PR agency The Tonic Communications gets behind Journal's campaign for prompt payment

Business with offices in North Tyneside and the Midlands says respect and trust are crucial to commercial relationships

Kelly Hill, left, and Georgina Dunkley of The Tonic Communications
Kelly Hill, left, and Georgina Dunkley of The Tonic Communications

A growing North East PR agency has given its backing to The Journal’s Pay Fair campaign.

Established in 2013, The Tonic Communications is run by Georgina Dunkley and Kelly Hill, who oversee offices from Cullercoats and Nottingham respectively.

The pair had worked together in high-level agency roles for a number of years and, since both had dreamed of setting up their own businesses, joined forces to work across a wide range of sectors.

“We’re very much about the results and what’s best for the client,” Miss Dunkley said.

“We want to show people that you don’t need to go to London for really good PR.”

The company operates on 30-day payment terms, with clients paying after the work is completed.

It makes a point of breaking down projects and stating costs clearly from the outset.

“We have a trusting approach and are really open and transparent with our clients,” Miss Dunkley said.

“If people are struggling to pay, our view is that they should just let us know and we could extend the terms.”

In most cases, the philosophy has paid dividends, with The Tonic building some strong business relationships.

On a few occasions, however, difficulties have arisen.

“We’ve been told the cheque is in the post a couple of times – then it hasn’t arrived,” Miss Dunkley said.

“Then further down the line we’ve been told there’s no money left.

“It’s difficult because we’re a small business, so we need to monitor cash flow, covering overheads and staff salaries.

“We’re all grown-ups, we want it to work and we want everyone to share that level of respect.”

She added that, while it would be helpful if there was a simple process in place to redress late payment complaints, a cultural shift was more important, with the Pay Fair campaign helping promote the benefits of ethical behaviour.

As far as advice to other small businesses was concerned, she said: “Make sure that you have funds in place to ensure that, if anything terrible does happen, you can still pay everyone you need to pay.

“We would never ask a supplier to work with us if we were in a position where we couldn’t pay them.”

Through the Pay Fair campaign, The Journal is encouraging North East companies of all sizes to take a responsible and ethical approach to paying firms within their supply chain.

We also asking firms to sign the Business Ethics Pledge created by the North East Institute of Business Ethics (NIBE), thereby agreeing to join with others to discuss the value of business ethics and to work with each other to transform their working environments for the better.

The organisation, in partnership with Newcastle University Business School, will be hosting a discussion on ethics this afternoon, March 5, from 4.30pm.

The event, which will look specifically at the roles of those responsible for their companies’ ‘corporate conscience’, will feature talks from Mike Wade, finance director at construction company Hodgson Sayers; Phil Pattison and Ian Hornby, formerly of General Electric; and Louise Hunter, director of corporate affairs at Northumbria Water Ltd.

The panellists will also participate in a debate about what it means to be ethical at work and how practitioners can support each other better for mutual gain and business benefit.

It is hoped the discussion will lead to the creation of a new peer support network.

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