Last month we were interviewing for the latest member of TeamEV, who I can’t wait to welcome in August, and during the interview process a few candidates asked about our “why”… a question that definitely scored a few extra points with me!

Values-led business is, without doubt, a differentiator these days and something that I’ve always been passionate about. Our purpose and why we do what we do isn’t just something that we’ve shone a light on during the pandemic, like many businesses; it has genuinely been at the heart of the EV. brand since day one.

Our ‘why’ is simple… it’s my ‘why’ in life: people. 

When I set up EAST VILLAGE. just short of eight years ago (eek!), I said that I was creating an agency “centred around team culture” and it’s what I strive to do every day. When I talk about that culture it doesn’t mean just Friday drinks or wearing trainers to work; but a place where every single person feels valued, trusted and supported. Whether that’s members of TeamEV, our client family, the suppliers we work with, journalists and influencers we engage with, guests attending our events (and everyone in between), I want them to feel like they belong when they’re with us. 

I set up EAST VILLAGE. after several years working both agency and in-house. As someone who always felt destined to work in PR, this industry runs in my blood, but it’s a passion that hasn’t always been shared by colleagues and, sometimes, even employers. I often felt like I cared too much about the clients I was working with, which always felt wrong to me. Surely, if you’re being paid by a business then you should care, to the very core of your being, about their success?! Likewise, whilst not someone who particularly needs praise, I’d spent years not feeling valued for the fact that I wanted to give a role my all. 

For me, setting up on my own was a chance to fix the things I thought were wrong with so many businesses that I came across. I wanted to create an agency that I would be proud to work for, an agency for a modern workforce that welcomed passion, embraced change, and genuinely gave a s**t about the people paying the bills. It’s this principle that sits at the heart of everything I try to be as a leader. 

I always want TeamEV to feel valued – for giving up so much of their lives to being at work and doing a great job, and for choosing EAST VILLAGE. as part of their career journey. Empowerment is big for me; from having true trust in the team and giving them room to take risks and make mistakes, through to being as inspirational a boss as I possibly can. I also want everyone to feel supported and that EAST VILLAGE. is part of that support network. We do quarterly #iGotThis reviews where we discuss transparent role progression, unlimited training opportunities, and what the business can do to remove their everyday gripes. We also talk about ‘life goals’ so that everyone can be open and honest about their plans for the future and whether or not EAST VILLAGE. fits into that. I love the team and don’t ever want to lose any of them, but I also want them to flourish so whether this business is part of their working life for one years or 10, it’s important that everyone feels valued. This is also why our mental health support and team perks take priority!

I always say that as the business owner my focus is looking after the team, because the team will then look after clients. This is absolutely true but for me, part of our ‘why’ is about the people we work for. That’s why our strap line is PR with personality – given to us by a client many moons ago – because we’re a team that gets stuck in, does things differently, and always puts passion into achieving the end goal. People buy from people and that includes businesses choosing to work with an agency – and it’s also why we often work with founder-led brands where we’re able to put their people in the PR spotlight. 

TeamEV cares about the success of its clients as much as they do, and that’s why we’re also always honest about what’s best for them. Sometimes that might mean us not being on a retainer but doing a short project and training their team instead, and it’s what led to us embracing DIY PR and setting up Pocket Sized PR. That honest dialogue is what keeps the EV. integrity in tact

Finally, the people that we’re communicating to – they mean everything to us too! We want to be an agency that represents the good and strives for change. It’s why we work with purpose and impact driven brands; TeamEV aims to flood the media with headlines about people, products and places that make lives better. Fake news, click bait and cancel culture aren’t welcome here, I’m afraid. 

So, that’s our why. People. For me, it’s people who make the world go round; people who create real change; and people who have the power to inspire one another. No matter how big EAST VILLAGE. becomes, or how the clients and industries we work with change, people will always be the reason that get out of bed in the morning. 

The best leaders out there, in my opinion, share this belief. From Mary Portas and her concept of The Kindness Economy to the way that James Timpson’s upside down management ensures empathy roars through his empire, it’s this kind of leadership that will go the distance and really see businesses (and people) succeed.

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