A HUNTINGDONSHIRE communications consultancy has designed a service for SMEs that effectively takes the dread from its own mouth.

The Foundry House, based in High Street, Croxton, near St Neots, has launched its new 'virtual communications director' service that provides established businesses with strategic planning, advice and support at the same time as developing the PR/marketing and communications skills of in-house staff to take on the role in future.

It means that firms than can neither afford nor justify employing their own specialists can still have a co-ordinated approach to outsourcing their marketing and communications activities.

The new service is a development of work Foundry House founder and principal Marcie Bell did with St John's Innovation Centre in Cambridge, which involved providing a part-time communications consultancy service at the same time as upskilling a graduate trainee with a view to her taking on the role in-house.

She told The Hunts Post: "Many SMEs outsource communications tasks, from media relations to web development and event marketing to name a few. Only later do they realise that none of the briefs join up, messaging has lost its way and they may even have duplicated effort in some instances.

"What's more, knowledge hasn't been transferred, so they have no means of extending the benefit of the work. They realise they need a more integrated, joined up approach and would like to deliver more of their communications needs in-house.

"Taking on an experienced director is a significant investment as the cost of his or her salary is only one part of the jigsaw. That person then needs a budget to draw on and a member of staff or team to delegate to. It all mounts up.

"The Virtual Communications Director offers a cost-effective alternative. By plugging the resource gap in the short to medium term, companies meet their needs, develop new in-house skills and buy time before they need to invest in a bigger way for the long term."

INFORMATION: The Foundry House is on 01480 880986 or e-mail Marcie@thefoundryhouse.com