Katie Mallinson, founder and managing director of Huddersfield communications agency Scriba PR, has been shortlisted in the ‘Leadership’ category of the 2021 Company Culture Awards.

The national competition recognises and celebrates those who nurture their workforces, provide career development, and create an environment that fosters a strong and collaborative team ethos.

Having established Scriba PR – which today provides PR expertise for over 50 retained and dozens of ad hoc clients – in 2013, Katie has built a motivated 12-strong team of ‘word nerds’ who get under the skin of B2B organisations to tell their stories, no matter how complex.

Despite the backdrop of Covid throughout 2020 – in which the agency saw £284,500 worth of retainer work paused – Katie led her team to secure 20 new PR accounts, maintain a two-in-three new business conversion rate, bring in a trio of talented recruits, and be listed as a Prolific North Top 50 PR Agency.

A Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ Outstanding Young Communicator and HSBC Start-up of the Year award-winner, Katie encourages her team to shape Scriba’s culture and values based on authenticity. This belief and trust helped to not only recoup the six-figure deficit, but record a profit too.

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Quarterly away days are held to bolster in-house learning, individual and end-of-year reviews provide further development opportunities, and 14% of company turnover is dedicated to upskilling. Flexible and remote working has also been ‘the norm’ long before Covid.

To further maintain morale, virtual breakfast clubs and social events have kept colleagues connected, and word nerds each nominate their ‘employee of the month’ – with the winner receiving a prize. Additionally, staff receive a day off for their birthday, have anniversaries rewarded and paid time-off to volunteer for worthy causes.

The Scriba PR team – socially-distanced

With a ‘giving back’ culture firmly in place, Scriba has donated a £35,000 PR contract to Yorkshire Children’s Centre, provided comms workshops for young entrepreneurs, and supported a colleague to deliver pro bono assistance to 10-year-old Maisie Catt, a double amputee who walked 26 miles for LimbPower and raised £11,768. The team has also forwarded £180,000 of work onto industry peers – including digital agencies and videographers – throughout 2020.

“It’s been vital to remain open with colleagues about the challenges of Covid and they’ve been encouraged to do the same. Admittedly, I’ve often felt a bit like a ‘leadership fraud’ because I’ve constantly been asking myself if I’ve done enough to protect the team when everyone’s livelihoods are at stake,” said Katie.

“Even though nobody could’ve predicted the impact of the pandemic, fortunately we weren’t averse to planning for ‘black swan’ crises either. That mean we were as prepared as we could be for what was to come. I believe this is a big reason as to why we’ve built an incredible amount of resilience throughout 2020, and never lost what makes us Scriba.”

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Speaking about the Company Culture Awards shortlisting, she added: “While this recognition is humbling to say the least, I don’t feel like it’s down to one person. Throughout building Scriba I’ve always kept talking to people – whether clients, colleagues or friends of the business – and this has been pivotal in helping us to get to the position we’re in now.”

The awards ceremony takes place virtually on April 27 from 7pm.