Leaders’ Insights: Richard Lambert, Chief Executive, National Hair and Beauty Federation1/ How has your association responded to the covid-19 pandemic in terms of how you communicate with members?
For the National Hair & Beauty Federation (NHBF), the key to helping out members through the pandemic, the disjointed return to work after lockdown and the continuing almost daily uncertainty has been clarity of communication.
In the run up to lockdown, we saw huge concerns spreading among hair and beauty business owners as Government guidance became increasingly confusing and salons faced closure. The lack of clarity from Government, combined with media speculation, made life more stressful for our Members.
We quickly implemented a crisis communications approach and a ‘no speculation’ strategy, ensuring that everything we put out was clear, factual and based on solid information. If we didn’t have the answers, we didn’t speculate. This enabled us to build trust within the industry, the media and the government, to the point where Members said they would not make any decisions following any new announcements until they heard from us.
Social media channels proved invaluable, underlining the industry’s desire for concise, easily digestible statements rather than confusing government guidance. The NHBF Instagram following ballooned from an initial 5,000 followers to almost 68,000, while Facebook followers grew by nearly 55,000 compared to the same period in 2019. The NHBF website had over three million-page views, compared to just over 200,000 in 2019. All this led to NHBF membership increasing by almost 20%.
2/ In what ways has your role as an association changed since March 2020?
As the UK’s largest trade association for hairdressing, barbering and beauty salons, the National Hair and Beauty Federation (NHBF) has always been a trusted voice within the industry, but since March 2020 we have built new relationships with Government and the media.
We worked closely with the Cabinet Office and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, as well as the governments of each of the devolved nations, to establish the guidelines that would allow hair and beauty businesses to return to work safely. Crucially, this created a direct channel to lobby government on all matters affecting the industry.
Alongside that, we were inundated with media enquiries from the national press. In the four months between entering lockdown and the reopening of hair salons, we secured nearly 2,000 pieces of online and print coverage, including The Telegraph, MailOnline and the Mirror Online, as well as numerous television and radio news appearances across the BBC, ITN, Sky and regional broadcasters.
These relationships will be vital in the coming months as the NHBF continues its support for the industry and lobbies government for financial support and a recovery plan for the sector.
Richard Lambert is a judge at the 2021 Association Excellence Awards.