Stakeholder Management

A guide to the benefits of Stakeholder Management

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

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

Press office management

1. Managing your press office

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

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

Vuelio Enquiries

2. Managing your messaging

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organisations with clear shared goals and firmly established brand personalities are at risk of incorrect messaging, outdated brand assets or tonally-wrong comms being shared by well-meaning team members without access to the latest documents.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

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

Issues management

3. Shared banks of stakeholders

Gone are the days of relying on outdated and easily-broken Outlook and Excel spreadsheets filled with complicated data and formulas.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

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

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

PR CRM

4. Crisis management

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

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

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

Stakeholder management

5. Reporting back

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holding social media to account

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Journalism as a protected class

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

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

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

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

What PRs need to know about the future of journalism

What PRs need to know about the future of journalism

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

1) Locally-based spokespeople can rebuild trust

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

2) Brand affiliations are here to stay

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

3. Broader subjects will grab more attention

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

4. Publishers will be switching up data strategy

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

5. AI will free up journalist time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Give journalists what they need for their story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Remember who is at the centre of your campaign

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

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

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

JustGiving on the cost-of-living crisis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What have been some of your main successes recently?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to measure the impact of your campaign with social listening

How to measure the impact of your campaign with social listening

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

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

Going beyond traditional metrics

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

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

Offering wider possibilities

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

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

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

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

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

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

Opening routes through crisis

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

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

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

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

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

Key takeways

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

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

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

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

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

Is radio or podcasting right for your campaign?

Is radio or podcast better for your campaign?  

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

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

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

1) How they are consumed

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

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

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

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

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

2) Audience variations

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

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

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

3) Editing and moderation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What have been some of your main successes recently?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to create the perfect PR pitch

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

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

Watch the full webinar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How important do you think journalism qualifications are now?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cost of living crisis Love Energy Savings

Communicating the cost-of-living crisis: Love Energy Savings’ Rosie Macdonald

‘When a campaign takes root within the heart of the community, you are laying the foundations,’ believes Love Energy Savings’ senior digital PR strategist Rosie Macdonald.

In an effort to help those struggling in the Greater Manchester area during the cost-of-living crisis, the business utilities and price comparison retailer has teamed up with Lancashire-based brands to make a real difference. One initiative – distributing food to as many children in Bolton throughout the summer as possible while raising awareness of poverty in the area.

Tell us a bit about the initiatives you’re working on related to the cost-of-living crisis?

One of the campaigns we’ve launched is a programme to help provide one meal each working day to as many school children in Bolton during the summer holidays as possible.

More than a third of Bolton’s children are living in poverty and almost half (46%) of children living in the Bolton South East were living in poverty in 2020/21 – a figure which has only increased since the cost-of-living crisis.

Working with other Lancashire-local brands, like Robinsons, Dewlay and Fiddler’s Lancashire Crisps, we have put together donations to be circulated by Bolton Lads and Girls Club, a charity very dear to our hearts which helps provide activities, care and support to children and their families in the Greater-Manchester area. These meals are then delivered by a different Love Energy Savings volunteer each day and given to those who need it most.

We made sure to divide the donation requests into incredibly small quantities per brand, so that what we were asking for was so minute it would be difficult to refuse.

What have been the unique challenges you’ve faced with this work?

The logistical planning of getting all the food donations into the packed lunches and delivered by a LES volunteer each day to Bolton Lads and Girls Club for distribution was the initial hurdle, but the real challenge, funnily enough, was persuading local businesses that we weren’t trying to sell them anything.

It’s understandable why many would be wary of an ulterior motive, which is why we asked very small businesses for a significantly smaller quantity of items than a larger brand, which enabled them to get involved and still have their brand name attached to the project, should they wish. One local brand (Dewlay), actually donated double the amount of product that we asked for because of this.

What were your specific aims?

The aims of this campaign were two-fold. Firstly, and most importantly, we wanted to do something to alleviate the knock-on effects of the increased gas prices and the huge increases to the cost of living in our local community of Bolton.

The second purpose of the project was to aid in the regeneration of Bolton, something very close to our CEO Phil Foster’s heart. Phil has recently been a member on a Regenerating Bolton panel alongside other key pillars of the community and said: ‘To regenerate Bolton for a brighter future, we must invest in our youth to give them the best start we possibly can. We need to do this across everything from education and life skills all the way through to work.

‘However, children can’t concentrate when they’re starving and learning to skip meals is not one of the life lessons we need to be teaching them.

‘When the cost of living is so high that increasing numbers of parents aren’t able to provide the basics for their families, despite doing their absolute best, as brands that’s when we all have to sit up, take notice and do what we can to help.’

What have been your main successes?

As the campaign is still part-way through we’re hoping for significantly more successes to come. We hope that when the campaign reaches its conclusion, one of these will be the increased awareness drawn to the issue of child poverty in the Greater Manchester area. However, it is already evident that one of the biggest wins will be the relationships forged with fellow Lancashire brands.

Building those relationships and contacts will enable us to do campaigns on a larger scale in the future. This will ensure that when we’re setting the next campaign into motion, we can point to the success of the previous and embark on a bigger, bolder endeavour.

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

Building a campaign that will reach the ears of politicians and enact change is no mean feat. Our advice would be to focus on the message and ensure that those your campaign is intended for remain front and centre.

Driving a thorough focus into the local area (if applicable) is the key starting point. When a campaign takes root within the heart of the community, you are laying the foundations.

Building strong foundations is incredibly key – from there you can diversify the angles you push, move onto national press and then become a part of the conversation on TV and media outlets. Lots of leg-work, a strong message and consistency are the most important ingredients for success.

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

Understanding the angles within your campaign is always step one. Once you understand the audience you can target accordingly. Different emails tailored for each angle and for each individual, coupled with follow-up phone calls is a winner.

Research is also vital. Knowing the right person to target, the right publication and timing are all factors that need to be juggled to achieve coverage success.

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

Common sense is key here, especially using language. Words like ‘impoverished’, ‘lower-class’, or any phrase that could bear negative connotations or pigeon-hole are an absolute no-go.

It’s also vital to treat the people you’re trying to help like people. It can be tempting to over-egg a story to play at the heartstrings of the public, but this has to be weighted with understanding that you aren’t just quoting statistics – these are real people’s lives.

When looking for case studies, forums and Facebook groups are a brilliant place to go to reach out, in addition to submitting case study ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service requests. Approach-wise, it’s always so important to be gentle and position your request as an opportunity for them to help share their story to shed a light on how bad the situation is for others – this goes hand in hand with acknowledgement. Understanding the difficulties and possible pride, shame or anguish that can be wrapped up in someone speaking to you is so important. Sensitivity will always get you further.

Which areas related to cost-of-living are underrepresented, in your opinion – what else should the media and politicians be paying more attention to/reporting on?

This winter we are likely to see a huge wave of people unable to afford to heat their homes. While this is being discussed, the alternatives – should immediate financial aid not be announced – are hardly touched on.

Public spaces and establishments open later are likely to see an influx of individuals looking to stay warm and save on energy costs. Are these places prepared? Are businesses and those with heated buildings doing enough to make sure they’re ready to invite people in?

Travel ingenuity also does not seem to be as widely covered as it ought to be. With petrol prices through the roof, what are individuals doing to save on costs? Have there been an increase in car-pooling schemes, or an increase in company cycle-to-work programmes? It could be argued that the possible benefits of increased fuel costs are not being addressed. Understandable, given how dire the situation is for so many who cannot travel in any other way – but what about those who can?

Have families hugely downsized the amount of cars they have? Are couples now sharing one car as opposed to two? Could this perhaps be a benefit to the planet and see a decrease in emissions?

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

There are so many to choose from. Miranda Bryant and Kirsty McEwan of The Guardian instantly come to mind. I do think a lot of top press are missing the tone, however. Money saving tips to save a few pence in a year seem to be rife, with the line between useful and absurdity often tipping to the wrong side of the balance.

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

Incredibly important. PR is the man behind the curtain of the media – pushing for the right attention, ensuring journalists hear about the relevant news, the latest facts and figures. Without PR, a significant amount of information would never be seen by the general public.

For more on the communicating during cost-of-living crisis, check out our report on how the top six UK supermarkets are communicating inflation as well as how to implement a PR strategy for a local charity.

No PR budget? No problem

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

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

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

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

1) Be confident

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

2) Be straightforward

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

3) Be speedy

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

4) Be ready with images

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

5) Be generous with your expertise

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

6) Be realistic about responses

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

7) Be patient

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

8) Be reliable and responsive

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

9) Be regular with your activity

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

10) Be open to additional topics

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

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

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

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

City Hall Journalists

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

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

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

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

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

City Hall journos are a close-knit group

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

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

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

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

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

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

How PRs can work with those reporting from City Hall

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

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

The best part of working the City Hall patch?

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

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

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

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

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

What's next? The new generation of journalists

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4) To DM, or to not DM?

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

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

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

5) Respect their work/life dynamic

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

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

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

6) Media outreach: don’t make it awkward

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Six statistics about generation Z

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

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

Download The PR guide to communicating with Gen Z

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

1. Play

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

2. Be social

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

3. Be quick and concise

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

4. Educate and empower

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

5. Collaborate

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

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

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

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

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

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

Social listening introduction

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

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

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

What is social listening?

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

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

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

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

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

Is social listening… legal?

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

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

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

Is social media monitoring the same as social listening?

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

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

What does social listening offer?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What journalists want: requests from media interviews on ResponseSource

What journalists want: Requests from ResponseSource media interviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PR and media inclusion networks to join and work with

PR and comms inclusion networks to join and work with

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

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

PRCA’s LGBTQ+ Network

PRCA LGBTQ+ Network

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

PRCA’s Race and Ethnicity Equity Board (REEB)

PRCA REEB

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

Taylor Bennett Foundation

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

The Financial Times’ Proud FT

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

The Social Mobility Foundation

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

Sports Media LGBT+

Jon Holmes

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

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

Earth Day 2022 COP26 comms

Earth Day 2022 – did COP26 comms make a change?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

How to communicate in the metaverse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is the food and drink sector ready for HFSS restrictions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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