Marie Fuller Simpler PR

PR Interview: Marie Fuller, founder of Simpler PR

‘I love the world of PR as it is so fast moving and there is something to learn every day… such a fun, creative and fulfilling career,’ says Marie Fuller, founder of interiors and lifestyle agency Simpler PR.

While adjusting to work during COVID-19 has been anything but simple for those working in public relations and comms, Marie shares the positive changes it has sparked in her sector and how she’s finding work/life balance during lockdown.

How did you originally get into PR?
I began my media career with the Daily Mail and General Trust on their home-interest magazines before moving to their Ski and Snowboard Show and Magazine which, of course, necessitated lots of travel, particularly during the ski season. When I had my first child, I was reluctant to continue travelling and thought that as a people person, and being very creative, that PR would be the perfect fit – and it has been!

What did you think working in public relations would be like before you got into the industry – what were the biggest surprises?
I had worked with several PR companies in my previous roles so had expected it to be a little easier! I quickly realised that to be successful, you have to work very hard and invest a huge amount of energy into every campaign and account. I also had thought it may be more glamorous! Although I have had my share of amazing experiences.

How has COVID-19 impacted the interiors and lifestyle sector in particular?
I think for most of our clients there has been incredible disruption but also some benefits, especially for those with a strong online presence. COVID and working from home has meant we have immersed ourselves in our living environment 24/7 and have seen how much love our homes need, and deserve! I think we have all spent money on our homes and gardens which we might not have done in normal circumstances – and I think we as a nation are seeing the rewards of investing in where we live. A new sofa does probably offer better value than two weeks in the sunshine – and when we haven’t had that option, we suddenly realise that the new sofa has probably given us a lot more than a transient suntan!

How has the pandemic changed the way you work on a day-to-day basis?
As a team at Simpler PR we are all working remotely from home. I think it is actually working really well, so long as we keep in regular contact. Emails, phones, Zoom and Whatsapp are definitely the way forward. My working day is definitely longer and I feel more creative and engaged in what I am doing.

Many have struggled with work/life balance more than ever over the last year – how do you find your balance?
The balance is kind of thrown at me in the shape of a family and pets! Walking our Springer Spaniel Archie and making sure our teenagers are usefully engaged kind of forces the balance on me. I do think I could be tempted to work long into the evening if it wasn’t for the needs of my family… so I am grateful.

Have you ever disagreed with a client during a project, and how did you deal with the situation?
Only once! It was at a photoshoot and I really felt their decision was wrong, however with subtle persuasion we were able to include our ideas too and left the client to make the choice when the project was completed. Our clients know their products so well and we respect their views; we are just there to advise – we are all on the same side and looking for the same success…

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Never work with someone you don’t like. Definitely an excellent piece of advice. This applies to clients and suppliers as well as staff! Life is too short and we need to get on well to succeed.

Would you still recommend PR as a career in 2021?
Definitely; perhaps more than ever. There are so many areas of PR and so many new avenues to explore. I love the world of PR as it is so fast moving and there is something to learn every day… such a fun, creative and fulfilling career.

For advice on finding your own work/life balance, check out these tips for staying motivated in 2021

Supporting local business with local PR

Supporting local business with local PR

This is a guest post from White Rose PR director Louise Pinchin.

I’ve always believed in the power of regional PR and marketing; it’s a vital element to being party of a community. In fact, being born and bred in Yorkshire, it’s one of the reasons I named my company White Rose PR. As a Yorkshire-based business we want to support other businesses local to us.

Over the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of working with several local businesses and in these challenging and unprecedented times it is always good to know that our work is keeping the wider business community thriving.

Why undertake local PR?

Local PR is a great way to build brand awareness in the community, to reach new and existing customers and build your brand reputation among an audience that is waiting to be reached.

By creating and maintaining a positive relationship with your local press, print and online, you are setting yourself up for ongoing coverage opportunities and positive press stories about you in the future. Regional PR has many advantages, one of which is that it is often less expensive than larger national campaigns. It’s also easier to see a direct impact on sales or business leads from a piece of regional PR, especially if it is done in isolation of other marketing activity. You are also targeting readily accessible customers through local PR, something that is entirely different with national activity.

Don’t think of regional PR as the poor relation to any other type of coverage your brand, company or service receives. It’s not a throwaway, easy-to-get activity and it shouldn’t be bottom of the priority list. Start thinking of it as a powerful tool in your marketing armoury when used in a timely and appropriate way.

As I always say to my clients, why wouldn’t you want the coverage? Why give your competitors column inches that you could be taking up?

Here’s a recent example from us…

Case study: Rubicon Technical

We work with Rubicon Technical, a technical services provider to the medicines, medical devices, food supplements and cosmetics industries. In late 2020, they opened their first European office in Amsterdam, just before Brexit. Why was this a good story? Because it was a positive story of a local entrepreneur who built up her business here in Yorkshire to a 15-strong team and expanded into Europe during one of the most challenging years this country has ever faced and at a pivotal time in our country’s political and economic history.

The result was extensive regional media coverage including the Yorkshire Post, Yorkshire Business Daily and Business Live as well as local coverage in Holland. The outcome was an increase in enquiries and business as well as increased social media engagement.

So, give it a try, because regional PR works.

You can follow White Rose PR on Instagram @whiterose_pr and the new company website will be launching soon.


PRCA gateway for DWP Kickstart Scheme greenlights 60 new PR jobs

The PRCA has been granted Gateway status by The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for the Government’s Kickstart Scheme to help young people at risk of long-term unemployment.

Encouraging organisations to start six-month job placements for those between 16-24 who are on Universal Credit, the Kickstart Scheme is funded by the Government with £1,500 also going to organisations for each job placement they create.

So far, the DWP has greenlit the creation of 60 PR jobs at 25 PR agencies via the PRCA’s Gateway application. Over 30 other agencies have also applied through the PRCA to create new positions.

PRCA Director General Francis Ingham said: ‘Economic crises invariably cause the greatest impact on those at the start of their careers. The Government’s Kickstart Scheme is a lifeline for young people – but it’s also an excellent support mechanism for PR businesses recovering from the pandemic. I’m proud that the PRCA has been accepted as the Gateway organisation for the PR industry and I’m delighted with the interest our members have shown in the Scheme. It’s a win-win for all.’

More details on the Kickstart Scheme and applying using the PRCA as a representative body can be found here.

Women in PR

Women in PR welcomes new senior leadership team and committee members

Anna Geffert Women in PR

Women in PR has appointed HERA Communications MD Anna Geffert as its president. Anna replaces Bibi Hilton, who will step down after three years of leading the organisation.

Other announcements made at the virtual AGM for members last week included the appointments of Powerscourt senior consultant Ngozi Emeagi as vice president and Prudential Group communications manager Addy Frederick as treasurer.

The Romans managing director Roxanne Kalha, Ariatu Public Relations founder Ronke Lawal, Ketchum managing director of consumer brands Sophie Raine and GSK communications consultant Jennifer Thomas were also voted in as Committee members.

‘Last year saw unimaginable difficulties and loss for our members; many of whom lost friends and family, employment and security, and the ability to lean on networks and contacts for guidance and confidence,’ said incoming president Anna Geffert.

Ngozi Emeagi Women in PR

‘As a result, Women in PR has taken on a new role in helping women to rebuild and shape their careers – balancing the professional with the personal and supporting each other to overcome these challenges and lay the foundations for growth and success in the year ahead.

‘It has been such an honour to work with Bibi and the inspiring women on the Committee over the last three years. Together, we have begun to breakdown barriers of inequality for all women in our industry. As ever, there is always more work to be done and the pandemic has raised fresh challenges for us all to face. I look forward to welcoming our new Committee members to continue our campaign for equality and also to provide new, supportive tools, skills and opportunities to inspire and empower our members into senior leadership roles.’

Bibi Hinton – who steps down from her position along with Vice President Sarah Samee and committee members Davnet Doran, Ebony Gayle, Abbie Sampson and Jo-Ann Robertson in line with Women in PR’s constitution – is looking forward to seeing what the new senior leadership team will accomplish.

Addy Frederick Women in PR

Hinton said: ‘It’s been an incredible privilege to lead Women in PR and to work alongside such a brilliant and inspiring committee and ambassador group. I’m immensely proud of everything we’ve achieved – from becoming a more diverse and inclusive organisation to launching our first group in Wales.

‘With her experience both of big agency and setting up her own business and her ambition, energy and exceptional leadership, Anna will be a fantastic new president for Women in PR. I know in partnership with Ngozi, Addy and the new committee will continue to drive WPR forward in our mission to increase the number and diversity of women in leadership in our industry.’

Find out more about new committee member Ronke Lawal in our previous interview and check out Addy Frederick’s work with UK Black Comms Network in our write up of its Two Steps Forward, One Step Black event.

Advertising Association

PRCA welcomes encouraging predictions from Advertising Association figures

‘Excellent news for anyone working in PR, advertising or the media sectors’ is how PRCA director general Francis Ingham summed up Q3 2020 UK ad spend figures published by the Advertising Association today.

The latest Advertising Association/WARC Expenditure Report predicts that the UK’s ad market is likely to grow by 15.2% this year, with positive prospects for online platforms as well as double digit growth for the majority of media sectors.

Encouraging figures from the dataset, which includes those for Q3 2020 and predictions for the coming eight quarters, show that UK adspend showed better-than-expected internet growth, improving on its forecast of -17.9% made in October 2020. Internet spend also rose 10.1% to £4.2bn during the quarter, bolstered by a 14.5% rise in search spend.

‘PR and advertising operate within the same ecosystem and often run in parallel with one another, so I am very encouraged by the data published by the Advertising Association today,’ said Francis Ingham. ‘I’ve no doubt that 2021 will be the year our industry returns to growth and profitability.’

Read more reaction from the PRCA on the latest figures from the Advertising Association here on the website.

PR and Communications Tracker

Mental health and motivation are the biggest threats to the UK PR industry according to PR and Communications Tracker

The PR and Communications Tracker from Carta Communications and The Pulse Business has found that mental health challenges and issues with staying motivated are bigger threats to UK PR teams than COVID-19.

Starting in late December 2020, the PR and Communications Tracker surveyed senior communications leaders in both in-house and agency MD positions and will run on a quarterly basis.

While 26% of industry leaders polled said that adapting to COVID-19 was the biggest threat being faced, this was behind the challenges of staff motivation and mental health, which was the top choice for 28% of those surveyed.

Despite this, 87% feel positive about the future of their business over the next year.

‘There are actually two pandemics running concurrently – COVID-19, and a shadow pandemic of mental health issues caused by social isolation, uncertainty and changes to working and living patterns,’ said Carta Communications’ founder and director Matt Cartmell.

‘We are fortunate in PR that we can work remotely and that there are always new opportunities, whatever the economic landscape. It’s great to see that so many leaders are feeling so positive – I look forward to seeing how sentiment changes through the coming year.’

The Pulse Business’ owner Imogen Osborne also sees potential in the results of the survey: ‘The findings from this Pulse suggest that once more, the PR and communications industry is bracing itself for re-invention. Some respondents are talking about how they are developing their company culture inside a flexible working model while others are coming up with new products and services that will appeal in a post-pandemic world.

‘Many of our comms leaders are bullish about the next 12 months, driven by an understandable focus on the numbers. Yet most acknowledge the issues around mental health are building and given the period for self-reflection the pandemic has necessitated, you wonder if this will lead to some radical changes in how people treat one another in an industry renowned for its competitiveness.’

The next Tracker is set to go live in March 2021 – those who wish to take part can email Imogen Osborne at

Want more on PR trends to prepare for this year? Check out ten PR and communications trends for 2021 from industry thought leaders.

More of the best books for PRs

6 more of the best books for PR Professionals

For those who haven’t yet given up on their 2021 resolution to read more, or who just want an inspirational read or two, here are six more PR-related books to get stuck into in your down time.

Get refreshers on creating ideas that stick, the need for diversity in leadership and how to tell powerful stories with meaning.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath
If the theory of stickiness put forward in Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point has always stuck in your mind and you want more ideas for creating super-sticky campaigns, brothers Chip and Dan can help. Their 2007 book includes examples of stories that have stuck in the public consciousness and what those in PR and comms can learn from them.

#FuturePRoof Edition Five: The impact of COVID-19 on NHS comms from #FuturePRoof, founded by Sarah Waddington
NHS comms professionals continue to face extreme challenges during the global pandemic – November 2020’s FuturePRoof release gathers together 16 essays from those working in the field and covers the challenges of effective internal communications during times of such unpredictability. Read more about the latest from #FuturePRoof here.

The Art & Craft of PR: Creating the Mindset and Skills to Succeed in Public Relations Today by Sandra Stahl
Sandra Stahl’s 2018 book works as a manual for mixing your business objectives with creativity for successful outcomes. Putting forward the view that the PR industry needs those with expertise in psychology, human behavior and philosophy just as much as PR and journalism, here is where to pick up some skills to fine-tool your own craft.

Diverse Voices: Profiles in Leadership by Barry Spector and Shelley Spector
Public relations is an industry with much to do to become truly representative of the public it seeks to engage and inspire. Barry and Shelly Spector’s 2018 book features interviews with those in leadership roles across a variety of organisations and agencies to highlight the obstacles they’ve faced as well as lessons those in PR can learn from for success in their own careers.

Exploring Public Relations and Management Communication (Fifth Edition) edited by Ralph Tench and Stephen Waddington
Pearson’s fifth edition exploring aspects of PR and management comms features contributions from 35 international industry thought leaders and covers topics including media and measurement, brand reputation and celebrity. Check out its ethical frameworks, case studies and practitioners’ diaries – read more about the book here.

PR for Humans: how business leaders tell powerful stories by Mike Sergeant
Former BBC, Sky and Reuters reporter Mike Sergeant believes that ‘the most powerful communication is always delivered by humans, for humans’ – which is lucky for the human-filled PR industry that seeks to tell meaningful stories to its audiences. This 2019 book shares the secrets of good storytelling for all humans looking to communicate good ideas.

If you missed our first six recommended reads for PRs, check them out here.

GWPR Annual Index

Global Women in PR reveals results from its Annual Index

Results from the Global Women in PR Annual Index for 2020 reflect a lack of advancement when it comes to gender equality in the public relations industry, but highlight areas of opportunity for women with children.

Part of a five-year plan to measure and track the working practices of women in PR and communications across the globe, latest results from the GWPR Annual Index cover working environment, barriers to leadership, the pressures of work, impacts of being a parent and the continuing gender pay gap.

Despite two-thirds of the PR workforce identifying as female, men still held 64% of boardroom seats in 2020. Key findings in the index include:

– 80% of PRs believe that having women in the boardroom improves working practices, with 89% believing that more needs to be done to welcome women into board-level roles.
– 78% cited childcare and caring responsibilities as the biggest barrier to the boardroom
– 60% believe men promoting in their own image is a major barrier to senior roles
– 47% of women reported a negative impact on their career due to being a parent

Despite longer working hours for women in PR who are also tasked with homeschooling during the pandemic, the ability to work remotely is seen by many who took part in the Annual Index as a path to future advancement.

GWPR joint president Angela Oakes said: ‘We can see from our research that there has been little change in 2020 in the gender imbalance in the boardroom, despite the widely acknowledged link between boardroom diversity and a company’s financial performance.

‘However, the COVID crisis has created change and quickly accelerated the trend towards remote working. Two-thirds of PR professionals believe that flexible working allows women to have a family, or caring responsibilities and still progress in their career. There is clearly a demand for this, as 69% say they would be more likely to choose a job that offered flexible working over one that did not. Employers need to recognise this and acknowledge the benefits of flexible working, so we can retain female talent in the PR industry.’

PRCA Director General Francis Ingham also sees the positives that have come from homeworking: ‘COVID can provide us with a reset moment for women in PR. It can replace the painfully slow progress of the past decade with true transformation through flexible working. And when we get through this period of crisis, it will be one of the positive changes that will last.’

Read the full results from the GWPR Annual Index on the website.

Taylor Bennett Foundation

Taylor Bennett Foundation appoints three additional trustees

Taylor Bennett Foundation has expanded its board with the appointment of new trustees Marc Cohen, MD of The PR Office, Syma Cullasy-Aldridge, director of External Affairs at PUBLIC and Jo Ogunleye, tech PR lead at KPMG.

‘We had a large number of high calibre applications, and I am delighted we have been able to appoint three trustees, bringing a great diversity of experience, knowledge and skills to further strengthen our board at this key moment,’ said TBF Chair Sarah Pinch.

‘We have exciting plans for TBF in 2021 and beyond, growing our reach and ensuring the PR and communications industry continues to stand up to inequality, invest in diversity and make real change. We are change makers, and we are ready to work with more partners.’

Of TBF’s aims, Marc Cohen said: ‘The challenge of ensuring that our industry hires and retains an appropriately diverse range of candidates is no longer a nice-to-have or a philanthropic endeavour, but a critical business need. I am very much looking forward to helping with this essential mission’.

Syma Cullasy-Aldridge sees the potential for process: ‘I personally recognise the value that diversity of thought and experience brings to an organisation and whilst some progress is being made, there is much more to do to make the real change we need and I’m looking forward to getting involved and playing my part’.

Jo Ogunleye knows the work of the foundation can make a real difference: ‘TBF has the potential to change the face of one of the most impactful industries in the country and is often life changing for its trainees. To truly move the dial on ethnic diversity and enact lasting change in PR & communications, there has to be a sustainable pipeline of BAME talent and the right support from partner organisations. I know that talent exists’.

The Taylor Bennett Foundation has been supporting young BAME people with starting their careers in public relations for over 12 years.

For more on the aims of the Taylor Bennett Foundation, read our interview with chief executive Melissa Lawrence and watch our accessmatters session here.

PRCA PR Trends event

PRCA PR Trends event – Optimism and opportunity for PR professionals in 2021

The theme of ‘optimism and opportunity’ in PR ran through all of the presentations at the PRCA’s ‘PR Trends 2021’ event on 20 January.

I joined five industry leaders – Stephen Waddington, Vikki Chowney, Adrian Ma, Shayoni Lynn and Rohan Shah – to explore the emerging trends impacting public relations and communications practice in 2021.

We delivered quick-fire presentations on an industry trend that we felt would define this year, and beyond.

At a time where ‘Zoom fatigue’ is high, the number and quality of the questions from attendees highlighted both the desire and energy that exists to shape modern PR practice.

Here’s the video for those who were unable to attend the live event.

In my presentation (which starts at 31:20), I suggested history has taught us that a crisis and shocking global events can provide a reset button and be catalysts for reflection, focus and innovation.

Many comms and marketing professionals have seized the opportunity to think differently and approach their challenges in a different way.

I highlighted that leading comms and PR agencies, specialists and in-house practitioners are using data in a smarter way.

There is a growing ‘data maturity’ in PR.

Comms professionals need to capture, track and analyse media, social media, search data, web analytics and first party data to inform corporate comms, brand messaging, creative, content strategy, campaigns and even which influencers or communities to focus on and work with.

The really smart ones are, of course, using Vuelio and our sister platform Pulsar to capture and blend this data.

Here’s a summary of what was discussed by each panellist.

Vikki Chowney, H&K Strategies

Vikki joined us from New York during Inauguration Day and focused on content trends:

  • We’re still ‘in the weeds’ but there is much optimism
  • The pandemic has meant that we’ve found new ways to be creative and we have found a real “creative resilience”
  • There are cost efficiencies to content today – clients are much more accepting of what can be realistically achieved against the backdrop of COVID and production restrictions
  • The five core themes in content in 2021 are:
    • Remote Directing – teams and individuals from around the world can be successfully brought into the creative and production process using remote technologies.
    • ‘Rough & Ready’ content is okay – content was mostly raw and realistic in 2020 and the world of content didn’t stop turning
    • Creator Inclusivity – events that would have been exclusive, behind closed doors or only seen by a few people can now be accessed by wider and global audiences
    • Humanising the spokesperson – we’re seeing a whole new side to corporate comms and company spokespeople. Virtual events have brought us into the homes of business executives and leaders and we’re seeing a new side of them
    • Influencers finding shared values – influencers are seeking to work with brands and businesses in ways that go beyond product placement. They want to work with those who share their values and are seeking partnerships and campaigns with meaningful societal impact

Stephen Waddington, Wadds Inc

Ever the consummate pro, ‘Wadds’ published his presentation during the event on his PR Top 10 Vuelio blog.

He highlighted the opportunity for value creation for PR agency start-ups and agencies scaling in 2021.

Stephen acknowledged that 2020 was a difficult year for many PR professionals working in sectors that have shut down, including culture, entertainment and travel.

But he also highlighted the 30 new agency start-ups in the UK that have seen the opportunity of building a business in a pandemic.

He recommended agency propositions should focus on the opportunities for value creation by helping organisations navigate these key topics:

  1. Britain’s place in the world
  2. COVID-19 recovery and rebuild
  3. Climate crisis
  4. Societal fractures
  5. Dispersion of education, healthcare, retail and work
  6. Media change: social and mainstream media
  7. Misinformation
  8. Workflow automation and artificial intelligence

Shayoni Lynn, Lynn PR

Shayoni focused on the trend towards increased application of data-driven behavioural science in communications campaigns.

As one of the ‘new breed’ of PR agencies carving a niche in this area, Shayoni and her team use audience data, behaviours and testing to inform their activity for their clients.

  • Behavioural insights help us understand conscious and the unconscious motivations that drive decision making
  • The application of behavioural science in communications campaigns can help improve vaccination take-up, convince people to adopt protective behaviours, engage with mental health services, etc.
  • We can’t afford to ‘stumble blindly’ anymore and we need to adopt a data-driven approach to communications planning
  • We need to understand audiences more deeply, including why they behave the way they do, why they make certain choices that they do, and what will drive them to take action.
  • Deeper insights into attitudes, habits and preferences can ensure our communications remain relevant, meaningful and effective
  • Nudge theory strengthens content, increases the visibility of calls to action and encourages users to take action
  • Cognitive bias are unconscious motivations that affect things like brand proposition, brand recall, consumer action, retention and loyalty
  • Consider yourself a ‘choice architect’ and design the optimum choice environment using human factors to help your audiences make better decisions quicker
  • Data has to monitor audience behaviour in real time
  • Behaviour changes are about context and what works once may not work again in a different context
  • Test in a randomised way, extract your data insights, learn from your test insights, and continually adapt your programme to ensure that you’re responding to your audience’s responses

Adrian Ma, Fanclub PR

Adrian talked about the role of PR in creating data and delivered the best joke of the day: There were two types of forecasters, the ones that don’t know anything. And the ones that don’t know, we don’t know anything.’

  • Successful companies are deploying the use of big data and automation really well
  • Marketing has a larger technology ecosystem than PR
  • PR is one of the most powerful and impactful and cost-effective methods for generating brand awareness and managing reputation, but it hasn’t moved as fast as other marketing disciplines
  • BUT, more comms people are using the same data-driven language as marketers
  • 61% of all PR and comms departments are responsible for both digital and social content
  • PR provides a ‘smell test’ that marketers can use – ‘if we come up with an idea, and we can pitch it to a journalist and editor and a publisher, that is a proof point’
  • When PR is combined with content marketing it can drive much more value
  • PR should be tracking leads and mapping against customer journeys where we can
  • If we can do that, we create more trust in PR as an effective tool and can demonstrate ROI to ‘upper left brain’ results-focused marketers

Michelle Goodall, Access Intelligence

I highlighted that the leading comms and PR agencies, specialists and in-house practitioners are starting to use blended data in a much smarter way.

Drawing and acting upon evolving audience insights from blended data sources should be a big focus for comms professionals in 2021.

  • Crisis can provide a reset button
  • It’s an opportunity to think differently and approach our challenges in a different way
  • Many PR and marketing professionals are doing exactly that and looking at innovative ways to evolve and improve
  • It’s right to be optimistic about things – it’s a time of change in the industry
  • Many PR professionals have adapted to marketing and the converged space around paid, owned, earned and shared content and campaigns
  • There’s an evolving understanding of the breadth of data that’s available to PR practitioners to help shape messaging, creative campaigns and content.
  • Leading brands, organisations and agencies and specialists increasingly have ‘data maturity’
  • At a basic level, data enables us to develop insights and to measure the impact of our work
  • But there is an increasing sophistication in the way that agencies and brands and organisations capture, track and analyse that data to inform corporate communication strategies, brand messaging, creative content, strategy, campaigns, and even which influencers all communities and communities of interest to focus on to drill into
  • We’re moving from simple brand, competitor and messaging monitoring towards something much more sophisticated
  • For example, different groups of people talk about the same topics, brands and issues differently in social media
  • The shape of conversations around topics like Brexit, COVID, shopping, fashion and the way I talk about them and discuss them in my groups will be different to other audience groups or ‘communities’
  • Communities discussing the same topics can be segmented by demographic data, socio economic data, media, influencer and brand affinity, their interests, their habits, their mindsets, etc.
  • Identifying how multiple audience segments or communities discuss specific topics, brands and issues differently in social media, and how that evolves, can inform the shape of your campaigns and messaging over time
  • Technology enables this and we offer solutions to do this

Rohan Shah, Reuben Sinclair

And finally, Rohan provided an optimistic overview of the state of Comms and PR recruitment:

  • In April 2020, PR recruitment activity dropped by 80% with an uptick in September
  • Today, we’re back to pre-COVID levels and it looks promising – Tech, Finance, Healthcare are buoyant markets
  • Competition is fierce for talent – ‘be open to seeing good quality candidates when you can’ and tap into your network
  • No real evidence of change in salaries
  • Not having to travel to the office doesn’t mean a reduction in salary for job seekers – candidates should hold on to their true value
  • There is still demand for ‘publicists’, but agencies have been diversifying their services
  • Future proof your skills
  • There is demand for social media content marketing, research and insights and paid social media
  • Comms professionals need to understand data and connect it with impact
  • The industry is focusing on attracting people with these skill sets at entry level.
  • Get ahead on your remote training and development programmes now
  • Protect and enhance your employer brand – ensure the recruitment and retention experience is no different to how you treat your clients.
  • Make your recruitment processes robust and fair as possible. It’s an indicator to people of the type of company they want to work for

The optimism from the panellists was also shared by attendees on Twitter after the event.

It feels like 2021 could well be the start of a new and exciting era in the communications industry.

If you’d like to find out how tools can help you capture, track, analyse and provide insight for your communications campaigns, please book a demo.

Shop Safe Shop Local Herts Chemist

Anatomy of a Campaign: Big Wave PR on Shop Safe, Shop Local

The need to swiftly switch-up and rethink campaigns has been an ongoing challenge for PR and comms agencies since the UK’s first lockdown, but helping local councils to safely re-open the high street during the pandemic? For Big Wave PR, who were tasked by East Herts and North Herts District Council to do just that back in November, it’s been ‘the most challenging campaign we have ever worked on; whatever plans we create we have to change constantly.’

The Big Wave PR team take us through the Shop Safe, Shop Local campaign, the impact of Lockdowns 1 through 3 on their work and the importance of continuing to support the local high street.

Give us a brief overview of the Shop Safe, Shop Local campaign…
East Herts and North Herts District Council, like many other councils across the country, were awarded significant funds by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) to Re-open the High Streets Safely. The funds were awarded due to the ongoing pandemic with an aim to keep the public safe while re-opening shops, bars and restaurants.

We’ve been working with the two councils since November on an overarching campaign to encourage residents to shop safe and shop local through the pandemic.

Shop Safe Shop Local supermarket

What was the original brief?
‘To supply communications and public information activity to ensure that reopening of local economies can be managed successfully and safely’.

In a nutshell, the brief required a hardworking PR, social media and advertising campaign to ensure all business owners re-opened safely, while all members of the public were reminded of the latest public health advice.

What piqued your interest in it?
We’re specialists in the public sector and have worked with a wide range of local councils, such as Chelmsford City Council and Essex County Council. East Herts and North Herts District Councils are just a stone’s throw from our offices, so we knew we’d be able to provide specialist advice as well as hands-on support when required.

The pandemic has hit all business hard and we were keen to work on a large campaign that would really benefit our High Streets and support business, from small independents to larger chain stores.

Shop Safe Shop Local New Year Pledge

How did you win the pitch?
The pitch process was competitive and in-depth. We had to put together detailed proposals to show how we would engage with each member of the public, from students through to the retired, who may have been shielding for many months. We outlined a campaign with a multi-channel approach, including bought media opportunities with a local outreach across newspapers, broadcast and online. We also needed to develop a creative identity for the campaign and, in partnership with our associate design agency Phelan Barker, were able to put together a collection of proposed visuals, which really helped bring the campaign to life.

We made the shortlist of preferred agencies and finally went through for pitch presentations, which were all conducted via Zoom. We were very excited to learn we had become the chosen agency.

Which team members worked on this and which skills did they each bring?
Our MD Hilary Collins is our PR and campaign strategist, and she used her skills to breakdown community groups to create channels of communication that would directly fit each group. The team got together for collective inspiration to provide creative difference. Our creative director Carl Allen was keen to show a welcoming side to the High Street, albeit with retailers in masks, which became a common theme throughout our communications. The design team, headed by James Phelan, were amazing at creating a bespoke design solution, which joined the two councils together under a shared theme and clearly and very succinctly got over our Shop Safe, Shop Local message.

What were the main challenges you faced during the campaign?
This has been the most challenging campaign we have ever worked on; whatever plans we create we have to change constantly. The pandemic, and the Government’s reaction to keep COVID-19 in check, means we’re adapting and refining our messaging and scheduling on a weekly or even daily basis. On our first day of the contract, the UK was placed into the second lockdown.

Again, we were ready to launch a New Year pledge campaign and again, we were placed in another lockdown, so we had to reflect and quickly adapt to ensure our messaging was in-step with Government guidance.

What channels and stakeholders/influencers did you use to activate the campaign?
The campaign region covers nine towns, so it was vital we gained the support of each town council and BID (Business Improvement District). We undertook in-depth pre-campaign engagement to really understand and get to know each town’s needs. We also worked alongside Hertfordshire County Council to understand what messaging was already out there on the High Street and to also reflect on its COVID-19 safety campaign public information designs. This engagement activity really helped shape the campaign, and ensured we developed marketing communications that looked ‘in-keeping’ and targeted the local issues.

Sarah Temple from North Herts shopping local

What results, KPIs or coverage are you particularly proud of?
There’s several aspects of this campaign we’re proud of. First-up, we’re strong believers in ‘a picture tells a thousand words’. At the beginning of the campaign we commissioned our photographer to take stunning pictures of retailers going about their business, all masked-up, but all showing the passion they have for their business. We wanted to create a standout message, fresh communications that would turn heads and make a difference. The British spirit is alive and well on our High Streets and we wanted to demonstrate that, which our pictures show. These images have become the focal point for our content across social, online and advertising channels.

We’re also really impressed with the KPIs we’ve achieved for our New Year Pledge campaign. We had planned a big New Year launch to encourage all to buy local, but once we heard the country was going into lockdown, we transformed all communications into a ‘buy local and buy online’ campaign. Although we’re encouraging residents to support their High Street, it is always safety first.

For the revised launch we employed a range of digital outlets to get the message across and to target those in the community who were more adept at online shopping. We arranged media interviews with Councillors on radio, placed online news stories, bought homepage ‘takeovers’ on key media outlets, issued template social content to all town councils and BIDS to share on their own social channels and created online ads to push online traffic through to online shopping pages. The stats have proved very impressive.

What lessons from this will you take forward into future projects?
We’ve always thought of ourselves as flexible and can change our plans to meet the every-changing needs of our clients. But, this project has really taught us to be ultra-adaptable!

Do you have a campaign you would like to share? Take part in our Anatomy of a Campaign series – get in touch to find out more.

Building on the lessons of 2020 for 2021’s opportunities in PR and communications

Building on the lessons of 2020 for 2021’s opportunities in PR and communications

‘Only by becoming solutions-led do I believe we earn the right to be heard.’

This is a guest post from CIPR’s Artificial Intelligence in PR Chair Kerry Sheehan on the changes PR professionals and communicators had to make in 2020 and how to utilise the lessons of last year for a successful 2021 in public relations and communications.

Many communicators were thrown to the forefront in 2020, re-modelling communication, marketing operations from the planned to the unplanned, and supporting business and organisations to do the same, many across services that serve millions of people in the UK and overseas, most with just hours and days to focus on the task at hand.

Throughout the year, audiences changed, consumers changed, and behaviour did at pace, meaning communicators had to be responsive to shifts and interdependencies to still ensure maximum impact.

However, during times of real darkness, facing relaying thousands of deaths, restrictions on lives, business and economic impacts to the nation on a daily and enduring basis, innovation was incorporated into communication. We weren’t shy at trying new things, particularly in data, artificial intelligence and digital, to work smarter, faster and to also aid behaviour change impact and improved outcomes.

Public sectors communicators were brave, confident, bold and creative, embracing contradiction and change throughout 2020 and this will continue to be the new norm, at accelerated pace. The challenge of 2021 will be to support organisations, businesses and brands build a better future. This is in our gift as solutions-led leaders but also inter-connected leaders. The leaders will be those who don’t just communicate but support organisations to weather the storms ahead by being solutions-led.

PR must be a sophisticated, solutions-led partner. We must capitalise on this for the benefit of our businesses, organisations and, importantly, society. Only by becoming solutions-led do I believe we earn the right to be heard.

Pre-COVID-19, we’ve already seen the emergence of increasingly educated and cynical audiences. Therefore, there will be the requirement for a deeper and ongoing level of engagement. Stakeholder expectations will be more challenging than ever before, it will continue to be merciless. But we must cut through the noise for impact, creating more allies and advocates from key stakeholders.

Seeking advantage, which requires boldness in the face of competition, be it for audience attention or the opposition, will be an ongoing challenge.

Business will need to influence and engage political decisions makers on every level, far more than ever before. Throughout 2020, we saw individuals and groups not usually associated with politics get involved, taking up issues like never before, getting involved in groups that meet or through social media activity. The nature of influence on political and business leaders has changed. Top-down models are no more.

Real data and analytical skills will continue to be a challenge for many. We need PR innovators, well versed in new and emerging technologies including real data, automation and artificial intelligence, driving organisations and businesses forwards.

We need to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Reputations that differentiate, that stand for something and build relevance and preference will be the ones who lead. A mind-set of ‘what if’ and ‘what next’ is not just for next risk but for the next innovation opportunity.

A focus area must be to listen, analyse, plan, act – shifting to being anticipatory. Business models will continue to adapt and innovate; this is the new normal.

Data and AI
The big opportunity is data, new technologies, digital innovation, automation and AI. I’ve upskilled to build algorithms, machine learning processes, be equipped to confidently advise and guide on business opportunities in these areas but also the business and people considerations, and become au fait with real data and the challenges it brings us in terms of bias and ethics. This is a huge area of opportunity for us. Ethics will be a growing USP for us. It’s a complex and difficult area. But many still haven’t upskilled into these areas iI. They should to remain relevant or risk getting left behind by those who have upskilled and the new entrants, many of whom are now coming prepared.

Innovation will come first. Test, make, sometimes break, learn, but innovate continually. If you cannot show you are continually looking to try new things, incorporating true innovation, I don’t think practitioners are showing up.

Organisations, businesses and brands will require nimble, fast and creative ideas in a world of flux, responding in hours not days. Nothing beats co-creation, strongly anchored in expertise of public relations, marketing, data, analytics, creativity, business and commercial which will win the day.

This is our opportunity to lead, new reputation risks will come as society focusses on razor-like ethics and behaviour of organisations, as people behaviours continue to change at accelerated pace.

Risk management
Crisis management is no longer just good enough. Communicators have to be able to manage risk and provide risk advice and guidance, reducing organisational risk exposure.

We need the right kind of leadership. There seems to be gaps in transformational, collaborative leadership from people who are brave, bold and innovative, and who are not afraid to take on who are people smarter than themselves to ensure impactful delivery.

We must support to tackle poverty, inequality and diversity and, importantly, inclusion as well as aiding carbon reductions and making sure organisations are climate-friendly. Public scrutiny in these areas will cause ill-equipped organisations not leading with purpose to fail.

Fighting fake news
We must show up to defend the truth. Disinformation and fake news pose one of the biggest challenges to the truth and social cohesion we have seen in decades. We are fighting an infodemic war, despite the many algorithms taking down insurmountable amounts every week.

The big challenge of 2021 is for communicators to become guardians of the truth, putting ethics at the forefront. That is through continuing to build and maintain trust with our stakeholders, as part of our licence to operate, and providing more direct evidence-led communication. It also means issuing full clarifications and rebuttals, as appropriate, through being switched on communicators conducting effective horizon scanning.

We are also faced with the weaponisation of artificial intelligence, deploying and aiding fake content, be it audio, video, images, fake news and so on. We must always be switched on to this. It is a threat of our times.

For more on AI in PR, read about Kerry Sheehan’s work at CIPR here. For more trends to be prepared for this year, check out our round-up of predictions from industry thought leaders.

Follow Kerry on Twitter @PRKezza.

Rob Colmer PRCA

PRCA appoints Rob Colmer as PR Council Vice-Chair

The PRCA has welcomed Rob Colmer as Vice-Chairman on its PR and Communications Council for 2021.

Rob brings experience from in-house and consultancy work across the private and public sectors at an SME and a multinational company. He currently leads Shell’s global sustainability communications and reporting and has been with the company since 2002.

Council members involved in the election process were swayed by his manifesto focusing on the support of the public relations industry during recovery as well as continuing work on improving diversity, inclusion and professionalism.

‘I’m honoured to have the opportunity to support the Public Relations profession, particularly at such a challenging point in time,’ said Rob Colmer.

‘With close to 100,000 people working in this sector, the PRCA is committed to addressing the immediate challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic and supporting the continued growth and success of the PR industry.’

PR and Communications Council Chair Julia Herd is looking forward to working with Rob on this year’s challenges: ‘I’m very happy to have Rob on board to help drive positive change in what will be a pivotal year for the PR industry.

‘I have no doubt that his expertise, combined with the expertise of the other council members, will be a huge asset in addressing some of the challenges that have arisen off the back of Covid. I am very much looking forward to what this year will bring and would like to thank Rob in advance for his support and commitment’.

More information on the appointment can be found here on the PRCA website.

From Comms Professional to CEO

CIPR publishes skills guide: From Comms Professional to CEO

CIPR’s guide From Comms Professional to CEO posits that PR professionals have the right skills and experience to become CEOs.

Written and researched by 2020 CIPR Board member and How-Now Communications founder Mike Browne, the report examines what factors hold communications practitioners back from applying for leadership roles and offers advice for making the leap.

Those interviewed for the report include United for All Ages director Stephen Burke, Islington and Shoreditch Housing Association CEO Ruth Davison, Political Studies Association CEO Michelle Doyle Wildman, Ellwood Atfield founder Gavin Ellwood, British Medical Association CEO Tom Grinyer, Kings College Hospital Charity CEO Gail Scott-Spicer and Future First CEO Lorraine Langham.

‘I’ve always thought the skill set of senior communications professionals makes us ideal CEO material but haven’t seen lots of people having made the leap,’ said report writer Mike Browne.

‘I think this is partly about self-confidence and partly because of a lack of visible role models. I hope this report will help tackle both of these issues and support any communications professional thinking about taking the step up to a CEO role to “just do it”. I would like to thank the chief executives who have made the journey and gave me their time, career stories and learning. Their insight along with the thoughts of a leading head-hunter give hints, tips and inspiration for anyone who thinks they have CEO potential.’

CIPR President Mandy Pearse is encouraged by industry practitioners’ willingness to continue to upskill throughout their careers: ‘Whatever stage of your career you are at, and whatever your ambitions, this guide should fill you with confidence that you can go as far as you choose by merit of your experience and skills. In particular, I was pleased to see the importance of committing to CPD as a clear and recognised way to demonstrate one’s professionalism, adaptability and commitment to best practice.’

Find out more about From Comms Professional to CEO at CIPR’s free event on Friday – details can be found here on the CIPR website.

Matt Coyne manversusbaby

Influencer Insight: Matt Coyne, manversusbaby

If the words ‘man vs baby’ conjure up an unfairly-matched cage-fight-type scenario in your head, you need to quickly discover Matt Coyne’s award-winning parenting blog manversusbaby.

20 million people (and counting) have read what was Matt’s very first post, written during a family shopping trip, and the blog continues to attract fans across social media. Winner in the Parenting category at last year’s Online Influence Awards, here Matt shares what got him into blogging originally and how his community has become just like family.

How did it feel to win your category at the Online Influence Awards last year this year?
Amazing. And to be recognised among such a really great bunch of parenting influencers is something else. So yeah, great!

Matt Coyne of manversusbaby with baby

What started your passion for your subject?
I honestly don’t remember. That’s the truth. I was in that alternate universe of early parenthood at the time and one day I just started writing.

My first post was when Charlie was three months old. I remember going to a shopping centre and while Lyns went for a wander around the shops, I wrote about my first few months as a dad. It ended up being over a thousand words long and I wrote the whole thing on my phone!? I suppose I was trying to make some sort of sense of the whole thing. But the response to that first post was insane; it was reshared by people like Ashton Kutcher and has now been seen by over 20 million people. I think I just thought, ‘I’ve hit on something here’ and threw myself into it.

How has the pandemic impacted your work?
As a writer, I tend to spend most of my days sitting at a computer, eating Pringles, in my pants anyway, so my working day hasn’t changed that much, to be honest.

The only real impact has been on events. I would have been promoting my second book throughout 2020, and all the events were cancelled, which is a real shame. But if that’s the worst thing I have to put up with in 2020, I will definitely take that.

What do you love most about being a blogger/influencer?
I have had every terrible job. I’ve been a toilet roll packer, turnstile-operator, cardboard box folder and a sorter of coat-hangers for Burton Menswear. I have been sacked a lot. This is the only job I’ve ever loved. I love writing, I love the weird and wonderful opportunities that come with it. And I love the community that makes up my audience, they just feel like one big family.

How do you like to work with brands and PRs?
I do like a collaborative approach and the freedom to make branded content that isn’t jarring for my audience. There’s nothing more off-putting than an influencer suddenly changing gears to point out how some pile cream, or whatever, has changed their life, because they’ve been given a rigid script and talking points. But brands and PRs aren’t daft – they know that influencers know how to reach their own audience, I think.

I like working with brands that are not overly serious. And in all areas. The best PRs and brands are well aware that parenting isn’t necessarily just about nappies and baby carriers. Parents also enjoy booze, and holidays and a night off at the cinema or a gig. They need tech to make their lives easier, and books and TV to wind down with. In the end, parenting can incorporate pretty much anything and seeing them enjoy these things can make for some really funny and engaging content.

I’m more than happy to be DMed or emailed through the blog and I’m happy to write articles or turn up for events or share anything on my blog, Facebook or Instagram that I think my followers would be interested in.

What plans do you have for 2021?
I’m currently working on my third book, and on a TV script based on the blog. I plan to go to the pub a lot more than in 2020… and, in the longer term, I just hope I keep getting away with arsing about online for a living.

Which other influencers/podcasters do you follow/enjoy?
I really love The Unmumsy Mum, The Ramsays and LadBaby. All very different from one another, trailblazing and unique. And they’ve all just been really good and positive fun in a time that has felt rather crap at times for a lot of parents.

Which other media do you always make time for?
I listen to a lot of podcasts, from the Ramsays’ Shagged, Married, Annoyed to This American Life. I love films of all kinds and I’m also a reality TV nut; I’m A Celebrity, anything like that. I was glued to that last year. I was lucky enough to go do a charity trek in the Himalayas with the lovely Giovanna Fletcher, so was delighted that she took the 2020 crown. And I’m currently really enjoying The Queens Gambit on Netflix and the new Ridley Scott series on Sky.


Best Books for PR Professionals

Best books for PR professionals

If reading more is one of your resolutions for 2021, why not mix business and pleasure by picking up a top tome or two to fire-up your passion for public relations?

Here is a rundown of best books for PR professionals featuring instructional, educational and biographical books you may have always meant to check out, need a refresher on or are just worth a re-read during your down time…

Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger
Understand the science of why certain behaviours, products and services get popular and make your own stuff more successful – that’s the focus of Jonah Berger’s New York Times and Wallstreet Journal chart-topping book, originally published in 2013. Whether you work in B2B, product or policy, introduce yourself to, or brush up on, these techniques for creating the most sharable of sharables.

Hype Yourself: A no-nonsense PR toolkit for small businesses by Lucy Werner
PR for the smaller business requires a specific approach, and Lucy Werner’s 2020 book of straight-forward tips and tools is a must-read for those looking to hype themselves, their products or their clients. For more on the book, check out our interview with Lucy on her inspiration, switching things up during a pandemic, and the advantages of taking charge of your own publicity.

The Business of Persuasion by Harold Burson
Persuasion expert Harold Burson – ‘the 20th century’s most influential PR figure’, according to PR Week – pours experience from his 70-year career in public relations into this 2017 memoir. Learn from his highlights and take in some history lessons while you’re at it (the more things change, the more they stay the same – one of the stories from the book features the problem of confederate flags in Ole Miss from years gone by).

YouTubers: How YouTube shook up TV and created a new generation of stars by Chris Stokel-Walker
If you’re confused/intrigued by the fast rise of bloggers, vloggers and Instagrammers when it comes to influence, Chris Stokel-Walker goes through the emergence of YouTube as a platform and how it created a new form of celebrity/trusted voice/parasocial friend for the general public. For more on the book, read our interview with Chris on what’s next for YouTube and influencer culture.

The Indispensable Community – Why Some Brand Communities Thrive When Others Perish by Richard Millington
In the words of the author himself, here’s a book for ‘if you’ve ever struggled to explain the value of your community, if you’re not sure how to get the best results from your community, or your members aren’t doing what you need’. Published in 2018, Richard Millington shares how to build communities for true engagement.

PR School: Your Time to Shine: A Masterclass in Publicity for You and Your Business by Natalie Trice
Shining a light on the art of gaining coverage in the mainstream media, Natalie Trice shares 23 years of PR wisdom in her 2019 book, PR School. ‘We all have an ego but if you want PR to work for you, you need to be seen in the media closest to your tribe on an ongoing basis – that’s when the magic happens,’ says Natalie. No need to enrol for refresher lessons on the principles of PR – read more about it in our interview with Natalie here.

If you still haven’t decided on a New Year’s resolution, check out what your PR and comms peers are vowing to do in 2021 in our New Year’s resolutions round-up.

PR and comms people what are your New Year's Resolutions for 2021? Part 2

PR and communications people – what are your New Year’s Resolutions for 2021? Part 2

Read on for more New Year’s Resolutions from PR and communications practitioners that might make your 2021 a little easier, too (featuring less phone time, more book time and new habits)… 

For Part One, click here

HonestDigitalComms’ Lucy Yates will take time to celebrate successes
‘My main one is to celebrate my wins, even the small successes. Life is tough and can be pretty thankless, so it’s important to mark the good moments. As a busy freelancer, it’s all too easy to just move on to the next thing, but taking time to reflect on successes or treat yourself for doing well is a great way of commemorating quality work or reaching milestones.’

Xpand Marketing’s Jag Panesar will be holding a book
‘I’m committed to reading more! I’ve got into the habit of listening to audio books, but a recent challenge saw me purchase an actual book and it reminded me of how great it feels to hold a hard copy of a new book in your hand. I’ve collected a lot of books over the years which are all waiting to be read, so challenge accepted.’

White Rose PR’s Louise Pinchin is restructuring her day (and her bad habits)
‘This year I’ve been inspired to replace my bad habits and commit to starting each day doing at least one thing that contributes to new business before I get on with the day job; finishing each day with a business and personal ‘to do list’ for the following day so things aren’t spinning around my head all evening/night; replacing the need to start work at 6am with half an hour of yoga before I switch on my laptop thus getting into a better morning routine; after 2pm I’m replacing half the caffeinated cups of tea I have every day with herbal tea. Fingers crossed these are realistic commitments I can stick to!’

Institute of Development Studies’ Natalie Orringe wants to inspire change
‘The big learning of 2020 was how quickly and how consistently life would change, above all in global news, politics and science. Doing well when things are so volatile requires resilience and, above all, investing in the team to make sure people have the time to reflect and adapt. In our world at IDS, 2021 will bring renewed focus on how we translate complex research into evidence-based stories that capture people’s imagination and inspire change. It can be done!’

Little Seed Group’s Ellen Cole will make PR more accessible
‘I will be launching several new e-learning modules to support sole-traders, small charities and micro-businesses to become more confident in overseeing their own online and offline communication channels. These courses will include Mailchimp Marketing, How to Write a Media Release and several social media courses. My aim is to release a new course each month so that I can help others to thrive post-pandemic.’

Big Wave PR’s Hilary Collins is going local
‘One of the biggest industries to feel the pinch in 2020 was the High Street. from January 2021 onwards we are actively seeking out local businesses we can support. While there’s restrictions in pubs and restaurants, it’s a great excuse to order a takeaway!’

The Digital Voice’s Julia Smith will be recharging
‘Always take a moment. We are living in a period of intense transition and change. This doesn’t look set to stop any time soon. Take a moment to recharge, even if you can’t take a whole day out. I encourage the team to take time off and to recharge – whether just for a day, or even an hour. This time matters, and it means we come back together recharged, motivated, and ready to give our best selves. We may have just had a holiday, but we still need a moment for ourselves – every day.’

Sophie Attwood Communications’ Rachel Tompkins is going to worry less
‘On a personal level, I’m going to try to worry less about the things that aren’t in my control. We’ve were trying to move house in 2020 and it’s a long, slow and very frustrating process!’

KC Communications’ Katrina Cliffe is spending less time on her phone
‘My new year’s resolution is to keep any work-related apps off my phone so that when I finish up for the day, I’m not tempted to sneak a peek. Last year, I took the decision to remove my work email, work chat apps and any other apps that were work-related. This knocked off about two hours per day where I was using my phone more than I needed to be.

‘While having the ability to work remotely is great and brings about a number of benefits, I do believe that working remotely has made myself and my colleagues too available which leads to burn out and impacts creative ideas and in turn results. We need to afford ourselves some time.’

Ballou’s Cordy Griffiths is setting up clear boundaries
‘Working from home has blurred the work-life boundaries a little. I am constantly on my phone during the day and in 2021 I am going to be more strict with myself about it, carving out online time and separating that out from real life time. Maintaining work inside a boundary is an ongoing process that requires a bit of reflection, noticing new habits and checking unhelpful behaviours.’

If you’re ready to take on 2021’s challenges, here are 8 tips for getting motivated for work and some predictions for which trends to expect in PR and communications this year from 13 industry thought leaders.

PR and comms people what are your New Year's Resolutions for 2021? Part 1

PR and communications people – what are your New Year’s Resolutions for 2021? Part 1

Losing weight, going to bed earlier, keeping active – traditional New Year’s Resolutions aren’t going to cut it for PR and communications in January 2021 as we get stuck into more working from home, uncertainty in the market and, well, uncertainty everywhere.

If you haven’t made your own resolutions yet, or are curious how fellow PR and communications people are getting ready for the challenges of a new year, here are a selection of vows for 2021 to consider taking up yourself.

For more New Year’s Resolutions in PR and comms, check out Part Two here.

Carnsight Communications’ Georgia Christley will be kinder to herself
‘To do more exercise at my desk and ensure I take regular screen breaks. It’s easy to get sucked into emails and forget to take yourself away! To push myself out of my comfort zone more. To establish a better sleep routine, I find being a mother of two young children I squeeze as much me time in the evening as possible but forget to recharge my batteries sometimes! To take part in a charity event to raise money for Sightsavers/Age UK/British Heart foundations in honour of my father who passed away in Nov 2019 and I miss so much every day. Being kinder to myself and taking a family holiday somewhere HOT (when possible).’

…and Carnsight Communications’ Leigh-Ann Hewer is taking up healthy habits
‘To incorporate healthy habits into my working day such as walks at lunchtime and more nutritious meal choices. Cut down on caffeine and get better at making the swap to decaf – it pains me to say!’

Life Size’s Lee Lodge will be shaking off the cobwebs
‘I want to put more emphasis on respecting the boundaries between work and the personal lives of myself and my colleagues. I’m a bit of a slow starter, so like to begin at least a couple of mornings during the week with a run to shake off any cobwebs. I’m going to block out these mornings in my calendar as ‘focus time’, and concentrate on a particular task once I’m back from my run. My colleagues will know not to schedule any meetings with me during this time.’

…And Life Size’s Manon Thomas is improving homeworking
‘Workwise, my priority will be improving homeworking while it lasts. While most of us are still working from home, I want to find new opportunities and ways to engage more socially with the people I interact with daily, whether they’re my colleagues, clients or journalists. It’s harder when you can’t meet face-to-face, but these discussions are one of the aspects I enjoy the most in my job.’

Zapp Communications‘ Louise Burke is out on her bike
‘I honestly find I get the best ideas when I’m out exercising. It’s a great way to plan with a clear head and obviously it doesn’t have to be a bike it could be a walk, run or swim etc. So if you can take an hour and use it for planning. I guarantee you won’t regret it!’

Teamspirit’s Adam Smith will keep up a culture of creativity
‘When we work remotely, we can still maintain creativity. We want to find new ways to stay interesting, evolve and adapt our working behaviours in a hybrid workplace – whether it’s having a walking brainstorm, or holding virtual workshops with breakout rooms to keep our training programme going.’

TDC PR’s Tim Duncan is focusing on kindness
‘The challenges and anxieties that 2020 brought has made me realise, even more, how important kindness is in leadership, especially in stressful, fast-paced industries where this simple human trait is often ignored or sneered at as a weakness. I argue that it’s kindness that keeps team morale up when things are down. It’s the glue that keeps teams together, motivated and aligned to make a business viable. For me, it’s a strategy that works. PR should not lose sight of its humanity and its duty of care of its practitioners.’

Visibility coach Natalie Trice will be putting herself front of the queue
‘Saying no to things that I do not want to do is something I started to do in 2020 – when we take something on that we don’t really want to do, it takes up so much headspace and stops us from doing what we really want to do, and can also lead to feelings of resentment and anxiety.

‘In January, I will be finishing on Friday at 3pm, put my out of office on and heading to the beach with my dogs. Finding a balance in 2021 is a real priority for me and while I love working with clients and seeing them shine, I know that to keep my energy high, I need to put myself at the front of the queue from time to time.’

Red Lorry Yellow Lorry’s Hannah Patel won’t be overcommitting
‘In 2021, my resolution will be to maximise time with friends and family, but not to overcommit.

‘Life pre-pandemic was crazy. And I only realised it when everything ground to a halt in March. I seemed to manage to pack a ridiculous amount in and constantly burn the candle at both ends (as my mum would say!). So, although I miss seeing colleagues in real life, going to the pub with friends, having dinners with family etc (and feel very lucky to be able to do those things), I’ve realised that slowing down is OK. And that sometimes, you can enjoy things more the less you’re able to do them.’

Down At The Social’s Emily Alice Valentina Sutton is expecting the unexpected (in Russian)
‘My New Year’s Resolution is to go with the flow, that you can adapt campaigns and stories easily, that nothing has to be set in stone, but you can use any situation to create something tangible and relatable.

‘My own personal resolutions outside of my work life are to finally do the things I’ve always said I wanted to do but as the year goes on, I forget about them as I get tied down with other priorities. So, I will learn to surf and ski, finally get to see New York and improve my Russian!’

Skout PR’s Rob Skinner is focusing on the day
‘It may sound obvious but the importance of making time and space to focus on the task in front of you shouldn’t be underestimated. When you’re running an agency it’s very easy to always be thinking ‘what’s next?’ and ‘where are we going?’ These things are important, of course, but if 2020 taught me anything it’s that what you do today is as important as where you are headed in the future.’

…and Skout PR’s Claire Lamb will be ready for planning taxis home
‘2020 has taught us to allow staff to work how they want where possible. That said, we’re looking forward to getting back in the office when we can and to celebrate the end of COVID-19. By my reckoning we’ve missed at least two big company events and nights out, and although we did hold them virtually, it would be nice to do in real life – even if it does mean sorting the taxi home!’

Aura Ads’ Bella Adams is getting some fresh air
‘My resolution for 2021 is to leave my desk and take a walk outside in the fresh air during my break. I’ve found that taking even ten-or-so minutes away from my screen and grabbing some fresh air is super helpful. It clears my head (which is often thinking of about 100 different things at once) and I often return to my desk feeling happy, focused and in-the-zone.’

Foundation Agency’s Emma Hull is wearing her glasses (Emma – please wear your glasses)
‘One of my new year’s resolutions for 2021 is to wear my glasses more while at work (she types, without her glasses on). I’ve been told I need to wear them because my eye strains on the one side, but I also paid a little more for the anti-glare glasses, so I really should be wearing them to protect me from any future damage and to get my use of them. The original reason for not wearing them is because my face doesn’t suit glasses (stupid reason, I know!) but now I’m working at home and nobody can see me, I literally have no excuse. I know a lot of people that should be wearing glasses and they don’t, me included, so hopefully a few people hop on board this resolution!’

Need more motivation for taking on 2021? Here are 8 tips for getting motivated for work and predictions for what to expect in PR and communications this year from 13 industry thought leaders.

Emmanuel Ofosu-Appiah

PRCA welcomes Emmanuel Ofosu-Appiah to its Race and Ethnicity Equity Board

PRCA’s Race and Ethnicity Equity Board (REEB) has appointed Emmanuel Ofosu-Appiah.

Bringing experience from his time in corporate communications, including work with FTI Consulting, Kekst CNC and Mercer, Emmanuel campaigns for equal progress and pay for black men and women in public relations. He is currently a Board Committee Member of the London Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s Black Business Association and Board Governor of South Quay College in East London.

PRCA REEB Chair Barbara Phillips MPRCA said:

‘We are delighted to welcome Emmanuel to the Race and Ethnicity Equity Board. One of our members has taken a leave of absence and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to approach Emmanuel.

‘There is so much to do in 2021 to consolidate REEB’s great start in 2020. We need a strong character who has technical expertise as well as the lived experiences particular to Black and Brown people in PR and communications. REEB’s primary goal is to continue to breakdown the many barriers that exist and stop us from achieving racial equity for all of the different groups within our industry.

‘Black men in PR are like gold dust and REEB is now fortunate to have two with Emmanuel, alongside Cedric Brown MPRCA. Exciting times ahead!’

‘I am thrilled to join the PRCA’s Race & Ethnicity Equity Board’, said Emmanuel. ‘This is an important position and I am committed to ensuring the PR industry adopts a proactive approach to ethnic and racial inclusion. We are at a vital point in the journey for greater racial diversity following many unfortunate events last year.

‘We need more senior ethnic leaders in our industry to attract younger talent. This year is all about action and I look forward to working with Barbara and REEB to make sure we progress.’

More about Emmanuel Ofosu-Appiah’s appointment can be found on the PRCA website.

For more on REEB’s aims, read our interview with its chair Barbara Williams.

Maddie Moate

Influencer Insight: Maddie Moate

‘When we started at the beginning of March 2020, never would we have dreamt of its success and the community we have built,’ says presenter and YouTuber Maddie Moate of the success of her show for families: Let’s Go Live.

Highly Commended in the Disruptor category at the 2020 Online Influence Awards, Maddie has been busy with daily live science shows for parents homeschooling in and out of lockdown. Read on for what kick-started her passion for her subject and how she likes to work with PRs and brands.

How did it feel to be Highly Commended in your category at the Online Influence Awards last year?
My partner (Greg Foot) and I have worked extremely hard to create content for families in need during lockdown and it’s really wonderful to have that recognised by the awards. Our YouTube family science show Let’s Go Live is now on to its 60th episode! Never when we started it at the beginning of March would we have dreamt of its success and the community we have built.

What started your passion for your subject?
The content on my YouTube channel varies from travel videos to live science shows packed with activities, but at the heart of all the content is curiosity and a passion to get out, explore and answer questions about the world. I love variety, new experiences and seek a bit of adventure in my life, so answering questions about the world and traveling to go in search of them ticks all my boxes!

How has the pandemic impacted your work?
Hugely! On the first day of lockdown, we pivoted from making videos based on location to hosting daily live science shows from our spare room. Let’s Go Live was a direct response to the fact parents needed help with homeschooling and we were well-positioned to become not only surrogate science teachers but familiar friendly faces that families and children could rely on.

What do you love most about being a blogger/influencer?
Being on YouTube is just a small part of my job as a whole, but I hugely enjoy that it’s an aspect of my career I have full creative control over.

How do you like to work with brands and PRs?
Carefully and considerately. I have a predominantly young audience so advertising is something I am extremely cautious with. I think this caution pays off though, as when I do collaborate with a brand whose values align with mine, I really enjoy the process of recommending and featuring their work as I’m genuinely excited about them!

The most efficient way is through my agent at Mirador Management. Brief messages via social media accounts appear to be less trustworthy or serious. As for content, I’m open to suggestions but I’m not particularly interested in simply holding up products and talking about them – anything I advertise has to fit into a larger creative idea.

The way I collaborate with brands depends on the brand and its campaign. For example, if the brand is going to appeal to my adult/parent audience I might consider collaboration on Instagram or Facebook over YouTube as that is where my parent audience is most active. I also prefer to work with brands on a long-term basis. I feel this creates room for more creativity and is overall more trusted by my audience.

What plans do you have for 2021?
We’ll have to wait and see how and when the world opens up!

Which other media do you always make time for?
I listen to a lot of podcasts and audiobooks when I’m pottering about or traveling. I hugely recommend Surprisingly Brilliant, a science history podcast, and my guilty pleasure would be listening to A LOT of podcasts about theme parks! I’m pretty nerdy when it comes to themed entertainment!