REMEMBER REMEMBER, THE 2ND OF OCTOBER, THE DAY WE TRIED TO STOP THE BURN. AND OUR LAST EVER EMAIL
I know it’s not the rhyme but its 4am and I honestly cannot think of another title, and y’all know, I’m a lover, not a rhymer.
But the title of this Wednesday Wisdom is accurate because 2nd October is going to represent quite a large step change for the Talker Tailor team.
A very wise client once told us about an ideas tree, a symbol in the office that encouraged people to constantly be thinking of creative solutions to problems that might exist, and those that might not. A constantly moving and changing brainstorm for good ideas.
After 15 months of doing business (and still not looking a day over seven months), we felt the need for a reset. It always happens after big bouts of holiday and being so busy that you’re focused on today, tomorrow and the next day rather than the lifecycle of a business or your life. It’s a symptom of success, I suppose, but in an industry that very rarely gets paid to pitch, it means that your time really isn’t your own.
We knew there were a couple of problems, we’re not shy to admit it, people were working late, getting stressed, shedding a tear and even having the odd booze fuelled blow-out (and that was just the dog). As someone who has done all of these things and has the diazepam prescription to prove it, we needed to reset. I know all PR businesses work late but that doesn’t make it right, it isn’t.
So we set about solving those issues in the only way we know how…CAN I GET A WORKSHOP AMEN! Honestly, what did we do before workshops? How did we actually solve problems as human beings without post-it notes and whiteboard markers? Those cave paintings would have been so much better if they had only had a bit of Edward DeBono. We set an agenda to deal with what we could see were six macro problems facing the business, the first of which… SHE-MAILS.
Now don’t get me wrong, I really do care what has happened to Jojo’s headphones and that Voodoo Rays is doing a deal, but our capacity to e-mail was akin to a rush on Primark Harry Potter goods. You would look at your phone once, no e-mails. You would put your phone down literally for three minutes and BAM, 2,736,093 e-mails. FUUUUUUCCCKKKKKK, what happened? We also believe that a huge number of e-mails can create snow blindness to the task in hand. So as of the end of October, we will be e-mail free. We are moving all our internal e-mails into voice notes. Never again will I have to ruin my shellacs by typing. The only e-mails in our inbox will be client, supplier or press, which focuses us and gets rid of useless admin. We are more impact, less admin in motion. We are going to be like the kid neighbours in BIG, constantly talking to each other, whether in person or not. That also solves another problem we had…
Spelling and grammar. For those that have known me since back in the day, they know that S&G is not my strongest suit. I am the person when asked at school to do two pages on the Somme, drew the entire thing because it answered the brief but also got me out of the spelling and grammar trap that came when writing in biro (bitch be old as dirt). What we realised is that good spelling and correct grammar is so important to us as people and a business that it was paralyzing the speed at which we work. I know some people will read this and say that good language use is FUN-DA-MENTAL for PR people… actually for adults but when you start a creative business, you have to understand that it might not be as hard-wired as those working in a legal profession or in education, and that’s okay. Can the first perfect person please stand up. So, getting rid of internal e-mails SHOULD give us more time to craft and curate the e-mails that really matter; the ones to our client partners and the media or influencers.
We do reviews every six months at the moment and that goes for everyone in the business from founder to intern BUT we realised this year that they are often the last thing on the minds of people, meaning that 360 feedback can often be ‘She’s amazing, I love her’ rather than being — you know — genuinely constructive. The other problem is that in a fast-paced world, it’s hard to remember what happened last week, let alone four months ago. So, we are going quarterly and we’re also introducing a ‘wave’ which will be given to people every time they do something amazing. So, at the end of the quarter we can see genuinely how amazing our people are. This is less for the bosses, more for the people in our business who want to sit there and say, ‘look how fucking awesome I am, pay me more.’
A fundamental part of our business is selling-in to media but it has changed since my day of faxing and following up. More the shame. What we know is that younger people are less likely to engage in phone conversations than ever before, so we need to change with the times. We have decided to never-again do a general news desk sell in because it doesn’t work and it wastes the time of journalists under huge amounts of pressure to create multiple levels of content, constantly. We will spend our time crafting the relationships we have, to make sure stories work hard for the few, not the many. We still plan to get blanket coverage, no doubt, but we want to be smarter in the way that we do it.
So there you have it, a new dawn, a new day and I’m feeling good. Whether it works or not is yet to be seen, touch base with us in a month or so and see if we’re still here… fingers bloody crossed.
Peace and love.