Expanding into Europe

Supporting your clients in their European expansion: 4 points to consider

This is a guest post from Nikki Scrivener, director & co-founder of Fourth Day PR.

It has been a challenging couple of years for UK businesses and pandemic-driven uncertainty has forced many to adapt their strategies. Budget cuts – paired with restrictions on international travel and events – have also made launching in a new market difficult.

But, while the complexities brought about by COVID-19 and Brexit are not completely behind us, organisations are still optimistic about expansion. For many, this might mean entering a new market or region.

Your client may be looking to replicate their UK success in Europe, particularly where there are opportunities in the sectors they are targeting. Energy, healthcare, and manufacturing are growth industries in France, for example, while automotive, food, and electrical engineering are buoyant markets in Germany.

Regardless of the industry your client is in, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to international comms. Don’t be tempted to just replicate what’s worked in the UK. Here are just a few things to consider when planning a PR campaign across multiple countries.

1. Understand the landscape
The PR landscape differs greatly across Europe. The UK, for example, is more open to direct PR approaches, due in part to the ratio of journalists to PR practitioners. With smaller newsrooms, many outlets will accept PR content that is of editorial standard – making it possible to place the right stories in high quality publications.

The numbers are different in Germany, however, with two-thirds of journalists to one-third PRs. When the PR landscape is vastly shaped by journalists, they are in firm control of what makes it onto their pages. Understanding how the media operates in a new territory, and the types of stories that resonate, will help you to adapt your strategy and content.

2. Adapt your tactics
Your usual PR tactics might yield different results across Europe, so it’s important to understand media preferences when planning your launch.

Obviously, in the UK, journalists expect a quick turnaround on content and often request last-minute, data-rich quotes from top-level executives. Companies that can be agile and act quickly can land the best coverage, including in national titles.

Bylines are also a powerful PR tool in the UK, but mainly in the B2B media arena. In France, however, national newspapers regularly accept bylines from company execs, provided they address a newsworthy, trending topic.

In Germany, the PR landscape is slightly more traditional. The importance of print is undeniable, and there’s a certain prestige attached to magazine coverage. With deadlines months in advance for B2B print media, companies often pitch stories in May and have them published in September, so a long-term content strategy is needed for this market.

3. Build relationships
As face-to-face meetings slowly make a comeback, knowing how to network with journalists in a new market can be a real boost for your PR campaign – whether you are setting up a meeting to introduce your client to a journalist, or simply trying to build connections with local editors yourself.

Europe’s bustling events calendar – packed with annual trade shows and industry showcases – presents a great opportunity to meet with journalists, introduce your client, and build meaningful connections. While these opportunities do exist in France, French journalists often prefer one-to-one lunches or desk-side briefings.

Knowing where the media are based in each market is also important when trying to secure quality time with journalists. In the UK, for example, most (but not all) trade publications are based in the South of England, whereas in Germany, trade outlets tend to be located in sector-specific hubs. So, you will typically find more tech outlets clustered in Munich and more financial outlets in Frankfurt. And unlike the UK – which has strong regional business outlets – most French news outlets are headquartered in Paris, so meetings with journalists will need to take place in the capital.

4. Localising your content
My last piece of advice is simple – localise! At a very basic level, content should be translated and adapted using local insights where possible. Having local spokespeople is also advised if you are planning to make a lasting impression with the media. In Spain, for example, a local country manager who can talk about local plans will be more interesting than an English-speaking CEO addressing the ‘global picture’.

And when it comes to the subject matter, proceed with caution when it comes to promotional or product-led content. The UK media are sometimes happy to include product details if it ties in with a feature, but the German press are less lenient and will more than likely offer you a paid opportunity instead.

Once you’ve had a taste of success launching your client in one market, it’s great to be able to replicate that elsewhere. However, with each location having its own cultural nuances, it’s crucial to have a tailored communications plan that can work in each region. To launch successfully in Germany, France – or beyond – take your time to assess the PR landscape, adjust your tactics, and localise, localise, localise!

For targeting the right journalists with the right content internationally, try the Vuelio Media Database – book a demo here

BBC

PR needs the BBC

Dead cat or party policy, the very real threat to end the BBC licence fee announced by culture secretary Nadine Dorries – before she partially backtracked – should be a concern to all in PR.

The announced two-year freeze to the BBC licence fee will impact its output, and director general Tim Davie has said ‘everything’s on the agenda’, including news and programming. While commentary on the small amount of money the freeze is saving each household – compared to the costs of rising energy bills or tax changes – suggests this move was politically motivated during ‘partygate’, the conversation around BBC reform and its replacement has been present in Westminster for many years.

Jessica Morgan, owner of Carnsight Communications, believes the end of the BBC ‘Would be devastating for so many.’ She added: ‘We are so lucky to have a quality national broadcaster in the BBC and I’ve benefited from it so much, both professionally and personally.’

The BBC is by no means perfect, questions continue to be raised on its editorial position on certain subjects, and its funding model is not as progressive as public broadcasters in some neighbouring countries. But it has the biggest audience, its output and content streams are vast and, though it is often criticised for not achieving it, the corporation is required to be impartial and deliver content without commercial association.

This is one of the reasons the BBC gets such a hard time in much of the press – in a digital age, it has become one of the news sector’s biggest competitors and it is not reliant on consumer payment to justify its content.

But for PR and comms professionals, this should be seen as one of its virtues.

Jessica said: ‘It’s still incredibly discerning – you always have to have a very strong angle to be featured, and I think that’s fantastic. No commercial tie ups ever come into it, certainly within the UK, and I think that makes the content all the more powerful.’

PR rightly focuses on the increasing threat of mis and disinformation, audience trust and journalistic independence. The BBC, despite its flaws, generally manages these issues to a high standard and trust in the organisation remains high. Securing PR coverage with the BBC means your story has passed quality control and will have a greater impact on your target audience.

And if your target audience is niche, which organisation is better able to serve them appropriate content than the BBC? Not needing consumer payment for content cuts both ways in this respect. All things to all people is usually a terrible approach – and the BBC has at times wildly missed the mark – but it is required to serve as much of the population as possible, often giving unique or underrepresented communities a greater platform.

Media strategist and How to make your company famous author Jon Card points to niche audiences as something that would be lost if the licence fee was scrapped: ‘The BBC produces such a broad range of content any reduction in its output would spell bad news for people in comms and PR.

‘It covers a lot of areas which are either quite niche or the public interest. I very much doubt the commercial sector would fill these voids if it stopped doing that.’

The BBC is under threat but 2027 is still a long way off and PR and communications is well placed to support and campaign for improvements to the BBC now, so it can benefit from the BBC of the future.

As Jon concluded: ‘Overall, we are better off for it and anyone working in media would miss it.’

Vuelio media monitoring covers BBC news and programming as well as every other media outlet and publisher.

Feeling blue? Here's some things that you can do

Feeling blue? Here are some things you can do

While the PR and comms industry is working hard to better support the mental health of practitioners, we can probably all do with more of a boost. Here are some extra ideas for maintaining your wellbeing from a fellow PR, an HR expert and a fitness aficionado.

Pointers from a PR peer: Natalie Trice, author, PR director, career coach
‘Clients, bosses, journalists, colleagues, KPIs and deadlines, is it any wonder that Blue Monday resonates with those working in the PR industry? Add in family commitments, skyrocketing energy prices and Covid and you might want to crawl back into bed and hide under the duvet, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

‘One way to help keep your mood in check is to have a routine that you stick to. Whether you are back in the office or working from home, set your alarm, get up, get showered and get ready for the day ahead. Have a start time, planned breaks, get away from your desk at lunchtime – ideally outside – and set a finish time. This isn’t always possible but long days, sat at your desk, with no fresh air and eating junk food, washed down with gallons of coffee, will not do your mental or physical health any good. These are the foundations for new boundaries and if you block out time in the diary, be strict about saying yes, when you mean no, and are kind to yourself, as well as others, you can start to feel more energised and less blue.

‘Getting away from your desk at least once a day can really help you to not only soak up some vitamin D but blow away the cobwebs, step away from any tricky situations and just let things go for a little while. A walk in the park, a run by the river, a quick bike ride or even lunch with a friend on a bench can be really beneficial for your mood. Block out that time in your calendar as busy so no meetings pop up, grab your coat and feel your shoulders loosen and the tension in your neck release, and remind yourself that you matter as much as that press release with 25 tracked changes that needs “urgent attention”.’

Resources from Human Resources: Access Intelligence’s Head of HR Kate Fraser
‘At Access Intelligence, we’ve been working to normalise conversations about mental wellbeing. As many as 1 in 6 of us experience common mental health issues every week – our mental health is sacred and needs to be nurtured just as much, if not more, than our physical wellbeing.

‘Our own Wellness Manager is both a body transformation coach and a behavioural change specialist and a trauma-informed coach who is aware that focusing on physical fitness is not the complete solution to wellness. She stresses that to achieve long lasting results we may need to change behaviours that often exist as coping mechanisms wired into our brains from childhood and supports us by integrating neuroscience, fitness and holistic approaches to wellbeing and providing an empathic, trauma-informed service (as well as making us sweat in her HITT classes!).

‘Over the past two years of homeworking and Covid travel restrictions, it’s important to retain a distinction between work and home and of taking holiday at intervals over the holiday year. We have seen how important it is to plan regular mental breaks from work, even as we have seen benefits from homeworking.’

Wisdom from a wellness expert: Roxy Danae, Wellness Manager at Access Intelligence
‘It’s so important to value our mental health in the same way as we value our physical wellbeing. Depression, stress and anxiety will affect all of us in varying degrees throughout our lives.

‘Respected clinicians like Gabor Mate say we are experiencing collective trauma with increased levels of substance abuse, dependence on anti-depressants and addictions to things like social media, work and consumerism. It’s no wonder, in the dead of January, post-festivities and half a month in to the ‘new year, new me’ cliche we may be experiencing signs and symptoms of low mood, anxiety and a lack of motivation. What can you do to start the new year feeling as good as you possibly can?

‘1. Find a somatic therapy and do your research. Somatic therapies are about connecting to the body’s innate intelligence. We are so in our own heads, we often dismiss our own intuition or can’t recognise it. Our minds do the decision making for us but actually, it’s our bodies that know best. We just don’t know how to tune in. Somatic therapies include breathwork, somatic experiencing, sound healing, Kambô, ecstatic dancing and movement, meditation and Yoga amongst others.

‘2. Give yourself the ultimate gift of self-love by doing ‘the work’. Did you know that suffering from anxiety is usually a result of us not dealing with underlying problems in our life? By finally opening that Pandora’s box we can finally get to know and understand ourselves, understand our triggers, our trauma, what’s holding us back and what we can do to live the very best version of our lives. I’ve encouraged many of my clients and friends to pick up the amazing book, ‘How to do the Work’ by The Holistic Psychologist Dr Nicole LePera.

‘3. Set an intention for yourself. Just one. And it doesn’t have to be overcomplicated, in fact it needs to be simple. ‘My intention this year is to work on my negative self talk,’ or ‘my intention this year is to feel stronger in my body.’ Once you have the intention you can put small steps in place to achieve it. Those who overpromise, set themselves up for disappointment. Be kind to your future self; a phrase I always ask people to consider before setting goals and intentions.’

Looking out for the mental wellbeing of your colleagues and employees can help take the blue filter off of the day-to-day – here are just some industry initiatives helping to support mental wellbeing in PR and comms. 

Getting through Blue Monday and beyond in PR and comms

Getting through Blue Monday and beyond

While the term ‘Blue Monday’ has no real basis in fact, you might be feeling extra blue today. It’s January, we’re in year three of a global pandemic and PR just happens to be an incredibly stressful industry at the best of times.

Looking out for the mental wellbeing of your colleagues and employees can help take the blue-filter off of the day-to-day – here are just some industry initiatives helping to support mental wellbeing. Have the best Blue Monday you can, everyone.

Flexibility
‘I always encourage my employees to go for a walk and stretch their legs,’ says Marketing Signals’ managing director Gareth Hoyle.

‘Although our mantra is “work from anywhere”, most of the team work from home, which can start to take its toll on your mental health if you don’t take regular breaks, so I’m happy for my team to close their laptops whenever they need to. Whether it’s to go for a walk, pick the kids up, take a long lunch or just switch off. Doing this helps improve my employees’ wellbeing and makes sure that everyone is taking the time they need to relax out of hours.’

Team Bonding
Missing being in close enough proximity to your team mates to steal post-it notes can be tough – that’s where online groups come in:

23red recently set up a wellbeing working group,’ says PR communications assistant Dylan Brown. ‘On Tuesday 18 January, following Blue Monday, 23red have enlisted the help of environmental drag artist Timberlina, where they will be having a fun full agency virtual bingo session to brighten up staff. 23red were really keen to lift the mood when working from home and decided to recently send all members of staff a peace lily to brighten up workspaces.’

Glass Digital also encourages relationship building outside of work:

‘Some of our teams get together every week to deliver a Fri-YAY session, involving members of the team going round to say who they are proud of in the company that week and what they are proud of themselves for. This not only boosts morale, but allows people to reflect on the good work they’ve done that week.’

Bootcamps
Fox Agency has introduced plenty of wellbeing initiatives to keep the team in tip-top mental shape, according to senior operations manager Natalie Noble:

‘We offer weekly bootcamp style personal training sessions in worktime, now held remotely to ensure all can join. We also do yoga, meditation, mindfulness and even gong sound bath therapy sessions to help us find a little zen in the sometimes hectic agency world.

‘There’s a 24-hour confidential helpline for people to get help on any matter, and as our trained mental health first aider, I am always available to chat with colleagues.’

Cake!
‘When we started WFH we would have ‘Coffee & Cake’ days,’ says Francesca De Cata, marketing and communications executive at Mr Lee’s Pure Foods. ‘We would jump on a call at 10 in the morning every Wednesday and talk about anything that was not work-related. We also arranged quite a few events online; we celebrated Pancake Day by having breakfast on a call, we had online lunch breaks together and we also did a little Easter activity online.’

Learning
‘For this Blue Monday, SEO agency Blue Array, are making it Blue Array Monday instead,’ says Becca Collier-Cook. ‘Each week, the agency has an all-hands meeting, but this Monday’s will be a special one, as it’ll include recent industry news and guest speaker, Adnan Ebrahim, co-founder of a new mental health app called MindLabs.

‘These meetings are normally for Blue Array employees only, but for Blue Monday, it will be open to anyone in the industry to attend. Afterwards, we can grab a virtual coffee and have an industry catch-up. For anyone who would like to attend, see this post for details.’

Music
‘We have a flexible working model in place, so we’re always looking at new ways we can stay connected when working remotely and still feel the benefits of our office culture that has been built over 20 years,’ says Liz Lean PR’s account manager and culture & welfare officer Shona Byrne.

‘For Blue Monday, we’re treating the team to a proper coffee on us and we will then regroup for a virtual coffee break to discuss why January doesn’t have to be depressing. The team has also built a motivational playlist to blast loud and proud during the day (which can be found by searching LLPR Team Motivation Playlist on Spotify).’

Putting people first
‘Gone are the days when organisations can afford to pay lip service to mental health – we have a duty to recognise colleagues as people, not just employees,’ believes Grace French, Head of Culture at Stand.

‘Our evidence-based approach to mental health is proactive, not just reactive. We provide £250 annually to spend on wellness, however you define it. We embrace flexible and hybrid working. Our mental health first aiders lead activity to maintain positive wellbeing and provide support. Everyone has a tailored Wellness Action Plan (an evidence-based resource backed by charity Mind) detailing how they can maintain positive mental health at work. A colleague-led approach helps ensure support is authentic and impactful.’

Charity
Helping others helps everyone, believes the team at Full Fat:

‘We donate time and money to charities and organisations like The Trussel Trust and Show Racism the Red Card,’ says senior account manager Cheryl Chia. ‘We also work pro bono with charities each year. It brings staff together with a common aim to do good. We’ve also organised volunteer days and external workshops with charities such as LGBTQ+ ‘Not a Phase’ for a recent trans-inclusivity talk.’

Sleep
Did you get enough zzzs over the weekend? HR manager Greg Diamond at Finn Partners encourages it:

‘We have an agency Wellness Collaborative to coordinate activities and information for employees aligned to the five pillars of wellness: a good night’s sleep; a sense of community; exercise; healthy foods; and stress reduction.’

For help with getting back into work in January, check out advice from mental health practitioners and your peers in PR here as well as our accessmatters session with Katie Phillips, KDP Coaching & Consulting on avoiding burnout.

How to make the most of your PR internship

How to get the most out of your PR internship

This is a guest post from Miriam Chumbley, account executive at Red Setter.

When I first joined Red Setter this past summer, I knew that an internship was the perfect way to kick-start my career in the PR industry, learning on the job from talented practitioners around me with years of experience under their belt.

With lockdowns and restrictions putting many opportunities at risk, securing a placement during a pandemic was a triumph in itself – so I’m doubly proud to have turned my internship into a full time, junior account executive role (and promoted to AE in the last week!).

While the learning is always ongoing for me, here are some ways to help you make the most out of an internship in PR.

Get stuck in
Starting at Red Setter in the summer of 2021, I was lucky to get to be physically in the office and to dive into live client projects from day one. From the get-go, my day-to-day involved direct facetime with clients, building relationships with key journalists and brainstorming with my team to arrive at the best ideas. My eyes were opened to a whole new world of agency PR, and I realised my ability to adapt to different tasks working across several projects at a time.

It’s simple, but the bottom line is to get as much experience as possible – seize every opportunity to contribute, and you’ll get as much out of it as you put in.

Use your voice
For a career in PR, communication is key – and this goes hand in hand with confidence. I learned early on that sharing my unique point of view as a newcomer could help my team test ideas. Don’t be afraid to speak up, share your opinions and challenge ways of doing things – your perspective will always be appreciated.

PR is also a people business: the relationships you build with your clients and the media are important, and those with your team are vital, too. Ask away and get to know their passions as much as possible – you’ll collaborate better, learn better and ultimately help to make sure you’re enjoying the work you’re doing!

Be honest
While sharing your point of view is key, what’s equally important is being totally honest with yourself and your colleagues about where your blind spots are, and what you know you need and want to learn. Always ask people for help when you need it.

In an industry as rapid and reactive as PR, your team are there to share their expertise and guide you. We have a ‘no stupid questions’ rule across the company where I’m never scared to ask about something at the risk of feeling penalised for not knowing the answer.

Feed your passion
I studied modules in Graphic Design and Public Relations at university, so I really hit the jackpot with an internship at Red Setter – a PR agency for world-leading design studios.

Having a genuine passion for design was a crucial part of my interest and success in my role, and I think the same applies for any industry you want to be in. Find that thing that you find yourself doing outside of work, then channel that into your day-to-day to enrich your process and improve your output.

Don’t be scared of socials
LinkedIn can be an intimidating place, a constant stream of everyone else’s success. For employers, it’s a fundamental way to find out about who you are. So just as it plays an important role in getting you the internship in the first place, LinkedIn is also a huge resource for once you’re in it. Build your profile and keep active!

Apart from the obvious of monitoring your client’s social pages, it’s an important tool to connect with key journalists, industry figures and follow key publications and hashtags as a quick and easy way to keep up-to-date with the latest news.

Make time for you
It’s easy to get swept up in the momentum of PR and start to blur the boundaries of work-life balance when you’re trying to prove your worth in a new role. Taking care of you is crucial for your wellbeing and will help you be better at work as a result. Find your go-to for completely switching off and re-energising for the next day or week ahead. For me, that’s yoga class at home with Adriene or BODYCOMBAT at my local fitness studio. Getting moving is a great way to let off steam when your day hasn’t gone quite right, and there’s nothing like a downward dog to get the creative juices flowing or throwing some boxing punches to release built-up tension from a busy day!

Believe in your team – and yourself
Heading into the world of work isn’t going to be perfect, there’s always going to be the pressure and nerves that come with this big step. Hopefully these tips will make the step a little easier, and remind you that you aren’t alone, so you can focus on doing your best. Relish in the creative energy of those around you and above all believe in yourself – you never know where an internship could lead you.

For more insight into the day-to-day of a career in PR, read this guest post from Prezzybox Alex Spencer, who offers a whole week’s-worth of wisdom. 

Promoting finance products with non-money influencers

Why non-money influencers may be best placed to promote financial services

This is a guest post from award-winning parenting blogger Jo Middleton, Slummy Single Mummy.

As a financial organisation, you want to get your brand in front of as many people as possible, so you go to the money influencers, right?

Yes. And also no.

While niche money blogs and social media accounts have a wealth of experience in writing about finances, there are lots of benefits to thinking more widely about the influencers you ask to talk about your product or service.

Not convinced? Here are just a few reasons why non-money influencers may be best placed to promote financial services.

They make financial information accessible

When your day-to-day is all ISAs and defined benefits, it can be hard to step outside of that and create financial content that’s genuinely accessible and engaging. Financial inclusion is hugely important though, and one way to make sure that you reach traditionally marginalised groups, such as women, people living with a disability or people living in poverty, is to speak to them directly, through influencers who actually represent them and their circumstances.

If you want to reach a particular community, find that person who they can connect with, who can talk about you in a simple and authentic way.

They often have untapped expertise

Don’t assume that just because an influencer chooses to talk about fashion, food or travel, that they don’t have any financial value to add. For example, I happen to have an economics degree and I trained as an actuary – you probably wouldn’t get that from my Slummy Single Mummy blog name.

Donna, who writes the parenting blog What The Redhead Said, is another great example. Her experience as a family blogger, combined with her financial background, means she can talk in a relatable way but with the back up of expert knowledge.

‘I’m a family lifestyle blogger,’ says Donna, ‘but I also used to be a bank manager. I know all the banking jargon, from ISAs and TESSAs to SVRs and early redemption charges. I know that typical people don’t understand all the terms, though – they like to know about a wide range of topics but they want to hear about it in a way that they can understand. As family bloggers, we’re friendly and approachable and our followers know that if they don’t understand something, they can ask and we’ll explain.’

They can share relatable, personal experiences

Financial products aren’t always the aspirational savings and investment type services – sometimes we need to talk about the difficult subjects like debt or tools for managing a low income. In these cases what readers often need is a relatable story, a connection with a ‘normal’ person who can say ‘this happened to me, this is what I found useful.’

Nyxie writes Nyxie’s Nook, a mental health and wellness blog, which includes content around personal finance, often aimed at people on low income or experiencing debt.

‘Whether or not we like it, money and finances are always in our lives,’ says Nyxie. ‘Some people shy away from the topic, but talking about money and debt normalises it and can make it feel more manageable. I write about money from my personal experience and that makes it more relatable at the same time as bringing a fresh perspective. I hope that people reading my blog can think “Okay, she’s been through this too, it’s not just me” and feel empowered to work through difficult financial situations with more confidence.’

They can give a financial product or service context

Let’s say you’re trying to sell a savings product. Yes, you may have a decent interest rate and some cool product features, but what’s really motivating that potential customer to save? What’s the context?

Thinking about the customer in a broader context can help you connect with the influencers who might reach them, whatever their niche. For example, a single woman in her 20s who is saving for a dream travel experience is much more likely to follow young travel influencers than a money blog. A couple saving for their first home are following the crafters, the DIY and the interiors influencers.

‘Financial content always gets a reaction,’ says John, a well-established parent blogger at Dad Blog UK, ‘because everyone has an interest in financial services. In the early years you’re buying nappies and buggies, in the tween years you’re maybe looking at getting your child their first phone, then at secondary school you have to buy laptops.’

Every purchase of a financial product or service has a context, and influencers can really help you tap into this.

While there is still value in working with money influencers, we hope this article has shown you that thinking outside the box and expanding your pool of partners could have a positive impact on your next influencer outreach campaign.

Ready to find relevant influencers for your next finance campaign? Find them on the Vuelio Media Database – book a demo here

Health and care policy in 2022

What’s Coming Up In 2022 For Health and Care Policy

2021 was a busy year for health policy, starting with the country in lockdown because the alpha variant was causing a massive wave of COVID-19 cases across the country. At this time, the NHS was also embarking on its largest vaccination roll-out in British history.

Under the shadow of the pandemic, the NHS has witnessed record high waiting lists and has been forced to rethink its delivery of key services. This has led to widespread reform of the sector in 2021.

In February, the Department for Health and Social Care announced its plans to reform the NHS, which has led to the Health and Care Bill. This Bill would introduce statutory Integrated Care Systems with the aim to provide greater integration of services across the health and care sector. In December, a ten-year social care reform plan was announced that includes plans for the social care workforce and housing sector. 2021 also saw the reform of public health governance with the breakup of Public Health England into the UK Health Security Agency which focusses on public health protection and infectious disease capability, and the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, which focusses on population health and disparity.

Meanwhile, there has also been a shift in leadership, with Sajid Javid becoming Health and Social Care Secretary. Considered as a ‘Hawkish’ Conservative in terms of introducing strict COVID-19 restrictions, he overtook from his predecessor Matt Hancock in June. He has introduced some COVID-19 restrictions to tackle to the Omicron wave, including rules on working from home, masks, and the contentious vaccine passports, but has stopped short of introducing rules on social mixing as seen earlier in the year.

Looking into 2022, in January the Health and Bill will continue in its House of Lords Committee stage. This will be an opportunity for peers to bring forward amendments to this Bill, including one from Baroness Cumberlege, which if successful, would require the Government to publish independently-verified assessments of workforce numbers every two years. A similar high-profile amendment had been proposed in the House of Commons by Jeremy Hunt, the Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee, but was rejected by the Government. If the Health and Care Bill passes, likely to be in April, the Government plans to have statutory Integrated Care Systems introduced across the country by July 2022.

April will also mark a shift in how the health and care sector is paid for as the Health and Care Levy is introduced. The 1.25% levy based on National Insurance Contributions aims raise £12bn a year for the next three years. This will provide £5.4 billion of investment over the next three years for the Adult Social Care Cap, which will limit personal care costs to a maximum of £86,000 over a person’s lifetime.

The additional funding will also be used to boost NHS capacity to address the rapidly growing waiting lists that are hovering around 5.8m, according to latest figures. This includes spending on more diagnostic scans and surgical hubs. The Health and Social Care Committee has recently called the backlog a ‘major and unquantifiable challenge’. It has recommended that the Government sets out a broad national health and care recovery plan to include mental health, primary care, community care, and social care as well as emergency care. This comes as the fast spread of Omicron variant impacts the capacity of the health and social care workforce. NHS England estimates that in recent weeks more than 80,000 staff were absent each day on average with almost half of these absences due to COVID-19.

More reform is also expected in 2022. Two upcoming strategies were announced with the publication of the Social Care White Paper. Firstly, the Integration White Paper which is expected to outline proposals to improve person-centred care with measures to improve the interface between health and care services. Alongside this, an individual strategy for people with Dementia and their carers is also expected.

Moreover, the Health Secretary has indicated that he will publish mental health strategy this year, along with a public consultation. Finally, in alignment with wider Government aims, a Levelling-up White Paper is also due this year, which could include measures to address health disparity across the country.

Vuelio’s weekly Friday morning political newsletter Point of Order shares insight and opinion to help public affairs, policy and comms professionals stay ahead of political change and connect with those who campaign on the issues they care about. To find out more or contribute, get in touch with Vuelio Politics.

Top 10 PR and comms guest posts from 2021

10 top PR and communications guest posts of 2021

Upskilling and investing in yourself is always worthwhile, and what better time to get started than the beginning of a new year?

Our PR and comms community shared plenty of know-how and experience throughout 2021 – here are ten of our top guest posts from practitioners on topics including digital campaigning, influencer marketing and ESG.

1. How to nail a PR story to an awareness day
There are over 1,500 awareness days each year – how do you determine which ones to include in your content plan? From Gorgeous Grandma to Lost Sock Memorial Day, Bottle PR’s lead publisher Jamie Wilson highlights how to pick out the most interesting and relevant examples for your, and your clients’, upcoming projects.

2. Ideation tips for successful digital PR campaigns
Are your creative juices running a little dry at this time of year? Inspiration doesn’t have to come from places particularly grand or fateful – practical planning works well, too. I-COM’s digital PR strategist Chloe Rowlands shares steps to include in your ideation process and some evergreen topics to get you started.

3. Reactive PR: Turning something out of nothing
Reactive PR isn’t just for counteracting brand or celebrity scandals – it’s a skill worth having in every PR’s toolbox, believes Fibre’s digital PR specialist Alice Wilks. Boost your company’s online presence and improve your own SEO prowess by taking notes from this guest post on what can be a positive and proactive approach.

4. Influencer marketing: 5 dos and don’ts
The influencer marketing industry continues to grow, despite occasional controversy regarding creators, their processes and differences to ‘traditional’ media professionals and journalists. Investment in influencers is smart strategy, as is avoiding the potential pitfalls – here Smoking Gun’s managing director Rick Gutteridge lists the dos and don’ts.

5. 4 reasons why introverts make great PRs
An enduring stereotype about public relations is that the industry is made up of extroverts ready to network at a moment’s notice – Prezzybox’s Alex Spencer advocates for the introverts among our ranks, pointing out why there’s room for everyone in the creative industries.

6. Building on the lessons of 2020 for 2021’s opportunities in PR and communications
Working through a pandemic (we managed to get through half of this post without mentioning it) has been a very steep learning curve for the majority of us, who hadn’t faced times as stressful or unpredictable in our professional lives before. With the lessons to be learned came opportunities, writes Kerry Sheehan in this guest post.

7. Stress Awareness Month: How to support staff wellbeing
And on the subject of stress (another enduring issue in PR and comms), this piece from Hotwire’s head of people and culture Kam White has ideas for managing how it impacts you and your team. Stress Awareness Month isn’t until April, but it’s never too early to get a start on looking out for yourself and your colleagues.

8. How to implement a PR strategy for a local charity
‘More than ever before, it matters to do good things, not just for your clients, but for those who need it the most’ believes Spike’s PR & Outreach Manager Andre Gwilliam, whose step-by-step guide to working with a local charity explains how to make the most of your PR skillset to help others in your community.

9. 6 reasons why ESG is something comms should care about
Environmental, Social and Governance – a huge trend for last year in comms, and one you definitely need to care about this year, too. The Media Foundry’s associate director Kat Jackson has the main reasons ESG isn’t just a trendy initialism.

10. How to build a close-knit team when working from different places
Hybrid working has changed the way teams interact – is it really possible to form lasting bonds with your colleagues when water cooler conversations about Bake Off aren’t possible? Yes, says Degreed’s global head of comms, content & client advocacy teams Sarah Danzl – read up on how teamwork really can make the dream work (for business-related matters, and important TV catch-ups).

Have knowledge you’d like to share with others working in the PR and comms industry as part of our PR Club? Get in touch: pj.boyd@vuelio.com.

Stay connected with the media and up-to-date with the latest trends and big stories – find out more about the Vuelio Media Database here.

PRCA Ethnicity pay gap

Report on your ethnicity pay gap, says PRCA’s Race and Ethnicity Equity Board (REEB)

Ahead of tomorrow’s Ethnicity Pay Gap Day in the UK, the PRCA’s Race and Ethnicity Equity Board (REEB) is calling for full transparency from the PR and comms industry on its ethnicity pay gap.

Open conversations about inequality with pay are long overdue – data from the 2021 PRCA UK PR Census showed the industry’s pay inequality as being at 16% – £8,084.50. Research launched this week from networking group People Like Us underlined the work that still needs to be done on pay equity, finding that the majority of PR and marcomms practitioners taking part had been denied a pay rise; 30% surveyed felt that their race, nationality, or ethnicity had negatively impacted their salary or promotional potential. Over a third of those surveyed shared that they believe white colleagues are more likely to be successful when asking for a pay rise than those from diverse backgrounds. Almost a third believe that white colleagues are more likely to receive a pay increase or promotion without having to ask.

‘Nobody should earn less because of the colour of their skin, their sexual preference, gender or anything else that isn’t related to their performance,’ said People Like Us co-founder Sheeraz Gulsher. ‘Salary and job progression should be based on merit, but the data here makes it patently clear that currently, they aren’t.

‘Organisations need to get better at identifying pay gaps and progression bias within their companies because without understanding the issue, you can’t fix it.’

To aid organisations to track and fix their ethnicity pay gaps, PRCA’s REEB is urging decision makers to make use of its Ethnicity Pay Gap Guide, featuring advice on reporting as well as how to improve on disclosure.

PRCA REEB Chair Barbara Phillips FPRCA said:

‘The PR and comms industry is in rude health. We are making a great recovery. According to reliable sources including the PRCA, we have regained previous high levels of client confidence and can get back to the business of exploring creative ways for clients to build and maintain important relationships with customers, investors, partners, and most importantly, employees who are often all of the above. We are ready to tell their new stories, that once again, will lead to a mutually lucrative ending. And while we all pour ourselves excitedly into 2022 with anticipation – my outpourings (and those of anyone who looks anything like me) will be worth around £8K less a year than my white counterpart on average. The basis of the gap? My ethnicity. That’s it.

‘In October 2020, REEB launched an ethnicity pay gap guide. It’s free, and it’s readily available to use, should you choose to pay your Black, Asian, and non-white team members the same pay you find for their white peers in identical roles. This action even has its own day – 8 January, Ethnicity Pay Gap day! But I’m sure closing your EPG was already a top 2022 priority. Right?’

Find out more and download the Ethnicity Pay Gap Guide from PRCA’s Race and Ethnicity Equity Board and read our previous interview with Barbara Phillips on the formation of the Board and its work here.

Wadds Inc Almanac

Wadds Inc. publishes Almanac to provide guidance on the big issues for PR in 2022

To ready the public relations industry for the big issues ahead, Stephen Waddington has published the Wadds Inc. Almanac: Challenges and opportunities for public relations 2022.

The eight short essays, with links to further reading for more information, provide guidance on topics including strategy, misinformation, inclusion and even office politics.

Among the issues highlighted for PR practitioners to include in strategic plans for next year are investment in artificial intelligence – an area touted by many in the industry, including CIPR’s AIinPR group, as ripe with opportunity as well as the potential for misuse. Upskilling and investment is also recommended for ESG concerns including climate risk and carbon as a metric. The lessons from COP26 this year will reverberate through the work of the comms sector, in-house, agency-level, political and public affairs-side next year – find out more in the essay here.

‘Misinformation: The internet is a sewer’ includes worrying statistics on the continuing spread of incorrect data across social media and the growth of mistrust in the Government and asks whether this can be curtailed by clever comms.

Diversity and inclusion is, finally and rightfully, a big conversation happening in the comms sphere – as mentioned by The Unmistakables’ Asad Dhunna in our accessmatters session in November, many clients are now asking how they should approach inclusivity and do a better job of engaging with every audience going forward. The Almanac’s guidance includes data to remind us all how far the industry is from true parity and highlights the work of initiatives including A Leader Like Me, warning that this will take longer than a generation to fix.

And while shared office working has always been fertile ground for the growth of long-term grudges and hostility, hybrid working may very well provide similar, and new, avenues for work-related anger. How can managers help those working from home? Check out advice and supporting data in ‘Home comforts and office politics’.

Inspired by what Stephen Waddington calls ‘the noisiest conversations in our community of practice’, you can read all eight essays included in the Almanac online, or download in PDF or HTML, here.

Want more on what to plan for in 2022? Check out our round-up of trend predictions from practitioners across the industry, as well as our look back at the challenges and triumphs of 2021.

Challenges and triumphs of 2021 in comms

What were the biggest challenges and triumphs for comms in 2021?

And we thought 2020 in comms, marketing and PR was difficult – 2021 brought yet more challenges, forcing everyone to adapt to the constantly changing environment we found ourselves in.

In this part of our series of features looking back at this year, and forward to the next, seven practitioners from across the industry share what they saw as the biggest challenges of 2021 and some of the organisations, people and brands that did great work in 2021.

Sarah Waddington, Astute.Work and #FuturePRoof
Main challenges of 2021?
‘The biggest challenge for comms practitioners this year has been battling fatigue. Working practices and client expectations have changed throughout the pandemic, in part through people working from home, and it seems to have exacerbated the ‘always on’ culture we’ve been trying to move away from. The biggest challenge for the year ahead will be managing this and re-establishing boundaries so the workplace is a happy and healthy one.’

Comms winners this year?
‘I thought the Don’t Be That Guy video by Police Scotland was particularly well thought out and timed in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard and following the wave of anger up and down the country relating to violence against women. It actually looked at the cause of the problem, rather than place responsibility onto women to stay safe.’

Sudha Singh, The Purpose Room
Main challenges of 2021?
‘The world has changed and like everyone else comms practitioners have had to adapt to the fast-changing world. I think the biggest challenge has been to understand how best we can serve our clients’ needs, help them to stay authentic and relevant. The other big challenge was providing adequate support to the disparate (and ever evolving) needs of team members and employees.’

Comms winners this year?
‘Brands that were true to their core purpose and were authentic were the winners – Zoom, IKEA, UK Gov Comms (…not politicians), Deliveroo, football campaign against racism, Raheem Sterling’s campaign, and the Aldi Free Cuthbert campaign.’

Gavin Devine, Park Street Partners
Main challenges of 2021?
‘Maintaining focus has been really difficult in 2021. The year has been a rollercoaster of lockdowns and normality, international travel being impossible and then opening up, office working prohibited, frowned upon and then encouraged. It hasn’t always been easy to know how in practice to deliver for clients and to keep colleagues motivated and positive. These challenges are not unique to comms but we perhaps feel them particularly acutely because often we have been called in to help clients shape and communicate their responses to COVID-19. Entering more of a ‘steady state’ of near-normality in the last couple of months has been an enormous relief.’

Comms winners this year?
‘I can think of so many individuals and organisations who had a bad year in terms of comms in 2021. There were few real winners, although it would be hard to argue that Kate Bingham and Nadhim Zahawi didn’t have a great year in terms of their personal ‘brands’.’

Emmanuel Ofosu-Appiah, Mercer
Main challenges of 2021?
‘One clear challenge has been constant news flow and sheer amount of change since the pandemic hit. This has made it harder for clients and stakeholders stories to penetrate into the mainstream. PRs really need to think about what they are sharing externally and what key messages they want to get across. There has also been a shift with organisations focusing more on ESG and sustainability issues which has required practitioners to think outside of the box to get their stories heard.’

Comms winners this year?
‘I was blow away by the FIFA and EA Sports campaign for The Kiyan Prince Foundation and QPR. It was a genius creative idea from Engine Group with such a strong and moving message following such an unfortunate incident. I know many young people will be inspired by the campaign.’

Anne Gregory, University of Huddersfield
Main challenges of 2021?
‘Resilience and stamina, given the relentless nature of the on-going crisis. Working remotely – the watercooler moments are so important to ‘temperature check’ the organisation, particularly what is happening internally. Major flop to digital/online working. Educating senior managers on how to be really competent in genuine communication and not talking in soundbites.’

Comms winners this year?
‘Pfizer, Unilever and health scientists!’

Tolu Rachel Akisanya, Ariatu PR
Main challenges of 2021?
‘Not just this year, but for several years now, is the industry has struggled with the ability – or lack of – to switch off. This has always been an issue, however with the pandemic and working from home, it’s been harder to separate work life and personal life. Especially when both happen in the same room now (my front room is both my office space and leisure space). Additionally, with the growth of new social media platforms and media outlets, it means we’re constantly consuming media, even in our downtime, which often means we never really ever switching off. Whether we consciously or subconsciously realise it, we’re always looking for the next opportunity or connecting with a new contact online or horizon scanning – it can sometimes be information overload.

‘However, this has led to a positive movement and we’ve seen the wider industry acknowledge this issue and work towards raising awareness, providing support and resources, and creating more open and wider discussions about how to improve the mental health and well-being of PR practitioners.’

Comms winners this year?
‘I’ve really enjoyed seeing the work Ariatu PR has done with podcasts, such as Broccoli Content and Coiled. In a market that is oversaturated, being able to ‘cut through the noise’ and deliver impactful campaigns, generate coverage (in the likes of the Financial Times and Stylist magazine) to raise awareness and lead to listeners, for shows that are not celebrity led, has been incredible.’

Stuart Thomson, BDB Pitmans
Main challenges of 2021?
‘In public affairs, we have had to put up with seemingly continuous outrage caused by the behaviour of some serving and former Parliamentarians and their lobbying activities. It has done little to help the reputation of politics or public affairs. The CIPR and PRCA have been very firm in their condemnation of the activities but sadly such behaviour damages us all.

‘A large part of public affairs is the development of relationships and, however good online activity is, there is nothing to really replace face-to-face interaction. The extended lockdown at the start of the year and now worries about another wave has curtailed that. We really do need to get back to normal in-person political activity.’

Comms winners this year?
‘The Beatles. The brand of a band that ceased to exist before even I was born continues to astound. The release of Peter Jackson’s Beatles documentary Get Back has been trailed and tantalised for more than a year building up on the anticipation of its release on Disney+. A great piece of communications.’

Read predictions for the trends PR and comms professionals can expect in 2022 here and start your campaign planning with Vuelio’s media, PR, public affairs and political services – find out more here.

Trends in PR and communications for 2022

10 PR and Communications Trends For 2022

2022 has certainly been… a year. At the start, hopes were high for an easing of the setbacks caused by the pandemic and that the lessons we’d all learned would help us evolve our purpose and ways of working. Did this happen?

In some ways, yes. And despite the challenges we’re all still working through, we can do even better as an industry in 2022.

Here are predictions from nine public relations, communications, marketing and public affairs experts on what the big trends to plan and prepare for will be for the year ahead.

1) Sustainability and purpose
‘It feels to me like purpose is becoming more and more important for organisations, and communicating it is a really important task. A big plank of that is of course sustainability but we have been talking about the environment for years; a big growth area in terms of messaging is likely to be fairness and social inclusion. Particularly in a time of inflation and with the UK Government still trying to define what it means by ‘levelling up’, being able to talk about the impact of clients on less advantaged areas is going to be more important than ever.’
Gavin Devine, Park Street Partners

2) Inclusion
‘There has been an increased focus on diversity and inclusion within the industry with many new initiatives launched. As a Board Member of the PRCA’s Race and Ethnicity Equity Board I am keen to see how firms continue to push for greater equality within our industry. It is important to see leaders from diverse backgrounds and we just do not have enough within the PR industry. A key challenge will be moving from talking about increasing diversity to now making it a reality at more senior levels.’
Emmanuel Ofosu-Appiah, Mercer

4) Net Zero
‘We have hundreds of businesses who are signed up to science-based targets… but there are hundreds who haven’t.
‘We can’t just do this in 2029 when it’s too late – this needs accumulative reduction.’
Luke Herbert, The Climate Group

5) AI + human effort
‘AI will transform the tactical, ‘doing’ bit of our work even more, leaving space for us to be more strategic… are we up to it? We need to regulate the social media platforms and ourselves – the basic business model that drives the social media algorithms needs changing. We have to do something about the polarisation in society. The ESG agenda will become more pressing, too.’
Anne Gregory, University of Huddersfield

3) Hybrid working (for good and bad)
‘Finding, keeping and training more junior colleagues looks set to be a major issue in 2022 and beyond. Working from home and even hybrid working is great for people with comfortable home offices and at a more settled stage of their careers; it is self-evidently less so for those at the start of their careers. And honing your skills is so much less easy if you and your senior colleagues are not in the office every day. At the same time, the pandemic has led many people to question their career choices and think about alternatives. All of this means we are likely to see a shortage of high-quality people with a few years’ experience. That will fuel a race for talent; retention will be an issue.

‘One way that this will manifest itself may well be in pressure on pay. This will be part of an economy-wide challenge, the like of which we haven’t seen for years: inflation. Life is about to become more expensive and this will be true for comms agencies as much as it is for anyone else. We will also have to think of new messages for our clients to use in the media and with stakeholders about why prices are going up.’
Gavin Devine

6) Personal development, with healthy boundaries
‘Working practices and client expectations have changed throughout the pandemic, in part through people working from home, and it seems to have exacerbated the ‘always on’ culture we’ve been trying to move away from. The biggest challenge for the year ahead will be managing this and re-establishing boundaries so the workplace is a happy and healthy one.

‘PR practitioners can help businesses deliver their objectives in terms of articulating purpose, managing change and communicating with stakeholders. With the right skillset, there are plenty of opportunities to be had but personal development is crucial to success.’
Sarah Waddington, Astute.Work and #FuturePRoof

7) Flexibility to new working models
‘Both a challenge and opportunity for the industry will be how we continue to adapt and evolve new working models. A lot has changed in just two years, new social media platforms, media outlets, key stakeholders, and influencers are developing at a rapid pace, the industry is constantly learning, paired with the pandemic and working from home, stricter/looser social distancing restrictions (depending on what the Government feels like that week), we have successfully made it work to our benefit and for our clients. I think we must embrace this and try not to rush or force employees to return back into the office and rigid working conditions. What the last few years have proven is that we as PR practitioners are resourceful and creative. We must continue to adapt and be flexible.’
Tolu Rachel Akisanya, Ariatu PR

8) Realistic risk management
‘We need to be realistic about the economic situation and the potential for growth.  It is likely to be a challenging year and if growth isn’t as high as hoped then that could affect the spending available to government.  The implications would be enormous.

‘Government will want to continue to be interventionist and any organisation that simply leaves them to it is playing a very dangerous game. Engagement with government should focus on the development of trusted relationships, which needs to be built over time.  For those that choose not to invest in their engagement there could be a lot of emergency public affairs required.  Aside from the obvious failure to manage risk, the success of that approach is much more variable and more expensive.’
Stuart Thomson, BDB Pitmans

9) New metrics and measurements
‘One of the big challenges for measurement is the starting point of any campaign – do we have clear measurable business objectives; do we have data on the starting point or audience insights? In the last year we have definitely moved from impressions/clicks and likes to measuring engagement and that is going to be the direction of travel.’
Sudha Singh, The Purpose Room

10) Listening
‘You can involve everyone in the process of D&I. I’ve learned about navigating my own space, my own bias and what I bring. And really listening. Taking that time to stop my voice and hearing what people are feeling.’
Asad Dhunna, The Unmistakables

Want more from the above thought leaders sharing their predictions?

accessmatters with Asad Dhunna from The Unmistakables

Interview with Sudha Singh and Mark Webb on fairer representations of disability in PR

BDB Pitmans’ Stuart Thomson on public affairs in 2021

The Climate Group’s Luke Herbert on the New Statesman panel Making Sense of Net Zero 

Emmanuel Ofosu-Appiah on PRCA’s Race & Ethnicity Equity Board

International campaigns

Ensuring effective and successful communications across different cultures

This is a guest post by Life Size‘s PR Intern Martha Lane.

If you’re running an international communications campaign, adapting your approach towards each individual audience is essential. However, this means much more than simply translating content into the appropriate language. Instead, a deep understanding of each of your target cultures must form the basis of your campaign. Here is how to achieve this and set your international communications campaign up for success.

Stage 1: Check the relevance of your topic in your target country
A good place to start is to dedicate some time to researching how the topic of your campaign is viewed in your target country. While it would be easy to assume that consensus on your topic is similar to your native country, this won’t necessarily be the case. Your research should provide answers to some key questions, such as:

– Is your topic widely discussed in the news there? Is it discussed by the mainstream media, or is it limited to industry press?
– What is the political importance of this topic? Is there any relevant legislation in place in your target country that you should be aware of?
– What are the current societal or environmental impacts and benefits relating to this topic? How do they meet the current discussion about the environment or other ongoing social issues?
– Has it received any negative press, or do you get the impression that it is a sensitive topic? If so, it would be worth offering a fresh perspective that can provide a positive spin on the topic.

It is worth noting that negative or lukewarm press coverage on your topic does not have to be a disadvantage. Rather, you can utilise your communications campaign to be one of the first to highlight the benefits of what you are offering, giving you a unique position in the target market.

This is also an excellent time to identify your audience and decide who will be the best group to direct your campaign in a particular country. Once you have identified who you are communicating with, you can move on to the next vital step: working out how to talk to them.

Stage 2: Take the time to understand the culture of your country
At this point, it’s essential to get to the very root of your target country’s culture, such as identifying the values and beliefs that form its basis. This may sound quite overwhelming, but some useful models can be used to break down cultures into a handful of the most important underlying characteristics.

Hofstede and Trompenaars are two cultural experts who have created models that, though built with business management in mind, are equally applicable in the world of international communications. Both see culture as existing on various spectrums, within which any culture can be placed with considerable accuracy. This way of quantifying culture makes the job of communicators slightly easier.

Of course, there is variation within cultures, so the models should be applied with a degree of caution to avoid stereotyping, as personal experiences within cultures create differentiation. But the research of these experts has found that there are some predictable ways in which people within a certain culture are the same, especially when it comes to the workplace, making them valuable guides.

Stage 3: Use research to adapt content to your culture
Having researched the reception of your topic in your country, now is the time to use the understanding you have gained from the cultural models to adapt your tone. Ask yourself, how does your audience want to be spoken to? This is a crucial stage of the process that requires thorough planning. It’s easy to lose your audience in the delivery of your campaign due to cultural misunderstanding, no matter how relevant your product or service is to them.

Final stage: Don’t forget the simple things
There are the more routine details of a communications campaign to consider that may seem obvious but can be easily missed when dealing with the more complex aspects. Before releasing content, make sure to consider:

– Translation: aside from making sure your communications are translated accurately into your target language, check the translation of your product or service – make sure it isn’t offensive or hasn’t got a confusing double-meaning.
– Time zone: what time are you sending out content for your campaign in your target country? Make sure you respect any time difference and different working days.
– Visual materials: the images you use as part of the campaign may also need to be adapted. For instance, make sure that images such as landscapes are relevant to your target country as they will then resonate more with the audience there.

Following all these steps should ensure that your international communications campaign will be a success. Admittedly, it can be a long and sometimes monotonous process. However, the potential negative impact if done incorrectly, and the high rewards if the time is taken to do so properly, make the thorough process outlined above worthwhile.

Connect with the right journalists, political contacts and influencers from around the world for your international campaigns with the Vuelio Media Database – find out more and book a demo

PR Recruitment Crisis

Doing things differently – how to tackle the PR recruitment crisis by growing an agency from the ground up.

This is a guest post from Alex Blyth, managing partner of design agency PR specialist Red Setter.

‘Hire people smarter than you,’ is a truism of business management. Variously ascribed to everyone from Steve Jobs to David Ogilvy, Richard Branson, and… err… former Leeds FC manager Howard Wilkinson, it always seemed like sound advice to me, so I followed it for years.

In the early days of Red Setter I interpreted it to mean I should hire experienced PR professionals. So that’s what I did. I hired people who’d been at the biggest agencies or who’d held senior in-house roles. However, with our tenth anniversary on the horizon, and our team of 20 now known globally as the go-to people in our brand design niche, I’ve realised I was wrong.

Like many people, I’ve done a lot of thinking during the pandemic. One conclusion I’ve come to is that we need to stop hiring senior people. We need to do things differently and grow our team from the ground up. In 2021 we’ve brought in four account executives, and one journalist in her first PR role.

It’s transforming our agency for the better, and has left us relatively insulated from the highs and lows of the recruitment market many agencies have struggled with this year. Here’s the why and how of we’re doing it.

Less gambling, more learning
In the early days, the allure of those senior hires is clear. You’re buying in expertise, credibility and perhaps above all else confidence. And don’t get me wrong, I’ve learnt a huge amount from many of those people. Our agency wouldn’t be where it is today without them.

But it’s not always the ‘here’s a job spec, client base, and large salary, now off you go’ scenario that many might hope for. Especially in a highly-niched agency like Red Setter, there is a lot to learn – about the brand design sector, our clients, our media, and the very specific way of working we’ve developed over the years. We’ve learnt that we need to invest time in training joiners on all this, regardless of how much experience they’ve had.

Those earlier in their careers are typically very open to learning. They rightly demand it. They’re in the habit of it. They come with a fresh perspective, unencumbered by what was hard-won expertise elsewhere, but which here can be limiting assumptions. You also tend to avoid high salaries, recruiter costs and organisational disruption by bringing in people earlier in their careers.

You then need to make sure you deliver the learning and development they expect. We’ve had to reshape our agency from one that was focussed solely on client delivery to build in space for workshops, on-the-job coaching, and ongoing conversations around progression. We’re building a set of sessions and materials for joiners, we’re growing education skills in the team (involvement, not lectures!), everyone from account manager up has development and coaching of colleagues in their KPIs, once a week we meet as a company to share expertise, team members have been on external courses ranging from a Guardian masterclass on what journalists want to a day workshop on vocal confidence. In our weekly catch-ups, each team shares not only a highlight but also something they’ve learnt. We do a lot but it’s still very much a work in progress.

That’s just the learning aspect – we’ve also had to find new sources of this raw talent. We’ve set up an annual internship programme with the University of Sussex. The first on it is now a valued member of our team, and recently gave a talk to this year’s PR students about life in our very specific type of PR. We’re doing more and more with the University and hope to expand the internship programme in 2022.

Right time, right approach
It’s not easy, but we’re discovering benefits far beyond our original intentions. A culture of learning is adding to our skills and knowledge at all levels. That makes us not only better able to deliver to our clients but also more inspired in the work we’re doing together. And as the PR talent pool dried up throughout 2021 it was far less of a problem for us that it would have been.

I don’t think this approach is right for everyone. Larger, more generalist agencies can bring in more transferable experience. When you’re starting out, you probably need to hire expertise in key areas – we wouldn’t be able to do this if we didn’t have an experienced, talented, senior team already in place. But for us right now it feels like the right approach.

Does it mean we’ll never employ at a senior level again? Never say never. And does it mean that Jobs, Branson and Ogilvy were all wrong? Of course not. The people we’ve hired this year might be less experienced than me, but I’m pretty certain they’re also smarter than me. I’m looking forward to seeing that smartness grow into expertise over the coming years.

For more on the importance of mentoring and investing in PRs early in their career, catch up on our interviews with A Leader Like Me’s Advita Patel and the Taylor Bennett Foundation’s Melissa Lawrence

In need of a central hub to keep track of your internal and external stakeholder relationships? Find out more about Vuelio’s Stakeholder Management solutions and book a demo here

Combating COVID

Communications and Combating the Omicron Variant

This is a guest post by Louise Flintoft, associate director at Onyx Health.

The UK’s public health is in a precarious position. We’ve all seen in the news that the Omicron COVID-19 variant has been identified as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization.

At the time of writing, there are still a lot of unknowns about the new variant. However, early indications are that it is likely to be more transmissible than the dominant Delta variant and that our existing vaccinations are less effective against it.

In response to the uncertainty, the Government has announced a series of new measures to reduce the spread of the new variant. These currently include compulsory facemasks for public transport and retail, expanding the booster jab programme to all UK adults, new requirements PCR tests and isolation for people entering the country, and ten-day quarantine for people in contact with an infected person

The last cycle of lockdowns and compulsory COVID-19 restriction prompted one of the biggest acts of civil obedience in our peacetime history. With new restrictions looming, the Government will need to communicate behaviour change again to avoid a potential crisis. At Onyx Health, we are healthcare communication specialists and have some ideas about how we use the power of PR to re-engage the public.

Fighting COVID-19 fatigue
Let’s be honest; we’re all sick and tired of the pandemic. The success of the Government’s initial vaccine rollout and the removal of official legal restrictions earlier in the year had led many people to conclude that it was mission accomplished. However, the threat has never gone away, and it risks getting worse again.

One of the biggest dangers from a public health communication perspective is that complacency, and an unwillingness to take the potential new threat seriously, derails the effectiveness of the new rules. Re-engaging the public will be essential to make the latest changes work in practice. There is also a balance to be struck between taking things seriously and avoiding mass panic. This needs a strong, emotionally resonant message that the public can connect with.

Encouraging people to get masked up and booster jabbed to save Christmas can link behaviour change to a shared desirable outcome. Last Christmas was tough for us all. We all want to make this year’s festive season better than the last.

Helping our healthcare heroes avoid a winter crisis
The NHS is always close to the nation’s heart, but this is especially true during a public health crisis. It is arguably the closest thing we have to a national religion. During the first lockdown, the weekly clap for healthcare workers brought the nation together to thank those frontline staff who risked their lives to help us through the pandemic.

Today, the NHS faces a perfect storm of a new COVID-19 variant, the seasonal spike in winter flu cases and a general public fed up with the pandemic. Calling on people to follow the rules to help our healthcare heroes has the potential to reconnect people with that shared sense of solidarity we saw at the beginning of the pandemic. People may be willing to go the extra mile to help those who got us through the COVID-19 crisis by caring for our friends and loved ones.

Accelerating booster jabs and getting people doubled dosed
The booster jab programme was originally targeted at the elderly and vulnerable to increase their immunity to COVID-19. This week, the Government announced that it will be extended to all adults over 18 in the UK. Problems beset the initial rollout of booster vaccines for complex reasons, including the rollout’s speed, limited uptake, and confusion over eligibility. The expansion of the programme magnifies the scale of the communication challenge.

There are specific audience demographics that require specialised targeting. Increasing the immunity of those most at-risk through medical education is a key priority. We need to reach out to the elderly, vulnerable and underrepresented groups using community groups, local champions and NGOs to foster grassroots engagement and build trust from the ground up.

Another big issue is getting younger people doubled dosed. The figures show that people aged 25-29 are more vaccine-resistant and statistically less likely to have taken up the offer of a single or double vaccine dose. Targeting young people through viral content, social media influencers and pop-cultural icons provides part of the answer to create a generational mindset change. Getting through the latest stage of the pandemic requires a renewed collective national effort; as communicators, we need to do our bit.

Keep track of the conversation in the media with Vuelio’s Media Monitoring services and our sister brand Pulsar’s series of social listening solutions

Successful email campaigns

How to build strong foundations for a successful email campaign

Elliot Ross, Email Evangelist, Taxi for Email (a SparkPost company), discusses the foundation of a successful email campaign, and it all starts with your messaging.

How’s your inbox looking? If you are anything like me you receive dozens of emails every day, a good chunk of which you don’t have the time or the inclination to open, let alone read.

The question of how to get your branded email messages opened has been focusing the minds of marketing managers for well over two decades now. As the number of emails people receive has increased, so marketers have been forced to adopt ever more cunning ways of securing an opening. But why is it that we read some emails and consign others to the junk folder?

In spite of what some gurus claim there is no magic formula to getting your brand’s emails opened. There are however some golden rules to follow which will maximise your email’s chances of success and set you on the path to becoming an expert at creating the right branding and messaging for your emails.

Begin with a strategy rooted in your brand’s values
Before you even think about sending your first branded emails you need to ask yourself a few questions. Why am I sending emails as opposed to engaging on other platforms? What am I hoping to achieve? And most important of all, what does success look like?

There are five key things to consider when you are setting out your strategy:
1. What are your email goals? Think about what you want to achieve from the emails you are sending and whether email really is the right channel to help you reach that goal.
2. Who is your audience – your subscribers? What email clients do they use? What’s the support for these devices/web clients?
3. What is the one thing you want your reader to do after opening your email? This is another key place to ask yourself if email is the right channel to use?

Think about the timing of your email send. Don’t just guess when the best time to send your email will be. Look back at previous send data and make a decision informed by this previous data. 5. Outline success measures before you start. Tracking things like downloads, clicks, opens, and revenue is great, but consider setting up A/B testing for different copy or segments.

By detailing the above into an overarching strategy before you start sending your emails, you can make creative emails whilst not going off-track with the email’s overall purpose – keeping you emails in sync and recognisable to subscribers.

What kind of language are you going to use?
The most important factor when writing copy for the email is that the wording should be authentic and reflect your brand. If you work for a B2B company whose target is senior executives write in an appropriate way for that audience. Authenticity is essential for building trust and ensuring that people know that what you are saying is legitimate.

Being able to personalise email content could also help build up authenticity and trust. Is there a way you can address an individual that takes into consideration the data you already have on them? Optimising your email by making it relevant to specific audience groups will also help. Think about geographical regions, types of customers, customer preferences, etc. That way you can deliver relevant messages to either audience as opposed to one blanket email.

Remember what your email’s primary role is too. Do you want it to be informative and supportive in building a relationship between you and your customer or are you more focussed on seeking instant clicks through to your website?

The winning formula for effective email design
Creating an email strategy also encompasses working on design guidelines. These are not just helpful for designers, but anyone involved in the email process. Guidelines can be a huge time-saver and enable you to produce high-quality emails without spending too much time going back and forth with your designer. You will need to consider ideas around fonts, colours, spacing and dimensions to keep your emails recognisable with your readers.

Ultimately the two key principles of email design are:
· Create something that is both beautiful and functional that will entice your recipients into reading to the end.
· Create a design that reflects your existing brand values, which are then consistent across every communication you send.

The answer? Use an email design system (EDS), where you can set up structured templates that empower your designers creatively, but at the same time enable them to work quickly and efficiently within set boundaries.

Once the structure is agreed you can work on the design elements and start to bring in other elements of your brand, such as bespoke imagery or illustrations, GIFs and embedded videos.

Consistency is king and the importance of branding
No matter who is making and sending your branded emails, they should always be consistent, even if you work with dispersed teams who are responsible for creating emails for different products or services.

Unless it is the first email you have sent, it won’t be seen by your reader in isolation. They will have seen and interacted with your branding on other platforms, so in order to strengthen your brands perception, your email design needs to be consistent with these.

Creating a library of assets your team can use to speed up email creation whilst adhering to consistency will help. If you have a core EDS for all parts of the business, updating brand assets will be much more manageable and spotting anomalies will be far easier. You could also look into building a set of sub-templates for each product or service within the brand, with altered footers, contact details and logos, so anyone creating an email will have the elements they need to create something aligned with the brand.

Navigating the minefield that is dark mode and accessibility, and how to get it right
One of the biggest challenges for email designers is to create striking emails that also work in dark mode – the extension that helps you quickly turn the screen (browser) to dark at night-time.

To ensure your emails adapt to recipients using dark mode, you may want to consider using transparent PNGs and add a white outline around elements in your EDS. You will want to think about designing your default images for dark mode, such as social icons, logos, link colours etc. and how they’re going to contrast with the dark background.

You will need to think about accessibility too. Smaller text and thin fonts might enable you to pack more into your email, but if short-sighted readers can’t see what you have written then you have wasted your time. It is also imperative to avoid walls of text. If the copy looks too cluttered, try to split it into a few paragraphs.

Summary
Preparation, strategy and messaging are everything to an email marketer – giving customers a consistent experience regardless of where they see your brand. And if you can construct creative, yet stringent guidelines you will save yourself and your design team so much time.

Email isn’t a website, but it is a good opportunity to replicate key website aspects such as navigation and CTA style. The chances are, if someone has seen your website you will be retargeting them at multiple touchpoints. And email needs to sit within the brand framework to offer users the consistency they would expect.

Find the right journalists, influencers and high-profile people in politics to target with your upcoming campaigns with the Vuelio Media Database – find out more and book a demo

How to get inclusion right in PR and comms

‘How do we get this right?’ – accessmatters with The Unmistakables’ Asad Dhunna

‘How do you introduce yourself? Listing jobs and experiences, what that does is put a mask up over who I am as a person’ – for our latest accessmatters session, The Unmistakables’ Asad Dhunna talked how ‘not fitting in’ was a spark for him create space where everyone can.

‘Throughout my life, I recognised I didn’t really fit in. Right from Primary School. At home, my family pronounces my name in the Hindi way, so who I am in the world and who I am at home is different, automatically.

‘I did languages and people were like, “Shouldn’t you be doing Sciences or Maths?” It’s what people expected me to do. When I got to university, I had people say “Obviously, you’ll do accountancy” or “You’ll do law – something that’s expected of someone like you”. I realised by that they meant “Asian” or “of Indian heritage”.

‘That feeling of not fitting in carried on – I lived in Germany for a year and people would ask “Where are you really from?”

‘I went to work in marketing and comms. I had a push and pull – push of family saying “Really, you could get a job in a bank”. And I was thinking, do people like me belong in this industry; should I be here? In the early days of my career, I was trying to use “not fitting in” as a value rather than as a bad thing. Then I started to realise, as I became a leader, that people didn’t look like me, or have my experiences.’

The Past
The way the communications and media industries have tried to welcome people from communities and backgrounds other than the predominantly white, middle-class, university-educated and heterosexual mould has often been very well-intentioned, but not quite right.

‘Back then, people were starting to use “ERG”, “LGBTQ”, “BAME” and set up networks. I had this funny moment of people asking if I wanted to be part of the BAME or LGBTQ network – I thought I didn’t quite fit into either of these. And then someone told me about the word “intersectional”…

‘How do we make the industry more inclusive? People that look like me are more likely to set up a shop on the high street than set up an agency – I set up The Unmistakables.’

The Present
The world has had to change since the pandemic, forcing conversations that have previously been avoided or given short-shrift – businesses are having to do the work.

‘Having conversations with clients now: “how do we get this right?” – inclusivity is treated really differently today. The pandemic and George Floyd’s murder made us all sit up and engage with the conversation. Partly because we were stuck at home and we were all going through the same experience. The brutality towards marginalised communities and the systems in place made us confront that privilege is in how we live. Society has been structured in ways that doesn’t benefit all.

‘We realised the only way we could help with inclusion was an “inside-out” approach – campaigns backed by more inclusive cultures. Marketing and comms is what we see in the world, how we are communicated to and how culture evolves. And within businesses, how do employees feel with their inclusion levels? You might be really good at your job, but you might not feel included. We spent a lot of time trying to work that out.’

The Future
The Diversity & Confusion Report, released by The Unmistakables this year, found that people are more comfortable taking about death than topics like race and sexuality at work.

‘Language is always changing – people don’t know how to talk about this. 40% of professionals in our industry are afraid to use the word “black”. Why? There are political nuances with that term, so some people don’t feel comfortable using it. People are also afraid to use the terms “gay” or “disabled”. One-in-six fear that they could lose their job if they use the wrong terms. If you’re in marketing and comms, fear is the biggest thing that stops creativity.

‘We also found that people would rather use the wrong term than say what they mean. We hear “diversity” a lot – our question to those we work with is, what do you mean by “diverse”? Is it background and class, sexuality, race? I always like to encourage people to see what’s inside of that word.

‘We’re at a time where we’re rethinking a lot and we don’t want to go backwards. There’s a curve of change, and not everyone is going to be on top tomorrow, but we’ve got an opportunity to think how we want to do things differently.’

For more from our accessmatters sessions with The Unmistakables’ Asad Dhunna, read his five tips for creating inclusive campaigns.

Find influencers and media professionals to work with on your upcoming campaigns with the Vuelio Media Database and keep track of your stakeholder relationships with our Stakeholder Management services – find out more here.

Anouska Leon and Rebecca Wagstaffe

PRCA relaunches Business Development Group

The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) has relaunched its Business Development (BD) Group with co-chairs Rebecca Wagstaffe of 3 Monkeys Zeno and Anouska Leon of Richmond & Towers.

The relaunched group will aim to help PRCA members with business development activities by sharing materials on best practice, insight and opinion. Part of this will be its 7 December inaugural event with partner Ingenuity to explore the evolution of business development within the last 18 months as well as how agencies can make sure their channel strategy is right for attracting new business. Tickets for the free event can be booked here.

New co-chair Rebecca is the Head of Business Development & Marketing at 3 Monkeys Zeno, helping its European offices.

‘When it comes to agency growth, business development has always acted as the thread that ties together a company’s functions or departments,’ said Rebecca. ‘Coming out of the pandemic, our role as experts needs to be more sharp-focused than ever and I am very excited to co-chair this group, helping hone skills and best practice to develop the brightest minds in business development across our industry.’

Co-chair Anouska began her career in corporate sales before making the move into the creative industries. She moved to Richmond & Towers in 2014. Of the importance of the BD Group, she said:

‘Agency growth is always a top priority, but the last two years have shone a spotlight on Business Development like never before, proving once again that it is the lifeblood of agencies. During uncertain times, the going gets tough for BD professionals and the last 18 months threw a few curveballs our way with everything on Zoom, clients and prospects working from home and navigating the sensitivities of ‘selling’ during a global pandemic.

‘The inevitable consequence is ever more stringent procurement processes, budgets that need to ‘work harder’ and a focus on delivering tangible ROI.  I’m thrilled to have been invited to take up the position of co-chair of the PRCA Business Development Group during such an exciting period of change.’

Ingenuity’s CEO and founder Chris Kemp sees lots of opportunity for PRCA members:

‘As part of Ingenuity’s ongoing relationship with the PRCA, we’re thrilled to be working closely with the leading PR and Communications trade association to help their agency members understand the true potential of new business and B2B sales & marketing. We’ll be exploring the themes that are consistently of relevance to business development professionals, and to their agency’s growth potential.

‘Having worked with hundreds of leading agencies in our 16 years, and running 160+ pitches annually, we’ll be collating insights from both sides of the fence to deliver workshops around best-in-class agency shop windows, what brands are truly looking for in their partners, how to win pitches virtually and the evolution of effective channel strategies. This also coincides with a new chapter for our Events (link), of which PR, Social and Content will continue to be a focus next year.’

More information on the Business Development Group can be found here on the PRCA website. To book tickets for the 7 December event, find out more here.

To keep track of your business development, try Vuelio’s Stakeholder Management solutions – book a demo.

Alex Silver

PR Interview: Alex Silver, director of Alex Silver PR

Moving from a career as a Junior Sister in the Casualty Ward to beauty PR extraordinaire probably isn’t the most common way of getting into comms, but it’s led to 25 years of industry success for Alex Silver and her beauty, celebrity and digital agency Alex Silver PR.

Having started her business from her kitchen table, Alex has been at the forefront of many star-studded events, red carpet moments and headline campaigns over the years. Alongside a passion for building start up brands into household names, Alex also happens to be the publicist for some well-known and long-established clients (including Dame Joan Collins, no less).

Read on for the lessons she’s learned on building strong relationships with the media, why inclusivity is so important for success, and what to do if your client hasn’t been behaving quite as they should…

What are the main lessons you’ve learned through your career?
Always have a plan B! Things can change with the drop of a hat so having a backup option and being able to think on your feet is essential in PR.

It’s not a done deal until the papers are signed – contracts and agreements can still fall through, even at the last stages of negotiations.

Credibility is everything – bringing credible experts to a campaign is like gold dust.

Don’t skip the venue recce. Even if you’ve been recommended a venue by a reputable source, I always recommend popping down to map out your event – you don’t want any nasty surprises on the big day.

How do you think the pandemic has changed comms, and are the changes here to stay?
Well, we’ve certainly all mastered the art of zoom-events, but joking aside, I believe the pandemic has helped shape a modern communication approach in many ways. Many companies (including press houses) are still testing the water when it comes to their new hybrid working arrangements, and I don’t think we’ll fully see the outcome of this until the dust from the pandemic settles.

In the meantime, communications should accommodate both in-person and online arrangements across meetings, events, launches, briefings and so on. Journalist contacts have shared that they enjoy online events as they don’t lose precious time travelling to/from venues and a recent influencer poll that we ran showed a 50/50 split in their popularity.

Celebrities are being increasingly held to account for bad behaviour/outdated views – what approach would you take with a high-profile client that runs into trouble with this?
Crisis management is at the core of many PR campaigns, whether you’re working with a celebrity or not. The art of addressing issues in a sensitive, effective and timely manner is an art that takes a carefully thought-out strategy.

It’s a case-by-case issue but sometimes it’s simply best to hold up your hands and apologise. Education and information on the topic at hand is key here – why has this caused upset and how can the talent become informed on this so that this doesn’t happen in the future.

Which high-profile celebrities/politicians/brands do you feel have really great PR teams (apart from your own clients, of course!)?
People change teams often and can make a blunder at any point so it’s hard to say, however I did see something recently that I was impressed by! At the end of October, Chief Exec and Founder of Spanx surprised employees with two first-class plane ticket and $10,000 each to celebrate the company’s $1.2billion deal with Blackstone. The announcement was filmed live on Instagram and showed employees crying with happiness. The news was quickly shared around the word on national news sites such as The Independent, Good Morning America, MSN and the New York Post. I think this was a very clever, effective, and of course, generous communication strategy. It certainly grabbed the headlines!

Which campaigns have you seen from big brands that have made you think ‘I wish I’d worked on that’?
I really loved the recent Dove Self Esteem Project. The campaign aimed to bring light to young people’s self esteem and help to raise awareness of the pressures that social media puts on developing minds. With a 15-year-old daughter, this really resonated with me and I’d loved to have been part of this campaign with Dove’s aim to have helped a quarter of a billion young people with educational courses by 2030.

Over your time in the industry, how have things improved for women practitioners?
Working within the beauty sector, the industry is saturated with women so, luckily, I haven’t felt being female ever held me back. I understand this is a big contrast to other sectors and that while some areas have drastically improved, there is still a lot to be done in order to close the gender equality gap.

What more needs to be done to make the industry more inclusive and welcoming, on gender, race and class?
An inclusive workplace culture is essential for a strong workforce of empowered employees. It needs to come from the top and I think the more people in power address these issues, speaking about them openly, the bigger changes we’re going to see. There’s so much that can and needs to be done. Everything from integrating inclusivity into core company values to building trust by encouraging a culture of frequent check-ins and creating safe spaces. There are small changes that everyone can do, no matter their company structure, and I think smaller companies need to incorporate this as much as larger ones.

How do you maintain good relationships with journalists?
Do your research! Journo friends often share frustrations at being pitched stories and items that would never fit within their column space. Keep up-to date with what your target journos are writing so that you can make your communications relevant and targeted. Building relationships is a hard balance in today’s climate; journalists are under more pressure and time constraints than ever. A catch up over zoom/coffee, carefully curated pitches and developing events/mailers that will attract attention, all go a long way.

It can be hard for people in PR to keep a healthy work/life balance – how do you manage this (If you do…)?
While there’s definitely a work-hard, play-hard culture in PR, I think it’s about striking balance in all areas of your life. I like to get up earlier in the week so that I can have a bit of ‘me’ time, I’ll kick off with a run around Primrose Hill with my puppy Bella or a yoga session. In the evenings you’ll either find me catching up with a friend over a cocktail (or two) or unwinding with my latest book in an aromatherapy bath. My advice? Find what works for you and block out that time for yourself!

What do you think the big trends will be for comms and PR in 2022?
Honesty, transparency and sustainability. Gone are the days when we printed out press releases and posted them out in thick paper packages! Journalists, influencers and celebrities are rightly conscious of the packaging brands are using. It’s the PR’s job to advise on the most sustainable, eco-friendly ways of gifting and sampling products. This is a theme I expect to see become even more prevalent in 2022 with brands delivering what consumers are striving for – products which don’t harm the planet in their making. Online sharing of files and information is here to stay. In the same vein, while gifting can be a super effective way of communicating new launches, USPs and brand values, items should be considered, useful and something that the receiver will actually want or use. We’re increasingly seeing brands choose to give a charitable donation in the receiver’s name and I think this is another trend which might grow in popularity next year.

Authenticity is also a big theme in beauty. Consumers are highly informed on ingredients, ethos and social purpose. PR communications need to be carefully structured to authentically convey what the business stands for. I believe this movement for transparency, equality and positivity will continue to snowball in 2022. Good PR teams will set out guidelines and continue to learn, grow and adapt as the year progresses.

Monitor how your brand or clients are faring in the media with Vuelio Media Monitoring and get deeper analysis from our Insights team – find out more here.

5 tips for creating inclusive PR and communications campaigns

5 tips for creating inclusive campaigns

Our latest accessmatters session focused on inclusivity and featured Asad Dhunna, founder and CEO of The Unmistakables. Recognised as a marketing industry changemaker and thought leader, Asad shared his experiences as someone who ‘didn’t quite fit in’ and decided to help with creating spaces for everyone.

Here is just some of the advice Asad shared for bringing inclusion into organisations and campaigns to represent and engage every audience out there…

1) Make space to make change within your organisation
Asad spoke about the importance of ‘inside-out inclusion’ – ensuring your own team is inclusive will build inclusive-thinking into your work, right from the start. Even the upcoming Christmas party brings opportunities to think about making changes for the better:

‘In my team, we’ve been talking about the Christmas party – the organisation of that can rely on what we’ve done previously – but how and who will feel included?

‘Take the time to ask yourself and not rush. If an event is centred around alcohol, will everyone be comfortable, will people feel safe? Create some space to think about this – how do we do things differently now?’

2) Market to your leadership team, too
‘If leadership don’t see a problem with inclusion at your business, show and frame it in a way that will be in line with what they’re thinking about.

‘If you work for an agency – you need to win new business. More and more, clients want to know what businesses are doing about this. If you’re taking a stance, this will attract new clients.

‘If you’re selling, how do you reach more people? If it’s a charity, how do you reach more donors. There is always a link between the bottom line and D&I.’

3) Support your organisation with long-term thinking
‘In marketing, we get addicted to the dopamine of “we’ve done something!” But how do you make inclusion a strategic priority?

‘Do a vision-setting exercise – what are the metrics we’d use as part of that? The sceond thing is to set those metrics, what are the KPIs? Ask, when we work with boards, is this a recurring item?

‘Because the change takes time and we live in an attention-deficit world, we want everything tomorrow. But we need to celebrate the small wins – we’re getting there. That helps keep the energy up.’

4) Avoid tokenism by amplifying the right voices
‘One way to avoid tokenism in campaigns is to define what we mean by ‘representation’– representative, of what, of where? If you’re targeting a certain demographic, is what you’re doing representing them, or the people you’d like to buy the product. How do you bring those people into the process?

‘Ask yourself what kind of representation you’re striving for. Is everyone on the team aligned on that? How does casting sit with the brand and who you’re trying to reach?’

5) Tell authentic stories
‘I think sometimes in the campaign development process, people can get attached to trends, and the latest influencers. It’s crucial to strip it all back – what’s the story? Who is telling it, and do they have the right to tell it?’

‘A past HSBC campaign I was involved in centred on transgender and nonbinary people being able to change their account details. They weren’t the first bank to do this, but their campaign told the story of Stuart, the person training employees on this. We didn’t put lots of bells and whistles on it – some people were going to hate it, because they hate the issue, but others would really love it. That’s how you do the authentic bit – tell the story.’

Find out more about our accessmatters here and catch up on some you may have missed this year in our round-up of previous sessions with industry thought leaders including Manifest’s Julian Obubo, The Social Mobility Foundation’s Sarah Atkinson and Taylor Bennett Foundation’s Melissa Lawrence.