OUR VERY OWN MONT BLOG
Twas the night before Christmas... well more than a night really. In PR and brand land, it is never too early for the festivities to commence.
In our industry and many other service industries across the globe, it has become the norm to begin thinking about next Christmas almost as soon as the final mince pie crumb has been dusted.
Retailers begin scoping the best gifts for displays and dressing, leisure providers talk grottos and getaways, and us PRs begin gabbling with the editors of our favourite glossies.
That's right folks, that perfect present isn't just for Christmas, its a meticulously planned, forward thinking product or event which has often been designed and delivered in time for magazine writers to 'put their stories to bed' - all whilst the good old British public are sunning themselves on a Sussex beach in July.
This year, the team at Calvermont HQ enjoyed their own taste of Christmas in September, working on a brand comms project to promote Royal Tunbridge Wells to people all over Kent, Sussex, Surrey and Essex this winter.
We know our town has lots to offer and we want people to stay longer and support our local businesses, retailers and restaurants. So, when asked if we wanted to put together a Christmas Gift Guide for the town to attract visitors, we jumped at the chance. It also gave us the opportunity to collaborate with some favourite local creatives, something that we do as much of as possible.
We’ll be promoting the Gift Guide both online and in print in early November, so please support this initiative and let’s drive as many people to RTW as possible!
With the project wrapped and feeling in the festive mood, we couldn't help noticing some of the other elves on our local high street who have begun preparing for Christmas too:
Giving back shouldn't be incentivised - it's just what decent people do
At a recent meeting we were part of an ‘Environmental, Social & Governance’ discussion which turned into a debate about incentives that should be put in place for large companies to 'give back'.
…Hmmm. It's a shame if some large companies need incentives to support their local communities, donate to charity, or fund much needed public amenities…
At Calvermont HQ, we are lucky to work locally and despite our broad array of clients, we are never happier than when we are working together for a local business, development or cause. Given our size, we do not have an extensive CSR budget, so we instead work pro bono to share our skills with charities and people that we are passionate about helping.
Our recent support includes helping to promote the activities of Baby Bundles, now part of Baby2Baby in Crowborough, providing packages of much needed support to new families that are living beneath the breadline; and Taylor Made Dreams, the charity run by Suzanne Mitchell which provides special memories and experiences for children with life limiting illnesses. Both charities are local, both need financial support and welcome partnerships and sponsorships. Find out more at www.taylormadedreams.net or www.baby2baby.co.uk and get in touch if you are able to provide support.
At Calvermont, we regularly devise CSR strategies, activities and analysis for our clients. We use our network to link businesses with causes that resonate with their values, beliefs and purpose. From staff volunteering activities that double as team bonding, to sponsorships which open community links and drive brand exposure, to charity fundraising events, educational facilities or public realm improvements, we can drive your CSR agenda, whilst engaging your employees and raising your profile too.
For more information, get in touch and hear out about the important CSR activities we are working on in the coming months :-)
15. Is it a name, is it a logo? What's in a brand.
A brand is many things to most people. Having a good name and a slick logo helps of course, but those brands that truly resonate are ones that inspire an emotional connection or ambition, where you recognise instantly their core message and your reaction is positive. And this comes from many things:
Mapping your target audience and knowing what they care about
Knowing your purpose and values which should resonate with your core offer
Defining your personality through ‘look and feel’, core messaging and tone of voice
Developing real points of difference and points of parity
Ensuring excellent communication and customer service
Involving your advocates, such as your employees, your stakeholder, or your customer
Building your influencers across social and traditional media
The slickest of logos and advertising will get you so far, but unless your brand is instantly recognisable at each touchpoint - from the welcome of your receptionist, to how you talk to media or lead a business meeting, to the impact of your product - you will not build the right understanding, trust and therefore buy-in. Effectively, you will break your brand, or it will simply become insignificant and unidentifiable as a logo with no purpose.
A simple step is to engage employees from the outset of your brand positioning - they can be your biggest advocates and often your best source of knowledge for your customer, product or target. You can also engage clients for input and feedback, or local stakeholders and community groups. Speak to the people you want your brand to touch, get to know what they want and allow time for testing too. Go back to them and ask questions - is this right? is this appealing? is this necessary?
Your brand should have a clear, concise message in a voice, style and tone that is authentically you. While this can be ambitious, you must also be realistic and resonate with what you offer, who you offer it to, and how you offer it.
Too many times we see sharp logos and money spent on advertising without research, engagement and impactful or authentic messaging. Always ask why? Why am I doing this? Why is this important? Why should people care?
This is something we feel exceptionally strongly about at Calvermont and spend a lot of our helping clients with - working with them to pinpoint and develop their purpose, personality and offer, whilst engaging their target audience, to drive brand power and growth.
To find out how we can help elevate your brand or help it cut through, get in touch with us here
14. good neighbours…How developers can rebuild pubic trust
According to a recent poll commissioned by Grosvenor Estates, just 2% of the public trust developers to behave honestly. While that figure is a huge barrier to overcome, it is not altogether surprising.
Too often developers come to a town and have tunnel vision on achieving planning for the maximum value of their site, as quickly as possible.
Their aim is to hold a low key public consultation whereby the box is ticked for planning purposes but they don't 'create their own no's' by communicating.
While this may achieve the desired result at the time, not actively engaging with the local community is setting themselves up for a fall later down the line. Appeals, confusion and negativity can swell to hate campaigns and protests across social media, press and local networks.
We've said this before but actively engaging early on can turn even the most cynical into advocators. Not because you are, as a developer, automatically going to make all of the changes raised by a local community, but because you care enough to ask, consider sentiment and ensure your scheme is suitable for the area.
Everyone is entitled to a voice and by engaging at the earliest opportunity, whether opinion is right or wrong, ideas and often lasting long-term relationships with local groups will be established. Given the right information and transparency from developers, former opposers can harness their new understanding to become advocates or supporters, and some of that 98% missing trust can be restored.
13. when life gives you rain, do you shelter or shoot in the puddles?
Today our founders found themselves caught in a downpour during a local photo shoot in Calverley Grounds.
No matter how detailed your brief, compelling your storyboard, or beautiful your wardrobe, what can you do when the unpredictable British weather doesn't play ball with your shoot?
Firstly, pack an umbrella and suitable camera protection. The last thing you need is rain AND a grumpy photographer and director with a bill for a new lens, or even camera. Secondly, consider the following five tips to ensure your shoot doesn't become a wet blanket.
Location location location. Is there a shelter, awning or canopy within reach, or a relevant internal location nearby that could work as a substitute? Always prepare a list of potential alternatives pre-shoot and seek approvals for space use too
Don't underestimate the power of an umbrella. As well as keeping photographer, director and models dry, umbrellas can be used in shoot, helping exposure and providing an effective compositional frame. Consider personality when picking your brolly, do you want a bright floral to lift the mood, or a simple black for a more corporate feel?
Encourage emotion. Harness the general camaraderie of sheltering from the rain together. Capture faces as the heavens open and laugh about the situation - reducing wooden postures and poses
Consider using a flash. Although more difficult, this can really accentuate the rain droplets and add a magical quality to your images
Always have a hairbrush to hand. Rain can do funny things to even the most luscious locks. Ensure you're prepared and ready to re-touch hair and make-up regularly. No-one wants a Monica from friends scenario caught on camera!
Finally, if it really is a damp squib, take a break, have a hot chocolate and regroup when the worst of the weather clears. And remember, hot days and clear blue skies often make for the worst photos. No-one likes a sweaty squinter in the sun, instead cloudy skies provide cool models and atmospheric texture, whilst rain will makes colours look deeper and more saturated.
All the above said, if you find your models cleaning rainy mud splatters from their legs with Kleenex tissues, then perhaps it is time to admit defeat and postpone a few hours or days. This may, or may not have happened today....
Thanks for the Kleenex. Good preparation. Same time next week ;-)
12. a pr dream as royal tunbridge wells looks even brighter in the sunshine
The sun is here, and so is the vibrant buzz of the locals, visitors and resident businesses.
This couldn’t be clearer than at the infamous ‘Jazz on the Pantiles’ - as the crowds come out in their hundreds, gathering across generations to watch, dance and dine to the dulcet tones of jazz musicians. The brainchild of the boundlessly energetic Julian Leefe-Griffiths, owner of The Tunbridge Wells Hotel, the event runs every Thursday from May to October and has become a firm favourite for all.
This week our client Elysian Residences, the new owner of the ABC Cinema site, held some pre-jazz drinks at the Tunbridge Wells Hotel to meet local businesses and influencers, and talk about their proposed Belvedere scheme.
Mark Curry, head of planning & development, delivered a rather refreshing aperitif, as he reaffirmed their long-term commitment to redeveloping the derelict site in the heart of town into a brand new cinema for the community, a few shops and cafes, and 108 luxury, serviced homes for the over 65s.
Despite some understandable doubt within the room at the start of the evening, by the time the Jazz kicked off at 7.30pm, the atmosphere had swiftly changed to one of positivity, enthusiasm and support for the scheme. Local council leader William Benson took to the floor to pledge the councils commitment to helping ensure the proposed launch date of 2022 is met, whilst host Julian charmed the group with a final toast in favour.
As the heatwave continues, so do the amazing events on offer in the area. Just this weekend, Claremont primary school will be hosting their annual fundraising fete and celebrating their 50th year, whilst the nationally acclaimed Mela festival will take place on Sunday in the beautiful Calverley Grounds.
With so much to do, the sun shining brightly, and the promise of further investment and development to come to our town, we’ve definitely got that #fridayfeeling
11. There’s a hole in my bucket… don’t let a leak ruin your story
The UK market is very leaky. Rarely do interesting stories stay out of the news, particularly when it's of interest to a local town which has a vocal community and eagle-eyed journalists.
Royal Tunbridge Wells is no exception. We are blessed to have some of the best journalists reporting across our town and the surrounding areas, keeping us up to date with the hottest stories, campaigns and developments.
Can it be annoying if a story breaks before you are ready? Yes.
Should you ignore it and hope for the best? Absolutely not.
In these situations, it is best to engage. Yes.
You must develop a relationship from the outset with your local press, not just for trust, but for longevity
You can delay or deter a story by giving more detail ‘off the record’
You can provide the correct details to avoid inaccuracies and misrepresentation
You are more likely to increase support by engaging regularly with your local journalists
You can help change a narrative by providing concise messaging and showing that you care
You can raise your profile positively by ensuring your story is told in the right way and with the right detail for your local area
What's key to succeeding in the above is to be confident, have clear messaging, never lie and establish trust.
A good local PR agency can support you in this.
For all your local press requirements, contact us at Calvermont here
10. BELIEVE IN TUNBRIDGE WELLS - IT’S GOT A VIBRANT FUTURE
We were fortunate enough to spend time with some brilliant people from Royal Tunbridge Wells this week, as part of an upcoming project driven by Royal Tunbridge Wells Together, which will look at positioning and promoting the town.
We were overwhelmed by the passion, the creativity and the commitment these local business people and influencers had for Royal Tunbridge Wells and the ideas emanating from the group about how we can best position the town in the future.
These aren't ideas about how to change the town - moreover how to demonstrate to people (both local and visitors) the real attributes that our town has to offer.
It got us thinking that we don't sing loudly enough about the good stuff, the great stuff. Are we far too apologetic or embarrassed? Why?
Across all target groups and genres there is so much to offer. And, while Royal Tunbridge Wells may not be perfect (or is it?!), we should be really proud of what we have and make this sing. We don't currently, but we intend to.
We want people to discover our music and theatre scene, whether it's modern or rock at the Forum, Jazz on The Pantiles, or a show at Trinity Theatre. We want foodies to book tables to experience our high dining at Thackerays, fresh sushi at Kitsu, or paella at Sankeys. And what about a weekend with friends or family? Begin by browsing the huge mix of local independent shops on Camden or Monson Road, or visit the well-loved brands in Royal Victoria Place and along the High Street. Make time for cocktails at the Common Room or Sopranos, and treat yourself to a luxurious stay at One Warwick Park or Hotel Du Vin. You can even beat the hangover at Simply Float, or take part in meditation on the green Commons.
This is the tip of the iceberg. We are proud to be involved in a project that will show visitors, investors, businesses and new residents the real Tunbridge Wells. And that's without the further investment, development and promotion that's planned, which promises to add even more vibrancy and culture.
Does anyone else think we're on the verge of something special?
09. POLITICAL SHAKE-UP AND PICKERING CANCER SUPPORT, THE IMPORTANCE OF LOCAL CSR
Following the announcement of the Tunbridge Wells council shake-up today, Calvermont began thinking about how clients should navigate a changing political landscape.
Firstly, engagement is key. Post-election, new councillors will allocate time to meeting with local businesses, so don’t be shy. Get to know your local leaders personally to understand their objectives and how this may affect you, your brand or employees.
Secondly, look beyond politics to your local community to help support your business. Community groups are often useful sounding boards for local perceptions and sentiment. Discuss your ambitions and listen to feedback to shape your plans.
Finally, consider your Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Political change can have unsettling effects upon local groups and individuals. If you are invested in a local area, then think about how your plans will further affect your community and consider initiatives to alleviate impact and provide benefit.
Well allocated CSR budgets can not only uplift your business environment, but will increase relationships and networks and help your local community too.
We were lucky to see the incredible impact corporate donations can have to a local charity group when we attended the annual Pickering Cancer lunch at The Spa Hotel last week. With successful local faces from the likes of Sankey’s, BNI, Markerstudy and Cooper Burnett Solicitors in the room, this inspiring auction rose over £25,000 to help Pickering continue to provide invaluable facilities for cancer sufferers, right on our doorstep.
Calvermont is delighted to support The Pickering Cancer Drop In Centre. If you would like to make a donation too, please just contact 01892 511880.
08. Anthropologie arrivES as town is listed in The Sunday Times Best Places to Live.
We’re not doing too badly to be building a business in one of the UK’s ‘Best Places to Live.’
Revealed by Kent Online today, this week’s edition of The Sunday Times includes Tunbridge Wells in its 2019 top list and it just so happens to be the home of Calvermont HQ and our co-founders.
A holiday hotspot since the 18th century when dandy Beau Nash arrived with many famous friends, Tunbridge Wells has continued to thrive with visitors attracted by its wellness spring, green open space and beautiful architecture.
This unusual variety of culture and history were just a couple of the key attributes listed by friends, family and passers-by a few weeks ago, whilst we conducted an audit for a client about the perception of ‘Royal’ Tunbridge Wells.
It doesn’t seem too surprising then that we made The Sunday Times list, which considered a range of factors, from employment, schools, broadband, culture, community spirit and shops.
A favourite home for London workers just 38 miles from the city centre, Tunbridge Wells has become a hotspot for entrepreneurial businesses. More and more people are seeking a better work, life balance – winning back hours by working where they live – and also getting involved in local projects that impact their lives, as well as their business.
There have been some major employment achievements in the town this year. Cripps and Pemberton Greenish merged to create a 450 strong office, with a £45m turnover headquartered here. Whilst local business Markerstudy Group completed a deal for Co-op’s underwriting business, agreeing to insurance products for a total of £185m.
Children are also well-looked after, with many OFSTED outstanding nurseries and schools. As well as ensuring an excellent education for the sprogs, Mums and Dads aren’t too upset by the free education on offer in the area’s prestigious grammar schools either.
In terms of connectivity, culture and community, it helps that Tunbridge Wells is in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with parks and countryside aplenty. This provides ample space for fantastic community events throughout the year. We can’t think of anything better than whiling away a summer’s night at Jazz on the Pantiles, dancing all day at Local and Live on Calverley Grounds (half our namesake), or enjoying the open-air-cinema at The Spa Hotel.
There is also a huge amount on offer for a more mellow moment, from the extensive boutiques in the High Street and The Pantiles, the ability to lose sense of time (and gravity) in a flotation pod at Simply Float or relaxing with a professional massage at Coco Blush at One Warwick Park.
That said, if you’re after your family shopping or a livelier experience with friends, head to Royal Victoria Place for a huge variety of shops and entertainment, including a free soft-play area for the kiddos (and more recently some rather ‘roarsome’ dinosaurs too).
With an abundance of activity on offer and a lively local scene, the town has unsurprisingly attracted significant investment from national corporates such as British Land, owners of Royal Victoria Place too. And we’re actually about to head out the door to the launch of Anthropologie on the Pantiles – another impressive international brand showing confidence in our lovely home of Tunbridge Wells.
Hopefully see you there.
07. A chat with Mike about marketing materials
Calvermont has had some interesting and insightful conversations this week. One in particular with Mike at Longridge Print got us thinking about targeting different audiences and how best to spend your marketing budget in 2019.
Do you create a campaign that is designed to hit as many potential targets as possible, in the hope that some pick up the phone or get in touch? Or, do you select your top 10 targets and curate a bespoke campaign, designed to get their special attention which makes no secret they are your priority?
Both are effective and to an extent it depends on your objective...
If selling a significant development, then number two is probably the most effective to enable you to reach your potential purchaser. If we meet, we can walk you through some of our experience in this area, such as helping to drive the campaign for Royal Mint Court, which resulted in its rather successful sale to become China’s UK Embassy.
If you are instead looking to lease a high quantity of apartments or offices quickly, then the more scattergun approach of number one may be a better way to go - raising profile and inviting traction across digital and social platforms, which can be tracked and converted into deals. We have some experience of this over on the Olympic Park.
Alternatively, if you need to secure planning for a new development, then engaging material is essential to keep your neighbours informed (and on-side!), especially where assets have a significant community impact.
Activity should not end there. When the build begins, life is generally much easier if your local community is aware of your efforts to mitigate dust or disturbance, or your moving development timelines… For larger schemes, it is also worth keeping in mind that those who live nearby and pass regularly may well become your key audience when the time comes for marketing too.
In reality, whatever your campaign objectives may be, your marketing materials must be curated for your target audience and meaningfully delivered. At Calvermont we can help you through this process, from prioritisation mapping, to collating your content, devising key messages, delivering your creative and ultimately achieving your purpose.
06. INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY, MARCH 8 2019| Ladies of T Wells, You Rock
To mark our first International Women's Day since we started Calvermont, we wanted to take a look at some of the kick-ass women that came from Tunbridge Wells and that continue to inspire us today.
Amelia Scott: The famous suffragette who became one of the first two female councillors in Tunbridge Wells. She founded the Tunbridge Wells branch of the National Union of Women Workers, campaigned for social reform including the appointment of female police officers, as well as a maternity home, hostel and day nursery for the children of widows, deserted wives and unmarried mothers after the war. Amelia also fought for better housing and for the provision of a museum and library. It Is a fitting tribute that our new cultural and learning hub in the centre of town is to be named 'The Amelia'.
Dame Kelly Holmes: What can we say about our Dame? Not only did she win gold medals In the Olympic Games for both the 800m and 1500m in 2004, but today she tirelessly fundraises for her own registered charity, the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust. Just last year she led a group of people in a number of endurance challenges across Malawi, Africa to raise awareness of malnutrition amongst the country's children, and the benefits of sport to health.
Virginia Wade: Former British number one tennis player Virginia Wade went to Tunbridge Wells Girls Grammar School and, before the days when power and shrieking became synonymous with female tennis, won Wimbledon in 1977 with nothing but talent, grace and style.
With this year's International Women's Day all about gender parity, yet less than 1/3 of new businesses being started by women, we are proud that so many of them are based In Tunbridge Wells (including ours), a town which is proving to be a real hotbed for female talent.
And finally, not forgetting the ladies driving the future development and businesses of Tunbridge Wells: Cllr Tracy Moore, Karen Pengelly, Town Centre Manager and Nicky Blanchard, Chair of Tunbridge Wells Together. These, together with other members of TWT and the tourism board are working tirelessly to steer Tunbridge Wells into a new exciting era for our town.
Happy International Women's Day. Ladies of TW, you rock!
05. WHY IS COLLABORATION GOOD FOR TUNBRIDGE WELLS CREATIVES?
Tunbridge Wells is a hub for creatives. We know this because when setting up Calvermont, we looked for other firms doing similar things.
From great design like David Barden Creative, digital marketing like Studio 44, social media like Social Media First to name just a few, the town is thriving with creative genius ready to support local businesses (and global or national ones with local needs).
And that makes Calvermont very happy. Why? It's simple. One of our values is collaborate. We would always rather work with others than compete (although the latter is natural in our world of course). We believe that outside of London, small businesses should work together for the good of our clients, community and local economy.
Fostering strong local relationships is so important for this.
So why does Tunbridge Wells need great creatives?
It is a growing business community in its own right:
there are many law firms and other professional services based here
the town is a hotbed for developers and housebuilders, architects and other property services
the retail offer is mixed and reinvention will be key to keeping shops open and footfall high
the plan is for the town to become a cultural hub
there are global businesses with HQs here
there is a hugely successful publishing company focussed on TW, with great business awards and local support, amongst others
All of these need PR, brand communications, marketing and digital support to ensure success. At Calvermont we can support on PR and brand communications and project manage and create strategies for the rest, collaborating with the best other creatives TW has to offer.
Get in touch to find out more.
04. 19 THINGS TO DO IN 2019
With the February frost set to stay and half term around the corner, Calvermont HQ settled into a cosy Kent cafe to create a list of 19 things to do in and around Tunbridge Wells this 2019.
Not just for now, but for sunnier and warmer days too…
Sledging down the hill to the Calverley Adventure Grounds
A game of pool at Grove Tavern, the oldest pub in Tunbridge Wells
Discovering local produce at the Pantiles Farmers' Markets
A sunny lunch on the terrace at The Beacon with magnificent views
A Grove Park picnic, followed by drinks at The Compasses
A pedalo at Dunorlan Park, or watching the annual Fireworks glitter over the water
Cocktails in the hidden courtyard at Tunbridge Wells Bar & Grill
Yoga with a view at the Kingdom Café in Penshurst
Alfresco dinner with friends at Jazz on The Pantiles
A timelessly romantic tasting menu at Thackeray’s
A show at the Trinity Theatre, or rocking at the Forum
An enormous caramel slice and coffee at Juliets
Brushing up those cookery skills with Rosemary Schrager
Getting competitive at the Sussex Arms or Mount Edgcumbe pub quiz
A family sunday roast at the Neville Crest and Gun
Giggling over gin at Sopranos
Live music at the Grey lady or the Bedford
Rambling at Eridge Park or Bedgebury Pinetum
A day out at the annual community festival Clarefest
03. FOR EVERY STORY, THERE’S A STORY THAT COULD HAVE BEEN…
Putting out press releases is one thing, but changing the narrative on a negative story or, better, keeping a story out of the press requires a whole host of other skills entirely.
As the dust settles following the festive period and the trading statements from retailers start landing, it got us thinking about crises communications and how to turn negatives into positives. After all, in this fast paced, online world there’s not much you can keep quiet anymore and, when disaster strikes, the audience hearing about it can be pretty unrestricted.
Having dealt with our fair share of crises from the biggies: murders, accidental deaths, financial crime and cyber-attacks; to the more standardised: redundancies, poor figures, losing business – we have become accustomed to thinking calmly under pressure and dealing with crises as they arise to lessen impact and improve the narrative.
Our one golden rule for clients when answering a media enquiry that is negative is:
Do not react. Find out as much information and say you’ll call them back.
There are many reasons for this:
- It allows you time to think and not be caught off guard
- It does not show if you are already aware of the issue
- You can warn internal management and potentially clients
- It allows you to get your message right
- You can pick a spokesperson to manage and respond to all calls
- It gives you time to seek professional advice
Of course, we have many more tips when it comes to crises communications that we’d be happy to share. At Calvermont, we run a bespoke 24/7 crisis service – no matter how big or small your issue is.
Get in touch to find out more.
02. MULLING OVER COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT (OVER MULLED WINE)
Calvermont went ice skating in Calverley Park this weekend. With the music, the pretty lights, Santa’s Grotto (it’s a good one, check it out) the mulled wine and the crafty stalls, it was heaving. Now this is a community that enjoys playing on its own doorstep and chatting to strangers as if they are friends. There was no sign of the tension over the future of the Civic Development, people were just enjoying themselves.
Despite various humorous books that frequent a number of my friends’ bathrooms, the people of Tunbridge Wells aren’t always ‘disgusted’(!) and don’t want to fight over much-needed future development. This group are proud of the town and would welcome anything that can safeguard the future of our shopping centre, of our high street, of the town’s character, and of its parks.
The Calverley Park objection group is not full of Nimby’s, most are just disengaged with the process. How do I know this? Because I’ve attended some of the meetings and have a good feel for the emotion associated with this project. For example, the group is desperate for work to start on the ABC site and for Royal Victoria Place to do something soon with Ely Court. Some want the likes of War Horse and other iconic West End shows to come to Tunbridge Wells, and all support a retail and leisure scheme that will bring tourists to town and boost local business. However, many don’t like how the consultation has been handled and feel there are questions which haven’t been answered over cost, choice of location, access, timing and impact.
Without wanting to tiptoe any further into this particular debate, I would like to shed some light on the importance of engagement (and thus lack of it) and why it is so critical for a town like Tunbridge Wells, with its proud residents, many of whom work, live and play within its borders - such is the nature of its thriving community.
In development terms, communities are only engaged when they feel they have a role to play in shaping the future of their town. They need to feel that planning and design deliberations consider how schemes both benefit and affect those around them.
A savvy developer will involve a community from day one. This ensures that local stakeholders do not feel any decisions have been taken without their input. A developer will act as a facilitator, supporter, collaborator and will empower local people to have their say. Ultimately, the developer and its local community should become a trusting partnership.
This isn’t all for the community, good consultation also helps the developer understand the area and local culture better, enabling more informed and less controversial decisions. Handled well and with heart, it can provide an understanding of what people want, how they act as a consumer and what choices they are likely to make. Ultimately, engagement means that both developer and community have a meaningful role in the future of their scheme which, surely is the key to a happy and successful project.
Needless to say, if involvement and engagement isn’t fostered from early on, trust inevitably will be lacking and there follows suspicion and often opposition. That’s why developers need to think local first, from the moment they take an interest in a new scheme.
Here at Calvermont we are experts in this field and as proud Tunbridge Wells bods ourselves, would be happy to help any new project take the right steps locally.
01. FACEBOOK & TRUST
On a cosy (meaner person might say sardine packed) Tunbridge Wells commuter train this week, I picked up a discarded copy of the Metro and read about Facebook apparently spying on conversations and leaking more confidential personal data...
Although mildly desensitised to the thought of being spied on now that my phone seems to listen to me and lead me to websites I haven’t even typed in (but boy do I like that new gold jumper), this latest scandal has got me thinking about the importance of trust in the workplace.
In times gone by, and not very long ago, business was a slightly different game. Where you came from shaped who you knew, which shaped who you did business with, which shaped how successful you were. There was no social media and almost any commodity or personal right could be bought at the right price. I have even heard rumours of businesses buying medical records to dispose of workers before having to shell out any sick pay...I’ll stop there.
The world however has changed and is continuing to change fast. When I began working for town centre development schemes, beautiful branding and flashy events were the norm. However, as the world progressed, despite this side still remaining important (if we meet I’ll explain why), there has been real change in the need for public consultation, lobbying and community involvement.
With social media’s greatest attribute (Facebook you aren’t all bad) of connecting people and sharing voices, regardless of who you are, where you live, or what you do, people can no longer be hushed and good communication is essential. Ultimately, we are becoming a better society, with businesses showing better integrity, with better community consideration.
I have just co-founded Calvermont in my hometown of Kent. My business partner and I have decades of communications experience honed at well-known corporates, across global campaigns. We saw an opportunity to bring our skills home, to help local and global businesses working within our own community to find their own, better voice.
Despite our robust experience, setting up a business is new for us. We met as neighbours in Tunbridge Wells (between Calverley Park and Claremont Road, hence the name) and simply saw an opportunity to work hard, but flexibly within the community we care most about.
Starting our business, the topic of trust has already been well debated. As a start-up, how can clients trust us to do a good job? This is fairly easy for us to respond to, as we are lucky to have the support of a large and varied network. Alongside our new business, we also both consult for brand & communications agencies in London, which means we maintain a strong knowledge of current affairs, as well as our contact base. And when our ‘bread and butter’ is helping other companies develop their tone of voice and brand ethos, as well as pushing for better corporate social responsibility activity, you’d hope that this would be integral to our own business development too. It is.
Trust must be earned. It must underpin every choice if a new business is to be established and successful. For instance, we chose a local, young accountant because we trusted her, not because she had the most experience. We trusted our printer to deliver our business cards in time for our first networking event. We offer a 24-7 press office function despite the flexible working hours of our office, so clients can trust that we will be there if they need us.
Ultimately, we chose to move our business to our local community so clients can trust that it is just as important for us to see them grow, as it is for them to grow.
Really I suppose what I’m trying to say, is if we don’t have trust in business and in life, then what do we have?
Trust is key.
A ‘MERRY’ CHRISTMAS MESSAGE FROM ICELAND?
Iceland’s newest Christmas advert received a frosty reception from Clearcast, the industry body responsible for vetting TV ads, who objected to the advert due to its links with Greenpeace.
This charming animation, which depicts a young girl asking a young Orangutan why he was in her bedroom, broadcasts a rather political, but we think important, message to prevent the misuse of Palm Oil in UK retail products.
Watch it to see what you think…
A good message?
A clever social media campaign?
We know what we think.