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 

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

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.

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.