Meet Joanne Parker. She has 30 years of experience helping big companies like Interflora, the Environment Agency and Yorkshire Building Society grow their business and enhance their reputation. Now she uses that expertise to help service-based entrepreneurs communicate more effectively with their target audience.
Whether you are just starting out and need help to establish your brand voice or you want to update your website and marketing materials, Joanne shows you the best way to talk to your audience. She helps coaches, entrepreneurs and SMEs gain clients, boosting their visibility and enhancing their reputation.
Check out more interviews with entrepreneurs here.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO GET FEATURED?
All interviews are 100% FREE OF CHARGE
Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Joanne Parker: I worked in corporate communications for big brands and high street names for 30 years. In that time, I dealt with change, crisis and reputation management. Often my role came about because a large organisation had a problem, and communications is usually the issue or the solution. I helped those companies to create communications strategies and know how to implement them. This work covered the full spectrum from running events, writing newsletters and briefing materials to dealing with the media and external stakeholders.
I set up my business, JP Writing Services in November 2019, and now use all my skills and knowledge to advice SMEs on their communications. We usually start with their message and then I mentor them on how to use that message to reach their target audience.
2020 and 2021 threw a lot of curve balls into business on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past couple years, how can businesses thrive in 2022? What lessons have you learned?
Joanne Parker: I think one of the biggest lessons that emerged for many over the last couple of years is the need for clarity in our communications. Here in the UK, there was much confusion in the early days of the pandemic about whether you should stop at home or whether you were allowed to work etc. Some of these examples are now used on greetings cards as jokes!
Of course, it is no joking matter. A crisis situation highlights the need for clarity, but our customers and stakeholders need that clarity in everything that we put out from our businesses. We also need to update and refresh our messaging to reflect what is going on around us. Many businesses operate very differently now to what they did two years ago, and yet many are still communicating in the same way. Our customers have changed. We need to adapt our messaging accordingly.
The pandemic seems to keep on disrupting the economy, what should businesses focus on in 2022? What advice would you share?
Joanne Parker: I believe customer service is where we should be focusing. Our business model needs to be flexible so that we can adapt to external drivers but the standard of our customer service needs to be a constant. We need to win back our customers and build trust with new ones. Much of that comes with the consistency of our service and by going above and beyond to delight our customers.
How has the pandemic changed your industry and how have you adapted?
Joanne Parker: Being in communications and working on line, I was lucky that I wasn’t impacted by the pandemic as much as other industries. However, I think it has highlighted the importance of communication. In some respects, the fact that production values slipped during the pandemic and we are now used to seeing people broadcast from their homes, with less than ideal lighting and sound quality, has helped more people feel confident to go online with videos and podcasts.
What advice do you wish you received when the pandemic started and what do you intend on improving in 2022?
Joanne Parker: Get a comfortable chair! When you are spending so many hours online, it really helps. And yes, I still need to upgrade mine.
Online business surged higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for 2022?
Joanne Parker: I have spent most of my life on Zoom for the past two years and I don’t see it changing. Yes, there are more face-to-face networking meetings coming back but I think people recognise the time, expense and harm to the planet that travelling costs, and are keen to stick with online meetings.
The brick and mortar companies that moved online out of survival are not likely to give up what they have created online. If the pandemic taught us anything, it is the importance of having a Plan B or a second source of income.
How many hours a day do you spend in front of a screen?
Joanne Parker: Anywhere between eight and twelve. I do online networking for perhaps four hours a day. That includes meeting new people and speaking to clients. I am then working on screen copywriting and I also spend an hour or so a day, working on my second novel. I do try and break up all that screen time with time away from the computer, walks and refreshment breaks.
The majority of executives use stories to persuade and communicate in the workplace. Can you share with our readers examples of how you implement that in your business to communicate effectively with your team?
Joanne Parker: We had a fox run through the office the other day. I was telling the story to my team and they were hanging on my every word. It caused quite a stir and they had so many questions about it. Where had it come from? Where was it going? How big was it? Was it scary?
Of course there was no fox but the story is a great way to grab people’s attention and focus them where you want them to focus. Stories help us to communicate difficult information more easily, they engage people more that facts and figures and you can imbue stories with emotion. I encourage my team to think in stories so that they can disrupt the flow of their target audience and create engagement.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as the real challenge right now?
Joanne Parker: Here in the UK, and across many parts of the world, people are struggling with the cost of living. Energy and food prices have skyrocketed and people don’t have as much disposable income. Businesses are also feeling the impact of rising costs.
Whenever money is tight, marketing is often the first budget that businesses cut. Wrongly. It is more important than ever to keep communicating with customers in the lean times. They need to be reassured that you are still there to meet their needs. They want you to reach out and keep them informed. My challenge is making sure my customers don’t retrench. If they are in the process of building their brand awareness or raising their own visibility as a thought leader, it is vital that they keep going. People need to communicate more, not less.
In 2022, what are you most interested in learning about? Crypto, NFTs, online marketing, or any other skill sets? Please share your motivations.
Joanne Parker: I try to keep abreast of the changes in the industry but my focus now is on the best ways to serve my customers. Subscription models were all the rage but now they seem to waning. Podcasts and blogs are still popular and of course, so is video. I need to provide my advice and my services in the best format to meet the needs of my audience. I will be monitoring how my customers want to receive their information and adapting accordingly.
A record 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in September in 2021, accelerating a trend that has become known as the Great Resignation. 47% of people plan to leave their job during 2022. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. Do you think leaders see the data and think “that’s not me – I’m not that boss they don’t want to work for? What changes do you think need to happen?
Joanne Parker: The move to working from home has been a huge challenge for managers, leaders and organisations as a whole. Managing remote teams is a bigger challenge than having your employees in the office in front of you. Many managers lack interpersonal skills and I think this has been highlighted even more over the last two years. We are also not great on recognising people’s differences. We might undertake profiling of teams using tools such as Myers Briggs, but we don’t always take into account more subtle differences in the way that people are wired.
Some people like to work at home, others hate it. Some like to be micromanaged, others hate it.
If we are going to keep people in the workplace, managers need to be upskilled in the way they related to individuals and teams. Employers need to be more switched on about people’s mental health requirements and build in different ways of working.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Joanne Parker: It would have to be brevity. The ability to keep all meetings, all reports and all conversations as short and concise as possible. No meetings without a specific agenda and only one agenda point allowed. No reports for the sake of it and no waffling.
What does “success” in 2022 mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Joanne Parker: I am in year three of my business so now is the time for seeing greater stability and growth. I know business will always be a rollercoaster but this year it is about taking on more clients on retainers and building those long term relationships. I am pleased to say the year has got off to a great start and I am looking forward to building on this strong foundation so I can help more SMEs to flourish by harnessing the power of clear communication.
Jerome Knyszewski, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Joanne Parker for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Joanne Parker or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
Disclaimer: The ValiantCEO Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.