We talked to Veronica Hannon of Transform Communications on how the firm is creating maximum market impact during the pandemic.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Veronica Hannon: It’s been tough all round. Luckily, we are all healthy. After the initial shock of the pandemic, I’ve been incredibly impressed by the resilience and positivity shown. I’m an optimist by nature, so I look for the upside in any given situation, for there have been upsides and a sense of deep and personal connection to my team, clients, and community, as well as a strong commitment to building back the business after the initial contraction of lockdown.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Transform Communications?
Veronica Hannon: I’ve worked for large corporates and small start-up PR & Marketing firms. I was the MD of a start-up division within a larger marketing agency, launching a new PR firm when my daughter fell ill and was taken into hospital. That really put things into perspective for me. We’d moved out of London to Bradford on Avon, but I was working 90% of my time. Thankfully, my daughter’s illness and then full recovery gave me the final push I needed to launch my own business.
How does Transform Communications innovate?
Veronica Hannon: Our approach to innovation always comes from a client or a customer need. Transform Communications is a PR and content marketing consultancy. We produce a lot of thought-leadership articles, white papers, and in-depth content, and we’re always looking to improve the quality of our work. We had knowledge of the strategy, but clients were frustrated by the lack of integration – especially across their digital channels.
We decided to launch Transform Digital Marketing Ltd as a sister company to Transform Communications during the pandemic. This means that we can apply our marketing knowledge from strategy right through to website design and optimization, SEO, and paid search marketing.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Veronica Hannon: A lot of our projects were put on hold immediately in March 2020 because of the coronavirus. While this was difficult for us as a business, it was the right decision for our clients. PR and marketing is about putting a positive brand image into the market. At the start of Covid-19, everyone was worried, panicked, and wasn’t receptive to marketing messages. So instead, we spent a lot of time helping businesses – many of whom weren’t clients – reassure their customers, stakeholders, and employees.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Veronica Hannon: Yes, we had to make very difficult decisions. Half of our team were furloughed, and we did have to make our longest-serving team member redundant. These were extremely difficult decisions because you feel responsible for your team as a business owner, and you care deeply.
I’ve learned the importance of support and collaboration both from a personal perspective and for the team.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Veronica Hannon: Now, this is something that I’m not very good at. My approach is to just get on with it as I feel most anxious when I’m not in control and not able to make decisions. Of course, with a worldwide pandemic, you are definitely not in control.
Some of the positive changes I’ve made have been to focus on exercise and getting fit and healthy. Lots of long walks with friends and other business owners have provided a real sense of connection and support.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Veronica Hannon: Predicting trends and the needs of our customers. We’re a consultancy, rather than an agency, which might sound like just playing with words, but there’s a real difference. By understanding business and what our clients are facing – and likely to face – in the coming months and years enables us to develop our services and propositions ahead of the market.
Every market is crowded. We’re not after complete market domination, but instead, we work with a select group of clients who are ready to transform their communications.
Your final thoughts?
Veronica Hannon: One of my clients uses the phrase ‘opportunityisnowhere.’ If you look at this and see Opportunity Is Nowhere,’ then you’ll be beaten by external events. If you see ‘Opportunity Is Now Here,’ you can seize the moment. It’s been tough, but we’ve definitely seized the moment.