Collaborate, Activate, Communicate

On 3 November, Communicate magazine hosted an afternoon event that offered learning and networking opportunities. Attendees heared from six past Corporate Engagement Award winners that impressed the judges across the sponsorship, CSR and communications categories. Their stories of innovative and refreshing work left attendees impressed and ready to re-examine their own projects and the strategy behind them.

Cospa, Hyde Housing, Keepmoat, Lambeth Council, Lambeth Living, London Youth, Mears and Metropolitan: The Build-It Programme

  • Tim Reading, director, Cospa

Tim Reading director of Cospa opened Communicate magazine’s Collaborate, Activate, Communicate event with a presentation on the Build-it programme. Launched in April 2013 the programme was co-created by London Youth and social innovation agency Cospa. Benefitting 1,500 young people in south London over an initial two-year period, the Build-it programme gives young people the chance to learn trade and building skills and access employment opportunities by working on the regeneration of social housing and empty homes within their local communities.

Tim explained that key to the collaboration, with companies alike Hyde Housing, Keepmoat, Lambeth Council, Lambeth Living, London Youth, Mears and Metropolitan, was that it was built upon values that were necessarily monetary. Tim noted that Cospa strive for partners who have ‘something unique that money can’t buy’ and that they spent a lot of time mapping out the ‘essence of value exchange’.

The Build-It programme allowed for a ‘triple win’:

  • Young people learned skills and gained employment
  • Communities were brought together to become more strongly involved in local regeneration through volunteering and social action
  • Social housing stock in disadvantaged communities improved and returned to use

The results were clear to see as over two years 690 young people participated and achieved City & Guilds qualification. 31% progressed to employment and 25% to further training and education opportunities. Elsewhere, social housing renovated and improved at 40 sites across Lambeth. Tim hopes the fruits of their labour will inspire others and insists ‘ our aim was to create a proven delivery model that could be shared and rolled out in collaboration with cross-sector sector partners in other regions across the UK.


Coutts and National Portrait Gallery: Grayson Perry: Who Are You?

  • Jennifer Sofianou, marketing business partner, Coutts

Jennifer Sofinaou, marketing business partner at Coutts delivered a presentation on Coutt’s sponsorship of the fascinating Grayson Perry: Who are you? exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. Grayson Perry's exhibition display featured Britons that embody a particular potent aspect of contemporary British identity. Coutts used its association with the exhibition to highlight its specialist interests – investing through art and philanthropy – while also championing the important role of the arts in the economy.

Jennifer insisted that the ‘story is key’ for sponsorship and it was the personal story of Grayson that helped to gather interest initially. The sponsorship demonstrated a continuation of Coutts championing the creative industries with a relevance to contemporary times. It helped to change the perception of Coutts and this heightened their visibility in the creative industries space. Likewise, with Perry as an acquired taste, the collaboration broke new ground as was a first for both the National Portrait Gallery and Coutts. Jennifer noted that ‘we are ensuring we are uniquely positioned to send a strong and powerful message to the creative industries’.

Through creating bespoke opportunities, such as lectures studio visits and welcome receptions for clients, Coutts gained access to unique opportunities such as a private view breakfast and ‘an evening with Grayson Perry’. Coupling this staff engagement featuring screenings, breakfast and an art competition judged by Perry himself, Jennifer concluded that the sponsorship ‘revolutionised the way we work as an organisation, the way we feel and proved the potential for a sponsorship to resonate with clients and with our people.’

The Fresh Olive Company and Veris: Ready, Steady, Green!

  • Stuart Goodman, stakeholder engagement specialist, Veris Strategies

Stuart Goodman, stakeholder engagement specialist at Veris Strategies discussed their environmental partnership ‘Ready Steady Green!’ with Belazu Ingredient Company (formerly Fresh Olive Company). Starting with 8.5 tonnes of general waste going to landfill, Belazu implemented an environmental campaign to achieve zero landfill status. Being a food manufacturer with 130 employees, it was imperative the employees get on board and fully back the initiative

The aims of the collaboration was to both drive sustainability across the Belazu Ingredient business and subsequently position Belazu as a leader in environmental sustainability with impeccable green credentials. Stuart noted how the stats involved were quite dull so the campaign needed to be as creative and as visual as possible, while adding that it’s important to be ‘honest and transparent as authenticity is key’. Ready Steady Green! hoped to create ‘a bespoke green identity and engagement strategy to drive operational improvement’ and after an initial launch event which both promoted the new system and increased engagement, Belazu maintained communications at every level through workshops, monthly reward programmes, communication boards and a bi-annual roadshow. Part of the creative visual aspect of the campaign involved themed events for employees during the football World Cup and a ‘Wrap up recycling’ event at Christmas, where employees won prizes through green activities.

The results were impressive with 49% of waste recycled and 27% of edible food went to good causes which strengthen ties with the local community. Furthermore, 10% of materials were used for renewable energies. Stuart concluded that ‘our ongoing sustainability journey remains focused on continuous improvement opportunities around behavioural change’.



Boots and Macmillan: working together to improve the lives of everyone living with cancer

  • Rowena Howell, partnership services manager, Macmillan Cancer Support
  • Oonagh Turnbull, head of CSR, Boots UK

Rowena Howell, partnership services manager at Macmillan Cancer Support and Oonagh Turnbull, head of CSR at Boots UK shared their story on the successful CSR campaign between Boots UK and Macmillan. Boots UK and Macmillan Cancer Support united in partnership in 2009 to achieve a single game changing ambition; to help people affected by cancer access specialist information and support on the high street

The partnership came about through combining Macmillan’s expertise in cancer support with Boot’s brand image and access to millions of cancer sufferers on the high street. Rowen noted that people often don’t know where to turn when their cancer treatment has finished, she argued that ‘sufferers need access in different ways, don’t just expect them to come to you’. The visibility on the high street for Macmillan helped enhance the brand image and Rowena contested the notion that partnerships are only good for a corporate’s image. One of the practical effects of the partnership was bespoke training to staff and a subsequent 2000+ Boots Macmillan information pharmacists available in store to provide information and signposting. Likewise, over 400 No.7 beauty advisors were in store supporting women with holistic needs who were undergoing treatment. Oonagh noted how results weren’t intended to be ‘life changing’ but on a daily basis it helped improve the emotional needs of sufferers. This in turn had a ripple effect for communities as beauty advisors and pharmacists along with hospital staff created channels of engagement which compliment varying needs of a cancer sufferer.

With over 1000 volunteers, the partnership has already raised over 11 million pounds. Rowena concluded that in partnerships it is ‘crucial to have a shared long term vision, which sets out exactly what you want to do together, and a roadmap for achieving it’ while Oonagh added ‘Focus on brand alignment, find the synergies which work for your business, colleagues and customers’.


SCA, Team SCA in the Volvo Ocean Race and the WSSCC: Team SCA in the Volvo Ocean Race

  • Gabriella Ekelund, vice president brand communication, SCA
  • Joséphine Edwall-Björklund, senior VP, group function communications from the SCA
  • Ben Heppenstall, corporate communications lead, SCA UK

Gabriella Ekelund, vice president brand communication, Joséphine Edwall-Björklund, senior VP group function communications and Ben Heppenstall, corporate communications lead from SCA spoke on their sponsorship of the Volvo Ocean Race. SCA, which sells over 80% of the retail products it produces to women, has been running a year-long campaign to raise awareness of women’s health and hygiene issues and to support the empowerment of women. SCA’s goal is to raise both funds and awareness for an important range of female issues as well as create a lasting legacy of support for women worldwide.

Ben noted how consumers in the UK use SCA brands daily without knowing they are SCA. The sponsorship helped put SCA on the map and in the conciseness of consumers. The selling point of the sponsorship was the fact it was breaking taboos. Both through the first all-female team entering the Volvo Ocean Race and the SCA workshops tackling unfashionable medical topics such as menstruation and incontinence. Gabriella spoke how the SCA team worked on CSR campaigns with women in some of the most deprived areas of Cape Town while Joséphine noted how the team entering the race embodied the struggles of these women; ‘the women didn’t have the same experience or muscles, but could work together for women’. Even after the first leg of the 38,739 nautical mile race, the women began to inspire people and SCA created an ‘amazing women everywhere’ online mosaic for people to share thoughts on the amazing women in their lives.

The results of the sponsorship were clear with world press coverage placing SCA firmly to the fore on women’s issues and an estimated 250,000 visitors were educated on hygiene issues during the crew’s stopovers. Gabriella and Joséphine expressed delight on how consumers are now matching SCA to its brand and from an internal commnications point of view, the sponsorship made the company feel connected and ‘as one’.


Tata Consultancy Services: The digital skills gap: bring the voice of 90 million European youth to policy makers

  • Ashish Babu, director of communications, Tata Consultancy Services

Ashish Babu, director of communications at Tata Consultancy Services, a leading IT services firm, spoke on how Tata Consultancy service brought the voice of 90 million European youth to policy makers. Despite a strong relationship with over 200 European Schools TCS struggled with brand recognition across European. However, with 70% of its global workforce being under the age of 30, TCS were critical to the future of Europe’s IT industry. Ashish explained how their main aim was to ‘increase TCS’ brand awareness among European policy makers by enabling and leading the debate on a subject crucial to Europe’s future’. By engaging with key policy makers and industry leaders, TCS could position itself at the heart of Europe’s digital enterprise and skills.

After initial findings at the TCS summit went against the grain of industry consensus, TCS created a report with both creative, engaging content as well as respected industry voice such including a forward by Nelie Kroes. The success of the report lay in its use of social media and Ashish noted how ‘every aspect of the report was micro-sized and socialised’ allowing people to like and dislike whatever they wanted. This helped lead to a debate on how digital technologies would impact the future workplace and placed TCS squarely at the centre. Around 150 senior EU policy makers attended and a video summarising the findings of the ‘Workplace of the future: a view from European youth’ study was screened during the event.

The results were wide scale praising of TCS in the traditional press as well as client engagement levels at 92 %. Ashish noted how TCS are building on the success of this engagement and their latest research on the impact of social media surveyed over 5,000 young people from 15 European countries.