No PR budget? No problem

No PR budget? No problem: Using the Journalist Enquiry Service to gain coverage as a small business

Not every business has a dedicated in-house PR person, comms team or the budget to bring in an agency to do public relations – that does not mean it is impossible to gain coverage in the UK media.

The ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service is used by small business owners, sector-specific agencies, household brand PR teams and global comms teams alike. Whatever size your business – and whichever niche your service or products fall into – journalists are always interested in relevant contributions.

Want to get started with media outreach for yourself? Here is how to do it with the Journalist Enquiry Service (book a one week trial here).

1) Be confident

A steady stream of requests from journalists to your inbox – if you do not have much experience with doing your own PR, it can be intimidating. Not every request that comes through will be one you can help with – look through them and reply to those that sound relevant to you. As long as what you are offering can help the journalist, you have got nothing to lose.

2) Be straightforward

There is no specific way to start a conversation with a journalist that you will not know about if you haven’t got a qualification in public relations – just offer the journalist what they have asked for if you have it. Outline what you have for them clearly, concisely and politely; no fancy jargon needed.

3) Be speedy

Each request sent by a media professional via the Journalist Enquiry Service will have a deadline. As with any project that has a deadline, it is better to get started sooner rather than later. See a request you can help with? Put together your response and send it straight away; don’t wait until tomorrow when the journo’s feature could already be filled with contributions from others who got in touch super fast.

4) Be ready with images

If you have images (or even video or audio) that go with your contribution – of your product, spokesperson or event, for example – upload them to a file sharing service (like DropBox, WeTransfer, or Google Drive) and include a link in your response. Not every journalist will need an image for their story, but give them the option just in case. One definite don’t for images, though – attachments on the first email; that is a no-no.

5) Be generous with your expertise

Nobody can be an expert in everything, not even a journalist who has been covering a particular patch for years. They want expert comment from those with the know-how to fill their feature – if that is you, put yourself forward to help them.

6) Be realistic about responses

Journalists are incredibly busy people with busy inboxes – you will not get a reply every time you respond to a request. Even if you do not hear back from them, they will have made a note of your details if you are a relevant contact and may get back in touch for another feature. Every connection can be a future opportunity.

7) Be patient

Deadlines – journalists have plenty of them. In addition to the deadline they set for contributions – included on the request – they will also have a personal deadline for finishing their feature, and one for filing with their editor. That is not the end of the story, either… Each outlet has their own publishing schedule, with some working months and months ahead. You might not see your contribution for a while. In some cases, it might be cut during the editing process. Do not chase – just keep trying and trust you have made a useful connection in the media.

8) Be reliable and responsive

You are as busy as the journalists you want to connect with, but there is no excuse for ghosting, AKA offering information or an interview and then disappearing because you do not have time. Before you promise something to a journalist, make sure you can provide it. If you are acting on behalf of somebody else, make sure they can deliver, too.

9) Be regular with your activity

Media outreach is an ongoing activity, and one you will get more effective and faster at with experience. Set a regular time slot for yourself to go through requests and see what you can help with – if you fit it into your working week, it will become an automatic part of your business.

10) Be open to additional topics

Being quoted in the media is beneficial; even if what you are talking about is not directly related to your business, you are building your reputation. If you are quoted, the journalist will include a mention of your job title and perhaps a little about what you do. As well as building on your ‘personal brand’, you will also be known to the journalist as someone they can connect with for upcoming related features.

For help with your media outreach, get requests from UK media people straight to your inbox – book a demo of the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service.

Want more advice on how to make the most of the service? Check out our previous advice posts:

How to respond to journalist enquiries
How to tackle vague requests from journalists
6 reasons to stop searching #JournoRequest and start using the Journalist Enquiry Service

City Hall Journalists

Inside City Hall – The journalists shining a light on London politics

Pictured, left to right: Callum Marius (MyLondon) Joe Talora (Evening Standard, LDR) Jessica Frank-Keyes (LondonWorld), Josiah Mortimer (MyLondon), James Cracknell (Social Spider).

For those outside of the Press Gallery, the inner workings of political journalism can seem like a closed-off and mysterious part of the media.

What does a typical day look like for City Hall journalists, how do they like to work with PRs and how does one get into this line of reporting?

ResponseSource community manager Andrew Strutt caught up with MyLondon City Hall editor Josiah Mortimer, founder of the recently-launched City Hall Journalists lobby, to find out…

City Hall journos are a close-knit group

‘Having worked in Parliament’s Press Gallery for a couple of years, I found it to be a really useful and supportive network.’
‘When City Hall moved east to Newham earlier this year, it got me thinking about provisions for reporters in the new building – which aren’t quite up to scratch.

‘Often people say that reporting in the UK is ‘London-centric’. This isn’t quite true – it’s Westminster-centric but a lot of what happens in devolved politics goes ignored.

‘There aren’t many of us covering City Hall, so it is great to be working together to speak with a louder voice, improve transparency and build the profile of GLA reporting. I wanted to get this network off the ground to shine a brighter light on London’s politics. Hopefully we can bring some of the best of the Press Gallery to The Crystal, adapted for today.’

No day is ‘typical’, but here is an idea of how things work…#

‘It will involve watching a committee hearing – whether that’s economy, planning, health or oversight/scrutiny.’

‘We work closely with the Assembly Members who are a font of knowledge on City Hall, and are – like us, in a way – there to scrutinise the Mayor, so there is a lot of interaction there. The Mayor has a lot of sway over high profile issues like transport and policing so we tend to trawl through new documents and data, and will often do one or two interviews with the Mayor a week. But the GLA impacts all Londoners, so we try to build links with as many community groups, activists, resident groups, unions and so on as possible.’

How PRs can work with those reporting from City Hall

‘I tend to primarily work with non-profit PRs – those at campaign groups and organisations affected by the GLA.’

‘In terms of for-profits, that will often be in a reactive way, getting rights of reply or checking facts. I enjoy writing the occasional review so will work closely with PRs for music, food or travel content. On getting in touch, I’m a big fan of chatting on the phone but a Twitter DM is usually a good way in – it is a good platform for a very succinct pitch. Please don’t send ten identical emails, though!’

The best part of working the City Hall patch?

Having started in the role last October, Josiah already has some highlights:

‘Getting to ride on the Elizabeth Line before it opened – Londoners had been waiting for it for so long. I was there on the day it opened, too – on the first train from Paddington, following the Mayor and revelling in the transport geekery.

‘Sometimes the highlights are also lowlights, in a sense. I recently did a London Assembly tour of Brixton speaking to market traders about the cost-of-living crisis. It was moving to hear what they’re going through, and it’s also my patch so great to get to know more of the community.’

Find out more about the City Hall Journalists group and its members here.

For news from the political and public affairs sector, sign up to Vuelio’s Friday newsletter Point of Order.

What's next? The new generation of journalists

‘Don’t talk to me! (email me instead)’: How to work with Gen Z journalists

It is a frequent ask from writers to PRs: don’t phone to pitch, don’t call to follow up on an email you have just sent. Unsurprisingly, it is no different for up-and-coming Generation Z journalists, the 25-year-olds (and younger) making their way in the media now.

That doesn’t mean young journalists are unapproachable. In fact, the three Gen Z freelance writers on the panel of our Vuelio webinar ‘What’s Next? The new generation of journalists’ love to work with PRs, fully appreciating what those in the comms sector can bring to their content. Provided it is not pitched in an ‘awkward’ way, of course…

Watch the full ‘What’s Next? The new generation of journalists’ webinar.

Here are just some of the insights shared by freelancers Zesha Saleem, Michele Theil and Hannah Bradfield on the internal workings of the modern media industry and how they like to work with comms pros.

1) Gen Z journos LOVE working with PRs (these writers do, anyway)

Freelance journalist Zesha Saleem – who has racked up commissions from Metro, British Vogue and The Guardian so far – considers PRs really helpful for her writing:

‘PRs do such an amazing and important job. I used to reply to every PR who contacted me – I try to reply to as many as I can now, but now I tend to reply to the ones I can definitely work on.

‘If I don’t reply, assume that I don’t have the capability to work on it. I don’t work five days a week; I do limited shifts. Sometimes PRs will email three or four times in a day. Journalists are told not to pitch the same thing three or four times… That’s just one thing I’d say to keep in mind…’

2) Young journalists see the common ground between PRs and journos

Michele Theil – currently under contract at the BBC and a freelancer for outlets including VICE and The Independent – understands just how similar job-related pressures are for both journalists and PRs:

‘I try to respond as much as possible – a PR friend told me people that take the time to reply are their favourite journalists. From my perspective, when I’m pitching to an editor, I hate not getting a response.

3) Don’t take it personally if you don’t get a response

‘Sometimes there are so many emails and not enough time in the day,’ added Michele.

‘I understand that PRs have to chase, but give us some time. Sometimes I don’t have the emotional energy to reply to things. I hope that no one ever takes it personally; I never ever mean it personally. It’s nothing to do with you or the content; just right now, in the moment, it’s not right for what I’m working on.’

4) To DM, or to not DM?

‘I prefer emails to be honest,’ said Zesha.

‘I don’t work all the time, so if it’s a press release, I’ll move it into a folder and get back to it later. My DMs are a mess, first of all. Things can get lost and sometimes I don’t open them until months later. Sometimes it’s something great that I can’t really work on anymore – definitely send an email.’

Michele agrees: ‘I mostly get contacted by email, which is great, especially when I’ve put out a call or a request. Sometimes I get a DM, and I’m not completely averse to that, but don’t be annoyed if I don’t reply to your DM. If I haven’t responded in a few hours, drop me an email because I’m more likely to see it there.’

5) Respect their work/life dynamic

Hannah, a fellow freelance journalist alongside her duties as a Journo Resources trainee prefers email for media outreach: ‘It’s just easier to regulate. With Twitter, the lines can be blurred a little.’

‘It offers a degree of separation,’ agreed Michele, highlighting the importance of maintaining a healthy work/life balance – hard for freelance journalists, and frequently an issue for PRs, too.

‘I can choose when I respond with an email – it gives everyone agency. A lot of our work blurs into our personal life as freelancers – give me the choice to reply tomorrow.

6) Media outreach: don’t make it awkward

What makes email so useful for media outreach isn’t just its convenience for journalists. It also skips any forced social interactions. Meeting up for coffee, offering to buy them a drink? Way too 90s/early-00s an approach.

‘Building long-term relationships with PRs is great,’ said Michele. ‘But I have this weird thing, when PRs offer to pay for everything. That’s nice; that’s lovely… but it makes me feel a bit awkward? It can be really awkward for people of our generation. “Let me buy you a coffee”. Like… why?’

And not to belabour the point, but before you pick up the phone to call them – rethink it.

‘Gen Zs don’t like phone calls – don’t talk to me,’ Michele joked.

Just email to start the conversation when you’re doing media outreach in future – it is less awkward for everyone.

Watch the webinar here for more from these three journalists and how they work with PRs, and check out more advice on pitching to different sections of the media in our white paper How to pitch to journalists.

Want requests from UK journalists straight through to your inbox? Book a demo of the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service.

Sustainable comms right from the start

4 practical steps for building sustainability into your PR

COP26 is long over, but sustainability and climate change are still very much on the agenda in comms, with Greenpeace protests at this year’s Cannes Lions festival gaining plenty of coverage alongside the big winners.

We recently caught up with Aura’s Laura Sutherland to talk about her approach to building sustainability into her work – here is extra advice on how to start your own journey towards sustainable PR that will make a difference.

1) Start with research

‘It would be silly of me to say there was anything ‘quick’ about sustainability as it is a long-term game,’ admitted Laura. ‘But there are things you can put into action right now, to help you get started:

– Read the UN Sustainable Development Goals and their actions
– Subscribe to sustainability podcasts and blogs
– Take the PRCA’s new half day course ‘How to Communicate about Climate Change Accurately and Effectively’ – this was a result of our work in the Strategy Group and in partnership with the Royal Meteorological Society
– Start to measure in terms of carbon footprint – the research shows that 59% of respondents don’t do carbon footprint measurement
– Advise! Have the confidence to advise on strategy and stop jumping on the bandwagon, greenwashing and help inform them of better ways
– Call out the bad stuff.

‘Or, give me a shout!’

2) Avoid the pitfalls of greenwashing

‘As mentioned above, jumping on the bandwagon and just spouting! As we know, brands love to add to the noise when there is something newsy happening. Don’t do it for the sake of it!

‘If there is a strategy and action plan to deliver, then the measurement and evaluation should speak for itself. Don’t let clients push back on research, strategy or evaluation. It’s not a nice to have!

‘Don’t be scared to get someone in to help you get started. Not everyone is an expert in all areas.’

3) Keep the conversation going

‘It should be added to board agendas, team meeting agendas and it should be a regular point for data collection and reporting. The more it’s built into our work, the more normal it will be to take action. I personally think it should be included in your CPD plans, too.

‘Hold workshops internally or with clients to explore the stakeholder audit and mapping, do some long-term planning and horizon scanning. Our work is not all about campaigns. Our work is about thinking about how we build relationships and trust with stakeholders. And please, don’t forget internal stakeholders! I’ve done a lot of work in internal communication in recent years and it’s been obvious that it’s been an after-thought and not integrated across the organisation. Integration is so important. That’s why a collaborative approach is essential.’

4) Bring your internal and external stakeholders onboard ASAP

‘There’s definitely an education piece to be done with internal stakeholders. Both the industry research and consumer research the Strategy Group carried out say that we’re not doing enough to fight the climate crisis and I think that’s the point. We need to start taking action. Action starts from within. Personal action which translates into our work and then filters out.

PWC’s 2021 ESG consumer report said that 83% of consumers think companies should be actively shaping ESG best practice, 91% of leaders believe their company has a responsibility to act on ESG and that 86% of employees prefer to support or work for companies that care about the same issues they do.

‘This is epic. It means people know it’s needed, but now, what we need more than anything, is ACTION. If not now, when?’

Read our full interview with Laura Sutherland on her launch of the Aura PR Synergy Framework and which brands are already putting in the work on sustainability, as well as more about the PRCA Climate Misinformation Group’s second annual report.

Want more on how to engage your stakeholders? Take a look at Vuelio’s Stakeholder Management solutions.

Laura Sutherland on sustainability in PR

‘If not now, when?’ – Aura’s Laura Sutherland on sustainable PR

‘We know work is needed on sustainability. What is needed more than anything is ACTION; if not now, when?’

Aura and PRFest founder Laura Sutherland is passionate about is sustainability. Having centred last year’s PRFest around the subject, Laura is also working with the PRCA Climate Misinformation Strategy Group to highlight what those in PR can do to boost and share the right information. Her latest initiative to aid the PR industry in making a positive impact on climate change – the launch of the Synergy Framework; a sustainable approach to comms.

Read on for Laura’s aims, the responsibilities that PR cannot ignore and which brands are already doing the work.

What sparked the launch of the Synergy Framework?

Businesses and organisations struggle to know where to start with sustainability; there’s so much information and also misinformation. They often either don’t make an attempt, stick their head in the sand, or worse, greenwash, as a result. I want to show there is a huge opportunity ahead, for us all!

The work I’ve been doing in stakeholder relations over the past few years has shown that businesses are not good at auditing, mapping and scoring them, therefore they don’t really know what they need or want. Equally, we all know that measurement and evaluation is an ongoing push to drive up standards in our industry.

Aura’s Synergy Framework integrates all of the essential aspects of a successful strategy and plan, but importantly, incorporates the UN Sustainable Development Goals in the strategy. They are global and there to be used, but, married with the stakeholder work and the roll out of plans with action, it’s a ready-made framework which any size of business or organisation can use.

This also means that businesses and organisations aren’t just focused on one thing. Yes, the goals need to be prioritised, but if you know the SDGs, they cover everything from wellbeing to diversity and recycling to finance. It’s comprehensive.

It’s a way forward and a great starting point to move to a sustainable future. I want to lead with a positive approach and do as much as the client needs me to. I want to help agencies get better at this too by showing them how the framework can be used in their work. For me, this is a massive opportunity for collaboration for good.

Where does the PR industry – in-house and agency-side – need to start doing more on sustainability?

I’m part of the PRCA Climate Misinformation Strategy Group and we recently announced the results of our second piece of industry research.

While our industry is getting better at learning, advising and even pushing back on what might be greenwashing, we have a way to go. 45% have noticed their clients/organisation attempting to greenwash. 89% (of the 45%) have pushed back and 57% managed to change the approach as a result.

It starts with our own learning about what we can do to help our clients and organisations.

Then, it’s about building confidence in what we are advising, who we are collaborating with, bringing everyone along on the journey and then, of course, how we are telling that sustainability story. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.

It’s about leaders in our industry actually leading. 45% of respondents to the second annual survey from the PRCA Climate Misinformation Strategy Group said their boss having a better understanding of the importance of addressing the climate crisis would help them prioritise it in relation to their work.

Which brand work/campaigns from recent years do you think are great examples of PR pushing forward on sustainability concerns and topics?

Patagonia is always a brand to look to for all things sustainability. They do it so well! Of course, we have my fellow Strategy Group and Chair John Brown’s agency’s work with Meridian, fighting deforestation.

And I can’t miss my own work with Mercat Tours, which is the first client I’ve used the Synergy Framework with – that’s kind of how it evolved, actually. We’re working on an impact report now, to bring all the work of the last 12 months together. It’s not all about pomp and show… businesses can be sustainable, do their bit for society, economy and the planet, tell their story without fancy, costly campaigns.

Find out more about Laura Sutherland’s work in her previous guest post about PRFest and take a look at more statistics from the second annual PRCA Climate Misinformation Strategy Group and Opinion report here.

PRCA

PR needs to lead on climate change, finds PRCA Climate Misinformation Strategy Group

The PRCA Climate Misinformation Strategy Group and Opinium have launched their second annual report, revealing PR’s important role in leading action on climate issues and the industry’s increasing confidence in the difference it can make.

The study of over 200 UK PR and communications professionals that took place in the six months following COP26 found that almost all (96%) were already advising clients and coworkers on climate change – a raise of 14% since last year.

Advising clients on climate change

On growing confidence to tackle climate-related issues and misinformation in their work, almost half said they’d encountered greenwashing, with 89% having pushed against false claims, and 57% having changed an organisation’s response.

Greenwashing

Other findings from the report include:

  • While almost all respondents (97%) said they have taken action to address the climate crisis, only 48% measure their carbon footprint
  • 71% of consumers say they would stop buying from a brand if they knew it had misled its customers on having a positive environmental impact
  • 57% of the general public do not know the outcome of COP26. A third (33%) felt the agreements made at the conference didn’t impact them.

Adding to that 48% of PR and comms people who don’t yet measure carbon footprints, only a quarter (24%) currently set science-based targets.

On information from the public included in the study, 31% believed poverty to be the most impactful issue, and only half (50%) saw the man-made climate crisis posing an ‘existential threat’ to the planet – highlighting the need for inclusive and relatable communications from PRs when covering these issues.

‘We have a responsibility to ensure any unethical communication or attempts are challenged,’ said PRCA Climate Misfinformation Strategy Group representative Laura Sutherland.

‘The call to action to industry is this: be more brave – learn about ESG, learn how to approach a difficult situation with your boss or your client, start setting your own agency targets and communicate the action you’re taking.

‘Let’s lead by example and be the change we want to see.’

Chief executive of Opinium James Endersby added:

‘With seven in 10 consumers saying they would stop buying from a brand if they knew it had misled its customers about having a positive environmental impact, it is more important than ever that PR and Communications professionals support, consult and walk hand-in-hand with their clients on their journey to being better forces of good for our planet.’

Read the full second annual report from the PRCA Climate Misinformation Strategy Group and Opinium and compare with results from the first study here.

For more on greenwashing and how PR can combat it, check out these lessons from CIPR’s 2021 conference Climate Change and the Role of PR featuring insight from Climate Group’s Luke Herbert, Plastic Planet UK’s Sian Sutherland and #EthicalHour’s Sian Conway.

Six statistics about generation Z

6 statistics about Gen Z to consider when planning your next PR campaign

Are you engaging with Generation Z with your comms and campaigns? According to research from our latest white paper The PR guide to communicating with Gen Z, around a fifth of the UK PR industry aren’t yet factoring the under-25s into their planning – that’s a huge missed opportunity. 

Download The PR guide to communicating with Gen Z

Not sure how Gen Z differ to Millennials in their motivations and interests? Which social media platforms you should be investing your time in? The kind of content you should be creating to engage and inspire them? Here are six statistics about the age group to get you started:

1. Play

42% of Gen Z consumers would participate in an online game for a brand campaign, according to data from the National Retail Federation and IBM Institute of Business Value’s ‘Gen Z Brand Relationships global study’ from 2017. ITV utilised this by recreating its ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’ castle in Fortnite, while plenty of other big brands have spaces set up in Roblox. Is there a way to incorporate gaming into your own upcoming campaigns?

2. Be social

Almost all Gen Zers (95%) use YouTube, half (50%) ‘can’t live without it’, while 69% of the Gen Zers use Instagram, according to findings from Ad Week’s 2017 report on the age group. Most valuable platforms alongside YouTube and Instagram – Facebook (67%), Snapchat (67%) and Twitter (52%).

3. Be quick and concise

Gen Zers have an eight-second attention span, according to research from Microsoft. That’s a whole four-seconds shorter than the 12-second span of Millennials. What they need from PR, comms pros and marketers are streamlined and concise communications, whichever platform you’re using. With this challenge comes opportunity – Gen Z has a high ability, and natural tendency, to multitask when consuming content. For engaging with Gen Zers busy streaming a show or film while tweeting about it on social media, check out this Vuelio webinar on utilising high and low involvement attention with Neuro PR.

4. Educate and empower

Over half (52%) of teenagers used YouTube and other social media channels for research assignments or school work, was the findings in the Pew Research Center study ‘How Teens Do Research in the Digital World’ – social sites aren’t just for entertainment or consumption for Generation Z. If your niche is in education, raising awareness or the third sector, don’t overlook social platforms as a way to connect with the younger generation. For more on making use of social media to raise awareness, check out how charities including Tiny Tickers and The Wildlife Trusts are doing it here.

5. Collaborate

Over three quarters (77%) of Gen Z employees are willing to be technology mentors for their co-workers, according to Dell Technologies research piece ‘The Gen Z effect‘.

Not quite sure how to work TikTok and other new(ish) technologies into your upcoming campaign set pieces? If you’re one of the 37% of teams that have under-25s on your team, as found in research for our Vuelio white paper, make the most of their skillsets and get them working on it.

6. Help them to create and communicate their message and motivations, too

76% of Generation Z believe they can turn their hobbies into a full-time career, according to this piece from Forbes.

With all of their ability to utilise and adapt to evolving communication styles, platforms and formats, Generation Z are born communicators and creators. They’re hungry for fresh content they can enjoy, interact with, add to and transform. That’s a lot of opportunity, and responsibility, for those looking to engage with and learn from them.

For more on how to communicate with and engage Generation Z in your PR and comms, check out the full white paper The PR guide to communicating with Gen Z

British Grand Prix 2022 F1

How F1 Driver Attitudes Evolved Ahead of the British Grand Prix

Last Sunday, Carlos Sainz scored his first Formula 1 win at the 2022 British Grand Prix, overcoming Oracle Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen, who lost his lead in the first few laps due to bodywork damage. Verstappen and Perez top the leaderboard and Oracle Red Bull Racing tops the constructors, which is reflected in media coverage as the team has also been the strongest competitor in overall media presence since F1 began in March.

In the month leading up to the GB race, pressure has grown on UK-based teams following heightened array of discriminatory language towards this year’s drivers. Piquet’s attack on Lewis Hamilton made national headlines in the final week of June, alongside the suspension of Red Bull’s Juri Vips due to racial slurs used on Twitch. Between 20 June and 4 July, ‘racism’ and ‘xenophobia’ were the third and fourth most popular search terms on an international scale in relation to Formula 1.

Overall, Oracle Red Bull received an 82% positive sentiment on all UK coverage between 1 June – 1 July. This is largely due to Verstappen’s current lead in the FIA Formula 1 Standings, alongside a selection of bespoke modifications on his vehicle ahead of the GB race. However, while the team’s victories have been greatly supported by positive attitudes across UK press, Verstappen’s personal relationship with the Piquet family ultimately created a spike in national negative coverage between 26 June – 5 July. Of the 1,106 print and online news sources that associated Verstappen with the racial attacks on Hamilton, 92% were negative in overall sentiment.

Commentary was also amplified around this time by the booing that took place over the race weekend, which Verstappen was quoted as calling a ‘bit of a problem’ but he still called the Silverstone Circuit a ‘great track and great atmosphere in general’ (AutoSport, 02.07.22).

Most Mentioned Drivers

 

While Sainz achieved victory at the British F1, Verstappen’s heightened media exposure has created the highest volume in both national press and UK-based automotive media since 1 June. Despite ongoing controversies, Verstappen’s consistent wins and crowd-pleasing car upgrades means he has maintained an overall 62% positive coverage sentiment over the past month. In addition, Sainz downplayed his win over Verstappen as ‘nothing special’, which has been quoted 159 times by UK-based F1 news sources since 3 July.

Between June 25 – July 2, Mercedes also received a spike in positive coverage as Hamilton teased significant improvements to their vehicle ahead of the GB race. Having won eight times in the same location, he referred to Silverstone as the ‘best track there is’, describing the corners as ‘hair-raising and just epic to drive’ (Sky Sports, 02.07.22). These statements were used 173 times between 20 June – 2 July, with the majority of coverage coming from online F1 sources like Planet F1.com and local/regional radio stations, such as Isle of Wight Radio.

Fan Expectations

While Verstappen has previously told AutoSport that it was ‘never straightforward’ to meet high fan expectations, Oracle Red Bull Racing’s modifications have received the strongest representation of positive international coverage since the start of June. This was complemented by commentary from former F1 driver Gerhard Berger, who claimed Oracle Red Bull Racing ‘knew they had a good car’ and were likely to drive at the front.

The most popular upgrade to receive attention across UK print, broadcast and online media was the ‘well thought-out slimming method’ that made the car nearly five pounds lighter than it was at the Canadian Grand Prix, worth an estimated 0.2 seconds per lap.

Following closely behind, Mercedes received the second-strongest volume of coverage on updates to their W13 car ahead of the British Grand Prix, including a ‘revised front suspension, sidepod vanes, floor, rear wings and bib wing tweaks’ (Auto Breaking News, 22.06.22). According to Motorsport.com, the team was ‘pushing to take a step forward in performance’ and ‘ease some of the bouncing that has blighted both Hamilton and Russel’s efforts’ so far this season.

Hamilton was quoted 84 times between 20 June – 1 July in calling these changes a ‘small step forwards’, while urging that Mercedes have ‘got to keep working’ in response to the issue. The Mirror called this an ‘optimistic British Grand Prix message’ and a ‘vow to fans’ in their headline, which was syndicated a further 28 times by local and regional online media.

Most Active Authors

Between 6 June – 6 July, Luke Chillingsworth has led the F1 conversation across UK media. His commentary on the progression of UK-based teams, as well as the fluctuating relationship between Mercedes and Oracle Red Bull Racing, has featured across 539 articles in national and regional online publications. Both Michelle Foster and George Dagless have also maintained high coverage volumes over the 30-day cycle, with Foster offering an array of high-reaching exclusive insights into how GB drivers were feeling days before the Silverstone race. In a prominent article with Planet F1, Foster wrote of George Russell’s belief that ‘Red Bull and Ferrari will be ahead’ but maintained ‘high hopes’ for Mercedes’ overall performance.

Amicable Attitudes and Short-Lived Sportsmanship

While the public remains averse to Verstappen’s defensive relationship with Piquet, his performance throughout the F1 Grand Prix has greatly supported the continued positive media presence of Oracle Red Bull Racing. As crowds booed Verstappen on 2 July, Mercedes received a direct positive spike in sentiment as Hamilton asked fans to stop.

As the multi-layered conflict evolves, coverage for McLaren, Alpine, Aston Martin and Williams remains much lower, with the strongest coverage and highest reaching sources coming from automotive and lifestyle publications. So long as Verstappen remains in the lead, it is likely that the overall F1 focus will remain in favour of Oracle Red Bull Racing as well as the correlative impact on both Hamilton and Mercedes.

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

finding happiness at work

Mental wellbeing in PR: How to look after yourself and your team

‘People drive the future of businesses – it’s so important for them to feel supported and secure,’ says Emma Loizidis, head of people at Fox Agency.

PR is a particularly high-stress sector; even more so since the start of the pandemic – looking after yourself, and those working with you, has perhaps never been more important.

For how to protect yourself from burn out, what companies can do to support employees, and getting a fully-representative (and fully-supported and empowered) team together right from the start of the recruitment stage, read on for advice from Emma.

Individual burn out – what can be done to prevent it?

‘I think it is super important to recognise that if employees have a healthy work/life balance, employers will get the best out of them. When this balance starts to drop or even disappear, mistakes can start to appear, employees struggle and it really isn’t healthy. If employees are burning out, then HR teams and managers need to look at the reasons why:

• Is the team underresourced? Do we need to hire?
• Is the employee in need of further development? Are they happy in the role?

‘Once we address these potential issues, we can then create some actions: that might mean hiring extra people, offering further learning and development improving our wellbeing offerings – EAP services, meditation/fitness classes, etc.’.

What initiatives should comms companies put in place to support their workforce?

‘Being consistently open and transparent with all employees is key, especially as we move more towards a remote way of working – constantly asking our employees (through regular surveys and stay interviews) what is and isn’t working for them, what are their main drivers to come to work every day, and making sure everyone has a clear succession plan which will keep them motivated, excited and challenged.’

How can recruitment teams ensure processes are fair to attract diverse talent right from the start?

‘There are many ways to achieve this. Fair and diverse hiring should be mindful of not only job discrimination laws, but also the idea that hiring should be based on merit, skills and experience and not related to a candidate’s ethnicity, gender, religion, or any other quality unrelated to their skills and experience. Recruiters can take the following actions to help them achieve this goal:

• Write inclusive job adverts using language that doesn’t encourage conscious bias
• Practice blind hiring
• Create a clear selection criteria
• Include diverse hiring panels
• Assess the relevant skills and competencies
• Have a fair background checking process

‘I think it’s also important not to rely on job adverts as a way of attracting talent. Getting out into the community, building relationships with Universities, young enterprises, digital academies, etc. will really allow recruiters to tap into diverse talent.’

Is a People function right for every organisation?

‘When a PR/Comms business reaches a headcount of 40+, this is definitely the right time to implement a People function. It’s very common for most businesses to think, at this stage, a recruiter or talent manager is the next important hire. However, it’s much smarter to hire a head of people to help embed structure early on to prepare the business for scalability.

‘The industry itself is extremely competitive, with employees getting headhunted left, right and centre! It’s therefore so important to create a culture and environment that will encourage our employees to stay and develop within their roles. Ultimately, our people drive the future of the business and it’s so important for them to feel supported and secure.’

For more on building diverse teams from the start of your recruitment journey, check out our previous post How can PR and comms teams make recruitment fair? 

Catch up on our interview with with Emma Loizidis to find out more about her work with Fox Agency. 

Emma Loizidis

PR Interview with Emma Loizidis, head of people for Fox Agency

Feeling supported and empowered at work has historically been lacking a little in the creative industries, particularly in the fast-paced and high-stress environs of PR.

Joining the push to make the public relations industry a kinder and more mindful sector to work in is Emma Loizidis, who has recently taken on the role of head of people for Fox Agency.

Read on for Emma’s thoughts on the importance of people power: ‘Ultimately, people drive the future of business – it’s so important for them to feel supported and secure’.

What are you most looking forward to getting stuck into as Fox Agency’s head of people?
My plan is to establish and build the people function for the business by implementing strategies to achieve its ambitious growth plans, while at the same time ensuring that the team is happy, supported, fulfilled and working together towards a shared goal.

I’m already bowled over by the culture of the business! And since I’ve joined, the amazing and talented people that make everything happen. I was looking for an opportunity where I could make a real impact on the growth and success of an exciting and thriving business, while having the creative freedom to run with my ideas.

How did the pandemic impact your work, and do you think the changes brought about by COVID-19 are here to stay?
My role completely changed during and after the pandemic. I was so used to working in an office full-time, being surrounded by people and having a constant stream of traffic at my desk. To really be effective within HR, I believe it’s all about really getting to know people. Inside and out. Building rapport and trust as well as being the most approachable person within the business.

Business culture was always built around the office – hosting face-to-face events, decorating the office, small talk while queuing for a coffee. This has all changed now as we move into a hybrid/remote way of working. I’ve had to find new ways to engage with employees, how to create a presence, and how to onboard new hires from afar. I do think these changes are here to stay and I see it as a huge positive! We can now attract amazing talent not only nationally but also globally, and teams have proved that we can still collaborate and connect no matter where we are based.

How do you keep up to date with current trends in HR and employee support – what media do you seek out?
HR changes ALL the time! And I think it’s really important. Not only for my own job satisfaction, but to ensure our employees benefit from as much support and engagement as possible, to keep abreast of current trends and changes.

I’ve learnt over time that my learning style is definitely not through studying and reading, so the best way for me to keep in touch is through podcasts, workshops and modern HR-related blogs. When I walk my dog every morning at 6am, I listen to the CIPD podcast and HR Works. I try to brush up on my employment law knowledge by attending talks and workshops hosted by law firms and employment law lawyers as well as subscribing to cool and modern blogs such as Officevibe, Workable and Snack Nation.

Why is PR/Comms such a stressful, yet special, industry, in your opinion?
I think when working in this industry, the nature of the job is to be constantly spinning multiple plates, particularly in the agency world. Employees will be working towards many deadlines often for several different clients, all of whom work very differently and have different expectations. They’re having to adapt their communication style on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis and it can sometimes feel like they’re chasing their tail!

I also think to work in this industry, employees really take pride in the work they deliver. This can often lead to a perfectionist mentality which is great, however, this can also be quite exhausting. Ultimately, passion is key! People work in this industry to express their creativity, gain a sense of purpose and to have a positive impact. This is why it is so special.

For more on looking after the mental wellbeing of the people in public relations, watch our accessmatters session with KDP Coaching & Consulting’s Katie Phillips on preventing burnout.

Social listening introduction

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

If you work in public relations, communications or public affairs and you’re only tracking your brand or client’s reputation and impact across the media, you might be missing a significant part of the conversation.

For the basics of social listening and how it can inform your work and success rate, read on below…

What is social listening?

Social listening, in essence, is listening to any conversation that’s happening on the World Wide Web – it’s much more than a buzzword banded around by PR teams keen to appear in-the-know when it comes to digital.

Social listening can include Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, right through to blogs and online forums. Pulsar’s social listening solutions are also expanding to ‘newer’ platforms like TikTok and Twitch, beloved of younger, incredibly-engaged online demographics.

There are two forms of social listening particularly useful when planning for upcoming campaigns and tracking their impact.

Pre-mediated listening: Are there trends you want to track, like sustainability, rising sea levels, or air travel, but you aren’t exactly sure what the conversation around them looks like? Pre-mediated listening is where you can start zeroing-in on these conversational topics. They can be specific to your brand, your competitors, or sectors you wish to be associated with.

Organic listening: Perhaps you don’t know a lot about your intended audience yet – what topics do they care about, how do they feel about them? How should you position your own brand on the topic? This is where organic listening comes in.

Is social listening… legal?

In a word – yes. All social platforms have terms and conditions that social listening services such as Pulsar must adhere to. For social platforms that have both public and private profiles, only the datasets from the public ones, those that are in the public domain, can be listened to by third parties like Pulsar.

As for what social listening platforms are listening to, there’s a lot – keywords (topics), audience panels (focus groups of media users – demographic, political affiliation, even detractors or supporters of your band around your brand), and specific content and URLs (a press release, a YouTube video, or perhaps your website).

With social listening, you can understand who’s sharing what, what they’re saying about it, and the impact it has.

Is social media monitoring the same as social listening?

No – think of social media monitoring as more ‘top line’. It will give you the metrics, but not necessarily the ‘why’ behind all the sharing, or the silence.

Social listening can be more actionable – what’s happening in the conversation, is this something you want to react to? Using crisis comms as an example – should you ‘fan the flames’, or let them die down?

What does social listening offer?

On that subject of metrics, there are plenty that social listening can give you. There’s visibility (impact of content across different mediums), impressions, reach, shares, comments. Pulsar, for example, gives context; making metrics more useable.

There’s conversational insight – what is driving positivity, or negativity? What’s should your narrative be on specific topics?

For audience insights – you can find out who exactly is engaging with your content, whether you’ve reached your intended audience, and whether there are segments you should have been considering from the start.

Social listening allows us to track how information flows from person to person, how people engage with influencers, and where the information goes next. It helps to understand who is most central to specific online communities – is it bloggers who are making stories go viral? Who do you want to work with?

How can PR, comms and public affairs teams use social listening?

Extra insight on online conversations can slot into and enrich any part of a campaign cycle.

For pre-activity analysis, social listening can help you decide what your brand, clients, or spokespeople should be saying, including the tone. This data can even provide insight on whether you should engage at all.

Throughout your campaign, social listening will show you which media is useful for your audience. Your client may want to be on the front page of a red-top newspaper, but will the intended audience be picking up that paper from the newsagent?

For finding the right journalists, broadcasters and influencers for your next campaign, book a demo of the Vuelio Media Database.

Post-activity is where you can determine ROI and prove that what you’re doing is working. Benchmark against your previous activity, or your competitors’, check out real-time reaction, and the ebb and flow of engagement throughout your campaign. Did you reach the audience you wanted to reach, new sectors, or the same people you already engage with every day?

Ultimately, social listening can give you access to conversations you’ve always wanted to be a part of, whichever part of the comms industry you’re working in.

Find out more about Pulsar’s social listening solutions and how it can help you with upcoming campaigns here

What journalists want: requests from media interviews on ResponseSource

What journalists want: Requests from ResponseSource media interviews

We regularly catch up with UK journalists, editors, podcasters, broadcasters and more for our Media Bulletin newsletters. One thing we always like to ask: how they prefer to work with PRs and comms professionals.

Sign up to the Media Bulletin newsletter for twice-weekly updates from the UK media industry. Want more details on new hires, new patches and new launches? Book a demo of the Vuelio Media Database.

Here is a round-up of requests from the journalists the Media Bulletin team have recently interviewed over on our sister ResponseSource blog – read on for what they’d find useful.

Peter Stuart, editor of Cyclingnews
‘I welcome pitches from PRs, but more general releases often fly under my radar. I would encourage PRs pitching their brands to really dive into our content at Cyclingnews and make the case for how an idea would engage our readership.’

Peter Stuart joined Cyclingnews as editor in March of this year following his time as digital editor for Rouleur and also at Cyclist. At Cyclingnews, Peter oversees all editorial and content strategy for the website, covering cycling sport, cycling lifestyle and road cycling gear.

Read the full interview for trends in cycling in 2022 and interesting facts you might not know about the sport.

Natasha Lunn, features director for Red magazine and author of ‘Conversations on Love’
‘For stories for Red, it’s best to pitch to me via email (bearing in mind we work three months ahead!).’

Alongside her role on Red magazine, Natasha Lunn published her book ‘Conversations on Love’ in November 2021, featuring fellow writers and experts including Alain De Botton, Roxane Gay, Dolly Alderton and Candice Carty-Williams.

Read the full interview for details of Natasha’s future projects and balancing book writing with work on a busy magazine.

Aaron Hurst, senior reporter for Information Age
‘We like to take on press releases telling stories that CTOs and CIOs can benefit from, including research and new products that fill a big gap in the market.

‘Also, we’re always looking to take on exclusive, vendor-neutral thought leadership articles that provide practical business tech guidance for leaders.’

As senior reporter for Information Age, Aaron Hurst delivers news and features of interest to technology leaders, particularly CTOs and CIOs. As well as covering tech topics including AI and cyber security to the cloud, edge and IoT, the Information Age team report on digital transformation across verticals like healthcare, education and retail.

Read the full interview for what Aaron thinks the long-term impacts of the pandemic will be on the tech sector and his dream story/commission.

Lucy Britner, editor at Drinks Retailing
‘Information and ideas that show they know the magazine or website, exclusive thought leadership pieces that aren’t thinly-veiled advertorials, decent images. Most of the PRs in the drinks industry are great – and they enjoy working in the drinks trade, too.’

A Keeper of the Quaich, Lucy has been covering the hospitality sector for almost two decades. Having started as a reporter for the Morning Advertiser, Lucy now covers the off-trade drinks market, keeping retailers in the know.

Read the full interview for what the future looks like for drinks retailing and Lucy’s career highlights so far.

Emilia Leese, journalist, editor of Heath & Hampstead Society Magazine and author of ‘Think Like a Vegan’
‘Contact me with relevant contributions via email, or through Instagram, LinkedIn. You can also contact me through my blog, Emi’s Good Eating.’

Based between London and the Highlands, freelance journalist, editor and author Emilia Leese focuses on contemporary social justice issues, in particular veganism and its intersection with a variety of human concerns and issues.

Read the full interview for Emilia’s thoughts on the importance of Veganuary and the growth of veganism.

As part of our Media Bulletin newsletter, we regularly catch up with both UK media professionals and PR people with interesting stories and advice on pushing the creative industries forward.

If you have a media client you’d like featured, or have something exciting yourself to talk about on trends happening within the comms or media industry, get in touch with the Media Bulletin team: [email protected].

The Mass Conflict Behind Gene-Edited Produce

Earlier this month, the UK Government announced plans to bring forward ‘The Genetic Technology Bill’, a new legislation that takes certain precision breeding techniques out of otherwise restrictive GMO rules.

With firm support from George Eustice, the secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, scientists across the UK argue that these modifications to British produce would create significant benefits to our health, environment and food security. The decision has received strong criticism from the Scottish and Welsh governments, while the public has demonstrated concerns over the lack of labelling required when these products hit the shelves.

In July 2019, as part of his first speech as prime minister, Boris Johnson announced the goal to ‘liberate the UK’s extraordinary bioscience sector from anti genetic modification rules’ and ‘develop blight-resistant crops’ that will feed the world (Royal Society of Biology, 31.07.19). Officials and food scientists have clarified the difference between gene editing, which involves the manipulation of genes within a single species or genus, and genetic modification (GM), in which DNA from one species is introduced to another. Since November last year, 236 news sources reported this distinction within the body of their coverage, first published by the UK Food Council.

At the John Innes Centre in Norwich, specialists have taken huge steps towards this goal with the creation of the first gene-edited tomato. In this instance, the fruit was enhanced with Vitamin D, a nutrient that over 40% of Europeans are deficient in (Science Daily, 23.05.22). Similar developments are being made in other British foods, such as anti-carcinogenic wheat and pigs immune to swine flu.

Volume of Coverage

Over the last 12 months, 2,306 gene-editing focused articles have been produced by print, media and online news sources across the UK. National coverage has seen significant growth over the past eight weeks, peaking in the final week of May:

As part of the initial research process, the fortified tomato case study received nationwide coverage as it evolved – the final stages of work and subsequent breakthrough were the highest source of volume over the last four months. The majority of this coverage was tied to print and online media until 10 May, which then saw a 309% upsurge in overall engagement due to a broadcasted mention of The Genetic Technology Bill in The Queen’s Speech. As the John Innes Centre also shared its final press release on 23 May, this was and will likely remain the highest performing month for volume + reach combined.

Top Speakers

Between May 2021-2022, The John Innes Centre was mentioned 694 times in relation to its gene-editing research, with regular contributions and comments offered from the associated scientists throughout. Professor Cathie Martin, group leader, was the second-most-mentioned name after George Eustice.

Top Topics

Since 1 March, the ‘sped-up’ progression of The Genetic Technology Bill was a headline in 288 UK-based news sources, with Mail Online and Agriland.co.uk creating the most content on this area of the discussion. Heightened media exposure through The Queen’s Speech was the key reason behind this, while the gene-edited tomato breakthrough came in a close second.

Ethical Concerns

Between March and June, 20% of all coverage focused on two overarching issues for the public. The first is the lack of labelling that will be required when gene-edited products hit the shelves of British supermarkets. This has prompted an outcry from some consumers who claim they ‘should be given a choice’ (Daily Mail, 27.05.22). Half of all label-related coverage had the term ‘frankenfoods’ in the headline, which started with an article by Mail Online and was syndicated a further 54 times by local and regional media until 5 June.

‘What has been removed is the need for an independent risk assessment and the need for transparency’Liz O’Neill, Director, GM Freeze

The other public issue is around the genetic modification of livestock. UK-based charities have also stepped into this discussion, with RSPCA leading the conversation. David Bowles, head of public affairs, was quoted by 21 national publications in calling the new legislation a ‘serious step back’ for animal welfare. In the RSPCA’s press release on 26 May, Bowles further argued that ‘there are potentially serious implications’ on both farm animals and people, stating we ‘simply do not know the long-term consequences’. Similarly, Kierra Box, of Friends of the Earth, believes gene-editing is genetic modification by a different name, that it ‘still focuses on altering the genetic code of plants and animals to deal with the problems caused by poor soils, the over-use of pesticides and intensive farming’ (The Guardian, 25.05.22).

Among the coverage that outlined potential issues with the bill, five were top national media outlets. The remaining 113 were regional and local news sources, science journals and agriculture websites.

Food Security

As the war in Ukraine and global inflation evolves, concerns around food security have been a significant incentive behind ‘speeding-up’ The Genetic Technology Bill. The topic of shortages has been widely distributed across UK media, while 25% of all coverage was produced by The Telegraph.

Independent farmers across Scotland and Wales have held the strongest share of voice on this issue, warning that we are ‘sleep-walking’ into a full-on crisis (The Independent, 25.04.22). The Government has used this angle in the press to suggest that gene-edited food is a way to become less dependent on importation and therefore less vulnerable to restrictions made by Eastern European regions (Farmers Weekly, 24.05.22). Moreover, National Farmers Union Scotland president Martin Kennedy has agreed that precision breeding techniques could ‘deliver benefits for food, agriculture and climate change’ (The Telegraph, 27.05.22).

Cross-Border Divide

Despite food shortage concerns, the Welsh and Scottish governments have repeatedly stated their opposition to genetically modified produce. Scotland, which has hopes to return to the EU, has been keen to ‘maintain alignment’ with the same stringent controls on organisms which contain no additional genes or DNA (The Scotsman, 25.05.22).

Màiri McAllan, environment minister for Scotland, has called the UK Government’s decision ‘unacceptable’ and insists that Scotland would not make the same changes as England if the Bill passed (Inverness Courier, 11.06.22). 7% of all coverage over the past four months has discussed this conflict, with the leading headline: ‘Gene-editing Bill should not “force products on Scotland” says minister’ (The National, 11.06.22). This article, which wrote extensively of McAllan’s ethical and financial concerns, was repurposed 24 times throughout the beginning of June.

The Welsh opposition received less coverage, though it has been confirmed that UK ministers plan to try to persuade devolved counterparts to align on policy at a cross-government meeting at the Royal Welsh Show on 20 July (The Times, 14.06.22).

George Eustice has written to the Scottish and Welsh governments to urge them to reconsider their opposition to the technique, stating that by joining in taking forward this legislation, the UK would be able to ensure consistency in food regulation and the approach to the precision-bred organisms across the UK, upholding our priority of ensuring consumer safety’ (BBC, 24.05.22).

Professor Lord Trees, a cross-bench peer and former president of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, was quoted 106 times since 1 March, in his warning that a failure to embrace more precise breeding technologies such as gene editing could be a ‘missed opportunity’ to deliver significant improvements in animal health and welfare.

A Need for Transparency

Both Eustice and the Government, supported by leading scientists around the UK, have made expansive efforts to change the gene-editing narrative in the media over the past 12 months. However, with a perceived lack of transparency on what genetically modified produce could look like for the consumer, public scepticism remains high.

In Scotland, a strong proportion of the farming population are in favour of the transition, whereas the environment minister remains firmly against the idea of a ‘forced’ legislation while trying to make amends with the EU. Similarly, leading climate activism and animal welfare non-profits have firmly expressed the unknown dangers behind making long-term modifications to the organic cycles of nature.

While local and regional media have remained closely in touch with ethical concerns by the public and opposing institutions, the positive aspects of gene-editing has been favourably represented by national online media. The first set of gene-edited produce is set to hit the shelves as early as next year, at which point both the Welsh and Scottish governments will have made their final decision on whether they are included in the first step towards the UK’s ‘extraordinary bioscience sector’.

As the war in Ukraine continues and inflation builds pressure on family support shelters, internal disagreements remain less of a concern to UK Government. Rather, food security is being treated as a priority and will continue to be a key motivator behind the swift progression of this change.

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

PR and media inclusion networks to join and work with

PR and comms inclusion networks to join and work with

It’s Pride Month in the UK, but work on pushing the creative industries forward on inclusion and equity goes on all year round.

Everyone deserves to be heard, included, represented fairly and supported – just some of the many responsibilities of an effective PR team. Here are a selection of some of the groups, associations and initiatives in public relations, communications and the media working to make things better in our industries.

PRCA’s LGBTQ+ Network

PRCA LGBTQ+ Network

Relaunched in March of this year, the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA)’s LGBTQ+ Network aims to boost positive impact across the industry when it comes to inclusivity. We spoke to co-chairs Emma Franklin-Wright and Katie Traxton about their aims and what’s coming up this year, and have more on building inclusion into your workplace and work with these tips.

PRCA’s Race and Ethnicity Equity Board (REEB)

PRCA REEB

Headed up by chair Barbara Phillips, and having welcomed Emmanuel Ofosu-Appiah as Vice Chair earlier this year, the Race and Ethnicity Equity Board works to create immediate and long-term racial equity within the PR and comms industry. For how the board is sharing best practice approaches for ethnic and racial inclusion, catch up on our interviews with Barbara and Emmanuel.

Taylor Bennett Foundation

The Taylor Bennett Foundation is a charity helping BAME people into the PR and communications industry with mentoring and training programmes. In 2008, the year of the foundation’s launch, CIPR data found that just 6.3% of the PR practitioner population were from a BAME background. By 2020, that percentage was still ‘woefully low’ at 9%, according to the charity’s chief executive Melissa Lawrence. Watch our accessmatters session with Melissa, and catch up with the good work of the foundation in this interview.

The Financial Times’ Proud FT

The UK media has a long history of exclusionary hiring practices and reporting when it comes to marginalised communities. Helping to push back on this is the Financial Times’ inclusion group Proud FT, chaired by Cassius Naylor. As well as supporting transgender and nonbinary employees working within the organisations, Proud FT also works for fair representations of the LGBTQ+ community in the press. Watch our accessmatters session with Cassius to find out how the PR industry can help with fighting misrepresentation and misinformation.

The Social Mobility Foundation

There continues to be a class problem in the media and the communications industries, alike – CIPR’s State of the Profession report from 2020 finding that PRs are more likely to have a degree (76%) compared to the general public (35%), and that 41% of PRs have parents with university degrees. ‘Something isn’t working when talent still isn’t making as much of a difference as background,’ says The Social Mobility Foundation’s Sarah Atkinson who believes change is long overdue.

Sports Media LGBT+

Jon Holmes

Established in 2017 to advocate for inclusion in the media industry and across sport in general, Sports Media LGBT+ was founded by Sky Sports senior home page editor Jon Holmes. Starting as a way for LGBT+ people and allies in sports media to network, the group aims to broaden connection and community. For more on the group, check out Jon’s contribution to the ResponseSource white paper Diversity in Journalism and our interview on the Rainbow Ready initiative.

The Access Intelligence accessmatters series aims to amplify different voices across the creative industries. Catch up on previous sessions tackling social mobility, class, antiracism and more here.

why accessible events are vital

Why creating inclusive and accessible events is vital

Flashback to April 2020 where team meetings were swapped for video calls and panic-stricken events professionals around the world raced to take conferences, awards and tradeshows online.

We’re now back to ‘normal’ in the world of events but it’s important that we don’t forget the positives that came out of enforced virtual events.

Accessibility, accessibility, accessibility

As events all shifted online they became accessible to more people. No longer restricted by costly travel, inaccessible venues and lengthy time out of the working day, virtual events allowed people to consume the same content without leaving their house.

With the return to in-person events it’s clear that people have missed human interaction, and no virtual networking will ever equate to chatting to peers during a coffee break. However, it’s important to keep the accessibility progress that was made during the pandemic front of mind when planning in-person events.

Check when planning:

  • Does the venue have good disabled access? Is there a hearing loop?
  • Is the venue easy to get to on public transport?
  • Where is my audience coming from? Will travel costs impact attendance?
  • Is it possible to live-stream or record the event for a virtual audience?
  • If catering is needed, are all dietary requirements covered?
  • Creating events that are more accessible results in a more inclusive event which in turn fosters a wider audience and better discussions.

Work/life balance

Hybrid working has taken the place of the office for many with people valuing the work/life balance the pandemic gave them.

Being respectful of your audience’s time now needs to be worked into any event you’re planning. Whether it’s virtual or in-person, diaries are full so be mindful of the time you’re asking people to give up. Understanding your audience’s working habits is useful when planning, e.g. what days do they go into the office?

Ask yourself when planning:

  • Does the start/finish time allow for people to do the school-run, if needed?
  • Will the day of the week work for the audience?
  • Is the content as efficiently planned as possible?
  • Can you offer both in-person and virtual tickets?
  • If the event is over several days, can you provide single-day tickets?
  • Is it possible to record the event?

Virtual audiences matter

The webinar has become a key tool in every comms and marketers’ kit, providing a cost-effective way to communicate regularly with your audience.

Make sure you are not overlooking your virtual audiences and that these events are as inclusive as your in-person events, both in accessibility and representation. There are tools available that can help with subtitles, recording and editing so no matter who or where your audience are watching the webinar, everyone can enjoy the content.

Virtual events allow for plenty of engagement either with visual and audio or just audio but keep in mind that not everyone in your audience will feel comfortable contributing in a virtual event setting. Giving your guests the option to use their camera or not will make them feel more at ease and able to enjoy the event.

Check:

  • Is there subtitle functionality on the webinar platform and is it enabled?
  • Are you recording the webinar? And does the recording have subtitles?
  • Is your speaker line-up inclusive?
  • Does the time work for your audience based their time zone?
  • Is the sign up page accessible for the visually impaired?

Review and refine

Keep track of what works and what doesn’t so you can keep amending your events to make them as accessible and successful as possible. Look at the data from your sign ups to who shows up and always ask your audience for feedback to help you improve.

Test regularity, time, day and length of your virtual events. Many people suffered from ‘Zoom fatigue’ during the lockdowns so keep this in mind when deciding the length of your webinar or virtual event.

The world of events has changed for the better over the past two years, becoming more accessible and inclusive so more people can learn, network and grow without the restriction of geography, budget or lack of time.

Creating accessible events increases your audience and shows that you care about them and their experience.

For more on virtual events, read our previous posts with tips for moving your event online, why virtual events are more important than ever, and even video call etiquette for when you’re joining from home

The Rise of Ethical Branding: Is Fast Fashion Dying Out?

Last week, news across the UK broke out that online fast-fashion retailer Missguided has gone into administration. 204 national and international outlets reported on the story, with an additional 1,751 publications coming from top regional sources and fashion-focused media. Frasers Group PLC, who bought out Missguided for £20m, has received equally prominent coverage for ‘rescuing’ the brand — a term used 535 times since the announcement on 30 May.

Michael Murray, CEO at Frasers Group, has been quoted in 23% of all coverage as ‘delighted to secure a long term future for Missguided’, which will ‘benefit from the strength and scale of Frasers Group’s platform and our operational excellence’ (The Guardian, 01.06.22). However, a long list of angry suppliers and a ‘limited knowledge’ of the young female demographic has many questioning if the acquisition was a ‘misstep’ or ‘masterful’ (Retail Week, 06.06.22).

Aside from logistical concerns, over half of all UK coverage has used the opportunity to discuss how the rising ethical concerns behind fast-fashion are effecting consumer choices. Missguided has received a variety of bad press over the years for its ‘unsustainable’ prices and ‘unethical’ working conditions (Financial Times, 17.05.18), as well as expansive contributions to climate change (Daily Mail, 17.06.19). With a correlative rise in sustainable fashion influencers such as Venetia La Manna and Mikaela Loach, more than two-thirds (68%) of Gen Z (18-24 year olds) say they avoid ecommerce companies which they believe to have dubious business practices (Charged Retail, 14.02.22). Moreover, a 2022 report by Barclays revealed that UK retailers have cancelled £7.1 bn in contracts across the last 12 months with suppliers that did not meet their ethical standards (Barclays, 10.02.22).

Love Island Drops Missguided For Sustainable Fashion

With this significant shift in values among the young female market, it’s no surprise that Missguided was one of multiple fast-fashion brands dropped by Love Island this year. The hit reality series has announced it will instead be sponsored by eBay, while all contestants will be wearing second-hand clothing (The Independent, 19.05.22). This environmentally-friendly move was reported 1,001 times only a week before Missguided went into administration, creating a huge upsurge in diverse negative sentiment that has been increasing since January:

Prior to the administration announcement on 30 May, positive coverage remained low as influencer marketing dropped in both volume and engagement. During this time, fashion magazines began talking more about ‘influencer fatigue’ — a term used 104 times since April. With influencer marketing being one of Missguided’s strongest sources of positive coverage, the decline in interest and relatability among the young female demographic has had a correlative impact on its performance and reputation. This approach also applies to other fast-fashion outlets, such as SHEIN and Boohoo, meaning the same effect may apply outside of Missguided if this social media engagement decline continues.

Female-Focused Brands: Common Trends

Since January, Missguided has taken the spotlight for the strongest array of controversies across UK media. Prior to the ‘company collapse’, continuous job losses and unhappy suppliers were the most popular areas of coverage between Jan-June. However, some of these topics also feed into the wider fast-fashion market. Both online and high street brands like Boohoo, SHEN, Zara and ASOS have had the spotlight cast upon them for unpaid workers and unethical practises. All of the above (and more) were called out by the viral ‘Gender Pay Gap Bot’, a Twitter account that rose to fame by using International Women’s Day to highlight continuous inequities in the workplace.

The Affordability Argument

Among positive coverage, common themes were almost exclusively based on affordability and celebrity style. For example, titles like ‘10 affordable corset tops that are giving us Kourtney Kardashian vibes from £11.99’ and ‘Cassie from Euphoria’s best outfits and where to buy them’ consumed just over 95% of all positive coverage between January-June. In these articles, Missguided and alike are praised for offering accessible ways to look like influencers. When Love Island chose to publicise their sustainable changes, local and regional media outlets used the term ‘woke’ or ‘wokeism’ in 242 publications between 8 May – 8 June, as fans accused the show of ‘virtue signalling’ and ruining their ‘guilty pleasures’.
The neurological pleasures of buying cheap clothing is the primary incentive that keeps fast fashion running, but as more people uncover the true cost, brands are being lead into a new era of transparency that is forcing many to change their approach.

Attempts of Changing the Narrative

The rise of sustainability trends is evident in the way that brands are swiftly changing their approach to labour, production and transparency. For example, Urban Outfitters has been called out 78 times since September last year for its contributions to climate change. Three days ago, PETA released a statement about three sustainability influencers who are now drawing the line and confronting the brand with demands for climate-focused vegan alternatives.

Large and ongoing backlash from target audiences has led brands to create eco-friendly collections that appeals to the new demand. ASOS, who created its ‘Responsible Edit’ on 2019, is one of many FMCG clothing companies attempting to use recycled materials as an avenue to appearing ‘conscious’ to consumers. Despite the attempts, the term ‘greenwashing’ has been used 5,445 times since 1 March, with significant peaks around the announcement of the Missguided sale and Love Island sustainability switch.

 

Despite their attempts, sustainable fashion advocates are calling out fast fashion brands for imitating green attitudes with misleading information about their production process. Good On You, a leading digital platform in ethical clothing, describes sustainable fashion as striving to ‘create good and avoid harm, whether to people, the planet, or animals’ (Good On You, 16.07.21). Under these terms, newfound FMCG eco-lines fail to meet the quota in comparison to 100% sustainable companies. For example, while Missguided followed suit in April 2021 with the launch of its ‘green’ collection RE_STYLD, some reports have focused on its history of not paying workers or suppliers.

Sustainable trends / Successful brands

In a two-month analysis of top UK fashion and general news sources, fast-fashion giant SHEIN received the highest proportion of negative and neutral coverage as well as the lowest volume of output overall. On the other hand, Patagonia, which is globally recognised for extensive environmental advocacy and company welfare policies, is continuously growing in the press as an inspirational standard for all fashion retailers. UK-based thrifting service Depop also outperformed SHEIN in both volume and sentiment ratio.

With the cost of living continuously increasing, the low-cost incentive of fast fashion likely means that it will not be going anywhere for the moment. However, with a visible decline in the impact of influencer marketing and an increase in demand for transparency and ethical branding, the foundations that allow such retailers to have such competitive prices may not be achievable for much longer. On 31 May, Primark announced that there will be ‘selective price increases’ in the Autumn due to inflation and the war in Ukraine (BBC, 31.05.22). With current events impacting fast-fashion’s long-established place on the UK high street, its future, ironically, could be unsustainable.

Accessibility in email

How to make your next PR email campaign accessible for everyone

This is a guest post from Elliot Ross, Email Evangelist at Taxi for Email – a SparkPost company.

Did you know that for every five people who receive your email four won’t even open it?

That’s the reality of email open rates, but it’s not all bad news. Getting consumers to actually open emails has always been a challenge for email marketers, but there are two ways of looking at it: On the flip side, given that there are around 15 trillion commercial emails sent each year, there are still a lot of emails which are being read.

The big question for marketers is inevitably: How can open rates be improved?

The answer is by ensuring emails are accessible for everyone.

Why do consumers ignore emails?

There are many reasons why branded emails remain untouched – after all, the average person receives over 100 emails a day, and that’s not even counting work emails. For some though, the reason the email has been left unopened is not because they didn’t want to read it, but rather that they can’t actually read or understand the email in the first place.

As email marketers,we need to ensure that our messages can be read by anyone who wants to access them. According to the World Health Organisation, 2.2 billion people globally have a near or distance-based vision impairment. In addition, have you considered the 3.6 billion internet users across the planet for whom English is not their primary language?

Emails need to be easy to read and understandable for everyone, regardless of disability or language. That is why accessibility considerations should be central to the entire email creation process.

Adhering to basic accessibility guidelines for the creation of email also has the added benefit of ensuring that the marketing messages don’t end up being overly complex. Which in turn could also have a positive impact on open and interaction rates.

Meanwhile creating emails in different languages should also not be seen as a nice-to-have for marketers. If you are a brand with a global footprint or global ambitions, multi-language emails are a must!

Developing an accessibility mindset

This process is about marrying company branding guidelines with a set of basic rules to deliver accessible and effective emails.

In some instances it might mean tweaking design elements but in my opinion the benefits of higher open rates significantly outweigh the cons of potentially slightly diverting from brand design rules.

Take point size, for example. It could be that your business has an established type point size which it may have stuck with for decades. However, if that point size is less than 14 pt when it comes to email marketing you may have a problem.

Text needs to be large enough so that everyone can read it. If your readers are squinting, zooming in or – even worse – popping off to get reading glasses, you may have already lost their attention and any chance of any interaction will be gone. So stick to a font size of at least 14pt, and think about line height so readers have enough space between lines to read clearly.

Ask yourself too, is your company typeface easy to read? Before you send out emails, test the font to see what it looks like and how legible it is on different screen sizes and devices (find out, for example, what percentage of your target audience reads your emails on mobile and, if appropriate, optimise emails for smaller screens). Simple, classic fonts work best. There is a reason why some typefaces are more widely used than others…

The dangers of embedded images

For many marketers the jury is out on the effectiveness of embedding GIFs and videos into email newsletters.

From an accessibility perspective there is a very good case for not using GIFs at all. Firstly, not all your readers will see them, as background images and GIFs aren’t fully supported in Outlook. Further, a flashy GIF with fast-moving frames will not only annoy some of your readers, but it can actually trigger seizures in people who suffer from photosensitivity.

If you are insistent that including GIFs will raise engagement levels then make sure you include ALT text to provide context. This helps readers with visual impairments understand the message of the image or GIF.

Other things to bear in mind include ensuring that links are clear and underlined – if you just colour them they could be overlooked by people with colour blindness or low-vision – and breaking up text with clear, bold subheads. If you have specific title, header, and subheader elements in your template screen readers can identify these are different areas of the email and treat them so rather than adding it all into a text field.

Offering multi-language emails

Creating email newsletters in different languages is something that many marketers should be aspiring to. Once you have optimised a newsletter to the point that it works effectively in one language, if you are a global company, explore localisation next.

By offering multi-language emails, people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to read newsletters can receive and engage with them. At the same time, even people who speak English as a second language would have to make less effort to read their emails which might make them more inclined to open the email in the first place.

There are simple ways to translate content using online tools like Google Translate. Yet these are only partially effective and may end up creating content that is confusing to readers and possibly damaging to your brand.

At the other end of the scale you could invest in local translators, though this may create cost and efficiency issues. Employing 20 different staff to translate a newspaper into their local language is both expensive and time consuming.

Images need to be optimised so that they work in local markets. An obvious short-cut is to make the images of people you use as diverse as possible with different ages, ethnicities and genders, etc. That said, nothing beats offering bespoke images on a market-by-market basis. Visuals should reflect the real world and therefore help to make the newsletter as customer-centric as possible.

Email continues to be the leading customer communication tool for marketers

No other platform can compete with email’s direct, dynamic, interactive approach. Ensuring emails are accessible to as many people as possible is not only vital from a social perspective, but if it can also help improve overall read rates then it’s a win-win solution.

Savvy marketers and PRs are all too aware their customers receive a lot of emails and only have a limited amount of time each day to consume content, and so the pressure is on to work as hard as possible to make their branded emails stand out, for everyone.

For more on effective email strategies from Taxi for Email’s Elliot Ross, check out this previous guest post How to build strong foundations for a successful email campaign

Want to find the right audience for your next email campaign? Book a demo of the Vuelio Media Database – more information here

fintech investment boom in travel

Is a Fintech ‘Investment Boom’ Emerging in the Travel Sector?  

In an effort to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, the travel industry is exploring contemporary payment trends that suit the varying new financial perspectives on tourism. Whereas some have more money than ever to spend, others are seeking new ways to budget for their next getaway. The increasing convergence of fintech and travel is significant – with many predicting an ‘investment boom’ on the near horizon. 

Financial technology (Fintech) is a term used for several types of specialised software that digitise financial services.​​​ Companies, business owners and consumers use fintech to better manage their finances and operations, while also opening the door to significant growth in revenue and market share. Examples of successful fintech brands include Paypal, Experian, Klarna, Monzo and so many more.

Forecasts by Eurocontrol have predicted that, by August 2022, travel volumes will return to 89% of what they were in 2019. In response to the post-pandemic changes in personal finance and global cost-of-living crisis, firms are investing in fintech more than ever to provide new and accessible payment options. Media discussion around the emergence of financial technologies in the travel sector has been growing since January, with significant peaks across national online publications (i.e. The Financial Times) in May:

 

In an Amedeus report from this month with 90 leading travel agencies, an ‘investment boom’ was predicted following a survey of airline and travel agency leaders — a term used by 1,753 national publications in travel and fintech sectors since January. Four out of five companies said they plan to match or surpass their 2019 FinTech investment this year, with nine out of 10 identifying payments as a priority (Travolution, 18.05.22).

Huge steps are already being taken towards achieving this brand image – on 28 January, Air Asia rebranded its corporate name to ‘Capital A’ to better reflect its mission to become a diversified ‘digital travel and lifestyle group’, with fintech playing a major role in its new revenue strategy.

Additionally, Booking.com recently hired 400 experts for its newly created fintech division with a view to ‘simplify the payment experience’ across its brands (Skift, 22.07.21). While travel agencies are benefitting from investing in fintech, fintech is also benefiting from investing in travel. For example, UK-based Revolut, which claims 16 million users, branched out beyond banking and financial services for the first time recently and began selling stays in hotels, homes, and guest houses.

Media Type Split: Who is talking about the emerging ‘investment boom’?

Data analyses all UK online media since January 1, 2022.

‘Fintech stands out as an area of the travel business where you can provide new value-added services that bring revenue while improving the traveller experience’
— David Doctor, Amadeus Executive

Areas of interest

With fintech viewed as a high priority by 90% of UK-based airlines, what are the key areas of interest in travel and fintech publications?

Buy Now, Pay Later

Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) has become a de facto payment option in retail and fashion and is swiftly making the same impact on travel. In a survey with 5,000 travel consumers, 68% said they would be likely to spend more on a trip if they could buy now, pay later, as it is quicker than a traditional loan (PhocusWire, 07.01.22). Since January, 328 travel and fintech publications have commented on this option in relation to Gen Z and millennial demographics. Around half of all Brits under 40 now use BNPL whenever it is available, meaning it is a huge source of revenue from those with flexible credit (WalesOnline, 20.05.22).

Multi-currency charges

In order to find the best deals, many consumers find themselves working with multiple currencies when arranging a holiday. The conversion charges associated with traditional banks is a significant barrier that a third of all travel agencies are prioritising this year, an area that fintech has proven successful at overcoming (FinExtra, 14.04.22). Wise is one of many digital banking services that allows users to hold multiple currencies in the same account, alongside highly competitive exchange rates. By leveraging this sort of financial technology, travel firms can alleviate losses tied to such international fees.

Leading FX fintech companies in National UK Media

A correlative increase in brand mentions has followed the emerging interest of travel and fintech – particularly banking apps that offer competitive foreign exchange services:

Drawbacks to the public

While fintech may benefit a certain portion of society in both financial management and expenditures, some believe it exacerbates the privileges of those above working class and is not as accessible to those who truly need it. Lord Chris Holmes of Richmond, co-chair of the APPG on banking and fintech (financial technology), commented that the UK is ‘home to hundreds of fintechs’ who are creating products that help people manage their money or create saving pots. However, the reality is that ‘if you don’t have access to a smartphone, broadband or the necessary skills or confidence, then you are effectively cut out’ (The Independent, 04.03.22).

Investment boom?

While there may be some consumer diversity and accessibility issues, the convergence of both travel and fintech is mutually beneficial; both industries may eventually become dependent on one another to be sustainable. For example, while BNPL app Klarna has announced plans to lay off 10% of its workforce (CNBC, 26.05.22), rival fintech firms Revolut and Wise say they’re hiring for hundreds of open roles. The difference between the former and the latter has been an early investment in the rapid changes of tourism.

As tourism returns to a steady volume, media discussion is rapidly growing around the clear fintech-focused response by the travel industry. The ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ system holds the strongest share of public interest and potential ROI, whereas competitive foreign exchange services are considered valuable but already have established names in the sector (i.e. Revolut, RHB). Since January alone, the upsurge in new fintech hires and rebrands has significantly increased – meaning that the anticipated ‘investment boom’ is no longer on the horizon, but already here.

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

PR and brand consultant Siobhan Sharpe

Pop culture lessons for PR: from Dunder Mifflin and beyond

There is much to be learned from the PR and comms professionals portrayed in the media – mainly ‘Wow, I do not want to be like that person’. And thankfully most practitioners bear no resemblance to them.

For our latest webinar ‘Somehow I Manage. PR. Pop Culture Comms Lessons from Dunder Mifflin & beyond’, we scoured TV and film for examples of pop culture PR lessons we can all learn from.

Here’s what we can learn from Michael Scott, Siobhan Sharpe, Don Draper, Alexis Rose and Captain Raymond Holt:

1. Understand your audience

Understanding target markets through research ​is a key part of strategy and must come before your activities. Captain Holt tries to tell his audience what he wants them to hear rather than understand their perspective and what would actually help.

You are not your target market. As soon as you work in an organisation you lose that perspective. So, you have to conduct research, which can come from as many sources and channels as your budget allows, from first-party data and focus groups to third party online research and sales information. Only once you know your audience(s) and know their perspective, should activities and campaigns be created.

2. Network smarter

Networking events, conventions, award ceremonies – all fantastic opportunities for forming connections and winning new clients. Also, all places filled with the pitfalls of pleasure over business – socialising and swag.

Heading to an event? Maximise your time by focusing on who you want to meet. Understand where your customers spend their time, adapt your networking style and head in with a clear plan.

And you can be like Michael Scott – it’s possible to have lots of fun and see the benefits of smart networking. Make sure people estimate you.

3. Build the right media relationships

Just like Leslie Knope and the Pawnee Parks and Recreation Department, you need to build relationships with a variety of media contacts and maintain those relationships throughout your career. But not every contact will want to hear about everything you’re doing or be spoken to in the same way. The best media outreach is always targeted and never ‘spray and pray’.

Nurture your media relationships by keeping them in the loop with relevant content, and make yourself available if a journalist needs a story – particular if it’s a ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry.  ​

4. Values – ensure you and your clients align

A shout-out to Monumental’s senior account executive Liam Pitts for this one on agency values. We couldn’t find the exact clip from Schitt’s Creek but here’s brand Alexis, and one of the greatest TV moments from Schitt’s Creek, as an introduction.

Liam said: ‘In season 6 of Schitt’s Creek, Alexis Rose starts her career as, in her words, a “freelance brand invigorator”, agreeing to represent a brand that the eventually finds out is a cult. I think the lesson we learn here is that a little research beforehand is never a bad thing – and neither is turning down a client that might not exactly align with your values and beliefs. In PR, when we sign on a client, we are agreeing to be public advocates of the brand. That means we have to understand that might include the bad elements alongside the good.

‘Alexis teaches us that we always have to consider our integrity and credibility when working with clients – something which she learns the hard way.’

5. Be transparent and honest

As a wise erotic dancer once told Dwight Schrute in The Office: ‘Secrets, secrets are no fun. Secrets, secrets hurt someone’.

In the Public Relations episode of Mad Men, two lies lead to very different outcomes with the press. While Pete and Peggy’s fake fight campaign leads to great coverage and increased sales, it puts the agency’s reputation at risk and costs bribe/hush/bail money down the line.

For Don Draper, he doesn’t open up in his interview with Advertising Age, which damages the agency’s reputation, threatens client accounts and leads to his reputation as an enigma (not in a good way). In this clip he decides to reverse that, opening up to the Wall Street Journal, which is delighted to finally get the truth.

Cover-ups and lying lead to reputational risk for you and your brand. A better story can be found in telling your brand’s truth, and it is ultimately what the journalist is after. It is also possible to recover from bad press with good press, just as Don does, as long as you have your strategy aligned with your truth and your business goals.

6. Control your narrative in a crisis

Crises happen – whether it is a supplier’s disgruntled watermark or something a bit less niche. Best practice is to have a crisis comms plan already in place for every eventually, but if not, decide how you want to respond and get ahead of the story​.

It is key that all your stakeholders are fully briefed and stick to the agreed statement, message or lines to take.

Also, make sure your response is proportionate to the crisis and targets only the stakeholders that need to be targeted.

7. Don’t be a stereotype

PR has a PR problem. People who don’t really ‘get’ public relations may scramble for examples from TV and film in a bid to understand how it works. But as we all know, those examples often aren’t good and don’t reflect the PR and communications we see every single day.

So, the last lesson is don’t be a stereotype, which really means be proud of the excellent work you’re doing in PR. And keep it up!

 

Not only does Vuelio support thousands of clients with all their PR and comms software needs, we also post heaps of PR content and welcome guest posts. For more information, get in touch with our Content Manager Phoebe-Jane Boyd

 

Stephanie Forrest

PR Interview with TFD – Think Feel Do founder and CEO Stephanie Forrest

‘I love tech – you never stop learning,’ says Stephanie Forrest, CEO and founder of disruptive technology agency TFD – Think Feel Do.

Having specialised in technology since her first job almost 30 years ago, Stephanie has since worked with influential tech disruptors including Motorola, Skyscanner and many more.

With tech more important than ever when it comes to connecting people across the world, Stephanie shares what makes the tech sector different to others in the PR industry, what everyone should be planning for and the importance of taking time to rest (luckily, there’s plenty of tech out there to help with that).

How did you originally get into the emerging tech comms sector, and what keeps you in it?
From my first ever job almost thirty years ago I’ve been working in tech. I basically fell into tech and have never looked back. Also, I have been extremely fortunate to work with some of the really great tech disruptors. Companies like Motorola changed the way that we communicate. It was Motorola, for example, that developed the first mobile phone . Also, the people that I’ve worked with have been hugely inspirational. People like Margaret Rice-Jones who was previously the chair of Skyscanner when it was sold for £1.4 billion to Ctrip.

As the founder of TFD – Think Feel Do, what were your original aims for the agency – what did you want to do differently to existing agencies out there? And how did you come up with the name?
I love the name. I knew straight away that it was right. I was reading an article, in the Harvard Business Review no less, that talked about Think Feel Do as a marketing framework, and it really spoke to me. Think is about understanding your audience and environment; feel is about the channels you engage with your target audience through and do is about how you reach them.

I set up TFD – Think Feel Do as I feel strongly that the relationship between agency and client needs to change. There needs to be a partnership between companies and their agencies. It’s about mutual success. And this is what we’ve aimed to do. We are passionate about what we do, and we work as an extension of our clients’ team, their strategy and how they think. In a number of cases, we are our clients’ marketing team. It’s really rewarding.

How did the pandemic impact the way you work, and do you think the changes it has made to the wider PR and comms industry are here to stay?
In some ways we can work anywhere so the impact was, to a degree, limited. On the other hand, as communicators we tend to like being around other people and we thrive on human interaction and collaboration that being in the office allows. Well, I do, anyway! Looking after the team has never been more important. We’ve been supporting the team’s well-being since the business began but this has become even more important over the past few years. We have a quarterly wellbeing budget for example that the team can use to buy a yoga mat or join a class that they love. We’ve also got one of the team going on a sabbatical this summer. This need to really take care of the wellbeing of people is definitely here to stay and so is greater flexibility of how and where you work. It’s a great thing to have come out of the pandemic.

What are the biggest differences between the tech sector and others in the PR industry?
Overall, if you work in tech you have to be able to handle often complex industries that are constantly evolving. There’s a lot to understand, keep up with and learn so to be successful it makes a big difference if clients see you as part of their team. The other big difference is you have to be even more creative in some ways to make a product, for example, easier to understand or interesting to a larger audience.

Are the creative industries doing enough to encourage diversity within their workforces?
Although there are a number of great initiatives, there’s a lot more to be done to drive diversity. One key area that needs to change still is paid parity between employees. It’s disappointing to me that this is still a point that companies haven’t resolved.

What are the big trends in tech that fellow comms people, and the media, should be planning for over the next year?
A key area to focus on is how do you build meaningful engagement with customers and prospects post pandemic from building awareness to driving sales leads to business growth in the hybrid world that we are now in. My advice would be to focus on storytelling as this is more important than ever, as is driving cut through.

Which media helps you stay ahead of trends?
I am lucky enough to work with some amazing CTOs so I get to hear and see first-hand about some of the trends and products that will be coming to market. My go-to read is the FT but I also like to tune into the #mouthwashshow on Twitter hosted by Paul Armstrong. I really enjoy listening to podcasts to stay ahead of what’s happening. The Pivot podcast series is one of my favourites but anything Scott Galloway does is generally interesting and insightful!

Check out our previous interviews with practitioners working across all sectors of the industry here