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 10: Ep 10: Branding and Marketing as an Investment with Renee O'Dobrinak, Hawkins Brown [transcript]


Welcome to the latest episode of Marketing In Times of Crisis.  I’m your host Ayo Abbas, a built environment marketing consultant. Today my guest is Renee O’Drobinak who is Communications Manager at Hawkins Brown architects.   

Key takeaways

  • How branding is important and it takes time to get right. It’s far more than just your logo and colours and is about capturing the essence of who your company is.
  • How marketing should be seen as a long term investment that needs constant ‘topping up’ so that it can help your business to grow and thrive.
  • Why we all should try to be a bit bolder in our messaging and stand for something. 
  • Why architects should make our communications more digestible and understandable particularly with the growing importance of  digital communications. 

Resources

Hawkins Brown

Abbas Marketing 

Carbon Counts, Fielden Clegg Bradley

Marketing In Times of Crisis homepage

Subscribe, Rate and Review
Don’t forgot to subscribe so you don’t miss an episode and rate us and review us while you’re there – it’s always great to hear what you think.

Recorded on Friday 02 October 2020.


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 2020-10-22  31m
 
 
00:04  Ayo Abbas
Hello, and welcome to
00:04
the latest episode of Marketing
00:07
In Times of Crisis. And I'm your
00:07
host Ayo Abbas. Today it's
00:10
Friday the 2nd of October 2020.
00:10
My guest is Renee O'Dobrinak
00:15
from Hawkins Brown. We talk
00:15
about all things brand,
00:18
including when things don't go
00:18
quite to plan. We also look at
00:22
their approach to digital, and
00:22
what they've been doing during
00:25
lockdown. We also see how they
00:25
view marketing and comms as an
00:29
investment to their firm and
00:29
what that entails. Anyway, I
00:34
hope you enjoy the podcast. And
00:34
if you do like what you hear,
00:37
don't forget to leave us a
00:37
review as it really really does
00:40
help us to spread the word.
00:40
Anyway. Happy listening.
00:48
Hi, Renee, and welcome to
00:48
Marketing In Times of Crisis.
00:50
Thanks so much for coming on.
00:50
Can you give me a brief intro to
00:54
you and your role at Hawkins
00:54
Brown?
00:56  Renee O'Dobrinak
Cool. Well,
00:56
thanks for having me. First of
00:59
all, so I am one of two comms
00:59
managers at Hawkins Brown. But I
01:06
developed comms strategies for
01:06
sector services and projects.
01:10
And so for a practice of our
01:10
size, which is about just short
01:14
of 300 people now, we've got
01:14
quite a lot of sectors and
01:18
specialisms. So I work with the
01:18
different sector heads and
01:23
specialist heads to develop
01:23
narratives for the work really.
01:28
They've all got slightly
01:28
different needs, different
01:31
audiences. And really, my job is
01:31
to work at a more granular
01:35
level, and, and develop
01:35
strategies for each of these
01:39
sectors.
01:41  Ayo Abbas
And what sort of
01:41
things do you end up looking at?
01:43
Or what kind of channels do you
01:43
kind of consider for that?
01:45  Renee O'Dobrinak
So it's
01:45
anything from coming, coming up
01:49
with a media strategy for, you
01:49
know, a particular project, we
01:54
work with an external PR
01:54
consultant, who are ING and we,
02:01
they do a lot of the media
02:01
liaison, but as for those of us
02:05
who are in-house, it's usually,
02:05
just having having an overview
02:09
of what type of projects are
02:09
coming into completion, which
02:12
ones are getting the key
02:12
milestones, right? Which ones
02:15
are the ones with interesting
02:15
narratives that we can build up
02:18
from a specialist perspective?
02:18
So, an example might be okay,
02:22
this particular university
02:22
building is coming up to
02:26
planning permission stage. Yeah,
02:26
and this actually is a really
02:30
interesting one from a
02:30
sustainability perspective. So,
02:32
a lot of the times my job is to
02:32
connect the dots and say, right,
02:36
you know, this is a, you know,
02:36
there's a project narrative
02:39
that's happening, but also,
02:39
there's a secondary narrative
02:43
here about one of our
02:43
specialisms,
02:45  Ayo Abbas
so, you know,
02:45
connecting to the bigger picture
02:48
of where you want to be and
02:48
where you want to go, I guess.
02:50
Right,
02:50  Renee O'Dobrinak
exactly.
02:51
So there's, so yeah, I put those
02:51
things together and come up with
02:55
our external communications plan
02:55
to support a lot of the PR and
02:59
media activities that ING help
02:59
us with.
03:03  Ayo Abbas
And I guess I,
03:03
personally, I love your brand,
03:06
it's very distinct, you've got a
03:06
good tone of voice, and what how
03:09
do you kind of approach branding
03:09
as a company? What's your kind
03:12
of take on it?
03:13  Renee O'Dobrinak
Well, you
03:13
know, as you know, Hawkins down
03:16
it has got a really sort of
03:16
distinct brand identity, we like
03:20
to think we take a stance, and
03:20
be bold with how we, engage with
03:25
the world. And I think it comes
03:25
from fundamentally thinking of
03:30
marketing and communications as,
03:30
as an investment, because brands
03:35
are a little bit like
03:35
houseplants and that you can't
03:37
just buy a plant, and then put
03:37
it in your house and neglect it
03:41
for 10 years and expect it to
03:41
live like you know, no plants
03:44
going to be able to do that it's
03:44
going to need
03:45  Ayo Abbas
unless you go
03:45
plastic.
03:47  Renee O'Dobrinak
Well Yeah that
03:47
one's way to go about it.
03:54  Ayo Abbas
creature. Okay.
03:58  Renee O'Dobrinak
You know, I
03:58
quite like the real ones, right?
04:00
Also our office has lots of lots
04:00
of the real guys, which,
04:05
interestingly, they did get
04:05
taken care of during lockdown,
04:07
so they're not dead, which is
04:07
great.
04:09  Ayo Abbas
That's good.
04:11
Branding. Sorry, I completely
04:11
threw you off. Yeah. So what's
04:15
your approach? So you've got to
04:15
kind of nurture it basically, is
04:17
what you're saying. Right?
04:18  Renee O'Dobrinak
Yeah. Because
04:18
it's, um, I think it's about
04:20
continual investment, rather
04:20
than, you know, a one time big
04:24
expense, you know, because you,
04:24
it's really easy to get into the
04:27
habit of Okay, well, we, you
04:27
know, spent lots of money, we
04:29
commissioned a website,
04:29
everything's going to be hunky
04:31
dory. No, we're not going to
04:31
maintain it, etc, etc. I've seen
04:35
this so many times. You know,
04:35
five, five years down the line,
04:40
a new comms manager walks in and
04:40
they go, Oh, my God. So you
04:43
know, you're looking at an army
04:43
of dead plants, metaphorically
04:45
speaking.
04:47  Ayo Abbas
That's what you have
04:47
to feed it. You're absolutely
04:49
right. If you don't see your
04:49
website constantly, you know, it
04:51
goes out of day and people stop
04:51
going to it.
04:54
Exactly, exactly. And
04:55  Renee O'Dobrinak
it's, you
04:55
know, it's the equivalent of
04:57
letting the dust gather on your,
04:57
you know, your office. This show
05:00
window or whatever you want to
05:00
call it. So, yeah, so it's just
05:04
about, you know, looking, you
05:04
know, having something investing
05:07
in it and looking after it. And
05:07
it sounds simple, but it's
05:10
quite, you know, there's an art
05:10
to making that happen.
05:14  Ayo Abbas
So I understand
05:14
you're kind of, you're doing a
05:17
brand refresh or assessing your
05:17
brand at the moment, what
05:19
challenges have come up, as
05:19
you've been doing it? Or how
05:22
have you found it, I guess, is
05:22
the process?
05:24  Renee O'Dobrinak
Um, well, it's
05:24
really difficult. And that, you
05:28
know, I think every practice
05:28
would find this difficult. I've
05:31
sort of seen different types of
05:31
iterations of the same exercise
05:34
at different practices. But
05:34
fundamentally, it's really
05:36
difficult to just stop and take
05:36
stock of right, who am I? Why
05:40
are we doing this? What, you
05:40
know, how are we doing this?
05:44
And, you know, and what makes us
05:44
special, and, you know, the
05:48
people who do it are sort of in
05:48
the, in the midst of actually
05:50
doing it. So you don't
05:50
necessarily have that sort of,
05:54
you know, perspective in what
05:54
you do and what might make you
05:57
special. So, you know, So on one
05:57
hand, you know, we we had a lot
06:02
of external consultants help us
06:02
out which, which was great,
06:07
because, you know, you just get
06:07
that outsider's perspective of
06:11
Oh, you know, these are the
06:11
things that really stick out
06:14
about you and your culture. You
06:14
know, and I guess the, the
06:17
difficult bit was that getting
06:17
internal buy-in, because at the
06:22
end of the day, this affects the
06:22
day to day workings of nearly
06:26
300 people, and if they don't
06:26
see themselves in the brand,
06:29
it's going to completely flop I
06:29
mean, if they, you know, if, if
06:33
people kind of end up hating it,
06:33
then they're not going to pick
06:36
it up. And so, you know, you're
06:36
gonna, it's already a dead duck
06:39
before it starts. So we've
06:39
actually had to, you know, we've
06:44
had failed ideas. Absolutely.
06:44
You know, we've had to go back
06:47
to the drawing board really, and
06:47
sort of rebuild something,
06:49
because it was, you know, quite
06:49
a long process, but I think it's
06:53
absolutely worth the effort. You
06:53
won't be seeing it in our
06:56
channels just yet. But no
06:56
interesting thing coming in the
07:00
future.
07:01  Ayo Abbas
What did you kind of,
07:01
I guess, what did you learn from
07:03
that failure? Or it not working
07:03
quite as planned for the first
07:06
time around? What did you change
07:06
when you did it again?
07:09  Renee O'Dobrinak
Um, well, I
07:09
think the, what was the
07:13
difference? I mean, it could
07:13
have been, this is probably a
07:16
whole other conversation onto
07:16
itself, but it may have been,
07:19
it's just, you know, the sort of
07:19
vibe between, you know, who you
07:23
work with. And also, I think the
07:23
really important bit is the fact
07:29
that we actually listen to, the
07:29
people who are going to be
07:32
living and breathing this stuff,
07:32
we went back and did a, you
07:36
know, all staff presentation.
07:36
And, you know, we we asked what
07:40
people think and actually
07:40
listened. And I know, this is
07:43
not an easy process, because
07:43
you've you know, already watch,
07:47
um, and then to be kind of told,
07:47
well, actually, we've the
07:51
results are in and you know,
07:51
more than 60% of the people hate
07:54
it, which means Oh, God, okay,
07:54
which means Yeah,
07:57  Ayo Abbas
yes. Well, you did
07:57
ask, and also you, you're happy
08:01
to change. And I think that's,
08:01
that's the key, the key part,
08:04
some people go, Oh, just
08:04
continue. And it's like, well,
08:06
we don't want to, at least you
08:06
kind of had that foresight of
08:09
this isn't quite right, let's
08:09
let's, let's start again. And
08:12
that's a huge thing to do. And,
08:12
it's a great learning
08:14
experience, I think, which is
08:14
why I was asking them.
08:16  Renee O'Dobrinak
Sure. And I
08:16
think it just comes from the
08:18
understanding that everyone,
08:18
everyone lives, the brand to
08:21
some sort of extent, you know,
08:21
it could be how you write a
08:23
design and access statement. It
08:23
could be how you talk to a
08:26
client, you know, these are,
08:26
these are things that sort of
08:29
seep into the daily practice of,
08:29
of everybody. And yeah, if they,
08:34
you know, if they don't feel
08:34
comfortable living in it, then
08:38
there's almost no point is there
08:40  Ayo Abbas
No, absolutely. And
08:40
are there any tips you would
08:42
give to other practices looking
08:42
to kind of go down this
08:45
reassessing their brand, or just
08:45
making sure it's on track with
08:47
where they're going?
08:49  Renee O'Dobrinak
Yeah, I think,
08:49
the I think my main thing is
08:53
that start with the big concepts
08:53
first, and it's really, really
08:57
difficult, it's a slightly
08:57
painful exercise kind of having
09:01
to flush out, what makes us
09:01
special, or, you know, what the
09:04
clients think it's great to talk
09:04
to clients, by the way, they
09:07
have a completely different
09:07
perspective than you. And sort
09:11
of understand, ywhat, where do I
09:11
sit in the whole? In the grand
09:15
scheme of things? How do I, how
09:15
do people see us, in comparison
09:19
to other architect practices,
09:19
you need to kind of gather all
09:23
of this information and start
09:23
with all of the conceptual
09:27
things and also who you want to
09:27
talk to, you know. Maybe if
09:30
you're working on a branding
09:30
exercise, so that you can win
09:34
new work, which I think is going
09:34
to be the case with a lot of
09:37
people,
09:37  Unknown
you know, oh yeah,
09:37
well, and
09:40  Renee O'Dobrinak
This is one
09:40
route or maybe you want to make
09:42
yourself attractive to younger
09:42
talent, you want to hire like
09:45
amazing part ones and part twos,
09:45
you know, that is, that is a
09:48
legitimate goal as well. And
09:48
what often people get into, they
09:53
just fall into the trap of
09:53
having endless meetings about
09:57
oh, you know, whether it should
09:57
we use orange or should we use
10:01
green, I think the shade of
10:01
Pantone really kind of
10:06
represents who you are, and
10:06
you're just like, Oh, God, you
10:09
are wasting your time, you know,
10:09
visuals and you know, it is easy
10:14
to kind of lock yourself into
10:14
the sort of visuals and the
10:18
tactility of the, you know, the
10:18
type and you know, all of these
10:21
stuff, but actually these are,
10:21
you know, these are the result
10:25
of a, you know, a concept rather
10:25
than a thing unto itself. And I
10:29
think it's really important to
10:29
differentiate those things.
10:33  Ayo Abbas
But, I think, is
10:33
quite funny. I think always when
10:35
people are like, I know, there's
10:35
talk about the colour, and then
10:37
just the, logo and what it does,
10:37
and you're there going, Okay,
10:39
this is like the superficial,
10:39
you know, yeah, superficial
10:43
level of marketing, actually,
10:43
everything, like, it's much more
10:46
about, you know, how clients
10:46
perceive you, and that, you
10:49
know, what your actual company
10:49
represents? How are you going to
10:51
behave towards people, you know,
10:51
what, the experience like
10:54
working with you? Yeah, and I
10:54
think those are much bigger
10:57
conversations and harder to
10:57
have, which is kind of why I
11:00
think people ignore them.
11:00
Because it's a lot harder to do
11:03  Renee O'Dobrinak
exactly
11:04  Ayo Abbas
which I think is a
11:04
shame.
11:05  Renee O'Dobrinak
But the harder
11:05
conversations are the most
11:08
important. And if you don't have
11:08
those conversations, you are
11:10
going to end up spending
11:10
thousands if not, you know, 10s
11:13
of thousands of pounds on
11:13
something that is eventually
11:16
going to flop and you know, die
11:16
a death after two years, even,
11:20
you know, just to go back to
11:20
plants for a second, you know,
11:22
even a succulent is going to
11:22
need a watering, at some point
11:26  Ayo Abbas
That's where I'm
11:26
going wrong.
11:29  Renee O'Dobrinak
You know,
11:29
you're gonna have to like its
11:32
presence, and it's going to have
11:32
to feel nice, and you know, you
11:36
know, fit into its environment,
11:36
I guess.
11:39  Ayo Abbas
Yeah, that's
11:39
absolutely. So so true such
11:41
great advice. And so obviously,
11:41
we're kind of in this weird
11:45
Limbo land, or we may go into
11:45
full lockdown. We may not who
11:48
knows what's going on? How have
11:48
you guys been doing over
11:50
lockdown? What's been going on
11:50
with you?
11:52  Renee O'Dobrinak
I'm so locked
11:52
down. Oh, my goodness, I think
11:55
everyone's kind of got a
11:55
lockdown story by now. It's been
11:59
an extraordinary time. You know,
11:59
we all remember it, you know,
12:03
back in March, when the world
12:03
just seemingly turned upside
12:06
down within the space of a week
12:06
over here in the UK. And you
12:10
know, you just spent a week when
12:10
you get these emails saying, oh,
12:13
this events been cancelled,
12:13
that's been cancelled. You know,
12:16
here's your here's your refund
12:16
from, you know, the our the RIBA
12:20
events department and what not.
12:20
And there was I think there was
12:23
a lot of anxiety. You know, not
12:23
just, not just for businesses,
12:28
but just the public in general.
12:28
And I think it was a as an
12:34
interesting point in time, when
12:34
you look at, you know, social
12:37
media, for example, I think a
12:37
lot of businesses were going in
12:40
one or the other direction of
12:40
other not saying anything,
12:44
because oh, you know, this is a
12:44
really difficult time.
12:47
Everyone's on edge, we're not
12:47
gonna say anything, or the other
12:50
extreme was where, you know, you
12:50
just got this flood of work from
12:53
home selfies, and you know, even
12:53
after about three weeks, you're
12:57
thinking, Okay, I've had enough
12:57
people who have grainy pictures
12:59
and people with headphones on,
12:59
I'm doing this to, it's fine.
13:04
Um, and for us, it took them, it
13:04
took a little while for us to
13:08
come to this decision, but we
13:08
wanted to, first of all, just
13:12
assure our clients that, you
13:12
know, we are working at home,
13:18
it's the projects are still
13:18
progressing, and we just wanted
13:22
them to feel confident that
13:22
they're still going to get the
13:24
good quality work that they
13:24
expect from us. And the
13:28
communications needed to reflect
13:28
that. So we decided to take a
13:35
you know, a decidedly
13:36
positive approach. So we marked
13:36
our first pandemic post, if you
13:41
will, by change, by changing our
13:41
usual strap line to end with,
13:46
you know, where we normally end
13:46
with, and most of all good
13:49
listeners, we've changed that to
13:49
and most of all, kick ass remote
13:53
workers.
13:54  Ayo Abbas
And I know I've seen
13:54
on your video on your website.
13:56  Renee O'Dobrinak
Yeah. So, you
13:56
know, it's, you know, not
13:59
everybody likes, it's a little
13:59
bit of an opinion splitter, but
14:02
at the same time, it captured
14:02
that mood where you're, you
14:06
know, we've just taken a stance
14:06
to say, right, here we are,
14:09
we're still here with you, and
14:09
we're going to be positive about
14:12
it. And when
14:13  Ayo Abbas
we're making the best
14:13
of it, yeah,
14:14  Renee O'Dobrinak
exactly. I
14:14
wish you'd work this through
14:16
with you. And, and
14:16
interestingly, it must have, you
14:19
know, struck a chord at some
14:19
level because it all of those
14:23
posts on every channel that we
14:23
put it on, it sort of broke
14:25
records, and people, reacted
14:25
really well to it. And I think
14:30
it was because it was this, you
14:30
know, it wasn't even trying to
14:33
do much it was just a jolt of
14:33
positivity at a time where
14:36
everybody was feeling really
14:36
anxious and just wanted, you
14:39
know, a little bit of delight
14:39
and you know, in their feeds you
14:43
know, we're not we're not
14:43
promising to save the world
14:45
here, but it was just a Hey,
14:45
here we are kind of thing and
14:49
you know, you mentioned video on
14:49
the website, we you know, that
14:53
was
14:55  Ayo Abbas
sorry,
14:55
when did you shoot that
14:57  Renee O'Dobrinak
well so this
14:57
video was Originally shot, I
15:01
think it was about five years
15:01
ago now.
15:03  Ayo Abbas
Wow.
15:04  Renee O'Dobrinak
And it was,
15:04
you know, we had commissioned it
15:06
specifically, you know, it's all
15:06
about studio culture and what we
15:10
do, and it was really
15:10
wonderfully done. But it just
15:14
felt really out of tune,
15:14
particularly that period when we
15:18
just got into full lockdown, and
15:18
we couldn't really go anywhere.
15:21
So we decided to, again, this is
15:21
a bit old, but we edited it
15:26
down. And, you know, we included
15:26
a stop frame of this empty wall
15:30
in the studio saying, Hi, you
15:30
know, we're Hawkins Brown, we're
15:33
not in the studio right now. But
15:33
we're working at home, etc, etc.
15:37
And so you kind of get this
15:37
slightly tragic comic, you know,
15:41
blank video where we're taking
15:41
out the people in the office.
15:45
And I think, you know, it's just
15:45
another bold move, isn't it?
15:49
Okay, we're just gonna inject a
15:49
little bit of humour here.
15:51
Because, you know, we want to
15:51
acknowledge where we are right
15:54
now in the world. And, you know,
15:54
we also want people to feel
15:59
confident that, you could still
15:59
work with us. And I think these
16:03
two gestures really made a
16:03
difference in how people engage
16:07
with us online. And so when we,
16:07
went back to posting content
16:11
about, anything from stock
16:11
pieces to, you know, hey, we've
16:15
got planning permission for
16:15
this, you know, we have a lot of
16:17
engagement.
16:19  Ayo Abbas
I mean, what's
16:19
interesting there, I think, is
16:21
that you talked about your video
16:21
being five years old, that you
16:23
can repurpose it and reuse it
16:23
and update it. I mean, it shows
16:27
a guess what you can do with
16:27
great content. And I think
16:29
that's, that's something new
16:29
learn from isn't it? Because,
16:31
yeah, actually, it's still looks
16:31
current? I wouldn't know it's
16:34
five years old.
16:35  Renee O'Dobrinak
Yeah, yeah,
16:35
exactly. And I think, there's,
16:40
you know, because, like, at this
16:40
point, like, we weren't really
16:42
prepared to commission a whole
16:42
new video, you know, that was
16:46
too much. But then, you know, we
16:46
just, you know, I edited it
16:48
myself, actually, you know, we
16:48
did it in-house. And, you know,
16:53
and that's, I guess, it goes
16:53
back to the whole conversation
16:56
about investment, if you invest
16:56
in good collateral, you know, be
16:59
it great graphic design, or like
16:59
a really beautifully shot video,
17:03
you know, it will pay you
17:03
dividends for years.
17:06  Ayo Abbas
Yeah, and you can
17:06
record it, you can use it in
17:09
different ways. And, you know,
17:09
you can change the message, you
17:11
can mix it up a bit and stuff
17:11
like that, and yeah, and a piece
17:15
of content, I think that's the
17:15
thing. And nowadays, especially
17:17
aswe're going towards this
17:17
digital world, is you can have
17:20
like a single piece of content
17:20
that's repurposed across
17:22
multiple channels, with multiple
17:22
themes. And, you know, I think
17:26
it's, I guess, it's getting that
17:26
framework together in the first
17:28
place.
17:28  Renee O'Dobrinak
Exactly.
17:29  Ayo Abbas
Understand, when
17:29
you're briefing that piece of
17:31
work, what it is that, you know,
17:31
you want it to be able to do, us
17:36
getting the sweet spot of that
17:36
is kind of what you need
17:38
nowadays, isn't it?
17:40  Renee O'Dobrinak
Yeah. And you
17:40
can even throw that conversation
17:42
back to the whole, you know, the
17:42
concept bit of the brand where,
17:45
this is who we are, and how we
17:45
are. And, you know, when we get
17:49
that, right, that does mean
17:49
that, like we did with this
17:52
video, you could still use
17:52
content from five years ago,
17:55
because we had answered those
17:55
difficult questions at that
17:58
time. And we continue to do so.
17:58
So that, you know, the
18:01
collateral that we produced at
18:01
the time is still relevant. And,
18:04
you know, it's still very much
18:04
as a part of identity.
18:08  Ayo Abbas
Yeah.And, um, in
18:08
terms of what's been going on
18:11
in, I guess, what kind of
18:11
marketing activities we've been
18:13
doing for the past few months,
18:13
then what, what's been your
18:15
focus? What have you had to
18:15
change?
18:17  Renee O'Dobrinak
Um, what have
18:17
we had to change? I mean, I
18:20
think like many marcomms
18:20
professionals, we've had to be
18:23
really agile. So it has been a
18:23
series of, short term planning
18:28
very much. Okay, well, this has
18:28
changed now let's, change our
18:32
tactics. And we've, you know,
18:32
we've been very reactive and
18:37
what we do, but we've also been
18:37
pushing out lots of digital
18:40
content. You know, we've just
18:40
published a piece on, you know,
18:45
how we approached a retrofit
18:45
project, for example, during
18:49
World green building week. So
18:49
it's been a lot of digital
18:52
content for us.
18:53  Ayo Abbas
Have you enjoyed the
18:53
move from the kind of
18:55
traditional events towards more
18:55
of this?
18:58  Renee O'Dobrinak
Yeah, I think
18:58
so. It's, um, you know, that
19:01
it's, it opens up the
19:01
possibility to get really
19:03
creative with what you've got.
19:03
So, you know, a project team
19:07
might come with you with a, an
19:07
animation they've done, or a
19:12
consultation for one of their
19:12
projects. And the great thing
19:15
was, was that they had to get
19:15
creative because, you know, they
19:18
couldn't do an in person
19:18
consultation. So they produced
19:20
this lovely animation, which
19:20
then came to me and
19:24  Ayo Abbas
you went wow,
19:26  Renee O'Dobrinak
this is great,
19:26
you know, you're
19:28
producing content for me as
19:28
well. So I had a lot of fun, you
19:31
know, chopping and changing that
19:31
into, you know, small little
19:33
videos for social media or
19:33
writing a little bit about the
19:37
project with, said animation.
19:37
So, you know, I think it's just
19:44
just getting creative with how
19:44
we're having to, you know, react
19:50
to what 2020 is throwing at us.
19:53  Ayo Abbas
Which is quite a lot
19:53
of stuff. I guess that's one of
19:55
the things right now, I think,
19:55
what we having, yeah, we're
19:59
learning to kind of be more
19:59
creative, which I don't think
20:01
it's necessarily a bad thing,
20:01
because we've always done stuff
20:04
in a certain way face-to-face is
20:04
that and the other and now?
20:06
Yeah, I guess we're having to
20:06
embrace digital in a way that
20:09
we've never had to do before.
20:09
And what's quite exciting, I
20:12
think is when we do go back to
20:12
whatever the new normal is when
20:15
Yeah, you know, how digital is
20:15
going to play more of a role, I
20:18
think, which I think is going to
20:18
have to but yeah, I think some
20:21
of these ideas that we're
20:21
developing now are definitely
20:23
going to be here today, which is
20:23
I think it's a good thing.
20:25
Definitely.
20:26  Renee O'Dobrinak
Yeah, I think
20:26
it is. And also, you know, it
20:29
sort of brings back the idea
20:29
that, you know, Marcomms really
20:32
is a creative activity, and, you
20:32
know, at our best we should be,
20:36
you know, your creative friends
20:36
that sort of develops concepts
20:38
with you as you work on
20:38
projects, you know, whereas the
20:41
old the only difference is that,
20:41
you know, we're coming from
20:43
different disciplines, and, you
20:43
know, our job is to sort of talk
20:47
about the work in all these
20:47
various ways. And as you, you
20:50
know, you more than anyone that
20:50
you know, there are many
20:53
different ways to do this
20:55  Ayo Abbas
Many, many, and what,
20:55
I guess, marketing wise, do you
20:59
think you're gonna be doing in
20:59
the next few months, what's
21:01
your, what's on your very, short
21:01
term plan, you know what I mean?
21:03  Renee O'Dobrinak
Okay, so, um,
21:03
we're going to continue to
21:07
invest in communications, as we
21:07
always have really, um, you
21:11
know, just to, just because
21:11
we've got a brand already, and
21:15
we, you know, again, like that
21:15
good old house plant, we just
21:18
need to keep watering it, but
21:18
that isn't to say, we shouldn't
21:20
experiment or try things new.
21:20
And, you know, we've got a few
21:24
completions coming up in the
21:24
next six months. And we're going
21:27
to have to be really creative in
21:27
how we're going to tell these
21:30
stories about people and the
21:30
relationship to places because
21:34
we don't really subscribe to the
21:34
idea that buildings are you
21:37
know, these big, monolithic
21:37
sculptures to be marvelled at
21:41  Ayo Abbas
You mean people
21:41
actually use them
21:44  Renee O'Dobrinak
actually live
21:44
in them work in them, you know,
21:46
all that kind of good stuff. So
21:46
it does mean that okay, well, we
21:50
can actually visit the
21:50
buildings, you know, how can we
21:53
how can we animate these places
21:53
so that these buildings, you
21:57
know, still matter to people?
21:57
And, you know, how, how did they
22:00
change people's lives? You know,
22:00
how does it change how we teach
22:04
art, you know, just as an
22:04
example, and I'm looking forward
22:08
to just um, exploring different
22:08
avenues because I think, you
22:11
know, the built environment
22:11
communications world has you
22:15
know, long been fairly I mean, I
22:15
wouldn't say uniform but it's
22:20
you know, it's been fairly
22:20
conservative.
22:22  Ayo Abbas
Staid, conservative
22:26  Renee O'Dobrinak
You know, how
22:26
we've, how we've operated and I
22:29
think there's a lot we can learn
22:29
about, you know, concerned
22:32
consumer facing PR and mark off
22:32
completely
22:35  Ayo Abbas
I know on Instagram
22:35
and stuff I follow a lot of
22:37
stuff there. Yeah, it's
22:37
literally for inspiration
22:40
because I just find the consumer
22:40
world, they're streets ahead
22:44
when it comes to digital.
22:45  Renee O'Dobrinak
Yeah, cuz you
22:45
know, like eat some things you
22:47
just can't even avoid about the
22:47
you know, the whole you know,
22:50
series of Fenty adverts where
22:50
they're like, Oh, you know,
22:53
we've been, we've been like, Oh,
22:53
God, what's the word I'm looking
22:58
for? You know, Instagram has
22:58
banned us. You know, here's our
23:02
blurry images. It works it's
23:02
really memorable.
23:07  Ayo Abbas
When we That's it,
23:07
isn't it his blurry images, we
23:09
can see the full ones go to our
23:09
website. Building it's
23:13
pixelated! We won't try that. In
23:13
terms of now, I guess at the
23:21
moment we are in a recession.
23:21
What was your experience? Or
23:26
what has your experience been of
23:26
previous recessions? How have
23:28
you fared as an individual?
23:29  Unknown
Oh, god recessions?
23:29
Okay, so we're talking about
23:32
2008 here, right? We remember
23:32
this, I'm old enough now. And so
23:40
2008. So I was a fresh graduate.
23:40
I just went to art school. And
23:46
there were no jobs for arts
23:46
graduates that are also an
23:51
immigrant, like, there just
23:51
weren't any. And, and I remember
23:55
feeling really good because I
23:55
had, I had a, you know, I passed
23:59
a job interview at an arts
23:59
organisation. I won't tell you
24:02
which one, but they probably
24:02
don't be when they found out
24:06
that I only had a few months
24:06
left on my visa. So I was a
24:10
little bit lost. You know, I had
24:10
I had a CV full of great looking
24:14
internships. You know,
24:17  Ayo Abbas
But that hard job
24:17
wasn't there.
24:18  Renee O'Dobrinak
Yeah, exactly.
24:18
You know, and I was about to
24:20
start another one in, you know,
24:20
in a sort of editorial
24:24
department of a magazine and it
24:24
was all lovely. But yeah, like
24:28
nobody was willing to pay me any
24:28
money. So um, I ended up working
24:31
for in a farm and in a mudchute
24:31
park and farm no less and, and
24:37
I've got lots of fond memories
24:37
of I'm getting chased around by
24:40
trumper the turkey because I
24:40
used to have to sort of carry
24:43
these little birthday cakes for
24:43
the children across the farm and
24:47
like, Oh my I had no idea how
24:47
aggressive these turkeys could
24:52
be? It was like Okay, Renee run
24:52
for your life
24:59  Ayo Abbas
With a cake in your
24:59
hand.
25:04  Renee O'Dobrinak
You know, I
25:04
never know what to say in
25:05
interviews when you say, Oh, you
25:05
know, well, yes, I've got grit
25:08
as in like, you know, I
25:09  Ayo Abbas
Oh that wasn't quite
25:09
what we meant, however,
25:19  Renee O'Dobrinak
Take home
25:19
message here is that, you know,
25:21
it's it probably is going to be
25:21
quite similar. And you know,
25:24
people aren't going to be in
25:24
jobs they never expected they
25:26
were going to do you know, when
25:26
they started university, but
25:30
they're, you know, they're
25:30
always doing it. And I think you
25:33
still kind of like content, you
25:33
have to get creative with how
25:36
you route your career, you know,
25:36
I kind of went from well being
25:40
chased around by Turkey on a
25:40
farm to doing admin roles while
25:43
I was doing a lot of performance
25:43
art gigs with arts, arts
25:47
organisations. And that's kind
25:47
of how I ended up going into
25:51
comms in the built environment,
25:51
because it utilises that same
25:54
skill set. So I
25:55  Ayo Abbas
I think that's those
25:55
sideways moves. You don't always
25:57
get that, you know, ideally, you
25:57
know where you want to be. But
26:00
that's not always possible,
26:00
isn't it? So I guess it's that
26:02
sideways moves. And, yeah, you
26:02
have to be open to that, in a
26:06
way, especially now.
26:07  Renee O'Dobrinak
Oh, yeah,
26:07
exactly. I mean, I do
26:08
occasionally meet people who are
26:08
about my age, who say, Oh, you
26:12
know, I work in PR started as an
26:12
account executive, so and so and
26:16
then, you know, currently like
26:16
director, etc, etc. I think Oh,
26:21
wow.
26:25  Ayo Abbas
Yeah.
26:28  Renee O'Dobrinak
Around the
26:28
same time, but you know, most of
26:30
the time, you know, I'm talking
26:30
to people who had similar
26:32
experiences where, you know, you
26:32
do all kinds going crazy when
26:36
you're young,
26:37  Ayo Abbas
I mean, you're just
26:37
like going, yes, I'll make the
26:39
most of this fine. My final two
26:39
questions. So at the moment,
26:45
obviously, it's a bit of a crazy
26:45
time for everyone. Are there any
26:49
standout marketing campaigns,
26:49
which you've really kind of
26:51
admired or seen, could be in the
26:51
built environment? Or could be
26:54
outside the built environments,
26:54
anything when you've gone?
26:56
That's just brilliant.
26:57  Renee O'Dobrinak
Oh, okay. I'm
26:57
gonna stick with the built
27:01
environment. And I don't know if
27:01
I should call it a marketing
27:03
campaign as such, but it
27:03
certainly, you know, we'll have
27:06
the positive effects of one,
27:06
which is the bear with me it's
27:12
the Carbon Counts website, that
27:12
Feilden Clegg Bradley studio
27:15
had done on which coincided with
27:15
their Material Matters
27:18
exhibition, which was on just
27:18
before we went into lockdown.
27:22
And, you know, it's a website
27:22
where it's an educational thing.
27:26
And, and it's a really useful
27:26
resource of how, you know, each
27:31
and every material that you
27:31
might be specifying, you know,
27:34
what does it
27:35  Ayo Abbas
Mean, in terms of
27:35
carbon
27:36  Renee O'Dobrinak
yeah, exactly.
27:36
What are the implications, you
27:38
know, carbon out of all these
27:38
materials? I mean, it's a
27:41
beautiful website. I mean, I say
27:41
Bravo to whoever's, you know,
27:45
whoever executed this, because,
27:45
yeah, it's, it's a wonderfully
27:49
useful piece of content. It's
27:49
educational, it's useful. And
27:54
obviously, it's a really
27:54
important topic. And I think,
27:57
you know, I look up to this sort
27:57
of stuff. You know, from the
28:00
perspective of marcoms and built
28:00
environment, I think we should
28:03
be inspiring to this, you know,
28:03
yeah,
28:05  Ayo Abbas
I guess it's sharing
28:05
the knowledge, right. So that we
28:07
all have a resource to use,
28:07
which, especially on key issues
28:10
like carbon, exactly. I mean,
28:10
you need to have something there
28:13
that we can use and trust as
28:13
well. Right. Yeah, to put that
28:16
investment in, they've done the
28:16
work and it's there for the
28:18
industry, which I always think
28:18
is a good thing.
28:20  Renee O'Dobrinak
Yeah, I think
28:20
it's a, you know, onpoint piece
28:22
of thought leadership, and it
28:22
does its job very well.
28:25  Ayo Abbas
Brilliant. I mean,
28:25
look out for that. I have not
28:27
seen that one. And on to my
28:27
final question, which is what
28:31
one tip would you give to a
28:31
built environment business
28:33
leader, about how they can be
28:33
marketing themselves from here
28:37
on in?
28:37  Renee O'Dobrinak
Okay, so I
28:37
think number one out of
28:40
everything is clarifying what
28:40
your goals are, like, what does
28:44
success look like for you?
28:44
Because not, you know, nobody
28:47
has the endless budget that
28:47
you'd want to spend on stuff
28:49
like this. So, you know, you
28:49
really have to be succinct about
28:52
what you want, and how are you
28:52
going to achieve it? And whose
28:56
help Are you going to get to
28:56
achieve this and this could be,
28:59
you know, asking an external
28:59
consultant like your good self
29:02
Ayo, or hiring somebody internal
29:02
like me, you know, who and we,
29:07
you know, we, we will give you
29:07
different things, right, you
29:09
know, an external can give you,
29:09
you know, a different
29:12
perspective on Oh, okay. So, you
29:12
know, you might be lacking this
29:15
and this and this skill set in
29:15
house. So why don't you consider
29:18
hiring somebody to do this, but
29:18
I can help you with this type of
29:21
collateral, as an example, or,
29:21
you know, somebody in-house, you
29:25
know, we're, we are going to be
29:25
as good as how well we
29:28
understand your work. So,you
29:28
know, we kind of have to get
29:31
bedded in, we want to get to
29:31
know you, um, you know, and talk
29:35
to us, you know. As I said
29:35
before, our best I think we're,
29:41
you know, the creative critical
29:41
friend who works with you to,
29:45
create wonderful bits of
29:45
collateral and content from
29:49
people yeah, and right now, like
29:49
there's an entire ocean of the
29:52
sort of, you know, endless hues
29:52
of grey and indulgent,
29:55
inaccessible writing and that's
29:55
such an easy trap to get into. I
30:00
think you know, now that we
30:00
aren't able to go to award
30:03
ceremony you can't go to these
30:03
parties, you know, and, you
30:07
know, talk up your next client,
30:07
for example. So it'd really be
30:09
silly not to think about how we
30:09
look and talk and walk in, in
30:14
your practice.
30:16  Ayo Abbas
but also how it
30:16
actually works in a digital
30:17
context. Cuz I think actually,
30:17
you're absolutely right,
30:20
especially when it comes to
30:20
writing. Because I mean, you
30:22
know, dense, large kind of
30:22
theoretical texts that nobody
30:26
really understands. Doesn't work
30:26
online. Use some headings, Use
30:31
some colours split it up, you
30:31
know, it's good. Like, that is
30:35
kind of it. That just works so
30:35
much better in the data. I'm
30:37
reading it on my phone. How can
30:37
I? How can you make it
30:40
digestible for me? How can you
30:40
make it I want to read, and
30:43
those are amazing, amazing tips,
30:43
Renee, and thank you so much for
30:47
coming on. And yeah, and we are
30:47
done. Thank Oh,
30:50  Renee O'Dobrinak
wow, thank you
30:50
so much for having me again.
30:58  Ayo Abbas
Thanks for listening
30:58
to the latest episode of
31:00
Marketing In Times of Crisis. If
31:00
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31:12
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31:19
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31:19
day. Bye