Ask the expert – our conversation with Rachel McBryde

'When setting out on a journey, do not seek advice from those who have never left home!'


As we ease our way out of lockdown and start to activate the learning from the past 12 months, we are kicking off a series of conversations that will shine a light on some of our business partners and clients across the North East.

Our passion is to partner and collaborate with like-minded folk who have a purpose beyond purely ‘making money’.  We want to support a more ‘conscious’ model of capitalism where entrepreneurs and business leaders share a growth mindset, have a true sense of purpose and are passionate about growing their businesses and achieving their vision; whilst harnessing the best out of their people to deliver performance and profits. 

This is why we have decided to ‘Ask the expert’ and show case some of our business partners; exploring what makes them tick and more importantly finding out more about their views on working in partnership and sharing their tips for how to make it work. 

First up we have Rachel McBryde, founder of McBryde & Coa specialist business-to-business communications agency focused on providing PR and content services to the public sector, professional services, and manufacturing sectors. Through our conversation, this is what we learned… 


What drives you? 

Telling stories for our clients that make a difference to their organisation and their lives. There are so many amazing organisations with the ability to accelerate their business growth or reach their goals if only they were able to tell their story to the right audience in a way their audience wants to hear.  

When clients tell us a new customer found them because of a story we told for them, or that a campaign we delivered had a huge impact on their organisation, it delights me. We’re a business that genuinely cares about the impact we make – we’re as invested in their success as our customers.  


Who or what inspires you? 

I’m a big endurance sports fan – particularly cycling. Sport has brought so much to my life, and experiences like cycling 500 miles around the Highlands of Scotland or competing in the Ironman European Championships have lead me to places and people I would never have otherwise met. Through sport, I have learnt so much about mental and physical toughness and resilience and it has also grounded me and brought perspective. So I’m hugely inspired by professional endurance athletes – especially the grand tour riders – those people who take long-distance sports to a whole new level that us mere mortals can barely imagine.  


What would the epitaph be for your company? 

They cared. They delivered. (And by that, I don’t mean takeaway!)   


What do you think are the top priorities for businesses in the months ahead? 

With my communications hat on, I’d say; 

  1. Stay visible. Continue to tell your story, even if it’s not the story you envisaged you would be telling 12 months ago.  
  2. Stay human. If anything, the past 12 months have laid bare our strengths but also our frailties. Covid doesn’t care about your job title or your earning potential – it has affected everyone at every level and because of that, it’s been a real leveller. I see that as a good thing. I was on a call recently with the CEO of a large multinational. He was sat in a hoody with day-old stubble looking knackered. He admitted it was challenging running the business while home-schooling his kids. He was refreshingly honest and I think that’s something we should take forwards. I’m not saying let your standards fall, but I am saying it’s OK to admit you’re a human being – and that goes for your communications too. 
  3. Try something new. We aren’t going back from the digital revolution. Get on board or go home. We work in some conservative sectors – engineering and manufacturing particularly – but they are on board with using digital technology for business development. Because they know the days of flying their executives around the world to global conferences to network are over. So they have to find new ways of creating conversations that connect with customers. If you don’t quite know where to start, it’s OK. There are plenty of organisations that can help you.  


What are your 3 top tips for developing meaningful partnerships with your clients? 

  1. Dedicate time to getting to know your partners. It’s not about making a quick buck, a partnership is about the long term. We do this as a matter of course. It’s not something we charge by the hour for – it’s a commitment we make at the start of any new relationship and one we continue throughout. We like to get under the skin of a business, ask questions and be curious about them. Only by understanding what they want to achieve long-term can we add value.  
  2. Share opportunities. McBryde & Co is not a transactional company. We genuinely care about our customers and their success, and we’re always thinking about how we can make their lives easier or better, so when we spot opportunities we think might benefit them, we share them, even if they’re completely unrelated to the project or work we’ve been commissioned for.  
  3. Learn from your mistakes, together. We’re not robots. We’re not programmed by an algorithm. We’re human beings and try as we might, sometimes we get things wrong. Sometimes that might be on our side, sometimes it might be on our partners. Usually, it’s a combination of the two, driven by miscommunication or an unrealistic timeframe. This year it might just be because of the relentless pressure everyone is under – and the need for a proper holiday! Whatever happens, be transparent, find a solution and learn from the experience. Never get into a blame game, it doesn’t benefit anyone.  


What are your plans for 2021? 

Plan A; leave the house.  

We’ve been incredibly fortunate this past 12 months to grow the business far beyond our expectations.  

In the 18 months since we started, we’ve been privileged to work on some truly significant campaigns we are proud of, like the regional #BeatCovidNE campaign to help slow the spread of the disease on behalf of the 7 North East local authorities. We continue to work with global innovators in the renewable energy sector like SMD and that is an area we see great potential and would love to develop.  

We’re also working with Andrew Silver at 360 Growth Partners to develop the roadmap for the business and that is helping us focus on where we’re going in the long-term. It’s a positive, cathartic experience. I feel like if we can make it work during a national lockdown, we can make it work full stop and I’m excited to see where our journey takes us.  

Mostly, we want to continue to deliver great work with great people and continue to make a positive impact on the lives of our customers.