Why young people are better equipped for inflation

Amid a predicted two-year economic crisis, the financial future is often painted black for young Britons. However, with the rise of ‘fin-fluencers’ and a strong selection of youth-branded fintech platforms to explore, our research suggests that both millenials and Gen Z are on track to be the most financially literate generations ever.

Given that nearly half of under 40s spend their entire monthly income on living costs, it is easy to presume that wealth opportunities are scarce for young people. In 2017, Australian real estate mogul Tim Gurner went viral across international news media for saying that millenials should ‘stop buying avocado toast’ if they want to afford a house. This reference took the world by storm, also transcending into a long-standing part of meme culture. Ever since, millennials have been associated with little savings, careless spending and lavish lifestyle choices — but this could not be further from the truth.

The number of UK millennial and Gen Z millionaires has hit a record high, doubling to 2,000 in 2021 from 1,000 the previous year, shows research by Bowmore Wealth Group. The growth in high-earning millennials comes in contrast to the decrease in high-earning Baby Boomers, who have seen a five-year low in declaring an income between £150,000 – £1m.

While the assets of older generations were hard hit throughout the pandemic, 60% of Gen Z subjects reported they used the COVID-19 lockdown to become more financially confident than they were beforehand. Complemented by a keen interest in financial education, they’re also saving earlier for retirement than their predecessors and spending less money on non-necessities.

 

Top Topics: Financial Perspectives of Young People

Over the past three months, several positive observations have been made of Britain’s youth that forecast an optimistic financial future. While Gen Z already have an average £1,000 in their savings, seven out of 10 millennials are regularly setting money aside, with an average of £174 put away per month. As part of Paypal’s Gen Z Financial Wellness Study, 80% of 1,000 18-25 year olds said they felt confident they’ll achieve their financial goals, with over half (55%) believing they will reach them within the next six years.

 

The money-saving generation

Generation X (1965-1980) households spend around £126.39 per week on ‘lifestyle products’ such as new smartphones and weekend trips – more than any other generation. On the other hand, a growing body of international research has shown that young people are far from financially excessive.

As part of  The Millenial Money Survey, which looked at the life goals of over 4,000 UK adults aged 35 or younger, 68% said they have firm plans to save more this year than last year. An additional 30% have saving strategies in place, including eating out less and cutting unnecessary spending such as takeaway coffees (or avocado toast).

‘The majority [of millennials] are far from a reckless generation. Most are sensible spenders who want to take more control over their money, despite a lack of formal financial education and income. They simply aspire to achieve what previous generations have enjoyed. Many only need to shift their money mind-set slightly to get their money working harder’ — Ross Duncton, Head of Marketing, BMO Global Asset Management

 

Side Hustles

Gen Z are also taking matters into their own hands to secure their financial future and source extra income, with half of them (51%) working a second job or side hustle – rising to 61% in London –  producing an extra £248 on average each month. Scottish young adults lead in the UK for this entrepreneurial spirit (at 83%), while South East England comes out at the bottom, at 50%.

What are the top side hustles for UK Gen Z?

  • Making and selling items or food (16%)
  • Content creation and gaming (14%)
  • Looking after children or animals (10%)
  • Putting money into shares/stocks (10%)

 

Digital Finances

The digitised financial landscape is massive. Online banking is now an outdated concept next to NFTs and a diverse array of fintech apps:

 

Most Popular Digital Finance Services by Generation

Sources: Cybercrew, Divide Buy, This is Money, Gemini

Among the most popular digital finance services, fintech banking apps like Revolut, Nude and Lumio have the strongest ratio of usage across all demographics. In fact, the UK has a 71% adoption rate of FinTech companies, much higher than the global average of 64%.

Nevertheless, Gen Z and millenials are the consistently higher share of users overall throughout the digital economy. Millenials currently hold more online banking services than any other generation, while the number of Brits with digital-only accounts could go up to 23 million in the next five years.

Cash in hand is becoming a thing of the past for Gen Z, with 58% using money-transfer services and two in five getting paid via mobile apps for their side-hustle. As discussion evolves around the world about becoming a ‘cashless society’ — a term used 1,381 times by national financial and general news sources since March 1 — 51% of millenials have a positive attitude towards the idea. Moreover, they are readily preparing by educating themselves in new and innovative financial opportunities.

Investments and Cryptocurrency

Of course, one of the most prolific examples of financial innovation over the last decade is cryptocurrency. While the average investor is just 28 on UK app Plum, Gen Zers are also investment buffs, with 54% holding some kind of investment already. 86% of teens are interested in investing, and those that do not say they do not feel confident or their parents do not know how to get started. Furthermore, 56% of Gen Z adults state they are including cryptocurrency or NFTs as part of their retirement strategy.

On the other hand, in a 2021 UK study with cryptocurrency firm Gemini, 57% of over 55s expressed no interest at all. The risks of loss involved may be a strong causational factor behind this, particularly due to strong international news coverage of such dangers. Since May 1, the term ‘crash’ has been used 461 times by leading online news sources in the UK, whereas positive sentiment towards the topic is scarce.

Despite their controversial interest in digital currencies, a large-scale study with Standard Life retirement scheme, 53% of Gen Zers and 51% of Millennials reported an interest in sustainable investing, compared to only 44% among Gen Xers and 36% among Baby Boomers.

 

Financial Literacy and Fin-fluencers

While traditional banks have offered youth-focused educational schemes for some time, the short and snappy format of the ‘fin-fluencer’ (financial influencer) is driving a stronger interest for financial literacy in younger generations than any other method.

Finance trends regularly go viral, from money-saving challenges to crypto and investment. For example, Dogecoin value increased by 40% after going viral on Tiktok. There is a huge 989.3 million views attributed to the #finance hashtag on TikTok and thousands of ‘financial’ series and content posts that have Gen Z coming back for more. The Financial Diet, The Financial Burrito and Millenial Money Man are just a few of these ‘fin-fluencers’ to make a living from sharing such information with their young audiences.

Considering the UK fintech Tally has reported that Tiktok ads are over 300% more effective than Instagram, many fintech brands are spotting opportunities to specifically represent and target Gen Z and millennials. UK fintech Plum (an AI ‘assistant’ helping you save money) is reaping the benefits of early entry to TikTok, seeing strong growth in the 25-34 age group following a series of strong fin-fluencer partnerships. Plum’s debut was well-timed: COVID meant more people were on TikTok, but also led to a 180% increase in investment as people naturally thought about saving more money.

 

‘Millennials are often named as the generation of no income, no job, no assets. Our data proves that for our investors at least, this stereotype is incorrect, as they have shown themselves to be savvy with their smart investment tactics during the pandemic.’Victor Trokoudes, CEO & co-founder of Plum

As part of a recent Barclaycard study, young people from the UK, US and Germany were asked what role their favourite brands played in their lives and what they expected from the Barclaycard brand.

It was revealed that they prize ‘good quality’ and ‘trendiness’ above all else, followed by ‘good value’, ‘good design’ and ‘nostalgia’. Good design finds the sweet spot between function and aesthetic, while also streamlined to appeal to short, eight-second attention spans. Nude is a leading example to this regard, demonstrating both ease of use, accessibility and fun visuals for all user types. Another example is Quirk, a UK-based savings app that factors in your financial personality and spending habits as a tool to budget more wisely.

 

The Digital Solution

While the cost of living is rapidly increasing, millennials and Gen Zers have less to lose and more passion to learn. Our research shows they have responded to inflation with an immense amount of financial maturity and are taking on the responsibilities required to prevent economic destruction in their future.

They are more financially transparent than any other generation and are finding ways to profit from sharing financial education to the masses, which can only be an incentive for further learning. They possess the strongest share of investments in both crypto and the stock market, not to mention they’re being guided on where to put their earnings through fintech, who are now building apps both functionally and aesthetically catered to their generations.

While there is no doubt that most of us are facing major setbacks throughout the financial crisis, our research suggests that this does not have to be a long-term representation of the UK economy. Despite being some of the most negatively impacted, young people are already demonstrating their resilience and confident ability to find innovative and optimistic solutions.

Want to know more about this data or how media insights can support your PR and communications? Find out more.

How to brand yourself

How to build your personal brand

As part of our Access Intelligence Women In Work inclusion group, we were lucky to have time with FutureBricks founder Arya Taware and Airbus head of public affairs Katie Roscoe, who shared how they have built their own personal brands alongside building their careers.

Bringing your personality and values into your work can make your job so much more than just the way you earn money. Here is advice from Arya and Katie on how to build your own personal brand for career success and a more rewarding work life.

1) With authenticity

‘I try to be as authentic as I can. Especially in the age of social media, there is pressure to show perfection and only happy moments,’ said Arya.

‘Authenticity is really key,’ agreed Katie.

‘Your mask will quickly slip if you aren’t being yourself in a professional setting. For me, it’s important to know what you stand for, and to find out if it comes across to other people – are you presenting something that others aren’t really getting?’

2) With passion for what you do

Not everybody can work in a sector they have a real connection with as a career. But if you really love what you do, or at least aspects of it, that will shine through in your interactions and inform what you come to be known for.

Arya had always wanted to be an entrepreneur, eventually launching FutureBricks at 22-years-old, straight out of university, having not worked for anybody else:

‘My first employment was my own business. At the start it was really hard, as a sole female founder, and in an industry that is male-dominated, and older – deals are still occasionally done in pubs.

‘What I do, entrepreneurship, is all about psychological endurance. What kept me going was inner self-belief. I knew that all I needed was one yes.’

While Katie’s choice of career didn’t come with a clear path, she followed her passions:

‘I knew from a young age I wanted to be in Westminster somehow – I basically watched “Yes, Prime Minister” and thought that sounded really exciting! A key moment for me was knowing when to make the jump in my career – make the most of your opportunities, enjoy your job, but know when to move into something new.

‘Don’t just jump for money, if you can help it. Stop and think, if you’ve got the opportunity – is the move right for you? Don’t jump just because you’re unhappy. Sometimes that’s not a choice you may have, but if you’re lucky enough to have the option to wait for the right thing? That’s an amazing thing to do.’

3) With connections

Both Arya and Katie see the benefits of building a network on LinkedIn but use it in very different ways. As an entrepreneur, Arya uses it to build her personal brand alongside her business; for Katie, it is a way to amplify her work with Airbus.

‘LinkedIn is a good professional platform,’ said Arya. ‘You connect with people there and then meet them in real life, or vice versa. It allows us to reach people we otherwise wouldn’t reach (unless we learn to clone ourselves…). It’s a powerful tool and how we use it is completely at our disposal.’

‘I do really like that you can connect with people so simply now,’ added Katie. ‘I have made connections through it that have really helped me.’

4) With mentoring

Katie has benefitted from mentorship in her career, and recommends it for the learning that can happen on both sides:
‘Start a relationship with someone that you know, as a part of the work you do already, or even encourage your organisation to set up a programme. You can reverse-mentor as well – a senior person on the team connecting with a more junior person. We all have different skills and experiences to share. As you build your external network, the right people become more apparent. Always keep it in the back of your mind.’

Not everyone will be with you for the full journey – ‘I look at life as a long train,’ shared Arya.

‘Some people will come with you from point A to C, and then they’ll head off. And then other people are with you longer. I don’t believe in the singular; it’s always collective, for me’.

5) With confidence in your capabilities

‘My practical advice about having to speak up at events and roundtables, when I was more ‘green’, was to speak first or get in early if you’re feeling nervous,’ shared Katie. ‘When watching a panel, I’d stick my hand up straight away, and then I’d feel a bit calmer.

‘The industry I’m in can be hard to get to grips with – to start with, I used to speak to prove that I knew what I was talking about and that I should be there. As you get more experience, you should assume that you’re in the meeting/event for a good reason.

‘Speak when it will add value to a conversation, not just to show what you’re speaking about.’

6) With integrity

‘As a society, we’re trying to evolve, but we’re not always where we want to be,’ said Arya.

‘On an individual level, how we combat that is by challenging, communicating, and showing. Sometimes things aren’t worth a fight, sometimes you’ve got to stand your ground. The elimination of subconscious bias and stereotypes might not happen in our lifetime, but it’s up to us how we change perceptions’.

‘It’s having the strength to call things out and challenge,’ agreed Katie.

‘It’s on us, as we move through the world. Where you feel empowered to do so, challenge. That can have its own risks if you’re very junior, so lean on others around you who may be able to give you advice and guidance, too’.

Cost of Living: How the top 6 British supermarkets are communicating inflation

As costs continue to soar in energy, fuel and produce, the cost of groceries is a strong concern for 76% of the UK. According to the Food Standards Agency (FSA), the number of people skipping meals or using food banks has risen from around one in ten in March 2021, to nearly one in six this March — with a strong upsurge in middle class families needing support. Research suggests this uncertainty will remain for at least the next three years.

In a bid to maintain sales, supermarkets across the UK have had to rethink their internal and external communications, with value and support now at the forefront.

With inflation now at a 40-year high of 9.1%, the average shopper will spend £380 more on groceries in 2022. Prices are as much as 5.9% higher in April than a year ago, the biggest increase since December 2011. As a result, the volume of goods being sold in the UK is now falling — with food purchases the number one culprit.

For a second consecutive month the GfK consumer confidence barometer has set a record low, falling 41% in June. Consumer sentiment is dropping rapidly as a result of tighter budgets – for example, price limits are being set at checkouts and the switch to cheaper brands and stores is at an all-time high. Convenience stores are also performing far better than big stores, as consumers search for bargains and value.

Top speakers

Overall,  Sainsbury’s CEO Simon Roberts had the most coverage across national print and online news in relation to cost of living commentary. Among the most popular topics was Roberts’ statement that financial pressures ‘will only intensify’ this year, which was featured in 148 print and online publications related to national news, grocery sales, agriculture and stock market updates. Of this total, 84% featured both Roberts’ name and quotation in the headline.

On the other hand, while ASDA’s Lord Stuart Rose’s volume was lower overall, his statements created stronger spikes in volume and a wider distribution rate. For example, he was quoted 341 times between 22-30 June for reporting that ASDA shoppers are ‘setting £30 limits at the till’ and ‘asking staff to put shopping back’ after that point.

Rose has also held a strong political voice in recent months, calling out Rishi Sunak’s attempts to solve the crisis. Between May-July, he was quoted 55 times by national newspapers after calling Sunak’s £15bn cost of living package ‘not enough’ in a Radio 4 interview.

Wage gap across UK supermarkets

Among the top speakers, all but Giles Hurley (Aldi) and Ryan McDonnell (Lidl) had negative coverage related to wage raises in their top-performing stories. On 6 June, Simon Roberts’ raise of £3.8m was covered by The Guardian and later syndicated a further 214 times by local and national news sources.

Ken Murphy also received a negative salary-related spike on 13 May due to his 2.4% increased pay package of £4.74m — 224 times higher than Tesco staff. On the other hand, Clare Grainger, group people director at Morrisons, was quoted 29 times in retail and grocery-focused magazines as ‘pleased to be maintaining our position as the highest paying UK national supermarket.’ This lead to 19 headline mentions between 8-12 June referring to Morrisons as the best wage-related supermarket.

Negative sentiment towards Sainsbury’s wages spiked for a second time between 27 June – 7 July when senior management rejected a call by ShareAction, HSBC and other investors to become a ‘Real Living Wage’ employer for all company staff. This topic was covered 179 times throughout July, during which ALDI received a peak in positive coverage for increasing staff pay a second time this year.

Since 1 May, all of Sainsbury’s major competitors have received positive coverage tied to wage increases, which has fed into the rapidly growing trend of consumer-led price comparison reports. Overall, wage ratios contributed to overall share of sentiment:

 

UK supermarkets: national share of voice   (1 May – 1 Aug 2022)

In a comparison of the top six supermarkets most often used by Britons, Tesco had the strongest share of voice among UK-wide online news sources in response to the cost-of-living crisis. While the majority was neutral in sentiment, it also received the highest rates of positive and negative coverage. Whereas 86% of neutral coverage was a passing mention, 64% of positive coverage was a dedicated article towards free kids’ meals over the summer period. This incentive has been a competitive theme over the July period,  with Tesco’s move following Asda’s £1 kids’ meal charge earlier in July.

Aside from wage-related backlash, negative coverage has also had consistent ties to the increase of low-cost meal prices. The term ‘shrinkflation’ has been trending since 13 May – the term for charging the same or more for reduced-size products. For example, Tesco was accused over this period of ‘secretly’ shrinking the size of ready meals while keeping them the same price.

Similarly, Sainsbury’s received controversial press for its commitment to banning ‘HFSS’ deals by October. Just one week after debates around this decision, Morrisons received a spike in national positive coverage for opting to delay the ban to support cost of living.

Key campaigns: cost of living

Media discussion around inflation has swiftly evolved since February, as the cost of living in the UK increases alongside Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Supermarkets and high-profile brands are rapidly changing their messaging to reflect value and support.

For example, John Lewis Partnership transition from its popular ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ to a focus on ‘Quality and Value’ demonstrates a direct response to consumer needs given rising inflation.

For marketers and marketing to really demonstrate the value it can add, it must go beyond campaigns to the broader actions that sit behind the campaigns that make the difference.

This is evident in that while Aldi and Lidl have the lowest number of inflation-related campaigns, they benefited from a surge in new customers, with sales increasing at both retailers over the last 12 weeks. Clearly, consistently low prices have had a stronger focus than diverse marketing messages for consumers who prioritise value for money.

Similarly, Tesco has added 100 products to its Low Everyday Prices range over the past month. Ken Murphy was quoted 38 times in national online headlines in a statement around the brand’s ‘laser-focus on value’ and plans to be the last of the big UK supermarkets to pass on inflation costs to customers.

Low-cost kids’ meals

As part of the Government’s Help for Households scheme, major retailers across the UK are offering discounts and support over the summer holidays to help families through the cost of living crisis. Tesco, ASDA and Sainsbury’s have signed up  through the summer holidays, into the back-to-school season and through to Christmas. Tesco and ASDA received a strong ratio of high-reaching national coverage in relation to this scheme.

Aldi Price Match

The ever-popular Aldi price-match program has also been a strong and consistent theme over the past four months. Sainsbury’s performed particularly well due to its ’doubling-down’ campaign, which matched a further 250 high-volume fresh products to the same prices as its German competitor. This headline created a strong surge of positive sentiment for Sainsbury’s in the middle of June. On the other hand, Tesco had a spike in negative sentiment in the middle of May following the decision to pull at least 18 products from its Aldi price-match programme.

As the heated competition to beat Aldi’s low costs evolves in the media, ASDA reaped the benefits of introducing its new and tactful Home Bargains price-match programme. Not only was this ASDA’s highest performing campaign, but it also set it apart from its competitors in the trending fight to make ‘essentials’ accessible to all families.

ASDA also introduced its ‘Just Essentials’ line and an Essential Living Hub, providing essential guidance and promotions to those who need it. Its press release was shared 57 times by local and regional media following the launch in early May, all of which provided a link directly to the hub in the body of the article.

 Changes and cuts to marketing

Despite warnings to the contrary, advertising budgets are often the first thing to get cut during an economic downturn. For example, while he did not indicate how much of this cost reduction would come out of marketing spend, Simon Roberts has said the retailer’s focus at this moment is to get its messages to customers, which has involved increasing its use of digital channels and decrease in other areas of traditional messaging.

In an article with Marketing Week, Roberts said Sainsbury’s was ‘using digital way more extensively than we were before’ and ‘really using every channel to make sure we get our value, innovation and quality messages to customers’.

On the other hand, Tesco’s CEO Ken Murphy also reported to Marketing Week that marketing is crucial ‘now more than ever’ and that it is not a cost ‘but more as an investment’ in prioritising crucial cost-of-living communications with customers.

 

 

Demonstrating value and empathy

As inflation continues to induce concern for families across the UK, it is evident that the highest-performing supermarkets in terms of sales and positive coverage are those that continue to drive value and empathy in their communications.

While Aldi and Lidl have the competitive edge of consistently low prices, reporter Chris Kelly commented that this won’t be enough in the long-term and the need to continue driving value-focused messaging is imperative:

‘Don’t assume that your only response to this inflationary moment has to be to cut prices. Think about ways in which you can add value as well, and that will then help you over the long run’, he said.

These doctrines apply to staff as much as customers — which was made evident when Sainsbury’s took a nationwide hit in the media for rejecting to pay all staff the national living wage. Similarly, CEOs saw a spike in negative coverage that questioned their annual salaries against the rising cost of essential household items.

As for who will prevail in the financial crisis, it appears to be those who continue to make care, value and empathy the undercurrent of every decision — from price cuts and loyalty incentives to staff wellness and changes in overall brand voice.

Aldi’s low-cost reputation means it can afford to run fewer campaigns and maintain a highly competitive status. However, other supermarkets that have previously been associated with luxury brands like Sainsbury’s ‘Taste the Difference’ are seeing a clear upsurge in sales and positive media coverage when prioritising diverse loyalty campaigns and the accessibility of household essentials.

Want to know more about this data or how media insights can support your PR and communications? Find out more.

Financial services and markets

Overview of the Financial Services and Markets Bill 2022-23

Since its inclusion in the Queen’s Speech, many have been waiting for the Financial Services and Markets Bill 2022-23. The Bill was introduced to Parliament the day after the Chancellor’s Mansion House speech on the hottest day ever recorded in the UK.

While the first reading of the Bill was largely a procedural matter, it did give everyone a chance to look through the 335 pages of the draft Bill as well as the extensive explanatory notes. The draft legislation is the biggest set of financial services reforms in over a decade. It includes changes to the framework within which financial services regulators operate, reform of the regime for wholesale capital markets and addresses important issues affecting communities across the country, including fraud and access to cash.

Despite being described by the Chancellor as only being part of the Government’s financial and professional services agenda, the Bill covers a wide range of issues. Here is what has been included in the Bill:

Future Regulatory Framework

As expected, the Bill implements the outcomes of the Future Regulatory Framework Review that will repeal hundreds of pieces of retained EU law. As the Chancellor put it: ‘UK financial regulation will once again be decided in the United Kingdom, for the United Kingdom, by the UK’s expert, independent regulators’. The Government expects that it will take a number of years to complete; the Bill therefore provides HM Treasury with a power to make targeted modifications to retained EU law during this transitional period.

Through this process, the Bill will be delegating further rule-making powers to the UK regulators and will be giving the FCA and PRA a new, secondary objective: to facilitate growth and competitiveness. The Chancellor noted that by making it secondary they are giving ‘the regulators an unambiguous hierarchy of objectives with financial stability and consumer protection, prioritised’. The Bill also includes new measures to increase the regulators’ accountability and relationships with Government and stakeholders.

While there has been some speculation about powers allowing Ministers to intervene in regulators’ decisions ‘in the public interest’, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Nadim Zahawi confirmed in his Mansion House speech that such powers are not in the Bill but is something he is looking at. The sensitivity of this issue was highlighted during Governor of the Bank of England Andrew Bailey’s own Mansion House speech when he emphasised the importance of central bank independence.

Wholesale Markets and Prospectus Regime

The Bill will bring reforms to the Prospectus Regime, as recommended by Lord Hill, and will be taking forward the outcomes of the Wholesale Capital Markets review.

Reforming Solvency II

A key purpose of the Bill, as mentioned in the Queen’s Speech, is that it will enable the UK to proceed with its plans to reform Solvency II and move towards a Solvency UK regime.

Access to cash

The FCA will be granted new powers over the UK’s largest banks and building societies, to ensure that cash withdrawal and deposit facilities are available in communities across the country. To support the FCA, the Government will set out its expectations for a reasonable travel distance when depositing and withdrawing cash.

Additionally, the Bill aims to address the risk of a reduction in wholesale cash distributors meaning the failure of any one could create systemic risk by providing Bank of England with powers to oversee the wholesale cash industry.

APP Scams

The Chancellor confirmed in his Mansion House speech that the Bill contains powers that ‘enables regulators to require that victims of push payment scams are paid back’. The PSR ‘must prepare and publish a draft of a relevant requirement for reimbursement in such qualifying cases of payment orders as the Regulator considers should be eligible for reimbursement’.

In addition, in keeping with the overall theme of the Treasury taking the reigns of regulatory rulemaking, the Bill contains detailed new provisions on the accountability of the PSR, including empowering the Treasury to make recommendations to the PSR on (among other things) how to advance one or more of its payment systems objectives and exercise its regulatory functions.

Cryptoassets

The Bill contains provisions to amend the regulatory framework to support the adoption of cryptoassets including bringing stablecoins, where used as a means of payment, into the regulatory perimeter.

Financial promotion

The Bill amends section 21 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA) to implement the new regulatory framework for the approval of financial promotions. Only authorised persons who have applied for, and been given, permission by the FCA to do so will be able to approve financial promotions for unauthorised persons for the purposes of section 21.

Critical third parties

The Bill gives HM Treasury and the regulators powers to make rules to mitigate risks from critical third parties to the finance sector. The proposals are aimed at addressing the risks posed by a concentration in the provision of critical services by one third party to multiple firms.

Net zero emissions target

The Bill will add the need to contribute towards achieving compliance with the UK net zero emissions target set out in the Climate Change Act 2008 to the list of regulatory principles to be applied by both the PRA and the FCA.

Implementation of mutual recognition agreements

The Bill contains powers for HMT to make any changes necessary to domestic law to implement mutual recognition agreements the UK makes with third countries.

MPs will next consider the Bill at Second Reading on Wednesday 7 September 2022. Due to the size and detail of the Bill, Royal Assent is unlikely before 2023.

Conservative leadership race - housing and cost of living

Conservative Party leadership contest: Housing and the cost of living

As the Conservative leadership race heats up, with MPs from every side of the political divide making their allegiances and opinions known, here is an overview of candidates Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss on housing and the cost of living.

Rishi Sunak on the cost of living

Rishi Sunak has been accused of making a ‘screeching U-turn’ on tax cuts as he has vowed to scrap VAT on energy bills for a year if he becomes Prime Minister. Under his plan, the 5% rate on household energy would be scrapped for one year from October, if the price cap on bills rises above £3,000 for the typical household. Sunak said the ‘temporary and targeted’ measure would save average households £160 a year and would ensure people get ‘the support they need’, while also ‘bearing down on price pressures’.

Sunak had previously been resisting calls for immediate tax cuts, instead saying the nation needs ‘honesty and responsibility, not fairy tales’. He had pledged to service public debt and hold off on tax cuts until inflation is under control, presenting his position as ‘common-sense Thatcherism’. He has also committed to taking a ‘tough stance’ towards public sector pay and the need to avoid wage price spiral.

The former Chancellor has said he would continue increasing corporation tax from 19% to 25% next year, as well as creating incentives for businesses to invest through relaxing financial regulations and scrapping the Apprenticeship Levy.

Rishi Sunak on housing

Sunak has pledged to speed up building in cities and on brownfield sites and crack down on ‘landbanking’ by big developers. He has suggested he wants to see Government funding for affordable housing scaled back and more incentives put in place for developers.

During the environment hustings, Sunak was slightly more vocal about his green policy intentions. He said he would keep the 2050 net zero targets and would focus on improving the energy efficiency of the country’s housing stock, saying the UK has ‘the worst houses in Europe’. He pledged to look at launching a new energy efficiency scheme – hopefully more successful than the Green Homes Grant launched in 2020. He said the new scheme would concentrate on measures such as smart heating controls and cavity wall insulation.

Sunak has signed up to the Northern Research Group’s (NRG) pledges, which include a commitment to a new Minister for the North, more devolution, a levelling-up ‘formula’ to ensure ‘left behind’ places get the Government funding they need, and two new vocational colleges – ‘the vocational equivalent of Oxford and Cambridge’, dubbed ‘Voxbridge’. He has also vowed to scrap EU Solvency II rules to encourage investment into infrastructure.

After just one month in the role of Chancellor, Sunak delivered his first Spring Budget in March 2020, during which he announced a £12bn Affordable Homes Programme. It was welcomed by the sector as one of the largest settlements in years. A few weeks later, he announced a temporary change to Local Housing Allowance rates to cover the cheapest third of rents during the pandemic. He also decided to introduce a £20 a week uplift to Universal Credit.

During Robert Jenrick’s time as Housing Secretary (between 2019 and 2021), Sunak signed off on the £5bn Building Safety Fund, however, he later said the Treasury was unwilling to increase funding despite the significant bills being handed out to leaseholders. Sunak told Jenrick’s successor Michael Gove that the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities would have to step in and use their own budget if developers refused to pay for building safety remediation, rather than asking for more from the Treasury.

Liz Truss on the cost of living

Liz Truss has committed to £30bn of tax cuts and has said she would start implementing them ‘from day one’. She said she would cancel the planned 6% rise in corporation tax and during Monday night’s debate criticised Sunak’s plans to increase business taxes, arguing they would push the country into a recession.

Truss has also promised to cancel the National Insurance increase, which came into force in April this year. She said she would immediately bring in an emergency budget, arguing that it would alleviate the cost of living crisis. Truss has also pledged to hold a review of Government spending and believes the Government can and should borrow more. She has vowed to take a ‘tough stance’ on public sector pay and has highlighted the need to avoid wage price spiral. She said she would lift green levies on energy bills for two years.

Liz Truss on housing

The Foreign Secretary has pledged to amend the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill to scrap centralised ‘Stalinist’ housing targets and would make it simpler for developers to build on brownfield land in ‘opportunity areas’ by focusing on deregulation and tax incentives. These areas would be low tax zones and would have lower businesses rates and fewer planning restrictions in the aim of encouraging investment and development. She vowed to introduce zones in the North of England. As has Sunak, Truss has signed up to NRG pledges.

She is generally very pro-development, as can be seen in a video posted in 2019 in which she speaks about the need to build more homes. The same year she told the Mail on Sunday that one million homes should be built on the green belt around London and that villages should be allowed to expand by four or five houses a year without having to go through planning. She thinks the UK should ‘build up more’ in cities and has previously expressed her support for zonal planning – a system that would see permission granted automatically on sites that have been earmarked for development.

On net zero, Truss has said she would maintain the 2050 targets and would introduce a ‘temporary moratorium’ on green energy levies ‘to enable businesses and industry to thrive while looking at the best way of delivering net zero’. Green levies are an environmental charge added to energy bills, dubbed a ‘social and environmental obligation’ by Ofgem. The money goes towards supporting the installation of energy efficiency measures in lower-income or vulnerable households.

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

Cost of living crisis in the UK

Campaigning on the cost-of-living crisis: How can charities best communicate with Government and the media?

The cost-of-living crisis has been dominating news and politics since last year, but as the instability in the global economy is set to continue, charities must find innovative ways to continue engaging with parliamentarians and the media.

At a recent talk hosted by Prospect Magazine and Vuelio, panelists discussed what MPs and the media need from charities on this issue, and how charities of all sizes can build a voice in the saturated space of campaigns. The discussion, led by political editor Alan Rusbridger, aimed to share thoughts on stakeholder campaigning best practice in a crisis and the best way to share data to drive solutions to the cost-of-living crisis.

 

MP and Shadow Minister for Arts & Civil Society Barbara Keeley started off by noting the scale issues competing with the cost-of-living crisis. She said MPs have limited capacity to campaign on different issues and suggested they are driven to act by their constituent’s experiences. She suggested charities focus on providing real experiences as opposed to using mass template emails to engage with MPs, noting this would be key in issues around the cost-of-living crisis.

Lara Stanley, Campaigns & Public Affairs Manager at Citizens Advice, said that the charity holds a huge amount of data on the cost-of-living crisis through its community support work. This data-led approach helped for work with the Government during the pandemic because it enabled the charity to also provide ideas for what targeted support was necessary. She emphasised that good engagement doesn’t just flag the problem but offers solutions as well.

In keeping with the narrative around the use of data, Nicole Sykes, Policy & Communications Director for Pro-Bono Economics, said data can be a good tool to engage with media and politicians. However, she noted 50% of Conservative MPs are concerned about the quality of charity data, although it doesn’t stop them using it.

Sykes went on to note the demands on charities during the cost-of-living crisis, stating 40% of charities in the latest Pro-Bono Economics survey have said they will struggle with demand due to rising costs. She also said that keeping wages up with inflation would amount in a £3bn loss for the sector. In relation to engaging with parliamentarians, she said charities can be influential by aiding MPs in helping their constituents. Stanley noted there is better collaboration between charity groups, which enable effectiveness in communicating specific issues. She said this should be particularly beneficial to smaller and more diverse charities.

Dr Matthew Sowemimo, Head of Public Affairs and Social Policy at the Salvation Army, specified that messaging is key when engaging parliamentarians and civil servants on specific issues. He stated that sharp messages can help cut through the noise on social media. Providing insight through data is key; Sowemimo gave the example of the Trussell Trust showing that the initial roll out of Universal Credit was causing an increase in food bank usage. He thought providing local stories was particularly helpful for MPs in marginal seats, and suggested charities compile useful baseline data on the cost-of-living crisis before the recession sets in.

The talk concluded with a question-and-answer session with the audience. Panellists reiterated that the scale of the crisis can be tackled by cross-departmental work and suggested focussing on what non-fiscal asks could enable support. Barbara Keeley agreed that charities should be cautious about asking Government to make spending commitments, whilst others suggested charities should also consider the role local Government and regulators can play on this specific issue.

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

No PR budget? No problem

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

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

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

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

1) Be confident

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

2) Be straightforward

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

3) Be speedy

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

4) Be ready with images

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

5) Be generous with your expertise

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

6) Be realistic about responses

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

7) Be patient

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

8) Be reliable and responsive

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

9) Be regular with your activity

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

10) Be open to additional topics

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

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

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

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

City Hall Journalists

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

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

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

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

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

City Hall journos are a close-knit group

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

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

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

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

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

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

How PRs can work with those reporting from City Hall

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

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

The best part of working the City Hall patch?

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

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

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

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

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

What's next? The new generation of journalists

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4) To DM, or to not DM?

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

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

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

5) Respect their work/life dynamic

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

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

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

6) Media outreach: don’t make it awkward

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sustainable comms right from the start

4 practical steps for building sustainability into your PR

COP26 is long over, but sustainability and climate change are still very much on the agenda in comms, with Greenpeace protests at this year’s Cannes Lions festival gaining plenty of coverage alongside the big winners.

We recently caught up with Aura’s Laura Sutherland to talk about her approach to building sustainability into her work – here is extra advice on how to start your own journey towards sustainable PR that will make a difference.

1) Start with research

‘It would be silly of me to say there was anything ‘quick’ about sustainability as it is a long-term game,’ admitted Laura. ‘But there are things you can put into action right now, to help you get started:

– Read the UN Sustainable Development Goals and their actions
– Subscribe to sustainability podcasts and blogs
– Take the PRCA’s new half day course ‘How to Communicate about Climate Change Accurately and Effectively’ – this was a result of our work in the Strategy Group and in partnership with the Royal Meteorological Society
– Start to measure in terms of carbon footprint – the research shows that 59% of respondents don’t do carbon footprint measurement
– Advise! Have the confidence to advise on strategy and stop jumping on the bandwagon, greenwashing and help inform them of better ways
– Call out the bad stuff.

‘Or, give me a shout!’

2) Avoid the pitfalls of greenwashing

‘As mentioned above, jumping on the bandwagon and just spouting! As we know, brands love to add to the noise when there is something newsy happening. Don’t do it for the sake of it!

‘If there is a strategy and action plan to deliver, then the measurement and evaluation should speak for itself. Don’t let clients push back on research, strategy or evaluation. It’s not a nice to have!

‘Don’t be scared to get someone in to help you get started. Not everyone is an expert in all areas.’

3) Keep the conversation going

‘It should be added to board agendas, team meeting agendas and it should be a regular point for data collection and reporting. The more it’s built into our work, the more normal it will be to take action. I personally think it should be included in your CPD plans, too.

‘Hold workshops internally or with clients to explore the stakeholder audit and mapping, do some long-term planning and horizon scanning. Our work is not all about campaigns. Our work is about thinking about how we build relationships and trust with stakeholders. And please, don’t forget internal stakeholders! I’ve done a lot of work in internal communication in recent years and it’s been obvious that it’s been an after-thought and not integrated across the organisation. Integration is so important. That’s why a collaborative approach is essential.’

4) Bring your internal and external stakeholders onboard ASAP

‘There’s definitely an education piece to be done with internal stakeholders. Both the industry research and consumer research the Strategy Group carried out say that we’re not doing enough to fight the climate crisis and I think that’s the point. We need to start taking action. Action starts from within. Personal action which translates into our work and then filters out.

PWC’s 2021 ESG consumer report said that 83% of consumers think companies should be actively shaping ESG best practice, 91% of leaders believe their company has a responsibility to act on ESG and that 86% of employees prefer to support or work for companies that care about the same issues they do.

‘This is epic. It means people know it’s needed, but now, what we need more than anything, is ACTION. If not now, when?’

Read our full interview with Laura Sutherland on her launch of the Aura PR Synergy Framework and which brands are already putting in the work on sustainability, as well as more about the PRCA Climate Misinformation Group’s second annual report.

Want more on how to engage your stakeholders? Take a look at Vuelio’s Stakeholder Management solutions.

Laura Sutherland on sustainability in PR

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

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

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

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

What sparked the launch of the Synergy Framework?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PRCA

PR needs to lead on climate change, finds PRCA Climate Misinformation Strategy Group

The PRCA Climate Misinformation Strategy Group and Opinium have launched their second annual report, revealing PR’s important role in leading action on climate issues and the industry’s increasing confidence in the difference it can make.

The study of over 200 UK PR and communications professionals that took place in the six months following COP26 found that almost all (96%) were already advising clients and coworkers on climate change – a raise of 14% since last year.

Advising clients on climate change

On growing confidence to tackle climate-related issues and misinformation in their work, almost half said they’d encountered greenwashing, with 89% having pushed against false claims, and 57% having changed an organisation’s response.

Greenwashing

Other findings from the report include:

  • While almost all respondents (97%) said they have taken action to address the climate crisis, only 48% measure their carbon footprint
  • 71% of consumers say they would stop buying from a brand if they knew it had misled its customers on having a positive environmental impact
  • 57% of the general public do not know the outcome of COP26. A third (33%) felt the agreements made at the conference didn’t impact them.

Adding to that 48% of PR and comms people who don’t yet measure carbon footprints, only a quarter (24%) currently set science-based targets.

On information from the public included in the study, 31% believed poverty to be the most impactful issue, and only half (50%) saw the man-made climate crisis posing an ‘existential threat’ to the planet – highlighting the need for inclusive and relatable communications from PRs when covering these issues.

‘We have a responsibility to ensure any unethical communication or attempts are challenged,’ said PRCA Climate Misfinformation Strategy Group representative Laura Sutherland.

‘The call to action to industry is this: be more brave – learn about ESG, learn how to approach a difficult situation with your boss or your client, start setting your own agency targets and communicate the action you’re taking.

‘Let’s lead by example and be the change we want to see.’

Chief executive of Opinium James Endersby added:

‘With seven in 10 consumers saying they would stop buying from a brand if they knew it had misled its customers about having a positive environmental impact, it is more important than ever that PR and Communications professionals support, consult and walk hand-in-hand with their clients on their journey to being better forces of good for our planet.’

Read the full second annual report from the PRCA Climate Misinformation Strategy Group and Opinium and compare with results from the first study here.

For more on greenwashing and how PR can combat it, check out these lessons from CIPR’s 2021 conference Climate Change and the Role of PR featuring insight from Climate Group’s Luke Herbert, Plastic Planet UK’s Sian Sutherland and #EthicalHour’s Sian Conway.

Six statistics about generation Z

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

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

Download The PR guide to communicating with Gen Z

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

1. Play

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

2. Be social

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

3. Be quick and concise

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

4. Educate and empower

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

5. Collaborate

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

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

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

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

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

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

British Grand Prix 2022 F1

How F1 Driver Attitudes Evolved Ahead of the British Grand Prix

Last Sunday, Carlos Sainz scored his first Formula 1 win at the 2022 British Grand Prix, overcoming Oracle Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen, who lost his lead in the first few laps due to bodywork damage. Verstappen and Perez top the leaderboard and Oracle Red Bull Racing tops the constructors, which is reflected in media coverage as the team has also been the strongest competitor in overall media presence since F1 began in March.

In the month leading up to the GB race, pressure has grown on UK-based teams following heightened array of discriminatory language towards this year’s drivers. Piquet’s attack on Lewis Hamilton made national headlines in the final week of June, alongside the suspension of Red Bull’s Juri Vips due to racial slurs used on Twitch. Between 20 June and 4 July, ‘racism’ and ‘xenophobia’ were the third and fourth most popular search terms on an international scale in relation to Formula 1.

Overall, Oracle Red Bull received an 82% positive sentiment on all UK coverage between 1 June – 1 July. This is largely due to Verstappen’s current lead in the FIA Formula 1 Standings, alongside a selection of bespoke modifications on his vehicle ahead of the GB race. However, while the team’s victories have been greatly supported by positive attitudes across UK press, Verstappen’s personal relationship with the Piquet family ultimately created a spike in national negative coverage between 26 June – 5 July. Of the 1,106 print and online news sources that associated Verstappen with the racial attacks on Hamilton, 92% were negative in overall sentiment.

Commentary was also amplified around this time by the booing that took place over the race weekend, which Verstappen was quoted as calling a ‘bit of a problem’ but he still called the Silverstone Circuit a ‘great track and great atmosphere in general’ (AutoSport, 02.07.22).

Most Mentioned Drivers

 

While Sainz achieved victory at the British F1, Verstappen’s heightened media exposure has created the highest volume in both national press and UK-based automotive media since 1 June. Despite ongoing controversies, Verstappen’s consistent wins and crowd-pleasing car upgrades means he has maintained an overall 62% positive coverage sentiment over the past month. In addition, Sainz downplayed his win over Verstappen as ‘nothing special’, which has been quoted 159 times by UK-based F1 news sources since 3 July.

Between June 25 – July 2, Mercedes also received a spike in positive coverage as Hamilton teased significant improvements to their vehicle ahead of the GB race. Having won eight times in the same location, he referred to Silverstone as the ‘best track there is’, describing the corners as ‘hair-raising and just epic to drive’ (Sky Sports, 02.07.22). These statements were used 173 times between 20 June – 2 July, with the majority of coverage coming from online F1 sources like Planet F1.com and local/regional radio stations, such as Isle of Wight Radio.

Fan Expectations

While Verstappen has previously told AutoSport that it was ‘never straightforward’ to meet high fan expectations, Oracle Red Bull Racing’s modifications have received the strongest representation of positive international coverage since the start of June. This was complemented by commentary from former F1 driver Gerhard Berger, who claimed Oracle Red Bull Racing ‘knew they had a good car’ and were likely to drive at the front.

The most popular upgrade to receive attention across UK print, broadcast and online media was the ‘well thought-out slimming method’ that made the car nearly five pounds lighter than it was at the Canadian Grand Prix, worth an estimated 0.2 seconds per lap.

Following closely behind, Mercedes received the second-strongest volume of coverage on updates to their W13 car ahead of the British Grand Prix, including a ‘revised front suspension, sidepod vanes, floor, rear wings and bib wing tweaks’ (Auto Breaking News, 22.06.22). According to Motorsport.com, the team was ‘pushing to take a step forward in performance’ and ‘ease some of the bouncing that has blighted both Hamilton and Russel’s efforts’ so far this season.

Hamilton was quoted 84 times between 20 June – 1 July in calling these changes a ‘small step forwards’, while urging that Mercedes have ‘got to keep working’ in response to the issue. The Mirror called this an ‘optimistic British Grand Prix message’ and a ‘vow to fans’ in their headline, which was syndicated a further 28 times by local and regional online media.

Most Active Authors

Between 6 June – 6 July, Luke Chillingsworth has led the F1 conversation across UK media. His commentary on the progression of UK-based teams, as well as the fluctuating relationship between Mercedes and Oracle Red Bull Racing, has featured across 539 articles in national and regional online publications. Both Michelle Foster and George Dagless have also maintained high coverage volumes over the 30-day cycle, with Foster offering an array of high-reaching exclusive insights into how GB drivers were feeling days before the Silverstone race. In a prominent article with Planet F1, Foster wrote of George Russell’s belief that ‘Red Bull and Ferrari will be ahead’ but maintained ‘high hopes’ for Mercedes’ overall performance.

Amicable Attitudes and Short-Lived Sportsmanship

While the public remains averse to Verstappen’s defensive relationship with Piquet, his performance throughout the F1 Grand Prix has greatly supported the continued positive media presence of Oracle Red Bull Racing. As crowds booed Verstappen on 2 July, Mercedes received a direct positive spike in sentiment as Hamilton asked fans to stop.

As the multi-layered conflict evolves, coverage for McLaren, Alpine, Aston Martin and Williams remains much lower, with the strongest coverage and highest reaching sources coming from automotive and lifestyle publications. So long as Verstappen remains in the lead, it is likely that the overall F1 focus will remain in favour of Oracle Red Bull Racing as well as the correlative impact on both Hamilton and Mercedes.

Want to know more about this data or how media insights can support your PR and communications? Find out more.

finding happiness at work

Mental wellbeing in PR: How to look after yourself and your team

‘People drive the future of businesses – it’s so important for them to feel supported and secure,’ says Emma Loizidis, head of people at Fox Agency.

PR is a particularly high-stress sector; even more so since the start of the pandemic – looking after yourself, and those working with you, has perhaps never been more important.

For how to protect yourself from burn out, what companies can do to support employees, and getting a fully-representative (and fully-supported and empowered) team together right from the start of the recruitment stage, read on for advice from Emma.

Individual burn out – what can be done to prevent it?

‘I think it is super important to recognise that if employees have a healthy work/life balance, employers will get the best out of them. When this balance starts to drop or even disappear, mistakes can start to appear, employees struggle and it really isn’t healthy. If employees are burning out, then HR teams and managers need to look at the reasons why:

• Is the team underresourced? Do we need to hire?
• Is the employee in need of further development? Are they happy in the role?

‘Once we address these potential issues, we can then create some actions: that might mean hiring extra people, offering further learning and development improving our wellbeing offerings – EAP services, meditation/fitness classes, etc.’.

What initiatives should comms companies put in place to support their workforce?

‘Being consistently open and transparent with all employees is key, especially as we move more towards a remote way of working – constantly asking our employees (through regular surveys and stay interviews) what is and isn’t working for them, what are their main drivers to come to work every day, and making sure everyone has a clear succession plan which will keep them motivated, excited and challenged.’

How can recruitment teams ensure processes are fair to attract diverse talent right from the start?

‘There are many ways to achieve this. Fair and diverse hiring should be mindful of not only job discrimination laws, but also the idea that hiring should be based on merit, skills and experience and not related to a candidate’s ethnicity, gender, religion, or any other quality unrelated to their skills and experience. Recruiters can take the following actions to help them achieve this goal:

• Write inclusive job adverts using language that doesn’t encourage conscious bias
• Practice blind hiring
• Create a clear selection criteria
• Include diverse hiring panels
• Assess the relevant skills and competencies
• Have a fair background checking process

‘I think it’s also important not to rely on job adverts as a way of attracting talent. Getting out into the community, building relationships with Universities, young enterprises, digital academies, etc. will really allow recruiters to tap into diverse talent.’

Is a People function right for every organisation?

‘When a PR/Comms business reaches a headcount of 40+, this is definitely the right time to implement a People function. It’s very common for most businesses to think, at this stage, a recruiter or talent manager is the next important hire. However, it’s much smarter to hire a head of people to help embed structure early on to prepare the business for scalability.

‘The industry itself is extremely competitive, with employees getting headhunted left, right and centre! It’s therefore so important to create a culture and environment that will encourage our employees to stay and develop within their roles. Ultimately, our people drive the future of the business and it’s so important for them to feel supported and secure.’

For more on building diverse teams from the start of your recruitment journey, check out our previous post How can PR and comms teams make recruitment fair? 

Catch up on our interview with with Emma Loizidis to find out more about her work with Fox Agency. 

Emma Loizidis

PR Interview with Emma Loizidis, head of people for Fox Agency

Feeling supported and empowered at work has historically been lacking a little in the creative industries, particularly in the fast-paced and high-stress environs of PR.

Joining the push to make the public relations industry a kinder and more mindful sector to work in is Emma Loizidis, who has recently taken on the role of head of people for Fox Agency.

Read on for Emma’s thoughts on the importance of people power: ‘Ultimately, people drive the future of business – it’s so important for them to feel supported and secure’.

What are you most looking forward to getting stuck into as Fox Agency’s head of people?
My plan is to establish and build the people function for the business by implementing strategies to achieve its ambitious growth plans, while at the same time ensuring that the team is happy, supported, fulfilled and working together towards a shared goal.

I’m already bowled over by the culture of the business! And since I’ve joined, the amazing and talented people that make everything happen. I was looking for an opportunity where I could make a real impact on the growth and success of an exciting and thriving business, while having the creative freedom to run with my ideas.

How did the pandemic impact your work, and do you think the changes brought about by COVID-19 are here to stay?
My role completely changed during and after the pandemic. I was so used to working in an office full-time, being surrounded by people and having a constant stream of traffic at my desk. To really be effective within HR, I believe it’s all about really getting to know people. Inside and out. Building rapport and trust as well as being the most approachable person within the business.

Business culture was always built around the office – hosting face-to-face events, decorating the office, small talk while queuing for a coffee. This has all changed now as we move into a hybrid/remote way of working. I’ve had to find new ways to engage with employees, how to create a presence, and how to onboard new hires from afar. I do think these changes are here to stay and I see it as a huge positive! We can now attract amazing talent not only nationally but also globally, and teams have proved that we can still collaborate and connect no matter where we are based.

How do you keep up to date with current trends in HR and employee support – what media do you seek out?
HR changes ALL the time! And I think it’s really important. Not only for my own job satisfaction, but to ensure our employees benefit from as much support and engagement as possible, to keep abreast of current trends and changes.

I’ve learnt over time that my learning style is definitely not through studying and reading, so the best way for me to keep in touch is through podcasts, workshops and modern HR-related blogs. When I walk my dog every morning at 6am, I listen to the CIPD podcast and HR Works. I try to brush up on my employment law knowledge by attending talks and workshops hosted by law firms and employment law lawyers as well as subscribing to cool and modern blogs such as Officevibe, Workable and Snack Nation.

Why is PR/Comms such a stressful, yet special, industry, in your opinion?
I think when working in this industry, the nature of the job is to be constantly spinning multiple plates, particularly in the agency world. Employees will be working towards many deadlines often for several different clients, all of whom work very differently and have different expectations. They’re having to adapt their communication style on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis and it can sometimes feel like they’re chasing their tail!

I also think to work in this industry, employees really take pride in the work they deliver. This can often lead to a perfectionist mentality which is great, however, this can also be quite exhausting. Ultimately, passion is key! People work in this industry to express their creativity, gain a sense of purpose and to have a positive impact. This is why it is so special.

For more on looking after the mental wellbeing of the people in public relations, watch our accessmatters session with KDP Coaching & Consulting’s Katie Phillips on preventing burnout.

Social listening introduction

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

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

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

What is social listening?

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

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

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

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

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

Is social listening… legal?

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

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

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

Is social media monitoring the same as social listening?

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

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

What does social listening offer?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What journalists want: requests from media interviews on ResponseSource

What journalists want: Requests from ResponseSource media interviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rwanda deportation policy

Overview of the Rwanda deportation policy

On the 14 of April the British Government announced collaboration with Rwanda for a new Migration and Economic Development Partnership to redress the imbalance between illegal and legal migration routes.

This collaboration means those travelling to the UK from Ukraine via problematic and illegal methods and routes will be considered for relocation to Rwanda, whereby their asylum claim can be processed. However, the plan also includes consideration for any person who has arrived in the UK in this way since the 1 of January 2022. Under no circumstance will they be given the opportunity to return to the UK at any stage – rather, if rejected, they will be offered the chance to stay in Rwanda, or to return to their home country.

Under this plan, those considered for relocation will be provided with the appropriate legal advice on how to go forward, as well as a seemingly generous support package, including safe accommodation, food, healthcare provision and amenities. To further aid the legal advice provided, those seeking asylum will have full access to translators in order to support court decisions and appeals. This strategic alliance forms part of a suite of measures under the New Plan for Immigration. Sky News has compared the plan to immigration policies in Australia, Israel and Denmark.

The UK is providing substantial investment to boost the development of Rwanda, including jobs, skills and opportunities to benefit both migrants and host communities. This includes an initial investment of £120 million as part of a new Economic Transformation and Integration Fund. However, that doesn’t explain why Rwanda is the chosen one.

Rwanda is a State Party to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and the seven core UN Human Rights Conventions. It is also recognised globally for its record on welcoming and integrating migrants, including over 500 people evacuated from Libya under the EU’s Emergency Transit Mechanism working in partnership with the UN Refugee Agency, and 30,000 Burundian refugees.

This plan has apparent advantages. The agreement supports those in immediate and serious need of peace and safety, as well as providing stability and the structural opportunity and means to rebuild a safer life. Further, it disrupts the opportunity for organised gang crime, predominantly crimes relating to smuggling. This also has the potential to enhance the UK’s relationship with Rwanda and has the potential to enhance the economic prosperity within the Rwandan region.

Despite everything being compliant with our legal and international obligations, over 160 organisations have urged the UK government to scrap this so-called ‘cruel’ plan, including Amnesty International, who have labelled it a ‘shameful abandonment’ of human rights responsibilities. Religious institutions are not an exception to this with the Methodist Church claiming the UKs response gives ‘yet another insight unto its hostile, uncompassionate and ineffective response to asylum seekers and refugees’.
However, it doesn’t stop there, opponents of this plan (the British public) have headed to court for an appeals hearing on the 13 of June amid the political backlash following reports that our Prince Charles has described the policy as outrightly “appalling”. A coalition of groups, including immigration rights advocates and unions have asked the Court of Appeal to reverse a lower court ruling allowing for the first deportation flight to go ahead.

These reactions perhaps aren’t a surprise… though, Charles’s comments could be deemed problematic due to his position as heir to the throne, and the British monarch being supposedly distant or above the political fray. The United Nations’ refugee agency has also opposed these plans. Despite this, the Home Office and Johnson’s government show no signs of ceasing or altering these plans, and movement has begun.

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

The Mass Conflict Behind Gene-Edited Produce

Earlier this month, the UK Government announced plans to bring forward ‘The Genetic Technology Bill’, a new legislation that takes certain precision breeding techniques out of otherwise restrictive GMO rules.

With firm support from George Eustice, the secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, scientists across the UK argue that these modifications to British produce would create significant benefits to our health, environment and food security. The decision has received strong criticism from the Scottish and Welsh governments, while the public has demonstrated concerns over the lack of labelling required when these products hit the shelves.

In July 2019, as part of his first speech as prime minister, Boris Johnson announced the goal to ‘liberate the UK’s extraordinary bioscience sector from anti genetic modification rules’ and ‘develop blight-resistant crops’ that will feed the world (Royal Society of Biology, 31.07.19). Officials and food scientists have clarified the difference between gene editing, which involves the manipulation of genes within a single species or genus, and genetic modification (GM), in which DNA from one species is introduced to another. Since November last year, 236 news sources reported this distinction within the body of their coverage, first published by the UK Food Council.

At the John Innes Centre in Norwich, specialists have taken huge steps towards this goal with the creation of the first gene-edited tomato. In this instance, the fruit was enhanced with Vitamin D, a nutrient that over 40% of Europeans are deficient in (Science Daily, 23.05.22). Similar developments are being made in other British foods, such as anti-carcinogenic wheat and pigs immune to swine flu.

Volume of Coverage

Over the last 12 months, 2,306 gene-editing focused articles have been produced by print, media and online news sources across the UK. National coverage has seen significant growth over the past eight weeks, peaking in the final week of May:

As part of the initial research process, the fortified tomato case study received nationwide coverage as it evolved – the final stages of work and subsequent breakthrough were the highest source of volume over the last four months. The majority of this coverage was tied to print and online media until 10 May, which then saw a 309% upsurge in overall engagement due to a broadcasted mention of The Genetic Technology Bill in The Queen’s Speech. As the John Innes Centre also shared its final press release on 23 May, this was and will likely remain the highest performing month for volume + reach combined.

Top Speakers

Between May 2021-2022, The John Innes Centre was mentioned 694 times in relation to its gene-editing research, with regular contributions and comments offered from the associated scientists throughout. Professor Cathie Martin, group leader, was the second-most-mentioned name after George Eustice.

Top Topics

Since 1 March, the ‘sped-up’ progression of The Genetic Technology Bill was a headline in 288 UK-based news sources, with Mail Online and Agriland.co.uk creating the most content on this area of the discussion. Heightened media exposure through The Queen’s Speech was the key reason behind this, while the gene-edited tomato breakthrough came in a close second.

Ethical Concerns

Between March and June, 20% of all coverage focused on two overarching issues for the public. The first is the lack of labelling that will be required when gene-edited products hit the shelves of British supermarkets. This has prompted an outcry from some consumers who claim they ‘should be given a choice’ (Daily Mail, 27.05.22). Half of all label-related coverage had the term ‘frankenfoods’ in the headline, which started with an article by Mail Online and was syndicated a further 54 times by local and regional media until 5 June.

‘What has been removed is the need for an independent risk assessment and the need for transparency’Liz O’Neill, Director, GM Freeze

The other public issue is around the genetic modification of livestock. UK-based charities have also stepped into this discussion, with RSPCA leading the conversation. David Bowles, head of public affairs, was quoted by 21 national publications in calling the new legislation a ‘serious step back’ for animal welfare. In the RSPCA’s press release on 26 May, Bowles further argued that ‘there are potentially serious implications’ on both farm animals and people, stating we ‘simply do not know the long-term consequences’. Similarly, Kierra Box, of Friends of the Earth, believes gene-editing is genetic modification by a different name, that it ‘still focuses on altering the genetic code of plants and animals to deal with the problems caused by poor soils, the over-use of pesticides and intensive farming’ (The Guardian, 25.05.22).

Among the coverage that outlined potential issues with the bill, five were top national media outlets. The remaining 113 were regional and local news sources, science journals and agriculture websites.

Food Security

As the war in Ukraine and global inflation evolves, concerns around food security have been a significant incentive behind ‘speeding-up’ The Genetic Technology Bill. The topic of shortages has been widely distributed across UK media, while 25% of all coverage was produced by The Telegraph.

Independent farmers across Scotland and Wales have held the strongest share of voice on this issue, warning that we are ‘sleep-walking’ into a full-on crisis (The Independent, 25.04.22). The Government has used this angle in the press to suggest that gene-edited food is a way to become less dependent on importation and therefore less vulnerable to restrictions made by Eastern European regions (Farmers Weekly, 24.05.22). Moreover, National Farmers Union Scotland president Martin Kennedy has agreed that precision breeding techniques could ‘deliver benefits for food, agriculture and climate change’ (The Telegraph, 27.05.22).

Cross-Border Divide

Despite food shortage concerns, the Welsh and Scottish governments have repeatedly stated their opposition to genetically modified produce. Scotland, which has hopes to return to the EU, has been keen to ‘maintain alignment’ with the same stringent controls on organisms which contain no additional genes or DNA (The Scotsman, 25.05.22).

Màiri McAllan, environment minister for Scotland, has called the UK Government’s decision ‘unacceptable’ and insists that Scotland would not make the same changes as England if the Bill passed (Inverness Courier, 11.06.22). 7% of all coverage over the past four months has discussed this conflict, with the leading headline: ‘Gene-editing Bill should not “force products on Scotland” says minister’ (The National, 11.06.22). This article, which wrote extensively of McAllan’s ethical and financial concerns, was repurposed 24 times throughout the beginning of June.

The Welsh opposition received less coverage, though it has been confirmed that UK ministers plan to try to persuade devolved counterparts to align on policy at a cross-government meeting at the Royal Welsh Show on 20 July (The Times, 14.06.22).

George Eustice has written to the Scottish and Welsh governments to urge them to reconsider their opposition to the technique, stating that by joining in taking forward this legislation, the UK would be able to ensure consistency in food regulation and the approach to the precision-bred organisms across the UK, upholding our priority of ensuring consumer safety’ (BBC, 24.05.22).

Professor Lord Trees, a cross-bench peer and former president of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, was quoted 106 times since 1 March, in his warning that a failure to embrace more precise breeding technologies such as gene editing could be a ‘missed opportunity’ to deliver significant improvements in animal health and welfare.

A Need for Transparency

Both Eustice and the Government, supported by leading scientists around the UK, have made expansive efforts to change the gene-editing narrative in the media over the past 12 months. However, with a perceived lack of transparency on what genetically modified produce could look like for the consumer, public scepticism remains high.

In Scotland, a strong proportion of the farming population are in favour of the transition, whereas the environment minister remains firmly against the idea of a ‘forced’ legislation while trying to make amends with the EU. Similarly, leading climate activism and animal welfare non-profits have firmly expressed the unknown dangers behind making long-term modifications to the organic cycles of nature.

While local and regional media have remained closely in touch with ethical concerns by the public and opposing institutions, the positive aspects of gene-editing has been favourably represented by national online media. The first set of gene-edited produce is set to hit the shelves as early as next year, at which point both the Welsh and Scottish governments will have made their final decision on whether they are included in the first step towards the UK’s ‘extraordinary bioscience sector’.

As the war in Ukraine continues and inflation builds pressure on family support shelters, internal disagreements remain less of a concern to UK Government. Rather, food security is being treated as a priority and will continue to be a key motivator behind the swift progression of this change.

Want to know more about this data or how media insights can support your PR and communications? Find out more.