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Small businesses define their elephant in the room

Blog post   •   Oct 25, 2013 12:56 BST

This week we hosted our autumn small business advice day at our offices. As part of our community investment programme, we set days aside to offer local businesses free PR advice, a pledge we made at the very beginning of the elephant journey, a pledge that gives elephant communications a soul and something that as a team we are all passionate about.

Instead of visiting businesses and spending a couple of hours with each, for this session seven small businesses joined us for a full day.

Around the table sat a completely diverse range of businesses. Three business were returning for a follow up session - music specialist Colchester Classics, local silversmith Cath Adam and beautician Olive who launched The Olive Room a year ago. Local photographer Charlotte Wright, textile designer Claudia Brown, wine merchants Hannibal Brown, and webcaster Alex Bridges came along for their first session with the elephant team.

The day began with coffee and an introduction to elephant communications. The mood was light and as a first for our small business days, we experimented with the idea of seeing everyone together for a full day and not having designated one to ones. You could see immediately that there was a synergy between our guests:  enthusiasm bubbling away, excitement about what they do and how they could bat off each other with shared thoughts. The room was full of ideas, we just needed help our guests to channel these and focus on how they played to the strengths of their businesses.

To start the day, the group were invited to paint their “elephant in the room” on our office elephant. Everyone’s thoughts converged on the importance of getting the message out, standing out in competitive markets and building new audiences.

Guy and Karen ran a session on building a communications plan. What was obvious between the people that were re-visiting us and those who were coming to see us for the first time, was the difference in confidence. Exuding confidence is difficult when you go it alone, it takes time but is an essential quality if you want your customer to believe in you.

Harriet than ran a second session exploring PR tactics and Lindsay kicked off the afternoon session Lindsay ran a session on writing content and press releases.

Olive from the Beauty Room reflects on the day - "I was delighted to join the elephant team for the day. I got to meet some great people in a similar position to me. The advice, guidance and tips I got there proved simple but effective and I got the chance to have a one-to-one regarding specific tips for my business. There were also lots of helpful pointers for the future. And the lunch was lovely too!"

The elephant small business advice days will return at the start of 2014. During the course of 2013 we have met a wide range of small business start-ups and done our bit to help them achieve growth. What remains clear to us that so much more needs to be done to help small firms use research and communications to realise their ambitions through a series of simple tactics that take a little bit of time but don’t cost anything.