Reflections of a Mad Man in Furlough

This morning I decided to trot my dog Molly into the City as my diary is clear.

I had heard on the grapevine that a small Italian Coffee Shop (aptly called Solo Grano) was open for business and was dying for a pukka Cappuccino and as the sun was already blazing at 8.30am wanted to imagine myself in Athens as I should have been had it not been for lockdown.

The City was quiet except for a lonesome street-dweller and a clutch of construction workers pressing on with the development of City Centre flats and student accommodation. The City was clean and bright, its ancient mix of medieval (think Robin Hood) and Victorian splendour standing proud in the morning sunshine.

I’d clocked the little independent Italian coffee shop opening about a year ago, but had never visited. Perhaps habitually I was attuned to grabbing a Costa from the large soul-less café on the corner or worse going for the dispensed version at Sainsbury’s Local. This morning was different – they were closed. Social distancing observed, I bought my coffee for £2.25 (same price as Costa) served by the smiling (and rather good looking) young Roman at Solo Grano – a small wrapped biscuit (nod to our wonderful client the Food Standards Agency) placed beside it and vowed to reward his endeavours by becoming a loyal and returning customer. 

Wondering about in Market Square almost alone other than the local mad MOD (now 75) driving his 3 wheeler version of a Vespa through the fountains fully adorned with badges, St. Georges flags and multiple other paraphernalia, I looked about.

The once heaving big corporate retail brands – Debenhams, New Look, Burton/Dorothy Perkins, Primark, Costa, Starbucks, Café Nero – were closed and empty, their large windows plastered with tacky discount posters, their displays a season old, the goods uninviting.

I wondered (and hoped) that beyond COVID and subject to some real common sense on behalf of the Council in terms of business rates, and taking advantage of all these emerging new flats, now might be the big moment for a resurgence of the Independent and family owned business able to flex and be versatile in times of crisis bringing back truly differentiated service with personality and individualism to the citizens of our City.   I’m in.

5 things you should know about Adrian Hosford, Non-Executive Director

  1. People and pets: My wife Hilary, 3 grown children Dan, Zara & Anna and 5 grandchildren Alma, Heidi, Rose, Max & Robin.
  2. Favourite (communications) campaign: Strange to say, one of mine – but I was just the Client – the genius was the late David Abbott who created BT’s “It’s good to talk”. Brilliant because it captured the essence of the brand, a fundamental insight, a big profound idea built on a universal truth and a compelling call to action. Solid evidence proved it worked beyond our wildest expectations, helping to change the culture and behaviour of a nation and the bottom line.
  3. Quote to live by: It’s not what happens to you that matters but how you respond – we always have options
  4. Something we don’t know about you: I once lived on the Thames for a damp year
  5. Why the Social Life Matters: People work best when they achieve a balance in their life that works with their priorities and preferences. Judge on their output not the input.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/adrian-hosford-b04b2212/

#SocialLife #socialbusiness #social&local 

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 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!

https://www.linkedin.com/in/kathy-kielty-7331448/

#SocialLife #socialbusiness #social&local 

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. 

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. 

https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephanie-drakes-5201761b

#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!

https://www.linkedin.com/in/natalierichards/

#SocialLife #socialbusiness #social&local 

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