Simon Mouncey Transport for London

‘Start by speaking the same language as the person you are talking with’ – Simon Mouncey, Transport for London

Everyone in society is different and has different experiences of the same things. This is a fundamental truth that everyone in PR must accept in order to design the right comms strategy and speak to the right audiences in the right way.

In this guest post, Transport for London’s communities and partnerships specialist Simon Mouncey shares the importance of listening to your audience and taking on new approaches to embrace inclusivity.

‘I’ve been in PR for as long as I can remember, indeed long before emails, when you used carbon paper and did things in triplicate. I even remember a training session on how to put the paperclip on the right way round so it didn’t catch with all the other memos in the tray. Thankfully most priorities have changed since then, from how you did things to making change happen. I can now say I have changed people’s lives for the better. That’s a nice feeling. It’s nice being able to say you did the right things than just did things the right way.

What is the right way now anyway?

Something we’ve learnt over the past year is there is a disconnect to what we believe to be true and what others know is true. This has turned into a discussion on inclusive leadership. Whatever you think inclusive leadership is, the bottom line is that you cannot possibly know what it is like to be judged unless you too have been judged the same way. So, decisions affecting people’s lives need to be made by the people whose lives are being affected. Call it Ivory Towers or call it what it is, a systemic failing in our society based on opportunities and therefore positions of power reserved for those who look and sound like the people who are already in those positions.

No amount of unconscious bias training or other gestures will change how you are hardwired; it is just another easy tickbox. As a society, we surround ourselves with people who reinforce our beliefs, values and prejudices. Real unconscious bias training will parachute you into a life totally alien to you, an escape room, where you have to find new friends and allies to achieve your aim. Maybe, subconsciously, that’s why escape rooms are so popular. But to be effective you will need to be with total strangers, randomly picked from society.

The place to start is speaking the same language as the person you are talking with. The only way you can do that is to let them do the talking and listen and learn. So, don’t restrict them to a survey with questions based on your own experiences, views, opinions, perceptions and so on. But also amplify their voice. If they have no experience of being listened to then you have to bring them up to the same level as you, in knowledge of what your outcome is, and skills in making it happen.

I learnt this very early on, when I was charged with implementing national policy for people with learning disabilities. I think being naïve back then I was given it not as a challenge but as something everyone else had turned down (I was asked to become a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate after that and turned it down, but that’s one of life’s crossroad moments). The policy was that adults with learning disabilities should be able to decide their own lives. They had new personal care packages known as Independent Living allowances, which is an income they could spend on what they wanted, like ice cream and holidays. But how do you know what they want if they have never been listened to before, been institutionalised, and had other people make decisions for them? Many of those living in institutional care had never had a voice and therefore never developed speech well enough to have a conversation. There are many aspects of society where that is still true today. Well, in this case a pictorial language was developed, that meant they could say what they wanted in a conversation and their voice was heard for the first time, unfiltered by other people who had their own values and opinions.

Zoom (pun intended) forward to 2021 and many have woken up to the realisation that so many are excluded from society by their voice being excluded from decisions and have therefore developed their own communication methods. That can be rage, a protest, a counter-culture or just opting out of society. All of them, whatever your perception or judgement is, are methods of communication because they aren’t listened to the way the decision makers will hear. I call it prismatic thinking, where all the colours of the rainbow are there but when you apply your own filter to it you see just one colour. When decision makers say ‘limit the right to protest’, they are in effect masking those voices. And glass isn’t just in ceilings, it is all around us, and we see what we want to see based on our own reflections.

What I’m looking for in someone to communicate for me when I can’t is sincerity and authenticity. They need to believe in the message and what they are trying to achieve, and they need to tell it how it is. And when they look for what comes back it needs to be unfiltered. When people talk about a Green future what they mean is panic; we are feeling the effects of climate change now and it will only get worse, do something now. Relate that to what we are doing to make people’s lives in London better. What is better for them? Is it to be treated fairly and equally, a home, a job, a future? So there is a disconnect between getting more people cycling and walking and what we really mean is that all our futures are at risk if we don’t panic.

As professionals we need to get across to decision makers that everyone is starting from a different place and you can’t apply the same policy to everyone. Someone reminded me recently of the big tent idea. Where, in our western colonial culture, we get all the friendly like-minded experts together to agree what needs to be done. When in fact the name originates from native Americans where to deal with threats, like to their way of life, they would bring all the tribal leaders together, most of them enemies, leave their weapons outside and not be able to leave the tent until they agree what they need to do.

I’ve always advocated for local decision making, so you give the problem to a local community, you give them the skills and opportunities to become leaders (which by default is inclusive leadership), any risks, constraints and a framework to reach a consensus – in other words, everything you do to reach your conclusion – and you help them make a decision. It has become known as Citizen Assemblies. But call it what it is; people deciding how they as individuals and members of a wider society will achieve the same future as everyone else wants. That could be cycling where you can, it could be driving just for essential trips, it could be anything the individual can and knows they need to do. But to get there you need to abandon the structures and processes put in place that limits their voice. Amplify the hardest to hear and turn the volume down on the loudest heard all the time.

Take the example of going cashless on London Buses. Just like when I was in social care policy, I leapt at the chance to do it. Only then was I told TfL had been trying to do it forever and no one had attempted it in case in went wrong. My first thought was what was ‘going wrong’; it shouldn’t be about image. Failure to me was someone being hurt because they were carrying cash. Or someone trying to get somewhere just in time only to have to wait for people paying their fare with pennies. Or the person who is just a few pence short but trying to get the bus to get away from being hurt. So it was presented to people as, these are your friends and family, your neighbours, your community. We will help you engage with them so you can tell us what you’ve agreed. We helped communities find their leaders and supported them. I called it Co-Production.

In a later project involving a school, the headteacher told me I had changed the life chances of the students involved in the project, their confidence, hopes and aspirations and how they had just expected to leave school with nothing but were now planning a degree, career and a future for themselves, as lawyers, engineers and business leaders to help their communities.

I don’t have any plans for the future; I’m a water sign so go with the flow. Who knows the next thing around the corner. Another pandemic, certainly. The warnings were given years ago that with the climate and ecological emergency there was likely to be more diseases jumping species. And then there have been record after record tumbling on temperature, drought, rain. My advice would be, be nice to people, open your heart and that will open your mind. Make friends with people who are really different from you. Take a leap of faith and trust people to do the right thing. Forget the hashtag and campaign slogans. Give them your knowledge and skills and watch people reshape society in everyone’s image.’

For more on communicating with different audiences, read insight from this year’s PRFest on keeping PR sustainable

Judith Lewis SEO PR webinar

The latest Google update – what PR professionals need to know

Remember when Google used a cute animal like Panda or Penguin to signify that it was changing its algorithm?

Sadly, those gentler days are behind us, but Google still announces a core update around four times a year. These are significant changes that Google makes to its ranking algorithm that affects a large number of indexed web pages.

Knowing when Google announces core updates and what those updates are is important for PR professionals because of the potential impact on the visibility of your website, or your clients’ websites in the search engine.

This was just one of the areas of SEO that search expert Judith Lewis covered in our recent webinar to support the publication of our free SEO best practice guide for PR.

Here’s a summary of some of the questions about SEO and PR that Judith answered:

What is the latest Google core update and what do PRs need to know about it?
“The Google core update focuses a lot on expertise, authority and trust (EAT) which is explained fully in the guide. We also link to the guidelines that Google’s human quality raters use.

It’s a complex area that’s all about how you demonstrate EAT to Google. Google is tweaking those dials and really bumping up the emphasis that it’s placing on demonstrated expertise and authoritativeness, which is finding mentions about you on other sites.

So PR is all about establishing EAT and the latest Google update is actually increasing its valuing of EAT.

There are two more updates coming, so this will change over time. and I’ve seen that clients of mine are fluctuating, they’re going up, they’re going down, it’s like a roller coaster! So right now the algorithm update does still seem to be finding its level balance. I’m seeing more US search results in the UK, so I’m thinking it’s still rolling out, but this core update is really focused on quality.

Later this month is a long announced update to website speed.

Basically if your website is not fast and it does not pass ‘core vitals’, you will lose out to other people who do. So Google will rate you against your competitors in the search results, and you will go down, if competitors websites are faster and more efficient at delivering web experience to people.

‘Core vitals’ is later this month, and then in July we have another core update coming. So, this one was about more about quality, and the next two are going to be about landing page experience, and then more on quality.”

What are the differences between ‘follow’ and ‘no follow links’?
Do ‘no follow links’ in online coverage and do they have any impact on search engine visibility?
‘No follow’ and ‘follow ‘are technical attributions that are put on a link, and it’s a little bit more code techie, but don’t be put off by it, it’s a checkbox in WordPress. So if you’re working with bloggers or influencers, they can select the Checkmark, and that will make all of their links on their blog nofollow.

What does that mean? Well, it tells Google, not to pass any points from the origin page to the destination page.

However, from a human point of view, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a follow or nofollow, it is still a link. And that enables someone to go from where they are to where your clients information, or your information is.

I obviously would prefer a follow link, because it helps with search ranking. But I will accept the follow or nofollow link, because we’re pushing our clients or our company’s information and details out there and so any link is good because it draws the readers back to our websites.

If you don’t get a link in coverage, do citations or mentions of your brand or organisation help with SEO and search visibility?

It does help.

A citation – where there’s no link but a mention – is incredibly important for Google, because the more of those that you get, the more the increase of perception that Google has that there is something important about that company or that organisation going on.

It increases the words around the company and increases the relevance of that company name to those to those pieces of content. What’s happening is Google is seeing the word that is a brand and it recognises the brand usually because it’s usually in a URL or something similar and then it looks at the words around that citation. It looks at these words around the brand and increases the relevance of those words for that brand.

Google is already recalculating what that brand is possibly relevant for now. It doesn’t have as big an impact as when we get a link – a link is, is the key – but it does increase Google’s perceived relevance of those keywords of the brand and how popular the brand is.

Update ‘Vince’, many years ago was all about brand and rewarding brands. So the better that you can establish a brand, the better it is and citations are part of that because not everybody gives you a link.

If everybody gives you a link it looks artificial. If some people don’t then it looks much more natural and Google is more likely to trust it. Therefore if you get a citations with no link, it’s good, and it does help people.

Do shares on social media and closed or private social networks/communities like Facebook Groups or Guild have any impact on SEO or search engine visibility?

I think the problem is that people’s perception of links is that all links help Google rankings, but in my opinion, all links help people – and that’s the most important thing.

In closed ecosystems like Facebook and Guild links don’t necessarily impact on Google’s rankings but when someone is talking a lot about something, and links are being shared a lot, whether they’re shared through Guild, WhatsApp, Facebook or Instagram, they will reach a critical point after which people will start to blog and write about them.

And journalists may pick up on this ambient noise, and publish something with either a nofollow or a follow link.

When that happens, then Google will possibly increase the ranking of that page, because we’re increasing the perceived relevance of that page to that topic. Even though a nofollow link says to not pass any points, it still helps Google contextualise what a target page is about.

If Google was struggling up to that point, and then somebody blogs, even if it’s a nofollow link, then it will instantly help Google understand it better – and that means that it could increase in rankings, simply because Google understands more.

Here’s the video and the Q&A with Judith is from 43:17 seconds.

Want to add SEO to your PR and communications strategy or to get the very latest SEO tips specifically designed for PR practitioners?

Download our free educational SEO best practice guide for PR

Vuelio has the world’s most comprehensive media database, providing up to date contact details and preferences of >1million journalists and content creators. Learn more about this essential tool for successful coverage generation and linkbuilding by requesting a demo

Bank in London

Barclays dominates the launch of the Vuelio Banking Comms Index

Today, Vuelio launches the Banking Comms Index as an industry benchmark. Using Vuelio Media Monitoring and Analysis, the Banking Comms Index is a free weekly resource that compares the Share of Voice of the UK’s top retail banks.

Share of Voice has long been used as a key metric in both PR and marketing, with evidence to show that increased Share of Voice, leading to ‘Excess Share of Voice’ – where a brand’s Share of Voice is significantly higher than its market share – can lead to growth.

The Banking Comms Index measures the earned online media coverage of 21 top retail banking brands and selected challenger banks in Britain. The coverage all appears in Tier 1 publications, with a reading list including national news and financial trades.

Barclays has dominated over the last three weeks in top spot, while challengers, including Starling Bank, Monzo and Revolut manage to take a bigger share of voice than more established brands like First Direct and Bank of Scotland.

Updated weekly, the Index will provide an archived comparison, as well as insight into the biggest movers and shakers. The monitoring in Vuelio also allows for further exploration to see how these retail banks compare on key issues in the media, whether that is ESG, financial policy changes or a breaking scandal.

Oliver Grant, senior consultant and financial services specialist at Vuelio, said: ‘We are thrilled to launch the Banking Comms Index that will, week on week, give a snapshot of how these major retail banks are performing in the press. Share of Voice allows brands to benchmark their earned media coverage against the competition in a meaningful way.

‘We will also use our proprietary data to regularly analyse the retail banking sector and see how each organisation tackles the big issues, from the pandemic and Brexit to advances in governance.’

BlAME game

The BlAME game

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Measurement and reporting

3 tips to improve your PR measurement and reporting

As part of Vuelio’s Customer Voice series, we host regular focus groups to hear from our clients, track the latest sector trends and make sure we’re delivering what the industry needs.

Our most recent session focused on measurement and reporting, and the impact of PR campaigns on your organisation’s goals. A few clear challenges came out of the discussions along with practical advice to improve best practice.

1. Coverage quality vs coverage quantity
Reach is a common way of reporting on the potential number of people who could have seen your coverage. While reach figures look impressive to the board, on their own they provide little indication of the quality of coverage. For example, while the BBC might have a reach of 500 million, this doesn’t reflect how many of your target audience your coverage actually reached.

Providing context to the success of PR activity is a real challenge. Part of the problem is educating the board how a piece of coverage from an online influencer can be just as impactful as a piece in a national newspaper. The reach figure maybe vastly different but the reach of an influencer/blogger is much more targeted.

Pivoting from quantitative to qualitative reporting means moving away from numbers such as reach and circulation.

2. (Un)Integrated measurement
While PR teams are working closer with marketing and social media teams, when it comes to planning integrated campaigns they are all still reporting separately.

One option is to align PR KPIs with the marketing funnel to demonstrate that what they do helps fill up the top of the funnel and provides marketing with an engaged audience. Another option is to create KPIs together with all related departments to ensure you’re reporting on the same tactics in the same way.

3. Frameworks? Give us practical advice!
The approaches our group took to reporting were similar and everyone had a real appetite for practical best practice advice on measurement and reporting. With all the talk of how to tackle the challenge of evaluating PR in a meaningful way, there appears to be a knowledge gap between those leading the measurement conversation and those on the ground looking for credible methods to demonstrate how PR impacts on organisational goals.

This means if you’re involved in measurement in your organisation or in the wider industry, you need to do more to bring your colleagues, who are often at the coalface, into the conversation. It’s something we’re focusing on at Vuelio and we’d love to hear your thoughts on how we can all improve this process. Get in touch and let us know.

Are you a Vuelio client? We’d love to hear from you – get involved in our Customer Voice series.

Podcasts image

The evolution of PR and communications for You are The Media

It was a great pleasure to join Mark Masters for the You are the Media (YATM) podcast to discuss what lies ahead for the communications industry. If you haven’t come across YATM before it’s a treasure trove of inspiration for how to create content that inspires engagement regardless of whether you’re a PR, marketeer or in-house comms pro. It also reinforces one of my guiding principles that building an audience rests on a magic mix of being useful and entertaining.

Understanding the future for PR and communications starts with reflecting on where we were. Ten years ago, I was starting up a PR agency and spending my time trying to meet anyone who could be vaguely relevant for lunch or a drink. Face to face meetings to gossip and spot opportunities took nearly all my time – albeit too often leading to lasting hangovers that definitely reduced productivity the next day.

Fast forward to today, and as I discussed with YATM, one of the biggest shifts I’ve seen is in the evolution of how the industry approaches connections. Relationships remain vital but your network today has to be more diverse. Rather than a black book dominated by journalists at individual titles, the most successful PR and communicators are those who have networks representing the many audiences that engage with any organisation. Beyond knowing print, broadcast and online media, it is now vital to know politicos, influencers and those publishing in a constantly evolving social media landscape.

It isn’t that ‘old’ behaviours such as lunching with a journalist aren’t important, they just have to go with investing time to talk with those who are becoming just as important as the media to reputation build and management. And this shift in focus goes hand in hand with the transformation in how the industry reports on success. Again, just as it is no longer enough to ‘only’ know media it is no longer enough to ‘only’ report on coverage reach or sentiment. We have to understand how to track, analyse and report on the multiple ways the content we create has impact – from web traffic, click throughs or interactions. This is an opportunity to align PR to marketing which, if we get right, will deliver growth by opening new budget streams.

We ended our conversation talking about the biggest mistakes made with PR and communications by senior decision makers. Answering this made me feel every one of the 19 years I had worked in the industry because I can remember discussing the majority of these at the start of my career. That PR too often is seen as a one-off transaction rather than a sustainable investment that adds value over time. That PRs are expected to create compelling, effective content without insight into customer or product needs. And finally, that understanding ROI is vital but too often PR budgets don’t allow for the depth of research needed. If there is good news it is that these themes are now front of centre for nearly every organisation – and that technology, by enabling real time management of vast data, has the potential to at last solve them.

A huge thanks to Mark and YATM for having me on the podcast.

Listen to the podcast here.

China live streaming market

How can brands navigate China’s live streaming market?

This is a guest post and infographic [below] by Balvinder Kataora, marketing executive at Comms8.

An astounding 98% of people in China experience the internet through their mobile phone, which instantly makes over 800 million users a formidable cohort for marketers to tap into. When combined with the steady growth of the Chinese middle-class, it is clear to see business opportunities in what is now the world’s biggest retail market.

While the market is ripe for marketers, a unique set of technological and cultural factors has led the internet to develop differently from the UK. Having a large population, being awash with cash from a booming economy, and excellent mobile coverage roll out means the mobile app ecosystem is leaning towards innovative uses and high-bandwidth applications. Demand for long-distance communications, entertainment and hassle-free payments has propelled instant messaging, fintech apps and live streaming platforms to become a mainstay of the internet east of the Himalayas.

Live streaming has noticeably become a cultural mass phenomenon that is arguably the most popular form of online entertainment. Sitting between the crossroads of a modern-day QVC and communal socialising, platforms such as Kuaishou, Douyu, Meipai, Inke, and Momo are offering wide-spectrum appeal in any niche with seamless shopping and gifting options for fans.

The context for these live shows is often thematic and involves a presenter documenting their life and thoughts to an audience from tens of people to even millions. While intimate, some often weave product reviews and demonstrations during their shows to drive click-throughs to their own mini shops online, generating sales. Others, however, opt for the endorsement route whereby large brands, often luxury or fashion orientated, provide free samples in exchange for ‘air-time’ on their regular shows.

An increasing number of live streamers have pursued a more controversial option of gifting. Viewers buy virtual gifts with real money to effectively ‘tip’ live streamers. During these shows you will often see animated diamond icons, emoticons and sometimes richly animated flying jets and rockets shooting into space for the big spenders to show their ‘boss status’.

This business model has received criticism, as younger viewers may feel pressurised to financially support their online idols, or that the process of patronage does not manifest a physical item. The ephemeral nature of the performance makes it difficult to accurately price the value of gifts; is your favourite online star worth $2 or $200 per stream? A hard question to answer, but the value is sure to increase if the audience enjoys the stream.

Despite being relatively new, compared to more established digital trends, Deloitte has estimated the value of the live streaming market to be $4.4 billion in 2018, an 86% increase from 2016.

The attraction for the format, just as with social media, is the convenience it offers to meet like-minded people and share common interests in real time – and for free. For a nation that has witnessed radical demographic change over the last 50 years, much is out of balance. The preference for parents to have boys, has meant that the gender ratio has widened to the degree that there are almost 35 million more men than women, which is more than the population of Malaysia.

The gender disparity in the country is also reflected in the viewing audiences too. In 2016, IResearch found that approximately 63% of viewers were male with 35.5% being female. These platforms are in some cases allowing the socially isolated to instantly be adored with attention and praise from their most preferred online star, who happens to be from the opposite sex.

The biggest hurdle for brands is how to enter methodically into a fast-moving market without succumbing to social or legal faux-pas. The line between advertiser, endorser, advocate and consumer is increasingly blurred. So much so, there are concerns to whether viewers will be sure they are being marketed to, as per requirements of legalisation for online endorsements and sponsorships.

Given the rise of live streaming in China what can international brands learn from the market in the East?

New forms of sales relationships
It is almost unheard of to use pay-per-click (PPC) marketing or pay-per-sale (PPS) as arrangements are almost always a flat rate fee. That said, platforms like Bangtuike are trying to make all live streamers and online influencers advertisers, no matter how small their audience is. The desire to work with micro content providers is seeing greater demand as brands are able to capitalise on a wider audience market.

Being mindful of corporate social responsibility
Unlike TV and Radio, regulatory bodies are still catching up to the technology and so there is a legal blind spot in the way brands are able to use the platform. Brands need to step back from their campaign from time to time and assess how the overall impact might be interpreted, rightly or wrongly.

Localising content
As David Ogilvy once said, if you going to sell to someone it is best to do so in their own language. Localising content is the key to winning hearts and minds.

One way to do this is to use influencers who are not only based in the large metropolises. Knowing that the next 20 cities after Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong still hold a huge retail population, and moving away from a well-beaten path, could reap huge rewards.

In essence, developing a Chinese voice for the brand is key to gaining market share and have your brand, in a way, speak Chinese.


How metrics are helping us prove the value of PR

This is a guest post by Sarah Evans, senior digital strategist at Bottle.

It’s no longer acceptable to say PR has a measurement problem. As an industry we’ve been (fairly) challenged to demonstrate what value our campaigns, our work, that piece of coverage had in real terms. How does that feed into business objectives?

At Bottle, we believe brands grow when their stories flow. To measure the effectiveness of that, we need a blend of short- and long-term metrics. A regular flow of stories being published – audience-first content and coverage, both on and offsite – builds a momentum that cumulatively shifts a larger dial over time that indicates brand growth.

Are your stories flowing?
We still need to keep sight of things like coverage itself, for example: how many pieces, the quality of the sites that are linking, how many unique referring domains link back to your site? These help us keep on top of the momentum and frequency that we’re building. In previous reports, we may have stopped there, however now we know we’re influencing behaviour beyond that initial burst of activity.

Next, we need to look at the immediate impact of that activity. Indicators that our coverage is valuable to its intended audience are things like social shares and comments. If there are any links in the piece, did anyone click on them (and if they did, were they ‘long clicks’ or did they bounce?). If coverage doesn’t have a link, and people like what they see, they’ll have to either Google you or come directly to your website to find out more. Google Analytics (or other website tracking software) can tell you all of this, and more.

How is your content performing? Are people reading and engaging with your content? You can look at this through pages per visit, bounce rate and time on page. Is your content doing the job it set out to do? And what do people do next on the site?

Is your brand growing?
As well as short-term metrics, we also need to balance that by zooming out and understanding how all that activity is laddering up into wider marketing objectives. We may not have sales-led objectives, however a common KPI we look at is site traffic (as a whole, or specifically from channels that we’re most likely to influence with ‘brand building’ activity, like organic search or direct).

These metrics by their nature can take consistent, sustained activity to shift (which is why we set the pace with the shorter-term metrics). Things like the number of people searching for the brand, direct traffic and positions for target keywords, topics and products are all key indicators that your brand is growing in visibility and authority.

Branded searches are a proxy for awareness, and even loyalty if someone already knows who they want to buy from. Direct traffic (although a bit of a messy, catch-all channel) indicates how many people have been to your site before, have you bookmarked, or type your URL in as their destination. A growth in search visibility (or how many times Google has served up your site as an answer to someone’s question) tells us that Google is confident that people will get what they need from your site, in turn driving more organic traffic.

Reporting is empowering
As the boundaries between PR, marketing and SEO activity are merging ever closer, there’s no excuse for PR to shy away from measurement any longer. It’s empowering to demonstrate the value of your work; it unlocks budget, helps us plan the next campaign and sometimes it even makes great case studies. We’ve been influencing these metrics all along, without taking any of the credit. We’re not a direct acquisition channel, but a valid and vital part of the journey. Understanding and articulating the role it plays, both long and short term, is the key to PR’s digital evolution.

5 PR tips from the hotel industry

5 PR tips from the hotel industry

This is a guest post from Frank Marr of AM+A Marketing and Media Relations.

Frank has compiled a list of AM+A’s top tips for creating and putting into action an effective hotel PR and marketing strategy, which the whole PR industry can benefit from. From adopting an integrated approach to channelling your inner journalist, every successful PR and marketing campaign should consider these five steps.

1. Regularly update creative strategies
The media, PR and marketing industries are extremely fluid. Regular creative brainstorms are useful for keeping your brand on trend. Launching a hotel or product is easy, keeping it in the press is not. Creating a major annual event or unique promotion will help maintain exposure. Big events should also be supplemented with smaller, tactical ideas. This is a fine line to tread. You want to keep your brand in the media and engaged with customers without bombarding journalists/ audiences to the point of apathy.

2. An organised integrated PR & digital approach
The key to any successful PR campaign is organisation. It’s true that we must react to news and trends as they emerge, but the best campaigns involve a proactive 12 to 18 month plan incorporating key dates throughout the year from national days to major holidays. Creating smaller, six-month plans allows you to regularly catch long lead media and consistently keep your hotel in the news.

3. Build a network of influencers
As social media continues to hold its position, the importance of building a high-quality influencer network cannot be overstated. According to Havas Group’s Meaningful Brands 2019 report, 81% of brands sold across Europe could disappear and consumers would not care. Building a trustworthy brand is therefore vital for engaging consumers. Create a rapport with your influencers, bring them back time and time again and utilise their contacts to create an even greater reach for your brand.

Influencer marketing is still a murky area but there are a few pointers to help you get ahead: to ensure you make the most out of the relationship include looking for an engagement rate of 4% – 6% on posts; define expectations beforehand to ensure they are met; and aim to state what you want before working with them, so if you want 10 photos, ask for 10 photos.

It’s important to research your influencers and ensure they’re a good fit for your target audience to produce content that maximises your assets.

4. Think like a journalist and blogger

To generate publicity for your brand, try to understand what appeals to journalists and online audiences – and what doesn’t. By thinking like a journalist, you can tailor your campaign and present your assets in a way that is far more likely to be picked up. To be able to think like a journalist or your audiences, you should be constantly monitoring media not just within your industry, but a wide variety. Devour the media, find the angles behind features and learn to spot current trends, journalists love anything new and anything that taps into their calendars. Winning the media over is vital to a successful marketing campaign.

5. Maximise your assets and production
Even if you use all of these tactics and create an innovative, well-structured campaign, you cannot succeed if you don’t have the assets in place to maximise your product. Stay on brand and build up a vault of high-quality images, videos, blog posts, graphics, animations, infographics and articles while ensuring any logos and branding materials are designed to the highest standard. This should be your starting point for any successful campaign.

Looking to make new relationships? Monitor the press? Prove and report on your success? You need Vuelio

Impact vs Value

Impact vs Value in PR

One of the questions our clients often ask us is how to calculate the value of editorial coverage. In the past, the accepted measure was Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE) but this is now held in such low esteem that PR industry bodies actively campaign against its use.

AVE is flawed because it doesn’t consider the influence that editorial coverage has beyond advertising. It doesn’t consider that impact on a target audience is determined by the sentiment of coverage or the type (and reach) of a publication. Above all, in a world where Google ranking is king, AVE doesn’t consider search engine optimisation (SEO) benefit.

So, what’s the alternative? The Barcelona Principles 2.0 went a long way to improving how the industry considers evaluation. It reinforced our view that the value of PR is in terms of outcome not output.

To understand outcome, at the beginning of any activity you must define the key audiences you want to reach and the action you want PR activity to prompt. It could be a shift in awareness, understanding or engagement, which is then evaluated using quantitative measures such as website traffic, downloads of content or interactions on social media. For a complete picture, these should be combined with qualitative research into likelihood to recommend and buy.

By aligning PR to strategic targets, the value of PR is in terms of impact against ‘bottom line’ beyond an arbitrary measure of AVE. There’s no doubt this is a more involved approach, but by applying it you’ll create irrefutable evidence of the importance of PR to the ambition of the organisation. It helps move PR from being considered a ‘nice to have’ to essential for overall success.

Want to understand the true value of your PR? Find out how Vuelio can help


PRCA announces five new fellows

The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) has announced today that they have appointed five new Fellows. Congratulations to everyone, we look forward to seeing your ideas for the PR industry in action.

Joining the esteemed list are Paul Bristow FPRCA, managing director, PB Consulting; Mark Glover FPRCA, chief executive, Newington; Richard Millar FPRCA, global president, H+K Strategies; Warwick Smith FPRCA, managing partner, Instinctif Partners; Donna Zurcher FPRCA, former managing partner, Instinctif Partners.

Three of the newly appointed Fellows (Paul Bristow, Mark Glover and Warwick Smith) have all been recognised for the work they have done to integrate the PRCA and APPC into the Public Affairs Board. Bristow says, ‘I’m proud to have worked as a public affairs practitioner and to have played my part in creating the Public Affairs Board.’

Glover praised the PRCA describing it as, ‘the pre-eminent organisation for representing the interests of public affairs practitioners’ and Smith echoed these comments stating, ‘It is humbling to be recognised by the industry which has given me so much satisfaction over the years’.

Both Richard Millar and Donna Zurcher have been recognised as an outgoing member of the PRCA Board of Management. Millar says, ‘Working on the PRCA Board of Management has been very rewarding and I look forward to further working for the good of the industry as a member of the PRCA Fellows’ and Zurcher heartily agrees saying, ‘I am absolutely delighted to have been selected. It is a great honour’.

David Gallagher FPRCA, President, Growth and Development, International, Omnicom Public Relations Group, and Chairman, PRCA Fellows, said: ‘The Fellows have become an essential sounding board for the PRCA and the 2019 class join at an especially exciting time for the association and discipline. Congratulations and welcome.’

On behalf of everyone at Vuelio congratulations to the newly appointed Fellows, we look forward to seeing your ideas for the PR industry in action!

Amec 2019

AMEC Global Summit 2019: Data, algorithms and analytics

In its eleventh year, the Amec Global summit last week in Prague was focussed on data, algorithms and analytics. Panels discussed the future of measurement and the need to link PR and communications to audience behaviour. Conversations were inspiring and reminded the team there from Vuelio of the importance for ongoing development in media measurement.

A core theme of the presentations and workshops across the two days was audience. As the media landscape changes to reflect the dynamics of consumer behaviour, measurement and analysis must do the same. We need models that are flexible so that we can measure what matters to the business.

Fundamentally, this means that rather than working in silos, a more holistic approach is taken to how we consider every aspect of evaluation and how we incorporate data; such as demographic data, internal and external stakeholder surveys and call-to-action engagement. We have to work towards measuring beyond outputs to outcomes of the entire communications input. For too long measurement has concentrated heavily on outputs that do not link to business objectives and don’t provide PR functions with the tools they need to bring to the table which prove the worth of PR.

While media measurement and analysis has certainly come a long way, such as the transition away from AVEs, it is crucial that we continue to develop. In the future, this could mean that evaluation frameworks include:

  • Clever data collection techniques to link influencers to audiences with the goal of linking communications to business objectives
  • Development of algorithms to understand audience behaviour and increase efficiency and accuracy of NLP techniques
  • Continue to use best practice analytics methods, such as the tools and frameworks available from AMEC, to prove the worth and credibility of PR, moving away from vanity metrics.

Find out more about measuring your value with Vuelio

Amec 2019

AMEC Global Summit 2019: Data and measuring the value of communications

The Vuelio team headed off to Prague to join the AMEC Global Summit which, this year, was focused on data and what the acceleration of trends from augmentation to AI mean for the communications industry. Day one included sessions that ranged from the implications of blockchain to how Diageo, Sage and Adobe have transformed their global evaluation frameworks.

There were a huge range of experiences and opinions but there was consensus that far more must be done to improve the sophistication of evaluation. Still, PR and communications professionals, whether agency or in-house, do not invest sufficient time or resource to understand impact. According to the PRCA Census, 26% of the industry admits they do no evaluation.

And this has significant knock-on effect. The industry is unable to prove its worth, unable to provide insights that drive business strategy, which puts budgets at risk and leaves PR the poor relation to all other marketing disciplines. Worse, it directly affects the ability of PR to sustain profile and attract data talent.

The good news is that industry groups are taking steps to help. AMEC recently launched M3, a free-to-use measurement framework that supports PR and communications leads to take their organisations (and clients) along a journey to understand and embed best practice evaluation.

It aligns with our view at Vuelio. Measuring the effectiveness (value) of PR and communications begins with understanding the audience the organisation has to reach and the change sought whether awareness, engagement or product purchase. Only if we think in this way will PR and communications evolve to be considered by its contribution to overall business performance. It is a shift essential to the future of the industry.

Find out more about measuring your value with Vuelio


Who can you trust? Newsguard ranks the UK’s news brands

Picking the right news brand used to mean careful considerations, such as: ‘Does this brand align with my ethics?’, ‘Can I open this one on the tube without elbowing someone in the face?’, ‘Do I really need to see past this paywall?’ But no more – here to help with the decision on what to read/cite/trust/work with comes NewsGuard’s UK launch, rolled out midweek with traffic lights to lead the way.

The US news rating tool is simple – green is good, red is bad – and decided by nine key factors:

  • Not repeatedly publishing false content
  • Gathering and presenting information responsibly
  • Regular corrections and clarifications (where necessary)
  • Handling the difference between news and opinion responsibly
  • Avoiding deceptive headlines
  • Disclosing ownership and source(s) of financing
  • Clearly labelling advertising
  • Revealing who is in charge and any conflicts of interest
  • Providing names of content creators with either contact or biographical information

Aside from a short stall with the MailOnline earlier this year – NewsGuard originally placed the brand as a red for its US product, later backtracking on the rating – the big UK news brands have, by and large, come out clean (well, green). Purely green reads include The Guardian, the Financial Times and Buzzfeed News UK, but the colour is also assigned to outlets that don’t get a full score across the nine factors.

These slightly fuzzier greens go to brands like BBC News (which failed on providing the names of content creators, and contact and biographical info), Sky News (not perfect on correcting and clarifying errors) and The Independent (issues with disclosing ownership and financing, and labelling its advertising, apparently).

As for the reds, PressGazette reports that Politicalite UK is the first to be publicly named.

Tastes may differ on which media outlets are most nourishing, but, according to Wikipedia co-founder and NewsGuard global advisory board member Jimmy Wales, NewsGuard offers a ‘unique tool for helping people understand who is feeding them the news’. And Wikipedia has form with this, having questioned the validity of Daily Mail reporting in the past (also backtracked, by the way).

It’s not just the usual suspects that have been classed as red or green, however, as 150 websites were reviewed by the news rating tool’s team for its UK launch – accounting for 90% of online engagement across the country, when it comes to traffic and social media statistics.

Not taken into consideration for each are issues like the arm span needed to open a print copy, or whether you should be embarrassed to be found with it on your mobile screen during the commute. But trustworthiness? That’s what everyone in the media, those working with it and those looking to consume it, need to be aware of.

A NewsGuard-commissioned YouGov poll for the launch found that nine in ten of those surveyed believe misleading information online is a problem. There’s proof of that easily found in the real-life impact of the online anti-vaxxer movement as we watch it play out across school playgrounds and in the media (both red and green). There’s the rise of fake news and other disturbing trends, like, say, the enduring belief that Goofy is actually a cow (he isn’t).

Those looking for information – whether vital, or frivolous – deserve trustworthy sources, and in a world filled with misinformation, the easier it is to access them, the better.

Know which news brands you want to work with but don’t have the right contacts? You need the Vuelio Media Database, which lists over 1 million contacts, influencers and opportunities. 

Innocent blue drink

3 social media lessons from the Easter weekend

We missed Monday PR Club, so for one week only we present Tuesday PR Club, with three very different examples of social media success and lessons for PRs from Twitter.  

1. Innocent’s Blue Drink

Over 10K likes and thousands of retweets and replies, Innocent is rocking wilful denial and baiting Twitter users into engagement. The company’s new drink, which is green, is called Bolt from the Blue and the drinks maker is claiming it’s the colour blue. Cue many thousands of people pointing out the obvious – it’s actually green.

But this drink isn’t called blue when it’s green by mistake, and Innocent has replied to hundreds of tweets correcting people who call it green.


…and over….

And over again…

What’s the lesson?
When you’ve built up a playful persona on Twitter, you can be playful with your audience and people don’t mind. Also – people love pointing out mistakes, and you can be sure of engagement if you make one.

UPDATE: We’ve received a request for a number of corrections from Innocent about some ‘errors’ in the above text. We’re delighted to update the post with the following:


2. M&S Mojito
Diane Abbot was snapped drinking from a can of Mojito from M&S on TFL’s Overground Line. The media picked up on the picture and it blew up on social media as Abbot was forced to apologise:

This may seem like a trivial matter but for M&S this was excellent coverage.

Many people started using the hashtag #IDrinkWithDiane and some even posted pictures of themselves enjoying alcoholic cans on the Underground. M&S didn’t even have to comment, all the work was done for them, and while Tesco tried to jump on the bandwagon – (the scamps):

The only real winner was M&S:

What’s the lesson?
Know when to comment and know when not to. But when a story breaks – and this story made headlines across nearly every major news site – make sure the rest of the business knows. Just because you’re not communicating publicly, doesn’t mean you can’t communicate internally and make sure your stock of ‘tinnies’ doesn’t run low…


3. A whole bunch of lessons
This is a bit of a cheat, like having three wishes from a genie and using one of them to wish for more wishes. But we came across a thread of excellent advice from Ben Jack Thomas, senior brand strategist at Twitter:

What’s the lesson?
When writing a listicle, find someone to do the heavy lifting for you.


Ready to launch the greatest social media campaign ever? Make sure you have the right tools for success

Lush Ltd

Is Lush building its own social network?

Lush hit the headlines last week when it announced the closure of its main UK social media accounts. The announcement claimed social media is ‘making it harder and harder for us to talk to each other directly’, the company is ‘tired of fighting with algorithms’ and Lush doesn’t want to ‘pay to appear in your newsfeed’.

Its plan is to highlight more voices, and some have read this as more influencer marketing, but that still requires a reliance on existing social media channels whether the company is using them directly or not. On the announcement to quit social media, Lush encouraged people to engage directly via live website chat, email or phone.

Within 24 hours, most major news sites, both mainstream and trade, had picked up the story in what’s undeniably a publicity win for a company that doesn’t spend money on traditional advertising. Unfortunately many of the stories focused on how confused Lush customers were by the news – like this story from the Mirror – with many suggesting that Lush’s target audience are unlikely to call, chat or email the company.

While there is likely to be a bigger plan to come (more on that in a moment), this is half an announcement. Without explaining the ‘What’s next’ part of ‘we’re quitting social media’, many have been left in the dark. To some, this tease may be exciting and the intrigued superfans will be on tenterhooks. But in the age of social media, where attention spans are measured in seconds, this tactic is also likely to lose members of its audience who lack the patience for a protracted stunt.

Not everyone is against the move though, Lush has a fan in David Parkinson, managing director of Brave & Heart who, writing for The Drum claims to have considered this type of move for many of his clients. He says: ‘For several global clients, my agency has looked at similar strategies […] we have started to think beyond the platform and back to the purpose and the people. Asking “who?”, “why?” and “where?”, not just “what?” and “when?”.

‘This is why a brand the size of Lush gets my thumbs up; its big enough for people to take notice, small enough to have the chops to do it.’

Signs of a new network
On the surface it may seem like a baffling move for a company such as Lush, for whom social media engagement seems to come easily for both its products and ethical campaigns. And it’s that level of content engagement that Lush won’t want to lose, which is why the final line of the announcement points at more to come: ‘This isn’t the end, it’s just the start of something new. #LushCommunity – see you there.’

The accompanying image says Lush is ‘switching up social’ – not abandoning it. Clarity can perhaps be found in the company’s annual report, which was published the week before this announcement. The report highlights a growth in online sales and the claim that it is ‘optimistic that our new global website launch will help generate further growth’.

The company is investing heavily in its ‘digital estate’, which is being created to ensure a ‘safe haven for our Lush communities online’. It is continuing to focus on ‘developing features in beta, an evolving brand led commerce experience online’., or #LUSHLABS, is already open to UK customers with plans for it to roll out globally by the end of June.

At the moment the site is ‘by invitation only’ and encourages registered users to ‘invite collaborators’. Users – who have to create an account – will ‘hear it here first’ with ‘early-bird content reveals and news’.

The homepage finishes with the line ‘Want to know a secret? By joining you’re helping us build a new Lush platform. Lush has always been a community-led company. Lush Labs is the next step in putting your feedback at the front and centre’.

An online community with free-flowing engagement for registered users? Sounds like a social network to me.

What do you think of Lush’s move? Tempted to quit the Gram or leave Facebook? We’re still on social media so let us know your thoughts on Twitter @Vuelio.

Online Harms white paper

Reaction to Government proposals to tackle ‘online harms’

The Government has published a white paper that proposes a new regulator to oversee and enforce a ‘statutory duty of care’ by online tech companies. Enforcement includes the ability to issue ‘substantial fines’ and to ‘impose liability on individual members of senior management’.

The detailed white paper proposals draw a particular focus to terrorist activity and child sexual exploitation and abuse online, and say the Home Secretary would have final sign-off on the codes of practice that govern these harms. In what may be seen as a big threat to social and search giants’ proprietary practices, the proposals also call for the regulator to have the ability to see the impact of algorithms in selecting content for users.

This white paper comes off the back of Mark Zuckerberg calling for government regulation of the internet – and though cynics may suggest a tech boss requesting specific regulation is not as wholesome as it appears, ‘harmful content’ is an area he wants more regulation over. Of course, having read the Government’s white paper, Zuckerberg may now regret inviting this in to his company’s ethos.

Reaction to the proposals has been mixed, with many questioning the ethics of Government intervention in online spaces in what could be perceived as an attack on free speech. The fact the white paper claims it has a vision for ‘a free, open and secure internet’ with ‘freedom of expression online’, seems in many ways to directly contradict the requirement for tech companies to actively remove harmful content.

The Guardian has summarised many of the fears around the proposals here, which includes the line, ‘critics say online harms white paper could lead to North Korean-style censorship’.

These concerns were reflected across Twitter:

Though the voices in the media may not fully reflect the public’s perception (imagine), as this Martin Lewis Twitter poll suggests:

It’s very possible that the high-profile stories of tech giants and social platforms accused of failing their users, such as in the death of Molly Russell, have perhaps permeated the public’s collective conscience more than the media’s ingrained fear of Government censorship.

In PR land, the reaction has not been as strong, which is perhaps surprising as media concerns are typically comms concerns. The difficulties of strongly taking one side (Government potentially threatening freedom of speech) against another (we want children to be safe online) is summed up by the PRCA’s director general, Francis Ingham; he said: ‘The Online Harms White Paper builds on the political consensus around online safety, public concern, and the need to “rebuild” public confidence. The question of online platform regulation touches on sensitive subjects such as freedom of speech and our shared desire to keep people (especially children) safe online.

‘The devil is in the detail here and the Government itself argues that voluntary action from the industry has not “gone far enough”. While most people would support the intentions behind this White Paper, if all of these online harms are not clearly defined then the consequence would be far larger than intended.’

The CIPR similarly highlights that in theory this white paper is a positive step to protect people online but that any regulation must also allow tech companies to operate freely, a tightrope balancing act. Jon Gerlis, CIPR senior policy office, said: ‘This Paper is a welcome addition to the conversation around tackling the ills of harmful online content and the spread of disinformation online. The paper accepts that self-regulation has failed.

‘It is therefore right that the law addresses this in a way that allows it to keep pace with advances in the digital world and ensure tech companies operate freely but regulated to a clear set of standards expected of any other kind of business.’

What do you think of the regulation? Long overdue to keep people safe or the end of freedom of speech? Let us know on Twitter @Vuelio.

Article 13

Industry associations react to EU copyright vote

The European Parliament’s vote to pass new laws for copyright on the internet has been met with criticism from industry giants like Google, high-profile Youtubers, and associations including the CIPR and PRCA.

‘Memes’ and parody are safe under the Article 13 – passed on Tuesday with a 348-274 vote – but reuse of material beyond reaction gifs created for sharing on Twitter or Tumblr could be subject to censor. Francis Ingham, director general of the PRCA said: ‘We risk chilling online engagement with overreaching roles on copyright. This comes, ironically, at a time when we need the public to engage with the news more than ever’.

Though Article 13 has the aim of passing accountability for copyright-breaking content from the public and onto the digital companies that host its distribution, this may still have unintended negative consequences for individuals looking to share their thoughts on current events online. The directive’s upload filters – though intended to support news organisations and providers – may silence public opinion before it can be shared and, according to the CIPR’s stance, ‘damage the rights of internet users’. For CIPR Chief Executive Alastair McCapra, ‘Mandatory licenses and content filters are a disproportionate response to the problem and will not tackle the problem of the illegal sharing of right-protected content online.’

High-profile figures are on each side of the argument regarding the new laws, such as musicians Wyclef Jean (against) and Debbie Harry (for). Companies who had protested the passing of Article 13 include PornHub – a platform that has previously provided a haven for users leaving the social blogging platform Tumblr post-censorship to instead create and share GIFs with them [This link is surprisingly safe for work]. Tumblr’s ban on ‘NSFW’ content in December 2018 has already seen the social blogging site lose 30% of its web traffic, and though Article 13’s copyright focus is far from Tumblr’s ‘female-presenting nipples’ aversion, social sharing sites could still be negatively affected in a similar way when it comes to engagement and user numbers.

For journalists and content creators, the new laws are designed to support and protect their work from companies sharing without payment or proper accreditation. A noble aim, but one that comes with caveats and consequences that won’t always be conducive to creativity and reward. Laws that could curb future controversies like that of the @fuckjerry account aggregating without consent may also harm journalistic free thought, and that’s something that will have an impact on the PR industry.

McCapra said: ‘[Article 13] will force restrictions on the way PR professionals work and deliver value for clients and businesses across Europe’, which is a view that many PRs are likely to share in the coming months. However the industry reacts to the new laws as their reality sets in, PR firms and freelancers (and the content creators they work with) are going to have to get creative to work with the incoming filters and restrictions… or the new opportunities, depending if you’re team Jean or team Harry.

Magazine rack

ABC releases magazine circulation figures for the second half of 2018

According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC), many magazines saw a decline in circulation for the second half of last year.

For women’s magazines, Red and Bella grew the most, by 7% and 6% respectively but for a large number of magazines it was a different story. The biggest year-on-year falls were experienced by Now magazine (43% decline) and Cosmopolitan (23% decline).

Mark Winterton, managing director for women’s weeklies and TV at TI Media, told Press Gazette: ‘We are starting to see the benefit of our bold decision to go against the grain and remove our women’s weeklies titles from bigger packs.

‘While the overall ABC results reflect the initial impact of stripping out the bigger packs from our promotional activity, which inflates sales figures, these single copy sales are indicative of the rewards of doing so. Our investment in audience research and editorial redevelopment will continue across all titles in the portfolio.’

Rob Munro-Hall, group managing director at Bauer Magazine Media UK, owner of second highest circulation magazine Bella, said: ‘Our focus on curating the highest quality content continues to drive engagement on all platforms – with print remaining proudly at the heart of what we do.’

For men’s interest magazines, Stuff’s circulation fell 27% year-on-year between July and December 2018. The now-closed free magazine Shortlist recorded the highest circulation, shifting an average 500,000 copies per issue.

For news magazines, The Week’s circulation fell by over 25%, while its sister title The Week Junior grew by as much.

Marina Haydn, managing director of circulation at The Economist, said it has worked with ABC to change how its circulation figures are reported, consolidating its print offerings and separating it from its digital publication figures. Haydn said this reflected The Economist’s “product neutrality” as customers can choose between print and digital’.

This new format shows The Economist with a print circulation drop of 38%, as print figures are being compared to combined print and digital figures from last year.

According to the Economist, like-for-like figures would put its print circulation down by 10% year-on-year and its digital circulation up by 83% year-on-year.

All the ABCs are updated in the Vuelio Media Database, helping you to make informed decisions about which outlets work for you. 

Media outlets - job cuts and closures

Journalism job cuts and closure of publications

BuzzFeed, HuffPost, The Pool, and Vice are just some of the outlets that have announced cuts and closures over the last couple of weeks, with thousands of media jobs already cut in 2019.

Across the UK, US, and Australia, BuzzFeed has cut editorial roles and closed BuzzFeed Spain entirely. In London, almost half of editorial roles have been cut, down 17 from an original 37. Roles being sliced are primarily across the Buzz team, but also the news and celeb teams. BuzzFeed has also made its head of quizzes redundant because free user-generated content is proving more popular.

The Guardian reported: ‘BuzzFeed founder and chief executive, Jonah Peretti, said the company would reduce headcount by 15 percent, or about 250 jobs, to around 1,100 employees globally.’



In the US, Verizon, owner of HuffPost, Yahoo and AOL, has reportedly announced cuts for up to 1,000 staff. This would trim seven percent from its media team across all brands. Verizon began by laying off 20 employees at HuffPost on 23 January, including opinion writers and political reporters.

CNET reported that in a memo to staff, Guru Gowrappan, CEO of Verizon Media said: ‘These were difficult decisions, and we will ensure that our colleagues are treated with respect and fairness, and given the support they need.’

Next was Gannett, the largest newspaper publisher in the US, cutting around two percent of its workforce. Poynter reported on cuts that affected editors and senior journalists at local papers owned by Gannett in regions across the US. The New York Post reports that cuts affected as many as 400 people.

Last week, women-focused online magazine, The Pool shared the news of its closure on Friday, after almost four years.



Also on Friday, Vice Media announced cuts across the US, UK and Canada, laying off 10% of staff following reorganisation from new CEO Nancy Dubuc.

Business Insider reported: ‘Vice Media will reportedly refocus around its TV production unit, its international news team, it’s digital properties, and its original TV content.’

Press Gazette editor Freddy Mayhew said: ‘There seems to be no end in sight to redundancies at online publications.

‘If the likes of The Pool, Buzzfeed and HuffPost can’t make digital journalism pay when they’re the experts, who purely publish online with no print offering, then the industry truly is in crisis.’


As journalists move on to new roles and freelance careers, all changes and updates are made in the Vuelio Media Database.