World Cup 2022 – is the PR value paying off for FIFA sponsors?

Since the start of the World Cup on 20 November, FIFA’s seven official partners have faced extensive backlash over decisions to support the event from politicians, public figures and the press. This critique follows a multitude of human rights concerns and bribery allegations against FIFA and Qatar, some of which have been referred to as ‘serious abuse’ in 482 international headlines over the course of the tournament.

Strong criticism of FIFA’s affiliation with Qatar has been widely distributed in the press since 2014. Approximately 1,876 international English-language publications have discussed ‘corruption’ since 10 November alone, with 11% citing that awarding Qatar the World Cup was a ‘bad choice’ – words used by Sepp Blatter, former FIFA president who resigned in 2015 amid the bribery scandal.

Since June, over 200 international charities and organisations have released statements on unresolved and ongoing crises caused by the event. In particular, the most discussed has been the ‘death, injury and rampant wage theft’ against migrant workers, which has been condemned by Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, FairSquare and Equidem. Nick McGeehan, founding director of FairSquare, publicly accused FIFA of ‘benefiting from exploitation’ and ‘parroting Qatari authorities’, while Tirana Hassan, Human Rights Watch’s Acting executive director, called the organisation a ‘global embarrassment’.

Key Takeaways

  • Adidas, Hyundai/Kia and Visa have produced the most significant international volumes of positive, diverse and controlled coverage
  • Visa has demonstrated strong sentiment control despite coverage peaking later than other sponsors
  • Wanda Group’s lack of ESG comms contributed greatly to negative coverage
  • The Independent and The Telegraph were top publications for six out of the seven FIFA Partners, while CE Noticias Financieras led the print media conversation in Latin American regions

The labour disaster is just one of the negative news stories that have been pinned against Qatari World Cup. Partners have had almost a decade of negative news commentary in relation to their affiliation with FIFA, many of which used this time to prepare messaging on equality, union and perseverance.

Share of Voice
Between 10 Nov – 10 Dec, the Vuelio Insights team found 3,268 international news publications that released FIFA-related coverage mentioning one of the seven partner brands. Among this coverage, adidas achieved the strongest share of voice overall, of which 36% was proactive. Hyundai/Kia was close behind in 22.36% of all international coverage, of which 67% was proactive.

While its coverage peaked much later into the World Cup than for other brands, Visa has demonstrated extensive control over its public commentary throughout the event. The financial corporation’s earned content has been 82% proactive, either stemming from press releases and social media posts.

On average, adidas, Hyundai/Kia and Visa were each mentioned in 56% of international headlines. On the other hand, Coca-Cola, Qatar Airways, QatarEnergy and Wanda Group received a significantly lower quality of coverage, with an average of just 23% of international headlines mentioning one of the brands. Approximately 52% of their coverage was considered a substantial mention and 25% was a passive mention.

Both Coca-Cola and Qatar Airways offered extensive messaging on being ‘universal’ and ‘uniting’ fans in the face of controversy, but both campaigns were heavily diluted by several wider news stories evolving with adidas and Hyundai/Kia between 18 Nov and 1 Dec.

Top stories, sentiment and coverage overtime

adidas
While adidas received the highest international share of voice, overall sentiment was relatively balanced with 26.2% positive, 33.3% neutral and 39.7% negative. The sports corporation’s most widely distributed story was on how its bespoke technology ‘proved’ that Ronaldo did not score the opener against Uruguay, which was published 682 times across 598 international news sources. This story had a majority positive sentiment and peaked from 29 Nov – 1 Dec, of which 72% quoted various excerpts from the original adidas statement on how its tech was able to ‘definitively show no contact on the ball’.

Several global news stories have emerged around adidas’s ‘hi-tech’ footballs throughout the World Cup, making it the leading news topic among all FIFA Partners. The goal Ronaldo claimed proved to be a beneficial source of positive coverage among otherwise negative headlines that peaked in the same week.

Jordan Pickford was quoted 182 times as being ‘worried’ by the ‘menace’ and ‘rascal’ balls ahead of the England v France game, describing them as ‘a bit different’ to Nike balls used in the Premier League. Similarly, Kieran Trippier was quoted 203 times when he referred to the balls as ‘a bit lighter’ and like they would ‘fly away’. This coverage had a collective 57% negative sentiment rate but received less attention than the Ronaldo goal, leaving adidas less impacted overall.

Hyundai/Kia

While Hyundai/Kia had a slightly lower volume of coverage, it maintained a 14% higher positive sentiment rate overall. The most popular headline was in relation to the FIFA Museum presented by the motor company, which was covered 223 times by international news, sport and automotive publications. Within the body of the article, 46% mentioned how this opening is as part of Hyundai/Kia’s ‘Goal of the Century’ platform, which received a subsequently high volume of positive coverage for its dedication to sustainability and social impact.

This extended coverage was a strong source of recovery for Hyundai/Kia following a brief  negative peak in coverage from 18-20 November, when it was announced that FIFA stalled on a sponsorship renewal offer from Hyundai/Kia worth more than $600m (€580m) in 2019.

Visa

With an overwhelmingly positive coverage rate in comparison to other sponsors, Visa experienced two peaks in coverage between 10 Nov and 10 Dec. The first, which was covered between 16 and 20 Nov, was a direct press release on the brand’s ‘innovative payment experiences’ at the World Cup. This topic was discussed 268 times over four days across 203 international economy and news sources.

However, Visa’s biggest peak in coverage was from 8 to 12 Dec, when the brand released a report that shared spending data across all venues throughout the tournament. Furthermore, the prediction that the entire event will reach ‘record spending’ was quoted in 482 of the total 563 international finance and news headlines.

The only significant source of negative coverage associated with Visa throughout the period measured was around its decision to bring NFTs to the World Cup. While the move excited some, approximately 186 outlets reported on how the value of the tokens ‘stumbled’ as ‘upsets’ around the game evolved.

Coca-Cola

As the tournament has evolved, Coca-Cola has fallen short of significant news stories in comparison to other sponsors. The brand’s top story was on the British Conservative dispute against the drinks manufacturer’s decision to sponsor FIFA following a series of homophobic comments.

This story was covered 398 times between 19 and 21 Nov and was a large causational factor behind the brand’s strong rate of negative coverage. On the other hand, the brand’s World Cup campaign, ‘Believing is Magic’, received a 43% positive sentiment score across 435 international news sources between 31 Aug and 30 Oct. However, op-eds and PR news sources were generally sceptical, accusing it of undermining the severity of migrant worker abuse.

Qatar Airways

In many ways, Qatar Airways has mirrored the performance of Coca-Cola. Its most positive coverage in relation to the World Cup was published prior to the event, with the most significant being its opening ceremony which was covered by 182 international news and travel publications. Qatar Airways group chief executive, Akbar Al Baker, was quoted in 59% of this coverage stating that the ‘dream of bringing the world together has truly come alive’.

However, the most significant source of coverage since 10 November has been allegations that FOX Sports produced biased coverage to support a sponsorship agreement made with Qatar Airways. Between 18 and 22 November, FOX News ‘denied’ any potential production influence, while Qatar Airways ‘refused’ to comment.

Wanda Group

As for Wanda Group, earned coverage in English Speaking publications has been low and passive in comparison to other Partners. Similarly, any active contributions to the event – such as targeted campaigns, messaging or public statements — have not been picked up by the media throughout the event. Additionally, over 90% of high-reaching coverage came from a Chinese news or PR publication with international readership.

Wanda Group’s lack of comms meant there was little public content to change the narrative around earned media, which was certainly needed given that the overall sentiment score was 17.7% positive, 47% neutral and 44% negative. The top headline, first published by Campaign Asia, was titled ‘What are Chinese sponsors hoping to get out of the World Cup?’ which explored the expenditure and potential strategy of Wanda Group among other brands.

While the piece was neutral overall, the author concluded the ‘potential backfires’ in attempt to reach a global audience, stating it is ‘unlikely’ anyone would ‘view sponsors favourably amid human rights controversies and concerns that have dogged Qatar’.

QatarEnergy

Although overall volume has by far been the lowest, 39% of QatarEnergy’s international coverage was created by Qatari publications and an additional 46.5% across the UK (31%) and US (15.5%). Alongside passive mentions in reports exploring FIFA expenses, the most significant source of coverage for QatarEnergy has been related to ‘catastrophic’ climate concerns. Between 18 Nov – 10 Dec, 398 international news sources (83% of the brand’s total coverage) discussed the counterintuitive nature of FIFA partnering with the supplier in the face of its ‘#SaveThePlanet’ campaign.

Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, Qatar’s energy minister and chief executive of QatarEnergy, was quoted within the body of this coverage in committing to provide ‘reliable and credible LNG supply solutions to customers across the globe’, with ‘plenty of financial support’ from major banks.

Top publications

Between 10 Nov and 10 Dec, approximately 36% of adidas’s coverage came from its top five publications. Although the leading source was USA Today, 66% of this coverage were passing mentions in relation to generalised World Cup expenditure articles. In articles where the brand was the focus, USA Today most often discussed adidas’ charitable efforts, such as donating to Footballs for Schools or using recycled materials in football kits.

CE Noticias Financieras mentioned adidas in 311 FIFA-related articles throughout the World Cup period, with a much stronger focus on the brand overall. As the only print media source to have made it in the top publications chart, CE Noticias Financieras has also been the second-most popular news source for adidas overall. The publication’s most covered topic was Adidas’ intervention intthe Ronaldo-claimed goal and a detailed ‘unveiling’ of ‘Al Hilm’, the official ball provided by Adidas for the semi-final and final.

The Latin American print publication was also the leading source of coverage for QatarEnergy, though the total volume was much lower (36 articles between 16 Nov – 3 Dec) and focused on its possible supply expansion across Europe.

British and US news sources leading the conversation

Throughout the tournament, The Independent and The Telegraph have been leading news sources for six out of the seven Partners – while MailOnline also made it into the top publications for three of the seven. Closely behind was NBC Sports and Washington Post, which were considered major sources of coverage for two out of the seven sponsors.

Hyundai/Kia has by far achieved the most geographical diversity among its top publications, with sources based in the UK, US, Korea and Qatar. Qatar Airways’ strongest coverage has been exclusive to the UK, Qatar and its sponsored coverage source in the US (FOX Sports).

When tactical loss is necessary

Among the seven sponsors, the top three highest-performing overall (significant volumes of positive, diverse and controlled coverage) were adidas, Hyundai/Kia and Visa. The key difference between these brands and the others was well-timed and extensive messaging on social solidarity and humanitarianism. While these attitudes were often criticised as ‘tone-deaf’ by op-eds and PR publications, the overarching positive message outweighed negative sentiment around Qatari controversies by international news sources.

While Coca-Cola did exactly that in its ‘Believing is magic’ campaign, media interest peaked when it launched two months before the event. If collateral had been gradually dispersed closer to the event, the brand would have similarly diluted negative peaks against sponsors and Qatar controversy when the event officially began.

Wanda Group, who opted to not release any targeted messaging this year, has been a strong example of how tactical loss is better than silence. Unlike its ‘women first’ campaign in the 2018 Women’s World Cup, the brand has not offered any targeted messaging towards human rights at a time when it is most desired from target audiences. As a result, the most influential and international coverage has been negative and theoretical commentary on Wanda Group’s ethics and strategy — without any level of public comms from the brand itself to steer the conversation in a more positive direction.

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

The biggest challenges for PR and comms in 2022

What were the biggest challenges for the PR industry in 2022?

Alongside a look forward to the trends coming up in 2023 for the PR and comms industry, we asked our experts what the biggest challenges were for the sector this year.

Read on for insight from Rachel Roberts, Stephen Waddington, Laura Sutherland, Barbara Phillips and more.

As economics fluctuated, the ‘people factor’ took a toll

‘Irrespective of many political, economic, social and tech factors which have triggered curveballs for us as comms and PR consultants to navigate through, the people factor is constant, said Rachel Roberts, CIPR president and Spottydog Communications founder.

‘Whether the market is in growth or detraction, we’re an industry of people not machines, so ensuring we have the right people to deliver against fluctuating client commitments has been difficult.

‘A surge in growth meant the summer saw a lot of people making the move to where the grass may have seemed greener. Carrots were dangled by employers in order to entice new team members to make a move, which coupled with the rising cost of living has meant some in our industry have benefitted from a decent salary swing, but this hasn’t been the case over in the public sector where there is less agility to review salary levels.

‘The cooling down of the economy has bought some of the runaway people costs back into more sustainable territory, but organisations that took on big increases in operating costs in 2023 may have a challenging time squaring the circle if facing budget squeezes due to a reduction in funding or client activity.’

Wadds Inc’s Stephen Waddington found the same: ‘Managing talent was a challenge. There’s been a shortage at mid-level created by the pandemic. This factor, combined with inflation and Brexit have created a bubble of promotions, pay increases and job moves. The economy will deflate this in the first half of 2023’.

With instability came a greater focus on integrity

‘While this year has seen great growth, we’ve also faced a recruitment challenge into the mid-range roles,’ said Aura and PRFest founder Laura Sutherland.

‘On top of that there has been a lot of chopping and changing of jobs which has seen some instability in teams.

‘Having judged a number of awards again this year, we continue to face a challenge when it comes to strategy and measurement; two crucial elements to demonstrate the value of our work and again, very disappointed in the ‘add-on’ approach many continue to take.

‘Then there’s ESG (Environment Social and Governance), an area which I largely focus. Greenwashing is rife and we now have the regulations coming in to help combat this. Organisations continue to try to do ‘things’ but unless ESG is integrated at the heart of the organisation and the ‘S’ and the ‘G’ are seen as equally, if not more, important than the ‘E’, we’ll continue to do things that don’t have the impact they should and could. It’s absolutely our role to advise our organisations, businesses and clients on this and public relations and communication professionals need to add this to their list of priority learning areas for 2023, if they haven’t already.’

Earnest intentions were not enough on inclusion

‘As Chair of PRCA’s Race & Ethnicity Equity Board, I am still laser-focused on racial equity and broader inclusion,’ said Brownstone’s Barbara Phillips.

‘With that particular lens, I would say the continued lack of meaningful (as opposed to performative) action in this space was and continues to be a challenge. I have judged a couple of awards this year (thanks for including me) where very little had changed in organisations from the year before. And although the entries were very earnest in their intent, a couple were just that; intentional, or even aspirational. But not factual. I always check the team photo and… you know the rest. So, the challenge isn’t the pipelineUK Black Comms Network and People Like Us are bursting with talented members, and I have personally coached a few agencies on recruitment. The challenge is the industry slipping back into its comfort zone where agencies and comms teams don’t feel anything is broken so aren’t planning to fix it.’

AI advancements were met with excitement and trepidation

‘I think one of the biggest challenges that those in PR face is also one of the industries’ greatest strengths, that it’s so difficult to stay on top of the wave of innovation,’ said Justin Fox, digital PR & outreach manager for CoursesOnline.

‘For example, the last year has seen a big uptake in the amount of campaigns that make use of AI artwork, as more and more free and easy-to-use tools have become available. PR campaigns have of course seized upon this, given the opportunity to generate unique and striking visual content, but what happens when these innovative approaches become mainstream?’

The legacy of COVID continued to put pressure on the press and PR

‘One challenge we continue to face is the increasing workload of journalists which means that getting hold of them can still be tricky, said Source PR senior account manager Jessica McDonnell.

‘Before Covid, I was in regular contact with journalists over the phone, but it feels like this level of contact has never really returned to normal pre-pandemic levels, and I don’t expect that to change in 2023.

‘I also think with businesses possibly tightening their purse strings, budgets will continue to be stretched for the next year or two, which could be challenging for PR agencies and in-house comms professionals. I think the battle to attract and retain talent in the industry will remain.’

For Fizzbox’s head of marketing Tom Bourlet, brighter times are on the way:

‘For many industries, the subjects their business focused on were either less appealing for journalists during lockdowns or were overshadowed by more important news pieces. However, the rejuvenation of a number of industries over the past six to 12 months means that many of these companies are now increasing their marketing and PR budgets and there are plenty of opportunities available. For our company, writing about events and activities during Covid, it was hard to escape the negativity – 2023 certainly looks a lot brighter.’

Read more from industry experts on the big trends you need to be planning for in 2023 as well as the good, the bad and the ugly of PR and comms this year. 

The good, the bad and the ugly of comms and PR in 2022

The good, the bad and the ugly of comms in 2022

Which brands, high-profile personalities and politicians have done a good job on their comms and reputation management this year?

To find out who and what have been naughty or nice this year, we asked the experts for their thoughts (since Santa is busy with his own lists this time of year)…

Rachel Roberts, CIPR president and Spottydog Communications founder

2022 in review:
‘Clients are telling me that they now realise they had their fingers burnt by cutting comms so quickly in response to COVID. It means they are more prepared to keep investing in people and external comms resource in tighter times because the hangover from a temporary pause or activity reduction in 2020 and 2021 means they don’t want to go round the same cycle again. Overall for comms it means the covid era has resulted in greater recognition for the value we create.’

Great comms this year:
‘The communications clout of the Lionesses has helped to inspire the nation. Clearly a great performance on the pitch will always have provided a great catalyst for the Lionesses to reach an even bigger audience, but their genuine and authentic communications style has garnered affection, interest and engagement for Women’s Football in a way that has always been realised on the back of other sporting success stories.

…however…
‘On the flip side of the coin, the way some brands managed comms around the death of HM Queen felt a little disingenuous, going through the protocol motions to pay respects rather than a genuine and authentic reason to pay tribute. If a brand doesn’t have a real reason to engage, it’s better to say nothing rather than virtue gesticulation.’

Sarah Scholefield, PRCA chair and Grayling’s global CEO

2022 in review:
‘Business leaders’ perception of PR and communications has soared in the last year. In 2020, the PRCA surveyed FTSE250 business leaders on whether they considered communications to be important for protecting and strengthening reputation. At the time, 82% said yes. Fastrack to 2022, and that figure has risen to 96%.

‘Further, in 2020, 68% of the same group said their communications provided strategic counsel to their senior management team.

‘This year, the figure has climbed to 89%. Communications professionals are far more respected and trusted than ever before.’

Barbara Phillips, chair of PRCA’s Race & Ethnicity Equity Board and director of Brownstone

2022 in review:
‘I was delighted when Joe Lycett made mockery of what we pretend is an open unbiased media. First, when on the BBC he poker-faced described Liz Truss as the ‘backwash of the dregs of the available Tory candidates’ then his money-burning stunt in regard to the World Cup and a particular British ex-footballer’s involvement. It was a win for PR because of the irreverence, creativity, and purpose combined. The message was heard. I know there is enormous creative talent in our industry and it shows that being more diverse in recruitment and subsequent opportunities will yield far more impactful results. Our industry wins when we advise our clients through the lens of humanity rather than profit. They are not mutually exclusive.’

A comms winner this year:
I’m giving that to Sir Lewis Hamilton. The travesty that was Abu Dhabi Yas Marina 2021 [an F1 Grand Prix race] would have destroyed most athletes. Barbaric, naked racism. But not Sir Lewis. He fell silent on social media for three months, unfollowed everyone (millions). Instead of a justified rage, he let his fans and supporters do the talking. His fan base contributed to the FIA response and although there was no admission of wrongdoing the main person involved was removed. Sir Lewis then returned with enhanced GOAT status and with a few hundred thousand more followers to add to the 26m+. He is still the iconic face of F1 rather than the current F1 champion. Without uttering a word. That is some powerful reputation.’

Must do better:
‘The UK Government and the Royal family share the bottom slot. Clearly both are just playing to their gallery because whoever is running their PR and comms must see the broader negative impact of the messages and method of delivery. I don’t get the sense that anybody actually cares. Extraordinarily poor from “professionals”.’

Stephen Waddington, founder and managing partner of Wadds Inc

2022 in review:
‘The public relations sector has continued to see growth and salary increases, created by demand and a shortage of talent.’

For who did not have a good 2022:
‘The UK Government failed us. FIFA had an own goal. Qatar proved the case for sportswashing.’

Laura Sutherland, Aura and PRFest founder

2022 in review:
‘This has been another great year for brands and organisations recognising the need for public relations and communication.

‘But as for the sector as a whole, I’m not entirely sure we’ve had many wins. We’re still terrible at EDI, we still underpay women and minorities, we still talk in echo chambers and we continue to disguise our weaknesses rather than identify and change.

‘There are some great pockets of communities existing out there, like PRFest and Socially Mobile, but our industry seems so fragmented. These communities exist and thrive due to personal relationships and this is our industry’s biggest opportunity, to grow communities.’

Favourite comms and campaigns of 2022:
‘I love the Asda Christmas ad, but the John Lewis ad really hit the mark and showed that it understands people.

The recent Women’s Aid campaign, ‘He’s Coming Home’, is brilliant and really drives awareness of domestic abuse.’

For who has not done so well in the reputation stakes this year…
‘I mean, Elon Musk. His personal brand is questionable and his reluctance to employ a public relations specialist/team is standing out like a sore thumb!’

For practicing nice PR and comms in 2023, check out these 15 trends you need to plan for next year

2023 trends in PR and comms

15 PR and communications trends you need to plan for in 2023

Budgets reaching breaking point, the promised post-Covid recovery that is yet to fully pan out and plenty of PR nightmares to contend with – 2022 was certainly challenging.

Yet in the midst of all this, the comms industry continued to bolster businesses, brands and important messages across the globe, further building a reputation as a must-have for organisations everywhere who aim to make a difference.

What will 2023 bring? Here are pointers from 22 PR, comms, marketing and public affairs professionals on the upcoming trends, challenges and opportunities to be ready for in the year ahead.

1. Perspective

‘Economic uncertainty means we’re in for a rougher ride in 2023 – what feels different is the heart-breaking social impact we’re seeing and the desperation that’s leading to people to take extreme action from activists to strikers. Take a step back and recognise that in the scheme of things some of our challenges may be molehills compared to those faced by other industries.’
Rachel Roberts, CIPR president and Spottydog Communications founder

‘Key challenges will be same issues that impact wider society: COVID-19, the conflict in Ukraine, and the climate crisis. These factors give rise to a series of secondary issues related to the economy, including inflation, interest rates and strikes. Finally no one has figured out a sustainable relationship between work and the office.’
Stephen Waddington, founder and managing partner of Wadds Inc

2. Integration and elevation

‘Budgets are potentially going to be stretched again – an integrated PR strategy is crucial to delivering bang for buck. It’s got to be all part and parcel of your sales and marketing strategy, multi-channel campaigns, content strategy, digital and so on. PR needs to demonstrate that is has more of a centre stage role to play than ever before in building the relationships brands need with audiences in order to succeed and grow.’
Rob Skinner, managing director of Skout

3. Personalisation

‘We need to look beyond traditional outputs and really start to consider immersive and personalised experiences. With changes in retail, tourism and leisure, even through to property use, consumers are looking for something more innovative.
‘People need to understand how things are relevant to them in order to make the change. Stakeholder mapping and audits are a key area to develop so campaigns are making real-life impact.’
Laura Sutherland, Aura and PRFest founder

4. Recruitment

‘Sadly, from my perspective, a key challenge for 2023 is still racism, racial equity and retention. Industry sources say the ethnicity pay gap has increased year on year to around £9,000. That means my white counterpart is being paid £9k more because they have less melanin and more privilege.

‘There are almost three times as many white professionals who earn over £50k than non white, but yet the number of Black, Asian, mixed race and non white professionals who entered the industry increased. The obstinate industry practice of not promoting or recruiting non white talent at a senior level means professionals from the global majority (a la Westminster Council) are willing to join our industry but don’t hang around for the racism and lower pay.’
Barbara Phillips, chair of PRCA’s Race & Ethnicity Equity Board and director of Brownstone

‘According to ICCO’s World PR Report, the challenge of retaining key talent is up 7% from 2021. There are several core elements to the recruitment challenge, but it often comes down to the ability to create a brand associated with success, personal growth, reward, satisfaction, and work-life balance. Economic uncertainty may tighten some budgets, but there’s opportunity for those organisations that put people at the heart of everything they do.’
Sarah Scholefield, PRCA chair and Grayling’s global CEO

5. Inclusivity and authenticity

‘Driving up knowledge and skills fit for the future. Calling out bad practice – whatever it is. A better understanding and inclusion of social justice will become even more important for brands and organisations to integrate in policy, decision-making and strategy.’
Laura Sutherland

‘Brands are likely to find themselves laser focused on the bottom line and therefore the promotional cycle of sales leaves marketing teams stretched, overworked and in tunnel vision. This isn’t sustainable and won’t build a brand that lasts. PR must work even harder to drive emotive campaigns and brand visibility within an organic capacity to maintain consumer traction and trust.’
Rachel Humphrey, founder of Brand Building Co.

6. A boom for budget brands

‘The main opportunities in 2023 will be for budget brands. PRs representing the likes of cost-saving and affordable businesses will see their efforts and results skyrocket next year, as the cost-of-living crisis becomes even more prevalent in the media landscape than ever before.’

‘It will become more and more difficult to secure placements for luxury brands. While there will always be a place for them in high-end publications, founder stories and building personal brands of luxury company CEOs through PR will prove to be an uphill battle, with national newspapers shying away from putting these companies in the spotlight.’
Georgia Gadsby March, co-founder and head of PR at Unearth PR

7. Networking

‘An increase in face-to-face meetings with journalists. The face-to-face meetings with the media dropped off a cliff since the start of COVID, but they’re finally starting to make a comeback.’
Tom Bourlet, head of marketing for www.fizzbox.com

8. Pivots

‘It is crucial that PR and comms professionals consider all campaigns and initiatives with the current economic climate in mind – poorly timed or insensitive campaigns could backfire and result in publicity for all the wrong reasons.

‘The financial climate also presents an opportunity however, with brands and businesses that seek a way to support and reassure consumers paving the way to receive a positive response. Viewing all activity through the lens of your target audience should be core to your campaign at all times, but it becomes even more critical during times of uncertainty.’
Amy Grantham, founder and director at Neon Brand Communications

9. Sociability

‘Online and mobile first – the media industry is continuing to migrate to online, even mobile-first consumption of news. The integration and amplification of news through social channels is something we can see increasing as we move into 2023.’
Mark Hayward, managing director of Sway PR

10. Purpose-based comms

‘Aligning PR with purpose. Brands should not shy away from talking about their purpose – it can do good through sharing and putting pressure on others.’
Rob Skinner

‘With the current state of the country (and the world) social consciousness is increasing – businesses need to take CSR activities to the next level and avoid greenwashing. This could lead to great opportunities to build that positive organic presence on owned media channels.’
Jessica McDonnell, senior account manager at Source PR

11. Upskilling

‘Personal growth is an area which I would hope those I work with take seriously. If you grow as a person, you can help grow as a professional and can continue to do good work. It’s about taking responsibility for that. No one is going to do it for you. And no one is too senior to grow!’
Laura Sutherland

‘We should continue to double down on professional development – like the training courses offered by the PRCA – to strengthen our position as trusted advisors on issues including ESG, diversity and inclusion, and emerging tech.’
Sarah Scholefield

12. Deciding on the data

‘To really stand out in 2023, what’s needed is a really strong understanding of data to go with the stories being told, in both text and image form. It’s easy for anyone to say “this and that is going to be happening” and make up their own facts, but PRs have a responsibility to tell stories that are as accurate as possible. Journalists, bloggers and whoever we speak to promote our clients will want to be confident in the validity of what we are sharing with them.’
Justin Fox, digital PR & outreach manager for CoursesOnline

‘Clients, like everyone else, will be looking at their bottom line and asking can they justify the current level of spend on marketing and communications? As a result, it will be up to those working in the sector to illustrate why their services remain so important, and to be willing to show evidence of how they are providing value for money at all times.’
Nick Owens, founder of WTS MEDIA

‘Robust measurement to show how PR pulls its weight and drives impact – showing brands how a hard-working press office can deliver results. Utilising data and insight and keeping up-to-date with what’s happening within your industry to know what conversations your brand has a right to be a part of.’
Alex Halls, PR, social and activation at HATCH

‘Demonstrate that you are actually providing real value to their clients and not just ticking over with opinion research – tracking sentiment of the public and what customers think and believe over time to ensure that policies and messages are actually shifting the dial.’
George Buchan, director of research at Charlesbye Strategy

13. Leading conversations

‘Thought leadership – media outlets, especially industry-specific ones, will be looking for this. With more complex topics, journalists will find value in more long-form content being contributed to them by other experts. This will be a massive time saver for journalists, who might not otherwise have the capacity or knowledge to speak on a certain topic.’
Mollie Haley-Earnshaw, PR account manager at Wild PR

‘Following a number of factors, such as Google’s EAT signals brought up through an algorithmic update, there is a much stronger focus on authenticity of the ‘expert’. It will become increasingly important for brands to create profile pages for their experts, highlighting credentials and qualifications to journalists.’
Clarissa Bloom, dating and relationship expert for www.thestagcompany.com

14. Content as king

‘As consumers become increasingly immune to paid advertising, effectiveness and ROI could further reduce. Content marketing, earned media coverage and other organic, non-paid comms could connect with audiences in a more authentic and genuine way.’
Phelan Gowing-Mikellides, business development manager at Digital Trails

15. Even smarter AI

‘A key challenge will be the threat of generative AI and combatting misinformation, particularly online. An area for opportunity and growth – the harnessing of tech to provide data rich intelligence that can underpin PR activity.’
Matt Wilson, media and public affairs manager for Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)

‘Now more than ever, we’re seeing how technology can augment our current capabilities and bring clarity to the role of PR in successfully building brands. And as competition for the best talent grows, we also know that automation of basic functions is essential for any agency to insulate itself against a turbulent jobs market. Not only that, but it frees up said talent to focus on what only humans can deliver: creative solutions to 21st-century communications challenges.

‘None of this is new, but with a recession looming large and society seemingly in a state of perpetual unrest, the risk for many agencies is that they get left behind by newer, more agile market entrants who want to upset the status quo.’
Max Deeley, managing director for TDC PR

For more on getting ready for what is ahead for PR, comms, public affairs and politics, check out Vuelio’s white papers featuring advice and best practice from industry experts. 

How to use data to prove the power of your PR

How to use data to prove the power of your PR

The full potential and power of good PR is often intangible, with no one industry-wide metric shared by every comms team. What kind of data is most effective to demonstrate the value of your work to your c-suite and clients?

The PRCA’s ‘Data Literacy in PR Report’ features essays from 11 industry leaders including Stephen Waddington, Andrew Bruce Smith, Orla Graham, Steve Leigh, Sophie Coley, Stella Bayles, James Crawford, Alex Judd and Allison Spray covering how data can make your PR successful.

Here are five takeaways from the report:

1) Decide on your KPIs from the start

‘Numbers and data analysis should play a vital role in every aspect of public relations. Every campaign should begin with goal setting and research and involve answering many important questions…’   Andrew Bruce Smith

The essay ‘What Numbers Matter in Public Relations?’ highlights the importance of setting your Key Performance Indicators at the start of a project. No one metric to rule them all in the industry? Then determine your own, and how to source relevant data that will inform your planning process.

2. Refine your processes throughout the campaign cycle

‘It is worth noting that measurement and evaluation works best when it is used as a process of continuous improvement. It should be a circular activity. We learn what works best so that we can refine and enhance plans and maximise the impact of available resources…’ – Orla Graham and Steve Leigh.

In ‘Design a Listening and Measurement Strategy’, refining and rethinking is promoted as an intrinsic part of any successful project cycle. Any starting framework is likely to grow and evolve as more data is gathered, allowing for exploration of additional KPIs where needed.

3. Listen to the right audiences

‘Once you’ve designed a measurement strategy, you need to find sources for that data. This presents new challenges; how to identify your audience and how best to extract meaningful data from them.

‘Each method has its own strengths and weaknesses. There is no definitive “right” answer. Choose the right approach for your needs by focusing on what you are trying to learn…’ – Sophie Coley and Steve Leigh

For finding the right audience, ‘Identifying a Public and Listening to Conversations’ recommends the use of surveys, social media and searches. Surveys can be useful in the planning stage, to measure impacts during a campaign, and in the post-project analysis stage. For using social media and searches, social listening can help – find out more here.

4. Push the limitations of the tools you use

‘Tools and tech stacks are increasingly important for the public relations industry. Despite ever-growing scope and complexity, there is still no silver bullet as every client has different objectives. Public relations can be used in many ways to achieve a broad range of outcomes…’ – Stella Bayles and James Crawford

‘What is possible to achieve with tools and what are their limitations?’ tackles the question from the point of view of both the tool user and the vendor. While tools can ‘bridge the data literacy gap’, they can also complicate things if not used correctly. Rather than relying on raw data that comes in a one-size-fits-all format, seek out bespoke reports that will provide accurate reporting for your particular project.

5. Translate your data to make the outcomes clear

‘No matter what kind of project you’re running, your sector (or specialism), chances are you have faced what many professionals dread: a wall of statistics, charts, and data points. A litany of information pointing you towards something. But what are you going to do with it all? Resist the urge to find a word cloud, throw it on a slide and give yourself a pat on the back. Instead, take a different path, start your journey to find an insight…’ – Alex Judd and Allison Spray

Reams of numbers and graphs can look incredibly impressive or utterly intimidating. Before presenting them to your management team, or scanning for meaning yourself, go back to the problem your project or campaign was trying to solve in the first place and link the numbers accordingly. As a PR, you already have the skill set to bring data to life and sell your story to any audience – even those making the big decisions on your team’s budget for the following year…

Download the full paper ‘Data Literacy in PR’ from the PRCA website.

For advice on integrating PR into the C-suite level, read our write-up of our webinar with Stephen Waddington, Dr Jon White and Rachel Roberts ‘Level up your PR career: Getting ready for management’.

 

Taylor Bennett Foundation appoints trustees

Taylor Bennett Foundation welcomes additional trustees to its board

The Taylor Bennett Foundation has appointed two new trustees to its board. Joining are FTI Consulting’s managing director Lena Ahad and Four Communications Group’s head of HR Marcia La-Rose.

The new trustees will continue their support – already shown in their work with FTI Consulting and Four Communications – of the Foundation’s aims to encourage and support black, Asian and minority ethnic graduates to start their career in communications.

Lena and Marcia will officially join the board of the charity from December 2022 and join existing members including Pinch Point Communications’ managing director Sarah Pinch, Taylor Bennett managing partner Matthew Wall, Brunswick Group director James Baker, Savills PR manager Kuldeep Mehmi, Google B2B Communications’ Jo Ogunleye, CBI chief campaign director Syma Cullasy-Aldridge and The PR Office’s managing director Marc Cohen.

Of the appointments, Sarah Pinch said:

‘As Chair of Trustees I was keen we appointed trustees who were able to support the board’s ambitious plans for growth. We want to increase our reach to young people; ensure we are changing the lives of more young people and also help the industry be more representative of society. The Foundation has a proven track record in improving diversity. What we do works. We want to work with more organisations, in-house and agency side, to continue to deliver.’

Lena Ahad commented: ‘I am delighted to be joining as a trustee of the Taylor Bennett Foundation to continue encouraging black, Asian and minority ethnic talent to pursue a career in communications. FTI Consulting is now in its sixth year of sponsoring the award-winning PR training and mentoring programme – so my trustee role very much feels like a natural transition into a strategic role while also supporting global brands at FTI Consulting. Now in my third decade in the communications industry, it’s extremely rewarding to see the next generation of diverse talent coming through the ranks and I very much look forward to supporting the future leaders of our industry’.

Marcia added: ‘I am absolutely thrilled to now be on the Board of Trustees of the Taylor Bennett Foundation which Four has worked with for some years now, and I hope I will be able to assist with the development and outreach of this fantastic organisation’.

For more on the work and aims of the Foundation, watch our previous accessmatters session with chief executive Melissa Lawrence.

 

Level up your comms career

Level up your PR career: Getting ready for management

PR is much more than just communicating the decisions of management – in 2022, PR should be involved in the decision-making process, right from the start.

Yet despite the proof of PR through times of crisis over the last few years, recognition and integration of PR into management and the C-suite is not yet a reality for many organisations How can PR break into the boardroom?

Exploring themes from the recent white paper ‘Elevating the role of public relations in management’, Stephen Waddington and Dr Jon White were joined by CIPR president and spottydog communications founder Rachel Roberts for our webinar ‘From tactical to critical: Why PR belongs at the top table’.

Here are four lessons to help elevate your PR:

1) The role PR plays in management is only becoming more obvious

‘At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I observed public relations elevated very firmly into management,’ shared Stephen. ‘I hadn’t seen the like before in my career, where PR was so valued.

‘Think back two years, there was that point where PR teams were part of daily meetings, part of the management function in terms of organisation, working from home and the supply chain; that complex environment.

‘I’ve learned that the impact of the pandemic wasn’t unusual in elevating PR. There are a number of situations where it is quickly elevated: crisis, credibility issues, media agendas, leadership. What is interesting in particular is how this role can be developed.’

2) Public relations needs to go beyond the aspirational to the practical

‘My starting point with this idea was in a meeting with a fellow faculty member years ago,’ said Dr Jon.

‘The standard text in North America used at the time, stated emphatically that PR is a management function. My skeptical faculty member, who came from a journalist background, said “Is that true? Isn’t that aspirational rather than reality?” And reality shows it is aspirational, currently.

‘In our discussion with Vuelio PR clients, only one in five are fully integrated into management. That is the reality – we would like to claim a place the top table, but we aren’t really there yet.

‘Every organisation has important relationships to attend to internally and externally – attention needs to be paid to these relationships and how groups are behaving – that is PR territory.’

3) Make use of shared skilled sets to get to the next level

‘ESG is right at the fore of management – organisations can’t just look at the economic situation they’re faced with, but social and governance issues also,’ advised Stephen. ‘As PRs, we have perspective to bring to that. Our opportunity is to bring a fresh outlook to decision making.

‘There are several ways to go about this. Most of us are used to SWOT and PESTLE analysis already, and that is well understood within management. I would suggest PRs use that to support their management teams. Once you’ve developed that, you can start to scenario plan.

‘How do we close the gap between PR and the board? Organisations are closely aligned across the industry – that one-in-five number is consistent in every piece of research I’ve been able to find, from the 80s onwards.’as

4) Demonstrate the value of PR to your c-suite

‘Value is what gets attention at the C-suite level; money does still talk,’ said Rachel.

‘The challenge of PR is that you can’t always see the contribution to the bottom line. In the 70s, the non-tangible aspects of the balance sheet were pretty low. CEOs, now, are about creating value – if we can demonstrate how PR can create that intangible value, we can get attention.

‘PRs come to attention for “doing stuff”. But we aren’t just the “doers”. We’re always thinking three steps ahead; the strategic piece. That has parity with the C-suite. We already have the same mindset as a great CEO or C-suite team.

‘There is so much more data now to demonstrate the effectiveness, though we can get caught up in that; the C-suite can latch on to data and want instant gratification. But in other areas, people know it takes a few years to get ROI. It takes some time to move the dial here as well. We have to have that long-term strategic investment.

‘But first, we need to get into the boardroom and adopt the same style as other professions.’

Watch the full From tactical to critical: Why PR belongs at the top table webinar and download the white paper From tactical to critical: Why PR belongs at the top table for more on this subject.

From tactical to critical: Why PR belongs at the top table

All too often the role of public relations is unrealised, underrated and overlooked. Much more than a tactical delivery function, PR is vital to strategic planning and management decision making, securing its place at the top table.

Public discourse and concerns related to society, the environment, international developments and the current cost-of-living crisis, mean that it is more critical than ever for organisations to understand the scope of PR.

In our webinar, From tactical to critical: Why PR belongs at the top table, we discussed our recent white paper by Stephen Waddington and Dr Jon White, along with insights from Rachel Roberts, President, CIPR, and founder, spottydog communications. Together the panel explored the findings and examined the opportunities for public relations to form an essential part of modern management.

Fill in the form below to check out our webinar 👇

Which products are most likely to be bought second-hand this Christmas?

In effort to support Brits with the cost-of-living crisis, national coverage on how to budget for Christmas has increased by 486% since last year. Alongside this, discussion around ‘side hustles’ is up by 326%, with the resale of both luxury and high street goods as the leading topic of interest in this area.

During October, 186 national new sources reported that 60% of Brits plan to spend less this year. Furthermore, a widely distributed eBay report shows that 62% of luxury shoppers actively selling on second-hand sites have resold a luxury accessory for a profit. This rapid growth in resale is undoubtedly an international trend, with over 200 international newspapers across the UK and North America referring to it as ‘investment’, which some consumers ‘consider a safer store of value than stocks’.

Since the start of the cost-of-living crisis, the social acceptance of second-hand items has been widely discussed across general and retail-industry news. Between 27 and 30 October, the headline ‘Brits are no longer embarrassed to charity shop’ was syndicated across 89 national and regional news sources, while Oxfam were quoted 72 times in saying that ‘second-hand books are at the top of people’s wish-list’.

Key Takeaways 

  • Coverage on second-hand high-street/designer resale ‘side hustles’ is up by 326%
  • Research suggests Brits are no longer ‘embarrassed’ to purchase or gift second-hand items
  • Electric and cosmetic goods are some of the most likely to be refurbished or resold
  • Low-cost high street and supermarket items are producing higher resale profit than luxury items
  • National outlets are most interested in how brands are entering the resale market, whereas local/regional outlets are engaged in specific case studies of consumers budgeting and third-party resellers

Why are consumers rushing to resell low-cost items?

While the resale of luxury goods is gaining record-high interest, it is not the only sector affected by the dovetailed growth of inflation and independent resellers. Second-hand high street products are receiving a   significantly higher level of coverage, with national publications particularly interested in specific examples of high profit margins on low-cost items.

For example, Aldi’s ‘Kevin the Carrot’ toy caused the second-biggest upsurge in low-cost resale coverage throughout November, when 222 national and regional articles reported consumers successfully reselling it on eBay for up to £1,000. Similarly, 168 regional and local news sources wrote of how Primark’s Stranger Things range has returned to stores after reselling for up to £150.

Share of Voice: Top 5 resale brands

*Data analysis of all second-hand UK brand coverage with mention of the cost-of-living crisis or luxury/high street resale between 17 Oct – 21 Nov.

Over the last month, eBay has continued to lead the conversation around both luxury and high street resale. While 38% of coverage is a passing mention, 52% was positively attributed to the brand’s new pre-owned store in New York – where consumers can use ‘luxury as currency’. This term was featured in 92% of the total 686 UK headlines, which later evolved into a phrase used by international publications for the wider movement towards luxury resale.

Meanwhile, both Vinted and Depop’s coverage was between 40% and 50% passing mentions, while 32% of all resale brand coverage mentioned them both within the body of the article. Some of the most common examples were case studies in general news publications and research articles in PR and comms outlets. The overarching theme has been how both brands offer quality and affordable Christmas gifts in the cost-of-living crisis, which leveraged an 88% positive sentiment rate on this coverage.

Which brands are most mentioned within resale coverage?

*Data analysing mentions of all luxury and non-luxury brands within second-hand and resale coverage between 17 Oct – 23 Nov.

The risk behind refurbs

Since 17 Oct, the Vuelio Insights team has identified 1,862 articles discussing resale products across UK news and industry publications. Within 8% of this coverage, consumer charity Electrical Safety First (ESF) were quoted in a widely repurposed article titled ‘Cost of living pushes shoppers towards second-hand electrical goods, says charity’.

Furthermore, Dyson was most often mentioned as the product worth buying second-hand. For example, ‘Refurbished Dyson airwraps on sale at eBay in time for Christmas gifting’ was published by The Independent on 21 November and has been syndicated 102 times since. Dyson is the certified seller of these refurbished products, meaning this coverage is not as much of a loss to the brand as if it were a third-party seller. However, because of this peak in refurb interest, local and regional outlets have started picking up on ‘horror’ stories on the most sought-after brands. Almost 200 articles with similar headlines to ‘Ebay won’t refund my £475 faulty  Dyson airwrap’ and  ‘Amazon Prime Day £35 hair styler shoppers say is ‘much better’ than Dyson Airwrap’ have ultimately outweighed Dyson’s positive coverage as a certified eBay seller.

The CEO of second-hand tech seller Back Market has been heavily quoted in coverage around electric resale, stating that its ethos is to close the ‘trust gap’ and ‘make refurbs cool’.

Third-party partnerships

As for the fashion brands mentioned within resale coverage, 86% of the discussion is tied to global retailers partnering with third-party resellers as a means to offer second-hand luxury items. While many designers refuse direct distribution of their products, over 448 publications across general news, fashion and beauty have reported on the growing availability.

For example, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Hermès, Prada and Gucci were mentioned in 289 headlines between 16 Oct – 30 Oct when Amazon announced it would be listing the brands’ bags as part of its Luxury Store launch, through second-hand distributor What Goes Around Comes Around.

Amazon was not alone in its well-timed partnership, in among this courage Primark was also praised for a similar launch. Between 18 Nov and 23 Nov, 82 news and fashion publications shared 106 articles about the high street store’s ‘WornWell’ collaboration with The Vintage Wholesale Company. As a result, brands often spotted there such as Burberry, YSL, Tommy Hilfiger, Nike, Converse, Levi’s and Dr. Martens have all received a significant upsurge in passing mentions.

Competitor strategies

In a bid to compete with the likes of eBay, many high street brands have attempted to regain control by promoting or launching their own resale and refurb lines. For example, Zara received a significant peak in coverage from 18-28 Oct following the announcement of its repair and resale shop ‘Pre-owned’. Similarly, Coach was mentioned in 86 regional outlets 26-28 Oct, following the opening of its London pop-up ‘Tomorrow’s Vintage’.

On the other hand, some brands are opting to take the consumer-led route. For example, local and regional outlets have used the phrase ‘Bargain Box’ in 102 headlines since 20 October, referring to return palettes that can be bought from John Lewis, Argos and Very. M&S is leading coverage around fashion rental, a proactive peak in coverage at the beginning of November following a successful press release on ‘putting value and versatility at the heart’ of its rental collection. This quote was used in 56% of the total 202 national and regional news articles until 5 Nov.

What are the most common types of coverage?

*Data analysis of all luxury and non-luxury brands within second-hand and resale coverage (1,862 articles) 17 Oct – 23 Nov.

Since 17 Oct, the highest-reaching resale coverage has been produced by general news, celebrity/gossip magazines, tech and business publications. Aside from the wider industry discussion of ‘luxury as currency’ and high street resale strategies, product reviews were one of the most prominent article types and are up 62% from 2021. These articles are comparative in nature by putting a luxury product against a budget alternative, i.e. ‘Aldi shoppers rave over Le Creuset dupe’. Alongside Dyson, brands like The North Face, Adidas and the White Company were found within a collective 369 articles similar to this.

Case studies have also increased by 8% since last Christmas. The cosmetics industry has gained the most awareness within this coverage, primarily due to headlines like ‘Makeup Artist saves hundreds buying second-hand makeup on eBay’ which was shared 86 times by local and regional news outlets. This increase produced an upsurge in resale risk for brands like Dior and Charlotte Tilbury.

Unaffected markets

Given the level of investment from second-hand brands and retail competitors, the rise of luxury and high street resale is not predicted to cool-off any time soon. However, this is not a call to action for all brands.

Unlike the pandemic, the cost-of-living is not a crisis that affects everyone equally. Over the last month, 16% of coverage approached the resale discussion from a wealth perspective. For example, an article by The Independent titled ‘Luxury goods boom in Britain as the young, rich and mortgage-free buck the recession’ explored how high-end watches are now seen as an ‘investment’, when they are purchased new by consumers for the purpose of profiteering.

James Ison, the self-styled Deal Maker For The 0.1%, was quoted 89 times within this coverage when he stated that that those who can afford very high-end luxury products appear to be ‘having a Yolo moment’ following the pandemic, often ‘spending five figures in an afternoon’. This consumer psyche also appears to take place outside of retail, such as the emergence of ‘The Lipstick Effect’ within the dining industry.

Vuelio’s Top 3 Recommendations

  1. Measure the crisis – Take some time to measure the impact of inflation in your target market(s). Following the pandemic, many brands have automatically applied another blanket crisis comms strategy to their entire audience, even though the degree of financial struggle varies greatly. If you are a very high-end luxury brand, the likelihood of consumers investing and profiting on your products is a greater risk than a visible loss in revenue.
  1. If you cannot beat them, join themResearch how prominent your brand is within resale media coverage and on second-hand sites. If you find your brand is at risk, the success of Zara, Coach and M&S’s rival lines suggest it would be better to invest in the trend than attempt to eliminate it.

  2. Prioritise sustainibility comms While cost-of-living is the leading reason for the rise in second-hand purchases, resale will likely hold value long after the economy stabilises. Over the past year, sustainability has transformed from an ethical preference to a consumer demand. It is the most-used word in relation to ‘The Rise of ESG’ and, as over half of Brits worry about the impact of Christmas on the climate, it will continue to hold an important place in the lifecycle resale trends.

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

Vuelio is proud to be supporting AMEC’s Measurement Month – a month-long focus on best practice and new emerging trends in the measurement and evaluation of communication. Check out all the Measurement Month events here.

How to break into the news cycle

Finding a new angle: How to break through a busy news cycle

The cost-of-living crisis, ongoing changes in the UK Government, the invasion of Ukraine, the World Cup (Joe Lycett), the Royals – it may feel like pitches unrelated to these subjects will struggle to find a place in the UK media right now, but there is a place for every story if you find the right angle.

At our recent Journalist Voices by Vuelio event, The Daily Telegraph’s Yolanthe Fawehinmi, Marie Claire’s Ally Head and freelance journalists Hannah Ajala and Isabella Silvers shared the opportunities for PRs reaching out to the media.

Before trying a tenuous link to the topics trending in the headlines when preparing to pitch, step back and switch up your strategy.

Watch the full Journalist Voices by Vuelio event here.

‘I’m going to be slightly controversial,’ opened Ally when asked about the media’s focus on particular story threads right now. ‘Perhaps PRs think that’s the case… but I don’t think it is’.

Working on Marie Claire as health, sustainability and relationships editor, Ally has a wide-reaching remit but a very specific readership she is writing for.

‘There are so many different publications, stories and angles out there, but it is all about getting to know the brand and what would be relevant to them,’ said Ally.

‘Marie Claire is about female empowerment, so you can put that angle on a story. Last month I got thousands of pitches with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) angles, all with backing from doctors and registered experts, but I only got one with a first-person case study. It is finding that angle. If it is an awareness month, find something people might not be aware of.’

The lure of national newspapers, big broadcasters and high-circulation consumer mags are tempting when working to place a story – a front page or double-page spread in the Daily Mail/The Daily Telegraph/The Mirror/The Guardian is any brand or client’s dream – but extend your reach beyond them. There is a whole world’s worth of reporters writing for different audiences on differing topics.

Breaking into the news cycle very much ‘depends on where you are in the world,’ shared We Are Black Journos founder Hannah Ajala, who writes for publications all over the world.

‘This year alone, I’ve spent time in 15 different counties,’ said Hannah. ‘Pitching really depends on what is the main interest of the people in that country or society. Depending on religious groups, social class, what is trending – what the big story is in that country may not make global news.

‘You can find inspiration anywhere and social media is a really great place for tapping in without having to be there – hashtags are fantastic to use. There are so many ways of finding inspiration. If you are always on the hunt for an interesting story, you can find something.’

And on the topic of featuring in The Telegraph, Yolanthe highlighted the importance of paying close attention to audiences and determining what they will want to read.
‘I’m a features writer, so with features it is about putting a human face to a story,’ Yolanthe advised.

‘The Telegraph knows its angles and their audience is right wing – they know who they are; “pull your socks up” kind of readers. Work backwards from your intended audience. Over the past few months on my team, the focus has been politics, with the Government changing and the Queen’s passing. Those are big Telegraph stories – we didn’t write many stories outside of that. So know what the audience will need. What will dominate that publication’s news cycle?’

For whichever story you have to pitch, there will be staff journalists, influencers and freelancers who will find your contribution useful and interesting – just be careful to tailor what you have to their unique patches and working patterns.

As well as working on the branded content team at Hearst UK, Isabella freelances for the publisher and other brands including Stylist, Metro and Refinery29, and has her own newsletter called Mixed Messages. For her, pitching successfully is ‘all about the audience and what each brand is interested in’.

‘The Queen – everyone was talking about it, but Marie Claire would have covered it differently to the Telegraph. It’s all about finding what works,’ shared Isabella.
‘Menopause is such a big topic, for another example – Good Housekeeping and Red write-ups would be for an older audience, but for Cosmopolitan you would want a first-person piece on early menopause. Tailor your points for each publication.’

The ultimate aim for the media is the same as for PRs, whatever seems at first glance to be trending and taking over the news cycle – ‘All we want to do is create content for our audiences,’ says Isabella. Whatever content you have to pitch – find the right writer and an angle that will work for them and their audience.

Thank you to London Filmed for providing the AV for this event: Londonfilmed.com

For more on working with these journalists and advice on pitching to the media, watch the full event and check out our write-up on how Vuelio can help on the specifics.

Journalist Voices by Vuelio

How do you achieve cut through in a packed news cycle? When a journalist receives hundreds of pitches a day, what makes them notice yours?

In our inaugural live Voices by Vuelio event, we have lined up a panel of expert journalists to share their advice, tips and professional opinions on how to make your content stand out – both in inboxes and the media.

Discussing the current wave of stories around the cost-of-living crisis, the upcoming seasonal spike and discourse around diversity, our panel can provide valuable insights that can help you secure coverage.

Joined by Yolanthe Fawehinmi, features writer at The Daily Telegraph; Isabella Silvers, freelancer working with Cosmo and Elle; Hannah Ajala, freelancer working with the BBC across radio and podcasts; and Ally Head, health & sustainability editor at Marie Claire.

 

Fill in the form below to watch the event 👇

5 ways to use Insights in your PR budget

When you are planning your PR budget, insights can be a valuable tool to help you make informed financial decisions. It is important to think about budget across all areas of public relations and insights is a great way of highlighting where the need for more resources lie.

Though there are multiple methods of planning budget needs, here are four ways to use insights to project your PR budget, take control of your planning and exhibit your achievements.

1. Proactive vs. organic coverage

Looking at volumes of proactive coverage is crucial to understand the impact the PR team is making. Press releases and interviews can be great for raising brand awareness and generating earned coverage.

However, if these methods are not producing the results you require, then you may benefit from investing in additional support to understand where you can make more effective changes.

2. Campaign reporting

Rather than a specific metric to showcase the need for more investment, an evaluative report on the success of a PR campaign can be a helpful tool to understand how your resources are being utilised.

If your biggest campaign of the year still resulted in low article volumes, neutral sentiment or failed to hit target publications, then perhaps you could benefit from additional industry expertise to better approach future opportunities. Showing the success of a smaller campaign can also help you advocate for further budget to make more impact next time around.

3. Key message penetration

Key message penetration is an insightful metric used to determine if your organisation is being portrayed in the way you intend it to be. While some brands aim to be the most environmentally friendly or have the best quality products and services – these messages can also focus on broad company values, or hone in on a niche theme that you want visible in your coverage.

Even if you are achieving high volumes of coverage, your key messages may not be landing despite concerted effort. Using insights to demonstrate this, you may be able to appeal for more resources to increase your staffing. Or, more generally to develop further inroads with preferred media through conferences and other outreach.

4. Competitor monitoring

In isolation, all of the above metrics enable you to understand weaknesses in your own PR strategy. However, these become even more powerful when you monitor against competitors as well, allowing you to understand your brand’s share of voice. Not only does this help you to map the wider media landscape, but you can compare your results to your competitors and determine where there may be missed opportunities for your organisation.

If your peers are achieving coverage in national media, achieving higher levels of positive sentiment and their press releases are regularly featured, then this could present itself as an opportunity to afford more resources to your communications team to shore up, and more effectively execute, your media strategy.

5. Benchmarking

Continuous measurement, whether this is month-on-month or year-on-year, is crucial for benchmarking your results and having something to compare to. This allows you to track the progress of campaigns and media presence, while highlighting the valuable work of your PR team. Understanding progress over time can present opportunities to show how much you have accomplished, and project how much more you could do with additional budget.

For example, if you expanded your communications team one year, and saw a great improvement in share of voice, proactive coverage and positivity, this showcases a return on investment and develops your reliability in the C-Suite when pitching for budget.

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

Vuelio is proud to be supporting AMEC’s Measurement Month – a month-long focus on best practice and new emerging trends in the measurement and evaluation of communication. Check out all the Measurement Month events here.

CIPR and Taylor Bennett Foundation launch reverse mentoring scheme

CIPR and Taylor Bennett Foundation launch BME Reverse Mentoring scheme

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and Taylor Bennett Foundation have launched the PR industry’s first BME Reverse Mentoring Scheme. The scheme has been designed to educate senior PR industry leaders on the challenges practitioners from diverse communities face – it will run for over ten months and applications are now open.

CIPR x Taylor Bennett Foundation Reverse Mentoring Scheme

Those interested in taking part as either a mentor or mentee can find information on the scheme, criteria for application and how to sign up at the Taylor Bennett Foundation website. Applications close on 9 December 2022.

A successful pilot scheme paired senior leaders with Black, Asian and ethnic minority PR professional mentors to highlight the important role of inclusive cultures and allyship. Participants came from organisations including Netflix, Imperial College London, Google and Cardiff University Centre as well as agencies Four Communications, Cicero, Brands2Life and more.

The CIPR’s D&I Network chair and head of Healthcare Europe for 3 Monkeys Zeno said: ‘The BME Reverse Mentoring Scheme was created as we strongly believed that senior leaders needed to take responsibility for creating fairer, more diverse workplaces, but to do this they needed to appreciate the realities of being a person of colour in the UK PR industry.

‘Our pilot programme has shown that mentoring partnerships can result in valuable, honest conversations about the challenges, both personal and cultural, faced by those from minority backgrounds.

‘The scheme is not only building understanding but also shaping positive action. Mentees have already used their learnings to inform the D&I initiatives in their organisations to improve inclusiveness and representation. I’m excited to welcome mentor and mentee applications from those who are fully committed to making real DE&I change happen in the comms industry.’

Taylor Bennett Foundation CEO Melissa Lawrence said: ‘This programme has highlighted many positive things and we know the mentees can take what they have learnt to create a real lasting impact within their business. If you are a senior leader looking for thought-provoking conversations on the issues related to diversity in PR, then I encourage you to take part in this programme, to make a difference not just to your organisation but the industry.’

Apply to take part in the CIPR and Taylor Bennett Foundation BME Reverse Mentoring scheme here and find out more about the work of the foundation in this interview with CEO Melissa Lawrence as well as this accessmatters session.

For more on how much more the PR and comms industry needs to do on equity and inclusion, read our previous post on fair recruitment.

 

 

Media trends in November on ResponseSource

What are UK journalists writing about? Media trends for November

Did you know that it is just 47 days until Christmas? The festive season seems to have snuck up on us this year but journalists and media organisations have been planning their Christmas content since August. The ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service has seen a steady increase in festive-themed requests over the last few months – here is a deep dive into what exactly the UK media were researching in October and are writing about now.

Sign up for the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service to start receiving requests from the UK media straight to your inbox.

The Journalist Enquiry Service enables the media to ask for exactly what they want from PRs, and around 17% of those submitting requests in October used the word ‘Christmas’. Particularly popular phrases were ‘Christmas gift guide’, of which there were 7%, and ‘advent calendars’, which made up just over 2%. These demands are only going to increase throughout November and probably into the first few weeks of December too, giving ample opportunity to get products out to the press for review and write-ups.

Keyword phrases for October

However, Christmas isn’t just about the presents. Food and drink is a massive part of the day and as a category on the service it saw a 5.5% rise from last month and was the second most popular category of enquiry for journalists. There were numerous Christmas requests within this and enquiry summaries varied from ‘Looking to hear about and sample the best non-alcoholic spirits for Christmas’ to ‘Looking to speak to a chef/foodie on what Christmas dinner items you can cook in the air fryer’.

The media is also finding different angles to cover the festive season including Christmas decorations. Consumer magazines banked plenty of responses from PRs with ‘Best Christmas and ‘Christmas hallway decorating ideas’ requests.

The other trend around Christmas requests in October came from both sustainable and low-cost viewpoints due to the cost-of-living crisis.

This ‘environmental angle got plenty of help for its journalist and the consumer title they write for:

‘I’m looking for suggestions for having a greener Christmas – from the most eco-friendly tree, gift-wrap and decorations (and recycling them afterwards) to sustainable gifts that will really make a difference.’

While this high-profile national press website wanted to connect with those planning Christmas on a budget:

‘Urgently seeking to speak to people who may be cutting back on Christmas this year amid cost-of-living crisis – whether that’s having a smaller budget for presents, cutting back on buying new decorations, having a smaller Christmas dinner with family, etc.’

The cost-of-living angle has been a big focus for the last few months – around 3% of all requests from journalists used this key phrase. Breaking this down further, 44% of those enquiries have come from the National Newspaper/Current Affairs media type. This has included titles such as The I paper, the Daily Express, Metro and The Guardian.

JES Keywords by media type

National press journalists have tended to focus more on getting experts and case studies to talk about issues such as the energy price cap, rising interest rates and the impact on certain industries such as the food sector. This has resulted in categories like Manufacturing, Engineering & Energy increasing by 23% compared to September’s flurry of requests.

Cost-of-living reporting is big among journalists writing for consumer media – 20% of requests used this key phrase, sending enquiries for more information, advice and tips on how to save money or reduce costs in the home. The Home & Garden category has seen an increase (6%) in use by journalists since September.
Radio and television have also been busy covering the crisis and made up 12% of requests in October. These tended to be more for personal case studies and secure location/venues to film at. 5 News and ITV News were among those broadcasters.

‘We are looking for a restaurant/takeaway affected by the cost-of-living crisis for a filming opportunity tomorrow. Especially interested in businesses which tend to use a lot of energy in the kitchen such as working with large ovens or fryers.’

The political instability in October had a major effect on the property market with mortgage rates rising rapidly – as a result, 2% of all journalist enquiries in October contained the keyword ‘property’. It was an even spread among the media types, with 36% coming from Consumer Media, 34% from National Newspaper/Current Affairs and 22% from Trade/Business/Professional media. Requests varied from seeking mortgage/property experts to case studies of first-time buyers to information on whether house prices would crash next year.

The Journalist Enquiry Service as a whole for October was used predominately by Consumer Media (35%) followed by National Newspaper/Current Affairs (24%) and then Trade/Business/Professional Media (18%). Staff journalists make up just over a half of users, at 55%, with freelance journalists back at 24%. Enquiries are predominately for a Spokesperson or Expert (35%) with Information for an Article at 24%, Review Products just behind on 22% and then Personal Case Study on 10%. Six of the top ten outlets using the service are national press.

November is likely to see Christmas requests increase even further while the cost-of-living crisis continues to be topical and should prove popular again with the Manufacturing, Engineering & Energy category as well as Personal Finance and Business & Finance. Charity sector PRs could be in demand in the next few weeks with Movember and Alcohol Awareness Week from 15 to 21 November. The ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service team also expect to see a significant amount of requests around Black Friday (25 November) which should see a spike for the Retail & Fashion category.

Want to receive requests like these from journalists writing about your topics of interest and expertise? Check out these 6 reasons to stop searching #JournoRequest and start using the Journalist Enquiry Service.

Which energy suppliers are achieving a positive brand reputation?

Back in July, Ofgem began releasing a variety of statements to the press demanding that energy companies do more to help struggling customers. As a result, independent and national suppliers began customising their support to be more bespoke and stand out from competitors.

However, the media has responded to some offerings better than others. While established brands are receiving expectedly high volumes of passing mentions, independent suppliers are achieving a higher rate of both positive and in-depth coverage.

Key Takeaways

  • Energy suppliers have released an array of bespoke support between 1 Jul and 30 Oct, following a series of Ofgem ‘threats’ in national and regional press
  • While British Gas achieved the highest sentiment score throughout this time, Octopus had the strongest positive:negative ratio tied to a wider variety of stories
  • ScottishPower, though considered one of the ‘big five’ suppliers, executed a high-quality example of how low and controlled coverage can benefit companies in a state of extended crisis comms
  • EDF’s attempts to offer more support was met with strong criticism from regional and local media sources
  • In defiance of concerns around excess profit and customer ‘bribes’, terms like ‘lifeline’ and ‘rescue’ have been used in national headlines towards five out of the eight suppliers measured

Over the past four months, the debate over whether suppliers are profiting from inflation has been one of many criticisms targeted at the industry. Since 1 July, 12% of 4,108 national and regional news articles covered the discourse over the ethics of Centrica, E.ON and Octopus ‘ringfencing’ consumer credit balances. In further criticism, both OVO and Octopus had a spike in negative coverage between 12 – 20 August when the Daily Mail reported staff were ‘cracking out the booze’ and having ‘wine parties’ during work hours.

Between 19 and 25 Sept, ‘the big five’ (British Gas, E.ON, EDF, ScottishPower and OVO Energy) were called out for turning away customers and encouraging them to stay with their current supplier due to a ‘volatile market’. Ofgem released a statement to the press in response to this, stating that suppliers are obliged to accept new customers as a condition of their licence.

Share of Voice and Sentiment (1 Jul – 30 Oct)

*Data explores 4,108 articles discussing energy suppliers and cost of living support across UK national, regional, and local general news sources.

A select few independent and national brands have been able to dilute negative coverage with a series of well-received customer support campaigns.

Between 25 and 26 August, British Gas received an upsurge in positive proactive coverage following its decision to donate 10% of profits to struggling customers — this headline was distributed approximately 504 times over the two-day period. The Centrica-owned company was a passing mention in 60% of negative coverage throughout this time, due to multiple ‘threats’ from Ofgem towards unethical behaviours from the ‘big five’ suppliers. Following the 10% profit donation, Ofgem counteracted its prior statements by referring to the company as ‘the only energy suppliers that provides enough support to customers struggling financially’, though this statement was only shared 22 times by local and regional news sources. This was also the case for SSE, which was mentioned but not the main focus of articles covering Ofgem’s accusations.

Between 25 Aug and 5 Sept, Shell received the highest rate of negative coverage tied to one story when Ofgem revealed it was ‘overcharging pre-payment customers’ and would be fined £500,000. An anonymous spokesperson for Shell Energy was quoted in 84% of this coverage and referred to the incident as an ‘error’ in updating prepayment meter rates.

Octopus Energy maintains strongest brand reputation

Overall, Octopus has performed strongest overall due to its ratio of positive:negative coverage. While its highest reaching article was in relation to ringfencing accusations, the independent supplier’s decision to buy out Bulb energy achieved an 86% higher distribution rate and was positively received across print, broadcast and online media. Similarly, the brand was referred to as a ‘lifeline’ following the launch of its bespoke ‘Energy Helpers’ service, which was shared in 274 articles across 161 national and regional news sources.

Why less is more

While Octopus was only the fourth highest-reaching energy supplier, it came second in terms of positive coverage rates and lowest overall in negative coverage. With the widest selection of bespoke customer support campaigns, its positive sentiment score was both regular and consistently distributed throughout the summer period. Similarly, ScottishPower received an almost equal rate of positive, neutral and negative coverage throughout the four months, with 78% of negative coverage generated by passing mentions.

These are clear examples of how high volumes are not always a measurement of strong performance. Low and controlled volumes, driven by proactive press releases focusing on customer support, has proven to be one of the most effective strategies for industries in a state of ongoing crisis management. Throughout the extended flight cancellations last April, Virgin Atlantic’s communications team successfully implemented this method with their ‘See the World Differently’ D&I campaign.

Top press releases (1 Jul – 30 Oct)

*Data explores 4,108 articles discussing energy suppliers and cost of living support across UK national, regional, and local general news sources.

The most covered press releases since 1 July were shared and distributed by the media between 22 Aug and 27 Oct. British Gas’s donation received the highest reach and volume combined, while Octopus received the second highest volume rate in one day. Both fell short in comparison to OVO, which achieved two of the top five press releases. The brand maintained a ten-day period of coverage between 28 Sep and 7 Oct due to a combination of its ‘power move’ programme and guide to the Government energy bill support scheme. However, the latter headline was over 70% neutral due to the fact that it was not a support scheme offered exclusively by the company.

Why was EDF ‘slammed’?

Overall, such a variety of support from energy suppliers has received a relatively positive response by national media sources. Excluding specific customer case studies distributed by local and regional newspapers, terms like ‘rescue’ and ‘saves customers’ have been used in headlines for five out of the eight suppliers measured.

However, EDF’s attempts to show the same level of generosity was met with a higher degree of criticism. Between 22 Aug and 10 Sept, the company was ‘slammed’ for offering £100 to customers if they switch to pre-payment meters. The announcement was referred to as a ‘bill bribe’ in 137 national and regional headlines, describing one of the policies in the press release as a ‘dupe’ to move customers to a ‘costlier’ system.

Sara Williams, founder of Debt Camel was quoted in over half of this coverage when she stated that £100 ‘sounds tempting’, but switching to a prepayment meter is a ‘dangerous move for many people’. Throughout this period, the pre-payment energy system as a whole was described as ‘horrific’. The Sun actively called on the Government for a temporary ban of this option, calling it a ‘scandal’ for ‘hard-up families’.

 Which supports were most positively covered by the press? (1 Jul – 30 Oct)

*Data explores 4,108 articles discussing energy suppliers and cost of living support across UK national, regional, and local general news sources.

Among the bespoke support set out by suppliers, the most covered this year has been Octopus’ decision to give away free electric blankets. The company announced this scheme back in January and started again on 10 Oct, but closed the scheme for the year just three weeks later after receiving over 100,000 applications. While national outlets quoted that customers could ‘save £300’, regional news sources described the brand as ‘going one step further’.

Much alike to ScottishPower and OVO,  Utilita has maintained a low but manageable coverage rate throughout the industry’s crisis period. While lower in volume than competitors, the ‘Shop Smart, Cook Savvy’ partnership with Iceland and The Food Warehouse has been its highest-reaching positive story of the year and the energy industry’s second most mentioned support campaign since 1 Jul. Such an extended period of coverage was due to the gradual release of various pledges over time, such as money-saving workshops and high-quality research into household savings.

Why customer support pays off in a cost-of-living crisis

While British Gas received the highest sentiment score overall, Octopus has skilfully demonstrated the sentiment control that can be leveraged through offering a variety of gradual support. The singular success of Utilita’s Iceland partnership is another strong example of how bespoke effort pays off, though its lack of regular press releases in comparison to competitors may be a leading cause for low volumes overall.

Long-term investment is not a wise or feasible option for some sectors. However, if you have the goal and means to enhance your media reputation then it may be worth diverting some of next year’s budget towards the greater good.

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

Vuelio is proud to be supporting AMEC’s Measurement Month – a month-long focus on best practice and new emerging trends in the measurement and evaluation of communication. Check out all the Measurement Month events here.

The Good PR Pitching Guide

The Good Pitching Guide for PRs

Bad news first: there is no one set of rules for successful pitching into the UK media.

The good news: most journalists are very open and upfront about the kind of pitches they are interested in receiving from PRs.

Here are seven very specific requests, tips and ‘more please’s from journalists featured in our Vuelio Media Bulletin – take note on how to give good pitch to journalists writing about general lifestyle topics, science, health, sport, disability, inequality, psychology and more.

How to pitch to Angela Malin, editor-in-chief of About Time Magazine and They Started It podcaster

‘Email me! Always. With a succinct subject line. Please don’t call me, it freaks me out. And only WhatsApp in an emergency (is there ever really an emergency in lifestyle journalism?).’

Read the full interview with Angelica on her topics of interest and what went into her book ‘Unattached: Essays on Singlehood’.

Punteha van Terheyden, Lacuna Voices editor and freelance journalist

‘Please email me directly. And if I’m not on your subscriber list for real life case studies and press releases (women’s interest, health, legal, relationships, etc.), please add me! You can see my portfolio of articles on my website.’

Read the full interview for even more pitching tips from Punteha, author of ‘The 10-Point Pitching Plan’.

Lydia Wilkins, freelance journalist and podcaster with Conscious Being magazine

‘The best way to get in touch with a story or other opportunities is to not email me, but to wait for specific callouts that I post on Twitter.

‘My inbox is… messy at the best of times, and things get lost, technology being technology. Twitter means I can reply as quickly as I can.’

Read the full interview for Lydia’s thoughts on diversity in journalism and inclusivity in storytelling as well as information on her book ‘The Autism Friendly Cook Book’.

Henry Gee, Nature’s senior editor, biology

‘You can contact me through my book website. My agent is Jill Grinberg at Jill Grinberg Literary Management – you can email her through the same web page.’

Read the full interview for more on Henry’s experiences throughout his 30 years in science publishing as well as information on his book ‘A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth’.

Dr Josephine Perry, Cycling Weekly features writer, freelance journalist and sports and performance psychologist

‘I love getting story ideas or great case studies. I’m always looking for interesting things happening in sport, high performance or psychology. Any books on high performance or those written by athletes are great to receive for my website review section. Email me, or find me tweeting (far too much) @josephineperry.’

Read the full interview for advice on being successful in all your endeavours (including pitching to the media) as Dr Josephine talks about her book ‘The Ten Pillars of Success: Secret Strategies of High Achievers’.

Saba Salman, Community Living editor and freelance journalist

‘I’m interested in reporting the experiences and talking to people we rarely hear from, like someone who has a profound disability, or their family, or health and care support staff. I’m also interested in covering the stories of people for whom the cost-of-living might be harsher because they face multiple barriers or disadvantage, for example, due to race and disability.’

Read the full interview to find out more about Saba’s reporting of the cost-of-living crisis and disability issues for outlets including The Guardian, The Independent and Byline Times.

Sophie Smith Galer, senior news reporter for VICE

‘I’ll be honest – it is very rare that my stories come from press releases. But if you have something connected to gender violence, health misinformation, online extremism or the climate crisis and it’s about something going on in Europe, the Middle East or Africa you can email me.’

Read the full interview for how Sophia utilises TikTok as a reporting and sourcing tool and her book ‘Losing It: Sex Education for the 21st Century’.

Find out more about all of these journalists with the Vuelio Media Database and keep up with movements across the UK media by signing up to the twice-weekly Media Bulletin for PRs and journalists.

Even more tips on pitching to the UK media can be found in our white paper ‘How to Pitch to Journalists’ – download it here.

How to support your staff during the cost-of-living crisis

How to support your staff throughout the cost-of-living crisis

This is a guest post from Laura Oliphant, CEO of Stand, on what companies can be doing during the cost of living crisis.

Any help given to staff during situations like Covid and the cost-of-living crisis needs to be part of a positive and genuine work culture. As we enter the tougher winter months and energy and food prices soar, companies need to ramp up their employee support, going beyond free drinks and gift vouchers. Support has to be meaningful – nothing lands as badly as a token gesture, or support not awarded fairly across the business.

At Stand we aim to support our team from the day they start work with us, but as the cost of living continues to rise, we recognised more was needed. We decided to give a one-off payment to our staff. £800 split across two payments in October and January 2023 for those earning up to £30,000, and £500 for those earning over £30,000. Feedback on the payment was universally well received, particularly because it was announced months before government support was confirmed.

Alongside financial help, we introduced a number of smaller gestures in the office, including increased fruit and snacks, and additional breakfast supplies.

But support for teams must go beyond one-off gestures. We are constantly challenging ourselves to come up with new ways to show our team they are valued. We understand life can be tough, especially during times like Covid. After three lockdowns and other restrictions of the pandemic, we wanted to give our team better balance at work. Initially, we trialled a nine-day fortnight where every two weeks, everyone at Stand had an off day to spend how they wish. This has now been adapted into a 1pm Friday finish where we are encouraging our team to start their weekend early, or use the afternoon to do something creative or good for their wellbeing.

Wellbeing is particularly important for us at Stand. In addition to our annual £250 wellbeing allowance, we have trained mental health first aiders, free counselling and discounted gym membership and equipment through our private health cover. Everyone has a day off on their birthday, 2.5 volunteering days, creative time off to seek inspiration and the chance to take a sabbatical after three years of service.

The most important advice I can give alongside consistency and fairness, is introducing support and benefits that are co-created. Listen to feedback and try to read the room so you introduce support before people say they need help. But also have realistic expectations. Having a positive culture, a strong suite of benefits and giving extra support is not a silver bullet to recruitment and staff retention, but it is the right thing to do.

For more on the cost-of-living crisis and its impact on the PR and communications industries and their audiences, download our white paper Communicating the cost-of-living crisis… A guide for charities and the third sector.  

How are British newspapers perceiving the ‘new’ Twitter?

Following an extensive period of negotiation, Elon Musk confirmed his $44bn acquisition of Twitter last Friday. As Musk has a pre-existing reputation of creating online controversy, both politicians and public figures have expressed their concerns towards the future of the website.

Between 28 Oct and 1 Nov, 448 UK-wide news sources reported on Musk’s Twitter takeover and the updates that followed. One of many was his decision to fire the company’s board of executives, which consumed 10.7% of national articles throughout this time. While 88% of this coverage was negative in sentiment, almost half used the term ‘golden parachutes’ in reference to the collective $122m dismissal pay-out.

Overall sentiment across national news sources has been largely critical. Approximately 93% of neutral coverage was a general acquisition announcement, while articles with a specific focus were 4% positive but predominantly negative. Over 95% of positive coverage were op-eds – the highest reaching piece was from the FT and praised Musk for his hypothesis that the new Twitter will be a ‘digital town square’ for online disagreements.

The cost of the takeover was mentioned in 23.5% of national coverage, of which 21% was a headline mention. Articles by The Independent, which had the terms ‘RIP Twitter’ and ‘Musk may be one of the worst people on earth’ in their headlines, were syndicated a collective 43 times by local and regional news outlets since Friday.

Free speech and misinformation

Almost half of all national coverage either focused on or mentioned increased risks towards user safety. Among the most common concerns were misinformation (7.9%), the recovery of banned accounts (13.8%) and plans for a ‘content moderation council’ (6.25%). Such worries were exacerbated when Musk, alongside Donald Trump on Truth Social, was found to be tweeting conspiracy theories on the attack of American Businessman and husband of Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Paul Pelosi —this discovery featured in 6.2% of all UK coverage between 30 Oct and 31 Oct.

Immediate violence from revived accounts

Among the previously banned accounts, right-wing figures were most mentioned in the media. Trump was quoted 34 times for saying that the service is ‘now in sane hands’, while extremist group Britain First made headlines for posting a series of anti-immigrant videos in the first 24 hours of its account revival.

American Basketball player LeBron James was also quoted in 5.5% of all coverage, calling on Elon Musk to take action as the use of a racist term on the platform surged by 500% since Friday.

Online Harms Bill

From anti-immigrant footage to an upsurge in racist language, national news sources have published extensive evidence of online harms caused by Musk’s content regulation changes. Musk stated that the content moderation line should ‘only be drawn at illegal posts’ and ‘everything else should be allowed as part of open debate’. With the position of the Online Safety bill still pending, 2.5% of all national publications have asked how the platform could coexist with such regulations.

While politicians in the UK have been relatively quiet on the takeover so far, other public figures and world leaders have expressed their immediate stance on the news. Responding to Musk’s ‘the bird is freed’ tweet, Thierry Breton, the commissioner for the internal market of the EU said: ‘In Europe, the bird will fly by our rules’:

Similarly, 22 headlines mentioned a quote by NZ prime minister Jacinda Arden, who urged Musk to ‘stick to transparency’ amid fears that the platform could nurture extremism.

Blue tick charges

Consuming 8.25% of all national coverage, Musk’s plans to charge verified accounts $20 a month peaked on 31 Oct with celebrities around the world weighing in on their disapproval. Author Stephen King was one of many quoted in 6% of national headlines on the same day, when he responded ‘F**** that, they should pay me’.

As the story developed over the weekend, business experts began speaking to the press on how this move could ultimately devalue the platform. By 1 Nov, 56 national headlines reported that Musk may ‘slash the fee’ to $8 or remove it altogether.

The future of Twitter

With so many public figures announcing their disapproval and departure of Musk’s takeover, tech journalists and shareholders are beginning to speculate the likelihood of the platform’s survival. Alongside a small selection of national news outlets, 106 British tabloids have actively outlined how users can delete their Twitter account and why they ‘might want to’. Approximately 85% of coverage discussing the future of the platform was negative, while 14.5% remained neutral and speculated if there would be a future at all.

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

Digital PR with Vuelio

4 tips for mastering digital PR

PR has changed a lot since the early days of clippings books, printed features lists and heavy media directories either weighing down office shelves or stacked up under desks.

If you are very early in your PR career, you might not know what any of those very 80s/90s extremely cumbersome things even are – and lucky for you, you don’t have to. We are now firmly in the era of digital PR, so here is advice from Connective3’s guide to digital PR to help you navigate this Brave New World and nail it, too.

Download the full Digital PR Starter Pack from Connective3.

1) Learn from the best

The wonderful thing about working in the creative industries is that inspiration can come from anywhere – but industry-based inspo is particularly useful.

Keep up with big news happening in the wider PR, marketing, comms and media industry by signing up for newsletters from outlets like PRWeek, Campaign, The Drum and Vuelio to make sure you are always in the loop.

Want extra insight from industry leaders? Some extra advice from us – check out these 10 Top UK PR Blogs regularly sharing takes on new campaigns from big brands, as well as emerging trends you need to be aware of. And even digital PRs can benefit from more traditional publication formats – here are the best books for PR professionals to read.

2) Brainstorm

Blank pieces of paper, empty whiteboards and the open expectant faces of colleagues and clients – terrifying and not exactly conducive to creative thinking and ideation.

Connective3 recommend breaking down your brief before diving headlong into brainstorming. Remember at school when teachers would recommend reading all of the questions before starting your answer? Same thing here – decide where to start by reading over the key information first and keep your ‘why’ at the centre of your mind. Remember that no idea is ‘bad’ and try different approaches – writing, talking, different team combinations and session formats.

3) Download some data

Data can not only back up the points you are looking to hit in campaigns or content but can also help during the planning and post-campaign measurement phase.

Connective3 has suggestions for data sources you can tap including the Office for National Statistics (ONS), Freedom of Information Requests (FOIs) and YouGov while we can also recommend Media Monitoring (we happen to have that) to see how different media channels are reporting on your topics of interest. Social listening tools like Pulsar can also track the online conversations of your intended audiences.

4) Newsjack

With advice from industry greats, knowledge of what is happening in the wider industry, good ideas and decent data, it is time to find a hook for your story. Newsjacking, also known as reactive PR, is a useful skill for connecting your message to an issue already in the minds of the public and being covered by the media.

The Digital PR Starter Pack has a full list of Dos and Don’ts to take note of before you start newsjacking, but the basics just happen to be the building blocks of PR.

Back in the analogue days, much was done with press releases and/or the offering of expertise. Digitalisation has not changed this as a PR approach, especially for newsjacking.
Ready a calendar of events and awareness days happening throughout the year that campaigns can be pinned to. Alongside your calendar, prepare press releases with useful hooks and relevant links to the news you are hitching your story to as well as information journalists, broadcasters and influencers will need when reporting. Finally, ensure you share your releases with those who will find them useful – a media database can help.

Expertise is a valuable commodity for the media – in addition to the trusty press release, there are other online options for offering it out. Services like the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service enable PRs to connect with journalists asking for expert comment in specific niches, with no need for dragging out those dusty media directories of old.

Check out more advice from Connective3 in the Digital PR Starter Pack

Will the food delivery sector survive the cost-of-living crisis?

Between the pandemic and increase in energy prices, scarcity is a familiar feeling for the UK’s independent pubs and restaurants. As a result of such consumer limitations, food delivery has been at a record-high across the country. The sector grew by £11.4bn in 2020 and was quoted as a ‘winner’ of the lockdown period by 162 national hospitality publications.

While the past few years have been fruitful for brands like Deliveroo and Ocado, a shift in consumer attitudes — created by the cost-of-living crisis — has sent sales storming in the other direction at a sudden and alarming rate; while providing much-needed restoration for the indoor dining sector.

Key takeaways

  • National media outlets have identified food deliveries (including takeout, supermarkets and veg boxes) as a major cost-of-living victim sector
  • Deliveroo’s Buy Now Pay Later [BNPL] partnership with Klarna has been the top cost-of-living delivery sector story since August and received a 68% negative sentiment score, largely driven by Martin Lewis’ highly syndicated criticism
  • Revenue losses, rider strikes and senior resignations were some of the highest sources of negative coverage affecting all major takeout brands
  • Deliveroo and Uber Eats briefly diluted negative coverage with philanthropic press releases
  • Both national news and business publications continue to discusa Just Eat’s pathway to industry leadership

Towards the end of lockdown in 2021, more than 25% of consumers increased their delivery usage and nearly 75% planned to continue after restrictions were lifted. Fast-forward to April of this year and the complete opposite appears to be true — takeout has been deemed one of three major ‘victim sectors’ and 61% of consumers plan to cut their usage by December.

Alongside a significant drop in sales, the brand reputation of some of the UK’s leading delivery services have also taken a hit. As the media reported on rider strikes across the country, regional news sources published specific case studies of workers saying they ‘won’t survive’ and are ‘begging’ for tips.

UK delivery sector: Share of Voice (1 Aug – 19 Oct)

*Volume and sentiment data measures all regional/national  cost-of-living-related coverage on UK delivery brands 1 August – 19 October.

Approximately 2,686 articles across general news sources, food and business-related publications explored the biggest areas of impact due to ‘down-trading’ across the UK’s food delivery sector. Of this volume, 42% explored major structural changes happening within specific brands.

Throughout this period, Deliveroo consistently held the strongest share of voice due to several high-reaching and controversial partnerships shared across print, online and broadcast media. An upsurge in rider strikes and its decision to leave the Netherlands after failing to compete with Just Eat followed closely behind. The strikes were also a prominent source of negative coverage for Just Eat and Uber Eats between 10 August and 9 October, but only Uber was mentioned in the headlines.

Almost all of Just Eat’s coverage was negative due to the aforementioned protests, as well as significant losses – the most prominent being a 7% loss in orders throughout H1 2022 compared to the previous year. However, discussion around their ‘clear path to profitability’ was covered in 286 outlets between 1 Mar – 1 Aug and has picked up again since 19 October. While Uber Eats had almost the same volume of coverage, a tactical press release announcing its ‘£250k offer to 25 restaurants owned by people from minority backgrounds’ made up 100% of positive coverage, peaking just one week after the brand was called ‘diabolical’ for worker conditions.

 

Case study: Deliveroo x Klarna partnership

*Case study data reflects all regional/national Deliveroo coverage 1 August – 19 October.

Since August, the most popular story across the country has been Deliveroo’s decision to partner with Klarna to offer ‘buy now pay later’ services, which was distributed approximately 395 times between 11 and 18 October throughout general news, food, hospitality and business publications.

Top speakers

While the brand announced the Klarna partnership in a positive light, only 31% of media outlets responded with the same tone. Rather, 68% preferred to comment on the controversy behind the move. David Sykes, chief commercial officer at Klarna, was quoted in 70% of all coverage when he argued this was a way to offer zero-interest inflation support to the public, while a spokesperson added that consumers have otherwise been paying with high-interest credit cards ‘for decades’.

While seniors at the BNPL service are calling this a ‘healthy alternative’, some experts across the country are weighing into the press with a different perspective.

Martin Lewis, financial journalist and founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, became the lead opposition to the decision when he ‘slammed’ the company for ‘pumping up debt’. He further argued that debt should be accrued when it is ‘needed’ and not for a ‘cheeky Nando’s’. Lewis’s tweet was first picked up by The Telegraph on 12 October and syndicated a further 260 times until 14 October, equating to 66% of total Klarna-related coverage (of which 60% mentioned Lewis in the headline) and the main driver of the negative spike.

Within some of these articles, Labour MP Yvonne Fovargue backed the belief that it ‘normalises debt’ while councillor Rosie Parry called Deliveroo a ‘gross predator’ for encouraging families to buy takeaways they cannot afford.

Prominence

As a result of Lewis’s national criticism, approximately 57% of Deliveroo’s headline mentions were negatively associated with incentivising debt. Fortunately, second to this was its collaboration with Boots to deliver cold and flu medicines (18%), via a press release that provided a much-needed and extensive boost in proactive positive coverage between 25 August and 19 October. While the release was sent out on 22 August, it did not achieve significant national coverage until 18 October when the heat of the Klarna debate began to die down.

Crisis management

Approximately 82% of Deliveroo’s top headlines were proactive and sourced from a press release. Given that 77% of all coverage features a relevant quote from either seniors or spokespeople at Deliveroo, the releases acted as a strong crisis management tool by allowing key speakers to have some input during a peak in negative coverage.

Similarly, while its collaboration with Boots may have been a tactical move to tackle losses, Deliveroo’s release was picked up positively by the media after the BNPL controversy and helped to stabilise brand reputation.

Is dining on the rise?

Indoor dining forecast coverage  (1 Mar – 19 Oct)

*Case study data reflects all regional/national coverage on UK delivery comms in PR, marketing & business publications 1 March – 19 October.

As the food delivery sector continues to see decline, comms and business outlets across the UK and rest of Europe have been actively reporting on the crisis strategy of specific brands. Since August, there has also been extensive analysis on the spending forecasts and survival rate of each brand. Approximately 86 articles identified that eating out was likely to ‘experience a boost’ over the rest of the year.

Given that travel and groceries were also included in this list of beneficiary sectors, it is clear that one of the root causes of this boost is an extended wave of post-lockdown spending. While national news headlines are reporting that non-essential purchases are projected to plummet by £12bn, economic experts are stressing that brands should not ignore the ‘Lipstick effect’ – a desire for luxury items and experiences in economic downturn. For example, supermarkets have found that while cutbacks and reliance on value brands are at an all-time high, consumers will still invest in luxury lines like Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference — particularly on special occasions or annual events.

In addition, regular dining out is suggestive of a higher income household. In the case of an economic crisis – rather than a pandemic, for example – some consumers and industries are less affected. Retail Economics CEO Richard Lim told Marketing Week that sectors ‘more focused on higher income households will likely perform better than others’.

Focus on ad spending

Both Uber Eats and Deliveroo have reported to the press that ad spending is an ‘essential part of the revenue mix’ for ‘free cash flow generation’, while a Shore Capital equities expert added that these ‘skyrocketing marketing costs’ likely come as a response to Just Eat’s ‘aggressive inroads into the London market’.

While these brands appear confident in their decision, Grace Kite, econometrician, warned in a response article that ‘not all brands should maintain ad spend in a recession’, advice she predominantly aimed at victim sectors. Rather, she said brands should work out whether investing to secure additional share of market is ‘worth the cost’ in an economic downturn, as they run the risk of that increase being a ‘bigger slice of what becomes a much smaller pie’, making it difficult to recover from the previous high after the economy stabilises.

Vuelio’s top 3 recommendations

The Vuelio insights team has collated the most prominent guidance points by industry experts in the media over the past six months:

Explore the impact

While value and empathy have been considered the most important brand tones over the past three years, some consumers will not feel the impact of a crisis as much as others, therefore the necessary extent of compassion in communications should be closely measured.

Towards the end of the pandemic, international news outlets criticised that every advert used the same phrases, sombre voices, empty offices and soft piano music. As a result, some brands quickly became the subject of criticism across social media. Other publications argued that themes of indulgence, celebration and seizing the day were strongly preferred by viewers and could ‘speak to the desired attitudes’ in future crises.

Maintain transparency

In a survey of more than 2,000 UK adults, 87% said they expected to hear from brands just as much or more during the period of economic instability. Between 22 and 31 August, 43 international marcomms publications repurposed a ‘heavily cited’ study showing that younger consumers value ‘purpose-driven’ advertising that shows how companies are helping others.

Given that both Deliveroo and Uber Eats were able to successfully dilute some of their negative inflation coverage with philanthropic press releases, the media has been shown to respond to these gestures in positive and high volumes.

Nurture Retention

If your budget lacks the space for a significant value incentive, enhanced loyalty programmes are also attracting national media awareness over the past three months. For example, the launch of MyMcDonald’s was the restaurant’s highest-reaching campaign in regional and national news sources throughout 2022. Similarly, the decision to bring back ‘free hot drinks for members’ achieved Waitrose the highest share of voice among all UK supermarkets between the 15 – 18 October.

Reading the room

Just Eat are currently perceived by the press as the ‘Dutch Kings’ that could soon lead the UK’s takeout sector, but its successes are not widely shared in the press beyond the expert insights of business publications. Proactive positive coverage is considerably lower than that of Deliveroo and Uber Eats despite a significant growth rate, demonstrating the importance of active press releases in this sector.

As victim sectors set their budgets for the next fiscal year, ‘read the room’ appears to be some of the most prominent expert advice pouring into the press. Measuring how your audience are impacted by a societal setback ought to be a priority, as fatigue grows quickly in a state of crisis and the needs and desires of your audience will change accordingly.

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