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New Support Programme for Bristol Media Members

Published on Tuesday, 29th January 2019, contributed by Mette Davis-Garratt Limited

Bristol is on fire.  Having been named Britain’s ‘coolest city’ and identified as the fastest growing creative hub outside London, there is a lot for us to be proud of.  As Chair of Bristol Media, Chris Thurling brought together a diverse group of consultants and coaches to discuss how we might contribute to the continued success of the region by using our collective firepower.  We then spoke directly to members to understand their biggest talent & development challenges.  We identified five themes through a series of interviews with owners and senior team members of creative businesses ranging from 6 – 200 people:

1.     Leadership development

Leadership is a hot topic. Many of those we spoke to had not benefitted from external training or coaching to help them identify their own leadership style and how to be effective in their role.  Some recognised that their behaviours could sometimes be counter-productive because there was so much riding on the success of the business, and talked about the potential benefit of external support to provide perspective and guidance.

2.     Building cultures to attract and retain the best talent

We have some truly enviable creative businesses in the area, and our interviewees were keen to continue to build cultures where ambition is rewarded, and self-direction and accountability are standard.  They expressed the desire to empower team members to take control of their own careers and use their initiative to drive positive outcomes for the business, whilst maintaining a positive work-life balance.

Others talked about a clearly defined culture and values being one way of standing out from competitors to attract the best talent and clients.

3.     Redefining the value and role of client services

For most businesses we spoke to, there was a belief that the role of client services and the importance of relationship building had somehow lost its significance.  Interviewees felt that the industry needs to redefine best practice with clear expectations set around relationship building skills, commerciality, strategic understanding, creative appreciation, effective communication, and business development as standard, not nice-to-haves. 

It was also felt that businesses need to better define the distinction between client services and project management to enable team members to identify the best path for them, and clients to understand their respective value.

4.     Creativity for business

Interviewees felt that the proliferation of comms channels and the rise of in-house agencies has led to more niche creative offerings vs. integrated creative solutions that solve business problems.  Whilst there is much talk of the need to connect the customer journey, the reality is more channel-specific outputs, and it becomes increasingly challenging to understand the collective impact of activity across multiple channels.  This is also reflected in teams’ understandings of the role of creativity and how ‘their bit’ impacts wider business results.  They felt teams would benefit from a better understanding of the role of creativity.

Another discussion was around the desire to help teams sell strategic and creative work more effectively, enabling clients to communicate the rationale and benefits internally.

5.     People development and performance

Interviewees were keen to invest in their people and felt that there was an opportunity for Bristol Media to extend its networking events and training programme.  Some suggested basic training programmes to strengthen core skills, and leadership training for home-grown talent who had risen through the ranks.

Smaller businesses without an HR/Talent function said they would benefit from external support to help them develop their own talent and performance programmes, and understand where to focus their efforts for maximum impact.

What are we doing to help Bristol Media members?

We’ve collaborated to develop a programme of SW-based activity for the Bristol Media community, each aimed at different levels, that will help creative businesses address key challenges raised in our research:

1.     Mastermind Group Taster Session – 7th February - Comprising of 10 like-minded business owners and managers from non-competing businesses, you’ll benefit from the knowledge and experience of the collective group.  Run by Chris Kenber and Christophe Stourton:

2.     The Effectiveness Series – Launching in February – A series of 3-hour interactive workshops for creative business professionals including client service teams to help them improve traditional skills, including client growth strategy, meeting and workshop facilitation, and pricing confidence. Run by Mette Davis and Ian Noble.

To register your interest contact

3.     Discover your Leadership ID – May 2nd, 2019 - a powerful and immersive one-day experience that will help you discover and define your personal leadership brand and action plan, and rediscover your energy and motivation.  Run by Emma Collins, Sara Cottrell, Mette Davis and Katie Scotland.

To register your interest contact

And if you’d like to find out more about what each of us offers or get in touch, go to