Businesses in Ripon have historically viewed Ripon’s Chamber of Trade as crucial in facilitating communication and networking within Ripon and the wider district.
However, more recently the Chamber has been experiencing issues preventing it from playing an active part in the city’s business network.
Failed initiatives, low meeting attendance rates and minimal responses to email communications were just some of the challenges faced by the Chamber. It couldn’t engage with alienated local businesses, without facilitating change and progress in local projects which in turn would require community involvement. As a result, the Chamber’s committee found itself trapped in a chicken-and-egg scenario. They were left questioning how best to proceed, and in desperate need of some honest feedback.
Having been resident in Ripon for only a year, impartial amongst the city’s various factions, and able to provide a neutral, progress-focussed platform on which both local business owners and the chamber could engage, Golden Frog PR was the obvious choice to undertake this project. Not only that, Sarah Blenkinsop had had experience of regional bodies and their underlying politics in a previous role in Buckinghamshire, so was well positioned to undertake the detective work!
We reached out to 19 local business owners and influencers, who, under the condition of anonymity, were happy to share their views with us regarding:
- How Chamber is perceived presently
- Where the requirement lies for a body such as the Chamber, and what its role should be
- How the Chamber could build a strategy to move forward with increased engagement
Their responses, which we compiled into a comprehensive report and presented to the Chamber, laid the foundations from which an action plan could be developed. This plan would be based on the needs of local businesses; directly drawing upon their feedback, representing their interests and repairing broken lines of communication.
Following this presentation, we built on our new connections with participants and their local business networks, this time inviting them to attend the next Chamber meeting to capitalise on current progress. The meeting welcomed many new faces, and ended with the decision to reflect on where new contributions could be made that would reflect the priorities of the businesses in attendance.
Our research provided a much-needed platform for conversation between the Chamber and the businesses it hopes to represent, as well as with the City Development Team. It has reopened lines of communication, while the final outcome of the Chamber’s commitment to reform still in development.