I help organisations to engage with their employees and with their customers.

Much of the time, I’m a storyteller. I might be explaining a business strategy in a way staff can relate to, or encapsulating the appeal of a product or service, or bringing to life a complex engineering project. The medium could be a magazine, blog, brochure, speech or a website. It’s the narrative that matters.

Before the storytelling gets underway there’s some strategic thinking – helping clients to nail the rationale behind their communications campaign. The best writers are not just compelling storytellers: they need strong business acumen too. Writing also relies on relationships. I couldn’t do my job without winning the trust and confidence of people at all levels in an organisation.

I work mostly with engineering and technology companies – those in the energy, automotive, aviation and healthcare sectors – but happily explore other worlds.

Projects

Sometimes I’m commissioned to simply write a feature. Often I’ll be asked to produce a brochure or magazine – project managing the design as well as writing the copy. On other occasions I’ll help to develop a broader communications plan, where there’s some strategic thinking needed too.

A change of direction

A manufacturing technology company summed up their communications challenge for me. “In the past our business strategy focused on financial targets. We now need to show employees that our future success depends on other factors. We must ready the organisation for a more competitive marketplace and raise performance.” I helped the management team to simply express their business strategy and to bring it to life for employees across the organisation.

Something to shout about

“We work on some amazing projects, but most of our customers never get to hear about them.” The Siemens News & Views magazine was launched to put that right. I interview both customers and employees – directors to apprentices – to tell engaging stories about Siemens’ contribution to the energy industry. These are in-depth, honest features where real people share their views. It’s a twice-yearly print and digital global publication.

Battling corporate armour

Many organisations have a set of values; most employees are weary of corporate jargon. I worked with a team of directors at a leading car manufacturer to help them express to employees, honestly and simply, what their values mean. Storytellers have to win the trust and confidence of people at all levels in an organisation and adapt their style to different audiences and media.

Finding time to reflect

Small teams, passionate in their work, can struggle to take time out to think about communication. TRS is a not-for-profit programme that supports careers in manufacturing, engineering and technology for UK plc. It’s run by senior industry leaders and supported by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. They asked me to help them share more widely the great work they’re doing. First step: a brochure and case studies.

Unravelling the story

Few engineers like a blank sheet of paper. I help them to tell their stories. When an aviation company asked me to produce an engineering brochure and a series of case studies, my job was about asking the right questions, listening hard, tuning in to sensitivities and sometimes challenging assumptions. Telling stories starts with unravelling and ends with bringing the threads together.

Marking the milestones

Over five years, Siemens and BAM Nuttall have been delivering challenging projects for SSEN [Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks] – massive substations in very remote locations that will connect renewable energy to the grid. The newsletter I produce gives the senior team at SSEN – and a wider community – regular updates. It highlights achievements and brings complex projects to life.

Stories

I’m not good at corporate jargon. I think business writing should be simple and direct. If I ever write ‘Going forward, we need to work on maximising synergies, aligning our messaging and trackable engagement’, fire me. When I interview someone I want their real voice to be heard. Here’s a small selection of stories.

Making connections

Reporting on a school trip to the battlefields of WW1 proves a powerful lesson in how personal stories connect us to the bigger picture.   A small boy stands solemnly …

A different perspective

An inspiring conversation about leadership (and life) with HR director Toby Peyton-Jones, shortly before he became a Government education advisor, gave me much to reflect on.    Toby Peyton-Jones is …

Life and times

New MDs coming into a business need to share their plans and priorities. What engages readers is an honest conversation – and one free of corporate jargon.   Darren Davidson …

The authentic voice

Apprentices are a joy to talk to. What’s important is capturing their openness and enthusiasm and letting their true voice come through.   “When I walked through the door, I …

Speaking out

Could the Oscar success of The Silent Child, the moving story of a profoundly deaf four-year old girl, result in sign language being taught in many more schools across the …

In their own words

Having a customer say what they value about your product or service is much more compelling than saying it yourself. That’s why I regularly interview my customers’ customers and always …

Life on the outside

Some stories stay with you a long time. One is an article I wrote about a prisoner who was on a National Grid scheme aimed at rehabilitating young offenders. By …

Keeping it real

Stories need to be honest and credible, not rose-tinted. When an engineer on an environmental mission says “I’m far from being a tree-hugger” and admits climate change news can be …

Home alone, stir crazy

A week into being self-employed, I wrote about how I’d found the previous three years working from home. It was a chance to debunk some myths and settle a bet …

Picture perfect

Telling personal stories is often more challenging and more rewarding. This glossy magazine feature is about a woman who had life-changing dental treatment. I wanted to do justice to a …

Starting out

I often encourage people to talk about the start of their career. Many early lessons stay with them for their whole working life. I wrote this story for an alumni …

The journey

Occasionally something prompts me to write a story I’m not being paid for. (Although I’ll happily consider writing for a charity for free). This story is my reflection on the …