Engagement with healt comms through COVID 19

Engagement with health comms through COVID-19

Engagement with healt comms through COVID 19

 

Throughout COVID-19, every aspect of public health has had to respond and adjust to new responsibilities. Communicators have been thrust into the spotlight, absorbing extraordinary pressure to manage a huge variety of stakeholders while navigating a ceaselessly changing media, policy and care landscape. 

In Engagement with health comms through COVID-19, we analyse how audiences responded to official NHS feeds on social media, how conversations shifted during different stages of the pandemic and the media’s reaction to the developing crisis.

Information and data is presented from Vuelio, ResponseSource and Pulsar to give a complete view of the excellent work carried out by health communicators in a tumultuous 2020.

We also picked up five lessons that you can apply for planning healthcare communications moving forward. We hope you find it useful.

Deliveries in lockdown comms

ParcelHero’s coronavirus comms strategy: turning the front door into the front line

This is a guest post from David Jinks, Head of Public Relations at ParcelHero, on the importance of keeping agile in a fast changing environment.

I could start by spinning you a yarn about how ParcelHero had an emergency comms plan already prepared for the impact of a near biblical plague. The truth is we didn’t and, be honest, you wouldn’t enjoy reading a puff piece as much as hearing the gory details about how we learned from our initial comms mistakes.

ParcelHero is an online parcel price comparison site; effectively, we’re ‘Compare the Meerkat’ for parcels. Simples. Of course, being a home-delivery courier company meant we were one of the first to experience the full impact of the coronavirus.

Key to our media strategy as an e-commerce business is building brand awareness and (here’s where I’ll be kicked out of the Monday PR Club) link building. Old skool releases and pitches are at the heart of this plan. Looking back, our first release on the subject was 27 January: ‘Should shoppers question the safety of Chinese parcels?’. In retrospect, it’s an odd release – partly ramping up the scare to attract journalists and partly downplaying it – because some regular users were already experiencing problems with stock coming in from China. It got good traction but, at the time, it felt like an annoying distraction from my beloved 2020 PR plan, which had been so many weeks in gestation.

I clung grimly to that plan throughout early February, in the blind belief that no story could be bigger than Brexit. It wasn’t until 25 February that I smelled the coffee and tearfully chucked it away. Our release that day on ‘Ten steps to reduce the impact of Covid-19 ‘ was lapped up by an increasingly nervous business press. It had lots of prescient tips but still featured a not-in-front-of-the-children intro that soothingly gushed ‘…many health professionals are saying it is unlikely to have a greater effect than many typical global flu outbreaks’.

Let’s spare my blushes and move into the next stage. Without teaching Grandma to suck eggs, bad news sells and big numbers make big headlines. As the epidemic developed, we forecast on 3 March that e-commerce’s market share would double to 40% ‘if the coronavirus becomes an epidemic in the UK’. That secured us a good splash in the Mail and lots of business press. In a social media double-whammy, Facebook even used the prediction in its LinkedIn presentations. Again though, look at that qualifying ‘if’

Just before lockdown, ParcelHero had been booming, as people shipped food to loved ones in isolation and ordered thousands of hand sanitisers. However, when lockdown started on 23 March, bookings fell off a cliff. Stores were closed and even those with websites had little confidence they could distribute orders safely.

We hit the press, emphasising that couriers were still picking up directly from doorsteps and businesses could stay alive selling solely online. By the second week, ParcelHero was experiencing Christmas-level peak volumes and that’s been the case ever since. ‘The front door becomes the front line’ – our key message that was picked up by many journalists – underscored our efforts to standardise rules to replace signatures as proof of delivery.

Increased bookings led to their own complications, however. 50% of international parcels are flown in the belly-hold of passenger flights and, suddenly, they were all grounded. Customers wanted information. Now. Our carefully laid social media plans were swiftly abandoned as Twitter became a key tool for Customer Services.

Nonetheless, by 15 April, our comms was firmly proactive rather than reactive. We caught the public mood with a release stating: ‘It’s no longer a sin to order non-essentials online’. From then on, the thrust was all about looking forwards.

So, what turned the tide from that dreadful Lockdown Monday to us gaining multiple new links and national coverage in the FT, Express, Sun and Mail? Driving our success was our ability to adapt our message to fast-changing circumstances, even if it meant ditching our existing strategies and entire social channels.

Looking forward, we’ll be taking the lead in issuing advice as regulations and market conditions change. We’re currently focused on encouraging all our business users to ‘lock-in your lockdown wins’.  Who knows, one day, not so far in the future, I may be able to return to Brexit. Now, where did I throw that 2020 plan?

David Jinks was a guest on our recent webinar, Moving from Crisis to Recovery, along with Liz Slee, Head of Media at Enterprise Nation and director at the think tank The Enterprise Trust. Listen to the recording here

Comms leaders recovery

PR and comms leaders prepare for recovery

PR and comms leaders are increasingly focused on recovery in Q2 according to the Vuelio Barometer which analyses themes dominating the public posts of 897 heads of and directors.

The Vuelio Barometer of PR and Comms Leaders shows that ‘Recovery’, which includes the terms ‘return to work’, ‘learn from’ and ‘get back to’ among others, has become more important since the start of lockdown and most recently accounts for nearly two in five (36%) of all online discussions among PR and Communications Leaders. This was up from being the main topic of less than a quarter (23%) of conversations in Q1.

Social media debate among PR and Communications Leaders about ‘Action’, including the terms ‘we’ve decided’, ‘start’ and ‘we need’, in contrast has decreased over the same period. In Q4 2019, two thirds (67%) of all conversations were about action. This fell to less than half (45%) of all social media conversations among PR and Communications Leaders in Q2 2020.

Over the same period, non-COVID-19 topics focusing on the community and outreach – such as Charity, Employee Wellbeing, Green Business and Institutional Trust – declined. Trust fell from accounting for one in seven conversations (14%) in Q4 2019 to just one in 20 (6%) in Q2. Unsurprisingly, COVID-19 dominated, increasing from half (50%) in Q1 to accounting for two thirds (65%) of all social media conversations among PR and communications leaders by 20 May.

Analysing which recent PR campaigns had cut through to grab the attention of industry leaders, the Vuelio Barometer found the most successful was ‘Clap for Carers’ which throughout Q2 accounted for four in five (81%) campaign conversations. In contrast, the Government’s ‘Stay Alert’ campaign was referred to in just one in ten.

Natalie Orringe, chief marketing officer at Vuelio said: ‘Our analysis of the online conversations of PR and Communications leaders reveals since Q1 2020 a shift from debating what action has to be taken to, in Q2, discussing how recovery can be managed. It demonstrates how the industry is turning from responding to the implications of COVID-19 to focus on the proactive, sustainable strategies needed to enable businesses to recover. There can be no doubt COVID-19 has reshaped the industry and continues to account for nearly two thirds of all social media conversation among communication leaders.’

Based on this insight, Vuelio has developed a range of products designed specifically to support organisations as they move from crisis management to proactively managing reputation for recovery. Packages on the Vuelio Recovery Hub include ‘Get up and Grow’ to help small to mid-sized companies kick start their PR programme; ‘Re-start-up’ for mid-sized businesses to maximise the effectiveness of their communications; and ‘The Full Works’ for large, complex organisations that need to accelerate their communications.

Are you caught in the PR software loyalty trap?

We’re creatures of habit, so changing the tools we use to be effective at our jobs seems like a big hassle when we’re under increasing pressure to deliver on a daily basis.

Much like bank accounts, we end up sticking with what we already use even if we know we’d be better off switching.

The benefits of reviewing alternatives to your current PR software provider include getting more value out of your investment, more accurate and reliable data, and saving precious time on day to day tasks.

At Vuelio, we understand how challenging this can be so we do everything we can to make it easy for you to switch to us from your existing media monitoring provider.

Move all your contacts and lists
We work with you to map your existing data into Vuelio wherever possible so you can import your contacts and lists.

For your monitoring, we’ll find ways to improve your brief and keywords to get even better coverage results.

We take the pain out of learning a new platform
It might seem like a challenge to get your team up and running on a new platform, but we’re with you every step of the way with a dedicated implementation consultant and online screenshare session to get you set up and all of your users can hit the ground running.

You can also join our regular online Vuelio Masterclasses for a deep dive into each module.

Help portal and live chat
We provide self-service support with guides and faqs on all parts of Vuelio, plus live chat support when you need an extra helping hand.

Support team
Contact our support team via live chat, phone or email during office hours (Mon-Fri, 8am-6pm) for a swift response.

Vuelio’s research team are on hand to answer any data queries for you, whether you want to double check a detail on a contact or need some extra information, you’ll get a response the same working day.

All Vuelio Political clients are assigned a dedicated policy researcher who specialises in your policy area. They conduct in-depth research and keep you up to date with any news and changes in major policy areas including health, education, environment and transport.

Valuable content:
As well as dedicated support and advice, our clients have access to our full range of valuable content. From thought leadership pieces to best practice advice, we’ll keep you on top of your game:

Daily Covid-19 briefing
Monday PR club
PR Pulse
Media Bulletin – journalist moves and media news
• Regular journalist and influencer interviews and pitching tips
Point of Order Newsletter
White papers
Webinars
Events (virtual and, hopefully soon, live)
Yoga every week

Ready to check out how we can help you deliver on your comms strategy effectively? Get in touch for a demo.

Navigating uncertainty

Navigating uncertainty: the Vuelio toolkit for communicators

PR and comms are playing a critical role in delivering information during the COVID-19 outbreak.

From creating and maintaining consistent messaging, which aligns with brand values, to getting used to new working arrangements, teams are stretched and still expected to provide value to all their stakeholders, both internally and externally.

On top of all this, each organisation must keep up with the latest Government guidelines, which are evolving daily.

Navigating uncertainty: The Vuelio toolkit for communicators has been created to support the industry in these challenging times.

The toolkit includes stats and information on the coronavirus outbreak, including its impact on the media landscape, linked resources to help with everything from virtual events and networking to staying focused while working at home, and it also includes our top 10 lessons to keep your comms effective in a crisis.

It also includes links to our COVID-19 daily bulletin and our next yoga session on Thursday, which will hosted virtually. We hope you can join us there.

Download the toolkit and find out more about how Vuelio can support you.

 

collaboration

Tips for using Vuelio to collaborate effectively

Whether your team is in one place or remote working in different locations, Vuelio can help you keep on top of your comms activity and maintain a consistent message.

Here are our top tips:

Create an Issue to keep track of activity around a topic

Keep your messaging consistent by using the SRM’s Issues module, which has lines to take and briefing tools. You can link all of your media enquiries, releases and coverage to help you see exactly what’s going on around a particular topic and who everyone is speaking to about it.

Communicate with stakeholders

Use the built-in email distribution tool to keep your stakeholders and the media up to date.

Create groups in your Vuelio Media Database or add private contacts and send them emails directly. You’ll then be able to see who you’ve engaged using the email distribution report as well as on each contact’s profile.

Keep track of who is talking to whom

Use the module in SRM to keep track of inbound media enquiries and outbound comms. This will help everyone organise and avoid duplicating efforts with media and influencer outreach.

You can link Interactions to contacts, subjects and releases, assign to a colleague and create follow-up tasks to help manage your team’s workflow effectively.

Automated tagging of coverage

We can automatically tag your monitoring content, making it simple to report on coverage by emerging topics, keywords, brands or competitors.

ResponseSource Journalist Enquiries

While you’re managing new ways of working, the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry service continues to be a source of great PR opportunities for your organisation. Requests come to you by email allowing you to react to relevant requests, including lots of non-coronavirus content being sought by the media right now, and expand your network.

Measurement and reporting

3 tips to improve your PR measurement and reporting

As part of Vuelio’s Customer Voice series, we host regular focus groups to hear from our clients, track the latest sector trends and make sure we’re delivering what the industry needs.

Our most recent session focused on measurement and reporting, and the impact of PR campaigns on your organisation’s goals. A few clear challenges came out of the discussions along with practical advice to improve best practice.

1. Coverage quality vs coverage quantity
Reach is a common way of reporting on the potential number of people who could have seen your coverage. While reach figures look impressive to the board, on their own they provide little indication of the quality of coverage. For example, while the BBC might have a reach of 500 million, this doesn’t reflect how many of your target audience your coverage actually reached.

Providing context to the success of PR activity is a real challenge. Part of the problem is educating the board how a piece of coverage from an online influencer can be just as impactful as a piece in a national newspaper. The reach figure maybe vastly different but the reach of an influencer/blogger is much more targeted.

Pivoting from quantitative to qualitative reporting means moving away from numbers such as reach and circulation.

2. (Un)Integrated measurement
While PR teams are working closer with marketing and social media teams, when it comes to planning integrated campaigns they are all still reporting separately.

One option is to align PR KPIs with the marketing funnel to demonstrate that what they do helps fill up the top of the funnel and provides marketing with an engaged audience. Another option is to create KPIs together with all related departments to ensure you’re reporting on the same tactics in the same way.

3. Frameworks? Give us practical advice!
The approaches our group took to reporting were similar and everyone had a real appetite for practical best practice advice on measurement and reporting. With all the talk of how to tackle the challenge of evaluating PR in a meaningful way, there appears to be a knowledge gap between those leading the measurement conversation and those on the ground looking for credible methods to demonstrate how PR impacts on organisational goals.

This means if you’re involved in measurement in your organisation or in the wider industry, you need to do more to bring your colleagues, who are often at the coalface, into the conversation. It’s something we’re focusing on at Vuelio and we’d love to hear your thoughts on how we can all improve this process. Get in touch and let us know.

Are you a Vuelio client? We’d love to hear from you – get involved in our Customer Voice series.

The Creative Shootout 2020 finalists

Finalists announced for The Creative Shootout 2020

Eight agencies have made it through to the live final of The Creative Shootout 2020 on Thursday 23 January, which will be held at Picturehouse Central.

The eight finalists were chosen by a high-profile judging panel after they had all submitted their 60-second content. The finalists will take to the stage to show off their creative clout for a cause that needs bold solutions: homelessness. This year The Creative Shootout’s charity of the year is Crisis, who will provide the all-important brief on the day, which the agencies will use to create their 10-minute live pitch in the hopes of taking home the top prize.

The eight PR and marketing agencies who have made the final cover a range of disciplines:

  • Alpaca Communications – PR agency
  • Epoch Design – Design consultancy
  • Fever – PR, social and influencer agency
  • FleishmanHillard Fishburn – Communications agency
  • Grayling – Integrated communications agency
  • Haygarth – Brand engagement agency
  • TracyLocke – Advertising agency
  • Wavemaker – Media agency

To enter The Creative Shootout, these agencies had to submit a 60-second piece of content to demonstrate their creativity.  The entry format was open and not restricted to a specific type of content.

Creative Shootout founder Johnny Pitt said: ‘With entries ranging from ads to vinyl records, to films and bespoke board games, the entry creativity was jaw-dropping this year. The Shootout exists to showcase the extraordinary talent and thinking in our industry, whilst giving back – and year five looks set to be a blockbuster of a live final.’

At the live final, the finalists will draw straws to determine the running order with each agency having just 10 minutes to pitch their idea to the judges and a live audience of 350. The winning agency is crowned on stage and will get to work with Crisis to see their idea come to life, aided by a £10,000 prize fund – as last year’s winner Wire did with A Plastic Planet.

Matt Downie, director of policy & external affairs at Crisis said: ‘Ending homelessness will require brave people and brave thinking. The Creative Shootout is about just that, and everyone at Crisis is looking forward to seeing what happens in January.’

Vuelio is proud to sponsor The Creative Shootout for the third year in a row and we are looking forward to seeing the creative ideas from all the finalists.

The 2020 judging panel includes:

  • Victoria Buchanan, executive creative director, Tribal Worldwide
  • Kate Davies, head of brand, Guardian News and Media
  • Matt Downie, MBE, director of policy and external affairs, Crisis
  • Nils Leonard, founder, Uncommon Creative Studio
  • Elspeth Lynn, executive creative director, Geometry
  • Johnny Pitt, founder, The Creative Shootout
  • Laurent Simon, chief creative officer, VMLY&R
  • Gary Wheeldon, co-founder, Talker Tailor Trouble Maker
  • Ann Wixley, executive creative director, Wavemaker

Want to attend the live final? Get in touch here.

Measurement

How metrics are helping us prove the value of PR

This is a guest post by Sarah Evans, senior digital strategist at Bottle.

It’s no longer acceptable to say PR has a measurement problem. As an industry we’ve been (fairly) challenged to demonstrate what value our campaigns, our work, that piece of coverage had in real terms. How does that feed into business objectives?

At Bottle, we believe brands grow when their stories flow. To measure the effectiveness of that, we need a blend of short- and long-term metrics. A regular flow of stories being published – audience-first content and coverage, both on and offsite – builds a momentum that cumulatively shifts a larger dial over time that indicates brand growth.

Are your stories flowing?
We still need to keep sight of things like coverage itself, for example: how many pieces, the quality of the sites that are linking, how many unique referring domains link back to your site? These help us keep on top of the momentum and frequency that we’re building. In previous reports, we may have stopped there, however now we know we’re influencing behaviour beyond that initial burst of activity.

Next, we need to look at the immediate impact of that activity. Indicators that our coverage is valuable to its intended audience are things like social shares and comments. If there are any links in the piece, did anyone click on them (and if they did, were they ‘long clicks’ or did they bounce?). If coverage doesn’t have a link, and people like what they see, they’ll have to either Google you or come directly to your website to find out more. Google Analytics (or other website tracking software) can tell you all of this, and more.

How is your content performing? Are people reading and engaging with your content? You can look at this through pages per visit, bounce rate and time on page. Is your content doing the job it set out to do? And what do people do next on the site?

Is your brand growing?
As well as short-term metrics, we also need to balance that by zooming out and understanding how all that activity is laddering up into wider marketing objectives. We may not have sales-led objectives, however a common KPI we look at is site traffic (as a whole, or specifically from channels that we’re most likely to influence with ‘brand building’ activity, like organic search or direct).

These metrics by their nature can take consistent, sustained activity to shift (which is why we set the pace with the shorter-term metrics). Things like the number of people searching for the brand, direct traffic and positions for target keywords, topics and products are all key indicators that your brand is growing in visibility and authority.

Branded searches are a proxy for awareness, and even loyalty if someone already knows who they want to buy from. Direct traffic (although a bit of a messy, catch-all channel) indicates how many people have been to your site before, have you bookmarked, or type your URL in as their destination. A growth in search visibility (or how many times Google has served up your site as an answer to someone’s question) tells us that Google is confident that people will get what they need from your site, in turn driving more organic traffic.

Reporting is empowering
As the boundaries between PR, marketing and SEO activity are merging ever closer, there’s no excuse for PR to shy away from measurement any longer. It’s empowering to demonstrate the value of your work; it unlocks budget, helps us plan the next campaign and sometimes it even makes great case studies. We’ve been influencing these metrics all along, without taking any of the credit. We’re not a direct acquisition channel, but a valid and vital part of the journey. Understanding and articulating the role it plays, both long and short term, is the key to PR’s digital evolution.

Social media tips guest post

5 steps to more creative and effective social media campaigns

This is a guest post by Ellen Morris from Billion Dollar Boy

Effective social media campaigns are all about innovation and creativity, and the more effective your campaigns are, the more successful your business is. Here are five useful steps to create social media campaigns that achieve your business goals.

1. Listen to your social audiences
Listening to your social audiences can give you solutions to numerous problems. Most importantly, it will give you the most accurate insight into what they really want.

Social media campaigns aren’t about pushing as much content as you possibly can for the sake of measuring the effects. They are all about building the right content that will grab the attention of your consumers. This will help you build more engaging content that produces sentiment and real responses.

2. Don’t run away from experts
Consulting experts about how to improve your social media campaign is one of the most efficient ways to make the most out of your efforts. Social media marketers know everything about how this online environment works but, most importantly, how social media users behave.

They can provide extremely valuable insights into specific data that can help you understand how each particular campaign affects not only your business but your existing consumers as well as potential prospects. Take your time to read what they have to say or even talk to them and ask specific questions about how to engage with your audience even more or how to reach a wider audience with the same effort.

Following the experts in your business niche is essential to forming decisions that will help you get ahead of the competition curve and engage with your audience in the right way. This is about seeing a bigger picture and where your company stands on a broader level.

3. Work on your customer experience
A customer’s experience is everything in an online customer-centric environment. Talking to your customers and listening to them is the best way to engage with them. Run a survey and ask for their feedback. Find out what they want from your brand.

The feedback you get is valuable information that will help you determine the next best course of action. This will also help you understand how your target audience feels about your industry in general. When you know their opinion, it will be easier to shape your future social media campaigns based on that data.

4. Take creative steps and think outside the box
Social media is not anything new anymore, and users are fed up with boring, standard social media updates. When creating your campaign, you should think outside the box. Here are a few creative social media tactics that guarantee a certain level of engagement:

  • Create a quiz, test your audience’s knowledge about your brand or a specific product you are pushing, and offer rewards for the best participants
  • Create a ‘tag a friend’ contest and offer giveaways
  • Post ‘behind the scenes’ images and videos to further humanise your brand
  • Take advantage of Facebook’s reactions – for instance, you can start a poll and each reaction represents a different choice

5. Follow the right trends to reinforce your brand message
Showing the right content at the right time is a tricky business as there are many factors that determine which campaigns will excel in different moments in time.

What is popular today may not be popular tomorrow and one mistake could endanger your brand reputation. When putting together an effective social media campaign, think about how your audience responds to different content. Shift your focus to the emotional connection with your audience by presenting the right topics that resonate with their current interests.

5 PR tips from the hotel industry

5 PR tips from the hotel industry

This is a guest post from Frank Marr of AM+A Marketing and Media Relations.

Frank has compiled a list of AM+A’s top tips for creating and putting into action an effective hotel PR and marketing strategy, which the whole PR industry can benefit from. From adopting an integrated approach to channelling your inner journalist, every successful PR and marketing campaign should consider these five steps.

1. Regularly update creative strategies
The media, PR and marketing industries are extremely fluid. Regular creative brainstorms are useful for keeping your brand on trend. Launching a hotel or product is easy, keeping it in the press is not. Creating a major annual event or unique promotion will help maintain exposure. Big events should also be supplemented with smaller, tactical ideas. This is a fine line to tread. You want to keep your brand in the media and engaged with customers without bombarding journalists/ audiences to the point of apathy.

2. An organised integrated PR & digital approach
The key to any successful PR campaign is organisation. It’s true that we must react to news and trends as they emerge, but the best campaigns involve a proactive 12 to 18 month plan incorporating key dates throughout the year from national days to major holidays. Creating smaller, six-month plans allows you to regularly catch long lead media and consistently keep your hotel in the news.

3. Build a network of influencers
As social media continues to hold its position, the importance of building a high-quality influencer network cannot be overstated. According to Havas Group’s Meaningful Brands 2019 report, 81% of brands sold across Europe could disappear and consumers would not care. Building a trustworthy brand is therefore vital for engaging consumers. Create a rapport with your influencers, bring them back time and time again and utilise their contacts to create an even greater reach for your brand.

Influencer marketing is still a murky area but there are a few pointers to help you get ahead: to ensure you make the most out of the relationship include looking for an engagement rate of 4% – 6% on posts; define expectations beforehand to ensure they are met; and aim to state what you want before working with them, so if you want 10 photos, ask for 10 photos.

It’s important to research your influencers and ensure they’re a good fit for your target audience to produce content that maximises your assets.

4. Think like a journalist and blogger

To generate publicity for your brand, try to understand what appeals to journalists and online audiences – and what doesn’t. By thinking like a journalist, you can tailor your campaign and present your assets in a way that is far more likely to be picked up. To be able to think like a journalist or your audiences, you should be constantly monitoring media not just within your industry, but a wide variety. Devour the media, find the angles behind features and learn to spot current trends, journalists love anything new and anything that taps into their calendars. Winning the media over is vital to a successful marketing campaign.

5. Maximise your assets and production
Even if you use all of these tactics and create an innovative, well-structured campaign, you cannot succeed if you don’t have the assets in place to maximise your product. Stay on brand and build up a vault of high-quality images, videos, blog posts, graphics, animations, infographics and articles while ensuring any logos and branding materials are designed to the highest standard. This should be your starting point for any successful campaign.

Looking to make new relationships? Monitor the press? Prove and report on your success? You need Vuelio

PRCA

PRCA announces five new fellows

The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) has announced today that they have appointed five new Fellows. Congratulations to everyone, we look forward to seeing your ideas for the PR industry in action.

Joining the esteemed list are Paul Bristow FPRCA, managing director, PB Consulting; Mark Glover FPRCA, chief executive, Newington; Richard Millar FPRCA, global president, H+K Strategies; Warwick Smith FPRCA, managing partner, Instinctif Partners; Donna Zurcher FPRCA, former managing partner, Instinctif Partners.

Three of the newly appointed Fellows (Paul Bristow, Mark Glover and Warwick Smith) have all been recognised for the work they have done to integrate the PRCA and APPC into the Public Affairs Board. Bristow says, ‘I’m proud to have worked as a public affairs practitioner and to have played my part in creating the Public Affairs Board.’

Glover praised the PRCA describing it as, ‘the pre-eminent organisation for representing the interests of public affairs practitioners’ and Smith echoed these comments stating, ‘It is humbling to be recognised by the industry which has given me so much satisfaction over the years’.

Both Richard Millar and Donna Zurcher have been recognised as an outgoing member of the PRCA Board of Management. Millar says, ‘Working on the PRCA Board of Management has been very rewarding and I look forward to further working for the good of the industry as a member of the PRCA Fellows’ and Zurcher heartily agrees saying, ‘I am absolutely delighted to have been selected. It is a great honour’.

David Gallagher FPRCA, President, Growth and Development, International, Omnicom Public Relations Group, and Chairman, PRCA Fellows, said: ‘The Fellows have become an essential sounding board for the PRCA and the 2019 class join at an especially exciting time for the association and discipline. Congratulations and welcome.’

On behalf of everyone at Vuelio congratulations to the newly appointed Fellows, we look forward to seeing your ideas for the PR industry in action!

Amec 2019

AMEC Global Summit 2019: Data, algorithms and analytics

In its eleventh year, the Amec Global summit last week in Prague was focussed on data, algorithms and analytics. Panels discussed the future of measurement and the need to link PR and communications to audience behaviour. Conversations were inspiring and reminded the team there from Vuelio of the importance for ongoing development in media measurement.

A core theme of the presentations and workshops across the two days was audience. As the media landscape changes to reflect the dynamics of consumer behaviour, measurement and analysis must do the same. We need models that are flexible so that we can measure what matters to the business.

Fundamentally, this means that rather than working in silos, a more holistic approach is taken to how we consider every aspect of evaluation and how we incorporate data; such as demographic data, internal and external stakeholder surveys and call-to-action engagement. We have to work towards measuring beyond outputs to outcomes of the entire communications input. For too long measurement has concentrated heavily on outputs that do not link to business objectives and don’t provide PR functions with the tools they need to bring to the table which prove the worth of PR.

While media measurement and analysis has certainly come a long way, such as the transition away from AVEs, it is crucial that we continue to develop. In the future, this could mean that evaluation frameworks include:

  • Clever data collection techniques to link influencers to audiences with the goal of linking communications to business objectives
  • Development of algorithms to understand audience behaviour and increase efficiency and accuracy of NLP techniques
  • Continue to use best practice analytics methods, such as the tools and frameworks available from AMEC, to prove the worth and credibility of PR, moving away from vanity metrics.

Find out more about measuring your value with Vuelio

Amec 2019

AMEC Global Summit 2019: Data and measuring the value of communications

The Vuelio team headed off to Prague to join the AMEC Global Summit which, this year, was focused on data and what the acceleration of trends from augmentation to AI mean for the communications industry. Day one included sessions that ranged from the implications of blockchain to how Diageo, Sage and Adobe have transformed their global evaluation frameworks.

There were a huge range of experiences and opinions but there was consensus that far more must be done to improve the sophistication of evaluation. Still, PR and communications professionals, whether agency or in-house, do not invest sufficient time or resource to understand impact. According to the PRCA Census, 26% of the industry admits they do no evaluation.

And this has significant knock-on effect. The industry is unable to prove its worth, unable to provide insights that drive business strategy, which puts budgets at risk and leaves PR the poor relation to all other marketing disciplines. Worse, it directly affects the ability of PR to sustain profile and attract data talent.

The good news is that industry groups are taking steps to help. AMEC recently launched M3, a free-to-use measurement framework that supports PR and communications leads to take their organisations (and clients) along a journey to understand and embed best practice evaluation.

It aligns with our view at Vuelio. Measuring the effectiveness (value) of PR and communications begins with understanding the audience the organisation has to reach and the change sought whether awareness, engagement or product purchase. Only if we think in this way will PR and communications evolve to be considered by its contribution to overall business performance. It is a shift essential to the future of the industry.

Find out more about measuring your value with Vuelio

Cats Protection

How Vuelio helped Cats Protection save time and money

Cats Protection is the UK’s leading feline welfare charity with a nationwide network of over 250 volunteer-run branches, 36 centres and over 100 charity shops that together helps around 200,000 cats and kittens each year.

We spoke to Kate Angel, Media Assistant at Cats Protection, who talked us through the charity’s need for a new solution and explained how Vuelio had saved them time and money. 

Cats Protection’s Media Team promotes the charity throughout the UK and provides PR support for volunteers and other departments. The team sends out a daily Media Update to the network that summarises news stories from print, online and broadcast outlets that have featured Cats Protection or are relevant to the charity in some other way.

The charity uses Vuelio Media Monitoring to source the stories using a list of keywords that is continually reviewed. It also uses Vuelio to send out press releases, for media contact management, evaluation on a monthly basis, and for specific communications campaigns.

The Challenge
Prior to working with Vuelio, Cats Protection used a different supplier that was ‘more expensive and less innovative’. The charity found that it was rarely using the supplier to send out press releases as the method was clunky.

The Solution
Cats Protection got quotes from three suppliers prior to its contract with its previous supplier ending. It was given a demo of Vuelio and shown what it could do – the team was looking for a one-stop-shop, which Vuelio was able to offer. The price was a big factor as well as Canvas, which allows Cats Protection to display its coverage in a modern, visually attractive and user-friendly way. The team is also now able to track the success of press releases and campaigns more effectively.

Benefits and Results
The team now use Vuelio to send out all its press releases and find it helpful to see the tracking of how many have been opened. The contacts and influencer functions are more detailed than the charity’s previous supplier.

The hourly coverage alerts mean the team is able to see coverage when it appears, and the reporting process is much improved with Canvas.

Looking for a one-stop comms software solution to save you time and money? Find out more about Vuelio

Vuelio are exhibiting at B2B Marketing Expo 2019

On 27 and 28 March, the ExCeL Centre will transform into Europe’s leading marketing event, B2B Marketing Expo. Exhibiting on stand 2212, the Vuelio team will be ready to answer any questions about our portfolio of products, from the market-leading journalist enquiry service to our fully integrated communications suite.

You’ll find the Vuelio stand close to three masterclasses, including digital marketing, customer acquisition and empowering your ecommerce, so why not get up to speed with the latest marketing theory and visit our stand all in one trip!

With hundreds of other exhibitors to visit at B2B Marketing Expo this year you’ll need to make sure you’ve got a solid plan, so you don’t miss anyone out.

And we’ll be running a special competition for a chance to win £100 for a charity of your choice. Just speak to any member of the Vuelio team – you can’t miss us.

Unable to make it this year? Follow @Vuelio and stay up to date with the latest news, events and blog posts.

Alex Jacquot letter

Qantas and Oceania Express: how the human touch helps brand fly high on Twitter

If you’re up on brand engagement or extremely-ambitious children building businesses on social media, you’ll have seen Alex Jacquot’s successful schmoozing of Qantas boss Alan Joyce this week. Alex, the Sydney-based 10-year-old ‘CEO’ of ‘start-up airline’ Oceania Express, got in touch with Alan, the 52-year-old CEO of Qantas, for advice on providing a quality service for his customers. Because funnily enough, both Alex and Alan’s airlines are planning similar Australia-to-London flights at the moment.

Alex asked: ‘I’m thinking about, as you are, about an A350 for Sydney/Melbourne to London flights. Seeing as it is a 25-hour flight, we are having a lot of trouble thinking about sleep. Do you have any advice?’

Alan’s response: ‘…to your troubles thinking about sleep on 21-hour flights. This is something we are grappling with too, as we embark on Project Sunrise (which is our plan for flying passengers non-stop between the east coast of Australia and London).’

Cynics may suggest this was a meticulously planned attempt to get publicity for Project Sunrise, but that wouldn’t change the outcome. To media outlets covering the viral tweet, it’s ‘heart-warming’ and ‘cute’, and a story worth publishing.

Just as most of us would prefer human aircrew flying from Melbourne to London instead of the automatic pilot from ‘Airplane’, humanity is what works for brand engagement rather than robotic automated approaches.

Using the human touch to achieve Twitter success is nothing new – here are six examples of brands flying high you may have missed:

1. Wendy’s grapples with wrestling fans
The brand that helped Carter get his nuggs is well-known in social media circles for its sass and witty replies – even interacting with fans of things other than chicken. Wrestling fans, for example, can always depend on the Wendy’s account (and whichever WWE fans are running it) to give thoughts on upcoming bouts and reply with popular catchphrases.

To those who don’t watch this stuff, it seems niche. But to fans, it inspires loyalty to a fast-food brand, which happens to be a perfect accompaniment to pay-per-view watching.

2. Merriam-Webster uses words good

Dryly tweeting long words people can use in their next Scrabble game is one way to use Twitter if you’re a dictionary account. Another is to react to the same things your followers are tweeting about, with added commentary. Merriam-Webster has been helpfully explaining some of the new phrases that have come out of the Whitehouse since 45 moved in, which is very Covfefe, as well as smart PR.

3. DiGiorno brings us back to dough

Making use of popular hashtags is another tried and tested approach for quick engagement, and live-tweeting Maria’s escape from the Nuns and Nazis in ‘The Sound of Music’ is always popular. DiGiorno, the US-based pizza brand, got some tasty returns on their participation during NBC’s live production of the musical in 2013, earning 4,000 extra followers and 65 million media impressions after write-ups in outlets including USA Today, Buzzfeed and Mashable.

4. Fiat drives their followers away in Germany
Back in 2013, the Fiat 500 Abarth was just ‘too fast to follow’. So fast, in fact, that Twitter users were swiftly blocked from following its social media account in Germany. Rushing to see if you’ll be left out can be just as powerful a force as fear of missing out – a tactic also used by the Thanos subreddit that banned half of its community last year. Individual bans: turns out lots of people quite like it.

5. The Philadelphia Flyers’ social media team hits it out of the park

If you watch ‘The Walking Dead’, or read the comics, you’ll know why this Philadelphia Flyers tweet got so much attention. If you don’t [SPOILERS] – actor Steven Yeun tweeted support for the Detroit Red Wings, which the Flyers (the rival team) didn’t take too kindly to… so they tweeted support for Lucille, the baseball bat that’s used to kill Yeun’s character in The Walking Dead TV series. Ouch. It’s nasty, and petty, and got retweets from Dead watchers, and follow-up articles on sports and entertainment websites. Which didn’t hurt the Philadelphia Flyers brand at all.

6. Twitter gets ‘excited’ for a Meghan Trainor press release [Mildly explicit]

And now to the uniquely human trait of hubris. This is a hard thing to pull off, but when it works, it goes viral quickly. This press release for pop star Meghan Trainor’s upcoming single release was considered to be so overwritten and overambitious, it had to be shared with the world. A lot. Not every product can be publicised with phrasing like ‘smashing bae’s junk to smithereens’ but in this instance, it worked, and became one of the most successful press releases of recent times – achieving huge coverage for ‘All the Ways’.

If something’s embarrassing, novel, or features a cute kid who wrote someone a cute letter, it’s got a good chance of getting your brand some attention, particularly from all the humans out there who’ve got access to a retweet button.

Heather Baker feature

International Women’s Day: Advice for young female PR professionals

This is a guest post from Heather Baker, Founder and CEO at TopLine Comms.

Reassessing the gender pay gap on International Women’s Day

Today marks the 108th International Women’s Day. It serves as a collective call for gender parity and this year’s theme #BalanceForBetter is, in my opinion, one of the best yet. It recognises the fact that balance isn’t just an issue that affects women, but a business issue: and it’s a really important distinction to make.

Even though PR has historically (and somewhat stereotypically) been perceived as a female-led industry, there is still a marked gender pay gap. According to the PRCA’s 2018 PR and Communications Census, the current pay gap between male and female PR professionals stands at 21%. When you compare this to the 2018 ONS stats, which put the gender pay gap at 8.6% for full-time workers (the closest it’s been for 21 years), you realise how far behind the PR industry really is.

Initiatives like International Women’s Day are important because they help create change and raise awareness. On the topic of gender parity, you can already see positive changes in education, with more children being taught how to code at primary school in the UK. By comparison, I went to an all-girls school and had to learn knitting and cooking alongside maths and physics. I ended up studying psychology at university; I would have preferred engineering but it just didn’t occur to me at the time.

Fortunately, my mum was a career woman and my dad always treated me like an equal, which helped me develop some valuable self-belief. After graduating, I went into PR. I’m proud to say that my company, TopLine Comms, is an equal opportunities employer and that our STEM specialist team comprises an equal gender split.

Having built TopLine from scratch, here are some of the things I’ve learned along the way that might help anyone starting out in public relations, or any other career for that matter.

Help others
Watch enough romantic comedies and you’ll end up believing that female colleagues need to be archenemies, but that shouldn’t be the case. Women must help other women succeed. The first step is to help others and hold yourself accountable for speaking up about positive gender parity and equality in your workplace.

Mentorship is extremely important to empower younger generations to fill the shoes of their seniors. Look out for mentorship programmes, or simply ask a more senior female colleague to mentor you and show you the ropes

Run your own race
Social comparison theory is the belief that humans are driven to self-evaluate by comparison to others. It’s easy to believe that your peers are better than you – maybe you think that they have better senior relationships, get to work on more exciting opportunities or get better results. But comparison is the thief of joy. It’s a dangerous practice and one that stops you from running your own race and focusing on you. Be yourself, know your strengths, use them wisely and the rest will follow.

Set boundaries
If you haven’t read Michelle Obama’s book ‘Becoming’, I strongly recommend that you do. In the book, she talks about the idea and importance of balance – precisely the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day. Juggling a career, family and friends, and still having time for yourself is no easy feat, so it’s vital that you set boundaries and stick to them.

Try to identify what you feel comfortable sacrificing and what you don’t, and then make sure that don’t compromise on it. It’s different for everyone so, as mentioned above, don’t compare your choices to others. You’ll find lots of articles with top tips from successful people, from not reading emails first thing in the morning to creating lists and getting enough me time. Ultimately, it just comes down to what you need to do to be your most productive self. Find what helps you to balance your time and don’t be embarrassed to incorporate it into your schedule.

Awareness days give us an excuse to reflect on important issues that affect our lives. Let’s use this year’s International Women’s Day and theme of #BalanceforBetter to tackle the gender pay gap and talk more openly about how women can succeed in the workplace.

PR Tips for Monzo success

4 PR tips for Monzo success

This is a guest post from Katy Bloomfield, Comms Director at TopLine Comms.

Monzo is arguably the UK’s biggest fintech success story to date. Just look around any London underground station and you’ll see hordes of commuters tapping in and out with their bright coral cards. Millennials are mad about Monzo; they make up its biggest market and help to drive its popularity, which continues to spread like wildfire.

In 2018, Monzo welcomed its millionth customer and secured new finance through customer crowdfunding, boosting its value to more than $1bn (£787m). Not bad for a digital bank that first launched in 2016. From its semi-humble beginnings, Monzo has grown into an industry leader. Plenty of start-ups want to emulate its success, and many PR agencies would love to work with them.

There is no doubt that Monzo’s spectacular trajectory is a great story, but it’s important to remember that a number of factors contributed to its rise. Here are four lessons PR firms and professionals can learn from Monzo.

1. Pay attention to timing
When it comes to PR, there is little better than being in the right place at the right time. To maximise this sweet spot, you need to understand your market fully – that includes your target audience as well as your competitors. Pay attention to trends, behaviours and events – this will help you identify the perfect moment to announce yourself.

Monzo, of course, could not have timed its arrival better. The 2008 recession did some serious damage to banks’ reputations, and consumer confidence hit rock bottom. The financial services industry worked hard to rebuild its reputation, but an increasingly tech-savvy customer base wasn’t satisfied with more of the same.

Digital disruptions were upending all sorts of status quos, from hailing a taxi (Uber) to booking accommodation (Airbnb) – and banking was no exception. In 2016, the foundations for a fintech revolution were already in place: 47% of the world, for example, used mobile banking. Monzo was not the first fintech to launch, but it launched during a perfect storm of opportunities and, crucially, launched with a better product than its competitors.

PR lesson: Keep a close eye on the market, and make sure your communication is well-timed.

 

2. Play the long game
Good timing requires patience, agility and a stockpile of content to release at the right time. It doesn’t pay to publish everything all at once, you’ll simply overwhelm your audience and drown them in messaging. Monzo used incremental communication tactics like focus groups, online surveys and social media teasers, and only then did it launch its first campaign.

Monzo also knows how to whet appetites and seed interest. The company cleverly staggers news, product updates and announcements: and the strategy works well. Founder and CEO Tom Blomfield recently penned a blog post on the company’s planned updates for 2019, introducing an exciting next stage of features that could add some serious value to Monzo’s core offering. The response has been positive, loyal and anticipatory – you can almost ‘hear’ the bated breath.

PR lesson: Keep your powder dry.

 

3. Know your audience
Monzo knows its target audience inside out. The company is enmeshed in millennial culture; using collaboration to create a democratic business. The Monzo Community Forum is one such example, encouraging customers to become advocates and evangelists known as ‘Monzonauts’. This community is treated to special events and their insights and ideas are fed back into product development for testing in Monzo Labs.

The Monzonauts are such an integral part of the bank that when the company’s original name, Mondo, faced a trademark challenge from another business, they came up with ‘Monzo’. By allowing Monzonauts to guide the company’s development and get involved, Monzo created a product that people want and will recommend. It worked; early referrals accounted for 80% of the company’s early-stage business.

PR lesson: Focus on the customer. They are your biggest asset.

 

4. Get out there and network
Blomfield has a rather rarefied circle of friends which assisted the company’s ascent. That said, he had to get out there, meet them and convince them of his idea’s viability – which he did. Blomfield cofounded GoCardless, a business aimed at streamlining direct debit collections, with two friends while studying at Oxford. They pitched the start-up to Y Combinator, an innovation incubator in Silicon Valley and in the process, met – among others – Mark Zuckerberg.

In 2014, Blomfield became Chief Technology Officer at Starling Bank. This was one of the UK’s first fintechs to launch after the financial crisis. During this time he met and worked with many top industry people, some of whom now work for Monzo or helped cofound it.

PR lesson: Building a business relies on making good relationships with key people. Make sure your communication efforts are targeted at the brand’s network of contacts – as well as its customers.  

 

Whether you’re a PR agency, or looking for one, keeping these four tips front and centre at all times will give your marketing efforts more oomph in the highly competitive world of fintech.

Scott Guthrie

PR Blogger Spotlight: Scott Guthrie

Scott Guthrie’s blog focuses on informing PRs on everything to do with influencer marketing, alongside content around wider comms topics. Scott Guthrie is one of our Top 10 UK PR Blogs and we caught up with him to talk about influencer marketing issues in 2019, top tips for pitching and why The Body Shop is winning at influencer marketing so far this year. 

What’s in store for the blog in 2019?
More of the same. I wrote 47 articles on influencer marketing for my blog in 2018 plus a dozen or so covering public relations in general. Increasingly my aim is to peer over the brow of the hill at the issues influencer marketing is likely to face in the near and midterm.

Last year I foresaw three major issues for the nascent industry: influencer fraud; lack of transparency in disclosing advertisements; and a media backlash. These issues will rumble on throughout 2019 but we will also look beyond compliance to consider the ethics surrounding influencer marketing. For example, we will consider why it’s not okay to promote gambling sites to young, impressionable audiences, and why ‘merch’ shouldn’t be so oversold. The industry will also start to ask questions about kidfluencers, image manipulation and virtual influencers. I’ll be writing about these issues and how the industry approaches them via regulation and trade body codes of conduct.

How has PR changed since you first got into the industry?
I can still (vaguely) recall foot messengers delivering financial results and press releases by hand to the City editors. While in newsrooms rip and read printers spewed out headlines from the Press Association. Press releases were usually faxed to newsrooms. The importance of a good story told well from a trusted source hasn’t changed. The technology surrounding news acquisition and distribution has. Technology has splintered the entire media landscape.

How much is Brexit affecting comms in the UK?
Brexit is affecting comms in two ways: by seemingly keeping all other news from front page for almost two years; and, by heightening a sense of anxiety. My clients are typically small businesses. Small business accounts for over 99% of all private sector businesses in the UK. Yet, just 6% of small and medium-sized businesses feel the Government is listening to their concerns about Brexit. That is causing them anxiety and preventing them from making any significant business decisions.

What’s the biggest issue facing the industry (outside of Brexit)?
Influencer marketing offers an amazing opportunity to the public relations industry. The discipline can transcend ‘selling stuff’ to embolden positive reputation, communicate an organisation’s purpose, assist in a crisis situation, or scale subject matter expertise heightening employee advocacy in the process. The biggest issue is the risk that these opportunities are passed up by the PR industry. The risk that these opportunities are squandered; handed over to the other creative industries only for us to look back in future years and realise our mistake. The same mistakes of missed opportunity that we saw with failing to shape the future of social media, SEO or content marketing.

Are traditional media outlets losing their importance to the industry?
There is no secret that the media has fragmented from print, to online and social media. In turn influencers have emerged on every media, in every market. This does not mean that traditional media outlets are no longer important. It does mean that, as effective communicators, we need to know which mastheads, broadcasters and individuals are influencing the important people we are seeking to influence on behalf of our clients. Our opportunity is to work with these organisations and influencers and to engage with their networks in the way we have traditionally done solely with journalists.

What’s the best campaign of 2019 so far?
The Body Shop works with influencers in two very separate ways: to sell product; and to affect positive social change. For its Forever Against Testing campaign, the cosmetic company sought to gather eight million signatures in the form of a petition to take to the United Nations. The campaign over achieved its objective in under the time allocated: 8.3m signatures in 3/4 time. The campaign demonstrated a fundamental element of influencer marketing – that influencers can help affect change in behaviour and opinion. And that the change needn’t be confined to a purchase decision. The campaign also highlighted the importance of an integrated communications programme.

What advice would you give students looking to join the PR industry?
Read widely and read deeply. Acquire a firm understanding about how the PR industry is put together and look to specialise in a particular area. Follow relevant hashtags on LinkedIn and Twitter. Start to form your own opinion then codify and collate those opinions into your own blog. Writing about a subject is a wonderful way to better understand that subject. It is great way to showcase your mastery of the subject and mark yourself out from other graduates looking to enter the industry.

What’s your best pitch tip for PRs?
Never pitch blind. Know who you’re pitching to. Know what they’ve written or broadcast recently. Know their point of view. Understand their audience. Attempt to establish a degree of relationship before you need to pitch. That might mean following the journalist on social media, sharing their articles and commenting on them. My best pitch advice is to be useful to the journalist.

What other blogs do you read?
I am a major fan of Richard Bailey’s work at PR Place. He edits the site and his Friday morning round-up posts are a must-read for PR practitioners regardless of whether they are just starting out or well-established in their careers. I also enjoy talkinginfluence.comstedavies.cominfluenceonline.co.uk,orlaghclaire.com, and the Vuelio Blog natch!

Reach-the-right-influencers-with-the-Vuelio-media-database