This month we spoke with Chris Tuite, Director and Head of Consumer Finance at MRM Communications, an award-winning communications and reputation management consultancy specialising in the financial services and professional services sectors. Chris has worked with both B2B and B2C clients within the financial services sector over a 14-year career span. We took the opportunity to speak to Chris about his career journey, looking at the pivotal moments in his career that have helped him get to where he is today as well as looking at how Chris and the rest of the MRM Communications team have been working with clients, particularly during the current crisis.
Chris, can you tell us more about the work you do and the clients you work with?
I am head of consumer finance here at MRM which essentially means I tend to create and lead campaigns for brands that offer simpler and more recognisable financial products and services. That can mean savings accounts, ISAs, mortgages, pensions, home insurance etc. all the things you might consider boring but are vital!
The challenge we often face is trying to make unnecessarily complicated messages around financial decisions simple and interesting. Too often the industry is focused on its products rather than the people they exist to serve. That is where I come in. To understand what actually motivates people and how our clients can help them achieve what they really want to with their money. Then to tell that story in as interesting a way as possible. It’s as simple as that (in theory!)
What have been the pivotal moments in your career and why?
That’s a tough question. The reason I enjoy this job is that every day is challenging and different and it feels like every moment is pivotal!
Thinking back perhaps one of the most pivotal moments was when I left the first large PR agency I worked at to join a two-person team at a new and ambitious competitor. I was in my early 20s at the time and it was a leap of faith to leave the security of a large company to join someone smaller. It was the making of me though.
We knew if we were going to compete with our more established rivals and build a successful agency, we needed to be braver, bolder and brighter to stand out. After eight years of blood, sweat and tears I left behind something that was 25 people strong, had gathered a huge amount of hands-on experience, had a lot of laughs and made a lot of memories. I think backing myself at that point in my career and taking that risk paid off for me. I am proud of the work we did.
The current pandemic has brought both business and personal financial affairs into sharp focus. How has this impacted your business?
The pandemic has thrown up huge challenges for individuals and businesses when it comes to their finances. A lot of our work has been thinking about how to communicate with consumers to help them to make informed choices about their money and the options open to them. Ultimately, we are here to help guide people to better financial outcomes for themselves. All that means that we have been keeping very busy throughout the Corona virus crisis getting simple and helpful messages out on behalf of our clients.
And how has this and the current crisis impacted your client’s business and approach to communications?
Obviously not being able to interact face to face with clients, media contacts and even each other is a challenge. Chemistry in relationships is a big part of how we work so having to adapt to that has been an issue.
However, we were able to go entirely online over night with very little disruption and the owners of the business were hugely supportive in making sure we adapted to the new normal very quickly. They provided support and training on helping people to adjust to working from home and the drastic change in lifestyle which was very important.
How are you working with clients to adapt to the ‘new normal’?
There are many ways we are helping clients to adapt including being flexible with how we deliver campaigns, generating new ideas that can work in the new world we find ourselves in and trying to respond quickly to what is an ever-changing situation. We have a very experienced, talented and varied team at MRM so its been great having my colleagues on hand to help rethink and rework ideas.
With financial security as well as health being at the forefront of people and business’s minds, tell me more about the approach MRM Communications has taken to deliver successful campaigns at this time?
We have been looking at different ways to activate communications campaigns around finance. With social distancing in place we are looking at options with Virtual Reality (VR) to tell our clients stories, working with influencers in other fields to help get messages out via social and digital channels and also using our client’s own expertise and information to help people navigate an uncertain time.
How have freelancers helped support the business during the current crisis?
To take some of our braver clients messages into new areas, we have been working at starting conversations outside our core media too. We have been pushing into the world of fashion, motoring and even interior design in recent weeks! To get better results and intelligence from those specialist media we have been working with certain freelancers and their contacts and advice on the angles that work for those titles has been very helpful indeed!