Ali Dunworth

‘We need to give more coverage to lesser-known businesses, chefs, and cuisines’: Food & drink freelance journalist Ali Dunworth

Looking to secure media coverage for your food and drink brand or clients? Freelance journalist Ali Dunworth has 20 years of work experience in the hospitality industry, and has spent the last decade writing freelance for titles such as the Irish Times and Sunday Times Ireland.

Read on for insight from Ali on how the food and drink scene has changed and what journalists in the sector need from PRs now, what the typical day for a freelance journalist looks like and what PRs should be doing (and not doing) when getting in contact.

The life of a freelance writer can be varied, what does a typical day or week look like for you?

It’s different every day but usually, I divide it into two. Mornings are when I’m focused, so I start with a quick walk to wake up and then straight into a few hours of concentrated writing with plenty of cups of tea. In the afternoon, I’m more easily distracted so that’s a time for lists, emails, phone calls and research.

What are the current challenges facing the food & drink industry?

The food and drink scene in Ireland has changed so much over the last few decades, particularly in Dublin, where it has become much more multicultural. However, this diversity is often not reflected in our media and food writing.

Non-European cuisines feel marginalised, they are not featured as prominently in lists or reviews. They are not given the same recognition or written about in the same way as those more familiar to us, and I’ve been guilty of this myself. I do think the tide is turning on this slowly but I believe as food writers, we need to make a concerted effort to broaden our horizons and give more coverage to lesser-known businesses, chefs, and cuisines.

Misinformation is on the rise – what can journalists and PRs do to stop this?

I think a lot of misinformation comes from lazy cut-and-paste situations. Picking up the phone or contacting someone directly via DM to double-check stuff should be the standard, not just replicating information found online.

Which parts of your work can PRs help you with, and how do you prefer for them to contact you?

Email is always preferred. It’s frustrating to get DMs on social media from PRs when my email is linked in my bio, or easy to find with a quick Google. Also, PRs should keep up-to-date on where you are writing. Some still contact me about a website I haven’t written for in years or maybe they don’t know about my Substack.

Ali’s first book ‘A Compendium of Irish Pints’ has been published by Nine Bean Rows.

Connect with Ali, and other UK and international journalists, via the Vuelio Media Database.

Green Claims Code

Webinar – Navigating the Green Claims Code: How to avoid the pitfalls of greenwashing

As modern consumers have become more eco-conscious and ethically aware, journalists are prepared to uncover any misalignment between company claims and ESG credentials.

In this climate of increased accountability for company communications, how can PR teams ensure their sustainability messaging is compliant and that all claims are completely above-board?

Join our next webinar ‘Navigating the Green Claims Code: How to avoid the pitfalls of greenwashing‘ at 2pm on 17 July to hear The Grocer’s editor-in-chief Adam Leyland discuss this from the point of view of the media.

The session will cover:
– Current and incoming regulations from groups including the CMA that comms teams need to know about
– How to avoid greenwashing and greenhushing missteps
– Ways to highlight company ESG profiles in the media and with audiences

Can’t join us live? Register here and we’ll send you the recording.

Want more on the responsibilities of PR and comms when it comes to sustainability messaging? Download our Vuelio white paper ‘The perception of PR in sustainability communications: How to avoid greenwashing and be an advocate for change‘.

Journalist Enquiry Service overview July 2024

Political commentators, destination experts, and sports professionals: What the media are looking for in July

Want to get your clients featured in the media in July? While the General Election has been the media’s focus for the last six weeks – and will be a priority for a while yet – there are plenty of other opportunities for coverage, and the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service is a good gauge for what is trending. Here is what journalists have been requesting throughout June, and what we predict their focus will be in July.

General Election fallout

Unsurprisingly, ‘election’ became a popular keyword on the Journalist Enquiry Service, appearing in 2% of all enquiries in May, growing to 2.5% in June.

Journalists focused on gathering interviews, and the viewpoints of CEOs and leaders from different sectors, including technology, retail, and business. There have also been requests for information on tactical voting, analysis of the manifestos, and for an expert to comment on election marketing and advertising.

Going forward? Journalists will most likely be looking for expert comment on what to expect from the new Government, the impact on the public, and the economy. The Times, The Independent, Reuters, and ITV News all sent requests concerning the election in June, giving an opportunity to feature you or your client in the national news now.

Summer holidays and gardening remain popular

‘Summer’ was the top keyword on the Journalist Enquiry Service for a second month in a row, as it featured in 9.5% of all requests. This is also an 8% increase compared to this time last year, maybe a sign that we’re in for some better weather as well? ‘Holidays’ cropped up in just over 3% of the enquiries in June this year. ‘Gardening’ proved even more popular as it appeared in 5.5%, and this is a 51% increase compared to June 2023.

Requests around ‘summer’ varied widely last month with everything from fashion to health to skincare to food and drink. The enquiries about ‘holidays’ tended to look more for travel experts and information on places or activities for the school summer holidays. Journalists sending requests about ‘gardening’ were primarily looking for experts to give tips and advice.

Going forward? Journalists will be looking for gardening experts and travel experts/information on destinations, so have these clients ready to engage with these media coverage opportunities.The nature of summer requests are harder to predict, but fashion experts could be needed to comment on the best clothing to wear and health advice/information on what to do to stay cool during warmer temperatures. Journalists from The Guardian, The Sun, The Daily Telegraph, Homes & Gardens, and Woman’s Own all sent requests on these three topics last month.

Other opportunities for PRs in July and beyond

It’s just a couple of weeks until the Olympics starts in Paris and in June, just under 1% of all enquiries featured ‘Olympics’. This will receive a lot more traction this month as we approach the games, with journalists looking for former athletes and sports professionals to interview. ‘Euro’s’ has also featured as a keyword and if England continue to progress in the tournament, journalists will likely look for information on the best places to watch the matches, as well as the impact it could have on the economy. Both of these events, plus Wimbledon as well, means sports spokespeople will be in high demand from journalists.

There are several food and drink related days this month including World Chocolate Day (7 July), National Hot Dog Day (19 July) and the whole of July is National Ice Cream Month. Journalists could be looking for food experts to give related recipes and advice. Finally, while school will only just be finishing, the media will begin in July to look for information on back to school items. This could be for uniform, stationery, lunch boxes, and more. This will gain in popularity throughout July and into August, so have the information you need prepared to send to journalists and get media coverage in both national press and consumer media.

To connect with the media on these topics, and much more, check out the Journalist Enquiry Service and the Vuelio Media Database.

Find out more how Vuelio can help you gain and track your coverage in the media here.

How the General Election conversation has evolved

How the General Election 2024 conversation evolved from the announcement to voting week

By Phoebe-Jane Boyd, Michael Kane, and Dahye Lee.

Despite the General Election announcement by the Government on a rain-soaked Wednesday evening coming as a complete surprise, the themes and dividing lines that have defined the Conservatives and Labour’s campaigns have not.

While the Conservatives have faced ridicule for their 14-year record, fueling significant anti-Conservative rhetoric across the country, Labour have consistently been questioned on their alleged opaque plans for Government, and what they envision for the future of the country should they take power.

But how has the wider online conversation and press coverage evolved since the first week of campaigning to today? What topics captured the interest of political reporters and the voting public, and which media platforms shaped the narratives?

We analysed the UK General Election 2024 conversation across online and print news, TV, radio, and podcasts as well as X, Threads, Facebook, blogs, and forums, from 23 May – 1 July to examine these fluctuations as we head towards an historic decision for the UK.

Which topics have preoccupied the press and public, now and then?

Most mentioned topics

When laying out the top-mentioned topics during this last week against that of 23 – 29 May, conversation around the top ranked has intensified, while the remaining topics have not experienced dramatic changes since the initial General Election announcement.

NHS/Health remains a key consideration, making up 12.6% of discussion over the last week. Natural, perhaps, following major party pledges and public concerns surrounding the state of healthcare following the election.

A topic that started off top of the agenda in the press and on social media and has since fallen out of conversation drastically? Sunak’s National Service idea, which fell by 60%. Controversy has stayed with Sunak, however, with mentions of Sleaze jumping by 80% due to recent gambling scandals. This scandal has also spread to Labour.

While the first leadership debate, hosted by ITV on the 4 June, saw Sunak consistently stressing the ambiguity in Labour’s plans for tax, the junior doctors strikes, and curbing illegal immigration, Starmer focused on a need for Sunak to be ‘ashamed of the last 14 years.’

Flash forward to the last leadership debate hosted by the BBC just last week and the underlying messages remained the same. Sunak ramped up the rhetoric as he urged voters to ‘not surrender’ their pensions, taxes, or borders to Labour. Starmer, again, sought to associate Sunak with the last 14 years of Conservative Government, condemning him as ‘Liz Truss Mark II.’

Labour has managed to hold its lead over the Conservatives in polling, at around 20%, showing the party’s defensive strategy has paid off.

What topics are Labour and the Conservatives each associated with?

What topics are associated with each political party

Each party’s associations are shaped by their core political priorities, as shown in the above breakdown of conversation by Conservative and Labour. Conservatives prioritise National Service and Foreign Affairs, consistently scoring above 70, which is partly weighted by public criticism.

Labour has seen an uptick when it comes to housing, with mentions coming from a mixture of audiences – Labour candidates, and supporters of other parties. Yet, these mentions are still less than those from anti-Tory audiences.

Have the media and public been aligned on what matters?

Social vs News

Social and news data breakdown signals how the public and media (mis)aligned on what matters to them.

News coverage has focused on Tax, NHS, and immigration – issues that highlight contentious aspects of major party pledges, from Sunak’s proposed tax hike, to Reform UK’s immigration policies, and Labour’s latest NHS plans.

In contrast, the public’s interest, shown on social media, has focused on Foreign Affairs, Sleaze and the NHS, featuring speculation on Sunak’s early election call, and the growing calls for action from the Government.

Online conversations on the General Election today continue to lean towards news and political events. Channel 4’s TikTok dominance, particularly among young people, highlights its influence.

TikTok screengrab

With UK party leaders showing less visibility on TikTok compared to figures like France’s Jordan Bardella – who boasts 1.7M followers – it could be argued that there is less emphasis on populist styles of leadership for the majority of UK political parties.

Where this is markedly different – Reform UK. The party’s burgeoning impact in TikTok dialogues has challenged the traditional discourse dominated by major parties.

In fact, the return of Nigel Farage as leader of Reform UK, alongside Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey’s campaign stunts and serious focus on social care, has squeezed the incumbent Conservatives from both the left and the right throughout the 2024 General Election campaign.

This has the potential to redraw political boundaries as Farage may finally be elected as an MP in Clacton and the Liberal Democrats may return to become the third largest party in the Commons, removing many Conservatives from the blue wall.

Personality-focused campaigns can project messaging further into new audiences, providing beneficial, and unforeseen, impacts (if not on votes, as Farage has found in previous years, with no election to office).

Which outlets are leading the conversation and coverage now?

Most shared media outlets

The Guardian and the Mirror emerge as the top-shared media sources among the public – both left-leaning outlets. Notably, people frequently share articles from The Guardian to substantiate their opinions, often using them as evidence in debates.

The most engaged articles focus on questions around the timing of the General Election, and scrutinisation of Sunak’s representation throughout his campaign.

Tweet from Edwin Hayward

Meanwhile, right-leaning publications such as The Telegraph and GB News, previously outside the top ranks, have also emerged among the top credible sources. This is largely due to the growing social sharing by ex-Tories and Brexiteers who are keenly watching Reform UK’s rising influence.

Dr David Bull tweet

It was only October 2022 that Sunak promised to deliver ‘integrity, professionalism and accountability’ in Government while Starmer has consistently emphasised the importance of returning politics to the ‘service’ of working people. Whether these aspirations materialise after the election is a different question but no one can doubt the importance of this with the last few weeks, and years, in mind.

As the UK prepares for the upcoming General Election, stay informed with the latest news by signing up to Vuelio General Election Updates.

The scandals of the General Election 2024

The scandals of General Election 2024: How the D-Day and gambling controversies spread among audiences

By Phoebe-Jane Boyd, Dahye Lee, and Ingrid Marin. 

While political experts predict a lack of enthusiasm from the public when it comes to voting on 4 July, there has been growing interest in the scandals of the UK 2024 General Election across the press and social media.

The big two controversies providing catalysts for column inches and social snarking? Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s early departure from this year’s D-Day celebrations, and the numerous political figures currently under investigation for gambling on the election date.

With no two scandals quite the same, we explore how each story reached audiences on different platforms and grew, analysing the UK General Election 2024 conversation across online and print news, TV, radio, and podcasts as well as X, Threads, Facebook, blogs, and forums, from 27 May – 27 June.

A disastrous D-Day for Sunak

Right at the beginning of the General Election campaign, Sunak walked out of D-Day celebrations in France to appear on ITV News. Despite the apology from the PM, this story hasn’t gone away, earning another mention during last night’s final Sunak vs Starmer BBC debate. But how did the story originally grasp the attention of reporters and potential voters?

Graph showing the spread of the D-Day scandal

Breaking down the D-Day conversation across different platforms shows that it was reporting from broadcast media that initially sparked interest in the D-Day scandal, with social media picking up the story and amplifying it to new audiences. Early broadcast clips proved perfect fodder for panels criticising Sunak, and for people to share on their social channels.

Camilla Pearce X post

While the D-Day scandal went quiet from 11 June across broadcast, press, and social media, it made a comeback on 21 June, propelled by Byline Times’ decision to circle back to the issue as part of its reporting on the use of veteran ID cards for voting.

Byline Times X post

Given the prominence issues like defence and security have had so far in this election campaign, Sunak’s mistake has ultimately been a gift to his rivals, leaving the stage clear for Keir Starmer to show leadership and patriotism.

However, Starmer has not been immune from scandal…

Bad bets placed by politicians

The betting scandal has dominated election campaigns as the run-up to the General Election rumbles into its final week.

Some quick context to the latest controversy: reporting started prior to last weekend, with parliamentary candidates Craig Williams and Laura Saunders, an unnamed Metropolitan police officer, and the Conservatives’ Director of Campaigns Tony Lee first implicated in the betting crisis. Nick Mason, the Conservative’s Chief Data Officer, was subsequently revealed to be under investigation by the Gambling Commission. According to a BBC report, 15 Conservative candidates and officials are now being investigated by the commission.

Nevertheless, the betting scandal is not contained to the Conservative party, as Labour revealed the suspension of Central Suffolk and North Ipswich candidate Kevin Craig following his admittance of betting against himself.

How Gambling Gate has evolved over time

In contrast to the D-Day scandal, the spread of this story shows the crucial role of social media in shaping a scandal’s narrative from its early stages, well before it gains mainstream attention.

Behind the early social peak on 12 June – a Channel 4 TikTok video breaking the news of the MP Craig Williams inquiry going viral (102k views to date).

Channel 4 TikTok

On June 19, social media swiftly circulated news of Williams’ alleged arrest on betting allegations, which was then backed by BBC coverage.

The revelations of additional Conservatives’ betting activities, coupled with Craig’s suspension from Labour on 25 June, furthered the narrative – gaining the attention of political journalists, and propelling the story into mainstream media outlets.

Over time, the scandal has captured the attention of both press news outlets and broadcast channels, both mirroring the narrative arc of the discourse happening on social media.

A lesson for the comms teams for each of the political parties vying for power at the 2024 General Election, perhaps: in the modern climate of interconnected media, crisis management has to start early in the cycle of a story, and across all platforms, before a scandal can spread.

Sunak and Starmer’s latest responses to the scandals

Last night, Sunak and Starmer drew the curtain on five weeks of intense campaigning in their final head-to-head television debate.

The D-Day and gambling scandals got early mentions, but weren’t the only controversies to feature in the latest clash.

Both Partygate and ‘Covid contracts’ were brought back into debate by Starmer – showing that while scandals can fall out of the public eye and press columns for a time, there’s always the possibility they will be weaponised at the most inopportune moments for those involved or implicated.

As the UK prepares for the upcoming General Election, stay informed with the latest news by signing up to Vuelio General Election Updates.

Retail Week event

How to raise your ESG profile to reporters and consumers in the retail sector

A strong ESG strategy can strengthen your stakeholder relationships across all audiences, from consumers, to the media. But which sustainability stories will grab the attention of journalists, their readers, and secure customer loyalty for your brand?

Retail Week managing editor Stephen Eddie and data and insights director Lisa Byfield-Green led Vuelio event ‘Raising your ESG profile: Insights and strategies for success’ on Wednesday evening, 20 June, at Vinoteca City.

Topics covered during the session included which stories the public are more likely to engage with when it comes to ESG; what journalists want to write about; and exactly how much of an impact personal values have on purchasing decisions and brand buy-in.

What ESG stories do consumers want to know about?

To provide context on what content audiences want to see on sustainability, Stephen and Lisa pointed out the importance of first understanding their buying habits. In 2024, it’s complicated:

Context on consumer habits – the bad…

Are consumers’ own ethics as solid as those they demand from retailers? Not quite.

‘We might want to do the right thing as consumers, but affordability is an unavoidable issue,’ said Lisa. ‘Due to the cost-of-living crisis, price takes precedence.’

Lisa Byfield-Green, Retail Week

Stephen also highlighted the ‘say/do’ disconnect in consumer behaviour. Vinted and Shein – two companies at different ends of the sustainability scale – are both incredibly popular with consumers. Strange, considering the modern focus on climate change? Not so much, said Stephen:

‘Price and value still often trump values’.

…and the good

While financial insecurity has pushed the popularity of fast fashion chains up over the last few years, it has also had positive impacts on carbon-reducing consumer behaviour:

‘The cost-of-living crisis has made us more sustainable, with the rise of capsule wardrobes, buying accessories instead of a whole new outfit, shopping on Vinted. Consumers are thinking more about the lifecycle of products now,’ said Lisa.

Put your best people forward

‘Authenticity is vital, and consumers – and reporters – have a nose for when something is inauthentic,’ said Stephen.

‘People like people – offer media interviews. They do well for Retail Week, and on social media. Who in your business can tell your story well? Put them forward for articles, and awards.’

Stephen Eddie, Retail Week

‘Your colleagues and customers will be more engaging to the audience than announcements about your policies. Have spokespeople ready who can cut through the jargon.’

The challenges, alongside the successes

‘There is complexity around how to measure ESG KPIs,’ said Lisa.

‘A lot of businesses are still in that journey. If you are – communicate that to customers; they’ll want to know about it.’

While retailers proudly announce their achievement of B Corp status – brands who have this include Fat Face, Aesop, and The White Company – few admit failing to secure it. Stephen posed that this would be an interesting story for readers – what will the retailer do next to secure the certification?

‘It’s powerful to know what progress is being made,’ added Lisa. ‘People want to hear about it. Don’t wait until you have all the answers – share the little steps.’

Other stories the public will want to read about… but you won’t want to share…

‘Greenwashing has made retailers nervous to make commitments,’ shared Lisa.

A consequence of the rise of greenwash-shaming in the press and from consumers is an accompanying rise in greenhushing – retailers quietly deleting ESG promises from their websites when goals haven’t been met.

Transparency is how to secure loyalty and trust – Lisa highlighted Nobody’s Child’s canny choice to share sourcing and supply chain details for its products:

‘The brand is already ahead of incoming legislation around this. It will drive loyalty, that it’s a sustainable business. It’s good marketing’.

What is Retail Week interested in sharing with its readers?

Unusual stories

An example from Stephen – House of Hackney’s decision to legally appoint ‘Mother Nature’ and ‘Future Generations’ to its board of directors secured the brand a Q&A in Retail Week. The unusual and unexpected will grab the attention of reporters, and their readers.

First movers

‘As ever, the newer something is, the more newsworthy it is,’ said Stephen.

‘Being a first mover means getting a reputation for being a leader in the industry. Reporters will want to follow the next step you take.’

Retailer team-ups

‘Establish partnerships if you share suppliers already – no one is competing when it comes to global warming,’ Lisa said, using the June 2023 teaming of B&Q, Screwfix, Bunnings, and The Home Depot to reduce Scope 3 emissions as an example of an interesting story, and an important collaboration.

‘If you can’t do it yourself, be part of a team – it will have more impact,’ added Stephen.

Contributions for sections outside of the news pages

‘It’s not just about the news,’ said Stephen.

‘Contribute to columns – but don’t be too salesy. Offer interviews, chances for us to sit down with a CEO – don’t gate-keep the talent.’

‘Case studies, reports, and people lists are other great ways to tell your story, and they have a great tail – readers will go back to them.’

 

Get in touch to learn how the Vuelio Media Database and ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service can help you connect with retail journalists across broadcast, national and regional press, as well as consumer and trade publications.

2024 manifesto reactions

Ambition, ‘bad ideas’, and pushes to be ‘bolder’: General Election 2024 manifesto reactions among audiences and the media

By Phoebe-Jane Boyd, Dahye Lee, and Ingrid Marin. 

This week represented the midpoint of the General Election campaign and it was a pivotal moment for all parties to pitch to voters.

Manifestos from the main parties were released throughout the week – with the exclusion of Reform UK, due to come on Monday 17 June.

To understand how the releases impacted press coverage and online discussion, here is analysis of the UK General Election 2024 conversation across online and print news, TV, radio, and podcasts as well as TikTok, Threads, Facebook, blogs, and forums, from 11 – 14 June, as well as a deep dive into political stakeholder reaction as the week progressed.

First, a look at the big two – the incumbent Conservatives, and the party expected by many to oust them come 4 July, Labour.

Manifesto coverage and conversation – Conservatives vs Labour

Manifestos 2024: Tories v Labour@2x

Following the passionate clashes during the ITV and BBC debates between Conservative and Labour, the main impact of their manifestos is focused on tax.

Conversation has risen around this topic following Labour’s manifesto pledge to increase taxes, in a potential boost to the Tories.

Did Labour’s manifesto make an impact?

Reaction to the Labour manifesto

As to whether Labour’s manifesto has changed reporting and social media discussion around its policies and promises, analysis of the pre- and post- release shows an impact on the topics of tax (+5.3%) and energy policy (+7.5%).

The increase in coverage and discussion of tax is driven by diverse news narratives surrounding Labour’s related policies. The highest engagement is for ITV‘s focus on Labour’s tax lock, while GBNews highlights voter concerns about Labour’s proposed tax increases.

Why the spike for energy? Labour’s pledge to ban new petrol and diesel cars and ensure ‘certainty to manufacturers’ in energy and sustainability has prompted Conservative communities to generate criticism.

Alan D Miller tweet

Did the Conservative manifesto make a difference?

Reaction to the Conservative Manifesto for 2024

The Conservative manifesto also made an impact on Tax (+8.2%), alongside Housing (+2.3%).

BBC’s coverage of Keir Starmer’s condemnations of Sunak’s National Insurance cuts dominates the tax narrative, as the Tory campaign becomes increasingly embattled. Over on social media, the proposal to scrap National Insurance for the self-employed is provoking negative reaction due to perceived unfairness.

Unsurprisingly, Nigel Farage is enmeshed in discussion of Conservative chances at the election, as the Reform UK leader criticises policies as they are announced – this week’s manifesto included. Gaining traction online now – his comment that a Conservative promise regarding its Rwanda Bill was ‘another lie’.

Political stakeholder reaction – a look back at the week

Monday: Liberal Democrats got ambitious
The week began with the Liberal Democrats releasing their party manifesto. They pledged a £8.35bn NHS and care package – funded by reversing tax cuts for banks and closing tax loopholes – and set out long-term plans for rejoining the EU.

Nuffield Trust Chief Executive Thea Stein responded to the manifesto, calling it highly ambitious. However, she also said the funding proposed appeared ‘insufficient’, and that the sums ‘simply don’t add up’. Additionally, IFS Director Paul Johnson said that the tax measures would not raise the £27bn a year that the party claims, and that some of the tax raising proposals are, economically, a ‘bad idea’.

Tuesday: Conservatives sparked questions regarding costings
Questions about how proposals will be paid for were also raised on Tuesday when the Conservatives released their manifesto and pledged to cut taxes (including entirely scrapping the main rate of self-employed National Insurance) and introduce a new Help to Buy scheme by abolishing stamp duty for first-time buyers (on homes up to £425,000).

Paul Johnson from the Institute for Fiscal Studies said that the manifesto promised £17bn a year of tax cuts, alongside a big hike in defence spending, and questioned how this would be paid for. The Conservatives suggest they will fund some of their commitments by cutting the rising welfare bill, but Johnson questions how achievable this is.

Similarly, Labour leader Keir Starmer said it was a ‘Jeremy Corbyn-style manifesto’, suggesting the Conservatives had not explained how they would pay for their policies. He promised that Labour’s manifesto would be ‘fully costed’ and would only include ‘promises that we can keep and that […] the country can afford’.

Wednesday: Green Party pushed Labour to be bolder
Wednesday marked the release of the Green Party manifesto, pledging to raise taxes on the wealthy to fund more spending on housing, the NHS, and the climate crisis.

The manifesto includes the introduction of a wealth tax and a raising of National Insurance on annual wages above £50,270. Focusing on the four seats which the party believes are winnable, the co-leaders Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay said electing Green MPs would ‘push Labour to be bolder’, particularly on net-zero climate change policies, which they accused other parties of ‘running away from’.

Thursday: Was Labour too cautious?
On Thursday, Keir Starmer launched the Labour party’s manifesto, where he pledged to prioritise ‘wealth creation’. As commentators expected, the document was relatively light on policy detail, and didn’t contain any big surprises.

Some commentators have suggested that Labour’s spending plans are more cautious than the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. If Labour are firmly committed to not raising taxes, this does raise questions about how they would be able to avoid cuts to public services.

Former Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls warned the manifesto could be a ‘straitjacket’, and make the first year of a Labour Government very difficult. Senior Labour figures have responded to such criticisms by saying they would deliver growth, and therefore expand the total revenue available for public services without having to raise taxes.

Still to come: Reform UK
Ahead of the Reform UK manifesto being released on Monday 17 June, a poll found that Reform UK had overtaken the Conservatives for the first time. Farage has said his party ‘are now the opposition to Labour’, and that a Tory vote would only ‘enable’ Starmer’s party.

Whether the release of Reform manifesto adds solidity and credibility to their challenge, or else sees their recent progress melt away, is something that will be closely monitored by politics watchers.

As the UK prepares for the upcoming General Election, stay informed with the latest news by signing up to our Vuelio General Election Updates.

Newsrewired panel 2024

The rise of AI in journalism and its impact on PR

Could the use of AI have an impact on the relationship between journalists and PRs?

This year’s Newsrewired conference featured several panels discussing AI and the benefits it can bring to journalism. Here is how journalists are using AI already, and what this could mean for PR.

Fact-checking and misinformation

The rise of misinformation is a continuing problem for journalists to contend with. Charlotte Maher, social media editor at Bellingcat, explained its impact on politics:

‘In regards to deep fakes in election periods, something that we’ve seen – which is a very worrying trend – is the rise in deep fake audio. Video and imagery – there’s a lot of tools out there and more data to analyse in the video and images. With audio, it’s a lot harder.’

To combat this, various AI tools and programmes have been and continue to be developed to aid journalists fact-checking information and identifying manipulated images or repurposed content. Charlotte Maher recommended GitHub as a platform, full of open source, easy to access tools.

Impact on PRs: Journalists are now more cautious when putting content into print or online. To be seen as trustworthy and reliable to the media, be ready to back up sources or statistics included in press releases to set yourself apart.

Being able to give journalists an exclusive case study or information will be more likely to result in coverage. Repurposed or recycled material is not as useful to journalists, as it can include misinformation.

Winning back time

Regional publisher Newsquest has developed an in-house tool to draft articles based on trusted information from verified sources. However, there is always a human at the beginning and end of the news cycle. Jody Doherty-Cove, head of editorial AI at Newsquest, spoke about how this benefits the editorial process:

‘Around 3,500 AI assisted news articles are published across Newsquest each month, and we’re reinvesting that won-back time into our newsrooms, allowing journalists to get back out into their communities and focusing on specialisms, like getting back into court’.

Impact on PRs: Regional and local editorial teams have been getting smaller and smaller in the past few years. Journalists at this level have less time to engage with PRs as a result.

If other publishers follow Newsquest’s example, and win back more time for reporters to get out to cover stories, this could mean more engagement with PRs, and an increase in coverage of community news initiatives, as well as local projects and events.

Help with vertical video

Platforms like Instagram and TikTok are becoming increasingly popular with younger audiences as a way to consume news. However, there are still comparatively few journalists using these social media sites as a way to promote their journalism.

Sophia Smith-Galer, a freelance journalist who has previously worked for the BBC and Vice, is a pioneer of TikTok journalism, with over 500,000 followers on the platform, plus over 250,000 on Instagram. Using this expertise, Sophie trained an AI tool (called Sophina) to help write viral video scripts for journalists:

‘Current AI tools don’t do what we want them to do. We don’t know the training data, for example, on ChatGPT. I wanted to build an ethical tool where you knew the knowledge base was being used consensually.’

Impact on PRs: An increasing number of journalists will be using TikTok and Instagram in the future and will need press materials to work in a vertical video format.

Make sure what you’re offering journalists is adaptable to fit into various formats. As well as how it could work in print and online, think how it could appear in a TikTok video or an Instagram reel. This is particularly important for product placement or general product review articles you’re aiming to feature in.

Connect with journalists directly via the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service and Vuelio Media Database.

Want to know more about pitching to the media? Download the Vuelio white paper ‘How to pitch to journalists’, covering national press, consumer media, trade outlets, and freelancers.

Second General Election debate 2024

From Mordaunt vs Rayner clash to Farage winning popularity poll: Impact of the second TV debate

By Phoebe-Jane Boyd, Dahye Lee, and Ingrid Marin. 

Representatives from seven parties took to the stage for Friday 7 June’s BBC Election Debate 2024. Following on from ITV’s broadcast of Sunak vs Starmer’s debate the previous week, which topics grabbed the attention of the viewers and sparked political media reports this time around?

We analysed social and news in the UK General Election 2024 conversation across X, TikTok, Threads, Facebook, blogs, forums, online news, print news, TV, radio, and podcasts, from Friday 7 June 7:30pm, to Monday 10 June.

Did the Conservative’s Penny Mordaunt, Labour’s Angela Rayner, Liberal Democrats’ Daisy Cooper, Scottish National Party’s Stephen Flynn, Green Party’s Carla Denyer, Plaid Cymru’s Rhun ap Iorwerth, and Reform UK’s Nigel Farage’s time on TV shift the needle on the conversation?

Tax, health and foreign affairs – Most popular topics before and after Friday’s debate

Top mentioned topics

Taking the spotlight for many write-ups in the press and reaction on social media following the debate were the clashes between deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner and Commons leader Penny Mordaunt, who had been placed in close proximity.

Key moments from Friday: The clash over Mordaunt’s choice to repeat Conservative claims that Labour would raise taxes by £2,000; Mordaunt’s repeated apologies for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s early departure from the D-Day ceremony; and Reform leader Nigel Farage’s strong criticism of Sunak, branding him ‘unpatriotic’ and a ‘complete and utter disgrace’. Farage himself did not escape harsh words, being described as a ‘clown personality’ by Rayner.

Overall, the BBC debate didn’t make a significant splash when it comes to pushing the directions of press coverage and online conversations. The main difference in trending topics across both when looking at pre- and post- Friday’s debate is for discussion of tax.

Tax saw the highest increase (+7.5%) among the topics we tracked compared to share of voice before Friday’s televised debate.

Mordaunt was criticised by many across social media for returning to the well of that controversial £2k tax claim that Sunak had dug in the first debate:

Lisa Pattern tweet

Reports from Sky News, BBC, and The Guardian concerning Labour’s mention of ‘no tax hikes’  were highly shared.

Another conversation that increased following the second debate – the topic of the NHS.

Analysis shows this was driven by Farage’s statement during the debate that the NHS should be scrapped in its current form. This comment continues to drive discussion in the press and online, as it faces criticism from left-leaning audiences:

Jon Jill tweet

Which of the two TV debates so far has driven the most coverage and conversation?

ITV vs BBC volume comparison

Analysis of the 24-hour periods following each debate shows that it was 6 June’s ITV broadcast that has had the most impact on the conversation and coverage, driving reports and shares. The reason for this could be two-fold – the first debate of its kind for this General Election drew more curiosity, and featured the only two party leaders realistically positioned to be UK Prime Minister post election.

But what do the polls say?

 

Following the BBC debate, a poll from More in Common found that Farage possibly came out on top; with 25% thinking the Reform leader had won the debate; 19% saying Angela Rayner; 14% saying none of the above; 11% for the Green Party’s Carla Denyer; 10% for the Scottish Nationalist Party’s Stephen Flynn; 7% for Penny Mordaunt; 5% for the Liberal Democrat’s Daisy Cooper; and 2% for Plaid Cymru’s Rhun ap Iorwerth.

As the media, and voters, await the release of each party’s manifestos this week – much mooted by each speaker throughout both TV tussles – debate as fierce as those televised so far continues online and in the press.

Stay informed with the latest news on the upcoming General Election by signing up to our Vuelio General Election Updates.

How to get PR coverage in June 2024 and beyond

Travel experts, election comment and festival essentials: How to get coverage in the press in June

Want to get media coverage in June? The next month will be a busy one for journalists, with General Election build up, Glastonbury, Wimbledon, the Euros to cover.

The ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service gives a good indicator of what topics and areas the media are particularly interested in and what they will need from PRs. Here are trends from May, and what we expect to be popular in June and beyond.

Summer season is here

While it isn’t officially summer yet, journalists have been keen to cover it with over 8% of the total requests last month containing the word ‘summer’. The enquiries have varied quite widely in topic but many have been around ‘holidays’, with that also appearing in 3% of requests in May.

‘BBQ’ has proved popular, too, with the word appearing in 2% of enquiries. The start of summer also marks ‘festival’ season with 1.5% of requests in May looking for information and essential products to take camping.

Going forward? While ‘Summer’ is broad as a keyword, we know that ‘holidays’ will continue to perform well as the Travel category peaks for requests in June. Journalists will want comments from travel experts. Summer fashion, beauty and health will also prove popular, so get information or experts ready and you could feature in The Guardian, Women’s Fitness, Fabulous, The i paper, Ideal Home, Pick Me Up! and the MailOnline.

UK General Election takes centre stage

While much of the UK press were expecting an Autumn election, the surprise announcement in May didn’t stop journalists sending requests to PRs related to the news –  ‘Election’ appeared in 2% of the total enquiries last month.

Initial journalist requests sought ‘business leaders’ thoughts on the UK election’ and ‘comment from logistics expert on how the General Election could impact the UK logistics and supply chain sector’.

Going forward? With less than a month until the General Election, journalists will increasingly use the service to get comments from different sectors for how it will impact them. This represents a great opportunity to get CEOs or industry leaders featured in the media. The Times, Sunday Mirror, The Independent, and Reuters have all had journalists send requests around the election already.

Interest in gardening and AI still high as sport gains more traction

‘Gardening’ and ‘AI’ have both been consistently popular on the Journalist Enquiry Service for several months now and that didn’t change in May. ‘Gardening’ appeared in 5% of the total requests last month and ‘AI’ occurred in just over 3%.

With a big summer of sport ahead, including the Euros, Wimbledon and the Olympics, the category increased in use by journalists by 12% compared to April. ‘Euros’ and ‘football’ combined appeared in 1% of the requests last month.

Going forward? Garden requests are likely to remain high in June with the more summery weather (we hope) the Home & Garden category received 7% more requests in May this year compared to 2023. AI has seen an even bigger increase, with 17% more enquiries last month than this time last year. Journalists are looking to connect with experts in both of these areas. In regards to sport, requests tend to be for places to watch sporting events, or products to work alongside it.

Other opportunities for PRs in June and beyond

As June is Pride month in the UK, journalists will likely be looking for events and what’s on in certain cities to celebrate. Expect ‘LGBTQ’ to crop up in a lot of requests from the media, too. Aside from the two big music festivals in June, Taylor Swift is also coming to the UK and journalists have already been sending requests around this, mainly for personal case studies.

It’s Men’s Health Week from 14-20 June, so get ready for the opportunities to get health and medical experts featured in the media. There is also Clean Air Day on 20 June, providing a chance to get environmental experts quoted in the press.

To connect with the media on these topics, and much more, check out the Journalist Enquiry Service and the Vuelio Media Database.

Find out more how Vuelio can help you gain and track your coverage in the media here.

Katherine Hignett Health Journalist

How to connect with health journalists in the post-pandemic era 

Just as the healthcare sector was forever changed by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, so too was how the media reports on the topics of health, medicine, and treatment.

What does this mean for PRs aiming to connect with health journalists now?

Forbes.com senior contributor Katherine Hignett led Vuelio event ‘Truth and impact: Health journalism in the post-pandemic era’ on Wednesday evening, 29 May, at Vinoteca City to share her experiences and insight.

Topics covered – how health journalists became a vital force in newsrooms across the world; the challenges of sourcing trustworthy experts; and the long-term impacts still being felt in the media today.

How the pandemic changed health journalism

Extra pressures
Health journalism already comes with unique demands – ‘It’s very technical, and has regulatory frameworks other sectors don’t,’ Katherine explained – but the start of COVID-19 only brought more challenges…

Culture wars
‘Disinformation is a huge issue on social media now, and it gave us more work to do during the pandemic – debunking and extra fact-checking as part of every report. Topics that were politically inert were now potentially culturally sensitive.’

Katherine explained the impact of the rise in anti-vax sentiment, conspiracy theories, and misinformation on medications that could supposedly stop the spread.

‘When fact-checking stories, we had to personally deal with conspiracy theorists and anti-science sentiment. We got some nasty stuff from strangers over the internet. Some of these things are still with us today’.

Increased responsibility
‘Before the pandemic, the closer a story was to politics, political journalists would pick up the story. But suddenly, the expertise we had as health journalists was really important to those stories. We were suddenly among the most important journalists in the room’.

New sources
With all of the bad, came some good:

‘It was suddenly easier to get information from sources. NHS workers weren’t so open to talk to journalists before, but then, even though managers would try to stop sources in back offices from leaking information, people did it.

‘We were given amazing data on staff levels, PPE. We didn’t have capacity to cover it all.’

How to work with health journalists today

‘Covid is still something we cover everyday, even if it’s indirectly covered,’ said Katherine.

The legacy of the pandemic is also felt in how journalists source, fact-check, write, and share stories. This also impacts how they work with PRs.

Do extra checks on your experts
‘It’s more difficult to figure out who to trust when it comes to experts now,’ explained Katherine.

‘The pandemic was really good training for journalists on how to work with experts. Just because someone wears a white coat, doesn’t mean they know what they’re talking about.’

‘We often speak to them about research, and for commentary for articles. Sometimes the press can over-egg and oversell scientific findings, so genuine experts are really important.’

What is a sign of a trustworthy expert for health journalists? University affiliations. Katherine also pointed out pHd research as an interesting starting point for stories, and a way to find and connect with new experts.

Provide sources for stories
As people the world over have made efforts to return to some form of normality, so too has the status quo on sources:

‘Sadly, the sources and tips have gone back to “normal” now; it’s more tricky,’ shared Katherine.

While Katherine herself has a consumer and national focus in her work, she highlighted trade journalism’s deep connections with useful sources:

‘The trade press are really good at finding stories we wouldn’t find in consumer and on national titles, because they have access to contacts we don’t.

‘Journalists working on consumer media rely a lot on trade press, but also on releases and contacts from charities.’

What Katherine is interested in for her own reporting – drug shortages on a national scale, and health stories that reveal information that could impact society.

‘As a country, we are sicker than we were before Covid. It had a big impact on drug shortages, and exacerbated existing global issues. Many are still waiting for care that was cancelled during the pandemic. People are getting sicker and relying on medication – more pain, and more drugs, while waiting for surgery.

‘For journalists, this means there are more opportunities to hold people to account. It’s an important and fascinating area.’

Katherine Hignett is a senior contributor to Forbes.com on healthcare and health policy, and freelance journalist for titles such as Metro.co.uk and Newsweek. Katherine is a former correspondent for award-winning health policy publication the Health Service Journal, and was recognised by PressGazette for her investigative work exposing PPE shortages in hospitals during the pandemic.

To connect with health journalists working across broadcast, national and regional press, consumer and trade publications, the Vuelio Media Database and ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service can help. 

voters queuing outside polling station

UK General Election 2024: What was the state of the public conversation leading into the first debate?

By Phoebe-Jane Boyd and Dahye Lee.

The first television debate between party leaders took place on Tuesday 4 June, coming at the culmination of two weeks campaigning in which both Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer set out their stalls for the country. But, as the studio lights went up on Tuesday evening, which policies and points of view had already cut through into public consciousness?

Read the full transcript of the ITV debate here.

Using Pulsar TRAC, we analysed social and news mentions of themes in the UK General Election 2024 conversation across X, TikTok, Threads, Facebook, blogs, forums, online news, print news, TV, radio, and podcasts between 23 May – 5 June 2024.

Here is what is capturing the attention of the media and the public.

As the UK prepares for the upcoming General Election, stay informed with the latest news by signing up to our Vuelio General Election Updates.

Top mentioned topics in UK General Election 2024 coverage and conversation

National Service stirs engagement

Coverage in the press, and engagement across social media, gave early indicators of what would be covered within the debate.

NHS, foreign affairs, and education featured highly in coverage and conversation between 23 May – 5 June, due to uproar around the prospect of the return of National Service – what Starmer called ‘Teenage Dad’s Army’, and Sunak described as ‘bold action’ during the debate.

While audible laughs from the in-studio audience met Sunak’s words on the topic on Tuesday night, coverage of the proposal has received serious and significant engagement, particularly from BBC News.

The audience most engaged with the topic? Young people, and many parents, who would be impacted the most should Sunak’s plan come to fruition. Channel 4’s TikTok on this was most shared by the younger generation.

Balance of conversation

Tax was always going to be a significant part of the first TV debate for this year’s election, but Sunak’s numerous accusations regarding a supposed (since disputed) ‘extra £2,000 tax’ from Labour took up a significant portion of TV time last night.

However, it’s the Conservatives who have over-indexed for mentions of tax since the start of the party’s campaign.

In the lead up to the TV debate, this was partially due to Reform outflanking them on income tax pledges while, after the debate, numerous journalists and influencers factchecked Sunak’s £2,000 tax allegation.

Labour vs Conservatives: Who’s dominating discussion around specific topics?

Analysis of these key topics broken down by mentions of each party shows a mostly equal split of coverage and conversation for Labour and Conservative… with the expected outlier of National Service. The Tory proposal has been further amplified by ITV’s coverage.

As of today, a major focus of mentions for Labour are foreign affairs, NHS/health, and energy & sustainability, and this was driven by Tuesday’s debate directly. An X post from MP David Lammy regarding the NHS triggered intense engagement online, as did his commentary on bombing in Gaza.

 

News vs social media: Where are people talking and engaging?

While both social media and news outlets focus on the NHS, the narratives unfolding on each platform differ.

News coverage centres on questions regarding how national service can support NHS issues, while social media users urge support of the NHS and junior doctor strikes.

Immigration is the second highest topic in news coverage. Tackled by Sunak and Starmer during the debate, the resulting high number of mentions is largely driven by write-ups in right-wing outlets. Their focus? Reports regarding migrant channel crossings.

Media outlets leading coverage and engagement around the General Election

Which media outlets are leading coverage of the 2024 UK General Election so far, and sparking shares on social media?

The Mirror’s reporting of Sunak’s interactions with Russian associates – not covered in Tuesdsay’s debate – has received considerable traction among left-leaning readers, who have expressed concern over his affiliations with Russia.

While BBC’s coverage of Sunak’s National Service plan maintains broader audience interest, the Scottish Daily Express has sparked controversy, and engagement, with its reporting of alleged ‘outright lies’ in the Scottish National Party’s campaigning.

While Tuesday’s debate did not necessarily introduce anything new into the fabric of discussion, with both leaders returning to topics and talking points that they know to be important to their audiences and stakeholders, it did re-entrench battle lines. Tax is now more central to the overall discussion, which had previously not attained much prominence, or airtime.

Whether it’s Sunak’s £2,000 tax attack line, or the subsequent debunking of the figure the next day, which sticks in voter’s minds, the subsequent weeks will reveal.

For extra on the UK political landscape, sign up to the weekly Vuelio Point of Order newsletter.

Find out more about Vuelio’s solutions for public affairs and politics.

gardeners planting seeds

Gardening tips, holidays and Father’s Day: How to get PR coverage in May

Want to get featured in the media? The ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service is used every day by journalists who are looking for expert comment, case studies and information for articles.

Check out what topics staff reporters and freelancers have been covering throughout April, plus what areas we expect to remain popular in May and beyond.

Gardening tips still in demand

Since the onset of Spring, ‘gardening’ has been a trending topic for media professionals using the Journalist Enquiry Service to connect with PRs. April was no different, with over 4.5% of all requests being for ‘gardening’ content.

Journalists were looking for everything from the best roses for a small garden, to home and garden products for the summer, and experts to share advice on what common pests should be expected in the garden this year.

Going forward? With events like the Chelsea Flower Show taking place later in May, gardening will remain a popular topic for journalists. The Home & Garden category saw a 2% rise in use from March to April, and the requests will likely increase again in May. Outlets such as Ideal Home, The Sun, This Morning, The Guardian and Grand Designs magazine all sent gardening-related requests to PRs through the Journalist Enquiry Service in April. This offers great opportunities for experts and products to get featured in national newspapers, magazines, and on television.

Father’s Day interest increasing

Holidays or celebrations are always popular journalist request topics and ‘Father’s Day’ is no different; 3% of the total enquiries in April were for this key phrase. Journalists are keen to get coverage earlier this year with a 16% increase in the number of requests compared to April 2023 – so submit your related contributions early.

The Men’s Interest category has seen a boost as well, with 14% more enquiries in April than in March. The increase from last year has also been significant, with 16% more requests than in April 2023.

Going forward? May is typically the month when we see the most Father’s Day related requests. These tend to focus on gifts to give Dad for the special day. If you are a PR with products to review and want them featured in media outlets such as Bella, Dadsnet, Living360 and Heart London, then there will be plenty of opportunities throughout the month, ahead of Father’s Day on June 16.

Holidays on the horizon

With bank holidays this month, ‘holiday’ is a hot topic on the Journalist Enquiry Service right now. It appeared in just over 2% of the total requests for April and also meant a modest 3% rise in the Travel category as well.

Journalists in April were looking for London events happening over the bank holiday weekend, family-friendly holidays and days out, and holiday and summer essentials. These requests came from The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Times, The Week, Yahoo! Life and The i paper.

Going forward? ‘Holiday’ as a keyword appeared in over 3% of the enquiries in May 2023 and we expect that to be a similar level this year. Journalists tend to look for information on destinations but case studies, travel experts, and holiday related products are all requested regularly as well. This gives lots of scope to get your clients featured in the first of two busy months for journalists writing about travel.

Other opportunities for PRs in May and beyond

We have seen a rise in outdoor activity related requests on the Journalist Enquiry Service over the last couple of months. Therefore, look out for ‘walking’ related opportunities as May is National Walking Month. This could also see a boost for the Leisure & Hobbies category. ‘Mental health’ is likely to be popular with journalists in May because of Mental Health Awareness Week. Last year, over 2% of requests in May were around mental health – experts around this topic are likely to be in high demand again this year.

The festival season is ahead of us with both Download (14-16 June) and Glastonbury (26-30 June) taking place in June. We expect journalists to request information on what items to take along while camping, and possibly music experts, too, throughout May. Euro 2024 will also kick off in June which should mean plenty of requests for PRs from sports journalists – they’ll likely start sending requests on the best places to watch, giving a chance to get pubs and venues featured in the media.

To connect with the media on these topics, and much more, check out the Journalist Enquiry Service, and the Vuelio Media Database.

Find out more how Vuelio can help you gain and track your coverage in the media here.

Journalist Enquiry Service trends send half of 2024

When to get in touch with journalists with your PR contributions throughout the year

Want to know what journalists need for their news and features? The ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service is a solid indicator of what is trending in the media as hundreds of journalists use it each month to get information for articles, expert comment, and much more.

We reflect on what has been popular on the Journalist Enquiry Service this year so far, and predict what will be high on the agenda for journalists during the second quarter and where you can gain media coverage.

Get your health pitches in early

The start of a new year means a focus on healthy living for many, and the word ‘healthy’ was the most popular with journalists sending enquiries to PRs. It appeared in 10% of the total requests throughout January, February, and March, and has seen a 6% increase in use this year.

Titles such as Women’s Fitness, Top Sante, the Daily Mail, GB News and BBC Good Food all sent enquiries during the first quarter of the year. Fitness, diet, weight loss, recipes, workouts and skincare were all included in these requests around healthy living.

The Health category as a result was the second most used by media professionals using the Journalist Enquiry Service, after Women’s Interest & Beauty.

Now? Health features may be a big part of New Year write-ups, but it’s a popular topic throughout the year – plenty of opportunities to get experts featured in national press and big consumer magazines.

Interest in AI continues to grow

The media’s interest in AI and the ways it will impact our lives has grown consistently for around the last eighteen months. ‘AI’ featured as a keyword in over 3% of all requests between January and March. It’s also seen a big increase compared to the first quarter of last year, with a rise of 51%.

Now? The interest in writing articles around AI has remained consistent – enquiries tend to focus on getting experts in AI to comment on issues and new developments, varying from AI therapists, to AI in business,to bringing AI into mining metals. You could get experts featured in titles such as IT Pro, The Next Web, Yahoo! News, Verdict, and The Financial Times.

Travel plans are being made earlier

Easter fell earlier in the calendar year for 2024 which might explain why ‘travel’ has been popular as a keyword in the first quarter, with journalists looking to cover places for people to get away in the school holidays. Over 5% of the total requests were for ‘travel’ and 2% were for ‘holiday’.

‘Travel’ did perform well as a keyword last year too, but this year we have seen an 11% increase. There has also been a 14% rise for ‘holiday’ as a keyword and the Travel category as a whole has received 5% more requests than this time last year.

Now? Requests regularly centre on information around holiday destinations or hotels to stay at but also experts to provide comment and case studies on travel nightmares.

Journalists from outlets such as PA Media, Sky News, The Daily Star, Bella, and BBC Travel have all sent enquiries. The Travel category and these keywords will only grow more popular as we head towards the summer, meaning lots of media opportunities to get your hotel featured or travel guide providing comment.

Trending topics to be ready for in the second quarter

Holidays and celebrations such as Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day always generate a high volume of requests on the Journalist Enquiry Service. We expect ‘Father’s Day’ to be a key phrase throughout April and May, ahead of 16 June. In fact, we have already seen requests for it in the first quarter and this has led to a 8.5% increase for the Men’s Interest category compared to last year. Enquiries around Father’s Day are usually looking for products to review or gifts or experiences that Dads can enjoy.

‘Summer’ was the top keyword for the second quarter last year and is likely to perform well again this year. This can vary from summer fashion to summer drinks to summer holidays. Travel, as we already mentioned, will receive a lot of requests as a category but Arts and Entertainment should do well as we hit festival season with events like Glastonbury and Download festival. Food & Drink also performs well as a category from April until June, with journalists looking for information around days such as National BBQ day (16 May), National Cheese Day (4 June) and World Gin Day (10 June), plus experts within this sector too.

Finally, we are expecting quite a big rise in the amount of requests for the Sport category. The Euro’s kick off in Germany in June and Wimbledon will take place at the beginning of July. This is then followed, of course, by the Olympics in Paris. Expect requests from journalists looking for places to go to watch these sporting events, as well as experts or coaches with advice on taking up featured sports.

Find out more about what journalists want from PRs, and how Vuelio can help.

Post Office Scandal

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

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

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

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

Read our case study to learn:

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

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

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

Alexander Larman interview

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

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

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

Alexander Larman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have a license for that

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

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

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

CIPR Midlands Licensing Roundtable panel

Why do PRs need to know about this stuff?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How can Vuelio help with licensing?

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

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

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

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

Should PRs be wary of the NLA and CLA?

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

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

Where copyright gets complicated…

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

Sharing coverage on social safely

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

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

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

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

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

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

When a publisher uses your press release

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

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

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

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

The grey area of Google Alerts

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to navigate the storm of crisis

How to navigate the storm of a PR crisis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spring Budget Briefing

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

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

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

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

Spring Budget Briefing panel

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

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

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

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

Pollster Andrew Hawkins reinforced this reaction:

Andrew Hawkins speaking at the Vuelio Spring Budget Briefing for 2024

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

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

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

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

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

What did the Chancellor forget? The workforce

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The mood in the journalist lobby?

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

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

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

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

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

Kelly Scott on Spring Budget Briefing panel

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

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

Name checks for stakeholders

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

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

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

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

What happens next?

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

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

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

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

Boeing brand blowout

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

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

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

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

Boeing’s brand blowout

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

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

Alaska Airlines social media reaction

Delta is dealt a hard blow

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

Chart tracking Delta mentions across social media

Airbus gets airtime

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

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

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

‘The contrast with Boeing is fairly profound.’

Airbus social media

Apple takes a bite of the coverage

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

Tweet about iPhone found in Boeing wreckage

-Well, mainly for the positive:

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

Apple social media mentions

Another PR tussle for Tesla

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

Elon Musk tweet on Boeing

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

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

Tesla social media mentions

Fixing the fallout

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

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

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

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