What’s next? The new generation of journalists

There’s a new wave of journalism coming and it is driven by Gen Z. Unafraid to write boldly about big topics like sex, religion, race and politics, it is a brave new world for journalism, and how PRs work and communicate with them needs to move with the times.

In our webinar, What’s next? The new generation of journalists, we were joined by three rising stars to talk about why they wanted a career in journalism, what challenges they see in the industry, what the future of journalism holds and how they like to work and communicate with PRs.

Joining our fantastic panel are Hannah Bradfield; freelance and journalist at Journo Resources, Michele Theil, freelance journalist who writes for Vice and The Independent; and Zesha Saleem, freelance journalist who writes for Metro UK, plus British Vogue and The Guardian.

Fill in the form below to watch the webinar and learn:

  • Current challenges in the industry
  • Predictions for the future of journalism
  • Best practice tips for communicating and working with Gen Z journos

Pop Culture Comms Lessons: From Dunder Mifflin and beyond

If you learnt to schmooze like Eddie Monsoon, manage stakeholder relationships like David Brent or built a crisis comms strategy following Michael Scott’s lead, then this is the webinar for you.

From meaningless buzzwords to bolly-fuelled meetings; the world of PR is often teased in pop culture but what can we learn from these portrayals, and how do we avoid becoming Siobhan Sharpes?

In our webinar, Somehow I manage. PR. Pop Culture Comms lessons from Dunder Mifflin and beyond, we looked at how to avoid management speak (which we know you hate) in your comms, managing a crisis (lewd watermarks or otherwise) and the importance of press relations in the public sector (even if you preferred Petey for the pigeon mascot).

Fill in the form below to watch the webinar and learn:

  • The power of language in your comms
  • How to build a crisis comms strategy
  • How to make sure your brand speaks to your audience
PR in FS

The responsibility of PR in financial services

From credit to crypto, technology has changed the financial services sector and reshaped the comms challenge for PR practitioners.

Apps, online banking and around-the-clock engagement have created a new immediacy in finance, making it more important to ensure that communication between provider and consumer is both educational and accurate.

In our latest webinar, The responsibility of PR in financial services, we will bring you a live discussion from PR, marketing and FS comms specialist Natalie Orringe; Romney Taylor, VP Marketing at Habito; and Erin Lovett, Account Director at Missive. They will guide us through the new landscape for financial communications.

Fill in the form below to watch the webinar and learn:

  • The role of social activism in consumer decisions
  • How to disrupt traditional practices responsibly
  • The PR opportunity in both fintech and the rise of digital currencies

PR & Marketing: The Ultimate Power Couple?

It is a debate that has been raging for more than 50 years: how to integrate PR and Marketing. Successfully.

Vuelio’s latest white paper by Stephen Waddington explores the trends associated with integrating marketing and public relations. Gathering insight from industry professionals both in-house and from leading agencies, it uncovers a range of opportunities from ABM and community management to a changing media landscape and the reappraisal of brands.

In our latest webinar, PR & Marketing: The Ultimate Power Couple?, we bring you a discussion between Stephen Waddington; Suman Hughes, Director, Communications at Mastercard UK; and Tara O’Donnell, Managing Director UK at Hotwire Global, who will share their thoughts on how they see the integration of PR and marketing becoming a reality.

Fill in the form below to watch the webinar and learn:

  • The opportunities in PR and marketing integration
  • The impact Covid-19 has had on both functions
  • How to measure the success of integrated activities

Bold Communications in Regulated Industries

Managing comms and PR in regulated industries can be challenging. With additional rules to know and follow, it can sometimes feel like your comms is being stifled.

But the greater the restrictions the more creative the solutions, and brands across regulated industries have been forced to find news ways to reach their audiences, deliver cut-through content and achieve campaign success.

In our latest webinar, Bold Communications in Regulated Industries, we were joined by Lisa Stone, Director, Client Strategy at Edelman and Luke O’Mahony, Head of PR at Investec, who shared their secrets to finding success in controlled industries.

Fill in the form below to watch the webinar and learn

  • What you need to know when communicating in a regulated industry
  • How reactive comms can still be part of your playbook
  • The secret to (regulated) creative success
Neuro PR Brain and Brand Connection

Neuro PR: Strengthening the Brain and Brand Connection

When it comes to planning successful PR campaigns that create a lasting impression, it’s important to target both the heart and mind of your consumer.

In our latest webinar, we were joined by Charlotte Nichols, managing director and Leader of the Pack at Harvey & Hugo PR who talked to us about how they apply neuroscience to their day-to-day PR activity.

Fill in the form below to watch the webinar. 

communicating a summer of live events webinar

In the event of an emergency – communicating a summer of live events

The past 18 months have hit many industries hard but live and in-person events have felt the impact like no other. With the majority of Covid restrictions in England coming to an end on 19 July, large-scale events are finally returning.

In our latest webinar, “In the event of an emergency – communicating a summer of live events”, we talked to the people behind these events to discuss the challenges they’ve faced, their plans for returning to ‘normal’, and the positives from the pandemic (yes, there are some!).

We were joined by Bairbre Lloyd, PR and communications manager at Cheltenham Festivals and Hannah Mursal, founder of ME Travel.

Fill in the form below to watch the webinar. 

pr and journlists event

Building better relationships between PRs and journalists

The past twelve months have presented many challenges for both PRs and journalists but one thing that has been a particular struggle is being able to network and build lasting and useful relationships with one another.

To help bridge this gap we partnered with Journo Resources and Freelancing for Journalists to discuss what the past year has been like for journalists and how they managed to build relationships with PRs. We also had a live discussion, so you could ask your burning questions to our panel of experts or share your own tips for working with PRs.

Joining us were: Jem Collins, director and editor at Journo Resources, Faima Bakar, freelance journalist and senior staff writer at Journo Resources, Lily Canter, freelance consumer journalist and Emma Wilkinson, health and medicine freelance journalist.

This was an opportunity for both PRs and journalists to come together for an hour of lively discussion and conversation and hopefully create a few more contacts!

Fill in the form below to watch the webinar. 

seo for pr webinar

SEO best practice guide for PR

With more agencies, businesses and organisations developing digital-led PR strategies, many practitioners understand the importance of generating coverage in online media. This requires more than a basic understanding of SEO but there are very few resources created specifically for the sector.

This webinar, SEO best practices for PR, covers the key points in our recent guide and we were joined by the author herself, Judith Lewis, search marketing expert at DeCabbit Consultancy.

Watch the webinar to learn:

  • How Google works
  • How to align your PR & SEO strategy
  • The essential tools you need for success
  • Mastering keywords, content and on-page essentials

Fill in the form below to watch the webinar. 

ESG in PR

The ESG opportunity for PR

Can you confidently define ESG? Is your team managing ESG risk for your business? Do you know why ESG sits in PR?

To help answer these questions, Vuelio launched the report The Environment, Social and Corporate Governance opportunity for public relations authored by Stephen Waddington and Dr Jon White, with exclusive survey results from Vuelio.

Among the results, our research found that while a third of organisations already have a policy in place to manage ESG, 27% are not managing ESG risk at all.

Both authors of the report, Stephen Waddington and Dr Jon White joined us live for a webinar, ‘The ESG Opportunity for PR‘. They were joined by Rebecca Zeitlin, head of communications and external affairs at Hybrid Air Vehicles, who gave her first-hand experience of managing ESG in an industry that is threatened by regulation if action doesn’t come from within.

Watch the webinar to learn:

  • What ESG means for your organisation
  • Why your comms team is best placed to lead on ESG risk
  • The actions you can take to manage this now
ESG whitepaper public relations

Research and Report: What is ESG and what is the opportunity for public relations?

  • ESG and PR sector study highlights a third (31%) of organisations have a policy in place to manage ESG, 41% said that it was a ‘work in progress’
  • Head of Communications/PR is responsible for leading ESG in 19% of organisations but ESG is led by the CEO or another C-level function within 60% of organisations
  • Over half of PR agencies polled offer ESG support to clients or are developing ESG services

Environmental Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) is one of the most radical developments in business within the last 50 years.

It’s likely to shape the way both organisations and the communications sector evolve and operate for years to come.

But what is ESG? How is it different from CSR? And how is public relations adapting to the opportunities and risks?

To help define ESG and chart its growth and impact on the communications sector, we commissioned PR industry thought leaders Stephen Waddington and Dr Jon White to produce a report ‘The Environment, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) opportunity for public relations’.

Download The Environment, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) opportunity for public relations report here.

ESG and the PR Sector Survey 2021

We surveyed 187 public relations practitioners across a range of ESG issues in April 2021 to benchmark the sector’s readiness for ESG.

According to Vuelio’s research:

  • Three out of five (63%) public relations practitioners claim that they can ‘confidently define ESG and its impact on their clients or organisation’

Vuelio’s ESG and the PR Sector Survey 2021: 63% of respondents can “confidently define ESG and its impact on their clients/organisation

  • A third (32%) of organisations reported that they have a policy in place to manage ESG, while 41% said that it was a ‘work in progress’
  • More than a quarter (27%) of public relations practitioners said that they had taken ‘no action to assess and manage ESG risk’

Vuelio’s ESG and the PR Sector Survey 2021: 27% of respondents do not have policies in place to assess and manage ESG risk

Organisations recognise that they have work to do to manage the issues raised by ESG. The research highlighted that:

  • Three-quarters report that they are somewhat prepared (63%) or not at all prepared (12%) for ESG
  • Two-thirds of organisations (67%) reported that they do not report on their ESG performance

This is a significant opportunity for public relations to support organisations and, in some cases, lead ESG. Our research found:

  • ESG is led by the CEO or another C-level function within 60% of organisations
  • The Head of Communications/PR is responsible for leading ESG in 19% of organisations

Vuelio’s ESG and the PR Sector Survey 2021: ESG is led by the CEO or another C-level function within 60% of organisations. Head of Communications/PR is responsible for leading ESG in 19% of organisations

The study also found:

  • More than half of agencies surveyed offer ESG support to clients or are in the process of developing services
  • 51% public sector organisations reported that the increased focus on ESG in the private sector has had a positive impact on environmental and social policies

The research shows the growing awareness of ESG as a corporate issue, but also the opportunity for further education and bridging the gap between ESG knowledge and developing policies and strategies.

Download the whitepaper here.

What is ESG?

As summed up by report authors Stephen Waddington and Dr Jon White, it is, at its core, ‘a call for companies to account for and report on their contribution beyond financial metrics within their scope of operation’.

ESG is a combination of environmental and social risks.  For example, the business supply chain and its environmental impact, how employees are treated and human rights acts compliance.

It also includes business governance – from how legal issues such as bribery and corruption are monitored and managed through to ensuring that the board act fairly for all shareholders.

The complex of concerns grouped as ESG are significantly more far reaching than the Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR programmes.

Failure of an organisation to meet the expectation of its public in any of the three dimensions of ESG will result in reputational and investor risk. The investment community increasingly expects to be informed on company commitments to and actions on these concerns.

The term Environmental, Social and Governance’ or ‘ESG’ investing was first used in 2004 in the report from the UN Global Compact ‘Who Cares Wins’.

In 2005 the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (UN PRI) were developed. The UN PRI were a voluntary set of principles designed to help institutional investors factor ESG concerns into their investment decisions to manage risk and generate sustainable long-term returns.

2020 was the year that ESG investing came of age. According to data provider Morningstar, by the end of 2020 total assets held in sustainable funds hit $1.7trillion – a 50% rise on where they started the year.

For each company, ESG goals will be very different. ‘The Environment, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) opportunity for public relations’ report includes guidance on the practicalities, frames of reference as well as the implications for those at leadership and decision-making levels.

What is the ESG opportunity for public relations?

Calls for the establishment of new roles to develop and manage ESG strategies, such as chief relationship or chief sustainability officers, are often made without reference to the roles that have been played by public relations practitioners for many years.

Given the unique relationship in many organisations between communications and the board and the importance of managing multiple stakeholders and publics in ESG, report authors Dr Jon White and Stephen Waddington are confident that ESG will be a key discipline for corporate affairs, public affairs and public relations professionals for many years to come.

They state in the report: ‘It is our firm belief that ESG concerns and how they will be met present large opportunities for public relations to make a larger contribution to organisational decision-making and performance.’

The report also contains views from senior agency leaders and communications professionals and those who have developed and delivered ESG programmes.

Thank you to John Brown, Founder and CEO of Don’t Cry Wolf;  Koray Camgoz, Director of Communications and Marketing at the PRCA; Steve Earl, Managing Partner of BOLDT; David Gallagher, President of Omnicom PR; Rachel Miller, Founder of All Things IC; Mandy Pearse, President  of the CIPR; and Rebecca Zeitlin, Head of Communications and External Affairs at Hybrid Air Vehicles.

‘Attitudes to ESG are rapidly changing because of the COVID-19 pandemic,’ says Hybrid Air Vehicles head of communications and external affairs Rebecca Zeitlin, ‘Scrutiny is the single word that I’d used to describe what’s brought ESG to the fore as an issue. The pandemic has created an opportunity to think and act differently’.

For CIPR president Mandy Pearse, ESG consideration is a natural fit for public relations and should be welcomed and actioned by the industry: ‘Strategic public relations practitioners take the long view on managing the organisations’ stakeholder relationships. ESG is not a quick fix but ethically implemented with purpose and commitment it is central to delivering outstanding reputation and brand loyalty.’

Internal Communications specialist and founder of All Things IC Rachel Miller, highlights the critical role of effective internal communications in ESG: ‘Companies need to ensure there’s no integrity gap between what they say and do as the first people to spot those gaps are your employees. Done well, your people need to see how they fit in and the difference their work can make to your ESG ambitions.’

Vuelio CMO Michelle Goodall believes there is an opportunity for the PR industry to bring skills and technology together to drive and continue to develop their organisational response to ESG:

‘Stephen and Jon provide excellent guidance in the report. Our tools, Vuelio and Pulsar, also provide communications professionals with the media, political, stakeholder and social media issue, share of voice, horizon scanning and audience insights they need for use in decision-making in one of the fastest developing and exciting areas of the communications industry.’

To help with planning your ESG strategy, download ‘The Environment, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) opportunity for public relations’ report here.

And join Stephen, Jon and Hybrid Air Vehicles’ Rebecca Zeitlin for the ESG opportunity for PR webinar at 14:00BST on Wednesday 19  May. Register here.

6 May Elections: what to expect

Several elections are set to take place across Britain on 6 May. Voting will take place for the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Parliament, London and Metro Mayors, London Assembly, Local Authorities and Police Commissioners.

With Covid lockdown restrictions still in place, the campaigns for each of these elections are far from ordinary and some of the issues that will impact who voters choose to cast their ballots for will also be far from ordinary.

Vuelio has teamed up with the Local Government Information Unit (LGIU) to provide a weekly bulletin with the latest news and updates, ones to watch and campaign information from the elections taking place across the country.

You can sign up to receive the weekly bulletin, starting on Wednesday 7 April, here.

Local Elections
In England, the 2021 local elections slated include over 150 local authority elections in hundreds of wards and divisions for both the delayed elections of 2020 and the scheduled elections of 2021, as well as:

  • Directly elected Mayors and Metro Mayor from 2020 and 2021
  • Parish Councils
  • By-elections
  • Neighbourhood Plan referenda
  • 40 Police and crime commissioner posts

Every single eligible citizen in England is due to be an elector in 2021. All areas are holding Police and Crime commissioner elections, except for Greater Manchester and London where these powers rest with the directly elected mayor. In many areas, electors will be voting on four or more different ballots.

This isn’t just about the sheer volume of decision making. It’s about choosing the people who will be deciding on vital services, dealing with social care in crisis, and making the tough choices as councils are struggling through an unprecedented financial crisis after a decade of unprecedented financial cuts. Local government is fundamentally about where people live and voters will be choosing the people who will help lead us to sustainable economic recovery as we emerge from the Covid crisis.

Scottish Parliament
In Scotland, 129 MSPs will be elected with the SNP hoping to regain the majority they lost in 2016. However, things have not been smooth sailing for the SNP with questions relating to the integrity of senior members of the party in the handling of the Alex Salmond scandal, all the way up to first Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon. Former leader of the SNP Alex Salmond has launched his new Alba Party and it will be interesting to see how much it can deliver on his ambition for a clear majority supporting Scottish independence.

Leader of the Scottish Conservatives Douglas Ross is putting efforts into creating a unionist alliance going into the election to combat the SNP and Alba, and Ross also seems willing to serve as both an MP and an MSP (providing he is elected). Anas Sarwar will have been the leader of the Scottish Labour Party for less than three months by the time the election comes around and has so far been unwilling to enter into any agreement with the Scottish Conservatives.

Ross, Sarwar and the Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats Willie Rennie all seem to be making a similar argument that now is the time for recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and the discussion of independence is a distraction.

Welsh Parliament
In Wales, 60 MSs will be elected and the initial campaign focus has been on judging how well the Welsh Government has handled the pandemic. First Minister of Wales and Leader of Welsh Labour Mark Drakeford has presented his plans as ‘honest and realistic’, as he has said Wales is not likely to return to normality in 2021.

The Welsh Conservatives are taking a different view and are campaigning to end social distancing restrictions earlier than suggested by Drakeford. The Welsh Conservatives will be hoping for similar success as in the 2019 General Election, where the Conservatives gained six seats in Wales at the expense of Labour.

The decision to build or not to build the M4 relief road will also play a part as a key campaigning issue, with the Welsh Conservatives pledging to build the road if they win in the election. Drakeford has previously said the plans cannot go ahead because of the cost and the impact on the environment.

London Mayor
In London, Sadiq Khan faces no shortage of opponents, the following candidates will be attempting to take his spot: Shaun Bailey (Conservative), Siân Berry (Green), Luisa Porritt (Liberal Democrats), Kam Balayev (Renew Party), Valerie Brown (Burning Pink), Peter Gammons (UKIP), David Kurten (Heritage Party), Mandu Reid (Women’s Equality Party) and Laurence Fox (Reclaim Party). Independent candidates include Brian Rose, Nims Obunge, Charlie Mullins, Winston McKenzie, Farah London, Max Fosh, Drillminister, Piers Corbyn and Count Binface.

Baily, Berry and Porritt are likely to present Khan with his sternest opposition. Porritt is campaigning on a platform of taking London forward with ideas such as converting office space into affordable homes and improving air quality in London.

Berry has run to be London Mayor twice, in 2008 when she got 3.2% of the vote and 2016 when she got 5.8% of the vote and came third. The Green’s are focusing on fairness and tackling inequality and are presenting themselves as an independent voice in politics that can often be dominated by the Conservatives and Labour. The Green’s may also seek to capitalise on those who have drifted away from Labour since Corbyn stopped being leader.

Despite numerous criticisms to the approach so far, Bailey seems set on basing the campaign on how Sadiq Khan has failed as Mayor and how he can give London the fresh start it needs. Interestingly, it seems as though both Khan and Bailey are blaming each other for crime in London; Bailey blaming Khan as he is the Mayor and Khan blaming Bailey as he was a special adviser on crime during David Cameron’s time as Prime Minister.

Keep up with all the latest election news from Vuelio and the LGIU.

The great Covid bounce back for Charities

The great Covid bounce back for Charities?

The great Covid bounce back for Charities?

The great Covid bounce back for Charities? looks at the impact the past year has had on the charity sector and what the path looks like returning to in-person events and increased levels of fundraising.

We are joined by Caroline Mallan, head of external affairs at the Charities Aid Foundation and Emily Sturdy, head of supporter engagement at Parkinson’s UK. Our CMO, Michelle Goodall moderates the panel and leads the discussion.

Join our webinar as we discuss:

• How the past 12 months have affected fundraising, comms, campaigning, supporter engagement and lobbying
• If there have there been any positives from this period?
• The projects charities have undertaken during the past few months such as new ways to engage with supporters and new fundraising tactic

BlAME game

The BlAME game

Charlotte KingThis is a guest post from Charlotte King, fellowships and communications coordinator at the Leicester Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of Leicester. Her work here is her own views and does not reflect those of the university.

The pandemic has profoundly impacted the ways in which we think about health and risk within and beyond our immediate community. While common anxieties surround the frank fear of death and wellbeing, nothing has exposed societal inequalities quite like COVID-19. 

Our information environment has engaged with the somewhat misleading meta-narrative that the virus is an equaliser, yet ‘we’re all in this together’ is a more problematic phrase for those experiencing the brunt of the pandemic than those often responsible for producing the messaging. If our understanding of society is largely shaped by information flow through the platforms we access, there is an inherent danger that our perception is tainted by bias frames toward particular socio-political issues. As the city of Leicester experienced the first prolonged lockdown in the UK, the narrative of the pandemic soon became discriminatory against BAME communities, many of whom already experience systematic racism.

Many have noted the messaging that BAME communities are at increased risk, yet few messages illustrate why this is the case. The lack of clarity has led to a stigma surrounding BAME communities which has seen an exacerbation from anti-Asian sentiment to the targeting of BAME communities more widely. While it is clear that those who have continued employment in the workplace are more exposed to the virus than those sheltering, what is less clear is how our personal environments disproportionately impact the agency one has over their health and risk-taking during this time.

Multi-dimensional factors surrounding underlying health conditions, access to healthcare and health communications, class, employment, diet and the status of accommodation all reveal disproportionate ways in which people are able to adhere to health guidance. While these are far too expansive to discuss here, it is important to note that the issue of inequality and public health is sensitive, and far too complex to understand through hegemonic stories surrounding it.

Here I will unpack just a few issues on disproportionate vulnerability. Economic stability has weighed on the minds of many in the UK, and those who are pressured into working during the pandemic are undoubtedly exposed to an extent others are not. Adding salt to the wound, there is a disproportionate effect on BAME communities through the lens of economic stability. This divide is further emphasised by those who lack the luxury of social distancing, contributing towards the extent to which one can safely operate during the pandemic. This reveals a profound disparity between the rich and poor, and while many experience mental health concerns during lockdown, it is evident that it is not the same for everybody.

Alongside circumstantial differences, language also plays a significant role for migrant communities. Leicester City Council distributed health guidance in a variety of the main languages spoken within the city, yet this is an anomaly to otherwise English-dominant communications. The danger surrounding this is the further stigmatisation of migrants on the basis of immersion and integration, when discussion of public health should remain an issue of health as a human right; regardless of language, race, gender or nationality. As researchers and scientists are working hard to demystify the issue of ethnicity, class and health, it must be brought to the forefront of public opinion, through the narrative of public health, that the alienation of certain groups within a profoundly multicultural nation is causing a rift among UK citizens.

Generally, when it comes to public health, we have cultivated a culture of trust between ourselves and the top-down news stories. Yet the human aspect behind the BAME story is omitted from headlines, unmasking the frailty of our society. As we move our news sources online, algorithms cause us to become, often unknowingly, immersed into dominant stories and misinformation, undermining a complete narrative to be shaped when it comes to public health. Herein lies the paradox of pluralistic societies; we live side by side with differential signifiers of our times, with little common understanding of our wider cultural makeup.

We have a societal responsibility to incorporate BAME stories into our national health narrative, or the profound effects of alienation and systemic discrimination of BAME communities will be exacerbated to an unknown end. A bottom-up approach would demand a shift towards a more divisive social understanding, and would offer a platform for the all too often silenced voices to be heard, rather than blanketed through the stories we currently receive.

For the pandemic, a fundamentally human story, we are missing the perspective of so many, causing us to drift further away from having the complete picture of how our society is coping with the current context.

Deliveries in lockdown comms

ParcelHero’s coronavirus comms strategy: turning the front door into the front line

This is a guest post from David Jinks, Head of Public Relations at ParcelHero, on the importance of keeping agile in a fast changing environment.

I could start by spinning you a yarn about how ParcelHero had an emergency comms plan already prepared for the impact of a near biblical plague. The truth is we didn’t and, be honest, you wouldn’t enjoy reading a puff piece as much as hearing the gory details about how we learned from our initial comms mistakes.

ParcelHero is an online parcel price comparison site; effectively, we’re ‘Compare the Meerkat’ for parcels. Simples. Of course, being a home-delivery courier company meant we were one of the first to experience the full impact of the coronavirus.

Key to our media strategy as an e-commerce business is building brand awareness and (here’s where I’ll be kicked out of the Monday PR Club) link building. Old skool releases and pitches are at the heart of this plan. Looking back, our first release on the subject was 27 January: ‘Should shoppers question the safety of Chinese parcels?’. In retrospect, it’s an odd release – partly ramping up the scare to attract journalists and partly downplaying it – because some regular users were already experiencing problems with stock coming in from China. It got good traction but, at the time, it felt like an annoying distraction from my beloved 2020 PR plan, which had been so many weeks in gestation.

I clung grimly to that plan throughout early February, in the blind belief that no story could be bigger than Brexit. It wasn’t until 25 February that I smelled the coffee and tearfully chucked it away. Our release that day on ‘Ten steps to reduce the impact of Covid-19 ‘ was lapped up by an increasingly nervous business press. It had lots of prescient tips but still featured a not-in-front-of-the-children intro that soothingly gushed ‘…many health professionals are saying it is unlikely to have a greater effect than many typical global flu outbreaks’.

Let’s spare my blushes and move into the next stage. Without teaching Grandma to suck eggs, bad news sells and big numbers make big headlines. As the epidemic developed, we forecast on 3 March that e-commerce’s market share would double to 40% ‘if the coronavirus becomes an epidemic in the UK’. That secured us a good splash in the Mail and lots of business press. In a social media double-whammy, Facebook even used the prediction in its LinkedIn presentations. Again though, look at that qualifying ‘if’

Just before lockdown, ParcelHero had been booming, as people shipped food to loved ones in isolation and ordered thousands of hand sanitisers. However, when lockdown started on 23 March, bookings fell off a cliff. Stores were closed and even those with websites had little confidence they could distribute orders safely.

We hit the press, emphasising that couriers were still picking up directly from doorsteps and businesses could stay alive selling solely online. By the second week, ParcelHero was experiencing Christmas-level peak volumes and that’s been the case ever since. ‘The front door becomes the front line’ – our key message that was picked up by many journalists – underscored our efforts to standardise rules to replace signatures as proof of delivery.

Increased bookings led to their own complications, however. 50% of international parcels are flown in the belly-hold of passenger flights and, suddenly, they were all grounded. Customers wanted information. Now. Our carefully laid social media plans were swiftly abandoned as Twitter became a key tool for Customer Services.

Nonetheless, by 15 April, our comms was firmly proactive rather than reactive. We caught the public mood with a release stating: ‘It’s no longer a sin to order non-essentials online’. From then on, the thrust was all about looking forwards.

So, what turned the tide from that dreadful Lockdown Monday to us gaining multiple new links and national coverage in the FT, Express, Sun and Mail? Driving our success was our ability to adapt our message to fast-changing circumstances, even if it meant ditching our existing strategies and entire social channels.

Looking forward, we’ll be taking the lead in issuing advice as regulations and market conditions change. We’re currently focused on encouraging all our business users to ‘lock-in your lockdown wins’.  Who knows, one day, not so far in the future, I may be able to return to Brexit. Now, where did I throw that 2020 plan?

David Jinks was a guest on our recent webinar, Moving from Crisis to Recovery, along with Liz Slee, Head of Media at Enterprise Nation and director at the think tank The Enterprise Trust. Listen to the recording here

online wellbeing

WFH: Wellbeing From Home

As we start to get used to the mechanics of long-term working from home it’s easy to neglect both our physical and mental health. We asked our wonderful Wellness Manager, Roxy Danae, for her key advice for staying active and taking care of your mental wellbeing during these challenging times.

Here are Roxy’s top five tips:

  1. Find a routine

Keeping a regular routine will not only give structure to your day but it will help you separate your working day from your downtime. Get up early, have something to eat and get dressed. It might be tempting to stay in your pyjamas all day, but you’ll be more productive if you put on proper clothes. Plus, you won’t get caught out on any improtu video calls!

  1. Be mindful

Meditation can be something that many people find difficult or simply avoid. Now is the perfect time to practice meditation and find time to soothe your stress. There’s plenty of self-guided online meditation apps such as Headspace and Calm, which can help you practice meditation for ten minutes every day. Meditation helps reduce inflammation in the body, forms new neurological pathways in your brain, helps with productivity and creativity and keeps us grounded.

  1. Get creative

We now have more time to take up a new hobby or learn a new skill, and with so much technology at our fingertips the options are endless. You don’t have to be artistic to get creative, try your hand at knitting, tackle a paint by numbers or learn a new language. The benefit of having added time is you can try more than one hobby. Not a fan of cross stich? Try a yoga class for beginners online!

  1. Practice gratitude

Taking time out of your day to remind yourself of the things you’re grateful for can be transformative. Work it into your daily meditation or take a few minutes at the start or end of your day to reflect on what you have. The act of practicing gratitude helps us to reframe a negative situation into a positive.

  1. Stay active

It can be very easy to avoid exercise when working from home but it’s vital for both mental and physical wellbeing. Use this opportunity to train areas of your body you’ve previously neglected, invest in a kettlebell or a pair of dumbbells and add some variety to your workouts. There’s a number of free exercise classes on YouTube so try something different to your normal routine.

To support the industry’s wellbeing, we’re pleased to announce that we will be launching a weekly Virtual Yoga for Comms class. The hour-long classes will for four weeks, every Wednesday at 6pm starting 8 April. Register for your personal wellness and enjoy a yoga class from the comfort of your home.

Access Intelligence

Supporting the industry: Vuelio confirms three-month payment pause for freelancers

We’re committed to supporting the industry as we navigate together the disruption caused by COVID-19.  

The challenges faced by the PR industry go hand in hand with the need for businesses to increase communications as they manage multiple stakeholders in this rapidly changing environment. We’re hearing from teams across the country who are under intense pressure and grappling with new ways of remote working.

This is why its vital that we, as a software provider to the industry, can be relied on including by the considerable number of our clients who are NHS, Police or Emergency Service organisations. Whether workflow or stakeholder management, database research or political insights, our clients need our tools to deliver.

We are taking steps to help. Last week, we announced a raft of measures including free online monitoring for frontline organisations and free daily stakeholder analysis to help industry get ahead of COVID policy. This is with free additional product functionalities to support our clients in working remotely.

I can also confirm we will pause any subscription payments for three months by a customer who is freelance and contacts us to confirm they are eligible for the Government COVID-19 relief scheme.  Please speak to your account manager to find out more.

These are exceptional times. We hope by working together with our clients and with the industry to be able to help.

virtual networking

How to network. Virtually.

These are unprecedented times and as we adapt both our professional and personal lives, we need to find a ‘new normal’ for both socialising and networking. Virtual drinks over video chat have replaced meeting up at the pub, with apps like Zoom and Houseparty becoming essential.

As people work remotely and, in some cases, need to self isolate, it is more important than ever that we stay in contact with our peers and colleagues in the industry. Social media was already a fundamental function for PR and comms, but it now plays a vital role in keeping people connected, allowing them to discuss the issues and challenges they’re facing, and offering support and advice to colleagues and clients.

If you’re missing the social aspect of the working world there are several ways to combat the isolation blues and keep you connected.

  1. Twitter chats

Whether you’re an active Twitter user or you prefer to lurk in the threads, following a conversation hashtag is a great way to see who’s talking about a topic and what they think. From mental health to diversity, #PowerAndInfluence is our recommendation for anyone wanting to join an animated and engaging discussion. Lead by Ella Minty every Wednesday at 8pm GMT, people are encouraged to share their thoughts on a particular topic, offering their advice and own experience to fellow practitioners. One thing’s for sure, you can expect these Twitter chats to get more popular as the current situation develops.

  1. LinkedIn Groups

Joining a group on LinkedIn can allow you to discuss the current challenges faced across PR and comms without having to share it with all of your personal connections. Vuelio has set up two LinkedIn groups, the PR and Communication Network and The Monday PR Club. These groups are open for anyone in the industry to join and once we accept your invitation you can use these as a more intimate place for conversation and catching up with past and present colleagues.

  1. Virtual hangouts

Over the coming weeks we’re going to see more virtual event invites in our inbox and as these become the norm, so will virtual hangouts. Networking in person allows for informal discussions and relationships to be built, which is the aim of taking these meet-ups online. PRFest is running free regular catch ups over Zoom so you can chat, vent and share ideas with your industry colleagues, the perfect antidote to remote working.

  1. Virtual yoga

We started our accesswellbeing initiative back in February to address the issue of mental health in the PR industry and we’ve not let social distancing stop us continue to offer yoga to comms professionals. Moving our #YogaForComms class online not only brings wellbeing to the industry but creates an online community, allowing more people to attend from the comfort of their own living room.

Navigating uncertainty

Navigating uncertainty: the Vuelio toolkit for communicators

PR and comms are playing a critical role in delivering information during the COVID-19 outbreak.

From creating and maintaining consistent messaging, which aligns with brand values, to getting used to new working arrangements, teams are stretched and still expected to provide value to all their stakeholders, both internally and externally.

On top of all this, each organisation must keep up with the latest Government guidelines, which are evolving daily.

Navigating uncertainty: The Vuelio toolkit for communicators has been created to support the industry in these challenging times.

The toolkit includes stats and information on the coronavirus outbreak, including its impact on the media landscape, linked resources to help with everything from virtual events and networking to staying focused while working at home, and it also includes our top 10 lessons to keep your comms effective in a crisis.

It also includes links to our COVID-19 daily bulletin and our next yoga session on Thursday, which will hosted virtually. We hope you can join us there.

Download the toolkit and find out more about how Vuelio can support you.

 

Online event

Virtual events and why they’re more important than ever

SXSW and Coachella were first and now with Glastonbury cancelled and the Euros being postponed until 2021, it is clear that no event is impervious to the current situation. Large mass gatherings are no longer part of the calendar and as we all adapt to social distancing, events have had to adapt too.

Over the coming weeks, and possibly months, all in-person events will stop following Government guidelines. For anyone hosting any kind of event there is a decision to be made: cancel, postpone or take the event online. With more people now remote working, holding a virtual event is fast becoming the preferred option.

There’s a wealth of technology that can allow organisations to share their content with audiences across the globe. Webinars have long held an important place in any marketer’s toolkit and now they are even more vital; allowing guests to ask questions and interact with the hosts encourages discussion, which replicates experiences of in-person events.

As museums start to offer virtual tours, so begins the start of virtual expos where delegates can ‘visit’ the different stands, download the relevant collateral and speak directly with the supplier through a messaging app.

While it’s harder (but not impossible – watch this space) to take networking drinks online, small conferences or seminars benefit from this way of working. Livestreaming these events not only helps with keeping costs down (no venue, no catering, etc.) but it also makes it more accessible for both the audience and the speakers. Although you may need to be flexible with time zones, it opens up your list of potential speakers to those who are not just based in your city.

For smaller virtual meetings and seminars, Zoom has a free offering for live streaming meetings of up to 100 participants that last for 40 minutes or less. With a chat function built in, you can easily communicate with your guests and get a lively Q&A going at the end of the session. There’s an option to record your meeting too so if anyone is unable to attend they can still enjoy the content at a time that works for them.

When it comes to promoting, inviting and keeping track of your attendees Eventbrite is an accessible and easy-to-use tool. Plus if you’re hosting a free event, then it’s free to use.

Events may never be the same after this, as budgets get tighter and the need for more accessible events goes from nice-to-have to essential. Expect more virtual event invites over the next few weeks and video catch up content if you miss it. We’ll see you online.