The importance of reputation in family businesses

The importance of reputation in family businesses

Leila Willingham, Account & Business Manager, writes on the value of reputation within family owned and operated organisations

As family businesses, we benefit from unique advantages such as a shared vision, strong values, and a long-term outlook. However, we can also face difficulties such as being resistant to change, undertaking succession planning and transitioning to the next generation. A huge differentiator between family and non-family-owned organisations is how the personal and emotional element of the business plays into corporate decision making; for the better or worse.

Businesses with such history and preserved financial assets can be complex organisations to protect reputationally, and with a family name so closely attached there is even more at stake. Whether the family is central to the brand or not, there is a degree of uniqueness in each family-owned organisation that demands a tailored and considered approach to reputation management.

Reputation is the result of what a business does, what it says and what others think about it. Some academics such as Rindova argue that reputation is an asset that provides a sustainable competitive advantage and influences an organisation’s financial performance, meaning it is certainly something worth thinking about – especially when we intend for our businesses to thrive not just today and tomorrow but for years to come.

 

Reputational strength in family firms

Family businesses tend to be more values led than other organisations, due to the desire to protect the family’s assets, image and reputation. These values are often brought to life through a strong approach to employee engagement and the workplace, a high-quality product or service offering, ethical business practices and good management – all things that earn good reputations. The extra layer of care, attention and cautiousness that is inherited as a steward of the family business helps keep us out of trouble.

Plus, if communicated well, our values and their positive impact on our organisations and stakeholders can give the business a competitive advantage. Brand management theorist Kapferer claims that a business’s fatal differentiation from its competitors is the respect for its brand values and the status of the brand name built upon these – great news for family businesses!

Reputation management isn’t all about preventing and protecting, but also about building and strengthening too. A solid reputation is a unique selling point in itself and one that is very difficult for competitors to replicate. This competitive advantage is crucial to the long-term success of a business intended to remain strong for generations to come.

Although, while this is all positive, we mustn’t be naïve. We cannot predict and plan for everything, the pandemic has taught us that much. We must expect the unexpected and know how to respond to it.

Some view reputation management as a function that ‘kicks in’ during a crisis; a damage limitation tool. However, to be most efficient, it should be used as a preventative, not a cure. As business tycoon Warren Buffett once said, “it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it” and this is rings especially true in the context of family businesses, which may have upheld their reputation for centuries.

 

What reputational hazards put family businesses at risk?

Every family business is different and a ‘one size fits all’ reputational evaluation just doesn’t exist – reflecting on your own business’s reputation, you need to consider all the unique nuances that may play into it. Reputational hazards could be anything from a faulty product to a director caught with their pants down in the pub.

All the common family business challenges pose reputational risks and, unfortunately, can feel much more personal and emotional in our world – think succession planning, the next generation, disagreements, long-term ownership, finances, the board and decision makers, employees and customers. Exploring a few common examples helps to identify how reputational risks come in all varieties of scale and strength:

 

  • Family members

You might not think that your parent, sibling or cousin are capable of serious reputational damage. However, family members, whether they are involved operationally or not, are potentially the biggest reputational risk to the business (sorry!) and this needs to be recognised. Not only is an errant family member emotionally difficult but can cause huge reputational concerns too.

 

  • Financial status

The Sunday Times’ yearly ‘Rich List’ reveals that several of the wealthiest people or families resident in the UK are those governing or running family-owned organisations. Financial strength, performance, growth prospects and resilience all support a positive company reputation; however, with that comes challenges.

 

Even businesses with retained profits and working capital need to remain efficient and this sometimes means difficult decisions are made in order to do so. With such financial reserves, decisions such as redundancy can seem conflicting to the company’s financial status and unnecessary by stakeholders. The comments on this article regarding Andrew Nisbet and his family firm demonstrate the potential response from stakeholders if not managed properly.

 

  • Succession

The reputational impact when one leader takes over from another must be considered, especially when it involves family. As the leader of a business changes, an opportunity for a reputational shift, positive or negative, opens. Through this sensitive period, it is key that the good feeling, trust and admiration (all things that contribute to a healthy reputation) that is felt towards the business remains and, crucially, is transferred from one leader to another.

 

  • Governance

Governance is very important to many family businesses and disagreements within the family and wider team aren’t uncommon. Sixth generation Clarks Shoes came close to being sold in the early 90’s because the aspirations of family shareholders had become disconnected from those of company management.

 

Reputationally, this moment could have disastrous for the business. If the debate had slipped outside of the boardroom, its impact would have ricocheted through the business, impacting morale and the sense of security of the workforce as well as external impressions of the brand. Would you want your employees or customers catching wind of the debates that took place in the board room? What would you do if they did?

 

Reputationally protecting a family business

Reputation management is required to be an ‘always on’ function and can’t just be used as a first aid kit. The RepTrak Reputation Model provides a great framework for benchmarking a business’s reputation and says that reputation is built through the good feeling, trust, and admiration that stakeholders feel towards a company. The model states that a business’s products or services, innovation, workplace, governance, leadership, citizenship and performance all contribute to a healthy and valuable reputation.

At the heart of reputation management for a family business sits the need to protect its history and heritage. Yet, as explored, there are also a variety of day-to-day factors that can massively influence reputation.

The subtle complexities of our unique organisations must be understood, recognised and managed to build and protect the business’s reputation. Identifying and awareness of reputational risks coupled with strategic communications is the winning formula to doing so.

Risk management provides structured information to assist with business decision making and is also invaluable for reputation management and can help make the unexpected less daunting. In a family organisation, all unique facets must be considered through this exercise: family feuds, death of a family member, personal wrongdoings. Experts, including Andrew Griffin, suggest that internally driven issues are the hardest to manage and so risk management for family firms is exceptionally important.

Issues identification and risk management for family businesses must predict, prevent and prepare for reputational risks including those involving all family members, on a personal and professional level. PR pros Michael Regester and Judy Larkin are famous for the phrase ‘an issue ignored is a crisis ensured’ and this perfectly encapsulates why identification of potential threats is important from an operational and reputational perspective. By doing so, family firms can look to make changes to reduce risk and head off any challenges before they even arise.

All company communications (internal and external) should be mindful of reputation. Communications play a critical role in building and maintaining the key ingredients for a good reputation; the good feeling, admiration and trust people feel towards an organisation. It for this reason that one of the top five things the IFB recommends when planning succession is good communication.

Communications should be used to share the great work and achievements all stakeholders should feel pride in. However, communications are of equal importance when delivering tough messages such as redundancies or significant updates such as a change in leader. Making sure that all communications are delivered in a sensitive manner will help to maintain or build the good feeling, trust, and admiration that stakeholders feel towards the family firm – this should be the same for positive and less positive communications.

Although reputation should be managed proactively as opposed to reactively, the role of communications is undeniably important in a crisis.

As family organisations we are often more naturally inclined to act in a personal and human way when it comes to business. However, a careful balance of emotional and corporate communication is critical, particularly within a crisis or issues management situation.

When a family business client witnessed a devastating fire destroy part of the organisation’s head office, not only were they concerned for the operational impact, but they were watching a highly historic building disappear. It was a devastating tragedy for the family.

Upon reflection, the management team recognise that their Chairman, a family member, shouldn’t have been or have been expected to be the spokesperson in that crisis. The client now has crisis planning in place that, in some circumstances, requests family members to leave the site to allow for ultimate efficiency to protect the reputation of the business long term.

The closeness of their relationship with the organisation can compromise family members in a crisis. The emotional link to a business can cloud their thoughts, rationale and ability to make decisions; all factors that can pose additional risk to reputation at a critical moment.

As plenty of evidence and theory supports, there is a particular requirement for careful decision making in a crisis. The timely construction and delivery of messages, that are in keeping with the business’s tone of voice and address the issue in the most appropriate way possible, is going to underpin the success of this process. Balancing the emotional response with one that will protect the business long term is notably important.

 

 Reputation: the armour around a family business

The circumstances identified here are only a handful of the factors, unique to family businesses, that influence an organisation’s reputation. There is no singular most important factor that must be considered and these all need managing to either bring benefit to the business or to mitigate a risk.

For long term success, beyond the lifetime of the current leader, opportunities to build on the business’s reputation need exploring and the risks needs managing.

Businesses with years of history, even those with exisiting, positive reputations, must protect and continue building these to support ongoing success for generations to come. A family-owned business that doesn’t manage its reputation can leave it open to being a target by the media and other stakeholders.

View reputation as your most valuable possession, something that must be protected, kept safe and away from harm. An organisation that is so highly regarded by stakeholders could be at more risk due to its status – you wouldn’t leave your most valuable piece of jewellery in an unsafe risky place, so why do the same with your business’s reputation?

Reputation management should provide a layer of armour not only around the firm, but around the family as well. It shouldn’t be seen as an investment but as a requirement, the same as how we view a safe place to store tangible items at home or in our offices.

Reputation is so critical to the success of a long-term vision and many generations of reward – there is no other type of organisation that should prioritise it as highly as family businesses should.

The Sky’s The Limit! Sam’s Apprenticeship Story

The Sky’s The Limit! Sam’s Apprenticeship Story

Our first PRCA Apprentice Sam joined us from British Airways, where she was working as cabin crew. While her work at LLPR doesn’t involve *quite* as much travel, she’s continuing to fly high – already adding invaluable support to her colleagues, and bringing incredible team spirit and positivity.

Here at LLPR, we’re thrilled to become an PRCA Apprentice Employer. The scheme is open to applicants of all ages, from school leavers to retrainers, such as Sam. We’re a big believer in transferable skills and talent; while many of our team have PR or journalism degrees under their belts, there’s a whole lot more who have come to a career in PR from a variety of other avenues and career paths.

What we look for in an LLPR team member transcends technical ability. Superb communication skills, solid copywriting ability and creative flair are the building blocks to a great PR. But what makes every one of ‘Team Lean’ special is that they share the values we aspire to as a brand. That’s why we instinctively work so well together:- and that, as they say, is when the magic happens.

Hear from Sam herself, as she tells the story of her first few months at LLPR….

‘Apparently, the pandemic drove 60% of people to make a change in their career and I guess I fall quite firmly into that statistic. At 25 years old I decided to take the plunge and start afresh, joining Liz Lean PR as the agency’s very first PR & Communications Apprentice.

Making such a change can be a daunting experience, but for me I have never felt so confident in a decision. Since graduating from university five years ago, I have been searching for my “dream job” and until now, had no such luck. In my continued search, I had been toying with the idea of taking an online diploma or even a Master’s degree, and then as if by magic, the opportunity to study for a Level 4 Diploma PR Apprenticeship appeared. The beauty of this apprenticeship is I can choose assignments that will directly help me in my professional career; I am learning about the industry and getting industry experience in real time. As the PRCA likes to say, I’m earning and learning!

Like any new job, I was nervous, but everyone has been incredibly welcoming since day one and just as excited as me to be in the office following the pandemic. Whether they are in the office or dialling in via Teams, my colleagues have been on hand to answer my many questions. Within just a few days of induction, it was time for me to get involved. I was so excited to be trusted with some blog writing, PR planning and media monitoring before even starting the official “apprenticeship” side of things.

Settling into the office environment was easy, especially with the beautiful Sandbanks beach on our doorstep! I’ve joined my colleagues for lunch time beach walks and even made use of the office paddle boards – the epitome of a great work-perk!

I really enjoy the variety of work that we do at LLPR, it means every day is different and I’m learning how to become much more adaptable. Understanding how to prioritize my time and manage my workload was one of my first assignments to complete for the apprenticeship – it could not be MORE relevant! I have always considered myself to be an organised person, but since starting my new role I am definitely refining this skill. Priorities are constantly changing (and I love to say yes), so understanding deadlines and task urgency is proving to be key in organising my work.

In my first three months I have joined three virtual classrooms, attended six webinars, completed five assignments, and started a campaign project, all while supporting my account managers with their clients. I am hugely involved in the social media side of our work which I’m really enjoying and now I am starting to write more copy, which is really encouraging. The next 15 months are going to be fast-paced and demanding but also extremely fun. It couldn’t be a better time to join the company either, there are so many exciting plans in the pipeline, and everyone is so driven to achieve great things individually and as a team. I’m finally feeling stimulated and challenged, something that I was eager to find in my dream career.’

 

Paddleboarding at lunchtime with a team member? Yes please!

Mental Health Awareness Week: tips from the team

Mental Health Awareness Week: tips from the team

Struggling with your mental health should never be treated any differently from a physical ailment. We all have our own weight that we carry and it’s vital in the workplace to have a supportive team that will help pick you up when life gets too heavy.

At LLPR, we always pride ourselves on maintaining that balance between working hard being PR superstars and looking out for each other and our mental health.

We have many initiatives in place and ways to keep us feeling positive, such as:

  • Encouraging mindfulness and meditation activities with the team
  • Apps such as Headspace and Calm for team members
  • Yoga and fitness sessions, free paddleboards for use
  • Getting out in the fresh air during the working day to enjoy the fresh air and benefits of our seaside location

The theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is Nature, so we asked the team about their favourite things about nature to keep our mental wellbeing ticking over.

“It’s so vital and nurturing for the soul to get outside and embrace all the beautiful scenery we have around us – we are so lucky to be based in such a beautiful area. I have always found a huge amount of comfort in nature, and I have no shame in being a literal tree hugger! We’re all human and have our own high and low moments; being in nature and welcoming the fresh air is a simple solution for our mental wellbeing.” – Liz Willingham, Managing Director

 

“My favourite thing to do if I’m feeling stressed is to get some fresh air and take my dog for a walk. It never feels like a chore, especially in places like Hengistbury Head. I can turn my phone off and take my time to enjoy that quality time!” – Samantha Pape, PR & Communications Apprentice

 

“It’s great when the weather gets warmer and I am able to get out on the water, whether that’s on the coast or in the countryside, so I can grab my paddle and board and venture down the river or over calm seas. Getting out on my paddleboard is a great way to keep fit while taking in fantastic scenery along the way.” – Carol Middleton, Account Manager

“ We’re all so lucky to have the most incredible scenery on our doorstep and there’s nothing better than getting out there, embracing the fresh air and taking in the natural beauty all around us. I love exploring new places, whether it’s a few minutes down the road or a totally different continent.” – Venita Cutler, Senior Account Executive

 

“I enjoy the simple things in life, cracking open a cider and watching the natural world go by on a sunny day is just heavenly. I moved to Dorset from London last year and have spent every moment I can getting out to explore the beautiful countryside. Every day I’m reminded of why I left urban life to come here – It’s safe to say I found my happy place!” – Lucy Mercer, Account Manager

 

“What the past year has taught us is to take time to appreciate how beautiful nature is and nurture your mental health by enjoying some of the beautiful walks that are on your doorstep. There is something about the vibrant colours and smells of spring’s blooms that is instantly calming and rejuvenating.” – Shona Race, Account Manager

 

“When I push myself to get out in the open and fill my lungs with fresh air, I always feel better for it. Whether it be a quick walk at lunch time or exploring somewhere in my free time, getting active does help to clear my head. Whatever the weather, I like to notice the colours, sounds and smells around me, engaging yet relaxing my overactive mind!” – Leila Willingham, Business & Account Manager

Mental Health Awareness Week: the MD’s perspective

Mental Health Awareness Week: the MD’s perspective

Mental Health Awareness Week is rightly highlighting #Nature as one of the most important therapies. Being in green spaces is vital for our mental health and many of us have noticed this even more over the past year during the pandemic.

I’m a Cornish girl so being dragged along a rain-sodden beach on a Sunday with the dog was something that was the norm for me; my much older sisters often grabbing the opportunity to throw me in the sea (for fun!) and get me into trouble!

But my connection with nature became very strong at an early age.

When my father died very suddenly aged 55, I was 12 years old and the way of grieving that felt right for me at the time was endless walking with my dog, Holly, in the local woodland. So, finding a comfort in nature has always been my default setting.

As I’ve got older, I have realised how significantly important open spaces like forests and being around trees is to me, as well as time at the coast which we are so fortunate to be awash with here in Dorset and also in my spiritual home of Cornwall. I have my favourite spots which call me when the chips are down; a favourite bench on a clifftop near Porthtowan overlooking the wild Cornish north coast and Poldark landscape, or the New Forest or Wareham Forest where I can’t help but pick a tree to give a good hug. I don’t have a problem with being called a tree hugger!

In my adult years, experiencing the stress of the workplace, a divorce, juggling family with running my own business and leading a team has brought its bumpy road moments. Everyone has their own version of their journey with similar struggles. We are human, we have up’s and down’s. It’s normal life.

 

This year I have felt it important to do something specific for the business leader, the employer, the boss. There is rightly a lot of information, support and signposting for our teams and workforces which needs to continue and grow and become much more heightened in importance in the workplace. However, I believed we had a need for a 360 degree approach and give some time to asking the boss how they are feeling too. If they aren’t in good shape, their teams may find their own stress even worse as a result. As bosses, our reputation sometimes becomes more important than taking care of ourselves and asking for help when it’s needed.

We often have to put our ‘game face’ on in front of our staff as no one wants to work for someone who is a bit broken! Our customers need to think we are ‘on it’ 24/7 and never have any off moments. It’s expected that the business leader wakes up with their big pants on and a spring in their step every morning and are immune to sleepless nights, worry, fear and anxiety that leading a business can bring. And when others’ livelihoods are on your shoulders, well that responsibility can sometimes, for all sorts of reasons, become a bit too much to carry.

 

As a result, Dorset Chamber has supported me in creating an initiative called ‘Got Your 6’ (GU6 for short). Created to highlight the important of business leader resilience and a route for our business community to ask for confidential and non-judgemental help, GU6 has been developed with partners such as Dorset Mind, Ouch Training and Livewell Dorset. Through sponsored Mental Health First Aid training, and attracting other volunteers with this amazing qualification already under their belts, we now have 15 ‘GU6 Champions’. These volunteers from a huge spectrum of sectors and backgrounds with experiences of their own are all listed at https://dorsetchamber.co.uk/gu6-dorset/

Their Linked In profiles are accessible to anyone to direct message them for a call for help, whether that’s for a simple chat with someone in a position of leadership who can empathise, for advice on specific emotive subjects such as redundancy or financial worries, or for a more serious call for help. They are there to listen, provide support, and signpost to organisations and other resources as a next step. The key thing is to demonstrate its better to share challenges and work through them than face them alone and suffer the potential consequences.

The feedback to Got Your 6 has been fantastic so far. New volunteer champions are coming forward all the time, and law firm Lester Aldridge has identified it as such as important initiative that they have come on board as sponsor to support its evolution.

Our Champions are receiving calls from those who feel they need us, which is both upsetting, but also reassuring that this is definitely a much-needed initiative.

If you lead a team, run a business, and feel overwhelmed, burnt out, and at times feel incapable to see a clear path ahead then remember GU6 is here to help, as well as the other potential routes of support available, including of course Dorset Mind. It’s whatever works for you but doing nothing should not be an option.

‘Got Your 6’ is another term for ‘having your back’ and comes from WW2 fighter pilots when in flight formation, making sure the pilot in the ‘6’o clock’ position had the back of the plane in front. We all feel a bit like fighter pilots after the year we have had, so the name seemed to fit nicely.

Check out @GU6Dorset #GU6Dorset and the Dorset Chamber link above for resources and more information.

And this week (any week) go hug a tree. You’ll be surprised how good nature feels…..

Stay well,

Liz

x

2020: A Year in Review

2020: A Year in Review

Well, what a year this has been.

It goes without saying that the challenges faced universally this year have been bizarre. If we’d be told this time last year that we’d be greeting friends and family from a 2 metre distance, stock piling loo roll and socialising through “our little squares” in 2020, we’d have laughed in disbelief.

A sudden change to the way we and our clients operate was incredibly daunting, but that fear wasn’t unique to Liz Lean PR. Upon reflection, it was the openness, transparency and measured response from our clients and colleagues that has enabled the agency to remain as steady and strong as we could have hoped for this year and for that, we are all incredibly grateful.

The continual reporting of deaths and restrictions throughout 2020 has taken its toll on our mental health and on morale. While the outlook for 2021 is still a little unclear, there’s an air of hope and the end seems to be in sight. So, instead of reflecting upon the turbulence we’ve all lived through, we wanted to take a moment to appreciate and acknowledge the great things worth noting from 2020.

Congratulations to Belinda, our recently Chartered Account Director

We’re not entirely sure how she juggled it all, but among the craziness of this year, Belinda Rastall our Account Director achieved Chartered Public Relations Practitioner status. Chartered status represents the highest standard of professional excellence and integrity. As well as reflecting Belinda’s breadth of experience and achievements, this achievement is a marker of her dedication to keeping pace in a fast-moving profession, remaining up to date on her knowledge and skills through the CPD programme and a rigorous full-day assessment.

Three new recruits for LLPR

We have also welcomed three new members to the LLPR team this year, including onboarding one remotely in the middle of ‘lockdown 1’. Lucy Mercer joined as Account Manager in early March at a very similar time to Stella Mills, who joined the team as Account Executive. In July, we remotely welcomed Brandon Danao, Account Executive, doing the usual meet and greets from our cosy WFH desks. Despite having had very little face to face time together, all three of our newest team members have gelled into our culture and have succeeded within their roles and built great rapport with their clients.

Leila was promoted to Business and Account Manager

Having shown dedication to the business and its continued success, particularly in the face of challenge, and demonstrated key skills to progress within the business, Leila Willingham was promoted from Development Executive to Business & Account Manager in November this year. In her new role, Leila is responsible for managing a variety of client accounts across a variety of sectors including hospitality, leisure, eCommerce, tech and retail.

Under the business management element of the role, she supports the agency leadership team on business matters such as the vision for LLPR, new business, culture and forward planning. With a deep-rooted and personal understanding of the agency and its values, Leila is well placed to support across different aspects of the business.

A sunny day spent visioning

We did manage to squeeze in a full day of face-to face time though and we couldn’t have timed it more perfectly. It was the first day since early March that our entire team had congregated in one place. We met at Sculpture by the Lakes in the heart of the Dorset countryside on that blissful, warm week in mid-September.

There was no better setting for the day of contemplation, honesty and forward thinking. We spent the day reflecting on what we have learnt individually and as a business through the pandemic, discussing how we can use the opportunities to grow and improve.

The day comprised discussion and the sharing of thoughts and ideas on where we grow from here. It was a well-needed moment, particularly ahead of what has been a challenging winter, to instil faith and confidence that Liz Lean PR is secure in its direction and is in a position to be excited for the future, not fear it.

A successful adaptation to remote working

Having embraced remote working so well internally and benefitted from better connectivity with clients, the opportunity arose to challenge our thinking on our working practises. As a result of weighing up all the pros, cons and evaluating the nuances that come with working from home, we successfully launched our new LLPR 1-2-3 model earlier in the year. This model is based on the principles of remaining as one collaborative and fair place to work, with two office days for all team members and three days of flexibility.

While COVID-19 restrictions have prevented us from living by this model in full over the last few months, we are confident that this is the way forward for us. LLPR 1-2-3 brings immense benefits to our team, clients and agency culture, while still ensuring we deliver the highest level of quality service we pride ourselves on.

You can read more on the LLPR 1-2-3 model here.

New projects, new connections and new prospects

We have been very fortunate this year to have been able to support some fantastic brands on their PR and communications for the first time.

To name a few, we worked closely with Passenger to launch their latest product, myTrip – a mobile ticketing and tracking app which offers live information on bus passenger levels, improving customer confidence in the ability to social distance. Our activity reached over 1 million potential users and operators and assisted in the sale of tickets through the app.

It has also been a pleasure to work with Peter and the team at the Pear at Parley, Simon, Sue and team at Ouch TT and everyone at Medworx.

We have really enjoyed getting to know the team at BV Dairy and supporting on the announcement of some very exciting news and it was a pleasure to work with Bradley Williams from Unique Group, too.

Celebrating client successes

A key thing which has made this year so bearable for the LLPR team is being able to play a small part in celebrating some huge successes with our clients. In amongst a year of uncertainty and confusion, we’ve felt immense pride to represent such incredible, resilient brands.

It has been a pleasure to welcome OnBuy back to the LLPR client portfolio, especially during a year of such epic success. With eCommerce booming off the back of the pandemic this year, OnBuy has literally rocketed in terms of growth. It now employs over 60 members of staff and has recently announced 605 per cent year to date growth. You may have spotted OnBuy on the TV this winter, after it launched its first national TV advertising campaign across ITV channels. We’re super excited to see OnBuy take on the world (quite literally) next year.

We are so incredibly proud to work with Hall & Woodhouse which has continued to support its communities in such a huge way this year. The Dorset-based family brewer truly is a beacon of doing the right thing and has demonstrated its values ten-fold during such a challenging year. From cancelling Business Partner rent, to offering emergency funding for charities through its Community Chest initiative, to raising money by breaking pub quiz world records, the entire team at Hall & Woodhouse has gone above and beyond throughout the pandemic. We were also excited to support in the opening of The Holly Blue in Basingstoke and in the quick launch of the “Hall & Woodhaus Alpine Bars”, which opened for the first time this winter to offer guests a safe and festive outdoor experience.

Paultons Park celebrated a huge award win in the summer and was named one of the world’s top ten amusement parks in  the Tripadvisor 2020 Travellers Choice awards. The family theme park also retained its title of the UK’s number one amusement park for the fifth year running. Following that big achievement this year, the LLPR team is very excited to finally see the park’s newest attraction, Tornado Springs, open in March 2021.

Daish’s Holidays is celebrating three national awards and the successful acquisition of Robinsons Holidays, in what has been a challenging and turbulent year for the travel and tourism industry. The acquisition of Robinsons Holidays is also in addition the acquisition of the Esplandade Hotel in Scarborough earlier this year.

On the trends of acquisitions, Haskins Garden Centres acquired its fifth site in Farnham at the start of the year and welcomed Forest Lodge Garden Centre and Birdworld to its portfolio. At a similar time, the family-owned business opened the doors to its brand new Snowhill centre near Crawley.

Talbot Village Trust launched its £1 million COVID Support Fund in April. The LLPR team secured front page coverage on the Bournemouth Echo and support from local MPs and the Dorset High Sheriff.

Bournemouth & Poole College received a record number of adults enrolling onto its free adult online courses during the first lockdown. More than 500 learners registered to develop a new skill and gain a qualification between March and June 2020, on one or more of The College’s 24 free online courses. This is a 44% rise in learners compared to the same period last year.

And finally (we could go on all day talking about how great our clients are, but we have a word count to watch!), we’re super excited to have been a part of the Kingland project in Poole! Kingland is a new shopping district set to rejuvenate the town centre and to reinvent Poole’s retail offering. Legal & General has committed to provide 10 retail units to start-up and independent businesses with no rent or business rates to be paid for two years. This is to kick-start an unparalleled shopping experience which brings together the cream of Dorset’s most innovative young retail entrepreneurs in one exciting environment in the town centre.

End of the Dorset Chamber Presidency era for Liz

In February 2021, Liz’s two-year Dorset Chamber presidency will conclude.

Recently, in collaboration with Dorset Chamber and other local stakeholder, Liz has launched a wellbeing initiative for the 3am club – the business leaders who are awake at all hours of the night feeling the responsibility and weight of their roles. The platform is for Dorset Chamber members to champion their supportive and emotionally intelligent workplaces while acknowledging the stresses and strains that comes with leading a business, giving them the opportunity to ask for help when needed without judgement.

In September, Liz celebrated her first year as a British Chamber of Commerce Board Member and is looking forward to being able to dedicate more time to this national role as her presidency wraps up in the spring.

You can read more from Liz on the conclusion of her presidency in the latest Dorset Business Focus Magazine.  

We are looking forward to what we hope will be an exciting and prosperous 2021. Even in the most turbulent times, the company of our trusted and compassionate colleagues never fails to be inspiring and nurturing for all. We are incredibly proud, as a team, of how we have performed this year and recognise that without the team resolve and spirit, this year would have been a lot tougher.

As a team, we’re committed to our clients, colleagues and self-progression. As a business, we’re dedicated to remaining relevant in a fast-moving industry, continuing to deliver high-class service to client that we pride ourselves on, working hard to protect and grow their reputations on a day-to-day basis. We take pride in that this service and camaraderie hasn’t faltered, even in one of the toughest years in LLPR history.

We’re ending this year happy with how LLPR has weathered the pandemic and pleased to be looking ahead and excited for what is around the corner.

See you (maybe even face to face for a change!) in 2021!

LLPR wins national app launch brief

LLPR wins national app launch brief

Liz Lean PR (LLPR) has won the PR brief for a new public transport app, myTrip by Passenger, set to launch nationally in September. 

LLPR was approached to pitch for media relations for the app’s launch period after being recommended to the client by other agency partners.  

Liz Willingham, managing director of Liz Lean PR said: “We’re excited to be supporting Passenger in their latest app launch. The myTrip app will truly add value to public transport users in a post-COVID environment and so we’re proud to be supporting the launch and growth of a business we truly believe in. 

“We’ll be taking a two-pronged approach to the launch campaign, targeting businesses and end users through different channels, including regional and business media outlets in counties across the UK.” 

myTrip will make using public buses a smooth and simple process, allowing passengers to feel in control of their journey. It is targeted at small bus operators and will allow them to offer a more confident and secure passenger experience.  

Bethan Hopkins, marketing manager at Passenger said: “We accelerated the development of this app as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. We quickly realised that the platform we were beginning to develop could be pivotal in getting bus services back up and running and encouraging passengers back on board. 

“We were keen to work with agency partners that could quickly become an extension of our team, working closely with us to bring myTrip to market under a tight deadline. Liz Lean PR not only presented a professional yet nimble approach for the launch campaign which met our requirements but also seemed to naturally understand our brand and ethos, inheriting it as their own. We’re looking forward to working with the team!” 

For more information on the LLPR approach to brand launch strategy and to find out how we can help you accelerate the success of your brand, contact us on mail@lizleanpr.co.uk or call 01202 701828.