JustGiving on the cost-of-living crisis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What have been some of your main successes recently?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Laura Sutherland on sustainability in PR

‘If not now, when?’ – Aura’s Laura Sutherland on sustainable PR

‘We know work is needed on sustainability. What is needed more than anything is ACTION; if not now, when?’

Aura and PRFest founder Laura Sutherland is passionate about is sustainability. Having centred last year’s PRFest around the subject, Laura is also working with the PRCA Climate Misinformation Strategy Group to highlight what those in PR can do to boost and share the right information. Her latest initiative to aid the PR industry in making a positive impact on climate change – the launch of the Synergy Framework; a sustainable approach to comms.

Read on for Laura’s aims, the responsibilities that PR cannot ignore and which brands are already doing the work.

What sparked the launch of the Synergy Framework?

Businesses and organisations struggle to know where to start with sustainability; there’s so much information and also misinformation. They often either don’t make an attempt, stick their head in the sand, or worse, greenwash, as a result. I want to show there is a huge opportunity ahead, for us all!

The work I’ve been doing in stakeholder relations over the past few years has shown that businesses are not good at auditing, mapping and scoring them, therefore they don’t really know what they need or want. Equally, we all know that measurement and evaluation is an ongoing push to drive up standards in our industry.

Aura’s Synergy Framework integrates all of the essential aspects of a successful strategy and plan, but importantly, incorporates the UN Sustainable Development Goals in the strategy. They are global and there to be used, but, married with the stakeholder work and the roll out of plans with action, it’s a ready-made framework which any size of business or organisation can use.

This also means that businesses and organisations aren’t just focused on one thing. Yes, the goals need to be prioritised, but if you know the SDGs, they cover everything from wellbeing to diversity and recycling to finance. It’s comprehensive.

It’s a way forward and a great starting point to move to a sustainable future. I want to lead with a positive approach and do as much as the client needs me to. I want to help agencies get better at this too by showing them how the framework can be used in their work. For me, this is a massive opportunity for collaboration for good.

Where does the PR industry – in-house and agency-side – need to start doing more on sustainability?

I’m part of the PRCA Climate Misinformation Strategy Group and we recently announced the results of our second piece of industry research.

While our industry is getting better at learning, advising and even pushing back on what might be greenwashing, we have a way to go. 45% have noticed their clients/organisation attempting to greenwash. 89% (of the 45%) have pushed back and 57% managed to change the approach as a result.

It starts with our own learning about what we can do to help our clients and organisations.

Then, it’s about building confidence in what we are advising, who we are collaborating with, bringing everyone along on the journey and then, of course, how we are telling that sustainability story. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.

It’s about leaders in our industry actually leading. 45% of respondents to the second annual survey from the PRCA Climate Misinformation Strategy Group said their boss having a better understanding of the importance of addressing the climate crisis would help them prioritise it in relation to their work.

Which brand work/campaigns from recent years do you think are great examples of PR pushing forward on sustainability concerns and topics?

Patagonia is always a brand to look to for all things sustainability. They do it so well! Of course, we have my fellow Strategy Group and Chair John Brown’s agency’s work with Meridian, fighting deforestation.

And I can’t miss my own work with Mercat Tours, which is the first client I’ve used the Synergy Framework with – that’s kind of how it evolved, actually. We’re working on an impact report now, to bring all the work of the last 12 months together. It’s not all about pomp and show… businesses can be sustainable, do their bit for society, economy and the planet, tell their story without fancy, costly campaigns.

Find out more about Laura Sutherland’s work in her previous guest post about PRFest and take a look at more statistics from the second annual PRCA Climate Misinformation Strategy Group and Opinion report here.

Accessibility in email

How to make your next PR email campaign accessible for everyone

This is a guest post from Elliot Ross, Email Evangelist at Taxi for Email – a SparkPost company.

Did you know that for every five people who receive your email four won’t even open it?

That’s the reality of email open rates, but it’s not all bad news. Getting consumers to actually open emails has always been a challenge for email marketers, but there are two ways of looking at it: On the flip side, given that there are around 15 trillion commercial emails sent each year, there are still a lot of emails which are being read.

The big question for marketers is inevitably: How can open rates be improved?

The answer is by ensuring emails are accessible for everyone.

Why do consumers ignore emails?

There are many reasons why branded emails remain untouched – after all, the average person receives over 100 emails a day, and that’s not even counting work emails. For some though, the reason the email has been left unopened is not because they didn’t want to read it, but rather that they can’t actually read or understand the email in the first place.

As email marketers,we need to ensure that our messages can be read by anyone who wants to access them. According to the World Health Organisation, 2.2 billion people globally have a near or distance-based vision impairment. In addition, have you considered the 3.6 billion internet users across the planet for whom English is not their primary language?

Emails need to be easy to read and understandable for everyone, regardless of disability or language. That is why accessibility considerations should be central to the entire email creation process.

Adhering to basic accessibility guidelines for the creation of email also has the added benefit of ensuring that the marketing messages don’t end up being overly complex. Which in turn could also have a positive impact on open and interaction rates.

Meanwhile creating emails in different languages should also not be seen as a nice-to-have for marketers. If you are a brand with a global footprint or global ambitions, multi-language emails are a must!

Developing an accessibility mindset

This process is about marrying company branding guidelines with a set of basic rules to deliver accessible and effective emails.

In some instances it might mean tweaking design elements but in my opinion the benefits of higher open rates significantly outweigh the cons of potentially slightly diverting from brand design rules.

Take point size, for example. It could be that your business has an established type point size which it may have stuck with for decades. However, if that point size is less than 14 pt when it comes to email marketing you may have a problem.

Text needs to be large enough so that everyone can read it. If your readers are squinting, zooming in or – even worse – popping off to get reading glasses, you may have already lost their attention and any chance of any interaction will be gone. So stick to a font size of at least 14pt, and think about line height so readers have enough space between lines to read clearly.

Ask yourself too, is your company typeface easy to read? Before you send out emails, test the font to see what it looks like and how legible it is on different screen sizes and devices (find out, for example, what percentage of your target audience reads your emails on mobile and, if appropriate, optimise emails for smaller screens). Simple, classic fonts work best. There is a reason why some typefaces are more widely used than others…

The dangers of embedded images

For many marketers the jury is out on the effectiveness of embedding GIFs and videos into email newsletters.

From an accessibility perspective there is a very good case for not using GIFs at all. Firstly, not all your readers will see them, as background images and GIFs aren’t fully supported in Outlook. Further, a flashy GIF with fast-moving frames will not only annoy some of your readers, but it can actually trigger seizures in people who suffer from photosensitivity.

If you are insistent that including GIFs will raise engagement levels then make sure you include ALT text to provide context. This helps readers with visual impairments understand the message of the image or GIF.

Other things to bear in mind include ensuring that links are clear and underlined – if you just colour them they could be overlooked by people with colour blindness or low-vision – and breaking up text with clear, bold subheads. If you have specific title, header, and subheader elements in your template screen readers can identify these are different areas of the email and treat them so rather than adding it all into a text field.

Offering multi-language emails

Creating email newsletters in different languages is something that many marketers should be aspiring to. Once you have optimised a newsletter to the point that it works effectively in one language, if you are a global company, explore localisation next.

By offering multi-language emails, people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to read newsletters can receive and engage with them. At the same time, even people who speak English as a second language would have to make less effort to read their emails which might make them more inclined to open the email in the first place.

There are simple ways to translate content using online tools like Google Translate. Yet these are only partially effective and may end up creating content that is confusing to readers and possibly damaging to your brand.

At the other end of the scale you could invest in local translators, though this may create cost and efficiency issues. Employing 20 different staff to translate a newspaper into their local language is both expensive and time consuming.

Images need to be optimised so that they work in local markets. An obvious short-cut is to make the images of people you use as diverse as possible with different ages, ethnicities and genders, etc. That said, nothing beats offering bespoke images on a market-by-market basis. Visuals should reflect the real world and therefore help to make the newsletter as customer-centric as possible.

Email continues to be the leading customer communication tool for marketers

No other platform can compete with email’s direct, dynamic, interactive approach. Ensuring emails are accessible to as many people as possible is not only vital from a social perspective, but if it can also help improve overall read rates then it’s a win-win solution.

Savvy marketers and PRs are all too aware their customers receive a lot of emails and only have a limited amount of time each day to consume content, and so the pressure is on to work as hard as possible to make their branded emails stand out, for everyone.

For more on effective email strategies from Taxi for Email’s Elliot Ross, check out this previous guest post How to build strong foundations for a successful email campaign

Want to find the right audience for your next email campaign? Book a demo of the Vuelio Media Database – more information here

The pain points of a marketing campaign

The pain points of a marketing campaign

This is a guest post from Yasmin Russell, head of marketing at digital agency Engage.

Yasmin Russell, Campaign

There are a number of things that can cause issues during a marketing campaign, from KPIs to time, however there are things that can be done to mitigate these problems and even solve them to ensure a campaign runs effectively. 

KPIs
It’s essential to establish the KPIs of a campaign early on. Not having clear KPIs when starting a campaign can lead to unrealistic targets being set, or KPIs that don’t reflect what the client is looking to achieve with the campaign.

Realistic KPIs, in particular, are crucial. A client’s expectations must be managed to ensure achievable goals for a campaign are set at the start of the relationships. There’s no point in having a client expecting to achieve one million followers in one month, for example, as this generally simply isn’t possible.

The user journey
If the full user journey hasn’t been considered, it’s very likely that there’ll be touchpoints that are missed which therefore don’t portray a consistent message, including copy and creative.

It’s important to ensure the campaign offers users or consumers a cohesive journey to keep them on the right path that aligns with key objectives, such as awareness. A cohesive user journey can be developed through a number of avenues such as making sure the campaign has a consistent look and feel to support memorability, or ensuring every step of the journey is optimised to support conversion.

The audience
It’s very easy to forget that the audiences you’re trying to target are actually made up of individual people. Marketing is about giving an audience what they want, not what the marketer or company wants.

People are increasingly savvy to overtly advertising content. People will often go online to achieve a goal, escape, be entertained, or informed, and content and campaigns should be tailored to meet these goals.

A campaign shouldn’t just be posted and begin running. It’s important to build a community and rapport with an audience. This can include replying to DMs in good time, responding to comments, and resharing tagged posts.

Taking the target audience on a journey through a campaign and considering all aspects of the marketing funnel is crucial, as people are often unlikely to part with their money on the first touchpoint.

The checkout journey
The checkout journey is crucial to engage users and encourage repeat purchases. It’s very frustrating for a user to reach the point of purchase, only for them to give up because the checkout journey takes too long or some of the fields are broken.

Offering Apple Pay, PayPal, Google Pay and other systems, alongside taking the time to optimise and user test this part of the journey is very important.

More time
Campaigns can always do with more time than is available, particularly for any company trying to reach a seasonal deadline. For example, receiving a Christmas brief in December isn’t ideal.

Working one month ahead is a good place to start, while big seasonal events should ideally have planning and ideation begin at least one quarter in advance. By setting realistic goals and expectations a marketing campaign will run much more smoothly, and be more likely to achieve the KPIs that have been set.

Feedback
Feedback on a marketing campaign can be tricky to navigate, particularly when balancing best practice with brand requirements and personal opinions.

There’s always going to be a degree of both subjective (for example, disliking text colour), and objective (the price being incorrect) feedback. It’s important to rationalise any choices and keep an open dialogue on these points. As for objective feedback, the more detailed the brief and the more people that proof the campaign before it goes live, the less likely objective feedback will be required.

For more on building strong campaigns, read this guest post from Taxi For Email’s Email Evangelist Elliot Ross on how to build strong foundations for a successful email campaign.

Government broadcast white paper

Government shares what’s next for the broadcasting sector

The Government has published the long-awaited broadcasting white paper: ‘Up next – the Government’s vision for the broadcasting sector’, addressing several of the announcements from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in the last year such as the privatisation of Channel 4 and the end of the BBC TV license fee.

In keeping with the Secretary of State’s engagement with the press on these issues, Nadine Dorries spoke to The Spectator on her vision for the sector, confirming that decisions on the license fee will be taken ‘well ahead of the Charter renewal in 2027’. She noted these policies have been in the ether for years and stated that ‘over a long period of time, not a huge amount had been delivered from my department’.

On the license fee model, the white paper stated there were ‘clear challenges on the horizon to the sustainability of the license fee’ and that controversial criminal sanctions for non-payment were ‘disproportionate and unfair’. In response, the BBC welcomed ‘the steps to secure the ongoing success of public service broadcasters’ and said it ‘looks forward to engaging with the Government on both the forthcoming mid-term review and then the national debate on the next Charter’.

Up Next detailed how new legislation will ensure broadcaster content is accessible on connected devices and online platforms. Streaming services will be required to feature them and PSBs will share the content, with the Government consulting on this. On demand services will also be brought into Ofcom’s Broadcasting code to protect viewers from harmful material including unchallenged health claims. Among other changes, DCMS stated the broadcasting remit will be overhauled, with a new definition on what it means to be a public service broadcaster (PSB) with a focus on creating shows that reflect British culture and support domestic film and TV production in all parts of the country. The Government also stated that only PSBs will be able to secure rights to major sporting events such as FIFA and Wimbledon.

The privatisation of Channel 4 was confirmed in the policy document, despite 96% of responses to the Government consultation stating they did not agree that there are ‘challenges in the current TV broadcasting market’. Under the new plans, the channel will be able to produce and sell its own content as a private entity but will still be required to commission a certain amount of content from independent producers. DCMS has also reinforced the expectation that Channel 4 continues to provide distinctive and experimental programming and said the proceeds of the channel’s sale will be used to set up a ‘creative dividend’ for the sector. In a statement, Channel 4 said it remained committed to upholding and maximising its remit and public service purpose.

Up Next set out Government plans to:
• Freeze the price of the TV license for two years.
• Increase the BBC’s commercial borrowing limit from £350m to £750m.
• Pursue a change of ownership of Channel 4.
• Make the importance of programmes broadcast in the UK’s indigenous regional and minority languages clear in legislation by including it in the new public service remit for television.
• Update S4C’s public service remit to include digital and online services and remove the current geographical broadcasting restrictions. The Government will also legislate to support S4C and the BBC in moving away from the current framework requiring the BBC to provide S4C with a specific number of hours of television programming.
• Replace the fourteen overlapping ‘purposes’ and ‘objectives’ that public service broadcasters must contribute to with a new, shorter remit. PSBs will be accountable for the extent of their contributions.
• Introduce a new prominence regime for on-demand television, with Ofcom being given the new enforcement powers.
• Make changes to the local TV licensing regime to enable the extension of the local TV multiplex licence until 2034 and subject to the same conditions that apply to the national digital terrestrial television (DTT) multiplexes. The Government will consult on the options for the renewal or relicensing of individual local television services at the same time.
• Protect the UK’s terms of trade regime while updating it to reflect changes in technology. The Government will also consider whether there is a need to extend aspects of this regime to radio and audio producers responsible for programming for the BBC.
• Designating additional regulated electronic programme guides to bring internet-delivered services within the scope of Ofcom.

The paper also set out the Government’s vision for the future of broadcasting which included:
• Carrying out a review of the license fee funding model ahead of the next charter period.
• Long-term commitments to support cross-border broadcasting on the island of Ireland including funding for the Northern Ireland digital terrestrial television multiplex.
• Consulting on embedding the importance of distinctively British content directly into the existing quota system.
• Looking at making qualification for the listed events regime a benefit specific to public service broadcasters. There will also be a review looking into whether the scope of the listed events regime should be extended to include digital rights.
• Conducting an evaluation of the contestable fund pilot. This will include considering the lessons in determining whether a contestable fund model would provide additional value to the breadth and availability of UK produced public service content.
• Initiating a review looking at whether to introduce a revenue cap for ‘qualifying independent’ producer status.
• Supporting the British Film Commission to facilitate the growth of seven geographic production hubs, including one in each nation, and numerous new studio developments.
• Consulting in early 2023 on new proposals to champion the community radio sector and, where necessary, bringing forward changes to licensing requirements through amendments to the Community Radio Order 2004.
• Exploring ways to support UK broadcasters through possible changes in the wider advertising ecosystem. The Government intends to consider how to create a level playing field between broadcast and online advertising through the Online Advertising Programme.
• Ensuring that the UK’s trade policy complements and protects the UK’s audio visual public policy framework, including maintaining membership of the Council of Europe’s Convention on Transfrontier Television.
• Establishing a pro-competition regime in digital markets.
• Developing legislative proposals with Ofcom to address the divergence in provision of access services between broadcast and on-demand services.
• Enabling the long-term renewal of DTT multiplex licences through to 2034.

The sector had a mixed response to the white paper:

WGGB The Writers’ Union
The WGGB stated they remain concerned about the Government’s plan to push ahead with ‘its unnecessary and controversial plans to privatise Channel 4, freeze the BBC License Fee and review its funding model’. They went on to say that these, and other proposals, will have a devastating impact on creative workers, the creative industry and the wider UK economy.

Radiocentre
Radiocentre expressed disappointment from the DCMS Digital Radio and Audio review, and the joint representations that the BBC and the commercial radio sector have made asking for radio to be protected from tech platforms have been ignored by Government. They went on to say they’re disappointed the Government recognises the importance of legislation for television but not for radio, putting the radio industry at a disadvantage.

ITV
A spokesperson for ITV said: ‘We welcome the Government’s recognition of the huge value the PSBs deliver to the UK and it’s decision to introduce a Media Bill to deliver the necessary reforms to ensure PSBs can continue to thrive’.

Netflix
Streaming giant Netflix reiterated that they are ‘supportive of measures to update the legal framework and bring [our] service in the UK under Ofcom’s jurisdiction’.

Media Reform Coalition
The Media Reform Coalition referred to the plans in the white paper as a ‘spiteful and ideological move’ that ‘does nothing to confront the…lack of representativeness, adventure, risk-taking, accountability and plurality’ at the heart of the UK media system. They went on to say that the privatisation of Channel 4 will not address the issues of commissioning being skewed towards larger media companies and the relative lack of investment in content production outside of London, stating that it will do the opposite.

TAC
Dyfrig Davies, Chairman of TAC which represents independent television production in Wales, welcomed the white paper’s recommendations on S4C’s future but said that removing Channel 4’s status as a publisher-broadcaster is ‘worrying’. They also noted the decision to revise the remit of Public Service Broadcasting and look forward to engaging on that over the coming months.

Bectu
In response to the reforms, Head of Bectu Philippa Childs commented: ‘The government’s plans are big on rhetoric but light on detail, particularly regarding creating more jobs and fostering continued growth for the UK’s thriving independent production sector. The UK’s much-loved public service broadcasters bring so much to the media landscape, and we need robust plans and legislation to protect and nurture their unique offering’.

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

Working with the c-suite successfully

Working with the c-suite successfully

This is a guest post from Martha Lane, PR trainee at Life Size Media.

Communicating with members of the C-suite is something most PR professionals will navigate at some point in their career. However, if contact with the C-suite is not something you have experience with, the prospect can seem daunting.

The following tips address common concerns surrounding communication with the Cs, whether within your own organisation or that of a client. Employing them will ensure the process is productive and enjoyable for both parties.

Having the confidence
The key to dealing with Cs is having the confidence, and this comes from knowing the value of your work. The work you are doing is vital to their company, so rather than viewing your meetings as a drain on their time, understand that they benefit both you and the company. No matter how junior you are, if you’re well-prepared you can form a productive relationship.

Ensuring successful meetings
Meetings with a C will usually be strategy-based. Make the most of their unique and experienced perspective.

Be switched on and ready to take notes at a super-fast pace. Ask if you can record the meeting if you think you may miss points or want to relisten to complex topics. Don’t be afraid to ask challenging questions to get the most valuable insight.

Your role will often involve interpreting the vision they put forward in these calls and translating it into action, for example, the creation of a content plan or PR calendar.

Since a common obstacle when contacting someone in an executive position is their lack of available time, it is important to be efficient with the time you do have together. Always go into a meeting prepared – do your research, be certain of what you are aiming to gain from the meeting beforehand and set out your agenda when you first invite them and at the beginning of the call.

Taking the time to do your research allows you to carry out your agenda in minimum time. This shows a respect for their time, which contributes to a productive working relationship for the long term.

Initiating communication
The form of communication you use is important. Though the preferred form of communication will vary between individuals and depend on what exactly you need, a call is always preferable for strategic questions, complex matters or when resolving issues. This may seem counter-intuitive as pinning down a C-level executive for a call can seem difficult given their busy schedule, but ultimately one in-depth call is much more efficient than days of back-and-forth emails.

Another advantage to calling over written communication is that you can gain a lot more information through a call – you can gauge the person you are speaking to better and identify misunderstandings before they develop.

What to do if your C is simply too busy to respond
One of the most common problems you may encounter is an unresponsive C. You may be able to anticipate times when the C-suite team is likely to be unavailable based on the state of business, so you can prepare for some disruption.

Stay ahead of the issue by constantly observing the company’s growth. The time may come when the C moves on in their role and, gaining other responsibilities, becomes less involved in day-to-day communication with you. If this happens, it is important to still keep your relationship alive. This is manageable – even if it means less regular calls and more to-the-point conversations, the quality of your communication can be maintained.

To maintain quality over quantity, plan ahead. Ask your C about their schedule well in advance, letting them know that you need to know this to ensure consistency in your comms work.

During periods when your C is not so readily available, there may be an alternative person in the company that can offer assistance when it comes to sharing information or providing approval. Minimising your C’s involvement like this allows you to utilise their limited time for points of business where their input is absolutely essential.

Finally, remember the key to communicating with the C-suite: being confident. It is at times like these, when your C is stretched thin, that it may be necessary to assert the importance of your role. Remind them that great communications are key to the success of their company and that their expertise and input is essential. Follow the advice laid out here and enjoy a productive relationship during even the most hectic times.

For managing relationships with your C-suite and stakeholders both internal and external to your organisation, check out Vuelio’s Stakeholder Management and Engagement solutions – book a demo here.

For more from Life Size Media, read this previous guest post from Martha Lane on Ensuring effective and successful communications across different cultures

Government Schools White Paper

Opportunity for all? Reaction to the latest Department for Education’s policy paper

Yesterday the Department for Education released the policy paper ‘Opportunity for all: strong schools with great teachers for your child’, the first Schools White Paper since 2016. The Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi tied the paper to the Government’s levelling up strategy in his statement, calling it ‘levelling up in action’.

Mentions of standardising children’s experience of school was mentioned throughout the paper, particularly in relation to good teaching and the of school’s provision through the commitment to a minimum 32.5 hours a week. However, some stakeholders found the paper ‘lacking in ambition’ and ability to address schools funding problems, while others agreed reform was necessary as the current school system is ‘messy and confusing’.

Stakeholder reaction to key policies:

1) Academisation
As predicted by the sector, the white paper led with a commitment for all schools to belong to a Multi-Academy Trust or be in the process of joining one by 2030. The NEU stated the white paper is a ‘message that the education of the future will be a souped-up version of what we have seen over the last decade’ and that the ‘reliance on multi-academy trusts is simply not evidence-led.’ General Secretary Dr Mary Bousted also quoted last week’s public accounts committee report which suggested the existing system ‘lacked transparency and accountability’. Natalie Perera, Chief Executive of the Education Policy Institute, said that it was clear from their research ‘academisation is no “silver bullet” for improving school performance and there may simply not be enough capacity to absorb thousands of schools into higher performing MATs. The white paper does, however, allow local authorities to create their own trusts where provision is not suitably established, although the Green Party stated there is no evidence that academies raise standards overall.

2) English and Maths standards
‘Opportunity for All’ contained two commitments to standards of attainment. The parent pledge was a commitment from Government for 90% of primary school children to achieve the expected standards in Key Stage 2 reading, writing and maths by 2030. A second central ambition was to see the national average GCSE grade in both English language and maths increase from 4.5 to 5 by 2030. The Sutton Trust commented that ‘literacy and numeracy are the building blocks of a world class education, so the Government is right to make them the priority’. However, they also stated that this is a ‘tall order’ and that ‘it is extremely difficult for young people to catch up once they have fallen behind’. The Association of School and College Leaders commented that although improving English and maths is a laudable ambition, ‘there is little recognition of the wider societal factors which affect those outcomes’.

3) Mental Health Support
The Schools White Paper didn’t feature many new announcements for mental health support, which has been a key concern since the pandemic, but it did promise to accelerate the introduction of mental health support teams into schools. Several MPs, including Steve Brine, Neil Hudson and the Shadow Secretary for Education Bridget Phillipson, mentioned the issue, pointing to constituency issues like access to support services, following Nadhim Zahawi’s statement to the House.

4) Teacher recruitment and retention
The opportunity for all paper stated that at the heart if its ambitions is the need for an excellent teacher for every child. As well as restating the manifesto promise that teacher’s starting salaries would be raised to £30,000, the paper outlined an incentive to work in disadvantaged areas and specific incentives around maths, physics, chemistry, and computing teachers, in the beginning of their careers. However, the NASUWT stated this focus on retention was ironic given the profession ‘has seen their pay cut by 19% in real terms over the last 10 years’. Teach First welcomed the incentives but stated that it ‘remains unclear how schools – particularly those serving disadvantaged communities – can achieve those goals with the current level of financial support’.

5) Extending the school day
Extending the school day has been an ongoing conversation in Parliament since the pandemic and the white paper has in part addressed this by introducing a minimum expectation of 32.5 hours a week for mainstream state funded schools. Schools must meet this expectation by 2023 at the latest. Although this falls short of extending the school day, a passion project of Education Committee chair Robert Halfon, it should go some way to addressing inequality in educational offer, although it doesn’t apply to public schools or specialist provision.

In his response to the white paper, Halfon stated: ‘It is my hope that this will mean pupils up and down the country will have more time to catch up on their lost learning from the pandemic, and to also develop their skills’, in reference to the paper’s assertion that as ‘part of a richer school week, all children should be entitled to take part in sport, music and cultural opportunities’ as part of a ‘broad and ambitious curriculum. However, as noted by the Education Policy Institute, ‘the 32.5 hour school week, which amounts to a 9am – 3.30pm day, will not make much difference to most children. Moreover, Impetus commented that although they found variation in week length from school to school, there wasn’t much of a link between this and outcomes.

Vuelio’s weekly Friday morning political newsletter Point of Order shares insight and opinion to help public affairs, policy and comms professionals stay ahead of political change and connect with those who campaign on the issues they care about. To find out more or contribute, get in touch with Vuelio Politics.

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.

The benefits of charity corporate partnerships

The benefits of charity corporate partnership for brands

Red Nose Day is coming up this week, and while people across the country will be taking part in charitable endeavours for Friday 18 March (sometimes involving baked beans and bathtubs), big brands are taking part, too. It’s not just about handing over the giant cardboard cheques on the night; alongside the number one priority that is helping people in need, there are many other benefits to corporate partnerships with charities.

Sainsbury’s, Argos, Habitat, TK Maxx, British Airways, Walkers and the Premier League are just some of the big-name brands listed as partners this year on the Red Nose Day website – you may have already bought something from one of them that will result in a contribution to the charity. Want more warm and fuzzy feelings alongside bonus business boosts? Consider the added value for brands wanting to get involved in the charity sector.

As Kurt Geiger subsidiary Shoeholics’ head of brand marketing Angela Asiedua pointed out, regarding the brand’s charity partnership with Smart Works for its ‘Shoe Good’ charity arm, there’s no better time for businesses to do some good: ‘Shoe Good a key mission for us moving forward, especially after the challenges of covid. It seems more important than ever that we look after each other and help where we can’.

As part of the team-up between Shoeholics, Smart Works were able to give donated shoes and bags to the unemployed women they coach and support back into work. ‘With the support of partners, we can be ready to help any woman who needs our support with the tools she needs to succeed,’ said the charity’s CEO Kate Stephens.

Such team-ups can be light-hearted in tone, too. Prostate Cancer UK has a remit that requires sensitivity in its messaging – the charity has partnered with brands like Below the Belt Grooming for Men, which often use playful branding. Their partnership was a perfect fit – the brand pledged to raise £10,000 for the charity during 2018, with funds going to research into diagnosis and treatment, as well as support for those impacted by prostate cancer.

‘It is partners such as these that will help us make prostate cancer a disease that the next generation of men need not fear,’ said director of fundraising James Beeby.

Awareness-raising and starting conversations about frightening topics is a key element of these partnerships. Just as the reputation of a charity can help highlight the credence and kindness of a business, that brand can give the charities it works with the benefits of its own ‘personality’; sometimes humorous, blunt or straightforward.

As shared by Numan’s marketing manager Abbie Moujaes in her guest post on healthcare comms, a straightforward tone can be difficult to nail when your subject matter is so potentially serious and life-altering, but if you can nail it, it will pay off in awareness and engagement. A bold and no-nonsense tone in comms may not always come naturally for an established charity; it can for consumer brands who have it built into their brand DNA already.

If you’re part of a brand’s in-house team and want to work with charity initiatives like Red Nose Day beyond bathing in baked beans to raise money, there are plenty of possible partnerships that will fit your organisation’s existing values and add to its purpose. Brands like SalesForce have teamed up with Human Appeal and Hands On London’s UK Wrap Up event, which has had six years of success so far. In 2019 alone, the initiative helped get 5,219 warm coats to local charities.

Initiatives like The Charities Aid Foundation have resources for finding corporate partnerships.

As the past few years have shown us all, people expect more from the businesses they buy from. If you have found success with your brand’s comms plan, it is the perfect time to share the benefits of your skillset.

In need of PR and comms solutions for your charity? Take a look at how Vuelio’s services can help you manage vital relationships, reach influential figures and access the political landscape here.

For more on building a charity brand, catch up with our webinar on the subject with Scouts and Shape History.

Want info on helping a local charity with their PR strategy? Check out this previous guest post from Spike’s Andre Gwilliam.

And for charities doing great things with their digital content, check out these 10 Top UK Charity Blogs.

Email marketing trends

Email marketing: Top industry trends for 2022

This is a guest post from April Mullen, director of brand and content marketing at SparkPost.

There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to marketing, especially in email. In order to keep ahead of fierce competition, it is vital that brands are on top of changes within the industry. Failing to adhere to new practices can damage brand trust and reputation and risk losing subscribers.

Generating more sophisticated email content can help increase customer engagement. This, in turn, leads to better deliverability, more conversions, and a stronger community for your brand.

With these challenges in mind, here are some key trends for this year, and how marketers can stay ahead of the curve.

1) Email design: the balance between engagement and accessibility
On the one hand, emails need to stand out with bold, engaging designs. But at the same time, they need to be easy to engage with. Are these two key email trends compatible? Sure! They just require marketers to be a little more thoughtful about how they construct their communications.

Dark mode: Over the past couple of years more and more marketers have been experimenting with dark mode in their emails. They are responding to consumers who like the option for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it’s easier on the eyes – especially in low light reading environments. Secondly, low brightness means more battery life can be preserved on mobile devices, and lastly some people just prefer it that way.

Dark mode should be treated like an email necessity, not an afterthought. If your designers are worried that it might limit their creativity, they needn’t be. In many ways it has the opposite effect. More thought goes into logos, brand colours, and layouts when considering dark mode.

Accessibility: It’s a golden rule of email marketing that messages should be able to be read by everyone no matter where they are, what device they are using or what their ability level is. But there is still some catching-up for marketers to do to achieve this. Not complying with accessibility can cause brand reputation challenges.

15% of the world’s population experience some form of disability. Why should they be prevented from interacting with your emails for the sake of a few lines of code and thoughtful design? Ensuring that minimum font sizes are used and that the text is properly aligned, among other tweaks, to meet accessibility requirements in 2022.

Emojis: Everyone loves a good emoji and for the most part, they work well in email – adding a sense of fun that is universally understood.
In 2021 more marketers began using emojis in email subject lines and headlines in a rather careless way. Some forgot that if emojis replace actual words, the overall message won’t make sense if images are blocked or won’t load.

The key, if you are going to use emojis in your subject line, header or in the main body of the text (which is good for mobile viewers as copy space is often limited), is to test and test again for effectiveness before you press send.

GIFs: A properly executed GIF in a marketing email can be a very powerful way of expressing brand values in a light-hearted way. But they must be used in the right way and within the right context.

Marketers need to ensure that GIFs used:
– Aren’t too flashy or overwhelming by having smooth transitions between each frame
– Include a static fallback just in case the GIF doesn’t load
– Always include ALT text for screen readers

2) Privacy changes continue to rock the boat
Privacy continues to be a hot topic for email senders, especially marketers. As the demand for relevant and personalised email increases in 2022, the barriers to collecting the actionable data necessary to meet that demand will increase as well. The loss of third-party cookies and new features, such as Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection, are likely only the beginnings of a paradigm shift that will continue to drive marketers to rethink data collection and usage practices.

Loss of third-party cookies: Third-party tracking involves data that’s not owned by the website you’re on – and it’s used after you leave. Let’s say you’re on Currys and look at a Camera, and then you go to John Lewis and see that same camera in an ad in your sidebar. That’s a third-party cookie tracking your internet habits. Firefox and Safari no longer support third-party tracking, and Google has announced they’ll follow suit with plans to sunset third-party cookies in 2022. The demise of third-party cookies puts a tailwind behind channels that leverage first-party data – email being the most pervasive channel using first-party data. We should all be gearing up for more investment in email and SMS because owned data is about to be more valuable than ever.

Apple Mail Privacy Protection (MPP): Back in June 2021, Apple announced MMP would be coming to their Mail app on all compatible Apple devices. According to Apple, “Mail Privacy Protection stops senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about the user. It prevents senders from knowing when they open an email and masks their IP address, so it can’t be linked to other online activity or used to determine their location.”

At a very high-level, since MPP will prefetch all images in an email, senders will need to be aware of the following:
– Open rates will be inflated
– Open times will be random and unreliable
– Device information will be unavailable
– User location will be approximated

As 2022 progresses, upwards of 50% of open data will become unreliable and no longer useful as a success metric. This means that marketers will need to take a more holistic approach to measuring the success of email programs. Below are some example alternative success metrics that senders can use:
– Clicks
– Conversion
– Engagement from other channels, such as your mobile apps

3) Generating personalised content with limited resources
Creating an engaging, interesting and personalised email can be a challenge especially if a marketer is limited in terms of time and resources. There are however a few shortcuts that they can employ to speed the process up.

Personalisation: Personalised content used to be the icing on the top of the cake in email marketing. In 2022 it is arguably the whole cake. With brands having to contend with privacy changes across the marketing spectrum there is more and more pressure to build personal relationships with customers and delivering bespoke emails is a highly effective way of achieving this.

Ultimately, brands that employ personalisation in a responsible way that truly drives value to customers and isn’t self-serving to the brand, will have happy customers.

Agile content: This is when marketers use feeds to pull in content such as product listings, job advertisements, properties, recent news directly from an organisation’s external source/website, etc.

Images, links, and copy can all be added in a few clicks without the marketer having to resort to additional technology to be able to do this.

4) Email production: the final step
Email production can involve a lot of different people within a company, often working remotely and invariably focusing on their own specific niche. Fortunately, there are tools that simplify the process while simultaneously unlocking the creativity of email teams.
Email Design Systems: The days of constantly creating an email from scratch will soon be gone forever. Email Design Systems are essentially modular templates that have been pre-coded. They enable marketers to deliver marketing emails quickly as automation means that there are fewer elements for them to be concerned about.

Email Design Systems enable:
– Seamless collaboration between everyone involved in email
– Fewer risks – e.g. less typos, more consistent branding, etc.
– Email campaigns that are quicker to produce and get to market
– More time to invest in better quality code, which means better quality email

BIMI: Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) is an initiative that was launched in 2019 that enables brands to send out emails with their logo appearing next to the email in the inbox.

BIMI is bound to be embraced by more and more companies this year for a number of reasons:
– Design: it helps emails stand out in an inbox
– Authentication: BIMI incentivises brands to adopt proper email authentication – DMARC in particular – when sending mass messages to consumers. Senders who put in the effort to implement DMARC are rewarded with the display of their logo
– Protection Implementing – BIMI protects brands against spoofing and phishing as customers can more easily recognise that the messages are legitimate

In our recent Benchmark survey, we asked which email innovations email marketers are considering adopting this year? BIMI was one of the main responses with 28% saying they are contemplating using it.

It’s never been more important to stay ahead of trends
Design, content and process are year-on-year major focuses for email marketers, but more so this year as privacy updates occur, changes to ways of working continue to take hold and brands fight to retain once loyal customers. If you haven’t got your design, content or process right, you can be sure that your email marketing will see an effect.

Ensure you’re targeting the right people for your campaigns with Vuelio’s Media Database and Monitoring.

Want more on email marketing and trends in PR and comms this year? Read this previous guest post from SparkPost company Taxi for Email on building strong foundations for a successful email campaign and this round-up of insight from industry thought leaders on what you need to plan for in 2022.

Fair recruitment in PR and comms

How can PR and comms teams make recruitment fair?

It’s no secret that the creative industries have a long-established problem with hiring and promoting fairly and this needs to change. Don’t see an issue? If you haven’t experienced this yourself, you may need to pay attention to who exactly is working around you and then consider just how representative your team is of the wider society we serve.

You can take the time to consider the backgrounds the people you work with have come from. You can check out the data on the make-up of the PR industry, where 74% identify as white British (according to the 2021 PRCA Census). As Hotwire Global’s senior account director Natasha Gay warns – ‘We can’t yet consign to history the idea PR is only for young, white women’.

‘The good news is change is happening and progress is being made,’ says Melissa Lawrence, chief executive at the Taylor Bennett Foundation, which works to improve ethnic diversity in PR and comms. While initiatives like the Foundation, PRCA’s Race & Ethnicity Equity Board (REEB), the Social Mobility Foundation, Socially Mobile and A Leader Like Me are leading the change, organisations themselves have work to do.

‘The argument of not being able to find qualified Black candidates just doesn’t hold up in 2022,’ says Career Masterclass founder and CEO Bukola Adisa, who works to enable the progression of ethnically diverse professionals. ‘There are a plethora of resources available, from specialist talent sourcing organisations to AI solutions that are designed to help organisations to overcome individual and organisational biases in the recruitment process.’

The path to success starts with full understanding of what you’re up against, says Dr Femi Olu-Lafe, senior vice president, global inclusion at Kinesso: ‘The companies that have made the most meaningful progress took the time to firstly understand their current state and set a clear vision for the future state, before seeking input (internally and externally) about what was needed to make meaningful change. They also committed to short- and long-term goals on paper by building a roadmap with the steps to get there.’

We can’t find the talent – where should we be looking?
For a start, expand your aim.

‘Build strong partnerships with organisations and universities that have connections with people from historically excluded communities. When possible, this should be a two-way beneficial relationship; rather than companies just recruiting, companies could consider how they could also invest in the growth of these organisations, universities and communities,’ says Dr Femi.

‘And building your brand as a company that candidates seek out. Candidates want an inclusive culture where they can thrive. Being transparent about the long-term mission and short-term steps to get there will help enhance your credibility.’

‘Companies should be looking at a diverse range of places to advertise their roles, and attract talent,’ adds Melissa. ‘They can also engage with organisations who are actively working with the people they are trying to attract.’

And on the subject of such organisations…

Which initiatives can help with recruiting fairly?
‘Let’s start with the Taylor Bennett Foundation!’ says its chief exec Melissa.

‘We work really hard to engage people from ethnically diverse backgrounds at all levels. Our programmes are always oversubscribed and what we need are more opportunities for our candidate network to apply to. There are lots of other positive action initiatives out there, recruiters need to do a bit of work to find the right one for them.’

Bukola is also ready to connect businesses with talent: ‘Through our global community of professionals and access to our wide network of Black talent, at Career Masterclass, we are able to support organisations who want to recruit from a wide pipeline of diverse talent through our recruitment solutions including jobs board, executive searches and targeted outreach to our community and network.’

But before bringing in the experts, you may need to convince your hierarchy higher-ups that there is a problem that needs fixing…

How do I speak to my Board about this?
‘The tone from the top is critical to successfully building a diverse and inclusive culture in the workplace,’ says Bukola. ‘HR teams have to invest time in educating the board and senior management team on why diversity is not a ‘nice to have’ and how it is pivotal to building a sustainable and successful business as multiple studies have shown that diversity impacts businesses positively and contributes to the bottom line.’

‘There is so much information available on how important the contribution of diverse talent is to an organisation,’ says Melissa at Taylor Bennett.

‘There are multiple reports from the likes of McKinsey, Business in the Community and the PR/Comms industry bodies that highlight the moral, business and financial case that hiring managers can draw resources from to make their case to their boards.’

Some board members may need a short history lesson/update on how that impacts the present, warns Dr Femi:

‘Increase the awareness of those with the power to make decisions about what led us to where we are now (i.e. sharing context on the historical exclusion of some groups of individuals) and the current inequities that exist.

‘It’s also important to place emphasis on the benefits (e.g. increased employee engagement and retention, enhanced innovation, better understanding of customer base, stronger business results) and risks of not focusing on diversity and inclusion (e.g. gaps in decision making, clients and customers are being proactive about holding companies accountable around diversity and inclusion, lagging competitors).

Who is already doing recruitment right?
Melissa recommends TUC – ‘Antonia Bance, head of campaigns, communications and digital trade wrote a blog for the Taylor Bennett Foundation last year titled ‘Making your communications and PR recruitment more inclusive‘. In the blog she included six points on what she thought worked well from the attraction to conclusion stage – it’s a great read’.

Recruiting to put together fully representative teams is just the start of the journey for PR and comms – creating an environment where everyone feels safe and supported to do their best work is just as important.

‘Companies need to create an environment where people feel supported and encouraged to thrive,’ advises Melissa.

‘I personally feel an organisation that actively promotes equity and inclusion will ensure their team feels welcome, valued and safe in their roles.’

And if this all wasn’t enough to encourage you to ensure your recruitment processes are fair, it turns out that diverse and supported teams are better for everybody across a business, including their customers. Final word from Bukola:

‘A plethora of studies speak to the benefits of diversity for organisations. A 2017 McKinsey Study used a data set of 1,000 companies to determine that profitability and long-term valuation increased dramatically when teams were diverse. Diversity in People Management also advances better decisions: according to a study, researchers found that diverse teams outperformed individual decision-makers in making a business decision up to 87% of the time.

‘Diversity leads to a variety of perspectives, greater creativity, confidence in the team, fortifies loyalty, draws in talent, and even improves productivity. Diversity breeds innovation, and innovation breeds success. When leaders actively champion diversity in the workplace, the benefits become far-reaching, impacting not just employee engagement and satisfaction, but also the company’s bottom line’.

For more on building diversity into your team, watch our accessmatters sessions with Taylor Bennett Foundation’s Melissa Lawrence as well as the Social Mobility Foundation’s Sarah Atkinson and Proud FT’s Cassius Naylor

How to support and showcase sustainability in 2022

How to support and showcase sustainability in 2022

This is a guest post by Sarah Salord, company director at GEC PR.

Sustainability was firmly placed in the spotlight last year thanks to high-profile events such as COP26 and the G20 Summit, and as a result we are all becoming more aware of the impact our actions have on the environment and natural resources.

Consumers are becoming increasingly discerning about the products they’re purchasing and the way they are travelling. The word ‘sustainable’ is now much more than a slogan or catchphrase – it’s a key influence in the consumer purchasing process.

With shoppers now looking more closely at the businesses they buy from, it’s more important than ever for brands to showcase how they as a business and individuals, are incorporating and supporting sustainable practices.

GEC PR works with several clients with a strong sustainable story to tell, and it’s something we as an agency have pushed more to the forefront of our PR and marketing activity during the last year. Here’s how you can do the same:

1. Understand that journalists are now expecting press trips to be carbon-balanced or to have an element of sustainable travel
For example, dropping off and collecting travellers from the airport (also known as ‘Kiss and Fly’) has more of a negative environmental impact when compared with pre-booking airport parking. Therefore, we alert journalists to the benefits of airport parking through carbon-balanced companies such as our client Airport Parking & Hotels (APH.com) which can be one of the most environmentally-friendly and affordable methods of travelling to the airport, ensuring a minimum number of journeys and less time spent on the road.

2. Ensure your client’s long-standing responsibility to sustainable practices is shouted louder than ever
If a client has a strong sustainable story to tell, then place this at the forefront of the communication content plan and strategy. For example, what commitments has the brand pledged to social, environment and economic sustainability for the year ahead and what investments have been made to reduce its environmental impact or avoiding it completely?

3. Adapt your communications strategy where necessary
A key learning during the last few years has been the need to be adaptable and flexible when it comes to creating and managing a communications plan. Find out what big sustainable stories or new developments are taking place for the year ahead, and tie this in with topical content ideas. Also keep it flexible if a big news announcement drops suddenly which provides a platform or hook to shout about the client.

Responsible tourism is one sector during the last few years which has become increasingly important to media, and as an agency specialising in working with travel and lifestyle clients, we have ensured our client’s brand stories reflect this and will continue to do so. The conversation around sustainability will continue to grow and new trends will emerge, and as communication specialists, this brings more opportunities for creativity.

Want to know what travel media professionals  find useful from PRs? Check out our feature on how to pitch to travel journalists, featuring insight from those working across national, consumer and trade publications. 

For more on trends to watch out for in travel comms, download our white paper PR & Media Travel Trends 2021

Comms as part of business strategy and planning

Comms: an integral part of decision-making and strategic planning for business

Kicked off by the pandemic, 2020-2021 presented some of the greatest challenges to businesses this century. As 2022 brings additional topics and issues to contend with, comms leaders are at the heart of an important phase.

At this year’s Corporate Communications Conference, comms leaders from brands including Virgin Media O2, Shell, Kellogg’s and BT provided insight and advice on key short and long-term issues and reflected on how the past 24 months rapidly altered roles and strategies.

The importance of comms in business decisions

Many organisations with executive teams that included comms leaders, departments and data as part of their strategic decision making from the start of the pandemic, saw reputation levels remain steady (even increasing in some cases) and operations continue to function well. The importance of insights that comms can bring, notably the perceptions of the organisation from the media, industry influencers, political sphere, customers and the wider public is high, yet utilising this information to shape key corporate decisions hasn’t always been accepted practice.

Naturally, many executive leadership teams consulted their finance and legal departments early into the pandemic, but including comms in the process allowed businesses to understand the reality of the human impact of the situation and provide a greater level of authenticity in their messaging. As the industry continues to evolve it will be interesting to see how the dynamic between exec teams and comms leaders will develop, as we move away from pandemic-oriented strategies and into prioritising ESG-centred comms.

Sustainability comms and the role of businesses in future

In an era of heightened change in social activism, political change and environmental issues, comms from an ESG perspective needs to be part of every businesses’ strategy. In ESG comms, the wider public are as much a part of the debate as internal stakeholders, including investors and shareholders, as well as staff. Actions versus communications was a key message from the conference, highlighting the real challenge businesses face to ensure what they are talking about doing in relation to sustainability aligns with the reality of their actions.

With ESG comms, businesses have a chance to boost reputation and distribute key business values, particularly as the purpose of business in society changes. There is a growing need for corporations to consider how they position themselves on social issues as well as topics that can be seen to sit outside of their direct business interests.

What does this mean for comms leaders?

As we look ahead in this decade, one of the real challenges for Comms departments will be determining the role of their organisations in society and working with executive teams to balance the voices of their staff and stakeholders with the wider demands in an ever-changing social, economic and political climate”

Find out more about the trends to plan for in 2022 in PR and communications in our round-up of insight from industry thought leaders.

Want more on stakeholder management and engagement? Find out how Vuelio can help.

Accessible Communications Guidelines for Spring 2022

PRCA releases updated guide to help PRs deliver accessible content

The Spring update of the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA)’s Accessible Communications Guidelines is now available for download.

Following its original release in April 2021 and produced in partnership with Current Global, the guide aims to aid PR and comms practitioners ensure that their content is accessible for all audiences they’re hoping to engage.

PRs who want to learn more about accessibility and improve their current offering can find advice and information on creating video and animated graphics as well as the use of language and the importance of representation. In addition to advice on digital and print content, the guide also features best practice on hosting fully-accessible events, both virtual and physical.

PRCA Director General and Chief Executive of ICCO Francis Ingham said:

‘Our guidelines for accessible communications are designed to help every member of the PRCA and the wider industry create more inclusive content and campaigns. The technology and tools to help us do this are readily available. The key priority is to update the way we work to adhere to best practices laid out in the Spring Edition document.

‘I want to recognise Current Global for partnering with the PRCA to develop these guidelines and for helping us instigate change across the industry. I would also like to thank our Digital Inclusion Partner Texthelp for their invaluable contribution to the Spring Edition.’

Current Global co-founder and CEO George Coleman added:

‘Every day content is published that isn’t accessible to all. Over a billion people worldwide have some form of disability, a significant audience many are excluding by default or design. We must change this. Morally, and commercially, it’s the right thing to do. It’s been extremely encouraging to see how well the guidelines have been received to-date; but it’s dynamic space, so a year on it felt timely to do a refresh. We hope they continue to be a valuable practical resource that contributes to meaningful change across the industry.’

The Accessible Communications Guidelines can be downloaded in both PDF and Word format.

For more on accessibility in the public relations and communications industry, here are five ways to make your workplace more inclusive for dyslexic people as well as this interview with Mark Webb and Sudha Singh on fairer representations of disability in PR.

Statistics on four-day working week in comms

‘Yes’ to four-day working week say a third of comms leaders

Three out of ten (29%) decision makers in the UK communications sector are seriously considering the move to a four-day working week, according to the latest UK Confidence Tracker from PRCA and ICCO.

A further 8% of comms leaders – a mix of CEOs, directors and heads of department – polled for the study carried out by Question & Retain have already adopted the working structure. This positive message for fans of the model reinforces a recent PRCA MENA study that found UAE professionals believe they work more efficiently under the new four and a half day working week adopted in UAE.

The quarterly Confidence Tracker from PRCA and ICCO tracks market confidence across the worldwide public relations industry. This year shows a boost in confidence and investment within the sector, as over two-thirds (72%) of in-house teams and PR agencies are hiring. In an increase of 3% from the last tracker update in October of last year, around nine in ten (87%) feel ‘confident’ or ‘very confident’ about the future of their business.

‘The data from our latest Global Confidence Tracker is very encouraging,’ believes PRCA director general and ICCO chief executive Francis Ingham.

‘Market confidence around the world is now higher than at any point since the beginning of the pandemic and the growing confidence is reflected in the number of organisations hiring. The four-day working week is an interesting proposition for agencies and in-house teams, many of whom are looking for creative ways to attract and retain the most talented professionals. The model won’t work for everyone but there are clear benefits for those willing to embrace change.’

The full PRCA and ICCO Confidence Tracker results for this quarter can be downloaded here.

Previous tracker findings from May 2020 can be found here, as can this update from March 2021.

For more about the work of Question & Retain, check out this guest post from its founder and CEO Annabel Dunstan on the benefits of working from home and the difference it has made to her team.

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.

Why PRs should work with marketing

PRs – here are seven reasons to team-up with marketing

Trends in the integration of marketing and public relations, our latest whitepaper by Stephen Waddington, features insight from thought leaders across the two functions… though, are the two really separate?

Download Trends in the integration of marketing and public relations here.

The crossover between the sectors has been under debate for at least 50 years and this conversation will likely continue as they further evolve. Here are seven takes on why close connections between comms and marketing is a positive for businesses and brands.

1) Success is the ultimate aim, not separation
‘Senior professionals in traditionally structured companies love to create silos. In commercial life, caring about definitions or silos is usually in inverse proportion to the importance of the task’ – Tony Langham, executive chair and co-founder of Lansons.

2) Close connection means the creation of good ideas
‘You need to be comfortable in asking for support from other operational functions, where they have expertise, as good ideas can come from anywhere. Openness and respect are also the key to having a collaborative working environment. You can spot the brands where marketing and PR are tightly integrated and work well together side by side. Especially when there is a crisis situation or a brand needs to respond quickly’ – Lexie Jenkins, senior press officer & publicist at Costa Coffee.

3) Collaboration opens up opportunities across teams
‘Ideas can come from anywhere […] That’s a tremendous opportunity for the communication team. It unlocks resources that it might not otherwise have been able to access’ – Suman Hughes, director of communications, UK for Mastercard.

4) Marketing and comms already share goals
‘Brand and product messaging are fundamental to both marketing and communications. They lie at the heart of how an organisation differentiates itself and engages with its markets’ – Ruth Jones, founder and managing director of 3THINKRS.

5) Social media management flows directly into sales
‘A modern crisis typically starts with an issue on social media. Monitoring provides an early warning signal. The social media team often acts as a first responder on customer services issues and matters that might otherwise escalate into a crisis to internal operational teams’ – Tamara Littleton, founder and CEO of The Social Element.

6) Marketing measurements can proof the efficacy of public relations
‘Clicks, comments and downloads can all be analysed as part of a customer journey. We can connect digital earned media with actions such as behaviour change and sales’ – said Shayoni Lynn, founder and CEO of Lynn PR.

7) Want to target influencers and editors? You may have them within your marketing team already…
‘We used to have a stakeholder group of 20 to 30 editors that we worked with around the world. Now social media has meant that everyone is now an editor’ – James Andrew, executive director – communications & PR at Group Lotus.

The global pandemic has underlined the importance of comms and marketing teams for the overall success of businesses and brands in communicating to their audiences and client-bases. When teams are under increased pressure to perform and prove their worth, the finding of efficiencies and quick wins are even more important. While there are definitely differences and lines between comms and marketing, closer collaboration can mean stronger campaigns, content planning and crisis management.

Not particularly close with your marketing department/team/in-house expert? Maybe it’s time to set up a virtual brainstorming session over coffee.

For more interesting statistics and facts on the integration of marketing and public relations, download the full white paper here.

For keeping track of your campaigns and client wins, try Vuelio’s Stakeholder Management and Insights services.

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.

BBC license fee

Looking behind the abolishment of the BBC license fee

The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Nadine Dorries shocked many stakeholders and parliamentarians when she tweeted that 2027 will be the end of the BBC’s license fee funding model with a link to an exclusive interview with the Daily Mail.

The announcement is to set in motion a move away from the funding system that the BBC has used since 1923, and a reconsideration of its legal powers to collect and enforce the license fee. Dorries has personally been talking about ‘taking on’ the BBC on Twitter since 2014 and the organisation has attracted challenges of impartiality from across the political spectrum.

In her statement to the House of Commons, Dorries recognised the channel as an ‘great institution’ with a ‘unique place in our cultural heritage’ but said raising the license fee couldn’t be justified against the increasing cost of living. Julian Knight, the DCMS Committee chairman, said later that the cost ‘may not be much to presenters like Gary Lineker, but it’s a lot to constituents like ours’. It’s this sentiment that shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell challenged in her response, stating the license fee is a drop in the ocean when compared to the hike in energy bills and the Government’s plans to raise tax and national insurance contributions in April. Labour MP Chris Bryant pointed out the £159 yearly fee is the same as the proposed average national insurance increase. Nevertheless, Dorries stated that ‘the Government are committed to supporting families as much as possible during these difficult times’.

Following the announcement, Director General of the BBC Tim Davie stated the freeze will impact the BBC’s frontline output, and suggested the resulting funding gap would be £285m in the final year. He said the organisation remains focussed on providing household value.

How the BBC can prove themselves to have adequately addressed the ‘impartiality and groupthink’ Dorries accused them of in her statement to Parliament is yet to be seen, as well as if the Government can independently judge this redirection. The decision to freeze the license fee comes despite the BBC launching a 10-point plan focused on impartiality, whistleblowing and editorial standards last year. Clear progress so far has been insufficient; the broadcaster was only recently protested over how it has depicted transgender and other minority communities. In the Commons, Powell stressed the danger posed in this explicit link between charter renewal with editorial decision. In her statement, the culture secretary said the BBC must now put its words into action and ‘convince the British public’ that those changes are being made. Dorries also suggested the BBC’s legal powers to enforce the license fee should also be curtailed, which could go some way to tackle other issues with the BBC’s funding, like the disproportionate impact of prosecution for TV license evasion.

While some may agree with Labour’s sentiment that the announcement on this longstanding issue serves as a distraction from the current crisis over alleged parties during lockdown, it might take something bigger to distract the public from ‘partygate’.  And while Conservative MPs have endorsed scrapping the license fee over the years, there was reportedly lots of skepticism from the party following the announcement.

The pressing issue raised by several MPs is how the license fee will be replaced, to which there has been no answer. Dorries suggested her announcement allows for a solution to be debated, supported by the work of the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, while others suggested it should be decided by the public. Sir Peter Bottomley, the father of the house, questioned whether an assessment of alternatives have been undertaken with no direct response.

As supporters of the channel point out, a change in funding arrangements should be balanced with the good the BBC has to offer, both as a contributor to the UK’s soft power globally and at home, as a provider of education and supporter of local news. As the announcement of the freeze sat alongside a further £7.5m invested in S4C, the first channel to be specifically geared towards a Welsh speaking audience, the Government appears to be aware of the importance of the BBC in devolved and regional matters. Powell suggested to Times Radio following the announcement that ‘what we are getting for (the license fee) payment is incredibly cheap’.

Whether or not the inspiration behind the decision to freeze the license fee was to distract from bigger issues, it may appease Conservative Party critics of the BBC. They are not alone; if YouGov polls are anything to go by, the public don’t currently find the fee good value for money. However, the sudden announcement on social media, coupled with the lack of an alternative, kicks a complicated issue into the long grass for now, as a job for a different minister.

For how the scrapping of the BBC license fee could impact public relations and communications, read our previous post PR needs the BBC.