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! 

https://www.linkedin.com/in/michelle-solomon-5a8931a/

#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.

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

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.

Creative Conscience Awards 2018

Creative Conscience Awards 2018, Solving the worlds biggest social problems
Using our skills and money to support new ideas to address (in our own small way) the world’s biggest problems is of course at the heart of why we exist and what excites our community and our clients. Our partnership with and sponsorship of Creative Conscience (which exists to drive creative talent from all around the world to apply their heads to create socially valuable ideas and campaigns) is now in its third year and yet again, our breath has been taken away by the winning entries from their 2018 Awards. Steph’s personal favourite is a community art project where communities can share what they are thankful for and learn about benefits of practicing gratitude. https://www.creativeconscience.org.uk/winners/gabriela-matouskova/ Nats is excited to be working with the creator of a memory book for dementia sufferers and their families https://www.creativeconscience.org.uk/winners/adam-welton/ Why not visit these and then choose your favourite?

Social & Local engage the IPA and Young Creative Council in helping award winners to get their feet under the table.

Creative Conscience, IPA, Social Value, Social Business Mentoring
Everyone knows that we bang on about the impact our industry could potentially have on changing the world if only it put its mind to it! So, we are thrilled that on July 4th the IPA in association with the Young Creative Council kindly agreed to host an event for Creative Conscience Award winners in the hallowed halls of Grosvenor Square. The event brought together some young inspirational creatives already in adland to talk to winners about the opportunities and pathways into advertising and were able to hear about the passion and capability young talented people have for doing good and pursuing rewarding careers. YCC’s Charlotte Kushi said: It was a great event to be part of, and all the work Creative Concience and the IPA are doing is great. I & the YCC are really passionate about inspiring the next generation so let us know if there’s anything else to get involved with.

Attendees were also impressed and informed:

“I didn’t realise the ad industry was ‘good’ and put on events like this just to help young people out.”

“There are so many more routes into a job than I thought, and it’s ok to be me.”

“I didn’t know much about advertising. It’s quite exciting.” (from a young children’s book illustrator)

“Advertising is so much more diverse than I thought.”

BITC Applaud Business Model

Social Business, Social Value Agency, Social Entrepreneurs
We recently had occasion to enter our business model for a BITC award – relating to ageing workforce and ageism. As you know this is one of the aspects that we try to address as a social business. Whilst we didn’t win (perhaps some way to go as yet), there is some lovely feedback which I am sharing in the spirit of our collaborations on all things Social.

“Social and Local is an impressive business with a great social mission. The assessors were impressed by the all-encompassing purpose that drives Social and Local to solve societal issues, particularly in areas that the sector is lacking. There is strong business case which is unique to the business. It is clear that Social and Local have very strong leadership from the top, which is necessary for responding to the ageing workforce and ageism. It was clear to the assessors that Social and Local lives and breathes their brand, and have strong engagement with key people both within their sector and beyond. There’s no denying that this business model is innovative and has had a positive impact on the advertising industry. The overall approach the business has taken in its sector is admirable and a beacon to the wider industry. Social and Local’s work is very inspiring, with clear evidence of both high-level impact on government policy and the wider sector, and lower level impact in terms of the individual support given to entrepreneurs.”

Social & Local bursary winner launches The Vantola Rucksack

Social Value Bursary, Social Value Award, Social Value Project
Billy Homan one of our sponsored Social Entrepreneurs launched his Vantola brand in July with its first ever product, the “cyclists” Rucksack. Designed by cyclists, created for explorers, the design is unique allowing users to customize to their individual need. Vantola has charitable giving running through its DNA5% of the profits made from its range will go to brand connected charities offering educational travel trips for children. Perhaps one day they will mirror the success of Tom’s Shoes. I’m optimistic! So, if there are any avid explorers amongst you then to find out more or buy a superb, British made Vantola rucksack please visit his support page here. and …give our Billy a headstart.

IPA Lunch & Learn – Social Impact in the Ad World

Yesterday we had the privilege of being invited to share how our Social Business model works with the full team at the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising. We sometimes forget that Social Business as the new black has yet to take hold and be understood as a concept for the many. Our talk was designed to inspire others to take the model seriously, not as a philanthropic gesture but as a true commercial opportunity. Of course, Social Businesses come in a whole range of shapes and sizes, but they share a mission to use business to generate profit and to solve some of the world’s biggest problems. It’s encouraging that NatWest reports that the top 100 fastest growing social businesses worldwide achieved record-breaking 951% average growth in turnover in 2015/16 and recorded £1.3B in profits in the most recent financial year. (This of course far outstrips the sales growth posted by Britain’s top FTSE 100). It’s interesting too that the Social Business model is beginning to take hold in the media sector, with companies like oneOeight TV growing like topsy. We note with glee that the UK Government has recently (October 16) developed a cross-governmental strategy to position the UK as a global centre for the social economy. Our mission is to demonstrate that a Social Business in the brand communications industry can be profitable, mainstream and sustainable. It is rooted in the belief that there are big commercial prizes to match the social benefits offered by such a model. And by doing things holistically, with social value running through everything we are and do, this kind of model can also answer some of the problems our industry itself is facing. How can the industry reclaim its magnetism as having long term strategic vision, work-life balance and job security? How can a world that is overtaken by big corporate beasts offer a flavour to its clients that is not vanilla – and avoid being commoditised? How does the ad industry recruit, develop and retain the right new talent when millennials want to change the world and make an impact by doing something meaningful? And finishing on that note, perhaps we can inspire you by sharing some stories of our own – examples of how our profit share goes to fund young creative talent to make a difference in the world. How Billy the Rucksack has been given funding support to set up his new online Social Business, how Damiano the filmmaker is creating a conversation about hate crimes in the UK with our support, how we are helping Fatma to captured the attention of the design world with her creative work on female genital mutilation – and so on and so forth.