As part of his secondment with Bluesky Strategy Group in Ottawa, Canada, PLMR Advent Account Manager Sam Jackson thought there might be great differences between the challenges their clients, and countries, were facing. But after two weeks with the firm, it was clear there was a lot more in common than he first thought. Here he explains why these similarities bring the important role of communications agencies in creating solutions for their clients into sharp focus:
Before my secondment with Bluesky, I was looking forward to hearing about the different challenges the firm faces compared to what I work on in the UK.
And there were some very Canada-specific issues that I learned about, such as the need to include and respect the country’s indigenous community. In reality, Bluesky’s clients and Canada’s economy as a whole are facing very similar issues to what we are experiencing in the UK.
During my first week, I was lucky enough to get a prime viewing spot to watch ‘Question Period’ in Canada’s House of Commons – the equivalent of Prime Minister’s Questions in the UK. Were the topics discussed obscure problems that only Canadians would understand? No – the main issues were the cost-of-living crisis and soaring inflation, with the Conservative opposition MPs grilling Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on his plans to help Canadians get through the winter. A familiar story.
In my second week, I attended the Canadian Global Affairs Institute’s annual Defence Procurement Conference, where a panel discussed how defence and aerospace companies could meet the challenges of filling the huge number of vacancies in those sectors.
The discussion showed low unemployment and high vacancies in skilled industries are not unique to the UK. Even though the pressures of Brexit are unique to us, the issues of work-life balance and certain sectors being prioritised over others in education is something that is shared on both sides of the Atlantic.
During this panel discussion, there was talk around the potential way through the crisis.Collaboration between businesses, trainers, the education system, and federal government was mentioned, as well as reaching youngsters and telling them a positive story around working within aerospace and defence.
So how can we as comms agencies support companies to meet these kinds of challenges? Firstly, many organisations struggle to tell their story effectively or reach the right people. Positive messages need to be communicated effectively to have any realistic chance of success.
What’s great is that agencies like PLMR Advent and Bluesky are in the best place to help with this, because we are doing it already. For example, through our work in higher education, we are actively highlighting the ways in which the sector proactively works with SMEs, larger businesses and other partners to share knowledge, develop more useful courses for industry, and the positive outcomes it has on businesses and individuals.
Our strong connections with the business community in Coventry and Warwickshire made us an attractive company to work with. Another stream of work involves us producing high-quality written and video case studiesshowing how manufacturing and engineering SMEs in the West Midlands are becoming more productive through a government-funded scheme.And Bluesky, with its excellent government connections on the federal and provincial level, is actively helping its clients communicate how they are meeting major challenges too. For example, one project is looking to work with the indigenous community in the far north of Canada to research the impacts of climate change in a region where its effects are most pronounced.
Bluesky is heavily involved with getting the project in front of the right audiences to communicate their research effectively and help effect important policy change. This kind of work really matters to our clients, and by extension, their stakeholders. Our work enables them to tell the story of the difference they are making, and sometimes makes the difference directly.
Communications agencies like ours shine when we can help our clients overcome challenges through effective and targeted comms strategies. Whether it’s immediate public affairs advice on how to get in front of the right people, PR advice on how to maximise a message after a strategy has been decided, or advice on keeping a campaign rolling through effective use of social media – all this plays a role in helping our clients overcome their challenges and tell their stories in the best way.
Agencies like PLMR, Bluesky, and indeed all the companies within the GCA are very much part of the solution to meet the challenges the world is facing. Our team has knowledgeable, well-connected and hardworking consultants who can give meaningful communications advice to existing and new clients every step of the way. And with the problems that many countries are facing right now, I feel lucky to be able to call on and learn from our GCA partners across the world to make the biggest difference for our clients.