On 4th of March 2014, I went to prison. A category C prison for what they call “white collar crime”.
I joined ten other leaders from Business in the Community (BITC) member companies on the Prince of Wales’ “Seeing is Believing” visit organized by BITC to Brixton Prison. I learned how employment holds the key to reducing the £11bn annual cost of re-offending in the UK, we met and listened to prisoners and we explored how business could be part of the solution.
As the economy emerges from recession, many businesses are finding it more difficult to recruit talented and enthusiastic people to help drive their growth. For digital marketing, hiring and retaining talent has never gone away and will probably remain a challenge for years to come.
In my experience, there is no shortage of people who want a job, the challenge for a digital agency is finding the right people. In our hiring at SiteVisibility we look for people who can either bring experience to our team or who share our values, and ideally both. Those values are to be Innovative, to have an (positive!) Impact in all we do, to Involve others within team and to Inspire others with your work.
As a member of the BITC SouthEast Leadership team, I wondered whether I might find someone at Brixton Prison who shares our Values.
Consider these facts from BITC:
There are 85,000 people in prison in the UK today. Only 43 of these people will never be released, meaning that 99.95% of the prison population will need to resettle back into the community.
17% of the UK population between the ages of 18 and 52 has a criminal conviction more serious than a driving offence.
Currently more than one in five employment benefit claimants have a criminal conviction.
60% of short-term prisoners re-offend within a year of release.
Re-offending costs UK approximately £11bn per year
Employment reduces the likelihood of re-offending by up to 50%.
Now I went to Brixton Prison with a reasonably open mind, I like new experiences and was pretty sure I would learn something. We met some of the prisoners at the famous Clink restaurant and the Bad Boys Bakery which was set up by Gordon Ramsay in 2012, two innovative and entrepreneurial ways to give offenders the valuable work experience and confidence which is necessary to get a job in the outside world.
I admit I felt it unlikely that we could actually employ an ex offender, what would our customers think? What would my team think? What would our shareholders think? What would my wife and family think? What would you think? After all, we have to work hard to earn the Trust of those important stakeholders and hiring an ex-convict has risk written all over it. I was however open to being persuaded. Would you be?
We met and talked to a number of prisoners and I can confirm they looked just like you and I. James was a Project Manager and Steve was a Finance Manager in the City, Carl is a dad of 4 kids “working away from home for 6 months”. I’m told the 10 foot thick Victorian walls of HMP Brixton also house a former Partner of a well known UK management consultancy. The stories we heard were of making a mistake, paying for it with freedom and being very aware that the chances of getting a job were now slim, with a criminal record. To many, that will sadly mean a continued life of crime. But they had hope. We were told with passion, that if someone gave them a chance, their loyalty would be bought forever. All of us wanted to be optimistic but the lingering doubts were undeniable.
Then we travelled to the centre of Brixton to visit the St Giles Trust who showed how their volunteers help to open up work opportunities and support ex-offenders back into employment and society. We met some seriously charming and inspiring people here, obviously the pick of the bunch but all showing an apparently genuine desire to find respectful work. One said he has turned his back on the former flash lifestyle afforded by his £4k per week “business” and would do anything to earn an honest £8 an hour. If only someone would give him a chance. Would you? By now I was thinking about it.
This week is Responsible Business Week, have a think about what social issues you could help solve locally, it may take you out of your comfort zone and you may change someone’s life.
One thing we can all do today is support the BITC “Ban the Box” campaign; to give people a second chance by removing the tick box from application forms that asks about criminal convictions.
Responsible Business Week aims to inspire and equip businesses to do more to meet the world’s most pressing challenges. In doing so, they will unlock innovation and opportunity and demonstrate the positive impact of business in society. – See more here
On May 7th 2014, Peter Field, Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex supported by myself will be hosting the next of the Prince’s “Seeing is Believing” visits to Brighton.
The Prince’s Seeing is Believing is a national programme delivered by the charity Business in the
Community. The programme provides insight into the issues most relevant to communities and business throughout the UK. Since its launch in 1990, over 500 top business leaders participate every year. Through a series of unique visits delivered by Business in the Community, the programme aims to challenge, inspire and engage top business leaders. For more information, visit our website: http://www.bitc.org.uk/programmes/princes-seeing-believing
This week’s podcast is a brief update about forthcoming changes to the show. Longstanding host and contributor Kelvin Newman, former Creative Director at SiteVisibility and now Managing Director of Rough Agenda, passes the reins onto Felice Ayling, Digital Content Director at SiteVisibility. Kelvin talks about his past and future endeavours, while Felice discusses what she has planned for the show.
In this week’s internet marketing podcast Andy talks to Felice Ayling, Digital Content Director at SiteVisibility, and Kelvin Newman, Creative Director at SiteVisibility, about what is best for your company when looking to improve your SEO. They go through the various options available for solving an SEO problem, whether that should be done in house, through an agency or freelance. They then go through what constitutes a good SEO agency and give some advice about what you should be looking out for when making your decision.
In this week’s internet marketing podcast Andy talks to Kelvin Newman, Creative Director at SiteVisibility, and Felice Ayling, Digital Content Director at SiteVisibility. They discuss the decline of Google Analytics and how Webmaster Tools can be used in its place, to a certain extent. They then talk about how Google reads ‘bounce’ rates and ‘return to search’, and how it understands what is good or bad quality content. Finally, they discuss Google+ and whether it is a beneficial platform to have a presence on.
SiteVisibility are delighted to welcome Gerry White to the team as our new Technical SEO Director. Having worked in the digital field for the past 15 years Gerry has a wealth of experience which he is eager to share with the team.
After graduating from Sheffield Hallam, Gerry went on to design and develop ecommerce websites before making the move into the optimisation field. Since then, he has worked with a variety of clients, ranging from the Government, the BBC, McDonalds and Weight Watchers.
Gerry is now excited to get stuck in at SiteVisibility, and work with like-minded people who are passionate about delivering a creative approach.
For Gerry, the best thing about working in the digital field is that you are constantly learning.
He says; ‘You can never know it, every element of digital marketing is constantly evolving, and it requires you to learn forevermore.’
And the team need not worry about getting into difficulty during their lunch hour dips in the sea – Gerry is also a fully qualified rescue diver!
In this week’s internet marketing podcast Andy talks to Felice Ayling, Digital Content Account Director at SiteVisibility, and the topic for discussion is online reputation and its effect on a brand. They start by chatting about how to handle negative feedback and the importance of discerning a genuine complaint from a ‘troll’. Felice then goes through some notable examples of good and bad responses to negative criticism from large companies on social media. She explains how Google doesn’t understand sentiment and will rank a search highly regardless of whether it is positive or negative. Finally, Felice gives some top tips for managing a brand’s online reputation.
In this week’s internet marketing podcast Andy talks to Felice Ayling, Digital Content Account Director at SiteVisibility. They discuss Matt Cutts’ recent post on guest blogging and how linking is being used unscrupulously to boost search ranking. Felice talks about the way in which some companies have corrupted an authentic engagement tool to manipulate search. She gives some advice for legitimate linking using “do follow” or “no follow” codes and offers tips for genuine guest bloggers worried about their status.
In this week’s internet marketing podcast, Andy talks with Felice Ayling, Digital Content AccountDirector at SiteVisibility about all things content marketing. To begin, Felice gives us some insights about her background and how she grew into her current role. She discusses some of her most favourite examples of content marketing and gives us some great tips what to do and what not to do in the industry.
Google Places, Google Local, Google+ Business Pages, Google Places for Business; whatever they are called nowadays, they remain a vital part of any digital campaign for websites with physical brick and mortar locations.
Google have been very actively changing this service in the previous year or so and sometimes it alone can feel like a full time job trying to keep up to date with all the changes, especially if you have to manage large quantities of listings as I do.
SiteVisibility are delighted to welcome Filippo Milano to the team as our resident PPC Executive. Filippo has worked with SiteVisibility for a few months now as an intern in our London office and has made the move to become a permanent member of the Brighton team. Filippo explained “After many years working within Food and Interiors-Design sector as Accountant and Sales, a short experience with ApuliaLand, a tourism project, and completing studies in Marketing and Communication in Italy, I’ve decided to move to the UK to improve my English and definitely to improve my Digital skills.”
I joined this new Team because I’ve always been fascinated by the Marketing World and, because I love challenges, SiteVisibility was a great first step.
In my free time I love playing football, running, gym and cooking.