act upon their own values, without concern for what others think: “We are all at the age where people are respectful [towards one another’s values]” (R, 31, London).
  5. Like peers, parents are also playing a limited or negligible role in shaping how their children live. Perhaps this breaks away from generations above, where parental approval (or disapproval) was highly significant. For millennials, it is not, and nobody we spoke to reported feeling restricted by the values their parents hold.

5 things you should know about Kathy Kielty, Creative Director

  1. People and pets: John (Husband); kids (Hannah, Joey & Peter); pets – cats (Alfie and Flossie)
  2. Favourite (communications) campaign: The Southbank is one of my favourite places in London and I love their recent rebrand. It can be difficult to brand a venue – especially one so iconic. I think they’ve got it spot on!
  3. Quote to live by: Ooh la la!
  4. Something we don’t know about you: When I was a poor student at UCLA, I tried out for Jeopardy (a gameshow that gives away lots of prize money). I won the trial game, but they chose the other opponent because he made lots of daft jokes. There’s something of a life lesson there…
  5. Why the Social Life Matters: To me the “Social Life” means I can fit my working life into my ‘life’ life – making the most of both. Spending time with my family, spending time in France, and getting out for fitness classes, tennis and choir are all important to me. Flexible working means I can work during the times and in the places that fit my schedule. The better life balance means I’m more creative and productive – and happier!

#SocialLife #socialbusiness #social&local 

Millennial Life: the values millennials live by

Image by Harpreet Batish from Pixabay

Millennials – born between 1980 and 2000 – are both the 20th century’s last generation and its first truly digital one. We spoke to eight millennials from across the UK to find out how they want to live, what stops them, what they view as the biggest issues facing society, and what they think of the generations before and after them. Over the next few weeks we’ll share our insight on the Millennial Life.  

5 things: the values millennials live by

  1. Millennials are striving to be “good people” to show honesty and integrity and to “give people the time of day irrespective of seniority or walk of life” (M, 32, Manchester). As one subject from London summarized, she is striving to “generally speaking, be a nice person”. None of the respondents were driven by faith (a few actively reject religious values), but some drew on the language of religious moral codes to encapsulate their approaches. One respondent from Manchester stated: “it’s an approach of do unto others as you would like done to yourself”.
  2. People are incredibly important to millennials – keeping up with friends and family, being there for people, showing kindness and embracing those with different views. As a respondent from London said: “the main value for me is all about family and friends, and this has got even more important to me as I’ve got older, making sure I keep up with people and are there for them.”
  3. Social and environmental consciousness is driving relationships between millennials and brands: “I think I’m a lot more conscious about knowing what is behind marketing goods and services – I do go and do my research to make sure a brand is behaving ethically” (N, 33, London). Palm oil was mentioned by a few of our interviewees and is a big factor in brand choice, as is responsibility towards the community. “Yes, brand behaviour influences me – I wouldn’t buy a brand that is linked to palm oil or unethical behaviours… or one that has [had a negative impact on] LGBT Plus issues” (K, 34, London).  
  4. This follows through to life choices, including the kinds of jobs people look for. Millennials are not necessarily choosing salaries over social purpose, and some are specifically looking to work for smaller organizations where they feel they can make a difference. “It’s quite important from a personal perspective for me to find an employer that matches my values and cultures, and treats people in the way I want to be treated and treat others” (C, 32, Leamington Spa); “I would be more inclined to work for a company that has social purpose” (K, 34, London).
  5. Despite an intense ethical and environmental awareness, millennials remain financially restricted in the decisions they take. A respondent from Leamington Spa told us: “I probably don’t [live by my values] as much as I would like. Like everyone, we all want to be ethical and environmentally aware, but ultimately look for price.”

Steph recognised by Campaign as Female Frontier honouree

We are SO delighted that our very own Steph has been named one of 50 Female Frontier honourees by industry-leading brand, Campaign magazine!
Female Frontiers UK recognises women who are pushing boundaries with their groundbreaking achievements in the marketing, advertising, media and tech industries.
Steph was recognised in the Championing Change category, honouring those making dynamic and brave changes within their workplace or industry.
The judges applauded SoLo for disrupting the traditional and often harsh ‘bleed-to-succeed’ advertising agency model. They also praised us for being one of the only Community Interest Companies in the business (investing 50% of profit in social value projects) and our inclusive, remote working model which offers flexibility and work-life balance to mums, carers and OAPs. 
Steph said: “I’m really humbled that our way of working has been recognised – of course it is a personal honour, but more importantly it is about what we can achieve collectively when we put our minds to it. On that note, I wanted in particular to thank our clients – by being open and enthusiastic to working with an agency with an innovative and radically different business model and for trusting us to be able to deliver a top class service. Without them of course we would have fallen at the first hurdle.” 
“There’s still such a long way to go to get the world thinking differently about the workplace and about balancing financial reward with creating good societies – but the seeds of change are there.”
“So to all my fellow honourees – don’t let the buggers grind you down, use your skills, foster your brilliant creative minds to make our industry a better place, support a happy and fulfilled workforce and deliver the value that your clients deserve. Go home at the end of the day feeling great.”
The leading honouree in each category will be announced on 27 Feb, so watch this space!

Read more about Steph’s brave vision for Social & Local and where it all began.

See who joined Steph on the Female Frontier Honouree list. 

How Internal Communications can drive organisational success

British Red Cross staff collecting money in buckets

So how can Internal Communications (done well) drive organisational success?

It creates an in-house (free!) promotional machine

These days huge swathes of company employees can be found on social media actively talking about their companies (50% according to Weber Shandwick), sharing stories of organisational excellence or actively recommending products (or, disastrously, doing the opposite). Well managed this can provide a huge opportunity for companies. Research from Neilson revealed that messages shared by employees go 561% further than those shared on brand channels. In addition, 84% of consumers value recommendations from friends and family above all forms of advertising. Employees have more reach and trust than organisations, making them a more powerful conduit than any form of PR or Advertising. Using Internal Communications to ensure that what employees are saying about an organisation online (and in real life) reflects the true brand image can be an incredibly powerful way of building profile and sales.

It motivates people to drive your organisation forward

Engaged staff are a good thing for many reasons, not least because they are likely to have a positive attitude towards the organisation and its customers. But engaged teams can also have a significant commercial benefit, as they feel motivated to drive the organisation forwards. We’ve been working with the British Red Cross over the last couple of years on an engagement strategy to bring together its diverse and complex workforce of 4,300 employees and 19,600 volunteers. As a result, engagement is at an all-time high with clear organisational benefits: in 2019 a record 1,800 employees and volunteers signed up to shake tins for Red Cross Week. They raised £163,000 through their tins alone (up 43% on 2019), contributing to a 19% increase in the total raised (£598,000). This shows why it (quite literally) pays to wholeheartedly engage your staff.

It provides a route to expertise to inform strategy

Listening to staff through true two-way dialogue, which should be at the heart of any good employee engagement activity, can give you incredible access to expertise about your organisation and industry. This can enable senior leaders to implement changes that benefit the organisation, whether these are small tweaks or large strategic re-sets. In 2014 the New York Public Library decided to offer anyone on staff – over 2,500 individuals – the chance to shape the library through strategic conversations with senior leaders. Amongst other things, the result was a 20% reduction in wait times for books, improvements in the service to patrons and reduced staff workloads. Staff were energized by the opportunity to shape how the library worked. As a core team member put it, “We entered the process with the perspective of employees and came out with the perspective of leaders.” You should never underestimate the potential, enthusiasm or aptitude of your employees to help you define the direction of your organisation.

So, it may not be cool or sexy like its friends PR and Advertising, but there is no doubt that, done well, Internal Communications can be very, very powerful. 

#internalcommunications #brandcommunications 

5 things you should know about Stephanie Drakes, Managing Partner

  1. People and pets: Husband: Paul Drakes (ex Ogilvy), Sons: Jon Drakes (Fuse, Manning Gotlieb), Harry Drakes (Viseum, Regis), Will Drakes (Cisco), Ollie Drakes (ANZ Melbourne); Grandchildren: Archie Drakes 13, Abigail Drakes 10, Sophie Drakes 8, Lucas Drakes 5, James Paul Drakes 5 months.
  2. Favourite (communications) campaign: Indian Government: “No Plastic is Fantastic”
  3. Quote to live by: “Could I just suggest…”
  4. Something we don’t know about you: I had my wedding reception before my wedding.
  5. Why the Social Life matters:  I have always been a morning person. I often wake up with a clear vision about how to solve a client challenge. “Social Life” means that I can hit my desk at 6am to put pen to paper with a clear head unfettered with the interference of a tortuous commute or digital disturbance. I then log in to our video portal to welcome the team to a new day and after a giggle about the state of the nation put our heads down to the tasks ahead. Fridays we try and have a beer o’clock – often discussing the week’s challenges or opportunities arising. At lunch time I take time out to walk my dog, hug a tree or two (yes, it is scientifically proven to be good for you) and visit my husband in his Nursing Home. I look on this as a “field visit”. 20 years of flogging fast moving consumer goods taught me that you can sit at your desk as long as you like, but the data will not give you the full picture and you need to get out there and see and talk to the consumer. So with multiple clients in NHS and Social Care sector, these visits give me unique insight into the good, the bad and the ugly of the system which in turn helps me to inform clients from a people-centred perspective. At 4.00pm you will often find me with a cup of Earl Grey scanning a broad spectrum of newspapers (yes, I still like print) and social networks – my team know to expect various scans of articles that are apposite to what they are doing and thinking about at this point answering the question “What are the people saying about this?” It’s warm, it’s productive and it works for everyone.

#SocialLife #socialbusiness #social&local