PRFest 2020

June’s PRFest to focus on ‘the sustainable future of PR’

This year’s PRFest, taking place 14-18 June, will explore the sustainable future of the PR industry with the five pillars of The Next Generation, Earth/Planet, Corporate Social Innovation, Work and Society.

The global event for the PR community has been reimagined for 2021 with a 12-strong steering group working alongside PRFest founder and Aura PR director Laura Sutherland. With an estimated timeline for the easing of lockdown restrictions now put forward by the Government, a finalised format for the event is currently being considered.

‘The past year has been a whirlwind and has forced people and businesses to adapt very quickly,’ said Laura.

‘Professional development can’t stop. It’s a massive part of my own values. What’s also a priority is the work to make public relations a better recognised strategic business role. As PR and communication professionals, our role is to advise and consult with businesses, demonstrating our intelligence and understanding. The challenge is that many still don’t approach PR and communication with a strategic mindset and too often with tactics first.

‘If we have the conversation about what our industry might look like ten years from now, we can all hopefully put measures in place to ensure we work towards this.’

Steering group member and Campaign Collective founder member Simon Francis sees significant changes coming up for PR over the next ten years and a need to prepare with events like PRFest: ‘We need to take a long view of the challenges facing our industry and wider society.

‘It’s great to see PRFest bringing together perspectives on the biggest issues from around the world with fresh perspectives from the next generation of PR talent.’

Fellow steering group member and Forrester UK PR manager Katy Branson agrees and sees resilience in the community: ‘Amidst the challenges of fake news, diverging content platforms and future technologies, we are an industry capable of morphing to embrace new ideas and opportunities. The next generation pillar will explore how these challenges are changing the role of communication, what it means for a career in PR and the opening of new, exciting horizons for our future leaders.’

Early bird tickets for this year’s PRFest will go on sale on 30 March for one month.

Find PRFest announcements and updates on the websiteLaura Sutherland can be contacted with requests, questions and ideas.

Diversity in Action A Leader Like Me

A Leader Like Me to launch Diversity in Action conference

A Leader Like Me, the community to help women and non-binary people of colour progress in their careers, will hold its Diversity in Action conference on 23 March.

Aimed at those in the industry who want to create a more diverse and inclusive culture, industry experts speaking during the event will share experience and strategies on topics including building anti-racist organisations, looking beyond disability and finding and amplifying often overlooked stories.

Speakers joining from across the globe include Sanchez Tennis & Associates founder and CEO Anita L Sanchez, Northern Power Women CEO & Founder Simone Roche, CultureShift CEO Gemma McCall, Gallagher MD Ben Reynolds, Blackbelt Media LLC founder Adena J. White, Hassell Inclusion CEO/Founder Jonathan Hassell, Pride at Work Canada manager of programs Jade Pichette and MESH Diversity co-founder & head of behavioural sciences Dr. Leeno Karumanchery. Opening remarks will come from Chair Priya Bates.

Co-founded by Inner Strength Communication Inc’s Bates and CommsRebel’s Advita Patel, A Leader Like Me aims to empower, build confidence and give hope to womxn working their way up in the PR and comms industry.

Find our more about the event and sign up here on the A Leader Like Me website. For more on A Leader Like Me, read our interview with co-founder Advita Patel.

GWPR Annual Index

Global Women in PR to hold 24-hour mentoring event for International Women’s Day

Global Women in PR will celebrate International Women’s Day on Monday 8 March with 24 hours of live speed mentoring.

Over 100 GWPR members, including senior-level practitioners across the global PR and communications industry, will provide advice and guidance in 30-minute sessions with over 200 mid-career PR women.

Those with a minimum of five years of experience in PR are invited to participate as mentees and can apply by completing this form.

‘The response to this initiative has exceeded all our expectations,’ said GWPR International Chair Cornelia Kunze. ‘So many women working in senior roles in PR and Communications from all over the world have come forward to support us – it has been incredible. It clearly demonstrates that there is a real passion to redress the balance in leadership in the PR industry and we are now motivated to follow up this IWD mentoring activity with an ongoing international mentoring programme.’

GWPR’s 2020 survey found that the most important way to break down barriers for women in PR – who make up two-thirds of the industry, yet are under-represented in boardrooms – is to have more senior women as role models. With this mentoring initiative, GWPR hopes to inspire the next generation of women in PR.

More information on the upcoming event can be found on the GWPR website.

PRCA

PRCA adds to its Board of Directors

The PRCA has welcomed Havas Just:: chief executive officer Nicole Josh and SEC Newgate UK executive chairman Mark Glover to its Board of Directors.

These latest appointments were approved at 22 February’s Board meeting and follow the addition of Rob Colmer as vice-chairman in mid-January.

Yost has worked in senior management roles across companies including BCW, Ogilvy and Porter Novelli. Of joining the board, Yost said:

‘I am pleased to be joining the PRCA Board at a time when we need to support each other more than ever. Challenges around mental health, inclusion, flexibility of working and talent pipeline are in sharp focus. I believe we can do better as an industry and learn a lot from one another.’

Glover, who was last year’s recipient of the PRCA Outstanding Contribution in Public Affairs award, said:

‘I am delighted to be joining the PRCA Board at a critical time for the industry. I particularly welcome the work the PRCA’s Public Affairs Board has done in addressing transparency across lobbying in the UK and the support the PRCA is providing for agencies impacted by COVID. As SEC Newgate UK is now one of the most significant agencies in the UK it is great that we can contribute at a board level to our industry’s trade association.’

Francis Ingham believes the new members of the board ‘represent the very best of our industry and I’ve no doubt their combined experience and expertise will play a significant role in our return to growth in 2021.’

Find more about these latest appointments on the PRCA website.

How to Implement a PR Strategy for A Local Charity

How to Implement a PR Strategy for A Local Charity

This is a guest post from Andre Gwilliam, who specialises in Digital PR and Outreach for Digital marketing agency Spike, based in Leeds/London.

To implement a PR strategy for a local charity, there are several steps which will help ensure you successfully raise awareness of the cause, while also securing good local coverage.

More than ever before, it matters to do good things, not just for your clients, but for those who need it the most. This is one of the values we hold at Spike. This guest post will discuss how you can utilise and apply your skills in public relations to develop a local PR strategy for a charity of your choice.

Selecting a Charity

The first step in your PR strategy is to select a charity that is close to your heart. Consider then how you would like to raise the funds and what it is you actually want to do, which should be the core of your campaign.

Brainstorm, Plan and Motivate One Another
Creating a timeline with deadlines for your PR activity will help you to understand what tasks need completing and by when.

With mental health at the heart of our campaign, we at Spike decided that, throughout December, we would walk 2.5 million steps in 30 days as our fundraising campaign. Quite a feat! We recognised that getting active outdoors is a mood-lifter.

Leeds North and West Food Bank was the charity we selected; they put food on the tables of local families in need.

Building a Localised Media List

A targeted media list will help you achieve increase the chances of securing local PR results. Before diving into which publications will want to share your news, consider the following:

1. Your charity’s focus – it’s not just your audience that matters. Understanding who your charity helps, can give you a greater understanding of news placement opportunities.
2. Utilise the PR and SEO tools at your disposal – whether that’s through media monitoring or SEO tools like Ahrefs. Exploring the previous news your charity has been featured in can help form an important part of the research phase of building your media list.
3. Local news platforms specific to your area – make sure you search for new local placement opportunities in your area. For example, (as we are based in Leeds) the search term ‘raises funds for Leeds charity’, will bring up other publications discussing other local charity campaigns. This can help you build a relevant media list.

Keeping relevance at the forefront of your campaign can help you to achieve better rankings, traffic, engagement and backlinks.

Local Contacts, Media and Micro-publications

Write a press release for local media and micro-publication contacts who discuss relevant charity fundraising stories. Locals often have more readers than national daily publications so covering the basics by attaining a quote from your local charity can support your release and make it more newsworthy.

Your Stories Should Evoke Emotion

Part of your role in PR is to influence how people think and feel about a particular subject. Each time you write a press release and promote this to specific contacts within a particular industry, you are influencing how people think and feel so keep this in mind when writing your release.

Promoting Your Story Across Social Media Platforms

LinkedIn is a fantastic platform in helping you to drive campaign messaging by promoting your fundraising campaign which can support your story. Here at Spike, we believe in an integrated approach to using social media and PR to bolster campaigns as it is a great way to understand audiences. Once you have created your campaign, reaching out to local connections on LinkedIn can help you to share campaign updates and raise further awareness of the good things you are doing.

LinkedIn’s latest story feature, similar to other platforms, allows you to promote daily updates to your followers. You might experience both good and bad days in the campaign, but we believe the good and bad is important to share as it promotes honesty to your audience and shares your journey in a transparent way.

For more on supporting local businesses and organisations, check out previous guest posts from Gallium Ventures managing director and founder Heather Delaney on The Power of Community and White Rose PR director Louise Pinchin on Supporting Local Businesses with Local PR.

The Power of Mentoring

The benefits of coaching and mentoring in the workplace

Mentoring can be a great way to help young people as they enter the world of work and learn to navigate office politics, discover the nuances of email and work etiquette. We caught up with mentor and Pulsar strategic account director Patrick Dalgleish and his mentee Franklin Nnodi to talk about their mentoring experience.

What made you want to take part in the IntoUniversity mentoring scheme?

Patrick Dalgleish: I had been thinking for a while that I’d like to ‘give something back’ and use some of my time and experience to help others. I went into it with an open mind, and looked at a few things from food charities, to environmental work, and came across IntoUniversity’s corporate mentoring scheme which seemed to fit most neatly with my experience of having recently been through university (or at least not too long ago at the time!), I was in a settled job, and seemed to work well around my schedule.

Franklin Nnodi: It was an opportunity that was presented to me during sixth form and I simply thought ‘why not’. I was eager to learn, network and better myself in any way and so to meet a professional mentor who is experienced and passionate in their role would be a huge opportunity to learn and get some answers to interesting questions.

How long did the scheme last and how did it fit around your working day/degree?

Patrick: The scheme formally lasted for 12 months, with the first half focused on preparing Franklin for uni – doing the applications, finding accommodation, talking through what to expect – and the second half being when Franklin started university and supporting him with any questions he might have.

The scheme formally ended after his 1st semester at uni, but Franklin and I continue to stay in regular contact two years later!

It fitted relatively easily around my working day, we would meet up usually once a month, when he was at school it was a little more challenging as we had to meet at the IntoUni premises – therefore I’d need to finish work a little bit early on that day, which Pulsar was always supportive of.

Franklin: Luckily myself and my mentor both live in the same part of London so I was able to meet him for coffee in his office and have our catchup (pre-COVID). If that wasn’t possible then we’d usually schedule quarterly catchup calls via WhatsApp so I can keep him in the loop and up to date with any of my achievements or struggles I was experiencing.

Did you face any challenges during the mentoring? If so, what were they and how did you overcome them?

Patrick: The main challenge was finding ways to help Franklin as he very much knew what he wanted and where he wanted to be! And he’s been extremely successful in achieving that.

Franklin also asked me whether Pulsar could help with providing work experience. It wasn’t something we’d formally done before, but the HR team here were keen and created a insightful schedule for Franklin over the course of two weeks.

Franklin: No huge challenges, however, trying to organise meetups in person (pre-COVID) would be quite difficult due to his busy work schedule and the spontaneity of university events and commitments. Establishing good communication and planning well in advance is how we managed to keep in contact as frequently as we did.

What was your highlight in the mentoring experience and why?

Patrick: The highlight has just been getting to know Franklin and watching him progress through university. I felt genuinely proud when he let me know he’d been offered a graduate job with the investment firm Schroders at the end of his second year at uni.

Franklin: By having such a great relationship with my mentor, I was able to gain a spring insight week and a short summer work experience placement in his company. I was able to work closely alongside him and his colleagues and gain amazing insight into his industry.

What advice would you give to someone considering taking part in a mentoring scheme?

Patrick: Do it! Your experience will undoubtedly help a young person starting off in their university or professional career.

Franklin: Be organised, be honest, be enthusiastic and most importantly be willing to learn because these guys have made all the mistakes so you don’t have to.

Finally, would you do it again?

Patrick: Absolutely!

Franklin: 1000% yes.

Find out more about social listening platform Pulsar.

accessmatters with Katie Phillips

accessmatters with KDP Coaching & Consulting’s Katie Phillips

‘There’s never been a better time to talk about mental health in the workplace, but we’ve got a long bloody way to go,’ is how KDP Coaching & Consulting’s Katie Phillips summed up the management of mental health issues in 2021 during today’s accessmatters discussion on wellbeing in the workplace.

In the session, ‘recovering perfectionist’ Katie shared the story of how she became an advocate for mental wellbeing at work as well as advice for those currently struggling. With 15 years of experience in communications, government, corporates and start-ups across the world, Katie’s own burn out and eventual recovery inspired her to launch her own consultancy, helping businesses and individuals nurture mental health with one-to-one workshops and coaching.

‘I’ve seen the good, the bad and the horrendously ugly of workplace wellbeing,’ said Katie. ‘I realised that something had to change and decided I was going to quit my job, sell all my stuff and run off to the jungle to recoup… I don’t recommend this to everyone, though – don’t fret, that’s not the only way to do it’.

Being a habitual overachiever and perfectionist, Katie’s professional life had never been completely healthy, though it was experiences of chaotic, overly-hierarchical and unkind work environments that turned the day-to-day stresses of working in PR into a full-on crisis. It is recognising that difference between the states of stress and burnout that those working during the pandemic need to pay attention to, advises Katie: ‘Stress is very much about feeling too much – too much work, pressure, noise. Burnout is feeling “not enough” – not filled with hope; empty’.

For Katie, the ramping up of stress to burnout meant a constant questioning of her own ability, feelings of resentment, a louder than ever inner critic that followed her outside of work and physical problems – skin complaints, twitching eyelids and nightly episodes of sickness that wouldn’t allow her to sleep. For those who are noticing similar issues with their own wellbeing, what can be done?

‘The main thing I always say is to look for changes in behaviour,’ says Katie. ‘Be self-aware – notice physical, emotional and cognitive changes. Are you getting colds frequently, are you more tearful or irritable than usual? Do you get brain fog? Do things take longer than they normally would? All of us are experiencing some of these things now – everyone reports this stuff to some level. Our brains are flooded with cortisol; we’re always tired.

‘Are you checking your emails all night, working when you’re sick? These behaviours can lead you very quickly to feelings of exhaustion. It’s really important to look for those changes and be aware of them.’

On the company-level, Katie believes more needs to be done to support the mental health of employees – ‘I’m not sure anyone is doing enough. We are making massive progress, but is talking going to fix things? Companies need to create environments where people thrive. The mental health stuff needs to come on top of systemic change. To be enough, we need to think about the foundations of our organisations and the industry itself.’

And for drawing a line between work and life when things are increasingly blurry, Katie believes making the effort to switch off is vital. ‘I wish I had a magic wand for it. You have to do what works for you; we all need different things. Picking up hobbies I used to love when I was little helps – I loved drawing when I was little, so I started doodling again. I really loved to be on my bike, so I bought a bike. Think about things you used to do for fun. I know it’s not the same as going on holiday, but get a colouring book, cook, have a call with your mates or loved ones.’

Just as important as staying connected and talking, is listening – being aware of what your fellow colleagues might be going through and supporting each other: ‘It’s not just talking, it’s the conversations – a dialogue, not just putting out messages,’ says Katie. ‘Classic PR and marketing stuff, really.’

For more from accessmatters, catch up with our previous sessions with Taylor Bennett Foundation’s Melissa Lawrence and Manifest’s Julian Obubo or check out the accessmatters hub.

Fuse podcast

The PRCA launches the Fuse podcast

The PRCA has launched Fuse, a podcast focusing on innovation and influence for those working in PR, marketing and other creative industries across the globe.

Fuse will take the form of a biweekly, fifteen-minute podcast and feature best practice advice with an aim to inspire fresh ways of working and challenge the status quo in the industry. Content will be inspired by the experiences and expertise of practitioners from a variety of specialisms.

‘We look forward to putting the full power of storytelling to bring facts and insights from individuals and brands from around the world,’ said podcast host Dan Gold.

‘We are putting people first. Expertise is found throughout the industry in all locations and all stages on the professional journey – from the savvy leaders to the young up-and-coming creatives. We are looking for practitioners from any background and experience to get involved with Fuse for the opportunity to speak about what they care about.’

Those hoping to get involved in the podcast, whether for interview or debate around challenges facing PRs, marketers and communicators, can get in touch with PRCA head of communications Michael Collins. Contributors from all levels are welcome.

For more podcasts focusing on the big issues in PR and communications, check out six of our favourites here.

Dos and Don'ts of work video calls

Video call etiquette when working from home

The etiquette of work video calls should now be ingrained in the majority of our minds forever as working from home has been a daily reality for much of the PR and comms industry for almost a full year now.

However, there are still dangers that go beyond being told ‘you’re on mute/can you mute – I can hear you breathing’ if you aren’t vigilant during a call. Here are five of them, and some examples to illustrate the horrors in store for those who aren’t careful…

1) Make sure you know how to remove filters and effects AKA don’t be a cat
Texas lawyer Rob Ponton knows this one well after going viral last week when finding himself unable to remove a video filter that turned him into a kitten with creepy eyes during a hearing conducted over video. Potato filter fan Lizet Ocampo can tell you, too. If your video chat platform for work is also one you use for keeping in touch with friends/family/kitten-with-creepy-eyes or potato enthusiasts, make sure you’ve removed any filters before you pick up a work call. Unless your line manager is very forgiving, or has the same interests. Similarly, make sure your display name is not still a private or inappropriate joke from the weekend’s quiz.

2) Pick the right place for picking up work video calls AKA not the bathroom
New Jersey school board member Frances Cogelja knows the trouble of taking your Zoom call to the wrong room, after having to resign following her bathroom break broadcast during a digital meeting. After so long working from home, we probably all have a place picked out for our video work calls – just don’t be tempted to change location mid-meeting…

3) Check your background is appropriate AKA don’t leave anything too interesting on the shelves behind you
And while we’re on the subject of picking out the most appropriate place in the home for picking up work video calls, a plain wall or a bookshelf featuring your most high-brow books are perfect backdrops. Just don’t do like Yvette Amos when appearing on BBC Wales, who had an x-rated ‘ornament’ taking pride of place on her bookshelf background – at least, not when you’re on the clock.

4) Mute/unmute appropriately AKA don’t complain about the Prime Minster over a hot mic
Grumbling about something your boss or a colleague has just said is a no go in person, and it’s no different digitally. Because no matter how careful you are with that mute button, mistakes happen, a la Laura Kuenssberg’s mishap during a Downing Street coronavirus press conference.

5) Don’t speak over others AKA be as respectful to your colleagues as you would be to Jackie Weaver
Picking up on social cues can be extra-tough when speaking digitally – particularly when it comes to determining when it is your time to talk if temperatures are high, or everyone has a lot to say. But speaking over other people to get your point across isn’t it, as the disrespectful members of Handforth parish council’s planning and environment committee now know for sure. Give people their time to speak, or risk being kicked out of the call by the Jackie Weaver of your working life.

6) Let your pets in the frame sometimes AKA do like Toulouse and Katie Collins would do
While ensuring children stay out of your work calls is an unavoidable difficulty of modern parenting (just ask Professor Robert Kelly and, well, anyone working with children in the vicinity), there are other frequently uninvited attendees of video chats, everywhere – pets. But unlike kids, who have homework to do, cats, dogs, rabbits and hamsters have nowhere else to be, so consider letting them walk into frame every now and again – your colleagues will likely thank you for it (even those who are allergic – there are some pros to video calls, after all).

Want more tips for digital working? Here are eight tips for moving your event online.

Supporting Local Businesses During COVID-19 and Beyond

The Power of Community: Supporting Local Businesses During COVID-19 and Beyond

This is a guest post by Gallium Ventures managing director and founder Heather Delaney.

As society adjusts to this new normal of lockdowns, work-from-home (WFH) and virtual everything, we have seen the power of community coming together and supporting one another in a way that is incredibly inspiring. According to a recent UK survey, 58% of Brits are making more of an effort to support small businesses due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with nearly 60% agreeing that their community depends on local businesses. Individuals shifting their investment of time and money into local businesses seems to be a trend that is (rightly so) here to stay.

Heather Delaney

At Gallium Ventures, we have always been passionate about supporting the ‘little guys’ with a dream and as a result we don’t only work with large global companies but focus a lot of time and energy on the little ones, as everyone has to start somewhere. Once the pandemic began, we felt even more responsible for doing our part by offering our services to further support these businesses, and since then we have worked with several amazing companies in the process.

SocialBox.uk – Leveraging media to support a good cause
SocialBox.uk is a Brighton-based not-for-profit organisation, that was established during the pandemic by local business owners in the catering sector. They not only supported the supply chains of local hospitality businesses but also provided fresh, free produce to local NHS workers and those in need. Inspired by this incredible story, we worked to raise awareness of the organisation as they looked to continue raising funds for the business. Over the course of our work, we secured coverage highlighting the partnership in online and radio, including The Latest Brighton and BBC Radio Sussex, drumming up visibility and support for this inspiring story of a local community helping out its own. It was an incredibly fulfilling campaign and one that the whole team enjoyed working on.

Curlicue – Helping local businesses support local business
Over the past couple years, we’ve worked with startup founder Hem Chauhan as she established Curlicue, an eco-friendly gift wrapping business which has sustainability at its heart.

It is companies like Curlicue, which has hired local artists, printers and has created its own local ecosystem that gives our team a real boost of excitement when working with the media as we know everything we do has a direct impact on a number of local people. As a result of our media outreach, Curlicue has been featured in WIRED UK, Elle UK and Metro Magazine, which Hem will attest has been instrumental in making more people aware of her product – customers and retail partners alike.

How can PR agencies provide support?
Over the course of the pandemic, it has been clear that everyone can do their part to give back and support the businesses in their local community – and that extends to PR agencies. Now, more than ever, agencies are well equipped to provide their services in raising visibility and awareness for businesses via media relations, social media, marketing and more.

One way that agencies can help out is by providing pro bono advisory services and/or mentoring to local business owners and startup founders who are trying to manage a business during this tough time. Whether it is providing PR training, advising on internal messaging or giving a quick ‘Social Media 101’ to help a business get their social media off the ground, every little bit counts. It’s a small yet incredibly valuable way of providing business owners with the insights, tools and resources necessary to adapt and survive during these unprecedented times.

Despite these challenging times, there is so much that can be done to ensure the continued success of our local businesses. Let’s help where we can.

For more on supporting local businesses, read our previous guest post from White Rose PR’s Louise Pinchin on the power of regional PR

PRCA Virtual International Summit 2021

Agenda revealed for PRCA’s Virtual International Summit in March

The PRCA has revealed the agenda for March’s Virtual International Summit exploring how PR and communications practitioners are continuing to deliver value for clients despite the challenges of the last year.

International brands, agencies and organisations featuring at the two-day event taking place on 30-31 March include Campaign Middle East, Google, Microsoft, Standard Bank Group, Avian WE, Edelman, Omnicom, and Zeno Group, AMEC, Institute for Public Relations (IPR), FIBEP and The World Bank.

2020’s inaugural Summit attracted over 700 delegates from 35 different countries. Those attending this year will be given the opportunity to learn about emerging trends in comms practice across the world.

‘Our International Summit is truly global,’ said PRCA director general Francis Ingham. ‘With speakers from giant brands like Microsoft and Google to organisations like AMEC, who are at the cutting edge of measuring PR’s true impact, delegates will be treated to the very best global perspectives.

‘Last year was brutal for everyone, but growth is returning – and dare I say, considerably. Our Summit will explore these opportunities that lie in wait to help forge a new path for organisations and society across the world.’

More about booking places for this year’s Virtual International Summit can be found on the PRCA website.

More of the best PR podcasts

More of the best PR podcasts

Following the first selection of our favourite PR and comms-related podcasts, here are a few more worth listening to if you’re hoping to sharpen up your creativity, sector knowledge or communication skills this year.

Have You Got 5 Minutes?
If you have, let podcast hosts Harriet Small and Rebecca Roberts answer ‘the things you would normally have asked someone really quickly about at an event or while making a brew in the office’. Grab a cuppa and catch up with Harriet and Rebecca on topics including unpaid invoices, learning to say no and the real reasons we procrastinate.

Outspeech: The Digital PR Podcast
From digital marketing agency Impression, monthly podcast Outspeech delves into the topics, campaigns and ‘beef (vegan options available)’ gaining traction in the industry. Most episodes are hosted by a member of Impression’s digital PR team, but guest speakers are very welcome. Listen in to recent episodes on traditional vs digital PR and check out more about the podcast in our previous interview with Jess Hawkes here.

Hanson & Hunt: The Talking Points Podcast
Hosts Hanson & Hunt are ACH Communications’ Arik Hanson and General Mills’ Kevin Hunt, who have many years of experience to share with their listeners on traditional and digital PR, corporate, external and internal, as well as marketing and comms. If you haven’t listened in before, check out their back catalogue of useful content including ‘Brand Journalism, KFC Gets Sexy, Hated Interview Questions’.

Hear It Podcast
If engaging the attention of young minds is your/your clients’ thing, the Hear It Podcast is one worth listening to. Featuring insight from practitioners working with youth audiences, pick up some youth marketing expertise from guests including Well HQ’s Dr Emma Ross, Lynn PR’s Shayoni Lynn and NHS Lothian’s Leanne Hughes.

The PRovoke Podcast
The PRovoke Podcast has a deep back catalogue of episodes and regularly features guest speakers from across the globe to cover developments happening in the marketing industry. Does coverage equal capital? How can you build a sustainable agency? And how exactly did 2020 change influencer marketing? Listen in to get the answers.

PRMoment
For more takes on the tough questions facing PRs, communicators and marketeers this year, the PRMoment podcast team are busy ruminating with guests working across the sector. Listen in to the latest episode tackling whether PR has an ethics problem, featuring thought from the co-authors of Public Relations Ethics Trevor Morris and Simon Goldsworthy.

Looking for more expertise from industry thought leaders? Check out our recommended reads for PRs.

PRCA

PRCA shares numbers on unregulated lobbying

A PRCA analysis of entries published by the Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists (ORCL) found a rise of more than a quarter (28%) in lobbyists failing to declare Code of Conducts between 2019 and 2020.

Established to improve lobbying transparency in 2014, the launch of the Government’s Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists was widely welcomed by the industry, while its narrow remit and exclusion of in-house lobbyists continues to be criticised by the PRCA among other groups. The introduction of stricter regulations on self-policed codes last August are thought to be behind the spike in declarations of no code.

PRCA head of public affairs Neha Khatwani said: ‘Lobbying is a fundamental democratic right. When practiced ethically and within the scope of a professional, independently enforced Code of Conduct, it improves decision-making and supports the democratic process.

‘Professional conduct in the practice of public affairs has never mattered more, and we would strongly urge those unregulated lobbying organisations to embrace professional standards, and to sign up to a robust and independent regulatory process.’

Duncan Hames, Director of Policy, Transparency International UK director of policy Duncan Hames welcomed the census: ‘People in the UK should be able to see a clear and comprehensive picture of who is influencing their Government, including on what issue, as is already the case in most other Western democracies.

‘It is past time to bring lobbying out of the shadows and lobbyists committing to ethical standards is an important part of that process.’

More information on these findings from the PRCA can be found on the website.

Marie Fuller Simpler PR

PR Interview: Marie Fuller, founder of Simpler PR

‘I love the world of PR as it is so fast moving and there is something to learn every day… such a fun, creative and fulfilling career,’ says Marie Fuller, founder of interiors and lifestyle agency Simpler PR.

While adjusting to work during COVID-19 has been anything but simple for those working in public relations and comms, Marie shares the positive changes it has sparked in her sector and how she’s finding work/life balance during lockdown.

How did you originally get into PR?
I began my media career with the Daily Mail and General Trust on their home-interest magazines before moving to their Ski and Snowboard Show and Magazine which, of course, necessitated lots of travel, particularly during the ski season. When I had my first child, I was reluctant to continue travelling and thought that as a people person, and being very creative, that PR would be the perfect fit – and it has been!

What did you think working in public relations would be like before you got into the industry – what were the biggest surprises?
I had worked with several PR companies in my previous roles so had expected it to be a little easier! I quickly realised that to be successful, you have to work very hard and invest a huge amount of energy into every campaign and account. I also had thought it may be more glamorous! Although I have had my share of amazing experiences.

How has COVID-19 impacted the interiors and lifestyle sector in particular?
I think for most of our clients there has been incredible disruption but also some benefits, especially for those with a strong online presence. COVID and working from home has meant we have immersed ourselves in our living environment 24/7 and have seen how much love our homes need, and deserve! I think we have all spent money on our homes and gardens which we might not have done in normal circumstances – and I think we as a nation are seeing the rewards of investing in where we live. A new sofa does probably offer better value than two weeks in the sunshine – and when we haven’t had that option, we suddenly realise that the new sofa has probably given us a lot more than a transient suntan!

How has the pandemic changed the way you work on a day-to-day basis?
As a team at Simpler PR we are all working remotely from home. I think it is actually working really well, so long as we keep in regular contact. Emails, phones, Zoom and Whatsapp are definitely the way forward. My working day is definitely longer and I feel more creative and engaged in what I am doing.

Many have struggled with work/life balance more than ever over the last year – how do you find your balance?
The balance is kind of thrown at me in the shape of a family and pets! Walking our Springer Spaniel Archie and making sure our teenagers are usefully engaged kind of forces the balance on me. I do think I could be tempted to work long into the evening if it wasn’t for the needs of my family… so I am grateful.

Have you ever disagreed with a client during a project, and how did you deal with the situation?
Only once! It was at a photoshoot and I really felt their decision was wrong, however with subtle persuasion we were able to include our ideas too and left the client to make the choice when the project was completed. Our clients know their products so well and we respect their views; we are just there to advise – we are all on the same side and looking for the same success…

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Never work with someone you don’t like. Definitely an excellent piece of advice. This applies to clients and suppliers as well as staff! Life is too short and we need to get on well to succeed.

Would you still recommend PR as a career in 2021?
Definitely; perhaps more than ever. There are so many areas of PR and so many new avenues to explore. I love the world of PR as it is so fast moving and there is something to learn every day… such a fun, creative and fulfilling career.

For advice on finding your own work/life balance, check out these tips for staying motivated in 2021

Supporting local business with local PR

Supporting local business with local PR

This is a guest post from White Rose PR director Louise Pinchin.

I’ve always believed in the power of regional PR and marketing; it’s a vital element to being party of a community. In fact, being born and bred in Yorkshire, it’s one of the reasons I named my company White Rose PR. As a Yorkshire-based business we want to support other businesses local to us.

Over the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of working with several local businesses and in these challenging and unprecedented times it is always good to know that our work is keeping the wider business community thriving.

Why undertake local PR?

Local PR is a great way to build brand awareness in the community, to reach new and existing customers and build your brand reputation among an audience that is waiting to be reached.

By creating and maintaining a positive relationship with your local press, print and online, you are setting yourself up for ongoing coverage opportunities and positive press stories about you in the future. Regional PR has many advantages, one of which is that it is often less expensive than larger national campaigns. It’s also easier to see a direct impact on sales or business leads from a piece of regional PR, especially if it is done in isolation of other marketing activity. You are also targeting readily accessible customers through local PR, something that is entirely different with national activity.

Don’t think of regional PR as the poor relation to any other type of coverage your brand, company or service receives. It’s not a throwaway, easy-to-get activity and it shouldn’t be bottom of the priority list. Start thinking of it as a powerful tool in your marketing armoury when used in a timely and appropriate way.

As I always say to my clients, why wouldn’t you want the coverage? Why give your competitors column inches that you could be taking up?

Here’s a recent example from us…

Case study: Rubicon Technical

We work with Rubicon Technical, a technical services provider to the medicines, medical devices, food supplements and cosmetics industries. In late 2020, they opened their first European office in Amsterdam, just before Brexit. Why was this a good story? Because it was a positive story of a local entrepreneur who built up her business here in Yorkshire to a 15-strong team and expanded into Europe during one of the most challenging years this country has ever faced and at a pivotal time in our country’s political and economic history.

The result was extensive regional media coverage including the Yorkshire Post, Yorkshire Business Daily and Business Live as well as local coverage in Holland. The outcome was an increase in enquiries and business as well as increased social media engagement.

So, give it a try, because regional PR works.

You can follow White Rose PR on Instagram @whiterose_pr and the new company website will be launching soon.

PRCA

PRCA gateway for DWP Kickstart Scheme greenlights 60 new PR jobs

The PRCA has been granted Gateway status by The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for the Government’s Kickstart Scheme to help young people at risk of long-term unemployment.

Encouraging organisations to start six-month job placements for those between 16-24 who are on Universal Credit, the Kickstart Scheme is funded by the Government with £1,500 also going to organisations for each job placement they create.

So far, the DWP has greenlit the creation of 60 PR jobs at 25 PR agencies via the PRCA’s Gateway application. Over 30 other agencies have also applied through the PRCA to create new positions.

PRCA Director General Francis Ingham said: ‘Economic crises invariably cause the greatest impact on those at the start of their careers. The Government’s Kickstart Scheme is a lifeline for young people – but it’s also an excellent support mechanism for PR businesses recovering from the pandemic. I’m proud that the PRCA has been accepted as the Gateway organisation for the PR industry and I’m delighted with the interest our members have shown in the Scheme. It’s a win-win for all.’

More details on the Kickstart Scheme and applying using the PRCA as a representative body can be found here.

Women in PR

Women in PR welcomes new senior leadership team and committee members

Anna Geffert Women in PR

Women in PR has appointed HERA Communications MD Anna Geffert as its president. Anna replaces Bibi Hilton, who will step down after three years of leading the organisation.

Other announcements made at the virtual AGM for members last week included the appointments of Powerscourt senior consultant Ngozi Emeagi as vice president and Prudential Group communications manager Addy Frederick as treasurer.

The Romans managing director Roxanne Kalha, Ariatu Public Relations founder Ronke Lawal, Ketchum managing director of consumer brands Sophie Raine and GSK communications consultant Jennifer Thomas were also voted in as Committee members.

‘Last year saw unimaginable difficulties and loss for our members; many of whom lost friends and family, employment and security, and the ability to lean on networks and contacts for guidance and confidence,’ said incoming president Anna Geffert.

Ngozi Emeagi Women in PR

‘As a result, Women in PR has taken on a new role in helping women to rebuild and shape their careers – balancing the professional with the personal and supporting each other to overcome these challenges and lay the foundations for growth and success in the year ahead.

‘It has been such an honour to work with Bibi and the inspiring women on the Committee over the last three years. Together, we have begun to breakdown barriers of inequality for all women in our industry. As ever, there is always more work to be done and the pandemic has raised fresh challenges for us all to face. I look forward to welcoming our new Committee members to continue our campaign for equality and also to provide new, supportive tools, skills and opportunities to inspire and empower our members into senior leadership roles.’

Bibi Hinton – who steps down from her position along with Vice President Sarah Samee and committee members Davnet Doran, Ebony Gayle, Abbie Sampson and Jo-Ann Robertson in line with Women in PR’s constitution – is looking forward to seeing what the new senior leadership team will accomplish.

Addy Frederick Women in PR

Hinton said: ‘It’s been an incredible privilege to lead Women in PR and to work alongside such a brilliant and inspiring committee and ambassador group. I’m immensely proud of everything we’ve achieved – from becoming a more diverse and inclusive organisation to launching our first group in Wales.

‘With her experience both of big agency and setting up her own business and her ambition, energy and exceptional leadership, Anna will be a fantastic new president for Women in PR. I know in partnership with Ngozi, Addy and the new committee will continue to drive WPR forward in our mission to increase the number and diversity of women in leadership in our industry.’

Find out more about new committee member Ronke Lawal in our previous interview and check out Addy Frederick’s work with UK Black Comms Network in our write up of its Two Steps Forward, One Step Black event.

Advertising Association

PRCA welcomes encouraging predictions from Advertising Association figures

‘Excellent news for anyone working in PR, advertising or the media sectors’ is how PRCA director general Francis Ingham summed up Q3 2020 UK ad spend figures published by the Advertising Association today.

The latest Advertising Association/WARC Expenditure Report predicts that the UK’s ad market is likely to grow by 15.2% this year, with positive prospects for online platforms as well as double digit growth for the majority of media sectors.

Encouraging figures from the dataset, which includes those for Q3 2020 and predictions for the coming eight quarters, show that UK adspend showed better-than-expected internet growth, improving on its forecast of -17.9% made in October 2020. Internet spend also rose 10.1% to £4.2bn during the quarter, bolstered by a 14.5% rise in search spend.

‘PR and advertising operate within the same ecosystem and often run in parallel with one another, so I am very encouraged by the data published by the Advertising Association today,’ said Francis Ingham. ‘I’ve no doubt that 2021 will be the year our industry returns to growth and profitability.’

Read more reaction from the PRCA on the latest figures from the Advertising Association here on the website.

PR and Communications Tracker

Mental health and motivation are the biggest threats to the UK PR industry according to PR and Communications Tracker

The PR and Communications Tracker from Carta Communications and The Pulse Business has found that mental health challenges and issues with staying motivated are bigger threats to UK PR teams than COVID-19.

Starting in late December 2020, the PR and Communications Tracker surveyed senior communications leaders in both in-house and agency MD positions and will run on a quarterly basis.

While 26% of industry leaders polled said that adapting to COVID-19 was the biggest threat being faced, this was behind the challenges of staff motivation and mental health, which was the top choice for 28% of those surveyed.

Despite this, 87% feel positive about the future of their business over the next year.

‘There are actually two pandemics running concurrently – COVID-19, and a shadow pandemic of mental health issues caused by social isolation, uncertainty and changes to working and living patterns,’ said Carta Communications’ founder and director Matt Cartmell.

‘We are fortunate in PR that we can work remotely and that there are always new opportunities, whatever the economic landscape. It’s great to see that so many leaders are feeling so positive – I look forward to seeing how sentiment changes through the coming year.’

The Pulse Business’ owner Imogen Osborne also sees potential in the results of the survey: ‘The findings from this Pulse suggest that once more, the PR and communications industry is bracing itself for re-invention. Some respondents are talking about how they are developing their company culture inside a flexible working model while others are coming up with new products and services that will appeal in a post-pandemic world.

‘Many of our comms leaders are bullish about the next 12 months, driven by an understandable focus on the numbers. Yet most acknowledge the issues around mental health are building and given the period for self-reflection the pandemic has necessitated, you wonder if this will lead to some radical changes in how people treat one another in an industry renowned for its competitiveness.’

The next Tracker is set to go live in March 2021 – those who wish to take part can email Imogen Osborne at imogen@thepulsebusiness.co.uk.

Want more on PR trends to prepare for this year? Check out ten PR and communications trends for 2021 from industry thought leaders.

More of the best books for PRs

6 more of the best books for PR Professionals

For those who haven’t yet given up on their 2021 resolution to read more, or who just want an inspirational read or two, here are six more PR-related books to get stuck into in your down time.

Get refreshers on creating ideas that stick, the need for diversity in leadership and how to tell powerful stories with meaning.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath
If the theory of stickiness put forward in Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point has always stuck in your mind and you want more ideas for creating super-sticky campaigns, brothers Chip and Dan can help. Their 2007 book includes examples of stories that have stuck in the public consciousness and what those in PR and comms can learn from them.

#FuturePRoof Edition Five: The impact of COVID-19 on NHS comms from #FuturePRoof, founded by Sarah Waddington
NHS comms professionals continue to face extreme challenges during the global pandemic – November 2020’s FuturePRoof release gathers together 16 essays from those working in the field and covers the challenges of effective internal communications during times of such unpredictability. Read more about the latest from #FuturePRoof here.

The Art & Craft of PR: Creating the Mindset and Skills to Succeed in Public Relations Today by Sandra Stahl
Sandra Stahl’s 2018 book works as a manual for mixing your business objectives with creativity for successful outcomes. Putting forward the view that the PR industry needs those with expertise in psychology, human behavior and philosophy just as much as PR and journalism, here is where to pick up some skills to fine-tool your own craft.

Diverse Voices: Profiles in Leadership by Barry Spector and Shelley Spector
Public relations is an industry with much to do to become truly representative of the public it seeks to engage and inspire. Barry and Shelly Spector’s 2018 book features interviews with those in leadership roles across a variety of organisations and agencies to highlight the obstacles they’ve faced as well as lessons those in PR can learn from for success in their own careers.

Exploring Public Relations and Management Communication (Fifth Edition) edited by Ralph Tench and Stephen Waddington
Pearson’s fifth edition exploring aspects of PR and management comms features contributions from 35 international industry thought leaders and covers topics including media and measurement, brand reputation and celebrity. Check out its ethical frameworks, case studies and practitioners’ diaries – read more about the book here.

PR for Humans: how business leaders tell powerful stories by Mike Sergeant
Former BBC, Sky and Reuters reporter Mike Sergeant believes that ‘the most powerful communication is always delivered by humans, for humans’ – which is lucky for the human-filled PR industry that seeks to tell meaningful stories to its audiences. This 2019 book shares the secrets of good storytelling for all humans looking to communicate good ideas.

If you missed our first six recommended reads for PRs, check them out here.