The latest Your Voice feature, giving LBV members a platform for their views on the current business landscape in Leicester.
1284 is an award-winning corporate communications agency. Its Chartered PR professionals work with innovative people and businesses across the East Midlands. 1284 was founded in 2020 by former Leicester Mercury editor George Oliver and is based at Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Park (LUSEP)
How would you describe what your business does?
We provide corporate communications strategy for purposeful people who are leading change. That might be changes made to increase the productivity of their business, or changes made by a social enterprise to increase its benefit in the community. Practically speaking, we provide media relations, PR, copywriting, internal comms, thought leadership, and stakeholder engagement. Clients make use of that to rise their profile, persuade stakeholders, and win funding and awards. Our clients range from university startups to large regional housing associations. We help organisations influence decisions being taken in their ecosystems.
What are the biggest opportunities for your business?
There’s a growing appetite for innovation throughout the UK – and 1284 specialises in that. Leading politicians from all parties are talking about UK efficiency, technology, and exports as the country looks to address its widely-reported productivity challenge. Innovation achieves that. 1284 has been fortunate to be at the heart of the regional agenda through our work in university incubators, with Leicestershire Innovation Festival, and providing comms for the likes of the LLEP and Business Gateway Growth Hub. East Midlands small business innovation is our particular interest.
What are the biggest challenges for your business?
For the first three years it was establishing and growing my first business during the Pandemic. Now it’s managing growth thoughtfully in order to not destabilise what has already been built. It’s been a busy 12 months for 1284: we doubled revenue and recruited twice, as well as winning the Mark Of Excellence at the CIPR Awards in London for our work on East Midlands innovation and the regional devolution agenda. Getting really experienced former news colleagues onto the team (in the shape of Amy Orton and Richard Bowyer) has been really important in propelling 1284 forward and enabling us to win the trust of more great clients.
What would you identify as the key strengths of Leicester?
People in its business community are supportive and good fun to be around. I’ve made some really good friends who have kindly gone on to advocate for 1284. I think our location is extremely advantageous, and that the resilience exemplified during the Leicester lockdown showed the collective spirit of our city and county.
What are the top three ways in which Leicester can develop to support the business community?
1. Support local SMEs and suppliers where possible.
2. Refer others to those trusted local organisations wherever possible.
3. Gain and create value by participating in mentoring and peer networks.
Why is LBV important to you and your business?
About 80% of 1284’s work comes in through word-of-mouth referrals from people who are active and visible in the Leicester and Leicestershire business community. Upon launching 1284, I looked at LBV’s member list, realised that I knew many of those involved, and thought it offered another forum from which to communicate with them as we all look to improve the prosperity of our region.
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