How to use data to prove the power of your PR

How to use data to prove the power of your PR

The full potential and power of good PR is often intangible, with no one industry-wide metric shared by every comms team. What kind of data is most effective to demonstrate the value of your work to your c-suite and clients?

The PRCA’s ‘Data Literacy in PR Report’ features essays from 11 industry leaders including Stephen Waddington, Andrew Bruce Smith, Orla Graham, Steve Leigh, Sophie Coley, Stella Bayles, James Crawford, Alex Judd and Allison Spray covering how data can make your PR successful.

Here are five takeaways from the report:

1) Decide on your KPIs from the start

‘Numbers and data analysis should play a vital role in every aspect of public relations. Every campaign should begin with goal setting and research and involve answering many important questions…’   Andrew Bruce Smith

The essay ‘What Numbers Matter in Public Relations?’ highlights the importance of setting your Key Performance Indicators at the start of a project. No one metric to rule them all in the industry? Then determine your own, and how to source relevant data that will inform your planning process.

2. Refine your processes throughout the campaign cycle

‘It is worth noting that measurement and evaluation works best when it is used as a process of continuous improvement. It should be a circular activity. We learn what works best so that we can refine and enhance plans and maximise the impact of available resources…’ – Orla Graham and Steve Leigh.

In ‘Design a Listening and Measurement Strategy’, refining and rethinking is promoted as an intrinsic part of any successful project cycle. Any starting framework is likely to grow and evolve as more data is gathered, allowing for exploration of additional KPIs where needed.

3. Listen to the right audiences

‘Once you’ve designed a measurement strategy, you need to find sources for that data. This presents new challenges; how to identify your audience and how best to extract meaningful data from them.

‘Each method has its own strengths and weaknesses. There is no definitive “right” answer. Choose the right approach for your needs by focusing on what you are trying to learn…’ – Sophie Coley and Steve Leigh

For finding the right audience, ‘Identifying a Public and Listening to Conversations’ recommends the use of surveys, social media and searches. Surveys can be useful in the planning stage, to measure impacts during a campaign, and in the post-project analysis stage. For using social media and searches, social listening can help – find out more here.

4. Push the limitations of the tools you use

‘Tools and tech stacks are increasingly important for the public relations industry. Despite ever-growing scope and complexity, there is still no silver bullet as every client has different objectives. Public relations can be used in many ways to achieve a broad range of outcomes…’ – Stella Bayles and James Crawford

‘What is possible to achieve with tools and what are their limitations?’ tackles the question from the point of view of both the tool user and the vendor. While tools can ‘bridge the data literacy gap’, they can also complicate things if not used correctly. Rather than relying on raw data that comes in a one-size-fits-all format, seek out bespoke reports that will provide accurate reporting for your particular project.

5. Translate your data to make the outcomes clear

‘No matter what kind of project you’re running, your sector (or specialism), chances are you have faced what many professionals dread: a wall of statistics, charts, and data points. A litany of information pointing you towards something. But what are you going to do with it all? Resist the urge to find a word cloud, throw it on a slide and give yourself a pat on the back. Instead, take a different path, start your journey to find an insight…’ – Alex Judd and Allison Spray

Reams of numbers and graphs can look incredibly impressive or utterly intimidating. Before presenting them to your management team, or scanning for meaning yourself, go back to the problem your project or campaign was trying to solve in the first place and link the numbers accordingly. As a PR, you already have the skill set to bring data to life and sell your story to any audience – even those making the big decisions on your team’s budget for the following year…

Download the full paper ‘Data Literacy in PR’ from the PRCA website.

For advice on integrating PR into the C-suite level, read our write-up of our webinar with Stephen Waddington, Dr Jon White and Rachel Roberts ‘Level up your PR career: Getting ready for management’.

 

Taylor Bennett Foundation appoints trustees

Taylor Bennett Foundation welcomes additional trustees to its board

The Taylor Bennett Foundation has appointed two new trustees to its board. Joining are FTI Consulting’s managing director Lena Ahad and Four Communications Group’s head of HR Maria La-Rose.

The new trustees will continue their support – already shown in their work with FTI Consulting and Four Communications – of the Foundation’s aims to encourage and support black, Asian and minority ethnic graduates to start their career in communications.

Lena and Maria will officially join the board of the charity from December 2022 and join existing members including Pinch Point Communications’ managing director Sarah Pinch, Taylor Bennett managing partner Matthew Wall, Brunswick Group director James Baker, Savills PR manager Kuldeep Mehmi, Google B2B Communications’ Jo Ogunleye, CBI chief campaign director Syma Cullasy-Aldridge and The PR Office’s managing director Marc Cohen.

Of the appointments, Sarah Pinch said:

‘As Chair of Trustees I was keen we appointed trustees who were able to support the board’s ambitious plans for growth. We want to increase our reach to young people; ensure we are changing the lives of more young people and also help the industry be more representative of society. The Foundation has a proven track record in improving diversity. What we do works. We want to work with more organisations, in-house and agency side, to continue to deliver.’

Lena Ahad commented: ‘I am delighted to be joining as a trustee of the Taylor Bennett Foundation to continue encouraging black, Asian and minority ethnic talent to pursue a career in communications. FTI Consulting is now in its sixth year of sponsoring the award-winning PR training and mentoring programme – so my trustee role very much feels like a natural transition into a strategic role while also supporting global brands at FTI Consulting. Now in my third decade in the communications industry, it’s extremely rewarding to see the next generation of diverse talent coming through the ranks and I very much look forward to supporting the future leaders of our industry’.

Marcia added: ‘I am absolutely thrilled to now be on the Board of Trustees of the Taylor Bennett Foundation which Four has worked with for some years now, and I hope I will be able to assist with the development and outreach of this fantastic organisation’.

For more on the work and aims of the Foundation, watch our previous accessmatters session with chief executive Melissa Lawrence.

 

Level up your comms career

Level up your PR career: Getting ready for management

PR is much more than just communicating the decisions of management – in 2022, PR should be involved in the decision-making process, right from the start.

Yet despite the proof of PR through times of crisis over the last few years, recognition and integration of PR into management and the C-suite is not yet a reality for many organisations How can PR break into the boardroom?

Exploring themes from the recent white paper ‘Elevating the role of public relations in management’, Stephen Waddington and Dr Jon White were joined by CIPR president and spottydog communications founder Rachel Roberts for our webinar ‘From tactical to critical: Why PR belongs at the top table’.

Here are four lessons to help elevate your PR:

1) The role PR plays in management is only becoming more obvious

‘At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I observed public relations elevated very firmly into management,’ shared Stephen. ‘I hadn’t seen the like before in my career, where PR was so valued.

‘Think back two years, there was that point where PR teams were part of daily meetings, part of the management function in terms of organisation, working from home and the supply chain; that complex environment.

‘I’ve learned that the impact of the pandemic wasn’t unusual in elevating PR. There are a number of situations where it is quickly elevated: crisis, credibility issues, media agendas, leadership. What is interesting in particular is how this role can be developed.’

2) Public relations needs to go beyond the aspirational to the practical

‘My starting point with this idea was in a meeting with a fellow faculty member years ago,’ said Dr Jon.

‘The standard text in North America used at the time, stated emphatically that PR is a management function. My skeptical faculty member, who came from a journalist background, said “Is that true? Isn’t that aspirational rather than reality?” And reality shows it is aspirational, currently.

‘In our discussion with Vuelio PR clients, only one in five are fully integrated into management. That is the reality – we would like to claim a place the top table, but we aren’t really there yet.

‘Every organisation has important relationships to attend to internally and externally – attention needs to be paid to these relationships and how groups are behaving – that is PR territory.’

3) Make use of shared skilled sets to get to the next level

‘ESG is right at the fore of management – organisations can’t just look at the economic situation they’re faced with, but social and governance issues also,’ advised Stephen. ‘As PRs, we have perspective to bring to that. Our opportunity is to bring a fresh outlook to decision making.

‘There are several ways to go about this. Most of us are used to SWOT and PESTLE analysis already, and that is well understood within management. I would suggest PRs use that to support their management teams. Once you’ve developed that, you can start to scenario plan.

‘How do we close the gap between PR and the board? Organisations are closely aligned across the industry – that one-in-five number is consistent in every piece of research I’ve been able to find, from the 80s onwards.’as

4) Demonstrate the value of PR to your c-suite

‘Value is what gets attention at the C-suite level; money does still talk,’ said Rachel.

‘The challenge of PR is that you can’t always see the contribution to the bottom line. In the 70s, the non-tangible aspects of the balance sheet were pretty low. CEOs, now, are about creating value – if we can demonstrate how PR can create that intangible value, we can get attention.

‘PRs come to attention for “doing stuff”. But we aren’t just the “doers”. We’re always thinking three steps ahead; the strategic piece. That has parity with the C-suite. We already have the same mindset as a great CEO or C-suite team.

‘There is so much more data now to demonstrate the effectiveness, though we can get caught up in that; the C-suite can latch on to data and want instant gratification. But in other areas, people know it takes a few years to get ROI. It takes some time to move the dial here as well. We have to have that long-term strategic investment.

‘But first, we need to get into the boardroom and adopt the same style as other professions.’

Watch the full From tactical to critical: Why PR belongs at the top table webinar and download the white paper From tactical to critical: Why PR belongs at the top table for more on this subject.

How to break into the news cycle

Finding a new angle: How to break through a busy news cycle

The cost-of-living crisis, ongoing changes in the UK Government, the invasion of Ukraine, the World Cup (Joe Lycett), the Royals – it may feel like pitches unrelated to these subjects will struggle to find a place in the UK media right now, but there is a place for every story if you find the right angle.

At our recent Journalist Voices by Vuelio event, The Daily Telegraph’s Yolanthe Fawehinmi, Marie Claire’s Ally Head and freelance journalists Hannah Ajala and Isabella Silvers shared the opportunities for PRs reaching out to the media.

Before trying a tenuous link to the topics trending in the headlines when preparing to pitch, step back and switch up your strategy.

Watch the full Journalist Voices by Vuelio event here.

‘I’m going to be slightly controversial,’ opened Ally when asked about the media’s focus on particular story threads right now. ‘Perhaps PRs think that’s the case… but I don’t think it is’.

Working on Marie Claire as health, sustainability and relationships editor, Ally has a wide-reaching remit but a very specific readership she is writing for.

‘There are so many different publications, stories and angles out there, but it is all about getting to know the brand and what would be relevant to them,’ said Ally.

‘Marie Claire is about female empowerment, so you can put that angle on a story. Last month I got thousands of pitches with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) angles, all with backing from doctors and registered experts, but I only got one with a first-person case study. It is finding that angle. If it is an awareness month, find something people might not be aware of.’

The lure of national newspapers, big broadcasters and high-circulation consumer mags are tempting when working to place a story – a front page or double-page spread in the Daily Mail/The Daily Telegraph/The Mirror/The Guardian is any brand or client’s dream – but extend your reach beyond them. There is a whole world’s worth of reporters writing for different audiences on differing topics.

Breaking into the news cycle very much ‘depends on where you are in the world,’ shared We Are Black Journos founder Hannah Ajala, who writes for publications all over the world.

‘This year alone, I’ve spent time in 15 different counties,’ said Hannah. ‘Pitching really depends on what is the main interest of the people in that country or society. Depending on religious groups, social class, what is trending – what the big story is in that country may not make global news.

‘You can find inspiration anywhere and social media is a really great place for tapping in without having to be there – hashtags are fantastic to use. There are so many ways of finding inspiration. If you are always on the hunt for an interesting story, you can find something.’

And on the topic of featuring in The Telegraph, Yolanthe highlighted the importance of paying close attention to audiences and determining what they will want to read.
‘I’m a features writer, so with features it is about putting a human face to a story,’ Yolanthe advised.

‘The Telegraph knows its angles and their audience is right wing – they know who they are; “pull your socks up” kind of readers. Work backwards from your intended audience. Over the past few months on my team, the focus has been politics, with the Government changing and the Queen’s passing. Those are big Telegraph stories – we didn’t write many stories outside of that. So know what the audience will need. What will dominate that publication’s news cycle?’

For whichever story you have to pitch, there will be staff journalists, influencers and freelancers who will find your contribution useful and interesting – just be careful to tailor what you have to their unique patches and working patterns.

As well as working on the branded content team at Hearst UK, Isabella freelances for the publisher and other brands including Stylist, Metro and Refinery29, and has her own newsletter called Mixed Messages. For her, pitching successfully is ‘all about the audience and what each brand is interested in’.

‘The Queen – everyone was talking about it, but Marie Claire would have covered it differently to the Telegraph. It’s all about finding what works,’ shared Isabella.
‘Menopause is such a big topic, for another example – Good Housekeeping and Red write-ups would be for an older audience, but for Cosmopolitan you would want a first-person piece on early menopause. Tailor your points for each publication.’

The ultimate aim for the media is the same as for PRs, whatever seems at first glance to be trending and taking over the news cycle – ‘All we want to do is create content for our audiences,’ says Isabella. Whatever content you have to pitch – find the right writer and an angle that will work for them and their audience.

Thank you to London Filmed for providing the AV for this event: Londonfilmed.com

For more on working with these journalists and advice on pitching to the media, watch the full event and check out our write-up on how Vuelio can help on the specifics.

CIPR and Taylor Bennett Foundation launch reverse mentoring scheme

CIPR and Taylor Bennett Foundation launch BME Reverse Mentoring scheme

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and Taylor Bennett Foundation have launched the PR industry’s first BME Reverse Mentoring Scheme. The scheme has been designed to educate senior PR industry leaders on the challenges practitioners from diverse communities face – it will run for over ten months and applications are now open.

CIPR x Taylor Bennett Foundation Reverse Mentoring Scheme

Those interested in taking part as either a mentor or mentee can find information on the scheme, criteria for application and how to sign up at the Taylor Bennett Foundation website. Applications close on 9 December 2022.

A successful pilot scheme paired senior leaders with Black, Asian and ethnic minority PR professional mentors to highlight the important role of inclusive cultures and allyship. Participants came from organisations including Netflix, Imperial College London, Google and Cardiff University Centre as well as agencies Four Communications, Cicero, Brands2Life and more.

The CIPR’s D&I Network chair and head of Healthcare Europe for 3 Monkeys Zeno said: ‘The BME Reverse Mentoring Scheme was created as we strongly believed that senior leaders needed to take responsibility for creating fairer, more diverse workplaces, but to do this they needed to appreciate the realities of being a person of colour in the UK PR industry.

‘Our pilot programme has shown that mentoring partnerships can result in valuable, honest conversations about the challenges, both personal and cultural, faced by those from minority backgrounds.

‘The scheme is not only building understanding but also shaping positive action. Mentees have already used their learnings to inform the D&I initiatives in their organisations to improve inclusiveness and representation. I’m excited to welcome mentor and mentee applications from those who are fully committed to making real DE&I change happen in the comms industry.’

Taylor Bennett Foundation CEO Melissa Lawrence said: ‘This programme has highlighted many positive things and we know the mentees can take what they have learnt to create a real lasting impact within their business. If you are a senior leader looking for thought-provoking conversations on the issues related to diversity in PR, then I encourage you to take part in this programme, to make a difference not just to your organisation but the industry.’

Apply to take part in the CIPR and Taylor Bennett Foundation BME Reverse Mentoring scheme here and find out more about the work of the foundation in this interview with CEO Melissa Lawrence as well as this accessmatters session.

For more on how much more the PR and comms industry needs to do on equity and inclusion, read our previous post on fair recruitment.

 

 

Media trends in November on ResponseSource

What are UK journalists writing about? Media trends for November

Did you know that it is just 47 days until Christmas? The festive season seems to have snuck up on us this year but journalists and media organisations have been planning their Christmas content since August. The ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service has seen a steady increase in festive-themed requests over the last few months – here is a deep dive into what exactly the UK media were researching in October and are writing about now.

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

The Journalist Enquiry Service enables the media to ask for exactly what they want from PRs, and around 17% of those submitting requests in October used the word ‘Christmas’. Particularly popular phrases were ‘Christmas gift guide’, of which there were 7%, and ‘advent calendars’, which made up just over 2%. These demands are only going to increase throughout November and probably into the first few weeks of December too, giving ample opportunity to get products out to the press for review and write-ups.

Keyword phrases for October

However, Christmas isn’t just about the presents. Food and drink is a massive part of the day and as a category on the service it saw a 5.5% rise from last month and was the second most popular category of enquiry for journalists. There were numerous Christmas requests within this and enquiry summaries varied from ‘Looking to hear about and sample the best non-alcoholic spirits for Christmas’ to ‘Looking to speak to a chef/foodie on what Christmas dinner items you can cook in the air fryer’.

The media is also finding different angles to cover the festive season including Christmas decorations. Consumer magazines banked plenty of responses from PRs with ‘Best Christmas and ‘Christmas hallway decorating ideas’ requests.

The other trend around Christmas requests in October came from both sustainable and low-cost viewpoints due to the cost-of-living crisis.

This ‘environmental angle got plenty of help for its journalist and the consumer title they write for:

‘I’m looking for suggestions for having a greener Christmas – from the most eco-friendly tree, gift-wrap and decorations (and recycling them afterwards) to sustainable gifts that will really make a difference.’

While this high-profile national press website wanted to connect with those planning Christmas on a budget:

‘Urgently seeking to speak to people who may be cutting back on Christmas this year amid cost-of-living crisis – whether that’s having a smaller budget for presents, cutting back on buying new decorations, having a smaller Christmas dinner with family, etc.’

The cost-of-living angle has been a big focus for the last few months – around 3% of all requests from journalists used this key phrase. Breaking this down further, 44% of those enquiries have come from the National Newspaper/Current Affairs media type. This has included titles such as The I paper, the Daily Express, Metro and The Guardian.

JES Keywords by media type

National press journalists have tended to focus more on getting experts and case studies to talk about issues such as the energy price cap, rising interest rates and the impact on certain industries such as the food sector. This has resulted in categories like Manufacturing, Engineering & Energy increasing by 23% compared to September’s flurry of requests.

Cost-of-living reporting is big among journalists writing for consumer media – 20% of requests used this key phrase, sending enquiries for more information, advice and tips on how to save money or reduce costs in the home. The Home & Garden category has seen an increase (6%) in use by journalists since September.
Radio and television have also been busy covering the crisis and made up 12% of requests in October. These tended to be more for personal case studies and secure location/venues to film at. 5 News and ITV News were among those broadcasters.

‘We are looking for a restaurant/takeaway affected by the cost-of-living crisis for a filming opportunity tomorrow. Especially interested in businesses which tend to use a lot of energy in the kitchen such as working with large ovens or fryers.’

The political instability in October had a major effect on the property market with mortgage rates rising rapidly – as a result, 2% of all journalist enquiries in October contained the keyword ‘property’. It was an even spread among the media types, with 36% coming from Consumer Media, 34% from National Newspaper/Current Affairs and 22% from Trade/Business/Professional media. Requests varied from seeking mortgage/property experts to case studies of first-time buyers to information on whether house prices would crash next year.

The Journalist Enquiry Service as a whole for October was used predominately by Consumer Media (35%) followed by National Newspaper/Current Affairs (24%) and then Trade/Business/Professional Media (18%). Staff journalists make up just over a half of users, at 55%, with freelance journalists back at 24%. Enquiries are predominately for a Spokesperson or Expert (35%) with Information for an Article at 24%, Review Products just behind on 22% and then Personal Case Study on 10%. Six of the top ten outlets using the service are national press.

November is likely to see Christmas requests increase even further while the cost-of-living crisis continues to be topical and should prove popular again with the Manufacturing, Engineering & Energy category as well as Personal Finance and Business & Finance. Charity sector PRs could be in demand in the next few weeks with Movember and Alcohol Awareness Week from 15 to 21 November. The ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service team also expect to see a significant amount of requests around Black Friday (25 November) which should see a spike for the Retail & Fashion category.

Want to receive requests like these from journalists writing about your topics of interest and expertise? Check out these 6 reasons to stop searching #JournoRequest and start using the Journalist Enquiry Service.

The Good PR Pitching Guide

The Good Pitching Guide for PRs

Bad news first: there is no one set of rules for successful pitching into the UK media.

The good news: most journalists are very open and upfront about the kind of pitches they are interested in receiving from PRs.

Here are seven very specific requests, tips and ‘more please’s from journalists featured in our Vuelio Media Bulletin – take note on how to give good pitch to journalists writing about general lifestyle topics, science, health, sport, disability, inequality, psychology and more.

How to pitch to Angela Malin, editor-in-chief of About Time Magazine and They Started It podcaster

‘Email me! Always. With a succinct subject line. Please don’t call me, it freaks me out. And only WhatsApp in an emergency (is there ever really an emergency in lifestyle journalism?).’

Read the full interview with Angelica on her topics of interest and what went into her book ‘Unattached: Essays on Singlehood’.

Punteha van Terheyden, Lacuna Voices editor and freelance journalist

‘Please email me directly. And if I’m not on your subscriber list for real life case studies and press releases (women’s interest, health, legal, relationships, etc.), please add me! You can see my portfolio of articles on my website.’

Read the full interview for even more pitching tips from Punteha, author of ‘The 10-Point Pitching Plan’.

Lydia Wilkins, freelance journalist and podcaster with Conscious Being magazine

‘The best way to get in touch with a story or other opportunities is to not email me, but to wait for specific callouts that I post on Twitter.

‘My inbox is… messy at the best of times, and things get lost, technology being technology. Twitter means I can reply as quickly as I can.’

Read the full interview for Lydia’s thoughts on diversity in journalism and inclusivity in storytelling as well as information on her book ‘The Autism Friendly Cook Book’.

Henry Gee, Nature’s senior editor, biology

‘You can contact me through my book website. My agent is Jill Grinberg at Jill Grinberg Literary Management – you can email her through the same web page.’

Read the full interview for more on Henry’s experiences throughout his 30 years in science publishing as well as information on his book ‘A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth’.

Dr Josephine Perry, Cycling Weekly features writer, freelance journalist and sports and performance psychologist

‘I love getting story ideas or great case studies. I’m always looking for interesting things happening in sport, high performance or psychology. Any books on high performance or those written by athletes are great to receive for my website review section. Email me, or find me tweeting (far too much) @josephineperry.’

Read the full interview for advice on being successful in all your endeavours (including pitching to the media) as Dr Josephine talks about her book ‘The Ten Pillars of Success: Secret Strategies of High Achievers’.

Saba Salman, Community Living editor and freelance journalist

‘I’m interested in reporting the experiences and talking to people we rarely hear from, like someone who has a profound disability, or their family, or health and care support staff. I’m also interested in covering the stories of people for whom the cost-of-living might be harsher because they face multiple barriers or disadvantage, for example, due to race and disability.’

Read the full interview to find out more about Saba’s reporting of the cost-of-living crisis and disability issues for outlets including The Guardian, The Independent and Byline Times.

Sophie Smith Galer, senior news reporter for VICE

‘I’ll be honest – it is very rare that my stories come from press releases. But if you have something connected to gender violence, health misinformation, online extremism or the climate crisis and it’s about something going on in Europe, the Middle East or Africa you can email me.’

Read the full interview for how Sophia utilises TikTok as a reporting and sourcing tool and her book ‘Losing It: Sex Education for the 21st Century’.

Find out more about all of these journalists with the Vuelio Media Database and keep up with movements across the UK media by signing up to the twice-weekly Media Bulletin for PRs and journalists.

Even more tips on pitching to the UK media can be found in our white paper ‘How to Pitch to Journalists’ – download it here.

How to support your staff during the cost-of-living crisis

How to support your staff throughout the cost-of-living crisis

This is a guest post from Laura Oliphant, CEO of Stand, on what companies can be doing during the cost of living crisis.

Any help given to staff during situations like Covid and the cost-of-living crisis needs to be part of a positive and genuine work culture. As we enter the tougher winter months and energy and food prices soar, companies need to ramp up their employee support, going beyond free drinks and gift vouchers. Support has to be meaningful – nothing lands as badly as a token gesture, or support not awarded fairly across the business.

At Stand we aim to support our team from the day they start work with us, but as the cost of living continues to rise, we recognised more was needed. We decided to give a one-off payment to our staff. £800 split across two payments in October and January 2023 for those earning up to £30,000, and £500 for those earning over £30,000. Feedback on the payment was universally well received, particularly because it was announced months before government support was confirmed.

Alongside financial help, we introduced a number of smaller gestures in the office, including increased fruit and snacks, and additional breakfast supplies.

But support for teams must go beyond one-off gestures. We are constantly challenging ourselves to come up with new ways to show our team they are valued. We understand life can be tough, especially during times like Covid. After three lockdowns and other restrictions of the pandemic, we wanted to give our team better balance at work. Initially, we trialled a nine-day fortnight where every two weeks, everyone at Stand had an off day to spend how they wish. This has now been adapted into a 1pm Friday finish where we are encouraging our team to start their weekend early, or use the afternoon to do something creative or good for their wellbeing.

Wellbeing is particularly important for us at Stand. In addition to our annual £250 wellbeing allowance, we have trained mental health first aiders, free counselling and discounted gym membership and equipment through our private health cover. Everyone has a day off on their birthday, 2.5 volunteering days, creative time off to seek inspiration and the chance to take a sabbatical after three years of service.

The most important advice I can give alongside consistency and fairness, is introducing support and benefits that are co-created. Listen to feedback and try to read the room so you introduce support before people say they need help. But also have realistic expectations. Having a positive culture, a strong suite of benefits and giving extra support is not a silver bullet to recruitment and staff retention, but it is the right thing to do.

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

Digital PR with Vuelio

4 tips for mastering digital PR

PR has changed a lot since the early days of clippings books, printed features lists and heavy media directories either weighing down office shelves or stacked up under desks.

If you are very early in your PR career, you might not know what any of those very 80s/90s extremely cumbersome things even are – and lucky for you, you don’t have to. We are now firmly in the era of digital PR, so here is advice from Connective3’s guide to digital PR to help you navigate this Brave New World and nail it, too.

Download the full Digital PR Starter Pack from Connective3.

1) Learn from the best

The wonderful thing about working in the creative industries is that inspiration can come from anywhere – but industry-based inspo is particularly useful.

Keep up with big news happening in the wider PR, marketing, comms and media industry by signing up for newsletters from outlets like PRWeek, Campaign, The Drum and Vuelio to make sure you are always in the loop.

Want extra insight from industry leaders? Some extra advice from us – check out these 10 Top UK PR Blogs regularly sharing takes on new campaigns from big brands, as well as emerging trends you need to be aware of. And even digital PRs can benefit from more traditional publication formats – here are the best books for PR professionals to read.

2) Brainstorm

Blank pieces of paper, empty whiteboards and the open expectant faces of colleagues and clients – terrifying and not exactly conducive to creative thinking and ideation.

Connective3 recommend breaking down your brief before diving headlong into brainstorming. Remember at school when teachers would recommend reading all of the questions before starting your answer? Same thing here – decide where to start by reading over the key information first and keep your ‘why’ at the centre of your mind. Remember that no idea is ‘bad’ and try different approaches – writing, talking, different team combinations and session formats.

3) Download some data

Data can not only back up the points you are looking to hit in campaigns or content but can also help during the planning and post-campaign measurement phase.

Connective3 has suggestions for data sources you can tap including the Office for National Statistics (ONS), Freedom of Information Requests (FOIs) and YouGov while we can also recommend Media Monitoring (we happen to have that) to see how different media channels are reporting on your topics of interest. Social listening tools like Pulsar can also track the online conversations of your intended audiences.

4) Newsjack

With advice from industry greats, knowledge of what is happening in the wider industry, good ideas and decent data, it is time to find a hook for your story. Newsjacking, also known as reactive PR, is a useful skill for connecting your message to an issue already in the minds of the public and being covered by the media.

The Digital PR Starter Pack has a full list of Dos and Don’ts to take note of before you start newsjacking, but the basics just happen to be the building blocks of PR.

Back in the analogue days, much was done with press releases and/or the offering of expertise. Digitalisation has not changed this as a PR approach, especially for newsjacking.
Ready a calendar of events and awareness days happening throughout the year that campaigns can be pinned to. Alongside your calendar, prepare press releases with useful hooks and relevant links to the news you are hitching your story to as well as information journalists, broadcasters and influencers will need when reporting. Finally, ensure you share your releases with those who will find them useful – a media database can help.

Expertise is a valuable commodity for the media – in addition to the trusty press release, there are other online options for offering it out. Services like the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service enable PRs to connect with journalists asking for expert comment in specific niches, with no need for dragging out those dusty media directories of old.

Check out more advice from Connective3 in the Digital PR Starter Pack

Everyone has a podcast

Everyone has a podcast these days: 4 ways to be heard

While it feels like everybody has a podcast – you may already have at least three on the go in your spare time – there is no denying it is a valuable format. Podcasting is predicted to be a $4 billion industry by 2024, making it a platform with plenty of potential for brands and businesses with something to say. 

Considering starting a podcast, or want to steer a client in the right direction/away from producing something only their friends and family will listen to? Take advice from the experts. Here are tips from media professionals at brands including The Times, BBC Good Food and Women’s Running shared during this year’s Publisher Podcast Summit.

1) Be genuine

Unlike super-slick radio programming, podcasting should be more direct and friendly with listeners. Build a genuine bond with your community – or a useful parasocial relationship with the consumers you want to engage – with authenticity.

One instant way of doing this is to utilise existing camaraderie on your team, like Women’s Running editor Esther Newman, who found success and extra listeners by teaming up with co-host Holly Taylor for her podcast.

‘Your audiences will quickly become invested in you as people if they enjoy the conversations that you’re having,’ is Esther’s advice.

2) Branch out and do something different

Yes, there are many podcasts out there already. What gets attention in a noisy space is something you already know a lot about from your comms experience – telling a story in a new way.

A podcast is ‘a really powerful storytelling tool’ believes Big Issue’s future generations editor Laura Kelly. For Laura, the format provides a way to ‘reach out to marginalised voices’ and tell stories your audience may not have heard before, or provide a new twist on something they are familiar with. A podcast also allows for a deeper investigation and investment in a story:

‘You need a strong story with twists and turns,’ advises The Times and The Sunday Times podcast producer Will Roe. ‘It needs a decent central figure as well as an idea of the wider theme – what does this story actually mean?’

3) Turn off the business brain for a while

Building a following for a podcast is the same as building a community around any other form of content – too business-focused and you can lose the interest of those who took the time to tune in.

Approach a podcast as ‘a full package thing, rather than just a promotional tool to get your voice out there,’ says Wondery Media producer Theodora Louloudis.

The extra time and effort needed to produce a podcast can be a labour of love – an opportunity to flex muscles you may not otherwise get the opportunity to use during regular comms work.

4) Remember the audience out there

Recording a podcast can be an opportunity to showcase other communications skills and snap up new audiences… or a fast-track to self-indulgence and boredom for those listening in. Producing podcasts in isolation frequently leads to friendship groups thinking their conversations about cinema are of interest to those other than them. Frequently, they are wrong.

To avoid this pitfall, steer clear of giving the microphone to any team members who are overly keen to talk over others (we all know someone like that) and consider adding in plenty of guest speakers and interviews with people in your industry.

Alongside respected thought leaders, showcase those people ‘whose story has not been told, or who has got something really interesting to say that you might not have heard before,’ advises Janine Ratcliffe, deputy editor of olive magazine and BBC Good Food.

There are plenty of interesting voices to showcase out there and topics to cover, all while further building your brand in the background…

For advice on the benefits and pitfalls of parasocial relationships in communications and marketing, check out our overview of how big brands are doing it.

Not sure if podcasting or radio is the direction you want to go in for your brand and clients? Read this guest post from Broadcast Revolution’s Phil Caplin ‘Is radio or podcast better for your campaign?

Will the Online Safety Bill keep journalism safe alongside its audiences?

Will the Online Safety Bill keep journalism safe alongside its audience?

News avoidance and mistrust in the media is at a high – perhaps no shock when considering the negative impacts of misinformation and harmful content to audiences across the globe.

Will the Online Safety Bill (OSB) – dividing many journalists and press regulators – ultimately be a force for good in the fight against misinformation and audience disengagement? Or could an increase in regulations for digital content come with blocks to free speech and disempowerment of a public in need of information?

Vuelio teamed up with Prospect magazine for the fringe panel ‘Does the Online Safety Bill support good journalism?’ during this year’s Conservative Party Conference to uncover the bill’s potential impacts and opportunities.

Chaired by Prospect’s Alan Rusbridger, the panel featured insight from speakers Damian Collins MP, Matthew Lesh from the Institute of Economic Affairs and Keele University’s Dr Laura Higson-Bliss.

While the OSB’s remit is chiefly to protect the public from online harms, every panelist acknowledged its complications for the media. In 2022, online content comes to its audiences through a variety of formats – not just news websites and streaming platforms, but their comment sections, affiliated and unaffliated social media accounts and private messaging platforms like WhatsApp.

Knowledge of the legalities involved in sharing stories on social media channels is already a must-have for reporters wanting to avoid missteps that could be ruled as criminal, and the UK publishing industry already has legal regulations in place – where will journalism benefit from the Bill?

Holding social media to account

‘Everyone around the world is trying to grapple with this problem of online harms,’ said Collins – Minister for the Bill and a member of the Facebook Oversight Board.

‘There is a debate on whether Facebook is a platform, or a publisher. The users are creating the content here, but the key area is liability – the curation of the experience. Companies – the platforms – have responsibility for that. These are business decisions companies are making and should be held responsible for.’

‘There is accountability and liability already within the media industry – the editor of a newspaper has personal liability for what is in it, even the adverts. The addition of liability elsewhere would be a significant improvement for journalism’.

Where the current lack of these regulations fails the media, according to the MP, is in the danger of companies removing whatever content they want, when they want – the possibility of free speech being impinged while harmful content could be missed, left online and easily accessed.

‘Tech companies hide behind public statements that are very unclear. Companies make promises, but do those promises reflect what is actually going on?’

Using the example of YouTube’s removal of the TalkRadio show, Collins highlighted the nature of news as timely; arbitrary strikes and takedowns by businesses outside of publishing can remove time-sensitive news until it is no longer of use or interest.

‘For the news industry, the ability for platforms to start striking things down is very damaging,’ said Collins.

Freedom of speech: A unintended casualty of the Online Safety Bill?

Keele University’s Dr Laura Higson-Bliss raised the ambiguity of the bill, particularly around content deemed ‘awful but lawful’.

‘I have issues with a governing body telling adults what is harmful to them. How do we enact change in society if we create separate echo chambers? How can we then challenge those views? It is important that we protect that ability to challenge in the open,’ argued Higson-Bliss.

‘The Government say the goal of this Bill is to make the UK the safest place to be online, but that comes at the cost of visibility and self-expression,’ believes the Institute of Economic Affairs’ Matthew Lesh.

‘By aiming for safety, we are sacrificing our basic ideals of free speech. This will have a number of unintended consequences – I think it is the intention of the Bill to actually encourage removal. When you threaten companies with fines, what you’re doing is lowering the threshold for removals of content. You’re baking-in the removal of legal speech’.

Journalism as a protected class

Whether journalism does require more protection than views expressed by the public on digital platforms was a concern expressed by Higson-Bliss and Lesh during the discussion.

‘The media can create as much harm as social media, yet it will have protections in this Bill,’ said Higson-Bliss. ‘We need to look at it again’.

Lesh added: ‘I think it is fundamentally unfair to have a privileged class on social media, just because they happen to be a publisher of a mainstream British newspaper. The best way to protect journalism here is to rescope the whole bill and protect everyone’s free speech. Journalists are not more entitled to free speech than the rest of us’.

There are more perspectives from journalists and the media in our Insights analysis of why journalists are worried about the Online Safety Bill.

What PRs need to know about the future of journalism

What PRs need to know about the future of journalism

Journalism is evolving – the PR and comms industry needs to keep up. Check out these five takeaways from the Press Gazette Future of Media Technology Conference to stay ahead of the pace of change in the media industry and thrive in the digital future.

1) Locally-based spokespeople can rebuild trust

‘Quality, regulated, trusted journalism is the future’ – Rachel Corp, CEO of ITN
With news avoidance and mistrust in the media up, journalists must focus on rebuilding connections with their audiences. ITN CEO Rachel Corp in her keynote speech for the Future of Media Technology Conference highlighted the role that regulation will play in this, particularly when it comes to social media – an increasingly popular way of consuming news, especially for Generation Z). With ITN accelerating its digital plans, and Corp mentioning the ‘power of the simple vox pop’ and eyewitness journalism, locally-focused regional reporting with public voices front and centre is where the industry is likely to go. Being ready with case studies and spokespeople is where PR can help.

2) Brand affiliations are here to stay

‘Media brands are loved by people and they want to be part of that with branded products’ – Alex Wood, managing director, Europe at Forbes
People build connections with brands they trust, and this extends to the media brands they choose to engage with. Advertising, paywalls and licensing are well-established ways to grow revenue, but merchandising is where Forbes’ Alex Wood (revenue has grown by 40% at Forbes in the last year due to a consumer revenue focus) and Footballco’s chief executive officer Juan Delgado see potential. Authenticity with brand affiliations and mechandise should be a key concern.

3. Broader subjects will grab more attention

‘Young people are less interested in “narrow news” subjects’ – Nic Newman, lead author of the Reuters Institute Digital News Report
With 46% of the public – especially those Gen Zers – actively avoiding the negativity of the news cycle, the media has to pivot to cover subjects to pull attention and engagement back. According to the Reuters Institute Digital News Report, young people are interested in identity, social justice, mental health, culture and broader lifestyle topics – journalism needs to provide hope, empathy and dignity during the difficult times its audiences are living through. To help with this approach, the comms industry needs to be ready to work with long-form, solutions-focused and constructive journalists – find out more in this interview with Jodie Jackson of the News Literacy Network.

4. Publishers will be switching up data strategy

‘Companies are starting to take ownership of their own data’ – Markus Karlsson, CEO of Affino
With Google confirming the coming end for third-party cookies in Chrome, Affino’s Markus Karlsson believes publishers must prioritise a first party data strategy going forward and truly own their data. What this could mean for the future – one carefully-placed advertisement alongside editorial rather than five competing ones for a better return on investment. Switching up data strategies mean a need for PRs to switch up their media outreach plans, also.

5. AI will free up journalist time

‘Use the robots to do the routine reporting’ – Cecilia Campbell, chief marketing officer at United Robots
Regional reporting has suffered over the last decade, with shrinking teams caused by combined news hubs and the continuing toll of the pandemic on the media workforce. One way that local journalism can be revived is with AI and ‘robot reporting’, according to United Robots Cecilia Campbell. For her, data journalism and content automation means freeing-up journalist time by letting ‘robots’ produce regular content that can be automated, such as traffic and sport updates. What can journalists then do with the extra time? Cover stories of interest to them and their readers – plenty of opportunities for new stories and new engagement with all the audiences out there.

For more on engaging with the younger generation, as well as working with Gen Z journalists, download our white paper The PR guide to communicating with Gen Z.

Give journalists exactly what they need for their news and features by signing up to the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service and take ownership of your own data and track engagement for your future campaigns with Vuelio Media Monitoring.

PRCA survey findings on corporate reputation

PR and communications: Particularly popular with business leaders right now

A new survey from The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) has found recognition among business leaders for the PR and comms industry following its role in supporting businesses through the tumult of the last few years.

Among the ongoing pandemic, the uncertainty of Brexit and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, PR and comms teams helped with business direction and focus as well as comms for external and internal stakeholders. To measure the impact of this, the PRCA surveyed CEOs and CFOs of organisations with over 250 employees in their workforces.

92% of respondents believe their communications teams played either a ‘very important’ or ‘important’ role in helping them through the financial and societal shifts since the beginning of 2020.

PRCA survey on CEO and CFO perception of PR

The survey was carried out by PR group Yolo Communications, starting in June 2020 and built upon by the Value of PR group.

Findings also showed:

– An increase in the strategic importance of the contributions of comms professionals (up 21 points to 89%), indicating the impact that crises and issues can have on recognising the value of having a capable communications function in place.
– That communications were ‘very important’ when it came to strengthening and protecting corporate reputation for 80% of respondents, up from just 39% who gave the same answer in 2020.
– 89% said that communications teams provided strategic advice to members of the senior leadership team, compared with just 68% two years ago.
– 62% said they expected their comms team to play an even more strategically important role over the next two years.

Strategic council from PR

Director General of the PRCA Francis Ingham said:

‘The PRCA represents more than 35,000 professionals worldwide and this study is further evidence of the valuable and important role that those individuals play every single day in directly impacting the business objectives of their organisations. What is more, business leaders’ confidence in their communications teams is expected to increase in the future. We should take a moment to reflect on this achievement and then continue to keep doing what we are doing.’

PRCA Value of PR Lead Adam Honeysett-Watts added:

‘There is no denying that most business leaders understand the value their communications teams bring to their organisations. While we hoped this would be the case, it is great to hear the feedback directly. The lesson here is that those businesses that have communications teams and plans in place are better prepared to weather a crisis and those that don’t are operating at a significant disadvantage.’

Find out more about the PRCA survey here.

For more on communicating during times of uncertainty, download our white paper ‘Communicating the cost-of-living crisis… A guide for charities and the third sector’.

Communicating the cost-of-living crisis for charities and the third sector

6 tips for planning your comms throughout the cost-of-living crisis

The cost-of-living crisis will have impacted the messaging and approach of every comms team, whatever the sector, and is only set to continue in a period of great financial strain for the public and businesses across the UK this winter.

In our new white paper ‘Communicating the cost-of-living crisis… A guide for charities and the third sector’, journalists and comms people working at charities and consumer-facing brands offer their experiences and advice on getting your messaging right for audiences under increasing pressures. Here are six key takeaways to bear in mind when planning your comms over the following months:

1. Give journalists what they need for their story

‘The contacts I prefer working with are the ones who let me know what’s coming up, rather than just add me to a general media list for press releases. Maybe a charity is planning a campaign, report or research study, and it might fit with what I’m working on. If I can’t report it right away, it might help shape a future piece. Advance notice is always good because I don’t usually work on fast turnaround news pieces.’ – Saba Salman, freelance journalist and author.

2. Share specifics – reporting has had to speed up significantly

‘For the TFN website, we won’t need to spend ages pointlessly rewriting an already well-written press release; we want to publish with the minimum of fuss and move on to the next one. ‘Have a strong line, marshal the facts and figures, include quotes and pictures (even a stock picture is helpful). Case studies are always welcome.’ – Graham Martin, editor of Third Force News.

3. Make contacts: the media wants to tell your story

‘Nothing new here – develop contacts. Journalists are over-worked and under resourced and there are not enough of them these days thanks to cuts which have devastated newsrooms. They are waiting to be spoon-fed, so do it. ‘Putting it very simplistically; get your story told effectively and you get the ear of the public and politicians.’ – Graham Martin.

4. Find those who have the power to make change in your sector

‘There are a lot of MPs, so you need to find the two or three who will become your advocates and advisers. Really research their interests and what they can do to help. Make it easy for them with clear messaging and calls to action. Follow and comment on what they do on social media and give them good content to post.’ – Katie Tait, director of PR and public affairs for Maggie’s cancer charity.

5. Ensure the tone of your comms is appropriate for the message and for the times

‘We did a lot of work during our campaign planning to make sure we got our tone-of-voice right. This is something we’re really conscious of – we always strive to make sure the way we’re talking about issues is the way people impacted are talking about them, too.’

We held workshops with our storytellers and ambassadors as well as our front-line staff to find out what people are saying when they come to us for help and also what they really wouldn’t want to hear/read. We took out any jargon or anything that didn’t sound completely natural and then issued a tone-of-voice document across the organisation to make sure everyone was on the same page.’ – Katie Tait.

6. Remember who is at the centre of your campaign

‘Ensure that those your campaign is intended for remain front and centre. Building strong foundations is incredibly key – from there you can diversify the angles you push, move onto national press and then become a part of the conversation on TV and media outlets. ‘Lots of leg-work, a strong message and consistency are the most important ingredients for success.’ – Rosie Macdonald, senior PR strategist at Love Energy Savings.

Download the full white paper ‘Communicating the cost-of-living crisis… A guide for charities and the third sector’ here.

For more on communicating during difficult financial times for the public, watch our webinar with NSPCC, FareShare and Refuge.

JustGiving on the cost-of-living crisis

Communicating the cost-of-living crisis: Mema Nackasha at JustGiving

While people feel the bite of rising energy and food bills across the country, charities and organisations like JustGiving continue their efforts to help those in need.

Head of charity partnerships Mema Nackasha shares how the cost-of-living crisis has impacted the JustGiving team and those they work with and how approaches to fund and awareness-raising have had to change.

How has the cost-of-living crisis in the UK impacted the charities JustGiving works with, as well as your own work?

Over the last few months, as people grapple with the cost-of-living crisis, some household budgets have likely been placed under pressure. However, those able to, have increased their donations. It is heart-warming to see that those in a position to support worthy causes across the JustGiving platform are doing so. Overall, the average donation amount has increased by 10% this year compared to 2021, and 21% compared to 2019.

Monumental events and challenges often shape the way in which people give. While it may feel concerning at times to think about donations trends like those seen during 2008 recession, our knowledge of these previous donation patterns means that as an industry we are better placed to support charities through these turbulent times.

What are the unique challenges UK charities are facing right now?

The pandemic and many lockdowns we faced has meant the way in which people are supporting charities has changed. And now that we’re (hopefully) coming out the other side, there’s been an understandable shift in people wanting to travel and enjoy ‘normal’ life.

Viral challenges like ‘See Ten Do Ten’ and the ‘NHS Active Challenge’ have been replaced with trips abroad, where fundraisers climb mountain peaks or take on marathon bike rides – all in the name of a good cause.

Alongside this, we’ve seen a trend in charity giving becoming more issues based. People are spending less time scrolling social media finding the next 5K challenge and are instead focusing on single moments in time or bigger societal or humanitarian events, for example BowelBabe or the floods in Pakistan.

What have been some of your main successes recently?

Historically, the charity sector has not seen rapid technological innovation when compared to the corporate sector. At JustGiving, we’ve been listening closely to our charity partners and have been agile and adaptable to the changing donor behaviours. We’ve built microsites that put charity logos and messaging front and centre; these microsites have supported both virtual and in-person events and have enabled fundraisers to raise more. Another one we’re proud of is our partnership with SwiftAid that has simplified and improved the way charities collect Gift Aid.

We’re lucky to have an extremely talented team, who are devoted to helping our charities raise huge sums for the amazing causes they serve. This is evident in the speed at which we’ve been able to engage with charities, small and large, to answer support calls when big crises hit. Overnight we’ve set up support functions that share tips, knowledge, and insight with our partners on the best practices for raising funds during these big moments.

What advice would you offer to organisations hoping to be heard by politicians and change-makers on this issue?

As with most businesses in the UK, charities are feeling the impact of the cost-of-living crisis. This is particularly true for charities that serve causes disconnected from the current topic on everyone’s lips – the cost-of-living crisis. Lesser-known organisations that the country relies on for life-saving research or healthcare may struggle with engagement as givers focus on the cost-of-living.

These charities must highlight the need to focus on the long term. After the cost-of-living crisis, we will still need research into cancer cures or hospice care for our children. We need to make sure that changemakers understand that without immediate action these charities will fail. And if they do, the hundreds of thousands they support will be without help.

How would you advise others with approaching the media to gain coverage?

JustGiving pages are full of stirring stories, those who are challenging themselves to achieve the unachievable, from scaling peaks to smashing world records in an effort to raise money for loved ones.

During these tough times for individuals across the country, people are looking for a chance to read or hear specific stories that they can relate to, that make them laugh, that inspire them or warm their hearts. When charities are engaging with the media, these are the stories to tell.

How do you ensure that your approach is sensitive to those struggling/particularly vulnerable during this crisis?

We all need to be sensitive to those who cannot afford to give – many people can’t, and that’s more than okay. There are still people from every corner of the country who are looking to support charities.

If you’re looking to increase the chances of those individuals finding your cause you need to share, share, share. Every social media post, link, etc. will help – sharing your page is just as valuable as donating yourself. We’ve seen some really interesting data around what does and doesn’t work when raising money. For example, users simply sharing their page on social media see a 20% increase in the amount they raise!

Are there particular journalists/sectors of the media you’d like to highlight as doing a good job on reporting on the cost-of-living crisis?

The cost-of-living crisis, the need to help businesses and households is front page news every day, as it should be. This has played a huge role in spurring leaders into action and delivering support.

However, there has been less coverage of the impact on the charity sector. The BBC has covered the cost of rising energy bills on a children’s hospice, ITV has reported on a charity that supports children with disabilities struggling to keep up with the cost-of-living and the sector trades have been covering the issue extensively, but overall we need more coverage to help drive support and much needed donations.

For more on how comms teams are communicating the cost-of-living crisis, read our previous interviews with cancer charity Maggie’s and business utilities marketplace Love Energy Savings.

How to measure the impact of your campaign with social listening

How to measure the impact of your campaign with social listening

Having launched and shared your campaign where your target audiences are most likely to engage, now is the time to pull the data, crunch the numbers and manage your metrics to examine the successes and could-do-betters.

As part of our series on how social listening can add insight to your campaign planning, creation and measurement, here is what it can do for you in the post-campaign phase.

Going beyond traditional metrics

Volumes, impressions and reach scores – you may be used to sending out PowerPoints filled with graphs and pie charts to prove the success of your campaign to your stakeholders and C-suite, but does all this data tell its full story?

Positive and negative sentiment and share of voice are established methods for determining key accomplishments. They are useful for those higher-up in the management hierarchy, those slightly removed from the coal face of the work, as an overview – they cannot be skipped. Without context, however, these traditional metrics can only go so far. What do the engagements achieved really mean?

Offering wider possibilities

In conjunction with those reach scores, impressions, et al, social listening can provide more insight and actionable learning.

Which audience did you actually engage?
At the pre-campaign phrase, you will have decided which audiences would be most interested in and most useful for your client or your brand. All the data you’ve collected will show engagements, but how do you know if your campaign hit the intended audience, or another entirely?

With social listening, it is possible to answer that question with more accuracy, ultimately making for a more meaningful report to share with stakeholders.

Did you reach a wider audience?
With this extra level of detail, you can benchmark against your established audience/previous engagements, unearthing which new communities you have linked with.

Did your campaign have a meaningful impact?
Beyond impressions and positive and negative impact, social listening services like those offered by Pulsar can add in extra detail, such as brand pillars and dimensions of reputation to check your data against.

Additional context against your brand dimensions
As each campaign adds up to a full display of your brand or clients’ story, approach and personality (alongside the services offered, naturally), there is a compelling and useful through-line that can be tracked. Future campaigns can either build on this, or take a detour if needed. Higher-ups in your company hierarchy might look at a campaign’s metrics once, but extra context means extra direction for the future.

Opening routes through crisis

Whether working in-house or agency-side for other brands, a crisis communications plan has to be in place, just in case. Press releases, public apologies or product recalls will not work for every brand in a crisis; different routes have to be uncovered and social listening can point out the right direction.

Are first impressions what they seem?
A crisis for a brand means social media impressions – conversations and coverage potentially spanning the globe and steadily chipping away at reputation. High impressions may automatically signal disaster… but are those online conversations actually connected, spreading and reaching high-profile publications?

Social listening services like Pulsar can pinpoint the key influencers engaging in the crisis around a brand and track their reach – how many audiences they connect to, and how far a story is spreading. The numbers may look frightening, but the story might not be going anywhere – keep that press release to yourself for now…

Has the crisis even hit your audience?
Social listening allows for segmentations of the audiences sharing particular stories – by community, political affiliations, age, nationality, media consumption patterns and much more. Did the story you need to combat and subdue reach your target community? If not, a wide-reaching public apology could do more damage to global brand reputation.

Where do you need to rebuild relationships?
Your client base may not be engaging with the crisis, but it needs to be combatted within the communities it has impacted. Social listening will help with finding those people and determining how to reestablish trust with them. Which media do they engage with, how do they engage with them? Learning more about them will show you the approach to take.

Key takeways

– Metrics will not always give you the full story and can be easily built upon with data from social media.
– Benchmarking is a necessity – no benchmarking can mean data in isolation and only part of the story.
– Measurement criteria placed in context is key for future planning.

Impressions, reach and sentiment are established in our industry for a reason, but will your stakeholders really care without the extra meaning of context? Your campaign told a story to your audience, here is where you tell the story of your campaign to your bosses.

For more on how social listening can add extra insight to your campaigns, check out previous posts in this series: 

An introduction to social listening for PR, comms and public affairs teams

How social listening can help you plan and boost your PR campaigns 

International Perspectives of the new Prime Minister

In the six weeks running up to the Conservative leadership election, world leaders and international new outlets provided a heightened commentary on the state of UK politics. While optimism towards Liz Truss’s election differs greatly across borders, headlines mentioning the ‘long list of challenges’ ahead of her were widely agreed upon.

Throughout the race, the Vuelio Insights team monitored all local and national coverage across Europe (excl. UK), North America, Australia and New Zealand to explore the overarching international perspective of the British political system.

Following Truss’s victory on 6 September, many political figures around the world rushed to offer their congratulatory messages of hope and solidarity. Terms like ‘strategic partnership’ and ‘friendship’ were shared across Italy, Israel, Romania and the Netherlands, while Lithuania and Ukraine expressed their gratitude for Boris Johnson’s support against Russian aggression — in hopes it will continue with the new PM.

Having been repeatedly referred to as a former ‘anti-monarchist’ in almost 3,000 articles of the studied regions, the passing of Queen Elizabeth II put added pressure on Truss’s election. The majority of coverage — which came from the US, France and Canada — reported on Truss’s support and attendance to the memorial service. However, an article first published by Agence France-Presse that confirmed she would not ‘accompany’ King Charles III’s tour of the nations due to ‘ongoing criticism’ was syndicated 218 times by region European and North American media outlets.

Euroscepticism and demands for respect

While local and regional coverage within each region has reported positive messages from world leaders, international news sources have favoured the growing EU concerns around Brexit and the NI protocol. Thomas Gift, founding director of University College London’s Centre on US Politics, told Newsweek that Truss ‘is more of a Eurosceptic than Rishi Sunak,’ meaning she is less in favour of co-operation with the EU.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and VP Maros Sefcovics both congratulated Truss, while emphasising the ‘great strategic importance’ of a ‘constructive’ and ‘positive’ relationship between London and Brussels. This will depend upon ‘full respect‘ of the NI protocol, Withdrawal Agreement and Trade and Co-operation Agreement. Both members of the EU were quoted in 386 national articles across Europe and North America.

In light of this condition, Jacinda Arden used the election to recognise the UK’s ‘exceptionally strong’ relationship with New Zealand, acknowledging Truss’s ‘staunch support’ of the UK’s tilt to the Indo-Pacific and Free Trade Agreement. This statement reached online and broadcast media across Australia, New Zealand and Canada 382 times over the six-week race.

In North America, approximately 1,682 US news sources picked up on growing tensions between the EU and Liz Truss over this time, with a key focus on how this could affect the Biden administration. While Biden’s hopes to ‘deepen’ the ‘special relationship’ was shared in 31% of this coverage, it was also coupled with Truss’s controversial comment that the UK US relationship is ‘special but not exclusive’, comparing approval of the US to a ‘beauty parade’.

Conservative leadership race: volume and sentiment

Throughout the six weeks of the leadership race (12 Jul – 6 Sept), the Vuelio insights team found that the international sample produced approximately 8,562 total articles in reference to the race between Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss. Coverage started slowly, with the first major updates made on both the 5 and the 11 of August. However, publications began to peak over 1,000 on 24 August – around the time that Sunak said it was ‘wrong’ for scientists to ‘scare people’ into lockdowns throughout the pandemic. Following this initial spike, coverage grew significantly within the final week of the election.

The ‘Reset’ opportunity

While national UK headlines have been predominantly negative over this period, international media has been predominantly neutral or positive. A strong causational factor behind this is the global agreement on how Truss could be the precedent for a great ‘reset’ opportunity among the many pending bilateral conflicts triggered by Boris Johnson.

Among the 1,492 articles discussing this potential, over 90% is in relation to France, Ireland and Brussels, while the remainder comments on humanitarian matters like the Rwanda refugee scheme. Despite Truss’s globally viral comments towards Emmanuel Macron, both he and France’s European and foreign affairs minister, Catherine Colonna, have said that the two countries are most definitely friends. Their hopes that Liz Truss’s appointment will lead to a ‘new start’ in Anglo-French relations was widely distributed across French and Canadian news sources.

Similarly, Taoiseach Micheál Martin shared hopes that Liz Truss offers a chance to ‘reset’ the fractured relationship between Britain and Ireland, which would be triggered by full respect and implementation of the NI protocol. Martin expressed desire that her premiership could herald a ‘change in direction’ for Irish/UK relations after recent years of tension over Brexit and the protocol. Of the 768 articles discussing this opportunity, 74% of news sources were either US or Ireland-based.

Total volume by region

Overall, national US news sources produced the most national coverage on the Conservative leadership race (3,788 articles), while Europe shared the most in one day (1,068 articles) — which was the final day of the election.

While Biden’s uncertainties have been widely reported, overall media response has been either positive or neutral in sentiment across the United States.

Truss’s ability to switch from a ‘Remainer’ to a Brexiteer was mentioned in 48% of all US coverage over the six weeks – by far the most widely syndicated discussion point within the country. While this switch has often been frowned upon across Europe, it has been positively received by US media — key journalists in outlets like the Wall Street Journal and Newsweek seeing it as a ‘testimony’ to her ‘political ambition’ rather than her convictions.

John Bolton, who served as the president’s national security adviser, told WSJ that both her assertion and ambition are some of many reasons that Truss is ‘the prime minister that America needs’.

In Canada, the media response was 32% positive, 48% neutral and 20% negative. Justin Trudeau offered one of the most extensive congratulatory messages to Liz Truss, referring to the UK-Canada relationship as ‘one of the strongest in the world’, a phrase used by 128 national news sources in the week following the election.

Sentiment across EU media

* UK excluded; countries displayed are those that produced over 250 relevant articles between 17 Jul – 6 Sept 2022

While the EU remains ‘wary’ of Truss, a term that reached 462 national headlines across the continent during the election, sentiment across tracked regions has been mostly neutral or positive. Among the positive regions, 52% was positive due to shared words of admiration for their relationship with the UK following extensive Ukrainian support, while the remainder often used Truss’s cooperative contributions as a Foreign Secretary as a positive outlook on her potential as PM.

Among the two countries that were negative in sentiment, Austria had a slightly higher ratio of coverage related to Starmer’s belief that Truss is ‘out of touch’ and ‘not working on the people’s side’. Similarly, Greece produced a fractionally higher proportion of negative coverage due to a spike in local media on 28 August, when Truss refused to answer if France was a ‘friend or foe’.

Thatcher connotations

Much to her displeasure, Truss has been repeatedly referred to as a ‘Thatcherite’ in both UK and international media – though regional media differs greatly on whether this is a good or a bad thing.

For example, the US used this term 1,794 times between 12 Jul – 6 Sept, but predominantly used the term as a compliment to the ‘powerhouse’ opportunities Truss could create for the US and UK. This perspective may be in part due to the ‘special relationship’ that the UK and the US share, a reference famously created by Regan and Thatcher in the 1980s.

This term has been consistently repeated by US media over the decades, with 238 headline mentions during the race. Biden’s use of this phrase in his congratulatory message to Truss suggests desire for a similar allyship in current global affairs.

On the other hand, Canadian news has a higher volume of negative coverage in response to Truss’s ‘Thatcherite’ reference. Many national news sources covered the controversies behind her idolisation of the former PM, calling many of her strategies a ‘short-term’ relief.

Similarly, leading Australian news sources used this term as an avenue to disclose Truss’s journey from ‘anti-monarchist’ to ‘next Margaret Thatcher’, with 38% of all national media featuring the viral YouTube video of Truss in her teens.

National news sources across France, Germany and Belgium also used the ‘Thatcherite’ reference on a more neutral basis, referring to both positive and negative outcomes of Thatcher’s ‘long’ and ‘looming shadow’ in 28% of the collective 218 relevant articles. The term ‘iron lady’ has also been used regarding how Thatcher plans to handle Russo-Ukraine conflicts, with 582 headlines across Europe using this title to reference Truss’ communicated approach.

In a slightly unexpected turn of events, Joe Lycett, UK comedian, also made international headlines for referring to Truss as ‘Thatcher 2.0’. His ongoing satirical commentary of the term made 448 headlines across Northern Ireland, North America, Australia and New Zealand.

Top Topics: International and Regional Media

Energy Crisis

Aside from general election results, the energy crisis consumed 32% of all international headlines and has by far been the most discussed topic on an international scale. European media most often featured quotes in their headlines due to strong ‘warnings’ from EU leaders.

Both Nicola Sturgeon and Sadiq Khan echoed these concerns, with 486 European media outlets quoting the ‘need to act fast’ as winter emerges, as well as the ‘disaster’ that would unfold upon Truss’ election.

Humanitarianism

Overall, the topic of humanitarianism in British politics has produced a stronger ratio of positive headlines due to vast and ongoing Ukraine support. However, negative coverage regarding concerns of women’s rights, climate change and the Rwanda refugee policy has equated to 38% of the total 2,443 international news articles discussing humanitarian matters.

Of these topics, the most popular was the Extinction Rebellion protest that led to climate change activists gluing themselves to the speaker’s chair in parliament on 2 September. This story was most popular in the US, with a total of 882 articles on the event.

Economy

Aside from the cost-of-living crisis, further concerns about Truss’ impact on the future economy has been overwhelmingly sceptical or negative across European and U.S. online media. Headlines on the projected ‘£50bn loss’ ahead of Truss’s plans were shared 411 times over the course of the race, coupled with concerns that the poor will be ‘on the streets’.

As US, German, Irish and French media reported a ‘2.5 year low’ of the sterling following the announcement of the new PM, Deutsche Bank reported risk of a ‘sterling crisis’ rising as Truss becomes UK prime minister. This publicly released analysis was shared by 193 national news sources and financial publications across the commonwealth, US, Italy, France, Austria and Germany.

In relation to this drop in sterling value, another strong topic within international economic coverage has been Truss’s ‘pro-crypto’ reputation. This topic was covered 248 times by national news sources and financial publications, of which 89% were US-based, 9% Canadian and 2% Greek.

Truss’s statement that the UK ‘should welcome cryptocurrencies’ was a headline or body feature in 48% of all related coverage throughout the election period. While Truss has expressed desire for the UK to ‘adopt blockchains and digital property’, Richard Fuller, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, has told international media sources that Truss’s leadership will allow the UK to become a ‘dominant global hub’ for crypto technologies.

Conclusion

As it stands, the international media perspective of both the new PM and British politics is far less pessimistic than that of UK. A change in leadership has birthed waves of hope and optimism by international figures and leading news sources, with commonwealth leaders like Trudeau, Arden and Albanese expressing their long and positive relationships with Great Britain.

In the US, many believe Truss’s ‘black and white’ Thatcher qualities could actually serve as a great resource that will allow us to prevail through challenging global affairs. Furthermore, the UK’s globally renowned quality of support in eastern European regions has replenished levels of respect and allyship that many feared were lost during Boris Johnson’s leadership.

However, it appears that these words of unity and prosperity are very much conditional — the outcome of which will strongly depend upon Truss’ decisions with Brexit and the NI protocol. If she honours ‘full implementation’ as requested by Brussels and Northern Ireland, a harmonious relationship with the EU is within reach.

Eric Mamer, the Commission’s spokesperson in chief, had told reporters that they are ‘always looking for new beginnings’ with the UK and hopes Truss’s election will help to ‘move forward’ to a stronger and more peaceful future.

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

Is radio or podcasting right for your campaign?

Is radio or podcast better for your campaign?  

This is a guest post from Phil Caplin, founder of specialist broadcast agency Broadcast Revolution, which offers talent sourcing, media relations, video and podcast production, media training and more.

Are you considering branching out into the wonderful and varied worlds of podcast and radio PR?

With nine-in-ten of us listening to the radio and podcast listeners increasing monthly, these aural platforms could be the perfect places to gain exposure for your brand. When choosing an audio medium for your marketing, here are the key differences between radio and podcasts to consider:

1) How they are consumed

How a consumer finds and listens to audio plays a vital role in how podcasts and radio shows are written.

People generally listen to the radio as a passive distraction while doing something else, such as driving, working, or doing tasks around the house. Podcasts, on the other hand, are actively sought out. That is not to say that podcast listeners are more active listeners; they will also choose to listen to podcasts while doing other things. However, they are more likely to listen to a show in its entirety and will stop and pick it back up again.

Radio shows are not always actively selected. While there are instances of people having strong loyalty to one station or presenter, people tend to drop in and out of radio shows and switch between stations if they are not interested in the music or topic that it is currently airing.

The live nature of radio shows means that even the most ardent listeners may be unable to tune into every show. By contrast, a fan of a particular podcast is likelier to listen to every episode in a series, as they are not constrained to a particular time to consume it.

There’s also a level of portability with podcasts that radio can lack, with most people downloading and listening to them on their phones. While radio can be listened to anywhere, it requires specific apps and a constant Internet connection, making it one of the least popular methods of listening to the radio.

2) Audience variations

Despite all of the exposure podcasts have had in recent years, radio remains more popular among the general public, with almost twice as many listeners. This may be down to how we consume radio: we don’t need to know what we want to listen to, and we can easily switch between stations. The radio stations know this and try to play various things to appeal to as many listeners as possible.

Podcasts are more niche, with hyper-focused topics, and tend to be discovered through other forms of media, e.g. social platforms or search engine results. When it comes to someone trying to find any old podcast to listen to (rather than a specific one), most are chosen by regularly updated charts or by word-of-mouth. However, it requires the listener to know what sort of thing they want to listen to.

Regarding generational differences in audiences, millennials consume the most audio content of any generation and listen mostly to music streaming and podcasts, while Gen X listeners prefer the radio. It is worth noting that while these are statistically correct, this will vary depending on factors such as topic choice, time of day, and personal preference.

3) Editing and moderation

While there is less formality to a podcast – due in part to the lack of regulations and expectations – there is a playfulness that comes from live radio and its unscripted nature (even when it is, in fact, scripted). Far from being negative, the inability to edit also means that listeners feel more involved with the show. This is helped further by the listeners’ ability to phone in or contribute to the show in real-time, something podcasts generally cannot do.

Podcasts are usually pre-planned and then edited afterwards, creating a slicker end product, but one which sometimes loses the personality that a live show thrives on. The editing primarily involves ‘stitching’ to remove filler words. However, it has become fashionable to include a blooper reel or to keep ‘cute’ mistakes in, in a bid to make the presenter and show more relatable.

Perhaps because of this lack of editing, radio remains the most trusted form of media, even in today’s world of general mistrust. This is significantly helped by the Ofcom regulations, which stations must adhere to to keep their licence. While some people listen to podcasts expressly because they are not regulated (and conversely see them as more trustworthy as mass media do not rule them), the general public still opts to trust radio more. This might also be down to the DIY nature of podcasts, which can make them appear to be a more egalitarian form of entertainment – although as more celebrities and corporations get in on the act, this is quickly changing.

There are also crossovers to consider. Many podcasts start as spin-offs of other media, such as the example of two actresses from the American TV programme The Office hosting a successful podcast discussing the show. This means there is always scope to use a podcast as a vehicle to expand other formats. Then there is the relatively obvious crossover with on-demand radio, when radio shows are available to download after broadcast. While this may not technically be classed as a podcast, they are usually found on the same platforms as downloadable or streamable content.

While podcasts can help you home in on hyper-specific audiences, it is always best to cover all your bases with a mix of podcast and radio PR. Radio will always help you reach a wider audience and people who may not have otherwise known of your brand. Still, podcasts can help you delve deeper into a topic, as they have more extended time allocations to one subject. The best course of action would be implementing a mixture of the two into your marketing campaign.

For finding the right podcast or radio show for your upcoming campaigns, find our more about the Vuelio Media Database.

Communicating the cost-of-living for charities webinar

How charities are communicating the cost-of-living crisis

Charities have had to rethink media strategies, budgets, workflow and lobbying as priorities change throughout the cost-of-living crisis in the UK.

For our latest webinar ‘Communicating the cost-of-living for charities’, FareShare public affairs, comms and PR consultant Ali Gourley, NSPCC national media manager Harry Watkinson and Refuge head of media and campaigns Kim Manning-Cooper shared how their communications and approaches have had to change and how their teams are keeping campaigns high on the news agenda and in front of key decision makers.

Watch the webinar here.

Comms plans need to evolve with the changing needs of the public

Each charity represented on our webinar panel has seen how the current economic climate is directly impacting their community. As a result, their workloads and focus have had to change.

‘A big concern for us has been how domestic abuse survivors will be impacted by the current crisis,’ shared Refuge’s Kim Manning-Cooper.

‘Economic abuse is significant. Money being withheld, people being unable to access work and education. We know that many survivors will be recipients of Universal Credit, and that when they flee, they will have to renew it – the cost-of-living crisis could be a barrier to them leaving.

‘We surveyed frontline staff across emergency refuges and services – 92% said that the cost-of-living crisis is already pushing survivors further into debt. Survivors are faced with an impossible choice between staying and poverty.

‘We expect to see an increase in demand for our services’.

Campaign timelines have had to change alongside changing priorities

‘From a policy perspective, poverty wasn’t traditionally a core priority for NSPCC campaigning,’ said the charity’s national media manager Harry Watkinson. ‘Now there is growing evidence that poverty, abuse and neglect are related.’

‘The crisis is influencing how our policy team are working. From a media perspective, journalists are thinking about today, or at a push, next week. We’re still pushing out stories that have been in the planner, but it is like a tsunami; the earthquake has hit, and we’re waiting for the next wave – October, when energy bills start rolling in.

Journalists need more from comms teams now

The lessons the NSPCC team learned during the pandemic about what journalists need from organisations providing support are proving useful during the current crisis – the media needs hard evidence of its impacts.

‘Journalists want evidence on how the financial crisis is impacting the work that we do,’ said Watkinson. ‘In a normal situation, we would give six-month or annual updates on data from our helpline. Now, we’re doing quarterly and monthly updates on physical, domestic and emotional abuse. I’d say, be prepared for the fact they will keep coming back for updates – it is no longer just an annual thing.’

While the media will be saturated with cost-of-living-related stories over the next few months, there will be room for other stories from charities, says Watkinson:

‘There will still be scope to put more ‘normal’ stories, unrelated to the cost-of-living crisis. Moments when journalists are looking for something more uplifting. Having the evidence ready so you can play a relevant part in the media debate and being able to provide alternative narratives from time to time – that is important for charities and supporters’.

Bigger asks of politicians

FareShare’s network of charitable food redistributors are feeling the increased financial pressures – a pivot in its public affairs strategy was needed.

‘We are changing our ask from the Government,’ said Ali Gourley. ‘It costs us more to get food out now and there are more people in food insecurity. We are going out to our industry partners, we have more people at our doors – we need more food.

‘The current situation had changed how we’re positioning ourselves and how we talk to people.’

Working together to make an impact

With messaging from a myriad of charities hitting the media, public and politicians so regularly right now, making an impact among all the noise is a challenge. To achieve common goals, team ups with other organisations can get campaigns more attention.

‘Can be done with open letters,’ advises Ali, using FareShare’s collaboration with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation as an example.

‘All charities have their own agenda, but if common ground can be found, it is doable. Presenting a united front, from a political and campaigning perspective – it definitely works.’

Watch the full Communicating the cost-of-living for charities webinar here.

Find the politicians who can make a difference to the communities you support with the Vuelio Political Database and pitch to the journalists writing about it with the Vuelio Media Database.

Sarah Scholefield

PRCA announces Chair for 2022-2024

The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) has confirmed that Grayling’s Global CEO Sarah Scholefield is its 2022-2024 Chair.

Scholefield succeeds Rachel Friend MPRCA in the role, who has led the association through what has been a challenging few years for the international PR and communications industry.

Having been at Grayling for over eight years, Scholefield originally joined in 2014 to lead on strategic direction, coordination, corporate and crisis work for PayPal, later being promoted to CEO of UK and Ireland. She is now Global CEO of Grayling and CEO of the communications group of agencies, Accordience.

‘Sarah is one of the most highly regarded leaders in our industry and has earned the respect of PR and communications practitioners around the world,’ said PRCA Director-General Francis Ingham of Scholefield’s appointment.

‘Her recent promotion to Global CEO makes her the perfect choice for the PRCA as we seek to expand our international footprint.

‘I’d like to thank Rachel for her commitment and leadership during an exceptionally challenging two years. I look forward to working with Sarah as we build on our reputation as the world’s largest and most dynamic PR association.’

Sarah Scholefield said:

‘It is a great honour to take on the role of PRCA Chair, working closely with Francis and the Board to guide the PRCA through the next phase of its journey. I’d like to thank Rachel for her expert Chairing and her commitment to DEI & mental health in the industry: two critical areas to which I am equally committed, as well as a focus on education and promoting our profession throughout schools.

‘I very much look forward to building on her work in helping the PRCA drive meaningful change within the industry.’

Find more on the appointment here on the PRCA website.