This week, we were enormously honoured to have been invited to run a workshop for Amazon’s Launchpad, specifically for their exciting and hugely prized Sustainable Accelerator Project. With each of the twelve businesses we presented to selected from over one thousand applicants to win a prized place on the 12-week business accelerator programme, it was a fantastic opportunity – that’s not even including being based in the extremely groovy Shoreditch Amazon offices for a morning – and of course, an inspiring time for the team.
Running a workshop centring on Brand, Marketing, and PR & Comms, the engagement was positive, and the dialogue encouraging, making for a lively session which presented us with lots of opportunities to talk passionately about the importance of what we do for a living. We are champions of great consistent comms and work hard to prove daily to our clients that strategic PR can really pack a punch. PR & Comms done well and ‘married’ with all the other essential business elements in place is an incredibly powerful and affordable tool for young businesses, especially for those in the initial stages of their business life.
Tracking back to the essentialism of great basic commercial priorities and the importance of only investing in PR & Comms if you really know what you need to get out of it commercially were factors that we continued to instil in our audience. As a result, conversations ranged from founder profiling, the formula for viral campaigns, and the risk associated with stunt-based PR. Amongst these topics, the simple matter of winning hearts and minds remained a key theme for these businesses that operated entirely in the sustainability space – where of course, the environment of greenwashing and overclaiming remains a massive crucial factor in creating awareness and engagement. It is essential for these brands to gain TRUST to gain loyalty and the chance of a repeat purchase. So, with trust paramount in the life of a new business, PR & Comms can be in fact a crucial part of your business.
Trust is central to all our lives right now, especially following this morning’s “Party Gate” showcasing front and centre that the nations’ patience and appetite to TRUST the country’s leadership – no matter what colour badge they wear – is at its lowest ebb ever. Not only this, but one of my personal favourite annual reports, The Edelman Trust Barometer, has also recently reported how TRUST has become such an important commodity despite being eroded from the old school institutions by the appalling behaviour of our leadership.
On a depressing note, the failure of leadership is transforming DISTRUST into the default position for us all with my 16-year-son frequently commenting when listening to our ‘elected leadership’ that “if that’s the best we can do, Mum, we really are all doomed!”. He has a point. However, as the optimist, spending two hours locked in a room with twelve young founders and their teams this week planted an incredible spirit of hope, reinforcing the important outlook of new businesses driving critical change. Talking to this group of young, passionate, and purposeful individuals was indeed a timely and incredibly privileged opportunity.
Interestingly, The Edelman Trust Barometer states that almost half of respondents believe that companies are not doing enough to address societal problems with leaders failing when it comes to hugely important global issues. Examples include climate change, economic inequality, and workforce reskilling. We do carry the power to make a difference and to join the growing movement for better business practices in all areas of our business. (Did we tell you, we are at the validation stage for our B Corp accreditation?)
Quoting Shakespeare, Stormzy says “Heavy is the head that wears the crown” and it’s true – with so many prominent issues to overcome, we look to businesses to drive change, setting new examples of success we all hunger for.
I, for one, can attest to the enormous weight of responsibility that running a small independent business carries. Change is happening across so many areas of our ‘world’, and it is vital that we remain focused on the real priorities. We can’t do it all and so focusing on the small, tangible changes we can make each day remains a mantra of mine.
Back in the Amazon session, I laboured the importance of identifying key audiences and remaining consistent in that focus, the message and of course, its engagement. And ahead of that, without any shadow of a doubt, I shared that the priority for all businesses, regardless of size, should be one thing – its people.
With so much of the UK’s economy relying on the service industry, it’s a fact – people are central to this structure. Our people represent our voice, they are ambassadors to the outer world. As a result, keeping them close and engaged is the most important job for any leader today. However, understanding what they want, need and how to support them in their working lives and time under your leadership while delivering business targets is a constant challenge in today’s climate. The great resignation has hit us all, yet Edelman says much of this isn’t reflected in their report findings. In fact, only 11% of British employees say they have quit their job or taken a sabbatical in the last 2 years. With this, interestingly just 12% of those not furloughed or made unemployed by Covid-19 say that have started a new job in this period. So, go figure?
My personal belief remains that building TRUST ‘at home’ can permeate far beyond your business and into the mainstream. With trust in a leader or employer, good things can happen or at least can be easily achieved. Without it, it can be an uphill struggle and won’t work. Because of this, I stress that trust is a two-way thing and must be worked at and invested in to achieve. At Siren, our Covid-19 working lives and hybrid set-up made that challenging, in some areas more than others. Despite this, I am more than pleased that Team Siren will be moving to ‘gather’ more regularly in one space over the coming months. Thankfully, our team will be able to collaborate again, giggle uncontrollably together at something silly, and read the ‘extras’ in the face to face communication. Importantly, we will be able to create and engineer that trust again, being able to move freely to realise our ambition and potential.
And with that, I’ll end with a brilliant quote that I remind myself of daily –
People will forget what you did but they will never forget how you made them feel.
– Maya Angelou