A Week in My Life: Vicky Fagan, Founder, FJC
FJC was founded in 2008, and in the years since has grown into the successful agency it is today. A provider of creative content and media solutions, it works with brands including the Co-op, Dixons Carphone, TransPennine Express, and more.
The Manchester-based agency delivers high-quality events, video, animation, brand development and design services, as well as outward-looking content for social media and brand channels. Offering internal and external solutions for companies, FJC provides all-round support for organisations' branding strategies.
Still working from home like the majority of the industry in 2021, Vicky tells us what a week in her working life is looking like...
So we’re back in lockdown, causing my ‘usual’ week to fly out of the window. I’d hoped that early 2021 would see us making some exciting changes - not least an office move from MediaCity to the Northern Quarter. But for the moment such plans are unavoidably on hold.
What I can do this morning is review the projects we’re working on, flagging things with the team on what we need to action, and updating my client contacts on the state of play. Monday also tends to be when I think about who I’ll need to collaborate with on upcoming work.
We’ve got a great team of expert talent to work with. With such a varied range of clients and projects it’s great to know I can always put together exactly the right team for each job. That flexible structure has always worked well for us, and it’s particularly come into its own in the last 12 months.
We’re fortunate to be hitting the ground running in January. There’s our ongoing work on a three-year change project, a couple of conference openers, a store colleague campaign, plus a series of safety videos. Conferences continue - albeit in pretty altered state - and January is traditionally deadline time.
Speaking of deadlines, there’s a big one coming up for one of my longest-standing clients, the Co-op. We’re producing a video and an animation for two colleague conferences, plus an internal communication campaign. Today I will mostly be working on the treatment, creative and content with the team. The associated challenge is to pin down a date for filming, with all the right safety measures in place for our client and our crew, without upsetting timings or budget.
I love working on animations and videos, so this is a really enjoyable project. Multi-channel campaigns suit us down to the ground, and it’s always fun to see an idea go from storyboard to the finished product. The Co-op has a phenomenal culture, it’s truly authentic and personable, and there’s always an opportunity to make our content really special.
Working from home is great in many ways, but like a lot of us I do miss the change of scene that comes with going into the city to work. I’d love to say that being house-bound, I religiously stride out every day for an invigorating and mind-clearing commune with nature, as we’re advised to. But that doesn’t quite always happen…
Another busy one. Perhaps a bit perversely, I love a working life dictated to by deadlines - the habit of a working lifetime, I suppose. So today (surprise, surprise) is about keeping projects moving, talking with the teams and keeping clients in the loop. Obviously this January is not shaping up in any remotely ‘normal’ way, but those timelines still apply, which for me at least is quite reassuring.
We had a pretty good 2020 business-wise, all things considered. It’s mostly been down to having brilliant clients and colleagues, and an agile business structure that can flex to more or less anything that’s thrown at us. But yes, we’re lucky too, lucky to have solid long term relationships with clients, built on mutual trust and understanding.
Today there’s some spare time to act on future opportunities, and to maintain contact with clients whose comms have been impacted by COVID. From our perspective, there’s still plenty going on despite all the weirdness - even in lockdown, potential clients and existing ones seem to be ploughing on. And, of course, the vaccines give us all hope for the not too distant future. It’s particularly good to see that Rowlands Pharmacy is having an incredibly busy start to the year.
A nice day today, as there’s a new client brief to get stuck into. However different each brief may be, we generally start with a creative approach meeting. This is when we start playing with ideas, getting carried away, and basically having fun with all the what-ifs and maybes.
One thing always becomes clear through this: the best ideas come through conversation and collaboration with colleagues and clients. There may be ideas that turn out to be a little too out there, there’s a bit of trial and error, and we sometimes need gaps in our knowledge filling, but ultimately everyone reaches the point where we can say, "yep, that’s it, between us we’ve hit the nail on the head." That’s such a brilliant process to be part of.
Obviously we also add plenty of business strategy understanding and market awareness to the mix, and it’s fun to perfect the ideal accurate treatment from that previous no-holds-barred creative process.
This is the tried and trusted route for us, because it allows creative freshness to combine with experience and understanding. Many of our regular clients know they can give us a minimal brief that nevertheless will efficiently produce the right answer via this approach.
Lockdown has impacted the way we share this kind of development - it’s so much better to explore ideas and collaborate when you’re all in the same real space. But we’ve all developed our Zoom faces and waist-up wardrobes, and it works well enough - but personally, I can’t wait to get back to face-to-face meetings!
Fridays always come around too soon. Doesn’t everyone say this? For me it’s true! Busy is good as far as I’m concerned.
And, as I think is true for a lot of people, having that working week structure - the Monday start and the Friday coming around so soon - helps maintain a kind of normality in abnormal times.
Writing about my week has made me uncharacteristically reflective; I’m normally very much a ‘doer’ not a ‘ponderer’, so I apologise if there’s been too much navel-gazing!
But just one last reflection - if that’s OK. Starting the business in 2008 as the financial crisis hit, the intervening ups and downs, plus a certain pandemic, have confirmed for me that no matter how tough times get, if you’re flexible, positive and forward-looking, things have a habit of turning out OK.
There, sermon over. Happy weekend everyone.