Words and interview by Simon Bland
These days, it can feel like social media platforms and content formats change at a moment’s notice, making it tricky to keep your finger on the pulse of your audience’s viewing habits. Perhaps even harder is ensuring that the content you do create – and your chosen delivery method – actually connects with the people you want to connect with. It’s this ever-present issue that multiplatform media studio and strategy experts Peanut & Crumb are hoping to fix, and with a growing list of clients and awards, they’re already well on their way to helping busy brands stick the landing when it comes to nailing their communication methods.
“My business partner, Katie Derham, and I set up Peanut & Crumb in 2014 to develop a client base in the sectors that we have a particular expertise in,” explains company co-founder Jane Gerber. “We started doing branded film content, media strategy and coaching, all of which inter-connected. As we’ve developed the company, we’ve moved into audio like podcasts and radio, and also television which is our first love,” she adds. “We now have a multi-platform offering with games, VR and more.”
With a BAFTA nomination under her belt and years spent working as a producer and director, Gerber’s expertise is counterbalanced by Derham’s BBC broadcasting prowess and corporate strategic skills. Together, they combine to form a female-founded company that’s helping big brands fix common content problems. Spanning a variety of formats, it’s already earned great results. Their work on nature podcast, Get Birding, bagged a British Podcast Award earlier this year, and their branded content has seen them collaborate with high-end companies like WWF, Leon Restaurants and Sotheby’s, just to name a few.
“It’s quality but also the expertise that we bring, both in terms of how to tell stories in a powerful, engaging way, but also how to make them relevant to different platforms,” explains Gerber, unpacking the key to the company’s success. “There are lots of platforms out there now and for brands, it can be a daunting communications landscape. We help them create content that’s engaging for particular audiences on particular platforms – because there’s an art to it,” she insists. “At the end of the day, we want our clients to get results; whether that’s to grow or develop new audiences or get business results. That’s what we specialise in and we have really rounded expertise both in the actual doing and the strategy behind getting results.”
Of course, in a sector prone to sudden disruptions, the ability to stay on top of the latest ways to engage audiences is key. In this respect, Gerber and Derham rely on their ability to surround themselves with the right people: “We have a great team with huge expertise,” Gerber tells us. “Katie is an experienced broadcaster but she’s also worked with a lot of corporate clients. We’re all on the top of our game and we’ve all got a lot of experience in the communications industry within different platforms. We’re trend spotters as well,” she continues. “We keep on top of how platforms and content are developing and how brands can fit into that.”
While content may be everywhere its quality certainly varies, as brands scrabble to stay up to date with the latest industry trends. However, with Peanut & Crumb, businesses can ensure they get a beautifully produced end-product alongside those all-important stats. It’s this mix of style and substance that Gerber and Derham hope to fill: “When we started the company, there was a diversity of quality, shall we say?” smiles Gerber, diplomatically. “We really felt that with our background and experience, we could bring something polished and of high-quality to this expanding market.”
Plus, with their history in long-form broadcast, the duo is an invaluable tool to time-poor clients: “Brands can be great at doing short-form commercials but when it comes to long-form broadcast ideas or podcasts, that’s not where their expertise really lies,” reasons Gerber. “We’re seeing gaps within this landscape where we can come in and say ‘we can help you grow an audience here’.”
Then there’s the media coaching. Led by Derham, this side of Peanut & Crumb helps clients prepare for a range of situations, giving them the tools to perfect their own bespoke strategies for different media channels. “We offer a tailored service at a very high level,” says Gerber of their coaching service, which spans everything from crisis situations, presentations and product launches. “We’re thinking about what brands want to say and how to say it in the best way for each platform.”
Strategy underpins everything Peanut & Crumb does. “I think it’s what makes us different from other agencies; we think strategically about every bit of content we create. We don’t just turn up, shoot some interviews and put them together – we think about the bigger picture and how it’s going to resonate.”
Having graduated from Female Founders, Creative UK’s programme designed to help level the playing field for female entrepreneurs, Gerber was inspired to develop her skillset further by joining our new Creative Enterprise: Evolve cohort. Aimed at helping screen-sector businesses level up and prepare for investment, this intensive course pairs creatives with an industry mentor and provides an opportunity to help fortify your company and plan for future success.
“Female Founders was an incredible experience for me personally but also for the business. It was a real game changer,” admits Gerber. “We’d never done anything like it and I’d never been mentored before. Just having Creative UK’s support in terms of growing the company, introducing us to new forms of screen-based storytelling and a whole network of people to draw on was incredible. Evolve was the natural next step in our growth journey,” she adds. “We’re absolutely thrilled to be a part of it.”
With so many years spent building their company, Evolve provides a much-needed detour to fine-tune Gerber and Derham’s business skills, while introducing them to some potential future collaborators along the way. “We’re creatives who set up a business, not business people who set up a creative company,” suggests Gerber. “We have great ideas and can see opportunities but need help and guidance to achieve our ambitions, which is why Evolve is so great in this next stage of growth. It provides that but also comes with a knowledge of what it’s like growing a creative company,” she says. “It’s perfect for us right here, right now.”
Perhaps more importantly, the assurance from industry experts that you are indeed on the right track does wonders for refuelling your creative tank after the often-lonely process of business building. “When I had my diagnostic session with the mentors on the programme, they could see our path to growth really clearly and that was so encouraging,” smiles Gerber. “We want to be a global content provider with more people and more offices – potentially globally. Sitting here now, it feels like a little bit of a dream,” she adds, “but I can see it – and Evolve is going to be a big part of helping us get there.”