Post Office Scandal

What PR lessons can be learned from the Post Office Horizon scandal?

The Post Office Horizon scandal continues to take up column inches and spark political debate.

What lessons can be learned from the ongoing PR crisis? And how did the story explode so quickly across ​multiple platforms?

We analysed media coverage, Parliamentary events, and online mentions of ‘Post Office scandal’ between December 2023 to March 2024 to better understand how the story evolved from an under-reported legal issue, to prime time TV fodder and social virality, to a topic debated in Parliament.

Read our case study to learn:

– How brand controversies move from platform to platform when left unchecked
– How a crisis strategy can mitigate the risks of growing controversy
– How horizon-scanning can help prepare for what lies ahead
– Why staying on top of both media and political conversations will help you identify the right stakeholders

Download ‘From TV, to headline news, to Parliament: How an ITV drama brought the Post Office scandal back into the spotlight’​.

Want to track your own media coverage and brand reputation? Check out Vuelio Media Monitoring and Insights

Springtime on the Journalist Enquiry Service

Springtime, outdoor activities, and AI: How to get featured in the media in April

Easter, Mother’s Day, and Valentine’s Day have been and gone, but there are plenty of opportunities for media coverage over the next month to make the most of.

Journalists are constantly looking for information, experts and case studies around topical issues, with hundreds sending requests every week via the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service. We look at what was popular in March and how you can get featured in the media in April.

Springtime gardening and other outdoor pursuits

Last month, ‘Spring’ proved popular with the media, appearing as a keyword in 3% of the total enquiries. This is true of March, too. Requests from journalists covered a range of topics including fashion, beauty, cleaning, recipes, and weddings. Journalists sending these requests write for titles including Ideal Home, Yahoo! Life, Health & Wellbeing, and OK! Magazine.

Another keyword that ties in with Spring is ‘gardening’, and this increased in popularity from February, appearing in 4.5% of all requests last month. Enquiries were primarily for experts and advice on the best plants for garden privacy, rainwater harvesting, and how to use tea bags and eggshells in the garden. The MailOnline, The Sun, BBC Gardeners World Magazine, and House Beautiful all sent requests around gardening.

A new keyword on the Enquiry Service was ‘outdoor’ which appeared in just under 2% of the enquiries in March. Journalists and broadcasters were looking for outdoor dining sets, to outdoor tech and exercise ideas. Titles making these requests included The Daily Express, Grand Designs Magazine, and Homebuilding & Renovating. We expect all three of these keywords to perform well again in April, with scope for getting your experts and info featured in consumer magazines and national press.

AI and tech companies remain in focus

The interest in AI has stayed consistent on the enquiry service for over a year now. That was the case again in March, with just under 3% of requests being about ‘AI’. These are mainly looking for experts to comment,and included ‘What specific roles and skills will be under threat from AI in the near future’ and ‘Seeking AI experts for a piece on the defences you have against deep fakes on the internet’.

Journalists at trade titles such as Verdict, The Register, and IT Pro are regularly looking to cover this topic. However, there are also opportunities with national press outlets too with the Telegraph, Reuters, and the Financial Times sending enquiries last month.

Some of the major tech companies were also in focus in March with ‘Google’ cropping up in over 1% of the enquiries, and ‘Microsoft’ and ‘Apple’ just under 1%. ‘Fintech’ was also starting to crop up and could be a topic that gathers more interest with the media as the year goes on.

Skincare specialists, fitness professionals, and sleep experts

We predicted that ‘sleep’ could be popular in March due to World Sleep Day (19 March) and that turned out to be the case with over 1% of enquiries from journalists containing the keyword. These were mainly for experts, plus some case study requests. Cosmopolitan,, The Independent, and The Guardian all sent enquiries around this topic.

‘Fitness’ was one of the top keywords in January and that happened again in March, as it appeared in just under 3% of the total requests. This might be tied into the London Marathon coming up, with journalists looking to speak to personal trainers, running coaches, and yoga instructors. The Health category benefitted as a result and was the second most selected after Women’s Interest & Beauty. 

Within that top performing category, ‘skincare’ was another topic of interest that we saw regularly in March, with over 1% of the total enquiries containing the keyword. Many were looking for products to use in Spring, as well as skincare experts and dermatologists to comment on specific issues.

Opportunities for PRs in April and beyond

With ‘Spring’ in full bloom now, we expect that it will continue to be a key topic for journalists, alongside the keywords ‘gardening’ and ‘outdoor’. Journalists tend to focus on getting experts in relation to gardening, while Spring and outdoor relate to general information. The UK media are likely to be looking ahead now for advice on what to do over the May bank holidays.

‘Fitness’ could be joined by ‘running’ as a keyword for April, with the London Marathon taking place. This could present an opportunity to PRs with fitness experts and running coaches. We also expect an increase for the Environment & Nature category, with Earth Day on 22 April. Journalists will be looking for climate experts for comment, so be ready to connect them with the relevant people in your roster. ‘Election’ could be a new keyword, too, with the UK local elections taking place in May. Related to what politicians are talking about now –  ‘energy’ could return as a keyword for journalists looking for contributions from PRs via the Journalist Enquiry Service following 1 April’s energy price cap reduction.

To connect with the media on these topics, and much more, check out the Journalist Enquiry Service, and the Vuelio Media Database

Find out more how Vuelio can help you gain and track your coverage in the media here

Spring Budget Briefing

Spring Budget Briefing: Will Hunt’s ‘boring budget’ make an impact?

Vuelio teamed up with the Trade Association Forum (TAF) for a Spring Budget Briefing at Space14 the day after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s announcement to discuss its impact on businesses and also the next General Election.

Hosted by TAF’s CEO Emily Wallace, our panel included (pictured from left to right):

  • Shazia Ejaz, campaign director, Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC)
  • Craig Beaumont, chief of external affairs, (FSB) Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)
  • Kelly Scott, VP of Account Management, Vuelio
  • George Dibb, associate director for economic policy and head of the Centre for Economic Justice, The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR)
  • Kevin Schofield, political editor, HuffPost

Spring Budget Briefing panel

Extra insight on polling data was shared by polling and research expert Andrew Hawkins, CEO of Whitestone Insight.

Before we get into the panel’s thoughts on the specifics of the announcement – let’s get to the question many will have been asking…

Will the Spring Budget have helped the Conservative Party’s prospects for the next General Election?

Not really, was the feeling of the panel, as well as the general mood of the audience in the room. This echoed how many of the UK’s major press outlets covered Hunt’s Spring Budget, with panelist Kevin Schofield summing it up as ‘boring’ in his reporting.

Pollster Andrew Hawkins reinforced this reaction:

Andrew Hawkins speaking at the Vuelio Spring Budget Briefing for 2024

‘Was yesterday’s event ever going to be a game changer? No. This was not a blockbuster.’

Andrew added that a decision to hold the General Election in May would be ‘political self-immolation’ on the part of the Tories:

‘There’s a bigger hill to climb for Labour. But climb it I believe they will.’

Referring to past voters who would pick the Liberal Democrats if unswayed by the Conservatives or Labour, Andrew shared the belief ‘that model is breaking down,’ with Reform and Green likely to scoop those votes up.

The decreasing level of under-45s planning to vote Conservative was characterised by Andrew as an ‘existential threat’ to the party, adding his view that ‘in a generation, they will be redundant’.

What did the Chancellor forget? The workforce

REC’s Shazia Ejaz felt that there wasn’t a ‘clear enough arrowhead on growth’ – especially when it came to the vital role of skill development.

‘We believe that central to any growth is people – workers. There wasn’t very much said on skills. There needs to be more investment.’

‘Context to consider is that we’ve had a really resilient labour market given the pandemic. There was a demand for people that kept employers hiring – that has tailed off.’

George added to the viewpoint that workers themselves weren’t centred in Hunt’s announcements on public sector performance. The Chancellor confirmed investment in AI to improve efficacy in public services, including the NHS, and that cuts would also boost performance.

‘I think it’s magic thinking that cutting budgets will improve performance – the low-hanging fruit of public sector cuts is already gone.’

‘We remember the last time the Government tried to do that,’ added Shazia on investment in technologies. ‘These things aren’t easy to do, and they cost more money’.

Craig countered that the Government’s plans could work in some sectors: ‘The civil service has only gotten bigger and bigger. Without taking these kinds of decisions, you get inertia.’

The mood in the journalist lobby?

HuffPost’s Kevin Schofield shared more on what happens at the post-announcement ‘huddle’, calling the process this year ‘quite dull’ compared to times before social media.

‘I’m old enough to remember when coverage wasn’t taken over by Twitter.

‘It was mostly pre-briefed this year – there was nothing for the Chancellor to announce that we didn’t know.’

‘It was a rambling, ill-judged speech, I thought.’

Vuelio’s Kelly Scott tackled the influence of new media during this election cycle – namely, GB News.

Kelly Scott on Spring Budget Briefing panel

‘Left-wing media tended to dominate the online conversation after the Budget, but we did see a rise for GB News. It’s seen as an untrusted news source, but had an important part in the conversation regardless.’

For more on this, download the Vuelio and Pulsar report ‘Spring Budget: Audience Reaction’.

Name checks for stakeholders

Kelly talked through Hunt’s careful acknowledgement of stakeholders, counting 12 name-checks – ‘along with some bizarre ones – Idris Elba, Keira Knightley? The arts stakeholders were gushing’.

Away from Hollywood and back towards day to day challenges in the UK, stakeholders were less excited – particularly those working in the anti-poverty sector:

‘The anti-poverty community mentioned by Hunt came out firmly that the packages there to “help” were just more sticking plasters’.

Craig backed this up: ‘We are positive about some of the specifics, but we are not gushing’.

What happens next?

Despite the pre-Budget feeling that this would likely be the last fiscal event before the coming General Election, some on the panel believed there could be more to come.

‘I think there will be two events,’ said Craig.

‘Take special care with planning your summer holidays,’ added Kevin.

Get a full summary of the Spring Budget 2024, including stakeholder reaction, in this downloadable report from the Vuelio Political team.

Spring Budget 2024: Press and public reaction

Spring Budget 2024: Press and public reaction

Written and compiled by Phoebe-Jane Boyd, Dahye Lee, and Sal Morton. 

With a potential UK General Election on the way, and the fortunes of the ruling party dwindling, yesterday’s Spring Budget from the Conservatives faced close scrutiny. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt was under particular pressure to deliver from his own party, his rival MPs, and – of course – the UK press and public.

Using data from our sister social listening platform Pulsar from Wednesday 6th March 12:30pm to 4pm following the Budget reveal, here is an overview of press coverage and online conversation around Hunt’s statement.

Download the Vuelio Political team’s Spring Budget Summary and Stakeholder Reaction report and the full Audience Reaction

Media reaction

Hunt’s delivery itself contained plenty of surprises for the journalists covering it as well as the people watching from home. Reports this afternoon included the repeated reprimands for rowdiness from Deputy Speaker Dame Eleanor Laing, and Hunt’s jibes towards Starmer & co., sitting opposite.

Of the Spring Budget content, media attention yesterday afternoon went to the widely-expected 2p cut to National Insurance, axing of ‘non-dom’ tax rules, the new levy on vaping, an extra £100 million for the Northern Ireland Executive, the launch of a British ISA, an extension to childcare cost help, and Hunt’s claim that UK growth is higher than every large European economy.

On top for driving the Spring Budget conversation was The Guardian, followed by the Mirror and City A.M.. Surprisingly, broadcasters Sky News and BBC’s live coverage didn’t spark as much reaction from those following along. Also interesting – the Manchester Evening News sparking more conversation than UK-wide outlets the Financial Times, The Times, and the Evening Standard.

Audience reaction on social media

Analysing the top 15 topics spoken about in relation to the Spring Budget reveals a focus on both National Insurance and Recession/Inflation, which account for 12% and 10% of the share of conversation respectively.

The Chancellor’s decision to cut NI, saving the average worker £450, has unsurprisingly sprung ahead in conversation. However, despite these savings, many individuals are skeptical about the intentions behind the changes.

The upcoming General Election is an underlying theme in the biggest topics in the conversation, with many trying to suss out Sunak and Hunt’s game plan going forward.

When we collate all topics and break them down by category, categories related to the economy and finance stand out more prominently – not surprising given the Budget’s focus on reducing personal & corporate taxes.

Work and Pensions account for over a quarter of the conversation (26%), followed by discussions on Recession and Healthcare, which take shares of voice of 14% and 13% respectively.

Hunt’s emphasis on lower taxes prompted more public discussion on how it will affect taxation for working people and potentially exacerbate the UK’s economic downturn. Although the Budget prioritises increased investment in technology and energy, public interest remains largely centred on the impact of personal taxes.

Many negative reactions come in the Healthcare conversation, where £3.4bn has been allocated for a ‘productivity plan’ that includes IT system updates – this is met with scepticism following the so-called ‘dodgy deals’ during COVID-19 involving Track & Trace funding. Positive but muted reactions come in the area of TV, film, and theatre funding – the surprise announcement is yet to make a huge conversational impact, likely as target audiences weren’t primed for this announcement. The UK arts industry has long been asking for increased funding, with 2020’s ‘Rethink. Reskill. Reboot.’ campaign leaving many communities fearing that the Conservative Party had no faith in arts and culture.

We measured which news outlets posted the most about the budget following the announcement, with The Guardian as standing out as the most influential outlet in the Spring Budget conversation. One of the liberal paper’s most-engaged articles by Rafael Behr has ignited public discourse on how this Budget might impact the upcoming General Election.

Spring Budget tweet from The Guardian

Left-leaning tabloid The Mirror takes second place, largely due to its coverage of Sir Keir Starmer’s statement, in which the Labour leader criticised Jeremy Hunt’s Budget as a ‘last desperate act,’ while also pressing for a General Election date.

Tweet from The Mirror on the Spring Budget 2024 reaction

For more on UK politics as the race to the General Election heats up, sign up for the Vuelio General Election Bulletin as well as our weekly Point of Order newsletter.

Boeing brand blowout

When a crisis spreads to your brand: Free fall following the Boeing blowout

A robust plan can help protect organisations against future crises. But what happens when calamity hits another brand entirely, but your reputation is dragged into the fray?

This was the conundrum faced by brands including Airbus, Delta Air Lines, and even Tesla and Apple following a mid-air door blowout on an Alaska Airlines flight in January 2024. While Boeing’s 737 Max jet was at the centre of the story following the emergency landing, other names were pulled into the controversy as coverage and conversation grew.

Using X data from our sister audience intelligence platform Pulsar, we take a look at how the crisis spread from one brand to another.

Boeing’s brand blowout

Boeing was under fire quickly once the story was out and being shared on socials. An investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration ordered the grounding of over 170 Boeing 77 Max 9 airlines across the world pending inspections following the incident, and the Transportation Safety Board also began an investigation.

While Boeing quickly issued external and internal statements – promising publicly that ‘safety is our top priority’ and that ‘acknowledging our mistake’ would be the approach within the organisation – the impact of the crisis spread further. Press reports centred on share falls for Boeing and parts supplier Spirit AeroSystem, and the spotlight on Alaska Airlines only got brighter as footage of the cabin blowout went viral on TikTok.

Alaska Airlines social media reaction

Delta is dealt a hard blow

But Boeing and Alaska Airlines weren’t the only brands who would face the consequences of this crisis. Boeing customer Delta’s need to reassure flyers worried about a repeat incident faced setbacks early on. Additional malfunctions – including the loss of a Delta Boeing nose wheel while taxiing towards takeoff – would gain widespread attention.

Chart tracking Delta mentions across social media

Airbus gets airtime

Competitor Airbus became the subject of much positive online conversation, used as an easy contrast to Boeing.

Airbus would be highlighted as ‘competent’ in reporting from the New York Times – not the most glowing of descriptors, but certainly positive in comparison to its troubled rival. As summed up by Richard Aboulafia, the managing director of AeroDynamic Advisory in Washington, DC.

‘What used to be a duopoly has become two-thirds Airbus, one-third Boeing. A lot of people, whether investors, financiers or customers, are looking at Airbus and seeing a company run by competent people.

‘The contrast with Boeing is fairly profound.’

Airbus social media

Apple takes a bite of the coverage

One seemingly unrelated brand that came out with a PR win was Apple. An intact and still-working iPhone found in the debris of the accident boosted online conversation around its products for the positive –

Tweet about iPhone found in Boeing wreckage

-Well, mainly for the positive:

‘The No. 1 comment I’ve been getting every place I’ve posted the picture was that, “My iPhone drops 5 feet, and it shatters and this phone lands after 16,000 feet and is just fine,”’ said Sean Bates, finder of the phone, in an interview with the Seattle Times.

Apple social media mentions

Another PR tussle for Tesla

A brand that didn’t fare so well in relation to the story was Tesla. Unlike Airbus, this organisation wasn’t brought into the conversation organically, but instead inserted into it. By Tesla managing director himself, Elon Musk.

Elon Musk tweet on Boeing

Musk doubled-down on this claim with ‘People will die due to DEI’ in a subsequent post, and the criticism started.

But not just criticism hit Tesla – its stocks also began to plummet amid the latest controversy surrounding the brand.

Tesla social media mentions

Fixing the fallout

Months following that fateful door blowout, positive share results for Boeing match that of its Airbus for 2023. However, this isn’t the last time Boeing, Alaska Airlines – and perhaps the other brands pulled into the crisis – will have questions to answer on the incident.

Three passengers who were onboard flight 1282 from Portland to Ontario, California, are now pursuing legal action against Boeing and Alaska Airlines. As of now, more difficult travels could be ahead for their PR teams.

To see this brand journey in video format, check out this LinkedIn post from Pulsar.

For more on how to handle a reputational crisis, check out our blog ‘Speak Up or Shut Down: The Value of Proactive PR in a Crisis’, featuring examples from the 2022 FIFA World Cup, UK airline strikes, and net zero targets in the Pharma industry.

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…

Want more on what’s happening in your industry? Sign up to Vuelio’s newsletters

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 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 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.