As we approach the end of 2020, there are many businesses wishing it good riddance. There is no denying that this year has been tough, but as we reflect on 2020 from our home offices at Whale-like-fish, it is with sense of pride. In fact, we do want to remember 2020 because it has made us stronger, more determined, more entrepreneurial and forged a stronger bond with fellow businesses in the Highlands and Islands than ever before.
We started the year in celebration. No sooner was the festive period over, we were throwing our own birthday party, marking one year in business as Whale-like-fish.
Celebrating at Angel’s Share was the perfect choice, run by our friends at Cru Holdings, who have been with us from the beginning. Bringing together friends, family, clients from Mowi Scotland, Love Tonic, Middleton Ross, The Apprentice Store, and our partners from The Design Hub, as well as local media was a real highlight for us.
Not long after our birthday party, the media was full of horrendous scenes from Italy as coronavirus started to rip through Europe. We wrote our first media statement about coronavirus for a client at the end of February. That client was the Caledonian Concepts, the organisers of the Inverness Half Marathon and 5k, an event which did go ahead and another highlight for us. The atmosphere, the personal stories of those taking part, dashing between the start line, the control room and the finish line until the very last runner crossed the line and then the rush to issue the story and the images to media. We were buzzing all day.
The Inverness Half Marathon and 5k took place on 8th March and by 17th March, we were posting a blog advising clients to ‘stay calm and communicate’ as we packed up Whale-like-fish’s HQ and moved to our home offices where we have spent the most of this year.
Whilst we juggled home schooling with client service and tried to embrace the virtual world of work, it was clear we were all in it together. From clients accepting dogs barking and children chatting in the background, to local media waiving subscriptions and actively seeking out all the good news stories to keep us all going, to individuals and businesses going the extra mile to help and support local communities and the most vulnerable. It was a time that we should all remember and look back on with pride.
We were lucky enough to be able to tell a story about how lockdown brought together two social enterprises from Inverness, The Apprentice Store, and Tower Hamlets in London, Social Ark. This inspiring story about a teenage apprentice from the Highlands helping young social entrepreneurs in London to get their businesses online during the pandemic got national media coverage.
When summer came and lockdown was lifted, we did our best to support businesses to gear up for business again, with the launch of our tourism toolkit and a video partnership with our friends at RedBeard Productions.
At Whale-like-fish, we had weathered the storm and had even won a new client with Black Sheep Hotels. Although we didn’t qualify for government help, there was no limit to the support that came from our clients, our friends at the Lochaber Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Small Business as well as local media.
So, when Coronavirus cases started to rise again in the autumn along with anxiety amongst the business community, at Whale-like-fish we became even more determined that our business would not be a victim of this virus.
We made the most of opportunities presented to us such as the chance to be involved in the launch of Small Business Saturday which began its virtual bus tour in Inverness in November. It was a novel experience to deliver a webinar to businesses across the UK but the positive feedback we received gave us a boost.
We also created our own opportunities, the most ambitious of which being A Whale of a Time, a curated gift box service that brings together 23 producers from the Highlands and Islands. Launched on December 1st, this was our way to connect Highlands and Islands businesses with consumers throughout the UK as well as a new venture and source of revenue for us.
We have been delighted with the response we have received and were it not for the pandemic then the chances are we would never have done this. Against the odds, we end 2020 on a high. Whale-like-fish is still going strong and has a sister business in A Whale of a Time.
If you’re looking for PR support or advice in the new year, please get in touch for a chat.