In the race to net zero, how is ‘green pharma’ perceived around the world?  

Following the commencement of COP27 in November 2022, a report by the Office of Health Economics (OHE) declared that immediate action must be taken by health organisations to secure the era of green pharmaceuticals.

Europe, Australasia and North America have collectively committed to net-zero by 2050, meaning sustainability will evolve from an add-on to appease green stakeholders into a ‘business-critical strategy’ to protect operational licences.

The pharmaceutical industry is considered a‘major emitter’ of greenhouse gases, producing 55% more than the automotive sector. Greener mechanisms will need to be rapidly adopted to reduce such large-scale emissions and plastic production, which are ‘most prevalent’ in R&D, operational processes and medicine delivery.

When pharma’s contributions to climate change became a focus point at the COP27 event in Egypt, industry news and health publications began its continued interest into how the biggest players are making their first steps. The risk of ‘greenwashing’ accusations is high across all sectors — pharmaceutical brands must be vigilant in proving they can ‘walk the talk’ once their commitments to sustainability have been publicised.

Key Takeaways

  • Since 2022, ‘green pharma’ has evolved in the press from a public demand to a business-critical strategy
  • Unbranded headlines that outline the collaborative efforts of multiple pharma brands are outperforming those that list specific companies
  • Alongside the general discussion of green pharma growth, the UK produced 10.2% more coverage on brand-focused initiatives than the rest of Europe, North America and Australasia
  • Environmental accreditations like the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) can significantly enhance media awareness and legitimacy of sustainability claims

The UK continues to be a leading source of ‘green pharma’ coverage, producing approx. 2,369 articles since 1 Nov 2022. This is only 30% less than Europe’s collective output, where Switzerland is the most active speaker (approx. 940 articles) with Germany close behind (approx. 731 articles). North America has produced around 6,200 articles and just over 2,000 were produced across Australasia.

Most-mentioned brands

 *Data shown above measures all climate-focused pharmaceutical coverage published in national/international news sources and health-related industry publications (approx. 13,700 articles across Europe, N. America & Australasia) between 1 Nov 2022 and 9 Jan 2023.

Across all countries measured by the Vuelio Insights team, the UK produced the most brand-focused content (as opposed to generalised ‘green pharma’ discussion). Approximately 39.7% of all coverage focused on the specific actions of one or more pharmaceutical companies, whereas Europe produced 29.5%, Australasia 26.8% and North America 16.12%.

Collaborative efforts outperform specific brand stories

That being said, the highest-reaching and most prominent coverage on this topic has been that which summarises a collective of pharma efforts, such as ‘Seven pharma CEOs unite to achieve net zero healthcare’ or ‘Japanese drugmakers make greener packaging pledge’.

This overview style of article demonstrated incomparable engagement in all countries measured. As the most successful story of the entire period, the ‘seven CEOs’ piece was repurposed 2,486 times across international news sources and pharma publications.

While 65% of general news headlines were unbranded, some trade titles opted for branded variations ie PRWeek’s ‘Merck, AstraZeneca, GSK CEOs announce efforts to curb emissions in healthcare’. Although this was a strong source of positive prominence for some companies, unbranded headlines received a 66% higher reach in all publication types. Ultimately, all article variations offered headline and/or significant mentions for all of the listed brands and accounted for approximately 82% of international coverage for GSK, Samsung Biologics, Merck Group and Roche.

Top Stories

*Data shown above defines ‘top story’ as that which has achieved significant national or international media awareness across 200+ news or pharma publications, also offering either headline or significant prominence for one or more pharmaceutical companies.

Across Australasia, Takeda has benefitted from a similar style of broad coverage recognising collaborative environmental efforts. Alongside Astellas, Eisai, Daiichi Sankyo, its collaborative involvement in efforts to reduce pharmaceutical packaging was covered 733 times from 15 Dec 2022 – 5 Jan 2023, which made up 37.2% of the total coverage across the collective regions.

Bayer

On the topic of net zero healthcare, Bayer has been the only pharma company to receive a significant and international volume of negative coverage since COP27 in November. This was driven by one highly prominent story on Jeff Ubben, an environmental activist and prospective Bayer investor who is pushing for an ‘external CEO’ to better support net zero goals within the company.

Media awareness around this discussion peaked between 7 and 23 Jan. The Financial Times reported on this story from multiple angles between 9 and 23 Jan, as part of both general news and in its ’Moral Money’ sections. As a result, the publication produced the highest international readership and engagement on the story.

Ubben was quoted saying that an external hire would be a ‘clean break from the past’, referencing severe litigations taken against Bayer when it acquired Monsanto and its herbicide, Roundup, which is notorious for its lethal impact to environmental and human health.

AstraZeneca

Within the UK, AstraZeneca was  received a high volume of coverage on more than one net zero recognition. The Cambridge-based company’s $1bn ‘Ambition Zero Carbon’ initiative has been the main focus of 352 articles across 298 news and industry publications, while quotes from CEO Pascal Soriot’s COP27 speech were featured in 38.6% of this coverage.

Across Europe and North America, AstraZeneca was also the most-mentioned pharma brand of those recognised for its ‘science-based targets’ and a ‘clearly-defined pathway’ to reduce emissions in line with the Paris Agreement goals. With over 4,000 businesses following the SBTi initiative since 2015, it has become an established benchmark for success within scientific journalism.

Urgency from all sides

Over the past few years, media discussion around net zero healthcare has evolved rapidly. As an industry once known as ‘reluctant’ to prioritise sustainability, 2022 was the year of the public call to action for better ESG strategies. Now, as we begin 2023, it has evolved from a demand to an ‘urgent’ necessity — that will have a detrimental operational impact if neglected.

Nick Hoile, senior director of the Health practice at PR agency MHP, made a public statement in November stating that there is a ‘medical education and communications piece’ that needs to be done at all levels, including the conversations sales teams have with individual physicians. Further, Hoile argued that health communicators have a ‘pivotal role’ in shaping the green narrative and would be wise to acquire ‘environmental credentials’ as soon as possible.

As proven by the prominent positive coverage of AstraZeneca, joining the SBTi is a visible example of how such credentials can massively impact net zero brand awareness across international media sources.

In an article titled ‘Will ESG be 2023’s Hottest Business Topic in Bio/Pharma?’, Life Science Leader argued that joining SBTi is also a sure-fire way to prove authenticity and avoid ‘greenwashing’ allegations.

Want to know more about this data or how media insights can support your PR and communications? Find out more.

22 Valentine's Day Social Media Post Examples For Brands

22 Valentine’s Day Social Media Post Examples for Brands

This is a guest post from Bottle PR‘s lead creative Laura Santillana.

Are you just a brand standing in front of a follower asking them to love you?

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, love is in the air and chocolate is in the aisles. It’s also the perfect opportunity for brands to get in on the love fest and connect with their audience in a way that’s both creative and heartwarming.

If you’re a brand looking to create a buzz on social media this Valentine’s Day, you’ve come to the right place. Bottle PR have rounded up 22 examples of Valentine’s Day social media posts that’ll make Cupid himself say ‘damn, that’s clever’. From punny graphics to inspirational messages, these examples will give you the spark you need to create posts that’ll make your audience swoon.

Create Valentine’s Day cards

It’s time to spread the love, and what better way to do it than with the sultry tone of your brand? Not only will you be building brand awareness and recognition with content that’s as unique as your brand, but with followers sharing, commenting, and reposting, you’ll also be setting hearts aflutter with increased engagement on social media.

Adobe

Gymshark

Lego

Ikea

Heinz

Host a V-Day giveaway

Social media competitions and giveaways are the ultimate way to get your followers’ hearts racing (and thumbs scrolling), with Valentine’s Day being a great seasonal hook to wrap them around. Encourage them to like, comment, and share, and watch as engagement on your channels soar. Not only will you be boosting your brand’s visibility and reach, but you’ll also be giving your followers a sneak peek at the goods you have on offer. So, let the games begin and may the best follower win.

Ryanair

Greggs

Celebrate self-love

Valentine’s Day is not just for lovers, it’s for self-lovers too. By encouraging your followers to prioritise self-care and wellbeing on this holiday, you empower them to take charge of their own happiness. Not only will this foster a positive association with your brand, but it also opens the door to connecting with a wider, more inclusive audience. Go ahead and give your followers a gift they can truly appreciate – the gift of self-love.

Calm

Marks and Spencer

Treatbox UK

Facetheory

Share a smile

Who says Valentine’s Day has to be all lovey-dovey? Throw a little humour into the mix to humanise your brand. Share a meme, or create some light-hearted Valentine’s Day antics, and suddenly you’re more relatable than a heart-shaped pizza. Just make sure the humor fits your brand’s tone of voice and you include your key brand codes so everyone knows it’s your brand behind the lols when they inevitably share it.

Later Media

Aldi UK

Many Pets

McDonalds

Shareable quotes

Quotable, much? Nothing says ‘we understand you’ like a perfectly curated quote that hits your followers right in the heart. Get your audience feeling all the feels by sharing quotes that strike a chord with them. And don’t just grab any old quote off the internet, make sure it’s tailored to your target audience and fits with your brand’s tone of voice.

Stannah

Penguin Books

Roses are red

Feeling a little lost in the Valentine’s Day shuffle? When in doubt, keep it simple. The colour red is often associated with passion, energy, excitement, and – you guessed it – love. If none of the above feels suitable to your brand or audience, a simple pop of red or pink gives a nod to Valentine’s Day while enabling your brand to continue with its regularly-scheduled content.

Goodyear

Lick

Fortnums

Superdrug

And there you have it, a plethora of Valentine’s Day social media post ideas that will make your brand stand out like a red rose in a field of daisies. Whether you’re punning it up, promoting self-love, sharing memes, or painting the town red, these ideas are sure to make your followers fall head over heels for your brand. So, grab a glass of wine and get to planning, Cupid’s got nothing on you.

For finding the right influencer for your social media campaigns this Valentine’s Day and beyond, check out the Vuelio Media Database (and make sure they are definitely right for your brand with these pointers on picking your brand ambassadors wisely). 

What is coming up for the energy sector?

What is in store for the energy sector this year?

Mid-2022 was a fraught time for the energy sector as Ofgem demanded companies do more to help customers struggling to pay their bills and keep their homes heated. Energy brands had to do better when it came to honouring their responsibilities to the public and communicating the support available.

With 2023 promising to be another financially-difficult year for many, here is insight on what is to come as well as how to plan and communicate clearly from industry experts Sherwood Power CEO Alex Hunter, SunGift Solar founder Gabriel Wondrausch and Williams Nicolson director Claire Foster.

Will supply/demand issues ease in 2023?

Not likely, says strategic communications and change management consultancy Williams Nicholson’s Claire Foster:

‘The pandemic put pressure on supply chains; logistic disruptions, and soaring energy prices have contributed to shortages and spiralling transport costs. Against this backdrop, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated the situation adding additional pressure to the already unpredictable global trade landscape.

‘Globalisation, as we know it, is over. The frequency and severity of climate events persist and demand a survival strategy focused on autonomy, resiliency and risk management. A joined-up plan to cool a hot planet would benefit everyone, but leaders are more focused on their domestic territory right now.’

Sherwood Power is a renewable energy storage company that works with businesses to help them switch to renewable energies – its CEO Alex Hunter agrees that 2023 is going to be incredibly difficult for fuel and energy businesses:

‘The current issues with supply and demand are unlikely to change dramatically in the near future, and these are particularly difficult for fuel or energy-intensive businesses (such as manufacturing, data centres, delivery and logistics, etc.). Amid growing concerns about energy security and the ongoing rise in energy prices, we’re expecting to see more businesses make significant investments into renewable energy in 2023.’

Where things start to look more promising is increased public interest in sustainable and renewable energy… but this also comes with challenges:

‘From our perspective, we’re seeing that supply issues are easing,’ shares SunGift Solar’s Gabriel Wondrausch.

Experiencing an unprecedented surge in enquiries over the last year, the solar, storage and electric vehicle charger installer was hit by the challenges of supply and demand.

‘While certain components remain in short supply, the situation has certainly improved.

‘In fact, we’re currently deploying at our highest levels ever thanks to having an adaptive strategy in light of supply-related challenges.’

What do energy brand communicators need to know now?

‘It’s essential to keep clear lines of communication with customers from the outset, while clearly managing expectations from the first contact,’ advises Gabriel.

‘As a great deal of conflict can be avoided if people are prewarned as much as possible that there may be delays with their product or service.’

Alex advises action: ‘As investment in renewable energy becomes more common practice, companies that are not embracing renewables might find that they have to justify their inaction to their consumers – consumers that are increasingly concerned with both the rising cost of goods associated with fuel prices and the environmental impact of non-renewable energy.

‘We may also see more companies lending their voice to lobbying efforts, calling on Government to make it easier for businesses to invest in renewable energies, for example, by incentivising investment through tax breaks or access to low-cost finance schemes.’

On-going initiatives, incentives and goals are also advised by Claire Foster, co-author of The Williams Nicolson Trend Index:

‘Consider how your business can sustain success amidst a turbulent economy.’

‘Social impact encompasses long-term solutions and the overall longevity of your business. It is not necessary to reinvent the wheel, but a reassessment in production is needed as inflation and supply chain disruptions are expected to continue to rise’.

Key responsibilities for companies communicating change and possible risk to consumers?

Remember what is important to your business, says Gabriel:

‘Ongoing supply and demand issues have led us to go back to our mission statement and values.

‘We’ve remained customer-centric, inviting customers to partake in our survey to get an idea of how best we can improve our service in such challenging circumstances. This feedback has been taken forward and put into good, practical use in terms of improving procedures.

‘A few of the things we’ve prioritised with comms: working on our tone of voice, refining our customer journey, and being clear and concise in our communications. We’ve also established targets for response times to customers, in order to reassure them in the event of their installation being disrupted.’

‘The next two years will be painful so we must all play our part to make it a little less so for each other,’ adds Claire.

‘We don’t know what we don’t know. Companies must ask questions and share the answers.’

For more on the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on PR and communications, download our white paper ‘Communicating the cost-of-living crisis… A guide for charities and the third sector’.

Trust in medical and health comms

How the pandemic changed our trust: what does it mean for health communicators?

This is a guest post from Helen Fitzhugh, associate director, Healthcare at Kaizo PR.

In the past two years, consumers have been bombarded with public health information on an unprecedented scale. Over the course of the pandemic, we’ve charted consumers’ changing attitudes to sources of health information to understand who they do – and don’t – trust.

Our research reveals a number of important considerations for health comms professionals.

After surveying 500 UK consumers, we found that trust in some sources of health information had dropped significantly since 2020, with independent experts and government health advisors plummeting in the ratings.

Consumers also have shorter attention spans, consume less print and online news from traditional media outlets, and are less likely to question health information – even if it goes against government advice.

Consumers suffering from ‘health messaging fatigue’

Who would have thought, before March 2020, that we’d all become experts in virology? After living through daily updates on transmission rates, mutations, and clinical trial results, it is no surprise that we began to switch off – BARB (Broadcasters Audience Research Board) data shows that people turned to TV channels for news at the start of the pandemic and then turned away as it progressed.

The emotional stress of the pandemic may be to blame. Media consumption affects our mental health – negative news can cause distress and anxiety. People may have been avoiding pandemic news because they felt it was damaging their mental wellbeing.

Our survey found that the biggest health worry for respondents this winter was their mental health, with 39% singling this out as their top concern – ranked above Covid, colds and flu. This is particularly interesting given the headlines on the ‘twindemic’, which – you might assume – would push respiratory viruses to the front of people’s minds.

Consumers may be avoiding health news to protect their own mental wellbeing – or simply because they have had enough of virology lessons. Whatever the reason, it poses a real challenge for health comms professionals who need to engage with a disengaged audience.

Radical redistribution of trust

In 2020, consumers were quick to lose trust in a source of health information – for example, 70% would not trust information that did not come from a qualified healthcare professional. This figure has now dropped to just 51%.

Likewise, two years ago, 44% said that they would lose trust in health information that went against official advice. This has fallen to 23%.

These figures suggest that it is harder to lose consumers’ trust. This may not be as beneficial as it sounds: quite the opposite. If consumers are less likely to question the source of their health information or its accuracy, it is easier for misinformation to proliferate.

Who is in and who is out

As in 2020, healthcare professionals (HCPs) continue to be the most trusted sources of information: almost half (47%) of our respondents said they would rely on their GP, doctor, or nurse to provide them with trustworthy information to make decisions about their health.

However, as it is increasingly difficult for some people to see their GP, new information sources are plugging this gap. In 2020, only 5% of respondents said they would rely on a local pharmacist for health advice – our latest survey showed that this had jumped to 20%. Established healthcare charities and organisations, such as the British Lung Foundation, are also following this trend – with trust in such bodies up at 20%, from 9% two years ago.

The pull of independent scientists and experts has however dropped since 2020 – falling from 49% to just 29%.

So, how can you get your message across?

Revaluate your assumptions about what people will engage with. Mental health is a big concern, for example – so consumers may be more likely to engage with content about mental wellness, compared to physical wellness.

Health information that is presented as alarmist could be a big turn-off – tone matters at a time when people want to protect themselves from sources of anxiety.

Trust has shifted or consolidated. HCPs remain high on the trusted sources list, but with GP availability increasingly a challenge, consumers and patients need an alternative. Trust in pharmacists and the third sector has increased, so think about how you can tap into these sources to tell your story.

Clear, trustworthy health information saves lives and reduces the burden on the NHS – but only if you can get people to pay attention to it.

Read the full report by Kaizo PR here.

For more on trust in the health, medical and pharmaceutical space, read these posts with overviews and advice from Pharmica’s Carolina Goncalves and Lynn’s Shayoni Lynn.

Trends in retail journalism

Trends in UK journalism: what is happening in retail?

The retail sector, like many during this cost-of-living crisis, has been severely impacted. Christmas retail sales actually held up better than many expected, thanks in part to the World Cup, but analysts are predicting a tricky few months ahead as people look to save the pennies after the festive period.

But how are the media covering the current challenges that the retail sector is facing? From the on-going economic issues to fast fashion and sustainability, journalists are always looking for new angles to cover the important topics within retail. We had a look back over the last few months on the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service to see what has been trending and what is coming up.

Sign up to start receiving requests from the UK media direct to your inbox with the Journalist Enquiry Service.

Since October, the Retail & Fashion category has represented 6% of all requests on the service. This makes it the seventh-best performing category, out of the 25 to choose from, and the second most popular among our users in terms of trade/professional options with only Business & Finance receiving more enquiries. It also saw a boost in the number of requests between September and October, rising by nearly 6%.

Despite being more of a trade category, the journalists selecting Retail & Fashion tend to come from Consumer Media, with 38% from that media type. National newspaper/Current Affairs is next on 22% with the Trade/Business/Professional media back on 9%. Nearly a half (48%) of the journalists submitting an enquiry are staff journos, with freelance journalists back on 18%.

In terms of what they are looking from with their requests, 35% are after review products with 23% looking for information for an article and 16% wanting a spokesperson or expert. The high number here for review products can be attributed to a large amount of Christmas requests in the period we are covering (October to December) and bloggers and consumer journalists often look to cover fashion trends for the festive period and look ahead to the new year.

When we look at the keywords and phrases that have been used within the Retail & Fashion category, ‘cost-of-living’ appears in nearly 3% of all these requests. A number of enquiries come from broadcast media with news providers such as ITV News and 5 News looking for filming locations and retail businesses on how they are coping with the cost-of-living crisis. This provides a great opportunity to get clients featured on national news and highlight how the economic downturn is affecting the retail sector.

Keywords in retail

National newspapers have also been looking along a similar line, wanting to find case studies about the impact on small businesses with requests coming from the Metro, The Daily Express and The Times. Plus, enquiries from trade titles such as The Grocer, including ‘Christmas in a cost of living crisis – impact on grocery/food and drink shopping’.

The cost-of-living crisis is a very immediate trend and concern for the retail sector but one that has been affecting this area in the longer term has been the rise in online retail and retailers. ‘Online’ was our top keyword in the last three months, featuring in 12% of all requests in the Retail & Fashion category.

This figure might be skewed slightly, as many come from online publications. However, we have seen requests from trade and national press titles around this. A journalist at Industry Dive was looking to ‘profile two businesses about online payments’ offering a good opportunity for any case studies. While the Daily Mirror looked for the ‘best boxing day sale offers – online, high street retailers and supermarkets’. This is, of course, more of a seasonal request but does contain another two keywords in ‘sale’ and ‘high street’. The former made up nearly 3% of the Retail & Fashion requests while the latter was in just over 1%. Again, ‘sale’ might appear due to the timing we are looking at with Christmas and then the January sales.

Another couple of time sensitive key phrases were ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’ which combined appeared in nearly 2% of the total requests. These were mainly looking for products to review and information on the best deals out there. Journalists will often look in advance for this, especially if it is going to be a feature in their publication, so requests can be from September and into October.

Despite the economic downturn, ‘luxury’ was the second most used keyword on the service as it appeared in over 6% of all requests. The majority of these were looking for products to review or to include as competition prizes but that still presents a good chance to promote a client’s brand. There were also a few looking for spokespeople on the luxury retail industry including this one about the ‘present and future of luxury industry’.

Finally, another more recent trend from the retail sector has been sustainability. This applies both to the fashion industry, moving away from the era of fast fashion, and supermarkets and the food industry, trying to reduce single use plastic and encourage recycling. ‘Sustainable’ as a keyword has been in 2% of all requests from October to December.

Requests around this keyword have focused on spokespeople or experts in this field from a variety of consumer, trade and national titles. This has included Natural Health, The Times, PA Media and The Grocer. Several have asked specifically for a sustainability expert and with environmental issues often at the top of the news agenda, there are bound to be more requests of this nature. Therefore, a great opportunity to get coverage in the media.

Topical issues such as the cost-of-living crisis, the rise of online shopping and the focus on less waste and more sustainability within retail look set to continue. While other requests around the retail sector can be seasonal, as seen with Christmas and Black Friday. Notable events such as Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are approaching and journalists will be keen to get information and case studies around the impact on retail.

Find more information about the benefits of the Journalist Enquiry Service here and find more tips on connecting with retail journalists in our white paper How to pitch to journalists.

Getting to the truth of the matter on misinformation

Getting to the truth of the matter on misinformation

‘The way social media platforms are designed and are growing in power is making it easier than ever before to spread misinformation like wildfire,’ believes Shayoni Lynn, CEO and founder of multi-award-winning behavioural science consultancy Lynn.

A Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) and Chair of PRCA Cymru, Shayoni was awarded the Mark Mellor Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Industry at PRCA Nationals in 2022 and included in PRovoke Innovator 25 EMEA. She represents Wales at the UK PR Council, is a founding panel member and Vice-Chair of CIPR’s Behavioural Insights Interest Group and a frequent industry awards judge, regularly speaking on the use of data, behavioural science in communications, and measurement and evaluation at conferences internationally.

Shayoni Lynn

Here, Shayoni shares an overview of the misinformation challenge for comms people across politics, public affairs, the media and more – and explains what the sector should be prepared for.

Have you noticed an increase in misinformation in your space over the last few years?

There’s a number of ways of measuring this, and all of them are fraught with difficulty. We’re not academics, we’re practitioners, but we can say a few things with certainty. First, the way social media platforms are designed and are growing in power is making it easier than ever before to spread misinformation like wildfire. Second, a lot of the society-wide factors that increase the spread of misinformation – uncertainty, information overload, crisis – are getting worse. And third, we’re hearing more regularly from our clients that this is an issue which is making it harder to retain their relationships with key audiences.

Are social media platforms doing enough to tackle misinformation?

I think the platforms would be the first to admit that more could be done to tackle misinformation, so that in itself isn’t particularly contentious. Again, there are policymakers and campaigners whose focus is on pressuring the platforms to act more comprehensively, and our job as practitioners is to protect our clients in the world as it is, not as we’d like it to be.

What additional steps should social media be taking?

We’re not in the business of making policy recommendations, but one thing is for sure: transparency is never a bad thing. Transparency about how they are making moderation decisions and transparency about how their algorithms are recommending us content is something that academic researchers have been calling for for quite some time now, and can only help us as a society get to grips with the problem.

What advice would you give to others in your sector for correcting misinformation among the general public?

There are three pieces of advice which should provide a solid foundation for any strategy to fight misinformation.

1) Just because you feel like you need to respond to something doesn’t mean that you should. Social media algorithms are designed to harness our impulses to propel content to the top of more users’ newsfeeds, so in responding to something we might just be exposing more users to it.
2) Just because something is a problem on social media, doesn’t mean it’s a problem with your audience. Social listening tools can be incredibly helpful in detecting potentially harmful information, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s reached our audience or is resonating with them.
3) Finally, it’s not all in your control. Misinformation is spreading because of forces well beyond this current moment – a changing climate, a revolutionised information environment, increasing inequality – and there’s no correction that’s going to fix all of that. By acknowledging this we can focus more of our energy on what we can control, than wasting it worrying about what we can’t.

Are there any particular areas that you feel will likely be the target of misinformation in 2023 PRs should plan for?

One advantage we have on misinformation is that it rarely falls out of the blue – it tends to spike in response to unfolding events. Extreme weather events, global conflicts and public health crises are all areas where misinformation can thrive. We’d recommend keeping an eye on countries that have elections coming up, too.

But the truth is, we know that regardless of the focus of the misinformation, the structure of it will be much the same: it will be pitting in groups against out groups, leveraging social divisions and blaming the world’s ills on a secret cabal of elites pulling the strings behind the scenes.

Does misinformation negatively impact those within the sector as well as the general public?

Absolutely. If your job is to build a relationship between the organisation you work for and your audience, then misinformation should be on your radar. Bad information has the potential to sever this relationship.

For more on misinformation and how the comms industry can help combat the issue, read this interview with Pharmica’s Carolina Goncalves for how it is impacting the pharmaceutical sector.

To help track how your message is received across the media, the political sphere and social media, try Vuelio’s monitoring services.

What went well: what we can learn from the Christmas campaigns of 2022

What went well? Lessons from the campaigns of Christmas past

Santa’s fizzy drink truck – you know the one – has driven its way back out of town and the broadcast space has put away its tinsel-ified TV ads for another year. How did the big brands do with communicating Christmas 2022 during such a difficult time for their consumer bases?

Excess was out and more mindful messages of personal connection were in – with a tough year ahead for many, 2023 will need the same careful approach. Here is what we can learn from the successes of our recent Christmas past in PR, communications and marketing.

How did the supermarkets do? Nostalgia versus realism

‘I loved the Asda Christmas ad for 2022, but John Lewis really hit the mark and showed that the brand understands people,’ says Aura’s Laura Sutherland of the efforts from UK supermarkets this year.

Asda’s ‘Have Your Elf a Merry Christmas’ provided escapism from the realities of 2022– ‘a moment of joy‘, according to Asda brand communications’ senior director Stephi Brett-Lee – by tapping into fondness for the 2003 Will Ferrell film…

…while John Lewis leaned into reality with ‘The Beginner’, a tale of a foster father hoping to welcome a new addition to his family by learning skateboarding:

‘Asda played on the nostalgic factor and created a highly entertaining and funny ad with Buddy the Elf, but John Lewis got it spot on with another engaging campaign that drew attention to an important cause, started conversation and got the public mood right,’ says Paul McCarthy, general manager at Chantry Place Norwich.

While Asda took note of its consumer base’s wish for a ‘no-compromise’ Christmas with the cheery ad, the campaign at-large did not ignore the situation many were faced with this year. In November 2022, reporting on budgeting for Christmas increased by 486% year on year – adverts, no matter how ‘no-compromise’, had to follow suit. Asda chose to blend fantasy into representations of its real-life stores with expensive SFX, but the campaign also extended out to toy drives in-store and the promise of ‘festive surprises’ for community groups. This added to initiatives the supermarket had already put in place to help the cost-of-living crisis, which have received plenty of positive coverage in the press.

In contrast, the always highly-anticipated John Lewis advert was empty of Asda’s hyper-real bright greens and reds. Instead, it featured concrete skateparks, the odd injury sustained when learning a new hobby and a recognisably-real family living room. A departure from the previous years’ sci-fi-heavy ‘Unexpected Guest‘, the ‘The Beginner’ highlighted human issues instead of ETs, gaining positive write-ups and reaction for its focus on fostering and the UK care system.

2022 was not the year for false-ringing sentimentality or mawkishness – as economic struggles continue for many, 2023 will not be either.

‘Many of the high-street brands that have become synonymous with big-budget Christmas ads took a community/social responsibility approach for 2022 which made sense to me,’ says Robert Bradley, centre manager at Castle Quarter.

‘M&S had the message that by spending with them we were supporting good causes and the John Lewis ad took shopping all together, instead focusing on a foster family storyline. Interestingly though, despite the cost-of-living crisis and more and more people turning to food banks, the food arms of both brands did not shy away from showing large tables heaped with food in their Christmas ads. I personally found the child crying due to missing out on a sausage to be in quite bad taste…’

Another lesson to be learned for comms people – Christmas campaigns can do well outside of television. Eschewing the ‘traditional, multimillion-pound Christmas ad‘ for its 2022 festive effort was Co-op, which instead teamed up with Your Local Pantry and Big Zuu for an Instagram livestream.

Retail – Tales of a ‘Traditional’ Happy Christmas… with some help

Next’s ‘Gifts we know they’ll love’ spot featured standard festive TV ad fare – people opening Christmas gifts (with household name brands inside, naturally) in front of a Christmas tree.

However, its urge to customers to ‘merry everything’ came with the offer of ‘help’ for making Christmas magical. The approach paid off in profits:

‘Retailers like Next did extremely well this Christmas period, reporting “better than anticipated” sales, and great feedback from comms campaigns,’ says Wizz Selvey, Top 100 global retail expert and founder and CEO of Wizz&Co retail strategy consultancy.

‘I always tell my retail clients, whether they are selling D2C or B2B, that the customer and their needs have to be at the centre of EVERY activation. This year customers needed simple solutions to gift giving that weren’t going to cost them dearly. Any retailer who was able to communicate ‘a solution’ to tighter budgets within the cost-of-living rise, would have had brilliant feedback from shoppers. Adding that ‘extra luxury’ element would increase sales revenues even further.’

‘The influx of ‘sadvertising’ this year was a depressing movement, however. As it was such a widespread theme, consumers don’t seem to have really reacted.’

Did shoppers show up for the high street?

Experiential marketing continues to be a safe bet for attracting footfall to physical locations – even when budgets are tighter. East Anglia’s Chantry Place Norwich – home to 90 shops, cafes and restaurants – brought the bright lights from brand ads with reasons for families to visit:

‘In 2022, we had a new Christmas lights scheme at the Centre, with free photo opportunities including a Santa’s sleigh and Trio of Twinkling Trees, plus pop ups returning for the festivities. We worked closely with a local charity Alive UK on a Christmas gift appeal and also had a post box in the Centre, granting wishes for presents as we knew that Christmas would be hard for many.

‘With the recession and cost-of-living crisis, we will continue to offer free events into 2023 for families to enjoy to give them a reason to visit and stay longer with us. We will also continue to be part of our community, working with other businesses and our neighbours at the Centre in a collaborative approach.’

How else can brands and businesses keep the customers coming, for Christmases of the future and throughout the year? As ever – by offering extra.

‘Retail did take a bit hit during the pandemic, but there are certainly sectors that have flourished within that,’ says Wizz.

‘For instance, any brand that has an active omnichannel mix of online, social media and in-store sales. From my perspective, the high street is far from ‘dead’, as so many tabloids are claiming, but there has been an irreversible shift in how consumers research, shop and loyalty following purchase as well. We’re all looking for that something extra!’

For more on purchasing trends during 2022, read our report on which brands were most likely to be gifted second-hand during the festive period. And for trends to plan for in 2023, check out these 15 PR and communications trends.

How to create key messages that actually land with your target audience

When it comes to measuring your PR performance, numbers alone can – for better or worse – easily distort the real picture. For example, Share of Voice is always one of the first metrics Vuelio clients ask for – but what is the quality of the coverage? Brand A may have 10% more than Brand B, but how valuable is it to the brand? If it is mostly negative or passive commentary, then Brand B may have performed better overall.

Key Message Penetration is a great tool for diving deeper into your coverage to measure brand awareness and assess how well your brand messages are being delivered.

Try this simple five-step guide to get started:

1. Establish your key messages

Create a list of 3-5 key messages that highlight the main point(s) you want to get across. These are the messages you want to come to the minds of your consumers when they think about your brand, so tie them back to your brand strategy or a specific product launch, i.e.:

  • ABC Vets, pioneers in new holistic pet therapy 
  • ABC Vets, the charity for pets in need 
  • ABC Vets, providing affordable animal care to Britain since 1978 

    2. Set parameters 

    Once you have your key messages, decide on the channels that would be most valuable based on your target audience. For example:

  • What are the preferred media types of your target audience(s) i.e. print, broadcast, online news, social media etc?
  • Which publications are your audience(s) reading?
  • Which journalists/authors write these pieces?
  • Do you have a target reach i.e. regional, national, international?

3. Assess your coverage overtime

Now that you know what your messages are and the format(s) in which you would like them to appear, you can begin exploring your coverage results:

  • Establish a timeframe of how often you would like to compare your performance (i.e. monthly, quarterly, yearly).
  • When it is time to conduct your analysis, compile all earned coverage throughout your chosen period and ensure it is differentiated from owned and paid-for coverage.
  • Using your list of key messages, explore each media item for points of reference. In order to get your final penetration percentage, divide the number of key message articles by the total number of articles and times by 100.

Tip: Your coverage does not have to state the exact words in your list of key messages— it can be any earned content that fits into the category of one of your key messages.

For example, if one of your key message targets is to be a thought leader in your field, then a newspaper that cites a statistic or factual quote from your brand would count as message penetration.

4. Evaluate performance – which key messages landed best? Where?

Within your analysis, note down the parameters of when your key messages perform best/worst. For example, which key messages are most mentioned? Which media types/publications/journalists come up the most? What is the reach?

Using this data, compare the types of media that your key messages are performing best/worst in with the media that is most engaged with your target audience. For example, if the publications that are most often driving your key messages are highly engaged with your target audience, you know your brand awareness is performing well in the right places.

Reminder: You can use this type of evaluation (as well as things like sentiment and mention types) to explore the true quality and brand value of the coverage that is measured in your quantitative data.

5. Build out your KPIs

Once you have completed a comprehensive analysis, you should have a clear, qualitative and quantitative understanding of how well your key messages are being delivered to your target audience(s).

With this information, you can create a data-led set of KPIs on:

  • Your realistic and achievable penetration percentage
  • Which target publications, platforms, journalists etc. are delivering your messages
  • Who/what/when/where you would like to generate more awareness

As these analyses begin to accrue over time, you can use the former reports as benchmarks for the next. This way you can see how your key message penetration is progressing month on month, year on year.

Want to know more about this data or how media insights can support your PR and communications? Find out more.

How to stem the flow of medical misinformation

Turning the tide on medical misinformation

Misinformation is a growing issue of concern across all areas of the media. Whether shared via social or ‘traditional’ mediums, the spread of incorrect information has had far-reaching consequences on individuals and whole communities across the planet.

It can spread fast. And particularly dangerous – also incredibly catchy, unfortunately – is medical misinformation. On the rise since the early panic-filled days of the pandemic, it continues in conversations between family members and friends who may have misheard something; in niche pockets of influence on platforms like TikTok, Twitter and Instagram, and even on mainstream broadcast news, from high-profile public figures.

How can experts ensure the truth is heard and understood above all of the noise – both well-meaning and more nefarious in motive – being communicated? Pharmica‘s superintendent pharmacist Carolina Goncalves explores the rise of the issue from the point-of-view of the medical industry and how the tide of information can be turned back to the truth.

The increase of misinformation

Medical misinformation has been a global issue, becoming much more noticeable since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and has definitely been prevalent within the pharmaceutical industry.

In the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak during March 2020, US President at the time Donald Trump recommended the antimalarial drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as a preventative treatment against the virus. Health officials quickly advised the public that this was not a suitable treatment and would not offer protection against Covid, however this still led to global shortages of the drug, meaning patients with malaria, lupus and arthritis who required the treatment could not get a hold of it. After Trump’s message, we saw a rise in people searching for hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine and chloroquine phosphate on the Pharmica website, showing the impact of the ex-President’s words had spread globally.

In order for an online or community pharmacy to sell prescription medications in the UK, there are many rigorous standards and regulations from the GPhC (General Pharmaceutical Council) and MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) that must be met, so only pharmacies that meet those requirements and are registered with these two bodies can sell such medications.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the online pharmacy space has grown hugely over the last few years, of which Pharmica has noticed the sharp increase in the number of illegitimate online pharmacies that have skirted the regulations set by the GPhC and MHRA.

An ITV investigation found there were many websites posing as registered pharmacies that were not only selling medication in different strengths to what they were advertising – meaning patients could easily overdose by taking the wrong strength – but were also selling addictive drugs like Xanax, Valium and Ambien without requiring a prescription, as well as allowing people to bulk-buy these medications.

ITV found that these sites also do not carry out consultations or require patients’ medical history before purchasing treatments, and post medication in plain packaging without necessary patient information leaflets.

The spread of medical misinformation has definitely increased over the last year or two, as social media platforms, health organisations and governments have locked down on fake news and accounts that spread illegitimate health information, but because of how quickly misinformation spreads, there are still ongoing issues.

The social media situation

Since the influx of misinformation that grew from the Covid pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) established a series of principles on how to identify reliable sources of information on social media. It also worked with YouTube to build the COVID-19 Misinformation Policy, as well as guidelines for content creators that aimed to inhibit medical misinformation related to the virus from being spread across the platform. According to WHO, 850,000 YouTube videos that contained misleading COVID-19 misinformation were removed between February 2020 and January 2021.

Most social media platforms have developed one or more strategies to address the spread of misinformation, including softer measures such as warning labels on posts, and harder measures such as content removal and account bans.

While it is clear social media platforms are providing some level of defence against misinformation, there is still concern against the rate of misinformation being spread to wider audiences and how this can be tackled while an active push towards ‘free speech’ is being prioritised. We are still yet to see how Twitter, under its new ownership, finds a balance between these two issues.

What more should social media platforms be doing?

Besides continuing with the policies and steps they are currently taking to stop the spread of disinformation on their platforms, social media platforms still have more they can do to reduce the spread of misinformation, including:

• Adjusting algorithms that amplify social media misinformation so its spread is reduced and accounts that encourage conspiracies are de-prioritised
• Prioritise social media misinformation continuously, not just when it falls under public scrutiny
• Make the closure of bot and fake accounts a regular occurrence, encouraging a platform-wide standard, and also showing that social media platforms are responsive to public demand and public safety
• Work with advertising agencies to inhibit the monetisation of misinformation
• Continuing an active push with leading medical professionals to ensure the information they are circulating is up to date and legitimate

What the medical and pharmaceutical sector do to stop the spread

Although witnessing medical misinformation being spread can be frustrating, especially as a healthcare professional, it is important to remain understanding as to why some people may hold irrational beliefs. Mocking them for having these views, or suffocating any conversation around them, can lead to a further level of distrust between the general public and professionals within the pharmaceutical industry, which can further fan the flame of misinformation.

It is important to target misinformation with education and critical thinking – after all, social media regulation will not stop misinformation from being spread in the long-run, as people will find other ways to do this. Changing the way people take in information and educating them on how they can validate information before believing it directly must happen, too.

When it comes to those who are using misinformation to capitalise on people’s fears and ultimately boost their own status, reporting those accounts to social media platforms and correcting the misinformation can prove useful.

It is important for healthcare professionals, including those within the pharmaceutical industry, to acknowledge that the key priority is always patient safety – profits are a secondary motivation and companies using misinformation of any form to further profits are doing so to the detriment of the patient.

Topics at risk of misinformation in 2023

As new variants of COVID-19 continue to cause infection rates to rise globally – as we are currently seeing with the latest Omicron variant XXB.1.5 – misinformation surrounding the strain and vaccine will likely continue to spread.

Major health organisations such as the World Health Organization, who have been posting on social media platforms about the importance of getting vaccinated, still receive thousands of comments from people stating that they will ‘never get the vaccine’, that the WHO are ‘pushing propaganda’ or that ‘vaccines are just a money-making scheme’.

Closer to home, England has seen at least 94 deaths over the last few months caused by Strep A. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSCA) clarified that around 41% of the deaths were among those aged 75 and over, while 17% of the deaths were from children aged 10 and below. It has been thought that this spike in the bacterial infection is due to a less immunity and a rise in social mixing after the Covid pandemic. It didn’t take long for misinformation around the deaths to circulate, leading to social media posts that firstly implied this was due to the new nasal flu vaccine – and secondly, that Strep A used to be mild but has suddenly become lethal in children. Full Fact, an independent UK fact-checking charity, identified these claims as misinformation.

It is possible that as certain illnesses have resurgences, especially ones that previously had infections peak in times before the prevalence of social media, these may be targets of misinformation.

The fight continues

In the pharmaceutical industry, it is imperative that misinformation is corrected so patients have the right information necessary for making informed decisions about their health, or else it can cost people’s lives.

Misinformation can create further barriers between people getting the necessary medication they need by creating levels of distrust between the public community and pharmacists, making it harder for pharmacists to do their jobs and keep people safe.

For more on the spread of misinformation, download the Vuelio white paper ‘Fact-checking and fast news: Expert lessons for journalists and the media‘ featuring contributions from Channel 4 News FactCheck, FactCheckNI and The Ferret Fact Check Service as well as media academics Professor Charlie Beckett of Polis, LSE and John Murphy, University of Hertfordshire.

EU regulations to prepare for

EU regulations: The updates, rollbacks and rewrites to be ready for

2023 is fixed to be yet another busy year in UK politics, not just for those in Parliament but for the PR and public affairs people communicating upcoming EU regulation changes to the public.

Here are some of the big updates, rollbacks and regulation rewrites to be prepared for, with pointers from those in the industry on what to expect.

You need to be ready for… Britain’s relaxing of ‘ring-fencing’ banking reforms

What is it: Back in December 2022, plans were announced for the easing of banking rules that had been instituted following the global financial crisis of 2008. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said at the time of the announcement that the changes will make the UK ‘one of the most open, dynamic and competitive financial services hubs in the world’.

What is on the way: In what Hunt characterised as the use of ‘Brexit freedoms’ to make the UK a more competitive proposition, the proposed package of over 30 changes include a lifting of the bankers’ bonuses cap and the easing of capital requirements for smaller lenders. Regulations holding bankers accountable for their decisions will also be reviewed by the Government, while ‘ringfencing’ rules to keep potentially dicey investment banking from impacting retail operations will be relaxed.

Take note: At the time of announcement, critics warned that the changes could lead to increased risk, while proponents highlighted plenty of opportunity for the financial sector.

You need to be ready for…. requirements of the Digital Service Act (DSA)

What is it: The DSA, originally approved by the EU Council in October 2022, requires large search engines to take responsibility for the content on their websites and servers, with plans for future extensions to large online platforms. Established brands like YouTube and Facebook will be impacted… as will every business and individual that shares content there.

What is on the way: ‘Large digital firms operating in the EU must submit the first set of performance reports to the EU Commission this month as a requirement,’ says Delphine Gatignol, business unit director at Newsback.

‘These companies will face fines if they allow illegal content, misinformation and cyber bullying to go unchecked.’

Take note: ‘As a signatory on the Code of Practice on Disinformation at Newsback, we will be assessing how seriously platforms are fighting disinformation,’ shares Delphine.

‘When it comes to addressing this problem, we recognise that online platforms have their work cut out. The Code was created to provide a framework and set goals to help digital firms fulfil their responsibilities.

‘Our co-signatories, as well as the platforms, include civil society actors, fact-checkers, source-raters and anti-disinformation companies. In the year ahead this smaller group will be holding digital firms accountable and ensuring the Code becomes an effective tool against disinformation.’

You need to be ready for… amendments to the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive

What is it: This directive on unfair commercial practices was put in place in 2005 to boost consumer confidence while making it much easier for businesses to trade across borders. It has since been amended to enable easier enforcement, but more changes are to come.

What is on the way: ‘ESG has been shaping the way both organisations and the communications sector evolve – this is one of the policies centering greenwashing and introducing standardised approaches to ESG reporting this year, addressing unclear language about environmental credentials,’ says Sarah Woodhouse, director of AMBITIOUS PR.

Take note: ‘This has been an EU priority for a few years now, but this will be a big year as we prepare for 2024, when the policies for addressing these issues will enter into full force,’ advises Sarah.

You need to be ready for… the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF)

What is it: This ‘multi-criteria measure of the environmental performance of a good or service throughout its life cycle’ will seek to reduce the negative environmental impacts on account supply chains.

What is on the way: The planned update to the PEF will ‘introduce an improved framework for Life Cycle Assessments, that take into account the footprint of products, including upstream and downstream impacts,’ says Sarah at AMBITIOUS PR.

Take note: If your business has a supply chain of any sort, this impacts you. As Sarah warns: ‘The implications will be felt by businesses outside the EU and within not only product and sustainability but also marketing and communications teams.’

You need to be ready for… the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive

What is it: Expanding on the existing EU corporate sustainability initiatives on supply chains, the CSRD is a reporting requirement that will cover big large public and private companies meeting at least two of the following criteria: 250+ employees, €20 million or more in total assets or €40 million or more in turnover.

What is on the way: ‘This has started to be applied already, but will be mandatory next year, warns AMBITIOUS PR’s Sarah.

Take note: ‘Companies listed on regulated markets in the EU will be rapidly getting familiar with the rules and preparing to publish info on issues from environment, employee treatment, carbon emissions and human rights this year’.

You need to be ready for… the Digital Operational Resilience Act (DORA) and the proposed Cyber Resilience Act

What are they: ‘Strengthening the IT security of financial entities such as banks, insurance companies and investment firms’, DORA was put in place to ‘ensure that the financial sector in Europe is able to stay resilient through a severe operational disruption’. The Cyber Resilience Act will aim to boost existing cybersecurity rules to ensure greater security for hardware and software products.

What is on the way: ‘Although it will be a couple of years before mandatory compliance for Digital Operational Resilience Act (DORA), it will eventually put financial organisations in a much stronger position for handling outages, leaks, unauthorised access and data loss,’ advises Jakub Lewandowski, Global Data Governance Officer at Commvault.

‘Within the highly sensitive information that the financial sector holds, this is incredibly important.

‘DORA lays out detailed requirements on every aspect of cybersecurity – technical, organisational and functional. Financial organisations will need to set up necessary resources, communication routes and, for the first time, we are seeing a whole article within a piece of legislation about backup requirements. With the ever-increasing threat of cyber attacks taking key institutions and even whole countries offline, DORA favours on-premises backup, rather than connection-reliant cloud backup options.

Take note: ‘Preparations to comply with this legislation will involve reviewing legacy IT systems to ensure that they meet regulations and potential investment in new software, so it may be costly in the short term,’ says Jakub. ‘Yet, in the long term, the level of cybersecurity will be raised, limiting attacks, reducing downtime and, according to the EU, saving up to €290 billion annually. Any business which has connections to the EU market will have to comply with DORA’s regulations, so I predict that the UK will soon follow suit with similar regulations. These preparations take time, so work should begin now to ensure compliance in plenty of time for the inevitable conformity deadline.

‘It may still be a while until we have to take decisive action to ensure compliance with the Cyber Resilience Act, as it has just entered the initial consultation process. It is likely to be a year or two before it is finalised and then organisations will be given a 24-month transition period to comply. However, it is never too soon to be aware of upcoming changes. Regularly monitoring for updates will ensure that businesses are prepared for the changes in good time.’

You need to be ready for… incoming changes to flexible working regulation

What is it: ‘Employees are to be given greater flexibility from the moment they commence employment with new legislation that will introduce a day one right for them to be able to make up to two flexible working requests in any 12-month period,’ explains Lupton Fawcett’s Glenn Jaques.

‘A flexible working request can be to work from home, job-sharing, flexitime and compressed hours requests.’

What is on the way: ‘This is a significant change from the existing position, which allows employees to make only one request after having worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks. It is not clear when the legislation will come into effect but employers need to be ready for the changes.’

Take note: ‘The proposed changes make no changes to the existing eight reasons that an employer can rely on to refuse a request. The financial penalty for breaching the flexible working rules is up to eight weeks’ pay but the larger risk comes from an unreasonable refusal, which may result in a discrimination claim. To minimise the risk employers should ensure that they give careful consideration as to alternative options to rejecting a request in order to ensure that employees are fully supported where a request cannot be fulfilled,’ advises Glenn.

For more moves in the world of politics, check out Vuelio’s Political Monitoring services. 

How has the FTX collapse impacted media attitudes towards cryptocurrency?

On 11 November 2022, international crypto-exchange platform FTX filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US. The company owes an estimated $3bn to more than one million creditors, a debt that international newspapers are blaming on a conscious breach of compliance laws.

Three months into investigations, global news coverage has remained consistent on the newest scandals and court updates. As a result, investors appear to be losing ‘trust’ in crypto-focused platforms and are seeking reliable, established alternatives — an opportunity that is being fervently explored by Goldman Sachs, Britannia Financial Group and alike.

Key Takeaways

  • International FTX coverage has peaked four times between 3 Nov – 4 Jan, the highest being Sam Bankman-Fried’s alleged breach of compliance laws
  • While general news sources chose to report on major scandals and the future of cryptocurrency, industry publications chose to focus on the pros/cons of investors losing trust in exchange platforms
  • Binance and Twitter were the most-mentioned brands in relation to FTX’s crash, triggered by several exclusive revelations made by its CEOs
  • ‘Cascading contagion’ has been a trending term since December and is likely to be a continuous point of media interest throughout 2023

Volume over time

*Data shown above analyses all English-language FTX-related articles produced by international, national news and business/finance publications (approx. 13,951) from 3 Nov, 2022 – 4 Jan, 2023.

As news about FTX’s collapse began to decline around Christmas, coverage peaked once again between 22 – 24 Dec when Sam Bankman-Fried (also known as SBF) was released on a $250m bail, ahead of his trial facing eight criminal charges and civil suits filed by the SEC and CFTC. Approximately 2,270 international news and business articles were published over this period, while 63% criticised SBF’s ‘luxurious’ experience while in prison and under house arrest.

While bail-related coverage was short-lived around the holiday season, rthe story peaked again on 3 Jan when 611 articles across 460 international news publications reported on SBF pleading ‘not guilty’ to criminal charges by US District Court claiming he ‘cheated investors’ on his platform, using deposits to ‘support his Alameda Research hedge fund, buy real estate and make political contributions’.

Top Topics

The initial announcement of FTX’s bankruptcy had a similar impact on international news and business/finance publications, both sharing between 20-25% of total coverage. However, regular updates thereafter were more frequent in industry news as SBF’s arrest consumed 10.04% more coverage than in mainstream media.

On the other hand, general news sources produced 13.27% more coverage throughout Nov. and Dec. on how FTX breached multiple compliance laws. The Independent referred to SBF as ‘disgraced’ in 18 of its 32 compliance-related FTX articles, while the BBC focused on fraud and money laundering allegations in 18 of its 22 FTX pieces. Overall, the Financial Times has been the UK’s leading publication on allegations against SBF — producing 145 articles from 11 Nov to 23 Dec. Every piece released by the FT during this time focused on compliancy issues, with 40% of headlines calling SBF a ‘fraud in shorts’ and 15% focusing on the multiple counts of conspiracy against his hedge fund, Alameda research.

When things grew quiet for a short period between Christmas and the new year, international online news sources used the opportunity to discuss what the future of cryptocurrency may look like, though many used the term ‘crisis’ and coverage was 68% negative in sentiment. This attitude was likely impacted by public statements made by Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao and JPMorgan, who both referred to the downfall as having a ‘cascading’ impact on the whole industry.

However, finance/business publications used this brief pause in FTX updates to place more of a focus on how the crash affected investor confidence. While 58% of this coverage was negative in sentiment, such as Fortune’s piece on the loss of Gen Z investors, 42% of this discussion explored who may benefit from shaky grounds. Alongside Goldman Sachs’ interest in using this downfall to become the reliable alternative, Bitcoinist also reported on the companies that will profit from such insecurity — with particular mention of hard wallets like Ledger.

Most-mentioned companies

*Data shown above analyses all English language FTX-related articles produced by international, national news and business/finance publications (approx. 13,951) from 3 Nov, 2022 – 4 Jan, 2023. Excludes FTX and Alameda Research.

As more details of the FTX crash began to surface, Binance was the most-mentioned brand to receive either headline or significant coverage across international, national news and business/finance publications. The brand’s decision to acquire FTX, alongside its later withdrawal following due diligence concerns, was the leading story that created this level of awareness.

What was once an attempt at allyship swiftly became a feud, as Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao went viral following an online Twitter battle, also calling SBF ‘desperate’ and ‘one of the greatest fraudsters in history’.

Twitter

Similar to Binance, more than one story from Twitter resulted in three significant peaks in coverage between 12 Nov and 5 Dec. The first and most prominent was when Elon Musk revealed that SBF tried to back his acquisition of the social platform, which was covered by 1,148 news and finance publications across the UK and North America. Musk, who stated that his ‘b*******t meter was redlining’ when he first met Bankman-Fried, also said something ‘seemed wrong’ about the legitimacy of his funds and predicted the capital would never actually come through.

The second peak in coverage was when Musk publicly criticised the Wall Street Journal for publishing an article that outlined the downfall of SBF’s philanthropic ventures. The Twitter CEO described the coverage as giving a ‘foot massage’ to Sam Bankman-Fried, a comment that made 638 international headlines in the following week:


 

BlockFi, Genesis, Gemini and Digital Currency Group

As much as FTX’s downfall has in itself been a significant point of media interest, so have the brands that have been — sometimes to the point of destruction — harmed by the crash.

Among the financial platforms of those that have suffered major losses, BlockFi, Genesis, Gemini and Digital Currency Group (DCG) have been the most prevalent in both general news and business publications.

When BlockFi declared bankruptcy, over 200 national/regional British headlines placed emphasis on its relation to the FTX crash. However, when crypto broker Genesis and its parent company Digital Currency Group (DCG) suffered similar losses for the same reasons, British news sources opted to focus less on FTX’s involvement and more on how Genesis/DCG are in debt of $900m to Gemini — an exchange platform owned by the renowned Winklevoss twins.

Of the collective 3,425 articles on this story, the Financial Times’ report was syndicated by 326  international outlets like Reuters and MSN.

Quickbooks

Global accounting software QuickBooks had a sudden spike in awareness when John J. Ray III, the new court-appointed CEO of FTX, stated what an ‘unusual’ choice it was for a multi-billion dollar exchange platform. In an expression to the US District Court, Ray referred to QuickBooks as a ‘very nice tool, not for a multibillion dollar company’.

As a result of this, the accounting software was mentioned in 303 international news sources and 426 business/finance publications between 12 and 16 Dec. Over 90% of this coverage was a significant mention, 6% was a headline mention and the rest was a passing mention.

Goldman Sachs

As fatal losses continue across the crypto market, the same goes for investor confidence. Goldman Sachs has been one of the most prominent voices on the call for more regulation, while also exploring the opportunity to become a ‘trusted player’ themselves.

Mathew McDermott, Goldman’s head of digital assets, told Reuters that FTX’s implosion will mean ‘big banks see an opportunity to pick up business’, and that Goldman is ‘doing due diligence on a number of different crypto firms’. Approximately 682 articles mentioned Sachs’ vested interest.

HSBC has been persistently vocal about its distrust of the industry.

‘Cascading contagion’ throughout 2023

With 115 years in prison now on the line, anticipation for SBF’s trial in October is likely to create consistent waves in international FTX coverage throughout the year. Between 11 Nov and 4 Dec, the term ‘cascading contagion’ was used 438 times across 386 national and international news sources, while also being cited by several public figures in the industry. Furthermore, given the deep dive into how Gemini, Genesis and alike have been impacted, the catastrophic effect on other crypto platforms will also continue to be an ongoing point of discussion throughout 2023.

General news sources across the UK have demonstrated a preference for discussion around major scandals and the future of cryptocurrency, meaning national newspapers may not produce significant FTX coverage again until the Autumn trials. However, as the Bank of England ‘throws its weight’ behind Sunak’s plans to become a ‘cryptocurrency superpower’, updates in regulation could potentially create some media interest.

Want to know more about this data or how media insights can support your PR and communications? Find out more.

Trends in health journalism PRs need to know about

Trends in UK health and medical journalism PRs need to know about

It is now around three years since the British public first heard about a new disease called ‘COVID-19’. While most industries were massively impacted by this in a negative way, health journalism and reporting of the symptoms, cures and variants became the primary focus for most media outlets. In 2023, this focus continues, with news organisations covering diseases such as Monkeypox and Strep A in particular detail as the public seek information.

Health journalism, though, is a broad subject covering everything from disease and illness to dieting, exercise and mental health. Here is a look back over the last few months at topics and trends in this sector, based on what journalists have been requesting via the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service.

Sign up to start receiving requests from the UK media direct to your inbox with the Journalist Enquiry Service.

The first thing to note is that since September 2022, 28% of all enquiries have been either for the Health category or the Medical & Pharmaceutical category, or both. The Health category performed especially well and was the third most selected category out of all 25 over the last three months, underlining the increased importance of health reporting in publishing. The Medical & Pharmaceutical category also saw a 5% increase in requests between September and October and a 13% rise between October and November.

Sender type for health requests

The journalists submitting enquiries for these categories are most often staff journalists (55%) with freelance journalists making up nearly a third (27%). They also tend to be looking more for the consumer angle with 39% of all enquiries coming from Consumer Media and the National Newspaper/Current Affairs media type in second, back on 32%. The national press requests will generally be more focused on consumer health but there is still a significant proportion of trade health journalists using the service, with 11% coming from that media type.

Publications often plan their content months in advance, especially when it comes to features, so content around healthy eating to start the new year and challenges like Veganuary are written up in November and December. ‘Food’ is the top keyword, appearing in 13% of all health and medical requests.

Keywords for health and medical categories

Requests have varied from ‘Food or drink that raises/lowers blood pressure’ to ‘Looking to speak to an expert regarding sharing and displaying food hygiene info’. There have also been requests seeking nutritionists or dieticians for ‘diet trends of 2023’ from the consumer perspective. Meanwhile, on the trade side, we have seen requests for food scientists looking to speak about superfoods.

With food proving such a popular keyword within the health and medical categories, it is perhaps unsurprising that the words ‘diet’ and ‘nutrition’ have also performed well, appearing in 5% and 4% respectively.

Along a similar line, ‘fitness’ was in 9% of all requests between September and December. The UK media often publishes a lot of content in January around fitness goals, trends for the year or ways to lose weight as people make resolutions. The keyword ‘weight’ was also in 3% of enquiries while ‘exercise’ appeared in 4%.

These enquiries have tended to be more consumer-focused coming from magazines such as Cosmopolitan, OK! and Fabulous. The requests are often for a ‘fitness expert’ but we have also seen journalists looking for ‘fitness challenges’, ‘fitness trends’ and ‘fitness fashion and accessories’. This gives plenty of scope to reach out with clients in this field.

The awareness around ‘mental health’ has increased significantly in the last few years and as a key phrase it appeared in 5% of all enquiries across health and medical. The period we are looking at (September to December) includes World Mental Health Day (10 October) so this might be a reason why it was the fourth most popular keyword/phrase.

The split between consumer and trade titles here is much more even with national press also regularly looking into issues around mental health. Newspapers such as The Independent, The Daily Telegraph, The Mirror and MailOnline all made requests with this key phrase.

‘Mental health’ requests were mainly focused on finding experts, which fits in with the general picture when it comes to enquiry types. 40% of all enquiries for health and medical were for a ‘spokesperson’ or ‘expert’. In the three months we covered, journalists were often looking for experts on men’s mental health, which may be due to Movember. However, general advice on how to improve mental health also did crop up regularly.

Finally, many of the common keywords we see in these categories are regarding specific illnesses or diseases. ‘Cancer’ and ‘Covid’ appeared in 3%, ‘menopause’ and ‘cold’ were in 2% and ‘flu’ in 1% of all enquiries. Journalists tend not to look for experts in these keywords but it is more common to see requests for both case studies and general information for an article.

There are also a much greater volume of trade health outlets here with The Carer, Pharmacy Magazine and livescience all covering these keywords. Information on symptoms and signs of various illnesses is also popular in several national press outlets including the Daily Express.

Features may have been filed for a lot of journalists now but the Journalist Enquiry Service will remain populated with Veganuary and Dry January requests throughout the remainder of the month. This means there is still the chance to help health journalists with products recommendations for their readers and the information they will need. Those with useful case studies or illness information also have plenty of scope for connecting with journalists reporting on these topics throughout the Winter months and beyond.

Find more information about the benefits of the Journalist Enquiry Service here and find more tips on connecting with health journalists in our white paper ‘How to pitch to journalists‘. 

Want more on trends for 2023? Check out these 15 PR and communications trends you need to plan for in 2023

PR New Year's Resolutions: Lessons to take forward into 2023

New Year’s Resolution time: Lessons to take forward into 2023 in PR and comms

As part of our overview of 2022 and look forward to what is coming up for the communications industry this year, we asked the PR community what lessons they will be taking forward into 2023.

If you have not yet decided on a New Year’s Resolution, or would just like to set some goals before you get back into work, here are a few ideas:

Laura Sutherland, Aura and PRFest founder

‘Don’t overshare.

‘Take a stand for what you believe in and supporting your personal values.

‘Never be scared to ask questions.

‘Invest in yourself.’

Sarah Scholefield, PRCA chair and Grayling’s global CEO

‘A lesson I’ll be taking forward into 2023 is that as communications professionals, we have a unique ability to be agile and versatile in an ever-changing and unpredictable environment, responding to evolving client needs and underpinning our value.’

Barbara Phillips, chair of PRCA’s Race & Ethnicity Equity Board and director of Brownstone

‘If it’s not for you, then walk away. And (as usual), never underestimate the power of desire. Everything that is happening in our industry and globally in society, good but mainly bad, is because a group of people somewhere want it to be exactly that.’

Matt Wilson, media and public affairs manager for Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)

‘Good comms delivers in multiple ways for an organisation – stakeholder/audience awareness, enhanced reputation, brand trust, authenticity – and the more understanding/buy-in you have internally of that, the better. Explaining and demonstrating to your colleagues why comms matters helps them better understand PR value and the importance of integrating comms into project planning at the start, not the end.’

Rob Skinner, MD of Skout

‘Don’t do good, socially conscious things as a business, then hide it from view. Equally, don’t flag wave – treat your purpose-based comms as an opportunity to share insights to help others rather than gain publicity and kudos, which comes as a by-product anyway.’

Mollie Haley-Earnshaw, PR Account Manager at Wild PR

‘I think PRs should really focus on forming strong relationships with journalists. You’d think this goes without saying; however, when PRs are outreaching to hundreds of journalists, this becomes difficult. Some ways to do this could be introducing yourself to the journalists on Twitter (or over email) with who you are and the types of information you may be able to provide for them in the future. If you’re up to date on what they’re writing and what interests them, and you can convey this in your intro email, they might be happier to collaborate with you on your future PR campaigns.’

Nick Owens, founder of WTS MEDIA

‘Challenge always brings opportunity. Even during a cost-of-living crisis huge opportunities exist for those who can execute strong PR campaigns. There may also be occasions where clients need to take a break from PR and comms, in order to get through a tough period. Aim to end on good terms, because the cost-of-living crisis will end, and clients will often want to re-engage with PR. Be there for them when they do.’

George Buchan, director of research at Charlesbye Strategy

‘As fuel bills continue to rise, war rages in Ukraine and there are no signs of the climate debate concluding; opportunities for comms and PR are everywhere. What messages can be deployed to defend the UK Government’s continued aid to Ukraine when the NHS is struggling over winter? How do we keep the public’s attention on dealing with climate change when heating their own home is the immediate priority? The world in 2023 is the communicator’s oyster.’

To help you plan for 2023’s big challenges and opportunities, check out these 15 trends for the industry from 22 experts working across PR, comms, marketing, public affairs and politics. 

Our 10 top PR and communications posts of 2022

Our 10 top PR and communications posts of 2022

As part of our focus on the successes and stresses of 2022 – as well as our look forward at what to be ready for in 2023 – here are the most popular posts from the Vuelio blog this year.

Want to keep up-to-date with news and trends in the PR, comms and media industries in 2023? Sign up to our newsletters here and get in touch if you have news of your own to share: [email protected].

1. Does the Research Excellence Framework (REF) have a sustainable future?

The results of 2021’s Research Excellence Framework – assessing over 76,000 academics at 157 universities – were revealed in May 2022, with the final ranking determining university funding for the next seven years. In this report, we analysed coverage in the UK media. Big stories – more diversity in the list at first glance, with hidden layers of inequality.

2. PR needs the BBC

Drawing criticism alongside kudos throughout 2022 was the BBC. At the start of the year, culture secretary of the time Nadine Dorries announced an end to the BBC licence fee – in this post, PRs across the industry shared their takes on the move as well as how important the British Broadcasting Corporation still is to the media and comms landscape.

3. How can PR and comms teams make recruitment fair?

As highlighted in our trends pieces for 2022 and 2023, recruitment in PR still has far to go to be equitable and fully representative of every audience we hope to reach and connect with. Recruitment experts Taylor Bennett Foundation’s Melissa Lawrence, Career Masterclass’s Bukola Adisa and Kinesso’s Dr Femi Olu-Lafe pointed out where companies should be looking for new talent, which initiatives are making a difference and how to speak to your Board about doing better.

4. 12 ways to maximise your B2B PR strategy

If B2B is a big part of your comms plan for 2023, catch up on this post from February which shared tips for planning. Advice came from Skout, Definition Agency, Spike, Leapfrog PR, Write Thought Communications and many more.

5. Top 5 measurement mistakes and how to fix them

Another big trends for next year in PR and comms is nailing down the use of data and making the numbers you have at your disposal mean something, pre and post-campaign. We took a look at five common measurement mistakes being made by PRs and offered advice on fixes.

6. Is the food and drink sector ready for the upcoming HFSS regulations?

For those working with food and drink clients and at big brands, the HFSS ad restrictions promised for October 2022 were a big concern. Would the UK ad landscape be changed forever, with no more sports personalities bigging-up yoghurts on TV? And would the changes actually help with the much-reported-on obesity crisis in the UK? In this post, PRs in the sector shared their takes.

7. What responsibilities does financial services PR have to its customers?

The financial sector also saw much change this year, and our white paper ‘Communicating the new immediacy of finance’ provided an overview of how this would impact those in the finance industry as well as their customers. Key insight from the paper included warnings against ‘woke washing’ and reminders of responsibilities to clients.

8. PRs: This is how journalists want you to help with their requests

What do journalists really want from PRs? An eternal questions that can only really be answered by journalists themselves. Here we gathered answers from the media pros interviewed for our Media Bulletin newsletter.

9. ‘Don’t talk to me! (Email me instead)!’ – How to work with Gen Z journalists

For what the up-and-coming generation of journalists want from PRs, it is quite simple: skip picking up the phone to get in touch, just email them. Journalists Zesha Saleem, Michele Theil and Hannah Bradfield talked about their work in our webinar ‘What’s Next? The new generation of journalists’. Want more on Gen Z? You can also download our white paper ‘The PR guide to communicating with Gen Z’.

10. Cost-of-living: How the top six British supermarkets are communicating inflation

A huge topic across every industry this year (and set to continue into 2023) is the cost-of-living crisis. This report investigated how the top six British supermarkets were faring in the press and with the public. For even more on subject, check out our white paper ‘Communicating the cost-of-living crisis… A guide for charities and the third sector’.

Have a specialist subject or best practice know-how you would like to share with your peers in a guest post in the new year? Get in touch: [email protected].

To keep up with content from the Vuelio blog, sign up to our PR Club, Media Bulletin, PR Pulse or Point of Order newsletters here.

World Cup 2022 – is the PR value paying off for FIFA sponsors?

Since the start of the World Cup on 20 November, FIFA’s seven official partners have faced extensive backlash over decisions to support the event from politicians, public figures and the press. This critique follows a multitude of human rights concerns and bribery allegations against FIFA and Qatar, some of which have been referred to as ‘serious abuse’ in 482 international headlines over the course of the tournament.

Strong criticism of FIFA’s affiliation with Qatar has been widely distributed in the press since 2014. Approximately 1,876 international English-language publications have discussed ‘corruption’ since 10 November alone, with 11% citing that awarding Qatar the World Cup was a ‘bad choice’ – words used by Sepp Blatter, former FIFA president who resigned in 2015 amid the bribery scandal.

Since June, over 200 international charities and organisations have released statements on unresolved and ongoing crises caused by the event. In particular, the most discussed has been the ‘death, injury and rampant wage theft’ against migrant workers, which has been condemned by Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, FairSquare and Equidem. Nick McGeehan, founding director of FairSquare, publicly accused FIFA of ‘benefiting from exploitation’ and ‘parroting Qatari authorities’, while Tirana Hassan, Human Rights Watch’s Acting executive director, called the organisation a ‘global embarrassment’.

Key Takeaways

  • Adidas, Hyundai/Kia and Visa have produced the most significant international volumes of positive, diverse and controlled coverage
  • Visa has demonstrated strong sentiment control despite coverage peaking later than other sponsors
  • Wanda Group’s lack of ESG comms contributed greatly to negative coverage
  • The Independent and The Telegraph were top publications for six out of the seven FIFA Partners, while CE Noticias Financieras led the print media conversation in Latin American regions

The labour disaster is just one of the negative news stories that have been pinned against Qatari World Cup. Partners have had almost a decade of negative news commentary in relation to their affiliation with FIFA, many of which used this time to prepare messaging on equality, union and perseverance.

Share of Voice
Between 10 Nov – 10 Dec, the Vuelio Insights team found 3,268 international news publications that released FIFA-related coverage mentioning one of the seven partner brands. Among this coverage, adidas achieved the strongest share of voice overall, of which 36% was proactive. Hyundai/Kia was close behind in 22.36% of all international coverage, of which 67% was proactive.

While its coverage peaked much later into the World Cup than for other brands, Visa has demonstrated extensive control over its public commentary throughout the event. The financial corporation’s earned content has been 82% proactive, either stemming from press releases and social media posts.

On average, adidas, Hyundai/Kia and Visa were each mentioned in 56% of international headlines. On the other hand, Coca-Cola, Qatar Airways, QatarEnergy and Wanda Group received a significantly lower quality of coverage, with an average of just 23% of international headlines mentioning one of the brands. Approximately 52% of their coverage was considered a substantial mention and 25% was a passive mention.

Both Coca-Cola and Qatar Airways offered extensive messaging on being ‘universal’ and ‘uniting’ fans in the face of controversy, but both campaigns were heavily diluted by several wider news stories evolving with adidas and Hyundai/Kia between 18 Nov and 1 Dec.

Top stories, sentiment and coverage overtime

adidas
While adidas received the highest international share of voice, overall sentiment was relatively balanced with 26.2% positive, 33.3% neutral and 39.7% negative. The sports corporation’s most widely distributed story was on how its bespoke technology ‘proved’ that Ronaldo did not score the opener against Uruguay, which was published 682 times across 598 international news sources. This story had a majority positive sentiment and peaked from 29 Nov – 1 Dec, of which 72% quoted various excerpts from the original adidas statement on how its tech was able to ‘definitively show no contact on the ball’.

Several global news stories have emerged around adidas’s ‘hi-tech’ footballs throughout the World Cup, making it the leading news topic among all FIFA Partners. The goal Ronaldo claimed proved to be a beneficial source of positive coverage among otherwise negative headlines that peaked in the same week.

Jordan Pickford was quoted 182 times as being ‘worried’ by the ‘menace’ and ‘rascal’ balls ahead of the England v France game, describing them as ‘a bit different’ to Nike balls used in the Premier League. Similarly, Kieran Trippier was quoted 203 times when he referred to the balls as ‘a bit lighter’ and like they would ‘fly away’. This coverage had a collective 57% negative sentiment rate but received less attention than the Ronaldo goal, leaving adidas less impacted overall.

Hyundai/Kia

While Hyundai/Kia had a slightly lower volume of coverage, it maintained a 14% higher positive sentiment rate overall. The most popular headline was in relation to the FIFA Museum presented by the motor company, which was covered 223 times by international news, sport and automotive publications. Within the body of the article, 46% mentioned how this opening is as part of Hyundai/Kia’s ‘Goal of the Century’ platform, which received a subsequently high volume of positive coverage for its dedication to sustainability and social impact.

This extended coverage was a strong source of recovery for Hyundai/Kia following a brief  negative peak in coverage from 18-20 November, when it was announced that FIFA stalled on a sponsorship renewal offer from Hyundai/Kia worth more than $600m (€580m) in 2019.

Visa

With an overwhelmingly positive coverage rate in comparison to other sponsors, Visa experienced two peaks in coverage between 10 Nov and 10 Dec. The first, which was covered between 16 and 20 Nov, was a direct press release on the brand’s ‘innovative payment experiences’ at the World Cup. This topic was discussed 268 times over four days across 203 international economy and news sources.

However, Visa’s biggest peak in coverage was from 8 to 12 Dec, when the brand released a report that shared spending data across all venues throughout the tournament. Furthermore, the prediction that the entire event will reach ‘record spending’ was quoted in 482 of the total 563 international finance and news headlines.

The only significant source of negative coverage associated with Visa throughout the period measured was around its decision to bring NFTs to the World Cup. While the move excited some, approximately 186 outlets reported on how the value of the tokens ‘stumbled’ as ‘upsets’ around the game evolved.

Coca-Cola

As the tournament has evolved, Coca-Cola has fallen short of significant news stories in comparison to other sponsors. The brand’s top story was on the British Conservative dispute against the drinks manufacturer’s decision to sponsor FIFA following a series of homophobic comments.

This story was covered 398 times between 19 and 21 Nov and was a large causational factor behind the brand’s strong rate of negative coverage. On the other hand, the brand’s World Cup campaign, ‘Believing is Magic’, received a 43% positive sentiment score across 435 international news sources between 31 Aug and 30 Oct. However, op-eds and PR news sources were generally sceptical, accusing it of undermining the severity of migrant worker abuse.

Qatar Airways

In many ways, Qatar Airways has mirrored the performance of Coca-Cola. Its most positive coverage in relation to the World Cup was published prior to the event, with the most significant being its opening ceremony which was covered by 182 international news and travel publications. Qatar Airways group chief executive, Akbar Al Baker, was quoted in 59% of this coverage stating that the ‘dream of bringing the world together has truly come alive’.

However, the most significant source of coverage since 10 November has been allegations that FOX Sports produced biased coverage to support a sponsorship agreement made with Qatar Airways. Between 18 and 22 November, FOX News ‘denied’ any potential production influence, while Qatar Airways ‘refused’ to comment.

Wanda Group

As for Wanda Group, earned coverage in English Speaking publications has been low and passive in comparison to other Partners. Similarly, any active contributions to the event – such as targeted campaigns, messaging or public statements — have not been picked up by the media throughout the event. Additionally, over 90% of high-reaching coverage came from a Chinese news or PR publication with international readership.

Wanda Group’s lack of comms meant there was little public content to change the narrative around earned media, which was certainly needed given that the overall sentiment score was 17.7% positive, 47% neutral and 44% negative. The top headline, first published by Campaign Asia, was titled ‘What are Chinese sponsors hoping to get out of the World Cup?’ which explored the expenditure and potential strategy of Wanda Group among other brands.

While the piece was neutral overall, the author concluded the ‘potential backfires’ in attempt to reach a global audience, stating it is ‘unlikely’ anyone would ‘view sponsors favourably amid human rights controversies and concerns that have dogged Qatar’.

QatarEnergy

Although overall volume has by far been the lowest, 39% of QatarEnergy’s international coverage was created by Qatari publications and an additional 46.5% across the UK (31%) and US (15.5%). Alongside passive mentions in reports exploring FIFA expenses, the most significant source of coverage for QatarEnergy has been related to ‘catastrophic’ climate concerns. Between 18 Nov – 10 Dec, 398 international news sources (83% of the brand’s total coverage) discussed the counterintuitive nature of FIFA partnering with the supplier in the face of its ‘#SaveThePlanet’ campaign.

Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, Qatar’s energy minister and chief executive of QatarEnergy, was quoted within the body of this coverage in committing to provide ‘reliable and credible LNG supply solutions to customers across the globe’, with ‘plenty of financial support’ from major banks.

Top publications

Between 10 Nov and 10 Dec, approximately 36% of adidas’s coverage came from its top five publications. Although the leading source was USA Today, 66% of this coverage were passing mentions in relation to generalised World Cup expenditure articles. In articles where the brand was the focus, USA Today most often discussed adidas’ charitable efforts, such as donating to Footballs for Schools or using recycled materials in football kits.

CE Noticias Financieras mentioned adidas in 311 FIFA-related articles throughout the World Cup period, with a much stronger focus on the brand overall. As the only print media source to have made it in the top publications chart, CE Noticias Financieras has also been the second-most popular news source for adidas overall. The publication’s most covered topic was Adidas’ intervention intthe Ronaldo-claimed goal and a detailed ‘unveiling’ of ‘Al Hilm’, the official ball provided by Adidas for the semi-final and final.

The Latin American print publication was also the leading source of coverage for QatarEnergy, though the total volume was much lower (36 articles between 16 Nov – 3 Dec) and focused on its possible supply expansion across Europe.

British and US news sources leading the conversation

Throughout the tournament, The Independent and The Telegraph have been leading news sources for six out of the seven Partners – while MailOnline also made it into the top publications for three of the seven. Closely behind was NBC Sports and Washington Post, which were considered major sources of coverage for two out of the seven sponsors.

Hyundai/Kia has by far achieved the most geographical diversity among its top publications, with sources based in the UK, US, Korea and Qatar. Qatar Airways’ strongest coverage has been exclusive to the UK, Qatar and its sponsored coverage source in the US (FOX Sports).

When tactical loss is necessary

Among the seven sponsors, the top three highest-performing overall (significant volumes of positive, diverse and controlled coverage) were adidas, Hyundai/Kia and Visa. The key difference between these brands and the others was well-timed and extensive messaging on social solidarity and humanitarianism. While these attitudes were often criticised as ‘tone-deaf’ by op-eds and PR publications, the overarching positive message outweighed negative sentiment around Qatari controversies by international news sources.

While Coca-Cola did exactly that in its ‘Believing is magic’ campaign, media interest peaked when it launched two months before the event. If collateral had been gradually dispersed closer to the event, the brand would have similarly diluted negative peaks against sponsors and Qatar controversy when the event officially began.

Wanda Group, who opted to not release any targeted messaging this year, has been a strong example of how tactical loss is better than silence. Unlike its ‘women first’ campaign in the 2018 Women’s World Cup, the brand has not offered any targeted messaging towards human rights at a time when it is most desired from target audiences. As a result, the most influential and international coverage has been negative and theoretical commentary on Wanda Group’s ethics and strategy — without any level of public comms from the brand itself to steer the conversation in a more positive direction.

Want to know more about this data or how media insights can support your PR and communications? Find out more.

The biggest challenges for PR and comms in 2022

What were the biggest challenges for the PR industry in 2022?

Alongside a look forward to the trends coming up in 2023 for the PR and comms industry, we asked our experts what the biggest challenges were for the sector this year.

Read on for insight from Rachel Roberts, Stephen Waddington, Laura Sutherland, Barbara Phillips and more.

As economics fluctuated, the ‘people factor’ took a toll

‘Irrespective of many political, economic, social and tech factors which have triggered curveballs for us as comms and PR consultants to navigate through, the people factor is constant, said Rachel Roberts, CIPR president and Spottydog Communications founder.

‘Whether the market is in growth or detraction, we’re an industry of people not machines, so ensuring we have the right people to deliver against fluctuating client commitments has been difficult.

‘A surge in growth meant the summer saw a lot of people making the move to where the grass may have seemed greener. Carrots were dangled by employers in order to entice new team members to make a move, which coupled with the rising cost of living has meant some in our industry have benefitted from a decent salary swing, but this hasn’t been the case over in the public sector where there is less agility to review salary levels.

‘The cooling down of the economy has bought some of the runaway people costs back into more sustainable territory, but organisations that took on big increases in operating costs in 2023 may have a challenging time squaring the circle if facing budget squeezes due to a reduction in funding or client activity.’

Wadds Inc’s Stephen Waddington found the same: ‘Managing talent was a challenge. There’s been a shortage at mid-level created by the pandemic. This factor, combined with inflation and Brexit have created a bubble of promotions, pay increases and job moves. The economy will deflate this in the first half of 2023’.

With instability came a greater focus on integrity

‘While this year has seen great growth, we’ve also faced a recruitment challenge into the mid-range roles,’ said Aura and PRFest founder Laura Sutherland.

‘On top of that there has been a lot of chopping and changing of jobs which has seen some instability in teams.

‘Having judged a number of awards again this year, we continue to face a challenge when it comes to strategy and measurement; two crucial elements to demonstrate the value of our work and again, very disappointed in the ‘add-on’ approach many continue to take.

‘Then there’s ESG (Environment Social and Governance), an area which I largely focus. Greenwashing is rife and we now have the regulations coming in to help combat this. Organisations continue to try to do ‘things’ but unless ESG is integrated at the heart of the organisation and the ‘S’ and the ‘G’ are seen as equally, if not more, important than the ‘E’, we’ll continue to do things that don’t have the impact they should and could. It’s absolutely our role to advise our organisations, businesses and clients on this and public relations and communication professionals need to add this to their list of priority learning areas for 2023, if they haven’t already.’

Earnest intentions were not enough on inclusion

‘As Chair of PRCA’s Race & Ethnicity Equity Board, I am still laser-focused on racial equity and broader inclusion,’ said Brownstone’s Barbara Phillips.

‘With that particular lens, I would say the continued lack of meaningful (as opposed to performative) action in this space was and continues to be a challenge. I have judged a couple of awards this year (thanks for including me) where very little had changed in organisations from the year before. And although the entries were very earnest in their intent, a couple were just that; intentional, or even aspirational. But not factual. I always check the team photo and… you know the rest. So, the challenge isn’t the pipelineUK Black Comms Network and People Like Us are bursting with talented members, and I have personally coached a few agencies on recruitment. The challenge is the industry slipping back into its comfort zone where agencies and comms teams don’t feel anything is broken so aren’t planning to fix it.’

AI advancements were met with excitement and trepidation

‘I think one of the biggest challenges that those in PR face is also one of the industries’ greatest strengths, that it’s so difficult to stay on top of the wave of innovation,’ said Justin Fox, digital PR & outreach manager for CoursesOnline.

‘For example, the last year has seen a big uptake in the amount of campaigns that make use of AI artwork, as more and more free and easy-to-use tools have become available. PR campaigns have of course seized upon this, given the opportunity to generate unique and striking visual content, but what happens when these innovative approaches become mainstream?’

The legacy of COVID continued to put pressure on the press and PR

‘One challenge we continue to face is the increasing workload of journalists which means that getting hold of them can still be tricky, said Source PR senior account manager Jessica McDonnell.

‘Before Covid, I was in regular contact with journalists over the phone, but it feels like this level of contact has never really returned to normal pre-pandemic levels, and I don’t expect that to change in 2023.

‘I also think with businesses possibly tightening their purse strings, budgets will continue to be stretched for the next year or two, which could be challenging for PR agencies and in-house comms professionals. I think the battle to attract and retain talent in the industry will remain.’

For Fizzbox’s head of marketing Tom Bourlet, brighter times are on the way:

‘For many industries, the subjects their business focused on were either less appealing for journalists during lockdowns or were overshadowed by more important news pieces. However, the rejuvenation of a number of industries over the past six to 12 months means that many of these companies are now increasing their marketing and PR budgets and there are plenty of opportunities available. For our company, writing about events and activities during Covid, it was hard to escape the negativity – 2023 certainly looks a lot brighter.’

Read more from industry experts on the big trends you need to be planning for in 2023 as well as the good, the bad and the ugly of PR and comms this year. 

The good, the bad and the ugly of comms and PR in 2022

The good, the bad and the ugly of comms in 2022

Which brands, high-profile personalities and politicians have done a good job on their comms and reputation management this year?

To find out who and what have been naughty or nice this year, we asked the experts for their thoughts (since Santa is busy with his own lists this time of year)…

Rachel Roberts, CIPR president and Spottydog Communications founder

2022 in review:
‘Clients are telling me that they now realise they had their fingers burnt by cutting comms so quickly in response to COVID. It means they are more prepared to keep investing in people and external comms resource in tighter times because the hangover from a temporary pause or activity reduction in 2020 and 2021 means they don’t want to go round the same cycle again. Overall for comms it means the covid era has resulted in greater recognition for the value we create.’

Great comms this year:
‘The communications clout of the Lionesses has helped to inspire the nation. Clearly a great performance on the pitch will always have provided a great catalyst for the Lionesses to reach an even bigger audience, but their genuine and authentic communications style has garnered affection, interest and engagement for Women’s Football in a way that has always been realised on the back of other sporting success stories.

…however…
‘On the flip side of the coin, the way some brands managed comms around the death of HM Queen felt a little disingenuous, going through the protocol motions to pay respects rather than a genuine and authentic reason to pay tribute. If a brand doesn’t have a real reason to engage, it’s better to say nothing rather than virtue gesticulation.’

Sarah Scholefield, PRCA chair and Grayling’s global CEO

2022 in review:
‘Business leaders’ perception of PR and communications has soared in the last year. In 2020, the PRCA surveyed FTSE250 business leaders on whether they considered communications to be important for protecting and strengthening reputation. At the time, 82% said yes. Fastrack to 2022, and that figure has risen to 96%.

‘Further, in 2020, 68% of the same group said their communications provided strategic counsel to their senior management team.

‘This year, the figure has climbed to 89%. Communications professionals are far more respected and trusted than ever before.’

Barbara Phillips, chair of PRCA’s Race & Ethnicity Equity Board and director of Brownstone

2022 in review:
‘I was delighted when Joe Lycett made mockery of what we pretend is an open unbiased media. First, when on the BBC he poker-faced described Liz Truss as the ‘backwash of the dregs of the available Tory candidates’ then his money-burning stunt in regard to the World Cup and a particular British ex-footballer’s involvement. It was a win for PR because of the irreverence, creativity, and purpose combined. The message was heard. I know there is enormous creative talent in our industry and it shows that being more diverse in recruitment and subsequent opportunities will yield far more impactful results. Our industry wins when we advise our clients through the lens of humanity rather than profit. They are not mutually exclusive.’

A comms winner this year:
I’m giving that to Sir Lewis Hamilton. The travesty that was Abu Dhabi Yas Marina 2021 [an F1 Grand Prix race] would have destroyed most athletes. Barbaric, naked racism. But not Sir Lewis. He fell silent on social media for three months, unfollowed everyone (millions). Instead of a justified rage, he let his fans and supporters do the talking. His fan base contributed to the FIA response and although there was no admission of wrongdoing the main person involved was removed. Sir Lewis then returned with enhanced GOAT status and with a few hundred thousand more followers to add to the 26m+. He is still the iconic face of F1 rather than the current F1 champion. Without uttering a word. That is some powerful reputation.’

Must do better:
‘The UK Government and the Royal family share the bottom slot. Clearly both are just playing to their gallery because whoever is running their PR and comms must see the broader negative impact of the messages and method of delivery. I don’t get the sense that anybody actually cares. Extraordinarily poor from “professionals”.’

Stephen Waddington, founder and managing partner of Wadds Inc

2022 in review:
‘The public relations sector has continued to see growth and salary increases, created by demand and a shortage of talent.’

For who did not have a good 2022:
‘The UK Government failed us. FIFA had an own goal. Qatar proved the case for sportswashing.’

Laura Sutherland, Aura and PRFest founder

2022 in review:
‘This has been another great year for brands and organisations recognising the need for public relations and communication.

‘But as for the sector as a whole, I’m not entirely sure we’ve had many wins. We’re still terrible at EDI, we still underpay women and minorities, we still talk in echo chambers and we continue to disguise our weaknesses rather than identify and change.

‘There are some great pockets of communities existing out there, like PRFest and Socially Mobile, but our industry seems so fragmented. These communities exist and thrive due to personal relationships and this is our industry’s biggest opportunity, to grow communities.’

Favourite comms and campaigns of 2022:
‘I love the Asda Christmas ad, but the John Lewis ad really hit the mark and showed that it understands people.

The recent Women’s Aid campaign, ‘He’s Coming Home’, is brilliant and really drives awareness of domestic abuse.’

For who has not done so well in the reputation stakes this year…
‘I mean, Elon Musk. His personal brand is questionable and his reluctance to employ a public relations specialist/team is standing out like a sore thumb!’

For practicing nice PR and comms in 2023, check out these 15 trends you need to plan for next year

This year's challenges for journalists

2022 in review: This year’s challenges for UK journalists

2022 has been a busy year for the UK media, with jam-packed news cycles, under-pressure news and features teams and a public in need of information (and adequate entertainment when things got tough).

We spoke to four journalists working across the industry to find out the main challenges they were up against this year…

Fighting to include every audience out there – Isabella Silvers, freelance journalist and author of newsletter Mixed Messages

‘I think an issue across the board has been keeping up the diversity and inclusion momentum that was sparked in 2020. How are individuals and brands ensuring that this remains at the forefront of their mind, and that they don’t slip back into old ways?

‘The cost-of-living crisis has also been a challenge for consumer-facing publications like fashion magazines – you need to be sensitive to your audience and what they might be going through while still providing inspiration, escapism and service-led features.’

Major news events dominating the media cycle – The Daily Telegraph’s features writer Yolanthe Fawehinmi…

‘There have been so many major events that have dominated the news cycle this year. I think sometimes as journalists we fail to give each story a fair amount of time, to ensure that readers are well informed, educated and kept up to date. I think also, since the pandemic happened and the cost-of-living crisis has crept up, it’s also been hard to sometimes find the more positive angles or stories to report on.’

Controversial sporting events and exhausting work – Sports Media LGBT+ founder Jon Holmes

‘The World Cup in Qatar has thrown up so many tricky talking points for the sports media – getting it right on balance, tone and cultural nuance while trying of course to engage fans through the actual football has been a test.

‘I lead a network of LGBTQ+ people in the industry and the demand for our perspectives has understandably been greater than for previous mega sports events. While that means more opportunities, it can also be emotionally exhausting, and that’s something that’s been the case for our trans and non-binary members, in particular, for several years during intense news cycles on trans athletes.

‘Social media abuse, the inconsistent nature of freelancing, and the long hours of dedication needed all continue to make this a career that is not always as appealing as it might seem.

Finding opportunities all year round – Hannah Ajala, freelance journalist, broadcaster and founder of We Are Black Journos

‘The biggest challenge for journalists in my sector this year has been finding opportunities that are not seasonal. That’s a lot of what the focus is for us at We Are Black Journos – especially as Black journalists take up so little of British journalism – it can often seem quite isolating when work is only temporary and not long-term, especially for more creative journalists/freelancers that work across all areas of journalism.’

For more from the UK journalism industry, sign up to our twice-weekly Media Bulletin, featuring interviews, news and all-around useful stuff.

Isabella Silvers, Yolanthe Fawehinmi and Hannah Ajala shared more about their work in our Journalist Voices By Vuelio event – watch the recording here or read our round-up for advice on breaking through with your story during busy news cycles. 

Find out more about Jon Holmes and Sports Media LGBT+ in our interview over on the ResponseSource blog

2023 trends in PR and comms

15 PR and communications trends you need to plan for in 2023

Budgets reaching breaking point, the promised post-Covid recovery that is yet to fully pan out and plenty of PR nightmares to contend with – 2022 was certainly challenging.

Yet in the midst of all this, the comms industry continued to bolster businesses, brands and important messages across the globe, further building a reputation as a must-have for organisations everywhere who aim to make a difference.

What will 2023 bring? Here are pointers from 22 PR, comms, marketing and public affairs professionals on the upcoming trends, challenges and opportunities to be ready for in the year ahead.

1. Perspective

‘Economic uncertainty means we’re in for a rougher ride in 2023 – what feels different is the heart-breaking social impact we’re seeing and the desperation that’s leading to people to take extreme action from activists to strikers. Take a step back and recognise that in the scheme of things some of our challenges may be molehills compared to those faced by other industries.’
Rachel Roberts, CIPR president and Spottydog Communications founder

‘Key challenges will be same issues that impact wider society: COVID-19, the conflict in Ukraine, and the climate crisis. These factors give rise to a series of secondary issues related to the economy, including inflation, interest rates and strikes. Finally no one has figured out a sustainable relationship between work and the office.’
Stephen Waddington, founder and managing partner of Wadds Inc

2. Integration and elevation

‘Budgets are potentially going to be stretched again – an integrated PR strategy is crucial to delivering bang for buck. It’s got to be all part and parcel of your sales and marketing strategy, multi-channel campaigns, content strategy, digital and so on. PR needs to demonstrate that is has more of a centre stage role to play than ever before in building the relationships brands need with audiences in order to succeed and grow.’
Rob Skinner, managing director of Skout

3. Personalisation

‘We need to look beyond traditional outputs and really start to consider immersive and personalised experiences. With changes in retail, tourism and leisure, even through to property use, consumers are looking for something more innovative.
‘People need to understand how things are relevant to them in order to make the change. Stakeholder mapping and audits are a key area to develop so campaigns are making real-life impact.’
Laura Sutherland, Aura and PRFest founder

4. Recruitment

‘Sadly, from my perspective, a key challenge for 2023 is still racism, racial equity and retention. Industry sources say the ethnicity pay gap has increased year on year to around £9,000. That means my white counterpart is being paid £9k more because they have less melanin and more privilege.

‘There are almost three times as many white professionals who earn over £50k than non white, but yet the number of Black, Asian, mixed race and non white professionals who entered the industry increased. The obstinate industry practice of not promoting or recruiting non white talent at a senior level means professionals from the global majority (a la Westminster Council) are willing to join our industry but don’t hang around for the racism and lower pay.’
Barbara Phillips, chair of PRCA’s Race & Ethnicity Equity Board and director of Brownstone

‘According to ICCO’s World PR Report, the challenge of retaining key talent is up 7% from 2021. There are several core elements to the recruitment challenge, but it often comes down to the ability to create a brand associated with success, personal growth, reward, satisfaction, and work-life balance. Economic uncertainty may tighten some budgets, but there’s opportunity for those organisations that put people at the heart of everything they do.’
Sarah Scholefield, PRCA chair and Grayling’s global CEO

5. Inclusivity and authenticity

‘Driving up knowledge and skills fit for the future. Calling out bad practice – whatever it is. A better understanding and inclusion of social justice will become even more important for brands and organisations to integrate in policy, decision-making and strategy.’
Laura Sutherland

‘Brands are likely to find themselves laser focused on the bottom line and therefore the promotional cycle of sales leaves marketing teams stretched, overworked and in tunnel vision. This isn’t sustainable and won’t build a brand that lasts. PR must work even harder to drive emotive campaigns and brand visibility within an organic capacity to maintain consumer traction and trust.’
Rachel Humphrey, founder of Brand Building Co.

6. A boom for budget brands

‘The main opportunities in 2023 will be for budget brands. PRs representing the likes of cost-saving and affordable businesses will see their efforts and results skyrocket next year, as the cost-of-living crisis becomes even more prevalent in the media landscape than ever before.’

‘It will become more and more difficult to secure placements for luxury brands. While there will always be a place for them in high-end publications, founder stories and building personal brands of luxury company CEOs through PR will prove to be an uphill battle, with national newspapers shying away from putting these companies in the spotlight.’
Georgia Gadsby March, co-founder and head of PR at Unearth PR

7. Networking

‘An increase in face-to-face meetings with journalists. The face-to-face meetings with the media dropped off a cliff since the start of COVID, but they’re finally starting to make a comeback.’
Tom Bourlet, head of marketing for www.fizzbox.com

8. Pivots

‘It is crucial that PR and comms professionals consider all campaigns and initiatives with the current economic climate in mind – poorly timed or insensitive campaigns could backfire and result in publicity for all the wrong reasons.

‘The financial climate also presents an opportunity however, with brands and businesses that seek a way to support and reassure consumers paving the way to receive a positive response. Viewing all activity through the lens of your target audience should be core to your campaign at all times, but it becomes even more critical during times of uncertainty.’
Amy Grantham, founder and director at Neon Brand Communications

9. Sociability

‘Online and mobile first – the media industry is continuing to migrate to online, even mobile-first consumption of news. The integration and amplification of news through social channels is something we can see increasing as we move into 2023.’
Mark Hayward, managing director of Sway PR

10. Purpose-based comms

‘Aligning PR with purpose. Brands should not shy away from talking about their purpose – it can do good through sharing and putting pressure on others.’
Rob Skinner

‘With the current state of the country (and the world) social consciousness is increasing – businesses need to take CSR activities to the next level and avoid greenwashing. This could lead to great opportunities to build that positive organic presence on owned media channels.’
Jessica McDonnell, senior account manager at Source PR

11. Upskilling

‘Personal growth is an area which I would hope those I work with take seriously. If you grow as a person, you can help grow as a professional and can continue to do good work. It’s about taking responsibility for that. No one is going to do it for you. And no one is too senior to grow!’
Laura Sutherland

‘We should continue to double down on professional development – like the training courses offered by the PRCA – to strengthen our position as trusted advisors on issues including ESG, diversity and inclusion, and emerging tech.’
Sarah Scholefield

12. Deciding on the data

‘To really stand out in 2023, what’s needed is a really strong understanding of data to go with the stories being told, in both text and image form. It’s easy for anyone to say “this and that is going to be happening” and make up their own facts, but PRs have a responsibility to tell stories that are as accurate as possible. Journalists, bloggers and whoever we speak to promote our clients will want to be confident in the validity of what we are sharing with them.’
Justin Fox, digital PR & outreach manager for CoursesOnline

‘Clients, like everyone else, will be looking at their bottom line and asking can they justify the current level of spend on marketing and communications? As a result, it will be up to those working in the sector to illustrate why their services remain so important, and to be willing to show evidence of how they are providing value for money at all times.’
Nick Owens, founder of WTS MEDIA

‘Robust measurement to show how PR pulls its weight and drives impact – showing brands how a hard-working press office can deliver results. Utilising data and insight and keeping up-to-date with what’s happening within your industry to know what conversations your brand has a right to be a part of.’
Alex Halls, PR, social and activation at HATCH

‘Demonstrate that you are actually providing real value to their clients and not just ticking over with opinion research – tracking sentiment of the public and what customers think and believe over time to ensure that policies and messages are actually shifting the dial.’
George Buchan, director of research at Charlesbye Strategy

13. Leading conversations

‘Thought leadership – media outlets, especially industry-specific ones, will be looking for this. With more complex topics, journalists will find value in more long-form content being contributed to them by other experts. This will be a massive time saver for journalists, who might not otherwise have the capacity or knowledge to speak on a certain topic.’
Mollie Haley-Earnshaw, PR account manager at Wild PR

‘Following a number of factors, such as Google’s EAT signals brought up through an algorithmic update, there is a much stronger focus on authenticity of the ‘expert’. It will become increasingly important for brands to create profile pages for their experts, highlighting credentials and qualifications to journalists.’
Clarissa Bloom, dating and relationship expert for www.thestagcompany.com

14. Content as king

‘As consumers become increasingly immune to paid advertising, effectiveness and ROI could further reduce. Content marketing, earned media coverage and other organic, non-paid comms could connect with audiences in a more authentic and genuine way.’
Phelan Gowing-Mikellides, business development manager at Digital Trails

15. Even smarter AI

‘A key challenge will be the threat of generative AI and combatting misinformation, particularly online. An area for opportunity and growth – the harnessing of tech to provide data rich intelligence that can underpin PR activity.’
Matt Wilson, media and public affairs manager for Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)

‘Now more than ever, we’re seeing how technology can augment our current capabilities and bring clarity to the role of PR in successfully building brands. And as competition for the best talent grows, we also know that automation of basic functions is essential for any agency to insulate itself against a turbulent jobs market. Not only that, but it frees up said talent to focus on what only humans can deliver: creative solutions to 21st-century communications challenges.

‘None of this is new, but with a recession looming large and society seemingly in a state of perpetual unrest, the risk for many agencies is that they get left behind by newer, more agile market entrants who want to upset the status quo.’
Max Deeley, managing director for TDC PR

For more on getting ready for what is ahead for PR, comms, public affairs and politics, check out Vuelio’s white papers featuring advice and best practice from industry experts. 

What journalists want from PRs in December 2022

Trends for December: What are the UK media writing about?

The end of the year is in sight now and while many will be starting to wind down for the holidays, journalists are still looking to get those final few pieces of Christmas content out or starting to plan features for the new year.

The ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service enjoyed its busiest month of the year in November and a 4% increase in enquiries compared to this time last year. Below we have insights and analysis on what journalists covered last month as well as features they may need contributions for in the final few weeks of 2022.

Sign up for the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service to start receiving requests from the UK media straight to your inbox.

‘Christmas’ has been the top keyword on the enquiry service since September and it appeared in 17% of all enquiries last month. This has also been accompanied by two regular key phrases cropping up as well in ‘Christmas gift guide’ which was in over 4% of enquiries in November and ‘advent calendar’ which made up just over 1%.

Both the figures for the key phrases were down though compared to the trends we saw in October. PRs should still have an opportunity to get gift guides and advent calendars featured as many outlets and journalists will look to cover ‘last minute deals’ or even update or add to current gift guides.

The Women’s Interest & Beauty category received the most enquiries in November as journalists looked for beauty products to review as well as the trends in hair and cosmetics ahead of the Christmas/party season. The Consumer Technology category increased by 6% and, like the Women’s Interest and Beauty category, a lot of the requests were surrounding review products for Christmas. One enquiry summary was ‘Looking for tech products for the home to include in a Christmas guide’ while another wanted ‘Christmas gift ideas for tech lovers’.

These Christmas requests have come from a wide variety of different media types with 32% from blogs, 29% from consumer media and 22% from national newspaper/current affairs. Within the consumer media category, titles sending out requests have included House Beautiful, Mother & Baby and Closer while national press requests have come from the likes of the I paper, HuffPost and the Metro.

Keywords by media type

The caveat here is that a number of these requests containing the keyword ‘Christmas’ have also related to the cost-of-living crisis, as journalists look to offer advice and tips on how people can enjoy Christmas on a lower budget or where they can make savings. The key phrase ‘cost of living’ was seen in just over 2% of all enquiries and this in turn meant a large increase for the Personal Finance category as it went up 27%.

The breakdown for the cost-of-living requests sees the majority of them coming from national press/current affairs titles at 45%, followed by trade/business/professional media on 24% and then radio and television at 15%. This has included requests from journalists at the Telegraph, Daily Express, The Grocer and BBC News.

Away from the on-going trending topics of Christmas and the cost-of-living crisis, the new trend we saw appear in November was of journalists looking to cover the World Cup. However, they haven’t necessarily been looking to cover what is going on on the pitch and are more interested in covering issues that have surrounded the tournament. This has meant that categories like Media and Marketing (31%) and Public Sector, Third Sector & Legal (26%) have grown substantially.

Enquiries have mainly come from national newspaper and current affairs outlets and have included looking for ‘comment from a human right charity about Joe Lycett shredding £10,000 in a stand against Qatar’. Trade media have also released several requests, but looking instead at how the World Cup is helping the hospitality industry and the impact it is having on trade.

Overall, in November, the Journalist Enquiry Service was used mainly by staff journalists (58%) and freelance journalists (25%). Consumer media requests made up 37% of the service followed by national newspaper/current affairs on 27% and then trade/business/professional media at 19%. Journalists looked for a spokesperson or expert in 38% of all requests, with information for an article (27%) and review products (16%) making up the top three enquiry types. Eight of the top ten outlets using the service are from national press.

December should see Christmas and cost-of-living among the top key phrases again. This should in turn mean that the Personal Finance category performs well again as well as Women’s Interest & Beauty. With journalists now planning features for January and beyond, categories like Health and Food & Drink should perform well, with both Dry January and Veganuary coming up. The Sport category could also see a spike if England continue to progress in the controversial but widely-covered World Cup.