Prospect presents Laura Oliphant

Laura Oliphant
Written by Laura Oliphant

Laura Oliphant, Stand Agency’s MD was recently interviewed by Prospect Resourcing on life inside and outside of Stand towers.

 

The interview can also be read on Prospect’s website here.

Right now, Stand Agency is in its third year; did you ever think the agency would grow as much in such a short time and what strategy did you have in mind when you launched?

It really depends when you ask me this question.  Some days I think, how did we get to 18 people and other days I see so much opportunity, I wonder why we are not growing faster!

When we launched Stand we had a pretty simple strategy.  We wanted to create a great agency that treated its staff and clients well, did amazing work and followed our own rules and not those of other agencies.  Three years on and those principles are the basis of our mission and vision.

You have established very strong values and mission statement – tell us what these mean and how you put those brand values into practice within the agency?

At three years old we decided it was probably time to formalise our business plan and look ahead at our next five years.  Part of the process was to consult and agree on our vision, mission and values so everyone in the business recognises and buys into where we are heading.

Our aim is to work with brands and organisations that want to challenge a market, service, perception or behaviour – it’s exciting territory.

In terms of what it feels like to work here, our values were created by the whole agency, including our freelancers.  They are themed around feeling valued and supported, being proud of the work we do and encouraging individuality in an environment where everyone has a voice.

How does the dynamic work with the co-founders – who does what and how does it all fit together?

Well – it’s easy and it’s fun!  We recognise we have very different strengths and styles and that’s why it works so well.  We lead on the broad areas of people, process and business growth but we are all involved in the big decisions that determine what kind of agency we are, who works for us and who we choose to work with.

The work the agency has done is fantastic – the campaign work is deep thinking, strategic, creative and hard hitting – why do you feel Stand hasn’t been successful so far in winning awards and what is your opinion on validation through awards?

I do rate the value of awards, especially when looking at differentiation between similar agencies, which is why it’s frustrating to have been shortlisted but not have won.  I think there are a few reasons why – the types of campaigns we work on are not always all about a picture story or a stunt so the impact is less easy to capture in a short award entry; we are understated in our style and work as an extension of our clients’ teams so it’s harder to say what is Stand, and finally, it has not been a priority for us up to now but we are on a mission next year so hopefully our cabinet will look better if you ask me again in twelve months time!

Why do you go for disruptive brands within the challenger space and which brands are you itching to work with?

These types of clients tend to be brave and open to more creative and unproven ideas.  They know their success is about punching above their weight and they see the value of PR and comms in helping them achieve that.  On a purely personal level, the people who choose to work for a challenger brand are exciting, like to work in partnership and recognise results and celebrate them.

We see ourselves as a challenger in the PR space.  Quietly punching above our weight, doing things our way to succeed in a very established market.  We are also recruiting some of the best people in the sector who like the excitement and opportunities for growth that an independently owned agency presents.

In terms of brands, we want to work in energy – companies like OVO; food – companies like Riverford, finance – companies like Starling. In terms of campaigns, we are passionate about gender equality, sport and health so we’d love to work with England women’s national football team, or The WI.

You have an office in London and also one in Peterborough – how did that come about and how does that work for the teams?

We started day one of Stand in a serviced office in Kings Cross and are now in our own space.  In terms of opening the Peterborough office last year, it was because we wanted to recruit someone who didn’t want to work full-time in London!  That one person led to another and now we have five people based there.  The two offices work as one and we focus on securing results as a team for national and international clients.  The offices are only a 50 minute train journey apart so people are encouraged to travel between the offices every week.

You’re well known for your ability to take anything on and just go with it – can you give us an example of when this has worked at its finest (or most disastrous)?

Yes, one of my characteristics is my belief that everything is possible!  There are too many examples to single out one but let’s just say I am famous for my big picture thinking. We have an amazing team who pull incredible things off. To everyone at Stand it’s personal and for that reason they will do anything in their power to make things as successful as possible.

A little bird told us you like to sing for your supper… what’s that all about?

I joined a choral choir as part of charity challenge to raise money for a Sue Ryder hospice where a close friend’s young husband died.  I thought I would perform in the concert and then bow out but I realised the fear of being so out of my comfort zone helped me forget about everything else.  It has been an amazing experience and we have had the chance to sing with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and other great performers.

You’re on your bi-weekly 5k run – what tracks are on your playlist and guaranteed to motivate you?

I’m so disorganised before I get going on @parkrunUK or my normal run I just put on a random playlist on Apple Music.  It’s a bit hit and miss and during every run I think, I wish I had organised what I was going to listen to!

If you weren’t in PR you’d be…?

Anything that requires you to think on your feet and come up with an immediate answer or solution – a Minister, a surgeon, a Barrister?!  Flaw in my plan is the attention to detail – I’m not sure my attention span is quite up to it…!

Whatever it is I’m doing, I need a great team of people to make it all come together and to make working as much fun as it can be.  I’d struggle to top the Stand team though!

 

Why every organisation should be thinking about the circular economy  

Imagine a world where every product is repaired, recycled or refurbished at the end...

More information

Sick days on the rise – cause for concern, or proving the need for change?

New research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and Simplyhealth has...

More information

Revving Up for a Sustainable Future: Why We Must Challenge Rishi Sunak’s Backtrack on Net Zero

As Climate Week in New York concludes, we find ourselves at a critical juncture...

More information

Apple’s Sustainability Video: A Storytelling Triumph with Gaps in Green Commitment

Apple’s latest sustainability video, featuring CEO Tim Cook and actress Octavia Spencer, has sparked...

More information

Taking A Stand with Nazim Valimahomed, Founder and Chief Product and Design Officer at Kroo.

Each month we’re sitting down with the trailblazers who are making a difference at...

More information

Celebrating success: Stand celebrates double victory, winning two PR awards

We’re delighted to share that our PR efforts secured us not one but two...

More information

We can’t afford to ignore migraine in the workplace

Do you work with someone who experiences migraine? Chances are, you do – you...

More information

Taking A Stand with James Rutter, Chief Creative Officer at COOK.

Each month we’re sitting down with the trailblazers who are making a difference at...

More information

The future of payment – the revolution of mobility technology

Phasing out petrol and diesel cars and introducing EVs is a great option in...

More information

Claire Brady on Net Zero Hero Podcast

Some people think that ‘circularity’ simply means recycling, but it is so much more...

More information

Earth Day

Earth Day provides an opportunity to take stock of our progress towards addressing the...

More information

When it comes to making sustainability claims, getting it wrong can cost organisations the earth

According to Robin Hicks, “2022 was the year that policymakers started to take greenwashing...

More information

Less is more: How low alcohol brands are targeting their Gen Z consumers

Dry January may be over, but giving up alcohol definitely hasn’t gone out of...

More information

Beyond B Corp: Breaking up with Barclays 

Last year we became a certified B Corp, and to do so we had...

More information

Three takeaways from the IPCC’s ‘final warning’ report 

This week has seen the release of the latest IPCC report assessing the climate...

More information

Why we’ve introduced a 4.5 day working week

As the rulebook of the working week gets rewritten, at Stand we continue to...

More information

Stand shifts as we move into our second decade

I founded Stand with one simple (but typically ambitious) belief: that good comms can...

More information

So… has the pandemic set us back or propelled us forward?

Last week, just days after the restrictions in England were lifted, we hosted our...

More information

Wellbeing is not a one-size-fits-all approach

It’s safe to say that being plunged into multiple lockdowns across the past 18...

More information

Covid-19 has given us a harsh lesson in education inequality

Although ‘Freedom Day’ is here, Covid’s effects will, as we hear all too often,...

More information

The pandemic of inequalities

Last week, the Health Foundation’s Unequal pandemic, fairer recovery report made headlines, revealing that...

More information

Has the pandemic set us back 50 years, or will it propel us forward?

At its onset, Covid-19 was described as the great leveller. But the pandemic has...

More information