Why every day in business should be a school day: Volunteering with Young Enterprise

Founding Director of Plum Communications & PR, Karen Morledge, recalls her experiences of recently spending time with over fifty children from Somerset schools at an Entrepreneurship Masterclass held in Taunton: 

As a business owner used to donning a suit for marketing meetings, new business pitches and presenting to Boards and senior managers, imagine the prospect of me being invited to spend the day with over 50 teenagers, helping them to understand the concept of marketing at a business workshop.

Masterclass Karen

I was invited to volunteer at an Entrepreneurship Masterclass by one of my clients, Summerfield Developments, in conjunction with international charity Young Enterprise this month, and I was well and truly in my element!

Let me set the scene for you. In a large office suite in Taunton’s Victoria House, there were nine teams of 14 and 15 year-olds (54 students in total) from six different schools throughout Somerset. All teams were given a site plan and aerial photograph of a real housing development in the South West, scale drawings of various properties and a brief that would see them looking at planning issues and development, as well as the sales and marketing of their site.

Aided by resources boxes containing scissors, glue, rulers, sales brochures and a room full of teachers and business people including a planning consultant, an architect and a marketer (yes, that was me) as well as Team Summerfield, the groups got well and truly stuck in to the competition.

Despite introducing myself as Karen from Plum Communications & PR who was there “to help with the marketing”, I was repeatedly called ‘Miss’ during the day which was a first for me, but really rather nice!

I would describe myself as quite an enthusiastic person and genuinely love my job and helping others, but I was completely animated and excited throughout the day.  At times I was sat on the floor (literally down with the kids you could say), talking about marketing tactics and teasing out ideas, asking questions and generally being excited about what I was seeing and hearing.

Throughout the day I was also organising various aspects to help with the PR for the event, Somerset’s largest Entrepreneurship Masterclass, including various photos with the local press and briefing Summerfield’s MD, Chris Winter, for his radio interview in the BBC Somerset studio later that day.

From launch campaigns to leaflet drops and everything in between, the students gave their presentations towards the end of the day and I, along with many others in the room, were amazed at the final results.

Ok, so I’d given them a few pointers throughout the day but wow, did these young people have a great grasp of marketing. I stood at the back of the room, literally beaming with pride, and totally impressed with their ideas and their enthusiasm.  They created website homepages on a laptop, scripted and recorded radio ads on their iPhones and created sales brochures from scratch with amazing illustrations and copy. It was quite brilliant.

It was also great for Summerfield, as the organiser of the event, to experience new ideas from the students, in particular the importance of environmental factors with new developments and the importance of new media and marketing channels. For the students, they were afforded a fantastic insight into the world of business  and the wonderful worlds of housing and marketing – two of my favourite things.

It felt like everyone involved learnt something and I do believe that every day in business should be a school day – we should never stop learning from others.  I’ll be top of the list as a volunteer for when the run the event again next year. Just call me Miss.

Karen Morledge MCIPRThis article was written by Karen Morledge, Founding Director of Plum Communications & PR. Karen has over 12 years’ experience of marketing and communications gained within both the public and private sectors, and prior to setting up Plum held senior marketing, communications and PR roles for a housing assocation and local authority, as well as working for large newspaper groups in the South West and in her hometown of Cambridge. Karen has experience of working in a diverse range of sectors and has qualifications to support her practical application of her knowledge and skills. Read more about Karen and follow her on Twitter @KarenMorledgePR.