What journalists want from PRs in February 2024

Easter, Mother’s Day, and day-to-day help: What journalists need from PRs in February 2024

It’s been a busy first month of the new year for the media with the Post Office scandal, the on-going Israel-Palestine conflict, and three storms hitting the UK to cover.

January is also, typically, the busiest month on the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service. Below, we look at what journalists have been requesting from UK PRs and what the media will be looking for throughout the rest of February and beyond.

New Year resolutions and trends

Back in December, journalist requests for trends and resolutions was particularly popular, with ‘2024’ the top keyword. That proved to be the same in January, with the year being included in 11.5% of the total requests. Journalists were still searching for ‘trends’ (which featured in nearly 3% of the January enquiries) and ‘resolution’ (which appeared in just over 1%).

The variation in what topic they were looking to cover though was wide. Enquiries included 2024 oil and gas industry trends; curtain and blind trends for 2024; maritime experts to predict industry trends for 2024; comments on tech layoffs so far in 2024; and possible trends for the year ahead.

Outlets looking for new year trends were diverse, too, with The Grocer, PA Media, IT Pro, GB News, The Independent, Verdict, and Red magazine all sending requests. The amount of enquiries with the keyword ‘2024’ will likely decline from now. However, there will still be opportunities to get experts and information around trends out, probably based around the seasons. Topics like fashion, gardening, travel, skincare, and technology could be focus points.

The healthy lifestyle

The prediction in last month’s overview that keywords like ‘fitness’ and ‘wellbeing’ would feature regularly turned out to be correct, but it was ‘healthy’ that appeared the most. Just under 11% of all requests in January contained the keyword as journalists focused heavily on lifestyle content. ‘Fitness’ was in over 3% of enquiries and ‘wellbeing’ cropped up in a little under 2%.

The Health category therefore enjoyed a big boost in the number of requests and was the second most popular on the service after Women’s Interest & Beauty. This is unsurprising as there was both Dry January and Veganuary last month. It meant lots of enquiries were looking for experts such as dieticians, nutritionists, personal trainers, and doctors.

Requests around mental health and experts in that field also did well, with ‘mental health’ as a keyphrase occuring in 2% of the total January enquiries. This could have been to tie in with Time to Talk Day. However, mental health and requests for experts in general on health are a regular occurrence on the Enquiry Service. If you are an expert or have a client that is in this field, there will be more opportunities in the next few months.

What journalists were using the service?

In January, 55% of the journalists that sent an enquiry were staff journalists. Freelance journalists were second on 27%. They mainly came from consumer media titles (39%), followed by national newspaper and current affairs outlets on 18%. Trade, business, and professional media accounted for 12% of the requests in January.

The enquiries for a spokesperson or expert made up just under 40% of the total last month. 20% of journalists were looking for information for an article, with 11% requesting review products and 9% trying to find case studies. Seven of the top ten outlets in January were national press with the other three coming from consumer media.

Opportunities for PRs in February and beyond

There is likely to be a big increase in the amount of requests around products and gift guides for Mother’s Day (10 March). 2% of requests in January already contained this key phrase. This will in turn mean a rise in the amount of enquiries for the Women’s Interest & Beauty category. Food & Drink could also see a boost and we will see ‘Easter’ as a new keyword as journalists look to get ahead with coverage for that holiday in March.

Experts will also be in demand with February being LGTBQ+ History Month. Plus, March is both Prostate Cancer Awareness and Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. That coinciding with coverage of the King’s cancer diagnosis means that doctors and medical experts should be in demand by journalists at both national press and broadcast outlets.

Start getting requests like these from UK journalists and broadcasters straight to your inbox by signing up for the Journalist Enquiry Service.

Want more information on getting the most out of the service? Read our advice piece ‘How to respond to journalist enquiries’.

Vuelio's top 10 blog posts of 2023

Our top 10 PR and communications posts of 2023 

As part of our overview of 2023, and a look forward at 2024 in PR and comms, here are the most popular posts from the Vuelio blog this year. From effective media outreach to data-driven reporting, crisis management to brand personality, here are some of your favourite guidance pieces from the last twelve months…

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1. PRs on PR: How to pitch to the media

In this best practice piece from May, we called in some of the industry’s top PRs to share insider tips on how to pitch to the media.

Categorised into preparation, creation, sending, and following-up sections, this piece has what you need to connect with journalists and get them sharing your story.

‘Gone are the days when a pitch sent to a list of hundreds of journalists would result in instant links or coverage’ said JBH’s senior digital PR manager Lauren Wilden —here is how to get results in the modern media landscape. 

2. 5 predictions for PR in 2023 

Prohibition’s founder Chris Norton added to our 15 PR and communications trends you need to plan for in 2023 post with his own five predictions for what was ahead in the second half of the year.

An increase in use of ChatGPT, the continuing popularity of influencer marketing, and even more emphasis on social media were just three of them. No mention of Elon Musk’s efforts to ‘reinvigorate’ Twitter/X, though, but no one could have seen that coming, probably… 

3. Six evidence-backed ways to survive a PR crisis 

This year has seen its share of crises across the world, as well as some difficult times for brands, businesses, high-profile personalities, and politicians that found themselves in hot water.

In this write-up of the Vuelio webinar ‘Speak Up or Shut Down: The Value of Proactive PR in a Crisis’, we examined different brand responses issued in times of trouble to find out what works and what should be avoided at all costs. Check out examples from Coca Cola, Virgin Atlantic, and more. 

4. Autumn Statement 2023 speculation

2023’s Autumn Statement was, as ever, highly anticipated by the public and press. But in a year where the cost-of-living crisis racked up financial pressures for so many across the UK, extra pressure was on Chancellor Jeremy Hunt.

Before the announcement, the Vuelio political team shared speculation from the media and high-profile politicos. Topics tackled – tax, ISA updates, fuel duties, and net zero goals. Were the predictions spot on? Check out our coverage of the Autumn Statement itself here and here

5. International Women’s Day 2023: How can the PR industry evolve for the better? 

Despite efforts to improve equity in PR, comms, marketing, and the media, the creative industries still have a problem with gender equality. For International Women’s Day, we spoke to women working across PR sector.

‘When misogyny is still allowed to breed in our society, at the highest levels and most trusted ranks, we need counter pressures to dismantle toxic views which seek to constrain and harm women,’ said Ketchum’s Alicia Solanki.

Don’t be part of the problem in 2024 – read the post to find out how. 

6. How to build a social presence when your audience isn’t there

Social media is a major part of almost every campaign strategy in modern PR. But with the emergence of the Metaverse, Web3,  and a myriad of tech innovations,, which ones do you invest in? How do you optimise ROI with a small or not-so-technical audience? For how to build a presence on social media, and find your audience, here is how a strong set of Insights tools can help with snapping up earned and owned content, save you time and help you smash your KPIs.

7. Getting to know you: How to build a brand personality

Trust was a key component brands and businesses had to get right in 2023, and will continue to be important for keeping customer and community loyalty in 2024. What will help? Building a brand personality consumers will want to interact with.

In this post, PR experts from agencies including Pace Communications, Sweet Digital, TeamSpirit, and Sway PR explained how to get started, from brainstorming what your brand is about to assembling your assets.

8. Tips for spotting the best newsjacking opportunities

In this guest post, strategic and creative freelance digital PR Alice James gave tips and tricks for successful newsjacking.

For keeping your own brand and your clients in the public eye, here is how to spot the best opportunities by immersing yourself in the news cycle, getting ahead of the curve, and connecting with journalists.

Once you’ve refreshed yourself with a re-read of Alice’s advice, check out tools to help, including the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service

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

Numbers can only tell part of the story when measuring the performance of campaigns — especially when it comes to everyone’s favourite, Share of Voice. You may have gotten a lot of coverage, but what was the quality? Was the commentary passive, or even negative? Is all PR really good PR?

This post offers a five-step guide for getting started with Key Message Penetration, enabling you to measure brand awareness and assess how well your brand messages are being delivered.

10. How has TikTok impacted food and drink content and how will it dominate in 2023? 

Finally, we’re finishing up this year’s highlights with another expert op-ed from our PR and comms community. 

Hatch Group’s social media lead Jack Moore gave the lowdown on how Tiktok has influenced food and drink content and key trends for 2023. With up-and-coming influencers like Keith Lee, B. Dylan Hollis, and Mr Grubworks offering up what’s worth putting on plates, how has short-form changed the world of food and drink PR and what does this mean for the future? Jack shares his predictions and advice – take note, and, given his accuracy over the last year, get ready for a jam-packed 2024.  

To keep up with content from the Vuelio and ResponseSource blogs, sign up to our Media Bulletin, PR Pulse, and Point of Order newsletters here.

Ready for 2024? The Vuelio Insights team is here to help, with reports designed to show you gaps in your media strategy, help you hit your targets, and demonstrate your successes. Learn more here

PR and comms trends for 2024

19 PR and communications trends you need to be ready for in 2024

Being ethical, sustainable, and honest were key to keeping client, consumer, and community loyalty throughout 2023. What should your focus be for 2024 in PR and comms?

Here are predictions from comms professionals for what you should expect in the year ahead. Get ready for collaboration, creativity, and keep in mind that the UK election season won’t be all bad…

1) Making the most of election season (even if it is a slog)

‘An election year always offers a lot of opportunity. Check out each of the party’s policies – what change is potentially coming round the corner for your organisation or clients? Make sure you’re horizon-scanning and planning accordingly.’
Sarah Waddington, director of Wadds Inc, founder of #FuturePRoof, and co-founder of Socially Mobile

‘This will open some interesting opportunities (beyond the Public Affairs remit and in line with the rules) for clients looking to increase brand awareness and be a central part of the media conversation and narrative when it comes to backing funding for their specific industries. Think infrastructure projects such as EV, telecoms, transport, as well as healthcare services i.e., mental health.’
Niki Hutchinson, founder and managing director at LarkHill PR

2) Collaborating with clients on content

‘I hope that 2024 sees more communications professionals work with customers to understand what messages resonate the most, and even co-create some campaigns, events, and content together. This will put an end to irrelevant messages that, at best, waste resources, and at worst, damage a brand’s reputation and customer loyalty.’
Sarah Danzl, CMO at Skillable

3) Being truthful

‘One of the biggest challenges is credibility and ensuring we are placing our clients in publications and on platforms which value truth and transparency. And although we seem to talk less about ‘fake news’, that challenge remains.

‘We have already seen, with Russell Brand’s large social media following and reach, along with Boris joining GB News, that alternative platforms create and groom loyal fanbases that are often less interested in fact, and instead value that feeling of community and belonging. As PRs, it’s important that we take note of their position and influence, while also remembering our duties to be truthful and to operate ethically.’
Victoria Moffatt, founder and managing director for LexRex Communications

4) Focusing on audiences

‘For any outcome to be achieved we need to persuade specific audience groups to take specific actions. Skills such as stakeholder mapping, behaviour science, prioritisation, and relationship building have become increasingly valuable and, when married to excellent planning and measurement, enable us to generate value and evidence it.’
Leigh Greenwood, founder and managing director of Evergreen PR

5) Becoming more results-driven

‘The evolution of PR into a more results critical model will continue. This perhaps being (as we are seeing) a 70/30 split between digital PR campaigns and brand PR – the former in the pursuit of increased organic keyword performance to drive much needed leads for clients. Basically, most businesses need double the sales leads to convert business as usual in this increasingly troubled market.’
Trevor Palmer, director/founder of Tank

6) Being purpose-driven, too

‘These days consumers are far more savvy when it comes to where they are spending their money and publications sometimes have a quota to cover a certain amount of sustainably responsible brands. This leaves a really big opportunity for purpose driven brands to succeed.’
Francesca Cullen and Rosie Lees, co-founders and directors of Nineteen94 Communications Agency

‘As many working in the comms industry know, the rules around the eco messaging companies can legitimately use to sell products and services is continually evolving. This is likely to continue to present sensitive and complex issues for brands keen to communicate green initiatives and innovations to target audiences, without falling foul of greenwashing claims, as we head into 2024.

‘For example, we expect to see a decline in the “big but difficult to prove” eco claims of the past – e.g. that a certain product or service is completely ‘carbon neutral’ – in favour of brands adopting a more honest and open dialog with audiences, that shows how they are improving things, as well as the work that still needs to be done.’
Alice Regester, CEO and co-founder of 33Seconds

‘In my opinion, this actually represents an opportunity for brands. The ones who are prepared to be transparent about their challenges – where they’ve fallen short and where they’ve needed to pivot – will be the ones who are seen as more authentic and trustworthy to their consumers, but will be the ones most likely to drive change – inspiring stakeholders and other brands.’
Lucy Newson, deputy managing director at Alfred

7) Using your brain

‘It’s time to focus on the most powerful tool PR and Marketing pros have – brain power. Hyper-personalisation is a key element within Industry 5.0 and we’re seeing it reflected in B2B buyer behaviour.

‘Be creative not bland, hook on to the ideas that are stimulating buyer behaviour, get strategic about your brand equity.’
Jamie Kightley, head of client Services for IBA International

8) Freshening-up content with video

‘PR that incorporates short form video will provide plenty of opportunity for more creative agencies and professionals. Younger audiences don’t want content dictated by centuries-old media companies. Fresh, original content via brands and organisations’ own channels will continue to dominate.’
Jane Whitham, director of Altitude PR

9) Increasing creativity when budgets decrease

‘Smart PR agencies will revel at the creative challenge of tighter briefs, smaller budgets and the need to, finally, nail campaign ROI. Most PR practitioners are problem solvers by nature, and it’s amazing what can be accomplished when you’re forced to think differently. Creative content is the perfect partner for PR. Today’s consumers of all ages are much more open to seeing creative content everywhere. We will see further integration of PR and social media in the years to come.’
Caroline Miller, founder and managing director at Indigo Pearl

10) Using human voices (that means case studies)

‘The rise in fake news, misinformation and the use of AI in comms is making audiences sceptical. As a result, they are turning to sources of information that feel authentic, relatable and human. This is a great opportunity for excellent PR – accurate storytelling that really resonates with the audience. Hard data adds to the feeling of trust, so a human voice coupled with decent data will be a winning combination. Putting the human voice at the centre of communications will be important, so thought leadership, expert content and influencers will be key players in 2024 strategies. So much so that Google is prioritising the proven experiences of individuals over branded content.’
Susannah Morgan, deputy managing director of Energy PR

11) But there’s no escape from AI just yet…

‘Since AI makes producing new content so much easier, content flooding is an unfortunate side-effect of this. Nevertheless, I believe that this repetitive content flooding our social channels will make us aware of the worthlessness of a great portion of the content we kind of got used to in the past and make us more discerning about the content we consume.’
Peter von Kageneck, DACH PR director for Life Size Media

‘The industry as a whole needs to acknowledge that the marriage of human creativity, strategic thinking, and data-driven AI insights can create an unprecedented and unrivalled level of impact when used correctly. Together, they will usher in a new era where PR is not just about communication – but more so understanding, influencing, and adapting to an evolving digital landscape.’
Sheridan Okey, head of digital PR at Tribera

‘News is cyclical and data can inform stories that have exceeded performance metrics in the past, and with AI further embraced in newsrooms we’ll see past content repurposed and reused throughout the year in line with regular trends and seasons. Cut-through for this type of activity will be much harder unless something really unique or compelling is offered, which could include reputable voices, rich in expertise or new supporting findings and data.’
Damian Summers, head of Digital PR at Impression

‘While for some this may be seen as “the robots taking our jobs”, it in fact provides opportunities for PR agencies to demonstrate their worth and how invaluable their insight is, by showing that we know our clients, have good relationships with the media and provide that crucial human element that AI just doesn’t have.’
Holly Daulby, managing director and founder of Honest Communications

12) Teamwork

‘Integration is a big one here. Utilising different services within PR campaigns is a great opportunity to maximise the reach of our stories, and allows clients to get more bang for their buck. Working across departments and cross-channel will be something agencies should be doing.’
Beth Turner, head of PR at ilk Agency

‘Harnessing the power of the team, working together, digging in, sharing the load and holding people’s hand to tackle the challenge together to me seems the best way to respond to the challenges ahead. Bring on 2024 – another year of challenge, change and opportunity.’
Rachel Roberts, CEO of spottydog Communications (part of Leopard Co

‘Further integration between marketing channels. Budgets are tight and brands are looking for the maximum return from their investment. A multi-channel approach across PR, SEO, social and paid can support and increase results across all channels.’
Sarah Ross, account director for R&Co Communications

13) Shared experiences

‘I think we’ll continue to see the rise of community-driven experiences. The Barbie movie plus the Eras and Renaissance tours showed us that shared experiences are still top of people’s wishlists.’
Sarah Henderson, managing director of PrettyGreen Group and chief client officer

14) Equity

‘I, for one, am very much hoping that 2024 will be a year when the PR world starts to address equity and diversity. CIPR has made strides in this, and I am set to be the EDI Champion in the Southwest, but with figures showing that 9 in 10 UK practitioners are white, and 25% are privately educated—around four times higher than the UK national average—we need to do better.

‘We can no longer work in an industry full of offices that look like the cast of “Emily in Paris”, instead, we must make a commitment to a truly diverse workforce that reflects clients, campaigns, and stories.’
Natalie Trice, career coach, PR and media expert trainer

‘It’s no longer going to be acceptable for brands to simply give a small nod to their corporate values and responsibility to their communities. Consumers are more savvy and will actively call out brands whose messaging doesn’t seem sincere, and this can have a huge impact on the brands’ reputation.

‘It’s time for brands to be more consistent about where they stand on big social issues and be more authentic in their messaging. Next year, brands will need to start dedicating parts of their PR activity to show how they’re making a positive impact on the planet, their workers, and their communities.’
Gareth Hoyle, managing director for Coveragely

15) Zeroing in on Gen Z

Brands need to understand the Gen Z demographic, and target them through short form content and video, meaning that they need to be tapping into TikTok, and influencer marketing, and understanding how they engage. Taking time to learn this now will put your brand ahead of the curve come 2024.’
Hayley Knight, co-founder and communications director for BE YELLOW

16) Keeping our Google Overlords happy

‘Not only are trust signals such as customer reviews and testimonials, client lists, and industry accreditations important for today’s more cautious customers, but they’re also incredibly important to Google. Google is consistently trying to determine how trustworthy a brand’s website is in the same way that potential customers are in order to rank its search position. Third-party endorsement is going to be a requisite for brands in 2024.’
Sarah Woodhouse, director at AMBITIOUS PR

‘As the industry evolves, there’s a growing emphasis on what we call “search real estate”. Brands are investing in SEO and PR expertise to construct a digital presence that cultivates trust, thereby enhancing brand value and measurable conversation metrics.’
Lexi Mills, CEO of Shift6 Studios

17) Podcasting

‘If PR and communications professionals haven’t recognised the impact and reach of podcasts yet, they need to do this in 2024.’
Stephanie Mullins-Wiles, director of Bluesky Education

‘Multimedia content will also continue to grow over the next year, serving as an opportunity for agencies. According to Demand Sage, in 2023 there will be 464.7 million podcast listeners globally. This number is predicted to reach 504.9 million by 2024. Podcasts are no longer simply audio recordings, but video too, to provide visuals for listeners who are keen to consume content cinematically. According to Sprout Social, YouTube Shorts get 30 billion views daily from users around the globe; it is a platform not to be overlooked.’
Rachel Gilley, chief client officer at Clarity

18) Making use of insight tools

‘2024 has the opportunity to be the year where the PR industry really gets serious about listening to audiences as well as talking to them. The continued blurring of the lines between PR, digital, and social, and the myriad of tools both free and paid that we have at our disposal, mean the availability of insights to strengthen our work has never been greater.’
Ewan MacGill, associate director, consumer, at Frame

19) Optimism

‘Overwhelmingly, our research and audience profiling are showing that people want brands to spark joy, and make them smile. In the midst of multiple crises and distressing news cycles, people are looking to brands for a bit of escapism and lightness.

This needs to feel natural an authentic, as our audiences are more sensitive than ever to performative tactics. With this in mind, there will be an opportunity for brands that naturally fall in the spaces of humour, escapism and joy to truly amp up the fun, and shine bright in 2024.’
Dana Hanna, senior creative strategist for Ready10

PR for good: How to empower communities with advocacy campaigns

PR for good: How to empower communities with advocacy campaigns

Feeling unsure of your purpose in PR? Comms can be a force for good – it can amplify voices (too often) unheard by decision makers, changing mindsets, and sparking progress in society.

If you have PR skills, you already have everything you need in your toolbox to make change, too.

This was the topic of our latest Vuelio webinar ‘Empowering communities through advocacy campaigns’, where we were joined by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and the Commission for Victims and Survivors for Northern Ireland (CVSNI). Both organisations have had measurable success with ensuring their communities are heard and with pushing progress forward – here’s how they did it…

‘From the outset, our purpose and objectives were clear’: Royal National Institute of Blind People’s battle against railway ticket office closures

The challenge: Keeping offices open
On 5 July, a proposal was published to close almost all ticket offices across England and Glasgow Central. Despite the potentially huge consequences of this, a consultation was opened for just 21 days. For the RNIB, this meant quick action would be needed:

‘Our messaging was very clear,’ said RNIB’s local campaigns manager Lindsay Coyle. Aims were set – push for an extension to the consultation period, and keep the ticket offices open.

Actions: Get the word out
RNIB has regional teams across the country, and everybody needed to be on board with plans to spark engagement with the cause. Consultation response templates were shared, emails were sent out to subscribers encouraging contact with MPs, and news items were placed detailing how to submit responses.

As the consultation period was extended to 1 September, the RNIB team kept pushing, asking supporters to continue to write to their MPs and local newspapers expressing their concerns. In October, the transport secretary asked operators to withdraw their proposals – ticket offices would not be closed, and RNIB had achieved both of their objectives.

Results: Mainstream media cut through
As shared by Gorki Duhra from the PR team, RNIB secured 1,121 pieces of media coverage across broadcast print and online for this campaign. National media outlets including BBC, ITV, Sky, The Telegraph, The Independent, and local outlets across the devolved nations picked up the story, as volunteer campaigners, regional campaign officers, policy officers and spokespeople gave interviews.

RNIB media coverage

The RNIB team secured a huge key message penetration rate of 98% across its media coverage, with 94% directly mentioning the charity’s research.

‘On the first day, we reached about 906 media outlets, which was a record for the charity for a one-day event,’ said Gorki. ‘Our messaging resonated with so many different people across society. We were on target straight away in getting the message out. And that was just by being prepared.’

Want to get positive results for your next campaign? Get everybody on board
‘We coordinated our team internally, engaging our wider staff group, and setting up an internal teams channel,’ shared Lindsay.

For external stakeholder engagement, personal stories and case studies are vital. RNIB invited the public to create their own stories using #INeedATicketOffice:

‘We got videos of blind and partially-sighted people and our volunteer campaigners filming at local train stations to show how difficult it was to purchase a ticket, use the vending machines,’ explained Lindsay.

‘When politicians talked about the issue in Parliament, they spoke about the experiences of blind and partially sighted constituents and shared those stories directly. Labour actually used some of our statistics in their comms, as well.

‘Sharing personal stories across social media is really powerful, as is the ability to act quickly – being able to mobilise people to take action.’

Gorki shared the importance of being reactive to get cut-through:

‘As a charity, we knew about this a week before the announcement, which was snuck out on some Tuesday afternoon, at about 4.45pm, as these things tend to be. We had a few statements signed off and ready, and our distribution list of journalists – six minutes after it was announced, I had our statement out in the press.

‘PR isn’t just a press release, it’s using social media contingent, audio content, other messages – it’s sharing what people are really saying.’

‘What precedent does this set for the rest of the world?’: Commission for Victims and Survivors for Northern Ireland’s fight to support those impacted by the lasting legacy of The Troubles

The challenge: Centring people in Governmental procedure

Background to the Legacy Bill

Head of communications and PR Alana Fisher’s ten-person team at CVSNI had a huge challenge ahead of them for this particular campaign – advocating for victims and survivors of The Troubles in the wake of the proposals within the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill. The Bill was laid by the UK Parliament in May 2022 and widely condemned across Northern Ireland’s political spectrum – key contentions included provisions for immunity from prosecution for Troubles-related offences, and shutting down civil cases such as inquests.

Ultimately, the team knew stopping the Bill’s passage through Parliament would likely be an insurmountable task, and in September 2023, the Bill was passed into law. CVSNI’s energy and resources during its passage were focused on amendments; trying to keep victims and survivors front and centre:

‘There is such a vested interest in this Bill because of what it means for other conflict zones and the rest of the world who would look to the UK as a leader in upholding human rights,’ said Alana.

Actions: Educating on Northern Ireland’s history and influencing decision makers in Parliament

Education on the ongoing impact of Northern Ireland’s past would be a vital part of the CVSNI’s campaign – especially for stakeholders missing knowledge of the issue. Stakeholders to reach alongside victims and survivors were the media, NGOs and academics, international groups including the United Nations, the ECHR, and the US. Key stakeholders with the power to implement change were in UK Parliament:

‘We wrote to parliamentarians likely to have vested interest in this issue and developed very specific requests to be considered as amends to the Bill,’ explained Alana.

‘We were able to have a breakfast meeting with House of Lords Peers, bringing them together with victims and sharing what the Bill would mean for them, their families, and wider society. We got them early around a table, and highlighted those personal stories.

‘Most of the victim sector in Northern Ireland took an approach of no engagement with the Northern Ireland Office (NIO), which is Westminster’s branch looking after NI. The Commission came from a different point of view – we are a statutory organisation, and we have to advocate for all victims. We were vocal in our opposition to the Bill in the media, but alongside this, we adopted a pragmatic approach of leaning, in determining the power and influence we could have in the final shape of the Bill.’

‘The media and our own comms channels were an important way to highlight our messages – traditional media as well as self-generated. We produced podcast episodes on this issue, animation videos – different ways that we could raise the profile and how it was not an appropriate approach to deal with Northern Ireland’s past.’

Results: Growing understanding of impact
‘We really got to grow knowledge and understanding of the continuing impact of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, not just on victims and survivors, but through the generations,’ said Alana. ‘That isn’t always there in mainland UK, particularly with generational change.

‘Many members within the House of Lords went on record to say that this is the wrong approach, and at one stage during its passage, the Lords voted to remove the clause around immunity from prosecutions (it was, however, reinstated by the House of Commons).

‘We were able to get our message onto media channels in mainland UK as well as in Northern Ireland and international journalists, like those at the New York Times who were now keeping eye on this.’

Ultimately, the objective was to centre the voices of those who would be impacted the most, and CVSNI placed them in a position to be heard.

For success in your own cause-led campaigns, remember the people at the centre of your issue

‘When you put human beings in front of other human beings, it’s a different level of understanding that comes about,’ advises Alana.

‘We can put together as many communication tools and press releases as we want, but the power of personal stories was pivotal to us in highlighting what this Bill will do, both for the victims and survivors and their families, but also for the wider reconciliation aspect in Northern Ireland.’

Whatever you’re communicating, getting the word out to those who need to hear it is key. Know what you want to achieve, make sure your team is onboard and prepared, find your stakeholders, and get connecting – it really can make a difference.

Watch the full webinar here, and check out these four brands making a big impact with their cause-led comms.

Six data-driven tweaks to your media analysis that will transform fundraising efforts 

Knowing how to incorporate fundraising into campaigns can feel like a bit of a losing battle. Too much can scare donors away, while subtleties can easily get lost in media coverage — or worse, not picked up at all. Finding the right tone and phrasing can feel like an art-form; so when you do hit the mark, how do you know you’re making the most of the opportunity?

Fortunately, a few small tweaks to your outreach can ensure you’re not optimising what you’re saying, but where you’re saying it and who is listening. 

Here are six data-driven tips from the Vuelio Insights team for your next campaign strategy, so you can confidently reach fundraising targets and optimise potential: 

Conduct an audience analysis

A pretty great place to start is learning about your donors. How well do you know your audience(s)? Who is most likely to give and what are the potential barriers to giving? Perhaps there’s a new and untapped demographic showing advocacy for your cause across social media. 

Secondly, what media types and publications do these audiences consume? Which outlets are most effective at communicating cause-led comms to them?

Once you know more about your donor profiles, you can then tweak your target media list, prioritising outlets that engage those most-likely to give.

Assess how you’re being discussed 

Now that you understand your audience a little better, take a look at the quality of your coverage too. 

Two key places to start would be share of coverage and sentiment. What percentage of  articles typically feature a fundraising incentive? What is the overall sentiment of the coverage (i.e. positive, neutral, negative)? How does this compare to competitors?

You could also look at prominence to assess whether donations were highlighted as a headline, substantial or passive mention. This will expose where you are getting the most valuable coverage and how that lines up with your target media list. 

How well are your donation motives communicated in the press?

Any campaign is best accomplished with a concise set of key messages. What are the main points you want to drive and how does this inspire readers to give? 

Key message penetration is a metric often used by the Vuelio Insights team to showcase the percentage of media coverage that featured a key message. You can use this to learn more about which motives are most-mentioned by the press and therefore most-likely to trigger a donation by the reader. 

What are your biggest media opportunities?

You may be on track to transform the quality of coverage in existing outlets, but what could you achieve? What are the biggest media opportunities ahead? 

One of the best ways to reveal this is to:

  1. Learn about the media most-consumed by your target audiences
  2. Conduct a competitor analysis on the top ten outlets most-likely to cover you and similar charities 

With these two pieces of information, you can see where major coverage opportunities are already unfolding among other industry players and which of those may appeal to your donor-oriented audiences.

Refine your calls-to-action 

Measuring your calls-to-action is essential for knowing what phrasing, links, phone lines etc. are considered most actionable for donors.

Call-to-action penetration is a singular percentage, representing the proportion of your coverage that offers direct opportunities to donate i.e. links to donation pages, phone numbers, etc. This total figure can also be segmented by the different types of call-to-action you may use, so you can see which ones are most effective. 

Vuelio Insights’ top tip: If you’re already gaining some traction with your target media list, try conducting these analyses on a sample of these select publications. This will help you to see what is working best specifically in the outlets that engage donor-oriented audiences.

Outsource your analytics 

Of course, not all of us are equipped with the time or resources to conduct this research by ourselves. Outsourcing an expert insights team provides you with the information you need to make confident strategic moves and transcend your fund development goals.

At Vuelio, we couple expertise with accessibility. Our reports showcase exactly how you’re performing, in a digestible and informative manner. Whether you’re looking to showcase your PR efforts in line with donation data, or perhaps compare coverage across traditional and social media – we help you communicate the most important statistics to stakeholders with confidence and ease. 

Audience and media impact analysis are just a few of the six report types offered by our experts on the Vuelio Insights team. Want to learn more? Get in touch here.

Social impact PR

Making a difference: 4 examples of social impact PR in action

Want to make a positive impact on the world with your PR? Before you start Googling local charities and pondering baked bean-filled bathtubs, get inspiration from brands making a real difference with show-stopping social impact campaigns.

Here are examples of public relations for the public good from brands including Pret, Persil, Hellmann’s, and Cats Protection…

1. The Pret Foundation offers enrichment

A mainstay of hungry office workers and commuters (many PRs among them), Pret prides itself on providing healthy options for people on the go. But it doesn’t stop there.

The Pret Foundation was launched to make a difference to people impacted by poverty, hunger, and homelessness. Food not snapped up in-store by the end of each day is donated, and the foundation also offers financial grants to grassroots charities, and training and employment within its own stores. Extra opportunities are also offered to those in need as part of the Rising Stars programme.

Alongside all this, the programme has gained Pret plenty of positive mentions in the press over the years, including write-ups of recent royal visits. Media coverage — not the main point of the programme, of course, but a bonus for the brand, no doubt.

2. Persil says Dirt Is Good

Persil has been cleaning up with its Dirt Is Good Project for over a decade now – aiming to make a ‘positive impact on young people’s wellbeing, their communities, and the planet’.

Children aged 7-to-14 can plan social impact tasks – finding out how soil is used around their school, discovering shared values with friends, and getting ready for Earth Day – as part of the Dirt Is Good Academy, logging their good work on the website, celebrating milestones, and the completion of their project.

The award-winning programme from Persil even contributes to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals – scrubbing up well for the brand’s purpose, and the future of the planet.

3. Hellmann’s fights food waste (with some help from Nintendo and Channel 4)

Spreading mayonnaise (other condiments are also available) on leftovers you weren’t particularly excited to finish off is a tried and tested way to fight personal food waste. But Hellmann’s wanted to go further back in August 2020.

Joining the bandwagon of brands hopping onto Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizon at the time, Hellmann’s logged on to do good, not just game. Creating its own digital island, Hellmann’s asked players to donate their spoiled turnips (this makes sense if you play Animal Crossing; trust us) and contribute to the real-world donation of 25,000 meals to food charity Second Harvest.

Visitors to Hellmann’s Island could learn more about fighting food waste with tips posted to information boards within the game, and download branded merch. As a bonus, Stephen Fry shared his own recipe for a vegetarian nut roast toastie to inspire people to make the most of their leftovers as part of the campaign fun. GBBO’s Prue Leith also joined the effort as part of Hellmann’s team up with Channel 4 on its ‘Cook Clever, Waste Less’ programme. Lots of easy-to-swallow ideas – no extra condiments required.

4. Cat’s Protection celebrates black cats

Did you celebrate National Black Cat Day this year? Launched by Cats Protection back in 2011, the 27 October event aims to ‘help celebrate the majesty of monochrome moggies and beautiful black cats’.

It’s not just about showing love and appreciation for our furry friends, however – statistics in 2011 showed that both black and black-and-white-furred felines took seven days longer to find homes, compared to their other-coloured compatriots.

As well as providing an excuse to share lots of pics of quality cats, Cat’s Protection has made a real difference with this ongoing campaign. Black and black-and-white kitties now spend less time in care – ‘resulting in thousands of happy cats and owners’. Lots of warm and fuzzy feels for this one.

Want more ideas for making a difference with your PR? Check out how charities Tiny Tickers and The Wildlife Trusts got cut-through with their campaigns on shoestring budgets here.

Cause-led comms: How to find out which case studies perform best

Cause-led comms: How to find out which case studies perform best

Case studies are an effective way to demonstrate the immediate impact that your organisation is having on those most impacted by the cause. Whether it’s support that you have directly provided, or perhaps commentary on a relevant news story – case studies demonstrate action and thought leadership, boosting overall brand awareness and donor opportunities.

Here are six ways to find out which of yours are standing out from the crowd:

1. What does ‘best’ mean for you?

Everyone’s definition of success is different, depending on the campaign and overall objective. Before you start measuring any media coverage, it’s essential to understand what the ‘best’ looks like for both within your organisation and within your team..

For example, high volume doesn’t always mean positive results — in fact, focusing on quantitative figures alone can massively distort your real performance and hide significant achievements. The quality of coverage is key; what if you have 50% less coverage than your competitor, but theirs was 50% more negative? What if all of their coverage was passive mentions and yours included headline hits? You get the idea.

Quality of coverage is particularly important when it comes to case studies. Knowing whether you want to be the most-talked about, the most positively-mentioned, most prominent etc., is a vital first step to the measurement process.

2. Visibility over time

Impact over time

Looking over a chosen period i.e. six months, which case studies are generating the most coverage? Which stories peaked quickly and which had a slow burn over a longer timeframe? Again, none of these are good nor bad – each of them depend on your goals entirely.

3. Key message penetration

Let’s say the goal of your case study campaign is to promote the idea that your organisation – or perhaps a key spokesperson within it – is a go-to expert in the industry. Key message penetration is an effective way to measure the percentage of case study coverage that demonstrates this ‘expert’ reputation, and any other message you’re keen to establish.

An effective way to do this is to build-out a concise list of key messages that you’d like to be embedded in your case study coverage, then when the campaign is over, measure which ones have been most-mentioned by your target publications and beyond.

4. Which spokespeople gain the most traction?

Many not-for-profits have several reputations to promote, e.g.. PDSA – alongside its board members, the animal welfare charity has several regular veterinarians that are identified by name in advice columns.

If a goal of yours is to promote the awareness of specific faces within the organisation, then it would be valuable to assess which names are most-to-least mentioned in your case studies and why. Remember, volume isn’t everything — study how they’re mentioned too and ensure it aligns with your goals.

5. Is it on your target media list?

Are any of your case studies being heard by your target audiences? If so, where and how many? Which ones are most picked up by the press?

A simple way to learn this is by taking all of your case study coverage over a certain campaign or time period and filtering it out to only display what appears in target publications. This list will provide several layers of insight into which case studies are performing ‘best’ in the media outlets that are most-relevant to your campaign goals.

Vuelio Insights’ top tip: By doing the same thing for your competitors, it’s possible to find new publications that are interested in similar case studies to yours and as a result, uncover a whole host of untapped media opportunities.

6. Vuelio’s Impact Score

We get it – when time is scarce and the pressure is high, sometimes you just need a quick answer to move forward with your communications plan. The Vuelio Impact Score is a bespoke metric designed by our Insights team that offers you a simple, actionable, singular figure for your own combined goals.

For example, if you just want to know which case studies are getting the most volume and positive sentiment combined, the impact score tailors to this. Alternatively, you could be looking for case studies with the most positive CEO mentions – in comes the Vuelio Impact Score.

Ultimately, it’s one thing to read the tips, but it’s another to find the time and resources. The Vuelio Insights team does the work for you by creating expert-led, highly digestible media impact reports just for you, so you can see exactly how you’re performing and feel confident in your next steps.

Want to learn more? Get in touch here.

How to build authentic connections with Gen Z

Vuelio webinar: How to build authentic connections with Gen Z

From ethics to activism — are Generation Z really who you think they are?

Our next webinar ‘How to build authentic connections with Gen Z‘ explores the diversity of personas within the Gen Z audience and how brands and organisations can successfully communicate with the younger generation.

Leading the discussion and breaking the stereotypes will be Vuelio’s insights content lead Hollie Parry who will talk us through audience analysis and the results of our recent industry survey on engaging with Gen Z.

Which industries are successfully engaging with this demographic? What do they care about? And, in what ways have we misunderstood their values?

Webinar: How to build authentic connections with Gen Z

Date: 24 October 2023
Time: 11:00 – 11:30 BST

Register to learn:

– Which media platforms and social media channels are most used by Gen Z
– What the most common misconceptions of the Gen Z audience are
– How having a tailored Gen Z strategy can help you access one of the most valuable audiences out there

Can’t join us live? Register here and we’ll send you the recording.

Want a primer on Gen Z before the webinar? Download our white paper ‘The PR guide to communicating with Gen Z’.

October 2023 trends on the Journalist Enquiry Service

Festivities, fitness, and topical trends – what journalists need from PRs in October

It’s still nearly two months before we can open the first door on our advent calendars, but journalists and bloggers have already been looking to get their hands on them for reviews and features.

Wondering what else the media are looking for? This roundup of all the topics and trends on the Journalist Enquiry Service in September will shed some light and provide you with pointers for getting media coverage in October.

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

A flurry of festive enquiries

Christmas requests started to trickle through from July and are now the dominant keyword on the Journalist Enquiry Service. Last month, over 13% of the total requests contained the keyword ‘Christmas’. This is double the number we saw in August.

A lot of these requests have been for a ‘gift guide’, which as a key phrase occurred in 8% of the enquiries. While ‘advent calendar’ also performed well and there were just under 3% of the total requests looking for these. Journalists at heat magazine, MailOnline, The Sun and Glamour have used the key phrase ‘advent calendar’ while reporters at Town & County, Bella, Yours and The Guardian have sent enquiries for ‘gift guides’.

This will remain pretty constant throughout October and November, meaning plenty of opportunities to get products and samples out and covered in both consumer media and national press titles.

A strong showing for fitness

A keyword that you would normally expert to find in January that was prevalent last month (appearing in just under 3% of the total requests last month) was ‘fitness’, perhaps because of National Fitness Day on 25th September.

Some journalists were looking to get ahead of the curve with one looking for information on ‘Health, fitness and wellness events taking place in 2024’. Others were more focused on the here and now, as another journalist asked for ‘Fitness gear for fall: must-have equipment and apparel.’ This resulted in a very healthy 23% increase for the Leisure & Hobbies category.

A BOO-m for Halloween

We mentioned last month that ‘Halloween’ would naturally increase in popularity throughout September and that proved to be the case as the amount of requests doubled. This holiday is normally popular with children and the Children & Teenagers category saw a 23% rise as a result.

Journalists from the Daily Mail, Daily Express, Metro and Stylist.co.uk all sent Halloween-related requests last month. These varied from wanting suggestions for costumes, to events for adults and kids, to Halloween home decor ideas. This should continue to be a trend until we reach the holiday at the end of the month, so still time to get coverage in the media if you have products/events along these lines.

Topical trends – From AI to mental health

Seasonal events like Christmas and Halloween will always do well on the Journalist Enquiry Service, but what about the trending topics each month? 

‘AI’ performed strongly with just over 2% of the total requests featuring it as a keyword. This has been a trending topic for most of the year but could also link into legal issues for ChatGPT around copyright relating to ‘Game of Thrones’ and other media properties. The Consumer Technology category had the second biggest increase from August as it rose 24% – only Men’s Interest improved more at 27%.

Another trend that we have, unfortunately, seen for a while is around the cost-of-living. September’s focus has been on energy, with journalists asking for advice from experts on reducing bills ahead of the Winter months. ‘Energy’ as a keyword featured in just under 2% of last month’s enquiries. The Times, The i paper and ITV News all covered this topic and it should remain a keyword, presenting more opportunities to get an expert featured in the national media.

‘Mental health’ has been another key phrase performing well on the service, with World Suicide Prevention Day on 10 September and World Mental Health Day coming up on 10 October. Enquiries around this topic are usually for experts or information and statistics. The Health category, which is regularly the second most used each month by journalists , saw an 8% increase as a result.

What are journalists using the service for?

The majority of journalists using the service in September were looking for a spokesperson or expert (34%). Review products was the second most popular enquiry type on 24%, with information for an article next on 22% and personal case study fourth on 11%. Most of the journalists were from consumer media (35%), with national newspaper/current affairs second on 26% and trade/business/professional media third on 18%.

51% of people sending a request were staff journalists, while 27% were freelance journalists – making up nearly 80% of the service. In terms of the top outlets sending requests, eight of them were national press and the other two were consumer titles.

Opportunities for PRs in October?

‘Halloween’ will see a final flourish as a keyword and ‘Christmas’ is likely to increase again as the festive season approaches. Both keywords present chances to get review products featured. 

If you work with experts and spokespeople, then health is the hot topic this month. As we mentioned, World Mental Health Day is coming up, as is World Menopause Day. It’s also time to celebrate Black History Month, so we expect journalists to be looking for comment. We could also see a boost for the Travel category, with the October half-term holiday in a couple of weeks’ time.

To start receiving requests from the UK media to your inbox, find out more about the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service.

How journalists are writing about Gen Z

Work, life, and finances: How the media are covering Gen Z

The first real digital native generation, Gen Z, or those born between 1997 and 2012, is an age group in demand with industries from fashion to dating desperately trying to get its attention.

The media frequently covers the demographic, so we examined their approach and the opportunities for PRs that we’ve seen via the Journalist Enquiry Service.

Gen Z: A popular topic for the media

Gen Z as a keyword has fluctuated in popularity as a keyword over the last six months on the enquiry service. However, the number of requests containing ‘Gen Z’ has doubled from August to September.

These requests have tended to focus on the generation’s attitude towards work and the workplace. This included a request from a national press journalist who was looking for comment on the trend for so-called ‘lazy girl jobs’ – which is quite often associated with Gen Z. While a trade journalist wanted to know if Generation Z was having a hard time adapting to in-person workplaces.

Gen Z at work

This focus on Gen Z and work meant that a lot of the requests came from trade titles. In fact, 44% of requests around this keyword were from trade/business/professional media. Journalists at HR Grapevine, Business Leader, People Management and StartUps.co.uk have all been exploring this topic over the last few months. It has varied from looking for information, to wanting case studies and expert comment, so if you have any clients with expertise in this area then there should be more opportunities.

Money as a motivator

Closely associated with the topic of work is finance, and there have been several enquiries looking to explore this area. These have included looking for a figure/research on Gen Z’s discretionary spending each month and for information on whether money is the biggest motivator for them. All of these enquiries around work and finance meant that 52% of the requests containing the keyword ‘Gen Z’ were in the Business & Finance category, 45% were for the Education and Human Resources category, and 31% were in Personal Finance.

Life as a Gen Zer

However, it hasn’t just been work and finance that journalists have been looking into around Gen Z. The Women’s Interest category was the third most used category, on 38%. A national press journalist was looking for case studies of women choosing to freeze their eggs in their 20s, and another national press reporter was looking for a sex and relationship expert to comment on why Gen Z are having less sex.

Most interested in writing about the age group? National press

In fact, 33% of all enquiries around Gen Z as a keyword were from national newspaper/current affairs outlets. This included The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, PA Media, The Guardian and the Evening Standard. They varied from looking at the women’s interest/health angle, to work and finance, to exploring Gen Z’s relationship with technology as well as what their interests are. On the tech side, one journalist was looking for an academic for a piece on the relationship between AI technology and Gen Z workers. Another was looking to hear from publishers/literary agents/YA experts about why royal-themed romances are so popular with Gen Z.

This shows that while requests around Gen Z in work and their finances are the most popular, there is a great deal of variety of enquiries around this topic. The need for experts/spokespeople, as we see on a monthly basis on the Journalist Enquiry Service, is the most in demand, though. 48% of the enquiries for Gen Z as a keyword fit into this enquiry type and this definitely provides the best avenue going forward for securing coverage in the media.

Want to start receiving requests from UK journalists, broadcasters, and influencers direct to your inbox? Check out the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service

Why you should consider indirect competitors

When building out your PR strategy, a seemingly obvious tactic is to monitor rivals in your industry. The mistake here is thinking that your only competitors are those creating the same products or service as you, when in reality it goes far beyond that. 

Indirect competitors, often operating in different sectors or catering to different customer needs, offer unique insights and opportunities that can fuel innovation, growth, and long-term success in your PR. 

So what kind of indirect competitors are there? When should you be watching them? 

Same strategy, different products 

Particularly in PR, it’s important to look at competitors beyond your products and services. What are some of your core values or engagement tactics? Who are you competing with in this arena? 

For example, outdoor clothing brand Patagonia and automotive clean energy company Tesla function in totally different industries — but both of their customer consumer strategies revolve around environmental sustainability. 

Therefore, they would be considered aspirational competitors because they share this same value. Let’s say they are both aiming to enhance sustainability messaging in their media coverage. By monitoring each other (and other brands with similar values), they are able to see how the conversation is evolving, what the benchmark is and build out a target media list based on publications their competitors have been featured in for sustainability reasons. 

Same needs, different brands 

Have you considered how your customer needs may align with totally different brands? This is also an opportunity to branch out your competitor analysis.

For example, both Apple and Peloton provide leisure and entertainment to customers — while otherwise being totally different services. Hypothetically, say both brands released products around the holiday period. Given that entertainment is a hot topic during the season, this would be an ideal opportunity to get a holistic view of who and how brands are mentioned in the wider media discussion.

Expanding partnerships 

Competitor analysis doesn’t always have to be – well – competitive. Indirect competitors can make valuable partnerships. Building strategic alliances with brands that somewhat align to yours can open doors to complementary resources, technologies and established media awareness that would otherwise be out of reach.

Alternatively, you could also monitor who your competitors are already partnering with and how this has landed in the media. Are there any brands or industries you hadn’t thought of before that are proving to be successful?

Situational competitors 

Sometimes your competitors change because of an external factor, such as a crisis. 

Over the past month, Canadian grocery store Loblaws and Dollarama, the country’s most-established dollar store, went viral following a Reddit post about the significant cost difference for the same items at both stores. The story made national headlines, with comments from CTV news on how they’re ‘not direct competitors’ historically but drastic inflation has put them in a competitive position.

If, for example, Loblaws are trying to promote value-for-money messaging in response to the Canadian cost of living crisis – this would now make Dollarama one of their biggest competitors in this area.

Brand personalities 

If you’re trying to promote the media presence of a key figure or spokesperson in your company, how would you like them to be portrayed? How do these aspirations line up with other prominent figures in the media that aren’t in your industry? 

For example, a charity that teaches children how to read aims for their founder to be seen as the go-to speaker on the future of education. There could easily be competitive voices from universities, local governments, etc. – making them indirect competitors. 

Consider your goals 

Gauging your indirect competitors is easy when you know what your media awareness goals are. Consider what aspect of the brand, product, service or spokesperson you would like to promote and how this is being successfully executed by other industries. 

If you’re unsure what to promote, conduct a media analysis to see how you’ve performed so far and identify areas of improvement. If you’re lacking in awareness around one of your core values, turning to indirect competitors you to get a bigger picture of where you line up and generate  ideas for your next possible move.

If you haven’t secured much earned media yet, write a set of key messages – a short list of positions you want your brand to be perceived by target audiences. Once you identify core aspects of these messages, such as values or personality traits, monitor how indirect competitors are being discussed in relation to these areas.

Short on time and need answers fast? Let our team of insights experts do the work for you. Vuelio’s Insights team provides media strategy planning reports that help you identify competitors and learn from their media coverage. Get in touch to find out more. 

Will AI replace PR pros?

Can AI Replace PR Pros? The Writing Prowess of Artificial Intelligence versus Human Creativity

This is a guest post from Mary Poliakova, PR consultant and co-founder of Drofa Comms.


Although I’m a professional with more than 15 years in journalism and PR with a corresponding university degree, I never cease to educate myself and improve my professional skills. There is nothing more disheartening than a C-level executive stuck in the past. Thus, I’m currently enrolled in yet another higher education program for business owners. And one of the first lectures I attended as part of this initiative was dedicated to – you guessed it – AI.

Although the concept is as old as advanced tech can go (the 1950s, to be precise), 2023 gave it a new wave of hype. The PR industry is no exception to the trend – professionals ask themselves whether PR professionals should be concerned about recent developments and how creative industries respond to the challenges and moral aspects of generative AI applications. Not to be unfounded, I’d like to add some tangible data to the conversation around AI.

Presenting the Results of the AI Experiment

Recently, the PR and Content teams of my agency conducted an experiment where colleagues from different departments analysed three incognito texts of up to 150 words on the same topic: the role of AI in PR. One commentary was written by a human, a mid-level PR professional, and two were generated by AI. You can read the three texts, the criteria, and the detailed results of the experiment in our blog. But here are the main takes from it.

First, the text written by a human received the highest score. We calculated each short text on a 100-point scale, and the text created by a PR professional got 80 out of 100 points. Two other texts generated by ChatGPT and Notion AI received 76 and 62.4 points, respectively.

Overall, experiment participants noted that AI-generated texts have word-for-word repetitions from a given assignment and wordy sentences. On the other hand, machine-generated texts had a clear structure but lacked smooth, logical transitions from paragraph to paragraph.

As 40% of the correspondents were content writers and editors, all of them agreed that the text written by a human had the highest originality score. They likewise stated that AI-generated texts provided a purely theoretical stand, looking like an explanation to a required task rather than expressing a genuine opinion. However, several participants noted that a text created by a PR professional may have lacked factual argumentation compared to its AI counterparts. So what conclusions can we draw from this experiment?

The Future of AI in PR

The small experiment we’ve conducted leads us to believe that even the most advanced technology cannot exist without a ‘human touch’ to it (at least for now). AI can be of great assistance to the creative industry and PR pos when used cautiously and responsibly. And decent results can only be observed when a human professional knows how to correctly assign tasks to generative AIs. Even then, any written content generated by artificial intelligence must be fact-checked and edited to meet the criteria. After all, AI-generated content is based on the existing one on the Internet. And the risk of plagiarism varies depending on the AI model you use.

Overall, PR professionals should stay tuned for tech developments to test and incorporate effective tools while being cautious about potential changes to regulatory frameworks around artificial intelligence solutions. And executive PR teams must conduct training for managers on how to work with AI tools ethically. I would likewise recommend developing thorough instructions with clearly defined guidelines for using diverse types of advanced solutions in everyday work. The labelling of corporate materials, generated entirely or partially with the help of AI, is also an essential aspect of the ethical utilisation of advanced tools.

After all, I believe AI cannot replace the PR profession, but as it evolves constantly, experienced professionals with the ability to incorporate technologies into everyday work will be in great demand.

For more on how AI could impact public relations, for good or bad, download our white paper with Danebury Research ‘Reputation management: How PR & comms can maintain trust in an AI-assisted future‘ and watch the accompanying webinar ‘The AI Conundrum: Paving the way for the future of comms‘. 

Lessons from the rights and wrongs of health and pharmaceutical communications

Lessons from the rights and wrongs of health and pharmaceutical communications

There have been plenty of challenges in health and pharmaceutical reporting and communications over the last 30 years, with the last three being particularly tumultuous for those tasked with communicating both complex and constantly evolving news to the public.

At a Vuelio lunch held at the Gherkin last month, Channel 4’s health and social care editor Victoria Macdonald shared the lessons to be learned from the good and bad of her 30-year career covering health and pharma.

Read on for her thoughts on high-profile political flubs you won’t want to replicate, the importance of ensuring any promises made can be met, and just how unhealthy misinformation can be to your audience.

PR teams: prime your spokesperson properly

‘Looking back over the various points in my career and the exciting breakthroughs – the scandals, the pandemics – I would say that Covid was an interesting roller coaster.

‘I was the journalist who asked Boris Johnson if he was still shaking hands. I wasn’t actually trying to catch him out; I was genuinely interested. His reply was so astonishing – “Yes,” he said.

“I am shaking hands,” Johnson added. “Only last night I was in a hospital shaking hands with coronavirus patients.”

‘The chief medical officer and the chief scientific adviser went pale as they stood beside him. An hour or so later the Downing Street press office rang to say that of course he hadn’t shaken hands with coronavirus patients.’

Promises must be met

‘My first interaction with the pharmaceutical industry, and whether it was making excessive profits at the sake of people’s lives, was around reputation.

‘I am thinking about a court case in 2001 in which the South African Government won against 39 pharmaceutical companies that had sued because of a provision that would have allowed the production and importation of generic drugs for HIV/Aids. That case was dropped in the end because of national and international pressure.

‘I was there reporting it and it was a momentous day – undermined by the Government actually failing to distribute drugs until they, too, were taken to court.’

Balance celebration with caution

‘There’s news of another Alzheimer drug that can slow cognitive decline by 35%. And the quote was that this could be the beginning of the end of Alzheimer’s disease. The thought is so thrilling and anyone in this room who has seen or is living with family members who have Alzheimer’s knows what it’s like to watch it happening in front of your eyes.

‘This may be too late for our mothers or fathers or grandparents – but maybe it will be ok for us – I hope so.

‘Yet this is another one of those announcements where you have to be so utterly cautious when reporting and communicating it. You want it to be a celebration, you absolutely want it to be the beginning of the end of Alzheimer’s, but you have to tell your audience that there are many caveats.

‘The last thing you want to do is rain on someone’s parade, but neither do you want a relative ringing up and saying where is this drug, why can’t my Mum have it now?’

Inoculate your audience against misinformation

‘That most wonderful moment nine months into the pandemic when the announcement of the first vaccines was made – we had had so many briefings early on in 2020 that no vaccine was in sight and then suddenly there really was.

‘Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said the Astra Zeneca vaccine’s reputation had been battered by a toxic mix of misinformation, miscommunication, and mishaps.

‘Yet there were trial problems – and reporting on these was very difficult because you didn’t want to lose the excitement of such an important development, but had to give as much information as possible.

‘There was a real change in communications during the pandemic. At first, Government press offices were slow to get up and going. But it got better very quickly.’

‘Looking back on Covid – so much changed and yet also so little’.

For more about maintaining trust and communicating complex campaigns clearly in health and pharmaceutical sectors, download the Vuelio white paper ‘Medical misinformation: How PR can stop the spread’.

8 things you need to know about the use of AI in PR and the media

8 things you need to know about the use of AI in PR and the media

Will AI ultimately be a help to us in our jobs, or lead to a Skynet-level humans versus artificial intelligence showdown years in the future? We can’t answer that, but we can tell you how technologies like ChatGPT are already impacting public relations, the media, and politics – both for good and, when applied incorrectly, the not-so-good.

Here is what you need to know about the use of AI in PR and journalism now, taken from our latest white paper ‘Reputation management: How PR and comms can maintain trust in an AI-assisted future’ – download it here.

Want more on this topic? Sign up to our webinar with Danebury Research’s Paul Stallard ‘The AI conundrum – paving the way for the future of comms’ to join us on Wednesday 7 June, 11-11.30 BST.

1) A pro: AI is supporting the work of journalists (and helping the bottom line)

‘Over the last few years, we have seen the use of AI increasing because it’s valuable to support the journalists in different areas; in news gathering, in news production, but of course most importantly with the audience and the way in which you can enhance that and raise revenue.’
Charlie Becket, founding director of Polis and leader of the LSE Journalism and AI project

2) A con: AI could hinder the work of journalists to inform when applied incorrectly

‘We have to think about where we can use those tools, and when we shouldn’t. One of the things I want us to do is to demonstrate where our articles are coming from. People are using AI and putting together information without that source to show where that information came from.’
Jo Adetunji, editor at The Conversation

3) PRs need to be ready to fight AI-assisted PR disasters

‘We cannot escape conversations around ChatGPT at the moment – any activist or online troll could use that technology to spread all sorts of content on social media to trash the reputation of a corporation. If you are a bit more sophisticated, you could use deep fakes to impersonate senior figures in business to create a PR disaster. For a listed company, bad actors could move their share price.

‘And I am not making this up. The Eurasia Group has forecast this as a possibility in 2023. PRs must be aware of the reputational challenges posed by actors harnessing tech for malicious ends.’
Thomas Barton, founder and CEO of Polis

4) AI may not revolutionise comms, but it could streamline the way we work

‘Although ChatGPT is expected to continue to revolutionise the way we do PR and marketing, I still believe it won’t lead to smaller teams and massive layoffs.

‘Instead, the tool will further streamline PR processes to help PR professionals become more productive. So, the tool will only get better at proofreading your press release, refining your PR pitch, and helping you come up with ideas for a PR brainstorming session or social media posts. The tool will also get better at ensuring consistency across your PR (and marketing) material.’
Chris Norton, founder of B2B PR agency Prohibition

5) Entry-level jobs in the creative industries could disappear

‘Probably in lots of different sectors it is the ‘bottom rung’ that will be impacted — people who have just started their job.

‘I’m sure it’s the same in PR as in journalism — when you start out, you’re doing the unglamorous jobs. That work could be done better by AI, potentially. The bottom rung could be in a difficult position.’
William Turvill, associate editor for Press Gazette and media correspondent for the New Statesman

6) An increase in AI assistance means a need for more personalisation and authenticity (AKA humans)

‘With the rise of AI-generated content, storytelling will become even more relevant. Increased AI-powered content production will create more content, which will be more general as AI is not incentivised to be bold. This means personalised, unique voices will become more powerful, as it will help companies stand out from the crowd.’
Jan Bohnerth, CEO of Life Size

7) In the absence of regulation, PRs must hold themselves to account

‘Everything’s happening so fast — there needs to be big thoughts about regulation. At a firm level, there’s a lot you can do with making sure you don’t rip people off.’
Helena Pozniak, independent journalist writing for the Telegraph, The Guardian, the Institution of Engineering and Technology as well as various universities and specialist sites

8) Don’t be alarmed, but be realistic about the impact AI will have on you and your work going forward

‘I saw someone tweet that AI is going to kill us all in five years. I’d be so wary of any bold claims like that, because there is so much money behind this stuff, in doom-mongering or overexaggerating.
‘Future prediction is always a murky area — that’s something I would be hugely vary of.’
Amelia Tait, freelance features writer for outlets including The Guardian, New York Times, Wired, the New Statesman, and VICE.

Download the full Vuelio and Danebury Research white paper here.

Check out what you also need to know about the impacts of fake news, shared in our previous webinar with Polis’ Thomas Barton ‘Why we need to take online misinformation and disinformation seriously’.

Vuelio webinar on misinformation

The fight against fake news is not lost: How PRs can combat misinformation and disinformation

‘I don’t think we’re in a post-truth world yet, but we need to act now to avoid that worst-case scenario,’ believes Polis Analysis CEO and Founder Thomas Barton.

In our webinar ‘Why we need to take online misinformation and disinformation seriously’, Thomas shared the problems we face as a society with fake news, predictions for how it could impact politics, business and health, and the vital role of PR practitioners in the fight for truth.

Watch the full webinar here.

What can PRs do to fight misinformation, disinformation and fake news?

1) Report misinformation whenever you see it

This isn’t about surveillance mindset – this is simply about protecting the health of our public debate and discussion. Just as you would point out incorrect information around the table at the pub, you should feel a responsibility to call out something that could undermine trust online.

This is about proactively taking action to have content taken down when you come across information that’s untrue.

It’s important to remember this isn’t about undermining free speech – it’s about preserving the quality of our free speech. That means any discussion we’re having should be rooted in the facts.

2) If a client mistakenly shares misinformation, speak up quickly

As we know, content spreads fast. False information being shared on social media for a couple of hours is all it takes to have a pernicious effect on misinforming individuals. The best thing a PR professional can do in this situation is to flag that false information has been published, take it down, and then ensure the company or client understands to be more rigorous with its fact-checking before publishing anything.

We all have a responsibility to ensure that we fully understand what we’re publishing and that it’s based on facts when we put content online.

For more on how to handle a PR problem spreading across social media and in the press, check out advice from our previous webinar ‘Should you speak up or shut down in a PR crisis?’.

3) Challenge trusted institutions and authorities when necessary

We all have a responsibility to raise concerns even about a trusted organisation.

This is where legislative solutions are useful. If you’ve got an institution of a certain size, with a certain platform, something like the Online Safety Bill could provide an opportunity to ensure they abide by the same duty of balance as traditional broadcasters.

That combination of a top-down legislative and bottom-up educational approach in media literacy is crucial.

4) Recognise the risks emerging technologies bring

Technology, by definition, is disruptive; it’s always going to be a double-edged sword. Advances in AI are welcome and can bring all sorts of efficiencies to various industries, including PR and journalism. But there are risks involved.

Malicious actors could run misinformation campaigns by using software like ChatGPT to pump out deliberately false information across social channels. Spreading misinformation was an issuebefore AI, but the problem we face now is the increase in proliferation across the online space.

5) Back calls for extra accountability from social media giants

There has been a shift in accountability from social media companies recently, and that’s because they have done little-to-nothing for a long time in this space. Pushes from regulators and political institutions mean these social giants are now taking more ‘voluntary’ action.

The European Union passed the Digital Services Act (DSA), which compels social media companies to provide more transparency on how their algorithms work – the EU has shown that it’s willing to take steps. But despite this, the big social media companies aren’t taking it seriously enough.

This Wild West approach where we have no regulation and anything goes is simply not sustainable – legislation is necessary for these companies to take their responsibilities seriously.

6) Train new PR recruits to question content

There are workshops out there – from The Guardian and The Times, for example – on how to identify content that’s false and misleading, instilling more general critical thinking skills. Other resources can show you the difference between a headline that’s fake or true; how you can look at the originality of sources; how to do a reverse image search if you’ve got a doctored image; and determining the intent of the source. This is all housekeeping and hygiene practices we can instill in those early in their career.

Our focus is on education right now, because if those in school can develop their critical thinking skills, they’ll be better equipped to deal with these challenges at work. But we need to think about bringing these resources into current workforce environments, too.

7) Remember we aren’t in a post-truth world yet

There are people that have already succumbed to their echo chambers and only read content that re-enforces their own existing biases, but the fight is not lost.

There’s still an opportunity to fight false information with the facts – the problem is that we haven’t taken any action yet.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak always talks about the importance of teaching Maths– really, we should be talking about the importance of digital literacy.

The US government is preparing for a polarised society in 15 to 20 years, so we still have some time to deal with this problem. But we must act fast to fight back and take the necessary action now.

For more on Thomas Barton’s work with Polis Analysis, read our previous interview ‘The fight against misinformation, disinformation and fake news is just beginning’.

Find out how big brands including Coca-Cola, FIFA, and British Airways have dealt with PR crises in our webinar ‘Speak up or shut down: The value of proactive PR in a crisis’ and track your own company and clients’ reputations in the press with Vuelio Media Monitoring.

What is SEO PR? Why using a combined Digital PR and SEO strategy is the key to success

What is SEO PR? Why using a combined Digital PR and SEO strategy is the key to success

Good content and outreach are the foundation of digital PR and SEO, so it makes sense to formulate a combined strategy to help drive traffic, increase visibility and generate valuable publicity for your content.

In this article, we’ll explore how Digital PR and SEO can come together to form an integrated SEO PR strategy and the benefits of bringing these disciplines together to accelerate success online.

What is SEO?

SEO, short for Search Engine Optimisation, refers to the process of driving organic traffic from search engines to your website, using a set of practices designed to get your content to rank better in the SERPs (search engine results page).

Most people discover content online from organic search results, so a good SEO strategy is key for driving traffic to your website.

Google’s algorithm is responsible for determining where pages rank for a specific search query, and this is dependent on how compliant pages and content are with Google’s ranking factors.

To optimise your content to rank highly in search engines, you’ll need to consider:

1. Keyword research

Keyword research is the vital first step when optimising your content for SEO purposes. Paid SEO tools such as SEMrush, Moz and Ahrefs provide extensive keyword data, covering everything from competitor analysis, gaps in your keyword research and keyword difficulty to help you make informed decisions when finding keywords to target in your content.

However, free platforms such as Google’s Keyword Planner and Google Trends are also valuable for finding relevant keywords. You’ll still find essential insights like search volume to help you select the higher-priority keywords that will help you drive traffic, but paid sites offer more data to ensure you utilise the right keywords for your content.

2. On-page SEO and page structure

On-page SEO is the vital optimisation stage. Once you know which keywords you’re targeting and you have your content written up, on-page SEO techniques are essential if you’re hoping to drive traffic and get your content ranking highly in the SERPs. On-page SEO includes:

Header tags
Structuring your content with appropriate header tags. This not only makes your content more readable for both users and search engines, but gives you the opportunity to highlight your primary and secondary keywords. The H1 on your page should also include the primary keyword and acts as the main title at the very top of your page, while H2s and H3s mark the following subheadings.

Page title and meta description
A page title and meta description are the first element of your content users will interact with in the SERPs, giving them a chance to preview the subject of your content as a snippet, ultimately influencing whether they engage and whether your snippets attract clicks. Beyond that, a well-structured page title and meta description, including your keywords, will indicate to crawlers and search engines what your page is trying to rank for.

So, now you’ve done all your keyword research and selected the most relevant phrases with significant search volume, using keywords doesn’t stop at your header tags. Using your keyword throughout the body of your content is essential for indicating to both users and search engines that the entirety of your content is relevant and adequately answers the search query the keywords are targeting.

While the first section of your content is arguably most important for engaging the user and keeping them reading on to lessen the chance of a high bounce rate, using variations of your keyword throughout you can signal to search engines what your content is about, helping you rank higher in the SERPs for your primary keyword.

However, using keywords in the body of your content will only be effective if you avoid keyword stuffing. Only include your keywords if it feels natural and purposeful, as search engines like Google can pick up on the relevancy of keyword use, and black hat SEO tactics often do more harm than good.

Images and videos
Using visual aids on the page works alongside your content by enhancing your overall message and engaging the user by splitting up large chunks of text that would appear weighty. According to Search Engine Land, web content done right should be designed for skim reading, as it’s found that online audiences ‘scan through it in order to find quick visual cues that will help them get the information they want. When they see something that appeals to them, they’ll stop and read more thoroughly’.

But, beyond ensuring your content is user-friendly and readable, optimising your images and videos with relevant file names and alt text helps to boost both SEO and accessibility. From an SEO perspective, descriptive alt text helps Google understand your image and how it relates to your content.

Internal and external links
Internal and external links with optimised anchor text focused on relevant keywords are vital for your content to rank highly in the SERPs. The first step is to understand the difference between internal and external links.

Internal links direct to a target page on your site, increasing engagement by providing users with a call-to-action where they can follow up on further information about a particular topic. As well as that internal links also help to direct crawlers around your site, helping search engine bots navigate your site and find other related pages. On the other hand, external links point to another website – linking to trustworthy material that helps to back up your content from an authoritative source improving your content’s credibility.

When using internal and external links, it’s also essential to optimise your anchor text to ensure users and search engines understand what the webpage you’re linking to is about and how it relates to your content. Anchor text, or link text is the clickable text of a link within the body of your content; it’s typically displayed in blue and underlined. Using keyword-rich anchor text that’s relevant, natural and varied will help your content rank.

3. Building links to your content

Link building is arguably one of Google’s most significant ranking factors in SEO. As mentioned in the above point outlining internal and external links, relevant links pointing out from your content to authoritative sites can help to position the article as trustworthy in the eyes of Google.

The other side of that, however, is that other websites can also link to your content, positioning it as an authoritative and expert source of reference – in SEO, these are called backlinks. An easy way to think of a backlink is as a ‘vote of confidence’; the more backlinks you acquire from credible sites, the higher your content can rank in the SERPs.

Acquiring backlinks are where traditional PR techniques come to play, as outreach is a common theme for both PR and SEO. While creating high-quality content means you’ll increase the chance of your article being found and linked to organically, SEOs regularly practise outreach for link building to promote the article and ask relevant people, bloggers, organisations or websites to link to your content.

Knowing this, the natural affinity between PR and SEO is apparent. Backlinks are one of the most fundamental elements of successful SEO, and Digital PR methods can aid this enormously.

What is SEO PR, and how is it different to traditional PR?

Aided by the knowledge of SEO foundations, it’s time to apply all you already know about Digital PR with SEO techniques to build your SEO PR strategy.

Now more than ever, PR and SEO are being thought of less as separate disciplines but as intrinsically linked due to their shared requirements for success – high-quality content and credible and authoritative media coverage or backlinks.

So, what is SEO PR, and how can it be understood? In short, SEO PR isn’t too dissimilar from traditional PR. SEO PR is still centred around creating high-quality content or campaigns and pitching to media to secure coverage but with the bonus of SEO-optimised content stemming from keyword research and on and off-page SEO tactics to generate organic traffic and discoveries from the SERPs.

SEO PR shouldn’t be considered a replacement for traditional PR methods but as PR and SEO working together and complementing each other for even greater success within campaigns, content and coverage.

However, one key difference is how PR and SEO professionals track the success of content and campaigns and the metrics they measure. While traditional PRs measure content success using metrics such as volume, reach, media opportunities, social engagement, and sentiment, SEOs measure organic traffic, keyword rankings, search visibility, revenue, sessions, and bounce rate.

The beauty of Digital PR and its primary focus on online forums is that PRs can use SEO metrics to measure the success of their online campaigns, all while propelling the reach of their content through SEO optimisation. On the flip side, SEO benefits from quality backlinks and general brand awareness – strengthened and supported by Digital PR expertise.

Top ways to implement a SEO PR strategy as a Digital PR professional

So, now you know how to optimise your content using SEO techniques, it’s time to combine what you already know about Digital PR and SEO to implement your winning SEO PR strategy.

Below, we’ll explore the synergy of PR and SEO to weave out the top ways you can actualise your combined strategy as a Digital PR professional:

Better understand your target audience with keyword research

The best way to guarantee your content creates a buzz and becomes a newsworthy piece picked up in the media is by directly appealing to your audience and what they’re currently talking about online.

With keyword research tools, as previously discussed, you can find out which keywords your audience is interested in and the volume of the search queries surrounding a specific subject.

Once you have a better idea of your audience, the topics of interest, and the keywords they’re using to discuss the subject online, you can tailor your word usage to reflect your target audience and become more aware of the media outlets your target audience are likely to engage with.

Target sites with a high Domain Authority (DA)

Domain Authority (DA) is a metric devised by Moz to measure how authoritative a site is. Websites are given a score from 1 – 100, 100 being the best possible score and a greater probability of ranking highly in the SERPs.

Link data is the principal determiner of an authority score. Sites with a large amount of high-quality external links will have a higher DA, and smaller sites with fewer external links pointing to them will have a lower DA.

With this in mind, it makes sense to consider the DA of sites you’re outreaching as part of your SEO PR strategy. Use SEO tools, such as Moz and SEMrush, to factor in a site’s DA when compiling your media outreach hit list, as a backlink from a website with a high authority score is an SEO PR win.

PR link building: focus on building high-authority backlinks through Digital PR campaigns

As we all know, PRs are experts in outreach, which is why Digital PR and SEO work together so well. Once you’ve compiled a list of relevant websites with high DAs, it’s time to start the SEO PR outreach effort to ‘earn’ high-authority backlinks.

Digital PRs are specialists in media relations, pitching and press release distribution, making them experts in outreach and acquiring links – something many SEOs describe as one of the hardest parts of the job.

In SEO, for a backlink to be considered high-authority, the links must be ‘earned’ and not paid for, meaning obtaining links from sites with high DAs, such as the BBC or Forbes, is a challenging endeavour that can often take time.

Digital PRs have the expertise of putting time into researching journalists and knowing how to grab their interest with a tailored pitch, making Digital PR link-building essential to successful SEO.

So, is SEO PR the future for Digital PR professionals?

The natural synergies between Digital PR and SEO make both disciplines invaluable to the other. By using these SEO techniques, PRs can optimise their content to increase visibility across search engines, drive traffic for your brand and monitor the success of Digital PR campaigns. On the other hand, SEOs can utilise the expertise of Digital PRs to acquire high-quality backlinks to increase the authoritativeness of a website.

While SEO PR isn’t a replacement for traditional PR techniques, it embraces the natural link between Digital PR and SEO that professionals can combine to form a strategy that brings substantial success.

For more guidance on SEO best practices, download our white paper.

How have the UK media been covering industrial action in the travel sector

Trends in UK journalism: How is the media covering industrial action in transport?

In the last few months, the news headlines have been dominated by the ongoing strikes across different sectors. Nurses, train drivers and Post Office workers have been among those calling for wage increases to match the rises in inflation.

One of the sectors calling for industrial action that has probably impacted the most people is the transport industry. Regular train strike days have affected commuters, airport and passport office strikes have altered holidaymakers plans, while bus and taxi drivers have also taken action.

We decided to take a look at what newspapers and broadcasters have been requesting and researching on this topic via the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service, alongside other subjects trending in the media.

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

There are 25 categories in total on the Journalist Enquiry Service but we’re honing in on four that are most relevant to the transport industry: Transport & Logistics, Motoring, Travel and Public Sector, and Third Sector & Legal.

If we look at all four categories over the last six months, 61% of the journalists sending requests are staff while 21% are freelance journalists. There is then quite an even spread for the media types they are coming from. Trade/business/professional media just comes out on top with 30% of the total requests, with consumer media just behind on 29% and national newspaper/current affairs on 23%. Journalists sending requests in these categories have mainly been looking for information for an article (36%), with enquiries for a spokesperson or expert next on 28%, review products on 12% and personal case studies on 10%.

This gives us an overall picture, but we can delve further into each category and see what media types and publications are sending requests. Firstly, we will look at the Transport & Logistics category. 47% of requests in this category came from trade/business/professional media titles. These included the likes of Logistics Manager, Industrial News and BizClik.

There was also a request from Future Rail magazine looking for the ‘rail industry trends for 2023’. The majority of the journalists sending requests in this category were also looking for information for an article (48%) with 30% asking for a spokesperson or expert. This provides ample opportunity for PRs to get experts and information featured within the trade media.

National press journalists are the next biggest users of this category with 23% sending an enquiry. Newspapers like The Daily Telegraph and The Times used the service. The nature of the requests varied quite widely with an I paper journalist looking for information on how to handle travel disruption, a Daily Star reporter looking to speak to a female pilot in the airline industry and a MailOnline writer asking for case studies around the ULEZ expansion.

This gives lots of opportunities to get clients featured in national press across a variety of different angles. There is also a fair amount of broadcast media journalists sending requests in this category with 12% coming from the radio & television media type. This has included the likes of ITV News, 5 News and GB News. Mainly, they have been focused on covering the strikes, either looking for locations to film at or case studies of commuters/people affected by the industrial action.

The Motoring category differs from Transport & Logistics, with national press journalists being the biggest users (42%) here over the last six months. This has included titles such as The Sun Online, The Independent and Metro. Requests have not focused specifically on the industrial action, but instead looking for an expert on petrol stations (for The Mirror Online) and case studies of slashing car insurance by buying a dash cam (for The Sun).

Consumer media is the second biggest media type within the motoring category, on 26%, with titles like Parkers sending requests, followed by trade media on 13%, with outlets such as Automotive World and Car Mechanics.

One of the keywords that comes up within the motoring category over the last six months is ‘EV’ or electric vehicle. This has occurred in over 4% of requests within this category. EV Magazine, Saga Exceptional, Verdict and ITV News have been among those looking for information and expert comment within this area. Any clients with expertise in this field could therefore be featured in consumer, trade or broadcast news.

The Public Sector, Third Sector & Legal category is not specifically aimed at the transport industry but a lot of requests around topical issues such as the strikes mean that journalists will select this category to get different viewpoints.

It’s mainly been used by trade titles over the last six months, with 53% of all requests coming from this media type. This has often been focused on the sustainability angle with ‘sustainable’ as a keyword appearing in 4% of all enquiries across all four categories we’ve focused on. Open Access Government, for example, was looking at sustainable development in the UK transport sector and achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

National press journalists are second in this category with 21% of all requests coming from them. The Daily Express, PA Media and Reuters all sent enquiries in the last six months. The vast majority were looking for a spokesperson or expert, which was the most popular enquiry type on 48%, followed by information for an article on 36%.

The Travel category is usually more consumer-facing and therefore it’s little surprise to see consumer media as the biggest user on 45%. Titles like GoodtoKnow and Pick Me Up! have sent enquiries around industrial action and strikes, but generally these enquiries are geared more towards holidays and tourism.

Overall, the keyword we saw most frequently across all four categories was ‘import’ which appeared in over 4% of the total requests.

‘Environment’ cropped up in 3% with ‘customers’ back on 2.5% and ‘strike’ at just over 1%. ‘Road’, ‘train’ and ‘rail’ all finished at around 1% with ‘airport’ and ‘aviation’ in about 0.5% of all the enquiries.

Depending on what you or your client has to offer, there are opportunities to get featured across all of the various media types. Experts on the transport sector and sustainability and information and case studies around the strikes and imports and exports are just some of the areas that you can look to target.

For more on how the UK media are reporting industrial strikes action in the travel sector, read our Vuelio Insights report ‘On the right track – which train companies are derailing negative press?‘. 

Want to start receiving requests from UK journalists with detailed information on what they want from PRs? Check out how to make the most of the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service

PR predictions for 2023

5 predictions for PR in 2023

This is a guest post from Chris Norton, founder of B2B PR agency Prohibition, former University lecturer, author of “Share This Too” and his social media training blog.

The PR landscape is changing at a fast pace. New PR approaches are coming up every day and PR professionals have to always think outside the box to run effective campaigns.

In light of all this, there are a few overarching trends that are expected to have ripple effects across the public relations field. They are, ultimately, expected to shape the public relations landscape in 2023.

I’ll take you through five main PR predictions for the year 2023 so you can tap into them for PR success. Let’s get started!

1. More Prevalent Use of ChatGPT

Since OpenAI released ChatGPT in 2022, the hype about the tool has raged on. That isn’t about to change in 2023. After all, tech giant Microsoft has inked a $10-billion deal with the startup, vowing to incorporate the technology into Bing. Also, Google has declared a Code Red in response to the release of the tool. All these developments only mean one thing: we can expect a better ChatGPT and more similar tools to crop up in the near future.

Although ChatGPT is expected to continue to revolutionise the way we do PR and marketing, I still believe it won’t lead to smaller teams and massive layoffs.

Instead, the tool will further streamline PR processes to help PR professionals become more productive. So, the tool will only get better at proofreading your press release, refining your PR pitch, and helping you come up with ideas for a PR brainstorming session or social media posts. The tool will also get better at ensuring consistency across your PR (and marketing) material.

With an increased awareness of the ways an improved ChatGPT can help in PR, expect a more prevalent use of the tool in the field in 2023.

More PR professionals will adopt the technology and similar ones seamlessly into their workflow in 2023. The goal is to not be left behind by their colleagues who have already had the foresight to adapt to changes in the technological landscape early on. I covered how ChatGPT could improve PR processes in much more detail last month here.

2. Growth of Influencer Marketing

There’s no doubt that influencer marketing will continue to grow in 2023. The Influencer Marketing Benchmark Report 2023 predicts that influencer marketing will be worth $21.1 billion in 2023.

By definition, influencer marketing involves brands tapping into online influencers so they can market or promote the brands’ own services or products. This is an effective strategy since the influencer holds sway. After all, they have hundreds or thousands of followers.

Companies that harness the power of influencer marketing and add it to their PR budgets will create structured systems of sourcing and engaging influencers.

3. Continued Importance of Social Media

One notable PR prediction for 2023 is the continued importance of social media in PR.

Social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook allow brands to have two-way communications with their customers and followers.

This helps them build a community of like-minded people around their products and services.

So, businesses won’t just continue to build their brands using social media. In the end, as customer engagement becomes even more important, they will continue to build social communities as well. They will strive further to get more Instagram followers, increase Facebook shares, and boost retweets in the hopes of expanding those social communities.

But Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other major social media platforms won’t be the only ways brands will engage with their customers and prospects.

Brands will tap into newer social platforms like TikTok for brand marketing and social commerce. This is especially so since it has been shown that TikTok is effective as a sales and marketing platform:

Additionally, one of the PR predictions is that owned platforms like social media will be more of a focus for brands than paid media. Around 60% of communicators said that their organisation is placing more emphasis on these.

With this greater emphasis on their own online platforms, brands are also expected to increase their cybersecurity budgets.

4. Greater Focus on Transparency and Authenticity

Audiences are expected to value transparency and authenticity even more when choosing the brands to transact with. As a result, in 2023, brands will be more open with their prospects and customers. Whenever any newsworthy events occur in the company, they will continue to reach out to niche media outlets that will help them reach their target audience.

Consumers will be even more exacting in their standards during a PR crisis. Businesses are expected to admit when things go wrong. They will be expected to communicate the clear action steps they’ll take to solve the problem. With the rising role of technologies that enable quick communication, consumers will expect brand responses in an even more immediate manner.

As brands place more value on transparency and accountability, I expect to see the digital storytelling angle of PR taking the lead in 2023. This will be even more important in 2023 as more people use social media and other communication platforms online. Businesses that continue to refuse to incorporate the use of online channels into their PR strategy will be left behind.

Brands will also share even more personal stories and authentic content. The goal is to establish brand relevance and make their business more relatable to the audience.

This is because as they look back on their interactions with consumers, brands will be more aware that authentic conversations help build strong brand communities. They will also understand that transparency will boost customer trust and portray brands as companies that care about their buyers’ needs.

5. More Targeted and Personalised Messaging

Here’s another one of my PR predictions for 2023: Targeted messaging will be even more important.

Consumers will have an even more heightened awareness of the continued development and growth of technology. As such, brands that don’t use these technologies to tailor their messages to them aren’t likely to make it.

This demand for more targeted and personalised messaging applies to journalists as well.

As it is, journalists don’t only love to see their names on pitch emails. They also want to see that brands are familiar with the work they do and what they represent.

Therefore, we will see more communication pros creating pitches that speak directly to each individual journalist’s niche and interests. In other words, the one-size-fits-all pitch approach will no longer work in the future of PR. Personalisation gives brands a better chance of being published by their target media outlets.

We will also see PR pros and communications teams embracing more diverse media in 2023. Instead of only focusing on traditional media outlets, brands will reach out with their personalised messages to podcasters, video content creators, and YouTubers for coverage.

In Closing

With the public relations landscape constantly changing, public relations professionals have to remain on top of their game to keep their companies afloat. A knowledge of PR predictions can help them do just that.

You learned five of these PR predictions from this article.

The first PR prediction is the more prevalent use of ChatGPT for PR. We will also see the increased importance of influencer marketing and the continued rise of social networks for PR. Expect to see PR pros focusing more on transparency and authenticity as consumers become even more exacting in their standards.

Finally, a more targeted and personal approach will continue to play a critical role as PR professionals pitch, not just to their target consumers, but to media outlets, podcasters, and other content creators.

If you use these PR predictions to your advantage, getting through 2023 will be a breeze for your brand.

For more trends to watch out for in 2023 in PR and comms, check out these predictions from industry experts. 

Ready to start reaching out to the media with targeted contributions? Try the Vuelio Media Database and the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service

Why we need to take online misinformation and disinformation seriously

Vuelio webinar: Why PRs need to take online misinformation and disinformation seriously

Disruptive technologies from ChatGPT to AI image generators are revolutionising the way we share information. While there are many benefits to this new technology, unethical use of AI is also on the rise and fuelling the spread of misinformation in online spaces.

A recent US global trends report found that our inability to agree on what the facts are poses the biggest threat to social trust over the next 20 years. From false content around vaccines to global politics, social media users in the UK are frequently faced with the threat of disinformation.

How can PRs act now on the misinformation crisis?

Our webinar ‘Why we need to take online misinformation and disinformation seriously’ with Polis founder and CEO Thomas Barton on 27 April 2023 from 11.00 – 11.30 BST will explore how the PR industry can mitigate the threat and impact of false information through an effective comms strategy. Thomas will also talk about his work educating on the threat of misinformation and disinformation in UK Government and in schools.

Sign up here to learn:

• How legislation such as the Online Safety Bill and the Digital Services Act provide an opportunity to protect your brand and spokespeople online
• The importance of understanding the use and effects of AI generator tools
• Which audiences are most vulnerable to the impact of misinformation

Can’t join us live? Register and we’ll send you the recording.

Find more information about Thomas Barton’s work with Polis and the extent of the misinformation problem in our previous interview covering the opportunities of the Online Safety Bill and the importance of education.

For pointers on the impact of misinformation in medical communications, download our Vuelio white paper ‘Medical Misinformation: How PRs can stop the spread’.

On the right track – which train companies are derailing negative press? 

Alongside a prolonged increase in coverage related to industrial action, train companies have been generating more national coverage in other topics too — year on year since the end of COVID-19 lockdown.

National events and crises, like the SNP leadership election and ongoing inflation, have been strong drivers in this increase of transport-related media discussion. As a result, general media interest has grown in lesser known services and smaller, company-related stories that were not otherwise generating national awareness prior to 2021.

According to the International Union of Railways, the British train sector only managed to ‘get back on track’ from COVID 19-related losses in 2022 — the Department for Transport (DfT) reported ridership as high as 95% against pre-lockdown figures.

Key Takeaways

  • Throughout Q1, Merseyrail received the highest positive and lowest negative coverage compared to competitors.
  • Avanti West Coast were a prominent feature in two of the top five news stories so far in 2023.
  • Tourism acted as a consistent source of positive coverage for Eurostar, with a particular focus on money-saving tips from families visiting Disneyland Paris and Germany.
  • When not reporting on industrial action, media interest gravitates towards examples of ‘value-led’ customer service that reflects sustainability, diversity, and inclusion.
  • ‘Reliability’ has been the most-used term used in national headlines since 1 Jan, with significant attention around Avanti West Coast and the companies that make up Govia Thameslink Railway.

Despite this slow but steady success, new challenges are arising — particularly in regards to climate goals, industrial action and ticket costs — that could quickly undo the state of economic recovery that was lost throughout the pandemic. According to independent watchdog Transport Focus, less than half of passengers feel railways deliver value for money, meaning coverage around fares and customer service will continue to be in the spotlight.

Share of Voice


*Data shown above was collected between 1 Jan – 1 Apr 2023 and reflects all national news coverage mentioning UK train companies in the headline or body of text. The final six companies above received the highest volume of coverage overall.

Throughout the measured period, Merseyrail received the highest positive and lowest negative coverage compared to competitors. The company’s most popular positive story was in relation to its long-awaited , which was covered by national news outlets between 22 Jan and 2 Mar 2023.

However, coverage took a slight dip between 3 – 14 Mar when all new trains had to be temporarily withdrawn due to a ‘software issue’, but negative coverage remained lower than the initial, positive response to the launch. Suzanne Grant, Commercial Director at Merseyrail, was quoted in 57% of regional and local coverage on this story, commenting that the introduction is ‘going well’ and that it’s ‘not unusual to have to make some adjustments’ with new trains entering service.

Overall coverage for Avanti West Coast, Caledonian Sleeper and ScotRail was more negative than not, while Eurostar had a relatively balanced sentiment score across the board. Over 85% of Eurostar’s positive coverage was accrued between 23 – 28 Jan, when new Brexit-related passport rules created delays that meant trains were ‘forced’ to run with empty seats. Eurostar bosses were quoted stating how this doesn’t align with the ‘huge demand’ the service now gets as the ‘greenest form of travel’ – a descriptor used in 52% of coverage.


Top Themes

*Data shown above was collected between 1 Jan – 1 Apr 2023 and reflects all national news coverage mentioning UK train companies in the headline or body of text.

Between 1 Jan to 1 Apr, industrial action wasn’t always the most popular topic of media interest. But in the second week of January, health and safety became the leading concern due to an attack in Paris that took place near the Gare du Nord Eurostar railway hub, though the company was mostly mentioned in headlines rather than the body of the text.

In the third week, national discussion around record-breaking fare prices was introduced and stayed of interest until the first week of February. UK rail minister Huw Merriman was quoted in 69% of this coverage, stating that the rise was ‘capped well below inflation’ and was ‘delayed’ coming into force. ScotRail was the most-mentioned company in relation to this theme, but in a more positive light when it was announced that peak fares are to be ‘axed’ for six months to encourage train travel.

During the last week of January, Brexit-related travel complications became of interest due to the aforementioned Eurostar passport incident, while the topic as a whole became a wider point of international journalistic study in the four weeks that followed.

Tourism coverage was consistent throughout the study period and supported Eurostar in diluting negative coverage each month. The most common story type was money-saving tips for families who are planning trips to Disneyland Paris or Germany.

Top Stories

*Data shown above was collected between 1 Jan – 1 Apr 2023 and reflects all national news coverage mentioning UK train companies in the headline or body of text. Top stories are calculated by volume and unique visitor reach combined.

Avanti West Coast was the only company to appear twice on the top stories chart throughout the study period. Both were closely linked, with the first covering cancellations tied to ‘record-low’ reliability ratings in an analysis by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR). The term ‘reliability’ has been used negatively in 468 national headlines since September last year, but saw a significant peak between 21 Jan – 5 Mar 2023. Southeastern, Govia Thameslink Railway (which consists of Southern, Thameslink, Great Northern and Gatwick Express) and TransPennine Express were also mentioned as being ‘unreliable’ in a collective 82% of this national coverage.

The second story covered a statement released on 20 Mar by the DfT on the government website, declaring that Avanti West Coast (AWC) was granted a six-month contract extension after seeing ‘significant improvements’ in service, with cancellations falling from almost 6% to 4.2%.

Between 20 – 26 Mar, 102 national and regional news sources and 58 train and transport media outlets covered this announcement. While trade publications were relatively neutral towards the news, national sources were 42% more negative. The term ‘rewarding failure’ was used in headlines by ITV and The Guardian, which was paraphrased from public statements given by Shadow Transport Secretary Louise Haigh, and General Secretary of the ASLEF union Mick Whelan. On the other hand, Financial Times and The Telegraph did not expose the more critical perspectives and chose to only focus on the successful statistics.

Transpennine Express

Around the same time, issues around contract termination were also of peak interest for AWC’s sister company Transpennine Express. This followed announcements by PM Rishi Sunak that the service was also at great risk due to high cancellation volumes. This coverage spanned much further than AWC, as the first article on the matter was released on 25 Jan but the conversation didn’t die down until 6 Mar.

Caledonian Sleeper

Between 24 – 28 Feb, the Caledonian Sleeper made headlines following an announcement by Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth, stating the train service will soon be switched to public hands — like ScotRail only last year.

This story emerged not long after a highly syndicated piece by The Telegraph, which reported an analysis showing that every passenger on ‘Nicola Sturgeon’s Caledonian Sleeper’ was costing taxpayers approximately £95. These statistics were repurposed in 122 other local and regional articles following this report, over 85% of which were across Scotland and Wales.

The most effective ways of demonstrating value for money

It’s no surprise under the current economical climate that the term emerging across all coverage is ‘value for money’ and relative dissatisfaction across the British Government and public. When not reporting on industrial action, the media appears to most often opt for coverage related to better fares and ESG topics — primarily sustainability goals, staff treatment, and health and safety.

Leveraging any achievements in these areas can be a great way to build positive media awareness at a type of prolonged industrial crisis. Benefits pay off even when the achievement is not relative to the issue at hand— for example, when Eurostar used the passport crisis to comment on how it’s the ‘greenest’ and most sought after way to travel, overall sentiment evolved from mostly neutral to positive until the story died down.

Between 27 – 31 Mar, South Western Railway (SWR) got a brief but highly prominent peak in national, well-received coverage when it proactively announced the launch of the UK’s ‘first ever Intersex-Inclusive Pride train’, a design that was created to ‘show support and solidarity for LGBTQIA+ customers, colleagues, and community at large’. As a result of this press release, SWR produced the most positive and prominent national coverage related to train service compared to competitors for the entire five-day period that followed.

Both examples demonstrate how positive contributions to ESG topics, primarily in sustainability, diversity, and inclusion, are a sure-fire way to overshadow negative coverage even briefly. While these investments may not be a long-term solution to crisis-related media discussions, they do bring awareness to the value-led service customers over the course of 2023.

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