13
Apr
Olivia Williams

Believe in Better: Insight and inspiration from industry leaders

Posted by Olivia WilliamsTagged , ,

Over the past year, events such as Brexit, the new US administration and of course Covid-19 have shaken up market order, and at times, currency markets responded with unparalleled volatility. However, with challenges also come new opportunities. New and promising markets are constantly emerging and specialists are becoming increasingly vital for facilitating international trade.

We spoke to Lee McDarby, CEO of UK International Payments at moneycorp – the international fintech and payments group – about currency volatility and the impact on UK businesses, how the financial services sector has adapted to the challenges of the past year, and what ‘better’ looks like for the industry.

Read more “Believe in Better: Insight and inspiration from industry leaders”

12
Apr
Sadie Fox

A time to protest, a right to protest

Posted by Sadie FoxTagged , ,

The controversy around the newly formed anti-protest bill, has raised profound concern and alarm with various human rights groups. For the first time we’ve seen a host of different organisations with opposing views come together in protest of a bill, which has been described as a ‘draconian’ restriction on a right to protest.

Alongside the scenes at the Sarah Everard vigil in Clapham Common, the past year has been a turning point for collaborative protest the world over. Black Lives Matter in particular sparked national and international conversations about topics that needed discussing. A truly powerful movement, one which we reflected on in Race Equality Week, showcased the power of protest even when it has been most repressed.

Protests can be powerful in shining a light on issues that matter to the public. However, protest can be complex from the public safety point of view, because they also have the ability to become dangerous or violent. As the last year has shown us, mass gatherings can be tricky when public health is a concern, often leading to physical implications such as jumping on top of tubes or knocking down statues. That’s where the police come in. Their role within most democratic systems isn’t to stop the protests, but to ensure people are able to protest in the safest way possible. The present bill however, many fears, give the police and legal system too much power and that if the bill gets passed in its current state, it will become a threat to democracy.

Read more “A time to protest, a right to protest”

01
Apr
Georgie Howlett

Can we afford purpose in a recession?

Posted by Georgie HowlettTagged , , , , ,

Yesterday I got out of my (virtual) four walls for a panel discussion organised by Pimento, about whether businesses can afford purpose in a recession – though it inevitably explored so much more.

In short, it’s a resounding ‘yes’ from me. The business benefit is clear, with socially driven brands outperforming ones that aren’t, 91% of millennials saying they’d switch to a purpose-driven product over a competitor, and millennials (who will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025) looking for socially responsible employers. Bigger than that, it’s just a better way to be as a business.

To be clear on what I think ‘purpose’ is. It’s the reason for being, beyond profit. It’s how, as a business, you act as a force for good. It’s not just running your business ethically, it’s the north star (or as Beth Pope better articulated on the panel yesterday, the catalyst for change) that drives your whole organisation from the inside, out. It spans the nuts and bolts of how you do business (operations), how you run your business (culture) and how you are a positive force in the outside world (brand). Critically, it’s not just the latter.

Read more “Can we afford purpose in a recession?”

30
Mar
Aga Maciejewska

2020 – what we learnt about clients and ourselves

Posted by Aga MaciejewskaTagged , ,

At the end of last year, we reached out to our clients asking them to reflect on how the pandemic had impacted their approach to communications and the way we worked together.  We were keen to understand what we did well, could have done better, and what was important to maintain as we start to come out the other side of the pandemic.

Not surprisingly, the results showed that 2020 marked a big shift for our clients. 67% of respondents said the pandemic required them to fundamentally change how they communicate as an organisation, and/ or change the messages they delivered.  For half of them, it emphasised the importance of strategic communications.

Reflecting on the role Stand has played in supporting their comms objectives throughout the pandemic, 50% said we helped them navigate communications challenges in a proactive way and a third said we provided strategic advice and acted as a trusted partner. As a result, 33% of respondents said that their relationship with Stand is stronger than it was before the pandemic.

Stand’s ethos of backing brands that believe in better resonated strongly with 73% of clients, who said it aligned with their own work towards creating positive change. Clients value our strong understanding of their business objectives, our flexibility, responsiveness, empathy and understanding. Proactive, approachable and professional were the three words people thought best reflected Stand and our work.

When it comes to our values – staying curious, sharing our passion and enthusiasm, writing our own rules, being tenacious, giving the best advice and always keeping people at the heart of what we do – clients see them lived, and reflected in our work.

As the UK slowly emerges from the pandemic, we want to learn from the last year and continue to look for new ways to help our clients meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of the post-covid world. We believe real change is coming, and we can help them on their own journey towards ‘better’.

19
Mar
Grace French

A year of working from home

Posted by Grace FrenchTagged , , , ,

How we’ve adapted, what we’ve learnt, and what will change

Like so many others, I remember the surreal afternoon of 16th March 2020 very clearly. At Stand HQ, we were gathered around our TV watching Boris Johnson urge the nation to start working from home immediately.

At the time, it was assumed we’d be a ‘WFH nation’ for a few weeks. But fast-forward a year and our dining tables are still our desks, our lounges are our offices, and our pets make regular guest appearances on video calls.

In a year where time has (almost) lost all meaning, we’ve been reflecting on what a full year of working from home has meant to us, not only as colleagues, but also as a nation.

It’s been a year of fundamental change that’s prompted governments, industries, businesses and individuals to evolve out of necessity, but also to reflect on what really matters. It’s been a reset button that we never could have planned for, but that we have to act on.

So, as lockdown restrictions gradually lift (third time lucky) and offices begin to re-open, we’ll be enthusiastically returning to a “new different” rather than a “new normal.”

Here are our key learnings and reflections from a year like no other:

Adapt quickly, stay flexible

We work on laptops so could adapt immediately to WFH. But of course, there were teething problems to overcome, with WFH environments varying greatly. Our serviced office has remained open and Covid-compliant, but recognising that everyone has individual personal and commuting circumstances, we couldn’t rely on this as a solution for all.

A quickfire investment in screens, office chairs, keyboards and headsets ensured we could all work from home effectively. Looking forward, we’re now set up for greater flexibility, and productive working, both at the office and from home.

Quality, not quantity communication

The transition to WFH is a major one at the best of times. But during a time of significant confusion, emotion, and concern, it had to be managed sensitively. Keeping colleagues connected and avoiding isolation, without overwhelming our diaries with meetings and socials, was a delicate balance to strike. Over time we found the perfect balance: a weekly company meeting, wellness-focused session, 1-2-1 coffee catch up, and a fun activity (needle-felting, pub quizzes, jazzercize, laughter yoga – you name it, we’ve done it!).

We’ll be adapting this model as we head back into the office, and continuing to dedicate time to celebrating success, alongside prioritising wellbeing and creativity. 

Read more “A year of working from home”

17
Mar
Natasha Machin

Is it time to cancel ‘cancel culture’?

Posted by Natasha MachinTagged , , , , ,

What is cancel culture? 

With the rise of social media, we saw the rise of cancel culture, which has claimed many unsuspecting public figures and businesses over the last decade. Cancel culture, the act of rejecting a target who has broken social norms, can impact anything or anyone from all walks of life, careers and background.

The pros, the cons?

There are two leading attitudes to cancel culture. One position sees the ability to ‘cancel’ as an important tool for social justice. It gives a voice to those who aren’t in positions of power, through wealth or influence, allowing them to call attention to actions or words they don’t agree with. Throughout the pandemic, more people have been spending time on social media to stay connected, with adults spending on average over 4 hours a day in 2020, compared to 3.5 hours in 2019. This has led to a dramatic increase in public figures and brands being called out for various decisions, actions and speeches that the cancellers haven’t let slide.

Alternatively, others see cancel culture as the grave death of free speech and open debate, as many are cut down for openly sharing an opinion not shared by the cancellers. In 2020, A Letter on Justice and Open Debate was published in Harper’s Magazine arguing this new culture was leading to the restriction of debate and cause detrimental harm to democracy. This letter was signed by over 150 people including Margaret Atwood, J. K. Rowling and Salman Rushdie.

Consumer influence on brands

In recent years, brands, who previously would tend to avoid politicising themselves, have begun to take active political stances. This might have something to do with the attitudes of their target consumers. Research from 2018 revealed 64% of consumers around the world will buy from or boycott a brand solely because of the position on a social or political issue it has taken. A favourable stance on a particular issue, might incentivise a consumer to buy from one business over their competitor who has taken the opposite stance, or even no stance at all.

It could be argued that consumers cancelling brands and businesses who associate themselves with undesirable opinions or figures is doing society a justice. It’ll rid us of ‘bad’ brands who have a negative impact on the environment or society. But what happens when ‘good’ brands get cancelled?

Good guys gone bad

Tony Chocoloney, a brand with the mission to make delicious chocolate, while eradicating modern-slavery and child labour from the supply chain, has recently been dropped from Slave Free Chocolate’s list of ethical chocolate companies. The reason behind this being Tony Chocoloney’s links to Barry Callebaut, a leading industrial chocolate manufacturer. Barry Callebaut has admitted that its own supply chain is not free from child labour and slavery-free in a US court case brought against main players in the cocoa industry, including Mars and Nestle.

This might seem strange. Why is Tony Chocoloney working with a chocolate manufacturer abusing the very thing Tony Chocoloney aims to eradicate? Tony Chocoloney was founded with the ambition to make 100% slave free the ‘norm’ in chocolate production, aiming to show mainstream brands that chocolate can be delicious and ethical. But they acknowledged that it will not be a straightforward road. This is the reason Tony Chocoloney is standing by Barry Callebaut, instead of washing their hands of them. Tony Chocoloney is proving that on the road of progression to an ethical future, there will be setbacks, but that does not mean all hope is lost.

So, does Tony Chocoloney deserve to be cancelled for sticking with a supply chain that has been caught red-handed in abusing human rights?

I don’t think so. While cancel culture can make society a safer place and protect from those spouting hate speech, promoting discriminatory practices or supporting objectionable figures, it restricts brands and people from learning from their mistakes and growing. The path to a more accepting, ethical and sustainable future is not straightforward, so we should not leave behind those who veer off the path, and instead let them realise their mistakes and find their own way back.

We can’t let perfection be the barrier to progress.

 

 

02
Mar
Georgie Howlett

Why ‘sustainability’ is falling short

Posted by Georgie HowlettTagged , , , ,

Before I get carried away, it’s pertinent to point out that this was first mooted nearly a decade ago. I am not saying anything new here. But like with any change, there are the early adopters, the pioneers, the people who have an idea almost too soon. Real change occurs a while later, at the tipping point, as Malcolm Gladwell so aptly put it.

Never has the welfare of our beautiful blue planet been so high on the public agenda. Maybe some businesses are talking about it because they’ve realised their customers are starting to vote with their wallets and they are only interested in the bottom line, and some consumers are choosing sustainable brands to look good among their peers, but ultimately, the tide is turning. And ultimately, do individual motivations matter if it makes an overall positive change (for the time being, anyway)?

One of the silver linings of Covid-19 is it has been a bit of a global reset of attitudes and priorities, prompting many businesses to take a long hard look at themselves and do better.  As I am in the business of language, I want to put the spotlight on the word ‘sustainability’ and ask if it’s enough.  There is a whole industry built around ‘sustainability’ and it is a vital one. The people working in sustainability, and the businesses championing it, are doing truly exciting work. They are shaking up old models, interrogating supply chains, and finding the path to net zero, or better, net positive.

But let’s look at the word. To ‘sustain’ in this context means to maintain, to keep at a particular level.  In fact, its definition is ‘to cause or allow something to continue for a period of time’. It’s passive. Haven’t we learned that this isn’t enough? Last year the Black Lives Matter movement highlighted how not being racist isn’t enough – standing by silently is not enough, and the rallying call to society was to take action for change to happen. It is very clear the action we must take now is to put things back, to rebalance, to regenerate the biodiverse soils and seas that we have ravaged. We’ve taken so much from our planet, that operating ‘sustainably’ is not enough.

Read more “Why ‘sustainability’ is falling short”

09
Feb
Eryl Bradley

Believe in Better: Insight and inspiration from industry leaders

Posted by Eryl BradleyTagged , , , ,

According to a recent report by the thinktank, Ember, the UK’s renewable electricity outpaced its fossil fuel generation for the first time in 2020 and could remain the largest source of electricity in the future. It’s big news for the sector because although renewable energy has overtaken fossil fuels during the summer months before, 2020 was the first time that renewables were the main source of the UK’s electricity over a year.

As a business that contributes to the transition to a green energy system, our client Zenobe Energy, a leading owner and operator of battery storage, is very much part of this change. Its unique offering helps bring renewable energy onto the grid and is accelerating the rollout of electric buses and fleets across the UK.

For the fifth episode in our Believe in Better series, we spoke to Steven Meersman, Zenobe Energy’s co-founder, about why battery storage is important in the transition to renewable energy, what the UK needs to do to transition to a green energy system in 2021 and beyond, and what ‘better’ looks like for the industry.

Watch this space for future episodes of Believe in Better with more inspiring thought leaders from our network.

Check out our previous episodes, which include:

Justine Lago, Director and Executive Coach of Onion HR

Matt Griffiths, CEO of Youth Music

Leonor Stjepic, CEO of Montessori Group

Steve Swayne, Chair of the Institute for Turnaround

To learn more about Stand Agency, work with or collaborate with us, please email ask@standagency.com. Follow us on Twitter @standsays

05
Feb
Tani Fatuga

Race Equality Week – Why representation matters

Posted by Tani FatugaTagged , , , ,

For the first time in history, the 1st – 7th of February 2021 is being observed as Race Equality Week, here in the UK. A time where organisations and individuals across the UK, unite to address Race in the workplace.

The events of 2020, more specifically the Black Lives Matter movement, coupled with the disproportionate impact of COVID on ethnic minority communities, have intensified public consciousness of race inequality yet, black representation at the top of FTSE 100 companies is at a whopping zero.

The main aim of this initiative is to create a different environment for race relations and improve racial equality in the workplace. One that builds a permanent bridge between decision making and our lived experience.

As we near the end of the first Race Equality Week, I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on my own personal experiences of working in the PR and communications industry as a young black woman, and my personal perspective on the industry’s progress to date towards achieving diversity and inclusion.

Representation of black PR professionals has increased over the last few years, however there is still much more that can be done to remove racial barriers in the industry and attract more ethnic minority talent.

After securing my first role, I learnt very quickly that as a young black woman, I had to adopt a work personality to survive in the workplace, as there were not many individuals who I could identify with. I have always appreciated the importance of networking, but I found myself looking for networking events specifically for ethnic minorities, to boost my chances of meeting other black PR professionals in senior leadership positions.

Read more “Race Equality Week – Why representation matters”

11
Jan
Grace French

We Believe that ‘Better’ is on the horizon – so we’re helping brands get there

Posted by Grace FrenchTagged , , , , ,

Why we’re joining forces with LONDON Advertising and Pimento to offer reduced fees for new clients in January.

As the reality of lockdown 3.0 sets in, and with conversations already taking place about it being extended ‘til Easter, it can be all too easy to feel gloomy about 2021. Wasn’t it meant to be ‘better’ than 2020?

The sense of unease amongst individuals and businesses is all too understandable. But with vaccines being rolled out, ‘better’ is coming – and in the meantime we as a nation we must strive to come out of January with an energy and optimism to see us through the coming months.

In a year of lockdown and decreased interaction, communication has proven itself to be a lifeline for many. Relationships between many brands and their consumers have been cemented or shattered in a tense landscape.

Over the next few months, we will see more brands examining their positioning and their purpose, the changes they want to make happen, and how this fits into a post-Covid world. With a collective sense that there are lessons to be learnt from the pandemic – both positive and negative – this time of introspection is critical, and will lay the groundwork for more meaningful comms going forward.

Read more “We Believe that ‘Better’ is on the horizon – so we’re helping brands get there”