Monday 10 September 2012

The Day Before Yesterday’s Today on Honda UK

There was a business news piece on one of last weeks’ Today programmes (BBC Radio 4) about the car industry and how it’s bucking the general economic trend (which, if you hadn’t noticed, is through the floor).

What I found more interesting was that the most sustained success was being enjoyed not by Ford or Vauxhall, whose motors you’ll see most on a motorway near you, but by the curiously quirky Honda. Honda has invested £267 million in their Swindon plant, the cornerstone of their European business, and they’ve created 500 new jobs along the way.

Whaddaboutit? They make good cars. They make great ads. They’re all over everything, making sure they have the right fit with the programmes they sponsor and have Garrison Keillor’s dulcet tones continually asking questions like ‘What if...” and supposing  “Isn’t it nice when things just work?”

They don’t apply that ethos just to things either.

Most businesses say they’re good at supporting and empowering their people, helping them to grow and develop in a dynamic environment with structured career pathways and a comprehensive package of benefits, blah blah blah. It’s all stuff they wheel out when they need to recruit so I get to write things like that a lot. But what about the rest of the time?  

You know when it’s bluff and when it’s coming from somewhere real. And that’s where I find Honda UK. Which makes it much easier to make their message resonate more with potential candidates, just by keeping it clear and simple and impactful. It’s lovely to work with a line like ‘The Power of Dreams’ when you know it’s much more than just a line. It is an ethos.

If we have to talk about it in terms of employer branding, it's a textbook study in finding what really drives an organisation and bringing it to life for an external audience. 

And so, back to the point, all of this all made even more sense when I heard Honda UK’s MD , Dave Hodgetts, use most of his very short radio time (minutes at most) not to talk about the cars, the engineering, the innovation, the technology, the numbers, their ambitions... but to talk about Honda UK people and how they’re looked after, encouraged, supported, developed, challenged and rewarded.

Speaks volumes. Nuff said.   

Isn’t it nice when things – and people - just work? 

Monday 3 September 2012

Happy New Year!

If you’re a parent of school age kids, you’ve either spent the day dropping pins from a great height and revelling in the echoes of nothingness. Or you think you’ve gone deaf. YOU HAVEN’T.

I’ve had mixed emotions – sad that the summer is over, happy and refreshed to be getting back into the swing of it. I was also overwhelmed at the sight of the youngest member of the household heading for the classroom in her shiny shoes, excited and giggly among a gaggle of girls. She was happy. I was heartbroken. It got a bit emotional. I had to be lead away.

September always feels like much more of a new beginning than any other time of year. Certainly more so than the forced enthusiasm for New Year for real, with its rubbish timing after the Christmas rush, at the lowest point of the festive crash, when all we all really need is one more week to recoup and regroup. And even more so than spring, traditionally the season of the big clean, when the lengthening and lightening of the days is supposed to put us all in the mood for accessorising with marigolds and getting busy with a squeegee. 

No thanks.  That’s picnic weather and we’re going to the beach to blow away the only cobwebs that matter. Gotta take it where you can get it now that summer hasn’t put in an appearance for the last few years.

Even though we’re staring into the jaws of another harsh winter, weatherwise and moneywise, September feels like a fresh start: buying new shoes to walk us through to next summer, growth spurts permitting, while browsing bags and salivating over stationary – me more than the kids. It’s literally a blank page. It smells great and anything’s possible.

Just like a blank screen. “Y u no blog?” I get asked a lot. I do... it’s just that I do it for other people and businesses and at the end of a hard day blogging for food, I haven’t had time to blog for fun. Now, inspired by some great blogs and seething that the 14 year old who lives here has been doing it articulately and eloquently (bah!) without any major crises of confidence, that’s all about to change.   

I’m going to be writing here about life and work, being a mum and a working mum, about TV and advertising, design and funny stuff. Because we do like to have a laugh when we can. It’s the best part of the day.

And it would be lovely to have your company along the way. Against all the best blog advice, I’m not going to have a comments section (and I’ll write a separate blog post to explain why!) so if there’s anything you’d really like to say, you can search for me on Facebook as louroocopy, follow @lourootoo on Twitter or go all retro and email me at

In the meantime, Mums and Dads, here’s to plenty and prosperity over the next three terms, with an old Irish parenting proverb to speed your way: May your children’s shoes remain unscuffed for at least a fortnight. While here's one I just made up: May the blog rise to meet you and the wind be always at your Bic.

Happy New Year!