Having been at Kier for nearly two years I'm now into a bit of a rhythm with the seasonal working calendar and have found it to go something like this: Keeping our heads down in the winter and spring to really embed some working practices and to introduce some new tools into the business, then in summer and Autumn we get out and about as much as possible to share what we've been doing and to take advantage of the lighter evenings and (mostly) nicer weather.

I'm now the master of packing an overnight bag
Being in the central team it is our responsibility to remain at the forefront of marketing and to offer guidance and support where we can. We also get involved in all group-wide initiatives and share our findings on how we can continue to reinforce the brand nationally. This is not to say that we know it all, in fact part of the benefit of travelling around is that we get ideas on feedback on how we can better service the business. With four divisions there is definitely the need to tailor what we are doing to specific audiences to avoid some of the issues in the past where there was very little guidance from the centre on how things should be done. With the launch of our Marketing Hub and brand library we've managed to turn this on its head and to really embed best practice via our marketing professionals far and wide.

I've always quite enjoyed travelling but at my stage of life I'm now never that keen to stay away from my family for any length of time (despite it meaning an uninterrupted nights sleep!) Sometimes a webinar or conference call just won't do so for the last five weeks I've been away from home for one night a week. This has meant a pretty unhealthy lifestyle with buffet lunches, a lot of snacking on beige food and me missing my Wednesday night kickboxing class (I'll never get that blue belt at this rate!) but as long as you manage the time well nothing can beat face to face contact. Here's my travelogue:

Number seventeen in my series of Kier office photos
Newcastle - Marketing Roadshow:
This was a long journey but definitely worth it. We met with the business development managers to explain some updates to the brand and get an idea of how the Construction division is run in the North East. I'm always surprised at the emphasis put on a regional approach primarily by our clients.

The team in the tunnels
London - Crossrail visit:
This was without doubt my favourite trip of them all. Kier Construction are currently building the new Elizabeth Line from Farringdon to the Barbican and we had the opportunity to go down into the tunnels to see the progress. The sheer scale of the work was breathtaking.

Our impressive stand for which we won an award
Manchester - Charted Institute of Housing:
This is the big trade show for our Living and HM offerings at Manchester Central where I oversaw the graphics and interactive video content on our stand. This was truly a team effort and was a great opportunity to show we are a leading player in this market despite any uncertainty caused by Brexit.

Market analysts touring the facilities at our local depot
Basingstoke - Analyst seminar:
This day took place on the back of our trading update as a presentation to analysts from the City on our corporate position. I was required to manage the recording of a webcast and then to ensure it was accessible on our website alongside the presentation. Afterwards our highways depot gave a very impressive tour.

The Western and Wales marketing team 
Exeter - Marketing Roadshow:
Book ending my travels with another series of presentations to our construction colleagues, we had a packed programme in which we covered brand, marketing literature, social media, microsites and apps and our forthcoming brand audit. I was impressed with the levels of enthusiasm from all.

All of this flying around has meant quite a few extra hours so I'm really looking forward to my summer holiday in a few weeks time. However, I've still found time to self-publish a book version of the first 100 posts of this blog which I'm really happy with. By my calculations it'll be sometime in 2020 before I'm ready to publish volume two - I will have probably racked up quite a mileage by then!
David and Goliath
Traditional wisdom states that big companies – complex and encumbered by shareholders, legacy IT systems, and outdated processes - are slow moving and not very innovative. Meanwhile, start ups and smaller competitors are nimble and able to outpace their sluggish rivals. That version of reality is, in many ways, borne out by recent corporate history with examples such as Blockbuster losing out to Netflix, or Apple’s iPhone swallowing up any demand for Blackberries.

Indeed, most large companies follow the basic laws of physics when it comes to innovation: the more mass an object has the greater its momentum. In other words, if you are a a giant oil tanker the harder it is to turn around from the direction you’re already headed.

In heading up Kier's digital strategy I've been careful not to use the above as an excuse to avoid attempting to get the buy-in required for us to be innovative. In fact, (and as I'm a 'glass half full' person') I've been careful to actually sell the size of our company as advantageous when it comes to innovation. With 24,000 colleagues there is no doubt a vast array of stories which we can surface to use in our marketing efforts - our job is just to surface them. No doubt the diverse range of services we offer, and industries in which we work means there should be no shortage of compelling content - small startup companies would give their left arm for that amount of potential content!

"Listen up! We have content!"
Alongside this big companies have more cash, human capital and customers than smaller companies making it comparatively easier to launch new products and businesses. But where big companies can really come into our own is by not actually looking for the latest technology wave to ride but instead looking at what we are currently doing and then assessing how we can streamline it for maximum impact.

I have recently been putting together a strategy paper for senior management which looks at these very issues. Working at a large company means that not only is there a challenge in pulling out the good content to promote externally but also in communicating effectively to people internally. With the increasing expectation from users that useful content will find them it is especially important that we invest in systems to reach the masses, cleanse our data-sets and refine our targeting. You won't need any technology to reach a room of 5 people but you'll need a lot of amplification to address a hall of 5,000. The bigger the company the bigger the audience and the bigger the noise you have to cut through. Only by being truly innovative will you stand out from the crowd.
In order to continue to improve our social sentiment and brand reach we are increasingly playing our part in nationally supported campaigns - the latest of these being 'National Women In Engineering Day' (#NWED2016) on 23rd June. Due to the scope of our offering we were confident that we could pull together some engaging content for this and engaged the business to pull out some case studies for our blog and social media. The effort the team put in increased the traffic to the blog by 480% on the average amount of daily activity.

Partaking in this also gave us some excellent learning points for future campaigns (such as implementing more robust event tracking in job applications, linking to contributors' social accounts for authenticity and tying in our company values).

Only by implementing many small, but significant, changes can we ensure the entire business is engaged in turning around the super-tanker but if we all pull in the right direction then nothing will stand in our way...
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