A Week in My Life: Chris Greenhalgh, CEO of I Love MCR
Run by a group of multiskilled individuals, the I Love MCR® website, as well as a merchandise shop, has become a known platform for positive news stories and features about Manchester, events, videos and other content.
CEO Chris Greenhalgh, shares what his working week is all about...
Usually a busy but relaxed start to the week with no distractions. The coffee machine is on timer to warm up at 7am. I let the chihuahuas out into the back garden for wee wees while I ponder and steam milk. As my company grows along with the city, there seems less for me to actually do but a lot more to think about. The whole I Love MCR® team has the option to work from home on Mondays - which is almost always obliged - and I’m no different. Happy Mondays. Nobody likes Mondays - even if you love your job. And there’s many pros for working from home. I even believe a lack of supervision and a myriad of distractions actually encourages discipline. If a particular employee/freelancer can knock out what amounts to a solid day’s work before lunch, there’s no loss in them spending the rest of the afternoon watching Netflix in their dressing gown while eating Cheerios but that’s not compulsory. Or daydreaming in the pub. They might even have a good idea while doing so and, even if they don’t, it’s better for their own mental welfare than sulking in an office pretending to be busy and trying to confirm how hard they're working. Working from home must be better for the environment too. It's definitely not the main reason people want to work from home but telecommuting using cloud tools at least one day a week has got to be more sustainable than the carbon footprint of commuting to the office in traffic everyday. I focus on accounts and setting things up for the week ahead. I’m still buzzing from a good sporting weekend - don’t mention United at the moment - Salford Reds beat Wigan Warriors to make their first Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford. I wrote a piece for I Love MCR® talking about the passion of the club and what they’ve gone through to reach this final on Saturday. I do still write the odd article for the website, despite having an incredibly talented team of writers. It’s always nice to contribute any way I can with my own passions and voice.
I get into town for 9am and park in the arches at Blackfriars (which have gone from just £2.50 all day to £6.50 per day and the spaces seem to be getting smaller) before grabbing a flat white from either Grindsmith near the car park or PKB [Pot Kettle Black] near the office. I’m at the office in the beautiful Royal Exchange building usually for 9:30am. When I get in on this particular Tuesday, everybody is talking about the amazing Michelin news from late yesterday - Manchester has its first star in over 40 years. The impact of the Michelin Star award will resonate beyond Mana and Ancoats across the city. The buzz continues all day as our managing editor Louise has an exclusive interview with the worthy recipient of the star, Simon Martin, owner and head chef at Mana. It's understandably a great thing for I Love MCR® to champion and is another reason I love what we do - there is never any negativity in a story like this, it’s pure pride in Manchester at a time when people see chefs almost as rock stars and the city’s hospitality industry is thriving. I attend an ambassador meeting with our beneficiary charity, Forever Manchester, more or less once a month, which has become like an extended Manc family. We drink tea, eat mini eggs and talk about upcoming fundraising and events. We laugh about the time I got dragged up on stage at the last Frog & Bucket ‘For Laughs’ event. I have a few pints of Guinness and a few games of pool with my dad and the old boys on a Tuesday night, before finishing the night at the local Balti house for a Ruby Murray. I get my work ethic from working with my old man as a labourer through college years, so I appreciate the quality time with him now I’m in a new territory running my own company.
Wednesday mornings consist of a catch-up with my operations manager Simon. As soon as I’m in the office he pounces on me like a dalmatian. It’s a chance for us to see what’s required of me for the rest of the week and where I’m expected to be. Then we have our weekly team meeting, chaired by Simon. I like to take a back seat these days in the meeting, letting the team get together and discuss future ideas, current activity and anything else in the I Love MCR® world while the real time website analytics are projected on the big screen in the background. The website is getting an average of 1.7million hits per calendar month, thanks to the content team. I love to hear them talk passionately about what they’re working on, what’s working well and it’s great to have people around me who all share the same amount of civic pride whether or not they’re born here or simply happily adopted. I then check the weekly newsletter before it gets sent out to around 80K subscribers each week. That encourages me to read a digest of the best and trending articles from the week. The account managers urge that I sign off a statistics report for the recent Manchester Pride partnership before they present the report to them and show them what we delivered on for this year’s event. We try to be as transparent as possible when it comes to results for our advertisers and partners. Even if a particular stat was weak, we’d still present the figure with some constructive suggestions.
Always a good busy day, the office is the busiest as almost all of our team are in, including a few of our amazing freelance star writers. There’s often an event on Thursdays so everyone turns up to work in their glad rags so we can all venture to the venue together straight from work. My sales manager Danny and I have an important meeting in a new district of Ancoats. Although I usually leave advertising meetings in Danny’s very capable and conscientious hands, I like to accompany him when it’s a broader - more hands on - partnership opportunity. This particular meeting is with Urban Splash to become media partner of their new ‘House’ project in the New Islington development. It’s a bright day so we decide to walk and take in the city on the way. Ancoats is buzzing. No wonder it’s often named as Manchester’s coolest neighbourhood - and it’s full of independent success stories. Urban Splash aims to build on the sense of community and strategically harness our audience. Quick coffee and a look at the pastries at Pollen Bakery before heading back to the office buzzing with positivity.
An eventful Friday ahead. I’ve been appointed a judge for This Is Manchester Awards and have to score for my elected award categories: Leading Bar of the Year and Leading Event Venue of the Year. According to the judging matrix, I have to mark nominations with a value from 1 to 5 then rank my top 3 scorers as 1, 2 or 3. I’m looking forward to the spectacular event in November. I Love MCR® is sponsoring the awards so as well as being a judge I have to present the Making a Difference in the Community Awards, too. We are also partnered with Manchester Fashion Festival this year and as part of this we’re providing our new organic clothing merchandise for a catwalk, I Love MCR Gin for their drinks reception and other merch such as I Love MCR® mugs for their VIP gift bags. So my next stop is the office to collect all they need and take it to the hotel ready for tomorrow night’s event. A lot of my job is running around. One moment I’m at the Post Office and dropping stock off at our storage unit and the next I’m on stage handing out awards and avoiding having my picture taken at an event. We finish a bit earlier on Fridays and I try to encourage everyone to come for a post work jar.