By Jennifer Kennedy, Marketing manager

April 1, 2016 | 4 min read

Throughout the agency’s 25 year history, Cuckoo has always been very engaged with its local area of Salford. In the past decade, we’ve played a key role in the on-going £650m regeneration of Salford Central, through branding and marketing many of the new developments, and we’re always on the lookout for opportunities to give back to our community.

Cuckoo's head of marketing Jennifer Kennedy.

If you work within a busy agency, you may be wondering where we find the clear space to dedicate to local projects. The truth is that we make the time. We plan to remain and flourish in Salford, so we know that any investment we make in our community today will deliver real rewards in the future.

We also recognise that young people are the future of our industry, so it’s in our interests to nurture local teens to realise their passions. With this in mind, we recently organised a pilot half-day session, Cuckoo Works, for local 16-17 year olds. We focused on this age group as this is commonly when young people with no plans to attend university either go to college or get a job. We felt that a lot of kids around this age can get funneled into dead-end jobs simply because they don’t receive the support they need to develop and follow their true interests.

With apprenticeships within the marketing industry at an all-time high, we wanted to make sure that the young people of Salford are fully aware of these opportunities, and are also able to develop the confidence they need to pursue such opportunities.

On the day of the pilot session, 15 young people attended and took part in activities such as ‘how to write a winning CV’, ‘what to do and what not to do in a job interview’ and, most importantly, ‘how to be memorable’.

One of the things that stood out to me was how many of these students were completely unaware of the agency world. They literally didn’t know agencies like ours existed. From the feedback we’ve received since, the participants left feeling inspired and with the newfound belief that work doesn't have to be a chore: it can be something you truly love. Many of the young people came into the session with very little enthusiasm for their career prospects, due to disappointing exam results, but left with renewed confidence and optimism.

For our part, the Cuckoo team members who took part truly enjoyed it. It was a rewarding experience on a personal level and created an even deeper commitment within the agency to improving the prospects of our local community and its inhabitants. It has definitely added a different dimension to the agency, both internally and in terms of our external profile among prospective staff and clients alike.

If I were to offer agencies advice on giving something back to their local community, I would say choose something that is actually close to your heart. There needs to be ‘reasons to believe’ when it comes to these initiatives for it to be accepted as ‘genuine’ among your target audiences.

Also make sure you can truly add value: we could have written a cheque for the students to buy them new macbooks but that wouldn’t really have added value to their situation. We visited the school prior to planning the event and learned the background of some of the students. This gave us a three-dimensional understanding of what they needed that we could provide. So before jumping into a commitment like this you need to personify and really get to know the needs being focused on before you attempt to meet them.

Jennifer Kennedy is sales and marketing manager of Cuckoo.