No PR budget? No problem

No PR budget? No problem: Using the Journalist Enquiry Service to gain coverage as a small business

Not every business has a dedicated in-house PR person, comms team or the budget to bring in an agency to do public relations – that does not mean it is impossible to gain coverage in the UK media.

The ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service is used by small business owners, sector-specific agencies, household brand PR teams and global comms teams alike. Whatever size your business – and whichever niche your service or products fall into – journalists are always interested in relevant contributions.

Want to get started with media outreach for yourself? Here is how to do it with the Journalist Enquiry Service (book a one week trial here).

1) Be confident

A steady stream of requests from journalists to your inbox – if you do not have much experience with doing your own PR, it can be intimidating. Not every request that comes through will be one you can help with – look through them and reply to those that sound relevant to you. As long as what you are offering can help the journalist, you have got nothing to lose.

2) Be straightforward

There is no specific way to start a conversation with a journalist that you will not know about if you haven’t got a qualification in public relations – just offer the journalist what they have asked for if you have it. Outline what you have for them clearly, concisely and politely; no fancy jargon needed.

3) Be speedy

Each request sent by a media professional via the Journalist Enquiry Service will have a deadline. As with any project that has a deadline, it is better to get started sooner rather than later. See a request you can help with? Put together your response and send it straight away; don’t wait until tomorrow when the journo’s feature could already be filled with contributions from others who got in touch super fast.

4) Be ready with images

If you have images (or even video or audio) that go with your contribution – of your product, spokesperson or event, for example – upload them to a file sharing service (like DropBox, WeTransfer, or Google Drive) and include a link in your response. Not every journalist will need an image for their story, but give them the option just in case. One definite don’t for images, though – attachments on the first email; that is a no-no.

5) Be generous with your expertise

Nobody can be an expert in everything, not even a journalist who has been covering a particular patch for years. They want expert comment from those with the know-how to fill their feature – if that is you, put yourself forward to help them.

6) Be realistic about responses

Journalists are incredibly busy people with busy inboxes – you will not get a reply every time you respond to a request. Even if you do not hear back from them, they will have made a note of your details if you are a relevant contact and may get back in touch for another feature. Every connection can be a future opportunity.

7) Be patient

Deadlines – journalists have plenty of them. In addition to the deadline they set for contributions – included on the request – they will also have a personal deadline for finishing their feature, and one for filing with their editor. That is not the end of the story, either… Each outlet has their own publishing schedule, with some working months and months ahead. You might not see your contribution for a while. In some cases, it might be cut during the editing process. Do not chase – just keep trying and trust you have made a useful connection in the media.

8) Be reliable and responsive

You are as busy as the journalists you want to connect with, but there is no excuse for ghosting, AKA offering information or an interview and then disappearing because you do not have time. Before you promise something to a journalist, make sure you can provide it. If you are acting on behalf of somebody else, make sure they can deliver, too.

9) Be regular with your activity

Media outreach is an ongoing activity, and one you will get more effective and faster at with experience. Set a regular time slot for yourself to go through requests and see what you can help with – if you fit it into your working week, it will become an automatic part of your business.

10) Be open to additional topics

Being quoted in the media is beneficial; even if what you are talking about is not directly related to your business, you are building your reputation. If you are quoted, the journalist will include a mention of your job title and perhaps a little about what you do. As well as building on your ‘personal brand’, you will also be known to the journalist as someone they can connect with for upcoming related features.

For help with your media outreach, get requests from UK media people straight to your inbox – book a demo of the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service.

Want more advice on how to make the most of the service? Check out our previous advice posts:

How to respond to journalist enquiries
How to tackle vague requests from journalists
6 reasons to stop searching #JournoRequest and start using the Journalist Enquiry Service

City Hall Journalists

Inside City Hall – The journalists shining a light on London politics

Pictured, left to right: Callum Marius (MyLondon) Joe Talora (Evening Standard, LDR) Jessica Frank-Keyes (LondonWorld), Josiah Mortimer (MyLondon), James Cracknell (Social Spider).

For those outside of the Press Gallery, the inner workings of political journalism can seem like a closed-off and mysterious part of the media.

What does a typical day look like for City Hall journalists, how do they like to work with PRs and how does one get into this line of reporting?

ResponseSource community manager Andrew Strutt caught up with MyLondon City Hall editor Josiah Mortimer, founder of the recently-launched City Hall Journalists lobby, to find out…

City Hall journos are a close-knit group

‘Having worked in Parliament’s Press Gallery for a couple of years, I found it to be a really useful and supportive network.’
‘When City Hall moved east to Newham earlier this year, it got me thinking about provisions for reporters in the new building – which aren’t quite up to scratch.

‘Often people say that reporting in the UK is ‘London-centric’. This isn’t quite true – it’s Westminster-centric but a lot of what happens in devolved politics goes ignored.

‘There aren’t many of us covering City Hall, so it is great to be working together to speak with a louder voice, improve transparency and build the profile of GLA reporting. I wanted to get this network off the ground to shine a brighter light on London’s politics. Hopefully we can bring some of the best of the Press Gallery to The Crystal, adapted for today.’

No day is ‘typical’, but here is an idea of how things work…#

‘It will involve watching a committee hearing – whether that’s economy, planning, health or oversight/scrutiny.’

‘We work closely with the Assembly Members who are a font of knowledge on City Hall, and are – like us, in a way – there to scrutinise the Mayor, so there is a lot of interaction there. The Mayor has a lot of sway over high profile issues like transport and policing so we tend to trawl through new documents and data, and will often do one or two interviews with the Mayor a week. But the GLA impacts all Londoners, so we try to build links with as many community groups, activists, resident groups, unions and so on as possible.’

How PRs can work with those reporting from City Hall

‘I tend to primarily work with non-profit PRs – those at campaign groups and organisations affected by the GLA.’

‘In terms of for-profits, that will often be in a reactive way, getting rights of reply or checking facts. I enjoy writing the occasional review so will work closely with PRs for music, food or travel content. On getting in touch, I’m a big fan of chatting on the phone but a Twitter DM is usually a good way in – it is a good platform for a very succinct pitch. Please don’t send ten identical emails, though!’

The best part of working the City Hall patch?

Having started in the role last October, Josiah already has some highlights:

‘Getting to ride on the Elizabeth Line before it opened – Londoners had been waiting for it for so long. I was there on the day it opened, too – on the first train from Paddington, following the Mayor and revelling in the transport geekery.

‘Sometimes the highlights are also lowlights, in a sense. I recently did a London Assembly tour of Brixton speaking to market traders about the cost-of-living crisis. It was moving to hear what they’re going through, and it’s also my patch so great to get to know more of the community.’

Find out more about the City Hall Journalists group and its members here.

For news from the political and public affairs sector, sign up to Vuelio’s Friday newsletter Point of Order.

What's next? The new generation of journalists

‘Don’t talk to me! (email me instead)’: How to work with Gen Z journalists

It is a frequent ask from writers to PRs: don’t phone to pitch, don’t call to follow up on an email you have just sent. Unsurprisingly, it is no different for up-and-coming Generation Z journalists, the 25-year-olds (and younger) making their way in the media now.

That doesn’t mean young journalists are unapproachable. In fact, the three Gen Z freelance writers on the panel of our Vuelio webinar ‘What’s Next? The new generation of journalists’ love to work with PRs, fully appreciating what those in the comms sector can bring to their content. Provided it is not pitched in an ‘awkward’ way, of course…

Watch the full ‘What’s Next? The new generation of journalists’ webinar.

Here are just some of the insights shared by freelancers Zesha Saleem, Michele Theil and Hannah Bradfield on the internal workings of the modern media industry and how they like to work with comms pros.

1) Gen Z journos LOVE working with PRs (these writers do, anyway)

Freelance journalist Zesha Saleem – who has racked up commissions from Metro, British Vogue and The Guardian so far – considers PRs really helpful for her writing:

‘PRs do such an amazing and important job. I used to reply to every PR who contacted me – I try to reply to as many as I can now, but now I tend to reply to the ones I can definitely work on.

‘If I don’t reply, assume that I don’t have the capability to work on it. I don’t work five days a week; I do limited shifts. Sometimes PRs will email three or four times in a day. Journalists are told not to pitch the same thing three or four times… That’s just one thing I’d say to keep in mind…’

2) Young journalists see the common ground between PRs and journos

Michele Theil – currently under contract at the BBC and a freelancer for outlets including VICE and The Independent – understands just how similar job-related pressures are for both journalists and PRs:

‘I try to respond as much as possible – a PR friend told me people that take the time to reply are their favourite journalists. From my perspective, when I’m pitching to an editor, I hate not getting a response.

3) Don’t take it personally if you don’t get a response

‘Sometimes there are so many emails and not enough time in the day,’ added Michele.

‘I understand that PRs have to chase, but give us some time. Sometimes I don’t have the emotional energy to reply to things. I hope that no one ever takes it personally; I never ever mean it personally. It’s nothing to do with you or the content; just right now, in the moment, it’s not right for what I’m working on.’

4) To DM, or to not DM?

‘I prefer emails to be honest,’ said Zesha.

‘I don’t work all the time, so if it’s a press release, I’ll move it into a folder and get back to it later. My DMs are a mess, first of all. Things can get lost and sometimes I don’t open them until months later. Sometimes it’s something great that I can’t really work on anymore – definitely send an email.’

Michele agrees: ‘I mostly get contacted by email, which is great, especially when I’ve put out a call or a request. Sometimes I get a DM, and I’m not completely averse to that, but don’t be annoyed if I don’t reply to your DM. If I haven’t responded in a few hours, drop me an email because I’m more likely to see it there.’

5) Respect their work/life dynamic

Hannah, a fellow freelance journalist alongside her duties as a Journo Resources trainee prefers email for media outreach: ‘It’s just easier to regulate. With Twitter, the lines can be blurred a little.’

‘It offers a degree of separation,’ agreed Michele, highlighting the importance of maintaining a healthy work/life balance – hard for freelance journalists, and frequently an issue for PRs, too.

‘I can choose when I respond with an email – it gives everyone agency. A lot of our work blurs into our personal life as freelancers – give me the choice to reply tomorrow.

6) Media outreach: don’t make it awkward

What makes email so useful for media outreach isn’t just its convenience for journalists. It also skips any forced social interactions. Meeting up for coffee, offering to buy them a drink? Way too 90s/early-00s an approach.

‘Building long-term relationships with PRs is great,’ said Michele. ‘But I have this weird thing, when PRs offer to pay for everything. That’s nice; that’s lovely… but it makes me feel a bit awkward? It can be really awkward for people of our generation. “Let me buy you a coffee”. Like… why?’

And not to belabour the point, but before you pick up the phone to call them – rethink it.

‘Gen Zs don’t like phone calls – don’t talk to me,’ Michele joked.

Just email to start the conversation when you’re doing media outreach in future – it is less awkward for everyone.

Watch the webinar here for more from these three journalists and how they work with PRs, and check out more advice on pitching to different sections of the media in our white paper How to pitch to journalists.

Want requests from UK journalists straight through to your inbox? Book a demo of the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service.

Six statistics about generation Z

6 statistics about Gen Z to consider when planning your next PR campaign

Are you engaging with Generation Z with your comms and campaigns? According to research from our latest white paper The PR guide to communicating with Gen Z, around a fifth of the UK PR industry aren’t yet factoring the under-25s into their planning – that’s a huge missed opportunity. 

Download The PR guide to communicating with Gen Z

Not sure how Gen Z differ to Millennials in their motivations and interests? Which social media platforms you should be investing your time in? The kind of content you should be creating to engage and inspire them? Here are six statistics about the age group to get you started:

1. Play

42% of Gen Z consumers would participate in an online game for a brand campaign, according to data from the National Retail Federation and IBM Institute of Business Value’s ‘Gen Z Brand Relationships global study’ from 2017. ITV utilised this by recreating its ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’ castle in Fortnite, while plenty of other big brands have spaces set up in Roblox. Is there a way to incorporate gaming into your own upcoming campaigns?

2. Be social

Almost all Gen Zers (95%) use YouTube, half (50%) ‘can’t live without it’, while 69% of the Gen Zers use Instagram, according to findings from Ad Week’s 2017 report on the age group. Most valuable platforms alongside YouTube and Instagram – Facebook (67%), Snapchat (67%) and Twitter (52%).

3. Be quick and concise

Gen Zers have an eight-second attention span, according to research from Microsoft. That’s a whole four-seconds shorter than the 12-second span of Millennials. What they need from PR, comms pros and marketers are streamlined and concise communications, whichever platform you’re using. With this challenge comes opportunity – Gen Z has a high ability, and natural tendency, to multitask when consuming content. For engaging with Gen Zers busy streaming a show or film while tweeting about it on social media, check out this Vuelio webinar on utilising high and low involvement attention with Neuro PR.

4. Educate and empower

Over half (52%) of teenagers used YouTube and other social media channels for research assignments or school work, was the findings in the Pew Research Center study ‘How Teens Do Research in the Digital World’ – social sites aren’t just for entertainment or consumption for Generation Z. If your niche is in education, raising awareness or the third sector, don’t overlook social platforms as a way to connect with the younger generation. For more on making use of social media to raise awareness, check out how charities including Tiny Tickers and The Wildlife Trusts are doing it here.

5. Collaborate

Over three quarters (77%) of Gen Z employees are willing to be technology mentors for their co-workers, according to Dell Technologies research piece ‘The Gen Z effect‘.

Not quite sure how to work TikTok and other new(ish) technologies into your upcoming campaign set pieces? If you’re one of the 37% of teams that have under-25s on your team, as found in research for our Vuelio white paper, make the most of their skillsets and get them working on it.

6. Help them to create and communicate their message and motivations, too

76% of Generation Z believe they can turn their hobbies into a full-time career, according to this piece from Forbes.

With all of their ability to utilise and adapt to evolving communication styles, platforms and formats, Generation Z are born communicators and creators. They’re hungry for fresh content they can enjoy, interact with, add to and transform. That’s a lot of opportunity, and responsibility, for those looking to engage with and learn from them.

For more on how to communicate with and engage Generation Z in your PR and comms, check out the full white paper The PR guide to communicating with Gen Z

Social listening introduction

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

If you work in public relations, communications or public affairs and you’re only tracking your brand or client’s reputation and impact across the media, you might be missing a significant part of the conversation.

For the basics of social listening and how it can inform your work and success rate, read on below…

What is social listening?

Social listening, in essence, is listening to any conversation that’s happening on the World Wide Web – it’s much more than a buzzword banded around by PR teams keen to appear in-the-know when it comes to digital.

Social listening can include Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, right through to blogs and online forums. Pulsar’s social listening solutions are also expanding to ‘newer’ platforms like TikTok and Twitch, beloved of younger, incredibly-engaged online demographics.

There are two forms of social listening particularly useful when planning for upcoming campaigns and tracking their impact.

Pre-mediated listening: Are there trends you want to track, like sustainability, rising sea levels, or air travel, but you aren’t exactly sure what the conversation around them looks like? Pre-mediated listening is where you can start zeroing-in on these conversational topics. They can be specific to your brand, your competitors, or sectors you wish to be associated with.

Organic listening: Perhaps you don’t know a lot about your intended audience yet – what topics do they care about, how do they feel about them? How should you position your own brand on the topic? This is where organic listening comes in.

Is social listening… legal?

In a word – yes. All social platforms have terms and conditions that social listening services such as Pulsar must adhere to. For social platforms that have both public and private profiles, only the datasets from the public ones, those that are in the public domain, can be listened to by third parties like Pulsar.

As for what social listening platforms are listening to, there’s a lot – keywords (topics), audience panels (focus groups of media users – demographic, political affiliation, even detractors or supporters of your band around your brand), and specific content and URLs (a press release, a YouTube video, or perhaps your website).

With social listening, you can understand who’s sharing what, what they’re saying about it, and the impact it has.

Is social media monitoring the same as social listening?

No – think of social media monitoring as more ‘top line’. It will give you the metrics, but not necessarily the ‘why’ behind all the sharing, or the silence.

Social listening can be more actionable – what’s happening in the conversation, is this something you want to react to? Using crisis comms as an example – should you ‘fan the flames’, or let them die down?

What does social listening offer?

On that subject of metrics, there are plenty that social listening can give you. There’s visibility (impact of content across different mediums), impressions, reach, shares, comments. Pulsar, for example, gives context; making metrics more useable.

There’s conversational insight – what is driving positivity, or negativity? What’s should your narrative be on specific topics?

For audience insights – you can find out who exactly is engaging with your content, whether you’ve reached your intended audience, and whether there are segments you should have been considering from the start.

Social listening allows us to track how information flows from person to person, how people engage with influencers, and where the information goes next. It helps to understand who is most central to specific online communities – is it bloggers who are making stories go viral? Who do you want to work with?

How can PR, comms and public affairs teams use social listening?

Extra insight on online conversations can slot into and enrich any part of a campaign cycle.

For pre-activity analysis, social listening can help you decide what your brand, clients, or spokespeople should be saying, including the tone. This data can even provide insight on whether you should engage at all.

Throughout your campaign, social listening will show you which media is useful for your audience. Your client may want to be on the front page of a red-top newspaper, but will the intended audience be picking up that paper from the newsagent?

For finding the right journalists, broadcasters and influencers for your next campaign, book a demo of the Vuelio Media Database.

Post-activity is where you can determine ROI and prove that what you’re doing is working. Benchmark against your previous activity, or your competitors’, check out real-time reaction, and the ebb and flow of engagement throughout your campaign. Did you reach the audience you wanted to reach, new sectors, or the same people you already engage with every day?

Ultimately, social listening can give you access to conversations you’ve always wanted to be a part of, whichever part of the comms industry you’re working in.

Find out more about Pulsar’s social listening solutions and how it can help you with upcoming campaigns here

What journalists want: requests from media interviews on ResponseSource

What journalists want: Requests from ResponseSource media interviews

We regularly catch up with UK journalists, editors, podcasters, broadcasters and more for our Media Bulletin newsletters. One thing we always like to ask: how they prefer to work with PRs and comms professionals.

Sign up to the Media Bulletin newsletter for twice-weekly updates from the UK media industry. Want more details on new hires, new patches and new launches? Book a demo of the Vuelio Media Database.

Here is a round-up of requests from the journalists the Media Bulletin team have recently interviewed over on our sister ResponseSource blog – read on for what they’d find useful.

Peter Stuart, editor of Cyclingnews
‘I welcome pitches from PRs, but more general releases often fly under my radar. I would encourage PRs pitching their brands to really dive into our content at Cyclingnews and make the case for how an idea would engage our readership.’

Peter Stuart joined Cyclingnews as editor in March of this year following his time as digital editor for Rouleur and also at Cyclist. At Cyclingnews, Peter oversees all editorial and content strategy for the website, covering cycling sport, cycling lifestyle and road cycling gear.

Read the full interview for trends in cycling in 2022 and interesting facts you might not know about the sport.

Natasha Lunn, features director for Red magazine and author of ‘Conversations on Love’
‘For stories for Red, it’s best to pitch to me via email (bearing in mind we work three months ahead!).’

Alongside her role on Red magazine, Natasha Lunn published her book ‘Conversations on Love’ in November 2021, featuring fellow writers and experts including Alain De Botton, Roxane Gay, Dolly Alderton and Candice Carty-Williams.

Read the full interview for details of Natasha’s future projects and balancing book writing with work on a busy magazine.

Aaron Hurst, senior reporter for Information Age
‘We like to take on press releases telling stories that CTOs and CIOs can benefit from, including research and new products that fill a big gap in the market.

‘Also, we’re always looking to take on exclusive, vendor-neutral thought leadership articles that provide practical business tech guidance for leaders.’

As senior reporter for Information Age, Aaron Hurst delivers news and features of interest to technology leaders, particularly CTOs and CIOs. As well as covering tech topics including AI and cyber security to the cloud, edge and IoT, the Information Age team report on digital transformation across verticals like healthcare, education and retail.

Read the full interview for what Aaron thinks the long-term impacts of the pandemic will be on the tech sector and his dream story/commission.

Lucy Britner, editor at Drinks Retailing
‘Information and ideas that show they know the magazine or website, exclusive thought leadership pieces that aren’t thinly-veiled advertorials, decent images. Most of the PRs in the drinks industry are great – and they enjoy working in the drinks trade, too.’

A Keeper of the Quaich, Lucy has been covering the hospitality sector for almost two decades. Having started as a reporter for the Morning Advertiser, Lucy now covers the off-trade drinks market, keeping retailers in the know.

Read the full interview for what the future looks like for drinks retailing and Lucy’s career highlights so far.

Emilia Leese, journalist, editor of Heath & Hampstead Society Magazine and author of ‘Think Like a Vegan’
‘Contact me with relevant contributions via email, or through Instagram, LinkedIn. You can also contact me through my blog, Emi’s Good Eating.’

Based between London and the Highlands, freelance journalist, editor and author Emilia Leese focuses on contemporary social justice issues, in particular veganism and its intersection with a variety of human concerns and issues.

Read the full interview for Emilia’s thoughts on the importance of Veganuary and the growth of veganism.

As part of our Media Bulletin newsletter, we regularly catch up with both UK media professionals and PR people with interesting stories and advice on pushing the creative industries forward.

If you have a media client you’d like featured, or have something exciting yourself to talk about on trends happening within the comms or media industry, get in touch with the Media Bulletin team: [email protected].

PR and media inclusion networks to join and work with

PR and comms inclusion networks to join and work with

It’s Pride Month in the UK, but work on pushing the creative industries forward on inclusion and equity goes on all year round.

Everyone deserves to be heard, included, represented fairly and supported – just some of the many responsibilities of an effective PR team. Here are a selection of some of the groups, associations and initiatives in public relations, communications and the media working to make things better in our industries.

PRCA’s LGBTQ+ Network

PRCA LGBTQ+ Network

Relaunched in March of this year, the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA)’s LGBTQ+ Network aims to boost positive impact across the industry when it comes to inclusivity. We spoke to co-chairs Emma Franklin-Wright and Katie Traxton about their aims and what’s coming up this year, and have more on building inclusion into your workplace and work with these tips.

PRCA’s Race and Ethnicity Equity Board (REEB)

PRCA REEB

Headed up by chair Barbara Phillips, and having welcomed Emmanuel Ofosu-Appiah as Vice Chair earlier this year, the Race and Ethnicity Equity Board works to create immediate and long-term racial equity within the PR and comms industry. For how the board is sharing best practice approaches for ethnic and racial inclusion, catch up on our interviews with Barbara and Emmanuel.

Taylor Bennett Foundation

The Taylor Bennett Foundation is a charity helping BAME people into the PR and communications industry with mentoring and training programmes. In 2008, the year of the foundation’s launch, CIPR data found that just 6.3% of the PR practitioner population were from a BAME background. By 2020, that percentage was still ‘woefully low’ at 9%, according to the charity’s chief executive Melissa Lawrence. Watch our accessmatters session with Melissa, and catch up with the good work of the foundation in this interview.

The Financial Times’ Proud FT

The UK media has a long history of exclusionary hiring practices and reporting when it comes to marginalised communities. Helping to push back on this is the Financial Times’ inclusion group Proud FT, chaired by Cassius Naylor. As well as supporting transgender and nonbinary employees working within the organisations, Proud FT also works for fair representations of the LGBTQ+ community in the press. Watch our accessmatters session with Cassius to find out how the PR industry can help with fighting misrepresentation and misinformation.

The Social Mobility Foundation

There continues to be a class problem in the media and the communications industries, alike – CIPR’s State of the Profession report from 2020 finding that PRs are more likely to have a degree (76%) compared to the general public (35%), and that 41% of PRs have parents with university degrees. ‘Something isn’t working when talent still isn’t making as much of a difference as background,’ says The Social Mobility Foundation’s Sarah Atkinson who believes change is long overdue.

Sports Media LGBT+

Jon Holmes

Established in 2017 to advocate for inclusion in the media industry and across sport in general, Sports Media LGBT+ was founded by Sky Sports senior home page editor Jon Holmes. Starting as a way for LGBT+ people and allies in sports media to network, the group aims to broaden connection and community. For more on the group, check out Jon’s contribution to the ResponseSource white paper Diversity in Journalism and our interview on the Rainbow Ready initiative.

The Access Intelligence accessmatters series aims to amplify different voices across the creative industries. Catch up on previous sessions tackling social mobility, class, antiracism and more here.

Earth Day 2022 COP26 comms

Earth Day 2022 – did COP26 comms make a change?

This year’s Earth Day has a lot to live up to. Coming after the highly-anticipated and high-pressure COP26, today brings opportunity for those who made big promises in October 2021 to hold themselves to account. Did the global event make real change to how organisations operate and communicate their purpose to the public?

One impact COP26 made in the minds of those paying attention to its message of climate change was the installation of a growing impatience; a need for accountability from those with the power and influence to drive action.

‘COP26 and many other political events within the last six months have highlighted the public’s growing lack of tolerance for hypocrisy,’ says Propel Technology’s lead communications consultant Claire Dumbreck.

‘For many, COP26 will be remembered for the rich elite jamming up Prestwick Airport with their private jets and then preaching to the masses about how they should give things up for the greater good.’

Perception of the global event – the success of which was predicted by Sir Vince Cable beforehand to be 60:40: ‘my heart is with the 60%; my head with the 40%’ – wasn’t 100% positive. While its failures ultimately fall on political promises that were short of expectations, the PR and comms sector had a part, too:

‘Some businesses and comms teams could have been more considered in their approaches – there were a lot of campaigns with fairly (very) loose connections to COP26!’ believes One Nine Nine managing director Barnaby Patchett.

‘The issue here was that the press was flooded with transparent attempts to ‘cash in’ on COP26 – with no real connection to the goals and aims of the conference. The best campaigns were underpinned with a clear, authentic link to COP26, from organisations making tangible, significant progress on sustainability.’

Consumers and stakeholders increasingly expect integrity from organisations, not greenwashing, and PR and comms teams are being tasked with the practicalities of that responsibility.

‘As an industry, comms was both part of the post-COP26 climate change discussion and has since had to respond to it,’ says senior PR consultant Katy Barney, who heads up Ambitious PR’s ESG & Sustainability PR services.

‘Agency-side, this has meant more clients coming to us and asking for advice on how to communicate around sustainability, meaning an imperative to upskill rapidly and get to grips with the issues.’

Accessibility of language around climate change is a must-have skill for PRs in the wake of COP26, but as an industry we’re not quite there yet, according to research conducted by the Hanover Group Strategy & Insights unit, which targeted the general public in the UK and Ireland, and business leaders across Europe:

‘Only 1 in 4 people (25%) were comfortable defining “net zero” and much less so with terms like “carbon trading” and “climate refugees”,’ says Hanover Group’s strategy & insights director Teodora Coste.

‘23% were uncomfortable defining any of the terms most often used at COP26.’

The obfuscating and grand-standing that reverberated around October’s summit isn’t necessary, or useful, for building climate considerations into campaign work. For Earth Day 2022, here are more practical steps:

‘Wind the sanctimoniousness right down!’ says Claire Dumbreck. ‘Address any perception of “us and them” before more scepticism takes hold. Demonstrate genuine short-term human benefits of acting with the environment in mind (beyond the luxury of just feeling good about it).’

‘Start at home and focus on reducing your own carbon emissions and environmental impacts,’ says Lexington’s director and head of responsible business Andrew Wilson. ‘Do you really need to fly to that client meeting? Second, be critical friends to clients, provide constructive challenge on their own operations. Do agencies have the in-house expertise to advise on Net Zero strategies and approaches to reduce environmental impacts? Third, work with brands to produce communications that help to change consumer attitudes and bring about a shift in behaviour.’

Ultimately, use your skill as a PR; if you’re part of the comms industry, you already have the tools to get the message out there:

‘Zero and environmental change are so much more than a single-issue topic – there are lots of opportunities for PR teams to get creative,’ says Katy Barney.

‘There will always be another story or angle if you’re committed to making change.’

For more on climate change and how the communications sector can help make a difference, check out this post on what PR and comms teams should know about sustainability, a reflection on the success of COP26 from the Vuelio political team, and this guest post from Sir Vince Cable featuring his predictions ahead of the summit. 

 

How to communicate in the metaverse

How to communicate in the metaverse… also, what is the metaverse?

If you’re up on your PR and comms trends for 2022 and the years ahead, you will have read about the metaverse and just how important it is going to be for the industry. But… do you actually know what that word means? Do you understand how you and your team might use it for upcoming campaigns? How to talk about it to clients and other brands?

To help prevent you from any out-of-touch floundering in future stakeholder presentations and competitive pitches, here’s how the industry is already making great use of the metaverse and how you can join, too.

What is the metaverse?
To cut through all the jargon: it’s a virtual space for interacting. With other people, with places, with items.

‘The way I try to explain it to friends is, it’s like a hybrid of The Sims, Rollercoaster Tycoon & GTA (without the crime),’ said The Playbook’s senior sport and brand communications executive Rob Baney.

‘Creating your own The Sims-like dream world, building your entertainment offering Rollercoaster Tycoon-style, and then having you and your mates explore this world in the best clothes and with the coolest car, like your character in GTA.’

If you aren’t a gamer, the concept of a metaverse has long been established in science fiction and regularly features in film (Ready Player One and The Matrix, for some dystopian examples), and even portrayed quite poorly in 90s thrillers you may have seen, like The Lawnmower Man and Disclosure. In the latter, for example, it’s shown as already being a part of work tech. Michael Douglas needs to hack a computer – instead of sitting down to type, he dons a VR headset and gloves for his search and walks through a Virtual Reality Database.

You could say that’s a prediction of how the metaverse may shape up in the next few years – full integration into our lives, even office documents. You could also say ‘why did Michael bother when Ctrl + F is right there – who has the time for that’. But that would be overlooking the allure of realistic interactions with surroundings otherwise closed off, and plenty of us want that.

Why is the metaverse so popular right now?
While a metaverse is not a new concept – not even to the comms industry, who had the opportunity to explore it in ‘Second Life Marketing Safaris’ as far back as 2007 – it’s resonating strongly now, particularly in the wake of Facebook’s widely-publicised rebrand to Meta and new strategy to build ‘the’ metaverse, as we search for new ways to connect in our day-to-day.

When people wanted to be with those they couldn’t see in the flesh in the early days of the pandemic, downloads of applications like Zoom, Teams and Houseparty boomed. Games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons broke records, with advertising from Nintendo showing family members and friends using their Switch consoles to fly out for quality time on each other’s virtual islands.

Conversations while fishing for bass couldn’t happen in reality during lockdown, but it could online. Connection is the value of digital spaces – that’s the value a presence in the metaverse can provide to your audience.

How are brands and businesses already using the metaverse?
Using Animal Crossing: New Horizons as an example, businesses, charities and even US politicians quickly realised its potential for engaging with consumers and integrated their branding and messages into the pre-existing world of the game. But many brands and agencies have since gone further into the metaverse – this isn’t something to get ready for in the future, this is happening now.

Recreating reality: VCCP built virtual offices in gaming and social platform Roblox, using its London Victoria office as a base design, but building in extras impossible in real life, such as an enclosure for meerkats.

Connection in virtual spaces: A Roblox-based ceremony and gig was held as part of the Brit Awards this year, with a virtual version of PinkPantheress booked to perform. Artists including Lil Nas X have also teamed up with the platform for performances.

In-metaverse living: Nike invested in the possibility of virtual footwear with its December 2021 purchase of digital collectable creators RTFKT. ‘This acquisition is another step that accelerates Nike’s digital transformation […] and extend[s] Nike’s digital footprint and capabilities,’ said Nike president and chief executive John Donahoe.

Comms and campaigns: To publicise the new series of I’m A Celebrity… late last year, ITV launched a virtual version of the show’s castle with Fortnite Creative for viewers to explore. In fact, ITV has created a number of new ways for viewers to connect with its programming via the metaverse in this way, including an in-game Fortnite version of its entertainment show The Void.

So, should you care?
In summary – yes. At its most simple, the metaverse can be a recreation of what we know, but it can also be a fantastic version of what we want, or an overlay of extras to make life easier.

While data from We Are Social’s latest Think Forward report found that 90% of social users were ‘clueless’ about the metaverse, its quick adoption across the industry in real ways is meaningful. Current excitement about these virtual spaces may dim, but applications of them will embed into our culture and lives, long-term.

Virtual influencers are already here, and NLP (Natural Language Processing)/virtual avatars are an accepted part of online customer service. For those who need other ways to access events and experiences beyond getting on a train to a crowded gathering at a city centre, the metaverse opens up a whole world of possibility and connection. For business, it offers new ways to engage consumers continuously bombarded with images and messages in ways that will stick.

In a real world that has become increasingly unpredictable, filled with situations we can’t control, it’s unsurprising that the possibility to create others we can is appealing. And at the very least, what’s on the way should be a lot cooler than that scene in Disclosure. The metaverse can be whatever we want to make it.

If you’re ready to enter the metaverse, visit our visit to those brands setting up in Animal Crossing: New Horizons and check out our look at the influence of virtual influencers

Want more on ways to engage the minds of  your audience? Here’s a write-up of our webinar on Neuro PR with Harvey & Hugo PR’s managing director and Leader of the Pack Charlotte Nichols 

Is the food and drink sector ready for HFSS restrictions

Is the food and drink sector ready for upcoming HFSS regulations?

If asked to hum your favourite advertising jingles, how many of them would be for food and drink products that would likely fall foul of the Government’s upcoming restrictions on HFSS ads?

For those in comms in the food and drink sector, the rules on HFSS (foods High in Fat, Sugar and Salt) coming into place in October will change work drastically. The advertising landscape in the UK will be completely different. Those old mainstays of traditional TV advertising that are yoghurt, chocolate and spreadable cheese adverts featuring happy celebrities will be gone, and with them, the UK obesity crisis. At least, that’s the thinking laid out in the Government’s ‘Introducing a total online advertising restriction for products high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS)’ consultation findings.

‘While the evidence is not conclusive, it’s possible that restricting HFSS advertising exposure could […] influence adult purchases and consumption […] Further restrictions on HFSS advertising could therefore help reduce overconsumption and generate significant additional health benefits,’ say the Government’s conclusions.

Whether or not this will work to help people (and the companies they buy from) make ‘healthier’ choices, or draw criticism equal to that received by recent mandates on calorie inclusion in menus across England, change is coming. What this means in practice – a 9pm watershed on television for HFSS adverts and a complete ban on digital HFSS advertising from 22 October 2022.

Considering the impact these restrictions will have – potentially ‘the most significant in-store changes seen in decades,’ according to Barclays analyst James Anstead – are food and drink comms practioners ready?

There’s a lot of opportunity here. That 9pm watershed and the restrictions on HFSS paid-for ads online doesn’t explicitly include earned media. That means for HFSS brands and clients, the comms function potentially becomes much more valuable. But with that opportunity comes responsibility to share the right message, with the right people.

‘Being part of the discussion is key to getting your voice heard,’ says Vhari Russell, managing director at The Food Marketing Experts.

‘We’ve been working hard to drive collaborations to increase the following for the brands we work with and increase the data they have to enable them to sell directly to consumers. It is about ensuring all the bases are covered in terms of driving traffic to store, both online and bricks and mortar, and then creating standout to establish a brand of choice positioning.

‘Grow your tribe, so that you have a key and engaged customer base that will champion products outside of advertising. Working with influencers is critical to a brand’s success, however, you need to ensure you comply with best practice.’

One organisation that moved ahead of the regulations was TfL, whose policy on junk food advertising has been estimated to have decreased weekly junk food purchases by 1,000 calories. But which other companies are already approaching the regulations in the right way?

Dr Wills – we loved their campaign to help drive sales in Tesco to keep their listings,’ says Vhari. ‘Pip & Nut, too – many of the team now subscribe to get their nut butter deliveries since the pandemic.

TfL has already reported a significant change, and I think it is a great opportunity for brands to get creative and return to grassroots tactics. The guidelines have been put in place to help the nation eat better and make healthier choices. For brands that are high in salt and sugar, it is key to communicate in an honest and engaging way. Very few brands state you should eat their product all day every day, so it’s about consciously conveying the occasions to consume.’

With the cost of living crisis in the UK impacting purchasing decisions, and food High in Fat, Sugar and Salt often a cheaper and more convenient choice, HFSS products will continue to have a place on shelves.

PR teams working in the food and drink sector have an opportunity to make a difference with their campaigns, just as brands do with their approach – comms can help consumers mix HFSS foods into as balanced a lifestyle as they can manage within their means.

‘Brands need to drive the occasions when their products fit into the customer’s life so that they remain in the basket week in week out,’ says Vhari. ‘When consumers’ budgets are being hit harder it is vital that brands share the purpose, values, and credentials to retain customer loyalty.

‘I think that disruptive marketing combined with engaging and mouth-watering content is here to stay.’

For more on food and drink, check out these 10 top UK food bloggers. To track how the media is covering HFSS restrictions, try Vuelio’s Media Monitoring services – book a demo here

How to build your following on LinkedIn

How PR agencies can unlock the ‘Holy Grail’ of LinkedIn

This is a guest post from Vicky Stoakes, communications director at Red Setter.

‘Can you double our followers in a year?’

As a PR company, we’re used to focusing all our efforts on building our clients’ reputations and profiles. Putting time aside to build your own company profile feels akin to a builder deciding to build their own house first – it’s simply not a priority – but it should be because we know it works. A focus on social media – especially LinkedIn – can support new business, recruitment and most importantly, boost company morale.

So, last year we took our own advice and put a proactive social media plan in place. And yes, we did double our followers in a year. This is how we did it.

Strategise to win

It’s so obvious it almost goes without saying, but you need a plan. You wouldn’t skip the strategy stage for your clients, so why would you skip it for your company page?

We mapped out three clear goals – to attract new business; engage talent; and to grow followers from our target audiences (design and PR).

The right kind of posts

With clear goals and a target audience in mind, next steps are deciding what to post. As a PR agency, it’s easy to fall back on sharing client news and coverage, but it’s a limiting – and dull – approach to social media.

Instead, ask yourself, what do your audiences want to see? Often, you’ll find there are two answers. They want to see more of your team and company culture, and evidence of your company’s expertise. Feed these insights into your content plan.

Share the love

CEOs beware! Content creation shouldn’t fall exclusively on your shoulders – though we know from experience it often does for smaller organisations – but neither should responsibility rest solely with your social media, marketing, or comms lead. It’s important to create a culture where everyone, from top to bottom, has a voice and feel they have something to say.

But make it easy. As a PR agency, words are almost second nature to us, but busy people, no matter the industry, can need help. Alongside ideas gathering as a team, we have a guide to our content, with clarity on the purpose of each piece and where it’s likely to appear, and covering basics, like word count.

A culture of content

When we began our new LinkedIn approach only a handful of team members had proactively written any blog posts for us. By the end of the first year, with the new campaign firmly in place, over 80 per cent of the team had written posts (some of these appearing beyond the blog in media titles).

Of course, it’s a big deal to have team members write blogs outside of their normal day jobs, so we’ve dialled up the value of this internally. It’s now so embedded in our culture that people regularly come up with ideas and offer to contribute. The joy of this as a comms director is immense.

With a steady stream of content agreed and forthcoming across the team, we can post around once a week, sometimes more. And even better, 90% of our posts work across LinkedIn and Instagram.

Is the plan working?

The only way to know if your strategy is working is checking analytics – and bracing yourself to play the long game. Social success doesn’t happen overnight. It was a slow burn that really seemed to catch fire around the 10–12-month phase.

We regularly check our engagement, allowing us to know what resonates with our audiences and, just as importantly, what doesn’t (stopping anything that’s falling into the virtual void).

Using LinkedIn itself as a barometer is helpful: it suggests that 2% is good engagement and anything above is smashing it out of the park. With our average at 10%, we’ll take that.

Use the ‘secret sauce’

As the admin to a company page, you have access to a feature that allows you to invite your personal connections to follow your company page. Use it and do it wisely. Get your agency leaders involved.

By doing this, we noticed a snowball effect. We got our connections following us by asking. Then by posting content with relevant hashtags – never forget the hashtags! – we noticed a regular stream of new followers from our target audiences following us because they were interested in our content. Start with those you know, and others will find you.

Find the fun

Finally, have fun with it. Make people want to read your posts. Tell your company story, empower the team and enjoy the journey. Remember, there’s no shame in asking people to engage with your posts, so don’t forget to ask your own team and thank them when they do engage!

Interested in building your organisation’s social media profile? Check out how Tiny Tickers and The Wildlife Trusts amplified their campaigns and message using their social channels (in the absence of bit budgets) here

For more from Red Setter, read this guest post from Alex Blyth on how to tackle the PR recruitment crisis by growing your team from the ground up.

How to become a journalist's favourite PR person

How to be a journalist’s favourite PR person

If you follow enough of your fellow PR people on social media, you’ve probably seen the occasional gripe about rude responses they’ve received from journalists. If you follow journalists, complaints about irrelevant emails they’ve received from PRs might have shown up on your feed a time or two.

Nobody wants to be on either side of those media vs comms clashes, so how can you make sure yours is a name any journalist will be happy to see in their inbox?

Signing up the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service to receive media requests straight to your inbox is a good starting point, naturally, but for guidance on the next steps, we asked three more journalists regularly using the service what makes a good PR.

Rob Waugh, freelance journalist regularly writing for outlets including The Daily Telegraph, Metro and the Daily Mail
‘Ensure the name of your expert is kept very close to their comment if you’re sending text. Journalists using this service are often dealing with large amounts of text, and if the name isn’t right next to the comment, it’s easy to misattribute.

‘The best way to reply is in plain text NOT in a document headed with company logos. This just adds another stage to the work of a journalist who’s probably dealing with dozens, or even hundreds of comments and means that your comment is less likely to be used in any finished piece.’

Nick Booth, freelance writer currently covering mobile networking infrastructure for Mobile Europe
‘Keep your response short. The shorter your email, the easier it is to deal with! If it’s really short and sweet, the other person will act on it right away.

‘Try to make every technology-related contribution about one thing: how is this going to save anyone any time or money? After all, the only reason we use computers at work is to save time or money. So how does it do that?

‘Always use your own words when describing what your client does. Use short simple words. If you use jargon you don’t understand, it just sounds like you’re copying someone’s homework. Don’t assume the other person knows what all these acronyms mean!

‘And if you’re responding to Nick Booth, send him some sort of bribe…’

Martina Mercer, editor of Sunday Woman and The Consumer Voice, freelance journalist, PR and author
‘Always use the journalist’s name and make sure you get it right.

‘Another tip I have that is quite controversial (but is the way I run my business on the PR and marketing side of things, due to having insight from a journalist perspective) is DON’T copy and paste press releases, emails, etc. The journalist knows you’re doing this. They want someone to take the time to respond – to read the entire journalist alert and to construct a bespoke reply. Pasting may seem like a good idea, and a way to respond to many at a time, but for the bigger newspapers and magazines, it’ll just come across as a little insulting. I like to construct a bespoke pitch for every journalist I talk to. I know most of them now, and usually have conversations with them about life and events anyhow, so a copy paste affair would seem a little strange, too.

‘Always offer more, my one rule – go beyond the book. They’d like images, offer a sample, too.

‘Always be grateful. It astounds me how many PR companies will cut contact with the journalist once they have their client featured. Don’t have an attitude or think you have the power in this situation, as you don’t. The journalist holds all the cards and should be treated as such. They are the ones that will make sure you get paid and will make sure you get results. You don’t have to brown nose, but you do have to appreciate this fact. I once had a PR company who scolded me for writing just two lines about their product and for it being at the end of an article. I wasn’t even keen on the product but included it as she badgered. She saw the article then sent an email to say. “It’s not worth it, forget it, you just added it at the end.” I blocked her email, blocked the company and anyone she represented and made a point of never ever recommending them again.

‘I’d like to say try not to nag, but in all seriousness, I receive so many responses to journalist alerts, hundreds at a time, that sometimes I need a good nagging. The phone can ring while I’m reading a pitch and it’s lost forever, so do follow up with me; do ask.

‘If I can name names of great PRs, I’d like to say that those representing Ritter Sport (who sent me the most wonderful Christmas gift and didn’t expect anything in return), Haribo (who keep us stocked on their latest releases) and Lush do it right.’

Sign up for a demo of the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service here.

For more on forming lasting connections with the UK media, here is more advice on responding to enquiries, reasons to give the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service a try before delving into #JournoRequest on Twitter, and even more tips from journalists.

Rob Baney

PR Interview: Rob Baney, senior sport & brand communications executive for The Playbook

One of Vuelio’s main objectives is to help comms professionals and teams streamline processes to allow them to focus their time and efforts on key priorities and projects. In a highly demanding industry, it’s not solely a case of time management that creates a successful environment but a line-up of multiple factors. We caught up with Rob Baney, senior sport & brand communications executive at The Playbook, a leading communications agency working with a range of global brands, to discuss life as an agency PR professional in 2022.

What have you been working on lately?

It’s been a busy start to 2022 at The Playbook… A couple of highlights: helping NFL UK fans celebrate Super Bowl the British way, including Greg James’ hilarious Superb Owl segment on Radio 1 with The NFL Show pundits Jason Bell and Osi Umenyiora – nothing beats British humour. And heading out to Abu Dhabi in January to support the DP World Tour on the ground with local comms for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, where Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny swapped Warner Bros. World for the first Rolex Series event of the year.

Has this project been typical of the last 6-12 months?

In the past 12 months, I wouldn’t say anything has been ‘typical’ – projects have changed, and continually change… I felt like I became an expert on UK covid testing and entry requirements ahead of a LaLigaTV press trip to Barcelona last autumn, but that’s all redundant now. Since the turn of the year and even in the past month I’d say it’s become more ‘normal’ and its exciting to be doing events again. One good example of this was our Sunday with LaLiga where we packed out the Sports Bar & Grill for an ElClasico watch party – it was great to see the passions of fans back in person.

How important is maintaining a good work/outside-work balance for employee wellbeing?

It’s vital. I recently managed to get away to the Cheltenham Festival for a couple of days and had a great time. I went to university in Cheltenham and I always enjoy going back there to catch up with old mates. There are few better places than Cheltenham in race week.

I’d say a good work/life balance is now more important than ever, with everything work-related being an app click away. When you enjoy your work, checking emails and Teams can actually get quite addictive, so it’s very important to force yourself to switch off. Although you might trick yourself otherwise, you do need the break.

How has the pandemic impacted your work?

It’s impacted us massively. In all aspects of our job. Obviously, there were times where in-person activations weren’t feasible and while virtual calls served a purpose, there are some opportunities that are far more effective face-to-face, so we’ve had to adapt throughout to service our clients. Having said that, it’s also streamlined a lot of processes and there are a lot of benefits to Zoom (aside from the Hawaiian beach backgrounds).

As we look ahead to the rest of 2022, what trends do you see coming up?

The world is already opening up, and physical activations will come back in full. But it’s virtually we’ll see the most innovation. We recently had a workshop with an expert on all things Crypto, NFTs and the Metaverse. And it’s the latter of these I see real potential for brands activating in this year… Lots have already jumped in to the ‘Metaverse’ and I expect more and more to do the same. I’m no way the expert but the way I try to explain it to friends is it’s like a hybrid of The Sims, Rollercoaster Tycoon & GTA (without the crime); creating your own The Sims-like dream world like, building your entertainment offering Rollercoaster Tycoon-style, and then having you and your mates explore this world in the best clothes and with the coolest car, like your character in GTA. Pardon the pun, but there’s literally a whole other world out there…

How do you plan to handle extra demand as business grows?

We’re an agile agency and we’ve got a wider group who can support immediate needs. We take pride in our very successful always-on internship programme where we give on-the-job training to anyone with a willingness to learn, no experience or degree needed. We often have exciting projects come in and have a whole roster of experienced and trusted freelancers to call upon. When we need someone senior in permanent role, we have a thorough recruitment process to choose through the talented applicants. We are always on the lookout for the best talent.

Within your specific role, what have been your major learnings over the last few years?

One of our core values at The Playbook is to ‘Never Settle’ and I think this is something I consider on a daily basis. There’s a lot of excellent projects we work on, but I’m always thinking: how could we make it better, could we have been more efficient, was the messaging strong enough, could we have had better imagery. There’s lots of different ways to tell a story, and our job is always to tell that in the most compelling way possible.

What are the greatest day-to-day challenges for agency PRs? 

Time – isn’t it for everyone? Managing your time is so important, we’re always working to tight deadlines, so you need to have a good handle on your time and your colleague’s time so we can achieve everything we want.

With such a large and varied client base, how do you manage multiple relationships and campaigns?

It sounds cheesy but communication is key. If we’ve got an event on for one client on a certain day and we’ve a clash with another client deadline, then being upfront and honest is the best approach. They trust us to do our job, and they know we have other clients to service.

PR is playing a more important role in the wider conversation around ESG and CSR – how will this impact your clients?

If there are compelling and interesting ESG or CSR stories to tell, then we’ll be the first to consult our clients and help tell them in the best way possible. I can’t stress enough the importance of doing something purposeful, without this it’s opening yourself up for criticism. Brands should want to help society, and without getting to deep, in a capitalist world where profits rule, there’s plenty of value for clients to put resources towards helping people.

How are client strategies changing with regards to the current climate?

Usually I’d say strategies are often based off performance, so if performances are strong the strategy will remain similar but ‘let’s do that bigger and better’. Having said that, I’ve noticed a lot more clients including influencer activation in their briefs. Previously, this was always a proactive suggestion from PRs, and some clients didn’t have the capacity to truly consider how content creators could fit in to their existing strategies and help them achieve their business objectives. It’s refreshing that influencers are central to business strategy, and it’s good to see the agile influencer tool we’ve developed over several years getting more and more use. As the influencer space continues to morph and change with creators becoming established outlets our tool anticipates this, so we can identify the best creators for different projects, and we continue to grow relationships in this space to help us forge the strongest content and achieve the client’s desired outcomes.

And finally… there have been some mixed England performances out in the West Indies over the last few weeks. What do you think is the most important change that needs to be made to ensure the team are capable of regaining The Ashes next year?

Fundamentally, we need a team that’s going to bat for time (the runs will come), which they have in the West Indies, albeit on flat pitches. We need to learn to grit it out when the going gets tough… too often has that batting order folded like a pack of cards. I never thought two of the world’s all-time best Test bowlers in Broad and Anderson were the issue, but that’s a debate for another day. If we’re to regain the Ashes, we need four or five established batters to support Root, and if a quality spinner were to emerge, that would be the icing on the cake.

Connect with Rob Baney via Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn

Omkar Khot sits in Vuelio’s new business team, specialising in PR & Public Affairs across enterprises. Connect here

For more on trends in PR and comms this year, check out our round-up of insight from industry thought leaders to help with your content and campaign planning. 

How business comms can help fight fake news

How business comms can help with the fight against fake news

This is a guest post from Laura Morelli, UK Head of media at Semrush.

Trust is rapidly becoming a vanishing commodity. So says this year’s Edelman Trust Barometer, a long running gauge of belief in government, media and other prominent societal markers. The decline in media trust in particular is especially striking, dropping 13 percentage points over the last year to just over one in five people believing in the credibility of media brands.

The survey cites a widespread and growing concern about the dissemination of fake news and false information as reasons for this shift. Despite major media outlets investing significantly in fact checking functions and seeking to redress the inaccurate spread of information, it seems the public feels this isn’t enough to stem the tide. Of course, if media outlets cannot address these concerns, public trust in their output may never recover.

Businesses face the same challenge. While few would expect corporate entities to hold impartial views, consumer purchase power rests increasingly in their ability to demonstrate a matching set of values. The same study found that some 52% of people in the UK buy or advocate for brands which mirror their values, a metric rooted in belief that those values are being translated into positive action.

Communications professionals are then placed into a similar situation as the media – how to keep their narratives rooted in fact. This is particularly key when targeting younger demographics who have grown up under the shadow of fake news and risk essentially being trained to question all information from sources, both official and otherwise. We live in a time where we will continue to see a flood of opinion, false theories and fake news spread so easily online. According to new research from Semrush, UK online searches for ‘fake news’ regularly occur an average of over 12,000 times per month. We are also seeing the wider public become increasingly aware of what they are consuming. The term ‘How to spot a fake news story’ increased by 50% over the last 4 years. Searches for ‘fake news examples’ are up by 60% during the same period.

While fake news is insidious, one of the best tools to fight its spread is clear and irrefutable proof points and sources. Indicators of online misinformation or disinformation are often discovered in poor, single source references, or unsubstantiated platforms. Fake news counts on time poor readers being unwilling (potentially because the content plays into their own beliefs or opinions) or unable to sense check efficiently. This is also why reputable news organisations have invested so significantly in data journalism – a technique which comms providers should highly encourage.

Businesses may not recognise that they have access to a bigger data toolkit now than ever before to help substantiate their claims. While citations about business efficiencies and product efficacy must come from within R&D departments and internal data, there are well known external sources on offer for building consumer confidences. The internet is one of the most powerful research tools ever, and just a peek into search data can lend greater insights into consumer motivations, trends, and opinions. This can not only be used strategically to support business direction and decision making, but tactically to support content marketing initiatives too.

Fake news and misinformation online may be hard to stop – but it’s not impossible to keep fighting. And the tools you use to do so may just help improve consumer perceptions of your business and its purpose still further. Trust may seem at times to be a vanishing commodity, but savvy businesses can stop the slide, and potentially boost their brands in the process. It is increasingly essential that businesses deploy similar journalistic rigour to their branded storytelling. This is just as applicable to citing reputable sources and using data to shape narratives as much as it is for gaining those backlinks.

For more on the impact comms can have on the fight against fake news, check out this guest post from Sidekick PR’s Charlotte Dimond on how PR can stop the spread of misinformation. and well as our previous ResponseSource webinar with Polis, FactCheckNI and The Ferret, Facts, fakes and fast news

PRCA LGBTQ+ Network

PRCA relaunches its LGBTQ+ Network

The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) has relaunched its LGBTQ+ Network with a focus on supporting the PR and comms industry to ‘show up’ for the LGBTQ+ community.

Originally launched two and a half years ago in partnership with YouGov, the PRCA’s LGBTQ+ group has held events, conducted cross-industry research into how sexual identity can impact work and highlighted LGBTQ+ role models in PR and comms. The group’s relaunch as a network includes the introduction of volunteers to boost positive impact across the industry when it comes to inclusivity.

Plans for the network include the sharing of resources and learning materials for reference, accessible events, commentary and discussion of important LGBTQ+ matters and new Role Models blogs.

The LGBTQ+ Network is led by Hill+Knowlton Strategies senior associate director Emma Franklin-Wright and Good Vibes Only Talent founder Katie Traxton.

PRCA LGBTQ+ Network Co-Chair Emma Franklin-Wright said:

‘As communications professionals we can have so much influence on the public narratives around LGBTQ+ people. At a time when we are increasingly under attack from the media it is so important for us to give as many people in our industry as possible the tools to create positive representation in our work, and to give agency leaders the resources to create inclusive workplaces. Having a refreshed network to deliver on those goals is vital and having so many new volunteers coming together to deliver this important work is truly energising.’

PRCA LGBTQ+ Network Co-Chair Katie Traxton added:

‘Having the backing of the PRCA to relaunch the group means a lot. Over the last two and half years, we’ve learnt about the ongoing challenges of equality, opportunity and representation that the LGBTQ+ community still face both in workplaces and the work we do. Now it’s time for us to invest our energy in catalysing real change. We know that progress is likely to be gradual, but we have a great group of people working with us and we want PRCA members to get involved, share their thoughts, and ultimately join us on our mission. The more of us who work together, both members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies, the more impact we will make.’

Committee members for the PRCA LGBTQ+ Network are:

Gian Marco Candolo (Senior Account Executive, Cicero)
Nina Eadie (Head of Lifestyle PR, Keko London)
Stephanie Ensten (Partner Manager, Mercedes EQ Formula E Team)
Sinead McGeever (Account Director, FleishmanHillard)
Will Richardson (Associate Director, TEAM LEWIS)
Lex Rosenthal (Account Manager, TALA)
Michela Siuni (Marketing and Communications Manager, I.G. Advisors)
Myles Storey (Campaigns Manager – Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, O2)
Jonathan Sullivan (Account Executive, Brazil)
James Treacy (Senior PR and Communications Manager, Abercrombie & Kent)
Josh Wheeler (Broadcast PR Specialist)

For more information on the network and how to get in touch, check out the PRCA website.

Check out our previous accessmatters sessions on inclusion in the media, PR and comms industries with Proud FT’s Cassius Naylor, the Social Mobility Foundation’s Sarah Atkinson and The Unmistakable’s Asad Dhunna

Are PR and marketing a comms power couple?

Do PR and marketing make a perfect comms couple?

Public relations and marketing – two interlinked comms functions whose connection has been under debate for years. Since at least the 1970s, in fact, according to Stephen Waddington, who led our latest webinar on the subject, ‘PR & Marketing: The Ultimate Power Couple?’.

Sign up to watch the webinar

‘In researching our ‘Trends in the integration of marketing and public relations’ white paper, I found a piece from 1978 highlighting how the two functions should work together. That relationship in the headline is always going to be situational depending on size and scale, but there’s one thing that’s certain; this debate has been going on for 50 years and will keep going.’

Download the white paper ‘Trends in the integration of marketing and public relations’.

If this is a conversation that hasn’t yet started at your organisation, whether you’re working in-house or agency-side, take advice from Stephen, Mastercard‘s Suman Hughes and Hotwire Global‘s Tara O’Donnell shared during the webinar to consider the benefits of bringing your PR and marketing functions closer together.

Is this a debate for everyone?
As pointed out by Stephen, the CEOs, customers and celebrities that PR and marketing teams serve won’t really care so much about what is integrated and what isn’t – what matters is that the results are good. Who it is important for is those working towards the results, who have had to weave key messaging and strategy, such as ESG, into every aspect of their planning and actions over the last few years.

‘The pandemic has led to a reappraisal of organisations,’ believes Stephen. ‘Teams need to work together to understand their business’ place in the market and in wider society.’

‘An idea can start from anywhere’ – Mastercard’s Suman Hughes on the in-house perspective
On taking on her current role as Mastercard’s director of communications, UK, Suman Hughes joined a comms team already integrated. PR and marketing work closely together to communicate the brand’s message to its global audience and worldwide workforce and this connection aids every part of their strategy and execution.

‘Working as one team means offering a single unified voice. Whether it’s marketing, comms, public policy, HR, accounts, it all comes back to our employees and them as brand ambassadors – we talk as one, as Mastercard.

‘Integration means we can pool our resources and break down silos to make the most of what we have, making the biggest impact for our stakeholder groups and audiences.

‘It’s a global model that we run – not just across our international team, but across all our agency groups, too – we approach every piece of work this way, from paid, owned and earned. An idea can start from anywhere and become a campaign that’s holistic. It’s a level playing field and it makes it super-interesting for me to do my job.’

‘It’s all about business impact’ – Hotwire Global’s Tara O’Donnell on the agency perspective
‘In teams that have integrated marketing and PR, it’s all about business impact and how you measure it. When companies work in this way, it is more efficient, but depends on the organisation.

‘When companies had to go into ‘protect revenue’ mode in 2020, we realised that many were struggling because traditional marketing channels had shut down. Our comms clients, maybe for the first time, were tasked with having business impact – everyone in their organisations were tasked with improving business results. That’s what led us to look at what we do and evolve it to impact reputation along with revenue.

‘We’ve found it’s an incredible marriage; reputation to revenue resonates across the board. If you’re talking to a comms client about thought leadership – you’ve based it on insight about an audience they’re trying to reach; you should do that with your marketing anyway. You can use that insight all the way through the pipeline.

Is integrating PR and marketing for you?
‘It’s a really natural progression of using what you’re already creating to have different impact,’ says Tara.

‘The value to clients is really simple to show; our comms clients will understand it and our marketing teams do, too. It’s not necessary that they always work together, but we can show that there will be business impact when they do.

‘From a comms point-of-view, to be able to go to the business and show how you’ve impacted revenue… that ability to show value is incredible.’

‘Give it a go!’ says Suman. ‘If you’re really clear on your business objectives, you’ll all be pulling in the same direction’.

Watch the fullPR & Marketing: The Ultimate Power Couple? webinar here for more on integrating your comms functions.

The white paper, ‘Trends in the integration of marketing and public relations’ , can be downloaded here.

This is how journalists want you to reply to their requests

PRs: this is how journalists want you to help with their requests

Answering requests from journalists for comment, launch details or products for review should be pretty easy, right?

A myriad of media professionals from across the UK media send requests straight through to the inboxes of relevant PRs with the Journalists Enquiry Service every day. That means plenty of opportunities to get it right, but taking even one chance on sending something irrelevant can result in a very annoyed journalist. Are you replying with what journos are actually asking for?

Find out more about the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service and book a demo here.

To make sure your replies are relevant, here are dos and don’ts from three journalists writing for national, regional, consumer and trade titles regularly using the service:

Samantha Brick, freelance journalist for titles including the Daily Mail and The Sun…
Do: ‘Email is best for getting in touch, WhatsApp okay in an emergency/deadline.’

Don’t: ‘Phone out of the blue (I usually have interviews lined up in the day).’

Useful PRs? ‘Specialist PRs who work in the wellness/spiritual world are fantastic. They send case studies and information that I can – and do – use and that’s because they read what I write.’

One more thing: ‘Most PRs who get in touch with me have a good idea of what I do and offer only appropriate press releases, profiles of individuals – thanks!’

A freelance journalist and columnist for consumer magazines…
Do: ‘Read the request in full and answer the request itself rather than just sending something over. Be as specific as possible in your response. “I have a couple of experts; shall I send over” probably won’t receive a response if I have asked for experts in the request… just send the suggestions from the get-go with information about what you have sent is relevant to what I am working on. Sometimes journalist receive so many responses that there really isn’t time to respond to vague or irrelevant emails.’

Don’t: ‘Follow up super quickly… I understand why you do this, but usually it takes time to get back to people especially as journalists have to speak to editors, etc, and figure out which suggestions from the enquiry work best. Also, please do not send stuff that is irrelevant to the query unless there is a REALLY good reason for it.’

Useful PRs? ‘They explain who they are, who they are working for, why what they are sending is relevant and information on what a potential interviewee will speak about or even some quotes to use… or what they can provide. Very simple and easy.’

One more thing: ‘Even if you have a journalist’s number do not call them or text them without their permission. Not okay!’

An interiors journalist writing for the Metro…
Do: ‘Read the callout! Often there are specific requests and details that don’t work if not in the reply. A specific pic, detail, etc. Maybe 30% of replies I get aren’t relevant or fit at all. When there is 100 replies to go through, this can mean half hour wasted.

‘Make sure the person is available, too. It can be a bit chicken-and-egg but often I get replies from people where, say, I’m looking for someone who has bought a first home. After a week of back-and-forth they tell me actually that person doesn’t want to talk property…

‘Have everything ready, if poss. If I need a great pic to go with it, if this takes two weeks to source it might fall to the bottom of the pile!’

Don’t: ‘Send tenuously linked (or not linked at all) ideas. I’m looking for a sportsperson for interview so sending a press release on a new nutri bar doesn’t really help me.’

Useful PRs? ‘Anyone who doesn’t need to check with a dozen people to get a green light, then put five people to oversee a zoom call. I like it when PRs show confidence in their clients and work with me to get it all out the way as soon as poss. As a freelancer, you don’t get paid for endlessly chasing.’

One more thing… ‘RS is a great service and without it and all the PRs signed up I’m not sure how I would do my job tbh, so keep up the great work!’

Want to get the most out of the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service? Here is more advice on how to respond to requests from journalists as well as reasons to try the service before searching #JournoRequest on Twitter.

CIPR Communicating in a Crisis

CIPR celebrates the value of PR with publication of ‘Communicating in a Crisis’

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) is showcasing the strategic value of PR to organisations with the release of its new guide ‘Communicating in a Crisis’.

21 case studies – entries from the 2021 CIPR Excellence Awards’ Best COVID Response category – detail the way organisations utilised public relations to manage crisis and includes tips for businesses on making the most of their own PR teams.

The award-winning case studies featured include:

– King’s College London & ZOE (Giving scientists real-time data to fight COVID-19
– NHS in the North East and North Cumbria (The Great North NHS Comms Network
– Lloyds Banking Group (Helping Britain Recover)
– Scouts #TheGreatIndoors (The Scouts’ response to COVID-19)
– AstraZeneca (Emerging strong from the pandemic)
– Liberty Communications Limited (Tech for good – hacking for humanity)
– Ascenti (Using health and wellbeing to support staff returning to work after lockdown)
– University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust (Communications: a critical role in an effective response

Examples of valuable work done by the featured comms teams include their fight against misinformation, uniting remote teams, vaccine rollout support, and adapting to a changing economic environment.

‘The breadth of case studies in this guide demonstrates how public relations enables organisations to confidently communicate through difficult times,’ said CIPR President Rachel Roberts.

‘This guide demonstrates the versatility of public relations and how irrespective of the challenge faced by organisations, communications consistently acts as the bridge to enable organisations to inform and reassure their stakeholders. This guide will act as a great resource for all PR professionals as they scenario plan for the future and is a welcome addition to our industry knowledge resource.’

CIPR’s Alastair McCapra said:

‘PR professionals have shown what can be achieved in the midst of an overwhelming crisis. Now, however, the world has shifted again. We [had] all believed that COVID-19 was something that would leave scars but something that as a society we would be able to put behind us and return to normal. From the vantage point of early 2022, perspectives are now shifting on this.

‘COVID-19 has taught the world many lessons, one of the lasting ones must be that the resilience and power of communications professionals should never be doubted.’

The full ‘Communicating in a Crisis’ report from CIPR can be downloaded here on the website.

For more on managing communications effectively during difficult times, read this guest post from Onyx Health’s managing director Karen Winterhalter on learning the lessons from the COVID-19 crisis.

B2B PR Strategy

12 ways to maximise your B2B PR strategy

B2B PR doesn’t often grab the headlines, especially when it is compared to what is seen (incorrectly) as more creative consumer communications. But the benefits of good PR for business to business activities are plentiful, and clear to everyone working in this industry both in-house and in agency.

To gather the best expert advice for anyone putting together a B2B public relations strategy, we submitted an enquiry through the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service. The response was enormous, and very clear – B2B PR is valuable and for many businesses, vital to their success.

James Murray, client services manager at Definition Agency spelled it out quite simply: ‘PR is about building brand awareness so organisations feel comfortable aligning themselves with you. After all, brand trust is an important part of the buying decision.’

Trust is at the heart of every relationship, and relationships are what PR are all about. As Claire Lamb, director at B2B agency Skout said: ‘A B2B relationship marketing renaissance is coming. Companies need to get human interaction back into their businesses. And remember, people don’t want to be sold to, they want to be helped.’

While some of this advice may prove valuable for all PR, B2B requires special attention. Sarah Carpin, head of PR for Spike explained: ‘Effective B2B coverage, whether it be coverage for brands looking to increase their wholesale client base, or to position themselves as respected and trusted brands within their sector, needs specialist management. B2B PR also covers things like non-competing brand collaborations and charity partnerships, providing client support at trade shows and conferences; hosting customer networking events; submitting award entries and supplying relevant content for LinkedIn, blogs and email newsletters.’

Without further ado, here are 12 tips to improve your B2B PR strategy:

Think about your business strategy
‘A well-thought out, strategically driven media relations programme that’s closely aligned with your business goals will deliver impact, credibility and authenticity, drive loyalty and communicate values. You want the reaction from your customers that they see you “all over everywhere”. If you’re front of mind, you’ll be first on the call list.’ – Felicity Read, managing director, Leapfrog PR

‘It all begins with your objectives – tell us what they are, and we’ll deliver a holistic strategy which is measurable. That’s because we may love words, but we’re big fans of data too. Every decision we make and piece of content we write, all loops back to those long-term ambitions.’ – Katie Mallinson, founder and MD at Scriba PR

‘As a business, pretty much everything you do is public relations so connecting your business strategy with your PR strategy will help you create impactful campaigns that communicate the right messages to the right people at the right time. It will also make you aware of new opportunities while keeping you ahead of the competition.’ – Anastasia Psarra, account director, Cerub PR

Connect through thought leadership
‘When crafting a B2B PR strategy, it’s important not to forget that people buy from people. B2B PR provides an invaluable opportunity for businesses to authentically connect with their target customers through thought-leadership.’ – Julia Clements Roche, Write Thought Communications

‘Thought leadership remains crucial to B2B PR strategies, as it helps to build trust, credibility and influences brand perception and purchasing decisions. To make an impact, thought leadership needs to be original and deliver real value and expertise to the intended audience.’ – Gemma Eccleston, associate director at PR Agency One

‘A strong thought leadership led public relations campaign helps businesses to get heard above the background noise and create brand awareness that amplifies other marketing campaign elements, while also providing critical ‘air cover’ to the sales campaign.’ – Ashley Carr, founder and managing director, at Neo PR

Build up internal profiles and personal brands
‘Contributing articles, making yourself available for comment and securing interview and podcast opportunities will all help to build your organisation as a trusted source of information and opinion and hopefully someone that other companies will want to consider doing business with.’ – The PR Team at Progeny

‘Newsrooms are shrinking, content is increasing digitally and editors are looking for vendor neutral thought leadership bylines on an ongoing basis. If you have subject matter experts on your team, you are missing a huge PR opportunity if you are not writing and having your PR agency place these articles with your target media.’ – Joanne Hogue, partner at Smart Connections PR

‘Think about smaller-scale, but potentially more effective, comment opportunities around industry news and trends. Although the client may not have a huge pull to their name, and may not get featured in nationals, don’t forget to send these insider comments to lesser-known, but still extremely valuable, industry-relevant blogs.’ – Lydia German, marketing and outreach coordinator at Tao Digital Marketing

Think digitally
‘Join things up. B2B can provide fundamental support to other marketing functions, such as lead gen and SEO, so make sure you fully leverage the opportunities available.’ – Louise Findlay-Wilson, funder and managing director of Energy PR

‘Not only does digital PR help with building brand awareness, but it can also be used to increase the overall domain rating of your website, drive traffic to specific product pages and help to rank above your competitors for certain terms.’ – Chloe Deans, PR and content manager at Access Mintsoft

‘Over 70% of B2B purchase decisions start with a search, according to Google. Allow PR to do what it can do best – leverage relationships, create link-worthy PR stories and earn coverage with links.’Proactive PR, which specialises in B2B technology PR

Make your content work for you
‘PR is not an isolated tool – amplification is a core part of any PR strategy. Simply sending out a press release or a thought-leadership article is not enough. It deserves more. So, make sure you’re using your other assets – your blog, social, email – to amplify that message to your core audience. Make your content work as hard for you as possible.’ – Tom Bestwick, content marketing and PR consultant at Hallam

Keep it simple
‘Make your copy to the point, jargon free and easy to understand. If the journo has spent three years writing for Coil Winding Intl and then moves to Mobile Europe as feature editor, they are not going to understand the importance of the 5G frequency spectrum for connecting to multiple IOT devices in the first few months. Guide them.’ – Mark Casey, founder and CEO of Dais Comms

‘Simplicity is at the heart of B2B PR. Not simplistic ideas or lazy thinking, but the ability to make complex and nuanced information understandable. Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.’ – Lynsey Barry, co-founder of B2B PR agency Five not 10

Provide context in your content
‘We’ve found that a greater focus on macroeconomic data helps. Adding more background to communications can help clients make sense of what’s happening in the wider world and how the service/product you are marketing resonates in context. We’ve been focusing on this over the past year and saw an almost 50% increase in coverage in 2021 as a result of this and other actions.’ – Leor Franks, business development & marketing director at Kingsley Napley LLP

Be creative and collaborate
‘Reach out to other brands who aren’t direct competitors but whose service offering can interlink with yours. At the very least, propose a blog post exchange. Or go bigger with a podcast/webinar!’ – Heather Wilkinson, content manager, Addition

‘There are now various mainstream examples of B2B brands being as creative, if not more, as their B2C counterparts. The likes of Slack, Salesforce and NICE are all investing huge sums in ad space that would historically be reserved for B2C brands, often with big name celebrity endorsements. So, you shouldn’t feel restricted in your creativity as a B2B brand.’ – Lee Simpson, account director at Fourth Day PR

Uncover opportunities in your data
‘If content is king, data is queen. Many B2B companies are already sitting on a wealth of useful data that can be used for PR. Highlighting product/service trends, regional variations or industry insights within a particular targeted sector is usually really appreciated by journalists and has the resulting effect of positioning the organisation involved as an expert on the subject.’ – Ali Cort, client services director, Browser Media

‘Data is your friend: Make the most of the research and the data team. Find out what they can pull from customer experience or from the back end of the site and see if there is a story within it.’ – Jodie Harris, head of digital PR at www.BlueArray.co.uk

Maximise your social channels
‘Social media can be your biggest asset. A little bit can go an awful long way to drive additional reach and engagement with a brand, if you get your strategy right. Don’t let clients tell you their audience isn’t on social – they just haven’t found them yet.’ – Louise Watson-Dowell, PR & digital strategy director at Definition

Understand your audiences
‘Really understanding your audience — PR at Degreed is about building our authority as a market leader. We cannot achieve this if we aren’t hyper-focused on the major opportunities and pain points facing our target market today. Our PR outreach is global, so instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, we tailor everything to each region including our angles, research, experts, and even our timings.’ – Jade Emmons PR manager at Degreed

‘Know your verticals – B2B brands often have very specific sectors they’re selling into and the message and offering may change wildly from sector to sector. As a PR professional, you must be able to adapt the message and adapt your pitch to secure coverage in a range of publications, across different verticals.’ – David Clare, head of PR at B2B tech marketing agency Fox Agency

Adapt for a sectorised approach
‘In the property sector, the best B2B results often come from integrated corporate and consumer campaigns, with audiences sourcing news and information from a range of sources.

‘Whether developers, agents, funds, charities or other, all organisations working in real estate need to earn trust from their stakeholders to achieve their objectives – if you’re considering whether to grant planning permission or invest millions, that market-wide reputation really matters to seal the deal. That means B2B PR in the property sector needs to ensure you’re building authenticity in your brand, in everything that you do, whether it’s how you show up in your audience’s LinkedIn feed and your share of voice in the investor circuit to what is being said about you or your projects in the weekend papers they read, by an influencer they trust or by your customers.’ – Laura Leggetter, one of SEC Newgate UK’s heads of communications

For more information on how Vuelio can help your B2B public relations and marketing, find out more here.

Want to try out the Journalist Enquiry Service for yourself? Start contributing relevant data, expert comment, product news and much more to the UK media – book a demo.

Brand personality

How to showcase your brand’s personality

This is a guest post from EverBold marketing executive Orla McCormack.

If you asked a marketing director or public relations manager what is meant by the term ‘brand personality’ twenty years ago, you may have got a response along the lines of, ‘What did you put in your coffee this morning?’

Nowadays, you are more likely to come across a human being lacking in personality traits rather than a brand that lacks them. Brand personality is a central focus for all marketing and public relations efforts of any brand looking to stand out among the crowd.

Here are some tips on how you can best portray the personality of a brand within a competitive sector, using the car insurance industry as an example.

Identifying and defining your brand personality
Just as an individual’s personality affects how others view them, your brand personality will determine how your customers view your brand. Therefore, it’s important that you strategically outline the traits of your brand’s personality from the get-go, rather than leaving the development of the brand personality to chance. So, the first thing you should ask yourself is simply, ‘Who are you?’ and ‘What are your core goals?’

Look: Brand appearance
Sectors like insurance can be perceived as quite boring and mundane – a task that requires lots of paperwork. But with the right brand appearance, it could be aligned with the liberation of being able to travel anywhere we like, alongside the security of knowing you’re covered. For our work with MissQuote.ie, for example, we use fun, bright and bold colours – orange, pink and white.

Sound: Brand voice
The next thing to identify is the tone of voice of the brand; in other words, how do we want to be heard? The voice of your brand contributes significantly to the perception of the brand personality. Should your tone of voice be formal or casual? Serious or funny? Traditional or on trend?

Once you have decided the tone of your brand’s voice, it is critical to keep the sound of your voice consistent – consistency is essentially the only way to build a recognisable and memorable voice.

Action: Brand behavior
Once you have established the appearance and voice of your brand, you need to start emulating this defined sound and look within the behaviour of your brand. The brand behaviour is demonstrated through the way in which your brand interacts with real customers. Essentially, you need to show that your brand can walk the walk. Engaging with your community online and offline through the content you post on social media, sponsorships and online interactions are all fantastic ways to engage with the brand’s community.

It’s vital to ensure that the content you are posting to your social media channels is emulating the brand’s personality; this could be funny, yet relevant memes, question polls and compelling blogs. You should also put real effort into replying to messages, comments and posts from social media followers, with all comments consistently relaying the brand voice.

Those working in the marketing, comms or public relations departments of any company, big or small, that operate within a competitive industry will appreciate how difficult it can be to get your brand to stand out among the rest. Consumers are more likely to trust and engage with a brand that resembles traits of their own personality. Therefore, it is important to really focus on the target market of the brand when defining your brand personality. Ultimately, it’s better to have a defined personality rather than one that is undefined and unheard, even if it means you won’t catch every fish in the pond.

For ensuring your brand is finding the right audience, book a demo of Vuelio’s monitoring, insights and media database solutions.

Want more on brand personality? Here are 3 tips for keeping your brand consistent across social media platforms , top tips for finding an effective tone of voice for your online brand and how to pick the right ambassador for your brand.