Why community support is at the heart of Total Media's B Corp commitment
The media agency's work with the Young Westminster Foundation has ignited staff and brought new skillsets to the charity
16 November 2022
Achieving B Corp status is something more and more companies in the brand and agency space are exploring as a way of making a positive contribution to society and the future of the planet. But gaining B Corp certification is just the beginning; putting it into action is a lifelong commitment and challenge.
For Soho-based Total Media, achieving B Corp has meant being fully committed to meeting their objectives to “improve every single aspect of our business operations covering environment, local community, staff, customers and policies & procedures”. And a vital aspect of this is finding ways that the business can make a difference in its local community.
So Total Media has formed a strong and award-winning partnership with the Young Westminster Foundation as a way to support the local community. The agency describes its work with the Foundation as “a partnership with purpose", not just providing financial support but working with the charity to utilise Total Media’s skills to host workshops and training sessions for young people in the area, as well as providing media space and developing joint research projects.
To explore the partnership further, and understand what other brands and agencies can learn from Total Media’s experience, Creative Salon sat down with Total Media’s Becca Rawlings, the agency’s Head of People, Culture and Business, to find out more.
Creative Salon: First, tell us what having B Corp status means to Total Media
Becca Rawlings: Total Media has always held itself to high standards when it comes to our culture and ethos, but the external recognition of our commitment to actually acting on these values is hugely motivating when it comes to improving and validating our work so far. The process of securing B Corp accreditation is no mean feat - we were surprised by how exhaustive the process was. B Corp now gives us access to a support network of like-minded businesses and a framework to ensure that we keep improving our ESG credentials as we work towards making a substantial difference to our people, our community and our planet.
CS: So do you think businesses have an obligation to be “good neighbours” in their local community through pro-active support?
BR: The B Corp motto is ‘Leaders build communities, not just profits’. They believe that all businesses can be a force for good. The majority of our team working in Soho do not live in the area, yet we are very much part of this community and we have a responsibility to be a positive presence.
CS: And how did you go about choosing a local partner to work with?
BR: After conducting a thorough research project and meeting a shortlist of local charities, we selected Young Westminster Foundation (YWF), which works with 115 members within the Westminster area, including youth clubs, grassroots charities, and not-for-profits. Our Outreach scheme looks to include everyone across our business, and with the breadth of opportunities available employees are likely to find a project they are passionate about.
YWF believes all young people in Westminster should grow up healthy, safe and happy, with the best opportunities for brighter futures. The charity’s belief in finding innovative solutions to some of London’s greatest challenges through effective collaboration at a local level resonated with us. Employees at Total therefore felt our wealth of capabilities meant we could act as a true partner, rather than just in a fundraising capacity.
CS: Tell us about the work you’ve been doing together and what you hope to achieve with it
BR: Young Westminster Foundation and Total Media are true partners - we create ideas together, co-partner events, and support not only them directly, but the many members that they work with, meaning that our work has a genuine impact across Westminster. Below are just some on the initiatives we have supported on:
We train Young Westminster Foundation’s members in workshops to improve digital marketing skills in the organisations, contribute to career introduction programmes, and support awareness exhibitions like the ‘Forever Young’ Carnaby Street photography exhibition pop-up to raise awareness of the importance of youth clubs.
Leaning on our strong relationship with Sky Sales House, we secured free TV airtime worth £10,000 through Sky to support the launch of Young Westminster Foundation’s website “Our City, Our Future” which promotes free and low-cost activities across Westminster and Kensington for young people. We also secured free OOH space, courtesy of Ocean Outdoor, on the Piccadilly screens for the launch of the campaign ‘We Are Together’ to ensure that young people living in Westminster can access education and youth services.
We run a work experience programme that ensures candidates within the community are provided with opportunities to seek careers in media, alongside digital leader mentoring, career open days, apprenticeship schemes, lunch and learns and other work-based opportunities.
Fundraising and donations
Total Media employees have participated in sponsored walks, marathons, bike rides and more. We also replaced our usual Christmas card sent to clients with a piece of NFT artwork (provided by children of one of YWF’s members) with proceeds going directly to the charity. We also co-hosted the ‘Love Westminster’ Art Auction which raised £20,000.
In addition to all of this and in a truly unique collaboration, our consultancy Behave have provided behavioural insight to help YWF in addressing the growing issues around serious youth (see below).
CS: So what would you say that Total Media and its people have got out of this partnership?
BR: As a business, we recognise the importance of building a culture that has a social and environmental conscience, reflecting the core values of our company and our people, in turn helping attract like-minded talent and clients. What’s more, it is valuable to our existing employees who have anecdotally confirmed getting a lot of personal value out of working on the projects.
CS: Tell us more about how Total Media’s Behave consultancy has been able to help YWF?
BR: In 2021, Young Westminster Foundation launched a consultation process created by Behave to address the growing issue around Serious Youth Violence (SYV) in Westminster. The work included surveys with members of the community, and verbal feedback sessions with groups of young people who attend youth clubs and subsequent analysis of the findings.
These informed the development of the new ‘Helping Hands’ programme, funded by the Violence Reduction Unit and BBC Children In Need, as well as the content for a short film. This project was celebrated at YWF’s 5th birthday celebrations ‘Five Years Young’ in October, and we are working on developing next steps to enable the community.
YWF’s Director of Strategy & Communications, Matira Wheeler, said of the partnership: “The Total Media team has maintained a fundamental value of working with communities – listening, learning and being led by the needs of young people and community organisations. We shape ideas together, reflecting on the skills of the Total Media team and the needs within the Young Westminster community.”
CS: What advice would you give to other companies looking to play a meaningful role in their neighbourhood?
BR: Start small. Donations and fundraising are always needed and appreciated but often the skills of your specific workforce can be worth their weight in gold. Research charities, not for profits and grassroot organisations in your area and find out what they actually need; for example, we found that there was a huge need for digital upskilling for youth workers within youth club settings.
Find out what your employees are passionate about and look for organisations that resonate with them. In our case we knew we wanted to support young people, but we also asked employees to share their specific interests whether it be the arts, politics, mental health, sport or any other area so that we could pair them up directly with a member organisation who could directly benefit from their help.
There’s more information on Total Media’s partnership with the Young Westminster Foundation here: https://www.totalmedia.co.uk/our-award-winning-partnership-with-young-westminster-foundation/