Employee advocacy builds confidence around the ‘ins and outs’ of Brexit

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Employee advocacy MDR Brexit pawns
Employee advocacy MDR Brexit pawns

Having led the high-profile challenge against the invoking of Article 50, it’s no surprise to discover that lawyers at Mishcon de Reya are pretty clued up on the ‘ins and outs’ of Brexit. We talked to Hayley Geffin, Head of Communications & PR and Michele Morgan, Head of Digital Marketing to find out how employee advocacy is helping them navigate the complexities of Brexit internally and demonstrate to clients that the UK is open for business.

Alison Boothby reports.

“With uncertainty there is opportunity” Hayley Geffin told me. “Our managing partner, Kevin Gold is not one to stand by and wait and see what happens.” And she’s right. Mishcon de Reya have something of a reputation for doing things a bit differently, being bold, perhaps going where others may fear to tread. But it is exactly this ‘can do’ attitude that has put the firm on the front foot with its clients in respect to the uncertainties around Brexit and the unravelling of the very many complexities affecting clients’ businesses.

Hayley Geffin, Head of Communications & PR, MDR
Hayley Geffin, Head of Communications & PR, MDR

Hayley continues: “We acted swiftly, communicating to our staff and our clients not to be fearful following the vote to leave the EU. With 70% of our work having an international dimension, it was important not to be seen to identify with the negative sentiments flying around. For us, the mindset was more around ‘how do we show our clients that we are open for business?’.

Positive steps  

There are three things the firm has done to keep them ahead in the protracted machinations of Brexit: They hired  Alessandra Buonfino as Head of International Business Development and set up five region-specific websites, locally hosted, with independent journalism and in partnership with local lawyers too – “to show we genuinely care about these regions” Hayley stressed.

They also acknowledged – early on – that, despite employing an army of smart lawyers and well-connected people, they did not have the on-the-ground public affairs expertise necessary for unravelling the minefield of all the legislative changes and renegotiations that Brexit entails. Since the summer of 2016 they have partnered with Kreab giving them additional access to experts to help sift through the massive volumes of detail, unearthing the vital current issues that will directly affect their clients. The output from this is captured in their most-read newsletter, Brussels Insider, which provides a relevant and concise digest and a practical perspective of the nitty gritty.

And thirdly, they established a Brexit working group of partners and professional support lawyers who act as the firm’s centre of excellence on the impact of Brexit. This group provides regular internal updates via a Brexit diary on the company intranet, Mishcon Inside, and benefits from the recommendations and advice given by Kreab, who are able to gauge the mood of other EU nations, meaning that advice can be given to clients that is not just from a UK perspective.

Hayley again: “For individual businesses there are huge issues to consider, not least around the customs union. We need our lawyers to be fully abreast of the issues, but we don’t want to overwhelm clients. To help get the balance right we asked Sebastian Remoy, President of Public Affairs and Head of Trade and Competition at Kreab, to deliver a training programme for senior staff. These considered and practical interventions have been really positively received.”

Spreading the news  

Although the Brexit issue pervades all aspects of work, the firm publishes a huge amount of material on specific areas of law as well as what’s going on in Brussels. All these articles sit within the firm’s main website (www.mishcon.com) but is that enough? Michele Morgan, picks up the case: “We want our digital assets to work hard for us. They are a great way to demonstrate our knowledge and expertise, our passion and our commitment to the wider business world. We’ve also got some really enthusiastic lawyers who want to do more to develop the business, so it makes sense for us to make it easy to share our high quality content.”

From a marketing and brand perspective everyone is a winner. “Our lawyers get interesting and relevant content that they can share with their online networks  – mostly via LinkedIn, but Facebook and Twitter too – and the firm gets its content shared more widely which can only be a good thing. We know that coherent, smart and interesting content kick-starts conversations, from which relationships grow, ultimately increasingly the likelihood of new business.”

Employee advocacy

“We don’t own our employees’ social media accounts and couldn’t and wouldn’t want to push content out for them. So we looked for a tool which would enable us to suggest content which they could easily review and share if they wished. ClearView was perfect for this. We conducted a pilot with a select number of employees across teams and after a successful trial gradually rolled the tool out firm-wide just before last Christmas. Now 50% of the firm are registered on ClearView and receive twice weekly mailings with suggested content. This has resulted in thousands of shares and reactions so far.”

ClearView helps them increase the brand’s social media traffic using the content from their websites on a variety of topics. Staff are encouraged to cherry-pick the content that they feel is most of interest to them and their audiences, adding their own comments to make it more personal. It is this individual endorsement, rather than blindly broadcasting, that makes employee advocacy compelling.

Michele continues: “Using a product like this turns our busy employees into social marketers with just a couple of clicks. We collate the top 6 or 7 stories of the day, complete with hashtags and handles, which are emailed to colleagues encouraging them to share on their own social networks. It couldn’t be simpler.”

Tech-savvy workplace for a modern era

One of the firm’s core values is: ‘To be open to new ideas, to think creatively, to look for innovative solutions, neither bound by formality nor constrained by convention’. By all accounts, this is clearly espoused.

As well as introducing ClearView, the firm uses a variety of tools to ensure its communications are timely and informative, not only internally but also externally with Vuture’s marketing platform. Hootsuite helps with social media management and campaign planning, and they’re developing apps using Fliplet to further improve internal communications.

It seems Mishcon de Reya are pretty ahead of the curve when it comes to brand, communications and digital marketing. Michele concludes: “We never sit still! Personalisation is important to us and we have had our eye on bots for a while. Watch this space!”

 There is no doubt that Mishcon de Reya is an interesting and engaging brand. Like so many of its high-profile clients, it lives in the limelight. Having strong employee advocacy is brilliant when things are good. In today’s increasingly transparent world, reputation, hard-won over time, can be quickly dashed. But I reckon Kevin Gold and his leadership team know that.