What PRs need to know about the future of journalism

What PRs need to know about the future of journalism

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

1) Locally-based spokespeople can rebuild trust

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

2) Brand affiliations are here to stay

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

3. Broader subjects will grab more attention

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

4. Publishers will be switching up data strategy

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

5. AI will free up journalist time

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

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

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

PRCA survey findings on corporate reputation

PR and communications: Particularly popular with business leaders right now

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

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

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

PRCA survey on CEO and CFO perception of PR

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

Findings also showed:

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

Strategic council from PR

Director General of the PRCA Francis Ingham said:

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

PRCA Value of PR Lead Adam Honeysett-Watts added:

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

Find out more about the PRCA survey here.

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

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

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

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

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

1. Give journalists what they need for their story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Remember who is at the centre of your campaign

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

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

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

JustGiving on the cost-of-living crisis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What have been some of your main successes recently?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to measure the impact of your campaign with social listening

How to measure the impact of your campaign with social listening

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

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

Going beyond traditional metrics

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

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

Offering wider possibilities

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

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

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

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

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

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

Opening routes through crisis

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

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

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

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

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

Key takeways

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

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

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

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

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

International Perspectives of the new Prime Minister

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

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

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

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

Euroscepticism and demands for respect

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

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

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

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

Conservative leadership race: volume and sentiment

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

The ‘Reset’ opportunity

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

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

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

Total volume by region

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

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

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

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

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

Sentiment across EU media

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

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

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

Thatcher connotations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Topics: International and Regional Media

Energy Crisis

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

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

Humanitarianism

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

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

Economy

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

Is radio or podcasting right for your campaign?

Is radio or podcast better for your campaign?  

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

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

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

1) How they are consumed

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

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

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

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

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

2) Audience variations

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

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

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

3) Editing and moderation

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

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

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

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

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

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

Communicating the cost-of-living for charities webinar

How charities are communicating the cost-of-living crisis

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

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

Watch the webinar here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Campaign timelines have had to change alongside changing priorities

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

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

Journalists need more from comms teams now

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

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

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

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

Bigger asks of politicians

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

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

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

Working together to make an impact

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

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

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

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

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

Sarah Scholefield

PRCA announces Chair for 2022-2024

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sarah Scholefield said:

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

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

Find more on the appointment here on the PRCA website.

Communicating the cost-of-living crisis with Katie Tait at Maggie's

Communicating the cost-of-living crisis: Katie Tait at Maggie’s

As budgets are being carefully considered and replanned in homes across the country, charities across all sectors are quickly redistributing their resources to help. One charity pivoting to keep up with the evolving needs of their community right now is Maggie’s – ‘everyone’s home of cancer care’, which provides free support and information in centres across the UK as well as online.

Maggie’s director of PR and public affairs Katie Tait shares how the cost-of-living crisis has impacted those fighting against cancer across the UK and how the charity has had to adjust to keep up with the increasing strains on the public:

‘People are more afraid of paying bills than their cancer diagnosis,’ shares Katie.

‘When you are given a cancer diagnosis, you should not have to be scared that you won’t be able to pay your bills’.

How has the cost-of-living crisis in the UK impacted Maggie’s work?

Katie Tait at Maggie'sWe are hearing a huge range of devastating stories from our centre visitors across the UK of how the crisis is hitting them hard. People with cancer already face a financial burden because of reduced income from being off work or unable to apply for work, greater heating (or, this summer, cooling) needs because of treatment and being at home during the day as well as dietary requirements. Added to that – the travel costs of getting to their appointments.

Our benefits advisors are seeing unprecedented demand and they can always find all the different pots of money available but sometimes someone is already receiving all they can. That’s where Maggie’s is so good – because of our wrap-around care, we can support them through the stress and anxiety that living on a severely reduced budget brings. We are hearing of people stopping treatment early or delaying treatment because of travel costs and our cancer support specialists can help them with those decisions and how to know what to prioritise.

What are the unique challenges you’re facing right now?

Everyone is feeling the cost-of-living crisis but our unique challenge is in making sure people with cancer and their families are prioritised. During COVID, we drove home the message that people with cancer were being forgotten through delayed treatments and surgery and that got a lot of traction.

We are now seeing the same thing and our message is the same. People with cancer must be prioritised because of the life situation they are in. When you are given a cancer diagnosis, you should not be scared that you are not going to be able to pay your bills.

What have been some of your main successes recently?

Our recent press campaign and survey on how the cost-of-living crisis is impacting people with cancer got a lot of media attention. We invested in research and a survey with OnePoll which found a really strong and shocking headline figure of people being more afraid of paying bills than their cancer diagnosis. We landed our research in the same week as the Ofgem report which meant there was a lot of noise around cost-of-living and so our quotes and figures and case studies got picked up everywhere. We had a strong CEO statement and our centre visitors lined up for interviews.
It really bought home how critical the cost-of-living crisis was going to be for people living with cancer and with it our message that Maggie’s was here for everyone.

What advice would you offer to charities hoping to be heard by politicians/changemakers on this issue?

Find some champions. There are a lot of MPs, so you need to find the two or three who will become your advocates and advisers. Really research their interests and what they can do to help. Make it easy for them with clear messaging and calls to action. Follow and comment on what they do on social media and give them good content to post.

Our relationship with Tonia Antoniazzi, the chair of the APPG on Cancer, meant we had a Parliamentary reception in Westminster, set up an early day motion on the importance of our support for carers and could be introduced to other MPs. The same goes for Tracey Crouch, whose experience of cancer meant she really understood what Maggie’s is trying to achieve.

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

We made sure we had all the components ready to go at launch – we had case studies, spokespeople briefed, regional breakdowns of our data and ready-made social media content all prepared so that when we issued our release, we could respond to incoming requests straight away.

We also had a statement from our CEO that summarised the press release, including key data that we could send out reactively to any other cost-of-living stories as it’s such a hot topic.

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

We did a lot of work during our campaign planning to make sure we got our tone-of-voice right. This is something we’re really conscious of at Maggie’s and always strive to make sure the way we’re talking about issues is the way people living with cancer are talking about them too.

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

Which areas related to cost-of-living are underrepresented – what else should the media and politicians be reporting on?

There’s a lot of talk, rightly, about how the cost-of-living crisis is affecting those from lower income areas and older people, but not much about how it is impacting people living with cancer. We also know that people in lower income areas have a higher rate of some cancers, so it really is a double hit.

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

I think the media is doing a great job in covering how the cost-of-living crisis is impacting normal people. Broadcast media is the best way to hear real people’s stories, so for us having people who were happy to be interviewed on the TV and radio was important and hearing those stories straight from the people living them helps to bring home how hard the situation is.

The place that the real conversation is happening though is social media. Our Facebook posts, in particular, got a lot of attention and some really heart-breaking responses – all of which we can follow up with directly to make sure we are supporting them as much as we can.

How important is PR/comms for helping the public on this and making change to policy?

It’s imperative. Getting such a wide range of media outlets meant we were reaching nearly one million people with direct information about people with cancer and the cost-of-living. As we all know, an editorial carries far more punch than an advertorial – getting that Third Party Endorsement from media really does make an impact.

For more on campaigning for support throughout the cost-of-living crisis, read our interview with Love Energy Savings’ Rosie Macdonald on the company’s work with Lancashire-local brands including Robinsons to help families in the area.

Hear from Refuge, NSPCC and FareShare on how they’re navigated the crisis in our webinar ‘Communicating the cost-of-living crisis for charities’.

To connect with journalists reporting on your sector, find out more about the Vuelio Media Database and the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service.

Top tips for timing your comms right

Top tips for timing your PR content and comms to perfection

This is a guest post from freelance journalist Dakota Murphey.

In PR, timing is everything. Get the timing right and it can mean the PR content that you painstakingly planned for months on end is picked up and run with. Get it wrong and it can feel like an awful lot of wasted effort for no reward. It is not surprising, then, that businesses are increasingly focused on the perfect timing for their PR work. 

Well-planned and executed PR campaigns can be hugely beneficial to your business. They can help to build a connection with customers, limit and quickly manage any damage in a PR crisis as well as establish your business as a leading authority in the sector. Over time this is an incredibly rewarding form of marketing that can result in additional sales and boosted profits.

In this article, we will look at some top tips for timing your PR content and comms more effectively.

Being smart with social media

There can be no doubt that social media have revolutionised how we approach PR. Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook can be used by PR professionals to get far more opportunities to connect with an audience online, as well as to provide a much larger potential audience for the content.

It is common for PR professionals to work closely with social media marketing to get the best possible results for their campaigns. Some of the most effective ways to use social media include engaging with press members, as well as identifying trending topics that are gaining popularity and momentum.

Writing engaging content

It is often an overlooked factor of PR: your content needs to stand out from the crowd. Remember that when you are conducting PR you are asking members of the press to take the content you give them and publish it online. That means you need to put a lot of effort and investment into creating truly engaging content.

The last thing you want is content that comes across as promotional or simply acts as an advert for your business. It can be easily seen through, not just by those publishing the work, but also by anyone who ends up reading it.

Writing timely content is an essential part of impressing those looking to publish your work, and you are much more likely to get work out if it has a time-relevant theme.

Responding to the pandemic

For many businesses, planning for PR content and large-scale communications can be done months or even years in advance. It may well be the case that a large part of your company’s business model was actually conceived before the Covid-19 pandemic took place. If this is the case for you, it is important to consider the effect that the pandemic has had on your marketplace and your audience.

“You should recognise that the pandemic has changed things significantly – and this might have to affect your business strategy moving forward,” explains Chris Plumridge, Director at Wellden Turnbull. “It may be the case that the kinds of products and services you offer may need to be re-thought and updated. This can be a painful process, but it is important to ensure that the company is sustainable.”

If you have planned for PR content that is no longer applicable, or perhaps no longer as relevant as it once was, you really need to reconsider the work and think about how you can put it out more effectively. The pandemic is continuing to influence business decisions, so this can be a key part of your strategy.

Building your relationships

There’s no doubt that relationship building is a key part of any PR role. Knowing who to go to with a particular piece of content and how to get them to accept it is the bread-and-butter of the role. A huge part of the good timing of your work is knowing when is the right time to send over a piece to a particular contact.

You should never be sending out a dull press release to generic channels. It is best to take every possible opportunity to build that personal connection – offer a story to a particular journalist, and do your research on them before you send it over.

Using a digital asset management system

One of the biggest challenges of always being timely with your PR content is the fact that you have to manage multiple media outlets at once. As such it can be an extremely good idea to invest in a digital asset management (DAM) system. This is a useful way to manage assets such as images, videos, infographics and more.

Check out previous guest posts published as part of our PR Club series on best practice in PR and comms here.

Understanding online accessibility for digital marketers

Understanding onsite accessibility for digital marketers

This is a guest post by Alice Wicker, junior content marketing executive at London-based SEO and digital marketing agency Reboot Online.

Marketers, PRs and comms professionals need to understand just how diverse their audience is. We think about it all the time when we create buyer personas – but not everyone fits into the niche demographics we create.

By opening up our marketing materials and websites so that everyone can utilise them, we are not only drawing bigger audiences but making a positive statement about the morals of the brands we represent.

What is digital accessibility?

Digital accessibility is exactly what it sounds like — making digital platforms accessible to all. This means ensuring that people of differing abilities, whether visually impaired or suffering from cognitive or neurological issues, can benefit from a digital space that meets their needs.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has created guidelines to help businesses and web developers create websites with accessibility in mind. For a website to be considered accessible, it has to be built so that individuals with disabilities can navigate, use, and understand the content.

The four core principles of digital accessibility

There are four core principles that direct the approach we should take to digital accessibility:

1. Perceivable: The information on a website or platform and the user interface must be formatted so that all users can perceive it.

2. Operable: Users with differing abilities must be able to operate the platform or interface.

3. Understandable: Both the use of the interface and the content itself must be understandable.

4. Robust: The content must be robust enough to be interpreted and understood by a variety of users, as well as assistive technologies.

How can digital accessibility impact digital marketing?

Approximately 14.6 million disabled people are living in the UK. That number grows to one billion worldwide, with a staggering 15% of the global population having some kind of disability. That’s a significant amount of people whose digital accessibility all-too-frequently gets overlooked.

These disabilities can vary wildly, with each coming with its own unique difficulties when it comes to accessing and understanding information online. A report has found that businesses can lose out on customers by not providing accessible content, with 80% of disabled customers taking their spending power elsewhere due to lack of access.

By ensuring your platform or marketing material is as accessible as possible, you are gaining the ability to draw in wider audiences and customers.

How to ensure your website and marketing materials are accessible

There are many steps we can take to make our websites accessible, and even more best-practice suggestions to improve on this. Here is a quick rundown of what every website and piece of marketing material should contain, to ease access for all.

Clear Content

The content itself should be readable and not too reliant on jargon or technical language. Try not to use an obscure, lengthy word when there is a simpler synonym word that means the same. With that in mind, short sentences and paragraphs make the text more easily digestible.

It is recommended that webpages have a readability score of lower secondary school level and there are even some web tools, such as the Hemingway App, that measure readability.

Descriptive anchor text

Anchor text should accurately describe what the link is directing to, even without the context of the surrounding content. People who use screen readers can navigate websites from link to link, so they need to know where the link will lead them.

Easy to follow structure

You might have noticed in this guide, and on other accessible web pages, that a lot of headings and subheadings are used. This breaks up the text, so it is easier to read. It also makes it more accessible for users so they can skim through and find the information they’re after.

Headers (H1, H2 etc) also enable screen readers to understand how a page is structured, and make it easier for search engines like Google to crawl through.

Pictures and graphics

Graphics can be useful for breaking down information and presenting it more appealingly. Similarly, pictures and images can help present an idea.

Alt-text should describe the image accurately and succinctly. It’s best not to begin with ‘image of’ or ‘drawing of’ because screen readers already say ‘image’ before reading the alt-text.

Alt-text is vital for people who use screen readers and is also useful in helping search engines understand what the image is. Using the keywords relating to your topic is a great way to let users, and search engines, gain an understanding of the page.

It is also important to ensure that people with colour-blindness can understand the graphics you create. It can be easy to differentiate between colours by using tools to check the colour contrast or by using patterns to differentiate.

Videos and GIFs

Much like pictures and images, GIFs should have alt-text that explains what is happening in the GIF and why it is relevant. However, it is important to remember that GIFs with flashing imagery can be simply annoying to some, and dangerous to others by triggering seizures or migraines.

Videos can be a wonderful additional source of information on a web page — particularly if they include sound, for the visually impaired.

However, there are some things to consider to ensure your page is digitally accessible. If your video has activity happening, such as a demonstration, include an audio description so the visually impaired users can understand.

It’s also essential to include subtitles and closed captions, both for the deaf and any users who may want to watch the video with the sound off.

HTML

Ensure all the behind-the-scenes stuff is accessible. This means ensuring bullet points and tables are formatted properly, checking what language the content is in, and making sure any video players are accessible.

PDFs

PDFs and other documents have different formats than a webpage — you can’t use HTML to add alt-text or headers. But you should still use headers, for the skimming we talked about. Any images, graphs, or graphics should have a concise but detailed description, too.

Optimised website for all devices (and aids!)

The technology people use can have a big impact on the platform or website. Make sure your web pages or marketing materials are optimised to be viewed on phones or tablets as well as PCs. Also, be aware that the user might be navigating with a keyboard or need to disable flashing images.

The benefits of having an accessible website

From user experience to bottom lines, and SEO to customer growth, accessibility can have a huge impact on websites.

SEO: We can take several steps to make our websites accessible with headers, structured content, and detailed alt-text on images. These things are read by Google and other search engines.

Any (good) SEO agency will tell you that search engines use this information to help them better understand what your website is about. Google also measures accessibility as a metric for determining where a page will rank.

User experience: Customer standards are on the rise, thanks to the flawless experiences offered by internet powerhouses like Amazon, Google, and Netflix. By streamlining the process of navigating your site for all users, you increase the odds of more people engaging with your content.

Even seemingly minor inconveniences, like small font size, can leave users uncomfortable or even unable to read what you’re saying — and they will soon turn their attention to something else.

For more on ensuring your comms can be accessed by everybody in your audience, check out this previous guest post from Elliot Ross at Taxi for Email ‘How to make your next PR email campaign accessible for everyone‘. 

How to manage a PR crisis in 2022

How to manage a PR crisis in 2022

This is a guest post by Chris Norton, founder of insight-led PR agency Prohibition, former University lecturer, author of ‘Share This Too’ and social media blogger.

In business, PR crises are unavoidable. We live in an imperfect world where it is impossible to predict what will happen. Problems inevitably arise that can tarnish your company’s reputation in the eyes of the public.

When a problem occurs, you need to respond swiftly to maintain a positive brand reputation. Companies that do this manage to control the narrative and restore consumer trust and confidence.

Here are some of the actions you need to take to handle a PR crisis effectively.

1. Act fast & be transparent

The faster you address the issue, the more control you will have over the narrative. The best way to handle things smoothly under pressure is to have a contingency plan to manage a crisis. That plan improves your chances of you responding appropriately.

Alongside acting fast, you also need to be transparent. You have to update stakeholders on the actions you’ve taken regularly as the crisis unfolds as well. For example, the CEO of AirAsia was quick to take to Twitter after Flight 8501 crashed.

People and the media appreciated the quick actions of the CEO during this crisis. There is definitely a lesson there.

2. Create a crisis response team

To effectively manage a crisis, you’ll need a team that has been trained to handle such situations and can work efficiently to minimise the damage. A PR crisis team will help you do just that.

At a minimum, you always want senior staff members in your crisis team. You might also want support from external stakeholders with experience in crisis management alongside legal counsel.

Every team member must work together to ensure that your company speaks with a single, united voice. Your team must manage the overall response activities, set priorities, and cooperate with shareholders.

3. Train your team

You must prepare your team for emergency scenarios, ensuring that they can efficiently handle any PR crisis when needed. Your team needs to understand your brand identity and organisational values so that they can speak honestly about your company with one voice.

You must communicate procedures to anyone authorised to give public statements. Providing press and social media training will help these people deal with the public at a time when people are more likely to be critical of what you say.

4. Monitor the situation

You need to monitor the situation during a PR crisis carefully. It is important to understand what people are saying about you in the press and on social media.

You can use social media tracking tools to monitor what people say across different social channels. Also, you will want to track the coverage of your brand by journalists, influencers, and competitors. Check the public reviews about your organization as well.

It is possible to measure the success of your PR crisis strategy by tracking public sentiment and monitoring how the press covers the story. Adapt your crisis management strategy as the situation evolves, but stick to the key messaging you agreed on at the outset of the crisis.

Conclusion

A PR crisis is always a challenge. Using a proven framework for managing a crisis reduces the chance of making mistakes. That iscritical because the public and the press are unforgiving of companies that they believe acted wrongly.

Before a crisis, appoint and train a crisis response team. Everyone in the company should know who to contact in a crisis. You will need to appoint people that can make public statements. You want to provide these spokespeople training to know how to handle the press and what they can say on social media.

The first few days are usually the most critical time of any crisis. Get your team together and develop your strategy. Decide on your approach and stick to your talking points. As the crisis unfolds, monitor the reaction in the press and on social media. Adapt your strategy as needed.
Follow these tips, and you will manage any PR crisis that comes your way the right way.

How to create the perfect PR pitch

Dear Gen Z journalist: How can PRs pitch perfectly to the media?

While there is no ‘Dear Deidre’ for PRs who need advice on pitching to journalists, any comms people with questions out there are in luck. We recently caught up with three up-and-coming freelancers willing to impart their wisdom in our webinar ‘What’s next? The new generation of journalists’.

Watch the full webinar

Here, freelancer and Journo Resources trainee journalist Hannah Bradfield gives advice on extra conundrums from PR people in need of help. First question, please…

DEAR HANNAH: ‘I work in comms for galleries in Scotland. I’m often sharing press releases and pitches to national newspapers based in London (which occasionally get picked up!) but how would you advise reaching out to young journos based down South when that face-to-face interaction is typically impossible?’

Hannah says: I think always start with an email that includes a brief introduction of who you are and what you do. If no reply, I think it’s definitely okay to chase up a couple of times. After email correspondence, you could organise a phone call or Zoom call (I personally prefer as face-to-face as the situation allows).

‘How much detail do you want in your email pitches from PR folk? Would you like us to suggest angles? I never know how to get the right balance! How do you prefer to be pitched? Do you prefer something short and snappy, with a release below, or a longer upfront pitch?’

Hannah says: I think one of the key skills to have as a journalist is to be able to find the best angle in any story. There’s no harm in suggesting an angle if you feel it’s strong or particularly relevant – or is just generally useful for the journalist to keep in mind. However, I think more often than not, journalists will – after some time spent thinking and researching – find and know their angle.

Again, I think as most journalists would probably say, the more information the better when finding an angle for a story. However, that definitely doesn’t mean noting down information for information’s sake. As long as all the info is useful and relevant, it’s best to include it – even if that means the pitch doesn’t come across quite as ‘short and snappy’ and takes a little longer to read (in my opinion).

Basically, in summary, I would say don’t feel pressure to be ‘short and snappy’ but also don’t write a long pitch for the sake of it.

‘Is there any ways for PRs to stand out to you when sending in press releases, and what style of press release is most likely to catch your eye? How important is the subject line in the email? Would you avoid reading the email if the subject line isn’t great?’

Hannah says: The subject line is always important – in almost any email-related scenario – but especially in journalism.

I wouldn’t purposely avoid reading the email if the subject line wasn’t great – but if it didn’t ‘jump out to me’ it would probably go under my radar/into the ‘I’ll read that later’ category, which I usually forget to come back to, unless prompted!

I think being succinct, informative and purposeful often fulfils the criteria of ‘eye-catching’.

‘Have you noticed how you work/your approach being very different to journos of other generations?’

Hannah says: I actually don’t really see it like that. In the newsrooms that I’ve worked in, things have generally seemed to ‘move with the times’ and I feel like journalists of different ages have been quite open to learning from each other in light of the ‘digital revolution’.

I guess that, in my experience, older journalists do seem to be considerably more confident speaking on the phone – whereas younger journos, myself included, are perhaps the most comfortable when talking to somebody face-to-face, whether that’s in-person or on Zoom. This is my own experience, though – I have heard stories about journalists of other generations who’ve been reluctant to see the importance of newer aspects of journalism like SEO, etc.

How important do you think journalism qualifications are now?

Hannah says: I don’t actually have any formal journalism qualifications. I think as long as you can build the experience, they don’t matter hugely unless you know exactly the route you want to take into journalism where an NCTJ is required (e.g., in a lot of local/regional newsrooms). Although, it’s definitely worth looking into the different ways you might be able to get a journalism qualification without having to pay – some newsrooms will pay for these types of qualifications if you’re doing on-the-job training with them, or there might be other entry-level jobs that involve training/a qualification/a wage, all in one.

Personally, I think experience is always the most important – and looking for experience as your first port of call is sensible because you might find out that you hate a certain role anyway, and then you’ll be glad that you didn’t get yourself into debt studying for a journalism qualification.

If you are gaining experience first, this will lead to industry contacts who will in turn be able to direct you towards journalism funding and schemes.

That said, if you find yourself in the situation where you are able to study for a journalism qualification – it will only add to your employability – especially if you have experience to show alongside it.

For more on pitching perfectly to the UK media, download our white paper ‘How to pitch to journalists’.

Find the right media professionals for your campaigns with the Vuelio media database, spanning national press, consumer and trade magazines, broadcasters, social media influencers and more – book a demo.

Top 5 Measurement Mistakes and How to Fix Them

If you are just getting started in measuring your performance, there are a few common mistakes and misunderstandings that are easy to make. Below are a few of the errors we see most often on the Vuelio Insights team and quick solutions to fix them, so you can be confident in the accuracy and reliability of your results:

Using AVE

While some companies still use AVE (Advertising Value Equivalent), it is now largely discredited and considered an outdated metric by many professionals and global communication trade associations. There are many reasons for this, but primarily, AVE is a restrictive metric that falsely implies the cost of advertising is reflective of its value.

Depending on your goals, purely quantitative measurement can sometimes distort results and provide limited insights — AVE being an example. It does not take into account the ROI or quality of coverage, such as the sentiment. All coverage is considered the same, which provides little opportunity for evaluation and effective strategy.

Vuelio Quick Fix: In order to provide a representative insight into how well you’ve achieved your goals, select a consistent set of both qualitative and quantitative metrics based on your specific performance targets.

Using Share of Voice as a Singular KPI

Share of Voice (SoV) is a highly popular metric of choice when measuring against competitors. However, as we have already discussed, a purely quantitative metric can sometimes provide a limited and inaccurate insight of your performance — high SoV is not necessarily a success and low SoV is not necessarily a failure.

For example, over the past six months, Virgin Atlantic had the lowest SoV compared to competitors, but the strongest ratio of positive coverage. On the other hand, while other airlines had a significantly higher volume of coverage, it was more than 90% negative or neutral in sentiment.

Another example could be that the competitor with the highest SoV has mostly passing mentions, whereas the lowest has a stronger proportion of headline mentions. These are just a few of many reasons why a single figure is not enough to achieve proper performance results and insights to improve future strategies.

Vuelio Quick Fix: Before reporting your SoV (or any other quantitative metric), explore how you can further segment the data from a qualitative angle. What was the sentiment? What were the media types? How many key speakers were mentioned? Was there a dominant location? Referring to your SMART KPIs will help you to pick the right questions and explore the right data in an efficient, relevant and targeted manner.

 

Not setting SMART KPIs

Before embarking on performance measurement, a common mistake we often see is a lack of specific planning. SMART KPIs allow you to outline your specific performance goals and align them with the most relevant metrics ahead of time, enhancing the insight and accuracy of your results. For example, if your goal is to increase awareness of a new animal welfare campaign by 30% in Scottish broadcast media, you know to segment your data by key messages, location and media type. If your KPIs are too broad, you could spend hours exploring how your goal has been achieved from a very broad perspective without producing any real specific and insightful data.

So, how do you create a set of relevant, efficient and effective metrics that are tailored to your goals?

Vuelio Quick Fix: Create a set of SMART KPIs for both overall performance and specific campaigns. Whereas the former may be measured and revisited on a monthly or quarterly basis, campaign KPIs may differ each time. When you have confirmed your SMART goals, plan which metrics you will use alongside this to measure your success.

TIP: What is SMART?

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound. They are criteria to keep in mind when setting your KPIs to ensure they are realistic within the framework of time, tools and support that you have.

 

Lacking Consistency

Lacking a specific search framework when measuring performance can drastically impact reliability and accuracy of results. For example, if you were measuring a campaign, do you want to filter by print, broadcast or online media? Are you looking for local or national coverage? Which competitors are you monitoring?

Things can change, but consistency is key for future benchmarking.

Vuelio Quick Fix: Apply specific and ongoing parameters to your analysis. Be sure to apply them to future benchmarking reports in order to accurately compare results.

For example:

KPI: Increase regional media presence of environmental spokesperson by 10% over the next six months, with a focus on sustainability messaging in the Somerset region.

Parameters:

  • Somerset media outlets only
  • Online and broadcast only
  • Local news and political publications
  • Mentions our new climate-action regime in the local area

Performance Metrics: Coverage volume, spokesperson quotes, prominence, industry type split, key message penetration

 

Overloading Data

Be aware of not overloading reports with multiple types and styles of measurement. Doing so can quickly confuse and overwhelm C-Suite recipients and other viewers who may possess less knowledge on what each metric means.

Vuelio Quick Fix: Using a small and targeted array of metrics will help you to focus on the key messages you are trying to get across and ensure they are accessible to viewers. While it is important to apply both quantitative and qualitative analysis where necessary,  it is not always essential to extrapolate every type of data possible from your figures. You can also source PR services that do this for you, for example, Vuelio provides an efficient metric known as ‘Impact’ Score which combines both qualitative and quantitative results into one.

 

Start with the basics

There are a few running themes throughout each of these points that should be factored in every time you measure your performance — consistency, relevance and a balance of both quantitative and qualitative analysis. If you are new to this, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed with so many new terminologies and processes. The most important thing is to not overcomplicate it in the early stages – start small and you will build your way up in no time.

Want to know more about how the Vuelio Insights team can support your PR and communications goals? Find out more.

Cost of living crisis Love Energy Savings

Communicating the cost-of-living crisis: Love Energy Savings’ Rosie Macdonald

‘When a campaign takes root within the heart of the community, you are laying the foundations,’ believes Love Energy Savings’ senior digital PR strategist Rosie Macdonald.

In an effort to help those struggling in the Greater Manchester area during the cost-of-living crisis, the business utilities and price comparison retailer has teamed up with Lancashire-based brands to make a real difference. One initiative – distributing food to as many children in Bolton throughout the summer as possible while raising awareness of poverty in the area.

Tell us a bit about the initiatives you’re working on related to the cost-of-living crisis?

One of the campaigns we’ve launched is a programme to help provide one meal each working day to as many school children in Bolton during the summer holidays as possible.

More than a third of Bolton’s children are living in poverty and almost half (46%) of children living in the Bolton South East were living in poverty in 2020/21 – a figure which has only increased since the cost-of-living crisis.

Working with other Lancashire-local brands, like Robinsons, Dewlay and Fiddler’s Lancashire Crisps, we have put together donations to be circulated by Bolton Lads and Girls Club, a charity very dear to our hearts which helps provide activities, care and support to children and their families in the Greater-Manchester area. These meals are then delivered by a different Love Energy Savings volunteer each day and given to those who need it most.

We made sure to divide the donation requests into incredibly small quantities per brand, so that what we were asking for was so minute it would be difficult to refuse.

What have been the unique challenges you’ve faced with this work?

The logistical planning of getting all the food donations into the packed lunches and delivered by a LES volunteer each day to Bolton Lads and Girls Club for distribution was the initial hurdle, but the real challenge, funnily enough, was persuading local businesses that we weren’t trying to sell them anything.

It’s understandable why many would be wary of an ulterior motive, which is why we asked very small businesses for a significantly smaller quantity of items than a larger brand, which enabled them to get involved and still have their brand name attached to the project, should they wish. One local brand (Dewlay), actually donated double the amount of product that we asked for because of this.

What were your specific aims?

The aims of this campaign were two-fold. Firstly, and most importantly, we wanted to do something to alleviate the knock-on effects of the increased gas prices and the huge increases to the cost of living in our local community of Bolton.

The second purpose of the project was to aid in the regeneration of Bolton, something very close to our CEO Phil Foster’s heart. Phil has recently been a member on a Regenerating Bolton panel alongside other key pillars of the community and said: ‘To regenerate Bolton for a brighter future, we must invest in our youth to give them the best start we possibly can. We need to do this across everything from education and life skills all the way through to work.

‘However, children can’t concentrate when they’re starving and learning to skip meals is not one of the life lessons we need to be teaching them.

‘When the cost of living is so high that increasing numbers of parents aren’t able to provide the basics for their families, despite doing their absolute best, as brands that’s when we all have to sit up, take notice and do what we can to help.’

What have been your main successes?

As the campaign is still part-way through we’re hoping for significantly more successes to come. We hope that when the campaign reaches its conclusion, one of these will be the increased awareness drawn to the issue of child poverty in the Greater Manchester area. However, it is already evident that one of the biggest wins will be the relationships forged with fellow Lancashire brands.

Building those relationships and contacts will enable us to do campaigns on a larger scale in the future. This will ensure that when we’re setting the next campaign into motion, we can point to the success of the previous and embark on a bigger, bolder endeavour.

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

Building a campaign that will reach the ears of politicians and enact change is no mean feat. Our advice would be to focus on the message and ensure that those your campaign is intended for remain front and centre.

Driving a thorough focus into the local area (if applicable) is the key starting point. When a campaign takes root within the heart of the community, you are laying the foundations.

Building strong foundations is incredibly key – from there you can diversify the angles you push, move onto national press and then become a part of the conversation on TV and media outlets. Lots of leg-work, a strong message and consistency are the most important ingredients for success.

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

Understanding the angles within your campaign is always step one. Once you understand the audience you can target accordingly. Different emails tailored for each angle and for each individual, coupled with follow-up phone calls is a winner.

Research is also vital. Knowing the right person to target, the right publication and timing are all factors that need to be juggled to achieve coverage success.

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

Common sense is key here, especially using language. Words like ‘impoverished’, ‘lower-class’, or any phrase that could bear negative connotations or pigeon-hole are an absolute no-go.

It’s also vital to treat the people you’re trying to help like people. It can be tempting to over-egg a story to play at the heartstrings of the public, but this has to be weighted with understanding that you aren’t just quoting statistics – these are real people’s lives.

When looking for case studies, forums and Facebook groups are a brilliant place to go to reach out, in addition to submitting case study ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service requests. Approach-wise, it’s always so important to be gentle and position your request as an opportunity for them to help share their story to shed a light on how bad the situation is for others – this goes hand in hand with acknowledgement. Understanding the difficulties and possible pride, shame or anguish that can be wrapped up in someone speaking to you is so important. Sensitivity will always get you further.

Which areas related to cost-of-living are underrepresented, in your opinion – what else should the media and politicians be paying more attention to/reporting on?

This winter we are likely to see a huge wave of people unable to afford to heat their homes. While this is being discussed, the alternatives – should immediate financial aid not be announced – are hardly touched on.

Public spaces and establishments open later are likely to see an influx of individuals looking to stay warm and save on energy costs. Are these places prepared? Are businesses and those with heated buildings doing enough to make sure they’re ready to invite people in?

Travel ingenuity also does not seem to be as widely covered as it ought to be. With petrol prices through the roof, what are individuals doing to save on costs? Have there been an increase in car-pooling schemes, or an increase in company cycle-to-work programmes? It could be argued that the possible benefits of increased fuel costs are not being addressed. Understandable, given how dire the situation is for so many who cannot travel in any other way – but what about those who can?

Have families hugely downsized the amount of cars they have? Are couples now sharing one car as opposed to two? Could this perhaps be a benefit to the planet and see a decrease in emissions?

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

There are so many to choose from. Miranda Bryant and Kirsty McEwan of The Guardian instantly come to mind. I do think a lot of top press are missing the tone, however. Money saving tips to save a few pence in a year seem to be rife, with the line between useful and absurdity often tipping to the wrong side of the balance.

How important is PR and comms for helping the public on this and making change to policy?

Incredibly important. PR is the man behind the curtain of the media – pushing for the right attention, ensuring journalists hear about the relevant news, the latest facts and figures. Without PR, a significant amount of information would never be seen by the general public.

For more on the communicating during cost-of-living crisis, check out our report on how the top six UK supermarkets are communicating inflation as well as how to implement a PR strategy for a local charity.

How social listening can boost your PR campaigns

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

Social listening can give you an insight into how your audience has received your message and aid in measuring the success of a campaign – but this is only part of its potential.

With a deeper understanding of your existing – and potential – audiences, you can create targeted messaging from the start, pinpoint when and where a campaign should be placed and find influencers to send your message far.

How can social listening help you in campaign planning?

1. Understanding audiences

As well as enabling you to identify your target audiences with social data, social listening can show you who truly cares about your topic and is likely to engage with it.

2. Creating the right message

Once you know who has an interest in your niche, you can uncover what is relevant to them and which tone and format they are most likely to respond to.

3. Determining placement

Our lives are more digitally-connect than ever, but nobody is online 24/7. When are your audience online to see your content? What times of day do they consume and share with their communities/followers?

4. Finding relevant influencers

Traditionally, high-profile journalists writing for newsstand papers were the influencers, but the world of influence has expanded drastically. A print journalist might share your message, but do they reach your audience? A popular TikTok creator may have a large follower base, but will they engage with your content? Social listening can map this and surface the right influencer for your campaign.

5. Deciding strategy and spend

While predicting the virality of content isn’t an exact science, mapping how connected your subject, your target influencers and their communities are can give you a strong start. For your spend strategy, do you want quick shares, or traction over a longer period? Each campaign will require a different approach.

Interactions are happening across digital platforms all around the globe, constantly. Pulsar tracks these conversations on platforms including Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, Pinterest, Tumblr, VK and Sermo, alongside blogs, forums, television, radio, podcasts and review sites.

Within this cacophony of interaction is where you can find the beginnings of conversation topics, where they start to enter the mainstream and where your own message will fit.

Case study: The Climate change and sustainability conversation

Here is an example, using the global conversation around climate change and sustainability.

1. Finding the climate change audience

Climate change - how big is the conversation

Climate change and sustainability is a busy conversation topic, looking at related engagements, posts and web searches. Data from Pulsar allows a breakdown of this audience by factors including age, location, associated interests, public figures they have an affinity with and even the content formats they prefer.

2. Creating your content

Climate change audience - what media do they consume

Close investigation into the climate change audience reveals the kind of media they tend to read and share – they favour The Guardian, The Independent and the Met Office as news sources. Discord and Reddit are high in their choice of social media channels. They share photos frequently, but not gifs or video quite as much.

Climate change conversation themes

For which elements of the climate change conversation is likely to get you greater engagement – sea levels, CO2, Deforestation and Fires. Less popular content – that focusing on nuclear power.

Climate change themes behavioral change

When looking at conversations around behavioral change – those topics that can change the minds and actions of this audience – waste reduction and growing their own produce is important. Travel – despite being a big story in the press over the last few months – isn’t as vital to this group.

3. When and where to share and post

Climate change - when is the conversation happening

According to Pulsar tools, social conversations on this topic within this audience spikes around 10am on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, but goes quieter on Friday afternoons and throughout the weekend.

To target this audience, climate change content should be shared when they’re online and ready to engage.

4. Finding who will share your story

Climate change influencers

That Greta Thunberg and Chris Packham are influential on this topic isn’t surprising, but there are also politicians, journalists and charities worth connecting with on climate change campaigns.

5. Strategy – where to focus your spend

Climate change - audience segmentation

With data on your audience, when they’re online as well as what and who they engage with, you can plan your strategy. On mapping how information travels from person to person within this community, it’s clear this conversation is highly political, but that each pocket of influence is not yet fully connected.

It takes time for content to be shared across this fragmented group, meaning a ‘go viral fast’ strategy won’t work as well as a slower and wider-reaching roll-out for a climate change-focused campaign.

For more on how social listening can help with every aspect of your campaigns, check out Pulsar’s solutions.

Why young people are better equipped for inflation

Amid a predicted two-year economic crisis, the financial future is often painted black for young Britons. However, with the rise of ‘fin-fluencers’ and a strong selection of youth-branded fintech platforms to explore, our research suggests that both millenials and Gen Z are on track to be the most financially literate generations ever.

Given that nearly half of under 40s spend their entire monthly income on living costs, it is easy to presume that wealth opportunities are scarce for young people. In 2017, Australian real estate mogul Tim Gurner went viral across international news media for saying that millenials should ‘stop buying avocado toast’ if they want to afford a house. This reference took the world by storm, also transcending into a long-standing part of meme culture. Ever since, millennials have been associated with little savings, careless spending and lavish lifestyle choices — but this could not be further from the truth.

The number of UK millennial and Gen Z millionaires has hit a record high, doubling to 2,000 in 2021 from 1,000 the previous year, shows research by Bowmore Wealth Group. The growth in high-earning millennials comes in contrast to the decrease in high-earning Baby Boomers, who have seen a five-year low in declaring an income between £150,000 – £1m.

While the assets of older generations were hard hit throughout the pandemic, 60% of Gen Z subjects reported they used the COVID-19 lockdown to become more financially confident than they were beforehand. Complemented by a keen interest in financial education, they’re also saving earlier for retirement than their predecessors and spending less money on non-necessities.

 

Top Topics: Financial Perspectives of Young People

Over the past three months, several positive observations have been made of Britain’s youth that forecast an optimistic financial future. While Gen Z already have an average £1,000 in their savings, seven out of 10 millennials are regularly setting money aside, with an average of £174 put away per month. As part of Paypal’s Gen Z Financial Wellness Study, 80% of 1,000 18-25 year olds said they felt confident they’ll achieve their financial goals, with over half (55%) believing they will reach them within the next six years.

 

The money-saving generation

Generation X (1965-1980) households spend around £126.39 per week on ‘lifestyle products’ such as new smartphones and weekend trips – more than any other generation. On the other hand, a growing body of international research has shown that young people are far from financially excessive.

As part of  The Millenial Money Survey, which looked at the life goals of over 4,000 UK adults aged 35 or younger, 68% said they have firm plans to save more this year than last year. An additional 30% have saving strategies in place, including eating out less and cutting unnecessary spending such as takeaway coffees (or avocado toast).

‘The majority [of millennials] are far from a reckless generation. Most are sensible spenders who want to take more control over their money, despite a lack of formal financial education and income. They simply aspire to achieve what previous generations have enjoyed. Many only need to shift their money mind-set slightly to get their money working harder’ — Ross Duncton, Head of Marketing, BMO Global Asset Management

 

Side Hustles

Gen Z are also taking matters into their own hands to secure their financial future and source extra income, with half of them (51%) working a second job or side hustle – rising to 61% in London –  producing an extra £248 on average each month. Scottish young adults lead in the UK for this entrepreneurial spirit (at 83%), while South East England comes out at the bottom, at 50%.

What are the top side hustles for UK Gen Z?

  • Making and selling items or food (16%)
  • Content creation and gaming (14%)
  • Looking after children or animals (10%)
  • Putting money into shares/stocks (10%)

 

Digital Finances

The digitised financial landscape is massive. Online banking is now an outdated concept next to NFTs and a diverse array of fintech apps:

 

Most Popular Digital Finance Services by Generation

Sources: Cybercrew, Divide Buy, This is Money, Gemini

Among the most popular digital finance services, fintech banking apps like Revolut, Nude and Lumio have the strongest ratio of usage across all demographics. In fact, the UK has a 71% adoption rate of FinTech companies, much higher than the global average of 64%.

Nevertheless, Gen Z and millenials are the consistently higher share of users overall throughout the digital economy. Millenials currently hold more online banking services than any other generation, while the number of Brits with digital-only accounts could go up to 23 million in the next five years.

Cash in hand is becoming a thing of the past for Gen Z, with 58% using money-transfer services and two in five getting paid via mobile apps for their side-hustle. As discussion evolves around the world about becoming a ‘cashless society’ — a term used 1,381 times by national financial and general news sources since March 1 — 51% of millenials have a positive attitude towards the idea. Moreover, they are readily preparing by educating themselves in new and innovative financial opportunities.

Investments and Cryptocurrency

Of course, one of the most prolific examples of financial innovation over the last decade is cryptocurrency. While the average investor is just 28 on UK app Plum, Gen Zers are also investment buffs, with 54% holding some kind of investment already. 86% of teens are interested in investing, and those that do not say they do not feel confident or their parents do not know how to get started. Furthermore, 56% of Gen Z adults state they are including cryptocurrency or NFTs as part of their retirement strategy.

On the other hand, in a 2021 UK study with cryptocurrency firm Gemini, 57% of over 55s expressed no interest at all. The risks of loss involved may be a strong causational factor behind this, particularly due to strong international news coverage of such dangers. Since May 1, the term ‘crash’ has been used 461 times by leading online news sources in the UK, whereas positive sentiment towards the topic is scarce.

Despite their controversial interest in digital currencies, a large-scale study with Standard Life retirement scheme, 53% of Gen Zers and 51% of Millennials reported an interest in sustainable investing, compared to only 44% among Gen Xers and 36% among Baby Boomers.

 

Financial Literacy and Fin-fluencers

While traditional banks have offered youth-focused educational schemes for some time, the short and snappy format of the ‘fin-fluencer’ (financial influencer) is driving a stronger interest for financial literacy in younger generations than any other method.

Finance trends regularly go viral, from money-saving challenges to crypto and investment. For example, Dogecoin value increased by 40% after going viral on Tiktok. There is a huge 989.3 million views attributed to the #finance hashtag on TikTok and thousands of ‘financial’ series and content posts that have Gen Z coming back for more. The Financial Diet, The Financial Burrito and Millenial Money Man are just a few of these ‘fin-fluencers’ to make a living from sharing such information with their young audiences.

Considering the UK fintech Tally has reported that Tiktok ads are over 300% more effective than Instagram, many fintech brands are spotting opportunities to specifically represent and target Gen Z and millennials. UK fintech Plum (an AI ‘assistant’ helping you save money) is reaping the benefits of early entry to TikTok, seeing strong growth in the 25-34 age group following a series of strong fin-fluencer partnerships. Plum’s debut was well-timed: COVID meant more people were on TikTok, but also led to a 180% increase in investment as people naturally thought about saving more money.

 

‘Millennials are often named as the generation of no income, no job, no assets. Our data proves that for our investors at least, this stereotype is incorrect, as they have shown themselves to be savvy with their smart investment tactics during the pandemic.’Victor Trokoudes, CEO & co-founder of Plum

As part of a recent Barclaycard study, young people from the UK, US and Germany were asked what role their favourite brands played in their lives and what they expected from the Barclaycard brand.

It was revealed that they prize ‘good quality’ and ‘trendiness’ above all else, followed by ‘good value’, ‘good design’ and ‘nostalgia’. Good design finds the sweet spot between function and aesthetic, while also streamlined to appeal to short, eight-second attention spans. Nude is a leading example to this regard, demonstrating both ease of use, accessibility and fun visuals for all user types. Another example is Quirk, a UK-based savings app that factors in your financial personality and spending habits as a tool to budget more wisely.

 

The Digital Solution

While the cost of living is rapidly increasing, millennials and Gen Zers have less to lose and more passion to learn. Our research shows they have responded to inflation with an immense amount of financial maturity and are taking on the responsibilities required to prevent economic destruction in their future.

They are more financially transparent than any other generation and are finding ways to profit from sharing financial education to the masses, which can only be an incentive for further learning. They possess the strongest share of investments in both crypto and the stock market, not to mention they’re being guided on where to put their earnings through fintech, who are now building apps both functionally and aesthetically catered to their generations.

While there is no doubt that most of us are facing major setbacks throughout the financial crisis, our research suggests that this does not have to be a long-term representation of the UK economy. Despite being some of the most negatively impacted, young people are already demonstrating their resilience and confident ability to find innovative and optimistic solutions.

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

How to brand yourself

How to build your personal brand

As part of our Access Intelligence Women In Work inclusion group, we were lucky to have time with FutureBricks founder Arya Taware and Airbus head of public affairs Katie Roscoe, who shared how they have built their own personal brands alongside building their careers.

Bringing your personality and values into your work can make your job so much more than just the way you earn money. Here is advice from Arya and Katie on how to build your own personal brand for career success and a more rewarding work life.

1) With authenticity

‘I try to be as authentic as I can. Especially in the age of social media, there is pressure to show perfection and only happy moments,’ said Arya.

‘Authenticity is really key,’ agreed Katie.

‘Your mask will quickly slip if you aren’t being yourself in a professional setting. For me, it’s important to know what you stand for, and to find out if it comes across to other people – are you presenting something that others aren’t really getting?’

2) With passion for what you do

Not everybody can work in a sector they have a real connection with as a career. But if you really love what you do, or at least aspects of it, that will shine through in your interactions and inform what you come to be known for.

Arya had always wanted to be an entrepreneur, eventually launching FutureBricks at 22-years-old, straight out of university, having not worked for anybody else:

‘My first employment was my own business. At the start it was really hard, as a sole female founder, and in an industry that is male-dominated, and older – deals are still occasionally done in pubs.

‘What I do, entrepreneurship, is all about psychological endurance. What kept me going was inner self-belief. I knew that all I needed was one yes.’

While Katie’s choice of career didn’t come with a clear path, she followed her passions:

‘I knew from a young age I wanted to be in Westminster somehow – I basically watched “Yes, Prime Minister” and thought that sounded really exciting! A key moment for me was knowing when to make the jump in my career – make the most of your opportunities, enjoy your job, but know when to move into something new.

‘Don’t just jump for money, if you can help it. Stop and think, if you’ve got the opportunity – is the move right for you? Don’t jump just because you’re unhappy. Sometimes that’s not a choice you may have, but if you’re lucky enough to have the option to wait for the right thing? That’s an amazing thing to do.’

3) With connections

Both Arya and Katie see the benefits of building a network on LinkedIn but use it in very different ways. As an entrepreneur, Arya uses it to build her personal brand alongside her business; for Katie, it is a way to amplify her work with Airbus.

‘LinkedIn is a good professional platform,’ said Arya. ‘You connect with people there and then meet them in real life, or vice versa. It allows us to reach people we otherwise wouldn’t reach (unless we learn to clone ourselves…). It’s a powerful tool and how we use it is completely at our disposal.’

‘I do really like that you can connect with people so simply now,’ added Katie. ‘I have made connections through it that have really helped me.’

4) With mentoring

Katie has benefitted from mentorship in her career, and recommends it for the learning that can happen on both sides:
‘Start a relationship with someone that you know, as a part of the work you do already, or even encourage your organisation to set up a programme. You can reverse-mentor as well – a senior person on the team connecting with a more junior person. We all have different skills and experiences to share. As you build your external network, the right people become more apparent. Always keep it in the back of your mind.’

Not everyone will be with you for the full journey – ‘I look at life as a long train,’ shared Arya.

‘Some people will come with you from point A to C, and then they’ll head off. And then other people are with you longer. I don’t believe in the singular; it’s always collective, for me’.

5) With confidence in your capabilities

‘My practical advice about having to speak up at events and roundtables, when I was more ‘green’, was to speak first or get in early if you’re feeling nervous,’ shared Katie. ‘When watching a panel, I’d stick my hand up straight away, and then I’d feel a bit calmer.

‘The industry I’m in can be hard to get to grips with – to start with, I used to speak to prove that I knew what I was talking about and that I should be there. As you get more experience, you should assume that you’re in the meeting/event for a good reason.

‘Speak when it will add value to a conversation, not just to show what you’re speaking about.’

6) With integrity

‘As a society, we’re trying to evolve, but we’re not always where we want to be,’ said Arya.

‘On an individual level, how we combat that is by challenging, communicating, and showing. Sometimes things aren’t worth a fight, sometimes you’ve got to stand your ground. The elimination of subconscious bias and stereotypes might not happen in our lifetime, but it’s up to us how we change perceptions’.

‘It’s having the strength to call things out and challenge,’ agreed Katie.

‘It’s on us, as we move through the world. Where you feel empowered to do so, challenge. That can have its own risks if you’re very junior, so lean on others around you who may be able to give you advice and guidance, too’.

Choosing food items in a supermarket

Cost of Living: How the top 6 British supermarkets are communicating inflation

As costs continue to soar in energy, fuel and produce, the cost of groceries is a strong concern for 76% of the UK. According to the Food Standards Agency (FSA), the number of people skipping meals or using food banks has risen from around one in ten in March 2021, to nearly one in six this March — with a strong upsurge in middle class families needing support. Research suggests this uncertainty will remain for at least the next three years.

In a bid to maintain sales, supermarkets across the UK have had to rethink their internal and external communications, with value and support now at the forefront.

With inflation now at a 40-year high of 9.1%, the average shopper will spend £380 more on groceries in 2022. Prices are as much as 5.9% higher in April than a year ago, the biggest increase since December 2011. As a result, the volume of goods being sold in the UK is now falling — with food purchases the number one culprit.

For a second consecutive month the GfK consumer confidence barometer has set a record low, falling 41% in June. Consumer sentiment is dropping rapidly as a result of tighter budgets – for example, price limits are being set at checkouts and the switch to cheaper brands and stores is at an all-time high. Convenience stores are also performing far better than big stores, as consumers search for bargains and value.

Top speakers

Overall,  Sainsbury’s CEO Simon Roberts had the most coverage across national print and online news in relation to cost of living commentary. Among the most popular topics was Roberts’ statement that financial pressures ‘will only intensify’ this year, which was featured in 148 print and online publications related to national news, grocery sales, agriculture and stock market updates. Of this total, 84% featured both Roberts’ name and quotation in the headline.

On the other hand, while ASDA’s Lord Stuart Rose’s volume was lower overall, his statements created stronger spikes in volume and a wider distribution rate. For example, he was quoted 341 times between 22-30 June for reporting that ASDA shoppers are ‘setting £30 limits at the till’ and ‘asking staff to put shopping back’ after that point.

Rose has also held a strong political voice in recent months, calling out Rishi Sunak’s attempts to solve the crisis. Between May-July, he was quoted 55 times by national newspapers after calling Sunak’s £15bn cost of living package ‘not enough’ in a Radio 4 interview.

Wage gap across UK supermarkets

Among the top speakers, all but Giles Hurley (Aldi) and Ryan McDonnell (Lidl) had negative coverage related to wage raises in their top-performing stories. On 6 June, Simon Roberts’ raise of £3.8m was covered by The Guardian and later syndicated a further 214 times by local and national news sources.

Ken Murphy also received a negative salary-related spike on 13 May due to his 2.4% increased pay package of £4.74m — 224 times higher than Tesco staff. On the other hand, Clare Grainger, group people director at Morrisons, was quoted 29 times in retail and grocery-focused magazines as ‘pleased to be maintaining our position as the highest paying UK national supermarket.’ This lead to 19 headline mentions between 8-12 June referring to Morrisons as the best wage-related supermarket.

Negative sentiment towards Sainsbury’s wages spiked for a second time between 27 June – 7 July when senior management rejected a call by ShareAction, HSBC and other investors to become a ‘Real Living Wage’ employer for all company staff. This topic was covered 179 times throughout July, during which ALDI received a peak in positive coverage for increasing staff pay a second time this year.

Since 1 May, all of Sainsbury’s major competitors have received positive coverage tied to wage increases, which has fed into the rapidly growing trend of consumer-led price comparison reports. Overall, wage ratios contributed to overall share of sentiment:

 

UK supermarkets: national share of voice   (1 May – 1 Aug 2022)

In a comparison of the top six supermarkets most often used by Britons, Tesco had the strongest share of voice among UK-wide online news sources in response to the cost-of-living crisis. While the majority was neutral in sentiment, it also received the highest rates of positive and negative coverage. Whereas 86% of neutral coverage was a passing mention, 64% of positive coverage was a dedicated article towards free kids’ meals over the summer period. This incentive has been a competitive theme over the July period,  with Tesco’s move following Asda’s £1 kids’ meal charge earlier in July.

Aside from wage-related backlash, negative coverage has also had consistent ties to the increase of low-cost meal prices. The term ‘shrinkflation’ has been trending since 13 May – the term for charging the same or more for reduced-size products. For example, Tesco was accused over this period of ‘secretly’ shrinking the size of ready meals while keeping them the same price.

Similarly, Sainsbury’s received controversial press for its commitment to banning ‘HFSS’ deals by October. Just one week after debates around this decision, Morrisons received a spike in national positive coverage for opting to delay the ban to support cost of living.

Key campaigns: cost of living

Media discussion around inflation has swiftly evolved since February, as the cost of living in the UK increases alongside Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Supermarkets and high-profile brands are rapidly changing their messaging to reflect value and support.

For example, John Lewis Partnership transition from its popular ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ to a focus on ‘Quality and Value’ demonstrates a direct response to consumer needs given rising inflation.

For marketers and marketing to really demonstrate the value it can add, it must go beyond campaigns to the broader actions that sit behind the campaigns that make the difference.

This is evident in that while Aldi and Lidl have the lowest number of inflation-related campaigns, they benefited from a surge in new customers, with sales increasing at both retailers over the last 12 weeks. Clearly, consistently low prices have had a stronger focus than diverse marketing messages for consumers who prioritise value for money.

Similarly, Tesco has added 100 products to its Low Everyday Prices range over the past month. Ken Murphy was quoted 38 times in national online headlines in a statement around the brand’s ‘laser-focus on value’ and plans to be the last of the big UK supermarkets to pass on inflation costs to customers.

Low-cost kids’ meals

As part of the Government’s Help for Households scheme, major retailers across the UK are offering discounts and support over the summer holidays to help families through the cost of living crisis. Tesco, ASDA and Sainsbury’s have signed up  through the summer holidays, into the back-to-school season and through to Christmas. Tesco and ASDA received a strong ratio of high-reaching national coverage in relation to this scheme.

Aldi Price Match

The ever-popular Aldi price-match program has also been a strong and consistent theme over the past four months. Sainsbury’s performed particularly well due to its ’doubling-down’ campaign, which matched a further 250 high-volume fresh products to the same prices as its German competitor. This headline created a strong surge of positive sentiment for Sainsbury’s in the middle of June. On the other hand, Tesco had a spike in negative sentiment in the middle of May following the decision to pull at least 18 products from its Aldi price-match programme.

As the heated competition to beat Aldi’s low costs evolves in the media, ASDA reaped the benefits of introducing its new and tactful Home Bargains price-match programme. Not only was this ASDA’s highest performing campaign, but it also set it apart from its competitors in the trending fight to make ‘essentials’ accessible to all families.

ASDA also introduced its ‘Just Essentials’ line and an Essential Living Hub, providing essential guidance and promotions to those who need it. Its press release was shared 57 times by local and regional media following the launch in early May, all of which provided a link directly to the hub in the body of the article.

 Changes and cuts to marketing

Despite warnings to the contrary, advertising budgets are often the first thing to get cut during an economic downturn. For example, while he did not indicate how much of this cost reduction would come out of marketing spend, Simon Roberts has said the retailer’s focus at this moment is to get its messages to customers, which has involved increasing its use of digital channels and decrease in other areas of traditional messaging.

In an article with Marketing Week, Roberts said Sainsbury’s was ‘using digital way more extensively than we were before’ and ‘really using every channel to make sure we get our value, innovation and quality messages to customers’.

On the other hand, Tesco’s CEO Ken Murphy also reported to Marketing Week that marketing is crucial ‘now more than ever’ and that it is not a cost ‘but more as an investment’ in prioritising crucial cost-of-living communications with customers.

 

 

Demonstrating value and empathy

As inflation continues to induce concern for families across the UK, it is evident that the highest-performing supermarkets in terms of sales and positive coverage are those that continue to drive value and empathy in their communications.

While Aldi and Lidl have the competitive edge of consistently low prices, reporter Chris Kelly commented that this won’t be enough in the long-term and the need to continue driving value-focused messaging is imperative:

‘Don’t assume that your only response to this inflationary moment has to be to cut prices. Think about ways in which you can add value as well, and that will then help you over the long run’, he said.

These doctrines apply to staff as much as customers — which was made evident when Sainsbury’s took a nationwide hit in the media for rejecting to pay all staff the national living wage. Similarly, CEOs saw a spike in negative coverage that questioned their annual salaries against the rising cost of essential household items.

As for who will prevail in the financial crisis, it appears to be those who continue to make care, value and empathy the undercurrent of every decision — from price cuts and loyalty incentives to staff wellness and changes in overall brand voice.

Aldi’s low-cost reputation means it can afford to run fewer campaigns and maintain a highly competitive status. However, other supermarkets that have previously been associated with luxury brands like Sainsbury’s ‘Taste the Difference’ are seeing a clear upsurge in sales and positive media coverage when prioritising diverse loyalty campaigns and the accessibility of household essentials.

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