MPs believe social media has a negative impact on politics

Research commissioned by Vuelio, the political and media software provider, has found that MPs believe social media has a negative impact on politics, with four in five (81%) of the 137 MPs surveyed believing public attitudes towards politicians have been changed for the worse as a result of social media. The research is released at a time of heightened speculation regarding an early general election. It is important to recognise the central role that social media is likely to play in any subsequent campaign, as a crucial communication tool for all of the main parties.

According to MPs, there are specific ways in which social media has damaged public engagement. Over three quarters (79%) believe social media has made it difficult for the public to source information from trustworthy sources and 78% believe it leads to people being overloaded with information. This impacts policy making, with two in five (42%) MPs believing social media has changed the policy making process for the worse, and a third (36%) believe it has changed public understanding of policy for the worse.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL RESULTS HERE

While MPs believe, on balance, that social media has had negative impact on politics, they do recognise some positives. Almost half (47%) of MPs say it has improved the transparency of politics and around two in five (44%) say it has improved engagement between politicians and the public.

Commenting on the research, Joanna Arnold, CEO of Vuelio said: ‘Social media has ushered in a new era of political immediacy that is reshaping how politicians engage with the public. While recognising that social media has improved transparency, four in five MPs believe it has changed public attitudes towards politicians for the worse. The depth of concern that MPs have is a timely reminder of the risks of social media as well as the potential it has to transform political engagement.’

Max McEwan, Senior Consultant at ComRes said: ‘While politicians clearly have misgivings about the impact of social media on the political process, they are increasingly reliant on these new tools of communication. This is particularly true for MPs in marginal constituencies, for whom the research shows that social media is the most important channel when engaging with potential voters. We therefore stand poised to enter an election that could be decided based, in part, via a communication channel that MPs consider to have damaged the political process.’

Rachael Clamp Chart.PR, MCIPR, Chair of CIPR Public Affairs said: ‘This is fascinating research. A challenge for politicians and a pause for thought for anyone who wants to engage with them.

‘Social media has broken down barriers and removed some of the mystery surrounding the nature of our ‘them’ and ‘us’ politics. But the role of an MP has also become ambiguous. What some MPs say has driven engagement with constituents hasn’t resulted in better debate and is eroding traditional media channels. MPs are also making a distinction between how they engage with the public and how they engage with lobbyists, which is part of ethical lobbying practice.’

While MPs consider on balance that social media has had negative impact on politics, they recognise that it is around twice as important as securing editorial coverage in communicating with constituents (64% vs. 35%). Social media is considered only marginally less important as having face to face meetings with constituents (64% vs 70%). The importance of social media for constituent engagement increases among younger MPs with three quarters (74%) of MPs born since 1970 saying social media is an important communication channel for engaging with constituents compared to half (49%) of those born in the middle decade of the last century (1950-1959).

Labour MPs are most likely to consider social media as important to engagement compared with Conservative MPs (75% vs 57%). When it comes to reaching stakeholders working in policy or the media, MPs consider activities in parliament, such as parliamentary debates and APPG sessions as significantly more important (60%) opposed to less than half that figure (25%) choosing social media.

This research was commissioned by Vuelio to understand the changing relationship between MPs, the press, editorial and social media. ComRes surveyed 137 MPs (51 Conservative, 67 Labour, nine SNP and 10 others) using a combination of paper and online surveys. The survey was conducted between 11 June and 12 August 2019. Data have been weighted by party and region to be representative of the House of Commons.

PRCA Russia

PRCA launches PRCA Russia

The Public Relations Communications Association (PRCA) has launched PRCA Russia.  

PRCA Russia will focus on consolidating the industry in Russia, raising standards in PR and communications, setting code of conduct, facilitating the sharing of best practices and innovations, raising the profile of Russian PR and communications internationally, creating networking opportunities, working for the greater benefit of the industry, and promoting on the industry’s behalf.

PRCA Russia is chaired by Francis Ingham, PRCA director general and ICCO chief executive, and managed by Elena Fadeeva, FleishmanHillard Vanguard Russia/CIS general director and Orta Communications group president.

The PRCA is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary. It is the world’s largest PR professional body, operating in 66 countries. PRCA Russia is the first international public relations organisation within Russia and the first PRCA organisation in Europe to be founded outside of the UK.

Francis Ingham said: ‘This is the dawn of a new era of Anglo-Russian PR cooperation. Practitioners in Russia, the UK and indeed all around the world share common challenges and common opportunities. As the world’s largest PR Association, we are delighted to announce this new relationship with our Russian friends and colleagues, and I know that together we will drive our industry forward to new heights. I am personally honoured to be PRCA Russia’s inaugural Chairman, and I look forward to working with Elena Fadeeva in the years to come.’

Elena Fadeeva said: ‘The launch of PRCA Russia is a real milestone for the industry in our country with the first arrival of the leading all-around international professional organization. PRCA Russia uniquely brings the PRCA’s 50 years of experience in setting up standards and raising the bar on communications to the country. We are here to unite corporations, consultancies and professionals to work hand in hand building the industry of the future. We believe PRCA’s global reach will help us raise the profile of the best of PR and communications from Russia internationally, featuring truly outstanding work that our industry can do – creative, innovative, ethical, and effective.’

Clarity in Confusion

How can you navigate the current political landscape?

Politics is changing by the second, making it harder to keep up with the issues that affect you and your clients. And whether you work in public affairs or PR, everything that’s happening in Westminster will affect your role and your ability to succeed in communications.

It’s not just the impact on our industry and clients, daily front-page announcements are making it more challenging to understand how to influence in a world of constant change. That’s why we are delighted to announce our next webinar: Clarity in Confusion, tomorrow, Tuesday 10 September 2019 at 10:30 am

Sign up here and if you can’t join us live, we’ll send you the recording afterwards.

We have three panelists to guide us through the political turmoil: James Baker, PR and Public Affairs Associate at Brunswickwho advised Boris Johnson on his successful leadership campaign; Katie Roscoe, Head of UK Public Affairs – Helicopters and Civil at Airbus; and Alexander Tiley, former Press and Comms Officer to a Labour MEP, now working in public affairs.

Our guests will be discussing what’s happened up to this point to create the current confusion, how the political climate and Brexit is affecting policy-making decisions, what you should be prioritising and the importance of the Party Conference Season for your engagement.

Party Conferences are particularly useful to understand what’s happening in each party and reach the right people to help with your agenda. But if you have never been, or you are watching from afar, it helps to get the inside track from those in the know. Find out what sessions are the big ones, which guests are likely to make a splash and the tips and tricks to come out of each on top.

Don’t let Brexit, a new Government and parliamentary procedure swamp your role, get clarity in confusion with Vuelio.

Brexit

Breaking the Brexit deadlock: what will happen next?

Certainty is the word used most frequently in the current political stalemate, as the 31 October date for the UK to leave the EU fast approaches.

Leavers have a spring in their step now, certain we will be out of the EU by November. Remainers are equally certain they will do whatever it takes to assert themselves once MPs return from recess; either voting to take a no-deal off the table by passing new legislation, extending article 50 or bringing down the Government through a vote of no confidence.

The meeting Jeremy Corbyn has called for this morning (Tuesday 27 August) with other party leaders and senior backbenchers, will be crucial for those that want to find a way forward and avoid a no-deal exit.

Committed Brexiteers take comfort from the clear stance Boris Johnson took during his leadership campaign. ‘Kick the can again and we kick the bucket’, he said at his campaign launch in June, referring to the electoral prospects of the Conservative party if yet another Brexit delay and Article 50 extension is required.

The PM and his team have also ensured the summer recess is not completely dominated by Brexit and instead made big policy announcements on police, prisons, the NHS, education funding and transport, as well as trips to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland followed by Berlin, Paris and the G7 summit in Biarritz. These trips show the importance of maintaining the union of UK nations (Johnson wants to be known as ‘minister for the Union’) and seek to establish Mr Johnson on the world stage too.

While very costly in terms of public spending, this deluge of domestic policy announcements is crucial to hammer home the message that Johnson’s Government is delivering useful domestic policy changes that will have an impact on everyday lives, separate to the Brexit issue. Theresa May’s Government was largely unable to achieve anything substantial.

Johnson said on the steps of Downing Street as he took office on 24 July that he must deliver domestically: ‘My job is to make your streets safer…. My job is to make sure you don’t have to wait three weeks to see your GP’.

But in Johnson’s own party, a growing band of committed Remainers on the Conservative backbenches seem certain that they still have the parliamentary tools to prevent no-deal. Former Chancellor Philip Hammond, said to be the nominal leader of this group, tweeted on 13 August that though he voted three times to deliver Brexit, there is no mandate for a no-deal exit, as it is ‘a far cry from the highly optimistic vision presented by the Leave campaign’.

No confidence?
Will Labour, as the official opposition party, table a Motion of No Confidence in Johnson’s Government on the first sitting day after recess, Tuesday 3 September, as has been heavily hinted? If so, this could take place as early as 4 September.

The outcome of such a vote is far from certain. It hinges on many factors, not least if all opposition MPs across the House are prepared to vote for it. The previous no confidence vote tabled by Jeremy Corbyn, in Theresa May’s Government on 16 January, was supported by 306 MPs with 325 opposing it. On that occasion 314 Conservatives, (which excludes two ‘tellers’ and the Deputy Speaker, Dame Eleanor Laing) all 10 DUP MPs and Independent MP Lady Hermon, supported the Government.

Let us not forget the numbers in the House of Commons are about as finely balanced as they can be for a Government with a majority of one (assuming the DUP votes with the Conservatives as per the confidence and supply agreement). So, with 308 eligible Conservatives currently able to vote plus 10 DUP MPs we have 318 MPs. Several more MPs are also likely to back the Government in a crunch vote.

All calculations seem to come down crucially to how many, if any, Conservatives will vote against their own Government knowing it will quite possibly trigger an early general election in which they couldn’t then stand as a Conservative candidate.

In the previous Confidence vote, two Independent MPs abstained. How many will do so next time? Will former Labour MP Jared O’Mara (now an Independent) who’s said he will resign when parliament returns, have left the Commons by then? Just one vote, as we’ve seen in several recent Commons divisions, is crucial and could be the difference between victory and defeat.

Caretaker Government
If the Government is defeated in a Confidence vote, will opposition MPs and Conservative rebels use the following 14 days to agree on an alternative PM to lead a short-term caretaker Government?

As leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn thinks it should be him but if he struggles to get the support of a majority of MPs, will they then gravitate to someone who can? Ken Clarke and Harriet Harman have been suggested as longest serving male and female MPs. It could equally be another respected MP such as David Lidington, Hilary Benn or Yvette Cooper.

General election
There is a clear feeling that an early general election is approaching, perhaps even taking place on or before 31 October. I understand that the new PM would prefer to wait until Spring 2020 but recognises that the option of a longer honeymoon might now be denied him by MPs.

With so many unknowns, public affairs professionals need clarity in confusion. Vuelio has an in-house political team and provides all the tools you need to understand the latest issues and policy announcements, and how they’re going to specifically affect you and your clients. Find out more

For the latest news, follow @Vuelio_Politics on Twitter.

Fiona Harris

Relevance International appoints Fiona Harris as UK managing director

Fiona Harris has been appointed managing director of Relevance International’s UK office. Harris is an experienced and trusted leader in brand strategy, marketing and public relations, who in 2018 was named one of London’s most influential people by Evening Standard and was previously cited in PR Week’s Power Book as one of the UK’s leading communications experts.

Harris has nearly 30 years of public relations and marketing experience and previously headed the VIP relations department for Selfridges, where she helped define strategy around attracting and retaining the international ultra high-net-worth customer.

Prior to this, Harris held a number of senior strategic roles at luxury hotel group Corinthia Hotels, Kuoni Travel and Condé Nast Publishing. She also co-founded her own successful travel and lifestyle agency, Bacall Harris Associates.

At Relevance, Harris will be responsible for the day-to-day strategy and execution of public relations services in Relevance’s London office, which opened in 2017 to coincide with Relevance New York’s rebrand to become Relevance International.

The London office includes a roster of luxury, property and corporate clients such as Quintessentially Estates, Concierge Auctions, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, The Royal Atlantis Resort and Residences in Dubai, H8 Collection in France and The World’s 50 Best Restaurants among many others.

Suzanne Rosnowski, CEO and founder of Relevance International, said: ‘Relevance’s London office has grown strong over the past year and a half and I can’t wait to see where it soars to with Fiona now at the helm. Her extensive background in the luxury, hospitality and lifestyle spaces is perfectly aligned with Relevance’s areas of focus. She is connected, seasoned, creative and savvy, and we are so very happy to welcome her to the team.’

Harris said: ‘Working with a myriad of luxury brands and businesses that have taken me around the world, I’m confident in my ability to take Relevance’s London office to the next level. I resonate heavily with the company’s long-term global vision and am proud to be a part of such a premier, international agency.’

Relevance International was founded by Rosnowski in 2012 in New York City, and has now grown to become a leading global agency, with a network of affiliates to support its worldwide client roster. The London office was this year a finalist for PRWeek Global Awards.

Boris Johnson

What does a new Government mean for stakeholder engagement?

The dust is still settling on Prime Minister Johnson’s new cabinet appointments, which he made as soon as he came into power with a ferocity rarely seen. For those working in external affairs, keeping track of the resignations, sackings and appointments was only just the beginning, as they now find themselves in a period of stakeholder mapping, research and analysis, leading to an autumn of engagement activity with new decision makers and their teams.

A new agenda and leadership can be daunting to even the most seasoned external affairs team. Stakeholder mapping is time intensive and measuring opportunity and risk can be complex, whether it is the new appointment’s relationship with your organisation, stance on policy issues or a general lack of access.

For those organisations seeking to enter political stakeholder engagement for the first time, the new Government could be considered a blessing, but it is often difficult to know where to start. When the stage is reset, it creates space for new voices to be heard but mobilising resource to take advantage of this can be a huge hurdle.

Whether experienced or taking the leap into influencing for the first time, reviewing your processes for managing and maintaining key influential relationships is now vital. A pivotal time of change offers opportunity that should not be held back by inefficiency.

At Vuelio, we work with teams of all sizes and varying levels of experience, and they all have a single shared objective: managing effective stakeholder relationships in an increasingly volatile external environment. We help build the foundations of your external affairs structure through software that provides not only the intelligence you need, but also a selection of tools that let you map stakeholders live, as the agenda changes.

Delivering a stakeholder engagement strategy in uncertain times requires agility and belief. Working with tools such as Vuelio Stakeholder Relationship Management gives you a broad set of reports and analytics at your fingertips, that can support the decision to change direction or detail the health of any relationship. This allows you to continue to lead your organisation through the unknown and achieve your goals.

Kate Fielding Natural History Museum

Strategic comms to save the world: an interview with the Natural History Museum’s Kate Fielding

Kate Fielding is the departing head of strategic communications at the Natural History Museum, with overall responsibility for the museum’s reputation and brand. Heading up three teams – media and PR, Government relations, and special events and supporter engagement – Kate works on integrated comms and strategic messaging.

Since Kate joined, she’s been steering the Natural History Museum through a comprehensive brand extension in order to shift both public and stakeholder perceptions from just a cultural tourist attraction to an authoritative scientific institution.

We spoke to Kate about the challenges she’s faced along the way and how a museum of natural history is the key to saving our natural future.

What are the Natural History Museum’s aims?
Our purpose statement is: Inspiring love of nature and finding answers to the big issues facing humanity and the planet.

Saving the world?
Helping to save the world. It’s a big ambition and it’s about changing the way the museum is seen from a lovely old dusty building full of dead stuff to a scientific organisation, which provides a platform for engaging people with important debates. We want to help the country find the right solutions if we’re to have a future where people and the planet thrive together, which is very much in peril at the moment.

The Natural History Museum and other museums around the world have a very important role to play because our collections are not just cultural but they’re actually a scientific record that goes back, in some cases, four and a half billion years, and span the entire planet. You can look at what’s happened over time and space and see what happens if the climate changes or land is used in specific ways.

It’s something that people generally don’t know about this kind of museum, what we do and why it’s important.

How does communications work across the museum?
Museums are complex businesses. There’s effectively a small university bolted on the back of the public galleries, which has 350 scientists working on research projects and curating collections. Then there’s the bit most people think of as ‘the museum’ which is public facing and needs us to develop public programmes, exhibitions and events, as well as look after the visitors. Alongside that are our commercial businesses, which are growing in importance. Catering, retail, licensing and venue hire are all income streams.

We then have the philanthropic income development, working with trusts, foundations and high net worth individuals for funding. And then all the support structures that go into a medium-sized organisation.

Often, because it’s so complex, the way to manage it has been to work in siloes. For comms, that risks there being no coherent or consistent message and making it difficult to get across those big, exciting messages about what we’re aiming to achieve and why people should want to be a part of that. What I’ve been doing is finding ways to bring that story together within a thematic and strategic framework that’s consistent across the Museum.

NHM Mantellisaurus

Is your message the same for everyone?
The agenda and perceptions of a family coming for a fun day out and a Government minister visiting in an official capacity is hopefully different, so we have a range of messaging. What we’ve tried to do is put the brand at the heart of what we’re doing, the idea of inspiration and action whether that’s through science or otherwise.

I think in the past a lot of people haven’t seen us as a very fun day out, but as an educational destination. We did market research into this and even though we’re free to visit, if you’re coming from outside of London you’re looking at the cost to travel in, buy food and probably one or two things from the gift shop. With austerity hitting families, people are making judgements about whether they’re going to have a really great day out for that investment.

For those people, we need to say we’re a fun place to come, which is why we did the Come to Life campaign with outdoor advertising, having fun with specimens and exhibits in playful poses and accompanying ‘speech’. It also played really well on digital and social.

Down the other end we’ve got Government, who are funders, and philanthropic and corporate funders. For them, it’s about showing the work we’re doing and our ability to make an impact, whether that’s climate change and having food to eat in the future, or children in education and STEM subjects.

This work is based around a visit and events programme, because the museum is an incredible asset. We primarily try to get people in and show them everything on public display and behind the scenes, in the Tank Room, for example.

NHM The Tank Room

How do you measure the success of this work?
We’ve just completed a big piece of perceptions research as a baseline for public and stakeholder audience groups. It looks at where are we now, what do they think of us and what do they understand of our remit and key messaging? We’ll then measure that again, probably not annually but every couple of years to see if it’s all going in the right direction.

In the short term, we measure the success of individual campaigns. So, for any of the big exhibitions we’ll do a joint comms and marketing report and how well it’s performed with message cut through. It’s not just the profile and the reach but finding out if we landed the fundamental messages that we wanted to get across with that.

With digital and social now in the mix, you’ve got bits of the picture that are easier to measure, and the commercial parts of the business are easier to prove and link together online. Obviously that’s attractive to people who want to see hard numbers and measure things in a certain way, but that can make it even harder to get across the value of things that are difficult to measure. For example, someone may not have taken immediate action seeing one of our scientists on the News at Ten but we know that’s important, it reminds people that we’re here and it has an impact on visitation but we can’t prove that unless we interrogated everyone as they came through the door.

It sounds like there’s lots of considerations when proving ROI?
Just after a year after I started, we relaunched Hintze Hall with our iconic whale skeleton and hundreds of new exhibits in a spectacular transformed space – it was incredible. We got amazing results in terms of the profile and messaging around that, the media team did a brilliant job, but we can’t put that success or an increase in visitors just down to the media team because people have been working for years to bring the project to life.

On the other hand, sometimes you can see direct cause and effect – we had a Darwin play at the museum and our director of engagement went on BBC Breakfast to talk about it and we could see the ticket sales spike dramatically.

A typical consideration in comms is the competition and here you’re surrounded by other museums. Do you see them as competition?
I’m sure in some ways we’re competing with each other, but we work really closely with the museums and cultural institutions in the area. We recently had the Great Exhibition Road Festival, which brought together 22 institutions in Kensington to mark the anniversary of the Great Exhibition of 1851. We’re in a cultural quarter and there’s a lot of great collaboration between the museums, particularly in attracting international visitors to get them to the area.

Museums in general aren’t competitive in the way other commercial businesses are – there’s a feeling we’re part of a national culture. All the national museums are funded by DCMS and there’s an expectation we work together for the public benefit and across the UK.

But obviously when the annual visitor numbers come out, we want to be near the top…

NHM Hintze Hall

Expect the unexpected: Crisis comms for terrorist incidents

How do you manage crisis comms for terrorist related events?

A new guide by the CIPR and CPNI explains how the right communications can mitigate the harmful effects of terrorist incidents and in some cases even prevent them in the first place.

We are delighted that the guide’s co-authors Sarah Pinch, Managing Director of Pinch Point Communications and Dan Gerrella, Associate Director at Liz Male Consulting will join our next webinar, Expect the Unexpected – Crisis Comms for Terrorist Incidents to discuss best practice for communication management before, during and after terrorist incidents.

Webinar: Crisis Comms for Terrorist Incidents6 August 2019 at 14:00 BST

Join our webinar to learn:

  • How to prepare a crisis comms plan for before, during and after incidents
  • The importance of leadership and managing employee welfare
  • How to work with the police during a crisis
  • How to deal with different types of terror-related events

Can’t make it? Register and we will send you a recording after the event.

Germaine

Life as an intern at Vuelio

Germaine Aboud has been interning with the marketing department at Vuelio for the past month. An Economics and Politics graduate, this is Germaine’s first exposure to PR, public affairs and communications, so we asked her to share what she’s learned about our industry.  

For someone who knew nothing of PR and comms, I have come a long way. Before working at Vuelio, I thought PR solely consisted of drafting press releases.  I did not expect it to be based so much on strategy and the creation of narratives to align with an organisation’s agenda and achieve your goals.

The use of technology, and specifically tailored software, to manage public relations truly revolutionises the whole industry, especially when one looks at the extent to which it overlaps with marketing agencies and public affairs.

For the past month, I’ve been working on a research project to support the marketing department. This allowed me to interact with different departments in the company and greatly enhanced my knowledge of the PR industry and how it’s using communication and reputation management software. Here are four things I’ve learned about the PR industry:

1. PR is people and social trends 

Even a press release is all about people and understanding what they want to hear and how they’ll react.  Knowing how to brand yourself, a product or whole organisation is based on observing societal trends and responding to them. Studying these trends and the changing norms is where PR software is essential, especially with the increasing social media presence in societies. Being able to monitor these changes on a large scale on one single platform expedites an organisation’s response to rapidly changing trends

2. It is hard to quantify the industry 

The PR industry overlaps with many others, particularly the content marketing industry, which makes it hard to quantify. Many companies combine their PR and content marketing strategies to ensure brand message consistency, to facilitate content outreach and share budgets. However, PR still takes precedence over marketing in crisis management.

3. The Comms in ‘PR and Comms’ 

It’s a recurring theme in every industry and job description: communication skills. However, in PR it goes beyond that. Communication in PR is how to strategically manage relationships with the public, which consists of multiple stakeholders that your brand/image must appeal to. The challenge is that each one of these stakeholders speaks a different language that PR campaigners must learn in order to respond to their concerns and desires. Again, this is where PR software is essential to map out your stakeholders and study their social needs.

4. Narrative, narrative and narrative 

This is probably the most interesting aspect of PR, in my opinion, as it brings together everything mentioned above. Controlling the narrative is the goal. By understanding your audience, social trends and how to communicate your message, the narrative is born and should resonate with your audience.

Ultimately, the PR and communications industry does not have the same reputation internally as it does externally and it’s fascinating to learn how strategic communications can make the difference between success and failure. It’s been a steep learning curve, but I’d recommend this industry to anyone.

koray camgoz feature image

Koray Camgoz appointed Head of Comms and Marketing at PRCA

The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) have appointed Koray Camgoz as Head of Comms and Marketing. Camgoz joins the PRCA from the CIPR where he led the communications function as Public Relations Manager. 

Camgoz began his career in comms in New York at the communications firm Tiberend Strategic Advisors and with a Masters degree in media and communications, a PR diploma and a Chartered PR Practioner, he will bring plenty of experience and knowledge to his new role.

Camgoz said: “I’m excited to start a new chapter with the PRCA. I’d like to thank the staff and volunteers at the CIPR for their support over the years. I believe passionately in the power of communication and the need for professionals to commit to industry standards. I look forward to supporting the PRCA’s continuing growth in the UK and overseas.”

Francis Ingham MPRCA, Director General, PRCA, said: “It’s my enormous pleasure to welcome Koray Camgoz to the PRCA team. I’ve been hugely impressed by his work at the CIPR in recent years, and I’m delighted he’ll now be deploying his expertise on behalf of PRCA members. His knowledge of our industry, combined with his international expertise make him the perfect person to head up the PRCA’s UK and international communications and marketing.”

event networking image

Dos and don’ts of networking

For some people, the idea of attending an industry event fills them with dread. It’s the fear of what to say and who you might meet, or, most terrifying of all, what if no-one talks to you. Networking at events doesn’t need to be a chore, instead it should be seen as the enjoyable part of your job that helps you get ahead (plus these events often come with free food and drink!).

Vuelio hosts, sponsors and attends a large number of industry events throughout the year and along the way we’ve picked up top dos and don’ts of how to network. Whether you’re at an industry awards kitted out in black tie, casual post-work networking drinks or a three-day conference, these tips should give you the confidence to blossom into a networking pro.

Do

  • Research. Try to find out who else is going to be at the event so you can plan who you want to speak to. This will be easier for some types of events and with any awards ceremony the shortlist is your key to finding out who will be there on the night.
    • Top tip: find out the event hashtag and follow it on Twitter, it’s a great way to see who’s engaged and talking about the event and gives you the chance to have pre-event interaction
  • Be open. Keep a couple of open-ended questions up your sleeve; remember, if this is your first interaction keep it light and friendly but most of all make sure you listen to their answer.
    • Top tip: read the signs when it’s ready to bring the conversation to a close, are they looking elsewhere or checking their phone? Smile, say you enjoyed talking to them and that you’ll catch up with them soon.
  • Follow up. Not only is it good manners but it also makes sure you stay at the front of their mind. Whether you connect on LinkedIn or send a short email, thank them for their time and suggest getting in touch again soon.
    • Top tip: make it personal if you can, refer back to the event you met at or a topic of conversation you discussed. This shows that you listened and puts you in the best light.

Don’t

  • Speak to colleagues. Chances are you’ve gone to the event with a colleague and while the temptation may be to stick to the people you know this doesn’t help you meet new people or expand your network.
    • Top tip: look for other people on their own, it’s easier to have a conversation one-to-one than break into a group.
  • Be late. Allow yourself plenty of time to get to the venue, being late to events reflects badly on you and the company you represent. It also means you may miss vital networking opportunities.
    • Top tip: check the route before you leave for any potential travel issues.
  • Be unapproachable. Your instinct may be to go to your phone and check emails in an uncomfortable networking situation but this sends the message that you don’t want to engage with others. Grab a drink and keep the phone away!
    • Top tip: Stood on an exhibition stand? The temptation will be to fold your arms but this is a big no, keep your arms behind your back and you’re body language will go from unapproachable to open in seconds.

Expert Industry Advice

Andrea Sexton, director of Andrea Sexton PR had these three failsafe tips: ’Be in it for the long term! Networking works best when you build long term relationships then you can refer with confidence and with professionalism. Follow up straight away. I block out time in my diary after each networking event in order to have the opportunity to follow up with people properly. Stick with it and take it seriously – it will be worth it.’

Holly Pither, MD and founder of Tribe PR shared this networking don’t: ’I once saw a guy pull out his iPad at an industry event and start showing his sales creds to a poor chap. I can’t tell you how awkward it was. In sales, the aim isn’t about what you have to offer, it’s about listening to the other person and understanding what they need, and this is exactly what you must do when networking. So, leave the sales pitch to the follow up meetings and instead use this time to really genuinely understand the person you are talking to and connect with them.’

Debby Penton, managing director at technology PR consultancy Wildfire shared her top networking advice gleaned from over 20 years’ experience: ‘The key to good networking is reciprocity. Don’t go for the hard sell and look only for opportunities for yourself. Ask questions and listen. Find out what people’s challenges are and think who you can connect them with in your network. Then follow up, make those connections and keep in touch. Do this persistently and in time contacts will start to repay the favour.’

Happy networking!

All external comment was sourced from our network and via the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service.

Link building

Using PR for B2B Link Building

PR is essential for building brand awareness, but it’s also an excellent tool for building backlinks. In this guest post, Sarah Ross, PR Account Manager at Anicca Digital, shares some tips on using PR for B2B link building.

By integrating PR and SEO strategies, you can increase quality backlinks to a website through great content and online coverage.

Recent research from Backlinko discovered that 93% of B2B content receives zero external links and only 3% receives links from multiple websites. In the sample of 912 million blog posts, only 6% had at least one external link.

So how do you ensure your content is part of the 3%? The following tips will help you develop a B2B campaign with linkable assets.

How does link building differ between B2B and B2C?

Quality links are one of the most important Google ranking factors. It favours authoritative websites that are updated with new content regularly, which is why news websites have a high domain authority – the search engine ranking score that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages.

It makes these websites an excellent target for link building.

B2C campaigns are often product focused – gift guides, home and garden shopping features, beauty ‘tried and tested’ articles – giving journalists a reason to include a backlink to your website.

However, building links to B2B websites can be more challenging and as some links are easier to earn than others, success depends on your approach.

Generating ideas

  • Great PR ideas don’t always translate into great links – you need to create a reason for coverage to include a backlink to your website
  • Look at topics that journalists in your industry have covered previously and think about what is absent. Can you offer any unique insights or original data?
  • Target media outlets that are relevant to your topic and likely to drive traffic to your website
  • Review competitor campaigns for inspiration

Creating content

Keeping in mind that you need to create quality content, the following ideas can be developed into linkable assets:

Surveys are useful for creating unique data on a topic and can be completed using a survey specialist or using your own email database. Host the full results on your website so journalists can link to the original source of the material.

Research can be used to produce a whitepaper sharing industry data or insight. Again, the full piece of content can be hosted on your website, while key findings or opinion pieces can be used for PR activity.

Events like seminars, conferences and networking meet-ups can encourage links by asking attendees to reserve their place via your website.

Infographics offer a more visual take on industry insights and can be published on other websites easily, earning you a backlink as the original source of the material.

Guides from industry thought leaders can provide useful advice for step-by-step features or ‘top tips’ articles.

Earning links

Once you’ve created your content, choose key snippets to create an angle for your press release. Being selective with the data will help to encourage backlinks to the full source of the information.

Be aware that you won’t get a link from every piece of coverage, but these tactics can help to boost the number of links you’re achieving for B2B brands and make your content part of the 3%.

Plastic Free July

8 sustainability policies for #PlasticFreeJuly

This is a guest post from Katie Chodosh, content consultant at TopLine Comms

Sustainability is an ongoing business issue, but #PlasticFreeJuly gives us all a good excuse to think about it a little more. And PR agencies and departments are in a particularly good position to lead the charge: it’s our job to make companies look good (and responsible) and giveaways tend to come under our remit too. That’s why we wanted to get a better understanding of how people view sustainability when they’re choosing a job and what we can do as an agency to be a little greener.

First, TopLine Film surveyed 1,000 office workers on workplace sustainability. Nearly a quarter (24%) said they would refuse a job at an organisation with a poor sustainability record, and three quarters (73%) would like to see their workplace improve its sustainability record.

Then, we surveyed the TopLine Comms team to get an idea of their position on sustainability, and to see what ideas they had for us. The majority (94%) are committed to protecting the environment and agree that we should have a sustainability policy in place.

Here are some of our tips for becoming a more sustainable PR agency, which you can easily implement for #PlasticFreeJuly and beyond.

1. Ban single use plastics
Banning single use plastics is probably the quickest and easiest policy to implement. TopLine is officially a plastic-free zone. We’ve given all staff reusable cups and plan to get some reusable straws in, too. If other businesses can’t afford to do this, then team members could be encouraged to bring a reusable cup from home.

2. Think twice about your giveaways
Consumers’ interests in PR stunts are being outweighed by their commitment to sustainability. Times are changing, and the old PR and marketing stunts need to evolve. Most people are much more conscious about unnecessary plastic and waste, so bear this in mind before giving away any unnecessary plastic items.

3. Ask ‘is it sustainable?’ before launching a campaign
Before launching a PR campaign, make sure you’ve double checked that every element is as sustainable as possible. It’s easy to get carried away – for example, you might want to have balloons at your event or serve drinks at your stand in plastic cups. But these are the exact types of activities that create a lot of unnecessary waste. Add the question ‘is it sustainable’ to any checklists or brainstorms that you have before launching campaigns and you should catch them in time.

4. Implement a switch-off policy and stick to it
We’ve also introduced a policy for everyone to turn off their computers and other devices at the end of every day. We know it’s easy to forget, but it makes a big difference for energy consumption, so we’ve put up visible reminders and have vowed to hold everyone accountable.

5. Make time for volunteering
Another policy we’ve implemented at TopLine is to volunteer time to environmental and sustainable activities. We’re looking at eco-friendly initiatives like picking up litter or helping plant trees locally and will take time out of the working day to do it.

6. Reduce, reuse, recycle
All agencies should have a robust recycling system in place. It really couldn’t be easier to get separate bins and as long as they’re signposted clearly, all staff should be capable of putting the right item in the right bin.

7. Print less
Printing less in the office should be easy enough, but you should also consider printing less materials for trade shows. Press packs are increasingly outdated and flyers are often put straight in the bin. If you have to print, at least make sure the paper you’re using is recycled, recyclable and printed on both sides.

8. Ask your suppliers about their sustainability policies
If you work with a lot of suppliers, it’s important to remember that you’re just one part of the chain – so it’s worth asking other suppliers what their position is on sustainability. This will highlight your company’s commitment and challenges them to start thinking about greener practices. They might even give you some ideas for your own sustainability policy.

We’ve really enjoyed the process of creating a more sustainable work environment and we’d like to challenge other PR teams to do the same. Start by talking to your team about what they’re passionate about and they’ll be more inclined to stick to them. Creating effective sustainability policies relies on your staff to stick to them, so make sure you get them involved in the process.

AI in PR introduction

An introduction to AI in PR

The CIPR’s #AIinPR Panel has published An introduction to AI in PR as the first in a series of skills guides.

The guide, written by Jean Valin, covers the threats and opportunities for public relations and includes as a glossary of common terms that are used around artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Valin also highlights incredible statistics to show how recent years have seen an explosion of data:

  • More data has been created in the past two years than in the entire previous history of the human race
  • Data is growing faster than ever before and by the year 2020, about 1.7 megabytes of new information will be created every second for every human being on the planet

The seven-page guide is the first resource from the CIPR’s new #AIinPR Primer series – a collection of guides designed to equip practitioners with a fundamental understanding of the implications of AI for PR.

Stephen Waddington, CIPR Artificial Intelligence Panel Chair, said: ‘It’s too early to identify best practice for AI communication. Practitioners need to step up and take personal responsibility for their own learning and development. The skills guides from the #AIinPR panel are a good start. My thanks to the panel members for their work.’

The Panel will publish further skills guides this month on AI and data ethics and AI and data ethics – consequences for PR, both by Ben Verinder. Skills guides on internal communications, media and workflow will be published later this year.

Pete Bassett Quite Good

A Quite Great PR Spotlight with Pete Bassett

Pete Bassett set up music-focused agency Quite Great in 1996 to provide a more understanding and upfront PR service. Support for the unique challenges his clients face in a music and media landscape increasingly driven by ‘likes’ is something Pete continues to champion, most lately with the launch of Quite Great’s Mental Health Awareness Services.

Working with artists including Meatloaf, Van Morrison, and Chris Rea – and experience from heading-up PR for agencies including Geffen, Polydor, and MCA – has brought Pete into contact with a huge range of recording artists and their issues as well as the difficulties of day-to-day PR.

Pete shared pictures of the some of the big stars he’s worked with and told us about the importance of longevity in the music industry and the damaging effects of a world obsessed with likes.

What were your original aims when you launched Quite Great – what did you want to do that other music PR agencies didn’t?
Twenty-three years ago just prior to setting up Quite Great I was working for a big corporate PR agency having worked for major labels. Suddenly I was in a totally alien culture, trying to balance spinning plates and pretty much dreading getting into work. With a young family, mortgage etc, it was clear that there was a cliff heading straight towards me and as one of my best journalist friends had explained: ‘The cavalry are not coming over the hill’.

I realised once I had made a few calls to old industry friends that there was a demand for my own style of agency and hence the road ahead was clear. I wished to set up a ‘friendly’ and ‘understanding’ agency – yes, all a bit woolly, I know – based on my history of impactful, creative thinking, but one that aimed at supporting the staff around me with a structure that meant they enjoyed coming into work and were passionate about our services.

Kobe Bryant

Support for staff, and mental health awareness, is a growing concern in the PR industry as well as in the music industry. Can you tell us about Quite Great’s Mental Health Awareness Services and the change you’re hoping to spearhead?
Every day with our hugely busy music industry service, we are in contact with artists of all levels, those starting out and those who have already achieved success. Following in-depth discussions, we ask them to outline all issues that link directly to media subjects – we call these our ‘pebbles’, as in pebbles on a beach – so the more we have the more media we should be able to attain, which then allows the PR team a straight line insight into all aspects of the artist and the media that should be interested. In the past five years we have noticed, irrespective of what part of the world the musicians come from, that there has been a distinct increase in matters that relate in some way to mental health issues.

I guess this is quite obvious, but the creative process for a songwriter is always directly linked to life experiences and their emotions; these are the things outside of pure talent that make an act resonate with the public. The difference is that over 40% of our artists were making reference to depression, stage fright and anxiety. So we set up an ad hoc service linking in with therapists independent of Quite Great with whom an artist can interact and hopefully help reduce the issues that cause them concerns.

Meat LoafSocial media is a potential source of stress for your clients, yet it’s a vital way for them to cut through and achieve success in today’s media landscape. How can it be used as a tool without it becoming a strain for clients and the companies working with them?
We feel that the mental health issues of acts are directly linked to their desire to be ‘liked’. Social networking platforms like Instagram that are promising to do away with the ‘like’ will be key to reducing the pressure on an artist. The huge industry in fake likes, fake followers and even Spotify playlists – and the service industries that frequent this darker side of PR need to be exposed. It should be clear to an act that there are, on occasion, unseen payments and it is not necessarily a positive judgement on an artist’s music. Clearly, the more famous an artist becomes in ‘real’ media terms, the more playlists will wish to feature them anyway.

The balancing process is to focus on ‘real’ media interaction whether that be features, interviews, airplay and then let the public judge if it translates to social networking uplift. Only artist development and long-term planning will really turn into growing a fan base.

As vinyl/cassette/CD have given way to downloads and streaming, so have the traditional ways of promoting a performer shifted – a recent example being Lil Nas X getting mainstream attention via TikTok memes. How can a PR team work to keep him in the public eye, while protecting him from the fickleness of viral fame?
I don’t mean to cop out here but I would never dream of giving any advice to another legitimate PR agency they are clearly on top of what they are doing and if everything is real then there will be longevity, which is what the artist really craves. If TikTok memes can then focus the ‘fan base’ on the talent that Lil Nas X clearly has, then real original music that the public can embrace will mean longevity is guaranteed. It’s the same way the ephemeral impact enjoyed by the now-legendary Alex Mann at Glastonbury 2019 has to be translated by any opportunist record label in discovering real talent and writing skills that the public can enjoy over time.

How important is location for PR in a connected world – are big fancy city offices still important? Can a UK-based firm be truly international in reach?
Well, for the past 23 years we have operated as both a national and international agency while working within Cambridge. Given the simple transportation links across the country, plus state-of-the-art technology within our working environment, we have always placed a great deal of emphasis on work/life balance. This encouraged us five years ago to move to a purpose built eco-centric wooden barn with solar energy and green appeal at the forefront of our work space. We even aim to reduce our carbon footprint by encouraging our clients to interact fully via Skype, WhatsApp, and GoToMeeting instead of car journeys. The majority are happy to do that without question.

Kelly Brooke

What do you see as the main challenges for PR companies in the upcoming years? And what challenges do you see for your clients?
PR comes in all shapes and sizes, with so many companies offering especially to musicians a world of success being just ‘a touch of the button away’. More and more what clients of all types whether music or startup entrepreneurs desire is clarity, realism, passion and integrity. The increase in a belief that fame or success can be easily attained within weeks is perhaps the greatest challenge, explaining that real success comes over time and by working with a team who understand the spirit and emotion of the client.

The real challenge is to ‘dare to be different’ to give those searching on the internet a real vision of why your agency is different, highlighting the imagery and the beliefs that you stand for. They can then can judge if they wish to contact you. There is a trend online of everyone looking the same, there can be a hesitancy to stand out. We have always seen ourselves as an agency that offers the variety of a high street department store, with many services on different floors, which means we have broad experience. While it makes working life exciting for our staff, it’s sometimes a little confusing for those looking into our world one minute we are being approached by a charity, the next by a tech company, and the next by a world music star.

Cambridge Rock Festival

Can you share what you’ve learned during your time in the industry and any advice you’d give to others?
Sadly, outside of the need to keep focused and always put the client first, my life lesson in terms of running an agency stems from around two years ago when we had to handle the emotional trauma of staff who stole contact details, set up a business and left one of their ‘directors’ in place almost like a spy movie ‘sleeper cell’ for a few months and waiting until the time was right to join them in their new venture… It impacted on recruiting new staff, as we had to get a real feel for ‘trust’ again. It has made us much stronger. Inadvertently, I have become an expert on data theft and the legal process, so if anyone wants advice, let us know…

In terms of advice, it is important from a client perspective when looking at who to work with do scratch the surface, look at who you are really dealing with. And most of all, watch out for five-star reviews on Google, Facebook, etc. Yes, I am a little cynical.

And finally, as someone who’s spent a lot of time around musicians, what’s your favourite song lyric of all time? 
More a song title than a lyric it would have to be ‘Dream On’ by Aerosmith.

Find Pete and Quite Great on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and connect with top music influencers and journalists on the Vuelio Media Database.

Digital innovation public sector

Digital innovation in the public sector

The Government is continuing to make use of digital innovation to progress a sector that is often criticised as lagging behind the private sector. A panel session on digital innovation in Government at the Public Sector Solutions Expo gave insight into how the Government is making best use of new technology while supporting SMEs across the UK.

Chaired by Sue Bateman, deputy director – innovation GDS at the Cabinet Office, the panel discussed how the Government keeps on top of developing technology and the importance of innovation to help consumers and users.

Joining Bateman on the panel were Sebastien Krier, policy advisor at the Office for Artificial Intelligence, and Ian Tester, head of product – GovTech Catalyst at Government Digital Service (GDS).

With artificial intelligence the current industry buzzword, Krier talked about how the Office for AI is creating a guide for how to use AI in the public sector. Covering best use, how to use it ethically, fairly and safely, and making sure it meets the users’ needs, the guide is a living product and Krier welcomes feedback from across the public sector.

Encouraging innovation and helping to build more efficient public services, Tester explained how GovTech Catalyst work to solve the challenges felt across local and central government and the wider public sector. By focusing on the problem first, rather than the solution, the aim is to work with companies to create effective and innovative products, so the end result is a product that works for everyone.

Since the launch of GovTech Catalyst, Tester said they’ve received 93 challenges from the public sector and, out of 416 supplier bids, they’ve started working with 35 different companies. By opening out the tender process to SMEs, the team has seen diversity in both technology and the people they are helping.

Vuelio, as the leading provider of combined media and political communications software, was exhibiting at the Public Sector Solutions Expo 2019.

Terrorism crisis comms

How to manage crisis comms for terrorist related events

New guidance has been published by the CIPR and CPNI for best practice communication management before, during and after terrorist incidents.

The CIPR has partnered with the Government’s Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) on the 38-page guide, which features a communications toolkit designed to help PR professionals mitigate the harmful effects of terrorist incidents on brands, businesses and communities.

Download Crisis Management for Terrorist Related Events here

The guidance explains that communications can help deter terrorists and encourages professionals to be wary of the diverse threats facing organisations, from left- and right-wing terrorism to cybercrime and hacktivism.

The comprehensive toolkit is a valuable resource for anyone working in communications (in any industry) and includes guidance on working with the police, the steps to takes before, during and after an incident, and how to deal with different types of terror-related events.

It is informed by CPNI research based on interviews with 30 communications heads and security professionals from 24 organisations that have experienced a terrorist-related incident. The research found that the success of communication is often determined by the strength of security culture within the organisation. As a result, the guidance encourages PR professionals to align closely with the security function as part of crisis preparations.

Emma Leech, president of the CIPR, said: ‘The fear and horror we feel when people and places we work for or represent are targeted by terrorists has to be separated from the way we manage communication in a time of unique crisis. It demands a clear and calm response that demonstrates empathy and understanding for those affected by these tragic incidents.

‘It is imperative that we consider the operational and emotional needs of the organisation and its stakeholders, and allow sufficient time for planning and recovery. I’d like to thank the CPNI for working closely with the CIPR on the guide and hope that the lessons we’ve highlighted provide support and assurance to PR professionals across the UK.’

Sally Alsop, MD of Agfora, which worked on the research, said: ‘Agfora interviewed 30 comms professionals in high risk businesses; 13 had been directly involved in a major crisis. Although generally well prepared, they readily admit they could always do more. The assumption is that a terror related crisis should be treated like any other, but the research shows there are clear differences and demand for specific guidance. Participants shared their experiences with us, the lessons they learned and tips for fellow colleagues who might one day face such an incident.’

The guidance was produced for the CIPR by Sarah Pinch, Dan Gerrella and Claire Spencer.

Chameleon brands

The right blend: how ‘chameleon’ brands do it

This a guest post by Katy Bloomfield, comms director at TopLine Comms.

Nineteen years ago, an Admap editorial defined ‘chameleon brands’ as organisations with a strong, consistent core that can nevertheless be adapted to different target audiences, different needs, and different media. They retain their ‘shapes’, but the ‘colours’ of what they offer tend to vary; they’re usually multi-product, multi-variant, and if they’re particularly successful, they can even become part of everyday life.

Microsoft started out as a developer of operating systems and grew into a multi-billion-dollar empire covering software, video games, cloud computing, VR and much more. WPP started out making wire baskets (Wire and Plastic Products) before it was acquired and became one of the biggest PR, advertising, and marketing companies globally.

These brands are defined by their ability to change. Preferences, fads and demographics come and go, but these companies endure – even in the wake of controversy and tumultuous market changes.

What makes a ‘chameleonic’ brand?

Chameleon culture
Disney is a classic example. In 1928, it was a humble animation studio experimenting with radical techniques such as synchronized sound.

In 2019, it’s an entertainment juggernaut that plays host to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Star Wars Saga; a number of theme parks; a chain of stores; a major American television network (ABC) and a range of cable networks; a streaming service set to launch later this year; and yes, its own animation studios (as well as those it has acquired, like Pixar). And all that’s before you count all the properties acquired since purchasing 21st century Fox in March.

Disney’s succeeded because it ventured out of its general ballpark – animation and children’s movies – while staying roughly in the same neighbourhood of entertainment. Its scope has expanded, but it’s stayed true to its founder’s famous maxim: ‘Whatever you do, do it well’. Disney’s created a niche, a culture and a reputation for quality that bleeds into everything else.

Disney, of course, came to prominence when cinema was dominant, and television was not yet a fixture of every household. So how might a similar company rise to prominence in the digital-first era?

Chameleons in the age of digital disruption
Its most obvious digital heir is Netflix – a company at the cutting edge of everything new and interesting happening in the world of entertainment.

But 20 years ago, it was a mail-order DVD rental service. In an age where Blockbuster forced you to travel to its physical locations, adhere to its strict one-seven day rental terms, and which punished you with fines if you didn’t, it was quietly revolutionary. But Netflix’s owners realised that the business’ true potential didn’t lie in a waning DVD market – it was in creating its own content.

So mail-order DVD rentals went, the platform was built, and eventually, it invested in its own content, licensing series that weren’t available elsewhere (Breaking Bad was a Netflix exclusive in the UK for its final seasons), launching its own in-house series such as House of Cards and BoJack Horseman, and reaching a point where it spent an estimated $12 billion on original series in 2018. The company’s business model has changed, but the core understanding – that consumer preference is always paramount – has not. That’s why the transition from mail-order DVDs to streaming behemoth makes sense; audiences come by content, the platform logs their preferences, and these preferences inform what they watch next and what gets commissioned.

Netflix and Disney have two very different stories, but they’re successful for the same reasons: they’re all things to all consumers. The former is producing romcoms, action films and thoughtful, Oscar-winning dramas, and the latter has Captain America for the kids and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia for the grownups.

What’s next for chameleon brands?
Facebook has achieved a similar status to Netflix and Disney – and the company’s new direction may be no less dramatic than Netflix’s transition to streaming or Disney’s acquisition of pretty much everything. Following several data protection scandals, it’s moving away from ‘making connections’ and towards a fundamental shift that puts private communications at the centre of everything.

As Mark Zuckerberg said, ‘the future is private’. Small groups and encrypted one-to-one messaging have led to digital ‘living rooms’, rather than ‘virtual town halls’. It’s an acknowledgement that the way we use social media has changed, but it’s also something else: an attempt to become chameleonic – to attune Facebook to the needs of its audience in a world where their preferences are evolving.

Facebook is likely not in any real danger of disappearing like Blockbuster, or receding into irrelevance like MySpace. But it’s showing what it means to become a chameleon brand: to change what it was, while retaining its core appeal – to take part in a future that the audience wants, rather than attempting to create one that it doesn’t.

It’s a lesson all brands, big and small, could take to heart.

Maz BBC feature

How a Vuelio ‘blind date’ led to featuring on the BBC

Vuelio continues to connect journalists and PRs with its increasingly popular ‘blind dates’ series. These face-to-face meetings prove the power of building professional media relationships in the right way. A recent Vuelio ‘blind date’ between Maz Halima and Farhad Ahmad has already led to the pair working on a video project for the BBC.

The chat flowed from the start as Farhad, a press officer and Imam at Ahmadiyaa Muslim Community discussed with Maz, a freelance journalist, about the challenges he faces promoting a positive message about Islam and the Ahmadiyaa Muslim Community. As a freelance journalist, focusing on the social issues she encounters as a Muslim woman, Maz took away plenty of great advice from Farhad, promising to get more involved in her local community.

Fast forward to the end of May, and Maz is working on a short film for the BBC about Ramadan. She needed a spokesperson from the local Muslim community, and, luckily, Maz now knew someone she could call upon for just such an occasion – Farhad.

My Ramadan Diary: Fasting for 18 hours with depression and anxiety is now live on the BBC website and follows Maz throughout her day of fasting, including a visit to Farhad at the mosque.

Thanks to the Vuelio ‘blind date’, Maz was able to put her recent comms connection into action, ensuring her powerful film got made and provided coverage for the Ahmadiyaa Muslim Community on the BBC, one of the most respected media outlets in the world.

Maz is now an advocate of the ‘blind date’ process, she said: ‘When I went on my Vuelio ‘blind date’, I thought it would be great to get some insight into the world of PR and have some delicious food – but I have to say, I didn’t imagine the experience would come in handy so quickly.

‘But just weeks later, the BBC wanted me to interview someone in the local Islamic community who could provide a light on the importance of compassion when it comes to mental health during Ramadan – and I knew Farhad would be a good person to have that conversation with. I’m glad I met him via Vuelio, as it saved me from all the man hours of finding someone to speak to that I’d probably have never met before.’

Are you looking to grow your network? Maz and Farhad had a ‘blind date’ at the First Dates restaurant – the Paternoster Chop House. We’re always looking for PRs and journalists to take part so if you’d like to have a success story like Maz and Farhad get in touch!

InfluenceTakes10

Take a 10-minute break

It’s mental health awareness week and the CIPR has launched a new campaign #InfluenceTakes10 encouraging PRs to take a break to focus on their mental wellbeing.

The campaign is writ large throughout the latest issue of Influence magazine, which has three mental health-focused articles as well as a spread where it takes 10 itself.

Influence take 10

Alongside the campaign, the CIPR has published a breathing exercise video, encouraging people to breathe in as the shape grows, and out as it shrinks.

CIPR breathing gif

It will also host a Twitter chat on mental health in PR tomorrow, Wednesday 15 May, at 12:30pm., with insight from Emma Mamo, head of workplace wellbeing at mental health charity Mind.

Emma Leech, president of the CIPR said: ‘This year’s State of the Profession research lifted the lid on the scale of the mental health challenge facing our industry. Almost a quarter of respondents said they’d taken sickness absence on the grounds of stress, depression or anxiety and there was evidence to suggest the nature of PR work contributes directly to poor mental health.

‘This is a business-critical issue. We can and must do more to support our colleagues. #InfluenceTakes10 is about taking time out from our busy working lives and having open and honest conversations about mental health.’