Supporting Hey Girls on their mission to end period poverty

Thinking about requesting expert communications skills or advice for your charity or not-for-profit on Media Trust’s volunteer platform?

Celia Hodson did just that in October 2017. She had three months to go until the official launch of her social enterprise Hey Girls, which aims to tackle period poverty in the UK. By May 2018, Hey Girls had launched with the help of two-social media experts that they had secured through the Media Trust volunteer platform, as well as received bespoke communications advice from a team of experts at global communications firm, Edelman.

Now, a professional filmmaker, whose most recent clients include British fashion designer, Stella McCartney, is producing a Hey Girls promotional film. None of this has cost them a penny.

We spoke to Celia to find out how the volunteer support she received has helped put Hey Girls on the map.

Celia’s story

 “We set up Hey Girls because we knew there was demand. We knew that poverty was increasing and that families on low incomes were really having to make some tough decisions and sometimes that meant going without sanitary products.” The idea for the social enterprise was born at Celia’s kitchen table during a discussion on ending period poverty with her daughters, Becky and Kate. The business model is simple: Buy one box of Hey Girls sanitary pads and they will donate a box to a UK girl in need.

By October 2017 Celia and her daughters had a brand, a website and a warehouse filled with thousands of sanitary pads. But with Celia’s daughter’s working full-time, Hey Girls’ resources were limited: “I was just a one-woman band social enterprise at that time.” Said Celia. “I knew that the whole world revolved around the media and social media. So I just googled ‘where can you get help to on how to build a communications strategy’ and Media Trust kept popping up in my search results.”

Two of the volunteers that applied were so fantastic, I asked them if they would mind splitting the role.

Volunteer support

Celia got in touch with us and was signposted to our volunteer platform. The platform enables charities and social enterprises to post requests for volunteer support from media and advertising professionals who want to share their skills with a good cause.

“When I found out about the volunteer platform I thought wow. If I could just write a dream job description for someone and put it out there it would be amazing. And that’s what I did. I explained we had no social media support whatsoever for our launch in January. And people applied! Two of the volunteers that applied were so fantastic, I asked them if they would mind splitting the role.”

Celia at the warehouse sitting on a delivery of at least 20 boxes of Hey Girls Sanitary Pads

Celia at the warehouse with a delivery of Hey Girls Buy One Give One Sanitary Pads

Celia’s volunteers, social media experts Patricia Morris and Rachel Gardner, started from scratch. Celia said: “I’d already contacted a PR agency about trying to build some profile in the press but I’d actually done nothing around social media. So I asked can you amplify everything that’s going to happen in the media? Can you do daily posts? Can you do tweets? Can you create some content? I didn’t really know what I was asking for because I don’t really use social media.” Said Celia. “And they went away and created such beautiful, engaging content, they just did it, night and day. They were amazing.”

“We’re still re-tweeting and reposting what they created. Their posts were highly commercial and it would have cost us a fortune to pay for that kind of support.”

“If it wasn’t for them, we would have launched without any social media. We had great stuff in the press but would have had no amplification of that whatsoever. And that’s massive. We’ve gone from nothing to having a following. We didn’t have a Facebook page, we didn’t have anything. And they set all that up. They also put really strong things in place and gave me social media collateral to keep using.

Pro-bono support from global communication firm Edelman

As a result of signing up to the volunteer platform, Hey Girls was also one of 13 not-for-profits selected by Media Trust partner, Edelman to receive free communications support from a team of their experts at the #EdelmanChallengeDay in May 2018.: “Hey Girls products will be available from two supermarkets from August. But we’ve done no real thinking of what that means for us from a digital marketing point of view.”

Edelman had massive ideas , really clever ideas and all possible on a really low budget.

With big things on the horizon the team at Edelman worked to put a digital communications plan in place for the social enterprise.

Celia continued: “Edelman had massive ideas , really clever ideas and all possible on a really low budget. They had done a lot of homework and knew a lot about the business. They’d looked at our social media and who was following us. It was fabulous that they took the time to do that.”

Celia has kept in touch with the team at Edelman who are continuing to support the social enterprise.

Celia and her daughter Kate sitting on a couch with and surrounded by their team of eight Edelman Volunteer's

Celia and Kate from Hey Girls with their team of Edelman Volunteer's

What’s next?

Celia is now working with producer and director, Gabi Carpenter who she also met via the Media Trust volunteer platform. Celia said: “I wanted to be able to tell stories about girls in poverty from a position of dignity.”

 

If you’re really honest and say, I don’t know what I need. I don’t really speak the language. What would you do? They can advise you.

“I put a call out to find a volunteer to make a film about period poverty and Gabi applied. She makes short films, really punchy activist films. But she also does commercial adverts as well for the likes of Stella McCartney. Beautiful, beautiful things.”

“I said to her ‘I’ve got no capacity and I’ve got no budget’. And she said ‘that’s fine, just leave it with me.’ I didn’t have a brief so I sent her my ideas and she came back and had expanded on them.”

“Now every week she sends me a Friday update and she’s hooked in incredible people to be on this video.”

“If you’re really honest and say, I don’t know what I need. I don’t really speak the language. What would you do? They can advise you. Gabi sent me some links to different films and asked which of these is your kind of style? I said ‘that one’ and she saidright, that’s it.’ She’s been amazing.”

We can see the difference social media makes to our sales. A really good tweet can make a big impact.

It’s absolute gold

Celia feels the communication support she has received through Media Trust’s volunteer platform will have a positive impact on those people that Hey Girls help. “The support we have received has driven awareness, which has driven sales and without sales we haven’t got any beneficiaries. We can see the difference social media makes to our sales. A really good tweet can make a big impact.”

And what does Celia have to say to her volunteers?We could never afford this kind of support. So a massive thank you for actually doing it and giving us your time. It’s gold, absolute gold.”

 

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