Creatives In Residence #06: Keith Noble - Forepoint
23 May 2020 by Ed
We continue our 'Creatives in Residence' kitchen table stories from Lancashire's creative community in lock-down with Keith Noble, director at Forepoint, recognised by The Drum as one of the UK's top UK creative agencies. In this post Keith wants to talk about the 'C' word.
"It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, at times it feels like an overwhelming David vs Goliath contest: Rest of the World-0, Covid-19."
The ‘C’ word
Firstly, how are you? (And we really mean it when we ask these days).
How’s your health, how’s your kids, how’s your family? How’s your head? We hope you’re doing OK.
Remember when we used to be fed up to the back teeth with hearing the ‘B’ word spouted 24/7 in the media? What would we give right now to have Brexit discussions back on the table? But as we know the ‘B’ word has been rapidly replaced by the ‘C’ word and it’s pretty much dominated everything around us for the last eight weeks or so. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, at times it feels like an overwhelming David vs Goliath contest: Rest of the World-0, Covid-19.
But the big difference between the ‘B’ word and the ‘C’ word, is that Coronavirus in many ways has united us, rather than divided us. It’s brought us closer together as a society and as a world (ironically, in spite the impact of self-isolation or staying home for those of us who’ve needed to do so). You just need to look at the great support and acts of kindness that have filled social media and TV, which always restores your faith in human kindness. People, we applaud you.
And that’s where Forepoint’s focus has been firmly planted over the last few weeks, in the land of the positive. So, let’s talk about some of the more constructive ‘C’ words rather than Covid-19…
Care and Continuity
Two really important ‘C’ words. Looking after ourselves, our families, our team and our clients are top of the list. In the current work situation, we can’t simply spin around on our chairs and say, “How you doin’?” (well I could, but I’d only get a blank expression from Buzz Lightyear staring back at me) but we can phone, Zoom and Slack each other regularly. Our teams have daily project check-ins, regular production meetings and a weekly virtual company-wide ‘group hug’, whilst keeping everyone up to speed on the ever-changing Corona landscape and anything else that’s on our minds.
The same goes for clients. We’ve had some long 1-2-1 conversations with some of our B2B clients (they’re people too remember). Sometimes two-hour conversations talking about life, the universe and everything, a bit of therapy, bit of offloading, bit of work and bit of how can we help? That’s the benefit of strong long-term client relationships.
To some clients, remote working is business as usual, to others the transition to ‘Zoom land’ has been a rather interesting learning curve, but that’s why we’re here to help. “You’re still on mute. Don’t forget you’re on camera. Are you still in your PJs? Is that your 5-year old at the door behind you?” We’ve all been there.
Continuity of business has been a must too. Shifting from two main offices to 22 variations of home offices (in spare rooms, lofts, kitchens, dining rooms etc) happened overnight. Kit dismantling and reassembling, secure VPN server access connected (all Cyber Essentials-friendly), as well as our well-established use of Zoom conferencing and Slack channels for work, sharing and social has meant all is ticking over nicely. And for once, a proper work chair at home. Ahhhhhhh yes, no more arse-numbing dining chairs. All set for business as (un)usual.
Creativity and a ‘Can-do’ attitude
Being creative is at the heart of everything we do and in a strange way, this period has allowed us to reflect and fall in love with creativity, design and ideas all over again. Because now, more than ever, creativity is the key to everything – both personally and commercially.
Just look at how creative people are being at home, with videos, social media platforms, new hobbies, creating art, learning or relearning musical instrument (my version of ‘Wonderwall’ leaves a lot to be desired). The way parents, teachers and kids have managed home schooling that no-one would have imagined possible (or necessary). Then there’s the numerous virtual yoga and fitness classes, as well as endless pub quiz nights across the land. Everyone finding creative ways to learn, connect, keep sane and entertain.
Creativity is equally important in the commercial world. ‘Business as usual’ is no longer an option, as things are unlikely to ever be the same again. So, using creativity and ideas to find solutions is business critical and it’s what we do. Solving communications problems is all about tackling things in a new and different way, often due to necessity of circumstance or barriers (i.e. right now), or the ineffectiveness of “we’ve always done it that way” (now not possible). Really stripping back, unpicking and simplifying the message, then creating great content and using great tools to connect. Right now, think Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) bring the place or product to the people, rather than the other way around. Think e-books instead of ‘real’ books, with personalisation, data analytics and reuse. Think audio visual and podcasts, content at its best, but make sure they’re relevant and engaging.
There’s a lot to be said for a ‘can-do’ attitude, “Computer says no” isn’t in our vocabulary.
We had some great project wins towards the end of last year and in early 2020. These were definitely proof of a positive ‘can-do’ attitude, along with a sprinkling of trusted relationships, a smattering of creativity and a shed load of self-belief. We’ve been very fortunate to have been able to support client projects for the majority of the lockdown period. And as we start to plan for our return to work, we have the assurance of a strong client base as well as a strong pipeline for us to focus on and deliver even more great work for new and existing clients in the coming weeks, months and years ahead.
Has it been easy so far? No. Is it going to be easy? No. Are we going to keep moving forward? Damn right.
I’m immensely proud of how well everyone at Forepoint has coped during this period, and its testament to what and how we do things and being a great bunch of people. “I thank you”.
Onwards and upwards. As Buzz would say “To infinity and beyond” or as we say, “Beyond business as usual.”
Keith Noble, Director, Forepoint Ltd, (May 2020)
Forepoint are an multi award-wining independent, creative agency recognised as one of the top UK creative agencies by Design Week, The Drum and Prolific North.
Creatives in Residence
Look out for more features from those working across the spectrum of creative occupations over the forthcoming weeks including designers, artists, film makers and more to share tales and tips for how they are working and coping while we adapt to the conditions created by the Covid-19 crisis and consider readiness for times ahead.
If you want to share how you and those in your organisations or networks are navigating these unusual and unprecedented times please get in-touch: firstname.lastname@example.org