Keeley Walker founded KW Comms out of her passion to tell stories. She has worked for over 15 years in media and marketing, starting out as a journalist who sourced and wrote stories for several British national newspapers.
At KW Comms, Keeley Walker transforms “words into numbers by creating narratives that sell, ensuring you reach your business goals.” She knows that telling stories is challenging for everyone, but her experience as a journalist and her love for creative writing should help her clients tell the one version of the same tale “that will resonate with your target audience.”
Now, thanks to KW Comms, Keeley Walker is finding success in an “industry that is committed to growth, and applying my passion for creating narratives that help brands captivate their audience and build their own unique image.”
Keeley Walker founded KW Comms to fulfill her mission to “solve all the pain points that I had experienced countless times when it came to outsourcing.” For her work, she never forgets the “importance of measurable results and structured planning,” and she focuses on the human element of the job. This is her formula for success.
If you work with Keeley Walker and KW Comms, you’ll be “gaining a close partner that gets to know your brand at its very core, then navigates your journey to whatever success means for you.”
You have to know your ‘why’. It’s easy to explain what you do and how you do it. Less so, to know and explain ‘why’. Keeley Walker, KW Comms
Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Keeley Walker: Delivering Value — Articulating your value proposition
Messaging, messaging, messaging. You have to know your ‘why’. It’s easy to explain what you do and how you do it. Less so, to know and explain ‘why’. One thing I knew from the start is that my services had to be bespoke. The company was born out of a gap that I had spotted having dealt with several larger agencies and not receiving all I needed, while also being charged for that which I did not need. The accepted system when it comes to outsourcing your marketing is, in my view, flawed. For me, it’s essential to start with the ideal outcome — what does success look like? From there, I view the entire picture and create a proposal that plugs any gaps preventing the individual in question from getting from where they are to reaching where they want to be. And there are any number of forms this can take. My focus is always directed at wherever attention is most needed. The words “that’s not my job” aren’t in my repertoire. They can’t be. Regardless of the size or scale of your business, I take a start-up mentality to any job, which means rolling up your sleeves and getting stuck in wherever there is a plate that needs spinning. The ability to pivot according to the needs of a project is vital.
Jerome Knyszewski: Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
Keeley Walker: When you announce you are heading out on your own, everyone has an opinion, so there was a lot of conflicting advice. The proverbial ‘too many cooks’ springs to mind. I was advised to appear larger than I was in order to be taken seriously and so I took on an external team, a PR company who, it turns out, I was essentially paying to distribute press releases to a media database.
I didn’t realise this at the time — as far as I saw it, I had an extra arm to my company.
After a decade in journalism, I can write a noticeable press release in under an hour. And media databases are purchasable on monthly subscriptions and also something I had built up personally over time. So, it wasn’t until I was tied into the contract that I realised that, what I was paying for, practically speaking, was nothing I could not absorb myself. If anything, managing this team and their rigid set of corporate rules was a drain on my own resources and funds. I don’t blame the team or company at all, they were playing by the rules and I take full responsibility for my error. My complaint lay in the fact that every request I made had to go through a variety of departments and meetings before being accepted or declined, which took up so much more time than just doing the thing requested. I had bought into the precise model that my own company was built to reconstruct.
And all so I could say “I’m going to consult my PR team”.
The advice I wish I hadn’t followed was trying to appear larger than I was because, certainly in this case, nothing was done that made any real positive impact — besides the lesson learnt.
It reaffirmed the importance of the ‘start-up’ mentality that I hope to maintain for years to come. Plug the gaps. Roll up your sleeves and always turn your attention to that which will be of most value to your client. If you are focusing on how you appear, then you are redirecting attention away from what you are. And the minute you neglect that, you will fall short. In one way or another. It’s also worth noting that managing others is a task in itself. If you are doing so with regards to something you could (and, indeed, do) easily cover yourself, and paying for the privilege, it’s time to re-assess.
Anyone who chooses to take the road less travelled, having an idea and nourishing it through to fruition, has to have an enormous amount of courage.
Jerome Knyszewski: You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
As good as it may feel for the ego to be the most knowledgeable person in the room, you will leave that room no different than when you entered it. I have always sought out situations (and do to this day) where I am the least impressive person at the table. Only this way can you be sure to grow, to learn and to soak up as much as you can from others. When networking, seek out those with opposing skills to your own. The conversation may not flow as steadily but you will both walk away having benefited. And as a ‘boss’, never hesitate to lean on your experts. There is no shame in asking for help or advice. It shows strength of character not weakness if you can approach your junior with a problem that only he or she can help you with. Examples of these situations happen frequently. I recently asked someone half my age for help on a social media issue I was grappling with. Young people are a great fountain of knowledge in my space — they are digital natives and fluent in social trends.
It may be an obvious one, but it is essential. The good news is, if you are working for yourself, it doesn’t feel like discipline because, ideally, your project is something you love and are good at. But it extends beyond your job. I make it a rule to always be taking on one extra — curricular subject. Often related to my field but slightly outside my comfort zone. Something I would like to master but would rather be doing something else with the time it takes to learn it. It’s important to keep exercising this muscle. The one that makes you do what is beneficial rather than what is easy. I have video editors at my fingertips should I need them, but I am currently taking a course in it, so I am capable of doing it alone. I may never use the skill, but I am determined to have it.
Following your own path and turning your back on the status quo is not the easy option. Quite the reverse. Anyone who chooses to take the road less travelled, having an idea and nourishing it through to fruition, has to have an enormous amount of courage. There is everything to lose and It is so much easier to leave these ambitions gathering dust in the back of our minds, wondering ‘what if?’
“If only” and “what if”, while they may be frustrating, are safe thoughts. Venturing into the unknown is scary. That’s why I have automatic admiration for people who come to me with the desire to do it. Also working with established clients who have experienced great success and entrust you to take them to the next level is a serious responsibility and requires not only courage but confidence that you have what it takes to get them where they need to be — regardless of how impressive their catalogue of achievements may be. This is not arrogance; it is about having the courage of your convictions.
Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Keeley Walker: I think, if you are trying to realise a dream, and you are doing it for yourself and no one else, you don’t ‘burn out’. I did my burning out when I was working for others. This was about re-ignition. I was ‘working’ (and I use the term loosely) 16-hour days, including weekends when setting up KW Comms and it was a joy. The most important thing to advise is that it’s not a bad thing to feel out of your depth. Of course, know your limitations and, of course, prioritise your health. You can be ambitious without being overwhelmed. As a start-up, you have a certain capacity. And there are limits to that, and that’s fine. Acknowledging these limits will help you avoid burnout. After establishing yourself, the next natural stage is not burnout, it’s growth. Just remember you aren’t wasting anyone’s time now — you run your calendar. So, while growth may mean loosening the reins a bit, do it in your own time — because you can.
Jerome Knyszewski: What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Keeley Walker: You have to remember that, while it is not a direct revenue-generator, you are your own biggest client. In other words, you need to be your own best customer. How can you advise others without practicing what you preach? It’s so easy, when you have a full roster of clients, to neglect your own brand. Build into your schedule, the time required to keep on top of your own content, your own profile, your own lead generation. Because what people (namely new founder/CEOs) fail to realise, and what Covid has taught us, is that contracts come and go — the only person you can rely on to be unconditionally loyal to your own business is yourself. So, while it is tempting to try and generate some kind of revenue on a daily basis, keep your eye on the medium to long term. Take those quieter moments to service your own company, enhance your digital footprint, keep an eye out for opportunities to spread the word, appear on podcasts, give interviews and prepare for when things pick up again. In the short — term, it feels financially negligent, but it is a duty that will pay dividends later. Try and find the opportunity in everything with a firm eye on the future. Your financial bottom line is not based on how much money you banked in a week. If in doubt, zoom out. Look at the bigger picture — the month, the year, the doors opened, the community expansion, the possibilities generated.
You have to remember that, while it is not a direct revenue-generator, you are your own biggest client. Keeley Walker
Jerome Knyszewski: In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
Keeley Walker: The personal touch and knowing your weaknesses. To the first point, if you are leading your own company, you should be in direct contact with your partners (or, ‘clients’, as they are typically referenced). To the second, it’s important to outsource sensibly and surround yourself with the best. I am a words person but not a numbers person, so I invest in good accountants. Some people find this element easy. To me it is a stressor and identifying your stressors is crucial when it comes to committing to your goal without losing faith in your abilities to provide the service in which you are expert.
Jerome Knyszewski: You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Keeley Walker: I genuinely believe that, with the right attitude and guidance, there is more than enough room for everyone to earn a living from their passion. So many people are terrified to escape the rat race that they willingly remain unhappy in their 9–5 jobs. I think the most amount of good could be done for the most amount of people if courage was instilled in everyone so that those who need it only have to channel it in the right direction. I think it should be every successful person’s moral duty to inject enough courage and belief into the next generation that they know everything is up for grabs. We spend most of our lives at work and happiness is a right not a privilege. Prepare and save to invest in yourself because those paychecks aren’t going to come in on a monthly basis for a while but, when they do, it is so worth it.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!