How to use data to prove the power of your PR

How to use data to prove the power of your PR

The full potential and power of good PR is often intangible, with no one industry-wide metric shared by every comms team. What kind of data is most effective to demonstrate the value of your work to your c-suite and clients?

The PRCA’s ‘Data Literacy in PR Report’ features essays from 11 industry leaders including Stephen Waddington, Andrew Bruce Smith, Orla Graham, Steve Leigh, Sophie Coley, Stella Bayles, James Crawford, Alex Judd and Allison Spray covering how data can make your PR successful.

Here are five takeaways from the report:

1) Decide on your KPIs from the start

‘Numbers and data analysis should play a vital role in every aspect of public relations. Every campaign should begin with goal setting and research and involve answering many important questions…’   Andrew Bruce Smith

The essay ‘What Numbers Matter in Public Relations?’ highlights the importance of setting your Key Performance Indicators at the start of a project. No one metric to rule them all in the industry? Then determine your own, and how to source relevant data that will inform your planning process.

2. Refine your processes throughout the campaign cycle

‘It is worth noting that measurement and evaluation works best when it is used as a process of continuous improvement. It should be a circular activity. We learn what works best so that we can refine and enhance plans and maximise the impact of available resources…’ – Orla Graham and Steve Leigh.

In ‘Design a Listening and Measurement Strategy’, refining and rethinking is promoted as an intrinsic part of any successful project cycle. Any starting framework is likely to grow and evolve as more data is gathered, allowing for exploration of additional KPIs where needed.

3. Listen to the right audiences

‘Once you’ve designed a measurement strategy, you need to find sources for that data. This presents new challenges; how to identify your audience and how best to extract meaningful data from them.

‘Each method has its own strengths and weaknesses. There is no definitive “right” answer. Choose the right approach for your needs by focusing on what you are trying to learn…’ – Sophie Coley and Steve Leigh

For finding the right audience, ‘Identifying a Public and Listening to Conversations’ recommends the use of surveys, social media and searches. Surveys can be useful in the planning stage, to measure impacts during a campaign, and in the post-project analysis stage. For using social media and searches, social listening can help – find out more here.

4. Push the limitations of the tools you use

‘Tools and tech stacks are increasingly important for the public relations industry. Despite ever-growing scope and complexity, there is still no silver bullet as every client has different objectives. Public relations can be used in many ways to achieve a broad range of outcomes…’ – Stella Bayles and James Crawford

‘What is possible to achieve with tools and what are their limitations?’ tackles the question from the point of view of both the tool user and the vendor. While tools can ‘bridge the data literacy gap’, they can also complicate things if not used correctly. Rather than relying on raw data that comes in a one-size-fits-all format, seek out bespoke reports that will provide accurate reporting for your particular project.

5. Translate your data to make the outcomes clear

‘No matter what kind of project you’re running, your sector (or specialism), chances are you have faced what many professionals dread: a wall of statistics, charts, and data points. A litany of information pointing you towards something. But what are you going to do with it all? Resist the urge to find a word cloud, throw it on a slide and give yourself a pat on the back. Instead, take a different path, start your journey to find an insight…’ – Alex Judd and Allison Spray

Reams of numbers and graphs can look incredibly impressive or utterly intimidating. Before presenting them to your management team, or scanning for meaning yourself, go back to the problem your project or campaign was trying to solve in the first place and link the numbers accordingly. As a PR, you already have the skill set to bring data to life and sell your story to any audience – even those making the big decisions on your team’s budget for the following year…

Download the full paper ‘Data Literacy in PR’ from the PRCA website.

For advice on integrating PR into the C-suite level, read our write-up of our webinar with Stephen Waddington, Dr Jon White and Rachel Roberts ‘Level up your PR career: Getting ready for management’.

 

Taylor Bennett Foundation appoints trustees

Taylor Bennett Foundation welcomes additional trustees to its board

The Taylor Bennett Foundation has appointed two new trustees to its board. Joining are FTI Consulting’s managing director Lena Ahad and Four Communications Group’s head of HR Maria La-Rose.

The new trustees will continue their support – already shown in their work with FTI Consulting and Four Communications – of the Foundation’s aims to encourage and support black, Asian and minority ethnic graduates to start their career in communications.

Lena and Maria will officially join the board of the charity from December 2022 and join existing members including Pinch Point Communications’ managing director Sarah Pinch, Taylor Bennett managing partner Matthew Wall, Brunswick Group director James Baker, Savills PR manager Kuldeep Mehmi, Google B2B Communications’ Jo Ogunleye, CBI chief campaign director Syma Cullasy-Aldridge and The PR Office’s managing director Marc Cohen.

Of the appointments, Sarah Pinch said:

‘As Chair of Trustees I was keen we appointed trustees who were able to support the board’s ambitious plans for growth. We want to increase our reach to young people; ensure we are changing the lives of more young people and also help the industry be more representative of society. The Foundation has a proven track record in improving diversity. What we do works. We want to work with more organisations, in-house and agency side, to continue to deliver.’

Lena Ahad commented: ‘I am delighted to be joining as a trustee of the Taylor Bennett Foundation to continue encouraging black, Asian and minority ethnic talent to pursue a career in communications. FTI Consulting is now in its sixth year of sponsoring the award-winning PR training and mentoring programme – so my trustee role very much feels like a natural transition into a strategic role while also supporting global brands at FTI Consulting. Now in my third decade in the communications industry, it’s extremely rewarding to see the next generation of diverse talent coming through the ranks and I very much look forward to supporting the future leaders of our industry’.

Marcia added: ‘I am absolutely thrilled to now be on the Board of Trustees of the Taylor Bennett Foundation which Four has worked with for some years now, and I hope I will be able to assist with the development and outreach of this fantastic organisation’.

For more on the work and aims of the Foundation, watch our previous accessmatters session with chief executive Melissa Lawrence.

 

Migration for education in the UK

Foreign students barred from studying in the UK – What does this mean for Education policy

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged to accomplish the 2019 Conservative manifesto in reducing net migration through only enabling international students into the UK if they have secured places at ‘top universities’.

Data from the Office for National Statistics highlights that the UK has hit a ‘‘record high’ in the level of net migration of about 504,000. The Government has said students from foreign countries coming into the UK to study at non-Russel Group Universities, and ‘low quality’ degrees, are to be restricted from coming into the UK. This is as a possible policy approach to reduce net migration in the UK, particularly in a time where individuals are struggling with the Cost-of-Living crisis, energy prices soaring as well as crisis within the NHS and the housing sector.

However, there are many concerns regarding which students are given entry into the UK. Immigration plays a significant role for expanding the UK’s economy and to reduce net migration of students and their families who, as Home Secretary Suella Braveman described as ‘piggy banking onto the students’ student visa’.

The education sector plays perhaps the biggest role and responsibility in exporting the biggest revenue for the UK’s economy and cracking down and creating a barrier in who is allowed to study in the UK may create further tensions to the already crippled economy.

While ensuring that only those with admissions at ‘top’ institutions cracks down on the level of migration to the UK, it does so at a significant price to the Education sector. With a crackdown on international students, many universities that are not considered ‘top’ or Russell-group universities will lose out on funding, significantly impacting the fee’s paid by students at home. Not only that, lack of international students may also mean some courses will be forced to shut due to the lack of students enrolled, thus impacting the funding a university receives.

Level up your comms career

Level up your PR career: Getting ready for management

PR is much more than just communicating the decisions of management – in 2022, PR should be involved in the decision-making process, right from the start.

Yet despite the proof of PR through times of crisis over the last few years, recognition and integration of PR into management and the C-suite is not yet a reality for many organisations How can PR break into the boardroom?

Exploring themes from the recent white paper ‘Elevating the role of public relations in management’, Stephen Waddington and Dr Jon White were joined by CIPR president and spottydog communications founder Rachel Roberts for our webinar ‘From tactical to critical: Why PR belongs at the top table’.

Here are four lessons to help elevate your PR:

1) The role PR plays in management is only becoming more obvious

‘At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I observed public relations elevated very firmly into management,’ shared Stephen. ‘I hadn’t seen the like before in my career, where PR was so valued.

‘Think back two years, there was that point where PR teams were part of daily meetings, part of the management function in terms of organisation, working from home and the supply chain; that complex environment.

‘I’ve learned that the impact of the pandemic wasn’t unusual in elevating PR. There are a number of situations where it is quickly elevated: crisis, credibility issues, media agendas, leadership. What is interesting in particular is how this role can be developed.’

2) Public relations needs to go beyond the aspirational to the practical

‘My starting point with this idea was in a meeting with a fellow faculty member years ago,’ said Dr Jon.

‘The standard text in North America used at the time, stated emphatically that PR is a management function. My skeptical faculty member, who came from a journalist background, said “Is that true? Isn’t that aspirational rather than reality?” And reality shows it is aspirational, currently.

‘In our discussion with Vuelio PR clients, only one in five are fully integrated into management. That is the reality – we would like to claim a place the top table, but we aren’t really there yet.

‘Every organisation has important relationships to attend to internally and externally – attention needs to be paid to these relationships and how groups are behaving – that is PR territory.’

3) Make use of shared skilled sets to get to the next level

‘ESG is right at the fore of management – organisations can’t just look at the economic situation they’re faced with, but social and governance issues also,’ advised Stephen. ‘As PRs, we have perspective to bring to that. Our opportunity is to bring a fresh outlook to decision making.

‘There are several ways to go about this. Most of us are used to SWOT and PESTLE analysis already, and that is well understood within management. I would suggest PRs use that to support their management teams. Once you’ve developed that, you can start to scenario plan.

‘How do we close the gap between PR and the board? Organisations are closely aligned across the industry – that one-in-five number is consistent in every piece of research I’ve been able to find, from the 80s onwards.’as

4) Demonstrate the value of PR to your c-suite

‘Value is what gets attention at the C-suite level; money does still talk,’ said Rachel.

‘The challenge of PR is that you can’t always see the contribution to the bottom line. In the 70s, the non-tangible aspects of the balance sheet were pretty low. CEOs, now, are about creating value – if we can demonstrate how PR can create that intangible value, we can get attention.

‘PRs come to attention for “doing stuff”. But we aren’t just the “doers”. We’re always thinking three steps ahead; the strategic piece. That has parity with the C-suite. We already have the same mindset as a great CEO or C-suite team.

‘There is so much more data now to demonstrate the effectiveness, though we can get caught up in that; the C-suite can latch on to data and want instant gratification. But in other areas, people know it takes a few years to get ROI. It takes some time to move the dial here as well. We have to have that long-term strategic investment.

‘But first, we need to get into the boardroom and adopt the same style as other professions.’

Watch the full From tactical to critical: Why PR belongs at the top table webinar and download the white paper From tactical to critical: Why PR belongs at the top table for more on this subject.

How to break into the news cycle

Finding a new angle: How to break through a busy news cycle

The cost-of-living crisis, ongoing changes in the UK Government, the invasion of Ukraine, the World Cup (Joe Lycett), the Royals – it may feel like pitches unrelated to these subjects will struggle to find a place in the UK media right now, but there is a place for every story if you find the right angle.

At our recent Journalist Voices by Vuelio event, The Daily Telegraph’s Yolanthe Fawehinmi, Marie Claire’s Ally Head and freelance journalists Hannah Ajala and Isabella Silvers shared the opportunities for PRs reaching out to the media.

Before trying a tenuous link to the topics trending in the headlines when preparing to pitch, step back and switch up your strategy.

Watch the full Journalist Voices by Vuelio event here.

‘I’m going to be slightly controversial,’ opened Ally when asked about the media’s focus on particular story threads right now. ‘Perhaps PRs think that’s the case… but I don’t think it is’.

Working on Marie Claire as health, sustainability and relationships editor, Ally has a wide-reaching remit but a very specific readership she is writing for.

‘There are so many different publications, stories and angles out there, but it is all about getting to know the brand and what would be relevant to them,’ said Ally.

‘Marie Claire is about female empowerment, so you can put that angle on a story. Last month I got thousands of pitches with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) angles, all with backing from doctors and registered experts, but I only got one with a first-person case study. It is finding that angle. If it is an awareness month, find something people might not be aware of.’

The lure of national newspapers, big broadcasters and high-circulation consumer mags are tempting when working to place a story – a front page or double-page spread in the Daily Mail/The Daily Telegraph/The Mirror/The Guardian is any brand or client’s dream – but extend your reach beyond them. There is a whole world’s worth of reporters writing for different audiences on differing topics.

Breaking into the news cycle very much ‘depends on where you are in the world,’ shared We Are Black Journos founder Hannah Ajala, who writes for publications all over the world.

‘This year alone, I’ve spent time in 15 different counties,’ said Hannah. ‘Pitching really depends on what is the main interest of the people in that country or society. Depending on religious groups, social class, what is trending – what the big story is in that country may not make global news.

‘You can find inspiration anywhere and social media is a really great place for tapping in without having to be there – hashtags are fantastic to use. There are so many ways of finding inspiration. If you are always on the hunt for an interesting story, you can find something.’

And on the topic of featuring in The Telegraph, Yolanthe highlighted the importance of paying close attention to audiences and determining what they will want to read.
‘I’m a features writer, so with features it is about putting a human face to a story,’ Yolanthe advised.

‘The Telegraph knows its angles and their audience is right wing – they know who they are; “pull your socks up” kind of readers. Work backwards from your intended audience. Over the past few months on my team, the focus has been politics, with the Government changing and the Queen’s passing. Those are big Telegraph stories – we didn’t write many stories outside of that. So know what the audience will need. What will dominate that publication’s news cycle?’

For whichever story you have to pitch, there will be staff journalists, influencers and freelancers who will find your contribution useful and interesting – just be careful to tailor what you have to their unique patches and working patterns.

As well as working on the branded content team at Hearst UK, Isabella freelances for the publisher and other brands including Stylist, Metro and Refinery29, and has her own newsletter called Mixed Messages. For her, pitching successfully is ‘all about the audience and what each brand is interested in’.

‘The Queen – everyone was talking about it, but Marie Claire would have covered it differently to the Telegraph. It’s all about finding what works,’ shared Isabella.
‘Menopause is such a big topic, for another example – Good Housekeeping and Red write-ups would be for an older audience, but for Cosmopolitan you would want a first-person piece on early menopause. Tailor your points for each publication.’

The ultimate aim for the media is the same as for PRs, whatever seems at first glance to be trending and taking over the news cycle – ‘All we want to do is create content for our audiences,’ says Isabella. Whatever content you have to pitch – find the right writer and an angle that will work for them and their audience.

Thank you to London Filmed for providing the AV for this event: Londonfilmed.com

For more on working with these journalists and advice on pitching to the media, watch the full event and check out our write-up on how Vuelio can help on the specifics.

What journalists want from PRs

What journalists want from PRs and how Vuelio can help

We asked four journalists working across consumer, national press and broadcast what they want from PRs and comms people during our recent Journalist Voices by Vuelio event.

Below are the tips shared by The Daily Telegraph’s Yolanthe Fawehinmi, Marie Claire’s Ally Head and freelance journalists Isabella Silvers and Hannah Ajala and how Vuelio can help.

Watch the full Journalist Voices by Vuelio event here.

Journalists want…

1) …PRs to understand their interests

Communicating and connecting with people is at the heart of the journalist job, but there are plenty of places for them to do this – how do you find the right channel for getting in touch?

How Vuelio can help: Find out where journalists are communicating and connecting with their audiences by checking out what they are writing on social media alongside their bylines. The Vuelio Media Database provides access to journalist Twitter feeds alongside their recent articles. You can also see (and search by) their recently published articles, or for more detail, Media Monitoring gives a deeper look at what they are writing about your brand, your client or your brief.

2) …contact at the right time of day or night

Each journalist will have their task lists organised uniquely. For staff journalists, editorial meetings, interviews and filing to deadline will break up their day and keep them away from checking inboxes or DMs. For freelancers, each day (or evening, or night) is likely to be completely different.

How Vuelio can help: Grab journalist attention when it is most likely to be free and open to useful opportunities and contributions by seeing when they are active on Twitter as well as their working patterns. Cast a wider net by searching journalists’ tweets by keywords and add your own notes to profiles if you learn something new.

3) …responses to their requests

Even during times when you or your team aren’t doing media outreach, opportunities are out there. Some journalists looking for useful information tweet what they need, but don’t forget…

How Vuelio can help: Get exclusive requests from all sectors of the UK media straight through to your inbox with the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service, in digest emails or as they are submitted throughout the day.

4) …relevant and topical contributions

Mail merged mass press release distribution is old-fashioned and ineffective – journalists receive hundreds of emails a day and do not want to be spammed with information they will delete. Make sure what you have to offer is something they might actually want to write about.

How Vuelio can help: Search journalist profile information for the specific beats they cover, including topics of interest, the right way to get in touch and much more. Recent Article Search also allows you to see what they have recently covered, and find journalists who are experts in your field. Unlike many traditional databases that rely on static topic tagging, here you can track down journalists writing on off-beat and unusual subjects that might otherwise be hard to find.

5) …PRs to know what their publication covers

Perhaps you have subscriptions to the publications you want to pitch to and think you know them inside out, but there are a lot of publications that could cover your news. Knowing which regular features would be a good fit for your pitch, as well as when they will be published, can help you plan ahead.

How Vuelio can help: Thousands of Forward Features are listed on the Vuelio Media Database. You can search by topic, industry or keyword and also find detailed information on regular features that might be a good fit for you.

6) …well-researched pitches, not opportunistic attempts

Newsjacking can be effective if done right, but can come across as cheap if done wrong. Rather than receiving an inbox full of similar Christmas-related press releases over the next month, journalists would prefer some deeper thought from PRs.

How Vuelio can help: As well as providing searchable recent articles journalists have written, Vuelio provides a searchable archive for you to research and understand the best angles for your pitch. Monitoring can also be set up to bespoke briefs that change throughout the year so you can stay on top of current trends and speak a common language with your media partners.

7) …brevity

Long press releases with a myriad of images attached will clog up a journalist’s inbox quickly. They want information put as concisely and as clearly as possible.

How Vuelio can help: Vuelio Press Release Distribution enables embedded links to aid with engagement and maximise your open rates. To ensure your message is engaging, use our email editor, and track what happens when it hits inboxes from opens to clicks.

8) …a snappy headline

With deadlines getting ever closer and features needing to be filed, journalist have to be quick with picking out stories to cover. Your pitch could get lost in a sea of others if it blends in with a generic subject line in their inbox.

How Vuelio can help: At this point, you have found the journalists who are covering your topic, how they like to be contacted and when and what information they want from you. Now you just need to grab their interest – consider subject lines and test if these work with Vuelio’s email tracking tools. You can also check on the reception your outreach received on each contact’s profile – hopefully the start of a mutually beneficial PR-media relationship.

Thank you to London Filmed for providing the AV for this event: Londonfilmed.com

For more on Vuelio services that can help with your media outreach, check out information on our Media Database, Media Monitoring and the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service. Find extra on pitching to the media in our white paper ‘How to pitch to journalists‘. 

COP27

Updates from COP27

The latest updates from COP27 brought to you each day by the Vuelio Political Services team.

Wednesday, 16 November 2022

COP27: Biodiversity Day

  • Thérèse Coffey, the Environment Secretary, set out UK support to protect the world’s oceans and natural habitats. She called on countries to come together at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in Montreal to agree a robust plan for tackling nature loss.  
    • The Government pledged £30m to the Big Nature Impact Fund – a new public-private fund for nature in the UK. 
    • An additional £12m was pledged to the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance to protect and restore vulnerable coastal communities and habitats. 
    • A further £6m to provide capacity building support to developing countries to increase commitments to nature and nature-based solutions under the Paris Agreement. 
    • A new UK climate finance contribution of £5m toward the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) Multi-Donor Trust Fund for the Amazon. This hopes to tackle deforestation. 
    • Coffey outlined the importance of mangroves and the climate benefits of blue carbon.
  • The COP26 President convened Ministers and senior representatives to accelerate the transition to Zero Emissions Vehicles:
    • Launching the new Accelerating to Zero Coalition – a platform for leading initiatives to work together to deliver a Paris-aligned Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) transition globally.
    • Announcing a total of 214 ZEV Declaration signatories, committing them to a global all-ZEV sales target by 2040, and 2035 in leading markets, including new signatories France and Spain.
    • Launching a support package for emerging markets and developing economy (EMDE) countries, backed through a Global Commitment by donor countries including the UK, US, Germany and Japan.

 

Tuesday, 15 November 2022

COP27: ACE & Civil Society and Energy Day.

  • The Government have announced the launch of the Indonesia Just Energy Transition Partnership at G20 which builds on momentum from COP27. The partnership will mobilise £17bn over the next 3-5 years to accelerate a just energy transition. The UK will support delivery of the partnership, including a $1bn World Bank guarantee.

 

Monday, 14 November 2022

The second week at COP27 begins with Adaptation & Agriculture Day.

  • Alok Sharma made a speech at the High-Level Ministerial round table on pre-2030 ambition
    • He reiterated the need to stick to 1.5 degrees, noting the harm caused by exceeding this for many countries globally.
    • He said we have the business community on-side: 200 international businesses on Saturday signed an open letter in defence of 1.5
    • There is work to do on finances: more in terms of Multilateral development bank reform, more on the Just Energy Transition Partnership.
    • He called for progress on mitigation, and on loss and damage.
    • He asked G20 leaders to reaffirm their 1.5 commitment at the G20 summit.
    • There are four mitigation outcomes that need to be achieved: (1) Countries that have not set Nationally Determined Contributions need to do so (there are 33 that have set NDCs); (2) Clear commitments to science; (3) Further steps to phase out coal and phase out fossil fuel subsidies; (4) The legalities of the Mitigation Work Programme need to be agreed.

Saturday, 12 November 2022

Day 6 at COP27 was Adaptation & Agriculture Day.

Friday, 11 November 2022

Day 5 at COP27 was Decarbonisation Day. COP26 President, Alok Sharma spoke at the COP27 Breakthrough Agenda event.

  • The Business Secretary, Grant Shapps has announced at least £65m investment to help speed up the development of new green technologies globally. This will be part of the Industry Transition Programme, by the Climate Investment Funds. The Government will also support a new funding window from the Mitigation Action Facility for projects developing clean tech.
  • The Breakthrough Agenda was first launched at COP26- a commitment by 47 signatory countries to work together internationally this decade to accelerate the development and deployment of the clean technologies and sustainable solutions needed to meet our Paris Agreement goals, ensuring they are affordable and accessible for all.  Countries today on the 11 November launch a package of 25 new collaborative actions to be delivered by COP28 to speed up the decarbonisation under five key breakthroughs of power, road transport, steel, hydrogen and agriculture.
    • The UK and Morocco have agreed to co-lead the Power Breakthrough: Clean power is the most affordable and reliable option for all countries to meet their power needs efficiently by 2030.
    • The UK, US and EU have agreed to co-lead the Hydrogen Breakthrough: Affordable renewable and low carbon hydrogen is globally available by 2030.
    • The US, India and UK have agreed to co-leads the Road Transport Breakthrough: Zero emission vehicles are the new normal and accessible, affordable, and sustainable in all regions by 2030. 
    • Egypt and UK have agreed to co-lead the Agriculture Breakthrough: Sustainable, decarbonised agriculture with investment in agriculture research, development and demonstration addressing challenges of food security, climate change and environmental degradation.  

Thursday, 10 November 2022

Day 4 at COP27 was Science, and Youth & Future Generations Day. 

  • COP26 President Alok Sharma met with Vietnam’s Minister of Environment and Natural Resources to discuss Vietnam’s energy transition. They recommitted to finalising the details of a political declaration and package of financial support for Vietnam’s energy transition, reaching an agreement before the end of 2022.

Wednesday, 9 November 2022

Day 3 at COP27 was Finance Day. The Prime Minister made a statement to the House of Commons, reiterating the UK policy announcements made during the World Leaders’ Summit.

  • UK Export Finance have announced as part of COP27 Finance Day that it will become the first export credit agency in the world to offer Climate Resilience Debt Clauses in its direct sovereign lending. The clauses will offer low-income countries and small island developing states the ability to defer debt repayments in the event of a severe climate shock or natural disaster.
  • The Exchequer Secretary, James Cartlidge,announced the publication of the UK Transition Plan Taskforce’s Disclosure Framework. It outlines the key design principles which will underpin Climate Resilient Debt Clauses for use in private sector lending, and called for all creditors – including private banks, other bilateral lenders and the international financial institutions – to explore adopting these clauses. 
  • The UK has announced its support for Colombia’s emergency plan to stop deforestation in the Colombian Amazon. The Joint Declaration of Intent between Colombia, Germany, Norway and the UK from 2015 has been extended until 2025. Norway and Germany announced new contributions of $25m. There has been no new funding commitment made by the UK.

Tuesday, 8 November 2022

The 2nd and final day of the World Leaders’ Summit began with reports that the UK and US are about to announce a major fossil fuel deal following COP27, with the US planning to sell £10bn of cubic metres of liquefied natural gas to Britain in 2023 in order to improve energy security.  

New funding commitments  

  • The Foreign Secretary has announced £200m financial support to the African Development Bank’s Climate Action Window to adapt to the impacts of climate change. This is part of yesterday’s commitment to triple adaptation funding targets from £500m to £1.5bn (2019-2025).

Scottish commitments

  • Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, has pledged £5m funding to tackle loss and damage caused by the climate crisis in developing countries.

Monday, 7 November 2022

The new COP27 President, Egyptian Foreign Affairs Minister Sameh Shoukry, opened the World Leaders’ Summit today. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spent the day meeting other heads of state and delivered his speech to the conference floor. His speech followed warnings from the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, that the world is ‘on a highway to climate hell’, saying that in order to save humanity, we must ‘co-operate or perish’. Meanwhile, the UN Environmental Programme has labelled progress on cutting emissions ‘woefully inadequate’ since COP26 in Glasgow last year.  

New funding commitments

  • General commitments 
    • The Prime Minister confirmed that his new Government would stick to the £11.6bn international climate fund that was pledged last year, but it’s possible the plan could take longer than the five years originally planned. 
    • Sunak announced that the UK will triple funding for adaptation programmes from £500m in 2019 to £1.5bn in 2025.  
    • £65m for the Nature, People and Climate Investment Fund, supporting indigenous and local forest communities. 
    • £65.5m for the Clean Energy Innovation Facility which provides grants to researchers and scientists in developing countries to accelerate the development of clean technology. 
    • As part of the new Forests and Climate Leaders’ Partnership, Sunak confirmed more than £150m for protecting rainforests and natural habitats, including the Congo Basin (£90m) and the Amazon. 
    • The Foreign Secretary will announce £100m to support developing economies to respond to climate-related disasters, including £20.7m in Disaster Risk Financing to support countries who face climate-related disasters, and £13m to support vulnerable countries to adapt to climate impacts.  
    • Speaking today, Nicola Sturgeon said her government are set to announce a proposal on aid for vulnerable countries, criticising the poor delivery of the $100bn climate finance commitment. 
  • Place-specific commitments 
    • New financial support for Egypt’s COP27 initiative, ‘Nexus on Food, Water and Energy’ to develop projects including solar parks and energy storage innovations. 
    • Climate finance support for the UK-Kenya Strategic Partnership. 
    • £95m for Nigeria to support the development of climate-resilient agriculture. 

International partnerships

  • The UK has launched the Forests and Climate Leaders’ Partnership. The new group will meet twice a year to track commitments on Forests and Land Use Declaration from COP26 (aiming to halt and reverse forest loss by 2030). The Partnership has 26 members, accounting for 33% world’s forests.  
  • The UK and Kenya have reaffirmed their commitment to the UK-Kenya Strategic Partnership, including progressing on green investment projects: new and expanded solar and geothermal power plants, financing railway and a dam hydropower project. 
  • The UK will sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Colombia to renew the ‘Partnership for Sustainable Growth’. 
  • The UK, alongside the US, Norway and the Netherlands pledged to roll out ‘green shipping corridors’ with maritime routes decarbonised from end to end. The UK and US agreed to launch a special Green Shipping Corridor Task Force to bring together sector experts to encourage research and development.

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

Autumn Statement 2022 predictions

Autumn Statement 2022 predictions

At the Autumn Statement on Thursday, the Chancellor will set out tax rises and spending cuts totalling £60bn, roughly divided into £35bn of spending cuts and £25bn of tax rises.

Here is what you can expect:

Tax, Pensions and Benefits

Last week, the Chancellor and the Prime Minister met to plan this month’s Autumn Statement. It looks like they will bring ‘stealth’ increases in income tax and National Insurance by freezing the thresholds at which people start to pay different rates. It was already expected that the two thresholds would be frozen until 2026, but the new plan sees this being extended for two years or even longer.

While it was previously understood that Sunak and Mr Hunt have ruled out increasing the rates of income tax, National Insurance and VAT, as to do so would breach the Conservatives’ 2019 manifesto, there have been reports that they might increase the number of people paying the highest rate of income tax by lowering the threshold from £150,000. However, the Treasury has ruled out changes to higher-rate pension tax relief, over concerns it could disincentivise people to save and would hit middle earners.

Government officials said Jeremy Hunt was drawing up plans to extend a freeze in the inheritance tax ‘nil-rate band’ from 2025-26 to 2027-28. It is also understood that the pension lifetime allowance is set to be frozen for two more years, with a rise in line with prices delayed from 2025 to 2027. The approach comes with the future of the pensions triple lock, still hanging in the balance. Mr Hunt could decide that pensions should only rise in line with earnings rather than the current 10.1% inflation rate. Another big decision for Chancellor and the Prime Minister is whether to raise benefits in line with inflation. There have been reports that Rishi Sunak will bow to pressure, however, a Government source stressed no final decision had been made, so a real-terms cut could still happen.

It seems like Treasury officials are examining whether the Autumn Statement could include changes to non-dom status and moves to raise taxes on dividends by cutting tax-free allowances. Changes could include reducing the time period over which high net worth individuals can avoid tax on their worldwide income. The Chancellor could also cut the tax-free threshold for shareholders’ earning from dividends from the current level of £2,000. Jeremy Hunt has also been asked to consider changes to capital gains tax, which has the potential to bring in billions if it were changed to match income tax rates.

Moreover, it looks like No.10 and No.11 have returned to discussions about allowing local authorities to raise more in council tax by removing a requirement to hold a referendum if they are increasing it by more than 2.99 per cent. A Government source thought Sunak and Hunt would ultimately reject the plan, but said the fact that it was being discussed again made it more likely than before.

Capital Spending

All capital spending is under review, with a view to making billions in savings on infrastructure projects. No 10 denied reports that plans for the new Sizewell C nuclear power station could be scrapped, but big energy projects along with every other major infrastructure plan such as HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail will have costs reviewed. The biggest ticket item under threat appears to be the northern rail scheme, which was a manifesto promise in the 2019 election. Asked whether HS2 could also be subject to cuts, the Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said: ‘I am sure everything will be reviewed.’ This came as the head of the HS2 expressed confidence that that project would not face cuts.

Health

Having made repeated references to the need for ‘difficult decisions’, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his Chancellor are expected to announce at least £35 billion pounds in spending cuts.

However, with public support for the NHS so high – and the service already stretched to a breaking point – any significant cuts to the health service would likely prove unpopular. Sunak has said in Cabinet that health spending would not be cut and that he ‘would always support the NHS and that it would continue to be prioritised as difficult decisions are taken on spending’, however the NHS will be expected to ‘find efficiencies’. An important issue will be public sector pay, with speculation that that pay rises could be limited to 2% for 2023/24, despite inflation being over 10%. This would likely anger unions representing workers from across the NHS, who are threatening to walk out over below inflation pay deals. The specificities of pay deals will not be decided until next year, though the Autumn budget is likely to give a good indication of how much money the Department of Health and Social Care will have to work with.

Energy

Following former Prime Minister Liz Truss’s introduction of the Energy Bill Relief Scheme and news that the scheme will change following 31 March 2023, it is expected that further details of the Government’s plans will be announced in the Autumn Statement. The Chancellor has already explained that ‘any support for businesses will be targeted to those most affected and the new approach will better incentivise energy efficiency’.

There are renewed questions over whether the current windfall tax on oil and gas companies will be extended, whether that is increasing the temporary levy, the time frame and/or extending the tax to electricity suppliers. Mounting pressure comes from reports of more record-breaking oil and gas profits in the last few months.

International Development

The Government notified the International Development Committee at the start of the month that the FCDO’s temporary pause on non-essential ODA spending would be extended to 17 November. The question will be whether the suspension will be extended beyond the Autumn Statement, especially in light of future Foreign Office funding commitments made at COP27. The proportion of spending will only be restored from 0.5 to 0.7% once the Government is not borrowing for day-to-day spending and debt is falling.

Home Office

The UK Government had previously announced that the IR35 regime reforms were to be repealed from April next year. Chancellor Hunt announced in his statement on the 17 October that these repeals will no longer be going ahead, scrapping Kwarteng’s previous plans, meaning the current IR35 regime will stay. Staffing companies and end clients will continue to be liable for personal service company (PSC) contractor tax and, given HMRC’s likely refreshed focus on enforcement, should keep going with their procedures relating to determination of the IR35 tax status of PSCs. The UK seems likely to face a period of greater-than-expected economic uncertainty and this will put pressure on the revenues and profits of many involved in the use or supply of contingent workers, as well as potentially impacting the right to work checks for employees through the Identification Service Provider method to check passports of non-nationals. If the Government is serious about the status of this, Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement will address this.

Science and Technology

In an attempt to demonstrate a return back to serious financial management of the economy and the tax system, it is rumored that the Government may overhaul Research and Development (R&D) reliefs. R&D reliefs are used to support companies that work on innovative projects in science and technology and can be claimed by those that seek to research or develop an area in their field. The rumored overhaul could therefore impact the UK’s position as a global science and technology superpower.

Education and Skills

The Prime Minister so far vowed to protect only one area of spending, the NHS, meaning education could face much deeper cuts. This is put into context by research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies showing the costs faced by schools are by more than economy-wide inflation.

However, in keeping with the Conservative Government’s focus on skills over the last few years, it has been reported Sunak is preparing a radical set of reforms to transform the nation’s education system, including a British baccalaureate and a network of technical institutes to transform vocational training. This approach contrasts his predecessor Truss, who neglected to address skills in her plan for growth, and follows a recent Education Committee session on the International Baccalaureate. This builds on his leadership campaign pledges over the summer, which included requiring all pupils to continue to study core subjects like English and Maths.

His campaign pledges for education also covered other areas of education; to build on the Early Career Framework and improve professional development, establishing a new headteacher shadowing programme and giving the DfE a ‘new mandate to explore how more digital technology could be used in schools, building on the Oak National Academy, to provide teaching resources, and use AI to reduce workload outside of teaching time’. However, given the pressures of this budget and the heavy investment on skills, it is unlikely other parts of the sector will experience the same focus as the 16-19 landscape.

Defence

The Defence Secretary has denied threatening to resign if the Chancellor didn’t maintain the commitment to spend 3% of GDP on defence by 2030. At a meeting of the Defence Committee meeting, Ben Wallace said he would instead be fighting for as much money as he could get for defence. He described the target as an ‘aspiration’ and would later complete the roll back on the target, saying he would like there to be a real terms investment in defence but conceded he would like the country to meet the 3% target at ‘some stage’, with acknowledgement that there is a new Prime Minister and new Cabinet.

DCMS

With a plethora of competing issues to contend with this year, the Budget is unlikely to deliver any big announcements for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. A Whitehall source revealed earlier this month that ‘every department that tried to put bids in has been quite harshly rebuffed’ going on to specify: ‘If DCMS was asking about arts funding or whatever, that has been rebuffed’.

The sector has faced other funding woes of late; DCMS recently ordered Arts Council England to postpone its new three-year funding commitment to arts organisations, although it has since been announced that there will be £446m per annum available for ACE’s 2023-26 Investment Programme.

This follows the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s most recent report, which found that urgent financial support is needed for the sector as many organisations are facing an ‘existential threat’ from the cost-of-living crisis. The report touched on the Government’s levelling up agenda, a manifesto commitment, by suggesting the Government neesd to tackle geographical funding imbalances for arts and culture. However, links to the levelling up agenda have been drawn out in recent DCMS funding announcements, with Greater Manchester; the West of England and Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly; Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire; Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire; Kent, Essex and East and West Sussex; and the North East of England all set to benefit from a new £17.5 million funding pot to help creative businesses expand their operations.

Whether indirectly or directly, arts organisations will need financial support if they are to survive the cost-of-living crisis this year, as many in the sector have pointed out.

Housing

With UK house prices falling at the sharpest rate in almost two years, the Government will be hoping the budget can stabilise the housing market. Many believe that the fate of market could determine the result of the next election.

Jeremy Hunt has reversed almost all the tax cuts set out in Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-Budget. One of the only two elements that was retained was the cut to stamp duty in England and Northern Ireland. (Scotland and Wales have their own property purchase tax regimes). This means that the SDLT nil-rate band – the threshold below which Stamp Duty does not need to be paid – will be doubled from £125,000 to £250,000. First-time buyers, who currently do not pay SDLT on the first £300,000 on homes costing up to £500,000, will see the nil-rate band extended to £425,000 on homes costing up to £625,000.

During the summer leadership election, Sunak committed to tackling the problem of land banking, where housebuilders delay construction on sites earmarked for development in order to drive up property prices. He vowed to look at a new levy with the aim of boosting the number of new homes being built.

On retrofitting, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) and its Chairman Lord Deben wrote to Jeremy Hunt, stressing the need for urgent action on decarbonising buildings, through measures like loft and cavity insulation, and through a heat pump rollout. He wrote ‘The next two years should be a period for a concerted push to improve rates of loft and cavity wall insulation, draught-proofing and installing modern tools to manage energy use (such as smart thermostats, thermostatic radiator controls and smart meters)’.

Friends of the Earth head of policy Mike Childs said ‘Fixing the UK’s heat leaking homes will cut energy bills, help keep people warm, boost energy security and slash carbon emissions. The Chancellor must recognise this in next week’s Autumn Statement by committing to investing at least £5bn annually on insulation over the coming years.’

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

CIPR and Taylor Bennett Foundation launch reverse mentoring scheme

CIPR and Taylor Bennett Foundation launch BME Reverse Mentoring scheme

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and Taylor Bennett Foundation have launched the PR industry’s first BME Reverse Mentoring Scheme. The scheme has been designed to educate senior PR industry leaders on the challenges practitioners from diverse communities face – it will run for over ten months and applications are now open.

CIPR x Taylor Bennett Foundation Reverse Mentoring Scheme

Those interested in taking part as either a mentor or mentee can find information on the scheme, criteria for application and how to sign up at the Taylor Bennett Foundation website. Applications close on 9 December 2022.

A successful pilot scheme paired senior leaders with Black, Asian and ethnic minority PR professional mentors to highlight the important role of inclusive cultures and allyship. Participants came from organisations including Netflix, Imperial College London, Google and Cardiff University Centre as well as agencies Four Communications, Cicero, Brands2Life and more.

The CIPR’s D&I Network chair and head of Healthcare Europe for 3 Monkeys Zeno said: ‘The BME Reverse Mentoring Scheme was created as we strongly believed that senior leaders needed to take responsibility for creating fairer, more diverse workplaces, but to do this they needed to appreciate the realities of being a person of colour in the UK PR industry.

‘Our pilot programme has shown that mentoring partnerships can result in valuable, honest conversations about the challenges, both personal and cultural, faced by those from minority backgrounds.

‘The scheme is not only building understanding but also shaping positive action. Mentees have already used their learnings to inform the D&I initiatives in their organisations to improve inclusiveness and representation. I’m excited to welcome mentor and mentee applications from those who are fully committed to making real DE&I change happen in the comms industry.’

Taylor Bennett Foundation CEO Melissa Lawrence said: ‘This programme has highlighted many positive things and we know the mentees can take what they have learnt to create a real lasting impact within their business. If you are a senior leader looking for thought-provoking conversations on the issues related to diversity in PR, then I encourage you to take part in this programme, to make a difference not just to your organisation but the industry.’

Apply to take part in the CIPR and Taylor Bennett Foundation BME Reverse Mentoring scheme here and find out more about the work of the foundation in this interview with CEO Melissa Lawrence as well as this accessmatters session.

For more on how much more the PR and comms industry needs to do on equity and inclusion, read our previous post on fair recruitment.

 

 

Media trends in November on ResponseSource

What are UK journalists writing about? Media trends for November

Did you know that it is just 47 days until Christmas? The festive season seems to have snuck up on us this year but journalists and media organisations have been planning their Christmas content since August. The ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service has seen a steady increase in festive-themed requests over the last few months – here is a deep dive into what exactly the UK media were researching in October and are writing about now.

Sign up for the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service to start receiving requests from the UK media straight to your inbox.

The Journalist Enquiry Service enables the media to ask for exactly what they want from PRs, and around 17% of those submitting requests in October used the word ‘Christmas’. Particularly popular phrases were ‘Christmas gift guide’, of which there were 7%, and ‘advent calendars’, which made up just over 2%. These demands are only going to increase throughout November and probably into the first few weeks of December too, giving ample opportunity to get products out to the press for review and write-ups.

Keyword phrases for October

However, Christmas isn’t just about the presents. Food and drink is a massive part of the day and as a category on the service it saw a 5.5% rise from last month and was the second most popular category of enquiry for journalists. There were numerous Christmas requests within this and enquiry summaries varied from ‘Looking to hear about and sample the best non-alcoholic spirits for Christmas’ to ‘Looking to speak to a chef/foodie on what Christmas dinner items you can cook in the air fryer’.

The media is also finding different angles to cover the festive season including Christmas decorations. Consumer magazines banked plenty of responses from PRs with ‘Best Christmas and ‘Christmas hallway decorating ideas’ requests.

The other trend around Christmas requests in October came from both sustainable and low-cost viewpoints due to the cost-of-living crisis.

This ‘environmental angle got plenty of help for its journalist and the consumer title they write for:

‘I’m looking for suggestions for having a greener Christmas – from the most eco-friendly tree, gift-wrap and decorations (and recycling them afterwards) to sustainable gifts that will really make a difference.’

While this high-profile national press website wanted to connect with those planning Christmas on a budget:

‘Urgently seeking to speak to people who may be cutting back on Christmas this year amid cost-of-living crisis – whether that’s having a smaller budget for presents, cutting back on buying new decorations, having a smaller Christmas dinner with family, etc.’

The cost-of-living angle has been a big focus for the last few months – around 3% of all requests from journalists used this key phrase. Breaking this down further, 44% of those enquiries have come from the National Newspaper/Current Affairs media type. This has included titles such as The I paper, the Daily Express, Metro and The Guardian.

JES Keywords by media type

National press journalists have tended to focus more on getting experts and case studies to talk about issues such as the energy price cap, rising interest rates and the impact on certain industries such as the food sector. This has resulted in categories like Manufacturing, Engineering & Energy increasing by 23% compared to September’s flurry of requests.

Cost-of-living reporting is big among journalists writing for consumer media – 20% of requests used this key phrase, sending enquiries for more information, advice and tips on how to save money or reduce costs in the home. The Home & Garden category has seen an increase (6%) in use by journalists since September.
Radio and television have also been busy covering the crisis and made up 12% of requests in October. These tended to be more for personal case studies and secure location/venues to film at. 5 News and ITV News were among those broadcasters.

‘We are looking for a restaurant/takeaway affected by the cost-of-living crisis for a filming opportunity tomorrow. Especially interested in businesses which tend to use a lot of energy in the kitchen such as working with large ovens or fryers.’

The political instability in October had a major effect on the property market with mortgage rates rising rapidly – as a result, 2% of all journalist enquiries in October contained the keyword ‘property’. It was an even spread among the media types, with 36% coming from Consumer Media, 34% from National Newspaper/Current Affairs and 22% from Trade/Business/Professional media. Requests varied from seeking mortgage/property experts to case studies of first-time buyers to information on whether house prices would crash next year.

The Journalist Enquiry Service as a whole for October was used predominately by Consumer Media (35%) followed by National Newspaper/Current Affairs (24%) and then Trade/Business/Professional Media (18%). Staff journalists make up just over a half of users, at 55%, with freelance journalists back at 24%. Enquiries are predominately for a Spokesperson or Expert (35%) with Information for an Article at 24%, Review Products just behind on 22% and then Personal Case Study on 10%. Six of the top ten outlets using the service are national press.

November is likely to see Christmas requests increase even further while the cost-of-living crisis continues to be topical and should prove popular again with the Manufacturing, Engineering & Energy category as well as Personal Finance and Business & Finance. Charity sector PRs could be in demand in the next few weeks with Movember and Alcohol Awareness Week from 15 to 21 November. The ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service team also expect to see a significant amount of requests around Black Friday (25 November) which should see a spike for the Retail & Fashion category.

Want to receive requests like these from journalists writing about your topics of interest and expertise? Check out these 6 reasons to stop searching #JournoRequest and start using the Journalist Enquiry Service.

The Good PR Pitching Guide

The Good Pitching Guide for PRs

Bad news first: there is no one set of rules for successful pitching into the UK media.

The good news: most journalists are very open and upfront about the kind of pitches they are interested in receiving from PRs.

Here are seven very specific requests, tips and ‘more please’s from journalists featured in our Vuelio Media Bulletin – take note on how to give good pitch to journalists writing about general lifestyle topics, science, health, sport, disability, inequality, psychology and more.

How to pitch to Angela Malin, editor-in-chief of About Time Magazine and They Started It podcaster

‘Email me! Always. With a succinct subject line. Please don’t call me, it freaks me out. And only WhatsApp in an emergency (is there ever really an emergency in lifestyle journalism?).’

Read the full interview with Angelica on her topics of interest and what went into her book ‘Unattached: Essays on Singlehood’.

Punteha van Terheyden, Lacuna Voices editor and freelance journalist

‘Please email me directly. And if I’m not on your subscriber list for real life case studies and press releases (women’s interest, health, legal, relationships, etc.), please add me! You can see my portfolio of articles on my website.’

Read the full interview for even more pitching tips from Punteha, author of ‘The 10-Point Pitching Plan’.

Lydia Wilkins, freelance journalist and podcaster with Conscious Being magazine

‘The best way to get in touch with a story or other opportunities is to not email me, but to wait for specific callouts that I post on Twitter.

‘My inbox is… messy at the best of times, and things get lost, technology being technology. Twitter means I can reply as quickly as I can.’

Read the full interview for Lydia’s thoughts on diversity in journalism and inclusivity in storytelling as well as information on her book ‘The Autism Friendly Cook Book’.

Henry Gee, Nature’s senior editor, biology

‘You can contact me through my book website. My agent is Jill Grinberg at Jill Grinberg Literary Management – you can email her through the same web page.’

Read the full interview for more on Henry’s experiences throughout his 30 years in science publishing as well as information on his book ‘A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth’.

Dr Josephine Perry, Cycling Weekly features writer, freelance journalist and sports and performance psychologist

‘I love getting story ideas or great case studies. I’m always looking for interesting things happening in sport, high performance or psychology. Any books on high performance or those written by athletes are great to receive for my website review section. Email me, or find me tweeting (far too much) @josephineperry.’

Read the full interview for advice on being successful in all your endeavours (including pitching to the media) as Dr Josephine talks about her book ‘The Ten Pillars of Success: Secret Strategies of High Achievers’.

Saba Salman, Community Living editor and freelance journalist

‘I’m interested in reporting the experiences and talking to people we rarely hear from, like someone who has a profound disability, or their family, or health and care support staff. I’m also interested in covering the stories of people for whom the cost-of-living might be harsher because they face multiple barriers or disadvantage, for example, due to race and disability.’

Read the full interview to find out more about Saba’s reporting of the cost-of-living crisis and disability issues for outlets including The Guardian, The Independent and Byline Times.

Sophie Smith Galer, senior news reporter for VICE

‘I’ll be honest – it is very rare that my stories come from press releases. But if you have something connected to gender violence, health misinformation, online extremism or the climate crisis and it’s about something going on in Europe, the Middle East or Africa you can email me.’

Read the full interview for how Sophia utilises TikTok as a reporting and sourcing tool and her book ‘Losing It: Sex Education for the 21st Century’.

Find out more about all of these journalists with the Vuelio Media Database and keep up with movements across the UK media by signing up to the twice-weekly Media Bulletin for PRs and journalists.

Even more tips on pitching to the UK media can be found in our white paper ‘How to Pitch to Journalists’ – download it here.

Crisis in the NHS Workforce: Government and Stakeholder Responses.

Crisis in the NHS workforce: Government and stakeholder responses

Winter is always a challenging period for the NHS, but this year may prove particularly difficult with patient backlogs at an all-time high and services stretched to the breaking point.

In addition to this, the sector is potentially set to experience an unprecedented wave of industrial action, with the Royal College of Nurses having just concluded a ballot for strike action of its 300,000 members for the first time in its 106-year history, after rejecting a below inflation pay offer by the Government earlier this year. The BMA estimates that because of inflation, doctors have had a 26% real terms pay-cut over the past decade and junior doctors are preparing for a ballot of members in early January in a call for pay restoration. UNISON, Unite and the GMB are all balloting members working across the healthcare sector; including porters, cleaners, paramedics, ambulance drivers and health care assistants.

These developments are not completely unexpected; earlier this year after hearing evidence from professionals across the sector, the Health and Social Care Select Committee concluded that ‘the national health service and social care sector are facing the greatest work force crisis in history’.

What are the underlying causes of the workforce crisis and what are politicians pledging to do in response?

The chronic workforce shortages within the NHS have more than one cause. For example, the impact of Brexit cannot be underestimated, as the number of healthcare staff immigrating from EU countries has plummeted. The NHS has always relied heavily on immigration and to an extent, gaps in the workforce have been plugged by professionals coming from outside the EU. However, there are still an estimated 132,000 unfilled vacancies which are placing an increasing strain on overstretched services.

In response to the crisis, the Government has promised to recruit 50,000 extra nurses by 2024, yet new analysis by the Kings fund suggests that while they are on track to meet their targets, demand for nurses is still far outstripping supply. The problem is that nurses and other healthcare professionals are leaving the NHS at roughly the same rate they are being recruited, recent research by the Nuffield trust suggests. Furthermore, the nurses who do leave are often more senior, leaving the work force lacking in clinical skills and experience.

Labour has remained evasive about its position on the strikes. Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting has said that industrial action would ‘certainly not’ be ‘in the best interest of patients, and it’s not in the interest of the NHS’, and refused to commit to nurse’s demands for above inflation pay rises. However, he also said he sympathised with NHS workers going on strike and said that ‘staff feel [that] their back are against the wall and they no longer have any choice’. Streeting has also pledged that Labour will ‘train a new generation of doctors, nurses and midwives to treat patients on time again’ paid for by abolishing non-dom tax status.

Stakeholders warn that a narrow focus on recruitment fails to address the underlying cause of the crisis and that in order to save the NHS, the Government must take measures to improve staff retainment. Chronic under-staffing creates a vicious cycle, as it causes existing staff to be forced to work unpaid overtime, and therefore more prone to burnout. The Health and Social Care Committee recommended a radical review of staff working conditions in order to prevent workers leaving; proposing measures such as flexible working options, basic staff facilities provided at hospitals childcare arrangements and, most crucially, an above inflation pay rise.

Tackling the immense challenges the NHS faces will require serious long-term planning, and yet the 15-year NHS Workforce Strategy – promised under former Health Secretary Sajid Javid – shows little sign of being published. Saffron Cowdrey, chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts across the country, urged the new Health Secretary to prioritise ‘tackling severe workforce shortages with a long-term, fully costed and funded national plan to secure for the NHS the staff it desperately needs…without which, patients and staff will continue to suffer’.

Following Rishi Sunak’s election as Prime Minister, Steve Barclay has been reappointed Secretary of Health and Social Care – after being out of the role for just one month during Liz Truss’s brief time in premiership. Barclay responded to topical questions about workforce shortages in the House of Commons on Tuesday, promising to boost recruitment ‘across the clinical workforce – whether we are talking about dentistry, nursing, social care or doctors’. He refused to comment further on questions about pensions or the long-term workforce plan, and we will likely not hear more fleshed-out policy announcements until after the Autumn Budget on 17 November.

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

How to support your staff during the cost-of-living crisis

How to support your staff throughout the cost-of-living crisis

This is a guest post from Laura Oliphant, CEO of Stand, on what companies can be doing during the cost of living crisis.

Any help given to staff during situations like Covid and the cost-of-living crisis needs to be part of a positive and genuine work culture. As we enter the tougher winter months and energy and food prices soar, companies need to ramp up their employee support, going beyond free drinks and gift vouchers. Support has to be meaningful – nothing lands as badly as a token gesture, or support not awarded fairly across the business.

At Stand we aim to support our team from the day they start work with us, but as the cost of living continues to rise, we recognised more was needed. We decided to give a one-off payment to our staff. £800 split across two payments in October and January 2023 for those earning up to £30,000, and £500 for those earning over £30,000. Feedback on the payment was universally well received, particularly because it was announced months before government support was confirmed.

Alongside financial help, we introduced a number of smaller gestures in the office, including increased fruit and snacks, and additional breakfast supplies.

But support for teams must go beyond one-off gestures. We are constantly challenging ourselves to come up with new ways to show our team they are valued. We understand life can be tough, especially during times like Covid. After three lockdowns and other restrictions of the pandemic, we wanted to give our team better balance at work. Initially, we trialled a nine-day fortnight where every two weeks, everyone at Stand had an off day to spend how they wish. This has now been adapted into a 1pm Friday finish where we are encouraging our team to start their weekend early, or use the afternoon to do something creative or good for their wellbeing.

Wellbeing is particularly important for us at Stand. In addition to our annual £250 wellbeing allowance, we have trained mental health first aiders, free counselling and discounted gym membership and equipment through our private health cover. Everyone has a day off on their birthday, 2.5 volunteering days, creative time off to seek inspiration and the chance to take a sabbatical after three years of service.

The most important advice I can give alongside consistency and fairness, is introducing support and benefits that are co-created. Listen to feedback and try to read the room so you introduce support before people say they need help. But also have realistic expectations. Having a positive culture, a strong suite of benefits and giving extra support is not a silver bullet to recruitment and staff retention, but it is the right thing to do.

For more on the cost-of-living crisis and its impact on the PR and communications industries and their audiences, download our white paper Communicating the cost-of-living crisis… A guide for charities and the third sector.  

Digital PR with Vuelio

4 tips for mastering digital PR

PR has changed a lot since the early days of clippings books, printed features lists and heavy media directories either weighing down office shelves or stacked up under desks.

If you are very early in your PR career, you might not know what any of those very 80s/90s extremely cumbersome things even are – and lucky for you, you don’t have to. We are now firmly in the era of digital PR, so here is advice from Connective3’s guide to digital PR to help you navigate this Brave New World and nail it, too.

Download the full Digital PR Starter Pack from Connective3.

1) Learn from the best

The wonderful thing about working in the creative industries is that inspiration can come from anywhere – but industry-based inspo is particularly useful.

Keep up with big news happening in the wider PR, marketing, comms and media industry by signing up for newsletters from outlets like PRWeek, Campaign, The Drum and Vuelio to make sure you are always in the loop.

Want extra insight from industry leaders? Some extra advice from us – check out these 10 Top UK PR Blogs regularly sharing takes on new campaigns from big brands, as well as emerging trends you need to be aware of. And even digital PRs can benefit from more traditional publication formats – here are the best books for PR professionals to read.

2) Brainstorm

Blank pieces of paper, empty whiteboards and the open expectant faces of colleagues and clients – terrifying and not exactly conducive to creative thinking and ideation.

Connective3 recommend breaking down your brief before diving headlong into brainstorming. Remember at school when teachers would recommend reading all of the questions before starting your answer? Same thing here – decide where to start by reading over the key information first and keep your ‘why’ at the centre of your mind. Remember that no idea is ‘bad’ and try different approaches – writing, talking, different team combinations and session formats.

3) Download some data

Data can not only back up the points you are looking to hit in campaigns or content but can also help during the planning and post-campaign measurement phase.

Connective3 has suggestions for data sources you can tap including the Office for National Statistics (ONS), Freedom of Information Requests (FOIs) and YouGov while we can also recommend Media Monitoring (we happen to have that) to see how different media channels are reporting on your topics of interest. Social listening tools like Pulsar can also track the online conversations of your intended audiences.

4) Newsjack

With advice from industry greats, knowledge of what is happening in the wider industry, good ideas and decent data, it is time to find a hook for your story. Newsjacking, also known as reactive PR, is a useful skill for connecting your message to an issue already in the minds of the public and being covered by the media.

The Digital PR Starter Pack has a full list of Dos and Don’ts to take note of before you start newsjacking, but the basics just happen to be the building blocks of PR.

Back in the analogue days, much was done with press releases and/or the offering of expertise. Digitalisation has not changed this as a PR approach, especially for newsjacking.
Ready a calendar of events and awareness days happening throughout the year that campaigns can be pinned to. Alongside your calendar, prepare press releases with useful hooks and relevant links to the news you are hitching your story to as well as information journalists, broadcasters and influencers will need when reporting. Finally, ensure you share your releases with those who will find them useful – a media database can help.

Expertise is a valuable commodity for the media – in addition to the trusty press release, there are other online options for offering it out. Services like the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service enable PRs to connect with journalists asking for expert comment in specific niches, with no need for dragging out those dusty media directories of old.

Check out more advice from Connective3 in the Digital PR Starter Pack

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak Summer Policy Pledges

What can we expect from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak? Summer’s policy pledges

Rishi Sunak has officially become Prime Minister after being invited to form a Government by King Charles. He did not make any policy pledges during the four-day contest, give any speeches or media interviews which means that his unsuccessful battle against Liz Truss to replace Boris Johnson over the summer remains the best indication of his policies. Below you can find the main policy pledges made during the summer:

Tax

Sunak said he would not cut taxes until inflation is under control [BBC News]

As Chancellor, he raised National Insurance by 1.25p in the pound, a policy he defended throughout the campaign as necessary to fund health spending [BBC News]

Sunak also announced plans to cut the basic rate of income tax from 20% to 16% by 2029 in what he described as the largest cut to income tax in three decades. He said ‘it is a radical vision but it is also a realistic one’ [Bloomberg]

He has repeatedly said he would prioritise bringing down inflation before cutting taxes if in the role of PM. He has said he would introduce more targeted support for households, and has promised to reduce VAT on domestic energy bills from 5% to zero and to cut 3p off income tax by 2029 [BBC News]

Sunak planned to scrap VAT on energy bills. He was planning to implement a temporary measure to save the average household £160 [Sky News]

Health

Sunak planned to eliminate NHS one-year waiting times by September 2024 and bring down overall numbers by 2023. As part of a number of measures, he is promising to offer more diagnostic services such as MRI and CT scans in repurposed empty high street shops [BBC News]

He pledged to fine patients who miss GP appointments £10 [Sky News]

He pledged to reform dentists’ NHS contract, and ringfence the annual £3bn NHS dentistry budget [BBC News]

Education

Sunak wanted to introduce a ‘British Baccalaureate’ that would see students study maths and English beyond GCSE, in a bid to follow the model of other countries where maths must be studied until 18. Expressing his belief that the current A-level curriculum is too narrow and does not prepare young people for future employment, he also said he would create a ‘Russell Group’ of technical colleges to provide an alternative to universities [The Telegraph]

He pledged to set up a multibillion-pound science research programme, following the exclusion of British scientists from EU funding. He said that he would create a British version of Horizon as a row continues with Brussels over access to the EU’s £80bn funding programme [The Times]

He highlighted the risks China potentially poses, saying he will close all 30 of China’s Confucius Institutes in the UK [Sky News

Welfare State

Sunak previously promised to be ‘much tougher’ on how the UK’s benefits system works as Prime Minister, suggesting that he would force unemployed claimants to take jobs when they become available. He said that this would help businesses which are currently struggling to fill staff vacancies [The Telegraph]

Brexit

Sunak said he would task a Brexit minister, and a new Brexit Delivery Department, with reviewing all 2,400 EU laws transferred over to the UK statute book after the UK’s exit from the bloc as well as prioritising business tax cuts [inews]

He expressed support for going ahead with the Northern Ireland Protocol, but said that the legislation will take a long time to come into force [Belfast Telegraph]

Climate

Sunak has been accused of undermining the Government’s climate policy after he vowed to boost the production of oil and gas in the North Sea. Sunak said as Prime Minister, he would immediately order a new licensing round for oil and gas drilling permits, with a further round from 2024. Climate campaigners said that the proposals would go against the legal target of cutting emissions to zero by 2050 and is inconsistent with Sunak’s plan to act on climate change [Independent]

Transport

Sunak has pledged to ban new all-lane smart motorways and clamp down on rip-off rogue private parking fines. The former Chancellor said he would ‘end the war on motorists’ by reviewing low-traffic neighbourhoods that shut off streets to general traffic, arguing that ‘many local residents are currently concerned that LTNs have led to difficulties for emergency vehicles such as ambulances’ [The i paper]

Scotland

The incoming Prime Minister has promised to increase scrutiny of the Scottish Government. Sunak has indicated that Scottish civil servants would face greater scrutiny from Westminster, with UK ministers required to be more visible in Scotland [Sky News]

He has also previously promised to do more to oppose Scottish nationalism. He promised Conservative members he would oppose the SNP with ‘an argument that speaks to people’s hearts’ if elected as PM [The Independent]

Civil Service

Sunak has committed to cutting Civil Service jobs as part of plans to address a ‘bloated post-Covid state’. The plans include cutting the ‘back office’ headcount by around 90,000 and changing pay rewards from being based on longevity to performance, including requiring senior civil servants to spend a year working outside of Whitehall if they want promotion. The plans would also see the return of the suspended fast-stream graduate recruitment programme and championing the use of apprenticeships [Evening Standard]

The former Chancellor suggested senior civil servants should have to spend a year in the private sector as a corrective to Whitehall groupthink. Under this policy, people running Government departments would be made to spend time outside the civil service, or at least outside of London [The Times]

Other

Sunak has vowed to slash the number of empty shops on high streets [Sky News]

He vowed to increase police powers to tackle anti-social behaviour in public spaces [Sky News]

He also previously announced plans to reform the Prevent anti-terror programme and has included ‘vilification of the UK’ as part of his definition of extremist views. He said that ‘There is no more important duty for a Prime Minister than keeping our country and our people safe’ but came under some criticism for allegedly misunderstanding the Prevent programme’s aims, conflating them with tackling non-violent extremism [The Independent]

Everyone has a podcast

Everyone has a podcast these days: 4 ways to be heard

While it feels like everybody has a podcast – you may already have at least three on the go in your spare time – there is no denying it is a valuable format. Podcasting is predicted to be a $4 billion industry by 2024, making it a platform with plenty of potential for brands and businesses with something to say. 

Considering starting a podcast, or want to steer a client in the right direction/away from producing something only their friends and family will listen to? Take advice from the experts. Here are tips from media professionals at brands including The Times, BBC Good Food and Women’s Running shared during this year’s Publisher Podcast Summit.

1) Be genuine

Unlike super-slick radio programming, podcasting should be more direct and friendly with listeners. Build a genuine bond with your community – or a useful parasocial relationship with the consumers you want to engage – with authenticity.

One instant way of doing this is to utilise existing camaraderie on your team, like Women’s Running editor Esther Newman, who found success and extra listeners by teaming up with co-host Holly Taylor for her podcast.

‘Your audiences will quickly become invested in you as people if they enjoy the conversations that you’re having,’ is Esther’s advice.

2) Branch out and do something different

Yes, there are many podcasts out there already. What gets attention in a noisy space is something you already know a lot about from your comms experience – telling a story in a new way.

A podcast is ‘a really powerful storytelling tool’ believes Big Issue’s future generations editor Laura Kelly. For Laura, the format provides a way to ‘reach out to marginalised voices’ and tell stories your audience may not have heard before, or provide a new twist on something they are familiar with. A podcast also allows for a deeper investigation and investment in a story:

‘You need a strong story with twists and turns,’ advises The Times and The Sunday Times podcast producer Will Roe. ‘It needs a decent central figure as well as an idea of the wider theme – what does this story actually mean?’

3) Turn off the business brain for a while

Building a following for a podcast is the same as building a community around any other form of content – too business-focused and you can lose the interest of those who took the time to tune in.

Approach a podcast as ‘a full package thing, rather than just a promotional tool to get your voice out there,’ says Wondery Media producer Theodora Louloudis.

The extra time and effort needed to produce a podcast can be a labour of love – an opportunity to flex muscles you may not otherwise get the opportunity to use during regular comms work.

4) Remember the audience out there

Recording a podcast can be an opportunity to showcase other communications skills and snap up new audiences… or a fast-track to self-indulgence and boredom for those listening in. Producing podcasts in isolation frequently leads to friendship groups thinking their conversations about cinema are of interest to those other than them. Frequently, they are wrong.

To avoid this pitfall, steer clear of giving the microphone to any team members who are overly keen to talk over others (we all know someone like that) and consider adding in plenty of guest speakers and interviews with people in your industry.

Alongside respected thought leaders, showcase those people ‘whose story has not been told, or who has got something really interesting to say that you might not have heard before,’ advises Janine Ratcliffe, deputy editor of olive magazine and BBC Good Food.

There are plenty of interesting voices to showcase out there and topics to cover, all while further building your brand in the background…

For advice on the benefits and pitfalls of parasocial relationships in communications and marketing, check out our overview of how big brands are doing it.

Not sure if podcasting or radio is the direction you want to go in for your brand and clients? Read this guest post from Broadcast Revolution’s Phil Caplin ‘Is radio or podcast better for your campaign?

Stakeholder Management

A guide to the benefits of Stakeholder Management

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

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

Press office management

1. Managing your press office

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

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

Vuelio Enquiries

2. Managing your messaging

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

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

Issues management

3. Shared banks of stakeholders

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

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

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

PR CRM

4. Crisis management

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

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

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

Stakeholder management

5. Reporting back

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

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

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

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

Where is Liz Truss?

Where is Liz Truss and what will happen now?

At the time of writing Liz Truss has been Prime Minister for just under seven weeks and it has been a rollercoaster seven weeks. She finds herself in a situation where she is fighting for her job and the prospects of the Conservative Party.

Truss has lost one of her closest allies in Kwasi Kwarteng and has appointed Jeremy Hunt as her Chancellor. Hunt’s first major action was to undo almost everything Truss and Kwarteng had laid out in their mini-budget. She has now lost Suella Braverman as Home Secretary which granted is not for political reasons, however Braverman did not shy away from policy concerns in her resignation letter.

Truss now has two people in four of the great offices of state she did not feel warranted a seat at the Cabinet table. It is well documented that Shapps has been plotting against Liz Truss and has been openly criticising her, so it is hard to see this as anything other than a move to get influential MPs in the camp.

This is all before the situation that emerged on Wednesday night. Labour put forward the ‘Ban on Fracking for Shale Gas Bill’ and it has probably had more than the desired effect. The vote was classed as a confidence measure with a three-line whip meaning there could be severe consequences for those who don’t support the Government in the vote. Conservative MPs asked during the debate whether they would lose the whip to which the minister responding, Graham Stuart then declared it was not a confidence measure.

There have now been allegations of Conservative MPs being physically manhandled into the Government’s voting lobby. And the confusion around whether the Chief Whip Wendy Morton and the deputy Chief Whip Craig Whittaker had resigned. Downing Street did eventually clarify that they are both still in post but if such a statement is having to be put out it does not appear like things are running smoothly. What will happen to the MPs who did not vote with the Government and had no reason not to will be interesting and presents a real dilemma for Truss. Does she let MPs not give their support to the Government on a three-line whip and nothing happens, or does she act and risk upsetting even more of her follow Conservative MPs?

Truss will now likely be hoping she can get to the 31st of October without incident. The presentation of the Medium-Term Fiscal Plan is the milestone she will be working towards with the hope it can provide her with a much-needed boost. Hunt has had a somewhat steadying influence since becoming Chancellor, however decisions still need to be made. We saw evidence of this with the Prime Minister committing to the triple lock for pensions after her new Chancellor did not. This is either a sign the Prime Minister and the Chancellor are not completely in sync, or it was an effort by Truss to box her new Chancellor in. It is worth noting that the triple lock was a manifesto commitment so she may be able to get some support with sticking to this. However it is difficult to see how what matches up with her stance on fracking.

It is already quite likely that Truss could be in a place she cannot recover from. There are a few things that could happen from here onwards.

The most likely scenario seems that Truss loses more support and is asked to go and a short leadership contest takes place. And the leader waits until time runs out (January 2025), when there must be an election.

A new Prime Minister could be put in place, and they want to call a general election, which would seem appropriate (but not required) considering we would be on the third Prime Minister of this term. It is also possible a new leader gains some popularity and wants to seize upon it.

The Government seem unlikely to lose a formal confidence motion considering they have a majority of 71 and given current polling Conservative MPs are unlikely to vote in favour of something that sees them lose their jobs.

With more Conservative MPs calling for the Prime Minister to resign at the time of writing, we may have either Penny Mordaunt, Jeremy Hunt, Rishi Sunak, Ben Wallace or even Boris Johnson as Prime Minister before we know it.

3 reasons to get started with Web 3.0

Do robot-dogs dream of the metaverse? 3 reasons to get started with Web 3.0

What technology is disrupting the creative industries and shaping the future of the media right now? If all the excited industry reporting and write-ups devoted to it is to be believed, a major disruptor and area of opportunity is the metaverse, or Web 3.0.

As with the emergence of Web 2.0 before it, the media and the PR sector are busy investing, ignoring or desperately trying to understand Web 3.0 and whether it is actually useful for campaigns and comms. Should you be investing time, resources and brain space to the metaverse?

According to Deloitte’s chief disruptor Ed Greig, backed up by his robot dog Chip, the answer is yes. During the session ‘The tech disrupting the future of media: Metaverse, VR and more…’ for Media Tel’s The Future of Media, Greig shared why proven capabilities with the metaverse are must-haves for communicators.

The metaverse is the attention grabber du jour

After demonstrating Chip the robot dog’s ability to traverse stairs backwards, Greig admitted the robot’s links to the subject of his panel talk with host Omar Oakes were ‘tenuous’ at best but that ‘a robot is a useful tool for getting attention’. Capabilities with the metaverse and Web 3.0 is the same – a way to get attention.

The metaverse is a regularly-covered topic in industry reads like PRWeek, Campaign, The Drum and our own PR Pulse. It is a subject of great skepticism, suspicion and excitement. Your clients or brand mates will likely have heard something about it, or if they have not, it is a shiny new potential to tempt them with. Particularly if they want to engage Gen Z or the even younger Gen Alpha.

Web 3.0 is another way to connect and engage your audience

‘A greater degree of human connection is very powerful’ said Greig – when all the hyperbole about emerging technologies is stripped away, the metaverse is, in essence, another ‘opportunity for people to interact with others and be themselves’. Authentic and immersive interaction – what is more powerful than that for a communicator?

‘The metaverse is another space for people to connect with their passions,’ Greig explained.

For those struggling with the visuals they have seen that may not look too impressive, Web 3.0 can be thought of as a more visual version of the chatrooms of Web 2.0 or the WhatsApp groups you have with your friends and family:

‘It is the internet, you know – just more immersive. If anyone says anything more complicated than that, they’re trying to sell you something. Or they’re bullshitting’.

‘The most useful way of preparing yourself for learning about Web 3.0 is to consider what you wish you would have known about Web 2.0 back in 2004. Just avoid making the same mistakes.’

Other industry greats are already doing it – but it is not too late to get started

Brands that have already successfully invested in and entered the metaverse include Nike – ‘Their approach was good and they are testing and learning – not afraid to kill something if it is not working,’ said Greig – and ITV. No boats have been missed, however – if you watched the recent Meta announcement of legs and feet in its own Web 3.0 platform, you know there is still far to go with its development…

‘We are always in a test and learn phase,’ said Greig when talking about the creative industry’s relationship with technology.

‘For my clients, Web 3.0 is less a solution, but instead a test, a new channel. Is your organisation adaptable for this new channel? If not, you are going to struggle. This is about honing your organisation to be able to experiment.

‘Fall in love with the problem and not the solution. Engaging with and understanding the metaverse is about educating yourself and staying agile; being able to pivot when you need to. This is the really important thing about Web 3.0 – an opportunity to stay agile.’

‘The tools communicators use are always changing, but the human need they address is the same. Think big, start small and test often’.

For a primer on Web 3.0, read our previous post on the subject How to communicate in the metaverse… Also, what is the metaverse?

Want to engage Gen Z? Download our white paper The PR Guide to communicating with Generation Z.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holding social media to account

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Journalism as a protected class

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

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

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

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