Sunday, 11 November 2012

Caroline Grant

Caroline Grant is almost evangelistic about marketing Best Practice. We've been talking in recent weeks about whether legal marketers should see their role as serving, or rather as leading their firms. She believes strongly that demonstrating excellence in your chosen discipline is the best way to ensure "followership" from partners and gain their respect, enabling you to take the lead in all things comms-related. 

Caroline is Head of the Corporate Communications team at multi-award-winning law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner.  The firm is known for its legal innovation and the freshness of its approach to doing business and Caroline's mantra is to establish in the minds of the partnership that its comms team is equally market-leading. 

Since starting in legal marketing more than 20 years ago I have been fascinated by the curious and fluctuating dynamic between the two poles of the marketeer as someone who simply executes what partners ask them to do, and the marketeer who tells partners what needs to be done. If marketeers see their role as merely executing, rather than directing and leading, firms risk losing out on the best that the disciplines of good marketing, communications, media relations and key account management etc can offer the business. Equally I've seen senior marketeers with great leading-edge thinking fail, simply because they haven't been able to connect with partners and get their buy-in. Of course you can't lead if everyone refuses to follow.  So winning partners over is crucial.  But how to do this?

"The answer to your conundrum is that we have to do both: serve the partnership and lead it at the same time" says Caroline. "You have to prove your credentials like anyone else in business - show you're really excellent at what you do by handling the tasks you're given really well, meeting objectives and, where you can, exceeding expectation. This is key to establishing credibility and gradually developing the respect and authority that enables you to lead your bosses and for them to be comfortable following what you propose. But in that "proving yourself", you don't want to become stuck in the "people pleasing" zone. Sometimes the most valuable contribution you can make as a marketeer is to challenge a brief and suggest a better alternative.

"I'm very proud of my team. We've taken great care to recruit bright stars, people with successful track records in previous roles. And we invest in developing them well once they're here and ensuring everyone is focussed on comms best practice. This year I felt it was important to communicate back to the partnership just how excellent its comms team is - key to helping develop its credibility and authority within the firm. We've produced a beautiful coffee table book showing our best cuttings - page after page of coverage in City, national and international media; we've set up a daily email update of the day's best hits, called BLP in the limelight - beautifully branded (making the most of the lime in our corporate colours of course!); and for the first time this year we've entered the comms team in CorpComms magazine's best practice awards - and I am delighted to say the update so far is we've been shortlisted for three: "Best In House Team", "Best In House Staff Publication" and also our very own Dee Flynn is shortlisted for their "Young Achiever" award.

Showing the partners the team is respected externally, is lauded by its peer group, is a powerful way to gain respect internally. For marketeers working in-house in a discipline that's so alien to what the core business of law is about, it's hard to gain respect and be listened to when trying to lead. Caroline believes - and I wholeheartedly agree with her - that the answer lies in proving your excellence.

Good luck with the awards guys!

Watching journalists hoist by their own petard makes for uncomfortable viewing.  Phillip Schofield's attempt to ambush David Cameron caused the PM some discomfort, but the ITV presenter came off far worse from the blast of his own bombshell.  And much much worse was to come.  

We all know the story: on Thursday's This Morning Schofield handed the PM a list of supposed Tory paedophiles circulating on the internet, asking him to comment.  The stunt forced the PM to gaffe that loose speculation about a paedophile ring linked to No. 10 could result in a witch hunt against gays, which many took to mean he equated the two.  The next twist in this tortuous tale came when it emerged that the list passed across the table on prime time TV might be capable of being read by anyone choosing to freeze frame, and that two names were potentially decipherable. 

But the fallout from the bomb blast didn't end there, as BBC's Newsnight team and corporation Director General George Entwistle then faced painfully awkward questions about an issue of mistaken identity the editorial team failed to pick up, leading to the name of one now very angry former senior politician ending up on that list. Fatally for "Incurious George" as he has come to be known, Entwistle was unaware of a lot of the detail of the debacle that everyone else - the general public included - had gleaned from press reports and Twitter.  By evening, he had resigned.

The theory goes that our traditional news organisations still have a pivotal role to play in the new social media age, the rigour of the journalistic discipline in researching and checking stories supposedly making them a far more trusted source than most user-generated content.  In such a fast-changing media environment, they lose this competitive advantage at their peril. 
With the switching on of the West End's Christmas lights, the countdown to the Festive Season has officially begun. And in Covent Garden we are most definitely getting into the Yuletide mood. We can't help it! Our decorations are far and away the best of any of the London neighbourhoods - giant baubles hanging from the piazza ceiling and even a topiary reindeer in the square. Do make sure to avail yourself of the Winter-wonderful treats on offer - Christmas Food Market every Thursday, a Jack Daniels Christmas Tree made entirely of Bourbon barrels (from 27 November), a Lego advent calendar - and live reindeer petting every weekend. Take a look here to see the full list of advent activities. 

Come on! It's time to get into the Christmas spirit!

No comments:

Post a Comment