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Show us what you’re made of

Show us what you’re made of

2018 has been a stellar year. We have grown to a 90 strong agency, welcomed some excellent new clients as well as continuing to work with some of the best brands, businesses, and entrepreneurs across a variety of sectors.

The start of 2018 was an exciting time for our business as we evolved from PHA Media to The PHA Group. This evolution came about after many months of navel-gazing and realising that as a business we had changed significantly since our inception 14 years earlier, yet our own brand hadn’t reflected this change.   We lacked one key message to explain what we are all about. We required a new brand narrative and identity to that reflected our growth and presented a cohesive and authentic story to our staff and to the outside world.

So, we were delighted to become The PHA Group; Vibrant people who deliver. Simple

Our new brand and identity encapsulated the essence of what we have always been about and what truly sets us apart from our competitors; our people. We recognised that to get the best out of our people, we needed to empower them, and create a culture which will enable them to thrive.  We wanted 2018, our first tear as The PHA Group to be the year that we celebrated our most important asset, our people, in a special way.  And so, in recognition of our people, we launched our own internal campaign called ‘Show us what you’re made of’. We challenged every one of our employees to take on something they had always wanted to do throughout 2018, a pledge to do something that would take them out of their comfort zone and give them an opportunity to show us what they were made of.  The pledge could be personal or professional, all that mattered was that it was a challenge to the individual and gave them the opportunity to demonstrate why the people at The PHA Group are so vibrant.

As a result, we have had employees raise over £5,000 for charities, run marathons, climb or cycle multiple mountains across the globe, learn Braille, volunteer hundreds of hours, write a children’s book reconnect with family members, learn to speak foreign languages and realise passions for cooking, fishing, and cycling. We were overwhelmed with the stories and what our people achieved.

To add a special incentive to encourage individuals to take part there were three very special prizes up for grabs for every individual that completed their pledge, with the top three winners being selected by an independent judging panel. The person with the most compelling journey would be rewarded with tickets to a holiday destination of their choice anywhere in the world plus spending money. Second place would be treated to a weekend away in the UK and third place would be allowed to indulge in a dinner for two at a top London restaurant. This year-long campaign was designed to encourage development, encourage the achievement of personal goals and champion the importance of a great work/life balance.

Angel - Show us what you're made ofAngel, Social Media Assistant set out on an extremely personal challenge to reconnect with her birth father; ‘My pledge was very personal and tough to share at times, but that’s exactly why I chose it. When I heard about the pledge scheme, I asked myself what I’ve never been brave enough to do and meeting my dad was the one thing I’d always avoided – but not anymore.’

Celia - Show us what you're made of


Celia, Senior Account Manager said ‘I’ve always agreed with the saying “if you want something done, ask a busy person” but the pledge made me realise how much more I could do with my spare time’

Last week marked the end of the campaign and it was time to pick our winners. Our New York partner agency, 5W, generously agreed to take on the role of independent judges, with three of their senior Directors forming the panel.

Dara Busch, Executive Vice President, Consumer Practice “We were blown away with how real and personal the individuals got with us”.

Shane Russell, Senior Vice President, Technology “It was really cool to see how people adapted the pledge to their lives and goals”

Matthew Caiola, Executive Vice President, Corporate and Technology Practices “So many of the pledges showed incredible selflessness”

At The PHA Group Christmas party on Friday, we announced the winners of ‘Show us what you’re made of’ and were delighted to crown Holly Hale, Junior Account Manager our overall winner for completing L’Étape du Tour, one of the world’s most grueling cycling races. Described as ‘sitting on a bike at full resistance for 11 hours’ Holly managed to take on the tremendous challenge where only 6% of the 15,000 participants were female after dedicating herself to hundreds of hours of training in preparation.

Holly - show us what you're made of

Holly explains: ‘As soon as the pledges were announced I knew I had to give it my best. I really enjoyed the months of training and preparing for the event itself. Now that it’s all over I miss having that one thing to work towards and focus on. Naturally, the prizes were a big incentive to keep working towards achieving my pledge. Having said that, equally as important as the possibility of winning an amazing prize was having everyone in the company know what my pledge was, and what I was trying to achieve. It made me accountable and it meant that I would be letting people down if I didn’t complete my pledge. Overall a great experience with an even better result!’

In joint second place was Hayley, Senior Marketing Manager, and Rory, Account Executive. Both pledgees achieved an outstanding number of voluntary hours to help organisations close to both of their hearts.

Rory said I’ve wanted to help people who suffer from mental health for some time now following battles with depression myself. After a bit of exploring I’ve found myself working for a charity that provides emotional support for people suffering from mental illness through a phone line and text care service. Working on the phones has been challenging and emotional at times, but I enjoy it and feel like I’m making a difference. The pledge really gave me the kick I needed to turn an ambition into a reality, and hopefully, this is just the start of a lifetime helping those with mental illnesses.’

Hayley said “I’ve wanted to do more volunteer work for some time now and the pledge presented the perfect opportunity. I have really enjoyed helping lots of different organisations and will continue to support many of them in 2019.”

In joint third was Celia, Senior Account Manager, who pledged to create a children’s book, which is currently being reviewed by an agent and publisher and provide pro-bono work for a charity supporting blind and partially sighted individuals.  With Angel, social media assistant also securing third place for her commitment to such an emotional journey to reconnect with her dad.

As an organisation we couldn’t be prouder of all the employees who took part in the process and we’re delighted to hear so many are continuing into the new year with their new skills, commitments, and journeys.

As for 2019 at The PHA Group we have committed to another huge opportunity for our staff showing the industry just how Vibrant we all are.

Stay tuned for more…

Wednesday Wellness – an employer who puts you at the centre

Wellbeing in the workplace has often been overlooked by employers throughout the years, particularly in Western society and culture, where work is so fast paced that you barely get a second to think about the present moment. There are always thoughts and concerns over what’s just happened, or what’s coming up. When do we actually get a chance to focus on ourselves?

Now, there is finally a growing recognition of the importance of physical and mental wellbeing in the workplace, as well as outside it. Staff who recognise their own mental and physical wellbeing, and who are supported in doing so by their employers, are likely to be more productive at work and make more contributions to their organisations they work for.

Whilst work is an integral part of life, it shouldn’t be a source of anxiety, stress and ill health. The success and well-being of the staff and the business go hand in hand, thus, organisations that understand and act on this will continue to adapt, innovate and outperform those that don’t.

Here at The PHA Group, we pride ourselves on providing as much support as we can for all staff. We recognise that our employees are the key to a happy and successful workplace, which is why we introduced our Wednesday Wellness initiatives. We’re eager to encourage staff to refocus their mind and gain perspective when the stressful thoughts and pressures start to creep in.

This is why our Wednesday Wellness sessions concentrated on mental wellbeing, focusing on meditation and taking a much-needed break in the day to re-energise the brain. This is just one example of how easily we can build mental wellbeing practices into our day, giving us immediate benefits and stress relief.

Physical wellbeing is just as important to individuals, which is why we regularly focus our Wednesday Wellness sessions on relaxing the body and stimulating the mind. At The PHA Group, our most recent Wednesday Wellness initiative has been the introduction of twenty-minute massages for employees throughout the day.

We have found this to be a successful and popular wellbeing initiative among our staff. Alicia Diaz-Benitez says: “Sitting at your desk for long periods of time can deplete your energy levels. I find the massage sessions really lift my spirits and make me feel renewed and refreshed – and give me clarity of mind when I resume my workload.”

Our ever-evolving focus on the implementation of initiatives like these allows our staff to embrace, explore and apply the benefits of emotional and physical well-being. Our company wellness initiatives make our staff feel valued and comfortable in the workplace. And we feel that happier, more fulfilled employees deliver the best results.

My time at PHA: Annie Quinn

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of work experience and fun. I’ve learned so much at PHA, not just about PR but also about the ins and outs of an office – it’s my first time in this kind of business environment.

When I arrived, I didn’t quite know what to expect, what I’d be doing or how the Personal PR Team worked. In just a fortnight I’ve picked up so much, from what ‘personal PR’ means to how social media accounts are run, to the best ways of getting a journalist’s attention (3kg of sweets, anyone?).

Here are five lessons I learnt:

Time management and prioritisation

Being totally honest with myself, I knew time management was something I had to work on. I put my hand up to take on work from day one – and the team took note. I soon found myself with an exciting (but large) list of things to do and I decided that I would start setting myself time restraints for certain tasks to ensure that my days were as productive as possible. This method worked well for me and allowed me to structure my day as efficiently as possible. I now feel like I have a way to help me sort tasks and get things done – skills that will come in handy when I go off to university in a few months.

The UK Media

I learnt the importance of reacting to the news quickly.  PHA’s morning scan was a big eye-opener for me. Scanning through national newspapers allowed me to see just how many opportunities there are, and how many papers there are.

I’ve never been an avid reader of the news, so this was an important lesson for me and a habit I’m not going to drop any time soon. Time to invest in newspaper subscriptions.


I loved getting involved at PHA – and not just because they share a similar passion for Love Island. The team layout was very open, and I was encouraged to ask questions and chat with the team, this made me feel more at ease and more relaxed.

I received a lot of support from the other members of the team and always felt included, they were great. Having a supportive team really benefitted my experience – as I was asking questions and constantly learning.

No two days are the same

I loved the diversity and variety at PHA – I had never experienced such a wide range of things to do. From scouring the business section of the Sunday papers (all in the name of personal PR) to researching dolls house toilet paper (don’t ask) in the same day – it was fantastic.

Phones are for making calls! Who knew?

Finally, this is a big one, the phone calls. When I first arrived, I couldn’t believe how many calls were being made in the office – to journalists, clients and suppliers. My mobile is 90% used for Instagram and WhatsApp, not calling. I quickly learnt that phone calls in the context of work aren’t actually scary at all – they can be really exhilarating especially when it goes well, and you see the results.

I learnt a lot during my work experience including things that aren’t PR related that I will be able to use in my future career. It was an amazing two weeks with a friendly, helpful and humorous team who allowed me to get the most out of my work experience.

If you’re looking to make your next career move in PR speak to a member of our recruitment team today. We’d love to hear from you and take you through any vacancies we have available.

Putting The PR in GDPR

With less than a month until the new European legislation, known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), comes into force in the UK we look at what this really means for the PR industry, whilst putting some of those rumours and myths to bed.

Find out the basics

You can’t prepare for what you don’t know. So, the first crucial step is to make yourself aware of the key facts surrounding the GDPR. If you haven’t received training at your organisation it is probably worthwhile embarking on some personal research on the dos and don’ts when it comes to data protection. Sites such as the ICO are really detailed and can help you answer some of those burning questions.

Our Legal and Finance Director, Marina Hall says “Don’t panic, GDPR is a good thing and allows you to organise your data and the information you store. The legislation is enforcing best practice and requiring all businesses to have the same standards when it comes to processing and storing personal information.”

What data is included?

The GDPR may sound as exciting as watching paint dry but it’s important to know the details, especially as it will affect every business in the UK. You will need to know what qualifies as ”personal data”as you’ll probably find that you process it a lot more than you realise. The main areas could be:

  • Name
  • Email address
  • Mobile number
  • Bank account details
  • Addresses
  • Driver/passport number

The legislation covers indirect identification of personal data, as well as direct. This means marketers will need to think about pseudonymisation, a data management procedure by which personally identifiable information fields within a data record are replaced by one or more artificial identifiers. When these elements are brought together, such as a postcode used with a surname, this could lead to someone being identified.

Do I have to get permission from every journalist?

No; if you are using aggregator sites such as Gorkana, Agility or Response Source you’re covered. These sites require the journalists or organisation to opt-in to have their details shared, meaning you have permission as a subscriber to the site to access that data. In addition, business emails that are published in the public domain such as are exempt from GDPR and you are able to make an approach.

Freelancers can be a murkier ground. There is a grey area within the new legislation around “legitimate interest”. If, for example, you were representing an environmental charity and you wanted to contact a freelance environmental journalist, you can argue legitimate interest as the journalist would more than likely want to hear about your story. However, if you included the same freelance journalist in a big promotional email about something totally irrelevant to them it would be deemed misuse of their data and could lead to other problems.

How does this affect my client work?

Our top tips for most PR professionals would be to focus on the following.

  1. Make sure you know where to find your new updated contracts and how to explain them if your client comes back with any questions.
  2. Ensure you are vetting any third-party suppliers you might be using, such as photographers, copywriters or website developers. It might be worthwhile having a supplier agreement in place.
  3. Password protect your spreadsheets. If you have media lists, client to do lists or simply a data capture from an event, make sure they are securely stored away and password protected. If you’re unsure how to lock your work down seek help from your IT team who will be able to advise you.
  4. Don’t pass on details you don’t have permission to share. If you haven’t got permission, make sure you don’t share data with any third parties. If you do, this could it could lead to larger issues. If you’re unsure, check with the Data Protection Officer within your organisation for the correct process.
  5. The right to be forgottenthe new GDPR rules provide “data subjects” (individuals) with the right to request that their information be erased completely. This is not optional.
  6. Finally, know who your Data Protection Officer is. Most organisations will have an appointed person or team. Make sure you keep them in the loop if you’re unclear about the process or just want to clarify what you’re doing is the correct way.

Finally, we’d just like to add we are not qualified to provide legal advice, so if you have some bigger questions please do contact your legal counsel.

We hope you enjoyed our top tips; if you’re looking for a PR agency to support you or your business please get in touch with our award-winning team today.

#PressForProgress Inspiring Women: Dawn Childs

Science was never my thing at school – my proudest achievement was wiring a plugin Physics when no-one else in the class could  – not even the boys.  I always admired the girls who got it – science that is – and put them on a pedestal as being the brainiest of the brainy kids, particularly because science was a ‘boys’ thing in my generation.

So when I read about Dawn Childs being recognised as one of the Barclays Women of Achievement for engineering I was intrigued and excited.  This woman was amazing – she had spent 23 years in the RAF as an Engineering Officer, in fact, she had been Head of Engineering at an RAF base with her prime responsibility looking after all the spy planes.  How can you not be inspired by someone like that – a woman looking after the nation’s spy planes?  Now, having left the RAF and becoming the first woman Head of Engineering at a major international airport (Gatwick), she is Group Engineering Director for Merlin Entertainments Group.  She is no longer looking after aircraft, rather the engineering standards, practices and processes for rollercoasters and rides at more than 100 theme parks worldwide – her career has to be right up there in empowering womankind.

Dawn Childs Engineering RAF Women

Has she got resilience?  Of course, she has.  There is no way you could survive, let alone progress, in this male-dominated profession unless you are tough. Has she experienced sexism?  Of course, she has – someone in the military once asked her if she was attending a meeting to take the notes when, in fact, she was leading it.

She is the epitome of success and achievement, a trailblazer in a male-dominated world of engineers – that has to be celebrated and applauded for the next generation of women engineers.

The point of telling you about Dawn is that she is not unique.  I guarantee you will come across someone like her during your career – I have, and she has been invaluable to me in my progression.  When you meet your version of Dawn, observe her, learn from her, gain confidence in your ability from her, adopt her style if it resonates with your own, learn to trust your judgement and instincts and don’t be afraid to fail.  All these elements will inspire and empower you in whichever world you work in.

Dawn’s tips for youngsters are; ask lots of questions and never think others could do your job better than you – always take a bet on yourself and your abilities – I did. #PressforProgress

Why PR could be the ideal career for you

I had never planned to work in PR. Having geared my entire education towards a career in art and design. I became one of many ‘lost’ graduates to embark on a strange world beyond the comfort of my student loan. For two years I flitted between office admin roles and thinking I was destined to schedule appointments for other people, which held no promise of the creative career I once felt was in my path.

It wasn’t until a close friend completed a week’s work experience at The PHA Group that PR even crossed my radar. She told me “I think it might be for you”, while any work experience in PR would be unpaid I was more than willing to try something different.

The atmosphere in the office on my first day was frantic, but somehow that didn’t put me off, I found it exciting and young and I was eager to join in. Rather than the corporate world I once thought it was, work experience taught me that PR fundamentally revolves around ideas, thoughts and creative. PR can be anything you make of it, which is a notion that sits well with me.

It isn’t all about attending fun events and schmoozing the media with expensive lunches and dinners. You learn to adapt a varied set of skills. One day you might be writing a press release about the intricate design details of the inside of a watch, the next you could be speaking to high-profile journalists and influencers at press events.

What makes a good PR? A strong writer, with the ability to sometimes take on different personas and writing for different audiences whilst being aware of the appropriate tone. You’ll need to have an interest in the media and things happening in the world. It’s also crucial you can work under pressure, and not afraid of a fast-paced working environment. The rest you learn along the way.Charlotte Francis soundbite

I think that there’s a lot of graduates with degrees who think PR is for people who studied communications, marketing or business, but some of the most talented people I work with have English, design, tech and even athletics so, personally, I think it’s about your skills and experiences more than what you have studied.

PR is a very competitive industry with a lot of talented people. With two weeks work experience I was lucky enough to be offered a three-month internship with the Consumer & Lifestyle. After spending so long with no professional direction to find something I found exciting, fast-paced and interesting was incredibly motivating.

Now I work fulltime at PHA. So far, I’ve been subjected to so many experiences, from trying to find the perfect fancy dress costume for Ashley Banjo to running around Oxford Street frantically sourcing a teapot for a photoshoot. It’s unpredictable and it’s 100 miles per hour, but every day is different.

Think a career in PR could be for you? Why not contact Louise on today about the The PHA Group Open Day or alternatively look at our current job opportunities


What a month at The PHA Group

By Ellen Maddin, The PHA Group Intern

It’s the final day of August and it’s my final day at The PHA Group. Some say, ‘time flies when you’re having fun’ and my month here definitely has.

I remember the 2-minute wait in reception on my first day felt like an eternity. The nerves were mounting and upon reflection; the 2 double shot cappuccinos I’d had that morning were probably not a good idea.

However, the welcome given to me by the Entrepreneurs and Business Team (Abbi, Emily, Celia, Alice, Prisca, Jasmin, James and Stuart) instantly made me feel better. I cannot express how thankful I am to them; their positive energy is infectious, their work ethic is inspiring and their supportive nature radiates across the pods. Two words to sum them up are: Girl Power! Not forgetting of course James and Stuart who immediately made me feel part of the team!

Now to the important points…

What I have learnt…(a vast amount):

  • I now have a real understanding of how a PR company works
  • I have learnt how to use Gorkana – vital when creating media lists
  • You must be on the ball; constantly keeping an eye on news outlets for coverage opportunities
  • Brainstorming ideas is essential especially when deciding on a new pitch angle – two brains are always better than one!
  • Being confident is a fundamental part of PR – mine has grown while being here!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions (everyone is happy to answer them) – it gives a meaning to the work you are doing and it makes it much more interesting!
  • It has been exciting to see how all the different parts link together to form an overall strategy!

My Highlights

There have been too many highlights to write about them all so here are my top 3:

  1. I loved the mini project I was involved in because I could demonstrate my creative skills. It also gave me an insight into the broad range of work PHA do for their clients. Seeing the finished product was a great way to end my time.
  2. The research tasks I have completed have all been fascinating and have shown me the wide variety of clients PHA-Media have. Everyday has been different!
  3. Knowing that I enjoy writing, Emily (from E&B) set me some blog posts to write for some of The PHA Group’s clients. Understanding when to use a different tone and language style has been incredibly useful!

This internship exceeded my expectations and taught me some invaluable lessons. Notably, to succeed in PR you need to be determined and enthusiastic. A month ago, I was feeling anxious about graduating in a year’s time knowing I’d be entering the ‘real world’. Now I feel like a future career in PR could hopefully be on the cards and that is all testament to what I have experienced at PHA. Thank you everyone!

P.S. influenced by the mini project I was set, my parting gift to the E&B Team is a survival kit

The PHA Group PR Student Awards – we have our winners!

The The PHA Group 2017 PR Student Awards have received a number of amazing entries and we would like to say a very big thank you to all of you who entered, we really enjoyed reading your entries and were impressed by your enthusiasm for PR.

After much deliberation, the team couldn’t narrow it down to one winner, and therefore have decided on the following three winners:

Josh Dunne – Addict Aide’s Louis Delage Instagram Campaign

Kate Eldridge – Smirnoff’s “Love Wins” Campaign

Jasper Stanley – The Royals’ Heads Together Campaign

As a leading UK PR Agency, The PHA Group are advocates of recognising talent and we are committed to reaching out to students to help inform them on what a career in PR can offer them. We run a very successful PR Internship programme, regularly attend University Careers Fairs and host PR Open Days at our offices for aspiring PR professionals to gain a unique insight into what it’s like to work in Public Relations.

Over the years we have been hugely impressed by the creativity and ideas of the great interns we have had at our agency and so we wanted to create an initiative designed to give students a chance to discuss PR campaigns that they felt particularly engaged with.

We asked students to tell us about their favourite and most inspiring PR campaign from the past 5 years in 300 words or less. The campaign could be from any size company but had to be a PR campaign specifically.

We hoped to hear from students who are interested in a career in PR and who are excited about the prospect of joining The PHA Group team for a day of interactive and bespoke activities at our London Offices – and we weren’t disappointed!

We received so many engaging entries which had hard-hitting topics at their core such as mental health, equality and addiction. It was a tough process choosing a winner, and so we decided on three of our favourites.

Josh Dunne impressed us with his understanding of the impact that PR can have and how campaigns can be effective on a low-budget for his entry on Addict Aide’s fictional Instagram account for socialite Louise Delage to highlight how easy it can be to miss the addiction of someone close to you.

Like my addiction

A post shared by Louise Delage (@louise.delage) on

Kate Eldridge wowed us with her description of the “Love Wins” PR campaign for big brand Smirnoff and the real world impact that they achieved with their bespoke ‘equality collection’ vodka bottles which created awareness and supported gender, sexuality, race and nationality equality.

New bottles!! #love #loveislove #lovewins #❤️ #

And finally, Jasper Stanley stood out for his awareness that a successful PR campaign doesn’t have to have a monetary impact, but can simply create a conversation where previously there has been stigma – this was achieved by the mental health campaign Heads Together in partnership Prince William and Harry.

The winners will spend a day at The PHA Group learning from industry experts and gaining a unique insight into one of the UKs leading PR agencies. There will be Q&As with our senior team, including ex-national newspaper journalists and the founders of the PHA brand. As a multi-sector PR agency we have expertise across consumer, sport, business, fashion, corporate and political PR and our friendly team are excited to welcome Josh, Kate and Jasper to the agency on Wednesday 19th July.



Comms That Make a Difference: managing your reputation and making an impact.

Date: 27th of June

Times: 08:30  to 10.30

Venue: “The Loft” at The Ivy Club

We will be providing breakfast followed by networking and a panel discussion with industry experts discussing the burning issues that charities face as they communicate in an increasingly challenging media landscape.

We will be hearing from our keynote speaker Toby Porter, CEO of Acorns Children’s Hospice, alongside The PHA Group’s Shelley Frosdick, Director of Consumer PR; Neil McLeod, Head of Strategic Communications and Tim Snowball, Head of Public Affairs. The team have delivered highly successful campaigns for the likes of Jeans for Genes, SSAFA and SmileTrain, so it is set to be an interesting and informative morning.

We would be delighted to have you there, if you would like to attend then please RSVP below, along with any dietary requirements.

More information on the speakers below:

Tim Snowball, a former Director of Communications for the Liberal Democrats and political adviser to Nick Clegg when Deputy Prime Minister, now works with a wide range of charities, CAR initiatives and causes to help them become more effective when engaging political stakeholders. Tim’s work for pressure group Living and Dying Well won “campaign of the year” at the 2015 public affairs industry awards.

Tim Snowball

Neil McLeod, Head of Strategic Communications. Neil is a former journalist who has advised charities in crisis comms as well as corporations and high profile individuals.


Shelley Frosdick is Director of PR at multi-award winning agency The PHA Group where she heads up the Consumer division which has a specialist interest in third sector PR. Joining the agency eleven years ago, Shelley has managed campaigns for a range of high profile clients including charities such as SSAFA The Armed Forces Charity, Women’s Aid, Jeans for Genes, Crohns & Colitis UK, Smile Train and Breakthrough Breast Cancer.


Toby Porter is the Chief Executive of Acorns Children’s Hospice Trust, one of Birmingham’s best-loved charities. Toby joined Acorns in September 2016, following three years leading HelpAge International, a global network of organisations working to help older women and men claim their rights, challenge discrimination and overcome poverty in older age.

Toby has dedicated his entire career to humanitarian and development assistance, working for 10 years with Save the Children, and five years before that with Oxfam. As Global Emergencies Director, he led Save the Children’s response to the Asian Tsunami in 2004, the Pakistan earthquake in 2005, before moving to New Delhi seconded to Save the Children India from 2008 to 2011. Earlier in his career, Toby worked in the Rwanda refugee camps in 1994 and 1995, and led Oxfam’s response to the Kosovo crisis in 1999.

Toby attended the Annual Meeting in Davos of the World Economic Forum in 2014, 2015 and 2016, as one of the global civil society representatives.  He also served on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Population Ageing for 2014-16.

Socialising at work – why do it?


The Christmas party season may be a distant memory, but that doesn’t mean that socialising with your colleagues should be forgotten about for another year. Here at The PHA Group we are advocates for spending time with your teams outside of the boardroom and believe a culture of staff socials produces a happy place to work. Keep reading to find out some of the many benefits we’ve seen from encouraging our team to get to know one another.

– What does The PHA Group do to encourage socialising with work colleagues?

We are very proud of the culture that we have created at The PHA Group. We pride ourselves on promoting a friendly working environment and have several initiatives that encourage the team to socialise with each other during and outside of the working day.

The team are provided with company-wide Christmas and Summer parties which are designed to reward staff and encourage people to socialise with members from across the agency. We also host monthly awards to recognise hard work and provide the team with an opportunity to learn about agency news and catch-up over a couple of on-the-house drinks.

Whilst we are champions of cross-team collaboration and believe in the great benefits that come from speaking and learning from teammates from different departments, we also encourage department bonding by providing a budget for quarterly team treats. Staff can use the budget towards activities of their choice, such as theatre tickets, afternoon tea or paintballing – whatever takes their fancy! We find these are great occasions for teams to welcome new colleagues, celebrate promotions and have a bit of organised fun outside of the office.

Many of our staff activities are focused around encouraging staff to socialise and improve their wellbeing in tandem. Our three-month Winter Wellness campaign encouraged staff to ‘Reclaim Their Lunch Break’ by taking a fitness class, practicing yoga or trying out a new healthy café nearby – all of which are designed to be enjoyed as a team so that they can support one another with their well-being goals.

– What are the benefits of colleagues socialising with one another?

Put simply, team socialising helps to boost staff morale. Six monthly appraisals encourage staff to tell us what they enjoy most about working at The PHA Group and feedback consistently reveals our team finds PHA to be a friendly, collaborative and supportive place to work.

We invest in numerous training initiatives for staff, from external training days through to our in-house seminars. We also host a number of clubs and groups, such as a new business club for all account executives and a debate club which is open to all staff. These clubs are a great way for the team to socialise with one another during the working day and have produced increased productivity and better cross-department interaction.

We also host a PHA Mixer to promote team socialising and knowledge sharing, particularly as we are based over a split office space and want to give the two floors a means by which to socialise and share ideas.

– How is it good for business?

We have very strong staff retention figures and several members of the team have developed with the business over the past ten years from Junior Account Executive to Directors of PR. Feedback on why they stay with The PHA Group for so long regularly sites the great social culture and supportive working environment that we have.

Our impressive team have a great work ethic and we reward them for their efforts with competitive remuneration packages, bonuses, benefits and rewards. Therefore it’s clear to us that a happy team, who socialise with one another and have high levels of work satisfaction, is good for business as it means we can retain our staff and attract great future talent.

– How is it good for employees, on a personal and professional level?

On a personal level, it can serve to boost team morale and create strong bonds between employees, which in turn leads to friendships and feelings of inclusiveness.

On a professional level, socialising with your team can help junior members to build their confidence and senior members of the team to create camaraderie and encourage open and honest relationships.

– Honestly, are there any downsides?

With any staff initiative that encourages staff to step outside of their defined job description and reach out to colleagues in a more informal way, there can be drawbacks. Staff may not feel comfortable socialising with their managers or those who are in a more senior position to them. Likewise, senior members of the team may be reluctant to seem too relaxed in social scenarios with those that they manage.

Ultimately this is a balance that needs to be carefully established. Social engagement between colleagues can go a long way to creating a solid company culture and can help colleagues build honest and productive relationships with one another, so it’s worth making the effort to find this balance.

– Should more businesses embrace staff socialising?

Here at The PHA Group we believe that a positive company culture is of the utmost importance. We are committed to rewarding our staff and find our monthly awards to be a great way to recognise when our team have gone the extra mile. These awards are also made successful by staff socialising with each other and breaking through internal silos and fostering positive working relationships that go beyond Friday drinks and towards a positive working environment.

We are therefore an advocate of other businesses implementing mechanisms for successful socialising between work colleagues and believe there are a number of benefits to be gained from it.