Our managing director, Katie Mallinson, recently took part in Yorkshire Business Insider’s ‘Powerhouse Perspective’ Q&A. Here she outlines what the initiative means to her, the need to improve transport connections, and how talent can be retained in the region – if you missed it, catch up here…
What does the Northern Powerhouse mean to you?
In a nutshell, it gives some real clout to everything which should be celebrated about the North. We have a strong pool of talent and a culture to be proud of – and the Northern Powerhouse encompasses what’s great about our region.
I think – in the North – we have a real willingness to collaborate as professionals, and not expect a financial reward in return. This mindset helps our network to flourish, and it’s something we’re incredibly proud of putting into practice, here at Scriba PR.
Five years have passed since the phrase ‘Northern Powerhouse’ was first coined. Has enough happened since then?
Granted, we’ve achieved great things, but we could still be doing so much more. There’s often a danger that you can talk a good game, but you fail to really substantiate the idea – as a result, it simply becomes another business buzzword.
Within our Scriba PR client-list alone, there are some fantastic examples of the Northern Powerhouse in action. Take Force 24 and Vapour Cloud, for example, they are bringing together the best in breed when it comes to talent and service-providers.
Now, we need to see this kind of approach in action – and on a bigger scale. It’s important to remember though, it shouldn’t always be for commercial gain, as the benefits will come back around in time.
What must the government do to re-energise the Northern Powerhouse?
There’s a fantastic physical connection between the North and South of the UK – in the sense that I can get on a train from Yorkshire and be in London in under two hours. However, it can sometimes take just as long to get from our office in Lindley, to a client meeting in Leeds or Manchester – where I travel by road – and spend hours trapped in stationary traffic on the M62.
What is the single main issue you would like to see dominate the Northern Powerhouse agenda?
Without question, it should focus on retaining our talent. We have some outstanding universities in the North, and we need to hang onto the people who come here to study, and not lose them three, four or five years down the line.
You only need to look at how vibrant Leeds and Manchester are – and that’s not just down to the recent Channel 4 announcement – they are places people want to live.
On a hyper-local scale, Scriba PR is based in Huddersfield, so we’re lucky enough to be nestled between these two great cities. But we need to leverage the vibrancy surrounding the region, to prevent us simply becoming ‘their neighbour’.
Is there enough collaboration between towns and cities across the North?
I think so, but in truth, I don’t think it comes down to geography – it’s about having the right mindset as a business. If you want to collaborate, the opportunity is there – and not just in in the big cities either – but you must make it happen.
How would the success of the Northern Powerhouse agenda benefit your business?
By highlighting that brands don’t need to be based in London – or the South in general – in order to be taken seriously. My experience since founding Scriba PR in 2013, is that we are often pigeon-holed as being a local firm, which only represents Yorkshire brands.
A colleague recently joined a client for a meeting in central London, and when she was introduced the client said; “This is our PR agency – they mainly do local work in Yorkshire.” Luckily, the colleague flagged that we actually look after clients across the length and breadth of the UK – as well as on four continents of the globe!
Business such as ours might struggle to flourish if they only served clients within a five-mile radius of their front door. It’s important that people realise that a brand in the North of England can be at the very top of their game – location shouldn’t come into it.
I’m incredibly proud to work in Huddersfield, and the whole team embraces the honesty and hard work which comes with being from Yorkshire. We have a real sense of pride which translates across our work – call it Northern Soul, if you will.