Laura Cunliffe-Hall reflects on an action-packed three years at Copper Consultancy and offers insight into life at Copper working on some of the biggest infrastructure and development projects in the country.
You’ve been at Copper for three years now – congratulations. What first attracted you to working at Copper?
Thank you – I can’t believe it’s gone so fast! I started at Copper as a Junior Account Executive after completing my Master’s degree in English and American Literature. I’d previously interned in Public Relations and I was determined to work in a communications, public-facing role, combining my love of current affairs and politics with writing and social media.
I wanted a job where my contribution would make a positive difference to people’s lives – and what better way to do that than helping bring forward projects that shape communities for the better.
What do you enjoy about working in communications and at Copper in particular?
I hate being bored – and one thing is for sure, you are never bored if you work in communications!
Comms is a very fast-paced industry. It’s about providing excellence and best-practice for your clients and being at the top of your game. As the policy landscape is always shifting, this impacts the type of projects we work on, how we articulate our projects and consistently generates accompanying new communications challenges.
How we speak to one another and communicate is so important. Getting messaging right and generating the right type of engaging content is key to the success of a project or communications campaign. Being part of this is extremely rewarding – the work that we do means something and I genuinely believe it is changing the society that we live in for the better.
Social value is also intrinsically linked to the work that we do. Understanding how to capture social value and promote the positive impacts of our projects is more important now than ever before. We help mobilise client teams to deliver positive and sustainable social change – whether this is through working on energy projects helping to reach net zero goals, economic development projects investing in placemaking or the public realm or transport projects that keep us connected.
Working at Copper is also a pleasure because of our people. Our talented and dedicated team help us attract top clients that are doing important work in regeneration and economic development – and we have an opportunity to spread the benefits of these to communities across the country.
How has your job role evolved across your three years at Copper?
When I first started working at Copper, it was a highly formative training experience, where I gained exposure to a range of projects across the infrastructure, construction and property sectors. I was often the first point of contact for projects, operating contact centres where I would liaise directly with members of the public and address their questions about specific projects.
Research and auditing were also key aspects of my role – I especially enjoyed learning about political developments across the country and improving my understanding of the work carried out by local authorities, central government and our clients.
As I’ve developed and now as an Account Manager, my role is a lot more strategic. I develop and implement strategies for clients, devise creative communications campaigns and work on building advocacy for the vital work our projects are doing and drawing attention to the benefits they can provide for local people. I also manage project teams of consultants and line manage individual team members, working on their specific strengths to bring out the best in them.
Copper puts great emphasis on its consultants building their own professional brand and cultivating a long-term career in the wider sector. You’re supported by a team with multi-disciplinary experience every step of the way in order to achieve this. I feel very lucky to have been able to develop as a consultant in a nurturing and supportive environment.
As a member of Copper’s Economic Development team, I help to shape our business offering, using my strong understanding of regional and national policy to influence the way plans and projects are perceived.
I’ll be hosting a webinar in mid-February on ‘Reshaping Towns and Cities in a post-COVID world’, focused around this key question of how the planning system can function effectively to make communities safer, more sustainable and help reduce economic inequality across the country in the aftermath of the Coronavirus crisis. Watch this space for more!
How would you sum up your time at Copper in three words?
Educational, challenging and exciting!
What would your advice be for someone who wants to work in communications?
Firstly, definitely go for it! Make sure you do your research and find a role that fits your values and will allow you to achieve your ambitions.
Also remember that you never stop learning – go to as many training courses, networking events and panels as you can. In order to successfully communicate and target your work to resonate with people, you need to keep in touch with what’s going on both in the industry and politically, and always strive to be better.
Finally, remember that communications is always about your audiences! Tailor your approach to different opportunities by working out what your particular audience needs to hear. And get in touch – myself and my Copper colleagues are always keen to mentor and assist young people looking to progress in their communications careers.
If you’re considering a career in communications, public affairs and stakeholder engagement and have any questions, please get in touch via email at Laura.Cunliffe-Hall@copperconsultancy.com, on Twitter @LauraHall1995 or message me on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/laura-cunliffe-hall/