Post Office Scandal

What PR lessons can be learned from the Post Office Horizon scandal?

The Post Office Horizon scandal continues to take up column inches and spark political debate.

What lessons can be learned from the ongoing PR crisis? And how did the story explode so quickly across ​multiple platforms?

We analysed media coverage, Parliamentary events, and online mentions of ‘Post Office scandal’ between December 2023 to March 2024 to better understand how the story evolved from an under-reported legal issue, to prime time TV fodder and social virality, to a topic debated in Parliament.

Read our case study to learn:

– How brand controversies move from platform to platform when left unchecked
– How a crisis strategy can mitigate the risks of growing controversy
– How horizon-scanning can help prepare for what lies ahead
– Why staying on top of both media and political conversations will help you identify the right stakeholders

Download ‘From TV, to headline news, to Parliament: How an ITV drama brought the Post Office scandal back into the spotlight’​.

Want to track your own media coverage and brand reputation? Check out Vuelio Media Monitoring and Insights

Alexander Larman interview

‘Harmless, but fascinating’: The Spectator World’s book editor Alexander Larman on covering the UK royal family

Alexander Larman, books editor for The Spectator‘s world edition, has covered the royals for a number of years now, both in his journalism and as an author. He has written about the current turbulent times and issues, as well as approaching the subject from a historical angle, showcased in the final book of the ‘Windsors trilogy’ series, ‘Power and Glory: Elizabeth II and the Rebirth of Royalty’.

We chatted to him about the enduring interest in the royals, the commissioning process at Spectator World, and the benefits of relationship building between journalists and PRs.

Alexander Larman

Having written extensively on the royal family, both as an author and a journalist, what makes them so fascinating to write about?

I’ve never been a royal family obsessive, and in fact, in the introduction to ‘Power and Glory’, I explicitly out myself as a non-monarchist, which I think may ruffle a few feathers. They’re far more interesting to write about if you don’t come at them from the perspective that they have a god-given right to exist, because then you get to ask questions that more respectful chroniclers tend to steer clear of. Why wasn’t the Duke of Windsor interned or jailed during WWII? (He was clearly a traitor by any conventional definition of the term.) Why do we still subsidize the royals with taxpayer money? Why has the recent Kate Middleton story obsessed so many people? 

The answer is because it’s a grand narrative. Unlike politics, which is soap opera but liable to mess up our lives if handled the wrong way by the wrong people, the royals are essentially harmless but fascinating, history writ large. And the fact that they’re useless at concealing their rows and disagreements is hilarious, too.  

What are you looking for content-wise at Spectator World?

A trade secret is that very few working journalists are particularly brilliant writers. This is doubly, even trebly, true in the fields of literary and arts criticism. A lot of people can put together a pithy or witty sentence or two on social media, but to be able to review a book, film or exhibition in an erudite and literate manner, with a genuine understanding of context and history? Nope, that’s a rare skill. 

I have a broad monthly section to fill at the Spectator World, and I am in the fortunate position that because I’m so limited, I only commission the people who can write really well about fascinating subjects. And they do exist, from household name authors to brilliant young women (they’re always women in my experience) in their twenties. I’ve been doing it since 2021 and it’s the thing, apart from my own books, that I’m proudest of professionally.

You also do freelance work as well, what are the pros and cons to working freelance alongside a permanent job?

It’s a necessity. I realised years ago that I needed to earn a certain amount a year in order to enjoy the same kind of lifestyle as my peers – and I’m not talking about holidays in the Maldives or a second home in Cornwall, just being able to go out for the odd meal and keep my wonderful daughter Rose in toys and the occasional treat. And you have to do an awful lot of work in order to make that happen. Journalism isn’t well paid, unless you’re writing for the New Yorker and the like, and this isn’t likely to change any time soon, either.  

I’m relatively lucky these days in that I’m a known quantity thanks to my books and journalism, so I haven’t had to scrape about for work for a few years. But before, say, 2019, times were very tricky. It’s often feast and famine in this industry and I can’t say I relish the prospect of the latter again.

What’s the best way for PRs to get in contact and work with you?

Phone calls never work unless I know you personally – sorry, but that’s the truth in my experience. Email is fine but impersonal, unless again there’s the personal connection, a reply might take a while. Make the effort – ask me out for lunch/coffee/a drink, and come armed with stories, potentially a few writers for those stories. Be professional, engaged, and good company, and we’ll hopefully have a great working relationship. But I’m insanely busy at the moment so we’re looking at June at the earliest (sorry!). 

Connect with Alexander via the Vuelio Media Database, and get pointers on what journalists want from PRs, and more ways Vuelio can help, in this blog post.

Do you have a license for that

Want to share your media coverage, but struggling to make sense of UK copyright laws?

CIPR Midlands’ Licensing Roundtable, chaired by CIPR President Rachael Clamp, brought together Reach plc’s Fergus McKenna, NLA’s Josh Allcorn, CLA’s Ossie Ikeogu, and Vuelio’s Chris Wheeler to provide a rundown of the ins and outs of copyright for PRs.

While ‘there’s nothing straight-forward when it comes to licensing’ – as Ossie admitted – here is our quick guide to keep you on the right track when sharing your coverage.

CIPR Midlands Licensing Roundtable panel

Why do PRs need to know about this stuff?

‘The way we get notified of coverage is completely different now – no scanning the papers in the morning for the right words,’ said Rachael.

As well as protecting PRs from sharing content in the wrong way (and racking up fees as a result), licensing protects publishing. And every creative industry, including PR and comms, needs published content.

‘Licensing is a very important part,’ said Reach plc’s Fergus. ‘Most people’s engagement with us now will be through an app, and not directly through our printed papers or our websites.

‘Publishers need to be wary of how they manage their IP, and get the most value they can from their content. That’s why licensing organisations are vital – I don’t know if publishers would have the bandwidth to do what they do for us’.

Josh added: ‘Publishers need the PRs for the content, the publishers need the licensing bodies because they don’t have the bandwidth – we’re all part of this content ecosystem. We need each other’.

Why are there two licensing orgs in the UK, and do PRs need to be members of both?

As the panel acknowledged, some other countries are served by one all-encompassing licensing organisation, but the UK has two. Why?

NLA initially began in the mid-90s as a venture between the Financial Times and the Telegraph in a bid to find an easier way of allowing PR agencies, among others, to reuse and share their content.

‘As a comms practitioner, when you send out PR, you want to hit as broad a market as possible,’ explained Josh. ‘For publishers, there’s a broad range of rights. The NLA became a more efficient vehicle to put all that activity in one place.’

The CLA is a complimentary service, explained Ossie. But don’t get the two confused.

Formed in 1983 on the basis of Government recommendations to standardise copyright and collection of fees, CLA covers ‘everything from printed to digital formats, books, magazines – that’s our remit,’ said Ossie.

The NLA, in comparison, covers newspapers and a selection of magazines and media sites.

Wouldn’t it be easier to just have one governing licensing body in 2024? Maybe – but as Vuelio’s Chris explained:

‘There are PR clients who don’t need everything, so there are benefits to having two – less unnecessary content; more streamed down. Anything that makes this a simpler process for all is better.’

How can Vuelio help with licensing?

For support with the above – Vuelio serves as an ‘intermediary for clients and copyright organisations,’ explained Vuelio’s Chris.

‘We deliver all those clips through. Our role is reporting back to the CLA and NLA for clients – that’s what we do on a monthly basis for NLA, and quarterly for CLA.

‘We become an advisor for many PRs in this respect. We help them decide what they need. Our clients may want to monitor themselves and their competitors, without everything else. It’s about focusing on what PRs need, and getting fairness and transparency in the pricing as well.

‘We catch up regularly with the licensing bodies to understand the difficulties for our clients, and be the voice of PRs. We’re aiming to get to the point where the pricing and structure is understood by all, so it doesn’t feel like one party is inflicting something on the other.’

Should PRs be wary of the NLA and CLA?

No, said all panelists – licensing organisations are here to help both sides of the PR and media ecosystem.

‘These organisations aren’t just waiting for an infringement – you can have a chat with somebody if you need help. Much like setting up with Vuelio, it’s about finding the right thing for each circumstance,’ said Rachael.

Where copyright gets complicated…

So far, so good – but what about the more confusing parts of copyright law? With the way content is shared constantly evolving, a number of scenarios were brought up during the session. The panel had answers for each:

Sharing coverage on social safely

‘The social media explosion a few years ago muddied the waters because of how the platforms share content,’ said Josh from the NLA point of view.

‘Sharing a link to digital content on socials – there’s no IP on that. And if I want to put a link on my site, that leads traffic back to the publisher, so that’s okay, too. On X, if you’re retweeting and sharing a publisher’s post, you’re absolutely fine.’

‘But taking a headline from the article when sharing – you do need a license.’

Reach plc’s Fergus agreed: ‘If you are amplifying a publisher’s communication, they’re going to welcome that. But using the IP yourself, that’s where there is a copyright issue.’

‘Unfortunately, the CLA license doesn’t cover any social media use,’ added Ossie. ‘From my understanding, that’s been something of a minefield, we haven’t got the okay from our publishers yet. But rest assured that’s something that’s brought up every year.’

As summarised by Rachael – if you’re sharing, liking, or reposting content – that’s engagement for the publisher, and okay. But if you’re sharing for your own engagement, like a quote repost on X, you’ll need a license.

When a publisher uses your press release

As explained by Josh – if the publisher makes an alteration to the copy, the copyright moves to the publisher. With no alteration to the press release, the PR would likely need no license for sharing.

However, speaking from Reach plc’s point of view, Fergus pointed out that publishing can change the ownership: ‘The act of publishing takes on certain copyright protections. If we publish it, those are our words, that is our article. We would see that as being our piece.’

But don’t worry – Vuelio makes this very simple so you won’t get into trouble:

‘There are websites that publish press releases word for word, but Vuelio excludes them from monitoring – that wouldn’t be considered content.’

The grey area of Google Alerts

Google Alerts has changed the way coverage is shared with PRs… and sparked yet more questions around copyright.

‘We would regard a snippet that does contain a headline, or some of the text, as sharing and, in effect, as copyright infringement. And that’s where the CLA license would come into effect,’ said Ossie.

Josh agreed: ‘We have to be aware of the changes and how content is pushed out into the market. Google is obviously a free service – we have to determine what should be protected by copyright and what isn’t. A link isn’t serviceable, but an alert from Vuelio is copyright protected.

‘We are constantly looking at how technology changes and making sure our licenses are fit for purpose.’

For how Vuelio can track your coverage and ensure you’re sharing with your clients and colleagues correctly, find out more about Media Monitoring.

Find extra on the NLA in ‘The PR guide to the NLA’.

How to navigate the storm of crisis

How to navigate the storm of a PR crisis

Is your organisation prepared to handle the top global risks predicted for 2024?

From the far-reaching impacts of geo-politcal conflicts, the threats of misinformation, or values-based mismatches between audiences, the possible sources of future problems are numerous. But they can be planned for.

As part of the webinar ‘Preparing for the unexpected – redefining communications strategy’, Wadds Inc.’s founder and managing partner Stephen Waddington shared extra pointers for navigating crises.

Read on for ways to get internal stakeholders onboard and how to bring international teams together.

How do you educate the leaders of an organisation about their roles in crisis comms planning?

Crisis response is part of any leader’s role. Planning, training, and regular testing for key management team members should be part of an organisation’s risk preparedness. The frequency of these activities depends on the organisation’s operational context.

Horizon scanning is a helpful tool to alert management to the range of risks around an organisation.

How do you manage risk in an environment where there is a high level of staff turnover?

An organisation’s governance should include a risk register and a robust training programme. These safeguards protect the organisation from operational issues such as staff turnover.

What are key observations on the dovetail between operational and reputational risk?

The nature of operational risk within an organisation should be well understood. Areas of crisis preparedness and response will typically be led and managed by operational teams. Reputational risk is more dynamic and depends on the operational context and markets in which an organisation operates. It should be reviewed frequently as part of the analysis for a risk register.

What advice do you have for helping global teams respond to crises and keeping teams joined up?

The robust capability of the corporate communications function to respond to issues and crises as part of an integrated organisational response is a legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic. Communications teams tested crisis plans and their execution in terms of technology, media, and processes.

How can you mitigate risk for organisations that are dealing with issues that have the potential to polarise stakeholders?

This is a critical contemporary issue for corporate communication and management teams. Political and societal issues must be balanced with business imperatives and values or purpose-driven leadership. We’ve developed a decision-making framework to support this activity.

Do you have a recommendation to manage a crisis simulation within a comms team?

We work with Polpeo, a UK crisis simulation company led by Kate Hartley. Its virtual environment can simulate a full-blown crisis in a safe setting. Polpeo combines technology and expert practitioners to train and test a corporate communications or management team.

For more on managing crisis, download the accompanying white paper ‘The evolving nature of crisis communications management’ and watch the webinar ‘Preparing for the unexpected – redefining communications strategy’.

Want to start scanning for crisis sources? Find out more about Vuelio’s Media Monitoring.

Spring Budget Briefing

Spring Budget Briefing: Will Hunt’s ‘boring budget’ make an impact?

Vuelio teamed up with the Trade Association Forum (TAF) for a Spring Budget Briefing at Space14 the day after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s announcement to discuss its impact on businesses and also the next General Election.

Hosted by TAF’s CEO Emily Wallace, our panel included (pictured from left to right):

  • Shazia Ejaz, campaign director, Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC)
  • Craig Beaumont, chief of external affairs, (FSB) Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)
  • Kelly Scott, VP of Account Management, Vuelio
  • George Dibb, associate director for economic policy and head of the Centre for Economic Justice, The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR)
  • Kevin Schofield, political editor, HuffPost

Spring Budget Briefing panel

Extra insight on polling data was shared by polling and research expert Andrew Hawkins, CEO of Whitestone Insight.

Before we get into the panel’s thoughts on the specifics of the announcement – let’s get to the question many will have been asking…

Will the Spring Budget have helped the Conservative Party’s prospects for the next General Election?

Not really, was the feeling of the panel, as well as the general mood of the audience in the room. This echoed how many of the UK’s major press outlets covered Hunt’s Spring Budget, with panelist Kevin Schofield summing it up as ‘boring’ in his reporting.

Pollster Andrew Hawkins reinforced this reaction:

Andrew Hawkins speaking at the Vuelio Spring Budget Briefing for 2024

‘Was yesterday’s event ever going to be a game changer? No. This was not a blockbuster.’

Andrew added that a decision to hold the General Election in May would be ‘political self-immolation’ on the part of the Tories:

‘There’s a bigger hill to climb for Labour. But climb it I believe they will.’

Referring to past voters who would pick the Liberal Democrats if unswayed by the Conservatives or Labour, Andrew shared the belief ‘that model is breaking down,’ with Reform and Green likely to scoop those votes up.

The decreasing level of under-45s planning to vote Conservative was characterised by Andrew as an ‘existential threat’ to the party, adding his view that ‘in a generation, they will be redundant’.

What did the Chancellor forget? The workforce

REC’s Shazia Ejaz felt that there wasn’t a ‘clear enough arrowhead on growth’ – especially when it came to the vital role of skill development.

‘We believe that central to any growth is people – workers. There wasn’t very much said on skills. There needs to be more investment.’

‘Context to consider is that we’ve had a really resilient labour market given the pandemic. There was a demand for people that kept employers hiring – that has tailed off.’

George added to the viewpoint that workers themselves weren’t centred in Hunt’s announcements on public sector performance. The Chancellor confirmed investment in AI to improve efficacy in public services, including the NHS, and that cuts would also boost performance.

‘I think it’s magic thinking that cutting budgets will improve performance – the low-hanging fruit of public sector cuts is already gone.’

‘We remember the last time the Government tried to do that,’ added Shazia on investment in technologies. ‘These things aren’t easy to do, and they cost more money’.

Craig countered that the Government’s plans could work in some sectors: ‘The civil service has only gotten bigger and bigger. Without taking these kinds of decisions, you get inertia.’

The mood in the journalist lobby?

HuffPost’s Kevin Schofield shared more on what happens at the post-announcement ‘huddle’, calling the process this year ‘quite dull’ compared to times before social media.

‘I’m old enough to remember when coverage wasn’t taken over by Twitter.

‘It was mostly pre-briefed this year – there was nothing for the Chancellor to announce that we didn’t know.’

‘It was a rambling, ill-judged speech, I thought.’

Vuelio’s Kelly Scott tackled the influence of new media during this election cycle – namely, GB News.

Kelly Scott on Spring Budget Briefing panel

‘Left-wing media tended to dominate the online conversation after the Budget, but we did see a rise for GB News. It’s seen as an untrusted news source, but had an important part in the conversation regardless.’

For more on this, download the Vuelio and Pulsar report ‘Spring Budget: Audience Reaction’.

Name checks for stakeholders

Kelly talked through Hunt’s careful acknowledgement of stakeholders, counting 12 name-checks – ‘along with some bizarre ones – Idris Elba, Keira Knightley? The arts stakeholders were gushing’.

Away from Hollywood and back towards day to day challenges in the UK, stakeholders were less excited – particularly those working in the anti-poverty sector:

‘The anti-poverty community mentioned by Hunt came out firmly that the packages there to “help” were just more sticking plasters’.

Craig backed this up: ‘We are positive about some of the specifics, but we are not gushing’.

What happens next?

Despite the pre-Budget feeling that this would likely be the last fiscal event before the coming General Election, some on the panel believed there could be more to come.

‘I think there will be two events,’ said Craig.

‘Take special care with planning your summer holidays,’ added Kevin.

Get a full summary of the Spring Budget 2024, including stakeholder reaction, in this downloadable report from the Vuelio Political team.

Boeing brand blowout

When a crisis spreads to your brand: Free fall following the Boeing blowout

A robust plan can help protect organisations against future crises. But what happens when calamity hits another brand entirely, but your reputation is dragged into the fray?

This was the conundrum faced by brands including Airbus, Delta Air Lines, and even Tesla and Apple following a mid-air door blowout on an Alaska Airlines flight in January 2024. While Boeing’s 737 Max jet was at the centre of the story following the emergency landing, other names were pulled into the controversy as coverage and conversation grew.

Using X data from our sister audience intelligence platform Pulsar, we take a look at how the crisis spread from one brand to another.

Boeing’s brand blowout

Boeing was under fire quickly once the story was out and being shared on socials. An investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration ordered the grounding of over 170 Boeing 77 Max 9 airlines across the world pending inspections following the incident, and the Transportation Safety Board also began an investigation.

While Boeing quickly issued external and internal statements – promising publicly that ‘safety is our top priority’ and that ‘acknowledging our mistake’ would be the approach within the organisation – the impact of the crisis spread further. Press reports centred on share falls for Boeing and parts supplier Spirit AeroSystem, and the spotlight on Alaska Airlines only got brighter as footage of the cabin blowout went viral on TikTok.

Alaska Airlines social media reaction

Delta is dealt a hard blow

But Boeing and Alaska Airlines weren’t the only brands who would face the consequences of this crisis. Boeing customer Delta’s need to reassure flyers worried about a repeat incident faced setbacks early on. Additional malfunctions – including the loss of a Delta Boeing nose wheel while taxiing towards takeoff – would gain widespread attention.

Chart tracking Delta mentions across social media

Airbus gets airtime

Competitor Airbus became the subject of much positive online conversation, used as an easy contrast to Boeing.

Airbus would be highlighted as ‘competent’ in reporting from the New York Times – not the most glowing of descriptors, but certainly positive in comparison to its troubled rival. As summed up by Richard Aboulafia, the managing director of AeroDynamic Advisory in Washington, DC.

‘What used to be a duopoly has become two-thirds Airbus, one-third Boeing. A lot of people, whether investors, financiers or customers, are looking at Airbus and seeing a company run by competent people.

‘The contrast with Boeing is fairly profound.’

Airbus social media

Apple takes a bite of the coverage

One seemingly unrelated brand that came out with a PR win was Apple. An intact and still-working iPhone found in the debris of the accident boosted online conversation around its products for the positive –

Tweet about iPhone found in Boeing wreckage

-Well, mainly for the positive:

‘The No. 1 comment I’ve been getting every place I’ve posted the picture was that, “My iPhone drops 5 feet, and it shatters and this phone lands after 16,000 feet and is just fine,”’ said Sean Bates, finder of the phone, in an interview with the Seattle Times.

Apple social media mentions

Another PR tussle for Tesla

A brand that didn’t fare so well in relation to the story was Tesla. Unlike Airbus, this organisation wasn’t brought into the conversation organically, but instead inserted into it. By Tesla managing director himself, Elon Musk.

Elon Musk tweet on Boeing

Musk doubled-down on this claim with ‘People will die due to DEI’ in a subsequent post, and the criticism started.

But not just criticism hit Tesla – its stocks also began to plummet amid the latest controversy surrounding the brand.

Tesla social media mentions

Fixing the fallout

Months following that fateful door blowout, positive share results for Boeing match that of its Airbus for 2023. However, this isn’t the last time Boeing, Alaska Airlines – and perhaps the other brands pulled into the crisis – will have questions to answer on the incident.

Three passengers who were onboard flight 1282 from Portland to Ontario, California, are now pursuing legal action against Boeing and Alaska Airlines. As of now, more difficult travels could be ahead for their PR teams.

To see this brand journey in video format, check out this LinkedIn post from Pulsar.

For more on how to handle a reputational crisis, check out our blog ‘Speak Up or Shut Down: The Value of Proactive PR in a Crisis’, featuring examples from the 2022 FIFA World Cup, UK airline strikes, and net zero targets in the Pharma industry.

What journalists want from PRs in February 2024

Easter, Mother’s Day, and day-to-day help: What journalists need from PRs in February 2024

It’s been a busy first month of the new year for the media with the Post Office scandal, the on-going Israel-Palestine conflict, and three storms hitting the UK to cover.

January is also, typically, the busiest month on the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service. Below, we look at what journalists have been requesting from UK PRs and what the media will be looking for throughout the rest of February and beyond.

New Year resolutions and trends

Back in December, journalist requests for trends and resolutions was particularly popular, with ‘2024’ the top keyword. That proved to be the same in January, with the year being included in 11.5% of the total requests. Journalists were still searching for ‘trends’ (which featured in nearly 3% of the January enquiries) and ‘resolution’ (which appeared in just over 1%).

The variation in what topic they were looking to cover though was wide. Enquiries included 2024 oil and gas industry trends; curtain and blind trends for 2024; maritime experts to predict industry trends for 2024; comments on tech layoffs so far in 2024; and possible trends for the year ahead.

Outlets looking for new year trends were diverse, too, with The Grocer, PA Media, IT Pro, GB News, The Independent, Verdict, and Red magazine all sending requests. The amount of enquiries with the keyword ‘2024’ will likely decline from now. However, there will still be opportunities to get experts and information around trends out, probably based around the seasons. Topics like fashion, gardening, travel, skincare, and technology could be focus points.

The healthy lifestyle

The prediction in last month’s overview that keywords like ‘fitness’ and ‘wellbeing’ would feature regularly turned out to be correct, but it was ‘healthy’ that appeared the most. Just under 11% of all requests in January contained the keyword as journalists focused heavily on lifestyle content. ‘Fitness’ was in over 3% of enquiries and ‘wellbeing’ cropped up in a little under 2%.

The Health category therefore enjoyed a big boost in the number of requests and was the second most popular on the service after Women’s Interest & Beauty. This is unsurprising as there was both Dry January and Veganuary last month. It meant lots of enquiries were looking for experts such as dieticians, nutritionists, personal trainers, and doctors.

Requests around mental health and experts in that field also did well, with ‘mental health’ as a keyphrase occuring in 2% of the total January enquiries. This could have been to tie in with Time to Talk Day. However, mental health and requests for experts in general on health are a regular occurrence on the Enquiry Service. If you are an expert or have a client that is in this field, there will be more opportunities in the next few months.

What journalists were using the service?

In January, 55% of the journalists that sent an enquiry were staff journalists. Freelance journalists were second on 27%. They mainly came from consumer media titles (39%), followed by national newspaper and current affairs outlets on 18%. Trade, business, and professional media accounted for 12% of the requests in January.

The enquiries for a spokesperson or expert made up just under 40% of the total last month. 20% of journalists were looking for information for an article, with 11% requesting review products and 9% trying to find case studies. Seven of the top ten outlets in January were national press with the other three coming from consumer media.

Opportunities for PRs in February and beyond

There is likely to be a big increase in the amount of requests around products and gift guides for Mother’s Day (10 March). 2% of requests in January already contained this key phrase. This will in turn mean a rise in the amount of enquiries for the Women’s Interest & Beauty category. Food & Drink could also see a boost and we will see ‘Easter’ as a new keyword as journalists look to get ahead with coverage for that holiday in March.

Experts will also be in demand with February being LGTBQ+ History Month. Plus, March is both Prostate Cancer Awareness and Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. That coinciding with coverage of the King’s cancer diagnosis means that doctors and medical experts should be in demand by journalists at both national press and broadcast outlets.

Start getting requests like these from UK journalists and broadcasters straight to your inbox by signing up for the Journalist Enquiry Service.

Want more information on getting the most out of the service? Read our advice piece ‘How to respond to journalist enquiries’.

Media opportunities for PRs in 2024

How to get press coverage in 2024: Media trends to prepare for

The unpredictability of the news cycle means that trends in the media can be hard to anticipate. As a PR, that makes knowing when to release certain press releases, or promote a new product, even more difficult.

However, some topics are easier to forecast. For example, journalists will look to get information on back to school products from June, and start compiling Christmas gift guides in August. The way that many journalists get this information is via the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service. Here is a look at what was trending with the media in 2023, and predictions for what will be popular this year and, most crucially, when.

Christmas number one

It might only be one day in the calendar year, but requests relating to ‘Christmas’ content proved the most popular last year, featuring in over 6% of all enquiries from the media to PRs in 2023. The first month that ‘Christmas’ started featuring regularly as a keyword in requests was July, becoming a top keyword each month from August onwards.

Enquiries around Christmas tended to focus around the consumer categories of Women’s Interest & Beauty, Men’s Interest, Consumer Technology and Retail & Fashion. These requests were often looking for gift guides or advent calendars.

Prepare for… another wave of Christmas-related requests in 2024. Get ready for the first flurry of enquiries from journalists in July, increasing from August. Any products, information, or experts you want to get featured in the media over the festive period will need to be ready by the summer to make the most of these opportunities.

We’re all going on a ‘Summer’ ‘Holiday’

While Christmas content is only confined to the latter half of the year, journalists are regularly looking for information about popular ‘holiday’ destinations. This featured as a keyword in just over 2% of all enquiries last year. It performed consistently well across April, May, June, and July, where it cropped up in over 2.5% of enquiries each month. Its best month was July, becoming the second top keyword on 3.7%.

It was only beaten in July by ‘summer’, which appeared in nearly 5% of all requests that month. Across the whole of 2023, in fact, ‘summer’ featured in around 3% of the total enquiries. June proved the most popular month for journalists to use this keyword, as over 7% of requests contained it, with enquiries ranging from holidays, to activities for kids during the break from school, and topics like summer skincare.

Despite the good performance of both ‘summer’ and ‘holidays’ as keywords, ‘hotel’ was even more in demand with over 3.5% requests from last year containing the word. These enquiries were usually journalists looking to stay in a hotel and review it. This helped lead to an increase in the amount of requests in the Travel category compared to 2022, with a rise of 4%.

Prepare for… travel-related content taking off from late Spring, so get your press releases and extra information ready by late March or early April. Journalists will need travel experts across the summer months to give tips and advice. Any news of new hotel openings or places to stay should remain popular throughout the year, but peak interest will be from June until August.

AI on the agenda

Artificial intelligence, or AI, has become a real talking point over the past year. This meant it was a regular keyword on the Journalist Enquiry Service too and appeared in over 2% of the total requests for 2023. Its best performing month came in November, when it appeared in over 3% of the enquiries from journalists for that month. Perhaps unsurprising, as the UK held its AI Safety Summit at the beginning of November 2023.

The consistency of requests around AI meant a good year for the Computing and Telecoms category. This increased by 6% compared to the amount of enquiries in 2022.

Prepare for… the conversation around the various forms of AI technology continuing throughout the year. It will present constant opportunities to get experts on AI featured in the press, seeing increased interest in May and November when more global summits are scheduled around its safety.

Other trending keywords

Another keyword which proved pretty consistent across the year was ‘gardening’. It made up 3% of all requests for the year, with a peak in the Spring months of April and May, where it appeared in 4% of the total enquiries for both months. However, it still cropped up regularly with journalists looking to cover what to do with the garden during Autumn and Winter, too. The Home & Garden category performed well as a result and had the fourth largest amount of requests.

‘Fitness’ also had a good year, with just under 3% of all the requests in 2023 containing the keyword. Journalists tended to focus on this topic at the beginning of the year, with just over 3% of the total requests in January, but also at the end of the year as they looked to get ahead with features, leading to it appearing in around 5% in December. The two topics usually selected when looking for experts or information on this topic, Health and Leisure & Hobbies, both featured in the top five categories in second and fifth respectively.

The category with the most requests though was Women’s Interest & Beauty, with Food & Drink coming in third place, meaning the top four categories used by journalists looking for help with their features remain unchanged from 2022.

Prepare for… consumer themes to be popular in 2024 as well. If you have any experts, information, or case studies covering women’s interest, beauty, health, food & drink or home & garden, then there should be plenty of opportunities to get them featured in the media.

Media opportunities for PRs this year

82% of the journalists that sent enquiries for PRs in 2023 were either staff or freelance journalists. 36% of them came from consumer media, with national newspapers the next biggest media type on 26%. Most often they were looking for a spokesperson or expert (37%), with requests for information for an article second on 27%. Despite consumer media being the top media type, eight of the top ten outlets using the service last year were national press.

The different percentages of journalists using the service has largely remained the same for a number of years now. It’s unlikely this will change in 2024. Any experts you have on your roster have a strong chance of being included in national press titles like The Daily Express, MailOnline and The i Paper, or in top consumer titles including Ideal Home, SheerLuxe, or Pick Me Up!

Prepare for… two major events happening this year that the UK industry will be covering in detail. In July, we have the Paris Olympics – so prepare for a boost in the sports-related requests. And in November (or in the second half of the year according to Rishi Sunak), there will be a General Election in the UK. Get ready for a demand for experts and information around the major parties’ policies, and ‘politics’ cropping up as a popular keyword.

If you’d like to know more about how Vuelio can help with your media planning and outreach, get in touch.

Why 2024 is the year to start paying it forward with your PR

White paper: Why 2024 is the time to start paying it forward with your PR

Are you making a difference with your PR? If you’ve considered teaming up with local charities, collaborating with community groups, or fancy taking on pro-bono work – 2024 is your year to start.

‘The times are calling for bold, brave action [and] authentic, purpose-led communications is the way forward,’ said PRCA Global Ethics Council co-chair Nitin Mantri as part of the group’s 2022 annual perspective. Cause-led comms have become even more important since, highlighted as a key trend in our round-up of industry predictions for the year ahead.

‘These days consumers are far more savvy when it comes to where they are spending their money and publications sometimes have a quota to cover a certain amount of sustainably responsible brands,’ said Francesca Cullen and Rosie Lees, co-founders and directors of Nineteen94 Communications Agency.

‘This leaves a really big opportunity for purpose-driven brands to succeed.’

Not sure where to begin? Our new white paper ‘Paying it forward with your PR’ offers pointers for building purpose-driven campaigns into your comms plan for 2024.

Download the paper to learn from experts in social impact PR working across different sectors, including:

Full Fat account director Clara Pérez Miñones and partner Paul Joseph on becoming a pro at pro-bono
Little Red PR CEO Victoria Ruffy on the benefits of becoming a B Corp brand
Sefton Council communications officer Ollie Cowan on ensuring unprepared voters won’t get turned away at the polling station
– The Royal National Institute of Blind People’s Lindsay Coyle and Gorki Duhra and the Commission for Victims and Survivors for Northern Ireland’s head of communications and PR Alana Fisher on fighting for legislation change

‘Paying it forward with your PR’ can be downloaded here.

For more on advocacy campaigns and cause-led comms, read our interview with GivingTuesday digital director, strategy Kathleen Murphy on how brands can give back and these four examples of brands making a difference with social impact campaigns.

How the RNIB empowers communities through advocacy campaigns

How the RNIB empowers communities through advocacy campaigns

Want to speak up for your community in Parliament and in the press? Take note from the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), which successfully campaigned to overturn the UK Government’s proposal to close almost all ticket offices across England and Glasgow Central last year.

As part of our webinar ‘Empowering communities through advocacy campaigns’, the RNIB’s local campaigns manager Lindsay Coyle shared extra advice on making an impact and what happens after a cabinet reshuffle…

What was the most impactful and the least useful part of your campaigns?

I think for us the most impactful was social media. Just having people be able to share their own experience of arriving at a station, trying to navigate and use an inaccessible ticket vending machine seemed to get a lot of traction. RMT were retweeting us, too.

Similarly, having people talk about why they use ticket offices and being able to compile that and share as a video was great. Equally, having people write to their MP – at the Westminster Hall debate, MPs were reading out the experiences of blind and partially sighted people and we managed to reach 9 out of 10 MPs, which was pretty awesome.

Least impactful – we did try and engage with Conservative MPs who had spoken out against this but we didn’t have a lot of success with that.

How can a charity successfully campaign on the issues they are passionate about?

As an organisation, we have a very good reputation with MPs at Westminster level, backed up by polling. We are seen as a credible and trusted source of information so it’s about not doing anything that may be a detriment to that but equally being able to build allies where you can. That is possibly the reason why we were able to secure a meeting with Shadow Secretary of State for Transport Louise Haigh.

I also think it is hugely important to engage both direct beneficiaries as well as the wider public in your work. To empower individuals affected by an issue so they have the confidence and tools to make change where they wish – not only is it empowering for the individual but it also allows charities to extend their reach so messaging is carried to an even wider audience.

On a wider note, and purely a bit of a personal crusade, I think there is some work to be done around civic engagement. We want people from lower-represented/marginalised groups to be able to fully participate in civic engagement – from being able to vote, through to standing for public office – so councillor, school governor, even an MP. We need wider representation within decision making.

Be social media savvy. Use platforms in an engaging way.

Nothing can replace the power of personal stories so really use those – in the media, online, with MPs, etc.

How does the RNIB team up with other groups for campaigns?

We’re part of a number of different consortia – the Disability Benefits Consortium – who we have worked with to shine a light on the impact of the cost-of-living on disabled people. We are also part of the Disability Charities Consortium, made up of senior reps from the biggest disability charities, We have worked with them on wider issues such as feeding into the Government’s disability strategy.

We are also part of an organisation called Visionary, which is an umbrella body of organisations supporting people with sight loss – so national orgs such as ourselves, Guide Dogs, Glaucoma UK, etc., as well as smaller local sight loss charities. If an issue we are working on affects people with sight loss specifically, such as the availability of vision rehab, then we would work together through Visionary.

Additionally, we may proactively seek to work with other organisations on very specific issues. For example, for the past couple of years, we have been campaigning for improved accessibility of the built environment and have put together a guide called ‘The Key Principles of Inclusive Street Design’ which covers things such as accessible crossings, making consultations accessible. We reached out to other organisations such as Brake, the road safety charity, to ask them to endorse this guide, which they did. This then gives it more weight when we go to local authorities to press for change, as it’s seen as less of a niche issue.

What happens on your teams after a Cabinet reshuffle/times of political unrest?

We have a Public Affairs team who constantly monitor activity at Westminster. Once we know who is in which role, they tend to produce a briefing outlining each person and their background which is shared with relevant colleagues such as Policy and Campaigns, Directors, Trustees. We may then also write to welcome Ministers into their new role, particularly if there is an issue we are currently campaigning on. For example, we are working currently to push for the update to the NHS England Accessible Information Standard to be released (it has been delayed for a while) so we have written to the Health Secretary Victoria Atkins to ask her to do this, as it should be a relatively quick win – for them and us.

We are also proactively preparing for the forthcoming General Election. We are working with an external agency to get us election ready as an organisation with a communications roadmap set up, so the wider work of the organisation can be coordinated, as well as identifying key campaign moments. This will involve coordinating work with PR, policy and campaigns, social media.
We will also be looking at how we can bring our supporters into this work e.g. holding training sessions on what MPs and candidates want in the run up to a General Election. We will also have an organisation-wide manifesto.

For more on cause-led comms and making a difference, read our interview with JustGiving’s director, digital strategy Kathleen Murphy. Want more on UK politics? Sign up to Vuelio’s weekly Point of Order newsletter.

What journalists want from PRs in January 2024 and beyond

New year trends, fitness, and Valentine’s help: What journalists need from PRs in January 2024

The start of a new year in the media often means fresh content calendars, updated feature lists,  and new projects. January is also one of the busiest months on the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service as the media want experts, information, and case studies for content.

Many journalists were looking to get ahead with their content for 2024 by making use of the service in December. Here are the trending keywords and what will be popular in the media throughout January and beyond.

Final Christmas flurry

‘Christmas’ has been a keyword on the Enquiry Service since back in August. Unsurprisingly, December was no different, with final festive requests making up just under 13% of the total sent last month.

These enquiries asked for last minute Christmas gift ideas, information on how to carve a Christmas turkey, and requests  for a vet or expert on animals to give advice over dogs at Christmas. This wide variety of requests came from titles including PA Media, The Guardian, BBC Food, Prima, and This Morning.

New Year, new keyword

For the first time in four months, Christmas wasn’t the top keyword. ‘2024’ appeared in just over 13% of the total requests in December – around 0.5% higher than ‘Christmas’. It’s also an increase on last year when ‘2023’ was mentioned in 12% of all enquiries.

The majority of 2024-related requests involved trends or predictions for the new year, but also interior trends, health and wellness trends, predictions for web development, railway industry trends, food and drink trends, and much more.

Travel enquiries also proved popular for media pros looking for destinations to visit in 2024. Journos also wanted information of events, activities, and experiences, and news of new openings or launches within entertainment, food and drink, and leisure.

January’s trend pieces offer a great opportunity to get experts featured in outlets such as The Independent, BBC News, Stylist, Women’s Health, lovePROPERTY, Country & Town House, and The Times, who all regularly use the Journalist Enquiry Service.

Focus on fitness

A new year means  health-related ‘resolutions’ (a keyword that appeared in 2% of all enquiries), and ‘Fitness’ performed very well in December, with just under 5% of the total requests featuring the keyword.

On a similar note, ‘diet’ featured in 2% of the enquiries in December. These requests focused on   experts such as dieticians, doctors, and nutritionists to comment on what plans were good or what foods to eat or not eat. Plus information on certain challenges that could help with this as well, such as Dry January and Veganuary. The latter also did well as a keyword and appeared in 2% of requests too.

There was a mix of consumer titles and national press outlets sending these requests such as The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Express, The Sun Online, Woman & Home, Positive News, and Men’s Fitness. Nutrition, fitness and health are all likely to remain popular throughout January and experts across any of these fields should be able to get coverage in the media.

Which journalists were using the service?

In December, over half of the journalists using the Enquiry Service were staff journalists (54%). Freelance journalists were the next biggest users with just under 30%. The journalists mainly came from consumer media (35%) with national newspaper and current affairs (30%) not too far behind and trade/business/professional media, the third highest media type at 18%. 

41% of journalists were looking for a spokesperson or expert last month, making it the most selected enquiry type. This was followed by requests for information for an article, at 25%. Review products were third on 15% and then enquiries for a personal case study in fourth on 10%. Six of the top ten outlets in December were national press and the other four were all consumer titles.

Opportunities for PRs in January and beyond

Consumer categories such as Food & Drink, Fashion, Home & Garden and Travel are all likely to perform well in January, with trends and predictions in these areas for 2024. The Health category will likely see the biggest increase with challenges such as Veganuary and Dry January and journalists in general looking for more information and experts around fitness, wellbeing, and nutrition.

The amount of requests around Valentine’s Day will see a big boost in January in preparation for the big day, with enquiries likely to focus on products and gift ideas. With LGBT History Month in February, we could see plenty of requests for experts on this topic, too, so be ready to help the media with your contacts.

For more on what journalists want from PRs, and how Vuelio can help, here are requests from media professionals themselves at outlets including The Daily Telegraph and Marie Claire. 

The PR winners of 2023

Barbie, Airbnb, and Octopus: The PR winners of 2023

It’s time to look back at some of the biggest PR wins this year as well as the campaigns and comms strategies that could have gone a lot better for brands, media personalities, and sports organisations making the headlines.

Bravo to Barbie’s team, Ryanair, and Octopus Energy, but there’s room for improvement from companies working with oil clients and those who still haven’t sorted out their gender pay gaps…

Amazing work from Amex, says Sarah Woodhouse, director at AMBITIOUS PR

Winner: ‘I still love Amex’s Small Business Saturday campaign. It’s purpose driven, it has a narrative, and it becomes more relevant every year.’

Could do better: ‘The example of crisis ‘losers’ comes from within our industry, Clean Creatives targeting major PR companies at Cannes who still work with oil clients despite their ESG commitments. That hit me hard as a business owner, you must really ensure your clients align with your values and those of your team.’

An A+ for Airbnb’s comms, from Sarah Danzl, CMO at Skillable

Winner: ‘A clear winner was Airbnb and its pledge to offer housing to Ukrainian refugees. In doing so, it gave a clear demonstration of its mission “to create a world where anyone can belong anywhere”. In times of crisis, being mission-driven and supporting society in a unique way for your brand can help you stand out for the right reasons.’

Could do better:Silicon Valley Bank is a good example of what can go frightfully wrong when communications are vague and mistimed, or when a CEO isn’t prepped well enough for an interview.

The Gender Pay Gap Bot, created by Francessca Lawson and Ali Fensome, called out companies that jumped onto the International Women’s Day hashtag online without creating true gender equity in their organisations. It is a good lesson for being authentic and not DEI-washing in your communications as these things will always be found out eventually.’

Mental health campaign was meaningful for Rachel Gilley, chief client officer at Clarity

Winner: ‘A campaign that I’ve loved this year is Norwich City Football Club x Samaritans for World Mental Health Day. A visually-led campaign, which encourages individuals to check in on those around them, it reminds us that sometimes the signs are hard to spot when people are struggling.’

Could do better: ‘A campaign that could be improved upon was this year’s Sports Direct and Getty Images ‘Equal View’ campaign, which highlights the lack of diversity in sports imagery. A brilliant idea, the partnership campaign could have gone a lot further using social media to drum up user generated content to highlight the “real” face of sports fans.’

Ryanair continued to ‘kill it’ with comms, says Beth Turner, head of PR at ilk Agency

Winner:Ryanair is a brand that kills it for me. They understand their offering and their audience 100% and their comms reflect it wholeheartedly. It’s funny, well-done and has that shareability factor that is always so important with PR.’

Could do better: ‘One that sticks out to me for being pretty poor this year is Ticketmaster. When every man and their dog were trying to get Taylor Swift tickets, they came under scrutiny at every corner, especially when their site crashed and they cancelled ticket sales for some of her upcoming dates. Fans were furious to say the least, and it even led to a debate in the US Senate and Taylor Swift herself condemning the company and how they handled the situation. Ticketmaster stayed relatively silent on their part, didn’t seem to care about the millions of fans left empty-handed and simply blamed ‘demand’ for their wrongdoings. That is a lesson in how not to do crisis comms!’

Barbie’s PR was in the pink, for Jane Whitham, director of Altitude PR

Winner: ‘When it comes to PR winners in 2023, there’s only one choice, the Barbie movie’s entire promotional campaign. Using every dollar of its undoubtedly colossal marketing budget, Barbie collaborated with a variety of companies – Microsoft, Balmain, and Bloomingdale’s.

‘Far beyond collaborations, Barbie’s marketing team also used the ‘Barbie Dreamhouse’ on Airbnb and a themed boat cruise in Boston. The marketing campaign was a resounding success to the extent there was a worldwide shortage in pink paint reported. Or was it just opportunistic PR?

‘Barbie’s successful campaign was also at the forefront of a global newsjacking campaign. Everyone wanted a piece of the campaign, adding their point of view and jumping on the Barbie bandwagon. Warner Bros’ not only advertised the film, but it was also used by countless other companies for their own marketing campaigns.’

Could do better: ‘On the other side, easyGroup has been flexing its corporate orange muscles for quite some time but the company’s battle with indie band Easylife leaves a very sour taste.

‘The owner of the easyJet brand filed a lawsuit this summer claiming the Leicester band’s name infringed a trademark. Unable to financially defend a lawsuit, the band changed its name. The PR machine behind easyGroup insisted the band were brand thieves.

‘The upshot was condemnation from media, musicians, and MPs. It’s also upheld easyGroup’s reputation as aggressive and litigious. It’s a definite PR own goal.’

Football crossovers were fun for Darryl Broadfoot, head of sport PR at Frame

Winners: ‘ESPN, Walt Disney Company and the NFL have set the standard in sports and entertainment crossover with Toy Story Funday Football: making sport [and live sport broadcast] relevant and relatable to a younger audience. The first-of-its-kind animated live version of the Atlanta Falcons v Jacksonville Jaguars replaced the stars of the grid with the stars of the Toy Story franchise – with the action replayed in Andy’s Room, the iconic main setting of the movies.

‘It was more than a stunt: using cultural relevance to take sport beyond its established and traditional audience, while showcasing the innovation of broadcasters ESPN as they seek to safeguard future TV audiences.’

Could do better: ‘The crisis that engulfed the Spanish Football Federation and its now former President following the FIFA Women’s World Cup final will remain a case study in how to make a crisis situation worse for years to come. The universal reaction from the progressive majority across the men’s and women’s game at least showed the journey towards equality and equity can be strengthened and not derailed in times of crisis.’

More love for Barbie and Airbnb from Hayley Knight, co-founder and communications director for BE YELLOW

Winner: ‘I mean, I can’t answer this question without mentioning Barbie! They absolutely smashed it and even small brands can learn PR and marketing strategies from the team behind it.

WeAre8 is a fantastic example of a brand that’s ahead of the curve. A new social media platform that helps people do good, and breaks the habit of doom scrolling. They’re marketing has been marvellous and has understood the assignment when it comes to marketing B-Corp initiatives.

‘Airbnb is also a great example of creating emotionally relevant campaigns, and we saw this in their campaign to house 100,000 Ukraine refugees, and they did this at a loss in profits, showcasing authenticity and meaning.

‘I also absolutely love the Recycle Your Electricals hypnocat advertising campaign. It ticks all of the boxes – it’s catchy, memorable, has a social impact and is outright hilarious!

Could do better: ‘I know it got a great response, but for me the Just Eat campaign with Christina Aguliera and Latto didn’t land for me. It felt dated, and a brand trying to be relevant for the sake of it. I didn’t feel like it connected to its audience and fell a little flat.’

‘And let’s be honest, we can all learn a little something of what not to do from Elon Musk and X.’

Warm feels for Octopus, from Susannah Morgan, deputy managing director of Energy PR

Winner: ‘Wins go to businesses bucking their industry norms and understanding what their customers really want from them. Octopus Energy is a great example of this. By offering customers free electricity when there is the least pressure on the network, the company is helping its customers in a way that really matters, building valuable goodwill in the process.’

Could do better: ‘This year has seen what feels like an unusually high number of reputational crises caused by the behaviour of individuals. Think BP’s Bernard Looney, and the CBI’s Tony Danker. The damage inflicted by an individual can hit at the very heart of an organisation’s culture. If bad behaviour is tolerated at the top, or the organisation deals with it poorly, it calls into question the values and ethics of the whole entity.’

Girls run the (PR) world, says Caroline Miller, founder and managing director at Indigo Pearl

Winners: 2023 was the year that women ruled the world – and boosted economies globally. From Greta Gerwig’s blockbuster Barbie movie success, to Taylor Swift and Beyonce taking live music to the masses on a scale never seen before, women are shifting the creative and economic dials. The summer of 2023 saw London turn pink with Barbiecore everywhere – the Barbie PR machine was inescapable and we were 100% there for it.’

Could do better: ‘Keeping on the female theme, one of the worst PR losers of this year was Conservative MP Gillian Keegan’s ITV News microphone rant over the Raac concrete scandal. While we don’t know what was going through Keegan’s mind at the time of the outburst, it’s PR 101 to always maintain dignity and composure in front of the media. A lesson learned the hard way, and a reminder to all PRs when briefing clients.’

Want to be a winner in PR for 2024? Take note of these 19 key trends for the PR and comms industry coming up this year. 

Vuelio's top 10 blog posts of 2023

Our top 10 PR and communications posts of 2023 

As part of our overview of 2023, and a look forward at 2024 in PR and comms, here are the most popular posts from the Vuelio blog this year. From effective media outreach to data-driven reporting, crisis management to brand personality, here are some of your favourite guidance pieces from the last twelve months…

Want more on what’s happening in your industry? Sign up to Vuelio’s newsletters

1. PRs on PR: How to pitch to the media

In this best practice piece from May, we called in some of the industry’s top PRs to share insider tips on how to pitch to the media.

Categorised into preparation, creation, sending, and following-up sections, this piece has what you need to connect with journalists and get them sharing your story.

‘Gone are the days when a pitch sent to a list of hundreds of journalists would result in instant links or coverage’ said JBH’s senior digital PR manager Lauren Wilden —here is how to get results in the modern media landscape. 

2. 5 predictions for PR in 2023 

Prohibition’s founder Chris Norton added to our 15 PR and communications trends you need to plan for in 2023 post with his own five predictions for what was ahead in the second half of the year.

An increase in use of ChatGPT, the continuing popularity of influencer marketing, and even more emphasis on social media were just three of them. No mention of Elon Musk’s efforts to ‘reinvigorate’ Twitter/X, though, but no one could have seen that coming, probably… 

3. Six evidence-backed ways to survive a PR crisis 

This year has seen its share of crises across the world, as well as some difficult times for brands, businesses, high-profile personalities, and politicians that found themselves in hot water.

In this write-up of the Vuelio webinar ‘Speak Up or Shut Down: The Value of Proactive PR in a Crisis’, we examined different brand responses issued in times of trouble to find out what works and what should be avoided at all costs. Check out examples from Coca Cola, Virgin Atlantic, and more. 

4. Autumn Statement 2023 speculation

2023’s Autumn Statement was, as ever, highly anticipated by the public and press. But in a year where the cost-of-living crisis racked up financial pressures for so many across the UK, extra pressure was on Chancellor Jeremy Hunt.

Before the announcement, the Vuelio political team shared speculation from the media and high-profile politicos. Topics tackled – tax, ISA updates, fuel duties, and net zero goals. Were the predictions spot on? Check out our coverage of the Autumn Statement itself here and here

5. International Women’s Day 2023: How can the PR industry evolve for the better? 

Despite efforts to improve equity in PR, comms, marketing, and the media, the creative industries still have a problem with gender equality. For International Women’s Day, we spoke to women working across PR sector.

‘When misogyny is still allowed to breed in our society, at the highest levels and most trusted ranks, we need counter pressures to dismantle toxic views which seek to constrain and harm women,’ said Ketchum’s Alicia Solanki.

Don’t be part of the problem in 2024 – read the post to find out how. 

6. How to build a social presence when your audience isn’t there

Social media is a major part of almost every campaign strategy in modern PR. But with the emergence of the Metaverse, Web3,  and a myriad of tech innovations,, which ones do you invest in? How do you optimise ROI with a small or not-so-technical audience? For how to build a presence on social media, and find your audience, here is how a strong set of Insights tools can help with snapping up earned and owned content, save you time and help you smash your KPIs.

7. Getting to know you: How to build a brand personality

Trust was a key component brands and businesses had to get right in 2023, and will continue to be important for keeping customer and community loyalty in 2024. What will help? Building a brand personality consumers will want to interact with.

In this post, PR experts from agencies including Pace Communications, Sweet Digital, TeamSpirit, and Sway PR explained how to get started, from brainstorming what your brand is about to assembling your assets.

8. Tips for spotting the best newsjacking opportunities

In this guest post, strategic and creative freelance digital PR Alice James gave tips and tricks for successful newsjacking.

For keeping your own brand and your clients in the public eye, here is how to spot the best opportunities by immersing yourself in the news cycle, getting ahead of the curve, and connecting with journalists.

Once you’ve refreshed yourself with a re-read of Alice’s advice, check out tools to help, including the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service

9. How to create key messages that actually land with your target audience

Numbers can only tell part of the story when measuring the performance of campaigns — especially when it comes to everyone’s favourite, Share of Voice. You may have gotten a lot of coverage, but what was the quality? Was the commentary passive, or even negative? Is all PR really good PR?

This post offers a five-step guide for getting started with Key Message Penetration, enabling you to measure brand awareness and assess how well your brand messages are being delivered.

10. How has TikTok impacted food and drink content and how will it dominate in 2023? 

Finally, we’re finishing up this year’s highlights with another expert op-ed from our PR and comms community. 

Hatch Group’s social media lead Jack Moore gave the lowdown on how Tiktok has influenced food and drink content and key trends for 2023. With up-and-coming influencers like Keith Lee, B. Dylan Hollis, and Mr Grubworks offering up what’s worth putting on plates, how has short-form changed the world of food and drink PR and what does this mean for the future? Jack shares his predictions and advice – take note, and, given his accuracy over the last year, get ready for a jam-packed 2024.  

To keep up with content from the Vuelio and ResponseSource blogs, sign up to our Media Bulletin, PR Pulse, and Point of Order newsletters here.

Ready for 2024? The Vuelio Insights team is here to help, with reports designed to show you gaps in your media strategy, help you hit your targets, and demonstrate your successes. Learn more here

Bad PR habits to leave behind in 2023

Bad PR habits to leave behind in 2023

It’s not quite time for New Year’s Resolutions yet, but to give you a start on yours, here is a rundown of bad PR habits to break for 2024, according to the experts…

Sloppy procurement processes

‘Bad procurement habits. Brands need to stop inviting agencies to pitch then kicking the decision back or ghosting them. It’s bad form and disrespectful.’
Sarah Waddington, director of Wadds Inc, founder of #FuturePRoof, and co-founder of Socially Mobile

Vanity metrics

‘At the top of the list is vanity measurements or what I call ‘red herring metrics’, which encourage practitioners and teams to become distracted by the wrong things – like generating a set number of media articles, regardless of quality, or chasing engagement at all costs on social media. We need to get better at using the frameworks at our disposal – like AMEC – to support us to measure the impact, value and outcomes of our work.’
Leigh Greenwood, founder and managing director of Evergreen PR

All talk and no action

‘We’re all tired of reading similar blog content. Those that win will be able to show how they are tangibly making AI, for example, work for clients and their business – making their team more efficient and using this to make their service more attractive.’
Sarah Woodhouse, director at AMBITIOUS PR

Buzzwords

‘We use an excessive amount of jargon. One of the biggest culprits is the word ‘strategy’. More than a buzzword, the strategy should be based on in-depth research and analysis of a brand, its customers, competitors, and the overall market landscape. How can we get people to take our industry seriously if we can’t meaningfully use vernacular that actually explains what we do and the value of our work?’
Rachel Gilley, chief client officer at Clarity

Surveys, surveys, surveys

‘Personally, I am tired of seeing constant survey-led stories, and I do think journalists have cottoned onto these as I see less of them covered than I have done previously. People want real news, and real stories, and survey-led stories do not always reflect reality. I still think they have their place when done right, but I do think agencies and brands should start to shift from these and think outside the box in upcoming ideation sessions. I think they’re already on their way out, but dream job and best places to live stories are also a little ‘done’ now. I would never see one of these campaigns nowadays and be shocked or intrigued by them – unless the data was really mind blowing!’
Beth Turner, head of PR at ilk Agency

Not enough diversity

‘We have seen in the past campaigns/strategies that have a complete lack of diversity, or that are completely tone deaf. As PR teams continue to hire a greater diversity of employees, campaigns/PR strategies will continue to incorporate representation from a wider range of people who are from all different backgrounds, cultures, socio-economic backgrounds and experiences.’
Francesca Cullen and Rosie Lees, co-founders and directors of Nineteen94 Communications Agency

Words without meaning

‘I hope 2024 will see an end to “content marketing equals words”. A recent Hubspot report found the top use case for generative AI by marketers (48%) has been content creation. 2023 was indeed the year of content marketing. But for too many PR pros, content just equals words. But they’ve now found that ChatGPT can do that at the touch of a few keys.

‘Content marketing in 2024 must start to be creative – words are just the toolkit. For content marketing to work it must have the vision and ideas of humans, crafted into messages by humans, because these messages are being read by humans – the buyers of your products and services.’
Jamie Kightley, head of client Services for IBA International

Shallow, surface-level support

‘I hope to see the back of shallow PR. Tactics just for the sake of securing earned coverage. Often brands fall into the trap of ‘purpose PR’ but consumers are savvy and can see through a tactic unless it has real substance and genuinely makes a difference. That doesn’t mean brands have to invest heavily, many small businesses just can’t afford to do that, but it does mean brands need to think carefully about making a difference to the charities and communities it supports and ensure tactics are implemented for the right reasons.’
Alison Downs, head of consumer PR at Frame

‘Time needs to be called on companies pushing for quick PR wins that amplify hollow Corporate Social Responsibility activity. It’s no longer enough for brands to give a nod to vague values written on a wall. Consumers are quicker than ever to call out companies for greenwashing, sportswashing or any sort of PR laundry.’
Jane Whitham, director of Altitude PR

AI for AI’s sake

‘As a specialist tech-sector agency, we’re always the first to welcome and
embrace smart innovation, but smart is the keyword. Using a tool that compromises our quality of work or adds more tasks to our to-do list is definitely not smart. Unlike the metaverse craze of 2022, AI is certainly here to stay – we just have to remain mindful we’re in the middle of an AI goldrush and we don’t need to jump on every new tool that’s launched. Not every PR presentation needs AI-generated cats driving cute cars.’
Caroline Miller, founder and managing director at Indigo Pearl

And finally… a death knell for spray and pray

‘We’ve been hoping for the end to the “spray and pray” approach to media outreach for years. Perhaps 2024 will be the year? From the journalists and bloggers we speak with, it sadly doesn’t seem to be on the wane. My fear is that it is coming from SEO agencies doing digital PR that don’t care about the integrity of the process, they just want the links. They’re probably charging the clients peanuts and doing ill-thought through mass-mailings, but it gives the whole industry a bad name. Not to mention how ineffective it is. It’s stupid and pointless.’
Susannah Morgan, deputy managing director of Energy PR

And on that note – great work in 2023 everyone, and we wish you a productive 2024! To help you get started, here are 19 trends in PR and comms to prepare for.

Winter activities, Christmas decorations, and AI experts: What journalists need from PRs in December

Winter activities, Christmas decorations and AI experts: What journalists need from PRs in December

While many industries may be starting to wind down as the year comes to an end, the media industry is still as busy as ever. From more developments in AI, to COP28, to the mad rush to get presents on Black Friday, there have been plenty of big stories to keep journalists busy in November.

Hundreds of journalists have been using the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service to source those stories. Below, we look at what keywords were trending last month and what the media will be looking to cover for the rest of December and into the new year.

A Festive Frenzy

The festive season is fast approaching now and for the third month in a row ‘Christmas’ was our top keyword, making up 20% of the total requests sent in November. This is 2% higher than in October and a 3% increase on this time last year.

Around 6% of those enquiries have been looking for gift ideas and products to review. This has varied from ‘beauty and wellbeing gift sets’ to a ‘travel-themed Christmas gift guide’ to ‘Christmas foodie gifts’. This shows there is plenty of scope to get a variety of products featured, mainly within consumer media titles.

‘Decorations’ has also cropped up as a keyword in just over 1% of all the total requests. Journalists at the i paper, Metro, PA Media and Expert Reviews have all sent enquiries containing the keyword over the last month.

A Winter Wonderland

While Christmas might be the dominant keyword on the service right now, seasonal related requests have also proved popular. The word ‘Winter’ was present in just under 4% of all enquiries, a 1% increase from last month.

The requests have covered many different sections of the media. There have been several home & garden related enquiries including ‘winter duvets’, ‘best way to clean radiators in winter’, ‘how often to mow your lawn in winter’ and ‘how to protect plants in winter from frost’. The winter requests have also covered beauty such as ‘winter skincare’, leisure with ‘winter days out’ and money issues regarding ‘people struggling financially in winter’.

This opens up numerous avenues to get information and experts featured in the media. Plus they have been sent from journalists at national newspapers such as the Independent, Evening Standard, and the Sun, as well as consumer titles like woman & home, Stylist.co.uk, and Cosmopolitan.

Interest in AI remains high

AI, or Artificial Intelligence, has been a near constant keyword on the Journalist Enquiry Service throughout 2023. Last month was no different as just over 3% of all requests contained the word ‘AI’. This was a 1% increase on last month.

The enquiries around AI do tend to focus on getting expert opinion and comment – if you have anyone in this space then there are plenty of opportunities. The areas vary from medical to HR to insurance to energy. It has also meant a 7% rise for the Computing & Telecoms category, on the back of a 34% increase from September to October

Love is on the horizon

While the majority of the keywords for November are focused on topical issues or seasonal ideas, feature writers are already looking ahead at content for 2024. That has included some journalists looking for Valentine’s Day related content. The keyword ‘Valentines’ cropped up in just under 1% of all requests.

This included enquiries for gift ideas and experiences, and these types of requests will only increase throughout December and into January. There were also several enquiries from journalists around Veganuary. They were looking for information and products that would be suited to the annual month-long challenge.

Journalists using the service

In November, 51% of journalists using the Enquiry Service were staff at their publications. Freelance journalists were the next biggest users with 28%. Consumer media account for the largest media type with 36% and national newspaper/current affairs are second on 25%. Trade/business/professional media is in third on 19%. 

The majority of journalists, 35%, were looking for a spokesperson or expert last month. This was followed by review products on 23% and information for an article on 22%. Personal case studies was the fourth most popular choice on 11%. Seven of the top ten outlets sending requests in November were national press, with the other three being from consumer media.

Opportunities for PRs in December and the new year

The final flurry of Christmas requests will trickle in through December. This means there is still a chance to get gifts, advent calendars, and more featured in the media. Plus, more seasonal related requests around Winter opens the opportunity to provide healthcare information, days out to recommend, or experts on saving money on heating during these colder months.

Journalists otherwise will be looking ahead to 2024. Valentines has already started appearing as a keyword and will no doubt increase in popularity this month. Common new year topics like getting fit should mean growth in the Health, Sport, and Food and Drink categories, especially with challenges like Veganuary and Dry January. We also expect feature writers to be looking for trends in categories like Fashion and Travel.

Want to know how to make the most of the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service?  Read these tips on how to respond to journalist enquiries

Social impact PR

Making a difference: 4 examples of social impact PR in action

Want to make a positive impact on the world with your PR? Before you start Googling local charities and pondering baked bean-filled bathtubs, get inspiration from brands making a real difference with show-stopping social impact campaigns.

Here are examples of public relations for the public good from brands including Pret, Persil, Hellmann’s, and Cats Protection…

1. The Pret Foundation offers enrichment

A mainstay of hungry office workers and commuters (many PRs among them), Pret prides itself on providing healthy options for people on the go. But it doesn’t stop there.

The Pret Foundation was launched to make a difference to people impacted by poverty, hunger, and homelessness. Food not snapped up in-store by the end of each day is donated, and the foundation also offers financial grants to grassroots charities, and training and employment within its own stores. Extra opportunities are also offered to those in need as part of the Rising Stars programme.

Alongside all this, the programme has gained Pret plenty of positive mentions in the press over the years, including write-ups of recent royal visits. Media coverage — not the main point of the programme, of course, but a bonus for the brand, no doubt.

2. Persil says Dirt Is Good

Persil has been cleaning up with its Dirt Is Good Project for over a decade now – aiming to make a ‘positive impact on young people’s wellbeing, their communities, and the planet’.

Children aged 7-to-14 can plan social impact tasks – finding out how soil is used around their school, discovering shared values with friends, and getting ready for Earth Day – as part of the Dirt Is Good Academy, logging their good work on the website, celebrating milestones, and the completion of their project.

The award-winning programme from Persil even contributes to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals – scrubbing up well for the brand’s purpose, and the future of the planet.

3. Hellmann’s fights food waste (with some help from Nintendo and Channel 4)

Spreading mayonnaise (other condiments are also available) on leftovers you weren’t particularly excited to finish off is a tried and tested way to fight personal food waste. But Hellmann’s wanted to go further back in August 2020.

Joining the bandwagon of brands hopping onto Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizon at the time, Hellmann’s logged on to do good, not just game. Creating its own digital island, Hellmann’s asked players to donate their spoiled turnips (this makes sense if you play Animal Crossing; trust us) and contribute to the real-world donation of 25,000 meals to food charity Second Harvest.

Visitors to Hellmann’s Island could learn more about fighting food waste with tips posted to information boards within the game, and download branded merch. As a bonus, Stephen Fry shared his own recipe for a vegetarian nut roast toastie to inspire people to make the most of their leftovers as part of the campaign fun. GBBO’s Prue Leith also joined the effort as part of Hellmann’s team up with Channel 4 on its ‘Cook Clever, Waste Less’ programme. Lots of easy-to-swallow ideas – no extra condiments required.

4. Cat’s Protection celebrates black cats

Did you celebrate National Black Cat Day this year? Launched by Cats Protection back in 2011, the 27 October event aims to ‘help celebrate the majesty of monochrome moggies and beautiful black cats’.

It’s not just about showing love and appreciation for our furry friends, however – statistics in 2011 showed that both black and black-and-white-furred felines took seven days longer to find homes, compared to their other-coloured compatriots.

As well as providing an excuse to share lots of pics of quality cats, Cat’s Protection has made a real difference with this ongoing campaign. Black and black-and-white kitties now spend less time in care – ‘resulting in thousands of happy cats and owners’. Lots of warm and fuzzy feels for this one.

Want more ideas for making a difference with your PR? Check out how charities Tiny Tickers and The Wildlife Trusts got cut-through with their campaigns on shoestring budgets here.

Cause-led comms: How to find out which case studies perform best

Cause-led comms: How to find out which case studies perform best

Case studies are an effective way to demonstrate the immediate impact that your organisation is having on those most impacted by the cause. Whether it’s support that you have directly provided, or perhaps commentary on a relevant news story – case studies demonstrate action and thought leadership, boosting overall brand awareness and donor opportunities.

Here are six ways to find out which of yours are standing out from the crowd:

1. What does ‘best’ mean for you?

Everyone’s definition of success is different, depending on the campaign and overall objective. Before you start measuring any media coverage, it’s essential to understand what the ‘best’ looks like for both within your organisation and within your team..

For example, high volume doesn’t always mean positive results — in fact, focusing on quantitative figures alone can massively distort your real performance and hide significant achievements. The quality of coverage is key; what if you have 50% less coverage than your competitor, but theirs was 50% more negative? What if all of their coverage was passive mentions and yours included headline hits? You get the idea.

Quality of coverage is particularly important when it comes to case studies. Knowing whether you want to be the most-talked about, the most positively-mentioned, most prominent etc., is a vital first step to the measurement process.

2. Visibility over time

Impact over time

Looking over a chosen period i.e. six months, which case studies are generating the most coverage? Which stories peaked quickly and which had a slow burn over a longer timeframe? Again, none of these are good nor bad – each of them depend on your goals entirely.

3. Key message penetration

Let’s say the goal of your case study campaign is to promote the idea that your organisation – or perhaps a key spokesperson within it – is a go-to expert in the industry. Key message penetration is an effective way to measure the percentage of case study coverage that demonstrates this ‘expert’ reputation, and any other message you’re keen to establish.

An effective way to do this is to build-out a concise list of key messages that you’d like to be embedded in your case study coverage, then when the campaign is over, measure which ones have been most-mentioned by your target publications and beyond.

4. Which spokespeople gain the most traction?

Many not-for-profits have several reputations to promote, e.g.. PDSA – alongside its board members, the animal welfare charity has several regular veterinarians that are identified by name in advice columns.

If a goal of yours is to promote the awareness of specific faces within the organisation, then it would be valuable to assess which names are most-to-least mentioned in your case studies and why. Remember, volume isn’t everything — study how they’re mentioned too and ensure it aligns with your goals.

5. Is it on your target media list?

Are any of your case studies being heard by your target audiences? If so, where and how many? Which ones are most picked up by the press?

A simple way to learn this is by taking all of your case study coverage over a certain campaign or time period and filtering it out to only display what appears in target publications. This list will provide several layers of insight into which case studies are performing ‘best’ in the media outlets that are most-relevant to your campaign goals.

Vuelio Insights’ top tip: By doing the same thing for your competitors, it’s possible to find new publications that are interested in similar case studies to yours and as a result, uncover a whole host of untapped media opportunities.

6. Vuelio’s Impact Score

We get it – when time is scarce and the pressure is high, sometimes you just need a quick answer to move forward with your communications plan. The Vuelio Impact Score is a bespoke metric designed by our Insights team that offers you a simple, actionable, singular figure for your own combined goals.

For example, if you just want to know which case studies are getting the most volume and positive sentiment combined, the impact score tailors to this. Alternatively, you could be looking for case studies with the most positive CEO mentions – in comes the Vuelio Impact Score.

Ultimately, it’s one thing to read the tips, but it’s another to find the time and resources. The Vuelio Insights team does the work for you by creating expert-led, highly digestible media impact reports just for you, so you can see exactly how you’re performing and feel confident in your next steps.

Want to learn more? Get in touch here.

October 2023 trends on the Journalist Enquiry Service

Festivities, fitness, and topical trends – what journalists need from PRs in October

It’s still nearly two months before we can open the first door on our advent calendars, but journalists and bloggers have already been looking to get their hands on them for reviews and features.

Wondering what else the media are looking for? This roundup of all the topics and trends on the Journalist Enquiry Service in September will shed some light and provide you with pointers for getting media coverage in October.

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

A flurry of festive enquiries

Christmas requests started to trickle through from July and are now the dominant keyword on the Journalist Enquiry Service. Last month, over 13% of the total requests contained the keyword ‘Christmas’. This is double the number we saw in August.

A lot of these requests have been for a ‘gift guide’, which as a key phrase occurred in 8% of the enquiries. While ‘advent calendar’ also performed well and there were just under 3% of the total requests looking for these. Journalists at heat magazine, MailOnline, The Sun and Glamour have used the key phrase ‘advent calendar’ while reporters at Town & County, Bella, Yours and The Guardian have sent enquiries for ‘gift guides’.

This will remain pretty constant throughout October and November, meaning plenty of opportunities to get products and samples out and covered in both consumer media and national press titles.

A strong showing for fitness

A keyword that you would normally expert to find in January that was prevalent last month (appearing in just under 3% of the total requests last month) was ‘fitness’, perhaps because of National Fitness Day on 25th September.

Some journalists were looking to get ahead of the curve with one looking for information on ‘Health, fitness and wellness events taking place in 2024’. Others were more focused on the here and now, as another journalist asked for ‘Fitness gear for fall: must-have equipment and apparel.’ This resulted in a very healthy 23% increase for the Leisure & Hobbies category.

A BOO-m for Halloween

We mentioned last month that ‘Halloween’ would naturally increase in popularity throughout September and that proved to be the case as the amount of requests doubled. This holiday is normally popular with children and the Children & Teenagers category saw a 23% rise as a result.

Journalists from the Daily Mail, Daily Express, Metro and Stylist.co.uk all sent Halloween-related requests last month. These varied from wanting suggestions for costumes, to events for adults and kids, to Halloween home decor ideas. This should continue to be a trend until we reach the holiday at the end of the month, so still time to get coverage in the media if you have products/events along these lines.

Topical trends – From AI to mental health

Seasonal events like Christmas and Halloween will always do well on the Journalist Enquiry Service, but what about the trending topics each month? 

‘AI’ performed strongly with just over 2% of the total requests featuring it as a keyword. This has been a trending topic for most of the year but could also link into legal issues for ChatGPT around copyright relating to ‘Game of Thrones’ and other media properties. The Consumer Technology category had the second biggest increase from August as it rose 24% – only Men’s Interest improved more at 27%.

Another trend that we have, unfortunately, seen for a while is around the cost-of-living. September’s focus has been on energy, with journalists asking for advice from experts on reducing bills ahead of the Winter months. ‘Energy’ as a keyword featured in just under 2% of last month’s enquiries. The Times, The i paper and ITV News all covered this topic and it should remain a keyword, presenting more opportunities to get an expert featured in the national media.

‘Mental health’ has been another key phrase performing well on the service, with World Suicide Prevention Day on 10 September and World Mental Health Day coming up on 10 October. Enquiries around this topic are usually for experts or information and statistics. The Health category, which is regularly the second most used each month by journalists , saw an 8% increase as a result.

What are journalists using the service for?

The majority of journalists using the service in September were looking for a spokesperson or expert (34%). Review products was the second most popular enquiry type on 24%, with information for an article next on 22% and personal case study fourth on 11%. Most of the journalists were from consumer media (35%), with national newspaper/current affairs second on 26% and trade/business/professional media third on 18%.

51% of people sending a request were staff journalists, while 27% were freelance journalists – making up nearly 80% of the service. In terms of the top outlets sending requests, eight of them were national press and the other two were consumer titles.

Opportunities for PRs in October?

‘Halloween’ will see a final flourish as a keyword and ‘Christmas’ is likely to increase again as the festive season approaches. Both keywords present chances to get review products featured. 

If you work with experts and spokespeople, then health is the hot topic this month. As we mentioned, World Mental Health Day is coming up, as is World Menopause Day. It’s also time to celebrate Black History Month, so we expect journalists to be looking for comment. We could also see a boost for the Travel category, with the October half-term holiday in a couple of weeks’ time.

To start receiving requests from the UK media to your inbox, find out more about the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service.

Gen Z journalists

When, how, and what to pitch when working with Gen Z journalists

The first rule of PR is knowing how to engage with journalists. Knowing when to pitch, how to get in contact and what a journalist is looking for can help to build the foundations of a relationship. But what do the new generation of journalists like – and not like – when it comes to working with PRs?

We spoke to Livingetc news editor Lilith Hudson, Telegraph global health security desk journalist Lilia Sebouai, and woman&home senior fashion & beauty writer Amelia Yeomans to find out about working in the media industry as a Gen Zer, contact preferences, and the importance of social media.

Industry perceptions

Everyone has thoughts or ideas on what the workplace will be like before they start on their career path. Lilia’s perception of journalism mainly came from film and TV and this wasn’t the reality she was greeted with: 

‘I didn’t expect that I would be in an office everyday, I kind of expected to be out on different jobs in new areas each day, but this changed with the rise of social media.’

The importance of technology within journalism was picked up on by Lilth and Amelia. Amelia ‘didn’t realise how much of the industry would rely on things like SEO and e-comm, and how highly valued skills in those areas are.’ 

Lilith backed this: ‘Within lifestyle journalism and interiors as a whole, there’s been a massive move towards digital’ and that journalists therefore ‘have to adapt to producing the content’ as a result.

Getting in contact

All three journalists agreed that email is the best way to get in contact with them. For Amelia, it’s useful having everything in one place so she can then search for something specific: 

I look back through my emails all the time to search for experts or products, so an email with a clear subject line stating what’s in the body of the email is always appreciated.’ 

A lot of Lilith’s work is with the US and therefore ‘when it comes to commentary, it’s usually email responses’ that are the most beneficial.

The stereotype is that Gen Z don’t like contact via phone, but neither Lilia or Lilith were against it. Lilia said that ‘for articles with a deadline, it’s often best to just have a quick call’ as her work at the Telegraph is closely tied in with the news cycle. Lilith hasn’t had a phone call from a PR but will call switchboards for big PR firms that she needs comment from as she’s ‘not afraid to pick up the phone.’ 

However, for Amelia, phone calls are a definite no. 

‘We’re so pushed for time that I really don’t have a free minute to answer the phone – much better to lay everything out in an email and I will always get in contact if it’s relevant to what I’m working on.’

Relationship building

Establishing a good working relationship with PRs is as important to the new generation of journalists as it is to the current one. Amelia said that she will ‘speak to PRs daily for things like product recommendations and expert quotes, so if there’s someone I know well and know I can rely on that makes everything so much simpler.’ 

Lilia also recognised the need for good communication with PRs. She said ‘building PR relationships can be good for securing interviews with high-profile interviewees/guaranteeing us exclusive access to stories. I prefer face-to-face meetings for long-term projects like this.’

Lilith’s work has changed now that she is working more for a US audience but still thinks it’s ‘really key to have a real rapport and real relationship’ with PRs. She gave the example of how recently a few sources had not come back to her with commentary so she reached out to a PR that she had an excellent relationship with. She asked if they could get anything over to her within 24 hours and the PR did it within 12. 

‘If it wasn’t for the fact that she knew my name, and she knew to look out for me in her inbox, I don’t think that would have happened.’ 

This underlines the importance of building and maintaining a strong relationship with journalists, and showing that you are a reliable and helpful source when it matters.

Social media preferences

Most journalists, whether Gen Z or not, are on a variety of social media platforms. But should PRs be contacting them there? Amelia isn’t really a fan:

‘I really don’t like PRs contacting me through them unless it’s someone I already have an established relationship with. Once I know someone and have met them multiple times it’s fine for them to drop me a message, but I’m not comfortable with being contacted by anyone I’m not friendly with as my social pages are personal and I want to keep my work separate.’

That separation between professional and personal social media is where the lines can be blurred. Lilith agreed that ‘it’s kind of a difficult line to toe in terms of whether it’s a professional or personal account.’ She also isn’t keen on PRs reaching out to her on socials unless she is using X (formerly known as Twitter) for a quick comment with #Journorequest. Lilia will also use X for work, as well as Reddit and TikTok. However, again there is crossover as she will use TikTok for pleasure too, alongside Instagram. Generally, it’s probably best to avoid contacting Gen Z journalists via socials.

Gen Z stereotypes and the future of work

Each generation comes with their own stereotypes and Lilia ran through the negative ones for her age group and the ‘Gen Z’ label: ‘Gen Z are obsessed with their phones and unoriginal and lazy’. 

But she actually likes the term ‘Gen Z’, and rather than believing any negative connotations, everyone at the Telegraph ‘expects me to be all over TikTok’. Amelia put a further positive spin on this saying that ‘most people associate Gen Z with being in touch with current trends, which is good as a journalist’.

Lilith agreed that ‘there’s an expectation that you will be more clued on socials’. She also pointed out there’s been a lot of talk around ‘quiet quitting’ being a Gen Z movement. However, Lilith feels that their generation ‘just have very different expectations around their work life – ‘we’re not prepared to give up our entire lives for our work.’ 

The future of work is in flux with the introduction of AI and concepts like the Metaverse. Gen Z are stereotypically pro technology and up to speed with new innovations. However, all three journalists were unsure of what impact it would have on journalism, with Amelia commenting that ‘so much is unknown at the moment’. 

Whatever the future does hold, it’s clear that Gen Z journalists are as keen as previous generations to work closely with PRs.

Want more on how to work with Gen Z? Download our Vuelio white paper ‘The PR Guide to communicating with Gen Z‘. 

To start getting enquiries and requests from journalists like this, straight to your inbox, check out the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service

 

 

How journalists are writing about Gen Z

Work, life, and finances: How the media are covering Gen Z

The first real digital native generation, Gen Z, or those born between 1997 and 2012, is an age group in demand with industries from fashion to dating desperately trying to get its attention.

The media frequently covers the demographic, so we examined their approach and the opportunities for PRs that we’ve seen via the Journalist Enquiry Service.

Gen Z: A popular topic for the media

Gen Z as a keyword has fluctuated in popularity as a keyword over the last six months on the enquiry service. However, the number of requests containing ‘Gen Z’ has doubled from August to September.

These requests have tended to focus on the generation’s attitude towards work and the workplace. This included a request from a national press journalist who was looking for comment on the trend for so-called ‘lazy girl jobs’ – which is quite often associated with Gen Z. While a trade journalist wanted to know if Generation Z was having a hard time adapting to in-person workplaces.

Gen Z at work

This focus on Gen Z and work meant that a lot of the requests came from trade titles. In fact, 44% of requests around this keyword were from trade/business/professional media. Journalists at HR Grapevine, Business Leader, People Management and StartUps.co.uk have all been exploring this topic over the last few months. It has varied from looking for information, to wanting case studies and expert comment, so if you have any clients with expertise in this area then there should be more opportunities.

Money as a motivator

Closely associated with the topic of work is finance, and there have been several enquiries looking to explore this area. These have included looking for a figure/research on Gen Z’s discretionary spending each month and for information on whether money is the biggest motivator for them. All of these enquiries around work and finance meant that 52% of the requests containing the keyword ‘Gen Z’ were in the Business & Finance category, 45% were for the Education and Human Resources category, and 31% were in Personal Finance.

Life as a Gen Zer

However, it hasn’t just been work and finance that journalists have been looking into around Gen Z. The Women’s Interest category was the third most used category, on 38%. A national press journalist was looking for case studies of women choosing to freeze their eggs in their 20s, and another national press reporter was looking for a sex and relationship expert to comment on why Gen Z are having less sex.

Most interested in writing about the age group? National press

In fact, 33% of all enquiries around Gen Z as a keyword were from national newspaper/current affairs outlets. This included The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, PA Media, The Guardian and the Evening Standard. They varied from looking at the women’s interest/health angle, to work and finance, to exploring Gen Z’s relationship with technology as well as what their interests are. On the tech side, one journalist was looking for an academic for a piece on the relationship between AI technology and Gen Z workers. Another was looking to hear from publishers/literary agents/YA experts about why royal-themed romances are so popular with Gen Z.

This shows that while requests around Gen Z in work and their finances are the most popular, there is a great deal of variety of enquiries around this topic. The need for experts/spokespeople, as we see on a monthly basis on the Journalist Enquiry Service, is the most in demand, though. 48% of the enquiries for Gen Z as a keyword fit into this enquiry type and this definitely provides the best avenue going forward for securing coverage in the media.

Want to start receiving requests from UK journalists, broadcasters, and influencers direct to your inbox? Check out the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service