How to build your following on LinkedIn

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

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

‘Can you double our followers in a year?’

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

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

Strategise to win

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

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

The right kind of posts

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

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

Share the love

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

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

A culture of content

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

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

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

Is the plan working?

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

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

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

Use the ‘secret sauce’

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

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

Find the fun

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

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

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

How to become a journalist's favourite PR person

How to be a journalist’s favourite PR person

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rob Baney

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

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

What have you been working on lately?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How has the pandemic impacted your work?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connect with Rob Baney via Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn

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

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

How business comms can help fight fake news

How business comms can help with the fight against fake news

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PRCA LGBTQ+ Network

PRCA relaunches its LGBTQ+ Network

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

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

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

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

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

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

PRCA LGBTQ+ Network Co-Chair Katie Traxton added:

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

Committee members for the PRCA LGBTQ+ Network are:

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

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

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

Are PR and marketing a comms power couple?

Do PR and marketing make a perfect comms couple?

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

Sign up to watch the webinar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is how journalists want you to reply to their requests

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CIPR Communicating in a Crisis

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

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

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

The award-winning case studies featured include:

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

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

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

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

CIPR’s Alastair McCapra said:

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

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

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

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

B2B PR Strategy

12 ways to maximise your B2B PR strategy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brand personality

How to showcase your brand’s personality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to tackle vague requests from journalists

How to tackle vague requests from journalists

While the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service enables the UK media to send out targeted requests to PR and comms professionals, sometimes exact detail on what would be most useful to them isn’t included.

If you’ve received a vague but intriguing request from a journalist, here is how to approach it.

1) Check all of the information that is available to you
When filling in the Journalist Enquiry Service form, a journalist has space to add plenty of detail on what they’re looking for in the ‘Query’ field but, like PRs, journalists are often working to set deadlines and might not have time to include everything. That can occasionally mean a short and slightly vague description of what they want coming to your inbox.

However, there will be useful detail included in the request. Enquiries sent out via the Journalist Enquiry Service have to include certain details before they’re distributed to the PRs signed up to receive them – giving you a good start on determining their relevance to you, even without a lengthily-written Query section.

When a journalist fills out the form, they will have picked out what they’re ‘Looking for’:

What journalists are looking for

They will also have picked from the ‘Select categories’ section, choosing which PR sectors they want to receive contributions from for the request (which will be decided by the sectors and topics they’re writing about as well as the audiences their content is being written for – meaning you’ll know if their audience is also likely to be yours):

Categories on the Journalist Enquiry Service

If you’ve received the request, there’s a good chance you can help, but there are other elements to check first:

Don’t: Pitch news about products, even if you think it might be related to their topic. Quotes and expertise are what is being asked for here – they aren’t working on a product piece this time.

Do: Offer time with a person who can offer expertise, obviously, but you could also send over a recent press release with information about a related project your expert is working on, with how journalists can get in touch.

2) React to their deadline
Dreaded deadlines – everyone working in the creative industries has them. And as in comms, the research that goes into the writing/filming/production of a piece or project for a journalist has its very own timeline, separate from the filing of the finished piece, and its sharing with the wider world.

The deadline a journalist adds to a request distributed via the Journalist Enquiry Service will be for the research gathering part of their piece – not for the filing or the finishing. That doesn’t mean you have extra time to play with when collaborating with them.

Don’t: Offer something you won’t definitely, absolutely be able to provide in time for the journalist to finish and file their piece with their editor. Check your client is available before you arrange a time to call, make sure you can post a product to the journalist before they need to hit ‘send’ on their copy. A journalist will remember a PR who has let them down.

Do: Be clear about what exactly you can provide and when, making sure it’s before the deadline on the enquiry. ‘I might be able to to…’ won’t work – a journalist isn’t likely to take a chance on a lead that won’t lead to anything.

3) Use the opportunity to introduce yourself as a useful connection – not as a hindrance
The Journalist Enquiry Service is a great first step for creating a connection with media contacts you want to keep working with. Like introducing yourself in person, first impression is important. You might not know at the start exactly what the journalist wants, but be cautious and clever with your introduction.

Don’t: One thing to never do is send something only very vaguely connected to the subject the journalist is writing about. It’s too much of a long-shot. Rather than be filed away for another day, the irrelevant press release, product info or offer of expertise could get you added to a ‘not a helpful PR – possible spammer’ list in the journalist’s memory bank, or even straight-up blocked from their inbox.

Do: If the journalist is someone you’d love to work with, but this request they’ve sent just doesn’t seem to be for you? Hold back this time – there will be another request you can help with in future.

Not signed up to receive requests from the UK media via the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service yet? Book a demo here, and check out why it might be more effective for you than searching #JournoRequest on social media.

BBC

PR needs the BBC

Dead cat or party policy, the very real threat to end the BBC licence fee announced by culture secretary Nadine Dorries – before she partially backtracked – should be a concern to all in PR.

The announced two-year freeze to the BBC licence fee will impact its output, and director general Tim Davie has said ‘everything’s on the agenda’, including news and programming. While commentary on the small amount of money the freeze is saving each household – compared to the costs of rising energy bills or tax changes – suggests this move was politically motivated during ‘partygate’, the conversation around BBC reform and its replacement has been present in Westminster for many years.

Jessica Morgan, owner of Carnsight Communications, believes the end of the BBC ‘Would be devastating for so many.’ She added: ‘We are so lucky to have a quality national broadcaster in the BBC and I’ve benefited from it so much, both professionally and personally.’

The BBC is by no means perfect, questions continue to be raised on its editorial position on certain subjects, and its funding model is not as progressive as public broadcasters in some neighbouring countries. But it has the biggest audience, its output and content streams are vast and, though it is often criticised for not achieving it, the corporation is required to be impartial and deliver content without commercial association.

This is one of the reasons the BBC gets such a hard time in much of the press – in a digital age, it has become one of the news sector’s biggest competitors and it is not reliant on consumer payment to justify its content.

But for PR and comms professionals, this should be seen as one of its virtues.

Jessica said: ‘It’s still incredibly discerning – you always have to have a very strong angle to be featured, and I think that’s fantastic. No commercial tie ups ever come into it, certainly within the UK, and I think that makes the content all the more powerful.’

PR rightly focuses on the increasing threat of mis and disinformation, audience trust and journalistic independence. The BBC, despite its flaws, generally manages these issues to a high standard and trust in the organisation remains high. Securing PR coverage with the BBC means your story has passed quality control and will have a greater impact on your target audience.

And if your target audience is niche, which organisation is better able to serve them appropriate content than the BBC? Not needing consumer payment for content cuts both ways in this respect. All things to all people is usually a terrible approach – and the BBC has at times wildly missed the mark – but it is required to serve as much of the population as possible, often giving unique or underrepresented communities a greater platform.

Media strategist and How to make your company famous author Jon Card points to niche audiences as something that would be lost if the licence fee was scrapped: ‘The BBC produces such a broad range of content any reduction in its output would spell bad news for people in comms and PR.

‘It covers a lot of areas which are either quite niche or the public interest. I very much doubt the commercial sector would fill these voids if it stopped doing that.’

The BBC is under threat but 2027 is still a long way off and PR and communications is well placed to support and campaign for improvements to the BBC now, so it can benefit from the BBC of the future.

As Jon concluded: ‘Overall, we are better off for it and anyone working in media would miss it.’

Vuelio media monitoring covers BBC news and programming as well as every other media outlet and publisher.

Getting through Blue Monday and beyond in PR and comms

Getting through Blue Monday and beyond

While the term ‘Blue Monday’ has no real basis in fact, you might be feeling extra blue today. It’s January, we’re in year three of a global pandemic and PR just happens to be an incredibly stressful industry at the best of times.

Looking out for the mental wellbeing of your colleagues and employees can help take the blue-filter off of the day-to-day – here are just some industry initiatives helping to support mental wellbeing. Have the best Blue Monday you can, everyone.

Flexibility
‘I always encourage my employees to go for a walk and stretch their legs,’ says Marketing Signals’ managing director Gareth Hoyle.

‘Although our mantra is “work from anywhere”, most of the team work from home, which can start to take its toll on your mental health if you don’t take regular breaks, so I’m happy for my team to close their laptops whenever they need to. Whether it’s to go for a walk, pick the kids up, take a long lunch or just switch off. Doing this helps improve my employees’ wellbeing and makes sure that everyone is taking the time they need to relax out of hours.’

Team Bonding
Missing being in close enough proximity to your team mates to steal post-it notes can be tough – that’s where online groups come in:

23red recently set up a wellbeing working group,’ says PR communications assistant Dylan Brown. ‘On Tuesday 18 January, following Blue Monday, 23red have enlisted the help of environmental drag artist Timberlina, where they will be having a fun full agency virtual bingo session to brighten up staff. 23red were really keen to lift the mood when working from home and decided to recently send all members of staff a peace lily to brighten up workspaces.’

Glass Digital also encourages relationship building outside of work:

‘Some of our teams get together every week to deliver a Fri-YAY session, involving members of the team going round to say who they are proud of in the company that week and what they are proud of themselves for. This not only boosts morale, but allows people to reflect on the good work they’ve done that week.’

Bootcamps
Fox Agency has introduced plenty of wellbeing initiatives to keep the team in tip-top mental shape, according to senior operations manager Natalie Noble:

‘We offer weekly bootcamp style personal training sessions in worktime, now held remotely to ensure all can join. We also do yoga, meditation, mindfulness and even gong sound bath therapy sessions to help us find a little zen in the sometimes hectic agency world.

‘There’s a 24-hour confidential helpline for people to get help on any matter, and as our trained mental health first aider, I am always available to chat with colleagues.’

Cake!
‘When we started WFH we would have ‘Coffee & Cake’ days,’ says Francesca De Cata, marketing and communications executive at Mr Lee’s Pure Foods. ‘We would jump on a call at 10 in the morning every Wednesday and talk about anything that was not work-related. We also arranged quite a few events online; we celebrated Pancake Day by having breakfast on a call, we had online lunch breaks together and we also did a little Easter activity online.’

Learning
‘For this Blue Monday, SEO agency Blue Array, are making it Blue Array Monday instead,’ says Jodie Harris. ‘Each week, the agency has an all-hands meeting, but this Monday’s will be a special one, as it’ll include recent industry news and guest speaker, Adnan Ebrahim, co-founder of a new mental health app called MindLabs.

‘These meetings are normally for Blue Array employees only, but for Blue Monday, it will be open to anyone in the industry to attend. Afterwards, we can grab a virtual coffee and have an industry catch-up. For anyone who would like to attend, see this post for details.’

Music
‘We have a flexible working model in place, so we’re always looking at new ways we can stay connected when working remotely and still feel the benefits of our office culture that has been built over 20 years,’ says Liz Lean PR’s account manager and culture & welfare officer Shona Byrne.

‘For Blue Monday, we’re treating the team to a proper coffee on us and we will then regroup for a virtual coffee break to discuss why January doesn’t have to be depressing. The team has also built a motivational playlist to blast loud and proud during the day (which can be found by searching LLPR Team Motivation Playlist on Spotify).’

Putting people first
‘Gone are the days when organisations can afford to pay lip service to mental health – we have a duty to recognise colleagues as people, not just employees,’ believes Grace French, Head of Culture at Stand.

‘Our evidence-based approach to mental health is proactive, not just reactive. We provide £250 annually to spend on wellness, however you define it. We embrace flexible and hybrid working. Our mental health first aiders lead activity to maintain positive wellbeing and provide support. Everyone has a tailored Wellness Action Plan (an evidence-based resource backed by charity Mind) detailing how they can maintain positive mental health at work. A colleague-led approach helps ensure support is authentic and impactful.’

Charity
Helping others helps everyone, believes the team at Full Fat:

‘We donate time and money to charities and organisations like The Trussel Trust and Show Racism the Red Card,’ says senior account manager Cheryl Chia. ‘We also work pro bono with charities each year. It brings staff together with a common aim to do good. We’ve also organised volunteer days and external workshops with charities such as LGBTQ+ ‘Not a Phase’ for a recent trans-inclusivity talk.’

Sleep
Did you get enough zzzs over the weekend? HR manager Greg Diamond at Finn Partners encourages it:

‘We have an agency Wellness Collaborative to coordinate activities and information for employees aligned to the five pillars of wellness: a good night’s sleep; a sense of community; exercise; healthy foods; and stress reduction.’

For help with getting back into work in January, check out advice from mental health practitioners and your peers in PR here as well as our accessmatters session with Katie Phillips, KDP Coaching & Consulting on avoiding burnout.

Top 10 PR and comms guest posts from 2021

10 top PR and communications guest posts of 2021

Upskilling and investing in yourself is always worthwhile, and what better time to get started than the beginning of a new year?

Our PR and comms community shared plenty of know-how and experience throughout 2021 – here are ten of our top guest posts from practitioners on topics including digital campaigning, influencer marketing and ESG.

1. How to nail a PR story to an awareness day
There are over 1,500 awareness days each year – how do you determine which ones to include in your content plan? From Gorgeous Grandma to Lost Sock Memorial Day, Bottle PR’s lead publisher Jamie Wilson highlights how to pick out the most interesting and relevant examples for your, and your clients’, upcoming projects.

2. Ideation tips for successful digital PR campaigns
Are your creative juices running a little dry at this time of year? Inspiration doesn’t have to come from places particularly grand or fateful – practical planning works well, too. I-COM’s digital PR strategist Chloe Rowlands shares steps to include in your ideation process and some evergreen topics to get you started.

3. Reactive PR: Turning something out of nothing
Reactive PR isn’t just for counteracting brand or celebrity scandals – it’s a skill worth having in every PR’s toolbox, believes Fibre’s digital PR specialist Alice Wilks. Boost your company’s online presence and improve your own SEO prowess by taking notes from this guest post on what can be a positive and proactive approach.

4. Influencer marketing: 5 dos and don’ts
The influencer marketing industry continues to grow, despite occasional controversy regarding creators, their processes and differences to ‘traditional’ media professionals and journalists. Investment in influencers is smart strategy, as is avoiding the potential pitfalls – here Smoking Gun’s managing director Rick Gutteridge lists the dos and don’ts.

5. 4 reasons why introverts make great PRs
An enduring stereotype about public relations is that the industry is made up of extroverts ready to network at a moment’s notice – Prezzybox’s Alex Spencer advocates for the introverts among our ranks, pointing out why there’s room for everyone in the creative industries.

6. Building on the lessons of 2020 for 2021’s opportunities in PR and communications
Working through a pandemic (we managed to get through half of this post without mentioning it) has been a very steep learning curve for the majority of us, who hadn’t faced times as stressful or unpredictable in our professional lives before. With the lessons to be learned came opportunities, writes Kerry Sheehan in this guest post.

7. Stress Awareness Month: How to support staff wellbeing
And on the subject of stress (another enduring issue in PR and comms), this piece from Hotwire’s head of people and culture Kam White has ideas for managing how it impacts you and your team. Stress Awareness Month isn’t until April, but it’s never too early to get a start on looking out for yourself and your colleagues.

8. How to implement a PR strategy for a local charity
‘More than ever before, it matters to do good things, not just for your clients, but for those who need it the most’ believes Spike’s PR & Outreach Manager Andre Gwilliam, whose step-by-step guide to working with a local charity explains how to make the most of your PR skillset to help others in your community.

9. 6 reasons why ESG is something comms should care about
Environmental, Social and Governance – a huge trend for last year in comms, and one you definitely need to care about this year, too. The Media Foundry’s associate director Kat Jackson has the main reasons ESG isn’t just a trendy initialism.

10. How to build a close-knit team when working from different places
Hybrid working has changed the way teams interact – is it really possible to form lasting bonds with your colleagues when water cooler conversations about Bake Off aren’t possible? Yes, says Degreed’s global head of comms, content & client advocacy teams Sarah Danzl – read up on how teamwork really can make the dream work (for business-related matters, and important TV catch-ups).

Have knowledge you’d like to share with others working in the PR and comms industry as part of our PR Club? Get in touch: [email protected].

Stay connected with the media and up-to-date with the latest trends and big stories – find out more about the Vuelio Media Database here.

Challenges and triumphs of 2021 in comms

What were the biggest challenges and triumphs for comms in 2021?

And we thought 2020 in comms, marketing and PR was difficult – 2021 brought yet more challenges, forcing everyone to adapt to the constantly changing environment we found ourselves in.

In this part of our series of features looking back at this year, and forward to the next, seven practitioners from across the industry share what they saw as the biggest challenges of 2021 and some of the organisations, people and brands that did great work in 2021.

Sarah Waddington, Astute.Work and #FuturePRoof
Main challenges of 2021?
‘The biggest challenge for comms practitioners this year has been battling fatigue. Working practices and client expectations have changed throughout the pandemic, in part through people working from home, and it seems to have exacerbated the ‘always on’ culture we’ve been trying to move away from. The biggest challenge for the year ahead will be managing this and re-establishing boundaries so the workplace is a happy and healthy one.’

Comms winners this year?
‘I thought the Don’t Be That Guy video by Police Scotland was particularly well thought out and timed in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard and following the wave of anger up and down the country relating to violence against women. It actually looked at the cause of the problem, rather than place responsibility onto women to stay safe.’

Sudha Singh, The Purpose Room
Main challenges of 2021?
‘The world has changed and like everyone else comms practitioners have had to adapt to the fast-changing world. I think the biggest challenge has been to understand how best we can serve our clients’ needs, help them to stay authentic and relevant. The other big challenge was providing adequate support to the disparate (and ever evolving) needs of team members and employees.’

Comms winners this year?
‘Brands that were true to their core purpose and were authentic were the winners – Zoom, IKEA, UK Gov Comms (…not politicians), Deliveroo, football campaign against racism, Raheem Sterling’s campaign, and the Aldi Free Cuthbert campaign.’

Gavin Devine, Park Street Partners
Main challenges of 2021?
‘Maintaining focus has been really difficult in 2021. The year has been a rollercoaster of lockdowns and normality, international travel being impossible and then opening up, office working prohibited, frowned upon and then encouraged. It hasn’t always been easy to know how in practice to deliver for clients and to keep colleagues motivated and positive. These challenges are not unique to comms but we perhaps feel them particularly acutely because often we have been called in to help clients shape and communicate their responses to COVID-19. Entering more of a ‘steady state’ of near-normality in the last couple of months has been an enormous relief.’

Comms winners this year?
‘I can think of so many individuals and organisations who had a bad year in terms of comms in 2021. There were few real winners, although it would be hard to argue that Kate Bingham and Nadhim Zahawi didn’t have a great year in terms of their personal ‘brands’.’

Emmanuel Ofosu-Appiah, Mercer
Main challenges of 2021?
‘One clear challenge has been constant news flow and sheer amount of change since the pandemic hit. This has made it harder for clients and stakeholders stories to penetrate into the mainstream. PRs really need to think about what they are sharing externally and what key messages they want to get across. There has also been a shift with organisations focusing more on ESG and sustainability issues which has required practitioners to think outside of the box to get their stories heard.’

Comms winners this year?
‘I was blow away by the FIFA and EA Sports campaign for The Kiyan Prince Foundation and QPR. It was a genius creative idea from Engine Group with such a strong and moving message following such an unfortunate incident. I know many young people will be inspired by the campaign.’

Anne Gregory, University of Huddersfield
Main challenges of 2021?
‘Resilience and stamina, given the relentless nature of the on-going crisis. Working remotely – the watercooler moments are so important to ‘temperature check’ the organisation, particularly what is happening internally. Major flop to digital/online working. Educating senior managers on how to be really competent in genuine communication and not talking in soundbites.’

Comms winners this year?
‘Pfizer, Unilever and health scientists!’

Tolu Rachel Akisanya, Ariatu PR
Main challenges of 2021?
‘Not just this year, but for several years now, is the industry has struggled with the ability – or lack of – to switch off. This has always been an issue, however with the pandemic and working from home, it’s been harder to separate work life and personal life. Especially when both happen in the same room now (my front room is both my office space and leisure space). Additionally, with the growth of new social media platforms and media outlets, it means we’re constantly consuming media, even in our downtime, which often means we never really ever switching off. Whether we consciously or subconsciously realise it, we’re always looking for the next opportunity or connecting with a new contact online or horizon scanning – it can sometimes be information overload.

‘However, this has led to a positive movement and we’ve seen the wider industry acknowledge this issue and work towards raising awareness, providing support and resources, and creating more open and wider discussions about how to improve the mental health and well-being of PR practitioners.’

Comms winners this year?
‘I’ve really enjoyed seeing the work Ariatu PR has done with podcasts, such as Broccoli Content and Coiled. In a market that is oversaturated, being able to ‘cut through the noise’ and deliver impactful campaigns, generate coverage (in the likes of the Financial Times and Stylist magazine) to raise awareness and lead to listeners, for shows that are not celebrity led, has been incredible.’

Stuart Thomson, BDB Pitmans
Main challenges of 2021?
‘In public affairs, we have had to put up with seemingly continuous outrage caused by the behaviour of some serving and former Parliamentarians and their lobbying activities. It has done little to help the reputation of politics or public affairs. The CIPR and PRCA have been very firm in their condemnation of the activities but sadly such behaviour damages us all.

‘A large part of public affairs is the development of relationships and, however good online activity is, there is nothing to really replace face-to-face interaction. The extended lockdown at the start of the year and now worries about another wave has curtailed that. We really do need to get back to normal in-person political activity.’

Comms winners this year?
‘The Beatles. The brand of a band that ceased to exist before even I was born continues to astound. The release of Peter Jackson’s Beatles documentary Get Back has been trailed and tantalised for more than a year building up on the anticipation of its release on Disney+. A great piece of communications.’

Read predictions for the trends PR and comms professionals can expect in 2022 here and start your campaign planning with Vuelio’s media, PR, public affairs and political services – find out more here.

International campaigns

Ensuring effective and successful communications across different cultures

This is a guest post by Life Size‘s PR Intern Martha Lane.

If you’re running an international communications campaign, adapting your approach towards each individual audience is essential. However, this means much more than simply translating content into the appropriate language. Instead, a deep understanding of each of your target cultures must form the basis of your campaign. Here is how to achieve this and set your international communications campaign up for success.

Stage 1: Check the relevance of your topic in your target country
A good place to start is to dedicate some time to researching how the topic of your campaign is viewed in your target country. While it would be easy to assume that consensus on your topic is similar to your native country, this won’t necessarily be the case. Your research should provide answers to some key questions, such as:

– Is your topic widely discussed in the news there? Is it discussed by the mainstream media, or is it limited to industry press?
– What is the political importance of this topic? Is there any relevant legislation in place in your target country that you should be aware of?
– What are the current societal or environmental impacts and benefits relating to this topic? How do they meet the current discussion about the environment or other ongoing social issues?
– Has it received any negative press, or do you get the impression that it is a sensitive topic? If so, it would be worth offering a fresh perspective that can provide a positive spin on the topic.

It is worth noting that negative or lukewarm press coverage on your topic does not have to be a disadvantage. Rather, you can utilise your communications campaign to be one of the first to highlight the benefits of what you are offering, giving you a unique position in the target market.

This is also an excellent time to identify your audience and decide who will be the best group to direct your campaign in a particular country. Once you have identified who you are communicating with, you can move on to the next vital step: working out how to talk to them.

Stage 2: Take the time to understand the culture of your country
At this point, it’s essential to get to the very root of your target country’s culture, such as identifying the values and beliefs that form its basis. This may sound quite overwhelming, but some useful models can be used to break down cultures into a handful of the most important underlying characteristics.

Hofstede and Trompenaars are two cultural experts who have created models that, though built with business management in mind, are equally applicable in the world of international communications. Both see culture as existing on various spectrums, within which any culture can be placed with considerable accuracy. This way of quantifying culture makes the job of communicators slightly easier.

Of course, there is variation within cultures, so the models should be applied with a degree of caution to avoid stereotyping, as personal experiences within cultures create differentiation. But the research of these experts has found that there are some predictable ways in which people within a certain culture are the same, especially when it comes to the workplace, making them valuable guides.

Stage 3: Use research to adapt content to your culture
Having researched the reception of your topic in your country, now is the time to use the understanding you have gained from the cultural models to adapt your tone. Ask yourself, how does your audience want to be spoken to? This is a crucial stage of the process that requires thorough planning. It’s easy to lose your audience in the delivery of your campaign due to cultural misunderstanding, no matter how relevant your product or service is to them.

Final stage: Don’t forget the simple things
There are the more routine details of a communications campaign to consider that may seem obvious but can be easily missed when dealing with the more complex aspects. Before releasing content, make sure to consider:

– Translation: aside from making sure your communications are translated accurately into your target language, check the translation of your product or service – make sure it isn’t offensive or hasn’t got a confusing double-meaning.
– Time zone: what time are you sending out content for your campaign in your target country? Make sure you respect any time difference and different working days.
– Visual materials: the images you use as part of the campaign may also need to be adapted. For instance, make sure that images such as landscapes are relevant to your target country as they will then resonate more with the audience there.

Following all these steps should ensure that your international communications campaign will be a success. Admittedly, it can be a long and sometimes monotonous process. However, the potential negative impact if done incorrectly, and the high rewards if the time is taken to do so properly, make the thorough process outlined above worthwhile.

Connect with the right journalists, political contacts and influencers from around the world for your international campaigns with the Vuelio Media Database – find out more and book a demo

Combating COVID

Communications and Combating the Omicron Variant

This is a guest post by Louise Flintoft, associate director at Onyx Health.

The UK’s public health is in a precarious position. We’ve all seen in the news that the Omicron COVID-19 variant has been identified as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization.

At the time of writing, there are still a lot of unknowns about the new variant. However, early indications are that it is likely to be more transmissible than the dominant Delta variant and that our existing vaccinations are less effective against it.

In response to the uncertainty, the Government has announced a series of new measures to reduce the spread of the new variant. These currently include compulsory facemasks for public transport and retail, expanding the booster jab programme to all UK adults, new requirements PCR tests and isolation for people entering the country, and ten-day quarantine for people in contact with an infected person

The last cycle of lockdowns and compulsory COVID-19 restriction prompted one of the biggest acts of civil obedience in our peacetime history. With new restrictions looming, the Government will need to communicate behaviour change again to avoid a potential crisis. At Onyx Health, we are healthcare communication specialists and have some ideas about how we use the power of PR to re-engage the public.

Fighting COVID-19 fatigue
Let’s be honest; we’re all sick and tired of the pandemic. The success of the Government’s initial vaccine rollout and the removal of official legal restrictions earlier in the year had led many people to conclude that it was mission accomplished. However, the threat has never gone away, and it risks getting worse again.

One of the biggest dangers from a public health communication perspective is that complacency, and an unwillingness to take the potential new threat seriously, derails the effectiveness of the new rules. Re-engaging the public will be essential to make the latest changes work in practice. There is also a balance to be struck between taking things seriously and avoiding mass panic. This needs a strong, emotionally resonant message that the public can connect with.

Encouraging people to get masked up and booster jabbed to save Christmas can link behaviour change to a shared desirable outcome. Last Christmas was tough for us all. We all want to make this year’s festive season better than the last.

Helping our healthcare heroes avoid a winter crisis
The NHS is always close to the nation’s heart, but this is especially true during a public health crisis. It is arguably the closest thing we have to a national religion. During the first lockdown, the weekly clap for healthcare workers brought the nation together to thank those frontline staff who risked their lives to help us through the pandemic.

Today, the NHS faces a perfect storm of a new COVID-19 variant, the seasonal spike in winter flu cases and a general public fed up with the pandemic. Calling on people to follow the rules to help our healthcare heroes has the potential to reconnect people with that shared sense of solidarity we saw at the beginning of the pandemic. People may be willing to go the extra mile to help those who got us through the COVID-19 crisis by caring for our friends and loved ones.

Accelerating booster jabs and getting people doubled dosed
The booster jab programme was originally targeted at the elderly and vulnerable to increase their immunity to COVID-19. This week, the Government announced that it will be extended to all adults over 18 in the UK. Problems beset the initial rollout of booster vaccines for complex reasons, including the rollout’s speed, limited uptake, and confusion over eligibility. The expansion of the programme magnifies the scale of the communication challenge.

There are specific audience demographics that require specialised targeting. Increasing the immunity of those most at-risk through medical education is a key priority. We need to reach out to the elderly, vulnerable and underrepresented groups using community groups, local champions and NGOs to foster grassroots engagement and build trust from the ground up.

Another big issue is getting younger people doubled dosed. The figures show that people aged 25-29 are more vaccine-resistant and statistically less likely to have taken up the offer of a single or double vaccine dose. Targeting young people through viral content, social media influencers and pop-cultural icons provides part of the answer to create a generational mindset change. Getting through the latest stage of the pandemic requires a renewed collective national effort; as communicators, we need to do our bit.

Keep track of the conversation in the media with Vuelio’s Media Monitoring services and our sister brand Pulsar’s series of social listening solutions

Anouska Leon and Rebecca Wagstaffe

PRCA relaunches Business Development Group

The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) has relaunched its Business Development (BD) Group with co-chairs Rebecca Wagstaffe of 3 Monkeys Zeno and Anouska Leon of Richmond & Towers.

The relaunched group will aim to help PRCA members with business development activities by sharing materials on best practice, insight and opinion. Part of this will be its 7 December inaugural event with partner Ingenuity to explore the evolution of business development within the last 18 months as well as how agencies can make sure their channel strategy is right for attracting new business. Tickets for the free event can be booked here.

New co-chair Rebecca is the Head of Business Development & Marketing at 3 Monkeys Zeno, helping its European offices.

‘When it comes to agency growth, business development has always acted as the thread that ties together a company’s functions or departments,’ said Rebecca. ‘Coming out of the pandemic, our role as experts needs to be more sharp-focused than ever and I am very excited to co-chair this group, helping hone skills and best practice to develop the brightest minds in business development across our industry.’

Co-chair Anouska began her career in corporate sales before making the move into the creative industries. She moved to Richmond & Towers in 2014. Of the importance of the BD Group, she said:

‘Agency growth is always a top priority, but the last two years have shone a spotlight on Business Development like never before, proving once again that it is the lifeblood of agencies. During uncertain times, the going gets tough for BD professionals and the last 18 months threw a few curveballs our way with everything on Zoom, clients and prospects working from home and navigating the sensitivities of ‘selling’ during a global pandemic.

‘The inevitable consequence is ever more stringent procurement processes, budgets that need to ‘work harder’ and a focus on delivering tangible ROI.  I’m thrilled to have been invited to take up the position of co-chair of the PRCA Business Development Group during such an exciting period of change.’

Ingenuity’s CEO and founder Chris Kemp sees lots of opportunity for PRCA members:

‘As part of Ingenuity’s ongoing relationship with the PRCA, we’re thrilled to be working closely with the leading PR and Communications trade association to help their agency members understand the true potential of new business and B2B sales & marketing. We’ll be exploring the themes that are consistently of relevance to business development professionals, and to their agency’s growth potential.

‘Having worked with hundreds of leading agencies in our 16 years, and running 160+ pitches annually, we’ll be collating insights from both sides of the fence to deliver workshops around best-in-class agency shop windows, what brands are truly looking for in their partners, how to win pitches virtually and the evolution of effective channel strategies. This also coincides with a new chapter for our Events (link), of which PR, Social and Content will continue to be a focus next year.’

More information on the Business Development Group can be found here on the PRCA website. To book tickets for the 7 December event, find out more here.

To keep track of your business development, try Vuelio’s Stakeholder Management solutions – book a demo.

Alex Silver

PR Interview: Alex Silver, director of Alex Silver PR

Moving from a career as a Junior Sister in the Casualty Ward to beauty PR extraordinaire probably isn’t the most common way of getting into comms, but it’s led to 25 years of industry success for Alex Silver and her beauty, celebrity and digital agency Alex Silver PR.

Having started her business from her kitchen table, Alex has been at the forefront of many star-studded events, red carpet moments and headline campaigns over the years. Alongside a passion for building start up brands into household names, Alex also happens to be the publicist for some well-known and long-established clients (including Dame Joan Collins, no less).

Read on for the lessons she’s learned on building strong relationships with the media, why inclusivity is so important for success, and what to do if your client hasn’t been behaving quite as they should…

What are the main lessons you’ve learned through your career?
Always have a plan B! Things can change with the drop of a hat so having a backup option and being able to think on your feet is essential in PR.

It’s not a done deal until the papers are signed – contracts and agreements can still fall through, even at the last stages of negotiations.

Credibility is everything – bringing credible experts to a campaign is like gold dust.

Don’t skip the venue recce. Even if you’ve been recommended a venue by a reputable source, I always recommend popping down to map out your event – you don’t want any nasty surprises on the big day.

How do you think the pandemic has changed comms, and are the changes here to stay?
Well, we’ve certainly all mastered the art of zoom-events, but joking aside, I believe the pandemic has helped shape a modern communication approach in many ways. Many companies (including press houses) are still testing the water when it comes to their new hybrid working arrangements, and I don’t think we’ll fully see the outcome of this until the dust from the pandemic settles.

In the meantime, communications should accommodate both in-person and online arrangements across meetings, events, launches, briefings and so on. Journalist contacts have shared that they enjoy online events as they don’t lose precious time travelling to/from venues and a recent influencer poll that we ran showed a 50/50 split in their popularity.

Celebrities are being increasingly held to account for bad behaviour/outdated views – what approach would you take with a high-profile client that runs into trouble with this?
Crisis management is at the core of many PR campaigns, whether you’re working with a celebrity or not. The art of addressing issues in a sensitive, effective and timely manner is an art that takes a carefully thought-out strategy.

It’s a case-by-case issue but sometimes it’s simply best to hold up your hands and apologise. Education and information on the topic at hand is key here – why has this caused upset and how can the talent become informed on this so that this doesn’t happen in the future.

Which high-profile celebrities/politicians/brands do you feel have really great PR teams (apart from your own clients, of course!)?
People change teams often and can make a blunder at any point so it’s hard to say, however I did see something recently that I was impressed by! At the end of October, Chief Exec and Founder of Spanx surprised employees with two first-class plane ticket and $10,000 each to celebrate the company’s $1.2billion deal with Blackstone. The announcement was filmed live on Instagram and showed employees crying with happiness. The news was quickly shared around the word on national news sites such as The Independent, Good Morning America, MSN and the New York Post. I think this was a very clever, effective, and of course, generous communication strategy. It certainly grabbed the headlines!

Which campaigns have you seen from big brands that have made you think ‘I wish I’d worked on that’?
I really loved the recent Dove Self Esteem Project. The campaign aimed to bring light to young people’s self esteem and help to raise awareness of the pressures that social media puts on developing minds. With a 15-year-old daughter, this really resonated with me and I’d loved to have been part of this campaign with Dove’s aim to have helped a quarter of a billion young people with educational courses by 2030.

Over your time in the industry, how have things improved for women practitioners?
Working within the beauty sector, the industry is saturated with women so, luckily, I haven’t felt being female ever held me back. I understand this is a big contrast to other sectors and that while some areas have drastically improved, there is still a lot to be done in order to close the gender equality gap.

What more needs to be done to make the industry more inclusive and welcoming, on gender, race and class?
An inclusive workplace culture is essential for a strong workforce of empowered employees. It needs to come from the top and I think the more people in power address these issues, speaking about them openly, the bigger changes we’re going to see. There’s so much that can and needs to be done. Everything from integrating inclusivity into core company values to building trust by encouraging a culture of frequent check-ins and creating safe spaces. There are small changes that everyone can do, no matter their company structure, and I think smaller companies need to incorporate this as much as larger ones.

How do you maintain good relationships with journalists?
Do your research! Journo friends often share frustrations at being pitched stories and items that would never fit within their column space. Keep up-to date with what your target journos are writing so that you can make your communications relevant and targeted. Building relationships is a hard balance in today’s climate; journalists are under more pressure and time constraints than ever. A catch up over zoom/coffee, carefully curated pitches and developing events/mailers that will attract attention, all go a long way.

It can be hard for people in PR to keep a healthy work/life balance – how do you manage this (If you do…)?
While there’s definitely a work-hard, play-hard culture in PR, I think it’s about striking balance in all areas of your life. I like to get up earlier in the week so that I can have a bit of ‘me’ time, I’ll kick off with a run around Primrose Hill with my puppy Bella or a yoga session. In the evenings you’ll either find me catching up with a friend over a cocktail (or two) or unwinding with my latest book in an aromatherapy bath. My advice? Find what works for you and block out that time for yourself!

What do you think the big trends will be for comms and PR in 2022?
Honesty, transparency and sustainability. Gone are the days when we printed out press releases and posted them out in thick paper packages! Journalists, influencers and celebrities are rightly conscious of the packaging brands are using. It’s the PR’s job to advise on the most sustainable, eco-friendly ways of gifting and sampling products. This is a theme I expect to see become even more prevalent in 2022 with brands delivering what consumers are striving for – products which don’t harm the planet in their making. Online sharing of files and information is here to stay. In the same vein, while gifting can be a super effective way of communicating new launches, USPs and brand values, items should be considered, useful and something that the receiver will actually want or use. We’re increasingly seeing brands choose to give a charitable donation in the receiver’s name and I think this is another trend which might grow in popularity next year.

Authenticity is also a big theme in beauty. Consumers are highly informed on ingredients, ethos and social purpose. PR communications need to be carefully structured to authentically convey what the business stands for. I believe this movement for transparency, equality and positivity will continue to snowball in 2022. Good PR teams will set out guidelines and continue to learn, grow and adapt as the year progresses.

Monitor how your brand or clients are faring in the media with Vuelio Media Monitoring and get deeper analysis from our Insights team – find out more here.

5 PR webinars and online events to catch up on

5 PR webinars and online events to catch up on

The popularity of webinars and online panels boomed during the early days of the pandemic, and they continue to be extra convenient for those who can’t, or just don’t want to, attend in-person meet-ups and events.

Is that you? Here are five super-useful webinars and online panels for PR and comms pros that are worth a revisit or first-time viewing if you missed them…

Building better relationships between PRs and journalists
While the public relations and journalism sectors rely on each other for the mutually beneficial exchange of information and coverage, it can be a very difficult relationship. Journo Resources’ Jem Collins, national press and freelance journalist Faima Bakar and Freelancing for Journalists’ Lily Canter and Emma Wilkinson offered advice on building useful connections with journos working across a variety of sectors – watch it here or read our summary.

Building better relationships between PRs and journalists

One Step Forward Two Steps Black
UK Black Comms Network partnered with Opinium to conduct the first ever report into the lived experiences, pay and promotion of Black comms professionals – this webinar revealing its findings featured insight and reaction from the network’s founder and CEO Kamiqua Pearce, Opinium Research’s Susan Bello, Black Woman in HR’s Adesse Okojie and Birchwood Knight’s Seri Davies. Sign up to watch it via the UK Black comms Network and check out some of the key findings here.

Statistics on Black communications professionals

Neuro PR: Strengthening the Brain and Brand Connection
Harvey & Hugo PR’s managing director and Leader of the Pack Charlotte Nichols led this webinar on creating lasting impressions on your audience by engaging their minds with neuroscience. No pHd in brain chemistry required – watch and see how you can fire up neuro pathways with your day-to-day PR activities here. You can also read our write-up on the Vuelio blog.

Neuro PR Vuelio webinar

Discovering TikTok and Pinterest data
TikTok and Pinterest – two very different social media platforms filled with useful insight on audience behaviours and preferences. Luckily, there’s one place where you can mine both –the team at our sister brand Pulsar shared analysis of datasets from studies covered by Vogue Business and Elle Décor to demonstrate how to get the most out of data analysis. Sign up to watch here.

Discovering Pinterest & TikTok data

Making Sense of Net Zero – Corporate rewards of being in the climate action driving seat
This New Statesman live event from September featured The Climate Group’s Communications Director Luke Herbert, JLL’s Global Chief Sustainability Officer Richard Batten and Vuelio’s Insights Lead Amy Parry speaking on the risks and rewards for comms and PR teams leading on environmental action. Not only is working towards net zero the right thing to do, it will also future-proof your business. Sign up to watch the full webinar or read our summary of the key points.

Net Zero New Statesman webinar

Find out more about Vuelio’s webinars here.

Ready for more knowledge-sharing? Check out these Vuelio accessmatters sessions covering disability in PR, how to be antiracist and supporting transgender and nonbinary colleagues in this round-up.