Everyone has a podcast

Everyone has a podcast these days: 4 ways to be heard

While it feels like everybody has a podcast – you may already have at least three on the go in your spare time – there is no denying it is a valuable format. Podcasting is predicted to be a $4 billion industry by 2024, making it a platform with plenty of potential for brands and businesses with something to say. 

Considering starting a podcast, or want to steer a client in the right direction/away from producing something only their friends and family will listen to? Take advice from the experts. Here are tips from media professionals at brands including The Times, BBC Good Food and Women’s Running shared during this year’s Publisher Podcast Summit.

1) Be genuine

Unlike super-slick radio programming, podcasting should be more direct and friendly with listeners. Build a genuine bond with your community – or a useful parasocial relationship with the consumers you want to engage – with authenticity.

One instant way of doing this is to utilise existing camaraderie on your team, like Women’s Running editor Esther Newman, who found success and extra listeners by teaming up with co-host Holly Taylor for her podcast.

‘Your audiences will quickly become invested in you as people if they enjoy the conversations that you’re having,’ is Esther’s advice.

2) Branch out and do something different

Yes, there are many podcasts out there already. What gets attention in a noisy space is something you already know a lot about from your comms experience – telling a story in a new way.

A podcast is ‘a really powerful storytelling tool’ believes Big Issue’s future generations editor Laura Kelly. For Laura, the format provides a way to ‘reach out to marginalised voices’ and tell stories your audience may not have heard before, or provide a new twist on something they are familiar with. A podcast also allows for a deeper investigation and investment in a story:

‘You need a strong story with twists and turns,’ advises The Times and The Sunday Times podcast producer Will Roe. ‘It needs a decent central figure as well as an idea of the wider theme – what does this story actually mean?’

3) Turn off the business brain for a while

Building a following for a podcast is the same as building a community around any other form of content – too business-focused and you can lose the interest of those who took the time to tune in.

Approach a podcast as ‘a full package thing, rather than just a promotional tool to get your voice out there,’ says Wondery Media producer Theodora Louloudis.

The extra time and effort needed to produce a podcast can be a labour of love – an opportunity to flex muscles you may not otherwise get the opportunity to use during regular comms work.

4) Remember the audience out there

Recording a podcast can be an opportunity to showcase other communications skills and snap up new audiences… or a fast-track to self-indulgence and boredom for those listening in. Producing podcasts in isolation frequently leads to friendship groups thinking their conversations about cinema are of interest to those other than them. Frequently, they are wrong.

To avoid this pitfall, steer clear of giving the microphone to any team members who are overly keen to talk over others (we all know someone like that) and consider adding in plenty of guest speakers and interviews with people in your industry.

Alongside respected thought leaders, showcase those people ‘whose story has not been told, or who has got something really interesting to say that you might not have heard before,’ advises Janine Ratcliffe, deputy editor of olive magazine and BBC Good Food.

There are plenty of interesting voices to showcase out there and topics to cover, all while further building your brand in the background…

For advice on the benefits and pitfalls of parasocial relationships in communications and marketing, check out our overview of how big brands are doing it.

Not sure if podcasting or radio is the direction you want to go in for your brand and clients? Read this guest post from Broadcast Revolution’s Phil Caplin ‘Is radio or podcast better for your campaign?

Stakeholder Management

A guide to the benefits of Stakeholder Management

Every business and brand has stakeholder relationships that need to be tracked and nurtured. A centralised solution can provide teams with a press office, a central space to save and manage your messaging, a bank of key contacts, resources for issue and crisis management and readily available data for reporting back to your internal stakeholders.

This guide covers the principles and importance of stakeholder management and how SRM platforms can provide solutions for your current strategy and future approach, as well as help prevent any future comms disasters.

Press office management

1. Managing your press office

Fielding calls and emails from journalists, the public, your community, your colleagues – press office management should be part of any stakeholder management solution. This function provides a place to log and manage every interaction your brand and business has across the team, skipping over the possibility of information silos or missed connections.

Search previous and current engagements to find every logged conversation happening across your brand and keep the interaction going to deepen both the burgeoning and ongoing relationships key to your business.

Vuelio Enquiries

2. Managing your messaging

Even organisations with clear shared goals and firmly established brand personalities are at risk of incorrect messaging, outdated brand assets or tonally-wrong comms being shared by well-meaning team members without access to the latest documents. A stakeholder management platform provides a space for brand assets ready for sharing with co-workers and colleagues in company-wide internal communications as well as external media contacts and consumer bases.

To add to the press office function of contact and engagement management, a stakeholder management solution provides a convenient shared hub for building your bank of press releases, logos, images, email campaigns, relevant reporting and more. With easy access to these assets, those working on specific campaigns, or managing a crisis that needs a response, can share the relevant materials across the appropriate avenues.

Issues management

3. Shared banks of stakeholders

Gone are the days of relying on outdated and easily-broken Outlook and Excel spreadsheets filled with complicated data and formulas. Vuelio’s Stakeholder Database provides a shared repository for your internal and external stakeholders and groups.

Find contact details you need with simple searches and filtering. For gaps in memory, refresh yourself on the last interaction you had with certain contacts. Whenever you logged your last conversation with a stakeholder, Vuelio’s platform keeps a real-time overview of engagements and a detailed history of the interactions you save on each profile card.

Tracking engagement across your entire organisation can be made even easier with personalised customisations to your dashboard. By setting your dashboard to meet your needs and specific expectations, you can reduce the time spent searching for specific engagements and contacts… with no broken formulas or random reformatting to hold you back.

PR CRM

4. Crisis management

A centralised overview of all engagements and available resources is particularly useful for issue-based management in successful times. It is also vital for the more challenging times that may come for your business.

Where saving time, team effort and avoiding missteps is particularly important is crisis communications. While the hope, of course, is that crisis comms will not be needed any time soon, preparing for any eventuality is a must in the modern PR, public affairs, political and comms space.

To aid you in being ready for any issues that could crop up in the future, Vuelio’s unique module for issue management provides a connected hub for communications, media activities and all assets currently in place for specific projects or, if they happen to arise, problems.

Stakeholder management

5. Reporting back

For when it is time to report back to your internal stakeholders on the success of your external stakeholder engagement comms, management tools like Vuelio have a range of fully-customisable reports to populate with proof of your good work.

In fact, Vuelio Stakeholder Management can be accessed anywhere you can log on, meaning that whether you are meeting with internal stakeholders, regulators, industry bodies, the media, Government agencies or communities important to your sector, you can find the information you need to develop these relationships.

Demonstrate the value of your efforts and the reach of your messaging to your stakeholders now, and get ready for the future of your organisation with the ability to analyse areas for improvement and opportunity in preparation for your next big campaign.

For more on Vuelio’s solutions for public relations, comms, public affairs and politics, check out information on our products including Media Monitoring and the Vuelio Media Database.

3 reasons to get started with Web 3.0

Do robot-dogs dream of the metaverse? 3 reasons to get started with Web 3.0

What technology is disrupting the creative industries and shaping the future of the media right now? If all the excited industry reporting and write-ups devoted to it is to be believed, a major disruptor and area of opportunity is the metaverse, or Web 3.0.

As with the emergence of Web 2.0 before it, the media and the PR sector are busy investing, ignoring or desperately trying to understand Web 3.0 and whether it is actually useful for campaigns and comms. Should you be investing time, resources and brain space to the metaverse?

According to Deloitte’s chief disruptor Ed Greig, backed up by his robot dog Chip, the answer is yes. During the session ‘The tech disrupting the future of media: Metaverse, VR and more…’ for Media Tel’s The Future of Media, Greig shared why proven capabilities with the metaverse are must-haves for communicators.

The metaverse is the attention grabber du jour

After demonstrating Chip the robot dog’s ability to traverse stairs backwards, Greig admitted the robot’s links to the subject of his panel talk with host Omar Oakes were ‘tenuous’ at best but that ‘a robot is a useful tool for getting attention’. Capabilities with the metaverse and Web 3.0 is the same – a way to get attention.

The metaverse is a regularly-covered topic in industry reads like PRWeek, Campaign, The Drum and our own PR Pulse. It is a subject of great skepticism, suspicion and excitement. Your clients or brand mates will likely have heard something about it, or if they have not, it is a shiny new potential to tempt them with. Particularly if they want to engage Gen Z or the even younger Gen Alpha.

Web 3.0 is another way to connect and engage your audience

‘A greater degree of human connection is very powerful’ said Greig – when all the hyperbole about emerging technologies is stripped away, the metaverse is, in essence, another ‘opportunity for people to interact with others and be themselves’. Authentic and immersive interaction – what is more powerful than that for a communicator?

‘The metaverse is another space for people to connect with their passions,’ Greig explained.

For those struggling with the visuals they have seen that may not look too impressive, Web 3.0 can be thought of as a more visual version of the chatrooms of Web 2.0 or the WhatsApp groups you have with your friends and family:

‘It is the internet, you know – just more immersive. If anyone says anything more complicated than that, they’re trying to sell you something. Or they’re bullshitting’.

‘The most useful way of preparing yourself for learning about Web 3.0 is to consider what you wish you would have known about Web 2.0 back in 2004. Just avoid making the same mistakes.’

Other industry greats are already doing it – but it is not too late to get started

Brands that have already successfully invested in and entered the metaverse include Nike – ‘Their approach was good and they are testing and learning – not afraid to kill something if it is not working,’ said Greig – and ITV. No boats have been missed, however – if you watched the recent Meta announcement of legs and feet in its own Web 3.0 platform, you know there is still far to go with its development…

‘We are always in a test and learn phase,’ said Greig when talking about the creative industry’s relationship with technology.

‘For my clients, Web 3.0 is less a solution, but instead a test, a new channel. Is your organisation adaptable for this new channel? If not, you are going to struggle. This is about honing your organisation to be able to experiment.

‘Fall in love with the problem and not the solution. Engaging with and understanding the metaverse is about educating yourself and staying agile; being able to pivot when you need to. This is the really important thing about Web 3.0 – an opportunity to stay agile.’

‘The tools communicators use are always changing, but the human need they address is the same. Think big, start small and test often’.

For a primer on Web 3.0, read our previous post on the subject How to communicate in the metaverse… Also, what is the metaverse?

Want to engage Gen Z? Download our white paper The PR Guide to communicating with Generation Z.

Will the Online Safety Bill keep journalism safe alongside its audiences?

Will the Online Safety Bill keep journalism safe alongside its audience?

News avoidance and mistrust in the media is at a high – perhaps no shock when considering the negative impacts of misinformation and harmful content to audiences across the globe.

Will the Online Safety Bill (OSB) – dividing many journalists and press regulators – ultimately be a force for good in the fight against misinformation and audience disengagement? Or could an increase in regulations for digital content come with blocks to free speech and disempowerment of a public in need of information?

Vuelio teamed up with Prospect magazine for the fringe panel ‘Does the Online Safety Bill support good journalism?’ during this year’s Conservative Party Conference to uncover the bill’s potential impacts and opportunities.

Chaired by Prospect’s Alan Rusbridger, the panel featured insight from speakers Damian Collins MP, Matthew Lesh from the Institute of Economic Affairs and Keele University’s Dr Laura Higson-Bliss.

While the OSB’s remit is chiefly to protect the public from online harms, every panelist acknowledged its complications for the media. In 2022, online content comes to its audiences through a variety of formats – not just news websites and streaming platforms, but their comment sections, affiliated and unaffliated social media accounts and private messaging platforms like WhatsApp.

Knowledge of the legalities involved in sharing stories on social media channels is already a must-have for reporters wanting to avoid missteps that could be ruled as criminal, and the UK publishing industry already has legal regulations in place – where will journalism benefit from the Bill?

Holding social media to account

‘Everyone around the world is trying to grapple with this problem of online harms,’ said Collins – Minister for the Bill and a member of the Facebook Oversight Board.

‘There is a debate on whether Facebook is a platform, or a publisher. The users are creating the content here, but the key area is liability – the curation of the experience. Companies – the platforms – have responsibility for that. These are business decisions companies are making and should be held responsible for.’

‘There is accountability and liability already within the media industry – the editor of a newspaper has personal liability for what is in it, even the adverts. The addition of liability elsewhere would be a significant improvement for journalism’.

Where the current lack of these regulations fails the media, according to the MP, is in the danger of companies removing whatever content they want, when they want – the possibility of free speech being impinged while harmful content could be missed, left online and easily accessed.

‘Tech companies hide behind public statements that are very unclear. Companies make promises, but do those promises reflect what is actually going on?’

Using the example of YouTube’s removal of the TalkRadio show, Collins highlighted the nature of news as timely; arbitrary strikes and takedowns by businesses outside of publishing can remove time-sensitive news until it is no longer of use or interest.

‘For the news industry, the ability for platforms to start striking things down is very damaging,’ said Collins.

Freedom of speech: A unintended casualty of the Online Safety Bill?

Keele University’s Dr Laura Higson-Bliss raised the ambiguity of the bill, particularly around content deemed ‘awful but lawful’.

‘I have issues with a governing body telling adults what is harmful to them. How do we enact change in society if we create separate echo chambers? How can we then challenge those views? It is important that we protect that ability to challenge in the open,’ argued Higson-Bliss.

‘The Government say the goal of this Bill is to make the UK the safest place to be online, but that comes at the cost of visibility and self-expression,’ believes the Institute of Economic Affairs’ Matthew Lesh.

‘By aiming for safety, we are sacrificing our basic ideals of free speech. This will have a number of unintended consequences – I think it is the intention of the Bill to actually encourage removal. When you threaten companies with fines, what you’re doing is lowering the threshold for removals of content. You’re baking-in the removal of legal speech’.

Journalism as a protected class

Whether journalism does require more protection than views expressed by the public on digital platforms was a concern expressed by Higson-Bliss and Lesh during the discussion.

‘The media can create as much harm as social media, yet it will have protections in this Bill,’ said Higson-Bliss. ‘We need to look at it again’.

Lesh added: ‘I think it is fundamentally unfair to have a privileged class on social media, just because they happen to be a publisher of a mainstream British newspaper. The best way to protect journalism here is to rescope the whole bill and protect everyone’s free speech. Journalists are not more entitled to free speech than the rest of us’.

There are more perspectives from journalists and the media in our Insights analysis of why journalists are worried about the Online Safety Bill.

In defence of humanities – the future of PR and comms

Over the past few years, the value of studying humanities has received extensive criticism across the media and in parliament. The argument has remained largely the same: they fail to produce jobs, lack economic benefit and teach skills that will not be needed in the future.  

Throughout the Conservative leadership race, education researchers and academic bodies began publicly reforming against this argument in the press — creating a diverse upsurge in debate across national and regional news.

Since the 1960s, humanities enrolment has dropped from 28% to 8% across the country – though many experts cite this is a fear-driven change due to an ‘age-old myth’ that humanities graduates are unemployable. Since 2020, national news has reported on the growing body of research into whether this claim is fact or fiction, as well as several op-eds from creatives and economic leaders.

Volume and Sentiment overtime

*Volume and sentiment data is a 50% sample of 5,768 total articles mentioning both the Conservative and HE perspective of humanities degrees. Sample is ordered by relevance, reliability, and news ranking.

Conservative crackdown

Research by the Vuelio Insights team shows that while the conversation has remained consistent in educational publications, significant national peaks occurred as noteworthy political events unfolded throughout the year. The first spike in coverage, between 3 and 15 August, was a direct result of relevant commentary made by Rishi Sunak during the Conservative Leadership race. His commitment to ending degrees with low ‘earning potential’ was featured in in 343 national, regional and local news sources throughout this period, with 46% using this term in the headline of the article. Sunak’s statement made several direct references to humanities as the main culprit, leading to a resurgence of the term ‘mickey-mouse degrees’ by 28% of all headlines, which has been trending over the past year and most commonly used by The Telegraph.

Conservative Party Conference

The second major peak of the year occurred only last week, following a higher-ed speech by Andrea Jenkyns, the Under-Secretary of State for Skills, Further and Higher Education. At a fringe event hosted by the EU-sceptic Bruges Group think tank, Jenkyns argued that ‘the current system would rather our young people get a degree in Harry Potter studies than in construction’.

A spokesman for the Russell Group of universities, who attended the event, asked if Jenkyns’s remarks had any basis in fact – to which Jenkyns replied ‘not so far as I am aware’. Another commentator, Pippa Musgrave replied that she ‘could not think of a university where the course is described as “construction”’. Both of these responses were quoted in approximately 102 of the total 438 articles between 3 and 5 October, as well as featured in tweets by HE leaders on social media:

Throughout this period, 78% of national news coverage that mentioned the Conservative perspective on humanities or ‘low value degrees’ was negative towards the government and positive towards higher education perspectives. Furthermore, articles that favoured or agreed with Sunak and Jenkyns’ views were either op-eds or economic publications.

One of many publications criticising Jenkyns’ comments was HuffPost, which called out the minister for ‘confusing everyone’ in the headline of the article, mostly driven by the ‘misinformed’ reference to J.K. Rowling’s novels. It argued the term emerged following a manipulation of facts whereby Durham University offered ‘Harry Potter and the Age of Illusion’ as a single 10-week optional module in its Education Studies BA. This explanation has been repeated in 282 national and regional news sources across general and education news between 3 and 5 October, creating a by-proxy upsurge in prominence for both Durham and Sheffield Hallam University, with the latter’s decision to withdraw English Literature sparking national uproar since June.

The class argument

Such consistent criticism by Conservative MPs has been regularly regarded as ‘hypocritical’ by both national and independent education outlets. Since July, 206 articles have commented on why the success of humanities is being questioned when both current and former members of the Conservative front bench form their own ‘clubhouse of Mickey Mouse degrees’ i.e. Michael Gove (English), Penny Mordaunt (Philosophy), Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak (Politics, Philosophy and Economics). Furthermore, an article by TIME pointed out that current and former CEOs at companies like AvonXeroxDisney and MTV all held English degrees, the founder of Starbucks had a Philosophy degree and the head of American Express had a BA in History.

This viral revelation has led to a handful of independent news outlets arguing that humanities graduates are only subject to unemployment due to the economic restrains of the working class. Similarly, renowned author Phillip Pullman was quoted by 98 national news publications for his ‘outcry’ that literature should not be a ‘luxury for a wealthy minority of spoilt aesthetes’.

Top five: Share of Voice

*SoV data is a 50% sample of 5,768 total articles ordered by relevance, reliability, and news ranking.

Among the top five most-mentioned brands and speakers, graduate employment organisation Prospects and The British Academy (TBA) came out on top with 39% and 36% of the sample studied respectively. Both sets of coverage were proactive in nature and referenced large-scale bodies of humanities graduate research by both institutions.

Former Minister of Universities, Jo Johnson, held a small but strong degree of independent coverage following his dispute with the Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Andrea Jenkyns at the Tory party conference. Johnson called Braverman’s comments ‘disappointing’ when she argued that the UK has too many international students bringing dependent family into the country. He also called Jenkys’ bash on humanities an ‘old cliché’, arguing that this ‘relentless uni-bashing’ is ‘a bit wearisome’, urging ministers to go easy on ‘relentless negativitiy towards a sector which is really one of our great strengths as a country’.

PR and marketing demand

One of the outcomes quoted most used by national media, which was found in both studies, was the high level of ‘transferable skills’ that humanities graduates retain in comparison to STEM graduates.

The British Academy found that of the 16 career types, PR and marketing are the second and third most popular careers that humanities students applied these skills to (with teaching as the first throughout). Of the 42% of coverage quoting Prospects or TBA, 12% referred to HEPI’s research, which also found that empathy was most nurtured by humanities and is highly valuable in successful PR.

Towards the end of 2021, an analysis by Indeed.com found that successful marketing managers ‘typically have at least an undergraduate degree in communications or related fields, such as philosophy or creative writing’.

STEM vs. Humanities

A small sample of tech and business publications mention the famous Google ‘Oxygen’ project, a 15-year study that attempted to discover what skills guaranteed the success of its employees. The study found that, of Google’s top employees, STEM expertise came in last. Rather, communication, empathy, critical thinking and problem solving were the most important definers of success. These are the skills that students often gain by studying a humanities subject and highlight how ‘soft skills’ are of greater value than mastery and expertise in a STEM field.

It is for this reason that in 2021, SourcePR argued that the transition out of education is often ‘less bumpy for those that took subjects with a focus on communication’. PR is dependent on connection and storytelling — which is why, traditionally, subjects like politics, history, English, philosophy and even foreign languages ‘tend to produce graduates better suited for PR’ than those with STEM degrees.

Hasan Bakhshi, director of the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC), was also quoted in 16% of all articles between July and October following his statement that The British Academy has provided ‘important new evidence on why humanities graduates in the UK are already more likely than STEM graduates to change sector and role voluntarily and without wage penalty’.

Insights and crisis management

With the upsurge in demand for crisis management over the past few years, The British Academy also found that graduates are shown to possess bespoke trend analysis skills to better prepare for future challenges. While Jenkyns argued that the needs of the future are in trade and tech, TBA argue that addressing challenges ahead will ‘need not just technological solutions, but the understanding of human behaviour and how to achieve social and cultural change’.

ESG strategy

The past few years have also seen an increased demand for ESG transparency, particularly in the realm of sustainability, company ethics and diversity disclosures. HEPI’s research found that graduates with a social science background often have a stronger awareness of ever-changing societal values than those in other subjects, meaning their knowledge could be distinctively advantageous to employers. Industries which are historically less exposed to this level of public strategy, such as pharma, will need humanities graduates to wholistically and consistently meet this demand.

Areas of improvement

*Data is a 50% sample of 5,768 total articles ordered by relevance, reliability, and news ranking.

While national media criticism towards Conservative MPs’ opinions was high between 14 Jul and 5 Oct, 44% of all articles in the sample studied provided one or more ‘solutions’ to address Government concerns. The most popular, which positively aligned with one of Sunak’s former manifestos, was that secondary pupils would benefit from learning STEM and language as compulsory topics until 18 years of age.

As research has found that arts and humanities graduates rate ‘analysing numerical and statistical information’ as their weakest skill, this recommendation would greatly support the merge of STEM and humanities skills needed in the future.

Dr Gabriel Roberts, an English teacher at a London secondary school, was quoted in 18 national news sources in his statement that argued that this move would also address the ‘long-term shortage of linguistic skills identified by employers, have wider benefits for pupils’ educational attainment and help compensate for the loss of international links likely to result from Brexit’.

Recognise gender gaps

While the lack of women in STEM is considered an ongoing crisis across the world, 43% of all articles in the sample outlines the major lack of male representation in humanities.  Sławomir Trusz’s 2020 study, which was cited by 12% of these publications, revealed that male subjects negatively associated language learning and humanities with being ‘feminine’ or ‘gay’.

While significant advances have been made to encourage more females into STEM subjects, no such strides have been taken to encourage males into the humanities. Prospects is one of many to voice the need to reform this way of thinking, for the sake of both gender equality and career prospects for humanities.

Merging humanities and STEM

The ever-growing demands of the tech industry have long been alluring to young professionals, with many pursuing STEM-focused degrees to safeguard their future career prospects.

However, 21% of coverage mentioned that the future of tech relies on humanities graduates to ‘keep up’ with emerging technologies in AI and quantum computing. As computers make revolutionary steps towards reflecting the human brain, ethical dilemmas are some of many that will require the ‘soft skills’ of the budding philosopher or sociologist.

The future of PR and comms

While some Conservatives have been eager to point out the negative outcomes of non-STEM degrees, national news and education sources have readily pushed back over the past year with new research to argue otherwise. Starting salaries may be low in comparison to a junior doctor, but humanities graduates have been found to progress faster through the first ten years of their career, into roles attracting higher salaries — with specific and significant gains in PR and communications industries.

Despite warnings on the contrary, many companies are opting to cut PR and marcoms budgets to cope with inflation. Therefore, ensuring that employers have access and knowledge of the most talented and prosperous candidates is essential.

The research clearly shows that so long as the Government continues to portray these crucial skills as ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Mickey Mouse’ studies, while citing misinformation towards the employment prospects of such graduates, both the British economy and communications sector will suffer as a result.

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

What PRs need to know about the future of journalism

What PRs need to know about the future of journalism

Journalism is evolving – the PR and comms industry needs to keep up. Check out these five takeaways from the Press Gazette Future of Media Technology Conference to stay ahead of the pace of change in the media industry and thrive in the digital future.

1) Locally-based spokespeople can rebuild trust

‘Quality, regulated, trusted journalism is the future’ – Rachel Corp, CEO of ITN
With news avoidance and mistrust in the media up, journalists must focus on rebuilding connections with their audiences. ITN CEO Rachel Corp in her keynote speech for the Future of Media Technology Conference highlighted the role that regulation will play in this, particularly when it comes to social media – an increasingly popular way of consuming news, especially for Generation Z). With ITN accelerating its digital plans, and Corp mentioning the ‘power of the simple vox pop’ and eyewitness journalism, locally-focused regional reporting with public voices front and centre is where the industry is likely to go. Being ready with case studies and spokespeople is where PR can help.

2) Brand affiliations are here to stay

‘Media brands are loved by people and they want to be part of that with branded products’ – Alex Wood, managing director, Europe at Forbes
People build connections with brands they trust, and this extends to the media brands they choose to engage with. Advertising, paywalls and licensing are well-established ways to grow revenue, but merchandising is where Forbes’ Alex Wood (revenue has grown by 40% at Forbes in the last year due to a consumer revenue focus) and Footballco’s chief executive officer Juan Delgado see potential. Authenticity with brand affiliations and mechandise should be a key concern.

3. Broader subjects will grab more attention

‘Young people are less interested in “narrow news” subjects’ – Nic Newman, lead author of the Reuters Institute Digital News Report
With 46% of the public – especially those Gen Zers – actively avoiding the negativity of the news cycle, the media has to pivot to cover subjects to pull attention and engagement back. According to the Reuters Institute Digital News Report, young people are interested in identity, social justice, mental health, culture and broader lifestyle topics – journalism needs to provide hope, empathy and dignity during the difficult times its audiences are living through. To help with this approach, the comms industry needs to be ready to work with long-form, solutions-focused and constructive journalists – find out more in this interview with Jodie Jackson of the News Literacy Network.

4. Publishers will be switching up data strategy

‘Companies are starting to take ownership of their own data’ – Markus Karlsson, CEO of Affino
With Google confirming the coming end for third-party cookies in Chrome, Affino’s Markus Karlsson believes publishers must prioritise a first party data strategy going forward and truly own their data. What this could mean for the future – one carefully-placed advertisement alongside editorial rather than five competing ones for a better return on investment. Switching up data strategies mean a need for PRs to switch up their media outreach plans, also.

5. AI will free up journalist time

‘Use the robots to do the routine reporting’ – Cecilia Campbell, chief marketing officer at United Robots
Regional reporting has suffered over the last decade, with shrinking teams caused by combined news hubs and the continuing toll of the pandemic on the media workforce. One way that local journalism can be revived is with AI and ‘robot reporting’, according to United Robots Cecilia Campbell. For her, data journalism and content automation means freeing-up journalist time by letting ‘robots’ produce regular content that can be automated, such as traffic and sport updates. What can journalists then do with the extra time? Cover stories of interest to them and their readers – plenty of opportunities for new stories and new engagement with all the audiences out there.

For more on engaging with the younger generation, as well as working with Gen Z journalists, download our white paper The PR guide to communicating with Gen Z.

Give journalists exactly what they need for their news and features by signing up to the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service and take ownership of your own data and track engagement for your future campaigns with Vuelio Media Monitoring.

PRCA survey findings on corporate reputation

PR and communications: Particularly popular with business leaders right now

A new survey from The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) has found recognition among business leaders for the PR and comms industry following its role in supporting businesses through the tumult of the last few years.

Among the ongoing pandemic, the uncertainty of Brexit and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, PR and comms teams helped with business direction and focus as well as comms for external and internal stakeholders. To measure the impact of this, the PRCA surveyed CEOs and CFOs of organisations with over 250 employees in their workforces.

92% of respondents believe their communications teams played either a ‘very important’ or ‘important’ role in helping them through the financial and societal shifts since the beginning of 2020.

PRCA survey on CEO and CFO perception of PR

The survey was carried out by PR group Yolo Communications, starting in June 2020 and built upon by the Value of PR group.

Findings also showed:

– An increase in the strategic importance of the contributions of comms professionals (up 21 points to 89%), indicating the impact that crises and issues can have on recognising the value of having a capable communications function in place.
– That communications were ‘very important’ when it came to strengthening and protecting corporate reputation for 80% of respondents, up from just 39% who gave the same answer in 2020.
– 89% said that communications teams provided strategic advice to members of the senior leadership team, compared with just 68% two years ago.
– 62% said they expected their comms team to play an even more strategically important role over the next two years.

Strategic council from PR

Director General of the PRCA Francis Ingham said:

‘The PRCA represents more than 35,000 professionals worldwide and this study is further evidence of the valuable and important role that those individuals play every single day in directly impacting the business objectives of their organisations. What is more, business leaders’ confidence in their communications teams is expected to increase in the future. We should take a moment to reflect on this achievement and then continue to keep doing what we are doing.’

PRCA Value of PR Lead Adam Honeysett-Watts added:

‘There is no denying that most business leaders understand the value their communications teams bring to their organisations. While we hoped this would be the case, it is great to hear the feedback directly. The lesson here is that those businesses that have communications teams and plans in place are better prepared to weather a crisis and those that don’t are operating at a significant disadvantage.’

Find out more about the PRCA survey here.

For more on communicating during times of uncertainty, download our white paper ‘Communicating the cost-of-living crisis… A guide for charities and the third sector’.

Communicating the cost-of-living crisis for charities and the third sector

6 tips for planning your comms throughout the cost-of-living crisis

The cost-of-living crisis will have impacted the messaging and approach of every comms team, whatever the sector, and is only set to continue in a period of great financial strain for the public and businesses across the UK this winter.

In our new white paper ‘Communicating the cost-of-living crisis… A guide for charities and the third sector’, journalists and comms people working at charities and consumer-facing brands offer their experiences and advice on getting your messaging right for audiences under increasing pressures. Here are six key takeaways to bear in mind when planning your comms over the following months:

1. Give journalists what they need for their story

‘The contacts I prefer working with are the ones who let me know what’s coming up, rather than just add me to a general media list for press releases. Maybe a charity is planning a campaign, report or research study, and it might fit with what I’m working on. If I can’t report it right away, it might help shape a future piece. Advance notice is always good because I don’t usually work on fast turnaround news pieces.’ – Saba Salman, freelance journalist and author.

2. Share specifics – reporting has had to speed up significantly

‘For the TFN website, we won’t need to spend ages pointlessly rewriting an already well-written press release; we want to publish with the minimum of fuss and move on to the next one. ‘Have a strong line, marshal the facts and figures, include quotes and pictures (even a stock picture is helpful). Case studies are always welcome.’ – Graham Martin, editor of Third Force News.

3. Make contacts: the media wants to tell your story

‘Nothing new here – develop contacts. Journalists are over-worked and under resourced and there are not enough of them these days thanks to cuts which have devastated newsrooms. They are waiting to be spoon-fed, so do it. ‘Putting it very simplistically; get your story told effectively and you get the ear of the public and politicians.’ – Graham Martin.

4. Find those who have the power to make change in your sector

‘There are a lot of MPs, so you need to find the two or three who will become your advocates and advisers. Really research their interests and what they can do to help. Make it easy for them with clear messaging and calls to action. Follow and comment on what they do on social media and give them good content to post.’ – Katie Tait, director of PR and public affairs for Maggie’s cancer charity.

5. Ensure the tone of your comms is appropriate for the message and for the times

‘We did a lot of work during our campaign planning to make sure we got our tone-of-voice right. This is something we’re really conscious of – we always strive to make sure the way we’re talking about issues is the way people impacted are talking about them, too.’

We held workshops with our storytellers and ambassadors as well as our front-line staff to find out what people are saying when they come to us for help and also what they really wouldn’t want to hear/read. We took out any jargon or anything that didn’t sound completely natural and then issued a tone-of-voice document across the organisation to make sure everyone was on the same page.’ – Katie Tait.

6. Remember who is at the centre of your campaign

‘Ensure that those your campaign is intended for remain front and centre. Building strong foundations is incredibly key – from there you can diversify the angles you push, move onto national press and then become a part of the conversation on TV and media outlets. ‘Lots of leg-work, a strong message and consistency are the most important ingredients for success.’ – Rosie Macdonald, senior PR strategist at Love Energy Savings.

Download the full white paper ‘Communicating the cost-of-living crisis… A guide for charities and the third sector’ here.

For more on communicating during difficult financial times for the public, watch our webinar with NSPCC, FareShare and Refuge.

JustGiving on the cost-of-living crisis

Communicating the cost-of-living crisis: Mema Nackasha at JustGiving

While people feel the bite of rising energy and food bills across the country, charities and organisations like JustGiving continue their efforts to help those in need.

Head of charity partnerships Mema Nackasha shares how the cost-of-living crisis has impacted the JustGiving team and those they work with and how approaches to fund and awareness-raising have had to change.

How has the cost-of-living crisis in the UK impacted the charities JustGiving works with, as well as your own work?

Over the last few months, as people grapple with the cost-of-living crisis, some household budgets have likely been placed under pressure. However, those able to, have increased their donations. It is heart-warming to see that those in a position to support worthy causes across the JustGiving platform are doing so. Overall, the average donation amount has increased by 10% this year compared to 2021, and 21% compared to 2019.

Monumental events and challenges often shape the way in which people give. While it may feel concerning at times to think about donations trends like those seen during 2008 recession, our knowledge of these previous donation patterns means that as an industry we are better placed to support charities through these turbulent times.

What are the unique challenges UK charities are facing right now?

The pandemic and many lockdowns we faced has meant the way in which people are supporting charities has changed. And now that we’re (hopefully) coming out the other side, there’s been an understandable shift in people wanting to travel and enjoy ‘normal’ life.

Viral challenges like ‘See Ten Do Ten’ and the ‘NHS Active Challenge’ have been replaced with trips abroad, where fundraisers climb mountain peaks or take on marathon bike rides – all in the name of a good cause.

Alongside this, we’ve seen a trend in charity giving becoming more issues based. People are spending less time scrolling social media finding the next 5K challenge and are instead focusing on single moments in time or bigger societal or humanitarian events, for example BowelBabe or the floods in Pakistan.

What have been some of your main successes recently?

Historically, the charity sector has not seen rapid technological innovation when compared to the corporate sector. At JustGiving, we’ve been listening closely to our charity partners and have been agile and adaptable to the changing donor behaviours. We’ve built microsites that put charity logos and messaging front and centre; these microsites have supported both virtual and in-person events and have enabled fundraisers to raise more. Another one we’re proud of is our partnership with SwiftAid that has simplified and improved the way charities collect Gift Aid.

We’re lucky to have an extremely talented team, who are devoted to helping our charities raise huge sums for the amazing causes they serve. This is evident in the speed at which we’ve been able to engage with charities, small and large, to answer support calls when big crises hit. Overnight we’ve set up support functions that share tips, knowledge, and insight with our partners on the best practices for raising funds during these big moments.

What advice would you offer to organisations hoping to be heard by politicians and change-makers on this issue?

As with most businesses in the UK, charities are feeling the impact of the cost-of-living crisis. This is particularly true for charities that serve causes disconnected from the current topic on everyone’s lips – the cost-of-living crisis. Lesser-known organisations that the country relies on for life-saving research or healthcare may struggle with engagement as givers focus on the cost-of-living.

These charities must highlight the need to focus on the long term. After the cost-of-living crisis, we will still need research into cancer cures or hospice care for our children. We need to make sure that changemakers understand that without immediate action these charities will fail. And if they do, the hundreds of thousands they support will be without help.

How would you advise others with approaching the media to gain coverage?

JustGiving pages are full of stirring stories, those who are challenging themselves to achieve the unachievable, from scaling peaks to smashing world records in an effort to raise money for loved ones.

During these tough times for individuals across the country, people are looking for a chance to read or hear specific stories that they can relate to, that make them laugh, that inspire them or warm their hearts. When charities are engaging with the media, these are the stories to tell.

How do you ensure that your approach is sensitive to those struggling/particularly vulnerable during this crisis?

We all need to be sensitive to those who cannot afford to give – many people can’t, and that’s more than okay. There are still people from every corner of the country who are looking to support charities.

If you’re looking to increase the chances of those individuals finding your cause you need to share, share, share. Every social media post, link, etc. will help – sharing your page is just as valuable as donating yourself. We’ve seen some really interesting data around what does and doesn’t work when raising money. For example, users simply sharing their page on social media see a 20% increase in the amount they raise!

Are there particular journalists/sectors of the media you’d like to highlight as doing a good job on reporting on the cost-of-living crisis?

The cost-of-living crisis, the need to help businesses and households is front page news every day, as it should be. This has played a huge role in spurring leaders into action and delivering support.

However, there has been less coverage of the impact on the charity sector. The BBC has covered the cost of rising energy bills on a children’s hospice, ITV has reported on a charity that supports children with disabilities struggling to keep up with the cost-of-living and the sector trades have been covering the issue extensively, but overall we need more coverage to help drive support and much needed donations.

For more on how comms teams are communicating the cost-of-living crisis, read our previous interviews with cancer charity Maggie’s and business utilities marketplace Love Energy Savings.

How to measure the impact of your campaign with social listening

How to measure the impact of your campaign with social listening

Having launched and shared your campaign where your target audiences are most likely to engage, now is the time to pull the data, crunch the numbers and manage your metrics to examine the successes and could-do-betters.

As part of our series on how social listening can add insight to your campaign planning, creation and measurement, here is what it can do for you in the post-campaign phase.

Going beyond traditional metrics

Volumes, impressions and reach scores – you may be used to sending out PowerPoints filled with graphs and pie charts to prove the success of your campaign to your stakeholders and C-suite, but does all this data tell its full story?

Positive and negative sentiment and share of voice are established methods for determining key accomplishments. They are useful for those higher-up in the management hierarchy, those slightly removed from the coal face of the work, as an overview – they cannot be skipped. Without context, however, these traditional metrics can only go so far. What do the engagements achieved really mean?

Offering wider possibilities

In conjunction with those reach scores, impressions, et al, social listening can provide more insight and actionable learning.

Which audience did you actually engage?
At the pre-campaign phrase, you will have decided which audiences would be most interested in and most useful for your client or your brand. All the data you’ve collected will show engagements, but how do you know if your campaign hit the intended audience, or another entirely?

With social listening, it is possible to answer that question with more accuracy, ultimately making for a more meaningful report to share with stakeholders.

Did you reach a wider audience?
With this extra level of detail, you can benchmark against your established audience/previous engagements, unearthing which new communities you have linked with.

Did your campaign have a meaningful impact?
Beyond impressions and positive and negative impact, social listening services like those offered by Pulsar can add in extra detail, such as brand pillars and dimensions of reputation to check your data against.

Additional context against your brand dimensions
As each campaign adds up to a full display of your brand or clients’ story, approach and personality (alongside the services offered, naturally), there is a compelling and useful through-line that can be tracked. Future campaigns can either build on this, or take a detour if needed. Higher-ups in your company hierarchy might look at a campaign’s metrics once, but extra context means extra direction for the future.

Opening routes through crisis

Whether working in-house or agency-side for other brands, a crisis communications plan has to be in place, just in case. Press releases, public apologies or product recalls will not work for every brand in a crisis; different routes have to be uncovered and social listening can point out the right direction.

Are first impressions what they seem?
A crisis for a brand means social media impressions – conversations and coverage potentially spanning the globe and steadily chipping away at reputation. High impressions may automatically signal disaster… but are those online conversations actually connected, spreading and reaching high-profile publications?

Social listening services like Pulsar can pinpoint the key influencers engaging in the crisis around a brand and track their reach – how many audiences they connect to, and how far a story is spreading. The numbers may look frightening, but the story might not be going anywhere – keep that press release to yourself for now…

Has the crisis even hit your audience?
Social listening allows for segmentations of the audiences sharing particular stories – by community, political affiliations, age, nationality, media consumption patterns and much more. Did the story you need to combat and subdue reach your target community? If not, a wide-reaching public apology could do more damage to global brand reputation.

Where do you need to rebuild relationships?
Your client base may not be engaging with the crisis, but it needs to be combatted within the communities it has impacted. Social listening will help with finding those people and determining how to reestablish trust with them. Which media do they engage with, how do they engage with them? Learning more about them will show you the approach to take.

Key takeways

– Metrics will not always give you the full story and can be easily built upon with data from social media.
– Benchmarking is a necessity – no benchmarking can mean data in isolation and only part of the story.
– Measurement criteria placed in context is key for future planning.

Impressions, reach and sentiment are established in our industry for a reason, but will your stakeholders really care without the extra meaning of context? Your campaign told a story to your audience, here is where you tell the story of your campaign to your bosses.

For more on how social listening can add extra insight to your campaigns, check out previous posts in this series: 

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

How social listening can help you plan and boost your PR campaigns 

Reputation in business

Business leaders, listen up: Stuart Thomson on maintaining reputation in business

Whether you are the CEO of an international business, a politician with power or a high-profile celebrity with millions of fans, reputation matters. Here to offer advice on building, maintaining and, where needed, rescuing reputation in business is BDB Pitmans’ Stuart Thomson in his new book Reputation in Business: Lessons for Leaders.

For 30% off, use the code VUELIO30 at checkout here

Read on for which businesses are getting their comms right, how to handle a reputational crisis and what leaders can learn from Lizzo.

Reputation in Business

Can you introduce your new book?

The book, Reputation in Business: Lessons for Leaders, aims to be a practical guide to building and protecting reputations. A lot of leaders recognise the vital intangible asset that reputation represents but too many don’t really understand what reputation is and the steps that should be taken to build it. So, this is my effort, drawing in the valuable experience of others, to deliver that sort of practical guide.

What inspired you to write it?

I’ve always enjoyed reading books about communications partly to keep myself up-to-date on the latest trends and ideas but also because I find the issues really interesting as well! I find it fascinating to learn from the experience of others. There is no doubting the importance of reputation management in so much of what we do in communications but I thought that while many books were great on the theory, they were less good on ‘and here is what you should do’. That was my inspiration!

Having written other books I had a good idea about what would be involved and the time needed so I spent my evenings and weekends writing. Luckily, I have a very understanding family!

Have your experiences with blogging helped with writing a full book?

I think so. It has helped me to develop a style which is not too formal but also allows me to convey information as well. Regular readers of the blog seem to enjoy that and the book is very much is the same style.

Blogging also focuses you. In a blog you don’t have the amount of words available to go off on too many flights of fancy. You need to show the challenge and convey some ideas and advice. The book follows that same sort of style.

What were the main challenges with writing the book?

Covid, covid, covid. On the one hand it meant that there were plenty of examples, good and bad, to help me illustrate the critical role of reputation management. But on the other, working from home all day during lockdown and then sitting at the same kitchen table in the evening to spend time on the book was a bit tough.

Add to that the ramifications for the publishing sector and it could have been that I had written a book that no one would ever get to read. Luckily, I have a fantastic agent in Matthew Smith and a wonderful team at Routledge who have all helped get it ready for publication.

With reputation particularly important now, and gauging tone-of-voice in comms difficult in light of current events, which brands, businesses or high-profile figures do you think are getting it right?

Very few get it right all the time. I admire the ones who get it right most of the time but also those who, when they make a mistake, move quickly and learn from it. All organisations and individuals need to be constantly vigilant as well. Anyone who thinks they can sit back and take a reputation for granted will, sooner or later, come unstuck.

Just look at some of the brands that seem to have made some very strange decisions during the period of mourning for the Queen and around her funeral arrangements.

I mention in the book, the way in which Liverpool Football Club (which I support) made some terrible decisions during Covid but took quick and decisive action to reverse them. Critically, the leadership took personal ownership of the decisions as well.

With crisis management a key part of reputation, could you name some examples of great crisis comms from the last few years?

Many organisations have plans in place to deal with a crisis so it is surprising that many still manage to get their reaction wrong.

But I think the real issue is those who do not plan properly to stop the mistakes from happening in the first place. Just look at someone normally as sure-footed as Beyoncé. She used an ableist slur in one of her songs only shortly after Lizzo had done the same. Lizzo recognised her mistake, apologised and re-recorded the song. For Beyoncé to make the same mistake very shortly afterwards is poor. Lizzo handled her crisis well.

On the corporate side, I think the pharma companies have done a good job in counteracting the misinformation over the Covid vaccine. It has been more of a ‘slow and steady’ type of campaign and they have had to work with a wide range of audiences but the outcomes have benefited us all.

On the subject of business leaders with reputations that perhaps need better management… what advice would you give to a high-profile figure like Elon Musk for rebuilding their reputation in the eyes of the public?

Some leaders love their persona so much that they seem not to believe that they ever make any mistakes. It doesn’t appear that they take advice because they have complete faith in their own abilities. That takes a very special type of personality.

Building a reputation in the first place is about recognizing your weaknesses and then taking action to address them. Only then can you start build relationships with the audiences that really matter. And that doesn’t always mean the general public.

Were there any subjects/topics that you would love to cover in a follow-up/didn’t have room for in this book?

Well, drum roll, I’ve already been planning my next book and Routledge have kindly agreed to publish that one as well. The Company and The Activist: Going Beyond PR will look at how activist and community groups interact with businesses. It is early stages but I’d be happy to talk to those with a view on these issues.

Which tomes have really helped you in your career in public relations/public affairs – are there any books (apart from your own, of course) that you would recommend those earlier on in their careers to read?

In terms of public affairs, I think Lionel Zetter’s books are always worth learning from and he has a great writing style as well. But also check out Conor McGrath, Erik Akse, Milos Labovic and Anders Kopp Jensen. But I would also say that there are a number of good podcasts out there as well so learn from wherever you can.

Then one of my favourites on reputation management is The Reputation Game by David Waller and Rupert Younger. That is one that I keep returning to.

For more from Stuart Thomson, check out his recent guest post on what Prime Minister Liz Truss’s leadership will mean for public affairs.

International Perspectives of the new Prime Minister

In the six weeks running up to the Conservative leadership election, world leaders and international new outlets provided a heightened commentary on the state of UK politics. While optimism towards Liz Truss’s election differs greatly across borders, headlines mentioning the ‘long list of challenges’ ahead of her were widely agreed upon.

Throughout the race, the Vuelio Insights team monitored all local and national coverage across Europe (excl. UK), North America, Australia and New Zealand to explore the overarching international perspective of the British political system.

Following Truss’s victory on 6 September, many political figures around the world rushed to offer their congratulatory messages of hope and solidarity. Terms like ‘strategic partnership’ and ‘friendship’ were shared across Italy, Israel, Romania and the Netherlands, while Lithuania and Ukraine expressed their gratitude for Boris Johnson’s support against Russian aggression — in hopes it will continue with the new PM.

Having been repeatedly referred to as a former ‘anti-monarchist’ in almost 3,000 articles of the studied regions, the passing of Queen Elizabeth II put added pressure on Truss’s election. The majority of coverage — which came from the US, France and Canada — reported on Truss’s support and attendance to the memorial service. However, an article first published by Agence France-Presse that confirmed she would not ‘accompany’ King Charles III’s tour of the nations due to ‘ongoing criticism’ was syndicated 218 times by region European and North American media outlets.

Euroscepticism and demands for respect

While local and regional coverage within each region has reported positive messages from world leaders, international news sources have favoured the growing EU concerns around Brexit and the NI protocol. Thomas Gift, founding director of University College London’s Centre on US Politics, told Newsweek that Truss ‘is more of a Eurosceptic than Rishi Sunak,’ meaning she is less in favour of co-operation with the EU.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and VP Maros Sefcovics both congratulated Truss, while emphasising the ‘great strategic importance’ of a ‘constructive’ and ‘positive’ relationship between London and Brussels. This will depend upon ‘full respect‘ of the NI protocol, Withdrawal Agreement and Trade and Co-operation Agreement. Both members of the EU were quoted in 386 national articles across Europe and North America.

In light of this condition, Jacinda Arden used the election to recognise the UK’s ‘exceptionally strong’ relationship with New Zealand, acknowledging Truss’s ‘staunch support’ of the UK’s tilt to the Indo-Pacific and Free Trade Agreement. This statement reached online and broadcast media across Australia, New Zealand and Canada 382 times over the six-week race.

In North America, approximately 1,682 US news sources picked up on growing tensions between the EU and Liz Truss over this time, with a key focus on how this could affect the Biden administration. While Biden’s hopes to ‘deepen’ the ‘special relationship’ was shared in 31% of this coverage, it was also coupled with Truss’s controversial comment that the UK US relationship is ‘special but not exclusive’, comparing approval of the US to a ‘beauty parade’.

Conservative leadership race: volume and sentiment

Throughout the six weeks of the leadership race (12 Jul – 6 Sept), the Vuelio insights team found that the international sample produced approximately 8,562 total articles in reference to the race between Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss. Coverage started slowly, with the first major updates made on both the 5 and the 11 of August. However, publications began to peak over 1,000 on 24 August – around the time that Sunak said it was ‘wrong’ for scientists to ‘scare people’ into lockdowns throughout the pandemic. Following this initial spike, coverage grew significantly within the final week of the election.

The ‘Reset’ opportunity

While national UK headlines have been predominantly negative over this period, international media has been predominantly neutral or positive. A strong causational factor behind this is the global agreement on how Truss could be the precedent for a great ‘reset’ opportunity among the many pending bilateral conflicts triggered by Boris Johnson.

Among the 1,492 articles discussing this potential, over 90% is in relation to France, Ireland and Brussels, while the remainder comments on humanitarian matters like the Rwanda refugee scheme. Despite Truss’s globally viral comments towards Emmanuel Macron, both he and France’s European and foreign affairs minister, Catherine Colonna, have said that the two countries are most definitely friends. Their hopes that Liz Truss’s appointment will lead to a ‘new start’ in Anglo-French relations was widely distributed across French and Canadian news sources.

Similarly, Taoiseach Micheál Martin shared hopes that Liz Truss offers a chance to ‘reset’ the fractured relationship between Britain and Ireland, which would be triggered by full respect and implementation of the NI protocol. Martin expressed desire that her premiership could herald a ‘change in direction’ for Irish/UK relations after recent years of tension over Brexit and the protocol. Of the 768 articles discussing this opportunity, 74% of news sources were either US or Ireland-based.

Total volume by region

Overall, national US news sources produced the most national coverage on the Conservative leadership race (3,788 articles), while Europe shared the most in one day (1,068 articles) — which was the final day of the election.

While Biden’s uncertainties have been widely reported, overall media response has been either positive or neutral in sentiment across the United States.

Truss’s ability to switch from a ‘Remainer’ to a Brexiteer was mentioned in 48% of all US coverage over the six weeks – by far the most widely syndicated discussion point within the country. While this switch has often been frowned upon across Europe, it has been positively received by US media — key journalists in outlets like the Wall Street Journal and Newsweek seeing it as a ‘testimony’ to her ‘political ambition’ rather than her convictions.

John Bolton, who served as the president’s national security adviser, told WSJ that both her assertion and ambition are some of many reasons that Truss is ‘the prime minister that America needs’.

In Canada, the media response was 32% positive, 48% neutral and 20% negative. Justin Trudeau offered one of the most extensive congratulatory messages to Liz Truss, referring to the UK-Canada relationship as ‘one of the strongest in the world’, a phrase used by 128 national news sources in the week following the election.

Sentiment across EU media

* UK excluded; countries displayed are those that produced over 250 relevant articles between 17 Jul – 6 Sept 2022

While the EU remains ‘wary’ of Truss, a term that reached 462 national headlines across the continent during the election, sentiment across tracked regions has been mostly neutral or positive. Among the positive regions, 52% was positive due to shared words of admiration for their relationship with the UK following extensive Ukrainian support, while the remainder often used Truss’s cooperative contributions as a Foreign Secretary as a positive outlook on her potential as PM.

Among the two countries that were negative in sentiment, Austria had a slightly higher ratio of coverage related to Starmer’s belief that Truss is ‘out of touch’ and ‘not working on the people’s side’. Similarly, Greece produced a fractionally higher proportion of negative coverage due to a spike in local media on 28 August, when Truss refused to answer if France was a ‘friend or foe’.

Thatcher connotations

Much to her displeasure, Truss has been repeatedly referred to as a ‘Thatcherite’ in both UK and international media – though regional media differs greatly on whether this is a good or a bad thing.

For example, the US used this term 1,794 times between 12 Jul – 6 Sept, but predominantly used the term as a compliment to the ‘powerhouse’ opportunities Truss could create for the US and UK. This perspective may be in part due to the ‘special relationship’ that the UK and the US share, a reference famously created by Regan and Thatcher in the 1980s.

This term has been consistently repeated by US media over the decades, with 238 headline mentions during the race. Biden’s use of this phrase in his congratulatory message to Truss suggests desire for a similar allyship in current global affairs.

On the other hand, Canadian news has a higher volume of negative coverage in response to Truss’s ‘Thatcherite’ reference. Many national news sources covered the controversies behind her idolisation of the former PM, calling many of her strategies a ‘short-term’ relief.

Similarly, leading Australian news sources used this term as an avenue to disclose Truss’s journey from ‘anti-monarchist’ to ‘next Margaret Thatcher’, with 38% of all national media featuring the viral YouTube video of Truss in her teens.

National news sources across France, Germany and Belgium also used the ‘Thatcherite’ reference on a more neutral basis, referring to both positive and negative outcomes of Thatcher’s ‘long’ and ‘looming shadow’ in 28% of the collective 218 relevant articles. The term ‘iron lady’ has also been used regarding how Thatcher plans to handle Russo-Ukraine conflicts, with 582 headlines across Europe using this title to reference Truss’ communicated approach.

In a slightly unexpected turn of events, Joe Lycett, UK comedian, also made international headlines for referring to Truss as ‘Thatcher 2.0’. His ongoing satirical commentary of the term made 448 headlines across Northern Ireland, North America, Australia and New Zealand.

Top Topics: International and Regional Media

Energy Crisis

Aside from general election results, the energy crisis consumed 32% of all international headlines and has by far been the most discussed topic on an international scale. European media most often featured quotes in their headlines due to strong ‘warnings’ from EU leaders.

Both Nicola Sturgeon and Sadiq Khan echoed these concerns, with 486 European media outlets quoting the ‘need to act fast’ as winter emerges, as well as the ‘disaster’ that would unfold upon Truss’ election.

Humanitarianism

Overall, the topic of humanitarianism in British politics has produced a stronger ratio of positive headlines due to vast and ongoing Ukraine support. However, negative coverage regarding concerns of women’s rights, climate change and the Rwanda refugee policy has equated to 38% of the total 2,443 international news articles discussing humanitarian matters.

Of these topics, the most popular was the Extinction Rebellion protest that led to climate change activists gluing themselves to the speaker’s chair in parliament on 2 September. This story was most popular in the US, with a total of 882 articles on the event.

Economy

Aside from the cost-of-living crisis, further concerns about Truss’ impact on the future economy has been overwhelmingly sceptical or negative across European and U.S. online media. Headlines on the projected ‘£50bn loss’ ahead of Truss’s plans were shared 411 times over the course of the race, coupled with concerns that the poor will be ‘on the streets’.

As US, German, Irish and French media reported a ‘2.5 year low’ of the sterling following the announcement of the new PM, Deutsche Bank reported risk of a ‘sterling crisis’ rising as Truss becomes UK prime minister. This publicly released analysis was shared by 193 national news sources and financial publications across the commonwealth, US, Italy, France, Austria and Germany.

In relation to this drop in sterling value, another strong topic within international economic coverage has been Truss’s ‘pro-crypto’ reputation. This topic was covered 248 times by national news sources and financial publications, of which 89% were US-based, 9% Canadian and 2% Greek.

Truss’s statement that the UK ‘should welcome cryptocurrencies’ was a headline or body feature in 48% of all related coverage throughout the election period. While Truss has expressed desire for the UK to ‘adopt blockchains and digital property’, Richard Fuller, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, has told international media sources that Truss’s leadership will allow the UK to become a ‘dominant global hub’ for crypto technologies.

Conclusion

As it stands, the international media perspective of both the new PM and British politics is far less pessimistic than that of UK. A change in leadership has birthed waves of hope and optimism by international figures and leading news sources, with commonwealth leaders like Trudeau, Arden and Albanese expressing their long and positive relationships with Great Britain.

In the US, many believe Truss’s ‘black and white’ Thatcher qualities could actually serve as a great resource that will allow us to prevail through challenging global affairs. Furthermore, the UK’s globally renowned quality of support in eastern European regions has replenished levels of respect and allyship that many feared were lost during Boris Johnson’s leadership.

However, it appears that these words of unity and prosperity are very much conditional — the outcome of which will strongly depend upon Truss’ decisions with Brexit and the NI protocol. If she honours ‘full implementation’ as requested by Brussels and Northern Ireland, a harmonious relationship with the EU is within reach.

Eric Mamer, the Commission’s spokesperson in chief, had told reporters that they are ‘always looking for new beginnings’ with the UK and hopes Truss’s election will help to ‘move forward’ to a stronger and more peaceful future.

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

Is radio or podcasting right for your campaign?

Is radio or podcast better for your campaign?  

This is a guest post from Phil Caplin, founder of specialist broadcast agency Broadcast Revolution, which offers talent sourcing, media relations, video and podcast production, media training and more.

Are you considering branching out into the wonderful and varied worlds of podcast and radio PR?

With nine-in-ten of us listening to the radio and podcast listeners increasing monthly, these aural platforms could be the perfect places to gain exposure for your brand. When choosing an audio medium for your marketing, here are the key differences between radio and podcasts to consider:

1) How they are consumed

How a consumer finds and listens to audio plays a vital role in how podcasts and radio shows are written.

People generally listen to the radio as a passive distraction while doing something else, such as driving, working, or doing tasks around the house. Podcasts, on the other hand, are actively sought out. That is not to say that podcast listeners are more active listeners; they will also choose to listen to podcasts while doing other things. However, they are more likely to listen to a show in its entirety and will stop and pick it back up again.

Radio shows are not always actively selected. While there are instances of people having strong loyalty to one station or presenter, people tend to drop in and out of radio shows and switch between stations if they are not interested in the music or topic that it is currently airing.

The live nature of radio shows means that even the most ardent listeners may be unable to tune into every show. By contrast, a fan of a particular podcast is likelier to listen to every episode in a series, as they are not constrained to a particular time to consume it.

There’s also a level of portability with podcasts that radio can lack, with most people downloading and listening to them on their phones. While radio can be listened to anywhere, it requires specific apps and a constant Internet connection, making it one of the least popular methods of listening to the radio.

2) Audience variations

Despite all of the exposure podcasts have had in recent years, radio remains more popular among the general public, with almost twice as many listeners. This may be down to how we consume radio: we don’t need to know what we want to listen to, and we can easily switch between stations. The radio stations know this and try to play various things to appeal to as many listeners as possible.

Podcasts are more niche, with hyper-focused topics, and tend to be discovered through other forms of media, e.g. social platforms or search engine results. When it comes to someone trying to find any old podcast to listen to (rather than a specific one), most are chosen by regularly updated charts or by word-of-mouth. However, it requires the listener to know what sort of thing they want to listen to.

Regarding generational differences in audiences, millennials consume the most audio content of any generation and listen mostly to music streaming and podcasts, while Gen X listeners prefer the radio. It is worth noting that while these are statistically correct, this will vary depending on factors such as topic choice, time of day, and personal preference.

3) Editing and moderation

While there is less formality to a podcast – due in part to the lack of regulations and expectations – there is a playfulness that comes from live radio and its unscripted nature (even when it is, in fact, scripted). Far from being negative, the inability to edit also means that listeners feel more involved with the show. This is helped further by the listeners’ ability to phone in or contribute to the show in real-time, something podcasts generally cannot do.

Podcasts are usually pre-planned and then edited afterwards, creating a slicker end product, but one which sometimes loses the personality that a live show thrives on. The editing primarily involves ‘stitching’ to remove filler words. However, it has become fashionable to include a blooper reel or to keep ‘cute’ mistakes in, in a bid to make the presenter and show more relatable.

Perhaps because of this lack of editing, radio remains the most trusted form of media, even in today’s world of general mistrust. This is significantly helped by the Ofcom regulations, which stations must adhere to to keep their licence. While some people listen to podcasts expressly because they are not regulated (and conversely see them as more trustworthy as mass media do not rule them), the general public still opts to trust radio more. This might also be down to the DIY nature of podcasts, which can make them appear to be a more egalitarian form of entertainment – although as more celebrities and corporations get in on the act, this is quickly changing.

There are also crossovers to consider. Many podcasts start as spin-offs of other media, such as the example of two actresses from the American TV programme The Office hosting a successful podcast discussing the show. This means there is always scope to use a podcast as a vehicle to expand other formats. Then there is the relatively obvious crossover with on-demand radio, when radio shows are available to download after broadcast. While this may not technically be classed as a podcast, they are usually found on the same platforms as downloadable or streamable content.

While podcasts can help you home in on hyper-specific audiences, it is always best to cover all your bases with a mix of podcast and radio PR. Radio will always help you reach a wider audience and people who may not have otherwise known of your brand. Still, podcasts can help you delve deeper into a topic, as they have more extended time allocations to one subject. The best course of action would be implementing a mixture of the two into your marketing campaign.

For finding the right podcast or radio show for your upcoming campaigns, find our more about the Vuelio Media Database.

Sarah Scholefield

PRCA announces Chair for 2022-2024

The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) has confirmed that Grayling’s Global CEO Sarah Scholefield is its 2022-2024 Chair.

Scholefield succeeds Rachel Friend MPRCA in the role, who has led the association through what has been a challenging few years for the international PR and communications industry.

Having been at Grayling for over eight years, Scholefield originally joined in 2014 to lead on strategic direction, coordination, corporate and crisis work for PayPal, later being promoted to CEO of UK and Ireland. She is now Global CEO of Grayling and CEO of the communications group of agencies, Accordience.

‘Sarah is one of the most highly regarded leaders in our industry and has earned the respect of PR and communications practitioners around the world,’ said PRCA Director-General Francis Ingham of Scholefield’s appointment.

‘Her recent promotion to Global CEO makes her the perfect choice for the PRCA as we seek to expand our international footprint.

‘I’d like to thank Rachel for her commitment and leadership during an exceptionally challenging two years. I look forward to working with Sarah as we build on our reputation as the world’s largest and most dynamic PR association.’

Sarah Scholefield said:

‘It is a great honour to take on the role of PRCA Chair, working closely with Francis and the Board to guide the PRCA through the next phase of its journey. I’d like to thank Rachel for her expert Chairing and her commitment to DEI & mental health in the industry: two critical areas to which I am equally committed, as well as a focus on education and promoting our profession throughout schools.

‘I very much look forward to building on her work in helping the PRCA drive meaningful change within the industry.’

Find more on the appointment here on the PRCA website.

Communicating the cost-of-living crisis with Katie Tait at Maggie's

Communicating the cost-of-living crisis: Katie Tait at Maggie’s

As budgets are being carefully considered and replanned in homes across the country, charities across all sectors are quickly redistributing their resources to help. One charity pivoting to keep up with the evolving needs of their community right now is Maggie’s – ‘everyone’s home of cancer care’, which provides free support and information in centres across the UK as well as online.

Maggie’s director of PR and public affairs Katie Tait shares how the cost-of-living crisis has impacted those fighting against cancer across the UK and how the charity has had to adjust to keep up with the increasing strains on the public:

‘People are more afraid of paying bills than their cancer diagnosis,’ shares Katie.

‘When you are given a cancer diagnosis, you should not have to be scared that you won’t be able to pay your bills’.

How has the cost-of-living crisis in the UK impacted Maggie’s work?

Katie Tait at Maggie'sWe are hearing a huge range of devastating stories from our centre visitors across the UK of how the crisis is hitting them hard. People with cancer already face a financial burden because of reduced income from being off work or unable to apply for work, greater heating (or, this summer, cooling) needs because of treatment and being at home during the day as well as dietary requirements. Added to that – the travel costs of getting to their appointments.

Our benefits advisors are seeing unprecedented demand and they can always find all the different pots of money available but sometimes someone is already receiving all they can. That’s where Maggie’s is so good – because of our wrap-around care, we can support them through the stress and anxiety that living on a severely reduced budget brings. We are hearing of people stopping treatment early or delaying treatment because of travel costs and our cancer support specialists can help them with those decisions and how to know what to prioritise.

What are the unique challenges you’re facing right now?

Everyone is feeling the cost-of-living crisis but our unique challenge is in making sure people with cancer and their families are prioritised. During COVID, we drove home the message that people with cancer were being forgotten through delayed treatments and surgery and that got a lot of traction.

We are now seeing the same thing and our message is the same. People with cancer must be prioritised because of the life situation they are in. When you are given a cancer diagnosis, you should not be scared that you are not going to be able to pay your bills.

What have been some of your main successes recently?

Our recent press campaign and survey on how the cost-of-living crisis is impacting people with cancer got a lot of media attention. We invested in research and a survey with OnePoll which found a really strong and shocking headline figure of people being more afraid of paying bills than their cancer diagnosis. We landed our research in the same week as the Ofgem report which meant there was a lot of noise around cost-of-living and so our quotes and figures and case studies got picked up everywhere. We had a strong CEO statement and our centre visitors lined up for interviews.
It really bought home how critical the cost-of-living crisis was going to be for people living with cancer and with it our message that Maggie’s was here for everyone.

What advice would you offer to charities hoping to be heard by politicians/changemakers on this issue?

Find some champions. There are a lot of MPs, so you need to find the two or three who will become your advocates and advisers. Really research their interests and what they can do to help. Make it easy for them with clear messaging and calls to action. Follow and comment on what they do on social media and give them good content to post.

Our relationship with Tonia Antoniazzi, the chair of the APPG on Cancer, meant we had a Parliamentary reception in Westminster, set up an early day motion on the importance of our support for carers and could be introduced to other MPs. The same goes for Tracey Crouch, whose experience of cancer meant she really understood what Maggie’s is trying to achieve.

How would you advise others with approaching the media to gain coverage on these issues?

We made sure we had all the components ready to go at launch – we had case studies, spokespeople briefed, regional breakdowns of our data and ready-made social media content all prepared so that when we issued our release, we could respond to incoming requests straight away.

We also had a statement from our CEO that summarised the press release, including key data that we could send out reactively to any other cost-of-living stories as it’s such a hot topic.

How do you ensure that your approach is sensitive to those particularly vulnerable during this crisis?

We did a lot of work during our campaign planning to make sure we got our tone-of-voice right. This is something we’re really conscious of at Maggie’s and always strive to make sure the way we’re talking about issues is the way people living with cancer are talking about them too.

So, we held workshops with our storytellers and ambassadors as well as our front-line staff to find out what people are saying when they come to us for help and also what they really wouldn’t want to hear/read. We took out any jargon or anything that didn’t sound completely natural and then issued a tone-of-voice document across the organisation to make sure everyone was on the same page.

Which areas related to cost-of-living are underrepresented – what else should the media and politicians be reporting on?

There’s a lot of talk, rightly, about how the cost-of-living crisis is affecting those from lower income areas and older people, but not much about how it is impacting people living with cancer. We also know that people in lower income areas have a higher rate of some cancers, so it really is a double hit.

Are there particular journalists/sectors of the media you’d like to highlight as doing a good job on reporting on the cost-of-living crisis?

I think the media is doing a great job in covering how the cost-of-living crisis is impacting normal people. Broadcast media is the best way to hear real people’s stories, so for us having people who were happy to be interviewed on the TV and radio was important and hearing those stories straight from the people living them helps to bring home how hard the situation is.

The place that the real conversation is happening though is social media. Our Facebook posts, in particular, got a lot of attention and some really heart-breaking responses – all of which we can follow up with directly to make sure we are supporting them as much as we can.

How important is PR/comms for helping the public on this and making change to policy?

It’s imperative. Getting such a wide range of media outlets meant we were reaching nearly one million people with direct information about people with cancer and the cost-of-living. As we all know, an editorial carries far more punch than an advertorial – getting that Third Party Endorsement from media really does make an impact.

For more on campaigning for support throughout the cost-of-living crisis, read our interview with Love Energy Savings’ Rosie Macdonald on the company’s work with Lancashire-local brands including Robinsons to help families in the area.

Hear from Refuge, NSPCC and FareShare on how they’re navigated the crisis in our webinar ‘Communicating the cost-of-living crisis for charities’.

To connect with journalists reporting on your sector, find out more about the Vuelio Media Database and the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service.

Top tips for timing your comms right

Top tips for timing your PR content and comms to perfection

This is a guest post from freelance journalist Dakota Murphey.

In PR, timing is everything. Get the timing right and it can mean the PR content that you painstakingly planned for months on end is picked up and run with. Get it wrong and it can feel like an awful lot of wasted effort for no reward. It is not surprising, then, that businesses are increasingly focused on the perfect timing for their PR work. 

Well-planned and executed PR campaigns can be hugely beneficial to your business. They can help to build a connection with customers, limit and quickly manage any damage in a PR crisis as well as establish your business as a leading authority in the sector. Over time this is an incredibly rewarding form of marketing that can result in additional sales and boosted profits.

In this article, we will look at some top tips for timing your PR content and comms more effectively.

Being smart with social media

There can be no doubt that social media have revolutionised how we approach PR. Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook can be used by PR professionals to get far more opportunities to connect with an audience online, as well as to provide a much larger potential audience for the content.

It is common for PR professionals to work closely with social media marketing to get the best possible results for their campaigns. Some of the most effective ways to use social media include engaging with press members, as well as identifying trending topics that are gaining popularity and momentum.

Writing engaging content

It is often an overlooked factor of PR: your content needs to stand out from the crowd. Remember that when you are conducting PR you are asking members of the press to take the content you give them and publish it online. That means you need to put a lot of effort and investment into creating truly engaging content.

The last thing you want is content that comes across as promotional or simply acts as an advert for your business. It can be easily seen through, not just by those publishing the work, but also by anyone who ends up reading it.

Writing timely content is an essential part of impressing those looking to publish your work, and you are much more likely to get work out if it has a time-relevant theme.

Responding to the pandemic

For many businesses, planning for PR content and large-scale communications can be done months or even years in advance. It may well be the case that a large part of your company’s business model was actually conceived before the Covid-19 pandemic took place. If this is the case for you, it is important to consider the effect that the pandemic has had on your marketplace and your audience.

“You should recognise that the pandemic has changed things significantly – and this might have to affect your business strategy moving forward,” explains Chris Plumridge, Director at Wellden Turnbull. “It may be the case that the kinds of products and services you offer may need to be re-thought and updated. This can be a painful process, but it is important to ensure that the company is sustainable.”

If you have planned for PR content that is no longer applicable, or perhaps no longer as relevant as it once was, you really need to reconsider the work and think about how you can put it out more effectively. The pandemic is continuing to influence business decisions, so this can be a key part of your strategy.

Building your relationships

There’s no doubt that relationship building is a key part of any PR role. Knowing who to go to with a particular piece of content and how to get them to accept it is the bread-and-butter of the role. A huge part of the good timing of your work is knowing when is the right time to send over a piece to a particular contact.

You should never be sending out a dull press release to generic channels. It is best to take every possible opportunity to build that personal connection – offer a story to a particular journalist, and do your research on them before you send it over.

Using a digital asset management system

One of the biggest challenges of always being timely with your PR content is the fact that you have to manage multiple media outlets at once. As such it can be an extremely good idea to invest in a digital asset management (DAM) system. This is a useful way to manage assets such as images, videos, infographics and more.

Check out previous guest posts published as part of our PR Club series on best practice in PR and comms here.

Communicating the cost of living crisis for charities

The cost-of-living crisis is impacting households and families across the country, but especially those who are most vulnerable. As charities adapt their media strategy, campaigns and lobbying tactics, how has their communication changed and how are stakeholders responding?

In our latest webinar, Communicating the cost of living crisis for charities, we were joined by Ali Gourley, public affairs, comms and PR consultant at FareShare, Kim Manning-Cooper, head of media and campaigns at Refuge and Harry Watkinson, national media manager at the NSPCC.

We discussed findings from Refuge that show the clear impact of the cost of living crisis and examining how to change public affairs and communications strategies to impact the right audiences.

Fill in the form below to watch the webinar and learn:

  • How the cost of living crisis is affecting vulnerable people
  • Why stakeholder management and lobbying is more important than ever
  • How to keep your comms reactive throughout the crisis
Understanding online accessibility for digital marketers

Understanding onsite accessibility for digital marketers

This is a guest post by Alice Wicker, junior content marketing executive at London-based SEO and digital marketing agency Reboot Online.

Marketers, PRs and comms professionals need to understand just how diverse their audience is. We think about it all the time when we create buyer personas – but not everyone fits into the niche demographics we create.

By opening up our marketing materials and websites so that everyone can utilise them, we are not only drawing bigger audiences but making a positive statement about the morals of the brands we represent.

What is digital accessibility?

Digital accessibility is exactly what it sounds like — making digital platforms accessible to all. This means ensuring that people of differing abilities, whether visually impaired or suffering from cognitive or neurological issues, can benefit from a digital space that meets their needs.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has created guidelines to help businesses and web developers create websites with accessibility in mind. For a website to be considered accessible, it has to be built so that individuals with disabilities can navigate, use, and understand the content.

The four core principles of digital accessibility

There are four core principles that direct the approach we should take to digital accessibility:

1. Perceivable: The information on a website or platform and the user interface must be formatted so that all users can perceive it.

2. Operable: Users with differing abilities must be able to operate the platform or interface.

3. Understandable: Both the use of the interface and the content itself must be understandable.

4. Robust: The content must be robust enough to be interpreted and understood by a variety of users, as well as assistive technologies.

How can digital accessibility impact digital marketing?

Approximately 14.6 million disabled people are living in the UK. That number grows to one billion worldwide, with a staggering 15% of the global population having some kind of disability. That’s a significant amount of people whose digital accessibility all-too-frequently gets overlooked.

These disabilities can vary wildly, with each coming with its own unique difficulties when it comes to accessing and understanding information online. A report has found that businesses can lose out on customers by not providing accessible content, with 80% of disabled customers taking their spending power elsewhere due to lack of access.

By ensuring your platform or marketing material is as accessible as possible, you are gaining the ability to draw in wider audiences and customers.

How to ensure your website and marketing materials are accessible

There are many steps we can take to make our websites accessible, and even more best-practice suggestions to improve on this. Here is a quick rundown of what every website and piece of marketing material should contain, to ease access for all.

Clear Content

The content itself should be readable and not too reliant on jargon or technical language. Try not to use an obscure, lengthy word when there is a simpler synonym word that means the same. With that in mind, short sentences and paragraphs make the text more easily digestible.

It is recommended that webpages have a readability score of lower secondary school level and there are even some web tools, such as the Hemingway App, that measure readability.

Descriptive anchor text

Anchor text should accurately describe what the link is directing to, even without the context of the surrounding content. People who use screen readers can navigate websites from link to link, so they need to know where the link will lead them.

Easy to follow structure

You might have noticed in this guide, and on other accessible web pages, that a lot of headings and subheadings are used. This breaks up the text, so it is easier to read. It also makes it more accessible for users so they can skim through and find the information they’re after.

Headers (H1, H2 etc) also enable screen readers to understand how a page is structured, and make it easier for search engines like Google to crawl through.

Pictures and graphics

Graphics can be useful for breaking down information and presenting it more appealingly. Similarly, pictures and images can help present an idea.

Alt-text should describe the image accurately and succinctly. It’s best not to begin with ‘image of’ or ‘drawing of’ because screen readers already say ‘image’ before reading the alt-text.

Alt-text is vital for people who use screen readers and is also useful in helping search engines understand what the image is. Using the keywords relating to your topic is a great way to let users, and search engines, gain an understanding of the page.

It is also important to ensure that people with colour-blindness can understand the graphics you create. It can be easy to differentiate between colours by using tools to check the colour contrast or by using patterns to differentiate.

Videos and GIFs

Much like pictures and images, GIFs should have alt-text that explains what is happening in the GIF and why it is relevant. However, it is important to remember that GIFs with flashing imagery can be simply annoying to some, and dangerous to others by triggering seizures or migraines.

Videos can be a wonderful additional source of information on a web page — particularly if they include sound, for the visually impaired.

However, there are some things to consider to ensure your page is digitally accessible. If your video has activity happening, such as a demonstration, include an audio description so the visually impaired users can understand.

It’s also essential to include subtitles and closed captions, both for the deaf and any users who may want to watch the video with the sound off.

HTML

Ensure all the behind-the-scenes stuff is accessible. This means ensuring bullet points and tables are formatted properly, checking what language the content is in, and making sure any video players are accessible.

PDFs

PDFs and other documents have different formats than a webpage — you can’t use HTML to add alt-text or headers. But you should still use headers, for the skimming we talked about. Any images, graphs, or graphics should have a concise but detailed description, too.

Optimised website for all devices (and aids!)

The technology people use can have a big impact on the platform or website. Make sure your web pages or marketing materials are optimised to be viewed on phones or tablets as well as PCs. Also, be aware that the user might be navigating with a keyboard or need to disable flashing images.

The benefits of having an accessible website

From user experience to bottom lines, and SEO to customer growth, accessibility can have a huge impact on websites.

SEO: We can take several steps to make our websites accessible with headers, structured content, and detailed alt-text on images. These things are read by Google and other search engines.

Any (good) SEO agency will tell you that search engines use this information to help them better understand what your website is about. Google also measures accessibility as a metric for determining where a page will rank.

User experience: Customer standards are on the rise, thanks to the flawless experiences offered by internet powerhouses like Amazon, Google, and Netflix. By streamlining the process of navigating your site for all users, you increase the odds of more people engaging with your content.

Even seemingly minor inconveniences, like small font size, can leave users uncomfortable or even unable to read what you’re saying — and they will soon turn their attention to something else.

For more on ensuring your comms can be accessed by everybody in your audience, check out this previous guest post from Elliot Ross at Taxi for Email ‘How to make your next PR email campaign accessible for everyone‘. 

How to manage a PR crisis in 2022

How to manage a PR crisis in 2022

This is a guest post by Chris Norton, founder of insight-led PR agency Prohibition, former University lecturer, author of ‘Share This Too’ and social media blogger.

In business, PR crises are unavoidable. We live in an imperfect world where it is impossible to predict what will happen. Problems inevitably arise that can tarnish your company’s reputation in the eyes of the public.

When a problem occurs, you need to respond swiftly to maintain a positive brand reputation. Companies that do this manage to control the narrative and restore consumer trust and confidence.

Here are some of the actions you need to take to handle a PR crisis effectively.

1. Act fast & be transparent

The faster you address the issue, the more control you will have over the narrative. The best way to handle things smoothly under pressure is to have a contingency plan to manage a crisis. That plan improves your chances of you responding appropriately.

Alongside acting fast, you also need to be transparent. You have to update stakeholders on the actions you’ve taken regularly as the crisis unfolds as well. For example, the CEO of AirAsia was quick to take to Twitter after Flight 8501 crashed.

People and the media appreciated the quick actions of the CEO during this crisis. There is definitely a lesson there.

2. Create a crisis response team

To effectively manage a crisis, you’ll need a team that has been trained to handle such situations and can work efficiently to minimise the damage. A PR crisis team will help you do just that.

At a minimum, you always want senior staff members in your crisis team. You might also want support from external stakeholders with experience in crisis management alongside legal counsel.

Every team member must work together to ensure that your company speaks with a single, united voice. Your team must manage the overall response activities, set priorities, and cooperate with shareholders.

3. Train your team

You must prepare your team for emergency scenarios, ensuring that they can efficiently handle any PR crisis when needed. Your team needs to understand your brand identity and organisational values so that they can speak honestly about your company with one voice.

You must communicate procedures to anyone authorised to give public statements. Providing press and social media training will help these people deal with the public at a time when people are more likely to be critical of what you say.

4. Monitor the situation

You need to monitor the situation during a PR crisis carefully. It is important to understand what people are saying about you in the press and on social media.

You can use social media tracking tools to monitor what people say across different social channels. Also, you will want to track the coverage of your brand by journalists, influencers, and competitors. Check the public reviews about your organization as well.

It is possible to measure the success of your PR crisis strategy by tracking public sentiment and monitoring how the press covers the story. Adapt your crisis management strategy as the situation evolves, but stick to the key messaging you agreed on at the outset of the crisis.

Conclusion

A PR crisis is always a challenge. Using a proven framework for managing a crisis reduces the chance of making mistakes. That iscritical because the public and the press are unforgiving of companies that they believe acted wrongly.

Before a crisis, appoint and train a crisis response team. Everyone in the company should know who to contact in a crisis. You will need to appoint people that can make public statements. You want to provide these spokespeople training to know how to handle the press and what they can say on social media.

The first few days are usually the most critical time of any crisis. Get your team together and develop your strategy. Decide on your approach and stick to your talking points. As the crisis unfolds, monitor the reaction in the press and on social media. Adapt your strategy as needed.
Follow these tips, and you will manage any PR crisis that comes your way the right way.

How to create the perfect PR pitch

Dear Gen Z journalist: How can PRs pitch perfectly to the media?

While there is no ‘Dear Deidre’ for PRs who need advice on pitching to journalists, any comms people with questions out there are in luck. We recently caught up with three up-and-coming freelancers willing to impart their wisdom in our webinar ‘What’s next? The new generation of journalists’.

Watch the full webinar

Here, freelancer and Journo Resources trainee journalist Hannah Bradfield gives advice on extra conundrums from PR people in need of help. First question, please…

DEAR HANNAH: ‘I work in comms for galleries in Scotland. I’m often sharing press releases and pitches to national newspapers based in London (which occasionally get picked up!) but how would you advise reaching out to young journos based down South when that face-to-face interaction is typically impossible?’

Hannah says: I think always start with an email that includes a brief introduction of who you are and what you do. If no reply, I think it’s definitely okay to chase up a couple of times. After email correspondence, you could organise a phone call or Zoom call (I personally prefer as face-to-face as the situation allows).

‘How much detail do you want in your email pitches from PR folk? Would you like us to suggest angles? I never know how to get the right balance! How do you prefer to be pitched? Do you prefer something short and snappy, with a release below, or a longer upfront pitch?’

Hannah says: I think one of the key skills to have as a journalist is to be able to find the best angle in any story. There’s no harm in suggesting an angle if you feel it’s strong or particularly relevant – or is just generally useful for the journalist to keep in mind. However, I think more often than not, journalists will – after some time spent thinking and researching – find and know their angle.

Again, I think as most journalists would probably say, the more information the better when finding an angle for a story. However, that definitely doesn’t mean noting down information for information’s sake. As long as all the info is useful and relevant, it’s best to include it – even if that means the pitch doesn’t come across quite as ‘short and snappy’ and takes a little longer to read (in my opinion).

Basically, in summary, I would say don’t feel pressure to be ‘short and snappy’ but also don’t write a long pitch for the sake of it.

‘Is there any ways for PRs to stand out to you when sending in press releases, and what style of press release is most likely to catch your eye? How important is the subject line in the email? Would you avoid reading the email if the subject line isn’t great?’

Hannah says: The subject line is always important – in almost any email-related scenario – but especially in journalism.

I wouldn’t purposely avoid reading the email if the subject line wasn’t great – but if it didn’t ‘jump out to me’ it would probably go under my radar/into the ‘I’ll read that later’ category, which I usually forget to come back to, unless prompted!

I think being succinct, informative and purposeful often fulfils the criteria of ‘eye-catching’.

‘Have you noticed how you work/your approach being very different to journos of other generations?’

Hannah says: I actually don’t really see it like that. In the newsrooms that I’ve worked in, things have generally seemed to ‘move with the times’ and I feel like journalists of different ages have been quite open to learning from each other in light of the ‘digital revolution’.

I guess that, in my experience, older journalists do seem to be considerably more confident speaking on the phone – whereas younger journos, myself included, are perhaps the most comfortable when talking to somebody face-to-face, whether that’s in-person or on Zoom. This is my own experience, though – I have heard stories about journalists of other generations who’ve been reluctant to see the importance of newer aspects of journalism like SEO, etc.

How important do you think journalism qualifications are now?

Hannah says: I don’t actually have any formal journalism qualifications. I think as long as you can build the experience, they don’t matter hugely unless you know exactly the route you want to take into journalism where an NCTJ is required (e.g., in a lot of local/regional newsrooms). Although, it’s definitely worth looking into the different ways you might be able to get a journalism qualification without having to pay – some newsrooms will pay for these types of qualifications if you’re doing on-the-job training with them, or there might be other entry-level jobs that involve training/a qualification/a wage, all in one.

Personally, I think experience is always the most important – and looking for experience as your first port of call is sensible because you might find out that you hate a certain role anyway, and then you’ll be glad that you didn’t get yourself into debt studying for a journalism qualification.

If you are gaining experience first, this will lead to industry contacts who will in turn be able to direct you towards journalism funding and schemes.

That said, if you find yourself in the situation where you are able to study for a journalism qualification – it will only add to your employability – especially if you have experience to show alongside it.

For more on pitching perfectly to the UK media, download our white paper ‘How to pitch to journalists’.

Find the right media professionals for your campaigns with the Vuelio media database, spanning national press, consumer and trade magazines, broadcasters, social media influencers and more – book a demo.