Bonny Dellow on authenticity, purpose, and trust

Bonny Dellow on authenticity, purpose, and trust
Bonny Dellow, Head of Content, Social and PR at Simply Business, joins us to chat about his journey into comms and how "trust" is the next big thing in comms.

Why did you choose to pursue a role in communications? For example, has it always been your passion or was it pure happenstance?

Growing up, the intention was to spend my career in sports journalism. I’d always found writing came quite naturally to me and, what’s more, I happened to enjoy it. Pair that with a passion for sport and it seemed a no-brainer.

That saw me study Sports Journalism at university, which then led to a Master’s degree in Modern English Language – a year which really piqued my curiosity for language and communication.

After a spell writing for an online sports publication, I soon found myself in the world of marketing communications… and I haven’t really looked back.

It could be a 280-character Tweet or a full-blown, multi-channel campaign. There’s such power in effective communication, whatever the scale, and that continues to fascinate and excite me to this day.

What personal skills or attributes do you think are most important in the communications sphere? Why these skills/attributes in particular?

Empathy is a universal skill needed across all comms roles. You need to be able to put yourself in your audience’s shoes – what will they think when they receive this? How will they feel? Why is this relevant to them? Being able to relate to and understand their experiences is vital.

For similar reasons, I’d say good attention to detail is another important trait. Oh, and dare I say thick skin? Every piece of comms is subjective, and everyone – understandably – has an opinion.

What sort of challenges do you face in your role? Is there a particular challenge that you experienced in the past that stood out?

At one stage, there was an obvious opportunity to bring our external comms channels closer together.

Our Content, Social Media and PR teams were working in silos, and while each had plenty to be proud of individually, we always felt our best work came from the moments where these teams collaborated effectively.

There have naturally been challenges along the way – and it hasn’t happened overnight – but we’ve really seen this unified approach come to life in recent years, and I put that exclusively down to having a great team who buy into why it’s beneficial (and enjoyable) to work this way.

Telling consistent, complimentary, cross-channel stories has springboarded our ability to drive meaningful, effective comms campaigns.  

What one thing would make your working life easier?

Infinite time would see us act on every brilliant idea we've ever had! We’ve got no shortage of great ideas for our customers… I’d love it if we didn’t have to prioritise which ones came to life first.

How is the role of communications perceived in your organisation?

Positively. As a B Corp, we’re very much a purpose-driven organisation and comms will always have a big part to play in that – internally and externally.

We’re also a brand who puts serious care into our customer experience, and who believe in truly supporting our audience’s success. Our team is vital to both.

Perhaps our role – and the positive perception internally – is best reflected in the growth of our team which is now three times the size it was just a few years ago.

What do you think the secret of success is when working in communications?

I can hardly claim it to be a secret, but I’ve long believed in the importance of simplicity and feel its value is often overlooked (or at least underplayed). It helps at every level – from how a team works together, to an overarching strategy, to the story behind a campaign.

And for a communicator it’s paramount. The ability to convey complex ideas with simplicity is fundamental in communications. That’s especially true at Simply Business, and indeed for any other brands who sell products or services perceived as complex or opaque.

At React & Share, we’re obsessed with helping our clients measure and report their efforts - what measurements do you think comms teams should be presenting to internal stakeholders?

That probably depends on the stakeholders, the campaign and the context. We’re a multi-functional team – our efforts drive earned media coverage, educate customers about our products, contribute to organic search performance and generate leads for our business. Plus a whole lot more.

We have a core set of measures as a broader team that – at their heart – show how our communications are both positively impacting business objectives, and practically helping our audience.

Looking into your crystal ball, what do you think will be the next big thing in communications?

In a word, trust. In recent years society's trust has eroded: in social media, in public figures, in mainstream media, in brands. Trust has never been more important, and I think you can see this reflected in the best marketing and communications.

Consumers want authenticity and purpose. And crucially, they want actions, not words.

Ultimately, people will want brands to use their resources and comms to drive material change – on behalf of their customers and audience, and the world at large. And that’s what will rebuild trust.