It is often said that every day is a school day, and it certainly has been for members of our senior management team who for the last four weeks have been working in collaboration with the University of South Wales to support students studying for their MSc in Strategic and Digital Marketing.

Initially approached by Dr Louise Westgarth, Lecturer in Brand Reputation and Crisis Management at the Cardiff Atrium Campus, Ayjay were asked to act as an external case study which would assist the students with their learning, whilst at the same time prepare us for that dreaded moment that a crisis occurs.

Based in Bedwas, near Caerphilly, South Wales, we are situated next to the banks of the river Rhymney. In February 2020, although minor disruption to Ayjay business and property, we witnessed considerable damage to neighbouring businesses caused by severe flooding.  At this time, we were also contracted by several clients in the Treforest and Pontypridd areas, to isolate and make safe their electrical installations as well as restore power to their premises following the significant devastation to their businesses in the aftermath of Storm Dennis. Two years on, given further climate change and the ever-increasing threat of worsening weather conditions, the need for being prepared was high on the list of our concerns.

University Challenged at USW“Coming from an electrical engineering background first and foremost, and not a marketing communications expert, I was certainly tested on a professional and personal level and at times was definitely out of my comfort zone.” Craig Price, Technical Director.

Whilst we have our own crisis management policies and processes in place which are regularly reviewed by Matthew Kazemi, our Group Compliance Manager, we were able to take a step back and be critically challenged by the students, helping us to identify gaps in our own knowledge and planning. We were also able to put our own skills into practice by engaging in a crisis simulation exercise and taking part in a mock media conference, led by Neil Gibson, Communications and Media Partner at USW. We were also advised on all aspects of crisis communications including how to manage the various reputational challenges Ayjay could potentially experience when faced with a crisis.

“Being a small business without any formal training in crisis management, not only were we able to develop our own skills but also to give something back. I was particularly encouraged by the levels of student enthusiasm and engagement with the potential challenge facing our business.

“We take the reputation of our brand and business very seriously and realise that during potential periods of uncertainty we need to stay engaged with our key stakeholders and keep them informed throughout the process, being as open and honest as possible when dealing with their concerns.” Andrew Hall, Managing Director.

As a local business we firmly believe in playing an integral part in our community and this opportunity meant a lot to us. Through our #AyjayChallenge25 fundraising campaign we are currently supporting the Prince’s Trust, a youth charity that helps young people aged 11 to 30 get into jobs, education and training, and saw this as part of our ongoing commitment to helping others develop their careers. You can find out  more about our 12-month fundraising campaign here.