We speak with Pillory Barn’s Managing Director Miranda Chapman, who shares her love for Kent, and why making the move to the county ticks the boxes for business’s profitability and productivity, but also employee’s lifestyle and creativity.
Originally founded by Roger Hills as an immersive creative design business, then later merged with the extensive and revered communication and marketing experience of Miranda Chapman, at 28 years old Pillory Barn has established itself as a strategic communications agency that delivers a full-service offer, with advanced specialisms in public sector, place making and regeneration marketing.
Born and raised in Kent, Pillory Barn has seen first-hand Kent’s growth into a leading county for the creative and digital sector. Offering businesses opportunities to innovate, access convenient connectivity and facilities, and experience a unique variety of places to discover that rival other destinations, including London.
“We live and breathe in our field. The people who are working in the business right now and those that will join us in the future, without exception, are embedded in business, our clients and our places. We’ve never had any doubt about our location in Kent, as it proves time and time again it can stand out from the crowd, and offers more competitive options for the business, from connectivity, cost effectiveness and creativity.”
For years there has been a view that with London on the doorstep, Kent will miss out on accessing the best of the best as it’s perceived that working professionals follow those big city lights, whereas Miranda shares: “With what we do in terms of place, regeneration and inward investment work, we naturally draw and attract people who have largely worked in London but have decided they can have the same, if not better, career with a better work life balance by working in Kent with an agency who is dealing with significant brands.
“The city is a really rich and varied environment and I respect it. London is important to Kent – there is a symbiotic relationship there but because of the lifestyle elements, Kent is always going to get people who’ve worked in the city and want to come home.”
Over the past year we have seen many businesses adapt and evolve to navigate the ever-changing business landscape. It has seen the work force change significantly with more and more creative and digital businesses updating processes to ride the new working wave brought on by the pandemic.
“COVID has opened our eyes to see what more is out there in terms of work life balance, both progressing careers and progressing home life. It’s given us an opportunity to trial new working patterns and adapt our operations to ensure the business can be flexible to cater to the needs of our staff and clients.”
Kent is celebrated for its diversity – there are many creative areas across every inch of the county that tap into existing and emerging communities, cultural hubs and talented creatives.
“We have a lovely entrepreneurial spirit here, that’s really adaptive and we take full advantage of it in our business. We are ahead of the curve, challenging the norm and pushing new services, products and experiences out there. It makes such a difference to our clients and how they can challenge what they do and stand out amongst the crowds.
“When you look across the whole of the county, creative and digital is an incredibly strong sector and many of the businesses are SME or micro. This brings a real smorgasbord and melting pot of hyper creative people that specialise and generalise in the industry. You can access an amazing photographer, drone operator or designer – they are on our doorstep in spades – and are able to complement our amazingly strong team.”
Services from inward investment agencies, like Locate in Kent, are the first port of call for businesses looking to relocate and grow in the county. Miranda shares: “Locate in Kent understands every part of Kent and know how it works to best benefit businesses. They will take you in at the top level and network you into the right businesses, accountants, lawyers, creatives, suppliers and so many more. And it’s all at their fingertips.
“We recently took part in the Future Forward programme which allowed us to be on the business rather than in it. Locate in Kent set us up with sessions working alongside some of the best advisors in the business, and as a result we have developed creative and innovative practices in operations, marketing, HR and finance, allowing us the freedom to work however is best for our employees but still within a team.
“The programme is really worth its weight in gold for not only creative and digital businesses, but wider sectors too, who are looking to set up shop in a county that embraces out of the box thinking and gives you the tools to achieve it.”