Keystone Posts by Hayley Williams

A new community engagement campaign is set to run in the Bedfordshire town of Potton this autumn, with communications executed by the Keystone team.

Potton is a thriving town of approximately 5000 residents in the heart of rural Bedfordshire, and Keystone’s work centres on the potential new community facility for the town, Potton Hall for All.

Running from 19th September to 23rd October 2020, the campaign will share more details as to how the funds for the new facility have been identified and asks Potton residents for formal agreement to enable the final funds for the Hall to be secured.

Keystone was chosen to develop and roll out the five-week community consultation during a competitive pitch process run by the registered charity set up to build and run the hall (Potton Hall for All), in partnership with Potton Town Council.

The campaign launches with a stand at the Potton Seasonal Market on Saturday 19th September and includes online and offline communication to residents, as well as dedicated stakeholder engagement activity. The campaign messaging and plans for execution were built following a bespoke workshop with key Potton Hall for All stakeholders; an event facilitated virtually this summer by the Keystone team.

Orchestrating community engagement impact is a core skill at the heart of Keystone’s approach, which was evident to the Potton team during the pitching process. Experience also comes from similar community focussed campaigns delivered for St Neots and Huntingdon Town Councils, as well as Huntingdonshire District Council.

Further information on Potton Hall for All and the Keystone led campaign can be found on the Potton Hall for All website or by following the campaign on Facebook.

On Tuesday 28th July, a live webinar sought to support solo businesses that hoped to grow post Covid19, despite the challenges that the new landscape may bring – and Keystone was part of it.

The EU Erasmus+ Ambition to Employ project brought together a number of experts to share their own stories for growth, as well as sessions that talked through the Ambition To Employ resources that are now available.

Keystone founder Hayley was interviewed by Orla Casey from Momentum (an Ambition To Employ partner) as part of the webinar, sharing the Keystone story to growth, and offering insights for those also looking to undertake the same business growth journey.

The full recording is now available to watch back on YouTube – and if you’d like to hear Hayley’s interview specifically, you’ll find it at 1 hour 18 minutes in. The webinar is designed for solo entrepreneurs, business support agencies and those interested in economic growth, especially in the context of COVID-19.

Contributions also included:

  • Susan HayesCulleton, Strategist, author, presenter and co-founder of The Positive Economist, shared ‘The seven secret questions that every new employer secretly asks themselves
  • Laura Campbell from the Centre for Entrepreneurs (the UK’s leading entrepreneurship foundation) who shared new entrepreneurial insights from its research work, and also introduced its NEF Fast Track programme
  • Peter Ibbetson from JournoLink (the interactive PR platform designed for small businesses) highlighting how microbusinesses can gain access to the skills they need to grow in a rapidly changing technological world – as well as how to maintain the confidence, flexibility & energy to pivot

The importance of being able to adapt, how to deal with uncertainty and the valuable role of business support were all key themes throughout

A number of Ambition To Employ project resources are now available to support those solo businesses looking to grow; as well as those in business support or economic development roles, to pass on to businesses that they are working with.

SELF ASSESSMENT TOOL – Enabling businesses to quickly assess their readiness to hire a first employee – and helping to identify any areas to improve knowledge and skills to capably and confidently welcome new staff member to the business.

CURRICULUM AND OPEN EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES – Resources aimed directly at entrepreneurship training providers, private consultants or as part of business courses in colleges and universities. They are designed for use in classroom learning sessions or for small group or one-on-one coaching, but as open resources, they can be adapted to individual circumstances

ONLINE COURSE – The Ambition to Employ course has a clear goal: to enable self-employed individuals to hire their first employee. The course covers the practical, legal and financial aspects of employment and sustainable business growth, but also apply new insights to help overcome the psychological barriers and risks involved.

Ambition to Employ is an EU Erasmus+ project bringing together project partners and experts from the United Kingdom, Poland, Spain, Denmark and Ireland. The project has developed a new training model to enable self-employed owner-operators to hire their first employee with knowledge, ability and confidence. The Ambition to Employ programme team has also published a related eBook, available to download here.

Hasn’t it been a strange week. One that none of us is likely to forget. And I know everyone is braced for more disruption too.

If you need us, we’re here for you.

Yes, like lots of other businesses, we too are all now working remotely as we continue to deliver for our clients. But we are as available as we’ve always been. And as a long-standing marketing consultancy, we’ve got this teamwork and communication thing well pinned down.

Communication and visibility, at a time like this, is so very essential for all businesses, and we’re on hand to offer any advice to you if needed, just get in touch. You may not sure how to communicate with your audiences right now. You may be at a loss to understand how you can continue to market in these circumstances. But in business, there are always challenges to overcome – and we can look to do that here too.

We can’t wait to be back out and about again – but until then each of us in the team sends our very best wishes to all our clients, partners, suppliers and the wider business community.

We’re ready to book a chat or jump into our virtual meeting room whenever you need us too. The chances are you’ll see Suzanne’s cat (Lola) jump on her shoulder like a parrot, which is a reason for a meeting all on its own!

Keystone’s Hayley Williams reflects on the love of a town, and highlights why a commitment to a place is a community engagement opportunity to be harnessed…

When I meet people for the first time, especially in and around St Neots where the Keystone office is based, I will near enough always say that I love to live and work in the town. That’s because I really do.

St Neots has been my home for nearly 17 years. A town that I arrived at as a (much more fresh-faced) young adult to buy my first house with my soon to be husband. A town that has now seen us call a number of houses home. A town that has helped us meet treasured friends and the town that is now home to my children too. And I’m not only a resident, but I’m also an active member of many community groups; as well as a local employer. The core Keystone team all live in the town and many of our clients and suppliers are based in and around St Neots too.

But this isn’t a story about me. And my story isn’t necessarily any different from anyone else’s. Lots of people are in the privileged position to love where they live – and to have deep-rooted connections to that place they call home. And aren’t we lucky! But this reminder of good fortune also got me thinking.

Can a love of the place in which we live mean we are the perfect people to engage further with that place if we are given the opportunity or are asked to?

I’d like to think so. But is the opportunity being fully explored or harnessed by those that see community engagement being central to their work? I’m not sure…

In Keystone’s world, we are hearing more and more about Place Marketing – defined by the Local Government Association as “telling the story of your place in a way that works for everyone”. But isn’t telling a story only communicating one way? What about living and breathing the story together? For us, that’s community engagement.

It’s hugely important that organisations and statutory bodies:

  • remember and appreciate the valuable perspective their residents can offer
  • know how to connect with individuals and groups in a local area
  • be proactive in their outreach activity across their communities and stakeholders

That’s why Keystone has developed a bespoke community engagement tool. So local Councils and not for profits with community focussed purpose can benchmark their current community engagement position – and put plans in place to improve or enhance where needed. We’ve used our direct experience of building messaging and activity to deepen community and stakeholder engagement to develop this key assessment tool. Curious? Drop us a line as we’d be happy to share the tool with you!

And I’d also recommend a trip to St Neots if you haven’t visited before. Yes, I may be biased, but I like to think the town has quite a lot to be proud of. And we’d always put the kettle on at Keystone HQ. Here’s to my next 17 years here.

* ST NEOTS PHOTO COURTESY OF KEYSTONE’S KATHERINE

We’re delighted to announce that our Founder and Managing Director, Hayley Williams, has been co-opted to the Board of Trustees for the Hunts Forum of Voluntary Organisations (known as Hunts Forum).

Hunts Forum has been established since 1994; set up to encourage, support and develop voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations across Huntingdonshire.

With messaging, content and campaigns being at the heart of what Keystone does, Hayley is committed to bringing this approach into Hunts Forum for the benefit of the organisation, its members and the wider sector. The organisation will also benefit from Hayley’s direct experience in supporting membership body clients and in running community engagement projects at Keystone.

Speaking of her new role, Hayley said: “I’m hugely proud to be part of the Hunts Forum Board; applying my wider experience of marketing strategy and community engagement. I was struck immediately by the passion and commitment shown by the whole team in their efforts to represent the voluntary, not for profit and charity sector across Huntingdonshire – and I look forward to helping the organisation build on its already impressive outreach activity and representation for this core group.”

Hunts Forum of Voluntary Organisations is an independent, non-profit making registered charity based in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire. The organisation is led by a number of Trustees, who are outlined on the Hunts Forum website. Expressions of interest are always welcomed from others who may have the skills and expertise needed on the Trustee Board.

CAPTION: Hayley (second from left) and Hunts Forum members at a Keystone facilitated Members Marketing Workshop in 2019.