An interview with Kirsty Leighton, founder of Milk & Honey PR

An interview with Kirsty Leighton, founder of Milk & Honey PR

An interview with Kirsty Leighton, founder of Milk & Honey PR

I have been chatting to Kirsty Leighton, founder of Milk & Honey PR, on how she is leading an international business and how she has been keeping her brand front of mind during lockdown.

Do you think that you have changed your style of leadership or management over the last few weeks, how?

I think my leadership style has remained the same. I like to think of it as parental. Supporting, encouraging and protective where needs be. But, the frequency of communication has had to change with both a wholly dispersed team and rapidly changing economic environment.

At the beginning of lock down we set up Project Prosper – our plan for making it through this difficult time. This outlines the KPI's we are measuring ourselves against and the trigger actions. We have whole team check in's every other day, each in slightly different formats, to ensure we are discussing ideas and options rather than just sharing to-do lists. During our fizzy Friday's we share three things we are proud of from the week and one thing we are looking forward to in the week coming. This is now enriched with fun activities, to keep it light, keep us connected and ensure everyone has the chance to lead a meeting.

The leadership team meets weekly to go over team morale and Project Prosper performance; and the board meets bi-weekly. Following these meetings we are completely transparent with the team so everyone knows what is happening, why and what impact is expected. PRWeek has been very helpful in sharing pulse surveys and benchmark data which we play back to the team so they understand our performance in context of the whole industry.

How do you inspire and motivate people right now?

A shared goal and clear contributions for every member of the team. This for us is packaged up in Project Prosper. Outside of our client work we have given ourselves other goals to achieve, to help us build strength. In the last two months we have made a commitment to contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and have instigated a partnership with Plan International. We have also committed to go plastic-free by the end of the year and are working with a plastic credit platform called rePurpose to deliver this. We have succeeded in achieving Investors in People accreditation, scoring in the top 0.35% of all companies assessed in the last year. We've also developed our first B Corp impact report. Upskilling and staying focused on our future remains the priority, with 75% of the team participating in at least one full day of extra external training since lockdown. We are always looking beyond the current situation.

What has been the best change you have made as a result of social distancing?

Like all agencies and most businesses, we are now all working exclusively from home. We have invested in not just technology – Microsoft TEAMS has been a God send – but also in ergonomic chairs and in some cases home desks to ensure the team can work safely, effectively and comfortably. A survey amongst our team of 20 in London shows that six people are keen to get back to the office full time as soon as they can (they are all within walking, cycling or running distance). Meetings and hot desking client side will be some time off however.

What will you never go back to doing and why?

Being apart has made us appreciate the time we do have together. We were supposed to have our annual offsite in Marrakech earlier this month and whilst financially it makes sense to cancel it for this year, we have merely pushed it back to November. Time together to deal with more than the challenge immediately in front of you is priceless. We need this.

What will you do more of now life has changed?

I've started running. Not very far and not at all fast but it has been great. I'm really keen to keep this going as we get back to a more socially inclusive working pattern.