Cut for time Katie Phillips

Cut for time: extra answers from our accessmatters session with KDP Coaching & Consulting’s Katie Phillips

Our accessmatters session with KDP Coaching & Consulting’s Katie Phillips focused on how we can all prevent burnout and protect our mental wellbeing while working through stressful situations.

Watch the full accessmatters session with Katie Phillips here.

Sharing how her 15 years of experience in government, corporate and start-up communications led to her own burnout a few years ago, Katie detailed the signs to look for in colleagues, employees and ourselves when it comes to mental wellbeing and launching her own consultancy to tackle the issue.

We ran out of time to answer all of the questions that came in during the session, so Katie has very kindly answered additional questions on company culture and the approach of start-ups versus big corporate organisations when it comes to mental health…

How much does company culture matter? And what if the culture doesn’t lend itself to a caring approach but you as a manager are much more aware of it?

Company culture is super important. People need to feel safe, supported and able to speak up. If that isn’t the case, mental wellbeing will suffer and that will have a domino effect on productivity, creativity and relationships. If the culture isn’t caring, then that manager really needs to get some allies if they want to push the cause. Doing it alone will be draining. I wrote about how to do this recently.

Are there market sectors, in your experience, that are better at this stuff than others? Does a small start-up find it more difficult to have a concerted approach to this than, say, a big corporate with a HR department and big budgets?

It’s generally reported that the public sector does better in terms of supporting the mental health of employees than the private. The CIPD have done reports which go into more detail about what that looks like more specifically across industries.
Having a bigger budget is helpful but doesn’t always mean that it has the biggest impact. Smaller organisations that are willing to look at the core of how their business is run can do just as well with a relatively small budget. Many of my clients fall into this category and it’s their openness rather than money or internal structures that I feel have the biggest impact. It doesn’t need to be complex or expensive to be valuable!

Here are some useful resources for starting to tackle mental health at work for those with little to no budget…

Burnout Prevention: How to support yourself and your team
How to start a conversation about mental health
How to improve your teams’ Mental Health (Clue: it’s not with Employee Wellbeing perks)

Read our overview of our accessmatters session with Katie Phillips here and watch the full video on the accessmatters website.

Freelancing for Journalists

Freelancing for Journalists Podcast

Freelancing for Journalists Podcast: ResponseSource provide advice on how to secure case studies

Our sister brand, ResponseSource, are 2021 sponsors for the excellent podcast Freelancing for Journalists. Series four landed on 3 March where hosts Lily Cantar and Emma Wilkinson were joined by two experts to discuss how to track down the perfect case study and secure experts.

Vuelio and ResponseSource account manager and Journalist Enquiry Service expert, Tom Bettison was a guest on the episode and talked about how to get the most out of the service.

Complete the form below to listen to the podcast in full:


Life With Bugo

Influencer Insight: Life With Bugo

What does blogger Bugo of Life With Bugo love most about living in London? ‘Brunches, wandering around pretty spots and visiting historical monuments – London lifestyle is my everyday life, so it’s easy to blog about my day!’

Being locked down in London hasn’t stopped Bugo from sharing the best of the capital with her readers – check out her favourite things to write about and recommendations for what to do this weekend if you’re London-based.

How did you get started with blogging about life in London?
I moved to London over six years ago and fell in love with the city. When I decided to start blogging, I initially was going to focus on travel only but decided to incorporate London lifestyle into my blogging journey. London lifestyle is natural to me as it is my everyday life, so it was just easy to blog about going about my day – brunches, wandering around pretty spots and visiting historic monuments!

What’s your favourite thing to post about and why?
Brunch and pretty spots, mainly. I’m very visual and I love highlighting the beauty of the city. I am a firm believer in romanticising everything and I love a bit of escapism so I focus on that. If I enjoy it, I blog about it!

How have you changed your approach and content during lockdown?
I did not really change my approach much, I just took some breaks when things got overwhelming. I have a day job and I was also homeschooling my 13-year-old brother, so these two took precedence during lockdown. Prior to lockdown, I had some content that I was able to spread as well – mainly my international travel content. I was also able to take some photos during my daily walk and I stuck to Instagram Stories more to keep my audience engaged.

Quick recommendations for things for Londoners to do during the pandemic?
Walk and cycle are my two favourite recommendations. If you like to walk, this is the best time to discover how far you can walk and what you can discover. I discovered my borough had a few parks which I didn’t know about pre-lockdown. The Santander Cycles are fantastic and get you from point A to B in London while allowing you social distance as well. I recommend you download the Santander Cycles TFL app, map your route and get cycling.

What makes London the best city in the world?
Oh, so many things. The social life, complete freedom, working in the city, lovely parks in summer, the Underground is second to none, summer and spring evening walks, (window) shopping in Harrods; there is just so much. I feel like I’m living my dream life in this city and it’s not something I know how to explain. I almost feel like I have endless possibilities here and I am able to create my happiness.

What’s the most fun you’ve ever had in London?
A boat canal ride with GoBoat London on the London canals. It was so much fun self-driving our boat and just exploring from Paddington to Maida Vale and Little Venice. That was such a fun Saturday!

What are you most looking forward to doing when the world opens back up again?
International travel – I’m ready to leave England now!

How do you collaborate with brands, and which kind of brands do you really like working with?
I have not collaborated with any brands yet as I am quite selective with who I’d like to work with. I would like to work with brands that align with what I am building.

For PRs looking to work with you and your blog/website, how would you prefer they approach you and with what kind of content?
I’d prefer they approached me via email. I’m looking to partner with brands that promote London (and UK) tourism. I also would love brunch invites to review fancy brunch locations. Brands that will give allow me to create and not dictate what they’d like to see in a review or post.

Which blogs do you regularly check out?
Usually the same blogs in my niche – travel and London lifestyle blogs. I also like luxury Fashion and just general lifestyle, so I read some of those as well.

Looking for more on London lifestyle? Check out our Top 10 London Lifestyle Blogs.



PRCA Confidence Tracker shows global optimism increasing

Latest results from the PRCA Confidence Tracker show increasing optimism for the future among public relations leaders across the world.

The single-question study conducted by Question and Retain surveyed over 400 PRCA and ICCO members to determine levels of confidence for recovery considering the impact of the COVID-19 on the industry at large.

The UK had the highest level of confidence, as 93% of participants reported feeling quite confident or very confident about the future of their organisation.

For PRCA SEA and MENA members, the figure fell to 84% and to 54% for survey participants in Latin America.

82% of ICCO members reported feeling quite confident or very confident about the future.

‘PR practitioners around the world have weathered the pandemic storm successfully, and now face the future with steadily-increasing confidence,’ said PRCA director general Francis Ingham of the results. ‘If 2020 was a year of change and survival for our industry, then 2021 will be a year of resurgence.’

Find out more about the PRCA Confidence Tracker on the website and catch up on previous findings from the initiative here.

TikTok for PR Campaigns

From the CIPR Future Leaders Forum: How to use TikTok in your PR campaigns

Not sure how to use TikTok as part of your PR strategy?

CIPR’s 2021 Future Leaders Forum to inspire young talent in the communications industry took TikTok as one of its topics, sharing advice on using the increasingly popular and influential social media platform for public relations campaigns.

In a video introducing the basics of the platform and how its algorithm and potential usage differs from those of other social media mammoths, Access Intelligence’s CMO Michelle Goodall shares best practice for future PR TikTokers.

For how PR and communications campaigns utilising the platform can succeed in raising awareness of their subjects, Zero Waste Scotland’s Claire Munro also explains how influencers including Littlest Chicken were instrumental in the success of its Scotland is Stunning initiative to stop littering in public spaces.

Watch the video by filling in the form below.

How PR agencies can support local businesses

Lessons from lockdown… How PR agencies can support local businesses

This is a guest post from Honest Communications founder Holly Daulby offering tips on how PR agencies can support local businesses in the current climate.

The need for strong, effective communication in the past year has been greater than ever. With small, local businesses seeking ways to communicate with existing customers, while still reaching new ones, there have been ample opportunities for PR agencies to lend a hand.

1. Be there to help

As part of lending a helping hand, be sure to offer value and utilise your experience and channels to give free advice to help others.

When lockdown first happened, and the world was filled with so much uncertainty and the future looked bleak for so many local businesses, we took to our blog and social media channels to offer advice. One article which proved popular was our top 5 tips for communicating in a crisis, which we even threw social media advertising budget behind, to really help reach as many people as possible who might need some free PR advice.

2. Be genuine, not opportunistic

Overt selling doesn’t sit well with people, they see straight through it. Companies trying to push sales, and not reading the room, look ignorant and self-serving – and no one wants that!

Don’t reach out to people to take advantage of their desperation, reach out to people because you want to help them turn things around.

That’s the key. Help. Not sell.

Be genuine in your reasoning for doing so too.

Authentic communication will always shine through. People don’t want cynical, opportunistic companies trying to sell them things they don’t need, particularly during a global crisis. Profiteering from a pandemic isn’t a good look.
The societal shift that has occurred over the past twelve months has seen communities come together to support each other. What resonates now is raw, honest communication to create a more favourable perception of trustworthy, helpful businesses.

3. Be adaptable and be there for your clients

Among so many other things, 2020 taught us that things don’t go to plan. You might have a client activity plan signed off and lined up but you always need to have the flexibility to adapt.

Staying in regular contact with your clients is vital to stay abreast of the changes in their business. Being there to support your clients will not only show you care but will also give you a deeper insight which will help your work be more informed.

Going beyond your normal remit too will also garner favour and clients will appreciate it in the long run. Offer your wider marketing insight and ask how you can support. After all, PR is about building relationships.

4. Broaden your service offering

So many businesses have shown ingenuity, resilience and agility by tweaking what they offer.

Small, local businesses might not be able to afford ongoing retainers or perhaps aren’t in the position they once were. Don’t let money get in the way. Think beyond your core services, and instead think about helping. Find out what people need and match that with your skillset.

For example, as PR professionals, writing comes more naturally to us so you might be able to help local businesses with their case studies, copywriting projects and newsletters. Work on an ad hoc basis to offer help when it’s needed instead of seeking ongoing retainers. We all know the benefits that retainers can have for brand building but they aren’t always possible.

5. Collaborate

If there are any positives to come out of this pandemic, people pulling together is one of them. Now, more than ever, people realise they need each other, and we can see how interconnected everything is. The same is true of businesses – it’s a tough time for everyone and offering a (metaphorical) helping hand where you can, will be appreciated. If you can find any opportunities to collaborate and combine forces with other businesses, it might help you to get back up to speed more quickly.
Here at Honest, in the past year, we’ve joined forces with a local photographer and a local brand consultant. Not only has this helped other local businesses, but it’s also allowed us to offer more to our clients to be able to further help them. Win-win!

In all of this, the main thing to remember, which should always be the case– pandemic or not – is that genuine, honest communications will prevail. After all, honesty is always the best policy.

For more on how PR can support local businesses, read our previous guest posts from White Rose PR’s Louise Pinchin on Supporting Local Business with Local PR, Gallium Ventures’ Heather Delaney on The Power of Community and Spike’s Andre Gwillium on How to Implement a PR Strategy for a Local Charity.

PRFest 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diversity in Action A Leader Like Me

A Leader Like Me to launch Diversity in Action conference

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

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

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

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

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

GWPR Annual Index

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


PRCA adds to its Board of Directors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find more about these latest appointments on the PRCA website.

How to Implement a PR Strategy for A Local Charity

How to Implement a PR Strategy for A Local Charity

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

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

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

Selecting a Charity

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

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

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

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

Building a Localised Media List

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

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

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

Local Contacts, Media and Micro-publications

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

Your Stories Should Evoke Emotion

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

Promoting Your Story Across Social Media Platforms

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

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

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

The Power of Mentoring

The benefits of coaching and mentoring in the workplace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What was your highlight in the mentoring experience and why?

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

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

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

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

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

Finally, would you do it again?

Patrick: Absolutely!

Franklin: 1000% yes.

Find out more about social listening platform Pulsar.

accessmatters with Katie Phillips

accessmatters with KDP Coaching & Consulting’s Katie Phillips

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fuse podcast

The PRCA launches the Fuse podcast

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dos and Don'ts of work video calls

Video call etiquette when working from home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Supporting Local Businesses During COVID-19 and Beyond

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

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

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

Heather Delaney

At Gallium Ventures, we have always been passionate about supporting the ‘little guys’ with a dream and as a result we don’t only work with large global companies but focus a lot of time and energy on the little ones, as everyone has to start somewhere. Once the pandemic began, we felt even more responsible for doing our part by offering our services to further support these businesses, and since then we have worked with several amazing companies in the process. – Leveraging media to support a good cause is a Brighton-based not-for-profit organisation, that was established during the pandemic by local business owners in the catering sector. They not only supported the supply chains of local hospitality businesses but also provided fresh, free produce to local NHS workers and those in need. Inspired by this incredible story, we worked to raise awareness of the organisation as they looked to continue raising funds for the business. Over the course of our work, we secured coverage highlighting the partnership in online and radio, including The Latest Brighton and BBC Radio Sussex, drumming up visibility and support for this inspiring story of a local community helping out its own. It was an incredibly fulfilling campaign and one that the whole team enjoyed working on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

PRCA Virtual International Summit 2021

Agenda revealed for PRCA’s Virtual International Summit in March

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

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

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

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

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

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

More of the best PR podcasts

More of the best PR podcasts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


PRCA shares numbers on unregulated lobbying

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LGBTQ+ flag

LGBT+ History Month: Where we are now and what comes next

February is LGBT+ History Month, making it an appropriate time to review the progress made so far with LGBT+ rights in the UK and also some of the issues where action is still needed.

As a helpful summary by the House of Lords Library shows, the last two decades have seen a sustained push forward at Westminster with legislation to deliver LGBT+ rights. This started with the equalisation of the age of consent in 2000, moving through the 2003 repeal of Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 (this forbade local authorities from ‘promoting homosexuality’ and schools from teaching ‘the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship’) and the 2004 introduction of civil partnerships and Gender Recognition Certificates, to the introduction of same-sex marriage in 2013.

There has also been action to right historic wrongs, most recently shown by the inclusion of posthumous pardons for army personnel convicted or cautioned for buggery under legislation dating back to 1688 in the Armed Forces Bill introduced last week.

Westminster has changed a lot since the era of the first openly lesbian MP Maureen Colquhoun, whose death was recently announced. 55 MPs identify as LGBT and the UK Parliament has been described as ‘the gayest in the world’, though there are no trans MPs.

Similarly, Government policy has moved on from the era of Section 28 – it has an LGBT Action Plan, which says its ‘vision is for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics, to be able to live safe, happy and healthy lives where they can be themselves without fear of discrimination.’

Census and data
In another sign of progress, next month’s census will contain questions on sexual orientation for the first time. Iain Bell, deputy national statistician at the Office for National Statistics, says this will improve a situation in which ‘decision-makers are operating in a vacuum, unaware of the extent and nature of disadvantage which LGBT people may be experiencing in terms of health, educational outcomes, employment and housing’.

However, as Bell indicates, it is certainly not true to say that this progress means that LGBT+ people in the UK don’t continue to face significant challenges. The findings of the Government’s National LGBT Survey conducted in 2017 make for stark reading:

  • LGBT respondents were less satisfied with their life than the general UK population
  • Over two-thirds avoid holding hands with a same-sex partner
  • At least two in five had experienced an incident (such as verbal harassment or physical violence) because they were LGBT in the previous twelve months, yet over 90% of the most serious incidents weren’t reported
  • 24% had accessed mental health services in the previous twelve months
  • 2% had undergone so-called ‘conversion therapy’ and a further 5% had been offered it

Ahead of the 2019 election, Stonewall published a manifesto setting out a range of policies to address some of the issues facing the UK and global LGBT+ population. It is worth selecting just a handful of these to see where the Government is coming under pressure to act, and how it is responding.

Trans rights
Perhaps the most contentious issue is reform of the Gender Recognition Act. Stonewall’s manifesto called for reform to ‘remove the requirement for intrusive medical tests, introduce a simple administrative process based on the principle of self-determination, and provide recognition for under 18-year-olds and non-binary people’. The Government consulted on reform in 2018, noting that trans people find ‘the current system intrusive, costly, humiliating and administratively burdensome’ and ‘too few’ are able to get legal recognition.

However, when Liz Truss responded to the consultation last year in her capacity as Women and Equalities Minister, she said ‘the balance struck in this legislation is correct, in that there are proper checks and balances in the system and also support for people who want to change their legal sex’ but the Government would make the progress of applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate ‘kinder and more straightforward’ and open new gender clinics.

Speaking in a debate on Truss’s response, Conservative MP Crispin Blunt said it was a ‘crushing disappointment for trans people’, while Truss’s Labour shadow Marsha De Cordova described it as ‘deeply disappointing’. The decision fell within the broader context of a widespread debate around trans issues, with campaign groups raising concerns about the impact on single-sex spaces for women, and the NHS trust which provides the UK’s main gender identity development service for children currently appealing against a High Court ruling stopping it from referring under-16s to treatment that would block puberty.

LGBT+ education
In November, the BBC reported that the Government had withdrawn financial support from projects to tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools, although the Government insisted that the funding had always been due to run out. However, a change to the school curriculum from September 2020 means that the Government now expects ‘all pupils to have been taught LGBT content at a timely point’ as part of relationships and sex education.

Rachel Heah of Lancaster University has warned that the guidance is ‘vague’, while anti-bullying projects are required to ‘truly embed short and long-term positive changes for LGBT+ pupils’. That is this still a contentious subject was demonstrated in 2019 when the High Court upheld a ban on protests against LGBT+ relationships education outside a Birmingham school.

Hate crimes
Hate crimes against LGBT+ people also continue to be a problem, with the number reported to police trebling between 2014-15 and 2019-20 and rising by 20% in just the last year. While this could represent greater confidence in reporting them, the National Police Chiefs Council and Stonewall agree that they continue to be under-reported.

Nancy Kelley, Stonewall’s chief executive, said LGBT organisations were ‘definitely seeing a real increase in people reaching out for help’ and were ‘very concerned that this is a real rise in people who are being attacked because of who they are and who they love.’

Conversion therapy
Another area where campaigners would like to see more action is the ban on so-called ‘conversion therapy’ first promised by the Government as part of its 2018 LGBT Action Plan.

Speaking in the summer, Boris Johnson said the practice was ‘absolutely abhorrent and has no place in a civilised society’, and the Government would bring forward a ban once a study has been completed. In September, Truss said that she hoped this work would be completed by the end of the month, with further steps to be set out ‘shortly’ thereafter.

However, in January, Kemi Badenoch (Minister for Equalities) claimed that research was still ongoing.

National HIV Testing Week
This week is also National HIV Testing Week. Improvements in medicine have led to treatments which can make the virus undetectable and untransmittable, meaning that HIV/AIDS thankfully no longer has to lead to the awful consequences currently being so movingly portrayed in Russell T Davies’ drama It’s A Sin, which follows the lives of a group of young gay men in 1980s London.

To deliver the Government’s commitment to eliminate transmission by 2030, former health minister Steve Brine recently called for the Government’s forthcoming HIV Action Plan to include a commitment to make the ‘wonder drug’ PrEP which prevents HIV transmission available at GP surgeries, and for more routine HIV testing. Action is also needed globally, with the UN estimating that 38m people were living with HIV in 2019.

Finally, it’s worth remembering that the rights won so far are not guaranteed to remain secure. Promoting The Glamour Boys, his recent book about the gay or bisexual MPs who opposed Hitler,  Labour’s Chris Bryant warned ‘I often worry a younger generation of gay men and women think we will never go back to the era of repression. But I just say Berlin was the most liberal place in the world in 1930 – yet by 1934 gays were being arrested.’