STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION

Three lessons from 2021 we’re applying in 2022

Why do you do what you do?  

It is an important question to ask. For most of us, the work we do occupies most of our waking hours throughout our entire adult lives. 

The answer to it varies from person to person – personal values, motivators, fulfilment, personalities – they all shape our individual journeys, destinations, pains and joys.  

But for our CEO Colin Anstie, the answer is always made clear in moments of truth. 

“In my team this year, there were many moments of truth. Several staff members were alone at home during the recent wave of the pandemic. Some lost family members throughout the course of the year. Others had periods where they were drowning in work” Colin said.  

In each of these moments, we are presented with a range of options on how to act. Do we ignore it? Do we throw a half-hearted offer to help? Or do we go all in, and act truly to do something for our colleagues?  

“From isolation, to personal loss, to heavy workloads, I saw members of my team truly step in to help one another in these moments of truth,” Colin said.  

“And I also saw it in a wider business context, too.” 

Colin took some time recently to reflect on some collective moments for RD Consulting and how the team threw their full weight into transforming our business, ready for 2022.

Here were his top three.    

Lesson 1: Greater commitment to accelerating the women in our workforce

Last year, when the Covid-19 pandemic swept the globe, women worldwide were disproportionately affected in every area of life and society. In Australia for instance, women made up the majority of those who had lost their jobs in the early stages of the pandemic, or reported large decreases in hours available for them to work.  

“Our recruitment team set out to find talented women who had been stood down from their jobs during this initial wave. And, eighteen months later, our workforce – and subsequently our team – is made up of over 70% women.   

“This year, I’m proud of the work our business has done to more meaningfully build on our initial efforts. Understanding gender equality at work is more than placing women in a job title, we have committed ourselves to actively tackle all barriers women face at work”, Colin said. 

In 2021, our Human Resources Team (The Unicorn Wranglers) ensured flexible work arrangements to allow parents the freedom to be parents, and for others to undertake study or external commitments. We have also started a mentorship program where junior client-facing women in our business are paired with senior women and receive advice on workplace dynamics, knowledge, projects and expectations.  

When the second wave of the pandemic hit the ACT, there was a testing moment of truth for our commitment to gender equality. Colin demonstrated why RD’s company values matter deeply to him. Knowing many of the women in our business were initially brought on board after they had been stood down from previous jobs in the first wave of the pandemic, Colin gave all staff a personal commitment that their jobs, employment, engagement and work with RD were secure. 

All of RD’s efforts recently culminated in our nomination in the Accelerating Women category of the 2021 Telstra Business Awards – where we have been named a finalist.  

Our clients too have played a phenomenal role in fostering our rising talent, nominating several of our female leaders this year for awards and commendations for their outstanding contributions including Amanda Smith being nominated for the Defence Connect Marketing and Communication Professional of the Year. 

Lesson 2: Building capability through the development of an in-house production studio

RD staff showed extraordinary initiative this year. In particular, consultant Michael Guo through his proposal, blueprint, and subsequent development of an in-house production studio to take RD’s offerings to the next level.  

“In the last decade, we have witnessed a digital revolution with millions of web users increasingly watching short videos as they become a standard communication tool to promote values, culture, and business ethics,” Michael said. “The Covid-19 pandemic has also highlighted how critical the tool is not just in times of crisis where traditional communication methods are challenged, but as a way to connect to audiences.  

“With people around the country isolated in their homes, video and film have become powerful ways to evoke emotion – with viewers able to hear the tone of voice, see expression, and relate.” 

With our clients requesting more video work after a string of successful projects, Michael had the idea to improve our client experience through the development of our own video capability. In the past, we had outsourced production, but our own studio would give us greater capacity to respond to short-notice shoots, minimise production logistics, and offer better flexibility to our clients. It would also give us the opportunity to develop the skills of our people and help some realise their professional goals of building into other areas of communication. 

In part for this idea, Michael was nominated for the Australian Defence Industry Network’s Young Achiever Award, where he was named a finalist. 

Lesson 3: Innovation in client products and adapting to work in COVID-19 conditions

When our production studio became operational in the second half of 2021, it coincided with an opportunity to be truly innovative in client work. One of our clients, a branch within the Department of Defence, engaged RD to produce a communication piece – initially for the Chief of Army, but to eventually make its way to Government – that aimed to secure funding for future capabilities. Alongside a traditional proposal, the branch wanted to create a video to help sell its message. 

The project, led by Esmarie Fulton, was a first-of-its-kind for Army. And it was likewise for us, being the first time we had the opportunity to use our new studio and equipment.  

The filming coincided with the ACT’s second lockdown, and we were met with a whole host of challenges – the biggest being the fact that our directors were stuck interstate. As they could not be on site in person, a limited number of staff on site filmed the accompanying video with our directors set up on a small camera, operating through a laptop screen. Every single detail and step needed to be thought through and communicated in increased detail. It was a massive team effort – but one that ended in an outstanding piece of work.  

Colin’s final message

Like all businesses, 2021 was a challenging year for RD.  

To our clients, we would not be a business without you. Thank you for your full trust and your unwavering belief in us.   

To my staff, in each and every one of you, I see a deep commitment to our company’s commitment to Believe in Better. You invest in each other, and our clients. You commit time, you exert your brain power, and you are tirelessly devoted to the cause.  

All of these things have culminated in the organisation we are today. And the people we all are, too. 

It’s why I do what I do.

Adrienne from RD Consulting working on a laptop

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