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 

5 things you should know about Natalie Richards, Managing Partner

  1. People and pets: David (husband), Alfie the Chihuahua and Keiko the Siamese
  2. Favourite campaign: I love just about anything Virgin do. Because they have never wavered. They know their values; they know their tone of voice. I love a strong brand strategy! For partnerships, you can’t fault Pride month. The rainbow is sheer brilliance. Stonewall’s matter-of-fact approach is refreshing. Let’s tell it as it is.
  3. Quote to live by: JFDI!
  4. Something we don’t know about you: Social & Local isn’t my first business. I’ve always been crazy about animals but, naturally, my mum didn’t want to fund a zoo at home. Taking the ‘it’s too expensive’ limitation on pet numbers literally, I started breeding fancy mice to raise the required cash. At age 9, I had arrangements with two local pet shops and got 30p a mouse. I’d also go around the Saturday market at the end of the day and ask for unsold veg. My little venture was called ‘Bumblebee Enterprise’ and provided for five mice, two guinea pigs, a hamster and a cat! Also… I’m a twin! 
  5. Why the Social Life mattersThe Social Life means everyone can work to their strengths. I don’t just mean skills and experience, but also time of day and location. For me that means the peace and quiet of my home office (often accompanied by the sound of my dog gently snoring on the sofa behind me). It means getting up and going straight to work, bypassing the stress of a train commute. It means getting to my Pilates class on time, without worrying about delays home. Healthy body, healthy mind! I also take real joy in knowing that we can all be ourselves. You can’t help ‘bring yourself’ to work when work is your home, with kids, partners, dogs, cats, delivery men and whoever else prone to popping up. There’s no hiding who you are – in a good way. We bring it all to work, and our work benefits from the richness of our lives. But I don’t work in my PJs. I have standards!

#SocialLife #socialbusiness #social&local 

Steph’s Travels in India

#Throwback Thursday! With summer a distant memory, but Christmas not quite in reach, we’re cheering ourselves up with some of Steph’s ponderings from her ‘luxury’ travels in India… 

It’s 7am “All aboard the Golden Temple Mail for Gangapur City!”

We were due to leave at 7.20 it is already 7.30 and nothing is moving yet. Hope it’s not too long as have had but a banana and small box of apple juice for breakfast and Sumit, my guide has advised me not to accept any of the on-board hospitality – especially not the beer – so what’s in the beer I wonder? Mine is luxury class – there is an obvious mis-translation of luxury between the English and Indian version. God help those in third class. I am in a traditional cabin but it’s absolutely filthy, very spartan and smells of wee. I have a bunk bed and a pillow. Be careful what you ask for – I asked for an authentic experience and that appears to be what I got. (NB Harry reassured a young friend of the family Nick who was slightly anxious about my travelling alone that I am not slumming it in India – well Hazza you are wrong – I am slumming it and am proud to be doing so. Never let it be said that I’m not part of the proletariat).

As I’m writing, several young men have been in to my luxury cabin to undertake the daily cleaning – as ever in India, a little employment is better than none and as one brushes, a second washes and then a third comes around with a form on which I am expected to rank the cleanliness of cabin and toilets on a scale from poor to excellent. I am not sure I want to try the toilets – I rank everything excellent even though everything is actually dire – but I want them to keep their job. And we’re off. Ahh I have piped music to amuse. Breakfast madam – no thank you; chai chai madam – no thank you; barley water madam – no thank you; special tea madam – no thank you. 5 hours on we arrive at Gangapur City. The Ticket Inspector – an Elvis impressionist is keen to have me escorted off the train.

I am met by my driver for the next 9 days, Sanjay. Sanjay tells me that whilst I have been on the luxury train he has driven the luxury car from Delhi which has taken him 10 hours.

#sociallife #worklifebalance #socialbusiness #auidenceinsight

5 things you should know about Michelle Solomon, Business Director – Internal Communications

  1. People and pets: Jon (husband) and my gorgeous daughter Ruby and Dolly the cat
  2. Favourite (communications) campaigns: I love elements of many campaigns (I’m a bit of a brand geek!). I love how Netflix redefined the market with ‘original content’ and how they were ground breaking in resetting things for their employees with no set working hours, an unlimited holiday allowance and saying they’ll stand by employees if they’re having a hard time as employees stood by them in the tough times! I love Eden Perfumes for disrupting the perfume industry by creating vegan versions of designer perfumes at a fraction of the price and that fact you can take your bottle into the shop for a refill. I admire IKEA for staying true to their heritage and using the Swedish name for items in all countries (and giggling when we can’t pronounce them)! I could go on…
  3. Quote to live by: The task ahead of you is NEVER greater than the strength within you
  4. Something we don’t know about you: I met Ed Sheeran at a gig he was supporting before he was famous and asked him if he would play at our upcoming wedding, as we thought he was amazing. Needless to say, he became super famous and couldn’t fit us in!
  5. Why the Social Life matters: I coined the phrase ‘work life smoothie’ because I believe that’s the reality of being a working parent and it explains my life on a day to day basis. Although many jobs don’t support the ‘work life smoothie’, Social & Local actively encourage and applaud it. My day is a blend of work, training for half or full marathons and being around to drop off and pick my daughter from school. I don’t have to book time off for the Christmas nativity or dentist, I just carve out time in my day and make it up before or after – simples. And because we work in a virtual office (we can see each other on Skype through the day) I don’t spend a lot precious time commuting. I can just get on with the job, be there for our clients and feel good about what we do. Without this human approach and trust, life would be a lot more difficult for me and I seriously doubt if I could work as much as I do or be as healthy. Because I can blend my running into the day, I’m fitter now than in my twenties and it keeps me mentally sharp too. It’s taught me to be creative and flexible about how I work, as it’s not black and white – it’s a smoothie!

#SocialLife #socialbusiness #social&local 

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 parkrun 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.

#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