Jo Curkpatrick initially got started in agricultural research. “I was working with fantastic people, very clever and doing great science, but I found they weren't telling their stories, about the results they were getting, the work they were doing, or the science behind it. I decided to start writing their stories and it led to a move into the media and then later into corporate communications and consultancy.”
"An honest and ethical approach"
- Jo Curkpatrick
Jo believes the key to success has been honesty and taking an ethical approach to communication and business. “Setting some rules and putting the client and customer at the centre ensures you're always doing the right thing. Listening and hearing are just as critical for me to help others achieve their personal and business goals.”
“I am passionate about the people that make up an organisation and the importance of these people in creating success. In management and on the boards we sit on, we need to remind ourselves that our success relies very much on the people doing fantastic work for the organisation. Decades ago, I remember being impressed with Southwest Airlines people-first approach. The airline has long been lauded for its strong workplace culture and engaged workforce, and it is reflected in the company’s success. Their story and many other similar case studies have stayed with me, and I encourage the organisations I work with to maintain a focus on internal communication and employee engagement. It’s not a ‘nice to have’ it’s a must have!”
There are many examples of how a focus on internal comms and great employee engagement increases productivity, reduces absenteeism, creates profitability, and increases share value. Statistics show time and again how powerful it is. Gallup has been monitoring this for decades and in 2022’s State of the Global Workplace found that highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability. Their research also found that low engagement alone is costing the global economy $7.8 trillion. If that isn’t enough to encourage leadership to see the ROI on implementing employee engagement strategies, I’m not sure what is!
When it comes to differentiation, “I follow a fairly rigid approach to communication strategy and always include the contribution it will make to business objectives and measurement and evaluation. I follow the International Association of Business Communicators (iabc.com) approach to communication strategy. But as much as anything, it's having decades of experience and knowledge that help me pivot and determine what direction I need to take, and better understand what the organisation might need.”
I think that the cutting edge for me is being very good at what I do and having the wisdom and sense to identify the right way to go because I have seen a lot, done a lot and heard a lot.
When it comes to setbacks, Jo is very self-aware. “I am perhaps a little determined from time to time, so I brush myself off and move on. Sometimes that's been making the decision to leave an organisation which I believe is not suitable for me or end a relationship with a client if it’s no longer a match.”
When it comes to success in the communication/marketing/PR industry, Jo believes that it's about focusing on what the organisation wants to achieve and what the business success looks like, and then how communication can contribute to that. The big questions are “What does success look like? And having set the objectives and knowing who we are targeting, working back to the strategies and tactics we need to put in place to achieve success.”
Regarding her own success in business, Jo feels it's important to acknowledge you don't need to do everything yourself.
“When I was most successful, my success was around repeat business, business based on reputation and respect for the people I worked with. I had one staff member I knew would be a fantastic communication professional and I encouraged her to grow and move on when she was ready. She has done very well and that makes me happy.”
“Where I have been less successful one of the reasons has been a lack of confidence in charging a rate I know I'm worth because it might mean no work tomorrow. So if you have a good offering, an ethical approach and deliver good work, on time and to budget, don’t be afraid to charge a fair price based on your service. I didn't do enough of that early on and that would be my advice to business owners getting started.”