second mountain comms
"Helping good people do good: that's our mission."
Second Mountain Comms' story officially began in 2020. Yet our roots run much deeper.
Founding director Ben Veal - a CIPR Chartered Practitioner, comms professional and journalist - had always dreamed of one day running his own business and being the master of his own ship. Fifteen years of working in comms, both in-house and agency-side, provided Ben with the opportunity to work across a vast array of sectors and the chance to deliver campaigns for a host of highly-regarded brands.
Yet as the years rolled by, the always-on pace of the comms industry was aligning less and less with Ben's other fundamentally-important role: that of father and husband.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic happened ... and everything changed.
In April 2020, three weeks into the first UK lockdown, Ben received word that he was being made redundant from his role as an Associate PR Director. With an NHS key worker for a wife, a six year old with additional needs and a one year old at home 24/7, needing attention, affection, homeschooling and support, the news couldn't have come at a worse time.
Out of this time of crisis came an opportunity: to pause, reflect on what matters and build a business with genuine purpose at its heart. While the world stood still, Second Mountain burst into life.
Shortly after receiving notice of redundancy, Ben undertook an indoor cycling challenge to raise money for mental health charity Mind, cycling the distance from Land’s End to John o’ Groats on an exercise bike. Hour upon hour (upon hour) on the static bike was exactly what was needed to mentally map out a consultancy business model that would prioritise social impact above all else.
"Climbing the Second Mountain with purpose."
Second Mountain was officially established in the summer of 2020, helping purpose-driven companies and charities reach new heights through meaningful comms.
Launched with the ability to offer an integrated creative comms offering from day one, Ben built up a virtual team of trusted partners - from an award-winning international photographer to a top corporate media trainer - to bolster the level of client support.
Starting out with intent, our very first client was the Charlie Waller Trust - one of the UK's most trusted mental health organisations. Working in partnership with tech-for-good agency Digital Wonderlab, we developed a range of relevant and engaging comms materials for young people, parents, carers and teachers alike, on topics ranging from managing stress in today’s world to coping with self-harm to mental health in the workplace and dealing with the disappointment of exam cancellations - all written with the charity’s audiences firmly in mind.
Working with this exceptional charity made it clear from day one what Second Mountain stands for. It was the foundation building block for our future, and established a long-running personal and professional relationship that lives on to this day - leading to Ben and two of the Digital Wonderlab team running their first ever marathon to raise over £4,000 for Charlie Waller in 2021. Not a challenge to necessarily repeat!
"I should have done it years ago."
Second Mountain was one of a handful of new businesses profiled in former CIPR president Stephen Waddington's COVID-19 UK public relations agency startup report. Being interviewed for this feature, Ben reflected that building a business that aligned meaningful work with family life is a decision he should have made a long time ago. The lengthy quest for work-life balance was finally over; the Second Mountain of Ben's working and family life was well and truly underway.
Since mid-2020, Second Mountain has supported a growing number of local, national and international clients, providing strategic comms consultancy, building thought leadership profiles, managing media relations activity, steering content campaigns and advising on reputational issues.
We've worked with: a global leader in organic and sustainable teas, supporting health- conscious living and the self-sufficiency of small family farmers across rural India; an eco-friendly florist, providing British-grown bouquets and floral arrangements to a UK-wide customer base; a community of business leaders committed to ethical and sustainable standards, using their firms to address issues of poverty; and a faith-based charitable organisation providing pastoral care, youth work provision and mentoring to secondary school children.
Genuine purpose is the golden thread that unites our diverse client base - and we're just getting started.
Since launching, Second Mountain Comms has been a Creative Bath award winner, a two-time finalist in the Bath Life Awards, a finalist in the 2021 South West Community & Business Awards and the national 2022 Small Awards.
Ben's 'second mountain' professional journey has also been recognised by his public relations peers: Ben received the 'Gold' award for Independent PR Practitioner of the Year at both the 2021 & 2022 CIPR South of England and Channel Islands PRide Awards, as well as the 'Mark of Excellence' at the national 2022 CIPR Excellence Awards. Judges stated that: "Ben is climbing his second mountain with grace and with the respect of his peers and his clients; a shining example for his profession and our region.”
In 2023 he went one step further, being named the UK's top independent PR practitioner by the CIPR. The humbling award win was a bittersweet one, dedicated to Ben's late father, who passed away just weeks before the big ceremony.
As an independent small comms consultancy driven by social purpose, Second Mountain’s business ethos revolves around reliability, honesty and transparency, and these principles drive all activity.
Second Mountain Comms donates pro-bono time to actively supporting purpose-driven causes, providing consultancy, media relations and copywriting services to an international humanitarian charity People against Poverty for as long as there’s a need, free of charge.
Our first business birthday was marked in August 2021 by becoming a Gold Member of the Business against Poverty movement and pledging the funds to sink a Borewell in India, helping to support villages in need of access to clean water.
We are also proud to be part of the Better Business Act coalition - a campaign for every single company in the UK, big or small, to take ownership of its social and environmental impact.
Acting as trusted, professional and ethical storytellers and amplifiers, Second Mountain helps its purpose-driven clients to reach the right people in the right way at the right time.
"Let's climb together."
The Good Journeys with Second Mountain podcast takes the mission of our small business to a global audience.
Launched in summer 2022, each and every episode of the purpose-driven podcast series shines the spotlight on an inspiring person and the journey that has made them who they are today.
The candid, thought-provoking and inspiring conversations are all available now via Spotify, YouTube, Apple Podcasts and Amazon Music - with highlights including: social mobility campaigner Sarah Waddington CBE; bestselling autistic author Pete Wharmby; Creative Boom's founding editor Katy Cowan; mental health advocate Kris Hall of The Burnt Chef Project; sports entertainers Nick Aldis, Stevie Richards and Matt Cardona; and popular children’s author Rachel Bright.
With the initial vision realised and foundations laid to help the charities and companies that we work with navigate uncertain times and emerge stronger, we now are looking positively towards the brave new world that awaits.