Marketing for the TikTok generation

Marketing for the TikTok generation

Sonya Gonzalez Mier is an award-winning brand strategist with nine years of experience working on prestigious FMCG brands such as Müller, Henkel and Ferrero, both nationally and internationally. Alongside her professional journey, Sonya has cultivated a strong presence as a Marketing Educator on TikTok, focusing on making marketing fun and assessable for everyone, which has amassed a dedicated following of over 60,000 individuals.

Inspired by her vibrant online community, Sonya’s upcoming book aims to consolidate and expand on the topics and questions she has been addressing on TikTok. Her pocket guide will be an extension of her online content, distilling marketing’s most important concepts into easily digestible chapters, making marketing even more accessible.

In this captivating podcast episode, we’re introducing Sonya Gonzalez Mier, a talented brand strategist and the esteemed author behind the book mar·ket·ing. Together, we’ll explore Sonya’s path to becoming a TikTok Creator and her unwavering dedication to democratizing marketing knowledge for everyone.

Join us as we delve into the perceptions of our industry from an outsider’s perspective, shedding light on the key challenges that newcomers, clients, and entrepreneurs encounter in the realm of marketing. In this episode, we will discuss the hurdles marketing faces with today’s generation and provide actionable solutions to attract and retain exceptional minds, nurturing the future generation of marketing experts.

Sonya Gonzalez Mier

Marketing Strategist

Podcast questions:

  1. How did you end up becoming a TikTok Creator?
  2. What are the key challenges your audience highlights when it comes to Marketing?
  3. What are our industry’s key challenges in attracting and retaining brilliant minds?
  4. What was your main motivation for writing your book?
  5. What are your future plans to make marketing more accessible for all?

Podcast transcript here:

Disclaimer: this is an automated transcript. Please don’t call the grammar police on us. You never know, we may have ChatGPT writing our next one…

Asif Choudry (00:07):

Hello and welcome to another episode in the You’re my CommsHero podcast. And I’m your host, Asif Choudry. Today my guest is Sonya Gonzalez Mier. Sonya is an award-winning brand strategist with nine years of experience working on prestigious F M C G brands such as Muller, Henkel, and Ferrero. Uh, everyone loves Ferrero, don’t they? Ferrero Che, um, both nationally and internationally. Uh, alongside her professional journey, Sonia’s cultivated a strong presence as a marketing educator on TikTok, focusing on making marketing fun and accessible for everyone, which has amassed dedicated following of over 60,000 individuals. Amazing that. So inspired by her vibrant online community, Sonya’s upcoming book aims to consolidate and expand on the topics and questions she has been addressing on TikTok itself. Her pocket guide will be an extension of her online content, distilling marketing’s most important concepts into easily digestible chapters, making marketing even more accessible. So thanks for joining me, Sonya, and it’s great to welcome you as a guest on the podcast.

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (01:11):

Thank you so much for having me. And when you read it like that, it sounds a lot more impressive than it feels like. But yeah, thank you so much for having me,

Asif Choudry (01:21):

<laugh>. It’s very impressive. You’re gonna be, you’ve got a book coming out, you’ve got a very successful TikTok account and you’re demystifying and debunking a lot of the, um, ways that people learn marketing, which is great. You know, it can only be only, only be positive for the comms and marketing and PR community. So we’re gonna do a bit of getting to know you, um, Sonya, first of all, before we get into the crux of the podcast, which I’ll come on to later. Um, but we’re recording, um, at the beginning of August and you are, uh, uh, not based in the uk Tell share with the listeners where you’re actually based.

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (01:57):

So, uh, I’m currently based in Seoul, uh, South Korea. Um, but I was based in the UK for over 12 years, uh, actually, so I’ve just recently moved here, um, kind of going international. Um, I always had an interest in, in Asia and working in the Asian market, so, uh, I thought this is a good time to do the jump. Um, and yeah, here I’m so from across the world.

Asif Choudry (02:25):

Excellent. So tell us then, Sonya, what’s your most placed song on your Spotify at the moment?

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (02:33):

Um, so I actually, I actually wrote down too, ’cause my, um, my <laugh> my music taste is quite varied, but, um, for those who might be interested in like Asian artists while I’m in Asia, um, I can have you recommend an artist called Eric namm, uh, American Korean. Um, he sings in English and my favorite song at the moment is called Wildfire. Um, and for those who might be interested in writing a book or have like a big project coming up, um, the second song I’m currently having on loop is called Daydream by Lily, uh, Meola. And it’s really like poppy and very motivational, so definitely worthless.

Asif Choudry (03:16):

Excellent. I love that question. ’cause it’s just, it gets, um, most people are quite an eclectic, uh, music taste and it’s so varied, so it’s really nice to to, to just hear that. ’cause it gives a little insight into, uh, each individual. So I’m gonna ask you, so which three people would you invite to dinner and why?

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (03:37):

Um, so I was thinking about this question quite a lot. It’s, it’s kind of a typical question on, on getting to know people, but I find it’s one of the hardest ones. Um, I actually don’t have a very impressive, impressive list to share, but it is genuinely people that I would love to have dinner with and I think would insight interesting conversations. So the first person is, uh, my old mentor and professor from my undergrad degree. His name is Ray Hold and he kind of, uh, got me into marketing initially. Uh, second one would be my mom. Um, I’d love to bring onto the like to the table, um, table because I think she would learn a lot from, um, from Ray. And the third person I’m inviting, which is Michael mpo. Uh, Michael Impo was my first marketing manager slash cmo, uh, and my first marketing job. And I think it would be a great conversation to have between like the academic side of things and the practical side of things. And hopefully my mom would sit in between both of them finally understanding what I actually do on an everyday basis. Yeah,

Asif Choudry (04:47):

<laugh> excellent. She’ll learn what, what it is that you do. We’ll have to do a follow up podcast and we’ll get your mom on as well. So some really good answers there. So that, that’ll be an interesting one for sure. So, and finally then, Sonya, three words to describe you.

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (05:02):

Um, I’m very passionate. I think that’s what most people would describe me as. Um, but I’m a massive traveler and I’m a massive foodie as well. So, uh, yeah, a lot of solo traveling. Uh, just seeing different cultures I find extremely inspiring and I’m always hungry. So, you know, <laugh>, foodie, foodie needs to be one of the attributes mentioned there.

Asif Choudry (05:27):

Yeah. Great. So I’ve gotta ask you before I move on from figure skating to marketing content creator, when I was going through your TikTok account, the you in one of the actual videos you’re doing, um, and I’m sure there’s a technical, uh, term for this, but I’m gonna say one of those spins that you go around as an ice skater figure skater really fast, which was really impressive. So tell us more. You’ve got to share some more about that with us.

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (05:53):

So Yes. Um, so I, I was a professional figure skater for 13 years. Um, I started when I was five years old and, um, I went all the way up to nationals and international competitions. Um, I had to stop when I was 18 years old ’cause of an a knee injury, which sort of coincided with making plans about university. And, um, my mom actually wanted me to become an accountant, so she thought it would be best for me to go study business. Um, and so that’s kind of how I transitioned from figure skater to, to the world of marketing. Um, thankfully the accounting didn’t quite work out. Um, so I ended up in marketing, but, um, I, I’m, I kind of still dabble here and there I go from time to time, I, I have a coaching license actually, and I also have a judging license. So from time to time I still kind of go to competitions and try and contribute to the community as much as I can.

Asif Choudry (06:56):

Amazing. And I recommend all the listeners go to Sonya’s TikTok account and have a look. It’s phenomenal. Um, so thank you for that and I’ve enjoyed getting to know you a bit more and I’m sure the listeners will have done as well. So, um, so the title of this podcast then Sonya, is marketing for the TikTok Generation, and Sonya’s the esteemed author behind the book marketing. So, uh, Marquette ing is PR pronounced on the book. So we’re going to explore Sonya’s path to becoming a TikTok, uh, creator and her unwavering dedication to democratizing marketing knowledge for everyone. And we’re gonna delve into the perceptions of our industry from an outsider’s perspective, shedding light on the key challenges that newcomers clients and entrepreneurs encounter in the realm of marketing. And in this episode, we’re going to discuss the hurdles marketing faces with today’s generation and provide actionable solutions to attract and retain exceptional minds nurturing the future generation of marketing experts. So a lot to unpack there. So let’s get on with the first question then, Sonya. So how did you actually end up becoming a TikTok creator?

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (08:02):

Uh, that’s a really great question. Um, so I actually, so when the pandemic hit, like everyone, I think everybody’s sort of flocked onto onto TikTok at the time. And, uh, I remember that the algorithm quite quickly figured out that I was interested in marketing and tried to serve me marketing content, but it was all focused on social media marketing. And at the time I was working at a company called Britain’s Biscuits, which later got required by acquired by Ferrero. And it really frustrated me because I was working on product marketing and brand strategy. And I always thought that, you know, the public perception of marketing was just social media marketing basically, and TV advertising. And I just need, I wanted an outlet. I wanted to tell people what I do on an everyday basis, you know, how we look at packaging and pricing and, uh, targeting consumers and all of the different other beautiful parts of marketing.

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (09:03):

And so I started posting about how I developed tape. Um, so in my previous com um, in my previous role I worked at Henkel and I worked on cell tape, the brand cell tape. And, um, I developed the first fully compostable cell tape, which is called, uh, zero Plastic. You can Buy It in Stores today if you like, <laugh>, and a lot of work it went into it. And I just basically started uploading videos about how I developed that tape, um, and how I marketed that tape and how I brought to market that tape. And I thought nobody would care and, you know, millions of views prove me wrong. It kind of went viral overnight and people were just asking me all these questions like, oh my God. Like, I never realized how much thought went into developing a product like this, a marketing, a product like this. And I kind of realized like, there’s a lot of people interested in marketing that don’t quite know about marketing enough, but want to know more. And so that’s how I kind of started my TikTok account. So from then it kind of spiraled into spiral giving tips and tricks and kind of, um, debunking a lot of myths about marketing and kind of going into consumer behavior and psychology and things like that. So that’s kind of how I became a online influencer or creator I guess you could call it.

Asif Choudry (10:32):

That’s brilliant. That, so cell tape as well. So a brand everybody knows, I’m sure all the listeners will know it and have used it. And so you are behind Zero Plastic, the compostable version. So I’m big on sustainability, so that’s quite, um, I I feel even more honored being in your presence now on the podcast. So that’s fantastic. And just that desire to share, you kind of share a lot of the qualities that the Comms Zero community is all about, which is sharing best practice. And I found that within the community itself, it it’s an inherent na natural, uh, instinct, uh, and behavior within comms people to want to share best practice. And you’ve, um, become a TikTok creator by actually having that same passion as many do so good on you for actually doing something about it and, and helping lots of other people as well. So what we found then are the key challenges your audience highlight when it comes to marketing <affirmative>.

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (11:28):

Mm. Yeah, that’s, that’s an interesting question. ’cause initially I was really confused on who might find my videos actually interesting. And I just asked them the question like, you know, where are you guys at? What are you doing? And what are the things that you’re interested in? And there were two main groups that kind of emerged. One was, um, people that are studying or, or thinking about entering the marketing industry but don’t know, don’t know where to start. Um, a lot of them maybe haven’t studied marketing or maybe are choosing their studies at the moment. Um, and they just felt like marketing was this walled garden that it was so hard to get into. And I don’t know if you have a similar experience, but I actually asked a lot of my colleagues like, what did you study? And a lot of them actually didn’t study marketing or strategy at university.

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (12:20):

A lot of them studied, um, you know, maybe English literature or completely, you know, unrelated studies. And then kind of by accident almost slipped into the career of marketing. Um, and so a lot of, a lot of people that were following me at the time were basically students or people trying to enter the career. Um, and the second ones were actually professionals that had been in the career for, for a while, but that had narrowed down a little bit too quickly. And, and what I mean with that is that a lot of people enter marketing, um, on a very specific subset of marketing. So a lot of people maybe enter into PR or into, um, social media, let’s say, and then they never really have the chance to dabble into all the other parts of marketing, like research or, you know, um, booking media, you know, all of those other beautiful parts that compromise marketing. And so for them, if they then wanna change careers, let’s say, or if they even wanna just learn something about those other types of marketing, it can be quite difficult for them to break into that. And so that was kind of the second group of people that were following me that had maybe never really heard about brand strategy or product marketing and didn’t quite know what it was and were just interested in it, um, and started following me ’cause of that.

Asif Choudry (13:44):

Yeah, and that’s quite interesting that you mentioned that because I find that certainly over the years I’ve, I I, I’ve been a marketer for probably 28 years now, and I’ve found that the disciplines have changed that people go into this profession very much in specialist areas where marketing was more of a generalist, uh, profession, where you were getting, um, uh, an opportunity to work in different aspects of, of the actual profession itself, primarily because you didn’t have social media managers. And that seems to be the biggest attraction of marketing nowadays, rather than say the pure marketing, which is the strategic marketing or the research elements and all the things that used to happen before social media, they’re not that kind of attractive element of it. So bearing that in mind then, what do you think our, uh, profession, um, within the marketing profession, what are the key challenges then in attracting and retaining those brilliant minds?

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (14:43):

So I think there’s two parts to it. So attracting, I think when it comes to attracting new talent into the industry, there’s, we definitely have to address the, the bad rep that marketing gets, surprisingly enough. You know, we market everything from tomatoes to toothpaste, but we can’t seem to market ourselves very well as a profession, as an industry. And a lot of people still see us as, you know, uh, manipulators, you know, people that basically hypnotize you into buying something. Um, and so I think that’s, that’s definitely one, uh, stereotype, which I’m trying to break on my channel specifically about, you know, I, I cannot make you buy anything that you don’t have already a preference for, you know, um, or some sort of conditioning for. Um, so there’s definitely a lot of bad prep, um, when it comes to that. And even now I see it happening with social media.

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (15:40):

It’s interesting that you mentioned social media as one of the, uh, main sort of pathways for people to enter the industry, but you know, even with the rise of influencer marketing, um, that also seems to be starting to get a little bit of a bad rep. And so that’s definitely something that we need to address as an industry. And I think by broadening people’s mindset about what marketing actually entails, I think that is a key way to addressing that. Um, and the second one is about retaining. So from, and, and this is maybe solely based on personal experience, and I hope it kind of resonates with the listeners, but what I have experienced is that there’s definitely a big difference between what I call the old guard and the new guard. And it’s not necessarily generational, but I think it’s because marketing has changed so rapidly in the last 10, 15 years that, um, a lot of people that are now in like how higher management positions have learned, you know, the old older techniques and I maybe not as open to new channels or new approaches, whereas the new generation and, and the new people that are coming into, into the industry are maybe are not necessarily following the, you know, university curriculum of marketing, as you said, um, which can be quite outdated, uh, sometimes, but they, they look at it more from a societal, um, perspective.

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (17:09):

Um, and they use marketing in that way. And so I think there, that’s where a lot of the clashes, uh, and at the workplace, uh, tend to happen. It’s people looking around the younger generations and the fresh blood may be looking around them and being like, no, that’s actually how I want to be marketed to, and that’s how we should market our products. Whereas the older generations are maybe a little bit more traditional in their approach when it comes to marketing. So I have seen a lot of people, um, even in my nine year career career, I’ve seen a lot of people actually drop out of the industry, um, because of that, um, tension. And, um, I would love to keep them in the industry because they’re brilliant and they have a voice that should be heard.

Asif Choudry (17:59):

Absolutely. And it’s interesting you mentioned things like the, um, comms hero itself as a community exists to celebrate the heroics that comms marketing and PR people perform every day because they are inherently, certainly in my experience, and the, uh, the admission of many of the people in the community forget to focus on celebrating their own achievements. And that’s in itself led to the reason the profession is not necessarily, um, regarded in the senior status that it should be strategic status, um, as opposed to being the coloring in department and things like that basically. So, um, there are lots of work to do, but it’s happening and, you know, things like this will help it to continue that way. And it’s important to retain that talent because we don’t want that talent coming out of the sector and out of the profession and out of the industry, um, because it is a fantastic profession to be in.

Asif Choudry (18:51):

So, you know, we hope that, um, the work that you are doing and what Comm Zero are doing are helping some way, uh, even if it’s just a small contribution towards people, uh, understanding the profession and, and wanting to be in it. Um, and hopefully one day it’s gonna be right up there with, um, being a career path of choice, just as much as being a, a TikTok influencer or YouTube influencer or whatever else it might be. We certainly hope so. Um, something to aspire to, I’m sure, for us all. So we talked to, you’ve got an upcoming book then, uh, Sonia. So what was your main motivation then for writing the book? Because after nine years in marketing, it’s fantastic. It’s a great achievement that you’ve, um, you know, uh, put yourself forward and done that as we have an expression in Comm Zero, dare to Fail that moment of I’m gonna do this. And, uh, you’ve, you’ve gone and done that. So what was the motivation for writing it?

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (19:44):

For writing it? Yeah. So by the time that this podcast is out, I believe the the book will be out. Um, I what is the motivation behind writing a book? I mean, <laugh>, um, I have to say, I have to answer this question quite selfishly in a way that I wrote this book for myself, <laugh>, um, because I wish a book like that would have existed when I started my marketing career. And, um, what I realized through like the audiences and all the questions that I was usually getting on TikTok was that a lot of people were looking for the same sort of book that I was looking for when I started the career. And it, it’s basically taking a lot of the questions that I’ve answered in, you know, 30 seconds, 45 seconds, but just expanding on that and, and, um, adding additional richness to, to my answers.

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (20:36):

Because until now, whenever a lot of people, you know, when people would approach me and ask like, where do I even start? Um, there’s actually not that much literature to point to. Um, funnily enough, I mean, of course, as someone who studied marketing, there’s a lot of academic literature that I could point to, you know, like Cutler and Porter and all of those, you know, brilliant business minds. Yeah. But who’s gonna read those books? <laugh>. Um, and then on the other side, um, you have things like how brands grow, for example, right? Um, but then the rest becomes a little bit more, uh, business entrepreneurial literature I would call it. So things like Gary V let’s say, um, like Crush It and, and books like that. Um, which don’t necessarily only focus on marketing, but they focus on a wider picture, right? And so I, um, I was inspired because I actually considered, I I I’m still considering, um, going back to university and, and, and studying psychology.

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (21:39):

’cause that’s one of the things in marketing that I’m really fascinated by. And I wrote this book, uh, I bought this book called 50 Things You Need To Know in Psychology, because I was, I was like, Hmm, I just wanna dip my toe into the topic and see if I’m really interested in psychology as a whole, or maybe just behavioral marketing. And it has these kind of bite-sized chapters on each of the main themes within psychology. And as I was reading it, um, I was like, I wish something like this existed for marketing. And so that’s how I kind of ended up writing my book. It’s, um, it’s 50 chapters, which sounds a lot, but each chapter is only about 1,500 words, 2000 words long. So when you read, it’s about five minutes, and it basically just goes through kind of everything you need to know, like the main topics of marketing.

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (22:34):

So all the way from fundamentals, like how to set a budget, you know, what, what do we need to think about when we think about marketing ethics, for example, to the six piece, what do they mean and how do we actually apply them? Um, looking at how to do market analysis, what are like the frameworks that I learned in school, but then also actually used at work, which, you know, combining the academic and, and the practical things, looking at all the different comms channels and how to actually set up successful campaigns, what things to, to think about, and then all the way down to like, marketing measurements and, and how to actually, which KPIs to actually look at and, and how to set it up correctly. So it’s supposed to be really an entry level guide for people that are interested in marketing, but equally valuable for people who might be, uh, niched down on one part of marketing and want to find out about other parts of marketing as well.

Asif Choudry (23:34):

Excellent. And, um, we’ll make sure we include in the show notes, the, the, your links as well. And, um, uh, nothing subliminal about this message, but by Sonya’s book, it’s as simple as that <laugh> because there probably isn’t anything that exists like that. So, um, you know, props to you for, for, for doing that as well. So, um, so what then, uh, Sonya are your future plans to make marketing more accessible for us all?

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (24:01):

Um, there’s lots left to do as you know, you know, there’s no end to the Comm Hero podcast. Um, there’s lots to do and kind of elevating our profession. So kind of the next steps are, once the book is out, um, I’m actually gonna create a little series on my TikTok, uh, going through the chapters one more time and kind of creating a, a video version, I guess, of the chapters. Um, there will also be an audiobook and, um, we’re actually planning to start a podcast on it as well. So going through each of the chapters and bringing in an expert on that specific topic or framework, um, and basically just having a chat through that. So that’s that, putting it into video, putting it into audio, putting it into podcasting. Um, and then, um, one of my continuous site projects is, is guest lecturing. Um, I love guest lecturing. Um, I have guest lectured at multiple universities in the past, past, and I would love to continue doing so, um, in the future. So that’s kind of the, the outside world, uh, activities that I’m gonna do to hopefully inspire the next generation of brilliant marketeers.

Asif Choudry (25:14):

Brilliant. That’s great. And I hope Comm Zero Week 2024 will get you on as a virtual, um, speaker to come and join us and, uh, help educate our community as well. So, um, hopefully you’ll, uh, join us for that when we’re, when we’re planning that next year, but we’re planning the current one now, so, um, I’ll certainly be in touch with you, um, about that. So Sonia, it’s been, uh, amazing to go through that, um, information. So you are, you’re, you’re new to the Comm Comms Zero community, so how did you first come across, uh, comms Zero itself?

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (25:48):

Yes. So, um, I actually came across comms. I am, I’m certainly new to it, but now that I’ve, uh, kind of delved into it, I’m, I’m in love with it. I’ll definitely be an active member moving forward. Um, actually, uh, one of my colleagues went to one of your events, uh, in the past and told me about it, said it was absolutely brilliant, and that’s how I ended up, uh, following you on LinkedIn, I believe, um, and kind of just trying to keep a tabs on what was going on and when the next event was gonna happen. And, um, and then, yeah, obviously we got in touch, um, for this podcast. So, so far everything I’ve seen about it is absolutely brilliant. Um, I think it’s such a great initiative and I’m super happy to be part of it. So thank you so much for having me.

Asif Choudry (26:33):

You’re welcome. And it’s great to have people like you in the community to using your vast influence that you have of over 60,000 followers to keep sharing the message and spread the word on, um, making the profession a, a, a one that’s desirable and people don’t fall into anymore. So, um, you know, it’s been an amazing conversation, lots of great stuff for our listeners to take away, but what’s important for us is that connection and networking and building the community. So where will our listeners find you then, Sonya? What are your social handles? Where can they go to?

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (27:06):

So the best way is to please connect with me on LinkedIn, um, you know, and just say hi. Um, my connections are open and, um, if you, if you’re interested, then please follow my, my TikTok and check it out. Uh, be an active, uh, viewer and contributor, ask you a question, say hi, and I’ll love to see you there.

Asif Choudry (27:29):

Amazing. And we will include those links in the show notes and, um, uh, links to the, you know, people to follow you and you’ll be promoting when the book is actually launched. So we’ll look forward to that. And maybe there’s some signed copies in a competition coming their way at some point. So let’s, let’s wait and see. Let’s wait and see. Um, you’ll find this podcast on Spotify, apple or your chosen platform and on our website com Uh, you can follow us on Twitter at com, zero or x. Do I have to call it X now or do I call it Twitter still? I’m probably always gonna call it Twitter. Um, and if you do listen on Apple or Spotify, please leave a rating and review and hit the follow and subscribe button so you get the new episodes as they come out every two weeks. So Sonya, thank you so much for your time joining us from Soul, uh, about to move in the next 24 hours and a broken foot. So everything, all worlds have collided and that means, but that’s one way out of getting, um, out of the actual moving of house and getting someone else to do it. So good on you. But good luck with that recovery and thanks for your time.

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (28:34):

Thank you so much for having me.

50 years of comms and better lives at NCHA

50 years of comms and better lives at NCHA

About the episode...

Nottingham Community Housing Association, known as NCHA, has been around since 1973. From small beginnings, they’ve grown organically and now house more than 20,000 people across the East Midlands. They provide over a million hours of care and support services a year, and have an ambitious development programme for new homes.

This year, it’s their 50th birthday, marking half a century of delivering better lives for local people.

In this podcast, three guests from NCHA will be talking about how the role of the Communications and Engagement team has developed in third sector organisations. They’ll be covering what the priorities need to be to make sure these organisations thrive for another 50 years.

About the guests...

Nicki Kirkup

Head of Communications and Engagement.

She looks after the team, which includes comms, digital, marketing and PR, and makes sure the work of the team aligns with corporate and sector strategy. She loves to travel, loves live music, and is someone you can definitely count on to win a pop quiz!

Kat Collins

PR and Stakeholder Engagement

A vast experience in public relations. The changing perception of housing associations present new challenges, which she rises to by maximising positive engagement with external stakeholders. She’s naturally creative, loves walks and getting into a good DIY project.

Robyn Burke

Social Media and Digital Content Specialist

She’s passionate about being creative and finding new ways to showcase what NCHA do. When she’s not at work, she’s usually reading Malcolm Gladwell books, exercising or planning her next snowboarding trip.

Podcast questions:

  1. In NCHA’s 50 year history how do you think the role of a comms professional has changed?
  2. Why do you think that’s happened?
  3. How important is it to make sure people can engage with NCHA online?
  4. How have you adapted your social media content strategy to drive this?
  5. What’s your approach to reputation / crisis management?
  6. How do ensure that stakeholders have a good relationship with NCHA?
  7. What are your predictions for the next 50 years?

Podcast transcript here:

Disclaimer: this is an automated transcript. Please don’t call the grammar police on us. You never know, we may have ChatGPT writing our next one…

Asif Choudry (00:07):

Hello, and welcome to another episode in the you’re my CommsHero podcast. And I’m your host, Asif Choudry. Today I have three guests on the podcast. Yes, that is correct. Three. And we’re starting off with, um, Nicki Kirkup, who’s the head of communications and engagement, um, for Nottingham Community Housing Association. All three of the guests are from the organization. So Nicki looks after the team, which includes comms, digital marketing, and pr, and make sure the work of the team aligns with corporate and sector strategy. She looks to travel, loves live music, and is someone you can definitely count on to win a pop quiz. So might be some pop questions Nikki, for you in a bit. Excellent. Um, we also have Kat Collins, who’s the PR stakeholder engagement manager with Vast Experience in Public Relations. The changing perception of housing associations presents new challenges, which she rises to by maximizing positive engagement with external stakeholders.

Asif Choudry (01:03):

She’s naturally creative, loves, walks, and getting into a good DIY project. I’ve got a few of those at Home Cat. So, um, if you’ve got some spare time, uh, that might be helpful for a non d i y alike me. And last, but by no means least Robyn Burke, who is the social media and digital content specialist at NCHA. She’s passionate about being creative and finding new ways to showcase what NCHA do and when she’s not at work, she’s usually reading Malcolm Gladwell books, exercising or planning her next snowboarding trip, and also is one of our first ever comms hero ambassadors this year. So, uh, welcome Nicki Kat and Robyn to the CommsHero podcast.

Nicki Kirkup (01:45):

Thank you. Thanks for having us. Thanks.

Asif Choudry (01:48):

So let’s do the getting to know you bit, um, before we kick off and, uh, into the main crux of the podcast, which I’ll come on to later. So Robin, I’ll start with you then. So, are you an early riser or do you love a lion?

Robyn Burke (02:04):

Oh, I’m not an early bird, I’m afraid. I’d say I need about 30 minutes to get used to the idea of a new day. It’s more of a NightOwl I am.

Asif Choudry (02:12):

Nicky, what about you?

Nicki Kirkup (02:14):

Um, I’m, I’m, I’m an early writer, but mostly because I force myself to be, um, yeah, I get more done in the morning, but it’s, it, it’s, yeah, I’m, I don’t leap out bed, but once I’m up <laugh>, uh, I’m on it. But yeah, somewhere in between probably.

Asif Choudry (02:30):


Kat Collins (02:31):

I think I’m very much the same as Nikki. I am an early riser, but only because I make myself, because of everything I have to do. I think my natural state would just be to stay in bed.

Asif Choudry (02:40):

<laugh>, I love that. Three non early risers. Most people have horsed early risers, aren’t they? So yeah. And there’s this thing that exists, the 5:00 AM club, I dunno if you see that on social media. Oh, yeah, yeah. People talking about the 5:00 AM club. I mean, I get up about that time, but I just think it’s a children thing or make sure, I think Sure.

Nicki Kirkup (02:58):

It’s only acceptable if you, you’re going on holiday if you’ve got a flight to catch

Asif Choudry (03:01):


Robyn Burke (03:02):

Yes. That’s

Kat Collins (03:02):

It. Absolutely. I agree with

Nicki Kirkup (03:03):

That. Anything before six.

Asif Choudry (03:05):

Okay. Let’s ask you this one. This’ll be an interesting one across the three of you. Um, apple or Android? Cat, I’ll start with you.

Kat Collins (03:14):

Android. Ooh, all the way

Asif Choudry (03:17):

<laugh>. God, Nick,

Nicki Kirkup (03:19):

Apple, apple

Asif Choudry (03:21):

And, and Robin

Robyn Burke (03:23):

Apple. Although my colleague the other day had some really great photos from an Android phone, I was tempted, but not quite tempted. So there

Asif Choudry (03:30):

You go. You see, we’ve had, you know, this year in 2023, we’ve had more Android people than, than I’ve probably had in the whole of last year already. Um, so it’s quite interesting that, so yeah, I don’t, I hope that hasn’t caused any internal friction after we finished this recording, but it

Nicki Kirkup (03:44):

Was already there as

Kat Collins (03:45):

It’s a regular combination was

Nicki Kirkup (03:46):

Already there.

Robyn Burke (03:47):


Asif Choudry (03:49):

That’s brilliant. That, so let’s ask, um, we were talking in the, before we went live on the recording, uh, just got into talking about TV and programs and stuff. So, um, box set binging. What’s the, uh, is that something you like doing? And if you do, what’s your current, uh, kind of choices, recommendations to people? So, uh, Nikki, let’s kick off with you on that one.

Nicki Kirkup (04:14):

Yeah. Uh, my, my latest fad is Yellowstone on Paramount. And it’s frustrating that not everybody’s got paramount ’cause it’s one of those programs you just wanna talk about. I really wanna talk about it all the time. It’s, it’s, it’s got everything for me. It’s cowboys and Yeah, beautiful scenery and drama and yeah, it’s a great program. But, um, yeah, I don’t dunno many other people watching it, so,

Asif Choudry (04:37):

So let, let, what about something that the, um, a non paramount viewers, you might have got yourself in the minority there, Nikki, I don’t know, but, uh, you mentioned another one as well, didn’t you? That might be more. Oh,

Nicki Kirkup (04:47):

Succession. I love succession. Succession. I’m very excited. That’s back this week. I don’t, whenever this podcast is there. We’re in April now and, um, no, we’re not in April quite, but I’m, yeah, really excited about series four with succession. It got off with a bang this week.

Asif Choudry (05:01):

Yeah. Robin, how about you?

Robyn Burke (05:04):

Well, to be honest, mainly I do start with kind of more rocom vibes, like Bridgeton and the like, but every, so I surprised myself and go back into a bit of my love, which is like crime drama, right. For a person of interest or the night agent on Netflix. That’s really good. I binged that day.

Asif Choudry (05:18):

I just watched that other day. I binged it really good. Yeah, I binged that all in one go. It’s brilliant. Really good that it is kind of got the, um, uh, designated survivor type thing

Robyn Burke (05:28):

Going on. Yeah, definitely. Yeah. Yeah, definitely.

Asif Choudry (05:31):

Kat, what about you?

Kat Collins (05:32):

Well, I’m at an interesting TV viewing point in my life because my children are now teenagers and don’t go to bed. So we are kind of having to find things that all of us like, which is really challenging actually. So we’ve just finished watching Last of Us, which everybody absolutely loved. Yeah. So that was great. Um, and my daughter and I started watching Daisy Jones last night, which thinks is gonna be good. And it’s interesting as if that you just mentioned Designated Survivor, because that is currently my solo guilty pleasure. Is it <laugh>? Yeah,

Asif Choudry (06:04):

It’s a good one. It’s a good one. There’s so much choice now. I remember the days, uh, when it was four channels and then five and five, the fifth channel, or the fourth channel was like, whoa, look at this. And now there’s just so much to watch, isn’t there? Yeah. So final question. Printed book or ebook, robin?

Robyn Burke (06:22):

Oh, print. Always print. Yeah. I like to hold the finish the finish article in my hands. Yeah. So

Asif Choudry (06:28):

Yeah. Yeah, Nikki

Nicki Kirkup (06:30):

Ebook all the way. I love printed books. I love the look of them. I love the fear of them, but I don’t like them hanging around my house. I don’t like clutter. I don’t like waste. <laugh> and eBooks. You’ve got everything there. You know, you finish your book. That’s true. You have at 10 o’clock at night, and I think, right. What am I ready for now? And I read quite a lot. So, um, yeah, I’m, I’m all about the, I absolutely love my Kindle and I’m, I don’t sleep particularly well, so it’s great for reading in the Dark because it’s

Asif Choudry (06:56):

Got That’s true actually. It’s, it’s

Nicki Kirkup (06:59):

Cat for You Work

Asif Choudry (06:59):

For me,

Kat Collins (07:01):

Absolutely Printed. Um, opposite to Nikki. I actually love having all my books on my shelves. I love, I love seeing all my books. Um, and I love the smell of them. I love the smell of effects.

Asif Choudry (07:12):

There’s something about the smell of print. Anyone who wants to engage in that outside of books, come up to Resource and Leeds and

Kat Collins (07:19):

Have a good sniff.

Asif Choudry (07:20):

Yeah. And have a good sniff. Yeah. The smell of print is a thing. Emails just don’t smell as good, don’t they? Yeah, I

Nicki Kirkup (07:25):

Get it. I

Kat Collins (07:25):

Get it. I would take you up on that invitation as if to come to Le and Smell Print.

Asif Choudry (07:29):

We, we have people who come up and, uh, come and do a site, uh, site visit to see some of their projects hot off the press, which is a really nice thing for comms people because they, you know, you’re doing all the creative or, um, the brainstorming sessions, putting content together, and you never get a chance to see the finished product until everybody else sees it. And that for me is quite a shame for lots of communicators because, you know, seeing things hot off the press is, it’s an amazing experience. And it’s other people that, because I’ve been in the industry for such a long time, it’s other people, the comms, marketing people that I know that find it so satisfying. And when I’ve looked back when people have said that, I get it. I totally get it. But because I’m immersed in it every day, I kind of take it for granted. But it is, it is a nice experience, and just to see something literally hot off the press. Yeah, it’s a great experience. We’ll do that on your next, your next customer magazine or something. We’ll have to arrange that. Brilliant.

Nicki Kirkup (08:24):

Sounds good.

Asif Choudry (08:25):

So, so thanks for sharing that. And we’ve all got to know, including myself, a little bit more about you. But today, um, we’re gonna be talking, I mentioned Nottingham Community Housing Association, known also as N C H A, and that’s how we’ll refer to them just to make it easier. Um, has been around since 1973. Um, from small beginnings, they’ve grown organically and now housed more than 20,000 people across the East Midlands. They provide over a million hours of care and support services a year and have an ambitious development program for new homes as well. And this year it’s a very special celebration. It’s their 50th birthday marking, half a century of delivering better lives for local people. So in this episode, um, Nikki, Robert and Kat will be talking about how the role of communications and engagement team of the communications and engagement engagement team has developed in third sector organizations. And they’ll also be covering what the priority needs, uh, to be, to make sure these organizations thrive for another 50 years. So a fantastic organization, and I’m really looking forward to, um, getting into some of these questions now. So I’m gonna kick off Nikki with you then we’re gonna talk about N C A N C H A and the sector. So in nnc a’s 50 year history, how do you think the role of a comms professional has changed?

Nicki Kirkup (09:43):

Well, I think, well, for our organization specifically, we, we’ve, we’ve, you know, as you said in intro there as if we’ve grown organically. So it was one guy in 1973 who got a loan, uh, from our local authority and, and bought a hundred houses. And it’s grown and grown and grown and grown. So, you know, I’m sure comms was the kind of last thing on his mind back then in a, in the, in the, in the way that we think about it now. Although when I look back at that person, we’ve doing a lot of rummaging in, in our sort of heritage, and in those early years, you know, he was actually a great communicator. He was kind of doing it without being told to do it, you know? Yeah. He was just out there, he was networking, he had, um, fingers in all kinds of pies.

Nicki Kirkup (10:26):

And that allowed our organization to grow and develop into the, into what it’s become today. And, you know, fast forward probably to kind of the, the nineties, I guess, I think was when N C H A particularly started taking that side of things a little bit more seriously in terms of the brand and, um, taking the brand, um, you know, the, the ownership of that and the look and feel and, and, and understanding what that, what that meant. And I think the drivers for that were, were around, you know, the organization was moving into a more commercial, um, areas. So things like shared ownership and, and building homes for sale, which we still do a lot of now. And, you know, you, that takes you out of that kind of third sector charitable status thinking, I guess, you know, you’re competing up against, um, private developers and private landowners and things like that.

Nicki Kirkup (11:19):

So I think that’s when, you know, the organization really started to think more carefully about, um, how we manage our stakeholders and how we manage events and press and pr. Um, and that’s, that’s only developed, but of course, in, in more recent times in the last 10 years, it’s the digital shift. You know, that’s changed the role of communicators everywhere, not just in our sector. Um, but all, you know, all of a sudden, um, you know, customers have, um, access to, um, uh, more of a voice to more of a say, um, to, to either to report things or to praise things, you know, whatever that might be. And, you know, we’ve all come to learn that we’ve gotta manage that. We can’t, um, you know, we can’t just let that, um, manage itself. And, um, so I guess that’s where, you know, now I think when I joined the comms team here at N C H A was, um, might be coming up for 10 years ago, you know, and there was, there was, there was two of us.

Nicki Kirkup (12:21):

Yeah. And, um, and we’ve got, um, a website, but it was really clunky. Really clunky. It wasn’t interactive. It wasn’t somewhere our customers necessarily wanted to be, it was just, you know, it was just kind of there. And we were developing our first intranet. And now I look at the team and I think, wow, you know, we’ve got, uh, all our social media channels, which we have a dedicated specialist for, which is Robin, thank God for Robin. And then we have, you know, a digital team that look after our website and our intranet and, you know, digital newsletters and all that kind of stuff. And we have a graphic designer, and, you know, we’ve, we’ve had to, we’ve had to evolve and develop. And, and comms now is, is not about being there for an opening and cutting ribbons with giant scissors. It’s about being part of the conversation at the, at the very top of the table, you know, about, you know, those corporate strategic, um, plans that the organization puts together.

Nicki Kirkup (13:17):

And we are there to advise and support and, um, and think about how that impacts on our brand. And, you know, we are the custodians of our brand, um, and what those kind of messages and activities are gonna, are gonna mean for our brand. And that’s, that’s a huge shift from, like I say, even 10 years ago when, you know, the, the comms, the single comms person that was, uh, around at the time when I joined the team was, was, was really there for tenant newsletters and, um, scheme openings. We both, we, we still do do both of those things, but, um, there’s so much more. It’s, uh, it’s mad really when you think about, about that shift.

Asif Choudry (13:57):

Yeah. Bring back the big check presentations. Yeah.

Nicki Kirkup (14:01):

Yeah. <laugh>, do you know, we, we were, uh, the last time we did a big check presentation, um, I think we were with Lloyd’s t sb, and so it took his ages to get this giant check, and then they split up and we’ve, we’ve still got a Lloyd’s TSB tech Yeah. Kicking around somewhere for prosperity. Yeah. But that was annoying.

Asif Choudry (14:19):

You still see the order, one of those, and it’s great to see from a nostalgia point of view, the next, the next iteration of that’s gonna be a huge, um, iPhone. Yeah. <laugh> with a contactless payment device, isn’t it? I think that’s what’s gonna have to happen.

Nicki Kirkup (14:32):

Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s day transfer them to transfer the money. Yeah. That,

Asif Choudry (14:36):

That, that there’s a TikTok waiting to happen. <laugh>. So the role of a comms professional has definitely changed. And I mean, I’ve worked with the housing sector for, um, for 15 plus years as well, and I, and I totally agree with that in terms of the number of, um, uh, they’ve become, I think comms has become far more highly regarded, as you say. Yeah. At the top table, the head counts have increased because the whole comms era community started primarily because of the heroics that comms in housing. Yeah. Uh, were per, were performing because it was one person doing pr, stakeholder management, social media as it just started to kick off at the time. But it’s brilliant to see that that’s, that has changed. Uh, but, but why do you think then that, that change, why has that actually happened then?

Nicki Kirkup (15:25):

I just, I, I think this has driven from, um, from a few things really. Like I say, commercially, we are in a different place now. We are, um, you know, N C H A is, you know, akin to lots of other, um, housing providers now we have to do things differently, um, for various reasons, from funding reasons, for, um, regulatory purposes. So, so we have got, you know, commercial objectives now. And even our care and support arm, which you don’t naturally assume or think about as a commercial activity, it, it really is, you know, it’s about, it’s about bringing in income, um, for us to, to continue to deliver our services. So we have to be more commercially minded. And with that comes, you know, a kind of a, a more cohesive, dare I say, slicker brand, um, because that’s what works. We know that that’s what works.

Nicki Kirkup (16:19):

That’s what, um, that’s what kind of brings in in new business and, and, and raises profile of organizations. So there’s the commercial side of things. And then also I think, you know, um, organizations are really mindful now and quite rightly so with reputational issues. So, you know, the whole world has a, has a phone and a camera, and you know, I always say we’re only one tweet away from Panorama. Yeah. And that’s what we, we have to be so mindful of that now. Um, and that’s not to say we’re trying to cover anything up, or we are trying, you know, we, it’s about recognizing where we’ve got issues or because, you know, not everything’s plain sailing. We know that. Um, and the sector is taking a bit of a bashing at the minute in terms of repairs and dump and molds and, and those kind of issues.

Nicki Kirkup (17:09):

And it’s right that all those things are being highlighted. But what we have to do is, you know, look after our customers, look after their expectations, and really, you know, be that kind of interim between, um, our customers and their issues and their challenges and the rest of the business to make sure we can kind of navigate, um, people around those, those issues so that our reputation doesn’t become, um, tarnished. And I think, uh, you know, nothing’s, nothing’s foolproof, and I’m gonna touch all the wood around me when I say that because things go wrong. You know, they just do. But we, we want to be able to kind of manage that and, um, and respond to that in, in the way that our customers have quite rightly come to expect. So I think our exec teams, well, they, they absolutely know that, you know, if you look at our risk maps now, um, reputations really important to us. Um, and, you know, that is where we, we come in. We are the kind of, um, front of house for N C H A and I. Yeah. You know, we take that really, really seriously.

Asif Choudry (18:16):

No, that’s great and a great answer there as well. So, um, so yeah, this, this, the, the role has changed dramatically and some really good reasons as to why. So you mentioned social media in there. So I’m gonna, um, uh, go to Robin now who, uh, looks after all the social, social media and digital content. So Robin, how important is it to make sure people can engage with N C H A online?

Robyn Burke (18:39):

So, I think, you know, we live in a digital world, don’t we? I think when you, when you hear about a company, the first thing you might do is just go check out their social media and see kind of a bit about what they’re about. So I think people do expect us to have a presence, and that presence needs to be, um, accurately representing what we do and kind of how we operate, um, in our region and the work that our colleagues, um, do with customers. So it’s about just giving people that flavor of N C H A and using that as a vehicle to connect with others. You know, people expect to be able to do certain things online, and we can use social media to support other points of the business. So our customer contact team, for example, using social media to make sure that, um, we’re reducing calls where we need to. So directing people to ourselves, serve options and other things like that. So it is really important to give a good representation about brand on social media.

Asif Choudry (19:28):

Yeah, absolutely. Right. And I think it’s, it, it’s such a diverse, um, role because organizations as part of digital transformation, which isn’t just services, it’s accessibility of, um, it’s accessibility to the organization beyond a self-serve portal where you can pay rent and report repairs. But this is, it’s a channel that’s, uh, you know, it’s a, not just a channel, but a number of channels where as a consumer you can go and compliment or complain. Definitely. Um, and uh, unfortunately it tends to be more of the latter. Uh, and I know from personal experience, when you complain on Twitter, you get a much quicker response than you would do if you emailed in, uh, ’cause you get the DMM straight away. So, but that, that, that’s great for the customer. It’s actually probably good for the organization as well. So it’s important to have that. So it’s definitely taken on a, a bigger presence within all organizations, but certainly within the housing sector over the last 10 years. So then, Robin, tell us then, how have you adapted your social media content strategy to, to drive this?

Robyn Burke (20:32):

So I think it’s a number of things, really. I think it’s good that you highlighted the complaint aspect, because social media is often where you see those first kind of things start to rumble and pick up. Yeah. Within our, um, management system, we use a function where we can tag different types of content, both incoming and outgoing. So if we can start to see recurring issues and things that are popping up that people are querying about, we could then change our strategy to use, um, our posting schedule to answer those questions. So it’s a really good way of kinda just seeing those things that are popping up and seeing which things we might wanna dig deeper into. Yeah. Change our content strategy to kind of meet that. Also, just looking at the wider kind of industry of social media, what’s changing over the years? How can we adapt our strategy to get more engagement and more reach, um, depending on what kind of the algorithm is doing on certain channels and what gives us the best opportunity to engage with people.

Asif Choudry (21:19):

Yeah. And how do you then balance with, yeah. From a social point of view, um, uh, how do you balance then the vanity metrics elements? Always an interesting question with the actual business drivers to why social exists.

Robyn Burke (21:36):

It’s interesting because I think there is a real science behind it. I think some people who don’t work in the industry might just think, you know, posts are possibly random. But I think there’s a real science between balancing what people want to see. You know, the real kind of community driving kind of content, what people want to engage with, with that core objective, that business. And the more that you feed people what you want, the more you can increase your reach and your engagement. And then when you do have those messages to push out that are important, the more people that are likely to see those messages could you have took the time to build up the community. Yeah. So it is a real balance that you have to do on your channels, really. Yeah. And get people to understand that actually a post about pancake day or Easter might not be a business objective, but it is towards building that reach and building that community on your channels. Absolutely. So it is a real science behind it. Yeah,

Asif Choudry (22:21):

Yeah. Very much. And it’s great to see that, you know, dedicated roles like yourself at N C H A exist because it wouldn’t have been a thing. It would, like I say, it would’ve been one, two person operation and everyone handling the whole shebang, including, um, pr, which brings us onto to Kat and, uh, Nikki, you mentioned about, um, reputational management and this is, uh, uh, Kat’s Field within N C H A. So Kat, tell us, what’s your approach to reputation and crisis management?

Kat Collins (22:54):

Yeah, I think it’s, it’s interesting when Nikki was talking earlier about the, the way that our team has changed and evolved, and actually my role focusing just on kind of PR and stakeholder engagement has only really been in post for about six months now. So that kind of shows that it’s, uh, it’s a new emerging thing, um, for us stakeholder, sorry, reputational management for us is really important because of the way that it helps support all of our activities. It helps with recruitment, with retention, it helps with our development building program, with our care and support, uh, commissions. So it helps basically support all of our activities. The massive thing that I always focus on when it comes to managing our reputation is that the work is really 90% product, um, proactive and only 10% if that is reactive. So what we need to do is we need to make sure that we build and establish that core reputation before, um, any potential crisis happens.

Kat Collins (23:54):

So you need to establish a really good foundation. Um, and if you have a good and consistent reputation out there in the wider public, then it gives you a good solid space if a crisis does emerge. Um, and to lay that groundwork, we make sure that we, uh, get lots of positive stories out there. We talk about our positive outcomes with the different, um, different services that we provide. We make sure that we develop good relationships with all of our stakeholders. We keep our lenders, our regulators, our commissioners informed, and we make sure that we build really good relationships with our local press as well. We give them positive stories, we make sure that we respond quickly if they call for contributions or comment. And another really big one, as well as word of mouth. So, as Robin said, we, uh, use social media extensively to let people know what we’re up to.

Kat Collins (24:46):

And we’re basically doing all of this because we want to create advocates. We want people to, to think that we’re great because we are, and we want them to kind of, um, perpetuate by word of mouth that, that kind of reputation of, of who we are and what we do. Um, and we also make sure that we, uh, look after our frontline colleagues as well, because they are the face of our organization. So we work on our internal relationships, um, and, and we, uh, you know, support them to produce excellent customer service, um, and retention as well. Um, when a crisis does arrive, the key thing to do is to, um, sorry, bear with me one sec.

Kat Collins (25:34):

Okay. So what I was gonna say was, a, a a crisis will arise occasionally from time to time, and every single situation is different. And the more prepared you can be, um, it will make it easier to respond to that. So a crisis might be a press query, it might be a public negative comment that we get on social media. It might be a more national crisis, like the one Nikki referenced earlier with the dampen mold. So the key thing to know is to prepare in advance to know who your organization, uh, who in your organization you would approach for what information, be prepared to set up an action group if needed, have a business continuity plan in place in case there’s a more critical situation. But I think the main thing that you have to know is that if a call does come in, and then if an email does come in, if a national story breaks and you know that you’re gonna go kind of into crisis mode, it’s to just breathe and give yourself five minutes to have a little bit of a think plan what you need to do, and then you need to respond quickly, but accurately, when it comes to media queries, I always try to go all out, give them what they need, give them more than they’re asking for, to make sure you are establishing that relationship with them.

Kat Collins (26:40):

But the key thing to do is to be open and honest in your response. So whenever there’s a crisis, a, a media query, I always make sure that I find out exactly what’s happened. And if we were in the wrong, if any mistake has been made, then we will publicly hold our hands up. We, and we will detail what we’re gonna do to put it right. And also the lessons we’ve learned from the fu lessons we’ve learned for the future as well, and the things we’re gonna do to put it right.

Asif Choudry (27:05):

Yeah, some really good advice there for, for an e comms, um, professional, whether you’re on, uh, digital, uh, or, uh, offline channels or whether you’re in PR or not, I think it’s some really sage advice people should pick up and, and take note of that. So, and I, having worked with the sector for quite a number of years, I mean, you talked about positive stories and making sure they’re always out there, that the work that the social housing sector does, which doesn’t make its way to panorama programs, unfortunately. It’s amazing what, you know, uh, N C H A and the whole housing sector does for their local communities and other organizations that aren’t necessarily direct customers. It doesn’t, you know, you’re not just contributing to, um, uh, people who are actual tenants or customers in shared ownership properties and things like that. So there’s so much positive stories that you, so there’s no shortage or, or do, do you find there’s a, a shortage of, um, those stories to tell? Or is there, is there an abundance where you’ve got, you know, a a a massive amount to choose from?

Kat Collins (28:08):

There is never a shortage of stories. Yeah. We have, uh, too many stories to tell. It’s, I think one of our biggest problems is, as you’ve said, we do so much fantastic work that often our colleagues, because it’s their day-to-day work. Yeah. They don’t know how great it is. Yeah. So actually our biggest our biggest problem when it comes to sharing these great stories is finding out about them. Yeah. Because colleagues don’t always tell us about them because they don’t realize how great they are.

Asif Choudry (28:38):

No, that’s a fair point. And that’s genuinely something that’s always happened, because there, there is so much for that good work. So, so Kat, tell us then, how do you ensure that stakeholders have a good relationship then with N C H A?

Kat Collins (28:52):

Well, I suppose I should probably establish when we are talking about our stakeholders at N C H A, we’re referring to those people that have power or have influence, uh, people who are the decision makers. Um, and that can include our mps, it can include our local authorities, regulators, commissioners, lenders, people that we have delivery partners with. So when, you know, at N C H A, that is kind of who we are talking about. And it’s a really big group. We work with over 30 mps, we work in over 30 local authorities. So it’s a big group of people to, uh, engage with. And we, we do want to engage with them. It’s really important to us that we do, because by getting them on board, it helps to raise our profile. And it’s another way that we can celebrate our exce our successes, but we also want them to have a great perception of who we are to influence their opinion, um, so that both publicly and politically, people can kind of share the work that we do, but also raise any issues we have and anything that, that we need support with.

Kat Collins (29:57):

Um, but it’s a, it’s, it’s a two-way relationship. That’s how we see it. So we want to talk to our stakeholders, we want to tell them how great we are, but at the same time, we need to listen to them as well. Um, so we need to know what it is they need so that we can, we can help deliver that. Um, at N C H A, we have a, so we’ve got about 1200, no, we don’t, we have, yes, we do. Sorry. We have about 1200, uh, employees at N C H A and we have a group of 40 to 50 stakeholder relationship managers, and they are people across the business that we have identified as having a direct relationship with our stakeholders. So we get this group together regularly, um, to share best practice and encourage engagement. And in the comms engagement team here at N C H A, we provide this group with support, with resources to help them in their engagement with, with our stakeholders.

Kat Collins (30:55):

So we like to keep our stakeholders really informed of everything we do. We, um, we like to send good quality, frequent regular contact to them, but the key word there is regular contact. We, uh, content, we don’t want to just share noise with them. We want to share, um, important information that aligns with our messages with our organizational objectives. So we keep them up to date on what we’re doing. We invite them to our scheme openings. We invite them to visit our care and support services. And, uh, let’s be honest, we are also giving them an opportunity for some self-promotion as well. Yeah. So quite often some of our key political stakeholders, they’ll like to come along so they can get some photos as well, stick ’em on Twitter, et cetera. Um, and our end goal with our stakeholders is building meaningful and productive relationships. We want to get them on board. We want them to think we are great, we want them to help support our work. And if we can create advocates out of people with power and influence, then we can call on them when we need support and we do all of that so that they can help contribute to the success of us and help us deliver our services.

Asif Choudry (32:05):

Yeah, amazing. And some, some really lots of, uh, hard work going, um, into that, into building those relationships both externally and internally. So you’re celebrating the 50th, um, year of N C H A this year. So what are your predictions for the next 50 years? So, uh, Robin, let’s kick off with you on that one.

Robyn Burke (32:23):

Oh gosh. There’s loads and I follow, um, social media today to keep track of social media news in particular. Yeah. And I think there’s just lots going on with it. There’s thing’s always changing when you look at, when you first started to get on social and you post the odd photo of your family going on a walk or whatever from like the short film video that we see now, I think as we move into the future, we’ll see technology play an even bigger part. So even recently looking at the conversation on LinkedIn as some of how that’s being populated by AI technology and things like that. Yeah. I think that’s quite an interesting thing to see. So I think the next 50 years will be quite interesting for social media and it’ll be very much more, more tech minded Yeah. Than it’s now, I guess.

Asif Choudry (33:00):

What, what percentage of your, um, the content in your, the copy in your post will be curated by chat G p T version. Right?

Robyn Burke (33:07):

I know they’re right.

Asif Choudry (33:08):

12 or 50 or whatever it’ll be in that, that particular time. Yeah. Um, so, uh, Nicky, how about you?

Nicki Kirkup (33:16):

Um, yeah, I’m not gonna comment on the technologist. So if it freaks me out a bit when I think about, you know, having a phone in my fingers or head, or did you watch years and years? You know, that program setting in 10, anyway, anyway, they’re Robin’s just taking my brain off in a whole different direction there, <laugh>,

Asif Choudry (33:34):

But robots are coming.

Nicki Kirkup (33:36):

Yeah, I know. Um, so yeah, I, I think really, if I’m going put corporate hat back on, I think it’s the kind of e s G world is gonna just, so environmental and, um, social and government, you know, that whole part of our, um, business model now I think is just gonna grow and grow and grow. And I think that’s gonna start defining our culture more and more, you know, how we work, um, the differences between, um, you know, the, the hybrid working model and what that means for us as communicators, um, and what that means for our workspaces and what that means for our customers. And so I think, I think there are the, I think those that the kind of, certainly the environmental agenda is really gonna start, um, gathering pace. Well, it, it certainly already is at N C H A, but it, I think that will influence our culture a lot, lot more over the next kind of five, 10 years, I dunno, about 50 years. Um, yeah. And you know, I, I, I, I, and I, like I say, when I, when I think about how, um, our borrowing and lending and, you know, all kinds of, um, associations with that agenda now, um, I’ll be surprised if that isn’t the the driver for most organizations as we’re heading into the next 10, 15 years.

Asif Choudry (34:55):

Yeah. And Kat, for you pr in 50 years time, what’s that gonna be like, auto replies from, uh, an AI bot <laugh>?

Kat Collins (35:04):

Oh, maybe, maybe. I think, I think we’ve, you know, we’ve, we’ve spoken about this morning how, um, you know, in the, in the last 10 years we’ve gone from two people to, yeah, I don’t know. Are we nine now? And we all have our different specialisms. And I think that’s just gonna continue to become more and more important. I think there’s gonna be more channels. I think people are gonna expect responses at any time of the day. And, and I think we’re just gonna come under more scrutiny as, as we’ve discussed before. As Nikki said earlier, you know, everyone has a phone, everyone can take an instant photograph. Yeah. And I think from customers and politicians, I think we’re just gonna become under more and more scrutiny, um, and reputational management. Um, and the work we do with our stakeholders is just gonna get more important, not less.

Asif Choudry (35:49):

Yeah, no, absolutely. So that, that’s been fascinating that there’s loads to take away, uh, from that. There’ll be other housing comms professionals listening that will be nodding an agreement or, um, aspiring to get the big checkout or the contactless payment, <laugh>, you know, whatever is, they’re gonna do <laugh>. But there’s some really good advice. They’ll be nodding or they’ll be learning some new stuff, and there’s lots of people that are in any sector to take away from that. So thank you. Uh, it’s been really insightful to do that. So we’re here because of, you know, we’re all part of the Comms Hero community, and it’s, it’s great to welcome you here on the podcast. And, but, but tell us why is Comms Hero important to you, and would you recommend people working in comms and marketing to be part of it? Nikki, let’s kick off with you on that one.

Nicki Kirkup (36:30):

Yeah, definitely. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s, it’s, um, it’s really helpful to know that you’re not on your own. Comms can be quite a lonely place in an organization. ’cause I, you know, the work of our team is so different, you know, to the rest of the business. So it’s great to see, um, uh, you know, comms Zero broadly is great at sharing what other the people in other parts of our sector or other sectors are doing that’s, that’s similar to us. So I love that. Um, yeah, and it’s just, it’s just good fun. It’s, uh, it’s, it’s a bit different and, um, yeah, we, we really, um, appreciate your support broadly.

Asif Choudry (37:08):

Thanks, Nikki. Ka

Kat Collins (37:12):

Uh, yeah, absolutely. I think it’s, um, as Nikki said, it’s a really great community and, and a way for people to share best practice. Um, and I think what I really like about Comms Hero is, um, we, we already have lots of kind of network groups for the social care that we provide for the housing we provide, but Scom Hero is, is, is cross-sector. And I think that’s a really nice way to share best practice across the board. Yeah.

Asif Choudry (37:37):

Great. Thank you. And Robin?

Robyn Burke (37:40):

Yeah, I’ll just echo what Nikki and Kat said. Really, I think we are looking to have a big team, but I think when you think about that loan more for the person who are on their own n h s team or something like that, and to manage all aspects of comms, I think comms here provides a good place to just network with other people and share your ideas and just check, you know, am I on the right track with this? You know, will all the professionals do that in response to that issue? So I think it’s really interesting to have that and really useful. And sometimes it’s nice to just take a breather and have some fun content. Just take a bit bit of time out your day and just enjoy the banter that it’s Yeah. You know, that comes with being a comms professional.

Asif Choudry (38:12):

I think. So I think it appeals to that inner creative that exists in us all. Yeah. Um, especially in, in comms people. But I just tend to find that, um, a lot of the, uh, events and things like that are geared up to all the learning about content and what the, the next version. There’s, there’s enough of that about there. And that’s where we all go for C P D and learning and what have you. But those elements of creating that safe space to explore or, or unleash that inner comms hero, it’s a nice, it’s a nice thing to be able to do. So thank you for sharing that. And uh, it has been a great, um, uh, episode. Lots of stuff for people to take away. And the community in the community, it’s important that people network and connect with each other and we want to make sure our listeners do connect with you as well. So, uh, what are your, um, handles? Where will people find you? Nikki,

Nicki Kirkup (39:03):

Twitter. Nikki cc, N i c k i c c.

Asif Choudry (39:08):

And, uh, you’re on LinkedIn as well, aren’t you? So we’re gonna share all that in the show notes as well. And, uh, Kat for you,

Kat Collins (39:17):

Um, Kat Collins, n c h a, uh, Kat with a k

Asif Choudry (39:21):

And Robin,

Robyn Burke (39:22):

So LinkedIn is Robin Burke with a Y, and then Twitter’s at Robin m Burke. Goodbye. Me there

Asif Choudry (39:29):

At that. When you said Robin with the why, that reminded me of a tweet I saw of somebody posted from Starbucks. Um, and you know, they put your name on the cups. Yeah, yeah. Uh, and it was, he must’ve said Mark with a C and they Oh yeah. Yeah. And it was Kark <laugh>. Yeah. So I always think of that now. So, uh, it’s something that’s gonna be blazing on my mind. So, um, uh, so yeah, please connect with Nikki Ka and Robin, um, and, and, and share in their best practice and expertise as well. And you’ll find this podcast on Spotify, apple, or your chosen platform, and also on our website com You can follow us on Twitter at com zero. If you are listening on Apple or Spotify, please do leave a rating review and hit the follow and subscribe button as well, so you get the new episodes that come out every two weeks, every fortnight. So, Nikki, Kat and Robin, it’s been an absolute pleasure. Thank you so much.

Speaker 5 (40:22):

Thanks. Thanks for having us. Thank you.

Threads vs Twitter

Threads vs Twitter

Matt Navarra is one of Europe’s most well-known and in-demand social media consultants. With 20+ years of industry experience. Matt has worked with some of the world’s most popular brands including Meta, Google and United Nations.

Besides his consulting work, Matt is a renowned industry speaker and thought leader. He has delivered keynote speeches, conducted workshops, and participated in panel discussions at major conferences worldwide, sharing his invaluable insights and inspiring professionals to push the boundaries of social media marketing.

🎙️ Welcome to the Threads vs. Twitter Debate! 📣

In the fast-paced world of social media, communication professionals are constantly seeking new ways to engage with their audiences and deliver impactful messages. Today, we dive deep into a captivating debate that has been brewing in the digital sphere: Threads vs. Twitter.

Join us on this thought-provoking podcast as we explore the pros, cons, and endless possibilities of these two powerful communication tools. We’ll dissect the unique features, functionalities, and strategic advantages that Threads and Twitter bring to the table, all while catering to the interests and needs of comms, marketing, and PR professionals.

Matt Navarra

Social Media Consultants

Podcast questions:

  1. What are some common misconceptions or misunderstandings you’ve come across when it comes to comparing Threads and Twitter?
  2. In your experience, what are the key considerations communication professionals should keep in mind when deciding between Threads and Twitter for their brand or client?
  3. As an industry expert, what are your thoughts on what Threads need to do to remain popular and engaging?
  4. There is a lot of experimentation going on by brands on how they maximise the value of Threads. Are there any brands that stand out for you in these early stages?
  5. Looking ahead, what trends or developments do you foresee in the Threads vs. Twitter debate? Are there any emerging features or functionalities that could potentially tip the scales in favour of one platform over the other?

Podcast transcript here:

Disclaimer: this is an automated transcript. Please don’t call the grammar police on us. You never know, we may have ChatGPT writing our next one…

Asif Choudry:
Hello and welcome to another episode in the You’re My CommsHero podcast, and I’m your host, Asif Choudry. Today, my guest is Matt Navarra. Matt is one of Europe’s most well-known and in-demand social media consultants with 20 years of industry experience. Matt has worked with some of the world’s most popular brands, including Meta, Google, and the United Nations. And besides his consulting work, Matt is a renowned industry speaker and a thought leader. He’s delivered major… keynote speeches, conducted workshops and participated in panel discussions, major conferences worldwide, sharing his valuable insights and inspiring professionals to push the boundaries of social media marketing. So thanks for joining me Matt and it’s a pleasure to welcome you on the podcast.

Matt Navarra:
Thanks for having me.

Asif Choudry:
So let’s do some getting to know you stuff before we get into the main crux of this, which I’ll cover shortly. So Matt, what’s your most played song on your Spotify list at the moment?

Matt Navarra:
You know what, it tends to rotate between anything that’s dance orientated, so mostly anything by Fred again, anything that’s kind of music from Tomorrowland or anything that’s come out of any of the recent festivals. So it’s a rotation of dance music, I would say at the moment.

Asif Choudry:
Yeah, brilliant. So a little insight there. So which famous person would you invite to dinner and why?

Matt Navarra:
It’s tricky, well I’d probably be either Barack Obama or someone like Louis Thoreau. I think they would have enough stories between them to tell which would be fascinating. They would have a different perspective on life so they would probably be up there in my list.

Asif Choudry:
Amazing, I want to come to that dinner party for sure. Let’s get them both, we’ll get them both on, that’d be amazing. And final ones getting to know you, just three words to describe you then, Matt.

Matt Navarra:
I think people would probably describe me as being impatient, probably a little bit obsessed as in my job, I’m kind of obsessed over what I do and probably pretty down to earth and pretty easy to get to know. So those are some of the ways I hope people would see me anyway.

Asif Choudry:
Yeah, excellent. Okay, so we’re gonna, just going into the podcast itself, so I’ll just give a bit of an intro here. So in this fast paced world of social media, communications professionals are constantly seeking new ways to engage with their audiences and deliver impactful messages. And today we’re gonna deep dive into a captivating debate that has been brewing in the digital sphere, which is threads versus Twitter, and Zuckerberg versus Musk. And I’ve loved your commentary on social with various memes and what have you to depict that. It’s been fascinating to watch. So on this, what will certainly be a thought-provoking podcast, Matt’s going to explore the pros, cons and endless possibilities of these two powerful communications tools. And we’re gonna dissect some of the unique features, functionalities and strategic advantages that threads and Twitter bring to the table. All while catering for the interests and needs of comms, marketing and… So I’m going to kick straight in with the first question. So Matt, what are some common misconceptions or misunderstandings that you’ve come across when it comes to comparing threads to Twitter?

Matt Navarra:
Well, I think that people, and probably reasonably so, have thought that this would be a Twitter killer and it will kill Twitter in some way and by a year from now Twitter will not be alive and then this is the app that’s gonna do it. And I don’t think it was ever billed as that necessarily by Meta. That was certainly a media thing. I think they set out to create something that is similar to Twitter and is familiar to people who use that platform. and has the ability to maybe pull people across from the platform onto threads. Certainly those that are fed up with what’s been happening with the platform. But

Asif Choudry:

Matt Navarra:
I don’t think there’s any goal or aspiration for it to destroy the platform, nor do I think that Meta thinks that they’re able to somehow completely destroy it. And there’s too much going on over there for that to happen. So I think that’s the main misconception about it. I think also there’s a misconception maybe that people need to reinvent the wheel slightly and they’re probably getting too caught up in anxiety around what do I do on this new platform? I need to come up with some fantastic new comms strategy or social media strategy to kind of you know get the best out of the platform early on and if I don’t do it now that’s it’s game over and I don’t think that’s the case at all. I think as we’ll probably discuss you know most of the brands and creators and influencers that are on threads that are having any level of success at this stage are literally taking what they’re doing on other similar platforms. Some of that’s Twitter, some of that’s from the style of TikTok, if funnily enough, because the content has a lot of shared similarities, and Instagram, of course, and then repurposing it in either the exact same way or a similar way. So I think those are the initially the misconceptions or all the things that people are over focusing on.

Asif Choudry:
Yes, so do you think then in your experience, then what do you think are the key considerations that comms professionals should keep in mind when deciding between, if indeed they do need to decide between threads and Twitter for their brand and or their client or their agency? And are there certain industries or communications goals where one platform may have a clear advantage?

Matt Navarra:
Well, at the moment, Twitter still has a larger audience and has a huge level of cultural relevance, which is one of the things that Twitter has always had more of than maybe people think it deserves, given kind of it’s had so many problems over the years and it’s never really made a lot of money for the company. And size wise, when you compare it to TikTok or Instagram or any other app, it’s fairly small in the fraction of the size of those platforms. And so, but still it has a larger audience than threads at this time and still has that level of relevance. So for those marketers and comms professionals working for brands or businesses of any type that has a choice between the two, then there’s still a lot of value and probably will be for some time on Twitter. But the downside at the moment with Twitter of course is brand safety in terms of the ability to kind of, or how comfortable you are. putting your content and you are engaging on a platform that has all sorts of safety issues in terms of where your content could show up and what other tweets could show up around it. And also maybe a moral or ethical decision, you know, in terms of some of the behaviors and tweets and decisions made by Elon Musk could be at odds with your own organizations and that could give you another reason why maybe you would just want to do more on threads. than on Twitter. So those are some of the initial kind of decision factors. But in terms of, you know, if you’re making a comparison between Twitter and threads in terms of the style and format of the content, there’s not a great deal of difference between them because they are text platforms with a cap or a limit on characters. And you can attach images or videos on both platforms and they have the similar sort of functionality in terms of repost or retweet. and liking engaging in replies to tweets or replies to threads. In terms of the differences, I think the vibe and the personality of the platforms is quite different. And that’s driven by the fact that Twitter has got a long history and is obviously tied very strongly to Elon Musk and what he’s doing most of the time, which is for most people not great. And then they’ve got… threads, which is very much geared towards being more aligned to Instagram and what sort of content and the sorts of people that you would find on, on Instagram. And so when you look at threads, it’s kind of a weird mashup hybrid between Twitter, cause it looks and feels a bit like Twitter,

Asif Choudry:

Matt Navarra:
Instagram, because it’s tied to Instagram and it’s pulling in a lot of people from there to kind of feel, feel the platform up. But the content, you know, also has a lot of similarity with things like TikTok in terms of its quirkiness and its kind of entertainment value, but it hasn’t obviously got quite a stronger video presence given that it’s not a video platform. So, there’s quite a lot of things to consider when deciding how to approach threads.

Asif Choudry:
Yeah, we’ve seen we’re recording this kind of mid-July, a few weeks into Threads existence, and there are certain things I’ve seen in your commentary, like there’s some of the similarities where Threads has still got to implement those, like chronological feeds and things like that. Are there any of those things in particular that you’ve kind of highlighted and think that they or know when they’re coming in or when they should come in?

Matt Navarra:
Well, they’re pretty quick at the moment in terms of turning it around, you know, they’ve released two updates to the iOS app In its first two weeks and I think they’re on a weekly update cycle So pretty much every Tuesday Wednesday, you’ll see another app updates on iOS at least I think androids may be on a different schedule, but you know similar updates and they’ve you know in the last 24 hours They’ve added the ability to translate inline translations and they fix some small issues to do with notifications and they’ve you know tweaked some of the design elements and stuff. But I would expect, you know, they’ve already, I think Adam Nazary from Instagram has said that the features for, you know, chronological feed and improvements to the feed in general, which seemed to be where most people’s criticisms are being levied in terms of too much recommended content, lots of stuff from accounts I don’t follow, and not really having a sense of time and ordering because there is no chronology unto it. So it doesn’t feel like. Twitter and if it was meant to be like Twitter or compete with Twitter, then that’s quite critical as something to solve to make it be more competitive. Because at the moment, for a platform that looks and feels a lot like Twitter, it doesn’t have the same kind of core strengths that Twitter has. So I think we will see a lot of those changes. And I think the other things that are coming down further down the line they’ve talked about, of course, is the Fedaverse stuff, which is the integration with the… Activity Pub protocol, which for those who are not familiar with is the one of the well-known, more better known decentralized platform protocols, which is used by Mastodon, which will enable when it’s launched, it will mean that you could potentially post things in that on Mastodon and it could show up in if you wanted it to in threads and vice versa. And also if you wanted to leave threads and go to another platform that is you know compatible with that. protocol you could do so, which I think for a lot of creators and those that are skeptical and cynical about Meta’s likely behaviours will feel maybe a bit more comfortable that they can export themselves from the platform maybe in the future.

Asif Choudry:
Yeah, now you mentioned Mastodon then. I remember when Mastodon came out at the beginning of Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter and certainly my timeline, I’m sure yours and many others were filled with screen grabs of Mastodon profiles and you’ll find me on here, which that didn’t seem to take off. Do you think threads is, well, certainly in the number of users that are signed up has… suggests it would have a far different more positive trajectory and take up than mastodon. Do you think that’s going to be the case then with threads or will it disappear into the ether in what’s probably less than a year from mastodon?

Matt Navarra:
I don’t think that we’ll see threads disappear quite the same as we’ve seen the kind of disappearance of things like Be Real and even today Lemonade, which is by now this is kind of newer thing that’s kind of not doing so well anymore, it kind of was here and then disappeared. And then we’ve seen Clubhouse come and go. And they all had very specific characteristics and factors that have led them to. to be a flash in the pan. You know, the clubhouse was destined to kind of like struggle beyond the COVID pandemic because it was a really a lived and breathed because of the pandemic and people wanted entertainment things to do and it was able to be very useful for, you know, recording audio at home in those environments where we were all locked down and once we were all free to do what we want again, other content became easier to produce and people wanted that instead. And Be Real was a platform that has a singular Functional feature which people you know found was a novelty it was fun That was quite quickly imitated and copied by every other platform And then it’s you know unique selling point was gone, and I don’t think we’ll see much Excitement from be real going forwards other than a few updates over time, and I think the threads is a far more robust Platform it’s got lots more features and potential for growth. You know it’s leading on platform that has been to some degree already tried

Asif Choudry:

Matt Navarra:
and tested

Asif Choudry:
for watching!

Matt Navarra:
and it’s popular to a certain extent. But now Instagram needs to figure out a way of making it appealing and engaging enough to people that wouldn’t typically use Twitter because Twitter seemed to hit this ceiling of about two, 300 million users and it hasn’t really burst through that. And so for Instagram, if they want to make it successful, they need to do something that, they can’t just make it something that’s like Twitter that appeals to Twitter users

Asif Choudry:

Matt Navarra:
because they’ll hit the same issue. It has to appeal to. your average Instagram user, for example. In terms of the mastodon stuff, mastodon, the decentralized element of social media platforms, I don’t think is that particularly that interesting or exciting at the moment to most, the average social media user. I think you’d ask, if you asked 100 social media users about the kind of terminology, many of them, most of them probably wouldn’t know really what that even meant and why it was important. And so that’s why they haven’t made a huge… big deal about it, but in the years ahead, it will become more of a standard thing that platforms offer the ability to connect across multiple platforms and export your audience and own your audience and then having less control. And Meta’s challenge now will be to make decentralized platform features more accessible and easier to understand and use because Matt Mastodon famously is very clunky and technical and uses a lot of jargon and people don’t really understand it other than those are hardened tech enthusiasts. The other challenge that Instagram and MetaMool faces is that they’re going to be heavy resistance from people that are, you know, in that space in the Fediverse who view Meta as a kind of the big bad corporation that’s kind of muscling in on their territory that’s going to do bad things and is not to be trusted and they don’t want it to be part of that. that world, it’s their kind of land, so to speak. And so that resistance will start becoming challenging for them. So they’re aware of that. And I think that that’s gonna be a space to sort of watch for the next year or so as they build these features into threads.

Asif Choudry:
Yeah, so it sounds like certainly that they, you described there some of the things that Threads needs to do to remain popular and engagement. Do you think there’s anything else to add to that?

Matt Navarra:
I think that it needs to give people a sense of what it’s about, who it is, a bit of brand personality, a bit of a kind of a sense of purpose. At the moment, I don’t get any sense of why would we use threads over any other platform beyond the, I just don’t like Twitter and I want something that’s like Twitter that’s not Elon Musk’s Twitter. That’s okay to a degree for a certain small subset of users, but for the average… Instagram or TikTok user that kind of isn’t really a heavy user of Twitter, doesn’t really care about the whole drama with Elon Musk. What’s their reason for being on there beyond it just being another new platform, you know, with TikTok, it has a very clear brand personality and it has it in a very specific style and tone of content and people know what to expect there is an entertainment app. Is threads going to be a news app? Well, they’ve said that they don’t want it to be a news app like Twitter, they’ve already told us that whether that happens or not, we will see. You know, it’s not Instagram because there is already Instagram. They wouldn’t want to cannibalize Instagram, which already exists because that wouldn’t be good business. So it’s not Instagram. So what is it? Because that will help social media marketers, comms professionals figure out what’s the use case here and what’s the sort of. audience type and what sort of content will be best to go here. So I think a clearer sense of identity and purpose which will also help it build a community because one of the other issues it’s got is the fact that it’s added 130 million now probably or more users in a space of a couple of weeks and we’ve seen in the history of social media that when you put in a space online millions of people quickly and see how it goes. Typically it doesn’t go particularly well because there’s too many differing opinions and no one can really settle and figure out what’s going on. You need to kind of slow burn for communities to form and little fractions, little groups to kind of, clusters to kind of build themselves. And so there’s like on TikTok, there’s lots of hashtags for book talk, or there’s people that are interested in, I don’t know, anything to do with fashion and beauty or to do with. any obscure kind of interest they’re in. There’s a community that can be found and has organically developed sometimes on the platform. I think the speed of growth of threads has meant that hasn’t even had a chance to happen and it needs to, I think. So I think those are some of the important things. And also I think it needs to get over trying to be, we know it’s like Twitter now, it’s a bit like Twitter,

Asif Choudry:

Matt Navarra:
but we need to give us something more. beyond that, or if it’s going to be very similar to Twitter, then it needs to do what Twitter does but do it better. And without a chronological feed, without a news being there, which is what they’re saying, they’re resisting, it’s going to find it very hard to be a replacement for Twitter.

Asif Choudry:
Yeah, so there’s obviously with it being news, a lot of experimentation going on by brands on how they maximize the value of threads. So are there any brands or individuals, influencers that stand out for you in these early stages?

Matt Navarra:
Well, that’s the tricky thing at the moment is there isn’t any, I would say, from my perspective, standout brands because we’re in we’re only two weeks in and most strategies that are being employed by social media managers or by brands is one of repurposing existing content from similar platforms, which mostly is Twitter and a bit of Instagram thrown in. So, you know, the strategy doesn’t need to be particularly sophisticated or elaborate or highly innovative really for people to have success on threads or to kind of play on threads. It just needs to be low risk, it needs to be you know low lift in terms of effort and lots of experimentation and what you’re seeing with big brands well big brands and small brands is that many of them are simply taking what they’re doing on Twitter predominantly but also some of their other platforms. and taking their greatest hits or some of their most successful posts and repurposing them on threads or mirroring or sometimes completely in sync sometimes just some of the stuff that they’re doing at the same time on Twitter is being kind of reposted on onto threads and then they’ll experiment to see what works what kind of formats what kind of language what kind of imagery and videos and topics are resonating and then building upon that and figuring out organically what a new strategy might look like for content. I’m sure there probably are brands and creators that I’ve not seen that are doing things that are very distinctly unique to the threads, but without us really knowing what threads is or will become. And with brands having many other competing platforms to choose from and content to create for them, it would… not be sensible, I would say at this early, very, very early stage in creating huge amounts of bespoke content and having a unique playbook strategy for a platform in just two weeks old. So yeah, it’s hard to, it’s very hard to say Netflix or, or Amazon or somebody is doing something highly sophisticated because really it’s throwing out as much as they can see what sticks and then building from there.

Asif Choudry:
Yeah, there’s already probably

Matt Navarra:
I didn’t

Asif Choudry:

Matt Navarra:
catch that.

Asif Choudry:
future gazing horizon

Matt Navarra:
That was?

Asif Choudry:
scanning that’s going on with.

Matt Navarra:
I didn’t catch that.

Asif Choudry:

Matt Navarra:

Asif Choudry:
me just

Matt Navarra:
you try

Asif Choudry:
what I’ll

Matt Navarra:

Asif Choudry:
do is I’ll just put an edit in there.

Matt Navarra:
Sorry about that, not sure what happened there.

Asif Choudry:
No, that’s all right. We’re not live and that’s the beauty of not being live.

Matt Navarra:
No worries.

Asif Choudry:
Not a problem. So I’ll come in with that last question then. So looking ahead as many of us comms professionals like to do even when it’s just two weeks old, are there any trends or developments that you in your expert opinion foresee in the threads versus Twitter debate? And are there any emerging features or functionalities? that could potentially tip the scales in the favour of one platform

Matt Navarra:
Well, I think

Asif Choudry:
over the other.

Matt Navarra:
that for the companies and brands that are concerned about the downfall of Twitter and the safety issues of Twitter, that the big selling point for them is gonna be how well Meta and Instagram keep threads a safe place and a well moderated place for them to be able to operate in and ultimately it as well develop a ads platform that enables them to either work with creators or to use Meta’s, you know, very successful, probably the best in the industry, and targeted platform. That’s something that probably we won’t see for a little while, but they initially were saying 12 months was the timeframe before they’ll layer on an ad platform. I think we’re probably gonna start seeing it within the next three to six, maybe nine months time, because they’re already speaking to agencies about the opportunities with the platforms, they’re already warming them up, and the speed at the platform has grown, and the interest in the platform has far exceeded what they’re… internal projections were by many multiples. So I think that the timeline for that will be brought forward. So that’s gonna be a significant junction for its future success, for when that happens. And we’re gonna see branded content. I think they’ve already said they’re gonna trial ability to kind of collaborate more with creators early on. So we’ll see that coming through soon. In terms of content, I think that that… as I say, the chronological feed will be a significant development because that will make it feel more real time and give us that sense of what Twitter offers that kind of go to place when something’s happening in the world, whether it’s to do with news or culture or, or entertainment or something that’s happening that needs that real time element for us to pull people in. And I think we’ll see that kind of emerge in the coming weeks as they bring those features in. In terms of content, I think that that’s the space to kind of be watched and see what you know, watch what brands and in your vertical are doing, what you know, if you work in this space of you’re an optician, you know, what are the biggest brands in opticians doing? What are companies that if you if you be working fashion, what are boohoo and pretty little things and any other brand that’s trendy is doing you know, sheen and weather. So you know, I think it’s watching what they’re doing, seeing how they’re adapting to the platform. But also from your, you don’t need to be a huge brand to kind of, or watch a huge brand to learn from things. You can experiment yourself. That’s the beauty of having a new platform. It’s probably the best and most fun time to be a social media professional because you can really get away with a lot more. It’s it’s forgiving. People accept that this is new and you might put things out that don’t do very well or don’t necessarily feel right for the platform. And you see that the engagement isn’t there in a new don’t do that again, you do something different. And so I think this is a great opportunity at the moment for any size business to be throwing out all sorts of experimental kind of ideas and pieces of content and engagement and kind of activities to see what works and then going from there. So I think those are certainly the next few months, and the next six to 12 months, the decentralized stuff, I think is something that’s far less important to most people, particularly brands. I think it’s much more interesting to creators if anything. And then finally, on that point, this platform will be made make or break based on its relationship with creators, much like many other platforms at the moment. If they can appeal to creators by creating opportunities for them to monetize their activity and their content and people, the best creators are on the platform, meaning that people want to be there to see their content. and maybe how they have some sort of bespoke content from those creators that they can’t find, say on TikTok or elsewhere, that will be a big incentive for the people to keep coming back and engaging on the platform. So that’s a significant win for them if they can make that happen.

Asif Choudry:
Thank you for that, Matt. That’s amazing. I feel like I’ve just done a chat GPT, very bespoke search, but actually had a human response to this threads V Twitter debate. So, and there’ll be the listeners will have really enjoyed that. And for those that there might be the odd one or two that don’t know you. So where’s the best place for people to find you and connect with you and. you know, consume some of the vast amount of content and the opinion that you

Matt Navarra:

Asif Choudry:
have on

Matt Navarra:

Asif Choudry:
things on

Matt Navarra:

Asif Choudry:

Matt Navarra:

Asif Choudry:

Matt Navarra:
same on Twitter and threads, so you can find me in my handle, which is at Matt Navarro. And if you’re interested, I do a weekly newsletter every Friday called geek out. And that brings all together all of the news from the week in one place. And if you’re interested in getting that free newsletter, you can go to geek out dot Matt Navarro dot com and you can subscribe for free.

Asif Choudry:
Excellent. And you’ll find this podcast on Spotify, Apple or your chosen platform and on our website, You can follow us on Twitter at comshero and on threads as well. I suppose I have to include that now. It’s comshero underscore. And if you do listen on Apple or Spotify, please leave a rating review and hit the follow and subscribe button. And we have new episodes that come out every two weeks. So it might be an absolute pleasure. Some fantastic information there for the listeners to take away.

Matt Navarra:
You’re welcome.

Volunteering and sharing your comms skills can be rewarding

Volunteering and sharing your comms skills can be rewarding

Damian Vizard is a Strategic Communications Business Partner at Tai Calon Community Housing in Wales. Damian is a communications and marketing professional with over a decade of experience working in the Housing Sector and a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR). He is passionate about change communication and is a visual communications expert. Before moving into the world of Housing, Damian ran his own business for three years, offering multimedia solutions. He is a Husband, a Dad of two, a drummer, a retro gaming nerd and an amateur barber.

It feels good to give something back, and as Comms practitioners, we have many transferable skills that can help other organisations. Volunteering your time can not only give you a warm feeling inside but also offer you an insight into how different sectors operate, as well as helping you to grow your professional connections.

Damian Vizard

Strategic Communications Business Partner

Podcast questions:

  1. What made you volunteer?
  2. Does volunteering for groups take up much time?
  3. When is a good time in your career to volunteer?
  4. Why volunteer in the first place?
  5. What advice would you give to somebody thinking of volunteering their time and skills?

Podcast transcript here:

Disclaimer: this is an automated transcript. Please don’t call the grammar police on us. You never know, we may have ChatGPT writing our next one…

Asif Choudry (00:12):

Hello and welcome to a new episode of the you’re my CommsHero podcast. And I’m your host, Asif Choudry. Today my guest is Damian Vizard, who is strategic communications business partner at Tai Calon Community Housing in Wales. Damian is a communications and marketing professional with over a decade of experience working in the housing sector and a member of the C I P R Chartered Institute of Public Relations. He’s a, he’s passionate about change communication and is a visual communications expert. Before moving into the world of housing, Damian ran his own business for three years offering multimedia solutions. He’s a husband, a dad of two, a drummer, a retro gaming nerd, and an amateur barber. Uh, so Damian, it’s a pleasure to welcome you on the podcast.

Damian Vizard (01:01):

Oh, thank you so much for having me. I’m so, so pleased to be here.

Asif Choudry (01:04):

And, um, for our listeners who don’t know, Damian, you are, um, one our first core of comm Ambassadors, aren’t you? You’re on that, uh, you’re on that panel as well as recently being, um, carbon literate certified through the CommsHero network as well. So you’re very much a, a CommsHero, super fan and very much a, a part of the community.

Damian Vizard (01:28):

I, I definitely class myself as a bit of a CommsHero fanboy, and it was such a privilege to be, uh, you know, to be on, to be on that, that first color cohort of CommsHero ambassadors. Yeah, there’s lots of, if I could have a CommsHero tattoo, I probably would.

Asif Choudry (01:41):

<laugh>. Oh, I’m, I’m honored. I’m honored. So let’s do some getting to know you stuff then, Damian. So I’ve got some quick five questions. So what’s the most place played song on your playlist?

Damian Vizard (01:55):

Um, Aton a ton Higher by Marvin Gaye and then and Tammy Crow. Good

Asif Choudry (01:59):

Track. Yeah, good track. It’s

Damian Vizard (02:02):


Asif Choudry (02:03):

A playlist. What is it about that one? Yeah,

Damian Vizard (02:06):

But I’ve got a playlist called, um, positive Vibes and in that, that is, that is one of the songs, but it, the kids just love it in the car and things and we just sort of have it on repeat, you know,

Asif Choudry (02:16):

You’ll have to share that on socials and let everyone join in the inspiration and get onto your playlist as well. So, so I like that. Love that track. So, um, which famous person would you invite to dinner and why? Uh,

Damian Vizard (02:29):

I struggled with this one and I was thinking can I, can I have, can I ask more than one? But you said can only have one. So I’m gonna go for David Goggins. So he’s, um, an ex Navy Seal. He’s like an ultra marathon, um, athlete and things. And I think he’s, he’s gone through every hell week, the US kind of military have, you know, right. He’s got a book called You Can’t Hurt Me. And, uh, in there he’s on like, taking souls, you know, like how relentless can’t, you can’t stop saying relentless. And I just think for me, you know, working in comms <laugh>, I, I could just sort of relate to that and listening, listening to some of his podcasts and speeches and, and his reading, his books and things. I’m just thinking yeah, I’m, it just helps me sort of, uh, you know, go through my daily sort of, uh, career really. Cuz I think in comms you need to be relentless sometimes, you know, banging that drum, how important It’s I’d agree with that.

Asif Choudry (03:22):

I’d agree with that. So yeah, what a great, I don’t know, never heard of him before, but I will look him up. Definitely. That might, that’ll add that book to my TBR list. Uh, and, uh, and or, or even Audible might have, might be one to listen to that one. So, uh, excellent. So that’s a new one on me. So, and finally then Damian, three words to describe you.

Damian Vizard (03:45):

Multitasker, um, adapter, uh, inquisitive.

Asif Choudry (03:51):

Okay, great. Right then. So do you wanna give us an example of, uh, um, cuz you know, there’s popular misconception that men can’t multitask, so tell us a bit more about that one.

Damian Vizard (04:01):

Yeah, so that’s a kinda very loose sort of multitasking. So I, I’ve probably got like undiagnosed A D h ADHD or something Right. But I tend to start many tasks and I think that’s really handy in comms anyway cuz we need to split spin lots of plates at the same time. Cause nothing lands true. You know, nothing starts end to finish in one go. Yeah. Um, so I, I, you know, it does help in comms, but I, I do tend to start things and then move on to something else at the same time. I’ll have multiple tabs open in my, on my laptop, multiple programs. I’ll have like sort of Photoshop open, I’ll have word open, I’ll be doing a bit of press release and I’ll jump back into Photoshop. Yeah. It’s not that I get bored, it’s just I’ll get distracted by that thing, I guess. Yeah. So sort of multitasking then a loose weight, you know, not always a good way I guess, but it, I think it’s good to be aware of it as well, isn’t it? Yeah. That’s

Asif Choudry (04:49):

Working for you isn’t it? It’s working for you. That’s the main thing. Yeah. So that’s great. No, appreciate you, uh, uh, sharing some of that insight and I hope the listeners, I know I have enjoyed getting to know a little bit more about you, but we’re here today to talk about, uh, volunteering and sharing your comm skills can be very rewarding and it feels good to give something back. And as comms practitioners, we have many transferable skills that can help other organizations. And volunteering your time can not only give you a warm feeling inside, but also offer an insight into how different sectors operate, as well as helping you to grow your professional connections and volunteering something you are huge about. So you’re in a great position to be able to, um, help share your knowledge and inspire myself and other listeners. So I’m gonna, uh, I’m gonna kick off with the first question for you, Damian here. So what made you volunteer in the first place?

Damian Vizard (05:39):

My first volunteering role, I didn’t really, it was something I had in my mind. I thought I, I’d love to have a go at. Um, this is for, uh, the, um, committee housing cam. They are a kind of our umbrella body in Wales for social housing. And, and they have a, um, comms strategic, uh, delivery group. Um, and it’s something I thought about, you know, I’d like, like to be a part of. And I thought, oh, REMS, is that gonna take a lot of time? And um, Jane Roth, who, who now is the chair of the group, uh, she contacted me and said, Damian, I’d like you to, to put your, put your name forward via your hat, um, your name in the hat to, to become vice chair. I said, Jane, is that gonna take a lot of time? Um, and she said, no, no, it should be fine and you’ll enjoy it and, and grow and things.

Damian Vizard (06:22):

So I did it and it, it was, it was brilliant. You know, it’s not, um, it doesn’t take a lot of time up really. Um, but it’s, it wasn’t something I initially, uh, thought so I thought of doing, but not, um, I was worried about did I have enough time, you know, and that always held me back. But that rolled onto other things where, um, I think at the same time I, I wanted to, to become a, a board member of our local, um, community radio station. Um, cause I’m ma massive fan of music, very passionate about that. And I wanted to kind of still keep my hand in. I sort of semi-retired as a drummer, so I still wanted to sort of do something with, with the music industry and things. So I thought helping the local, um, community radio station would, would, would be a thing. And, um, that, that was something i I was really passionate about, uh,

Asif Choudry (07:15):

Doing. Brilliant. And do you think then, does volunteering for groups, does it take up much, much time for people who want to do it?

Damian Vizard (07:23):

It, it depends on, on the groups I guess you’re involved with. But with, um, with my role as a board member with, with the community radio station, um, it tends to be about an hour, hour a week. Um, and there’s some of the side tasks that I’ve, I’ve helped with. I’ve helped with, um, sort of their marketing and things and, and I’ve designed some t-shirts and things for them and that, that sort of stuff. Um, for, um, for other groups. I mean, it could, it could take longer depending on what tasks, you know, you you need to do. But it may not, may may not be any more than an hour, you know, just meeting with, you know, meeting with um, a board or, or volunteering in that way and discussing just, just using your skills, you know, as a comm practitioner. Yeah. As we’ve got lots of transferable skills, um, yeah. That these groups, um, you know, really need really, you know.

Asif Choudry (08:07):

Yeah. And that’s good to know actually, because I think that you see lots of stuff on socials about volunteering and it’s uh, um, volunteering days that have been, uh, offered through their employers and, uh, people are out for a whole day doing thing that probably is a misconception. And you’ve, it, it’s really nice that you suggested there an hour volunteering is volunteering. And I think it’s not the quantity of this, um, you know, one hour spent, give, spent, giving those skills is something that, uh, that time for that organization itself, a, it’s gonna save them some money. Uh, and b they’ve genuinely got somebody on board who ha has a, a committed and a passionate interest in what they’re trying to do as an organization. And I don’t think, um, it gets any better cuz you’re not having to recruit somebody in, they’re actually coming to you and wanting to do it, uh, and wanting to do it for no cost. You know, it’s a really nice thing to be able to do. So I can see where, um, the appeal to that and it’s nice to know that, you know, uh, an hour is still classed as volunteering because I, I, I definitely would’ve thought it’s gonna be a, a much bigger, a bigger thing. You know, you could do a zoom call with somebody for 20 minutes and it’s still, you’re giving up your time, aren’t you to help somebody. So it’s, it’s nice to know that. So, well

Damian Vizard (09:25):

Often the often charity organizations, they don’t really have the kinda skills and things because they don’t Yeah. Cause they’re not paying for board members and not paying for, you know, people to come volunteer and things. Um, and, and like I said, they, they tend to be run by volunteers so that, so our uh, community radio station is, is Ram is managed by, um, Steve’s an ex mechanic, you know, um Right. But he’s passionate about community radio and, and yeah, know the knowledge he’s got is brilliant and he’s sort of learned it over the years. But, but he would argue, he would say himself, he’s not a marketeer or, or a comms person. Yeah. So, so I’m able to go there with that kind of hat on and un offer that kind of viewpoint. And again, sort of we working with this, you know, different organizations, um, which have different ways of working and different challenges.

Damian Vizard (10:06):

And that, that was one of the other reasons what it sort of attracted me to, to the community radio station is that I, I could sort of flex sort of my knowledge around marketing and things, which I can’t really do in my Yeah. My role, um, in social housing. Cause we don’t really sell a product. We, we have a, we have a brand we market, we don’t necessarily sell things. And in the community radio station they, they do need to sort of, um, self advertising and things like that to keep them running. That generat sort of keep going with the volunteers.

Asif Choudry (10:33):

Yeah. Excellent. That’s great that, so, you know, and also probably another potential misconception is that volunteering something you have to, or, or you can only do when you’ve amassed years’ worth of experience. So when there’s a, when is a good time in your career to volunteer then Damian?

Damian Vizard (10:52):

I, yeah, I, I totally agree with that cuz that’s exactly how I thought. I thought I needed to amass some like 30 years of experience and all these qualifications and, and all this sort of thing. And to be honest, I, I think anybody, if they’ve got spare time and, and a passion for an organization, they should, they should approach them and ask can they volunteer or join their board? Um, and that type of thing because, you know, we’ve all got, you know, transferable skills as comms practitioners that can help, um, all sorts of organizations that that just need, um, you know, maybe a bit of direction in terms of comms and comms such a, such an important thing to be at, at a kinda of a board level really. Um, yeah. Cause communication is so important. That’s good. But, uh, that’s good. There’s, there’s no better time than now, really. Yeah, I would say.

Asif Choudry (11:34):

Yeah. So it’s in, you know, hopefully this listeners are inspired to, um, not wait for 30 years before they offer up their skills and expertise because you could have been in post for six months or a year and you’ve got some expertise that would benefit, um, a number of organizations and we’re talking specifically comm skills. So that’s nice to hear and it’s good and I hope that’s encouraged. The

Damian Vizard (11:55):

Thing is, I think as well, if people really haven’t got, um, if, if they haven’t got that, that those years of experience as well, they may be asking some, some critical questions Yeah. Because they don’t understand. And maybe that also may open up some discussion on boards and things where you’ve got somebody going, well actually what does that mean? You know? Yeah. Or why do we do it that way? You know, why can’t we do it another way? So that critical thinking or critical questioning is really important at that level too.

Asif Choudry (12:18):

Certainly. So this, the, probably the another element there is that you can gain some very different perspectives to help your own marketing, comms, pr, career and skillset by putting yourself in an environment that you wouldn’t ordinarily have gone into as part of your profession. Cause it’s not a job that you’ve applied for. Um, and it, you know, so that’s not going to be of any detriment because there’s probably some things that you can bring back into your day to day work, um, workplace that will benefit or even the questions that you would ask to, to colleagues and more senior managers who might have that knowledge. So you’re bringing other people’s experience and knowledge. So somebody might be in your team who’s got 30 years your leader, your line manager, um, where they’re in effect that giving their experience, but they’re not doing the actual volunteering part themselves. They’re not spending an hour or two or three hours in the other organizations, but they’re still, so you can, you’ve kind of got that you’re expanding that volunteer network almost, um, by, uh, that individual going back into the organization and tapping into the expertise then. So we’ve, we’ve talked, there’s quite a number of things there that, you know, hopefully have inspired people to go and look for volunteering. But why do you think then, why should people volunteer in the first place at all?

Damian Vizard (13:41):

I, as, as I said, I think there’s, as cost practitioners, we’ve got lots of transferable skills. You know, we can offer organizations, uh, certainly charities and, and that type of thing. Um, and especially if you’re passionate about a particular cause or something that really helps as well. Like I said, I, I’m, I’m passionate about music and, and, and then for me was really, you know, the community radio station and things. Um, but I think, you know, there, there’s so much, um, you know, people, people can offer. So it, it’s, I I would say just, you know, look around actually if you look on LinkedIn, um, you look for board member, uh, places and um, and, and, and, um, and roles you can actually, uh, yeah, find quite a lot on there actually for, for different organizations, you know, um, some are paid actually as well, you know, some are paid, some are not.

Damian Vizard (14:26):

So it, it all depends on the kind of organ organization really and things. But, um, yeah, if you’re passionate about Pacific cause or, or or organization, um, it’s probably worth approaching them and, and asking, you know, do they have any space on on their board or, or would they like, you know, you to volunteer their time. You know, cuz cuz like I said, there’s lots of transferable skills that all college practitioners have where this help social media and that type of thing. So I’ve, you know, I’ve helped other organizations in the past, um, small businesses and things, um, with their social media cuz cuz they just don’t understand it. Um, we had a, it was a, a local building firm with us. You know, they, they, they, they’re great at building houses and walls and things, but they’re not great on their social media. So, uh, and they website. So I, I helped them, I volunteered a little bit of time with them really just to help them out because they, they just didn’t really understand it. So, but we, but we just, we just go about our day job, you know, and we just, we got all this skills that we could be helping other organizations with.

Asif Choudry (15:22):

Yeah. And that’s very true that, so I think you’ve certainly given a a, a very different perspective on volunteering, certainly for me personally, in terms of, it doesn’t have to be as structured and you can go and proactively go to places to go. And so what advice then would you give to somebody that’s thinking of volunteering their time and skills to an organization?

Damian Vizard (15:42):

I, I would say, um, you know, I understand you, you’re gonna have to give up an hour of your time probably once a month, um, or maybe a little bit more. So, so, you know, so maybe if you’ve got little, little ones, you know, maybe you need to think about when, when’s a good time when you got that kinda spare time when the, when they’re not so little perhaps. But, um, so yeah, apart from the actual, the the time I, I I’d say just, you know, find the organization you’re passionate about, find, um, the industry maybe you’re interested in or you’d like to expand your knowledge about as well. Cause that’s the other thing when, when you sort of join other organization’s boards, you may get a perspective into, into a different, um, industry that, that you never knew. You know? Um, so, so so that, that, that might help even for people who are looking to progress their career or even network as well, you know, in terms of, you know, find other people to sort of work with going forward.

Asif Choudry (16:34):

Yeah. And would you say then for, for line managers and leaders who aren’t necessarily going to do the volunteering but potentially of being approached by um, people in their teams at more junior levels or any level for that matter and there isn’t a volunteering program, how can they create an environment for those colleagues to actually be able to be comfortable and there’s a safe space for them to approach the leaders to say, look, there’s an organization here. Cause there’s a whole social value piece for the organization itself, isn’t it? Do you think that, do you think the leadership teams are aware of that’s the, that’s a fantastic benefit to the organization and encouraging the individuals to do that where there isn’t a volunteering program in place? Cause that isn’t commonplace in every organization.

Damian Vizard (17:21):

No, I, I was very lucky cuz when I pro approached, um, my boss and I said, you know, I’m thinking about volunteering for our local, um, our local community radio station. You know, I think it could be a great benefit cause there’s something, obviously there’s some synergy between what we do as a, as a housing association and what they’re looking to achieve. Cause they, they work with volunteers and, and people in the community and things as well. Yeah. Um, she, she said, yeah, great, go for it. And she’s been really supportive, um, through, through all through, you know, uh, all that type, all my connection there. And also with, with with CommsHero as well. When, when, when I, I said to her, you know, um, I was approached to be a CommsHero ambassador. She’s like, great, that’s brilliant. Cause I think when you, when you work with other organizations, you get different perspectives Yeah. Of, of how things work. Um, and then you make those connections and you think, oh great, okay, maybe we should bring that back to our organization and, and try that. And I’ve done that many times, you know?

Asif Choudry (18:14):

Amazing. Can we give a shout out for your boss then? I think it’s worthwhile.

Damian Vizard (18:19):

Yeah. Al Elliot, thank you so much for, for allowing me the, the space and time to go in to go volunteer with other organizations and bring that knowledge back and then, then being really enthusiastic about it and implement it in, in our organization. Absolutely. Cause that tends to be what I do

Asif Choudry (18:33):

<laugh> Well, when, when, when this episode goes live, you can, you know, um, make sure Elliot listens to that and thank you Elliot for, for giving Damian the, um, time to do the volunteering but also get involved in Comm Zero as well. We, you know, it’s appreciated. So going on to, you’re here because you’re part of the Comm Zero community. You’ve talked about being an ambassador. You’ve done the carbon literacy training that we kicked off this year. So, you know, Damon, just share for the listeners, why is Comm Zero important to you and what you recommend people working in comms, marketing and PR to be part of it?

Damian Vizard (19:08):

I, I love the CommsHero community, you know, cuz um, not everybody can know everything, but you can know a lot of people which know a lot of things. And I think in, in the CommsHero community, there’s a lot of people who know a lot of things and we’re all different stages of our careers or, or organizations at different stages. And you can just lean on people and sort of just nudge ’em and say, oh, can I, can I borrow this? You know, uh, this information off you or you know, can you put me in the right direction? And that’s what I love about the community and it’s all very kind of lighthearted and everybody’s kind of, you know, uh, you know, on social media, you know, everybody’s really great to tag people in and, and have a bit of a joke and a bit of a laugh and things cuz comms can be really serious and can be really, you know, can sort of grind you down, you know, on, on the day job things. So we all gonna sort of pick each other up, which is, which is really great.

Damian Vizard (19:55):

And I, I’d definitely recommend, you know, anybody working in comms, anybody who working in marketing, even if, if you’re a, a creative person as well who’s, who’s sort of a graphic designer and things I think you could benefit, you know, for being part of the comms community. Um, because obviously there’s a lot of transferable skills there, you know, that you need to be able to communicate well as a sort of a graphic designer, you know? So, and, and there’s lots of, uh, stuff that’s been discussed at comms here. I think, um, our our graphic designer, uh, Sophie, she thought that was brilliant, you know? Yeah. And, and that’s really informed the way what she does, you know, going forward.

Asif Choudry (20:26):

Brilliant. No, no, thank you for sharing that. And it’s really good that the community is delivering and that, that kind of networking and the sharing of best practice, all that stuff, it’s, you know, over that nine year period that we’ve been going so far has definitely been the core theme of when people are asked that question that they come backwards. So, Damian, thanks for, uh, what’s been a great interview and, uh, I’m sure the content listeners will enjoy that. And lots of, um, popular misconceptions for me personally have been dispelled on volunteering. And I hope that that’s been the same case, uh, for listeners. And, um, they’re inspired to do the volunteering themselves, but if they want to find out more what’s important, you know, I, I’d love for people to connect with you. So how can they do that? Where will they find you?

Damian Vizard (21:10):

They can, uh, they can find me on Twitter. I’m quite sort of active on Twitter and LinkedIn. I do have an Instagram, but I, I don’t really post very much on there really to be honest. I’m more just, uh, very kind of just, just, I just watch other accounts really <laugh> and just follow lots of music, music things. But if you want, if you wanna connect with me, it’s Twitter and LinkedIn.

Asif Choudry (21:30):

Excellent. And we’ll share the links in the show notes anyway. So, um, so you’ll find this podcast on Spotify, apple and your chosen platform and on our website com You can follow us on Twitter at com zero. If you do listen on Apple or Spotify, please leave a rating and review. Hit the follow and subscribe button as well so you can get the new episodes that are every two weeks now. Um, so, uh, Damian, it’s been an absolute pleasure. Thank you so much for giving up even more of your time, the community, and I’m sure the listeners are gonna enjoy this one.

Damian Vizard (22:03):

Thank you so much for having me.

Second impressions: How marketing can shift perceptions of your sector

Second impressions: How marketing can shift perceptions of your sector

After graduating with a Masters in marketing 10 years ago John has worked in marketing positions within the publishing and legal sectors. For the majority of the previous decade John has worked within the housing sector heading up the marketing and PR function. He has recently now joined the team at DNV as a Marketing and Communications Specialist.

He is a Chartered Marketer, John has delivered projects that have gone onto be seen in the Guardian, the Drum and the New Statesman. This standout work led to him being invited to become a founding member of the first cross-sector marketing committee. John is also a published academic writer with book chapters written on the various impacts on consumer behaviour.

Outside his role at DNV John acts as a Team Lead within the marketing team of the Global Diaspora Confederation. This UN-backed project, supporting people who have been displaced, with a particular emphasis this year on helping those affected by the crisis in the Ukraine, and matches them with appropriate medical, emotional and financial support.

Outside work, John is a wild swimming fanatic so he can often be found in the sea, lakes and rivers at all times of the year!

Do you think your customer base (either existing or prospective) have an outdated or incorrect viewpoint of your sector? If so, it can be holding back new business and leading to a sense of internal inertia. How does an organisation go about changing this though, especially if they’re a sector that’s regulated. This is where communications and marketing can help.

In this conversation John joined us as he neared the end of his 8+ years at RHP before joining DNV to share his top tips and best practices that you can use, no matter how traditional your sector is, to stand out in a meaningful way and help push things forward not just for your organisation but your peers too and help benefit your bottom line and internal culture.

John Neugebauer

Marketing and Communications Specialist

Podcast questions:

  1. Why might comms teams start to think about shifting perceptions of their sector and how might they make a start with it?
  2. How have you attracted customers to RHP Group who might not typically know about your products, Shared Ownership homes for example.
  3. How does thought leadership play a role in this?
  4. How has organic PR been generated through this approach
  5. Do you believe recruitment marketing plays a role in this too?
  6. You work in quite a regulated sector, what top tips do you have for those who’re trying to cut through in equally regulated or even more tightly regulated sectors?
  7. Rounding up the conversation, what would your top three tips be?

Podcast transcript here:

Disclaimer: this is an automated transcript. Please don’t call the grammar police on us. You never know, we may have ChatGPT writing our next one…

Asif Choudry (00:03):

Hello and welcome to another episode in the You’re my CommsHero podcast. And I’m your host, Asif Choudry. Today my guest is John Neugebauer, um, with an interesting spelling of that name, and you’ll see that in the show notes, but it’s pronounced Neugebauer. So John, after graduating with a master’s in marketing 10 years ago, John has worked in marketing positions within the publishing and legal sectors. And for the majority of the previous decade, John has worked with the housing sector heading up the marketing and PR function of R H P Group, a southwest London based housing group. John’s a chartered marketer and has delivered projects that have gone on, uh, to be seen in The Guardian, the Drum and the New Statesman. Uh, the standout work led him to be invited to become a founding member of the First Cross Sector marketing committee. And John is also a published academic writer as well with book chapters written on the various impacts on consumer behavior outside his role at R H P.

Asif Choudry (00:59):

John acts as a team lead within the marketing team of the Global Diaspora Confederation. And I had to Google how to pronounce that and John’s told me that is correct. This is a un backed project supporting people who have been displaced with a particular emphasis this year on helping those affected by the crisis in the Ukraine and matches them with the appropriate medical, emotional and financial support and outside work. John is a wild swimming fanatic, so he can often be found in the streams, lakes and rivers at all times of the year. So John, it’s an absolute pleasure to welcome you on the podcast

John Neugebauer (01:35):

As if, how lucky am I to get some quality time with the busiest man in comms? Thank you so much for having me. And of course, big up the comms here are massive.

Asif Choudry (01:45):

Thank you, John. And before I do the getting to know you bit, I think we need to here, you told me, um, before we started recording the story of the approach from the Global Diaspora Confederation on G D C as we might have, uh, use the acronym. Um, tell us about that approach, John.

John Neugebauer (02:06):

Yeah, well I really appreciate you taking the time to ask about it actually, as if, um, so this was all through LinkedIn, our trusted channel. So I was approached by the un, um, I got a private message for them. It actually took me a couple of days to realise that it wasn’t Spam <laugh>, that it actually was Yeah, yeah. The proper un <laugh>. Um, and yeah, they said they were putting together this project and it was interesting as I, I hope you don’t mind me saying as if we, um, both are talking about how diaspora was originally a new word to us when it it came to us. But yeah, as soon as we started doing, um, our due diligence realised, um, wow, this is, this topic is something we do know a lot about. Um, my per personally, firsthand. So my, um, my father’s father was, um, a diaspora from, um, Poland.

John Neugebauer (02:53):

He came over after the Second World War, um, over to England. And, um, yeah, so it’s a topic close to my heart and um, it’s been an amazing experience. I know, um, our chair, Peter will be listening back to this, so pick hello to him and, um, in March, at the end of March, gonna be going to the UN in New York, um, on behalf of the G D C. So yeah, it’s been two years of, um, really eye-opening experience and it just goes to show, um, a career in marketing. You never know where you’re gonna end up. I I never thought I would be working for a un backed project, um, within the marketing function. So yeah, I hope that’s a, a bit of a inspiration for people who are starting out in comms and marketing that yeah, just keep an open mind and never know where you might end up.

Asif Choudry (03:41):

It’s very true, John, and no, I appreciate you sharing that story as well. So very inspiring for people you just don’t know who’s watching. Um, and absolutely, you know, props to you for doing that. It’s an amazing organization that does obviously does fantastic work and, and good luck with, um, uh, with the event in March that you’re attending as well. So let’s get to know you a little bit more. John, I’ve got some quick fire questions. So are you, let’s get straight and I, are you an e booker or a printed booker?

John Neugebauer (04:11):

Uh, well again, I hope you don’t mind me putting you on blast as if, but we are both very much a, um, a Prince sniffers, so we love the smell of

Asif Choudry (04:19):


John Neugebauer (04:19):

Yeah. Book new magazine. Yeah, prince Sniffers Unite <laugh>. Um, there’s something about a physical book that feels like a bit of a treat. Um, I don’t know, an ebook kinda makes me feel, you know, it’s a bit of an extension of work, so to be able to really kind of switch off with a good book. Yeah. That said though, actually, um, so we were lucky enough to have June sarong come and give us a talk rhp recently. And we, after that we read her book Diversify. And, um, apologies to, she’s listening, you never Know <laugh>. I actually, um, misplaced her book. So, uh, rather than buy a new copy, I, um, checked out the audio book and it was interesting cause I was about halfway through the book, but I thought, oh, let’s listen to a bit of the, the first half anyway, through this audio book. And I actually, um, a lot of what she was saying where I thought she was being serious, she was actually being a bit tongue of cheek and then vice versa. So it was really quite a, a different experience listening it to, to audiobook rather than, um, yeah, reading it on the page. So yeah, it might be a bit of an audio bit convert as well.

Asif Choudry (05:23):

No, I’ve, um, I, after interviewing, um, the one half of Comm’s Hero Power Couple, the Waddington, um, I recorded a podcast with Sarah Waddington Yes. Probably over a year ago about, um, uh, print and, um, uh, permanent Inc was the episode title and she talked about Audible and I didn’t know it was a thing to be honest with you, uh, before that. And I, I do, I have listened to quite a lot of books on Audible now, um, just because I’m still commuting and it’s a great way to, um, take in some more C P D and more learning. So I’m, I’m definitely a convert. But the printed book, we commented on LinkedIn, didn’t we? About the Yeah. Arrival of the latest edition of the CM Magazine, the Chartered Institute of Marketing Magazine, catalyst, which is always a good smelling publication as well as Jam pat full of marketing content

John Neugebauer (06:14):

As well. Amen.

Asif Choudry (06:16):

So, yeah, so you’re very much a, um, a printed booker and I in, I’m gonna post out a tweet, uh, before this episode goes live and I’ll tag in June Saron, cuz she’s had a mention. So let’s see if she gives us a,

John Neugebauer (06:28):

Hey, you never know, you know up.

Asif Choudry (06:31):

I won’t, I won’t tell her that you, you misplaced a physical copy of her book though, John, but we’ll keep that. Yeah, please

John Neugebauer (06:36):

Do. Please.

Asif Choudry (06:37):

Unless she listen to this podcast and hears about us, <laugh> hears about the story. So are you, um, Twitter or Instagram? Yeah, Twitter or Instagram, John.

John Neugebauer (06:47):

Oh, that’s,

Asif Choudry (06:48):

It’s putting you on the spot, isn’t it?

John Neugebauer (06:49):

Isn’t it? Um, I think probably best way to describe it, yeah, if I want my brain kind of switched on, I’ll go onto Twitter and um, yeah, always amazing things to be seen there. Um, and then yeah, if I want to maybe switch my brain off a bit, that’s when I’ll go onto Instagram. Yeah. Um, from a business perspective though, both have been amazing for us for generating leads. So yeah. I’ve got big love for both.

Asif Choudry (07:15):

I might have to, yeah, I might have to update that question now to include LinkedIn and TikTok. Now I might ask, I might have to update that 23.

John Neugebauer (07:25):

I do you feel about TikTok? It just makes me feel hideously old whenever I, uh, look at who <laugh>.

Asif Choudry (07:31):

Well, I’ve set up an account after speaking to Helen Reynolds. Yeah. After speaking to Helen Reynolds, I’ve set up an account on Yes, I might, I might unleash myself on TikTok in 2023. You never know.

John Neugebauer (07:42):

Come big thing is king as if on TikTok.

Asif Choudry (07:44):

Yeah. So yeah, John, we’ve got, um, uh, one final one. Are you an early riser or do you love a lion?

John Neugebauer (07:53):

This is the easiest question you could ever ask me. So I’m <laugh> when I have the opportunity. Big time, big time lion. So, um, I’m, uh, a, a serious and night al I like to delude myself that there’s some science behind it. So I’m a summer, a summer baby, so I’m like, oh yeah, my circadian rhythm. It appreciates those long evenings. But then as everyone who’s born around the same time, time of year as me will remind me, I say, well my body is totally normal. So yeah, bango that theory, but yeah. Okay. Uh, lions

Asif Choudry (08:24):

For sure. Lions. Yeah.

John Neugebauer (08:26):

Are you a not actually, I’m, I’m interested to write this. Are you a al I’m telling the tables here. Are you a al or an early riser? Cause I feel like you’re both

Asif Choudry (08:35):

<laugh>, <laugh>. It depends. You know, I’ve, I’ve always been an early riser, so I’m part of the, I know there’s this movement or community of the 5:00 AM club, um, whether that’s people getting up and, you know, jumping out of bed, going to the gym, that’s not necessarily myself. I’ve got to get out of bed round about five 30 only so I can get in a 20 minute hit workout before I do the morning routine with, um, yeah, come on, uh, with the, uh, with my two children. So get them ready for school and all the rest of it. So, uh, yeah, an early riser, it just depends. If I’ve got loads of stuff, wizarding, round, creative thoughts, et cetera, then it’s kind of difficult to go to sleep on that. You’ve just got to, I’m not saying I, I don’t sit there journaling every evening or anything like that, but I like to note stuff down or if I want to respond to some emails, I’d rather just do that and leave them in my draft so that they don’t drop into people’s, um, email inboxes at stupid hours. Although some may have received emails from me and I apologize if you receive emails from me at 10:00 PM or even later in some cases, or tweets or LinkedIn posts. Um, but you shouldn’t be checking your phone anyway at that time, so it’s your fault <laugh>.

John Neugebauer (09:45):


Asif Choudry (09:45):

Exactly. So yeah, a bit, a bit of both to be honest with you, but I try and get as much balance in that as possible. But it’s, it’s a, it’s a juggling act, isn’t it? Every day. But I don’t put, it’s a juggling, I don’t put a lot of undue pressure, um, on myself, but I know that, you know, ideally get between six and a half to seven hours sleep if I can. Um, oh

John Neugebauer (10:03):

Yeah, that’s pretty easy.

Asif Choudry (10:04):

Yeah, it’s, it’s a decent amount.

John Neugebauer (10:06):

You was, it was a burning question because if you’ve ever been lucky enough to be at a multi-day event with, as if you’ll know that he’ll be one of the last to leave an evening function and then you’ll, he’ll be the first person you see early in the morning looking immaculate. And I don’t like, I’ve slept in a barn <laugh>.

Asif Choudry (10:24):

That’s very kind of, you jump,

John Neugebauer (10:26):

So I dunno how you do it. <laugh>.

Asif Choudry (10:28):

Well, we’re, we’re here for the Commer podcast. Let’s give some content to our listeners now. So just a quick overview of what we’re gonna talk about. So, um, do you think your customer base, either existing or perspective, have an outdated or incorrect viewpoint of your sector? If so, it can be holding back new business and leading to a sense of in internal inertia. So how does an organization go about changing this though? Especially if they’re a sector that’s regulated? And this is where communications and marketing can help. And in this conversations John’s gonna share his top tips and best practices that you can use no matter how traditional your sector is, to stand out in a meaningful way and help push things forward, not just for your organization but your peers. Two, and help benefit your bottom line and internal culture. So we’ve got some questions I’m gonna throw at you, John, to explore that and expand on that and give your top tips and pearl of wisdom. So I’m gonna kick off with the first one. So tell us, John, why might comms team start to think about shifting perceptions of their sector and how might they make a start with that?

John Neugebauer (11:34):

Yeah, well I’ll stop by saying that I appreciate this topic might seem a bit of a lofty and ambition. So grab that couple and let’s get into it. I said just took a, an appropriate swig of tea whilst I said that <laugh>. So my main aim of our conversation is to talk through the steps that can be taken to help reposition how people see your company. And if more companies like yourselves were to reimagine their organizations in this way, um, that then creates a collective step change. So you’ve asked as if why might you want to start to reposition how your sector is viewed? Well it might be that people have an outdated or incorrect vision of your sector or the products and services that you offer. This therefore is acting as a barrier to entry for both new business and attracting new talent to coming to work for you.

John Neugebauer (12:26):

So to give you a real life example, in the housing world, we offer a product called shared ownership. Now research tells us that at least 25% of people aren’t actually aware of what shared shared ownership is. And many of that segments have the false assumption that their shared elements means they have to share with another person rather than the correct understanding, which is that it’s a shared part of the home that you’re buying instead. So that’s a big chunk of prospective market we’re missing out on as they’re instantly dismissing the product. Now, r h p, um, we have over 40 million pounds worth of shared ownership homes to sell within the next year. So suddenly that 25% seems really quite vital to engage with. So because of this knowledge, it’s actually influenced our marketing output around shared ownership. Um, we’re making sure that we’re directly dispelling this myth right away from the textual reading on our website through to our social posts, our marketing literature.

John Neugebauer (13:26):

So I challenge you to think in your own sector what common barriers to entry might you have and how can you overcome them? And when it comes to the, how can I make a start? Part of your question, of course you’ve got our trusted friend such as sports and peal. I’d personally really recommend social listening though as a way of finding out what people think of your sector on a larger scale. Um, an online tool I’d definitely recommend is answer the public and shout out to head Reynolds for first, um, switching me onto this. Um, so with this, with Answer the public, you simply put in the keyword and then the most frequently asked questions around that word or term they come up. So you can use this then to create content that’s, um, around these questions to help counteract what you are seeing. So for example, why are housing services slow is a more negative question that comes up when searching housing.

John Neugebauer (14:22):

So in response to this, we can put together an infographic showing rhp facts, um, around our fast response times, across all our different channels and show that we aim to respond to a hundred percent of our customer contacts within the same day. I’d also encourage collective cross sector thinking as well. Again, an example of this from my side, within the past year or so, the councils within our operating areas have started up communications groups, which allows comms experts from all walks of life to talk about the latest services and events that are open to customers within their related boroughs. This is great in terms of adding value to customers’ lives. So I definitely recommend to get in contact with your local council’s comm, uh, team if you haven’t already, and finding out if they have similar external groups like this too. Another example, looking back at the shared ownership challenge I’ve touched on, we now have, as you wanna know, as if we have a cross sector shared ownership campaign, which really helps with giving a collaborative collective message to the widest audience possible. And just finally, so in the computer study, so, um, here’s one made earlier, you’ve taken all these steps, how do you know if it’s worked well for this, I’d definitely recommend looking at your brand sentiment scores. This way you’ll be able to check what’s been said about you and if there’s been a positive shift within that relating period of time.

Asif Choudry (15:48):

That’s excellent John, and thank you for thank you for that. Some, some really good tools. So answer the public Yes, courtesy of Helen Reynolds. So thank you Helen for that. And that’s, uh, I’ll share that. I have to admit I didn’t know about that one, so, um, I’ll be codling that one and having a look. So great bit of insight there. Um, so thanks for sharing that and nice to hear CM will be pleased to hear we’re talking swap pestle. Um, we can throw in a few peas as well, I’m sure and amongst all of that. So, um, good for all us. Um, yes, CM Connoisseur will be nodding with agreement and either, uh, switching off because they’ve been, uh, reminded of a tool that, um, may have haunted them from an exam or, or reminded of one that they’ve been able to use successfully in the workplace. So no, that’s great. Great. Um, good insight there, John, to, to share with people and there’ll be stuff people take away from that. So, so John, how have you attracted customers to R H P Group who might not typically know about your products using shared ownership homes as an example?

John Neugebauer (16:49):

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Well, I think our secret source has been making sure we’re going to where we think our prospective customers might be rather than just going to where we know they are. And we’ve done this through a lot of different ways. So if we start with shed ownership, it’s trying to find that 25% of people who I mentioned who don’t know about the products but falls within our target markets. And I say this as their captive shed ownership audience are largely really alert and on it actually. Um, and we’re able to capture them through more traditional methods. So for starters, we look for opportunities happening within the relating local community that we know are gonna bring out large members of the public in that appropriate catchment area. So everything from some affairs to fates through to careers fairs have been successful for us. Um, we’ve also appealed on local radio stations to talk about shared ownership, describing how it works and taking listener questions.

John Neugebauer (17:43):

And then geo-targeting digital marketing has been a great way for us to engage with our target customers too. So for anyone who hasn’t heard of it, in a nutshell, geotargeting is a way to specify the location we want our digital ads to show. So in as Opel where it’s worked really well for us, we had a development based in Feltham and we targeted the nearby HETO airports so that people who worked there were seeing the ads for this development regularly. And then we later went on to find out that there were a couple of buyers actually found out about their new home through these ads. And even better, they weren’t aware what shared ownership was before. So that was really gold dust in terms of, uh, engaging with customers like that. And we’ve tried to think creatively, um, with third party opportunities too. So for example, we’re going to be working with an online lifestyle publisher called Sherlocks Soon.

John Neugebauer (18:33):

And despite the fact that they have a property page, they haven’t actually featured anything about Shell ownership before, but we both agree that their customer base is exactly our target market. So looking forward to seeing how that opportunity performs for us. And then more generally as a housing group, we’ve been so proud that our marketing has helped our sector being seen in a different way. A good example of this being we developed our new brand called Connect with Home All in House. And to launch it, we made a short film and this short film was actually ended up being picked up by the drum and they featured it on the out of the day feature. And this was their first out of the day to actually come from the housing sector itself. And I don’t say this to be saying, oh look how great we are.

John Neugebauer (19:20):

Uh, it was more, look how great the sector is. So we felt like that was a real win for all of us collectively. Um, and I see our peers constantly doing amazing things to, to showcase the housing sector in UA that cut through. And you’ll be able to tell me more about, about this one as if, but I have to, um, mention the Astro groups take over Waterloo Station as a best in class example here for, so from what I saw online, um, it looks incredible and truly experiential. You had everything from a gospel choir to all the digital billboards taken over. Um, it’s so great to see and and typically you might think only a blue tip organization would do a full takeover like this, so it’s a real great statement of intent to see a housing group doing it.

Asif Choudry (20:05):

Yeah, no, it’s important cause you you’re competing with the same audience, aren’t you? So you’ve got to, um, you have to offer campaigns in the same way. And that, that one funnily enough was, um, it won 2019 C Im or 2020 c i m awards, um, integrated campaign, large category up against the likes of, uh, Sony and um, uh, rolls Royce were two of the, the brands that were in that category as well. So to come up against those for a a housing association to be able to do that was yeah, was phenomenal. So it’s good. It shows that the sector can, uh, compete with, uh, some big brands as well. Yeah,

John Neugebauer (20:44):

Incredible work. Incredible work. And yeah, just finally I, um, touch back on developing the look and feel of Connect With Home. We looked beyond the sector for inspiration and tip point is from everything for the banking through to travel sectors. And this led us to having branding first within our sectors, within our sector. So we were the first housing group to be using neon style elements with our key branding. And those extra layers of personalization with our output within our outputs has really helped us st stand stand out.

Asif Choudry (21:17):

No, that’s brilliant John, that’s a really good example there for people to, uh, take away and irrespective of your sector, there’s some some good insight there for people to, to just, you know, even if it’s just reaffirming your own understanding or actually giving you some new understanding. And it’s a great example, um, to check out RHP groups, um, connect with Home brand. So tell us, John, how does thought leadership then play a role in all this that you’ve, that you’re talking about?

John Neugebauer (21:43):

Yeah, thought leadership has been a really big one for us. Um, with this, I’m a firm believer that it’s stronger to be leveraging those individual voices rather than putting out content from the company as a whole. But fortunately, uh, r h p our leaders, um, have always lots of interesting viewpoints to share. Um, so that’s definitely my first recommendation. Find those leaders in your company have something compelling that they want to share and then help them nurture that. So in terms of pr, one of the first things I did when I started at R H P was deciphering what the, the top three topic areas, um, that we wanted to be known for were. Um, this was especially fresh in my mind as, uh, previously, uh, the job before I was working on a news floor and seeing the journalists working next to me, they were time poor, very pressing deadlines.

John Neugebauer (22:32):

So with the articles they had in their inbox, they had to have those two to three organizations that they knew they could contact straight away and they’d give them a good quote in relation to their subject. Um, so for example, the journalist might be thinking, ah, yeah, the organization is a thought leader in sustainability within agriculture, I’m going to contact them. So, um, when you can get to that place with your short leadership, that’s the sweet spot and you’re generating organic pr. I would say though this can only be achieved through by being really consistent and putting forward these chosen topics and weaving them into all of your PR focused output. So for us, flash forward for years and our leaders have, uh, written pieces for publications such as the New Statesman, the Guardian, the Telegraph, p Plenty of other trade publications, and we’ve made sure to have some fun along the way as well.

John Neugebauer (23:24):

Um, so we actually, um, did a piece with Stylists magazine and their day in the life of future and, um, because stylists magazine has such a massive reach, it’s given out in the underground, um, that’s actually one of the PR items that we’ve had most feedback on. So again, you, you never know what’s gonna engage, um, with the, with the wider community and the wider public and events have been really valuable to us too. Um, and as great as our sector events are, we’ve made sure to look beyond it for speaking opportunities. So we’re attracting different types of prospective customers, investors, and employees. So to give you a flavor of that, we’ve successfully pitched our chief executive to speak at events such as the London Tech Week and the Institute of Customer Service events as well. And then just finally dovetailing, um, with this, when looking at your award plan for the year, look for out of opportunities to go forward too and one better, the awards might be tied to magazine or newspaper, meaning guaranteed positive PR if you’re shortlisted and or win. I’m sure you saw that with, um, the CM with Asta,

Asif Choudry (24:31):

It’s phenomenal to, to out of sector. I think there is, um, it is important John, it’s a very valid point to step out of your comfort zone of just entering, obviously you’ve gotta start with awards in your own sector, but then from a comms, selfishly from a comms point of view, you want to, uh, put yourselves up against out of sector and see as just as a benchmark if anything else, just to see where, where do we sit, where, where’s our benchmark to, um, compare against, you know, can we go up against the likes of Rolls-Royce and um, Sony who have, uh, fantastic marketing and comms resources and the answer’s absolutely yes. You know, the proof is in the Asta group, uh, gladi campaign going up against you, um, those brands and you can do it, but you, you’ve got to be ready and you’ve got to be in the right position to be able to do that for sure. So John, that’s fascinating insight again there. So tell us how has organic PR been generated through this approach?

John Neugebauer (25:29):

Yeah, I’m pleased to say that there’s been plenty of organic PR that’s helped us both commercially and open up further conversations that have benefited the organization. So if we start with commercially first, so back in 2021, Teddington was named as the best place to live in London by the Times. And it just so happened that we had a block of shared ownership homes for sale in Ellington at that time. And then a digital publication called The Insider chose to do a follow-up piece and highlighted the unique features of living in Teton. And long story short, it turned out the only reference to actual homes within this, within this article was our block of apartments and the relating photo within it showed our hoardings with further contact details placed on them. Now the insider has over 1 million followers on social, so that many eyeballs seem such a positive piece that’s positive PR that you just can’t buy.

John Neugebauer (26:22):

And we did see a number of high quality leads come in off the back of that. So yeah, it makes you think, would our previous hoarding designs have caught the journalist eye or was it those neon elements that I mentioned earlier that caught her and made her think, okay, this, this is different. So yeah, if it was the latter, then our fresh design approach acquired us millions of impressions and completely organically. And then when it comes to creating relationships, PR has unexpectedly helped us do that too. So I remember the first article I pitched and wrote once I started rhp, it was for a trade publication and um, at that time our chief executive had been trying to set up a meeting with the head of council who we were potentially interested in working with. And yeah, for one reason or another they were particularly hard to get hold of.

John Neugebauer (27:12):

So what actually ended up happening was that the head of, uh, the council ended up seeing the article and he was so impressed by what he saw, he ended up contacting our chief executive directly off the back of reading it. So as we’ve already mentioned it, it just goes to show you never know who’s reading your outputs and um, yeah, in the housing sector we obviously have lots of different stakeholders, one segment being mps and counselors. So when our chief executive David was asked to write a piece for the parliamentary re review, we knew it was a great opportunity. Um, this is a publication that gets delivered here, every MP desk in the House of Commons directly, so there’s a great chance to be seen. And true to form there was some positive follow up conversations with relevant mps. So if this sounds good to you, then the Parliamentary review does special supplements for all sectors throughout the year. So I’d definitely recommend getting in touch with them if this sounds like a good opportunity for your organization.

Asif Choudry (28:12):

Thanks John. And, um, so tell us now moving on to, uh, recruitment marketing. Do, do you believe that recruitment marketing plays a role in this too?

John Neugebauer (28:23):

100% find surprisingly, housing still has a bit of a best kept secret in terms of being a great sector to work in that as you know, as if it’s a sector that’s full of purpose driven organizations, you have great cultures and put people first and it’s also a brilliant training ground for anyone slotting out in their career. So we’ve put, um, a lot of work into grabbing people’s attention through our recruitment marketing to help us attract people who might not have thought about our sector previously. And we’ve done this through developing a strong brand personality that manifests through both tone of voice and design that runs through our job adverts and job descriptions. Some people have misconceptions about housing that it’s old fashioned, however, those of us who work in it know it can be further from the truth. So our brand personality aims to bust the myth with a fresh, modern and dare I say, quirky approach.

John Neugebauer (29:16):

And we see our adverts as the first filter in our recruitment process as they not only help attract the right people who connect with our values, but they also tend to put some people off who we aren’t the right choice for as well. And that’s totally okay. And going back to the awards again, we’ve found they’ve helped shape the narrative around our organization and a way of showing external credibility to emphasize what’s important to you. So a lot of people tell us that they didn’t know much about housing, but when they saw things like we’re an investor in people platinum organization, then they almost do a double take and take another look at the adverts. Um, and a really important thing to note and to make sure you’re doing is, um, to make sure external employee brand is consistent with what people experience when they join.

John Neugebauer (30:04):

If there’s a gap, then yeah, you’re losing trust with your new employees already. And one of the best compliments we get from these starters is what you put across externally is exactly what you get internally, in fact is even better than I expected. So yeah, always music to ears when we hear that. I would just say ultimately though, the foundation of our recruitment marketing is diversity. We always want to make sure we’re getting as a wide range of applications possible. So for example, we search around to find job boards that are catering to those in the global majority. And yeah, we want to make sure those people who haven’t previously considered working in housing and to make sure that we, um, ensure all candidates get the fairest opportunity to come and join us.

Asif Choudry (30:49):

Yeah, great. And then you, you working quite a regulated sector, John, so what top tips do you have for those, um, who are trying to cut through in equally regulated or even more tightly regulated sectors even?

John Neugebauer (31:04):

Yeah, I can really empathize them. I, I’d say firstly I’d say don’t worry about making small steps first. So when I first joined R H P, our leaders were understandably slightly tentative about joining Twitter. So a way around this I put together a monthly publication called the Rhp Opinion. Um, this was a really straightforward graphic where each of our executive directors commented on trending stories, um, that month and that were relevant to their business area when posting this graphic and made sure the original journalists were tagged in the graphic and other publications that we wanted to work with. And this was successful for us for two reasons. So firstly we did start to see those journalists come and approach us for further comments. And then also when our leaders saw that it was so successful, it made them feel more encouraged to go on social media channels themselves.

John Neugebauer (31:53):

And that includes our chief executive who enjoys regularly tweeting now. Um, so if you have leaders who say no when you approach them about joining social, let that be an inspiration for you. And if you do find yourself in that situation, I find the following example might help sway things. And this is an example from a favorite leader of mine, Sarah Walker Smith, who Id definitely recommend giving a photo on LinkedIn. Uh, Sarah is CEO of the law firm, Shakespeare Martinu. So the legal sector, one of the most regulated sectors of all, and she’s been named the number one social law firm leader in the country. And that’s despite the fact that other law firms are 20 times larger than Shakespeare martinu. So automatically that’s giving her company competitive advantage. So it just goes to show getting your authentic voice out there is immensely important for cut through and standing out from the crowd and ultimately be encouraged to know that your customers now expect you to stand for something.

John Neugebauer (32:49):

The consumers have moved away from status symbols and towards status stories, so they want to have that feel good factor when doing business with you. So look out for those opportunities and shout about them. It could be the bank that you work for has paid for the hanging baskets and the high streets that you serve or the university you work for is providing free training to key workers. Whatever it is, get the good news out there. Look for user generated content opportunities to have your customers done something that’s particularly standouts and they’re happy for you to share it. When the story is coming from the customer themselves, it’s always so much more powerful and last, but by no means least they forget about the power of internal word of mouth. So for example, after launching Connect with Home, we saw a rise in our internal survey scores and the understanding our purpose and the work that we do makes a different categories. And we believe this increase came from a clearer storytelling aspect that was enabled by the function of Connects with home and launching regular features like no letting up, which highlights the stories of new customers who are moving into our homes. That positive feeling has a domino effect with our people and they go on to tell their family and friends about how we’re making a difference as an organization. And yeah, who knows, people within their circle might want to come and work for us or even become a customer.

Asif Choudry (34:13):

That’s so brilliant John. And those questions have brought out so much invaluable content and I’m sure people will be jotting down, pausing, rewinding, listening back to take up a lot of those points. But just around things up then, what would your top three tips be?

John Neugebauer (34:31):

Definitely, firstly, I’d say thank you for saying that as if, and I did warn people to grab a cup of tea at the start, so you can’t say I didn’t warn you <laugh>. So yeah, to wrap up I would say Holy trinity of tips are number one, collaborative working. How can you get together as a sector to overcome barriers including challenging those outdated or incorrect views of your sector? And then look for ways to positively, positively turn those notions on their head. Number two, think left of center. Where is your perspective audience? And even think about where your lapse customers may not expect to find you and make them think, oh, okay, I need to take a fresh look at them. When doing this, look outside your sector for inspiration. You might be seeing a clothing brand smashing it on social or a phone provider putting out an ad that you love.

John Neugebauer (35:16):

Think about what it’s like, um, about, think about what you like about that chosen outputs and why you think it works. You can then take the function behind that content and think how you would apply it into your own content that you’re putting out there. And then number three, make sure you’re clear on the top three topic areas that you want to be known for as an organization. Keep repeating those messages clearly and think of ways to get those topics under key journalist noses until you are one of those top three companies that they’re approaching for quotes. Mike Drop, that’s, that’s

Asif Choudry (35:51):

Been, that’s that’s, listen, there’s, there’s tons for people to take away from that and uh, um, some really good insight there for, um, for the listeners. So John, you’ve been part of the com zero community for, for a number of years now and you’ve attended events and got involved and you’ll be getting involved even more, uh, this year. Um, so tell us why is Comms Zero important to you and would you recommend people working in comms and marketing to be part of it?

John Neugebauer (36:20):

Oh man, I could talk all day about this as if for real. So I’d say the really special thing about Comms Zero, it almost feels like a chosen family. You know, one big fun, I know the best way Dysfunctional family <laugh>. Um, and it gives you that real sense <laugh>, it gives you that real sense of belonging. Um, I think ironically our discipline is particularly bad at doing PR for their own work. I think that’s partly due to us wanting to tell other people’s stories. So to have a place to see best practices and get a chance to celebrate our peer successes, it’s really amazing. Um, it’s also got to meet one of the most supportive communities I’ve had the pleasure of being part of. So if you have a question or want to run a an idea past somebody, then you’re safe in the knowledge that you are with a group of experts who always do want to help. So yeah, long Live comms hero and if you’re not following the accounts yet, what are you waiting for?

Asif Choudry (37:16):

No, thank you John, I appreciate that. And um, uh, it’s been a, a great interview, loads of stuff for people to take away. I know the Comms Hero listeners are gonna enjoy that. We, uh, want people to connect with you and enjoy content from you long after listening to the podcast. So where will they find you, what your social handles, John?

John Neugebauer (37:36):

Yeah, absolutely. So probably best to contact me on Twitter. My handle is at j the Marketer. Always happy to hear from my comms fan. Um, yeah, get in touch,

Asif Choudry (37:48):

Thanks. Excellent. And uh, we’ll share John’s details in the show notes as well, but you’ll find this podcast on Spotify, apple and on our website com And you can follow us on Twitter at com zero. If you do listen on Spotify and Apple, please do leave a rating and review and hit the follow button as well and subscribe so you can get up to date with lots of new episodes that are becoming your way this year. And if you do fancy getting into that guest hot seat as John’s just done now and you’re passionate about a comms subject, then drop me a line. Ask if Chowdry DM on LinkedIn or Twitter or via comms here as a contact us form on the website. Put forward your topic and you could be in the hot seat, um, uh, with these questions being asked to you. So John, it’s been an absolute pleasure. Thank you so much. And can’t wait for EV to share this with all our listeners.

John Neugebauer (38:39):

The pleasures being on mine as thank you so much again for having me.

I'm proud to be a CommsHero

I'm proud to be a CommsHero

Francesca is an award-winning, chartered PR practitioner, who has been working as a senior leader for eight years across public and private sector organisations. She has been working as a comms professional for 16 years. She is a passionate about her industry, having recently taken on a lecturing role with the University of South Wales within the Business School teaching PR and Reputation Management, alongside Consumer Behaviour and Strategic Brand Management; all while doing her day job working as a communications consultant.

In her spare time, you can either find her in the saddle riding her horse or throwing axes with her fiancé James, as well as walking their scruffy terrier on the beaches. She loves books and is currently attempting to write a children’s book based on the adventures of her horse Pedro.

Being able to love what you do is a luxury and an honour. Working in comms – whether that’s being a jack of all trades, specialising in PR or marketing or digital – is an opportunity to be able to experience different sectors, meet incredible professionals and work on topics you’d never thought possible. No career is perfect, but it’s what you learn along the way that matters, from the first campaign fail or joining an organisation that was the wrong fit. It’s how we share that learning with others and how we must continue to invest in our own learning – comms doesn’t stand still, so why should our understanding of it?

Francesca Carpanini

Communications Lead

Podcast questions:

  1. What makes you love what you do after all this time?
  2. Who inspires you to better?
  3. How do you share your experiences with others?
  4. As a Chartered PR practitioner, what difference does this make to your role?
  5. Should we own up to mistakes?
  6. What advice would you give to the next generation of comms heroes?

Podcast transcript here:

Disclaimer: this is an automated transcript. Please don’t call the grammar police on us. You never know, we may have ChatGPT writing our next one…

Hello and welcome to another episode in the You’re my CommsHero podcast. And I’m your host, Asif Choudry. Today my guest is Francesca Carpanini. Francesca is an award-winning, charted PR practitioner who has been working as a senior leader for eight years across public and private sector organisations. She’s been working as a comms professional for 16 years now, and she’s passionate about her industry having recently taken on a lecturing role with the University of South Wales, within the business school, teaching PR and reputation management alongside consumer behavior and strategic brand management, all while doing her day job, working as a comms consultant. And in Francesca’s spare time, you can either find her in the saddle riding her horse or throwing axes with her fiance James with I said not at clear make, let’s make that one clear. As well as walking their scruffy terrier on the beaches. Um, she loves books and we’ll talk about that in a second. organisations, and is currently attempting to write a children’s book on the adventures of her horse, Pedro. So Francesca, it’s a pleasure to welcome you on the podcast. Thank

Francesca Carpanini (01:13):

You very much for having me as if it’s really exciting to be the other side of the, organisations, podcasting game, organisations, for a, for a different point of view, I suppose.

Asif Choudry (01:25):

Yeah. And organisations, we had, um, Clarissa Langham who, organisations, was on this season’s, organisations, podcast series and she’s, organisations, writing a book at the moment as well, and you are writing one as well. So I did say to Clarissa and I’ll say the same to you. So, um, hopefully we’ll get a signed copy from you before you are asking for payment for autographs and stuff like that. Then Francesca,

Francesca Carpanini (01:49):

Well, we’ll see. It’s, um, it’s a bit of a challenge my mother gave me, um, my horse is Spanish and we always say that he sounds like Antonio Banderas if you could talk. So we’re seeing if I can write something that’s funny that can incorporate some of that. But he looks a bit like Max Tangled, the Disney film, so he’s got plenty of personality to fill the pages.

Asif Choudry (02:11):

Excellent. So we look forward to, organisations, seeing that. And you’ll have to tag in hashtag com zero and we’ll help promote that and get those sales up, but as a bestseller on its way there. So let’s get to know you a little bit, France, Francesca, and I’ve got some questions here. So let’s kick off with, we talked about books and you’re a lover of books, so ebook or printed book

Francesca Carpanini (02:32):

Printed? 100%.

Asif Choudry (02:36):

Okay. What is it about printed books that you like so much?

Francesca Carpanini (02:38):

Um, I love old books and I love the smell of old books and the fact that some of them have actually seen the history go through, especially where they’ve been well cared for. I’ve got paperbacks and modern books, but I’ve got 1800 versions of the place of Shakespeare and it’s this beautiful set. They’re huge and you’re never, I’m never gonna read them. But the fact that these books have survived in such beautiful condition and they, they tell their own story amongst the stories that they’re telling. So I just don’t think any ebook can ever find that, that ability to have that, I dunno, I can’t even describe that sense of,

Asif Choudry (03:15):

I think it’s the connection, isn’t it? Yeah. organisations, that, yeah, you just wanting to keep them on your bookshelf and give them to friends and family and stuff, and they can be marveled by everyone. Whereas your eBooks are, um, well they’re just sat in your Kindle, aren’t they? And, organisations, I mean, I like audio books myself. I, I use them on the commute or, organisations, doing the household chores and I get through more books that way, but I’ve only got into reading myself over the last two or three years. Um, organisations, so I wish I was an, organisations, you know, an avid reader as something that I’d done for years and years, but it’s not the case. But, um, but yeah, audible definitely helps, but I do enjoy, I tend to retain information better from printed books. Definitely.

Francesca Carpanini (03:52):

Yeah, I, I love it. And it’s, I can talk about them all day and once you get me started on some of my favorite authors, you probably should cut me off at some point cuz I’ll get carried away on the, on the, on the, on the, on the tail coats of, of Legends.

Asif Choudry (04:08):

Excellent. Okay, so let’s ask you, are you, um, apple or Android? Android, yeah. The, I’m always surprised when people say that and gimme that answer. It’s not often, but go on. What’s, why Android for you?

Francesca Carpanini (04:22):

I, I’m not a fan of Apple. Um, I never have been. I used them when I was on my placement year and I’ve used them throughout my career, but I just, they made them complicated for no reason. The only thing about Apple I like is Airdrop that Android doesn’t have, but other than that I’ve, n i I love my Android phone and I’m never gonna be converted otherwise. <laugh>

Asif Choudry (04:43):

Do you the passion in that answer. Amazing. It’s not un genuine. It’s always a surprise when I hear Android and that’s probably a, the most, um, compelling reason over and above, um, price that’s come up before. So, so, organisations, an Android fan of the operating system. Well, there you go. There’s one <laugh>. organisations, and I’m sure you’re gonna start an army of Android users, organisations, organisations, you know, organisations, tweeting into comms hero, organisations, and starting their own, organisations, movement. But let’s, let’s wait and see. But yeah, it’s always a surprise when I hear that. So tell us, Francesca, are you an early riser or do you love a lion?

Francesca Carpanini (05:21):

I do love a lion. Um, if I had to choose to stay in bed for longer than, yeah, I’m a, I’m more of a night owl than a, an early, an early bird.

Asif Choudry (05:33):

Okay. And then final one, um, Twitter or Instagram or do I need to add in LinkedIn and TikTok onto this now

Francesca Carpanini (05:40):

TikTok definitely not. I’m still learning the, what TikTok means, <laugh>, so I know I should from a comms perspective. But yeah, if I had to choose, I think, um, maybe Instagram more so than Twitter. Okay. Even though I love my Twitter, I think INTA is, yeah, you can, yeah. I feel you could be more human on Instagram.

Asif Choudry (06:05):

Okay, good. Well that’s been nice to get to know a little bit more about you and our listeners will have enjoyed that I’m sure. So we’re here because you are, the title of this podcast is, I’m Proud to Be a Comms Hero and being able to love what you do is a luxury and an honor working in comms, whether that’s being a jack of all trades specializing in PR or marketing or digital, is an opportunity to be able to experience different sectors, meet incredible professionals, and work on topics you’d never thought possible. And no career is perfect, but it’s what you learn along the way that matters from the first campaign fail or joining an organization that was the wrong fit. It’s how we share that learning with others and how we must continue to invest in our own learning. Comms doesn’t stand still, so why should our understanding of it do the same? And that’s what we’re gonna pick up. And that’s your overview and it’s, it’s a really nice title and I’m looking forward to asking you some of these questions. So let’s get straight in there, Francesca. So what makes you love what you do after all this time?

Francesca Carpanini (07:10):

I think it’s the ability to change. I’m, you know, we, we all say we are scared of change or change is scary. And as comm specialists, we’ve all worked on change campaigns in organisations where there’s been restructures or m and as mergers and acquisitions and, and it has a huge impact on, on people. But as communicators we have to be really, really fixed from the point that change is scary and that’s okay, but at the same time, change brings evolution, not revolution. And for me, when I was thinking about this and thinking about why I love what I do is that in the 16 years that I’ve been doing my job, I have changed a lot as a person, not as, as a professional. I’ve changed jobs plenty of times, but every single time was an opportunity for me to spread my wings, push myself outside of comfort zones that I never thought would be achieving, learn from mistakes, learn to trust my guts. Cause actually my gut’s always been right and I’ve always bought it sometimes and I just think maybe it isn’t true. And I genuinely like going to work every day to make a difference and to bring some joy and creativity and just show people why comms is in the fluffy side of an organization. That it’s a truly strategic support function that has benefits beyond writing and coloring in pictures.

Asif Choudry (08:46):

Yeah, the coloring in department as, um, we’re often referred to. So do you think it’s ju you, you’ve, you’ve been in the, um, profession for 16 years, which is a, a long time and a time to see changes in how comms has been perceived over that time. Do you think the pandemic’s made a big difference to that perception?

Francesca Carpanini (09:08):

I think so. I think that because, um, the pandemic changed a lot. You know, I was, I was furloughed during the pandemic, um, just because the agency that I was part of, we were small, we were boutique and it was the right thing to do for the business at the time. But I didn’t let that stop me still bringing my skills to the fall. I worked with the Welsh government as a volunteer doing stakeholder liaison with the local resilience forums here in Wales. And it meant that I could build my networks, I could meet new people. And I think what the pandemic did was open up opportunities. It it taught organisations that they could employ people anywhere in the uk, potentially anywhere in Europe to be able to do the jobs. It wasn’t a necessary space to be in the office. We’ve proved that we don’t have to be in the office nine to five. It’s good, but doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. And also gave us chance to self-reflect on what we were, we are or aren’t willing to accept in our roles anymore from a communications perspective. So culture is one, how, how we’re perceived as a as as a strategic measure, all of those things. I think the pandemic highlighted the importance of comms to be able to keep momentum going for things that we didn’t expect. You know, all of those things. Yeah,

Asif Choudry (10:31):

No, absolutely. And I think that’s, um, I haven’t spoken to quite a few comms people through the pandemic. You know, they all of a sudden now, rather than just being handed the strategy, they found themselves in what they called um, and what were labeled as war rooms where they were actually sat with the C-suite. And because comms had to be so reactive and it was brilliant and you know, the oldest for years, people have been saying, oh, we need to be at the top table and well, you are there now, so capitalize on the opportunity. So, um, that’s great and it’s a really good insight and a lot of people are listening Will I’m sure, um, be nodding in agreement as they’ve gone through their career or looking forward to all these changes that they’ve got coming to them in their career as well. So tell, tell us Francesca then, um, who inspires you, um, to be better.

Francesca Carpanini (11:22):

I think there’s like a two-pronged to this. So the professional inspiration I have to draw on two Sarah’s. So I met Sarah Pinch in March of 2020 just before we all went into lockdown. And she was speaking at an International Women’s Day event, so pretty much this time three years ago. And her passion and her ability to inspire was incredible. And I talked to her at the event, um, cuz she was in Cardiff and I spoke and we’ve kept in touch since. And Sarah inspires me to wanna be best that I can be and seek to wanna be at that top table to be part of the C-suite. You know, I’m still working my way there. Um, but Sarah from Sarah Pinch for me is one of those in incredible women that just shows you that change doesn’t have to stop you being successful and you can do what you need to do to get there and you just have to just trust in your own instincts.

Francesca Carpanini (12:20):

Um, and then the second Sarah professionally, Sarah Sammy, she was my mentor, so I was very lucky to be part of the women in pr pr week mentorship scheme in 20 20, 20 21. And Sarah was my mentor for that year. She was my rock all the way through my furlough. And as I was sort of finding my way into a new role after I was made redundant, she was there for me. She encouraged me to do my chartership, which I got in September, 2020. I would never have gone for it if it wasn’t for that mentoring scheme. So those two Sarahs who I do still keep in touch with, um, are for me those incredible women. And then from a personal perspective, I always say my mum because she’s, she’s the linchpin of our family. She holds us all together. She’s incredibly resilient. She’s had some good times, she’s had some bad times, and she shows you again that if you believe in yourself, that actually you can get yourself out there.

Francesca Carpanini (13:17):

You can manifest success, you can work your way out of a problem. You just need to be able to take a breath. Um, so she, she inspires me every day. And then another lady who isn amazing to me is Audrey Hepburn. I always say that she inspires me because again, she’s a woman that proved that resilience is key. She was, you know, part of occupied, um, heart in Netherlands at the time. She’s part of the resistance when she was barely a teenager and all of those things. Her career, she wasn’t her, she just, Audrey Hepburn is just a shining example of pure humanity, I suppose.

Asif Choudry (13:58):

Amazing. Some great examples. And, um, organisations, organisations, you know, I’m sure for the listeners, you know, who, who inspires you to be better, A good question to ask yourself and to reflect on and um, organisations, say thank you to those people as well. So, um, really nice answer there and a good shout out for your mom as well. Fantastic one. I love that. So tell us, Francesca, how do you share your experiences then with others?

Francesca Carpanini (14:24):

Well, I’m very lucky with my lecturing roles with the University of South Wales to be able to share that experience, um, on a weekly basis. Um, the PR module was my first foray into teaching. Didn’t know if I was going to be good at it or not. Um, but actually I loved it. The third year students were bright, curious, they’d never really thought about public relations before cause they were all marketers. So obviously I was enjoying trying to sway them to the other side a little bit. Um, and actually some of them are more interested in PR over marketing though, so I have to hold my hands up and say that that was a win <laugh>. Um, but they’re incredible. And then obviously I got invited back this term to teach consumer behavior and strategic brand management. So I’m working with Postgrads and first years, so I’m seeing both ends of the spectrum of abilities and experience and knowledge and challenge.

Francesca Carpanini (15:17):

And it’s amazing to do that and to say what I’ve experienced and try to encourage them to wanna be the best version of themselves, the, especially from the first year’s perspective, from the outset. So they don’t just think that first year’s an easy win because they don’t get, doesn’t go towards their final school. I want them to come every week to my, to my workshops and be engaged and ready and, and wanting to ask questions and that they’ve, they’ve really, they’ve really sort of blossomed over the last few weeks. So yeah, it’s, it’s lovely to be able to do that. Um, and doing things like, this is a lovely example of being able to share my experiences. Um, I’m very, I’m very fortunate. I do genuinely love what I do and I get very emotional and very passionate and it starts to, organisations, to, to, I ramble otherwise, if I get too long into it

Asif Choudry (16:10):

That it comes, the passion definitely comes across and I think you, you’re not alone. Cause I, I think that’s part of the, part of the profession. It’s such a giving community that, um, um, you know, the Comm Zero community, it’s being founded upon that sharing of best practice and connecting people that, um, can just help and support each other. And that’s been the mainstay of how it’s grown organically over the years. But I think it’s just a natural inherent quality within people within the profession. People especially who’ve stayed within the profession. I think the natural progression is to, organisations, to give that knowledge back, whether it’s to colleagues and then doing that outside of the working, um, role as well. If, if that’s, you know, something that you’ve got the time to do. And obviously you have, and it’s interesting you’ve gone into, um, teaching post, organisations, getting your experience in pr whereas another C I P R, um, member Taylor Clayton, who’s a big supporter, she’s a comm ambassador this year.

Asif Choudry (17:09):

She was a former teacher, went into PR and is now, um, organisations, teaching, organisations, as a PhD. She’s teaching ma master’s students at LEBECK at university as well. So, um, and imparting her knowledge. So it’s been quite interesting to, to kind of share TE’s journey as well. So it’s great to hear two of you, you know, from C I P R giving back there. So we talked about C I P R then and you mentioned that your charters, so congratulations on that cause it’s a huge achievement. So as a chartered PR practitioner then, what difference does this make to your role?

Francesca Carpanini (17:43):

Um, it’s a master’s level qualification, so that’s probably another nudge in the right direction to encourage people to do it. But I actually, the reason why I did it was wanted to cement my understanding to know that actually all that experience, all that learning had taught me something. So being able to challenge myself during the chartership, especially during 2020, was really, really important from a strategy and a leadership and an ethical perspective. I, you know, I want to be a communications leader and I want to be able to represent my industry in a positive way for a long time yet. And the CHARTERSHIP for me and being a chartered practitioner means that you can talk about salary, you can talk about all of the sort of, I suppose perks of having a chartership. But what I feel when it comes to the chartership is that it gives me the confidence to be able to step up and talk to C-Suite and say, look, this is my advice, this is my counsel.

Francesca Carpanini (18:46):

And I’m not telling you because I’m just creating it outta nowhere. It’s because I’ve got this experience. I am a chartered practitioner and I am an ex exemplar, I suppose, of leadership and strategy and being ethical, which is something we forget that chartership about being ethical. And we’ve had moments in our, in our industry where ethics have not come into play or into thoughts Yeah. Of some of those considered professionals. And it sometimes we’ve got a bit of an uphill battle, but I think it’s really important that as charter practitioners we showcase the best versions of ourselves and why we are the industry that we are.

Asif Choudry (19:31):

Absolutely. I think we’ve got to continue to champion that as, um, as somebody who’s on the dark side, the marketing side myself, then, organisations, um, organisations, but I like PR as well. I like pr. We’ve had lots of PR people. organisations, I’m big fan of C IPR as well, so just make sure, make clear on that commons marketing and PR all the same for me. But, so, you know, do you think chartership within our profession, whether it’s C I P R or um, chartered practitioner or chartered marketer, do you think it’s recognized in the same way as a chartered surveyor or you know, somebody who’s got, um, qualifications within the financial industry or chartered accountant? You know, that it, do you think it’s the same?

Francesca Carpanini (20:15):

It should be. I mean, I always say to people I’m chartered like a surveyor or an accountant. Um, we have to do our C P D every year. Yeah. You know, if we don’t do our 60 points, then we lose our chartership. So we have to maintain our learning, we have to maintain our commitment to our industry. And I don’t think it’s there yet, but I think CM C I P R are doing the best they can to, to change those perceptions through the work with the I O D and all of that kinda stuff. Definitely. So we, I think we gonna, we are gonna get there, but I think we’re probably a few years off yet, which is frustrating, but I, at least we’re going in the right direction.

Asif Choudry (20:57):

Yeah. I think at the moment within the profession, you’re absolutely right. Those organisations are doing, um, masses of work to get that recognition. Cuz it, you know, 60 points for example doesn’t sound like a lot, but there’s a hell of a lot of C P D that goes into that and a lot of people don’t stop at 60. You’re kind of constantly learning. It’s that kind of, there’s that profession where you are just always learning through soundbites that are available on social or bigger, more, um, thought provoking pieces where you’ve gotta spend time considering, um, listening to podcasts, organisations, the, you know, the membership magazines and all the content that goes into them. So there’s a whole host of learning that kind of just happens all the time. Well, I

Francesca Carpanini (21:40):

Got three points just

Asif Choudry (21:42):

That does have to be recognized. Well

Francesca Carpanini (21:43):

I got three points just from doing this today. So I mean one easy three points in that sense as because yeah, I get to talk about how much I love what I do, I get to have a chat with you about it. Yeah. And then I get three points, which with a win-win win for me in that sense. So

Asif Choudry (22:01):

Absolutely. Thank you. Yeah. Well you’re taking time out to do it, aren’t you? And I think that’s, that’s important to, to recognize that. Then we talked in where I mentioned in the intro about, um, no Korea being perfect from the first campaign fail. Do you think then, um, cuz we did a, organisations, should we own up to our mistakes because, organisations, from a commer point of view, there was failure was the topic of trend. I think it might have been about 2016 or 17 and we ran a, a series of three events with the, the, the theme Dare to Fail because we wanted people to come up and share their failures because nobody tends to do that. So you think we should be owning up to these and sharing stories of these things? I

Francesca Carpanini (22:44):

Think so. I don’t think we should be ashamed to fail cuz otherwise you’re never gonna know the right way of going about it. I think dare to fails work, you know, it’s a great idea cuz you know, you create safe to fair environments in organisations. So you should be able to admit that failure to not then be, you know, have retribution because you’ve spent money on a campaign. I’m, I’m more than happily share campaigns that have failed. I did one when I was at a housing association in 2018 to do a film competition for young people aged 11 to 21 2 age categories, did beautiful, um, graphics and photography, got everything set up, got a venue set up to the film festival awards at the, in the October launched it launched at the completely wrong time. Nobody entered, I spent money on something. I never did that.

Francesca Carpanini (23:39):

But what I did do was set up a campaign that then could be relaunched for the following academic year that you just had to move the dates. It didn’t happen. Yeah. Cuz I was on a maternity cover, but at the same time I learned, okay, if I’m gonna do a schools competition, I need to be making sure that I’m launching it in the first term. So September to December so that I’ve got two academic terms to go in and keep the momentum going with the schools instead of trying to launch it after Easter to get it done in the summer holidays to get it finalized in the October. So timings was what taught me, and you know, I was trying to do everything too soon. So all of that and that, that campaign would’ve been beautiful. I was really proud with how, how it looked, but I know now if I wanna do it again, when I’m gonna move my timings. So it helped.

Asif Choudry (24:34):

Yeah, well exactly.

Francesca Carpanini (24:35):

It’s not a sh I’m ashamed of it

Asif Choudry (24:37):

And it does, it makes a difference. Yeah,

Francesca Carpanini (24:39):

It does. And I, I’m not,

Asif Choudry (24:40):

And I don’t think there’s any need to be. I think that there is a, there is a kind of culture there sometimes even within the profession itself that obviously you, there aren’t many organisations or events where you’re invited to get up on stage and celebrate failures and stuff like that. And that’s kind of why we did it all those years ago because there isn’t anything like that because there’s so much more learning to come from those things that got you to that successful knowledge as you’ve got now. You know exactly when to do that. So if there are people, um, listening and you’ve got, organisations, we’ve all done them, you know, we’ve all made those mistakes, whatever they may, whatever they may be. And there’s different levels of magnitude to what the outcomes of those mistakes have meant for individuals. But, organisations, if there’s anyone who is listening and wants to own up to any of their comms project mistakes, then um, droppers a line and we might make a whole podcast of, um, a panel of celebrating failures, organisations, that would love to do that again. So, um, what advice then, Francesca, would you give to the next generation of comms heroes? I

Francesca Carpanini (25:50):

Think it’s, don’t be afraid to change. I think goes back to the beginning that we are a change industry. Um, I’ve changed my, my job probably more times than most people in the 16 years that I’ve done it cuz I’ve done lots of contracts, I’ve done fixed term contracts. Um, when I graduated my comic relief job was eight months, but it one incredible eight months of learning that I got, you know, I gotta meet Richard Curtis and I almost cur seeded when I met him. Um, it was, you know, I was just out of university and I didn’t know what to do with myself. Um, and I met the Saturdays and all of these things that I would never have got the opportunity to do if I hadn’t thought, well eight months, I’ll see what happens after the end of it. And I’ve had perm jobs that haven’t worked out and I’ve had to make the decision to walk away.

Francesca Carpanini (26:40):

And also don’t be afraid to do that either. If it doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to say, well I’m done, I’m out. And I’ve walked away from a job recently, you know, in the last 12 months where I went, this isn’t right for me. They didn’t, we didn’t fit each other and that we had an honest conversation. Yeah. And I didn’t have a job to go to and I didn’t know what was gonna be next for me, but I ended up becoming a comms consultant and finding my clients and being able to create a bit of a rhythm for myself. Um, and I’m very lucky now that one of those clients has offered me another fixed term contract so I can go back in, be on payroll, have a bit of security for two years, and after that, who knows. So I think that the next generation need to be afraid, don’t need, don’t need to be afraid of change and just to keep passionate and just keep loving it if you stop loving it there. And there will be times where you think, I hate my job, God, I don’t wanna get up this morning. But they are few, they are fair few far between days that eventually you’ll find that momentum again and it’ll just keep you, keep you pulling on. And I think it’s really important that you start out knowing that you love it. If you don’t love it when you start out, you’re never gonna be able to maintain it. So that’s one thing for me is you’ve gotta, you’ve gotta know that it’s the right space for you.

Asif Choudry (28:09):

Absolutely. Some really sound advice there for, um, the listeners or the next generation. There’s probably some people who are long into their careers that might um, be in that situation and thinking, you know, you might be responsible for a few people changing jobs, Francesca. So <laugh>, hope not comms, zero access, no responsibility for any changes of jobs as a consequence of listening to this podcast. So tell us then, Francesca, we’re here because of Comms Zero. So why is Comms Zero important to you and would you recommend people working in comms and marketing to be part of the community?

Francesca Carpanini (28:41):

100%. I’ve put been part of the comms hero weeks over recent years. I mean, they’ve, they’re incredible. I’ve been very lucky to work with the comms hero team since 2018 and I met them through housing and I love working with the teams. They are incredible. They’ve supported me recently. I, yeah, it’s the momentum behind it, the honesty, the comms hero enables, um, comms hero pets, which I’ve contributed to over the time. Um, yeah, I think you have, it creates, it’s creating a tribe across the UK where we can all share in our success, share in our failures, sharing each other’s needs for that to shout about ourselves. Because I think that while we spend a lot of time in our organization shouting about their success and how great it is to work there, they’re an employer of choice. All of those things we forget that we need to se celebrate ourselves as, as professionals because we are the first to get cats.

Francesca Carpanini (29:42):

Our budgets are never big. We always have to work with very little a lot of the time. But because we are creatives, because we are passionate, because we know that we’ve got a tribe, we can say, oh, anybody had this? Anybody got a fav? I’ve got a favor. And then somebody will always come back in the comms hero space to give you advice, to give you a nudge in the right direction or just just give you a, do you know what a funny gif of Rachel and Phoebe bouncing up and down just in celebration. Something as simple as that. I think that, and that’s why I love the comms hero and that’s why I’m really happy and proud to be part of this podcast, to have my voice part of it. Cuz I never imagined that I would be on podcasts after listening to so many that, um, it’s, it’s, it’s really an honor to be considered a comms hero.

Asif Choudry (30:34):

No, absolutely. Thank you for that. So nice to hear that. And that’s why we keep celebrating the heroics that comms people perform every day, which is genuinely the reason it started because of everything you’ve just said there, Francesca, because we are so busy working really hard to make everyone else look good, but forget ourselves. And, and we’re into our ninth year now, which is a fantastic achievement and it’s certainly what started off as a one-off experiment just to see if we could change things. And it’s just continued and grown and continued to grow and as long as people want. Um, unfortunately, and there’s that requirement to remind comms people to celebrate their work. organisations, and nine years on it’s got better. There are more people celebrating, but there’s still not enough people need to do that as a natural part of what they do. So, um, connection is important and that’s really valuable to us for our guests that people will want to connect with you. So Francesca, where can people find you?

Francesca Carpanini (31:37):

They can find me on LinkedIn, um, and they can find me on Twitter under Frankie C 85. Um, my name’s quite long, but they should find me on LinkedIn. Um, I won’t spell it, but that’s, I’m under that and if they wanna find me on Instagram, I’m Frankie 1185 and I’m on guild. I keep forgetting about. I thank

Asif Choudry (31:57):

You and we’ll let, organisations, I love Guild and Guild as well. Guild. Yeah. We have a Comm Zero community on guild. I

Francesca Carpanini (32:01):

Do, yep. Part of it as well. So I shoulda, I forgot about Guild. Sorry. That’s it.

Asif Choudry (32:05):

Get yourself, get yourself on the com zero, organisations, Guild group as well. So you’ll find this podcast on Spotify, apple and on our website com And you can follow us on Twitter at com zero. If you do listen on Spotify and Apple, please do leave a rating and review that’s important to us. Subscribe, hit the follow button, whatever buttons are on there, just hit them all. And um, so Francesca, it’s been a fascinating talking to you. Inspiring even definitely. And, organisations, organisations, I’m sure that a lot of the listeners will take heed to your advice and if remember, celebrate your failures if you wanna do that publicly, hashtag com zero and you could even get some swag from celebrating failures. How good is that? So Francesca, thanks so much. It’s been a pleasure. Thank

Francesca Carpanini (32:49):

You so much as it was a truly an honor. Thank you.

Building belonging in a hybrid world: the role of internal communications

Building belonging in a hybrid world: the role of internal communications

With extensive experience in communication and engagement across both the private and public sector, Chloë is passionate about the link between highly engaged employees and better business results.

At her current organisation, innovative housing provider RHP Group, her expertise has helped them place in the top ten of the Great Place to Work list twice (including the number one spot) and gain Investors in People Platinum status.

Last year, Chloë led on the development and delivery of a hybrid communication and engagement strategy, which focussed on making sure people are connected, informed and engaged no matter where, when or how they work.

The strategy has had a tangible impact on both employee engagement and productivity, and in September last year, helped RHP win ‘Best Hybrid Communication’ at the Institute of Internal Communications Awards.

Chloë has a love for storytelling which crosses over work and pleasure – she is an avid theatre and gig goer.

How we work has changed significantly over the past few years, with most organisations moving from the office to remote working, and now to a hybrid model. These changes have meant we’ve had to work even harder as communicators to keep people connected, informed and engaged.

In this podcast Chloë delves into the concept of organisational belonging, why it’s important and the role of internal communicators in building it. She also discusses changes she led on at RHP Group to adapt their communication strategy to meet the needs of a hybrid workforce. The strategy has not only enabled people to stay connected and informed, but it’s also helped to foster a sense of belonging no matter where, when or how someone is working.

Listen for some practical tips on how you can adapt your communications strategy for a hybrid world, and in turn help build organisational belonging.

 Chloë Marsh

Head of Communications and Engagement

Podcast questions:

  1. What do we mean by organisational belonging?
  2. Why should building belonging be important to organisations?
  3. What can we do as internal comms professionals to build belonging?
  4. And is this more of a challenge in a hybrid world? How do we overcome those challenges?
  5. What are your three top tips for listeners to take away?

Podcast transcript here:

Disclaimer: this is an automated transcript. Please don’t call the grammar police on us. You never know, we may have ChatGPT writing our next one…

Asif Choudry (00:07):

Hello and welcome to another episode in the You’re my CommsHero podcast. And I’m your host, Asif Choudry. Today my guest is Chloe Marsh, head of people Communications and Engagement at Richmond Housing Partnership or RHP Group. With extensive experience in communication and engagement across both the private and public sector. Chloe is passionate about the link between highly engaged employees and better business results. At her current organization, innovative Housing provider, RHP Group, her expertise has helped them place in the top 10 of the great places to work list twice, including the number one spot as well, and gain investors in people platinum status, fantastic achievements all around there. And last year, Chloe led on the development and delivery of a hybrid communication and engagement strategy, which focused on making sure people are connected, informed, and engaged in no matter where, when, or how they work. And that’ll come into play as we go through the podcast. That strategy has led a tangible impact on both employee engagement and productivity. And in September last year helped RHP when the best hybrid communication at the IOIC awards. Fantastic achievements again as well. And Chloe has a love for storytelling, which crosses over work and pleasure. And she’s an avid theater and gig goer. So Chloe, it’s a pleasure to welcome you on the podcast.

Chloe Marsh (01:31):

Thank you. Asif it’s an absolute pleasure to be here.

Asif Choudry (01:35):

So I said there’s so many accolades and we’re gonna go into hybrid working, which is, I’m gonna come onto that later anyway, but you are an avid theater and gig goers, so post pandemic, what’s the kind of highlights in terms of gigs or festivals that you’ve been to?

Chloe Marsh (01:50):

Yeah, so it’s been absolutely brilliant to get back to being able to go and see some live music. So, um, I was lucky enough to go and see Florence and the Machine just before Christmas at the O2, and she’s always a, fantastic performer. So that was great. I’m also, um, really looking forward to this year, going to see Bruce Springsteen in Hyde Park. He’s someone on my bucket list, so, um, that’ll be June. Yeah,

Asif Choudry (02:14):

<laugh>. I wonder if any of the listeners are, are going to that all, um, envious that you are, but , yeah, we’ll have to keep an eye on your socials for, um, , for updates on that one as it happens. So we’re gonna get to know you a little bit more, , over and above the gig going and festival going there, Chloe, so I’ve got a few quickfire questions for you. Are you, um, apple or Android?

Chloe Marsh (02:37):


Asif Choudry (02:38):

A resounding apple? Any particular reason? Yeah,

Chloe Marsh (02:41):

, do you know what? I’ve just been sucked in. I, it, it just seems too complicated to move away from, from them. Now sometimes I think I’d like to be brave and not just follow the crowd and try something different, but I have to say I’m, I’m playing it safe and keeping with Apple for the moment. <laugh>

Asif Choudry (02:57):

Do, I’m sure you’re in a, in a majority there for sure. And um, do you prefer an ebook or printed book?

Chloe Marsh (03:06):

I prefer a printed book. I did, I did get a Kindle and I tried it out, but I think we spend so much of our lives on digital devices. It’s nice to just have a paper copy still.

Asif Choudry (03:18):

Yeah. Anything on the current, , reading list for you? Um, is it fact or fiction stuff that you go for?

Chloe Marsh (03:26):

I mainly like fiction, um, stuff. Um, I’m really into books by Sally Rooney who wrote, um, normal People and Conversations with Friends. So I have um, got her latest book kind of on my bedside table at the moment, ready to tuck into,

Asif Choudry (03:44):

Yeah, so fresh printed book that, that smell of print and you digital, um, not detox, but like you say, the world of work, which is what we’re gonna be talking about shortly, is changed so much that printed books have kind of become more important to people now again to get away from screens because the work has changed completely as well. So, , final one then, Chloe, we’ll ask you, um, are you an early riser or do you love a lion?

Chloe Marsh (04:12):

I am an early riser, so I find that I’m at my best first thing in the morning. Um, I also don’t really have much choice in it either cuz I’ve got a dog who would come and get me up if I tried to have a lion anyway, <laugh>.

Asif Choudry (04:27):

So early riser, as many guests, , enforced as though it may be.

Chloe Marsh (04:32):


Asif Choudry (04:33):

So the title of this podcast is Building Belonging in a Hybrid World, the role of Internal Communications And just a bit of an overview before we get into some of the questions and and your expertise on this, Chloe. So how we work has changed significantly over the past few years with most organizations moving from the office to remote working and now to a hybrid model. These changes have meant we’ve had to work even harder as communicators to keep people connected, informed and engaged. And then this podcast, Chloe’s gonna delve into the concept of organizational belonging, why it’s important and the role of internal communicators in building it. She’s also gonna discuss that she’s, um, share with us that she’s led on the R h P group, , to adapt their communication strategy to meet the needs of a hybrid workforce. The strategy has not only enabled people to stay connected and informed, but it’s also helped to foster a sense of belonging no matter where, when or how someone is working. And Chloe’s gonna share some practical tips on how you can adapt to your comm strategy for a hybrid world and in turn help build organizational belonging. So I’m gonna kick off with straight into the first question there, Chloe. So what do we mean by organizational belonging?

Chloe Marsh (05:50):

So for me, organizational belonging means that people feel included and valued as an individual and for the uniqueness that they bring, whilst also feeling part of something bigger than themselves and connected to an organization’s purpose and values and what they’re trying to achieve.

Asif Choudry (06:11):

And is there a difference because they’re inclusion and belonging? Are they two different things guys? It’s important to make that distinction, isn’t there?

Chloe Marsh (06:20):

That’s a really good question because now a lot of research is saying that if you are gonna be truly an inclusive workplace, you need to have organisational belonging. Um, so I would look at belonging as being kind of the highest pinnacle of inclusion.

Asif Choudry (06:41):

Okay, great. And I think it’s important to make that distinction, so thanks for clarifying that. So Chloe, why should building belonging be important to organisations?

Chloe Marsh (06:51):

So there’s been a lot of research over the past few years about the importance of building belonging and how it can increase people’s contribution and commitment among many other things and in turn, business performance. So some people might think it sounds a little bit of a fluffy concept, but it actually makes absolute business sense. So in a study by Deloitte for example, in 2021, they found that organizational belonging can increase job performance by up to 50%. It can decrease turnover by up to 56% and it can reduce six sickness by, um, up to 75% as well. And as I just mentioned previously, it is a really important factor in becoming an truly inclusive place to work as well.

Asif Choudry (07:44):

So some really powerful stats down the reasons as to why organizations should consider belonging to be important. So do you think a lot of organizations then Chloe, are are they getting it, are they getting it right?

Chloe Marsh (08:00):

I would say that most organizations either haven’t thought about belonging or they’re only just starting to think about it. I think it’s becoming more and more apparent as most of us now work in a hybrid way that actually people are feeling more disconnected from organizations. Yeah. And therefore I think lots of, lots of organizations aren’t putting the energy and effort they should be into helping bring people together for wherever they’re working from and fostering that sense of belonging. I think in the past we relied too much on it, um, growing organically because people were largely in the same physical space together, but we have to be a lot more purposeful now about building belonging. Um, so I think definitely, , people need to start thinking about it a lot more.

Asif Choudry (09:00):

Yeah, no, absolutely. So, and the, and this as the Comms Hero podcast is there’s gonna be some tips and practical advice come from Chloe as well. So watch out for those as we get into these questions. So what can we do then as internal comms professionals, Chloe, to build belonging?

Chloe Marsh (09:18):

So there’s lots we can do, um, as internal comms professionals, um, to help with this building that sense of belonging in a, in a hybrid world. Um, the strategy that I led on last year had belonging at the core of it, and actually because it’s quite an intangible concept, what I did was break it down into what I call the three Cs, which I believe are three of the biggest factors that contribute to building belonging in the workplace. So what I’m gonna do is talk through each of those three Cs in turn and give um, an example of an internal contact we’ve used connected to that. So the first C is connection and that is all about helping people feel connected to an organization’s purpose and values as well as each other and the people that they’re working with as well. So over the last couple of years we’ve put a lot of effort into developing a range of different channels that people can access wherever they are working from and whenever they’re working as well, um, that help to really increase that connection and bring people together as one big team.

Chloe Marsh (10:37):

And they’re a mix of both digital and face-to-face channels. So an example of one of those channels that’s really, really effective and highly valued by our employees is an all company briefing that we introduced right at the start of the pandemic. It’s just 50 minutes once a week via teams and it’s led by our chief executive, it’s actually called Dome TV because his name’s David do. And the reason we launched it to start with was mainly to keep people up to date on all the changing restrictions with Covid and how that impacted them and us as an organization. But what we found is that we get really high attendance and people were given really good feedback at how much they valued that time every week. So we actually kept it going and it’s still going now and we tend to to keep it going. Um, and people said they didn’t just find it useful about hearing the latest news or a chance to ask senior leaders some questions in the moment, but more than that it was a chance once a week, but everybody to feel connected together no matter where they were working from.

Chloe Marsh (11:43):

So we have people tuning in from the office, from home, we have caretakers out on site, you might have pulled their vans up to tune in or out out of their hubs. We have , scheme managers at our retirement schemes tuning in and people all have a little chat on the comments function, have a bit of a laugh, have a bit of fun as well. And you feel the energy even though it’s digital, of people leaving with that little booth because they’ve had that connection, , for the week. That’s the first example in terms of connection. Then a face-to-face example is something we call meaningful moments, which we introduced about a year ago when all restrictions were listed and we were able to meet more freely face-to-face. Um, and these are events where we ask everybody across the organization to come into the office on the same day.

Chloe Marsh (12:34):

Um, and we hold a session where we bring business messaging to life, um, in a fun and engaging way. And these have proved really successful in helping to nurture our culture, keep people feeling connected, engaged and informed and build that sense of belonging. It’s also been really key in us helping to welcome new starters as well because we were finding that sometimes we weren’t meeting people face to face for a few months after, after someone started. Um, and again, we’ve received really great feedback about those two. So those are a couple of examples of the first C, which is connection. The second C, um, in terms of building belonging is contribution and that is helping feel people feel that they’re all working towards a shared purpose and common goals whilst also them wanting to feel like they contribute to meaningful outcomes for an organization as well.

Chloe Marsh (13:39):

So as internal comms professionals, I think we have a really key role in creating that golden thread between people’s individual outputs and then in turn achieving our organizational goals and then ultimately our purpose as well. And over the last 12 months, we’ve actually launched a new set of values and a refreshed organizational purpose, which has been a great opportunity to build that belonging and that connection with those things as well. Um, and we will take every opportunity we can to keep coming back to that purpose and reminding people about why we are all here and that shared goal that we all have. So an example of that is that before Christmas we ran something called a 12 Days of Purpose campaign and that was featuring stories from people across the organization where they shared how their day-to-day job role was helping them fulfill our organizational purpose.

Chloe Marsh (14:47):

Um, and that really brought it to life for people and helped them to connect with actually what their job was doing. All helped contribute, , to that same thing and we got lots of lots of engagement with that as well. The same goes for your organizational values as well. So as I said, we developed an launch of new set of values over the past year, which we got high levels of input from from across the organization. Um, and I really see our jobs as internal comms pros as being the guardian of those values and always keeping coming back, reminding people and reinforcing them as well. And one way you can do that is through physical cues. So for example, when we launched them, we gave everybody a goodie bag that had some really practical and sustainable items in there that reminded people about each of the values.

Chloe Marsh (15:41):

So there were things that people could keep at their desk, either either at home or work or take with them out on site as well. Then we’ll always keep reinforcing them in the digital world as well. So an example of that is if people share a great story on Yama about a piece of work either they’ve done or a colleague has done, myself or the team will always reply to that and connect it back to one of the values that they were demonstrating. Also, when we launched our new internet earlier in the year, um, on the homepage we put something which we call Raising the Roof, um, and people can go into it and nominate someone and give them a shout out for living one of our values and they actually get what we call a thank you award, um, and a little voucher, um, to kind of positively reinforce living those values as well.

Chloe Marsh (16:36):

But just to end kind of the, this section about contribution, one thing I would really say is that I think as com professionals, sometimes we feel like we are repeating the same thing so much and think everyone will have heard this before, people are gonna get bored about hearing this, but when it comes to things like your purpose, your values, your vision, you cannot repeat these things too much. I think it’s in the advertising world, they say that you have to hear something at least seven times before people remember it. And I yeah, totally concur with this. So repeat it again and again and do that in different ways across different channels. So no matter how someone is consuming that content, they’re gonna be exposed, um, to that really important messaging. Yeah,

Asif Choudry (17:24):

And I like the fact that you’ve, um, , they say certainly in in creative agency world that um, when you are getting bored of the message, that’s usually when your end customer is just starting to get it. So it’s really important from a comms perspective that you are repurposing and engaging with that content because otherwise if you don’t, people just think, oh, why am I saying this? Cuz nobody’s even listening. Um, especially in the digital platforms where they can’t see an acknowledgement of a nod of a head or something like that. So it’s really important you’re doing that and it’s a great, a great tactic for sure.

Chloe Marsh (18:01):

The third C is confidence and that’s all about giving people the confidence to bring their whole self to work and that no matter who they are, they will feel valued, included and listened to. And an example of how we build that confidence is through employee-led storytelling. Think in a hybrid world where you don’t see people as often, it’s more important than ever for us to unearth and share those human stories. Um, and I think we all know that hearing from peers rather than kind of corporate communication is a lot more powerful and helps to build that trust and increase that emotional connection as well. So one example of how we have used, um, employee led storytelling is through something called a sunflower spotlight case studies. And this is a campaign where people from across the organization shared stories about, um, having an invisible disability or health condition. So the people who shared these stories were really courageous because they were quite personal. Um, however, they got a really huge amount of engagement, people really connected with them and I think that was either because people said it helped educate them and understand other people better or if actually someone had an invisible disability or health condition themselves, it helped them feel understood, um, and seen as well. So more and more we’re just trying to get these different stories out there through case studies, um, or videos or different campaigns as well.

Asif Choudry (19:49):

So that’s, um, the 3, 3, 3 C’s connection, contribution and confidence and really great examples of how you’ve implemented those in the organisation. Then Chloe, tell us, has this been more of a challenge in a hybrid world?

Chloe Marsh (20:06):

Yes, I think it’s definitely more of a challenge in a hybrid world, um, linked to what I mentioned earlier, um, I think when people are largely in the same physical space together, it that sense of belonging builds a lot more naturally, it’s a lot easier to keep people connected, so you’ve got to be a lot more purposeful about it. Also, we’re not only competing to cut through internal noise, but more and more we’re competing with external distractions that people are experiencing due to their day-to-day work. Um, and it’s actually said that, , the human attention span is now are only around eight seconds, so you have to work really hard, um, to capture people’s attention. I do think there’s things we can do though to help with that as internal communicators. Um, so one thing I would say is to refine your channels, um, because one thing that our employees told us, , during the pandemic is that they actually were experiencing information overload.

Chloe Marsh (21:18):

And that’s because some channels had organically kind of emerged and they were diluting our existing channels. So actually there was too much out there. They didn’t know where to go to for what and therefore they weren’t engaging with anything at all. Um, so what we did was carry out an internal channel audit, um, and that helped us establish what channels were effective and where our gaps were. Um, and from that we actually retired some channels. We enhanced some existing ones and we had new ones. Um, and we refreshed our channel matrix to make it really clear where to go to for what. The second thing I’d say is to really look at the quality of your content. So now we really focus on bite size content that is easily consumed across any channel, however anybody is working and where they’re working from. So that’s looking at things like video photography, infographics. We’ve also been exploring, , using content that people would consume outside of work. So, , putting together really short TikTok style videos or, um, using things like reels that you would find on Instagram. So

Asif Choudry (22:40):

Chloe, just to wrap up these questions and what are your three top tips for listeners to take away?

Chloe Marsh (22:46):

So the first one would be linked to what I was just saying and it is if you haven’t done an internal comms channel audit recently, I’d definitely recommend doing it and it’s absolutely essential that you get employees feedback within that. So we went around everybody’s huddles, um, to ask some different questions really to get what, what channels and content they really valued and where perhaps there were frustrations as well. Um, and from there when you’re putting your refresh channel mixed together, make sure your channels are not sitting in silos so that they are working together, um, and really complimenting one another as well. And final thing connected just to those channels I’d say is make sure there’s some rhythm and routine to your comms as well so that they become really ingrained as part of your culture. So for instance, as I said, we have an all company briefing, it’s every Tuesday at 10:00 AM People know that’s the time they’re get together.

Chloe Marsh (23:46):

Our e-newsletter comes out every Friday at the same time. We have our meaningful moments monthly and people then come to expect when they’re gonna get that, that content and that information that they can engage with. The second tip would be, as I said, around storytelling. So try and uner as many of those human stories as you can. But I’d say one important factor in that is, um, influencing external people in your organization to role model sharing their stories. So for instance, our chief executive has been absolutely amazing at sharing stories around his experiences with mental health and that has helped others feel that it’s a safe space to share their own personal experiences as well. And then the third tip I say comes back to my point about repetition. So repeat, repeat, repeat. A lot of the things I’ve been talking about in terms of the importance of building belonging do link back to people feeling connected to your organization’s purpose and values. Um, and as I said, you cannot repeat these things enough, so make sure you’re doing it different ways across different channels, um, and keeping that messaging fresh as well.

Asif Choudry (25:09):

Excellent. Thanks for all that Chloe. There’s loads of things that um, our listeners will be able to take away if they’re thinking of or they’re in the middle of a program or well along the way in building belonging in a hybrid world and in particular the role of internal communications. So Chloe, you are here because you’re part of the coma community and , a longtime supporter of Coma as well. And indeed and indeed that included chairing one of our events in London back in 2016 where the theme was Dare to Fail. So tell us why is Comms Zero important to you, , as a community and what do you recommend people in comms and marketing to be part of it?

Chloe Marsh (25:52):

So I would say becoming part of Comms Hero is one of the best things I’ve done in my career and it’s because you immediately become part of a community and it’s a community of people that do a similar role to you. They might experience similar challenges, but everybody brings a different experience and perspective and I think it links back to our conversation today about belonging. You really feel that sense of belonging and that you are part of something and that you are understood. Sometimes it might feel a bit lonely if you are out working the comms world and that maybe people in your audience organization don’t understand or value what you do. So you, you get connected with, with brilliant people that you can share and learn from. Have some fun along the way too. I’d also say that the Comms hero events are brilliant.

Chloe Marsh (26:46):

They’re not only a fantastic way to learn and hear from a really diverse range of experts, but one of the things you do so well at those events too is helping people network and build connections with other people as well that can really, you know, not help them just professionally but personally as well. And you’re just doing a brilliant job of keeping those conversations, connections going all year round, um, as well. So I would absolutely recommend anyone who works in comms and marketing to connect in with the comms here community, go to the Coms hero event because you are definitely gonna get a lot of value from it.

Asif Choudry (27:26):

Well thank you Chloe for sharing that and it’s , it’s appreciated. And um, what’s it like chairing one of the events then?

Chloe Marsh (27:33):

Oh, it was brilliant. I felt really honored that I got to, I got to share the event and it was a great topic with with Dare to Fail. So I have to admit I was a bit nervous beforehand, but I just, all I have is brilliant memories of the day. Um, it was a lot of fun. There was a great, great group there. Um, and we had some, yeah, absolutely fantastic speakers. So, um, loved sharing it but also loved being a delegate as well and, and hearing from all those speakers, getting involved in the activities and kind of making connections with um, lots of people I’ve never met before.

Asif Choudry (28:05):

Yeah, and I totally echo your points that you mentioned earlier in, um, the tactics and comm strategies that you’ve employed within R H P group about repetition because that’s the whole point of getting that message. You know, nine years into the Comms Zero journey that um, , we’ve had to keep engaging with people. We’ve wanted to keep engaging cuz to keep that sense of belonging, community going, people need to know that they’re being responded to or listened to, um, and putting events on whether it was, um, , virtually because of the pandemic or going back to in person now it’s an absolutely crucial part of keeping any campaign going. You’ve got to put the time in and, um, if the messages are right and they’re kept fresh over the years, then community will grow and people will want to, you’ll, you’ll, you’ll keep attracting people to that community and retaining the people who are in it from the beginning as well, like yourself. There’s a lot of people who nine years on are still very much part of the, , community as well, which is always great to see. And you mentioned connection and connecting in your three Cs, but also what you’ve benefited from, , being part of the network we’re, I’m always keen to encourage people connecting to our guests. So Chloe, tell us where will the, um, listeners find you, what the best social handles?

Chloe Marsh (29:31):

Yeah, so, , people can find me on Twitter and my handle is at Chloe Alexandra seven. Um, and you can also connect with me on LinkedIn as well.

Asif Choudry (29:42):

Amazing. And you’ll find this podcast on Spotify, apple and on our website com and you can follow us on twitter @CommsHero. If you do listen on Spotify and Apple, please do leave a rating and review. So Chloe, it’s been a fascinating conversation and it’s been, great to catch up.

Chloe Marsh (30:00):

Thanks so much as if I’ve really, really enjoyed it and yeah, great to have a chat.

Can comms change the world?

Can comms change the world?

Passionate about human behaviour, Lindsay bridges the gap between academic theory and consultancy to create insights employers can actually use to increase engagement and drive meaningful change.

She holds a MSc in Behavioural Science from The London School of Economics and Political Science, has almost 15 years of consulting experience, and is the co-author of the best-selling book Even Better If: Building Better Businesses, Better Leaders and Better Selves. She is also a Forbes contributor.

Now in its 4th year with thousands of downloads, scarlettabbott is back with their annual World Changers report. From harnessing rebel voices to bring positive change, to acknowledging that employees are being asked to dig deep (again), to the keys to keeping employees sweet and everything in between, scarlettabbott expertly guides HR and IC pros through the 10 most important trends impacting the world of work this year.

Lindsay Kohler

Lead Behavioural Scientist

Podcast questions:

  1. Tell us about the topics covered in World Changers 2023
  2. Who are the guest expert voices we can expect to hear from in the report?
  3. What were some of the “a-ha!” moments you had with your guest experts?
  4. What do you think is the most serious challenge facing comms teams this year?
  5. There’s a lot of reports and guides out there for comms pros. What makes World Changers different?

Podcast transcript here:

Disclaimer: this is an automated transcript. Please don’t call the grammar police on us. You never know, we may have ChatGPT writing our next one…

Asif Choudry (00:06):

Hello and welcome to another episode in the you’re my CommsHero podcast. And I’m your host, Asif Choudry. Today my guest is Lindsay Kohler, who is the lead behavioural scientist at Scarletabbott. Passionate about human behavior, Lindsey bridges the gap between academic theory and consultancy to create insights employers can actually use to increase engagement and drive meaningful change. Lindsay also holds an MSC in behavioural science from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and has almost 15 years of consulting experience. And is the co-author the bestselling book even Better If Building Better Businesses, better Leaders, and Better Selves. She’s also a Ford’s, , Forbes contributor. So Lindsay, it’s a pleasure to welcome you on the podcast.

Lindsay Kohler (00:51):

Thank you so much for having me.

Asif Choudry (00:54):

And if the listeners can hear some light jazz in the background, Lindsay, just, I’ll let, I’m gonna let you explain.

Lindsay Kohler (01:01):

Well, I’m in a co-working space, and so we have the lovely dulce tones of whatever the front desk chooses. Um, we also have the background noise of lunches and until recently, small children, but they have sent, um, extradited the general area. But it is, you know, the, the joys of of coworking and, and future of work. Right. We no longer have perfectly curated workspaces.

Asif Choudry (01:24):

Absolutely. I That’s

Lindsay Kohler (01:26):


Asif Choudry (01:26):

<laugh>. Yeah. So we’re not gonna edit any of this, so whatever noises, we’ll, you might, as we publish the podcast, we might have a guest the Noises game as we go through this episode, <laugh>. So we’ll see what happens. So we don’t know what’s gonna come in terms of noises, but we’re light jazz is gonna be the constant one throughout, so we’ll go with that. I don’t mind a bit of jazz. It’s quite relaxing, isn’t it?

Lindsay Kohler (01:47):

Yeah, I think so.

Asif Choudry (01:49):

So Lindsay, we’re gonna get to know you a little bit. Um, and , so I’m gonna kick off with the first question. Are you an early riser or do you live a lion?

Lindsay Kohler (01:59):

I’m an early riser.

Asif Choudry (02:01):

Okay. What is it about the early mornings? Are you in that 5:00 AM club just leaping out of bed and, um,

Lindsay Kohler (02:06):

You know, I wish that I could say that I was that good. I’m more of that 7:00 AM but I think my brain is just, it’s just functioning in the morning. So that’s when I do all my deep work, my creative thinking and come the evening. I just want to unwind. But I think that’s a bit funny about me is, you know, people are like, Ooh, I’m an early advisor, you know, late night person and I feel like I’m just slightly perpetually tired, <laugh>, but definitely more of an early riser and, and schedule those heavy tasks for the morning.

Asif Choudry (02:36):

Yeah, good. That deep, deep work focused work. Everyone’s kind of talking about the, the different techniques out there with Pomodoro and, um, I remember Jenny Field introduced me to, um, eat the Frog. I think it was technique. The, yeah, get the, get the, get the kind of task you don’t wanna do, get it done first. Oh. So that, um, get it done first in the morning and then the rest of the day seems to be a lot more palatable. But, um, but yeah, that’s a whole nother podcast that <laugh>. Um, I read Atomic Habits not so long ago and that’s, that was quite helpful. So it’s something, it’s a challenge that I have every day cause there’s always so many different distractions and mm-hmm. <affirmative> getting deep focused work. It’s quite, it’s not as easy as it sounds in the books in, , in practice. I agree. So tell us, um, are you a phone caller or texter,

Lindsay Kohler (03:26):

Texter? I, I don’t know when it switched at some point in my life, but when I see my phone ring, it acutely stresses me out. Or when you need to call somebody to make an appointment and every time I, I do, I’m like, oh, that was so much easier. Why was I dreading it? But I think something about text messaging is just one layer removed and it makes it a bit psychologically easier, I guess. Less stressful somehow. Yeah.

Asif Choudry (03:53):

Well, it’s the world of convenience that we live in through live chat and online chat and um, , just quick messaging and stuff like that. Even on teams, people are, you know, switching from email, internal emails to teams, chat switch ultimately become, it’s just text messaging at work, isn’t it? Now that, um, you don’t need your phone for necessarily. So, um, so yeah, definitely changed more workplace change as we’re exploring, um, already in this, , in this podcast. So, um, from a books point of view, do, do you prefer, and as a published bestselling, , co-author yourself, do you prefer eBooks or printed books?

Lindsay Kohler (04:30):

So I have specific use cases for each, so print books I prefer when it’s non-fiction and in my field. So I read loads of psychology, behavioural science, comms, basically anything popular science, which I hope that my book falls into that category. I a hundred percent like printed cause I earmark, I write up, I take notes and I go back and I reference ’em frequently. But I’m such a voracious fiction reader that I wouldn’t have enough shelves in my house if I had, right. So my Kindles my best friend for fiction, for nonfiction. I absolutely need a printed book.

Asif Choudry (05:12):

That’s interesting. That, , an interesting take. So that’s, um, great though. Let’s give, let’s finish up with one more question. , apple or Android

Lindsay Kohler (05:23):


Asif Choudry (05:24):

Any reason for that?

Lindsay Kohler (05:26):

Yeah, because I moved to San Francisco in 2013 and was the only person that still had an Android, which was sort of preferred in Seattle with Amazon. Then I moved to San Francisco, everyone had an iPhone. I felt ostracized by the green message that comes in if you’re an iPhone user and you text <laugh>. So I switched and I just never switched back.

Asif Choudry (05:47):

You’ve, you’ve stuck with them ever since. But Apple tends to be the common one. Although this season we’ve already had, , , a couple of Android, , users as well. So they do exist. They do exist. So that’s been brilliant that thank you Lindsay for sharing, , some insight. I’ve got to know you a bit more and I’m sure the listeners will have done too. Oh

Lindsay Kohler (06:08):

My pleasure. Um,

Asif Choudry (06:09):

, so we, the reason for the podcast here is that you’ve, um, Skylar Abbott, it’s n you’ve produced basically your annual World Changers report, which is now in hiss fourth year with a thousand downloads already, which is great. So, and that from Harnessing Rebel Voices to bring positive change to acknowledging that employees are being asked to dig deep again to the keys, to keeping employees sweet and everything in between. Um, and Skylar Abbot Expertly Guides HR and IC Pros through the 10 most important trends impacting the world of work this year. So we’re gonna, I’m gonna ask you some questions that kind of elaborate on some of that research and in the show notes we’ll share the link to, um, the report as well. , so to kick off then, Lindsay, tell us about the topics covered in World Changes 2023.

Lindsay Kohler (07:03):

Yes, it’s a pretty wide range is how I’m going to preface this answer. So we’ve got, you know, the classic icy topics such as storytelling and talking about diversity and inclusion and sustainability. But then we also examined culture unrest of it. So you mentioned harnessing Revel voices in the interest. So that was really coming out of the fact that there was a lot of rising dissatisfaction last year, right? We had cost of Living crisis, we had this great resignation and it just felt like people were banding together to take the power back. So it was really understanding how to harness some of those rebel voices for good. Um, we talked about wondering if D n I efforts have to get maybe a bit stricter, right? Go be, go beyond those really beautiful belonging campaigns and talk about potentially chasing changing up codes of contact and what that means for IC and HR teams, um, to diving deep. You know, we said we have to dig a lot deeper with resilience. So we went and found a psychologist, um, who used to work at Facebook and got her opinion on, on those expert areas. So we really, I think, take you through the full gamut of everything that could, um, really impact your experience in the, in the world of work.

Asif Choudry (08:23):

Yeah. Great. So, and then you mentioned you spoke to um, , some of your Facebook. So who are the guest expert voices we can expect to hear from in the report?

Lindsay Kohler (08:33):

Yeah, you know, this is such a varied group this year, um, and we really looked outside of our world and our community, um, to just get that, I guess outside opinion that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. So people such as the head of virtual first at Dropbox talking about how to organize information and I guess share knowledge in this remote world to, you know, we have the former psychologist at Medic giving us those resilience lessons. Um, a really interesting one. We have Ferris store. She was the former editor of Cosmopolitan and now she’s head of, I think it’s content Partnerships at Sub and she was talking about how to connect with your audiences and how to write with empathy. Um, we have to Beers head of carbon neutrality talking through their sustainability journey. I mean, we even have an etiquette expert talking about kind of what the new rules of the road are for social expectations at work.

Lindsay Kohler (09:32):

So for example, what I just had right now with having children in the lobby that were quite noisy, I’m like, oh, is it okay now to take kids to work? Is it certain circumstances? So how are these etiquette rules changing because the world of work has changed? And so I could, I could go, um, on and on, but I think between them they have such an amazing wealth of advice to offer that I think in our IC and HR world, we don’t often have a chance to get their time and attention on the issues that we really care about. So I’m just humbled by the quality of those voices that we got this year to participate.

Asif Choudry (10:11):

Yeah. Amazing. And then you, there’s such a diverse range of topics and, um, some real high profile contributors and expert voices in the report. And so there must have been some of those aha moments, um, from the guest experts. Can you share with us some of those?

Lindsay Kohler (10:28):

Yeah, I’d, I’d love to, um, and it’s gonna be hard to pick, but I’ve, I’ve been thinking about this and I think I’ve been able to narrow it down to two interview moments. So one of our interviews with community expert David Spinks, and he’s the author of the bestselling book called The Business of Belonging. And he talked with us about this kind of idea of work communities shrinking and he said people join don’t join companies for community. And I think that that really resonated with me because we talked so much about work culture and collaboration and forming relationships. And he said, you know, businesses need to recognize that they aren’t building a family, they aren’t building a neighborhood and they aren’t building a religion. And so they don’t need to be held to those same community standards as other units. And I just thought that was such a refreshing and interesting take when so much of the conversation is about bringing our global workforces together and creating this community.

Lindsay Kohler (11:31):

I mean, in fact, maybe that’s not quite what we want or what we need. And so I’ve really liked his viewpoint. And I guess the other like aha moment was we had Margaret Baylor, who she’s been leading global businesses for years, you know, especially in the tech realm. Tech realm. So X, Amazon X, ibm, she’s currently a VP at Twilio. And so I asked her, cuz her latest book has called Be Unexpected, it’s just Come out and I asked her, what is the most rebellious act you can take at work? And you know what she said? She said, the most rebellious thing you can do at work is to tell leaders something that they don’t want to hear. And so I had like literal goosebumps when she, um, said that. I thought it was just such a powerful insight.

Asif Choudry (12:22):

Yeah. Excellent. And then, um, so some really, that’s just a couple of them. There’s loads more and we’re gonna, , we’ll publish a link to the report and you just need to go to Scarlet Abbot’s website as well and have a look and you’ll find that report there as well. So what do you think, now we’re here, , as comms hero and supporting the comms community. So what do you think is the most serious challenge facing comms teams this year?

Lindsay Kohler (12:47):

Yeah, I, I think it’s going to be with the employee value proposition and how comms teams communicate that because I think that the EVP is really going to have to change, right? We’re being asked to be resilient yet again, we’re facing into a cost of living crisis. We’ve had like more and more employee employers wanting to get their people back in offices and starting to mandate again. And I just think that if employees are gonna be asked to do all of that, that they’re gonna want something in return. You know, it’s kind of that classic behavioural science principle of reciprocity. You know, if I do something for you, you’re gonna have to do something for me. Yeah. And I feel like comms teams get really squeezed in between, right? They’re the mediator, they’re the voice, they’re feeding the feedback up and trying to feed the hard messages back down and acting as that mediator. And so I think they’re gonna really have their hands full in communicating tough messages and doing listening activities with their people to make sure that voices are heard and that everyone finds some sort of happy medium.

Asif Choudry (13:56):

Yeah. Do you think then, because the, the, the role of comms is, and I’m sure many comms listeners, um, to the podcast will agree that it’s, it’s already hugely challenging with the pandemic, having challenged that and the cost of living crisis and some of the things you’ve mentioned there. Is there room in people’s professional lives to overcome a more challenge? Is there po Is it even possible?

Lindsay Kohler (14:21):

Well, I think anything’s possible, but I think the question we have to ask ourselves is what are we gonna prioritize, right? Because you can’t always do it all and you can’t make everybody happy. So where do we start to figure out what those trade-offs are and what are the things that we can let go of and what are the things that we want to make room for? Because I think a lot of times in change management in comms, we kind of overlook the power of subtractive changes, right? We’re so quick to try to add, add, add to fix things Yeah. That we don’t think enough about what we can take away. So I, I think there’s a absolutely a way to do it, but we can’t keep doing it all and we can’t keep adding on. We’re gonna have to be much more thoughtful about what really matters and stripping away what doesn’t.

Asif Choudry (15:07):

Yeah. Cause there is definitely the, I’ve seen lots more, um, comments on social and LinkedIn and Twitter and wherever else about people having to learn the art of saying no because like you say, just, um, adding all the time, you know, being asked to do more things, which is quite, quite commonplace for, um, especially as companies want to communicate more and get messages out to more people. There’s, there’s those bigger demands coming on and um, is saying no, that is it an easy thing? Is it, , as a behavioural scientist, I’ve quite, I’d like to explore that a little bit.

Lindsay Kohler (15:44):

Well, I think it’s, it’s context specific and and person specific. And that’s one of the most annoying things you’ll hear behavioural scientists say over and over again. We basically will give you some iteration of, well, it depends. Um, so well it, it, it does depend though, are you in a, I think at work it’s, are you a psychologically safe place? So do you feel like there’s an environment that you can say no? Do you feel like you have clout? What is just your innate personality? Like I don’t really struggle with saying no, I know others do. So I do think it’s context specific, but the one constant that allows that in the workplace is psychological safety.

Asif Choudry (16:23):

Yeah, no, I’d agree with that. So yeah, more challenges, um, facing the comms, , teams this year and just like, I’m sure if we recorded a follow up to this in 2024, they’ll be more challenges piled on top of those, but maybe everybody’s just, um, learned how to cope with them better and say no and get rid of a few things and, and stuff like that. But we’ll see how the year progresses. And, um, so there are, you know, lots of reports and guides out there for comms professionals. So what makes world changes different to all the others?

Lindsay Kohler (16:59):

Yeah, that’s a terrific question cuz you’re right, there’s a lot out there and how do we choose what to pay attention to and what to give our precious time and energy toward? And if I can make a case for world changers, I think it would be the following two points. And the first is just the depth of perspective and empathy that can really only come when you have a team that has such, I guess, diverse specialisms, right? We’ve got journalists, we have an anthropologist, I’m a behavioural scientist, um, and everybody at the company has worked in-house at large corporations. So we really understand the world that we’re consulting in because we’ve, we’ve been there, right? We’ve had that lived experience. Yeah, we understand those challenges and we all have incredibly unique specialism. So we bring all of that together in this report. Um, and that also means because we’ve been in, in that world that our predictions and our stated opportunities are really, they’re just practical and they’re very specific. You know, my pet peeve is when you read reports, um, and you get recommendations like improve the employee experience. And I think, my god, that is so vague, like yeah,

Asif Choudry (18:07):

It is. Yeah,

Lindsay Kohler (18:08):

It drives me insane. I guess just the second thing is the quality of those outside experts that we source. Um, it’s a lot of work each year getting that lineup together and just the, the angle that they take, especially as many of them aren’t in comms or hr, they just bring a really interesting perspective that I don’t think you’re gonna find in most of the reports that are circulating out there in the comms world. And that is absolutely what differentiates World Changers.

Asif Choudry (18:38):

Amazing. So, you know, that’s a really good insight into the World Changers report and, um, people listening to this, if you haven’t seen it by the time we go to publish and this episode goes live, then , go to the Scarlet Habit website and have a look and the link will be in the show notes as well. So Lindsay, you talked about community before and you’ve spoken, , you’ve been a speaker at a previous com zero week virtual event. And um, before I ask the next question, I think it’d be great to, for you to just tell us a little story in terms of what happened on the, this is your Comms Hero esque, um, resilience coming to the fore of when you were, it was, it’s a virtual event, comm zero week and you are prepped and ready to go for your speaker session. And then what happened?

Lindsay Kohler (19:26):

<laugh>, what happened is my internet decided that about three minutes before I was to go live, that it was gonna be an excellent time to die and we could have canceled, we could have rescheduled. I was chatting with the team on, on my phone behind the scenes, I just said, give me 90 seconds, scooped up my laptop. I ran across the street to a coffee shop, I slid in and we were able to start the session on time. Um, but we did have like a comedy of airs I would say because I was in this zone. I was focused, but I had what can only be described as like Armageddon behind me. I mean, we had like crying babies, barking dogs, dropping glasses, all these people moving in and out and I’m just pretending that none of that is there. But I think, and you would agree that the comments section of that that was amazing of that talk was just half of it was on the insights I was showed and the other half was like, what the heck is going on in that background? How are you staying focused? Man, those people are getting a lot of great insights for free and we just, um, well the show must go on, right,

Asif Choudry (20:36):

<laugh>? Absolutely. And and what a comms hero legend you after for <laugh>, , for, um, everything just went on time. Um, and it was great and it was a great, great session. So tell us, Lindsay, why is Comms Hero as a community? Why is it important to you and would you recommend people working in comms and marketing to be part of it?

Lindsay Kohler (20:55):

Yeah, I, I think, I think what’s so great about it is you’re so inclusive. It is such an inclusive community. There’s none of that distinction between are you a consultant or are you in-house? Nobody cares what your CV or your resume is. It’s just a place where everyone can share insights without an agenda, without trying to sell something, without trying to push their own initiative or product forward. I feel like it really is a very neutral community that’s come together with the aim to just share knowledge, connect and collectively upskill each other. And I think that that’s really hard to find. And so I, I love that about the Comms Hero community and thank you for all the work that you put into creating this place for us to come together.

Asif Choudry (21:45):

No, that’s great and thank you. It’s always nice to hear that people do value the community. A lot of time goes into it, and you’re absolutely right in terms of being inclusive. There’s no membership fee. You don’t, it doesn’t matter which membership body you are part of or not part of, and we can kind of have the conversations that other people perhaps, potentially can’t as well. So, , it is definitely a safe space and we, we, we are, we set out, we’re in our ninth year now and set out to celebrate the heroics that comms people perform every day to remind comms people that because they’re always so busy promoting everyone else’s great work, we don’t often get the chance to remember we have to keep promoting ourselves and it’s only by doing that, that this we’re not at the top table thing will disappear. So, you know, um, communities like this need to carry on. So part of the community we want people to connect and network. We would love for people to connect with you Lindsay. So, um, how can the listeners connect with you where we’ll find you?

Lindsay Kohler (22:46):

Yeah, um, LinkedIn is where I’m most active on social. So send me a note, um, introducing yourself or grab a follow, but that’s definitely the best place to find me or you can follow, um, my Forbes, um, contributor column as well.

Asif Choudry (23:04):

Excellent. Thank you for that. I urge everyone to go and do that. And, , Liz’s LinkedIn, um, details will be in the show notes as well. You’ll find us podcast on Spotify, apple and on our website com and you can follow us on twitter com zero. If you are listening on Spotify and Apple, please do leave a rating review and follow and subscribe. And if you do fancy yourself as a guest on the podcast, you’re passionate about a comms topic that you wanna speak about, then get in touch with me as if Childry on LinkedIn or Twitter or you can dm com zero. And um, you can do what Lindsay’s just done and had a, um, you know, a guest slot on the Com zero podcast. So Lindsay, it’s been a fascinating conversation, which I know the listeners will enjoy and it’s been an absolute pleasure.

Lindsay Kohler (23:48):

Thank you so much. I really enjoyed it.

SOCIAL 3.0. The future of B2B content marketing

SOCIAL 3.0. The future of B2B content marketing

Andy has over 12 years experience in creating markets, building profitable businesses, and leadership roles in industry-leading SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) organisations.

In 2016, he joined two others as one of the founding team of ContentCal, a social media marketing SaaS product. Over the course of five years, they raised over $10m, grew to be used by multiple thousands of customers in over 100 countries, won numerous awards, and, at the end of 2021 were acquired by Adobe Inc.

In March 2022, Andy encapsulated his learnings from scaling start-up business in the best-selling book, SOCAIL 3.0.

Right now, social media represents an unprecedented growth opportunity. But tapping into this new paradigm won’t be easy, especially so for B2B businesses. B2B’s have historically been behind the curve and guilty of seeing social media as just another ‘channel’ to distribute their content.

But, if B2B’s want to power growth in this new era, this mindset needs to change.

The fastest-growing and most-loved businesses on the planet all have realised the transformative potential of social media, and it’s opening up a great divide between those that ‘get it’ and those that are still marketing like it’s 2012.

It’s time for B2B’s to cross the chasm to unleash the power of social media, to build trust, and create demand at a scale that’s never before been possible.

Andy Lambert

Founding Team and Director of Growth

Podcast questions:

  1. What’s changing in the world of social media?
  2. Why does this matter for B2B’s and does this only apply to B2B organisations?
  3. What do you see as the common mistakes?
  4. What do business need to do to capture this opportunity?
  5. Where should a business start?

Podcast transcript here:

Disclaimer: this is an automated transcript. Please don’t call the grammar police on us. You never know, we may have ChatGPT writing our next one…

Asif Choudry (00:01):

Hello, and welcome to another episode in the you’re my CommsHero podcast. And I’m your host Asif Choudry. Today, my guest is Andy Lambert. Andy has over 12 years experience in creating markets, building profitable businesses and leadership roles in industry leading SASS software as a service organisations. Get ready for this. In 2016, he joined two others as one of the founding team of content call social media marketing SaaS product. Over the course of five years, they raised over 10 million. That’s correct. 10 million, which is amazing. And, , it grew to be used by multiple thousands of customers in over a hundred countries, won nerous awards. And at the end of 2021, were acquired by Adobe Inc. Now that’s a hell of an accolade. And in March, 2022, Andy encapsulated his learnings from scaling startup business in the best-selling book social 3.0. So Andy, it’s an absolute pleasure to welcome you onto the CommsHero podcast.

Andy Lambert (01:01):

Hey Asif, how are you doing?

Asif Choudry (01:03):

Very good, thank you. Very good indeed. And that, that, you know, , we, we were speaking before the recording, , to have raised over 10 million and, , you know, customers over a hundred hundred countries, nerous awards and being acquired by Adobe Inc. What’s that? What is, what, what is that like,

Andy Lambert (01:24):

How do I contextualize that in, you know, 30 seconds? , yes. It’s, it’s a dream come true. , I’m still pinching myself and as I said to you before we started, , Adobe is every bit the magical company that it looks on the outside, on the inside too. , so selling a company always has a bit of bit of sweet, a bittersweet, a tinge to it because yes, you’ve kind of hit a goal, but also you want to make sure that what you’ve built has as best possible custodian. And there is, you know, you always start with a mission, so you want to see that mission achieved and, , or continued at least. , and yeah, Adobe are on a, a wonderful mission and yeah, hence reason I’m, I’m still working for them because yeah, I believe in what they’re trying to do with it, so feel very lucky. Put it that way.

Asif Choudry (02:13):

Excellent. Now what a fantastic journey, , through business and where you are now. And you, , may have seen Andy, as I have many times on LinkedIn, stood up in his kitchen doing fantastic videos of content, giving advice on what the latest things are happening week on week in the, in this world of social media. We’re gonna get onto, , , picking Andy’s brains for his understanding and knowledge of social media. But before we do that, there’s a few questions I’ve got for you, Andy, so we can get to know you a bit more, the listeners and myself. So let’s kick off with, okay, an easy one. Are you an early riser or do you love a lion?

Andy Lambert (02:50):

Early riser. Big time.

Asif Choudry (02:52):

Why is that then?

Andy Lambert (02:54):

, young kids. , and, , yeah, so I get up before they get up, which means I can have like a few hours of golden time, , before they get up at seven in the morning. And because I’ve got up so early, I’m flipping knackered by 9:00 PM so I’m in, I’m in bed by nine 30, <laugh> <laugh>.

Asif Choudry (03:12):

Oh, brilliant. And , okay, so do you, , you are social media. I ask this of other people, , I need to mi I might need to update this now cause I’ve asked for a couple of years, Twitter or Instagram, but do I need to add LinkedIn and TikTok on this now as well?

Andy Lambert (03:27):

, yeah, you probably do. , cause LinkedIn would be, would be my jam. , yeah, to be honest, you picked the two social networks. I frequent the least <laugh>.

Asif Choudry (03:38):

That’s quite interesting cause most of the people I speak to would be the opposite, you know? And, , but LinkedIn’s had a massive resurgence I’ve found myself over the last couple of years. Just, I think it’s just become more relaxed than the people on it have become. There’s less LinkedIn police on there now, which is great. And people are posting the sort of content you saw in various other platforms. So LinkedIn is your one of choice? , definitely Apple or Android.

Andy Lambert (04:05):

Apple, yeah, I follow the crowd.

Asif Choudry (04:08):

<laugh> <laugh>, that is the crowd when it comes to our listeners, the majority of, we’ve had a few Androids this season so far. And, , let’s give you a final one then. So, , are you, do you prefer an ebook or a printed book?

Andy Lambert (04:25):

, yeah, printed. I won’t make it through a whole ebook and we do enough staring at screens, so, , yeah, I do.

Asif Choudry (04:32):

That’s quite interesting that Yeah, yeah, yeah, because that, that, that reason there is, , you know, the, the rise of digital and , digital in the workplace as well. We’re all spending more time front the screens. I’ve heard a lot more people have revalued and somebody who’s worked in print myself for, for 20 plus years. , I’ve always enjoyed that tactile nature and the smell of print as well. And, , yeah. Yeah, I’ve seen a lot more people going back to that now because it’s the one way they guarantee still, whether it’s fiction or reading for your job or whatever it is, that people just, they’ve preferred that because it’s forcing that downtime from the screen. So, good.

Andy Lambert (05:13):

Definitely. The, the only, , caveat to that, that I would, I would say is I probably conse most of my information through podcast or audio books now, I would say. Yeah. See, that’s probably my favorite means, which is probably quite good as we’re doing a podcast right now, so,

Asif Choudry (05:28):

Absolutely. Yeah, no, I’m the same. Put a podcast and, , books on Audible and, , reading a proper printed book when, , I, I’m not a massive reader, but I’ve started to become one, but audible’s definitely been a help to, to that, but I tend to retain information better from the physical form. Oh yeah. It’s the, and that’s, that’s one big difference really, that you, I think you’re more considered when you’re doing that as opposed to when you are, , listening to an audiobook or a podcast. I don’t tend to rewind anything, but when I’m reading I’ll map the page and stuff like that. So there is a definite difference from a re retention point of view.

Andy Lambert (06:06):

Yeah, yeah. Agreed.

Asif Choudry (06:08):

So getting onto the podcast, I’ve gotta little, an intro here just to give a bit of context to people before I get into some, some of those meaty. So right now social media represents an unprecedented growth opportunity, but tapping into this new paradigm won’t be easy, especially so for B2B businesses and B2B have historically been behind the curve and guilty of seeing social media is just another channel to distribute their content. But if B2B s want to power growth in this new era, the mindset needs to change according to Andy. And we’re gonna find out a bit more. So the fastest growing and most of businesses on the planet all have realized the transformative potential of social media and it’s opening up a great divide between those that get it and those that are still marketing, like it’s 2012. I love that statement. , and it’s time for B2B to cross the chasm on and to unleash the power of social media to build trust and create demand at a scale that’s never before been possible. So let’s get straight into these questions to just answer and give more context around that. So what is changing in the world of social media? Andy?

Andy Lambert (07:18):

What isn’t probably is a, is a way to start, but, , it’s one like we thought growth might taper off at some point, but we are still seeing double digit year on year growth of new users coming to social channels. So now there’s 4.8 billion people across the world that actively, when I say actively, I mean once every month log in, , to social media now, , that is 58% of the world’s population and only about 60% of the world’s population have access to the internet period. So we are pretty much at complete ubiquity, , between well around social media, connecting everyone Yeah. Across the planet that has the ability to be connected, which is just such an incredibly powerful thing. , and not only are we seeing an increase in the amount of people using it every month, we’re seeing, , an increase in the amount of time that people are spending on social media. It’s now larger than than tv. The only thing that, , trp’s social media in terms of time spent is time people spend on their mobile devices. That’s it. So there really is nothing that connects us like social, and it’s just it, when you look at those macro effects, absolutely huge. And obviously there’s a load of underlying trends as well, which are shifting as well. But

Andy Lambert (08:38):


Asif Choudry (08:39):

There’s quite fascinating stats there. Yeah, that’s like huge. So pretty much everyone who’s got access to the internet is on social in effect, basically. That’s what, , so big target audiences access to more audiences and reach that businesses have, well, to be honest with you never had before social. So it is a, a, a big opportunity.

Andy Lambert (09:01):

That’s it. And I think the, just a, a piece to add to that, to, to your point, Asif, about being a big opportunity, it’s like the, those people are getting more dispersed across multiple different platforms. So the average nber of social platforms that people are active on is seven. Now, , that means that, , if you kind of d i I’m a bit of a stats nerd, so, , you have to forgive me, there’ll be a lot of percentages quoted in this podcast go right? Like, , yeah, like only 1% of all of those social media users, 1% of those 4.8 billion are unique to one platform. So meaning that if we want to reach our target audience, we need to think multi-channel, right? Because I think that’s, that’s something that’s held a lot of businesses back before. They’re like, oh yeah, my audience is, is on li we we are Twitter and LinkedIn. That’s, that’s it. That’s where we’ll where we’ll focus and I’m all for focus, right? Especially if you are resource constrained, et cetera. But, we’ll, we’ll come onto this later on, but, , we are, we are missing an opportunity if we are not kind of opening our mind to other channels on what other people are doing. cause usage behaviors are changing dramatically. But, , yeah, I’m sure we’ll cover that a little bit later on.

Asif Choudry (10:10):

Yeah, no, I’m surprised. So the seven social media platforms, for me, it’s always been the last 10 years, Twitter and LinkedIn. And, , I’ve never really ventured into Instagram or TikTok, although I do understand the need for them. But certainly I think that, , building of personal brand and stuff like that, I I’m quite happy to open and explore, but there’s definitely been a difference in the last couple of years of wanting to be seen on those platforms because that’s where our customers are going. It’s, it’s much more desperate. You’re absolutely right then. So why does all that matter than Andy for, for, for b2b? And, and, and also does it only apply to B2B organizations?

Andy Lambert (10:51):

Yeah, I’m glad you brought it up actually, because whilst the book I wrote was, , explicitly calling out like B tobs because I, I see them as the, the group. So when I say b2b, just for clarity, I mean business to business. So businesses that are selling to, to other businesses. So, , think, you know, or something like that, right? So, , and typically those businesses are terrible with social media because typically business to business or B2B s think feature first in the way that they market their products. And, and they think that people buy products based on rationality. Because if we have a better feature set than, you know, than our competitor, then we’ll win. All of that is utter nonsense because it’s, it’s like removing the psychology as to why people buy products or do things. And the reason that people do things.

Andy Lambert (11:43):

, whether this is buying services, joining a community, buying a product, you know, whether it’s buying a product for your home or buying a product to implement in your team at work, we make decisions based on trust. And the way that we build trust is typically through others. We look to others to, , give us signals for, , what is a trustworthy, what is a thing that we want to believe in too, because whether we’re buying something for our personal lives at home, there’s, there’s an element of risk and anxiety that comes with that. So being able to look to others or have others talk about you is really where the opportunity comes to unleash social. So when we talk about, you know, whether it’s B2B or whether it’s any other organization for that matter, irrespective of who you you’re selling to or, or who you’re trying to convince, cause we’re all trying to convince or drive someone to take some form of action, whether we’re a charity, whether we’re a service company, whatever.

Andy Lambert (12:38):

It’s, yeah. So in order for someone to take an action, they need to feel compelled to do that. So feeling compelled to do that means having some form of like peer orientated signals that other people are doing that to. And when I talk about marketing like it’s 2012, the way that businesses have typically, and some of them still do think about social media, they, they see it as another distribution channel akin to email because, you know, like how we we’re all guilty of using email like that. Like, all right, we built a database, I’ve got something that I want to drive people towards or sale to make. Let’s bang out an email and let’s get people to do something. So you’ll notice that email was only about us. It was a selfish endeavor. Not saying that that’s all bad, but, you know, we wanted something, we wanted people to take an action on something and get that done.

Andy Lambert (13:25):

But with social, so many people have tried to treat it like it is a direct sales channel. It is fundamentally not. And that’s where we miss an opportunity. I’m sorry, I’m talking low cause I get on my soapbox with this because like, I can’t stress this enough because we’re not thinking about the impact of social at a more broad level, think about what we were just talking about 4.8 billion people across the world. That’s a lot of people to influence. We’re not just trying to like spray and pray and throw a load of crud at the wall and try and see what sticks. We want to create a really meaningful brand. So Andy, tell us what do you see as the common mistakes? Yeah, so like we were just talking about, , misunderstanding the appreciation of brand and how that fits into the broader marketing and perception, right?

Andy Lambert (14:15):

, and I think this is, this is where we, we need to kind of remember where social media sits in a kind of broader, broader funnel right at the top in awareness, right? And this is the thing that makes social media so powerful because we’ve never had an opportunity to go this broad to generate awareness at such scale, like you were saying in the kind of outset Asif. And that’s where an appreciation of of brand is so important and where people misunderstand social media, they, they default to the typical norms of, oh yeah, we’ve gotta promote something. Oh, can you check it out on social for me please? Of which that might drive a couple of clicks or a couple of sales, but it’s at the detriment of like long-term brand building. Now for anyone that is interested in marketing theory, and I would always recommend if anyone wants to understand marketing, just, just kind of read the long and the short of it or a little synopsis of it because everyone that’s doing any form of marketing needs to have a fundamental understanding of, , the dynamics of long and short of it, which is basically how a business grows over time.

Andy Lambert (15:25):

So well-known marketing theory, and it’s all about the kind of the, the short version of this is there is short-term advertising kind of, , acquisition orientated stuff, and then long-term brand building. And we need to have the right balance between the two. The typical right balance is about 60 to 70% brand building and 30%, , orientated acquisitional activity because we need to be working towards the long term because the, the big metric, cause there’s only one metric that I ever care about when it comes to social media success and it’s a metric that I don’t hear anyone talking about. , and this, I’m talking mostly from like a brand perspective, from a personal brand perspective, I wouldn’t necessarily do this measure, but, , if we’re talking from any kind of company and that metric’s called share a voice, share a voice quite simply is the amount of times that your brand is mentioned relative to your competition and in very simple marketing terms is that the more your brand is mentioned, and if you are mentioned more and you have a larger share of voice relative to your competitors, your brand will grow.

Andy Lambert (16:36):

If the inverse is true and you have a smaller share of voice versus your competition, your brand will shrink. Simple as that. Right? And that goes back to the point I said right at the start, and none of this is rocket science and we overcomplicate marketing like you wouldn’t believe, right? It is not a complicated endeavor because as we said at the start, the way hans make decisions is based on trust. So word of mouth becomes our nber one source of growth. It’s always been the most powerful marketing tactic always will be because, you know, on fundamental han dynamics, we trust people that we know and we trust. There is, there is an implied trust. If as if you and I have known each other kind of indirectly for many years, , I’m gonna come on your podcast because a friend of a mutual friend of mine, of yours, Luann said, you know, you should go on as this podcast, great trust is there because someone I know and like, and trust, yeah, just tell me to do something simple stuff.

Andy Lambert (17:37):

But then social media allows us to unlock that at scale and that is where we kind of, I’m sure we might touch on some of the tactics later, but yeah, in, in a nutshell, if we can understand the importance of, of share a voice, understand the long and short of it and importance of brand building, and then we can understand how important growing word of mouth and lighting a fire under word of mouth of social is and how we do that, then , anyone will succeed irrespective of whether it’s personal brand, b2b, B2C services or whatever. Yeah. There, yeah, yeah. Does that make any sense? Pretty much

Asif Choudry (18:12):

No, no, it does. Definitely. And then what the, there’s a lot of power there in the , word of mouth, but that can also go on the flip side in terms of negative comments mm-hmm. <affirmative> as well. So they can spread as equally as quickly, , for sure to the detriment. So, you know, how do, , how do organizations guard against, cause nobody’s gonna stop the word of mouth of the positive stuff. How do people guard against or do things about when it’s the opposite side and the bad news is spreading like wildfire? Hmm.

Andy Lambert (18:45):

Yeah. Guard guarding against is, is probably, you can’t really do it because it is, yeah, people will talk and they’ll, they’ll go to social so you, so you can’t really guard against it. , that whilst I would defer to some other comms pros that are, are in, in organizations that are more critical than the ones that I’ve worked in, right? Cause I’ve, I work in marketing tech companies. Yeah. I, this isn’t lifesaving <laugh>, like we are not doing anything really important here. So I kind of defer my comments. I always wanted to kind of like wrap up my comments and the fact that, you know, people are more on the frontline than I am. So here’s how I would, here’s my take on it though. But others more experience will have different take. So one, you can’t control it because it’s gonna happen. If people are gonna talk, they’re gonna talk.

Andy Lambert (19:34):

The best thing you can do is understand your position first and foremost. And you do that by having tools in place very at a rudimentary level. Google alerts and tweet deck is probably what you need at a rudimentary level. , more broadly I would use tools like mention lit, which gives me an idea, cause that’s how I calculate my share of voice anyway. And it helps me understand, , what other people are saying about our brand across multiple channels, right? So you need, you need some kind of basic tooling them like that. So that’s, you know, you start with a bit of understanding, then it comes into, , a form of, , forming a kind of action plan of, of the back of it. Now, you know, we, we’ve had a situation where we’ve released, and this is a real life situation where we’ve released some information, , that wasn’t particularly popular and we did see not a massive fallout, but, , some negative, , on social media.

Andy Lambert (20:29):

And there’s, the way that I choose to deal with this personally is that I don’t actually comment on the post and reply to people directly, , because I’ll reply saying, I’ll mention it in the dms because what you want to do is get this out of the feeds as quickly as possible. The, the real kind of detailed nitty gritty of yeah, you know, , of what you need to solve. There’s also, you know, , and my fellow comms pros will, I’m not too sure whether they would like this, this one, but there, there are some posts that potentially aren’t, , favorable that you might be better off just not commenting on at all. Because if they haven’t got much traction right now, you commenting on them only gives them more traction. So whilst I would still look to find the individual reach out to them on different channels, whether through email or through other customer service tools, I’m not gonna leave a frustrated customer somewhere, but, , replying on social sometimes might not be the best thing because one thing that replying to content does, it gives it a massive boost. So, , you don’t really want to ample be, even though you’ve got the right intentions, amplifying negative stuff is not what you wanna do.

Asif Choudry (21:44):

No, absolutely. And I think that that’s certainly, in my experience, I’ve seen, , and heard from lots of comms teams, comms managers, head of comms who’ve had the C-suite or the execs who’ve been very guarded against having a social media presence. Not for the massive positives it delivers in terms of engagement and reach, but for those instances that may happen that that could be negative, but that’s the same in everything. But with social, it just seems to be, , a, a very different place. But, , so let’s, let’s focus on the, the positive element there then. So what the, the, and there are huge positives then for businesses. So what do businesses need to do to capture this opportunity?

Andy Lambert (22:31):

Great question. So, , nber one is to realize the, the power of personal profiles. So the more you can amplify others within your business, , the better. It’s, it’s the most, it’s the biggest open goal that so many businesses miss. It’s obvious reasons, right? Personal profiles will always outperform company pages if you’re looking at LinkedIn and if a voice of an individual will always garner more attention, right? That’s why we went out of our way at, at content call as we are building, building that to have faces that represent the business and people, because you’ll connect much more with an individual than a logo and face this organization. And I think this also, whilst we’re focusing on the positive, this also plays into the negative as well because, , you know, people are less likely to be outwardly rude to actual a another han being, right?

Andy Lambert (23:28):

So some people, some people are, but you know, generally it’s, you feel very different when you know who is behind this organization, right? You feel a very different connection to it. And we, we saw this play out, , and it’s probably one of the, the best tactics that we had. It’s not even a tactic at content house, it’s just the best thing we did. It’s just the culture of the organization to feel like we’re always open, always accessible, always listening, , and it just felt approachable. And I think that’s, that’s a, that’s a huge thing cause it, yeah, eyes and trust. So that’s nber one, leverage your employees. Nber two is, , the kind of main quote, I, I’m like a broken record, but this quote is like, think beyond your feed. We spend so much time with social media people like thinking, oh, like how, what content should I create to get engagement?

Andy Lambert (24:15):

Or what content should I create to, to get more followers? Like get your head out your backside. Like the most important thing you need to do is go like, okay, who can I champion? Who can I work with? How can I get our content or get our message in someone else’s feed? Like set up an ambassador program, find some, like, you know, when I say influencers, I’m not talking like you need to work with Kylie Jenn. I mean like how, how I work with Luanne wise, for example, how, you know, we are doing this right now cause we’ll both co-promote it on our feeds, right? People who shared interests come together and share content together. Like think of whoever you are trying to serve in the, in the industry, champion them. So like, you do a wonderful job at Comms Hero, just the very like title of the, of what you’re doing here.

Andy Lambert (25:05):

Like you are championing the complex art of communications. So finding like, you know, it was always our almost popular content or content cow where we had like social media manager of the month and we’ll just like highlight someone because yeah, of course we’ll tag them in, make someone else feel good and it makes them want to share it with their followers too. We’ve gone beyond our feed, so I usually share a screenshot, like I take ’em from mention Lytics, is that a content cal, you know, people sometimes, like you’re a social media company, you had 20,000 followers across all your network. But what they miss when they, if you looked at the analytics and looked at both our share of voice is that we had a higher share of voice than Hootsuite who are massive, a 70 700 million valued organization. You know, , we had a higher share of voice than them, and our monthly impressions were over 1.7 million people would see our content because we spent so long, like building relationships with people, getting other people to talk about us.

Andy Lambert (26:03):

You know, once again, back to word of mouth, it’s not rocket science. You’ve just gotta build relationships with people. Look at whoever’s kind of influe in your field. Look at different communities working with like different, , Facebook groups or, , people that have, you know, active on Reddit or something like that. So even thinking beyond just our, the social media platforms that we typically think about. So all of those, you know, it pays to spend more time preparing or thinking and researching and planning. Who are the people that influence the industry that you work in and how could they, how can you work together to amplify your message? And honestly, you know, that is absolutely game changing. , and then the third point, so we’ve gone through two leverage power, , of employees, , thinking beyond your feed and working through collaborations. And then the third one, and , social media managers will, will rejoice here is that, , you need to give yourself a break with trying to analyze everything and trying to attribute stuff on social.

Andy Lambert (27:11):

You’ll never do it. It’s impossible. Yeah. Tools will tell you they can do it. They can’t. It’s a lie. , so understand what we call this is dark social sounds all dark and mysterious, but like what our tools will tell us. Typically if you looked at like, we used HubSpot when we were at content calendars like our CRM to track where everyone came in from. Yeah. And if you look at HubSpot and it would tell, it will tell you that everyone came through organic search, so Googled us and then found us. So typically what we then did as a result is go, oh, right, Google’s massive, we fired so much money at like Google, , PPC to like make sure we’re top of rankings and stuff. Did absolutely nothing. Well, very little, not absolutely nothing. That’s a lie, but not as much as the money we spent.

Andy Lambert (27:57):

Yeah, because the thing is, when you dig into it and actually speak to customers, they were like, oh no, I saw you, I heard you on a podcast, or I found you through a friend that shared you in a WhatsApp group. I I was on a, , a Discord group and about social media and someone gave a talk and mentioned content count you like, and all they did was they go, oh yeah, when it came up and they had a need, they then Googled content cal. So our tracking software just said, all right, great. Google did all the work. It wasn’t, yeah, it was all of the magic that happened through people talking about us, and you’ll never attribute that. , it’s impossible. So the best thing you can do is look at your share of voice and use that as your kind of guiding principle as are we going in the right direction? And under that, the only other metric I look at is, , or two metrics is, , impressions. So how broad are we going? And , also engagements of course, because naturally you know, more comments you’re getting on your content, more deeper engagement you get the further it goes. So, but over those three, three pieces, you’ll know if you’re going in the right direction, don’t try and analyze everything because it’s a fool’s errand.

Asif Choudry (29:04):

Yeah, certainly vanity metrics have, , appeared from every everywhere basically. There’s so many different, , things that, and it just depends. Cause you can, you can, , use, I remember a few years ago using, , tweet reach just as a quick ready reckoner for if I was at an event and just seeing what the hashtags, how it’s performing and the nber of impressions could be into the millions. And you think, wow, that’s just a massive nber. And you know, I would tweet that and people would think, oh, fantastic, the event’s doing really well, but it’s the stuff afterwards that, you know, know when you’ve finished in the engagement. And that’s what’s certainly what I’ve always looked at. You know, how many people are actually, , engaging with you as opposed to a nber of followers and all the rest of it. These are the balance between vanity metrics and the ones that do really matter. I suppose it depends who’s asking the questions. So there’s loads of places for people to, to start there. So where, where should businesses actually start then Andy? Cause there’s so many places, so much, so much great stuff you’ve mentioned. Where should they start?

Andy Lambert (30:11):

, we start with nber one, understanding, , intrinsically who we are trying to serve. , so the, the, once again, back to target customer, but , also just get out of your building and speak to people. Don’t look at charts and, and, and data to tell you who you should speak to. , that’ll give you a guide. But get out and speak to customers and ask some real questions about the problems that they face, , and the things they struggle with within your industry. They, that is the gold dust that gives you your content that you need to create. So basically get outta the building, understand intrinsically who you’re trying to serve and the goals you’re putting around that. So why are you doing it? It’s all about, it’s all about starting with why, , you know, pretty obvious. But after that then it’s about how do we then create a good content plan that’s going to deliver results against the objectives that we set and be able to serve the needs of those people that we’ve identified.

Andy Lambert (31:09):

And if we’ve asked our Quest questions correctly, we’ve understood the, the type of challenges that they face in their role. And our job as we’re building content is to solve problems, add value, solve problems, et cetera, right? So, , and we can also use like some tools to help us get this as well, right? Because you could use, , , answer the, right? Great resource. So you type in, , you know, in our case, social media managers and you’ll get a whole bunch of related questions, you know, pertaining to that. And also, you know, I also just do a couple of other quick things just to like gauge the kind of problems that we are we are trying to solve. I would go to, I would just Google like, you know, social media manager and I’ll, if you look at the bottom of your Google search, you’ll see all the related searches.

Andy Lambert (31:58):

So what people are also searching for, once again, you’ll see your problems. And the final thing I do, because TikTok is so heavy for, it’s so heavily used for search, even if you’re not posting on TikTok, what it will do, TikTok search capabilities is so powerful. So I would implore anyone to test that out. So go to search on TikTok, look at your category, look at the most liked content in your category, and you’ll see the type of things that are both kind of working and the types of content that’s being created in your space that that’ll give you a whole heap of inspiration. So with that, you know, we’ve got a load of qual and quant data, so we know who we’re trying to serve, we know what we’re trying to do, and we also know a load of problems that, that you’re trying to solve.

Andy Lambert (32:39):

And now our next job is to then put that into some form of cohesive plan. So across all of that data and information and problem kind of analysis that we’ve just conducted, we’re gonna conduct or create a content plan that is broken down into, , five themes. So those five themes recur every single week. And these, some might call them content pillars or content buckets. Yeah, I call ’em content themes. Basically just topics. So you break all of what you’ve learned down into topics, and then you build your content plan for the course of the month orientated around these topics which you believe, , will appeal to your target audience, add value, help solve a need, all the stuff that everyone knows. , and at the end of the month, , do some like quick, , ana analysis of like what the things that work for the best, what topics performed the best, double down on those, evolve them, look at different formats, et cetera. So, you know, that’s where I would start. It’s research and the plan. Like if you’re gonna do anything, well, you would spend 80% of the time researching and understanding and planning and then 20% of the time doing, whereas I think most people in social media just go, oh, let’s do something and just, just do it does pay to, , to really step back and think about, you know, the why behind it, , both in terms of your audience and what you’re trying to achieve, and that’s where you’d start.

Asif Choudry (34:02):

No, that’s great. Great advice, Dan. Some, there’s some fantastic stuff for people too, for the listeners to take away, whether it’s B2B or you’re working in public sector and it’s b2c, the principles are pretty much, , similar in some of the stuff that Andy’s, , said to us as well. So we’ve mentioned in, in among some of those answers, Andy, , our mutual friend Luann Wise, who was a speaker at com zero from the very beginning back in 2014. And, , you, you’ve also been a speaker at com zero week, our virtual event alongside, , on a panel with which Luann was chairing. So yep. Why is com zero important to you, and would you recommend people working in comms and marketing to be part of it?

Andy Lambert (34:43):

Oh, well, yes, definitely a no brainer for recommendation. , yes. And you know, it’s, it’s a difficult job, right? I say marketing is easy and sometimes a bit glib with it, but like, there’s, there’s a lot of pressure on anyone in marketing and communications to, to deliver results, to manage an ever-changing environment, right? It’s always shifting sands, , and what we’re working in both if we are trying to manage complex problems or customer complaints or whether we are just trying to get our head around what the hell has happened with Twitter right now, you know, there is, it’s constantly shifting and being able, whilst, you know, you can get advice and input from, you know, both I talk about that and anywhere else on the internet, what you can’t get is peer support. Having people around you that share your pain is just super valuable. So, you know, that’s why I I I’ve probably said community about a million times in this, in this call because it really is the heart of both everything that’s successful about social media and, you know, why , com things like ERO is just so, so powerful connecting people together, , helping people kind of share the pain of what we’re all going through. Yeah. And, and learning from each other. It’s just super valuable. So I applaud the work you’re doing.

Asif Choudry (35:58):

Well, thank you, Andy. It’s much appreciated. And the, you mentioned community there, so it’s important. We want people to connect with our guests, , and you’re gonna get loads of advice, , , including, , Andy’s regular content, latest news updates on what’s happening in social from the power of his kitchen. So Andy, where can people, where can people find you, what your social handles, where they’re gonna find you?

Andy Lambert (36:22):

, yeah, so I’m, I’m Andy, , Lambert on every channel. , LinkedIn’s where I spend most of my time. , and , yeah, that’s, that’s it. And then if any of this has been of any use whatsoever, then , the book Social 3.0 is on, on Amazon too. But I’m, I’m also guilty of just giving away loads of free advice. So if you just need something, you can just message me too. So <laugh>

Asif Choudry (36:47):

<laugh> fantastic. And, , you’re gonna find this podcast on Spotify, apple and on our website com, and you can follow us on twitter com zero. If you do listen on Spotify and Apple, please do leave a rating and review and, , hit the follow or subscribe button. , it’s important for us that we, , are being recognized and people do like the show, , and share it as Andy has mentioned here, to spread the news through word of mouth. And Andy has been genuinely fascinating and I’ve learned some new stuff today. So, , , thank you so much for giving us the time and your pearls of wisdom.

Andy Lambert (37:24):

Absolute pleasure. Thank you for inviting me. Really appreciate it Asif.

Bibbety Bobbity Boo - Why is comms work seen as witchcraft, wizardry and magic?

Bibbety Bobbity Boo - Why is comms work seen as witchcraft, wizardry and magic?

Passionate about brand, creativity and putting people first. Lynda is resolute on the need for true equality and diversity. Lynda has led Brand, Communications and Social Impact at family building and engineering company, Sir Robert McAlpine since 2017 as one of ten people on the business’s executive leadership team. She is the Executive sponsor for SRM’s Gender Equality, LGBT+ & Ability Network.  Former positions held include roles within both the public and private sectors such as Central Government, construction, not for profit, automotive, energy, agency and professional services. Lynda is a Board member of Social Enterprise ‘The People’s Pool’ and the UK Business Council for Sustainable Development, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and an Ambassador for the Women’s Leadership Association.

Lynda Thwaite

Group Director Brand, Communications and Impact

Podcast questions:

  1. Why is comms work seen as witchcraft, wizardry and magic? 
  2.  How does it feel to be a comms hero in a technical world, such as construction and engineering?
  3. What is the greatest strength of comms people and ow do they use and protect it?
  4. If you could really cast any spell, what would it be and why?

Podcast transcript here:

Disclaimer: this is an automated transcript. Please don’t call the grammar police on us. You never know, we may have ChatGPT writing our next one…

Asif Choudry (00:07):

Hello and welcome to another episode in the you’re my CommsHero podcast. And I’m your host, Asif Choudry. Today my guest is Lynda Thwaite, group director, brand communications and impact at Sir Robert MacAlpine. Passionate about brand creativity and putting people first. Lynda is resolute on the need for true equality and diversity. Lynda has led brand communications and social impact at family building and engineering company, sir Robert MacAlpine since 2017. As one of 10 people on the businesses executive leadership team. She is the executive sponsor for SRM’s Gender Equality LGBT plus and Ability Network. And former positions held include roles within both public and private sectors, such as central government construction, not-for-profit, automotive, energy agency and professional services. And Lynda’s a board member of Social Enterprise, the People’s Pool, and the UK Business Council for Sustainable Development. This list is endless. Lynda <laugh>, , a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and an ambassador for the Women’s Leadership Association. So Lynda, it’s an absolute pleasure to welcome you to the podcast.

Lynda Thwaite (01:23):

It’s a joy to be here. I think we’re outta time, though after that big list, don’t we? I feel like that was a bit hefty. Sorry,

Asif Choudry (01:29):

What a career. What a career. It’s amazing. It’s

Lynda Thwaite (01:32):

Like a, a beacon of , this is how old you are. cause the list gets longer and longer, doesn’t it? <laugh>

Asif Choudry (01:39):

Well just testament to, , to your journey in comms and we’re gonna, , talk about that a little bit later. But I’m gonna give you a few quickfire questions, but before I do that, let’s talk about, , and I’ll share with the listeners something to do with the Northern Power Women’s powerless 2023. So tell us a bit more about that, Lynda.

Lynda Thwaite (02:05):

Oh yeah. Do you know what it’s really touch it. , so I was nominated to be on the power list by, , somebody I’ve worked with in equality and diversity, unbeknownst to me, and thankfully have made it to the short list of 50. I mean, just epic women alongside me. , and I think we find out on the 20th of March, which one of us is the ultimate power ranger of some sort, I think. But, , it’s, it’s really exciting and it’s like, I do feel like it’s the first time, , in my career that I’ve had something like that happen to me. And I spend, you know, as all comes, people will do. I spend a lot of my life doing award entries for other people and then promoting them. So it’s really weird to have one for myself and it’s a bit hbling. And, , when they first, my team first posted a picture of me, you know, saying Congratulations on social media and my cheeks. Like I, I’d had like a, a real physical reaction, you know, I went really red and I, my instinct was, oh my God, take it down. Take it down. It looks like, you know, people think I’m bragging or don’t deserve it to be there. So yeah, it was, , it’s, it’s a lesson for me, but it’s, yeah, it’s a real, it’s a treat. It feels like a treat.

Asif Choudry (03:14):

That’s fabulous. And you mentioned your team. Now let’s give them a shout out cause I’ll tag them into the, , episode.

Lynda Thwaite (03:21):

Oh my god, I’ve got an amazing team. So I’ve got Alan Blaney, a Noelle, I’ve got Mike McNeil, Lisa Lao, Reese, Laura, Becky, you, well Dale all know who they are, but they’re absolutely phenomenal. And Carrie Ann and I’ve, I’m very lucky to have them.

Asif Choudry (03:36):

Amazing. So we’ll watch out for that awards and we might do a follow up episode with you when you, , are crowned.

Lynda Thwaite (03:45):

Well, I’ll just send you the video of me doing my gracious, my gracious defeat face, you know, it’s joy just to be nominated. It’s a joy just to be nominated. <laugh> <laugh>.

Asif Choudry (03:55):

So let’s get to know you a little bit with some questions. And Lynda, let’s start with a, a nice easy one. Are you an early riser or do you love a lion?

Lynda Thwaite (04:02):

Oh, I don’t do lions. I just can’t do it. Honestly. I just can’t. I I, I’d rather get off and get out the day. I mean, maybe that, you know, I’ve got, my youngest child is 11 now, so, you know, you haven’t been able to really lie in for over 11 years, but I’ve never been able to really? Yeah, I wanna get off at the day.

Asif Choudry (04:21):

Are you in the 5:00 AM club? Is that

Lynda Thwaite (04:23):

What it’s Yeah, yeah, yeah, mostly, yeah. It’s usually a five or a 6:00 AM alarm unless I’m traveling, it’s a bit earlier. And even on, I think your body just gets used to that. And also, there’s no way you can fit anything in for yourself unless you do that. I remember what I’m not very good at quickfire am I’m a bit chatty, but, , I remember watching the West Wing years ago and their communications in pr, I can’t remember what her name was. Such a brilliant character. And she used to say that she has to get up at 4:00 AM because between four and 5:00 AM is the only hour she gets for herself in the day. And I think that’s true sometime

Asif Choudry (04:56):

There’ll be lots of listeners nodding in agreement or thinking, getting up before. Right. The, the Lion crowd, , I’m in the early rise of crowd anyway, so, ,

Lynda Thwaite (05:05):

I had no doubt

Asif Choudry (05:05):

Getting, getting, getting some time for yourself, , means just getting up that, that little bit earlier. So, , what about Apple or Android?

Lynda Thwaite (05:16):

Oh, apple got no idea how Android situations work. Yeah,

Asif Choudry (05:22):

<laugh>, which is a common thing, apple, but, , I’m getting more Androids in 2023. So

Lynda Thwaite (05:29):

Really I find that the more techy people are, the more like skilled the tech. They like Androids, don’t they? But I I’m a complete techno. Yeah. If without my team, literally I send them things constantly going, I need to do this with this, and then this needs to happen and they know how to do it. I would have no idea with anything technical. So maybe Apples for the more basic of

Asif Choudry (05:50):

Us. Yeah. And, , okay. What about books? You prefer an ebook or a printed book?

Lynda Thwaite (05:58):

A print. Every time I’m surrounded by them. I can’t read on eBooks. I spend all day looking at a screen and even then I wish I could print everything up, but I feel too guilty for the Trees <laugh>. So when I, when it’s time that I can sit and read a book, I wanna hold it, smell it, full pages, highlight bits, circle bits, note to self, even though I never go back and read it again. <laugh>

Asif Choudry (06:19):

Little, those little post-it notes, I’ve start, I’ve discovered those recently. , the ones that pop out the edge of the book. The bookmark things.

Lynda Thwaite (06:26):

Yeah, my Post-it note from you childre, my com zero

Asif Choudry (06:31):

Zero post-its not for sale in the shop, are highly coveted Swag sw

Lynda Thwaite (06:36):

<laugh>. Perfect.

Asif Choudry (06:37):

And, , and also you, you’ve recently been appointed to a position to rival some may say the powerless 2023 something related to Comms Hero. So tell us a bit about that.

Lynda Thwaite (06:49):

I mean, truly the, the greatest accolade of all, I’m really excited to be an a rust of comms hero. You know, I’m a complete fan when it comes to the community. So to be able to kind of be proactive in the, in the community and lean in and help shape the Comms Hero event, I think is, is, yeah, it’s a real privilege. I’m really excited and my fellow ambassadors are all really brilliant people. So I think between us, the diverse kind of experiences and skillsets and passions, we’ll really hopefully add to what is already a, you know, just a phenomenal event. You should be very proud of it.

Asif Choudry (07:25):

No, thank you. We are, and I’m excited to see what happens this year with 15 more people contributing ideas. , I might take a break. Yeah. <laugh>, who knows. Yeah,

Lynda Thwaite (07:35):

That’s the idea. Good for you.

Asif Choudry (07:38):

So, no, I appreciate that Lynda. And it’s nice to, , for the listeners and myself to find out a little bit more about you. But we’re here because you posted on LinkedIn, not one of those posts that have been, , curated over months with stacks of desk research and insight and white papers and all the rest of it. But it was one that had the headline Bippity Boo.

Lynda Thwaite (08:03):

Well said.

Asif Choudry (08:04):

And when you see something like that on a platform like LinkedIn, it’s gonna attract your interest. , so I had to do a com zero podcast about it. And I know all the listeners will relate to this as we get into it. As everyone in the, in the comms zero community at some point in their careers had to pull that proverbial rabbit out of the hat. And that’s what we’re gonna explore, , further with this. So I’m gonna kick off with the first question, which is, why is comms work seen as witchcraft wizardry and magic

Lynda Thwaite (08:39):

<laugh>? And it is, isn’t it? I think it’s really interesting. I think I should start by saying that, , I very rarely sit and really curate posts for LinkedIn. By the time I’m ready to say something, it’s because the passion is bubbling up and I just wanna say it. Yeah. And then, and then I just have to, you know, get ready for the, the LinkedIn police to not like it. And I’ve, I’ve definitely grown and actually you’ve been one of the people who really helped me with that over recent years, cause you know, I’ve certainly come in, , for some stick from trolls in the past and you’ve always been really supportive and I, I really valued that, so thank you. But, , I think people don’t understand what we do and they don’t take the time to understand what comes professionals do. And because it feels so alien to them, they think it’s some sort of magic or, or, you know, and that’s in its most positive sense sometimes that people don’t really believe it’s a, a skill.

Lynda Thwaite (09:31):

, or they don’t wanna accept that it is, even though they know that they need your help. And I think that, , I think over the, certainly in my experience over the last 10, 20 years, the skill level and the, , the pressure on communications people has just, , risen and risen and risen. And, and, but what hasn’t happened at the same time is other people in industries understanding of what communications is and what we actually do and can deliver and what the people working in it are doing. And so I, it’s become a bit like it used to, everyone would be like, well, I dunno, I dunno what happens. They just turn up and things get fixed when they stand by me. You know, I think people feel a little like that about communications professionals now, and hence why, you know, they’re forever asking us to make it pop and do your magic is my favorite. Lynda, can you work your magic on this? No. <laugh> I cannot, I can bring my 22 years of 25 years of, , graft and experience to it. And then I can give you some specialist advice if you’d like. But magic, I’m not sure

Asif Choudry (10:38):

There’s so many t-shirts Yeah. With, , the comms here arrange. So we don’t just do pink and fluffy and often the comms team, but like you say, there’s, there’s years and years of experience that are, , founded upon professionally recognized qualifications. Yeah. Charter ships and, , fellowships, things like that through to more junior members of the team who technically might be super savvy on social media channels. But there is that dark art element to comms and it’s not, because certainly from a personal point of view, it’s not because comms don’t make the, , make it clear as to what they’re known. But I think it just, in business in general, the role of comms is seen very differently to the role of, , an fd Yeah. Which is, you know, quite, it seems to be more commonplace that there’s an understanding of what that individual or what that team, the finance team or, , the IT team do. Yeah. Whereas comms just seems to be, , very misunderstood for whatever reason. Yeah. And that’s kind of what we’re talking about today.

Lynda Thwaite (11:47):

Yeah. I think so there’s a, there’s a misconception that there’s hard and soft roles aren’t there. And you know, if you say Yeah, and I’ve certainly spent the last 10 plus years of my career working in technical environments, so surrounded by engineers who speak a different language. Yeah. And who, when you say in a room, oh, I’m a chemical engineer, or I’m in a, you know, I’m a a mechanical engineer, people go, oh, and even if they don’t really know what that is or what they do, people go, oh, and they’re kind of impressed. I’m still, and it’s, it’s a goal I’ve got to get for myself. I’m still not very good at saying what I do when people ask me, you know, that kind of snippet of, well, what do you do for a living? I find myself kind of babbling sentences sometimes to try and explain it, you know, oh, well I kind of do this.

Lynda Thwaite (12:29):

And, but essentially we promote and protect whatever business we work for, and that is just as critical as making sure that the business’s finances are healthy and in the right order because, you know, it’s all very well having a great bank balance, but along comes a reputational crisis and none of that matters. You’ve got, there’s no money in the world that can save you from that a lot of the time. So, , I would love to see it move across really, and to being seen as a higher skilled and respected role. But I guess that’s the onus is on us there to be able to describe it better. I’d love to know if any of the comes, heroes have got a really great reply as to what you do for a living that is better than my babble of Well, I can do PR and promotion and marketing and socials and, you know, there must be a better way.

Asif Choudry (13:20):

It’s so, it is so diverse. And like you said, that the element of, , hard and soft mm-hmm. <affirmative> skills within the job itself, , , it’s not systematic. No day is the, is is the same because there, you know, like you say, especially in a crisis and, and no bigger crisis than the, than Covid where comms teams were brought into so-called WarRoom and having a seat at the top table. , but it shouldn’t take a crisis to do that for, , , a department, a function within a business that is super critical Mm. In the time of a crisis because there’s lots of work that’s done day in, day out, pre and post. Yeah, yeah, yeah. These crises happening. And that’s the bit that the comms hero community, the profession itself has got a job to do because we are in effect professionals at promoting people’s brands and individuals brands. But that’s why comms really exist, because I just found yeah. A few years ago that as comms professionals we’re always busy promoting

Lynda Thwaite (14:30):

Of the people,

Asif Choudry (14:31):

The organization or individuals, and then I’ve kind of forgotten Yeah. To, , ensure the value of what we do is, , , is well known. So you, you started to talk a little bit about what it’s like to be a com zero in a technical world, and you mentioned construction, , and engineering and the technical jargon that goes on. Do you think, now we’re recording this today, although it will go live after International Women’s Day, but on 8th of March as we’re recording, do you think that from, you mentioned construction now from a, , women in construction, I know I mentioned in the intro in your bio, you are active in promoting, , , women in that, , , industry. And I mean, I’m in the print industry and that has the same challenges. Right? , so it’s really important. So do you think as a comms hero, which is, , a profession that’s not seen or highly regarded enough, but also in an environment where, , there’s an underrepresentation of women potentially mm-hmm. <affirmative> mm-hmm. <affirmative>, does that make it more difficult? What does that feel like?

Lynda Thwaite (15:39):

Yeah, it feels really hard. And I’ve said this a few times and I think, you know, I’m a really positive, resilient person. But, , it’s, I find that there are, it’s just added layers. And I, in, you know, first of all, I’m usually a woman in a man’s world, you know? , and then I’m a communications professional, so I lead by heart empathy feelings as I think most communications professionals do, which is what makes us so Bl and brilliant. , and then you’ve got all these people who lead by the head in the same room, and there’s often kind of a disconnect. But, but you know, I, I’m also recognizing, I’m also cognizant of my privilege in those situations. So, although there are layers of things that make it very difficult for me, I’m also, you know, I’m a white woman in England and that comes with certain privileges as well.

Lynda Thwaite (16:31):

But I know that people, , don’t have that. I do. So I’m, I’m cognizant of that. But it is, it is hard. And I find it, , I find it hard to keep resilience sometimes because you can, as I said before, you can walk into a room and say you’re an engineer and there’s immediate respect, or I work in the medical profession, or I’m a, you know, I’m in finance. Why isn’t there the immediate respect for communications? And there should be, it’s bloody, you know, sorry, I don’t know if we’re allowed to be X-rated on your, , podcast. I

Asif Choudry (17:02):

Said that’s fine. We’ll get the BLE machine out, Lynda. It’s

Lynda Thwaite (17:05):

Fine. Oh, great, grace. I’ll see how many we can do. , why isn’t it the same for communications? I find it really frustrating. And I do find it hard because I find it hard having to go back and re-explain again. And, and I think you’re always, I feel, anyway, I’m always trying to prove our worth and importance in a business, even though they absolutely couldn’t do without it. There’s the minute there’s a problem, you’re the first call, you know, the minute there’s a crisis, like you say, you know, we’re in every room. If you look around government, you look around, , whether it be wars or crisis, the people that they need are the communication strategists to help conquer those things. So why don’t we demand the same respect in a room room that those other professions do? I’m not sure. But, , I do find it difficult sometimes I find it like, almost like I’m having to explain myself and, and prove my worth a lot more than other people would.

Asif Choudry (18:03):

No. And appreciate you sharing that kind of candid view. And there, I’m sure there’s lots of people who will again, be nodding an agreement and just, , , understanding what you’re saying and hopefully others that are coming through, listeners that are just coming into, , the beginning of their comms careers, who kind of take up that call to action. And it’s that generation that’s going to inspire that change. And, , I hope it changes in my lifetime. , having been in comms for nearly 30 years, comms in marketing and, , and sales, it, it, it, it has changed, but there’s still a way to go. And I think that the profession itself is now waking up to the, the, the presence it can actually create for itself. Mm. , and beyond the membership organizations, you don’t need a membership organization to realize your own value. They can help do that. Yeah. But there’s, there’s so many communicators in, in, in the world basically that, that have that job. It’s probably the most important job to keep elevating the value of the profession itself. Cause it is a profession.

Lynda Thwaite (19:09):

Yeah. And it’s funny, isn’t it, because, you know, in the businesses I’ve worked in or you know, the concierge community are listening, whether they’re in, you know, housing or healthcare or what, whatever business they’re in, there’s that kind of battle for the, for budget, for communications or for people to understand what we do and to see the mystery of our value. But if that is other people’s lack of understanding and lack of strategic vision and awareness, cause if you step above us to some of the biggest, you know, most successful people in the world, the only language they speak is our language is the language, the vision, the potential, the feelings, the empathy we need to create. That’s the only language people lead in the absolute, you know, the visionaries of of the world are talking, you know, the, the leaders of Apple, Nike, whatever it may be. But it seems like when we’re in a kind of normal business environment, we’re letting the lack of vision and the lack of understanding of the magic that we can create because there’s more of them lead how we’re perceived. And yeah, that, that, that gets my goat a little bit <laugh>.

Asif Choudry (20:21):

There’s obvious passion. Now, Lynda, and I hope this the listeners are inspired and equally as passionate, and this is a call to action for everyone too, to, , to help support this profession and what it’s doing. So tell us then, Lynda, what’s the, the greatest strengthen of comms people and and how do they use this, these strengths and, and equally as important protect them?

Lynda Thwaite (20:46):

Yeah, and the protection’s really important, isn’t it? So if we do use, and if I don’t get onto it, will you remind me to talk about protecting it? But, , for me, I love the coms community because we, we are very different to others in that we often lead by the heart. Doesn’t mean we’re not strategic, it doesn’t mean we’re not logical and scientific and academic and can plan things, but we are natural empaths in that we to be good at our job, we have to understand the impact of what we write or produce on somebody’s emotions. Now you can, you can give me all the science and academic information you want, but people are led by how they react and respond to things. And comms professionals have a natural intuition to be able to create content that drives the reactions that people want. And that is a hugely underrated, underappreciated skill.

Lynda Thwaite (21:40):

, and the shadow side of that, certainly if I speak from my own personal experiences that, you know, I am a passionate person, I am an emotional person, I don’t see that as a weakness. , but it means that everything I can give out for others to make sure that something is powerful and has an impact stuff can get into. So I can, I i things can affect me quite deeply. So I think if we’re in operating in an environment where often we’re not respected the way we should be or treated the way we should be, then if you are a deeply feeling person, and I dunno how to describe being a deeply feeling person, it’s not a weak, it’s not like being a weak person, but actually, you know, being able to recognize all the emotions is a skill I think, and being able to use them at the right time.

Lynda Thwaite (22:28):

, but it means you, you’re open to hit I think more than perhaps some people in businesses who are quite narrow minded, quite closed off and a bit like Teflon stuff flies at them and they’ve got such low EQ that they don’t even realize it’s aimed at them. So it just flies right past. Whereas comes people are so BLM and brilliant at picking up on stuff that sometimes that the bad stuff lands as well. And so protecting ourselves and our mental wellbeing and our resilience and our health is really, really important. And I’ve seen that amplified in the past few years as social has become more and more and more, I mean, it wasn’t part of this job when I started, but now it’s so critical. It’s such a key pillar for all communications work, but it’s, it’s consing, you know, and, and if we’re, if we’re slightly thin-skinned characters in any way, then it can, it can overtake you and, and, and hurt. So I think we have to look after ourselves. And sometimes that can be as, you know, it can be as simple as putting time in to go for a walk or it could be, you know, having your teams look out for you or making sure that, that they, you know, cover for you so you can get breaks or take a step back. But I think it’s really important because comm people are creative geniuses in my mind, and if you don’t protect them, they can become bent out really easily.

Asif Choudry (23:53):

Yeah, no, it’s some really interesting points raised there. You mentioned eq then what, what, what is eq?

Lynda Thwaite (24:00):

So EQ is to, to me maybe, I dunno, it’s probably a science thing that says it’s not, but for me it’s emotional intelligence. So you’ve got iq, so that’s that kind of academic intellect, which, you know, you’re very good at le reading a book and learning everything in it, but not very good at understanding emotional impact and , and how things, , might be portrayed or perceived. Whereas comes people to be a, they just get people, they get reactions, they get hanity and that it’s a rare bunch of people, isn’t it? Lovely bunch,

Asif Choudry (24:34):

Bunch of people. It’s absolutely, yeah. So it’s like the, you know, part of we’re doing creative stuff all the time here at resource and part of the brainstorming processes, that EQ element, I suppose it’s really walking in the customer’s shoes. How, what kind of reaction do we want to create for our customer? But we’ve got to look beyond our customer and look at our customers customer in effect. So the people they’re trying to reach, and this is in a lot of cases in local government, social housing, really hard to reach audiences. So that ability to, , cause there isn’t a textbook for this, no, there isn’t a course, it’s just an a, , it’s a skill that’s acquired over time and understanding of people is an absolutely crucial part of that. You can have much. Do you think

Lynda Thwaite (25:18):

It’s got to come from actually caring how they feel? Yeah, it does. So it’s not some, that’s what I think the difference is, is that communicate the best communications people I know have high emotional intelligence and it is driven by genuinely caring. Like you say, when you’re doing those campaigns, how will people react? Not just because we wanna meet a KPI in a project, but we wanna be positive, we want to have had a great impact, you know, and I, I think that’s why, that’s why I’ve got so much respect for the coms community because that in a world that just seems very binary and, you know, KPI focused sometimes isn’t understood.

Asif Choudry (25:59):

Yeah, no, absolutely. And , so getting back to magic then mm-hmm. <affirmative>, if you could really cast any spell, what would it be and why?

Lynda Thwaite (26:11):

<laugh> <laugh>, I’d, I do, you know what, today it’s been a tough day and I’d like to cast a few, but some of them wouldn’t be very nice. , I think I’d like, I, I’d like to protect communications people in a way maybe that sounds patronizing and maybe they don’t feel the need protected. And if you don’t and you’re listening, I apologize. It’s meant with the, with love and, and and kindness. But, , I would like to almost have a bubble shield so that we could be ourselves and be our creative genius and still be empathetic and still be creative and still be impactful, but without letting the bad stuff get in as much. And if I could, you know, if we’re, if I could do that in Magic Spell, I would, , because I haven’t got Aand that works, then I’m trying to do it by being as supportive and protective of people in my team or people that I can mentor and work with as possible so that hopefully we all, maybe we build our own bubble of resilience. But , yeah, I think that would be right up there on my list.

Asif Choudry (27:14):

Yeah, I’ve kind of seen, I understand what you mean and I’ve kind of seen that when we did the, when we did the first ever Comms here event back in just 2014 now, nine years ago, it’s amazing to think that it’s still going. But yeah. , the, just trying to create a different environment for comms people and it’s almost that, that you talk about a force field, a shield that Cape people were donning the comms here or Cape quite, you know, effortlessly and without any additional persuasion from, from me <laugh>. , which I was thinking, oh, I’m gonna have to really force people to do this. But <laugh> they were, but no, they were just doing it. I suppose that’s what it is. It’s that that , invisible cape that they’re carry around because they do have to be, , yeah. Thick skin dropping things drop, have having things dropped at them a a moment’s notice or can you just pretty it up and can you make this go viral as, as if things having

Lynda Thwaite (28:08):

Something great that you spent time on Yeah. Commented on by someone with absolutely no skills in this area, trying to force a load of useless information into it. I think Yeah, I I mean it it transfers across into, into life too, doesn’t it? How cause I don’t think there’s that much separation between the professional and the personal maybe. No. But , I think having a, a community where it it, and that’s what I think I loved about Com zero so much was having a community where you could finally be really proud and, , excited about your, your profession instead of almost trying to apologize and explain it away and check that it’s worth the money and the overhead is, is really, is really powerful.

Asif Choudry (28:53):

Yeah, no, some some brilliant stuff in there, Lynda and I, and I’m sure people will really relate to the things that you said because it’s what we kind of all Yeah. Live by as a, as a rule.

Lynda Thwaite (29:06):

Yeah, I hope so. I mean, I just think that, you know, I’ve, I’ve done this for a long time and I’m, I’m so encouraged, like you say, I’ve seen people enter the industry with a, a slightly different starting point. I think that they’re entering the industry recognizing the worth a little more, you know, , than perhaps yeah. Some of us who’ve been doing it a long time and are still trying to, trying to justify it. But , it gives me, yeah, it gives me great hope to see some of the fresh talent coming through and, and I’m, I learn from them quite rapidly. <laugh> as well because they’ve very

Asif Choudry (29:38):

Much so, and I think that, and that’s, that’s a skill in itself to be be to be in the industry for 20 plus years and, and be open to and that’s CPD isn’t it? That’d be open to learning new

Lynda Thwaite (29:48):

Stuff. Yeah, you’ve got to, for

Asif Choudry (29:49):

People who are just, just in the industry and that takes some, that takes some doing as well

Lynda Thwaite (29:54):

Also and just, well you can only do that I think if you’ve not got a chip on your shoulder. I, it just, yeah, I’m just not bothered if somebody comes in the team and that, I mean in fact the more people who are better than me and my team, the better, you know, the better I am then, you know, but you kind of have a chip on your shoulder and go, no, no, we’ve always done it this way. This is how we do it. That’s just rubbish. You’re never gonna get anywhere are you? Long term. You’ve gotta be open to learning all the time.

Asif Choudry (30:19):

So you mentioned that Lynda, that some really good stuff in there for people to take away. And we’ve talked a little bit about the comms hero community and you’ve mentioned a few points there why it’s important to you. But just to, to round up here, do you know why is that the comms hero community specifically, why is it important to you and would you recommend people working in comms and marketing to be part of it?

Lynda Thwaite (30:39):

Yeah, I mean it’s massive to me. I think when I first saw Comms Hero, it was the first time I’d felt that because we’re often alone in an organization, there’ll be people listening that are the only comms person in their organization. Yeah. And comms here provides you with a virtual team and a network. And I know from everybody that I’ve been connected with through the comms here network by yourself or that who we’ve reached out after events or, or what have you. It’s a very, , no ego amigo community. There’s like, this is a problem, I need help and everyone will chip in. There’s no kind of arms around your homework. Yeah. Everybody is is helpful and supportive. So if you are a in a small or a, , on your own team, then you’ve naturally got this big virtual community to support you there.

Lynda Thwaite (31:23):

And also, you know, when, when you’re in tough meetings, like I often am, you know, fighting for the, you know, demonstrating the value of what money spent in this area is to be able to leave those difficult meetings and go to the community and say this was tough and, and then be inspired and bolstered by them again is, is honestly it’s, I found it so helpful and really encouraging and inspiring to know my teammates have as well. So yeah, I mean a hundred percent recommendation for me get involved. You dunno what you’re missing if you’re not.

Asif Choudry (31:56):

No, I appreciate that Lynda. Thank you. And , speaking of community, I would like to make sure you’ve mentioned you’ve been connected with people either through, , through the network or events or introductions. And I would love for people to connect with you cause I think you’re an, , an important ambassador for, for comms in general. So how can people connect with you? What are your handles?

Lynda Thwaite (32:16):

Yeah, so it’s Lynda at Lynda t live on , Twitter. And I’m Lynda Pu on LinkedIn, also on Instagram. But yeah, I mean I’m open to anyone sending me messages and asking for whether it be advice or mentorship or just opinions on stuff or sometimes, you know what, sometimes you just need someone to have a moment to and that’s really powerful too. And it only takes a couple of minutes out of anyone’s day. So I’m always up for expanding that network and making new comms friends.

Asif Choudry (32:44):

Brilliant. And you’ll find this podcast on Spotify, apple and on our website com and you can follow us on twitter com zero. And if you are listening on Spotify and Apple, please do leave a rating review and hit all those follows and subscribe buttons and all the rest of it. , that’s are really important to us. And Lynda, it’s been brilliant to spend this time with you and I know the listeners will have enjoyed it. So thank you very much.

Lynda Thwaite (33:09):

Oh, I hope so. And you’re an absolute gymnast. Thank you so much for having me.