Marketing In Times of Recovery

Marketing In Times Of Crisis has changed its name to Marketing In Times of Recovery. It's still a bi-weekly interview-led podcast series featuring inspirational built environment business leaders but more with a look to the future. We’ve had to weather crisis’ before and podcast listeners hear lively conversations, jam-packed with hints, tips and takeaways that you can apply to your business now. Hosted by Ayo Abbas, Founder / Consultant, Abbas Marketing. Subscribe now, rate, review and help us to spread the word.

https://www.abbasmarketing.com/mitc-podcast

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episode 13: Ep 13: Global & Internal Communications and Campaigns with Vanessa Talbot-Brown, Buro Happold [transcript]


Welcome to the latest episode of Marketing In Times of Crisis and I'm your host Ayo Abbas, a marketing consultant who specialises in all things built environment.  

Today's guest is someone I've known for years on the engineering and architectural marketing circuit, Vanessa Talbot-Brown who leads the marketing team at engineering firm Buro Happold.

The brilliant marketing efforts of her team were recently recognised with them winning not one but  two Archiboo Awards - awards which are dedicated to showcasing the best of digital communications in the built environment industry. 

Key takeaways

  • The importance of internal comms and having a clear purpose
  • How themes and issue based global campaigns  help to unite their global marketing efforts
  • The need for agility and being able to respond quickly in a crisis and embrace digital communications.

Rate and review us
Please don’t forget to rate and review us if you’re listening on Apple podcasts as it’s lovely to hear what you think plus it helps us to spread the word. 

Resources
Buro Happold website
Abbas Marketing website
Stride Treglown
56 Black Men - Cephas Williams
Archiboo Awards
Conisbee

Recorded on Monday 16th November 2020. 


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 2020-12-04  39m
 
 
00:04  Ayo Abbas
Hello and welcome to
00:04
the latest episode of Marketing
00:06
In Times of Crisis. I'm your
00:06
host Ayo Abbas, a freelance
00:10
marketing consultant
00:10
whospecialises in all things
00:12
built environment. This episode
00:12
was recorded on Monday the 16th
00:17
November 2020. My guest is
00:17
Vanessa Talbot-Brown who I've
00:21
known for years, she now leads
00:21
the marketing team engineering
00:24
firm Buro Happold. Her team's
00:24
brilliant marketing efforts were
00:28
recently recognised with them
00:28
winning not one but two Archiboo
00:31
Awards, which is no mean feat.
00:31
In our interview, we cover the
00:35
importance of internal
00:35
communications and making sure
00:38
you have a clear purpose, how
00:38
you can use themes and issue
00:42
based global campaigns to
00:42
further your cause. And the need
00:46
for having agility and being
00:46
able to respond quickly in a
00:48
crisis. If you listen to this
00:48
podcast, please do leave us a
00:53
review. It's great to hear what
00:53
you think. And on Apple
00:56
podcasts, it helps more people
00:56
to see us. Anyway, let's get on
01:00
with the show. So enjoy the
01:00
episode bye.
01:09
Hi, Vanessa. Thanks so much. And
01:09
welcome to the show. So can you
01:12
give me a brief intro to you and
01:12
your role at Buro Happold?
01:15  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
Yes, of
01:15
course. Hi, Ayo I hope you're
01:18
doing well in these strange
01:18
times. So my name is Vanessa. I
01:22
am global Director of Marketing
01:22
and Communications at Buro
01:26
Happold. Even I have crossed
01:26
paths over the years, many, many
01:32
times the days when you used to
01:32
be able to go to a networking
01:36
event in real life and see
01:36
people and
01:38  Ayo Abbas
talk to people.
01:40  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
halcyon
01:40
days. Yeah, I bought industry
01:44
for a long time. Working my way
01:44
through different engineering
01:51
practices, architectural
01:51
practices, I've worked at
01:53
Conisbee and BDP. And came to
01:53
Buro Happold, about four years
01:57
ago. So always worked in sort of
01:57
marketing comms roles in the
02:03
industry. So yeah, that's why I
02:03
got to the point I have at Buro
02:08
Happold. And I've always
02:08
respected Buro Happold,
02:10
actually, from a branding
02:10
marketing perspective. And
02:12
that's sort of Yeah, followed
02:12
them closely when I was at BDP.
02:16
And I was at BDP for a long time
02:16
for eight years. And then my
02:21
personal circumstances changed
02:21
where I had my first child,
02:25
Marin and my husband and I
02:25
decided to leave London and the
02:30
green fields around Bath
02:30
calling. And so it was a perfect
02:34
fit really, with the burohappold
02:34
having the main office in Bath
02:36
and the role of Internal
02:36
Communication, Head of Internal
02:40
Communications came up, which I
02:40
thought was quite interesting.
02:43
So yeah, direction for my
02:43
career, because I've always done
02:46
external marketing comms, but
02:46
also with another hat on of
02:50
internal, and I do really enjoy
02:50
internal comms. So went for
02:54
that, and then to work my way
02:54
back up again. Because I really
02:58
miss the external side and
02:58
social media and all the rest of
03:01
it. And yeah, so current role is
03:01
global director, which is a
03:06
grand title,
03:07  Ayo Abbas
I was actually gonna
03:07
ask actually just a completely
03:08
random, but in terms of internal
03:08
comms, I mean, I guess that's
03:11
kind of come to the fore during
03:11
this year. What kind of things
03:15
did you have to do on that? I
03:15
mean, to keep your employees and
03:18
everybody else yeah. engaged in
03:18
fitting. Okay.
03:23  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
I think
03:23
it's a really interesting
03:25
question. Because you're sort of
03:25
thinking about this
03:27
conversation, we're gonna have
03:27
Ayo around, you know, how have
03:30
things changed during the
03:30
pandemic. And for me, it's just
03:36
accelerated and highlighted the
03:36
importance of internal comms. So
03:41
internal communications is all
03:41
around that engagement, and
03:45
talking a lot about your
03:45
culture, and connecting people
03:50
and getting across or connecting
03:50
the strategy of the leadership
03:54
with everyone within your
03:54
company, and then understanding
03:58
it and sort of living and
03:58
breathing it. And I think we've
04:01
always been pretty good up your
04:01
appetite around internal
04:04
communications, but it
04:04
accelerated tenfold during the
04:09
pandemic, because you can't have
04:09
those water cooler
04:12
conversations. And you're not
04:12
only not having those sort of
04:15
town halls in the offices or the
04:15
the team meetings where you're
04:19
chatting of things through. So
04:19
you have to formalise it. And
04:23
obviously, you know, our CEO is
04:23
sitting at home. The same as you
04:27
know, 90% of the rest of your
04:27
household are sitting in their
04:30
home. So we have to connect
04:30
digitally and on Teams calls and
04:36
through video, which Neil our
04:36
CEO has really embraced during
04:40
the pandemic. Yeah, I think it's
04:40
really elevated the importance
04:45
of it. And, you know, I really
04:45
enjoy it. And obviously, we're
04:50
coming from a really good place
04:50
where we're sort of well versed
04:53
in it and practised in it
04:53
already, so it wasn't too
04:55
difficult for us. I'm not sure
04:55
how other organisations have
04:59
sort of done If they didn't have
04:59
those construction place to
05:03
begin with,
05:04  Ayo Abbas
so you kind of have
05:04
to amp up what you were already
05:06
doing kind of thing rather than
05:06
having to start from scratch you
05:09
already had a good foundation
05:09
for it .
05:10  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
Yeah, I
05:10
mean, I think you have to be
05:12
quite agile, obviously, there
05:12
are things that we've had to
05:16
really quickly turn around. So,
05:16
for example, we will, we were
05:20
going to teams Microsoft Teams,
05:20
anyway, before COVID-19 hit. And
05:26
obviously, there was a rollout
05:26
plan, etc. And then suddenly,
05:29
you know, within the space of a
05:29
month, we had to launch it, roll
05:33
it out, make sure every single
05:33
person, 1900 people have laptops
05:38
and access to the internet at
05:38
home, which is obviously in the
05:42
UK, we sort of take that as a
05:42
given. But, you know, we have
05:45
offices in India, for example,
05:45
where not everyone had access to
05:48
the internet at home. So that
05:48
was a really rapid rollout of
05:53
that. And obviously, all the
05:53
communications that came with
05:55
that. And just the other week,
05:55
actually, we did our first time
06:01
Teams Live event.
06:03  Ayo Abbas
Oh, how was that?
06:04  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
Slightly
06:04
nerve wracking? But it went
06:07
really, really well. So had a
06:07
great team, it was a bit of an
06:11
IT Marketing team combo. Yeah,
06:11
we did a lot of practice rounds,
06:16
and it worked really well. So
06:16
every year we have the Essence
06:19
award. So that's our internal
06:19
awards construct where we
06:24
celebrate Outstanding
06:24
Individual, Outstanding Team.
06:26
This year, we had Outstanding
06:26
Contribution to the Climate and
06:31
Biodiversity Emergency. So our
06:31
Yeah, we had a lot of dry runs
06:36
of it. And technically, in the
06:36
end, we decided we'd do a time
06:40
lag on it. Becauswe had pre
06:40
recorded content with videos
06:44
that people had produced. But
06:44
then obviously all we wanted to
06:48
announce the winners. And it was
06:48
the Senior Partner, Paul Rogers
06:50
announcing the winners. And he
06:50
was a fantastic compere -that
06:54
really helped. But then there
06:54
were us in the background being
06:58
producers. So it was quite
06:58
exciting actually to
07:01  Ayo Abbas
And it's like running
07:01
a proper online event. And yeah,
07:01
characterise today.
07:04
you have it's the production
07:04
crew like you would with a live
07:07
right with a live event. Yeah.
07:07
That is the run through it's
07:11
literally that level of detail.
07:11
I think that's something that
07:14
people don't realise is that to
07:14
run a proper event online is
07:17
just as much work.
07:18  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
Yeah,
07:18
actually, I completely agree.
07:20  Ayo Abbas
More IT thrown in as
07:20
well.
07:22  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
Yeah, is
07:22
that level of detail. And I
07:25
think what really helped was
07:25
Caroline, who is in our IT,
07:29
department is ex BBC. And
07:29
actually has that production
07:34
experience. And I think that
07:34
really, really helped. Because,
07:39
you know, we were feeling our
07:39
way. And we, you know, did a
07:42
caveat at the beginning,
07:42
apologies, this is our first
07:44
live broadcast.
07:46
And then there were obviously
07:46
there were things thrown into
07:48
the mix that you can't quite
07:48
predict. So say for example,
07:53
Paul was going to be filmed sort
07:53
of professionally in the Berlin
07:57
office, speaking to camera, and
07:57
then the he couldn't get into
08:03
the office. So had to do it from
08:03
home and test the broadband,
08:06
etc. So, you know, there were
08:06
tight hiccups in the road. But
08:10
in the end, it was a really,
08:10
really good production. What's
08:13
great is obviously you can film
08:13
it, and then you have it live
08:16
broadcast to the whole company,
08:16
but because of our time zones,
08:20
it then gets broadcast on
08:20
stream, which is sort of
08:22
Microsoft, YouTube, as it were
08:22
internally,
08:25  Ayo Abbas
I've seen that yeah,
08:27  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
yeah. And
08:27
then you can sort of watch it
08:28
after the event. And so under
08:28
the great features now, you
08:32
know, sort of auto subtitles,
08:32
you do that. So obviously, just
08:37
really helpful for everyone from
08:37
an inclusivity point of view, or
08:40
you can listen to it while
08:40
you're working. So yeah, we've
08:43
really enjoyed things like that.
08:43
And I think we'll be doing many
08:46
more.
08:47  Ayo Abbas
Well, I guess it
08:47
gives you more options, right?
08:49
It gives you more tools going
08:49
forward. Yeah. Because we know
08:52
like those global roadshows or
08:52
whatever what you do with that
08:56
kind of event, that's hugely
08:56
resource intensive from all all
09:00
senses of the word really,
09:00
right. And you kind of think,
09:03
actually, if you've got decent
09:03
online options, and you can do a
09:05
proper production, you can do
09:05
something good and and minimise
09:10
that level of that level of kind
09:10
of, I guess, resources required.
09:14
So I think there's definitely
09:14
options and things we can learn.
09:18  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
Yeah,
09:18
absolutely. And I think, you
09:20
know, everyone talks about this
09:20
a lot, that the pandemic is
09:23
really accelerated a lot of
09:23
attitudes towards things because
09:27
if you think, yeah, that you
09:27
have that, perhaps of global
09:30
roadshow, where you're shipping
09:30
people in from all corners of
09:33
the earth, you know, upping your
09:33
carbon footprint but actually it
09:37
works online. And it's just as
09:37
effective or even more so. So I
09:41
think going forward, we'll be
09:41
doing this a lot more. And you
09:45
know, cutting, you know, the
09:45
need to actually get on the
09:48
planeand travel around the world
09:50
or it might be you fly one
09:50
person.
09:52
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I
09:53  Ayo Abbas
mean, you fly in one
09:53
person, and then actually, the
09:56
rest of it is kind of streamed
09:56
because you've actually got the
09:58
online content and everything
09:58
already ready to go? Yeah, the
10:01
rest of you don't physically
10:01
need to be there, or you know
10:04
what I mean? So yeah, I think
10:04
there's kind of has given us
10:06
alternatives and options and
10:06
kind of different models that we
10:09
can be working from in the
10:09
future. And it's quite exciting.
10:12  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
I do. And
10:12
I think it's, you know, I just
10:15
sort of tapped on the sort of,
10:15
inclusive side of it, you know,
10:19
just there's of technical things
10:19
that are really good nowadays,
10:22
that really improves that side
10:22
of it. But also, for me, things
10:26
moving online, has made
10:26
personally from a personal
10:30
perspective is made my life a
10:30
little bit easier. So I can, you
10:34
know, attend a webinar, or an
10:34
online networking event at 8.30
10:40
in the morning, because I don't
10:40
have I have children, which I
10:44
need to get to a breakfast club.
10:44
So don't have to be getting on a
10:47
train at 7am to get to London.
10:47
So I'm hoping that this move
10:53
online means more people sort of
10:53
have a voice and a seat at the
10:57
table, and can join in more
10:57
conversations. And I think, you
11:02
know, you touched on, you're
11:02
sort of, on the internal side,
11:05
what I found during this period
11:05
of time, is people are really
11:09
connecting at Buro Happold more,
11:09
you someone from the Mumbai
11:12
office is chatting to someone in
11:12
the LA office, because the
11:16
online events that we're doing
11:16
is open to everyone. It's not
11:21
just you know, a talk in the
11:21
London office or the Leeds
11:23
office, or
11:26  Ayo Abbas
you're getting that
11:26
global connection, you actually
11:28
are getting it. Yeah,
11:30  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
yeah.
11:30
Which has been really, really
11:32
sort of fascinating to make
11:32
those connections. And we're
11:35
getting a lot more from it
11:35
because of that. And I think,
11:40
you know, I think you could
11:40
reflect that, obviously, from an
11:42
external communications
11:42
marketing perspective as well. I
11:46
hope that is the case for the
11:46
industry that more people who
11:50
have these sort of caring
11:50
responsibilities, for example,
11:53
or, you know, just life outside
11:53
of work I go for a run.
11:57  Ayo Abbas
Exactly, yeah. Well,
11:57
yeah. And I know, I've been
11:59
doing a lot more networking
11:59
events as well. And there's been
12:01
a lot of mums who've said, yep,
12:01
I'm coming to events that I
12:04
would normally not be able to
12:04
make, like you've just said, I
12:07
think that's just you're right,
12:07
in terms of inclusivity it
12:09
leaves a lot more open as a, as
12:09
an industry, which is a good
12:12
thing. Um, okay, so moving on to
12:12
your kind of marketing team, and
12:17
what's your kind of, I know,
12:17
like, burohappold set up as a
12:20
matrix organisation, but kind of
12:20
how does your team have? What's
12:23
the size your team? And I guess?
12:23
Yes, what different things do
12:26
you have within it?
12:28  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
So I run
12:28
the global marketing team were
12:32
called, I have a team of 15,
12:32
which sounds like lots of
12:36
people. The majority of them are
12:36
actually part time. And it's
12:41
really broad sort of gamut of
12:41
expertise and specialism so I'm
12:47
really lucky that my team's
12:47
really creative and and that's
12:51
why I enjoy leading a team so
12:51
much. So we've got a combination
12:55
of copywriters, graphic
12:55
designers we've got Greg who is
13:01
video, producer and is
13:01
responsible for photography.
13:06
I've got a couple of guys who
13:06
actually fantastic a virtual
13:08
reality and augmented reality
13:08
experiences. I have Claire, who
13:13
runs the global client survey
13:13
programme. I've got Lily just
13:18
fantastic job with all the
13:18
project information and
13:21
everything for an engineering &
13:21
consultancy advisory firm. We
13:24
have thousands of projects a
13:24
year.,
13:26  Ayo Abbas
I was gonna say,
13:27  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
as you
13:27
know, from working in the
13:29
industry, how important project
13:29
information is when it comes to
13:33
the the guys and the bid teams
13:33
getting the bids and the pqq's
13:36
out there to have that up to
13:36
date signed off project material
13:39  Ayo Abbas
and making sure it
13:39
makes sense. Yeah.
13:49  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
Please
13:49
write 25 words on a project
13:53
which you've done in the past
13:53
five years?
13:56
So yeah, they does a fantastic
13:56
job of that. I've got Suzy,
14:00
Laura, Laura, I'm not mentioning
14:00
all the guys needs to be
14:03
terribly upset
14:03  Ayo Abbas
thought, you can add
14:03
them afterwards.
14:07  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
And also,
14:07
yeah, you know, a big emphasis
14:09
on social media channels and
14:09
expertise around that. So yeah,
14:14
really fantastic creative team,
14:14
who's producing all the
14:19
collateral content. And it's
14:19
generalists, like myself and
14:25
Scott, who I work really closely
14:25
with who's pulling all that
14:28
together and strategising and
14:28
working with the sort of the
14:32
global community of marketing BD
14:32
people. So how it works at Buro
14:35
Happold is that we have the sort
14:35
of Central global marketing
14:39
team, and then the wider
14:39
community is sort of more
14:43
regionally based marketing BD
14:43
professionals. So now for
14:47
example, in the US, there's a
14:47
fantastic team, and they how
14:53
they do is the individual that
14:53
they have are a combination of
14:57
marketing and BD communication
14:57
specialists. So they'll be doing
15:01
the presentations writing the
15:01
bids.
15:03  Ayo Abbas
Yeah, the US Market
15:03
is quite different in how it
15:06
operates, though. Yeah. It's
15:06
quite it's funny, isn't it?
15:09
Isn't it?
15:10  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
Yeah, I,
15:10
you know, working with them sort
15:13
of reminds me of my days that
15:13
for example, at Conisbee, the
15:17
structural and civil engineers
15:17
where you wore every hat in the
15:23
BD comms marketing world where
15:23
you're organising a party one
15:26
minute, writing a pqq, the next.
15:26
So they're quite similar to that
15:33
in a way. And yet we're all hats
15:33
at the same time do a fantastic
15:38
job. And then in the UK,
15:38
slightly different, obviously,
15:41
in a different market. And you
15:41
know it's still sort of lion's
15:46
share of the people are based in
15:46
the UK Buro Happold that you
15:49
have, well, BD specialists, the
15:49
guys are doing the bids, new
15:52
tenders, client events. And then
15:52
marketing specialists separate
15:56
to that, you know, again, and
15:56
then we've got Europe, India,
16:00
and Asia, so all slightly
16:00
different, but what's most
16:04
relevant to that region. And
16:04
then, for example, I will catch
16:08
up each of them sort of on a
16:08
regional basis separately, and
16:12
then we have a monthly marketing
16:12
get together, where we share
16:15
information about what each of
16:15
them is up to.
16:19  Ayo Abbas
and what's your kind
16:19
of overall approach to kind of
16:21
marketing, overall approach to
16:21
marketing really, in terms of
16:24
how you approach themes, or what
16:24
you actually talk about.
16:27  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
Um, so
16:27
from a global perspective, so my
16:31
main concern is the anything
16:31
that we talk about. And when I
16:34
say we talk about, I mean, on
16:34
our main channels, so now social
16:38
media, on our website, what we
16:38
try and get press coverage of
16:44
what we talk about from a
16:44
corporate comms level, and that
16:47
both internal and external, they
16:47
fit into three themes for me.
16:52
And they reflect sort of our
16:52
strategy and who we are as a
16:56
business and our culture. And
16:56
that's around equity, around
17:00
technology, and around
17:00
sustainability. And I think
17:05
generally, nearly everything we
17:05
talked about fits under those
17:09
categories.
17:10  Ayo Abbas
And that's classed as
17:10
equity.
17:12  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
So, um, I
17:12
put under the banner of equity,
17:18
anything that we do from a sort
17:18
of a corporate perspective, and
17:22
also a project perspective and
17:22
our communities. It's around
17:26
inclusivity, around diversity,
17:26
but also creating equitable
17:31
futures for communities through
17:31
our projects. And I think why
17:35
they do that really well is, for
17:35
example, in California, we've
17:39
got a fantastic team in the Los
17:39
Angeles office, how are
17:43
creating, for example, in your
17:43
sustainability plans with LA
17:47
County. And it's bringing
17:47
underserved parts of communities
17:53
up through the built environment
17:53
to create better built
17:57
environments for everyone?
17:58  Ayo Abbas
And it's got a wider
17:58
cause in a way, right?
18:01  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
Yes, yeah,
18:01
absolutely. And, you know, we
18:03
need to address that as a
18:03
business as well, within our own
18:07
makeup as a business. We need to
18:07
address it as an industry. But I
18:11
think where it's so interesting
18:11
is where it touches on actual
18:16
projects in communities in the
18:16
built environment
18:19  Ayo Abbas
kind of, it's not
18:19
just an issue. It's also an
18:22
issue that is working. We're
18:22
doing.
18:24  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
Yes, yeah,
18:24
absolutely. And I think that's
18:27
absolute. And I think that's
18:27
where our comms and our
18:29
marketing really sings. Because
18:29
obviously, you know, you've got
18:32
that, I don't mean to belittle
18:32
it by saying you've got that bog
18:35
standard approach to write your
18:35
comp plan for a project launch
18:40
it that is because I totally
18:40
missed what you said Ayo then we
18:50
were laughing or, literally,
18:50
writing a comms plan for a
18:53
project.
18:55  Ayo Abbas
That's what I'm
18:55
doing. I'm always writing comns
18:57
plans. No, no, but I get what
18:57
you mean, I guess it's finding
19:01
more of a purpose for that piece
19:01
of content.
19:04  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
Purpose I
19:04
think that's, I think that is a
19:05
really, really encapsulates it.
19:05
And that's where I get quite
19:10
excited from a comms
19:10
perspective, it's when we can
19:12
touch on that as a theme. But
19:12
like, I do not dismiss, you
19:15
know, a project marketing or
19:15
comms plan, because at the end
19:19
of the day, we are serving
19:19
clients to build in a design
19:23
and, and consult on fantastic
19:23
projects. So yeah, what we do as
19:27
a business, I think when you can
19:27
really pull out those stories,
19:31
that's when it starts getting
19:31
really, really interesting.
19:34  Ayo Abbas
Absolutely. And it
19:34
gives you great content to
19:36
actually share them doesn't so
19:36
you can really bring that to
19:38
life. And I guess in 2020,
19:38
obviously, all your plans, kind
19:41
of everyone's plans kind of went
19:41
a bit crazy in March. So how is
19:45
that kind of affected the work
19:45
that you're doing and what you
19:48
had to change?
19:51  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
I think we
19:51
touched on it earlier when we
19:53
were talking about this
19:53
acceleration of the importance
19:55
of internal comms. For example,
19:55
I think you could just say that,
19:58
broadly for communication Have
19:58
fun suddenly realising, oh,
20:02
quick, I need to talk to
20:02
everyone. And it needs to be
20:07
strategic, and we actually need
20:07
to organise it. And it's not
20:10
just those lovely serendipitous
20:10
conversations that you'd have.
20:13
Yeah. So I think for us, it's
20:13
just a real ramping up of
20:19
producing content, getting out
20:19
there, making sure we're seen
20:24
that we're at the forefront of a
20:24
clients' mind. And I think
20:29
everyone sort of enthusiasm to
20:29
do that has made it quite an
20:33
exciting time. In a way,
20:34  Ayo Abbas
you've had to be
20:34
quick to respond basically
20:36
nothing.
20:37  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
Yeah, I
20:37
think there is a real
20:39
acceleration, which is, is
20:39
great. It does make it hard
20:44
work. But it makes it really
20:44
exciting. And I think what we've
20:49
what we've come to realise is
20:49
that we can put lots of effort
20:53
into a beautiful piece of
20:53
content, whether it's an
20:55
article, or podcast, or social
20:55
media posts, and it turned out,
21:00
and because of the rapid
21:00
production of content, you know,
21:04
you people are bombarded with
21:04
it. And you know, depending on
21:07
the how the algorithms work, for
21:07
example, when you're on
21:10
LinkedIn, you could blink and
21:10
method. So yeah, really tapping
21:15
into that repurposing of
21:15
content. And, you know, I think
21:20
before we might be slightly
21:20
reticent to do it, because it's
21:22
just seen as repeated, but it's
21:22
like, No, we use that piece of
21:26
content on all our channels. And
21:26
then do it twice over.
21:30  Ayo Abbas
Yeah, exactly. Yeah,
21:30
you use a different image, you
21:34
use some different content, take
21:34
a different quote out. There's
21:37
loads of different ways, but it
21:37
takes a long time to produce a
21:40
good piece of content. And I
21:40
think
21:42  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
that it
21:42
does, yeah,
21:44  Ayo Abbas
To repurpose myself
21:44
so much more sense.
21:47  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
Yeah. And
21:47
I think what another way we've
21:49
done the repurposing, which has
21:49
been quite interesting is the US
21:53
use a PR agency who've been
21:53
fantastic to the US region. And
22:00
we're connecting to we use a PR
22:00
agency called Camargue, and UK,
22:04
and we've got connected cc
22:04
Sullivan, and Camargue. And, you
22:07
know, they're helping one
22:07
another out because obviously,
22:10
we get some traction in the US
22:10
trade and national media. And
22:16
then we can repurpose that for
22:16
UK press, because not being
22:19
covered here. So it's everything
22:19
is just repurposing, reusing
22:25
that brilliant content,
22:25
hopefully, you'll reach as many
22:28
people as possible. And it also
22:28
talked about my sort of internal
22:34
content and the external. I
22:34
think people things that are
22:38
produced internally should be
22:38
used for external as well,
22:41
because internally, our people
22:41
are our greatest advocates.
22:45
Yeah. And, you know, quite
22:45
often, the stuff that you spend
22:51
time creating internally can be
22:51
used externally. So I'm always
22:54
asking, Can this be used
22:54
externally cannot be used
22:56
externally?
22:58  Ayo Abbas
No
23:04
No, no, I know exactly what you
23:04
mean. And that's it. yeah,
23:07
internal content. Often I've had
23:07
stuff land and I'm like, this is
23:11
really good. We should share
23:11
this externally. Have you
23:13
thought of this, and they look
23:13
at you like what,
23:17  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
I know, it
23:17
may pique interest of a new
23:21
potential client or a potential
23:21
employee or something. And it's
23:25
our job as professional
23:25
marketers to, like, have a good
23:31
eye for the story, right? And
23:31
you know, what it's like working
23:35
with engineers, they could tell
23:35
you a fantastic story about a
23:38
project. And you know, talk for
23:38
half an hour on that. I'm going
23:43
to tell you about pipes and
23:43
wires, and then say something
23:47
incredible, right at the end.
23:51  Ayo Abbas
That's it. Rewind,
23:51
rewind.
23:53  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
Yeah.
23:53
Interesting. But that's, you
23:56
know, that's our job as
23:56
professionals is to to pick
23:58
these really nuggets of really
23:58
interesting stories out.
24:03  Ayo Abbas
So in terms of you
24:03
kind of you had a rebrand and
24:07
you did that yourself as a team.
24:07
How did you find that? And kind
24:09
of what challenges did you face
24:09
during that your prep speak now
24:13
it's
24:13  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
a refresh
24:13
not a rebrand.
24:17  Ayo Abbas
I'm very sorry.
24:21  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
So uh, you
24:21
know, this is about being quick
24:26
to adapt. So it's not been that
24:26
long since Buro Happold. change
24:30
their logo. And it was prior to
24:30
myself going to Buro Happold but
24:36
it did the physical logo Buro
24:36
Happold and then underneath it,
24:41
engineering all the letters
24:41
perfectly lined up, which is
24:43
very satisfying, but it's not a
24:43
visual mark that represents
24:49
everyone at Buro Happold. So go
24:49
happens obviously has an amazing
24:53
legacy and history of
24:53
engineering and designing
24:57
buildings of some incredible
24:57
buildings. Yeah, but we are
25:01
moving more into a space where
25:01
we're getting more and more
25:04
consultants and an advisory jobs
25:04
with our clients. So that visual
25:11
brand Mark doesn't work for
25:11
everyone within Buro Happold.
25:14
And, you know, it's a bit of an
25:14
internal construct, but we have
25:17
buildings and sort of cities.
25:17
So, you know, the the cities
25:22
guys work with city planners,
25:22
for example. Yeah. So it needed
25:26
to be a visual mark and a logo
25:26
that works for everyone. So
25:30
hence, from the logo, we've
25:30
dropped the engineering. I mean,
25:35
you could joke about this
25:35
forever, that we've put the
25:37
space back in between zero and
25:37
half old. But it helps with
25:41
pronunciation. Because which is
25:41
important. Yeah. Which is really
25:46
important. You know, I remember
25:46
being at the NCE 100 Awards, I
25:51
was so proud that we were back
25:51
in the top 10, we won awards,
25:55
and the compere couldn't
25:55
pronounce our name. And that was
25:57
a real issue for me. So the
25:57
space has come back in. And
26:02
also, the Buro Happold logo was
26:02
just not working on social
26:07
media.
26:08  Ayo Abbas
So again, you have to
26:08
look at Yeah,
26:11  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
it was
26:11
really importantly, so we had to
26:14
adapt and change it. So we did a
26:14
brand refresh very much from a
26:19
visual perspective. And like,
26:19
like we said, we did that all
26:22
internally in house, to
26:22
consultation workshops. And we
26:30
recreated all the templates, we
26:30
redesigned the website, for
26:34
example. And we looked at our
26:34
brand language, how we speak
26:38
about ourselves, and it has
26:38
become a lot more flexible than
26:43
what we had a lot more adaptive,
26:43
because we're going to be
26:47
changing, you know, our future
26:47
business models is happening so
26:49
rapidly. Now in 2020, you've got
26:49
to have that level of
26:53
flexibility. And it has to be a
26:53
brand that reflects everyone
26:57
within your company and can talk
26:57
about it with pride. And I think
27:01
one of the most interesting part
27:01
of the journey for me was the
27:05
website redesign. So we know,
27:05
the time that we we have our
27:10
website on WordPress, we
27:10
upgraded some of the back
27:13
background CMS system, we wanted
27:13
it to be able that the regional
27:19
teams individuals could edit
27:19
quite easily themselves without
27:24
coming through our developer,
27:24
etc. to change pages. Give them
27:29
more freedom. As the business
27:29
grows, we're going to be moving
27:34
to a lot more German content,
27:34
for example. So we had to have
27:37
that translation functionality.
27:37
So anyway, we, we did the visual
27:41
sort of the skin of it, but also
27:41
the background. And then on the
27:46
journey, we learn so much from
27:46
our inclusive design team. And
27:51
we're very grateful to them.
27:52  Ayo Abbas
So in order for them
27:52
internally, that's lovely.
27:54  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
So we
27:54
learnt so much hoping that a
27:57
normal shout out to Jean and
27:57
Elle from the inclusive design
28:00
team who really helped us on
28:00
that journey. Because as
28:04
professionals, we are always
28:04
learning and should be learning.
28:09
And it's not perfect. We've
28:09
still got, you know, a way to
28:12
go. In terms of our branded
28:12
material to make it truly
28:17
inclusive. So, yeah, we learned
28:17
a lot about font sizes of
28:21
accessible colours. Yeah, yeah.
28:21
Yeah, yeah. And you lay off the
28:29
capital letters, because it's
28:29
not accessible. And you kno
28:32
just small little tweaks like
28:32
that. And it's really helped us
28:36
ail a really good template,
28:36
eally well designed template
28:42
that each page needs to use,
28:42
and a manual and a sort of
28:47
esign guide that we apply to a
28:47
l the pages on the website. So
28:52
it's, you know, there's nothing
28:52
o lovely is a newly desig
28:55
ed website, because, you know,
28:55
you sort of fast forward five
28:57
ears and it starts to become a
28:57
it of a dogs dinner, becaus
29:07
yeah. Uh, yeah, I think that
29:07
s been the most interesting
29:10
art of t
29:12  Ayo Abbas
Okay. So what do you
29:12
think what things have you got
29:16
on the horizon in the coming
29:16
months to keep your business on
29:19
track as we are in lockdown,
29:19
part two, as it were?
29:23  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
Yeah.
29:23
Well, it's some it's interesting
29:25
sort of see, I am in a global
29:25
role. And so it's, I would say
29:30
it's slightly different for
29:30
everyone around the world. Yeah,
29:33
yeah. It's probably not it's
29:33
been really interesting. So part
29:36
of my role so this is like a
29:36
slight side though. And I'm on
29:40
the crisis management team. So
29:40
we've been dealing with the sort
29:44
of the potential impact of the
29:44
pandemic since January so I feel
29:48
different, quite exhausted
29:48
talking about it now. has to
29:52
show for an hour says. So it's
29:52
really interesting. So obviously
29:56
tracking all the time what
29:56
offices or anything is closed.
30:00
You know, I think Hong Kong win
30:00
the award for the most opening,
30:04
open shot, open shot open shot.
30:04
So how many times have they gone
30:08
in?
30:08  Ayo Abbas
No?
30:09  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
Well,
30:09
they, I can't I can't even keep
30:12
track of it anymore. Because you
30:12
know, it was open, and then they
30:15
have to shot and then they open
30:15
again. So I think Asia is
30:19
actually probably more open and
30:19
everyone else in terms of
30:24
working from home. Yeah. But
30:24
generally, I would say 90% of us
30:29
are across burohappold. So I
30:29
think we've got a good rhythm
30:35
now. Like I say, you need the IT
30:35
team really stepped up and
30:39
rolled out teams, and I think
30:39
we're working really well, from
30:44
home or see more excited about
30:44
vaccine and actually coming out
30:48
first, the other side and seeing
30:48
each other again. So it's
30:51
keeping that momentum up. Not
30:51
just from a morale perspective,
30:56
but also, you know, keeping the
30:56
momentum up with our clients.
31:00
Yeah, you know, regularly
31:00
talking to them, seeing what's
31:03
on the horizon. You know, and
31:03
our, our strategic plan for a
31:09
while now has been to build on
31:09
the legacy of that, you know,
31:14
great engineering design
31:14
heritage that we have, but offer
31:19
more consultancy, and advisory
31:19
services, much more balanced
31:23
between the buildings and the
31:23
city's markets. So I'm really
31:28
interested from a marketing
31:28
perspective, and a
31:31
communications perspective of
31:31
talking about the city cities
31:35
offering. So say, for example, I
31:35
was talking to fed a from the
31:40
global mobility offer that he
31:40
wants to roll out globally. And
31:44
it was really interesting, he'd
31:44
written a paper. It was
31:50
basically micro mobility. So you
31:50
know, how streetscapes are
31:53
designed for sort of cars, you
31:53
know, hopefully, a cycle lane,
31:58
and then a pavement for people.
31:58
Yeah, as we move more to sort
32:02
of, in in micro scooters, for
32:02
example, is creating spaces for
32:06
different forms of transport.
32:06
So, uh, Wow, really interesting.
32:10
It's from that sort of future
32:10
gazing perspective, I think you
32:13
know, that that's going to form
32:13
a comms marketing perspective,
32:16
I'm
32:16  Ayo Abbas
really excited about
32:16
talking about kind of, I can
32:18
say, well, you can only really
32:18
think about the graphics could
32:20
look like and you know what I
32:20
mean? Yeah, you can visualise
32:24
all of that kind of
32:24
straightaway, can't you? Because
32:26
it's actually, that's
32:26
interesting content. And you
32:28
know, that will people will find
32:28
that very useful.
32:30  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
Yeah.
32:30
Because it impacts you know, you
32:33
as a person in your everyday
32:33
life, like living and moving
32:37
around the city, it resonates
32:37
with you. And I think that's
32:40
from a cost perspective. That's
32:40
why it's so interesting.
32:45  Ayo Abbas
Okay, so a couple of
32:45
my last two questions. So in
32:49
terms of, have there been any
32:49
kind of marketing campaigns over
32:53
lockdown, and this year, I guess
32:53
that you've really kind of stood
32:56
just stood out to you or things
32:56
that you've admired. Hmm.
33:00  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
Yeah. So I
33:00
thought about this, and I've got
33:03
a couple. One is not related to
33:03
the industry, and one is quite
33:07
industry specific. So it's not
33:07
really a campaign. I do think
33:11
that they started during
33:11
lockdown. But I really like
33:16
Stride Treglown, approach
33:19  Ayo Abbas
Talking Spaces,
33:20  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
yes. I
33:20
just think generally, their
33:25
approach to comms especially on
33:25
their social media channels.
33:28
It's very human centred. It's
33:28
not stuffy or sort of, you know,
33:36
I didn't notice it just shows
33:36
automatically the positive
33:40
impact of their designs, they
33:40
won't actually show the design
33:44
that she's show people living
33:44
and breathing and talking and
33:48
yeah, moving around a space that
33:48
I like that it's just yeah, it
33:52
shows the impact of the design
33:52
of the design rather than the
33:55
design istel.
33:56  Ayo Abbas
Yeah, that was my
33:56
first guests. They were amazing.
34:01  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
Yeah, it's
34:01
good, isn't it?
34:02  Ayo Abbas
It's really good way
34:02
to go. The Talking Spaces,
34:05
stuff they came out with this
34:05
year has been really good. And
34:07
they shifted it online. And the
34:07
way they do that, it's
34:10
brilliant. So yeah, they were my
34:10
first guests.
34:14  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
Catch up.
34:14
And then my second one is a
34:17
young man that I have worked
34:17
with years and years ago now,
34:21
when I was at BDP is a young
34:21
man named Cephas Williams. And
34:27
he this is pre COVID, that he
34:27
had a campaign called 56 Black
34:30
Men. Yeah, yeah. You've probably
34:30
seen the big billboard posters
34:37
that Yeah, around London, and
34:37
his subsequent campaign, which
34:41
is his letter design campaign,
34:41
which is the Black British
34:43
network. So it's, I was gonna
34:43
say it's not industry related,
34:49
but it is because it is, it taps
34:49
in to sort of the need for good
34:55
corporate communications and
34:55
challenging why you're making
34:59
those statements. And I think if
34:59
you encourage everyone to go
35:02
onto his website and his
35:02
crowdfunder, to read the letter
35:06
design on and, and the purpose
35:06
behind the Black British
35:09
Network, because it, it makes me
35:09
feel uncomfortable. And that is
35:13
a really, really good thing,
35:13
that it's not just about
35:17
corporate statements, it's about
35:17
making a real change. And, you
35:21
know,
35:21
yes, it's my job as a Director
35:21
of Communications to make those
35:25
statements on behalf of the
35:25
company. But it's gotta have
35:28
substance behind it and then
35:30  Ayo Abbas
making sure you
35:30
follow, you actually do what you
35:32
say you're going to do. Right.
35:32
And I think that's the thing.
35:34
It's like, especially a lot of
35:34
the stuff that's been going on
35:36
this year, people have kind of
35:36
said, you know Black Lives
35:38
Matter, I support you put a
35:38
black square up for actually,
35:41
what are you doing day to day?
35:43
What are you?
35:44
Okay, back to you next year?
35:44
What would you say you've
35:45
achieved under, under the under
35:45
posting that and I think there's
35:49
quite a few people actually, who
35:49
are out who I've seen as well,
35:51
who are talking about
35:51
challenging companies, or I'll
35:54
take, no, I'm going to, I'm
35:54
going to come back to you in a
35:56
year. And I'll ask you what
35:56
you've done kind of thing. And I
35:59
think, I do think that is
35:59
important.
36:00  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
And people
36:00
caught like, if it is just sort
36:03
of corporate fluff, people will
36:03
call you out, and you won't
36:07
survive, you know, we are. And I
36:07
think that from a communications
36:12
perspective, that's really
36:12
interesting. Because there's no
36:16
place to hide anymore, you can't
36:16
just make a statement, and then
36:20
assume people aren't gonna
36:20
ignore that. Because, you know,
36:23
it's from, from a sort of a
36:23
corporate, you know, client
36:27
perspective, attracting new
36:27
clients, working with the best
36:30
clients, really good clients.
36:30
And also, you know, attracting
36:35
potential recruits and
36:35
employees, it's really important
36:38
that it's authentic, and you're
36:38
doing something about it. And
36:40
also from sort of a marketing
36:40
campaign. visual perspective, I
36:46
think the 56 Black Men campaign
36:46
was really well executed.
36:50  Ayo Abbas
So it was it was
36:50
beautifully shot and everything.
36:53
Yeah. Good. I like I like your
36:53
two suggestions there. Okay. So
37:01
final question for you. So what
37:01
one tip would you give to
37:04
business leaders about their
37:04
marketing communications during
37:07
this crisis? What should or
37:07
could be doing?
37:11  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
Read the
37:11
room and listen to people, and
37:17
then adapt quickly. Don't sit
37:17
around and contemplate too long,
37:25
because people move on really
37:25
quickly. And what I mean by
37:30
reading the room and listen, is
37:30
that you have to be empathetic.
37:35
So, you know, your question was
37:35
specifically around this crisis.
37:39
So I think what it's highlighted
37:39
is that there is a lot of
37:44
inequity, and people are
37:44
struggling in their in different
37:48
ways. Or they might be enjoying
37:48
this new way of working, you
37:52
know, less commuting, etc. So
37:52
it's really highlighted
37:56
different levels of privilege.
37:56
So you have to be empathetic in
38:00
a way that you communicate and
38:00
not making assumptions. Um, and
38:07
I think this is very random Ay
38:07
and we're talking about events
38:12
nd stuff. What I think is quit
38:12
funny is that obviously,
38:14
we're all learning pretty quic
38:14
ly. Don't set up zoom calls and
38:19
webinars, you know, 3pm on a Sa
38:19
urday, no one wants to do
38:25
t. pretty exhausted, star
38:25
ng at our s
38:31  Ayo Abbas
And I'm going to add
38:31
to that and I'm gonna say, ma
38:33
e sure they're goo
38:35  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
Yeah.
38:38  Ayo Abbas
I'm gonna give up my
38:38
time, make sure it's worth my
38:40
while. And I think that's the
38:40
thing or else I won't be there
38:42
again.
38:43  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
Yeah.
38:44
And you got to be creative.
38:44
These things. I had a great idea
38:48
around. Obviously, not during
38:48
lockdown to netwalking. So yes,
38:54
you meet with a client and go
38:54
for a walk, you know, yeah, just
38:57
be adaptable. And think of
38:57
something a little bit creative.
39:01  Ayo Abbas
Since I Rachel from
39:01
Stride T, is also doing that as
39:03
well. Great. Brilliant. Thank
39:03
you so much for coming on,
39:08
Vanessa. It's been such a great
39:08
conversation. I've learned a
39:11
lot. Thank you.
39:12  Vanessa Talbot-Brown
Thank you
39:12
very much Ayo thank you
39:20  Ayo Abbas
Thanks for listening
39:20
to the latest episode of
39:21
Marketing In Times of Crisis. If
39:21
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39:25
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39:40
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39:40
day. Bye