13
May
Sadie Fox

Taking the time to reflect, recoup, reset and reward

Posted by Sadie FoxTagged , , ,

As many will say, the pandemic which has consumed our lives over the last year, has provided us with opportunities to reflect, recoup, reset and rightly reward ourselves.

In one full cycle, we’ve gone through the ups and downs of home working, the trials and tribulations of Zoom and ongoing lockdown fears. After what has felt like a 2-year life break for many, we are now starting to see the circle of life spring back into action, once more.

It’s certainly been an emotional journey; however, despite the majority of us being eager to get back into the swing of things, it is of course important to remember those in our lives who have anxiety about returning to a ‘normal’ society and those who have consistency struggled throughout the pandemic. We are all human, with our own poignant pandemic story to tell, so taking the time to reflect recoup, reset and reward will be just as prevalent post-pandemic, as it was beforehand.

As we break out of our home offices and return to our social offices, now is the perfect time for us to reflect on the workplace champions who vow to continue investing and understanding the importance of the infamous work life balance.

Read more “Taking the time to reflect, recoup, reset and reward”

28
Apr
Lucy Chapple

A tale of two crises

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Introducing our new series, ‘Sustainnovation in a post-pandemic world’.  

In his now famous speech to London’s insurance market in 2015, Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, described catastrophic climate change as the ‘tragedy of the horizon’. Limiting global temperature increases would necessitate leaving valuable fossil fuel assets in the ground – a scenario with cascading implications for the energy sector, and investors and governments banking on future profits from those assets. Because the burden of climate change will be carried by future generations, the incentive to change felt ‘abstract’. The risks of inaction were real, he argued, but not immediate.

In the five years since Carney delivered this speech, climate change consciousness has steadily grown. 2019 was a watershed year for environmental activism. Warnings by the IPCC on the far-reaching effects of inaction, and new evidence of mass biodiversity loss, prompted the declaration of a ‘climate emergency’. Global protests led by Greta Thunberg and other young people around the world dominated the news agenda. ‘Our house is on fire’ Thunberg warned, urging international leaders to take decisive action.

In 2020, a new crisis emerged that was more urgent and more immediately catastrophic. The Covid-19 pandemic threatened to bring our healthcare system to its knees, to tank our economy, and to take the lives of society’s most vulnerable. As resources were redistributed to support international efforts to combat the deadly virus, some wondered about the impact of this new crisis on what we’d come to recognise as the moral crisis of our time – climate change. How could we sustain momentum to avoid devastating our planet, in the face of a health emergency devastating our people?

In our new series, ‘Sustainnovation in a post-pandemic world’, we hope to uncover a deeper understanding of the impact of the pandemic on the road to net-zero. Exploring the nexus between sustainability and innovation, we’ll speak to business leaders to understand the role of green innovation in economic recovery efforts as we cautiously emerge from lockdown. Deep-dives into key sectors, from transport and mobility to financial services, energy and infrastructure, will reveal shifts in business strategy, attitudes and behaviour over the past year.

We look forward to sharing what we learn with you.

If you are a business leader in our network interested in contributing your thoughts, we are inviting guest submissions for this series and would love to hear from you. For those interested in checking out ‘Sustainnovation in a post-pandemic world’, please subscribe to our newsletter for updates, at the bottom of our home page.

21
Apr
Eryl Bradley

Lessons from lambing

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From the time the pandemic hit, I’ve spent even more time than usual back with my family in west Wales. Most notably, this has meant helping out on my aunt and uncles’ 350-acre farm during lambing season. While being a great conversation starter, farming also undoubtedly gives you a new perspective on office life. Here’s three key things I’ve taken away.

It’s PR, not ER

Comms – and specifically, PR – is consistently voted one of the most stressful sectors to work in. With immediate decisions needed almost every hour, and with most journalists expecting everything yesterday, agency life can be extremely high pressure.

When you’re lambing, in some ways, the stress is similar. The constant re-prioritisation of which lamb or ewe is more in need of help is exhausting, and keeping a mental map of where every animal is and who’s been fed is no easy task. This can feel similar to juggling client needs and knowing what member of the team is working on what, when. But the fact that lambing is also a very physical job – without designated office hours – means you tire physically as well as mentally, and frequently have to get up in the middle of the night to do it all again.

As well as this, what you’re doing day-to-day is often the difference between life and death. If you forget to give a vulnerable lamb a bottle, even once, that can be the end. And that’s on you. When you go from dealing with decisions that can alter the life course of an animal, it reminds you to have perspective on that sell in that didn’t go so well, or the harsh client feedback that could have once ruined your day. As a wise colleague once reminded me – it’s public relations, not the emergency room.

 

Read more “Lessons from lambing”

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”

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”

18
Mar
Tani Fatuga

Believe in Better: Insight and inspiration from industry leaders

Posted by Tani FatugaTagged , , ,

Britain is the birthplace of the industrial revolution – and despite the challenges presented by global and domestic events such as Covid-19 and Brexit, for many manufacturers, the past year has presented opportunities to diversify and grow their business.

One of the silver linings of such a difficult 2020 is that we have been forced to look at what we can produce a little closer to home. Supply chains are becoming more centralised as companies have been encouraged to innovate and create better ways of sourcing products, ethically and locally.

Recently, we sat down with John Pearce, CEO of Made in Britain, a not-for-profit organisation that supports British manufacturers under a single, registered collective mark.

John talks about the role of the manufacturing industry in reaching the country’s net-zero target, how we can encourage more people to buy British, and why becoming fairer and more ethical are key factors in the future success of British manufacturing.

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

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