"If you’re still left scratching your head then please let me know. I’d love to hear your questions and I promise to give you my honest opinion."

Karen, Chief Communicator

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.

A: That really depends on the business need. There is no secret formula for an effective communications strategy. Time and time again, I’ve seen 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. I’ve seen first-hand the detrimental effect an ill-informed staff member can have when they make 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.

A: I 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.

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.

A bank of hours offers a cost-effective alternative to the traditional agency retainer. I charge £75 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, for example. 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. 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: My clients receive a bank 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 change to the traditional agency retainer where a set fee is payable, regardless of activity.

A: I regularly work with associates. This 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 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.

A: Mentoring is a directive approach, coaching is not. As defined by Robert Dilts:
  • Coaching: helping another person to improve awareness, to set and achieve goals in order to improve a particular behavioural performance.
  • Mentoring: helping to shape an individual’s beliefs and values in a positive way; often a longer-term career relationship from someone who has ‘done it before’.
Both offer a structured conversation to achieve a positive outcome and do not need to be mutually exclusive. It is however, important not to jump into ‘solution giving mode’ in a coaching conversation, as its value is in supporting the other person to develop their own solution.

A: I have a professional accreditation from The Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) level 5 in Coaching and Mentoring. I also have a BA (Hons) Business Studies degree from Robert Gordon University, and Diploma in Business Administration from Aberdeen College.

This is backed by more than 20 years’ experience in a variety of industries including: making TV commercials and music videos for a film production company in New York; as marketing adviser for Deloitte in London; in an internal communications role for oil giant Petrofac; and as a communications specialist for an Aberdeen PR agency.

A: I am qualified to deliver DISC psychometric profiles. DISC is a globally recognised diagnostic tool that has been used by millions of people in some of the world's largest organisations over the last 25 years. The process starts with my clients providing answers to a quick and simple online questionnaire, and reviewing their results with me to identify areas of their personality that they would like to develop or become more aware of.

There are many options for psychometric testing. DISC is a cost-effective tool that produces an accurate and user-friendly report. I work with associates that can deliver alternative psychometric tests, such as Insights, Lumina, C-Me, Emergenetics and Smithfield, and I can connect you with the right provider to offer the best solution for you.

A: Yes, all conversations before, during and after a coaching session are confidential. I may take notes, but these will be anonymised and kept securely. In line with GDPR regulations I will only retain personal data for as long as it is relevant for me to do so. I am happy to discuss any concerns you have around confidentiality, or conflicts of interest, and you can read my online privacy policy here.

A: I am a qualified coach and mentor; not a qualified counsellor. It’s important to understand the difference, as professional support and advice should be sought for specific concerns (for example, debt management, marriage counselling, anger management etc.)

Gladeana McMahon, award winning coach and author, summarises: “A therapist will explore what is stopping you driving a car. A counsellor will explore your anxieties about the car. A mentor will share tips from their experience of driving. A consultant will advise you how to drive the car. A coach will encourage and support you in driving the car.”

A: It depends on what your requirements are. Before working with The Vault, I will provide a proposal that sets out desired results, timescales, frequency of sessions and associated costs. It all starts with a conversation to find out more about your challenges and desired outcome. Get in touch and tell me more!

A: The Commsbank Pulse is a staff engagement framework that checks the pulse of your workplace and provides actionable support for you and your teamworkforce.

We have joined forces with Smithfield Performance, specialists in measuring employee behaviour and opinion, to offer a quick data-rich survey that informs communications with staff to ensure you are providing the information they desire, not what you think they need.

This includes:

• Staff engagement survey powered by Smithfield Performance
• Two-hour review session of survey results
• Communications recommendations report based on your survey results
• Engagement Communications roadmap and toolkit to tailor your communications programme

A: We have experienced change that before 2020, would have seemed unimaginable. As we start to pick apart what might happen next, effective communication has never been more important. This level of uncertainty is overwhelming and challenging. In times of profound change, people need reassurance, support and interaction. Effectively supporting your workforce comes down to consistent and regular communications, but first you must listen to understand what matters to them.

A: Often companies conduct a staff engagement survey, review the results… and pause.

Operational demands get in the way, priorities change and the survey results get put to the side to action later. Often, later never comes, and a new survey will attempt to engage staff again. The employee’s voice was not listened to and actioned the first time, so why get involved again? An inevitable downwards spiral begins. CommsbankPulse is focussed on providing actionable support for you and your workforce, giving you the framework you need to action the feedback you receive and employees assurance that their voice is being heard.

A: We have chosen to partner with Smithfield Performance to provide robust data to inform your decisions on how/what/when to communicate with your workforce.

Smithfield Performance specialise in quantifying employee opinion and behaviour to help businesses make better decisions in the selection, promotion, engagement, development and wellbeing of their people. It provides engagement surveys for the whole company, team effectiveness surveys for teams, and 360° feedback and psychometrics for individuals.

A: Costs start from £999 (for up to 25 people surveyed).

For less than £40 per person, you can find out what matters to your staff, and make informed decisions to engage and motivate your workforce at a time when they need it the most.

Costs are dependent on the size of your workforce, so please get in touch to find out what that means for your organisation.

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.

Curious and want to know more? Pop your contact details and a little more information about your requirements into the form below and we’ll get back to you shortly. Please be assured that we will never pass your data on to any third parties without your consent.