Your questions; CommsBank answers.
CommsBank & Associates delivers honest and transparent communications. I want to answer the questions that you have, so here are some to get us started.
If you are still left scratching your head then please just let me know. I’d love to hear your questions and I will promise to give you my honest opinion.
Q: What do you do?
A: I fulfil the role of Communications Manager. This may be for a small or medium sized business that does not require an in-house resource, or I might provide additional support for an established communications or marketing team.
Q: What does a Communications Manager do?
A: That really depends on the business need.
There is no secret formula to an effective communications strategy. I’ve seen time and time again a press release that receives great media coverage, but has anyone informed the staff? A wonderful editorial in a technical publication, but has anyone repurposed the content for use on the company’s website as a series of blogs? It’s not rocket science, but as business owners are focused on running the business, an overview of who knows what can be overlooked.
This becomes a business critical issue as it dilutes your brand, or as I’ve seen first-hand, when an ill-informed staff member makes up their own version of an otherwise simple story. That goes on to attract unwanted media attention and long lasting reputational damage. This is the value of a joined-up approach to communications, and it is why I chose to leave a PR focused role to set up CommsBank & Associates.
Q: Why is your approach different?
A: I truly believe in the power of content marketing, also known as inbound marketing. The basic principle is that knowledge builds trust, and trust develops relationships that will in turn lead to sales. People buy from people, not from organisations so modern businesses need to communicate differently and sharing knowledge is the foundation to build on. Simon Sinek’s well-known TED talk really got me thinking about this a few years ago, and my more recent involvement with the Content Marketing Academy has cemented my interest.
In true content marketing style, I’ve written a number of blogs over the past few months to share my knowledge. These include the role of vision and values, the benefits of collaboration, some tips if a journalist appears at your door and why it’s best to keep your political opinion to yourself. I’ve also looked at ways in which we use business cards and even why we should listen more and talk less. I love to write, and like any good DJ will take requests, so please let me know if there are any communications related subjects that interest you.
Q: So, you’re a PR girl, right?
A: Over the past few months I’ve refined my pitch. Initially I spent a lot of time explaining what I offered, battling with the preconception that I had set up another PR or marketing agency. This is not the case. PR is only one strand of communications, and I offer a joined-up approach to communications. That is not to say I wouldn’t include a press release in a communications strategy if that was what the story required, but this is not my main focus.
My skill is finding the story that exists in every business, and having the skill to tell that story in a compelling way. That may include PR, marketing, internal communications, digital media and stakeholder engagement. No two companies are the same.
Q: How much do you cost?
A: From day one I’ve been upfront about CommsBank’s rates, so much so, they are on my website. This is something my competitors shy away from, and I understand the reasons for that. For me, it’s about total transparency.
I offer a professional service. I have an honours degree and have worked for multinational companies in cities around the world. My well-rounded experience allows me to communicate effectively at a senior level and to appreciate the journey a business goes through: from fledgling to juggernaut. My rate reflects that.
A bank of hours offers a cost effective alternative to the traditional agency retainer. I charge £50 per hour, based on blocks of 10 hours. The reason for this is I wish to discourage businesses who may want a single press release, as I question if this is best use of time as a one-off gesture will not offer long-term results. A strategic approach to communications requires commitment, albeit flexible and affordable.
Q: How do I know if I am getting value?
A: My clients receive a CommsBank Balance detailing how many hours have been spent, ensuring complete transparency. Hours are valid for six months, and no monthly contracts ensure the right level of support is provided, regardless of size or stage of the business. This is a step change to the traditional agency retainer where a set fee is payable, regardless of activity.
I’m not cheap, but I am cost effective. There is a big difference.
Q: Why would I not choose an established agency?
A: CommsBank is me; I am CommsBank.
This may sound limiting and small scale, but when you consider the flexibility this gives me, and my customers, it’s a real opportunity. It’s a change to how communications support is offered as agencies diversify their offering to include all strands of communications: PR, design, marketing, internal communications, crisis management, digital marketing…. the list goes on.
Whilst a one-stop-shop is the right solution for some companies, I believe it is not the right fit for many, especially smaller companies and start-ups.
Q: Who are your “& Associates”?
A: CommsBank & Associates allows me to scale the business when required, rather than take on salaried staff with fixed monthly outgoings.
I take great pride in and care of my network of associates. These are like-minded people who are specialists in their own field of work. By carefully selecting the right associate for the job, my clients get maximum results. I will be the consistent link by performing the role of Communications Manager, but if certain activities require a specialist, I will make sure the right associate is engaged.
I have trusted relationships with digital marketing geniuses, animators and moviemakers, photographers, creative graphic and web designers and consumer focussed PR gurus – all are small businesses. These people love what they do, and they’re really good at it. I don’t have a big ego, and my honest approach will ensure we engage the right talent for maximum results.
So what’s right for you?
Any communication starts with a chat. It’s important to spend the time to get to know your business, the challenges you face and your hopes for the future.
A traditional agency approach may be the right fit for you. There are a number of great agencies out there that can secure fantastic coverage in the publications you want to be seen in. Likewise, if digital is your thing, there are a number of digital agencies that can develop a powerful strategy to increase your digital profile, or marketing agencies that will support your sales efforts.
The first step is to identify the type of support your business requires, and why it needs it. CommsBank & Associates offers a joined-up approach to communications, which is what helps to make us different.
Don’t just take my word for it
Sounding a little bit like Yoda; my business is young but my following is strong!
“CommsBank provides the right level of support and the flexibility we need as a start-up company. Karen’s creative approach has allowed us to see our product in a different way and her willingness to share her knowledge and her network of contacts has really helped to give us a kick start.”
– Esker Gin
“I have worked with Karen for a number of years and her energy and enthusiasm is contagious. It is great to see her doing something she has such passion and skill for. She has always gone over and above to support my projects, and with Karen at the helm, CommsBank will change the way businesses communicate.”
– Jane Harvey
“Karen has a sincere curiosity. She took great care to find out more about my company to create a compelling story.”
– John Mellis, Mellis Media
“As a fellow member of The Fleet Collective, I’m delighted to add Karen’s skills to our collaborative offering. CommsBank appreciates the bigger picture and Karen’s creative approach and writing ability, and her genuine interest in other people’s story is a powerful combination. We have already identified a number of projects to work on together, and I cant wait to get started.”
– James Williamson, Moovii Ltd