Blog : Edinburgh

UNLOCKING TEAM WELLBEING DURING COVID

UNLOCKING TEAM WELLBEING DURING COVID

The thought of exercising on a cold winter morning was a mountain I was not willing to climb at the start of 2021. Despite the best intentions for a daily dose of activity before the working day, my snooze button was beginning to see more action than my push-bike.

I was not alone in my sedentary start to the new year. According to former Olympian and leading sports scientist, Greg Whyte, the combination of Lockdown 3.0 with a further reduction in activity levels during winter, meant Britain was headed for a ‘perfect storm’ on physical health and mental wellbeing.

The new normal of working from home and its negative impact on our co-workers’ wellbeing has long been at the forefront of all our minds since the pandemic hit. We believe in taking a people-first approach – so it was important for us as an agency to be proactive and create simple initiatives to engage and help support the Stripe team during what has been a difficult time for everyone.

 

Small steps to positive change

12 months ago, we formed an all-agency wellbeing committee, putting in place an action plan focused on supporting the team’s mental, as well as physical, wellbeing.

Small and simple changes to daily working routines were soon implemented; regular screen breaks, no meetings over lunch, option to use dial in ‘walking-talking’ meetings rather than desk-based zooms, fortnightly check-ins and coaching to ask how each other was getting on, a weekly all staff meeting to share news and keep people connected, and an optional online social to bring some humor into the working week.

We also offered our teams online yoga practice and meditation every fortnight in rotation. The sessions are still ongoing and allow people to wind down and bring relaxation and movement to their week.

 

Stripe Edinburgh to London challenge

One of our biggest initiatives this year in defiance of the cold winter months and the start of Lockdown 3.0, was the launch of Stripe’s Edinburgh to London Challenge, encouraging the team to cycle, run or walk the 406 miles distance between our two offices.

The focus of the challenge was not to find out who was the strongest or fittest Stripe in the agency but supporting each other to be more active and making the challenge as accessible as possible, with a mutual goal which we could all work towards.

Using the Strava App and setting up a dedicated Stripe Club, the team was able to record their miles whilst providing kudos to their co-workers in real time. We created an all-agency Spotify playlist of tunes to help us stay motivated during a workout and relayed progress updates to the team on a weekly basis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A total of 33 co-workers joined the challenge and for some, the idea of taking part in a collective exercise activity was just the spark they needed to change their routine from the couch to getting outdoors.

The team smashed their target, completing 554 miles in less than a month with prizes given out to those in each office who completed the most miles.

As an agency, we have all felt the benefits of investing in team wellbeing. Helping to keep each other motivated and engaged during this time has helped to foster a new sense of purpose and camaraderie amongst us all which will continue long after lockdown ends.

And as for my snooze button: What can I say? Balance is now my new mantra on how to be more active and lead a healthier and happier lifestyle during lockdown.

VOTE FOR SHAUN!

VOTE FOR SHAUN!

This month is all about elections as Stripe Group Account Director, Shaun Bell is standing as Chair of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Scotland and we’re giving him our support.

Under his manifesto, Shaun plans to bring together the thriving community of PR professionals in Scotland, grow CIPR membership and importantly,

  • Illustrate how CIPR Scotland members and the wider PR community can get support through tough times
  • Increase visibility and understand of PR in boardrooms
  • Support PR careers and inspire the future leaders of our industry
  • Improve diversity in the Scottish communications industry

Shaun is truly passionate about life-long learning, career development and innovation so we’re not surprised he’s pledging to launch a ‘Here To Help’ initiative to support the PR community, introduce a ‘Director Skills Series’ to boost boardroom skills, and the expansion of the CIPR Scotland’s Future Leaders and Fellows Mentorship programmes.

With proposed new partnerships with the IoD, Marketing Society, PRCA, NUJ and Women in Journalism on top, we think Shaun has the interests of all comms professionals working in Scotland at heart.

So, join us and vote for Shaun – you can read his manifesto here and CIPR members can register to vote at the Scotland AGM here.

STRIPE EXPANDS SENIOR LEADERSHIP TEAM WITH GROUP ACCOUNT DIRECTOR APPOINTMENTS

STRIPE EXPANDS SENIOR LEADERSHIP TEAM WITH GROUP ACCOUNT DIRECTOR APPOINTMENTS

Stripe today announces a series of promotions that strengthen its senior leadership team in Edinburgh.

Stepping into new Group Account Director roles are Nadine Reilly, Shaun Bell, Adele Thomson and Kirsty Grierson, in recognition of their contribution and ongoing commitment to the business.

Managing Director, Morna McLelland, said: “Our new team of Group Account Directors will continue to deliver strategic, creative and exciting work while building and maintaining our strong client relationships. As part of our new Senior Leadership Team, they will be firmly focused on maintaining business growth and development of our people.”

Established by CEO Juliet Simpson in 2006, Stripe now has offices in Edinburgh and London and employees over 50 staff. The company was revealed as the seventh fastest growing consultancy in the UK in the 2019 PR Week Top 150.

Rowing For Home: Help Stripe back Sleep in the Park to fight homelessness

Rowing For Home: Help Stripe back Sleep in the Park to fight homelessness

Stripe is joining the fight against homelessness in Scotland by taking part in Sleep in the Park, the world’s biggest ever sleepout, and we need your help.

In just over a week a group of Stripes will be among 9,000 people bedding down for the night in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens with event organisers Social Bite, who have set themselves the ambitious target of eradicating homelessness in Scotland in five years. In addition to charity events like this, they are creating a nationwide jobs programme for homeless people and introducing new housing solutions for the homeless population.

We have pledged to raise £3,000 for the cause and are doing this through a range of events including a bake sale, wine tasting and our Senior Account Director, Sam Crawford, has even agreed to shear off her beautiful, ginger tresses for the cause.

Spending a night in the open in a sleeping bag safe in the knowledge we have our own homes to return to hardly represents a hardship, certainly not when set against the daily trials of homeless people fighting for survival, but hopefully, the donations will help to deliver the long-term goal.

So what’s next in our bag of tricks for donations? We’ll be taking on the nautical spirit of our original home, Leith, and rowing on top of The Barge at The Shore…while dressed as pirates. In stripes, naturally.Our special Rowing For Home day will take place next Tuesday 5th December, so if you happen to be passing and see us huffing and puffing out on the top deck, you’ll know why.

And if you aren’t, please spare a few quid here.

The Best of Burns Night 2017

The Best of Burns Night 2017

Yesterday evening saw all the MacDonald’s and MacDougall’s, Campbell’s and Cameron’s and all those with the slightest inkling of Scottish heritage celebrate one of the foremost aspects of Scots’ culture.

Every year, parties gather from Anchorage to Adelaide, Santiago to Seoul to boldly Address the Haggis. It’s also another perfect excuse to cross arms, join hands with your fellow Scots and revel in Auld Lang Syne once more, having most likely belted out the same tune just weeks ago at Hogmanay.

Burns and Scottish culture can, and has been celebrated, in a whole host of ways. Here are some of my favourite moments from brands and organisations marking #BurnsNight2017

Up first, the UK’s leading haggis producer, Macsween of Edinburgh, created Haggis Watch for their social media channels which saw gamekeeper Archie go on the hunt for the mythical creature that is haggis. Burns is a time for celebration in Scotland and Macsween wanted to have some fun with it and show the diversity of Haggis. A great series of video content.

The quintessential Scottish brand, IRN-BRU, celebrated Scotland’s bard in their own inimitable way with a poem dedicated to our national ginger drink.

But a spotlight on us Scots doing things differently goes to Universities Scotland, who held a Burns Night with a twist. The body that represents all nineteen higher education institutions in Scotland hosted students from over 180 countries to celebrate the richness, diversity and strength of Scottish culture. Guests were invited to attend the event at Edinburgh Corn Exchange in their home countries’ national dress. The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was there to welcome guests, stating that if Robert Burns were alive today, he would celebrate the diversity and culture of Scotland. The event was used to launch Universities Scotland’s latest campaign #ScotlandWelcomestheWorld. An evening to remember and a campaign to look out for!

imgID96504101.jpg.gallery

Finally, we spotted Scottish designer, Anna McManus, re-imagining Burns as a modern Trainspotter in the mould of Begbie, choosing tracksuits, choosing Buckfast, choosing life. Timely and quite simply, fantastic!

This year, us Scots continued to mark the 25th January with a bit of humour, a whole lot of celebration and a reminder of our inclusive and diverse culture. Now for next year!

 

Feeling GINspired at the Drinks Roadshow Edinburgh

Feeling GINspired at the Drinks Roadshow Edinburgh

The Drinks Roadshow hit Edinburgh last week – bringing a free trade tasting and networking event to Checkpoint, Bristo Place.

It was a great chance to mix with the industry and sample a neat range of wines, craft beers and premium spirits.  This included some of the newest Scottish gins making their mark in the market from Edinburgh’s Ian Macleod to Porter’s Gin in Aberdeen and Makar Glasgow Gin to Strathearn from Perthshire.

As a gin fan and a comms professional, I really enjoyed hearing about their products – all had an interesting story to share around how their gin was brought to life. And, clearly they all have a secret botanical recipe behind their unique flavours and character.

A gin masterclass with the Gin Foundry’s Olivier Ward on the day helped lift my knowledge in this area too. Thanks to his accomplished expertise on the Juniper based nectar and his innovative Tasting Wheel – he had my fellow Stripe and I tasting gin like a pro. Post-sesh we could decipher the nutty from the herbaceous and wax lyrical to all about locating the botanical notes.

It also opened my palate to the realisation that I don’t always have to drown my gin in Fever Tree or Fentimans – just a splash or on the rocks will often do nicely. Strathearn’s Oaked Highland Gin in particular stood out here – described as being ‘whisky meets gin’ it’s a great after dinner affair. While Makar Glasgow Gin’s simple serving suggestion of adding a slice of chilli with tonic was, for me, the perfect combination.

After a lot of debate, tasting and discussion, what I left feeling most excited about was the realisation that the ‘Gin revival’ is not showing any signs of slowing down. Gin now contributes £1.6bn to the UK economy – with seventy per cent of this being produced here in Scotland.  What’s more, it seems we’ve become a nation of gin drinkers – apparently we drank a million litres of gin in Scotland last year with Edinburgh drinking more than any other city!

A recent Mintel report has also shown that it’s younger consumers who are really starting to drive growth in this category.  More than two in five (42%) Brits aged 18-34 had drunk gin last year compared with 27% of over-45s.

The younger audience aren’t just drinking it either – some are having a go at crafting it too. It’s three friends from up North that are behind Porter’s Gin. The entrepreneurial trio became the first to start distilling gin in Aberdeen for 100 years, after collaborating with the UK’s oldest distillers G&J to bring their premium gin to the market.  While Luke Smith, a distiller for Poetic License – a Sunderland based gin –  told us how he started distilling gin in his kitchen before venturing into crafting it for a living.

With so much passion behind the craft, it’s easy to see why there are so many exciting gins being produced right across the country. While the gin bubble isn’t ready to pop, it seems like a week doesn’t go by without another new launch to market.

For gin fans everywhere, this makes for an exciting time.  But for the ever-growing range of artisan and craft brands it simply means more competition in an already busy marketplace. Working hard to achieve standout and gain an edge while staying true to their craft nature will therefore be key to maintaining growth and driving sales.  The versatility of this spirit and its appeal to a broad range of audiences presents a huge opportunity however, to drive even more ‘gin-novation’ and forge a strong brand image that really connects with consumers.

Check out this Scottish Ginfographic map from 5pm.co.uk too – a worthy road trip, I reckon.

5pm Gin Map of Scotland

 

 

 

 

Stripe grows our team with four new appointments

Stripe grows our team with four new appointments

Hot on the tails of our recent digital expansion, we’re excited to announce the addition of four new and very talented Stripes to our growing team.

Andrew Boocock is a former senior account manager at Gardiner Richardson managing B2B and consumer accounts, joins Stripe as an senior account manager in our Edinburgh office. Prior to agency life Andrew was a sports journalist for the BBC.

Hayley Angell, an Aussie native, communications specialist and former keynote speaker, has taken up the role of account manager in  our Glasgow office. Hayley brings with her a wealth of experience and passion for integrated marketing campaigns, social media strategy and great writing.

Elaine Cowan joins Stripe as PA to the Board. Drawing on her experience of juggling commercial property marketing and raising a fearless toddler, Elaine is set to bring more than a little order to the Stripe board.

Ana Zamora, a seasoned receptionist and paella-maker extraordinaire joins Stripe in our fast-paced front of house role.

One month in…

One month in…

Attending photo shoots, organising event openings, liaising with clients and colleagues alike, contributing ideas to management in team meetings and panic buying BBQ kits from B&Q – my first month at Stripe has been a whirlwind!

There is no typical day at Stripe, and the above are only a handful of the things I have been tasked with during my first six weeks of a three month placement as a Stars and Stripes graduate.

My fear for when I finished University was that I would be resigned to sitting at a desk repeating the same duties day in day out. Or worse still my duties would only extend to making the office tea and coffee. However from the moment I stepped into the Stripe office on my first day I knew that this wasn’t going to be an everyday “9-5” office job.

Starting a new job is never easy, and I have to admit that I was extremely nervous on that first Monday. As a recent Media graduate, I had never worked for a communications agency before and had very little understanding of what my job would entail.

In my role, I’ve been allocated five exciting accounts, each presenting its own unique workload. I have learnt first-hand what different businesses want their products and services to say about them – and the importance of getting it right. First-hand experience trumps text book learning any day!

The office environment at Stripe is fast-paced and lively. There is always a deadline to meet, creative brainstorming sessions to attend and media mail outs to prepare (bubble wrap has become my best friend at times!)

Stripe actively encourages its staff to contribute their individual thoughts and opinions and there is never a dull moment. This keeps me on my toes which makes my role so exciting. In the short time I have been at Stripe, I have learnt how important it is to use my initiative but equally how important it is to ask for help when needed.

As you might have gathered, working for a busy comms agency can be a bit overwhelming at times but without challenges, a job can become boring and where’s the excitement in that?!

Turing Festival 2015: full stack marketing

Turing Festival 2015: full stack marketing

“As a general rule, everyone wants to be liked. Brands are no different because they’re created, represented and employed by people.” That was my Friday night take-away from the Turing Festival 2015, Edinburgh’s international technology festival.

For one weekend in Edinburgh, big hitters from across the technology industry share their inspirations, pet hates and hot tips on a range of topics. Friday was ‘full stack marketing’ day – from SEO to audience analysis and online behaviours. Headliners included Cyrus Shepard from Moz, Oli Gardner from Unbounce and Phil Nottingham from Wistia. The audience went wild when Rand Fishkin presented a ‘Whiteboard Friday’ especially for the festival.

With hundreds of tech-heads in one room, my expectation was impenetrable jargon and hours of discussion about algorithms and the merits of SEO. I was right – there was jargon, algorithm chat and SEO celebration, but dominating it all was the idea that the biggest challenge facing the communications industry is the need to ‘humanise’ brands and their digital presence. Sound familiar? “We humanise brands” has been Cello Signal’s tagline since 2014.

It’s not a new topic. Since computers started infiltrating customer services in the 1960s there’s been theorising that faceless industry puts off consumers. With every brand now competing for their piece of ‘digital space’, it’s never been more important to come across as honest, trustworthy and ‘real’ to customers.

The problem (and opportunity) for the comms industry is that so many businesses are doing it badly. Atrociously. Abominably. Unforgivably boringly. How often do you pointedly ignore Facebook posts from a sponsored brand that does nothing but switch you off?

Mark Johnstone from Distilled summed it up when he questioned “why will anyone care?” As communications consultants, it’s our job to take a step back, stop, play devil’s advocate and assess the psychology behind consumers’ experiences and perceptions of a brand and its messages. Without that research and assessment, there’s nothing to base a strategy on.

The inconvenience is that there isn’t a silver bullet. It takes time, effort and (usually) money to understand your customers; their likes, dislikes, behaviour, mood swings, passions, schedule and tolerance. It’s like they’re real people… because they are real people. To get a real person on your side takes time, effort and (usually) a bit of money.

It’s heart-warming to think that even in the most advanced technological age, we can still say the easiest way to build trust in a brand is by making people feel special and understood.

As a complete aside… thanks to the speakers at Turing Fest for an inspiring event. And to the guys at Codebase and Stipso for organising it.

Behind the scenes at the Festival of Museums

Behind the scenes at the Festival of Museums

We plucked up the courage to brave the sights and frights of the University of Edinburgh’s Anatomical Museum when we helped unveil this year’s Festival of Museums programme.

Along with a team of school pupils we delved deep into the museum’s dark and mysterious archives to unearth some of its most horrible histories – including elephant skeletons, death masks and instruments made from human bones!

The 2015 Festival of Museums programme features over 100 day and night events specially curated to give visitors a unique glimpse inside Scotland’s best loved museums and encourage them to engage with culture in a unique, hands-on way.

It’s all happening on 15 – 17 May; find out more at www.festivalofmuseums.com.