CIPR Presidency

What makes a good CIPR President?

What makes for a good CIPR President? ‘You definitely need resilience and patience and a bit of humour, too,’ says current President Jenni Field who, alongside the community she represents, has been working through a particularly challenging year. Yet alongside all the struggles of serving an industry that has been under increasing pressure, Jenni has been involved in the launch of several game-changing CIPR services and initiatives, including its Race in PR and AI in PR reports.

Now serving on the Board alongside President Elect Mandy Pearse, Jenni takes us through what goes into selecting a successor and the skills needed for the role. And for getting to know the President Elect a little better, Mandy shares why she put herself forward for the Presidency and what her aims are for the CIPR and its members through the remainder of 2020 and beyond.

What’s involved in the process of selecting a new President?
Jenni: It’s an election process at CIPR so we ask people to put themselves forward with ten nominations and a statement around what they will stand for. Sometimes there are several candidates and sometimes just one. If there are several, there is an election period and a chance for members to chat to the nominees. I’m hoping there will be a few people standing for the role for 2022!

Mandy: You need to have a passion for the profession to stand and you need to be prepared to campaign and have a clear vision. It can be challenging because there will be robust debate but that is good as long as it is conducted in a respectful manner.

Mandy, what went into deciding to put yourself forward for the Presidency?
When I was thinking about standing, I worked out how much time I could devote to the role if I was successful. I’m lucky as a business owner and freelance consultant/trainer that I can flex my business to devote enough time to the institute. I also wanted to be sure I could do a good job representing my profession to the wider world as well as delivering what members need. Former presidents have set a high bar in their commitment of time and energy to live up to.

What skills and approach make for a good CIPR President?

Jenni: I have volunteered for CIPR for a few years, so I have worked with several presidents, all of whom have brought different visions and strengths to the Institute. For me, it has been about a core focus on our members and ensuring we are doing things aligned to their needs, so I think having an approach that allows for focused activity is important. You definitely need resilience and patience and I always do things with a bit of humour, too. Empowering the team at HQ and the volunteers is also important – I’m a big fan of leading that way and it has served me well so far!

Jenni, what have you been most proud of accomplishing during your time in the role?
Well, it has been a difficult year! I’m most proud of the work we have done to come together as a team. It’s something that was important to me when I stood for the role and at our last Group Chair’s meeting it really showed me how much has changed over the years. We have launched some fantastic services for our members this year: iprovision mental health hotline, mentoring, employability hub, to name a few and we have also created more insight and support with reports into Race in PR and AI in PR. These are all things achieved by volunteers and the team at HQ so I’m just proud of what we have done together under such difficult circumstances.

What would you most like to accomplish as CIPR President, Mandy?
Three things: first, position PR with the C-suite as a strategic discipline; second, make progress on increasing diversity in the profession; and third, make CIPR more accessible to its members.

CIPR President Jenni Fields is the Director of Redefining Communications and can be found tweeting @mrsjennifield.

CIPR President Elect Mandy Pearse is the Director of Seashell Communications and can be found on Twitter @MandyPearse.

Find out more about the 2020 CIPR Board of Directors on the website here.

Besma Whayeb Curiously Conscious

Green Fashion Blogger Spotlight: Besma Whayeb, Curiously Conscious

Sustainability is what fuels Besma Whayeb, who blogs about green issues and sustainable fashion at Curiously Conscious. If you’re curious to know how to dump fast fashion in favour of cool second-hand and vintage finds, or some small changes you can start making to become a more sustainable citizen, read more from Besma below…

What initially drew you to blogging about fashion and what keeps your interest?
I initially started blogging after moving to Paris as part of my degree, where I recognised more sustainable ways to eat and live. From my interest in food sustainability, I grew more aware of sustainability in fashion, from natural fabrics through to supporting ethical supply chains.

What’s your favourite thing to post about and why?
My current focus is on sustainable fashion, as clothes can be both visual, expressive, and also tell a story about people and planet.

How have you had to change your approach to blogging, or your content, during the COVID-19 crisis?
I feel fortunate that so much of my work is digitally-focused, so my work hasn’t changed drastically. There was certainly a change in the number of small, independent businesses I’ve been able to work with, so a lot of my focus has been on supporting those, as well as staying positive and sharing my platform with voices educating on subjects like intersectional environmentalism and Black Lives Matter.

What are some of the environmental stories/issues happening at the moment that you’d wish more people knew about? 
For a long time, I’ve focused on inspiring people to start thinking about making more sustainable choices, but I’d like to add another layer to it by thinking about being a more sustainable citizen. How we can make collective change, in the economy and politics.

Besma Whayeb

Do you think the move away from ‘fast fashion’ will continue?
I think the move away from fast fashion started prior to lockdown, and the movement grows stronger every day. I recently published a guide to 70+ fast fashion brands and reasons to avoid them, so my hope is that this kind of content will enable more people to see why it’s an issue, and discover more sustainable fashion – be it second-hand, vintage, small designers, or innovative materials.

If you had to pick a character from film/TV/literature who embodies your style, who would it be?
I have to say Hermione Granger, as I’ve always been something of a goody-two-shoes, and Emma Watson is a brilliant role model in the sustainable fashion space, too.

What’s the least you’ve spent on an item of clothing/an accessory that you love?
I spent just £4 on my black leather belt with oval buckle, and I absolutely love it. I wear it with jeans, as well as garments to cinch in my waist. It’s so well made, and I’m glad I didn’t contribute to the leather industry when buying it, either.

Top tips for updating/bringing new life to an old outfit?
Look up any item of clothing on Pinterest! I love using Pinterest to see how other people style their clothes and go about re-working my wardrobe that way.

For those who are just getting into greener living, what are three small changes you would recommend people start with? 
Start by focusing on your habits and see what you can make marginal improvements on. You can make a sustained positive impact by simply shifting a few things you do. I recommend switching to a renewable energy provider, changing to a more ethical bank account and shopping for second-hand fashion.

Will the growth of veganism continue? 
I don’t tend to advocate for or against veganism. Personally, I don’t eat meat and avoid dairy, but diet choices have many other factors (intolerances, religion, etc.) and food is very social, too. Instead, I think we should start focusing on supporting local agriculture, regenerative farming, and eating seasonably, to really be more sustainable with food.

Is the fashion industry doing enough to be more inclusive?
No. There’s been a lot of performative inclusion – for example, posting ‘Black Lives Matter’ on Instagram, or working with diverse models – but many brands are still hiding and exploiting their supply chains (the majority of which are women of colour). Even in the sustainable fashion space, there’s a need for more work, such as increasing the range of sizes available to purchase.

Do you think the ‘VSCO girl’ trend has ultimately been a good or bad thing for the awareness of green issues? 
Hey, anything that raises awareness of the climate crisis is good. What’s harder to measure is whether there’s any action being taken off the back of it!

How do you collaborate with brands and which kind of brands do you really like working with?
I tend to work with one to two brands per month in creating sponsored blog posts and Instagram posts. I like working with brands who have sustainable values, especially small independents who are revolutionising their industries. My favourite posts have to be my sustainable shopping guides (which outperform most of my content too).

For PRs looking to work with you and your blog/website, how would you prefer they approach you and with what kind of content?
Most PRs pitch really well now, highlighting the benefits of the product/campaign, as well as the values of the brand as a whole. If you’re a really savvy PR, you’ll also know what content you’d like created, and outline a budget – I can tailor my work to what you’re looking for.

What other blogs do you check out regularly (whether fashion-related or not)?
Ah, I can’t have too much bias as I run, a free community platform with 700+ fellow influencers and creatives. So, all of them!


Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act turns 20: 3 tips for PRs

This is a guest post from Luke Budka, Head of Digital PR and SEO for TopLine Comms.

‘You idiot. You naive, foolish, irresponsible nincompoop. There is really no description of stupidity, no matter how vivid, that is adequate. I quake at the imbecility of it.’

That’s how Tony Blair described the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in his memoirs. He subsequently described it as ‘the worst mistake’ of his career. However, it introduced a level of government transparency that became the envy of citizens around the world.

The FOIA was passed on 30 November 2000 in the UK and since then has laid bare, among other things, a parliamentary expenses scandal, the sale of 20 tonnes of nuclear materials to Israel in 1958 and a plan to search for the Loch Ness monster using a team of dolphins. It’s been reviewed, and restrictions such as charges for access to info have been considered (£10 per request back in 2015), but it has survived, almost unaltered, for 20 years come November.

A simple search on Google shows 20 stories on the BBC in the last 12 months related to FoI requests either made or reported by the institution and it continues to be used by news organisations everywhere.

The best PR stories (in our experience) are based on data. That’s why the FOIA is one of the most powerful weapons in a PR’s armoury.

Our latest FoI requests, for example, were in reaction to news that hackers had extorted $1.14m from the University of California. On hearing this, we sent requests to every UK university asking if they’d been targeted: within 30-odd working days (COVID-19 is slowing things down) we found out that one third of UK universities have been subjected to ransomware attacks. The story was covered by leading cyber outlets.

If you’ve never submitted an FoI request before and you’re wondering how to develop a story using the Act, here are a few tips.

1) Generating FoI request ideas and sense checking
As with any story you’ll work on, research into a seedling of an idea, combined with one of the core emotions required for a story to be shareable, will ultimately lead to your angle. Be sure to Google your hypothesised headline to see if it’s been done before. If it has, then great, you’ve hit upon a newsworthy idea, but if it’s been covered recently, then it may be hard to put a new spin on it. Having said that, in this topsy-turvy world we’re currently living in, normal behaviours have changed; a request made today may reveal drastically different information to a request that was made in January.

It’s definitely also worth checking WhatDoTheyKnow and the government’s own FoI repository to see if the request you’re considering has already been made. Responses recorded on these sites will help you craft your questions. You’ll, hopefully, be able to avoid the most common FoI refusals: too much time and expense required to answer the request (£600 for central government or £450 for all other public authorities) or the information simply not being held.

If, for example, you see a public authority has refused five years’ worth of data because it’ll take too long to extract, then you know if you ask for a year’s worth you’ll have a higher chance of success. Section 16 of the FOIA stipulates a public authority has to provide ‘advice and assistance’, so you can state in your request that you’re prepared to take a shorter time period’s worth of data, and they should do their best to provide the info/work with you on a successful request. Section 16 also helps if you approach the wrong authority – they should advise on who you should ask instead (you can call the authority in advance if you want to find out if they hold the data you’re interested in).

2) Submission, data collection and analysis
This is a pain. There are professionals tools out there that you can use to manage the process but we’ve always used good old fashioned email and spreadsheets. You can also submit via the aforementioned WhatDoTheyKnow website (however, the request and any subsequent response will then be in the public domain forever). Ultimately, spreadsheets are what you’ll need to analyse the data, so it makes sense to use them to collect it.

Requests can be sent en masse to multiple authorities using the blind copy function in a single email, which means you can send requests to every university in the country, for example, in one fell swoop. You’ll then receive an emailed receipt from every authority you’ve emailed explaining that they’ll aim to respond in 20 working days (COVID-19, as mentioned, is slowing things down). File the receipts in one folder in your email client and file the actual responses containing the data in another. Whenever a response comes in, add it to your spreadsheet and start analysing. Worth pointing out: you don’t need to send requests to multiple authorities to generate a newsworthy headline – you could be interested in a single body, for example – it’s going to come down to the questions you’re asking and the headline you’re looking to generate.

A few notes:
• Be polite – real people will be responding to your request. It’s always nice to be nice – you don’t need to be demanding or rude. Strike up a dialogue; it’s more likely they’ll help you get what you want then anyway.
• Be specific – research the exact terminology related to your request. Do not leave any ambiguity in your questions; get a colleague to check your questions before you send.
• Collection of FoI addresses takes time. Thankfully, journalist Matt Burgess has compiled spreadsheets of addresses that you can use (though I don’t know if he maintains them) – find them here.
• Don’t send unnecessary requests – it costs the government a lot of money to respond to FoI requests and it’s a privilege that should not be abused. This doesn’t mean don’t use it, but if you submit requests, I personally feel that you have an obligation to do something with them.

3) Story creation
You’ve sent your requests and you’ve collected the data – now what? Does the data prove your hypothesis? If so, then you’ve already got your headline. Draft your press release, prepare your pitch and package the data up and host it on your site – it will always be useful to use as a source (and invaluable for link building purposes) plus it saves the media having to ask you for it (as they’ll normally want to double check your analysis). Worth noting: you don’t need every authority to respond for you to have a decent story. You’ll almost always see news organisations caveat their FoI stories by making the point that only a certain number of authorities responded. Ultimately, it’s your call as to whether you’ve got the data required for your story to work.

Books have been written on the FOIA (and they’re well worth reading if you’re interested in the topic) and it’s impossible to do it justice in a single blog. It’s an amazing tool that PRs can use for the benefit of their clients. But, with great power comes great responsibility – don’t abuse it, or you’ll ruin it for everyone.

Happy birthday, FOIA – long may you continue to inform the public and keep the watchmen accountable.

TV companies took extra measures to support vulnerable freelancers during lockdown

Leading Television companies Netflix, Sky and Channel 5 gave evidence to the House of Commons Digital Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee earlier this week. All three confirmed they had taken steps to support freelancers and others who were prevented from undertaking film and television production at the height of the pandemic.

Benjamin King, Director of Public Policy, UK and Ireland at Netflix pointed out that on a global level the company had established a $150m hardship fund and, specifically in the UK, Netflix ‘worked with the BFI to set up a fund to support the hardest hit by the pandemic in the film sector’ and then donated £1m to the fund. He also said that the company worked with the director Sam Mendes to establish a similar fund to support the theatre sector and Netflix donated £500,000 to this fund as well. King said Netflix valued the theatre sector as ‘very important to the screen sector in terms of nurturing talent’ and providing a pipeline for future production as well.

Sky’s UK and Ireland Director of Policy, Ali Law said the company had supported all the freelancers it employed on a PAYE basis, mirroring the Government’s furlough scheme but not using it, so these staff will receive 70% of their average monthly pay until the end of October.

Channel 5’s Maria Kyriacou who is President, Networks UK and Australia at ViacomCBS – the Channel’s parent company – said it had contributed to a TV and Film fund to help freelancers and supported industry calls for insurance cover for the most vulnerable. Channel 5 also ensured that production kept going as much as possible and it has 120 shows in production at present.

The Committee session on ‘The future of Public Service Broadcasting’ also heard that all three companies valued the role of public service broadcasters (PSBs), especially the BBC, in terms of programme making and nurturing talent.

 Anne Mensah from Netflix was asked about the long-term viability of the license fee and said she believes in the long-term sustainability of the BBC and added that she supported the ideas of a UK creative economy built in different ways with both a subscription and license fee model operating together. Asked about the size and impact of public service broadcasting in the UK, Benjamin King from Netflix said that 80% of commissioning in UK comes from PSBs with under 20% from ‘streamers’ like Netflix. He added that the impact the BBC has had is one of the main reasons that ‘we have made our home here in UK’.

It was pointed out that average daily viewing time on Netflix alone had increased from 30 minutes per day to over an hour, but it was unclear how long term this trend would be.

The Committee heard that local and national news was still a huge focus for the PSBs and therefore not a focus for streaming services like Netflix to get into given their ambition to focus on ‘the things we can do best’ according to Anne Mensah, but she added the PSBs should secure a sustainable footing so they can focus on the news and sport programming they are best at. She noted also that PSBs were ‘terrific training schools’ to nurture talent in this sector.

Sky TV noted it had seen a 40% reduction in income in the second quarter of 2020 and that many customers had paused their subscriptions, however almost all had now returned as full subscribers. Asked if Sky’s 24,000 UK jobs were now safe given a reported 9.4% reduction in profits, Ali Law said there was still ‘a significant level of uncertainty’ but insisted the company still had major plans to double UK investment by 2024 including the construction of new studios at Elstree. Law added that the UK benefits from having an ‘incredible thriving independent production community’ which was helped by the likes of Channel 4, ITV and BBC using them as well. Asked if Sky would be interested in moving into the regional news sector, Law said that there were ‘already two subsidised broadcasters in the regional news market’ and that he believed the company now had the right-shaped portfolio.

Speaking on behalf of Channel 5, Maria Kyriacou said the channel had a distinctiveness from other public service broadcasters which it didn’t want to lose. She added that while the channel wasn’t the first port of call for many viewers, it was still seen a 20% increase in growth in its  prime time hours viewing figures and highlighted the success of its 5pm news programme, Jeremy Vine’s programme on five days per week and new successes like ‘My Yorkshire Farmer’ and ‘Bettany Hughes Greek Odyssey’. She concluded that while most of the PBSs had now seen their viewing figures reduce after lockdown restrictions were loosened, Channel 5 had not yet seen a drop-off in viewing figures.

FuturePRoof 4

#FuturePRoof 4 launches with a look at BME talent

#FuturePRoof’s fourth edition, published today, centres on BAME talent in the public relations industry and features advice from in-house and agency practitioners, academics, journalists and recruiters.

Aiming to highlight the role of PR in strategic management and to share best practice, crowdsourced content covers subjects including social media, partnerships, managing reputation, pitching, internal communication, leadership, coaching and public relations in the time of COVID-19. Media diversity is the topic for a piece on the importance of journalists representing the communities they serve, and there are chapters on hiring and developing team members from diverse backgrounds.

#FuturePRoof founder and editor Sarah Waddington said: ‘This was never meant to be a book about ‘black issues’, which are in fact cultural and societal issues, not black or BME – just like pay inequality isn’t a women’s issue. This was always to be a forward-thinking look at best practice within public relations, with the purpose of reasserting PR’s value to business.

‘Where contributors asked if they could write from a racial diversity and inclusivity standpoint, that was in their gift. And I’m glad some of the amazing authors took that decision. Every single contributor has done a brilliant job and I’m grateful to them for sharing their expertise.’

PRCA Diversity Network Chair Rax Lakhani believes the focus of #FuturePRoof 4 is particular timely, aiming attention ‘on the stark reality of our industry’s poor record on racial and ethnic diversity.

‘This anthology of essays demonstrates beyond any doubt the abundance of BAME talent that is prevalent within our profession and it is reassuring to see issues of race, ethnicity and cultural diversity being given the prominence and urgency they clearly deserve.’

For Chair of the CIPR’s Diversity and Inclusion Network Avril Lee, now ‘is the time to celebrate BAME talent – and more importantly, now is the time to progress and reward it equally.’

#FuturePRoof’s fourth edition is dedicated to Elizabeth Bananuka for her work on BME PR Pros and The Blueprint diversity mark. Contributions come from Advita Patel, Alicia Solanki, Andrea Ttofa, Annique Simpson, Anouchka Burton, Arvind Hickman, Asif Choudry, Evadney Campbell, Harriet Small Okot, Joanna Abeyie, Julian Obubo, Katrina Marshall, Katy Howell, Koray Camgöz, Mita Dhullipala, Nathalie Abiodun, Rohan Shah, Trudy Lewis and Zaiba Malik.

To read #FuturePRoof 4, copies can be purchased via Blurb and Kindle, and a chapter a day will be released on the #FuturePRoof blog and on Twitter @weareproofed.

Red Ted Art Maggy Woodley

Craft Blogger Spotlight: Maggy Woodley, Red Ted Art

‘Once you have the knack of a new craft and the confidence to persevere, you will most definitely do more,’ believes Red Ted Art’s Maggy Woodley, who happens to have the knack for both crafting and blogging about it. Read on for what keeps Maggy passionate about creativity and what you can try crafting the next time you find yourself in a period of ‘meh’.

What keeps you passionate about craft and blogging about it?
As everyone knows (or should know), you should blog about something that you are passionate about. That way, the passion keeps you going, naturally. Of course, even with a topic that I love, there are moments of writer’s block (or in my case, craft block). That is only natural. The key thing is not to be put off by those days or weeks, but to persevere… you always come back out at the other end.

On my blog, I have always shared at least one or two new crafts per week (if not more), so even in periods of ‘meh’, I just stick to my schedule. Yes, I may have made something I am not that excited about that week, but usually it leads to something new and wonderful eventually. So, the passion and love for crafts came well before the blogging started.

What originally got you into creating things?
Crafting is something that I have enjoyed ever since I was a child. I have many fond memories of crafting with my grandmother and in the classroom and over the years continued with being creative and crafty (e.g. sending homemade birthday cards to friends). When my kids where born, I wanted to recreate this love for crafts with them… which naturally went on to starting the blog!

How have you had to change your approach to blogging, or your content, during the COVID-19 crisis?
Not particularly. I think the only thing I did differently was to take care to craft with items that I thought most people should have around the house and to focus on crafts that are really accessible to all (i.e. easy and don’t take too long to make!). I did, however, republish a lot of old content that I felt was suited to the being-stuck-at-home period, as well as encouraging kids to try something new – like sewing or knitting.

Do you think those who took up knitting/sewing/other traditional crafts during lockdown will continue?
Oh yes; I am certain of it. Once you have the knack of a new craft and the confidence to persevere, you will most definitely do more. Maybe not as much as during lockdown, as you have less time, but I can see it being picked up time and again.

One craft you’d love to master but haven’t quite managed it yet?
Needle felting – mainly because I haven’t had much time for it (yet).

Favourite crafty ideas you’ve shared on your blog?
Oh, there are so, so many from over the years. But I do love ‘useful’ crafts or crafts you can play with afterwards. Our Corner Bookmark Design collection is something I am proud of. Or fun crafts, like these Toilet Paper Roll Dancing Giraffes. Or these super-easy finger puppets (we actually used paper from the recycling bin for these!).

How important is it for people to pay crafters and artists for what they create?
Like in all industries, though we are passionate about what we create, this is also our job. And because crafting is my job, payment is very important – if I had to go back to traditional employment, there would be no time for crafting – be it on Red Ted Art or a third party. If third parties want to continue getting great content, they have to pay the artists and crafters! It is as simple as – we are providing time and energy to create something special and we also have mortgages to pay! Similarly, when it comes to our online presence, our social media profiles have taken years to grow, and third parties are paying for access to a loyal audience that we have built and nurtured over time!

How do you collaborate with brands and which kind of brands do you really like working with?
Most brand work I have had in the past was creating bespoke crafts related to a campaign – this could be a craft to go with a new movie release or a craft making something out of recycled packaging. Though, of course, I work with many craft brands too, my clients are usually ‘not creative’ industries, but industries in the family sector.

For PRs looking to work with you and your blog/website, how would you prefer they approach you and with what kind of content?
An email outlining the campaign and budget available is perfect. I love creating crafts bespoke to a campaign that is family orientated.

What other blogs do you check out regularly (whether craft-related or not)?
Oh, it is probably my fellow craft community that I am connected with on Facebook or Instagram! There are so many and we often do projects together.


Online Influence Awards 2020

Nomination process overhaul for Online Influence Awards 2020

Since the launch of its first incarnation back in 2014, Vuelio’s Online Influence Awards have been celebrating the good work of influencers, bloggers, vloggers and social media professionals across all channels and a variety of niches. Just as the industry we hope to hype-up and highlight has expanded, developed and grown, so too must the awards process and ceremony.

This year, we’re inviting more influencers than ever to take part in the run up to our fully-online awards night on Friday 20 November to reflect the true diversity and breadth of experience being shared across this burgeoning community.

For the first time, influencers themselves, as well as their peers, followers and fans, can nominate (for free) with this quick online form. All we need is the name, social media handles, why it’s a winning entry, and five picks for the top skills you, or your nominee, have as an influencer. These skills have been weighted by industry experts to give us a final score for whittling down eventual shortlists. This is not a popularity contest, so you can be shortlisted as a finalist with just one nomination or 100.

Deadline for entries is Friday 9 October and the 14 categories for this years’ awards span Arts & Entertainment, Beauty, Current Affairs, Disruptor/Changemaker, Fashion, Food & Drink, Health & Fitness, Interior Design, LGBTQ+, Lifestyle, Parenting, PR & Comms, Travel & Leisure and Best Newcomer.

We’re hoping this approach will create a more inclusive awards night, with influencers from across all channels and backgrounds highlighted and celebrated.
PR, comms and influencer marketing professionals are also invited to enter for their own categories – Best Campaign and Best Cause-Led Influencer Campaign – with dedicated entry forms.

Long-overdue conversations and actions are happening regarding inclusion across all industries, including the influencer, communications and journalism communities Vuelio works with. We’re listening, learning and working to do better, which is why the Online Influence Awards will this year be more reflective of the community they celebrate.

We want to hear all about the great work you and those you follow are doing – nominate, encourage others and join us on 20 November from 5 to 7pm for the extravaganza (black tie/ballgown/bedazzled tux or pyjamas fully optional).

Find out more about the Online Influence Awards nomination process, awards night and the winners from previous years here.

Groups supporting PRs

6 industry bodies supporting people in PR and communications

Here’s our round-up of industry bodies, associations, institutes, platforms and networks supporting PR, marketing and communications professionals in their career development and lives outside of work. This list includes many initialisms but more importantly, supportive places to turn to for networking, training, and a community for everyone in the industry. In no particular order…

Originally founded by senior comms consultant Elizabeth Bananuka as ‘a side-hussle and hobby that’s got a little out of control,’ BME PR Pros works to promote black, Asian and ethnic minority diversity in PR and comms. The platform offers a mentoring scheme, which has included mentors working at agencies and associations like Edelman, Ketchum, Transport for London, LinkedIn, PA Media Group and MoneySuperMarket – and has a ‘Pros We Love’ section bigging up people making waves in public relations. Elizabeth is also one of the people behind The Blueprint mark, helping organisations to attract, welcome, retain and nurture diverse talent groups. And for how you can help the BME PR Pros platform? As Elizabeth says, ‘Simple, do what you can to promote diversity in your organisation and the sector. The more initiatives? The better. More voices calling out the diversity problem? Even better.’

CIPR – Chartered Institute of Public Relations
As the world’s only Royal Chartered professional body for public relations practitioners, the CIPR’s mission is a grand one: ‘we work with and for our members to set, maintain and advance standards… Moreover, through our ethical Code of Conduct and searchable PR registers, we make our members accountable to their employers, clients and the wider public’. To help develop and support its members, both in terms of their careers and wellbeing, the institute offers qualifications including its Continuing Professional Development scheme and Accreditation and Chartership programmes, in-house and bespoke training as well as industry research, conferences and best practice and skills guidance. Check out its Diversity & Inclusion hub for reports and resources highlighting the work that still needs to be done to open the industry to everybody.

PRCA – Public Relations and Communications Association
Representing PR professionals across 70 countries globally – with offices in London, Singapore, Dubai and Buenos Aires – the PRCA aims to advocate for those working in public relations across the world. Championing professional standards with their Professional Charter and Code of Conduct, the association offers its members training as well as networking and personal development opportunities. The International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO) and LGComms (Local Government Communications), are also managed by the PRCA. Working to make meaningful change in the industry, the association recently shook up its Board of Directors to welcome in wider experience and knowledge of the sector it serves, and has a dedicated Diversity Network in place.

Taylor Bennett Foundation
The Taylor Bennett Foundation charity was founded by communications executive search firm Taylor Bennett with the University of East London and founding agency Brunswick in 2008 to ‘encourage black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) graduates to pursue a career in communications’. Its award-winning PR, mentoring and internship programmes have enabled participants to enter the PR industry with the skillsets, knowledge and networking group to pursue successful careers. Employers can host visits for the Foundation’s trainees – 2019 hosts included Hope & Glory, Just Eat and Bupa – and live opportunities from agencies and in-house comms teams are available on the Jobs Board. For more about the work of the Taylor Bennett Foundation, read our interview with its chief executive Melissa Lawrence.

UK Black Comms Network
Gearing up for a full launch this Winter, the UK Black Comms Network’s mission is to increase the seniority of Black PR and communications professionals of African or Caribbean heritage in the UK to the point of true ‘equalityin the UK PR industry, with Black people authentically represented, in full colour and shade, in the UK media’. Join them on Wednesday, 16 September, to hear the full vision for the UK Black Comms Network and a conversation with its wellbeing consultant, and digital creator and found of wellbeing brand thy.self Chloe Pierre on Self Care September and why looking after yourself isn’t selfish – go sign up.

Women in PR
‘The PR & communications industry is female dominated (67%) overall. However, at senior levels, it becomes male dominated… Women in PR exists to address this imbalance.’ Aiming to increase the number of women in leadership roles across the PR and communications industry, Women in PR focuses on four key methods: inspiring, enabling, empowering and advocating. This includes speakers and knowledge-sharing events, the opportunity to network with other female leaders, mentoring and training, and fighting for change in work practices, policy and company culture. You can find updates from the group on the Blog channel as well as advice and think pieces from Women in PR members – including those from agency, in-house, public, and third sector and freelancers – with know-how to share.

If there are associations, unions or groups you’ve found supportive during your career in PR that we can highlight, please do get in touch and let us know.

Kat Buckley

Baking Blogger Spotlight: Kat Buckley, Baking Explorer

Ready for the upcoming return of The Great British Bake Off later this month? To help get you in the baking mood, we catch up with Baking Explorer Kat Buckley to find out the best recipes to seek out in September as well as which ones are less likely to get a Paul Hollywood Handshake.

What keeps you passionate about baking and blogging about it?
All the wonderful comments and kind feedback from my readers, seeing how much joy and happiness it brings them to make my recipes – that’s the stuff that makes what I do worthwhile.

How have you had to change your approach to blogging, or your content, during the COVID-19 crisis?
I asked my followers and they were happy for me to carry on as normal, even if they couldn’t get the ingredients to bake my recipes they said that they liked seeing nice photos of cakes as it made them happy. I’ve shared lots of my recipes that use pantry staples, or don’t need a common ingredient like eggs for example, to try and help people struggling to bake with few ingredients.

Have you tried any of the recipes that have gone viral/been popular during lockdown?
I made some dalgona coffee for my boyfriend (I don’t drink coffee) and he loved it!

What the worst bake you’ve ever attempted to make?
A tarte tatin, I’ve tried to make it a few times, although not for a while. I’ve burnt it, made the caramel hard as rock and messed up the pastry!!

Best tasting thing you’ve ever made?
My favourite cake of all time is my Chocolate Guinness Cake with Baileys Buttercream, but I also love anything chocolate orange!

For those who haven’t yet started baking, which basic tools would you suggest they stock the kitchen up with?
Digital kitchen scales, silicone spatulas and a decorating turntable.

Favourite TV chefs?
Mary Berry will forever be the queen of baking!

How do you collaborate with brands and which kind of brands do you really like working with?
I love working with brands that have a passion for baking! I most often do sponsored blog posts as I love to create new recipes the showcase all the fabulous baking products and ingredients out there.

For PRs looking to work with you and your blog/website, how would you prefer they approach you and with what kind of content?
By email, and with anything to do with baking!

What other blogs do you check out regularly (whether baking-related or not)?
I love Easy Cheesy Vegetarian for meal inspiration and ideas.


Grey fox by Tom Edwards

Fashion Blogger Spotlight: David Evans, Grey Fox

Writing about the challenges of finding fashionable fits as an older man, David Evans at Grey Fox knows what works when it comes to staying comfortable and casual while keeping things suave and stylish.

In today’s Spotlight, we talk the evils of sneaker/suits combos, the move to sustainable fashion and what to wear for the steadily approaching Autumn/Winter season.

What keeps you passionate about fashion blogging?
The creativity of working with words and images to reflect my tastes and interests. I also love meeting people though my media – brands, PRs and, in particular, my audience with whom I share so many enthusiasms.

What originally got you into writing about it?
I wanted to write and thought a blog would be a good outlet for this. I hadn’t a clue what to write about at first. After a few weeks thought, I decided to write, as an older man, about the difficulties and challenges of finding clothes, establishing a personal style and knowing what to buy. I thought I’d find something more interesting to write about eventually, but after nearly nine years of blogging, I’m still writing about a search for style.

How have you had to change your approach to blogging, or your content, during the COVID-19 crisis?
The lockdown encouraged me to focus on improving engagement with my audience. I was already working on this, but the common shared experience of COVID-19 encouraged communication and I worked hard on this aspect. I didn’t change content particularly; although I still aim to improve the quality of my content, I’m not keen to do that at the expense of authenticity. Being too polished can look too promotional.

Best lockdown fits you can recommend?
Lockdown was all about combining comfort and style. This is hard to do in the era of ugly and shapeless athleisure wear, but classic casual styles came to the fore.

Worst fashion trend in men’s fashion over the last few years?
Trainers and sneakers with suits. A few fashion journalists tried to make this something, but it was never going to work!

What trends can we watch out for in Autumn/Winter?
In menswear, quality knits with bright but natural colours, tailored trousers with pleats and higher waists, and a move towards a slightly vintage vibe.

What are some of the favourite pieces of clothing/accessories you own and why?
Tweed is always a favourite. I love its robustness, practicality, heritage and the kaleidoscope of colours that hide within the weave. Classic British-made footwear, such as brogues and suede derbies.

Do you think the move away from fast fashion to sustainable clothing/long-term wear will continue?
Without any doubt at all. Consumers are beginning to understand the link between cheap clothes and unethical and unsustainable manufacturing, and the related issues of waste and environmental damage. They see the advantages of buying fewer and better, and this trend is set to continue.

How do you collaborate with brands and which kind of brands do you really like working with?
I like to work with small and brands and those that make high quality products – often, but not exclusively manufacturing in the UK. I wear clothes from my favourite brands and only feature those I can try myself. I rarely do paid collaborations, but do so from time to time as I have to manage the costs of running the blog. I only collaborate with brands whose products I like or think will suit my audience.

For PRs looking to work with you and your blog/website, how would you prefer they approach you and with what kind of content?
I like to work with PRs who understand what Grey Fox stands for and have looked at my media before contacting me. I like to present well-made and sustainably produced and stylish products to my following in a way that is authentic. I do not take part in affiliate arrangements and do not expect payment or product in return for my work, although I appreciate it when brands and their PRs recognise that I have costs to cover in running my blog. I prefer personal contact and am rarely impressed with the impersonal ‘Hi, How’s your day been? Here are some cool products for you to feature on your blog’ sort of approach.

What other blogs do you check out regularly (whether fashion-related or not)?
I don’t have time to check out specific blogs but follow many menswear style influencers and creatives on Instagram.


Party political update: Time to secure an EU trade deal is running out as PM sets new 15 October deadline

Vuelio’s Sam Webber writes about the challenges for the main party leaders now parliament has returned from recess, as Brexit begins to dominate political bandwidth again, while COVID-19 remains a critical political issue following a rise in UK case numbers.

Now returned from summer recess and a long period between March and July dominated by the initial response to the coronavirus pandemic, Brexit is again the principle issue being discussed in Westminster.

This could be a tactic by the Government to take the focus away from its handling of the pandemic and a series of U-turns on school exam results, mask wearing, local lockdowns and air travel corridors, but it is also the result of the window of opportunity left to sign a deal with the European Union closing fast.

Though the UK’s transition period officially concludes at the end of 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set a new deadline of the next European Council meeting on 15 October to allow sufficient time for European leaders to sign off the deal. This is, in effect, a five-week period left to prevent a no-deal exit from the European bloc, but the Prime Minister is clear that he believes this would be a ‘good outcome’ for the UK. It is thought that the remaining stumbling blocks preventing a deal being agreed to is an EU demand that the UK signs up to its own rules and standards as well as a dispute about fishing rights.

At a crucial set of talks between the two negotiating sides this week, tensions will be even higher than usual after a story in the Financial Times explained that the Government now intends to introduce new legislation to override key parts of the Withdrawal Agreement. This move is likely to make the chances of getting a deal agreed even more remote and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has tweeted that she trusts the UK Government to ‘Implement the Withdrawal Agreement, an obligation under international law & prerequisite for any future partnership.’

The Prime Minister is also finding his Conservative backbenchers are now more critical of the Government; whether its MPs demanding higher wages in the poorest areas of the UK, many of which elected Conservative MPs for the first time in 2019, or former Brexit Secretary David Davis, who has pledged to vote against any new Budget proposing tax rises.

Davis said: ‘When on earth is the Treasury going to learn that putting taxes up ends up getting you less money?’. He added: ‘Our economic engine is sputtering because of the crisis. We have to ensure it gets going again and runs fast otherwise we won’t have the jobs, the welfare cost will be enormous […] and therefore we won’t have the money to turn the economy into the sort of future-proofed economy we actually want to see post-Brexit.’

Conservative Chair of the Justice Committee Sir Bob Neill also achieved a significant answer from Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis in the House of Common. Responding during an Urgent Question on the UK’s commitment to its legal obligations under the Northern Ireland Protocol, Lewis said: ‘Yes, this [new legislation] does break international law in a very specific and limited way’.

This is thought to also be the reason also for the sudden resignation of Sir Jonathan Jones QC as head of the Government’s Legal Department.

Labour under Starmer
Labour leader Keir Starmer has had a relatively successful few months since becoming leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition and his supporters will be pleased that in at least one significant poll Labour and the Conservatives were level on 40%. Though he campaigned to reunite the party and not turn the clock back on the Corbyn era, Starmer has, however, still been able to make his mark quite significantly over the last few months. First his principle opponent in the leadership contest Rebecca Long-Bailey was asked to stand down from the Shadow Cabinet over sharing an interview on social media that contained an antisemitic conspiracy theory.

The Labour leader said: ‘My primary focus is on rebuilding trust with the Jewish communities. I didn’t think sharing that article was in keeping with that primary objective’.

Another Labour frontbencher, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, also stepped down from his role as Shadow Minister for the Natural Environment, after what he called a campaign waged by the ‘right wing media’ following two occasions when he has had to apologise for his actions.

Those in the party seeking to move to the centre and consign the Corbyn project to history might well be encouraged by these two departures, coupled with the fact Keir Starmer ensured his preferred candidate, David Evans, was appointed as the party’s new General Secretary. He also ensured a small but potentially significant internal party change: Labour will now use STV (the single transferable vote system) for elections to its National Executive Committee.

Will this see a national shift away from first past the post and Labour embrace proportional representation for Westminster elections? Only time will tell, but the Electoral Reform Society warmly welcomed the move, saying it was ‘A real win for members across the party: preventing one side taking 100% of seats on a minority of the vote. Now it’s time for Labour to join almost every other party and get behind fair elections for Westminster, too.’

Ed Davey elected
Liberal Democrat members elected Ed Davey as the party’s new leader at the end of August, after a campaign that was run purely online, with over 40 different zoom hustings.

Davey won with 63.5% of the vote on a 57.6% turnout, beating the party’s Education spokesperson, Layla Moran. He has reshuffled the Liberal Democrat team of MPs with Ms Moran becoming the new spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and International Development.

Scottish politics
Scottish politics is in a febrile state in anticipation of the critical Scottish parliamentary elections in May 2021. In a shock move over the summer break, the Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw announced his resignation and former minister Douglas Ross was announced as the new leader.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard’s position is said to be hanging on ‘by a thread’ after four of his MSP’s publicly called for him to go last week. Leonard has hit back in an article for Tribune threatening his colleagues before selections take place:  ‘The events of the past two days have sharpened my resolve that we need a new generation of Labour representatives in the Scottish Parliament. When our executive meets on September 12 to set out the process for selecting list candidates, they will no doubt reflect on this too – and so will members when they take part in that ballot.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced her Government’s programme for the year ahead entitled ‘Protecting Scotland, Renewing Scotland’. The First Minister also confirmed that, before the end of the Parliament, a draft Bill would be published on a new independence referendum. It would set out the terms, timing and question wording to be used by such a referendum. Vuelio’s Thomas Stevenson has summarised all of the key policy announcements in the document

Freelance PR Groups

6 groups for freelance PRs

The part of freelancing that is working through uncertainty and unpredictability in sometimes solitary circumstances has been ramped up to 11 during the pandemic, which has impacted clients’ budgets, confidence and creativity.

Here are six groups to check out if you’re a freelancer looking for extra support, advice or a quick way to pick up new commissions and clients as the industry works its way towards recovery.

For freelancers and the self-employed, Leapers has 3,500 members across 22 time zones. Join for access to its free supportive slack channel, regular articles on self-employment and mental health, and conversations with other freelancers. There’s the Slack channel for #askanything questions, #brainfood for inspiration or #littlewins for celebrating, and ebooks to download for techniques on looking after yourself while working for yourself.

2) No. 1 Freelance Media Women
Freelancers working across all areas of the media are welcome here, so that’s PRs as well as writers, photographers and designers. While this Facebook group was originally created back in September 2008 as a place for female freelance journalists to connect, there’s a flourishing and supportive community for people in public relations, too – PR Hour is at 11am every Monday.

3) The Work Crowd
In this crowd are over 2,000 freelancers working across marketing, digital communications and public relations. The platform enables freelancers to set up profiles to win project work, pitch and engage clients, and you can find highlights from recent masterclasses and its Bootcamp Series on its blog – topics include PR and reputation management, knowing your audience in content marketing and new markets and territories.

4) Freelance PRs
This private Facebook group is where freelance PRs and copywriters can connect with others who understand their working woes. Run ideas for new briefs past others in the community, get advice on, as the About page puts it, ‘all the bits that Gwyneth Paltrow never had to do in Sliding Doors when she gracefully set up her own PR agency and launched a restaurant with flowers in her hair’. Share, collaborate and support each other, without any naming and shaming of clients (bad 90s films, though – name and shame away).

5) The KitchenTable Community
Maybe sitting at the kitchen table on your own is losing its appeal and you’re considering starting up your own small agency to start taking on bigger projects. The KitchenTable Community is for solo creatives – freelancers, and staffers, too – to find others with the info and advice they need to get started. The way the community itself puts it as part of its mission statement: ‘people do their best work when they are happiest, and they tend to be happiest when left alone and given the freedom to base their career around their personal needs’.

6) The PR Cavalry
From the man that brought you the Freelance PRs Facebook group is The PR Cavalry. Nigel Sarbutts’ second outing on this round-up connects freelancers with agencies using a ‘PR Heat Map’ with over 700 data points to determine the right fit. A little like for commissions and projects, but without the awkwardness, perhaps.

If there are associations, unions or groups you’ve found supportive during your career in PR that we can highlight, please do get in touch and let us know.


CIPR to support members effected by COVID-19 with Employability Hub

CIPR has launched its Employability Hub in an effort to support members who have lost their job or are at risk of redundancy during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Hub will host webinars, skill guides and resources from third parties with advice for online interviews, improving LinkedIn profiles and finding employment. A video series covering the topics of ‘Coping with Redundancy’, ‘CVs and Interviews’, ‘Personal Branding’, ‘Mental Health’, and ‘Going Independent’ will feature presenters including CIPR Talent Partner Rohan Shah and Another Door’s Eleanor Tweddell.

The launch of the Hub is the latest in a series of CIPR initiates to support its members during the pandemic, including its confirmation of the availability of three-month payment breaks for members who have been made redundant, varying depending on years of membership.

‘In our recent COVID-19 member survey, just under half of respondents said they are looking for a job now or plan to in the near future,’ said CIPR President Jenni Field. ‘The Employability Hub is in response to this survey and feedback from members that they would like help to improve their employability. The Hub will continue to grow and adapt and be a great resource to anyone thinking about looking for their next role.’

Find out more and access the Employability Hub at

Sarah Ismail

Healthcare Blogger Spotlight: Sarah Ismail, Same Difference

Same Difference is where blogger Sarah Ismail shares sides of health often ignored, including the progression of rights for people with disabilities and portrayals in the media. As a DisAbled writer herself, Sarah seeks to prove and highlight the ability of those with disabilities – read on for what keeps her passionate about blogging and how the coronavirus pandemic has changed how she approaches her work.

What initially drew you to blogging and what keeps your interest?
I discovered a political blog run by a journalist I highly respect and I wanted a blog of my own. I was born with Cerebral Palsy and have spent my life trying to prove my intelligence and my ability, with the right support, to do positive things. I know that all disabled people have the same ability and wanted to highlight this through Same Difference. That’s what keeps me going, too.

How have you had to change your approach to blogging, or your content, during the COVID-19 crisis?
I have launched a coronavirus category which contains stories of how COVID-19 has affected disabled people worldwide as well as tips on how to explain the pandemic to people with learning disabilities.

Have you noticed an increased focus on mental and physical wellbeing from the public during lockdown?
Yes, particularly exercise and mental wellbeing.

Is enough being done to break down stigmas around mental health issues?
More is being done in this area in recent years but there’s a long way to go.

What’s a topic you’ve always wanted to cover in more detail on your blog?
Rare conditions from the point of view of people living with them. Sadly, such people are very hard to find.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start blogging about health-related topics?
Know your topic well. Try to learn as much as you can about the topic you’re covering and be open to learning new things about it.

How do you collaborate with brands and which kind of brands do you really like working with?
I publicise information and events for charities and disability organisations. Being a disability issues site, some link to disability, however small, is a requirement for everything I publicise.

For PRs looking to work with you and your blog/website, how would you prefer they approach you and with what kind of content?
By email, with press releases linked to disability in some way.

What other blogs do you check out regularly (whether healthcare-related or not)?
Left Foot Forward and Lib Dem Voice.


‘Protecting Scotland, Renewing Scotland’ – A summary of the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government, 2020-21

Vuelio’s Thomas Stevenson summarises the key announcements in Nicola Sturgeon’s latest ‘Programme for Government’ published this week. It kicks off a crucially important period in Holyrood politics, in the run-up to the Scottish Parliament elections next year, the result of which could decide if there is another Scottish independence referendum or not.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon delivered her latest Programme for Government on Tuesday 1 September. Entitled ‘Protecting Scotland, Renewing Scotland’, it sets out the actions the Scottish Government will be taking in the next year, ahead of the elections to the Scottish Parliament in May 2021.

As Sturgeon said in her speech: ‘This is not a normal, business as usual, Programme for Government’. Some measures announced, such as the new proximity tracking app, ‘Protect Scotland’, are aimed at minimising the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic going forward. Others, such as some of those for schools and the NHS, are aimed at restoring services which have been disrupted by the pandemic.

Another category of measure includes those aimed at taking advantage of changes in behaviour forced by the current situation, such as improving homelessness services and the use of digital technology in healthcare. Many measures, however, are focused on delivering a recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. These include those aimed at delivering employment, such as the National Transitional Training Fund and the Green Jobs Fund, the £500m to be allocated to active travel, and measures to deliver a net zero economy and zero carbon housing.

Sturgeon also confirmed that, before the end of the Parliament, a draft Bill would be published on a new independence referendum. It would set out the terms, timing and question wording to be used by such a referendum.

The Vuelio political team has summarised the announcements made and confirmed in the Programme for Government below, under the three sub-sections it uses.

A National Mission to Create New Jobs, Good Jobs and Green Jobs

Employment and Skills:

  • A £60m Youth Guarantee, giving all 16-24-year-olds an opportunity to study at university or college, take up an apprenticeship, job or work experience opportunity, or take part in a volunteering or training programme. This will be supported by an investment of up to £10m in Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) Regional Groups and £10m for up to 8500 people to complete or start an apprenticeship.
  • A £100m package of support for those looking for work or at risk of redundancy because of COVID-19. This includes a £25m National Transition Training Fund to support up to 10,000 people, doubling funding for the Flexible Workforce Development Fund to £20m and working with interested parties to ensure training provision is more targeted.
  • A £100m Green Jobs fund will be created over the next five years.
  • Nature and land-based apprenticeship schemes in public agencies will be expanded, including doubling the commitments to young people by Scottish Forestry, Forestry and Land Scotland and NatureScot.
  • A Green Workforce and Skills Development package will be developed, based on analysis by NatureScot of the nature-based jobs needed for the net-zero transition.
  • The Scottish Government will work with employers to expand the real Living Wage, will put an additional £2.35m in the Parental Employability Support Fund, and extend Fair Start Scotland services for disabled people until March 2023.
  • As part of the ‘No One Left Behind’ agenda to support those who face significant barriers to employment, a Shared Measurement Framework for collecting data, a Customer Charter and National Standards Guarantee will be produced. A recruitment toolkit to increase ethnic minority recruitment will be published in September and actions from the ‘Fairer Scotland for Women: Gender Pay Gap Action Plan’ will be reviewed.
  • TimeWise will develop a ‘fair, flexible work programme’ by the end of March 21, supporting 300 employers to adapt to flexible working and recruiting advisers to help 1000 more employers and 1000 individuals. The scope for a new centre for workplace transformation will be assessed, while the Productivity Club Pilots are to be expanded, growing from two to five.


  • A national network of ‘Tech Scalers’ (start-up incubators) is to be established.
  • A public-private Ecosystem Fund to make strategic investments will be created.
  • The Digital Action Plan is to be updated to accelerate the transformation of digital public services.
  • A Digital Strategy for Planning will be published in November
  • An additional £23m is to be committed to provide a digital and data safety net to digitally-excluded people and households.


  • £1.6bn is being invested in heat and energy efficiency programmes, with an aim of increasing renewable heat installations from 2000 in 2020 to 64,000 in 2025. A new funding call for the £50m Green Recovery Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme for low carbon and renewable heat projects will open in September, and at least £95m will be invested in decarbonising the public sector estate.
  • A draft Heat Policy Statement and refreshed Energy Efficient Scotland Route Map will be published by the end of the year, with an expert group established to make recommendations for a heat pump sector deal.
  • A consultation will be launched on requiring new buildings to use renewable or low emission heat from 2024.

Green Investment and Businesses:

  • A £3bn Green Investment Portfolio will be launched to secure global investment in Scotland.
  • £60m will be invested in supporting the industrial and manufacturing sectors through the green recovery, via a £24m Scottish Industrial Energy Transformation Fund and a £26m Low Carbon Manufacturing Challenge Fund.
  • A Grangemouth Future Industry Board will be established, recognising the area’s economic importance and its contribution towards Scotland’s emissions.


  • Carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) will be supported and research commissioned. Working with North East CCUS, a Scottish Net Zero Roadmap will be worked on in 2021. A consultation will take place on a £5m Carbon Capture and Utilisation Challenge Fund.
  • A refreshed Energy Strategy and updated Offshore Wind Policy Statement will be published.
  • £6.9m will be allocated to Scotia Gas Network’s H100 hydrogen heating project in Fife, and a Hydrogen policy Statement and Hydrogen Action Plan will be produced.

Sustainable Recovery:

  • A Scottish Health and Industry Partnership is to be established, and Supply Chain Development Programmes will be rolled out in key economic sectors.
  • The Scottish Government will use its buying influence to establish a zero emission heavy duty vehicle programme, establish a zero emission drivechain testing facility and support research and development in zero emission mobility. It will also produce tools to use procurement to support a green recovery.

Environment and Agriculture:

  • £100m will be invested in increasing new planting by Scottish Forestry, with £30m for Forestry and Land Scotland to expand forests and land. £20m will be invested in increasing tree nursery capacity.
  • The Scottish Land Commission will produce advice on factoring land into economic thinking.
  • The rate of peatland restoration will be increased.
  • The Biodiversity Challenge Fund will have £3m in 202-21 and a high-level statement of intent on biodiversity will be published by the end of the year.
  • Recommendations will be made on new agricultural support mechanisms.
  • The Scottish Land Matching Service will be extended to bring vacant crofts into use.
  • The third Land Use Strategy will be published
  • Work will take place to establish a statutory national Nitrogen Balance Sheet.
  • A joint recovery plan for the food and drink industry will be launched, and a new agriculture producer organisations created.
  • A Blue Economy Action Plan will be developed.
  • A £70m fund to improve local authority waste collection infrastructure will be established, and the Household Recycling Charter will be evaluated.
  • The Scottish Government will work with local authorities and deposit return scheme administrators to unlock investment in reprocessing.
  • The carrier bag charge will be increased from 5p to 10p, a consultation will be launched on banning some plastic items, and charging for single-use beverage cups.
  • Public bodies will be required to set a date for becoming net-zero emitters.
  • The first meeting of a citizens’ assembly on climate change will take place in the autumn.
  • Regional hubs will allow communities to develop local solutions to reach net-zero, with a network of Climate Action Towns.
  • An extra £150m will be invested in flood risk management and £12m in coastal change adaptation.

Trade, Investment and Migration:

  • By the end of 2020, the Scottish Government will publish its vision for trade and ‘A Trading Nation’ (the export growth plan) will be refreshed in 2021.
  • An inward investment plan (‘Shaping Scotland’s Economy’) will be published this year, with a capital investment plan to follow in 2021
  • A Population Strategy will be published in 2021, the Stay in Scotland campaign for those in the EU Settlement Scheme will be maintained and a Welcome to Scotland resource for migrants will be launched.
  • Proposals for a rural migration pilot will be developed and published.
  • £2m of the International Development Fund will be ringfenced for COVID-19 efforts this year.

Local Economies, Third Sector and Social Enterprise:

  • Local community wealth building action plans will be developed for five more areas.
  • Funding will be provided for a new Scottish Land Fund.
  • £1m more will be given to the Scotland Loves Local campaign.
  • Part of the Communities Fund will become a £25m Community and Third Sector Recovery Programme. Other social investment, such as capital loans, will be explored.
  • A new Social Enterprise Action Plan and new Credit Union Strategy will be launched.
  • The process of revising Charity Law will be restarted.
  • A £2m Green Recovery Programme for the islands will be established.


Promoting Lifelong Health and Wellbeing


  • A proximity app to identify COVID-19 contacts, ‘Protect Scotland’, will launch this month.
  • Seasonal flu vaccination will be extended to social care workers, those aged 55 and older, those in a household where someone is shielding, and those aged 50 and over (depending on supplies).
  • There will be a Framework for Rehabilitation and Recovery and Respiratory Care Action Plan for Scotland.
  • Actions will be taken based on the recommendations of the Expert Reference Group on COVID-19 and Ethnicity.


  • More elective capacity will be provided by the National Elective Centre Programme.
  • A Women’s Health Plan will be developed.
  • A new national body on infection prevention and control will be established in spring 2021.
  • A national cancer recovery plan will be published in the autumn. A new lung cancer awareness campaign will be launched as part of the ‘Detect Cancer Early’ programme.
  • A Recovery Framework for Pain Management Services and a Framework for Chronic Pain Service Delivery will be published.
  • The digital health and care strategy will be refreshed, and a data strategy for health and social care created.
  • ‘Near Me’ video consultations will be made the default option, with an aim for all appropriate consultations to be provided via this service or telephone, with its use in social care also developed.
  • A digital monitoring solution for COVID-19 suffers will be rolled-out.
  • Digital cognitive behavioural therapy services will be expanded and developed.
  • A&E services are to be redesigned, encouraging people to be assessed by phone first.
  • Community health services are to be bolstered.
  • More clinical conditions will be added to the Pharmacy First service, more community link workers will be recruited, and more mental health workers will be recruited.
  • NHS dental and eye care service reforms will be accelerated.

Social Care:

  • An independent review of adult social care is being launched immediately, reporting by January 2021, and recommending improvements to services. A number of immediate improvements will also be made.
  • The capacity of services to support carers will be increased, with £11.6m to implement the Carers (Scotland) Act.

Health and Social Care Staff:

  • The Scottish Government is working with unions on a timetable for 2021-22 pay deal.
  • A national race equality network with annual targets will be established.
  • £5m will be provided for a Health and Social Care Mental Health Network and to expand digital resources for staff. Additional funding will be given to provide therapeutic intervention for staff, with a Workforce Specialist Service
  • A Patient Safety Commissioner will be established.

Improving Health:

  • A targeted approach will be taken to improve healthy eating for those on low incomes, with legislation on Restricting Food Promotions, and work to increase participation in physical activity, including social prescribing.
  • A Recovery Framework for Sexual Health and Blood Borne Viruses will be developed.
  • The Scottish Government will consult on drug law reform to make temporary arrangements for Naloxone distribution to people at risk of opioid overdose permanent.
  • There will be a consultation on restricting alcohol and e-cigarette promotion, restricting e-cigarettes and removing smoking from outside hospitals.
  • A Mental Health Transition and Recovery Plan will be published.
  • The National Trauma Training Programme will be expanded for two more years.
  • Action on women and girls’ mental health will be taken, working with women’s organisations.
  • The Distress Brief Intervention will be extended for a transitional period to 2024.
  • Mental Health Assessment Centres will be retained and developed.
  • A new suicide public awareness campaign is to be launched.
  • A number of measures will be taken to support children and young people, including digital support and provision of school counsellors.
  • A recovery plan and programme for mental health services will be developed.
  • A Personality Disorder Managed Network will be established and a Brain Health and Dementia Prevention Strategy will be published.

Promoting Equality and Helping Our Young People Grasp Their Potential

Benefits and Debt:

  • The Scottish Child Payment will be introduced, paying £10 a week for each eligible child, starting with children under 6. Applications will start in November 2020, with the first payments for those eligible will be made from February 2021.
  • Payments of Child Winter Heating Assistance will start this winter.
  • £2.4m is being made available for debt advice.
  • The Scottish Government will work to promote affordable credit.


  • The Best Start programme will transform maternity and neonatal services.
  • COVID-19 led to the Scottish Government missing its childcare commitments; it will now work to set a date for full implementation by the end of the year.
  • A framework for school age childcare will be delivered.


  • £50m is being given to local authorities in order to help deliver a safe return to school.
  • £30m is being invested to provide laptops to disadvantaged children.
  • Guidance will be produced on pandemic-related issues, including remote learning and prioritising the curriculum during the recovery period.
  • An Equality Audit will assess the impact of the pandemic on children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • The recommendations of Angela Morgan’s independent review of additional support for learning will be implemented.
  • A new mental heath training and learning resources for all school staff will be delivered.
  • £3m will be allocated to a Youth Work for Education Recovery Fund.
  • In additional to the independent review into the awarding of qualifications this year, another review will take place of the broader assessment approach in Scotland.
  • A second phase of new schools projects will be announced as part of a £1bn Learning Estate Investment Programme.

Higher Education:

  • The Scottish Government will continue to work to implement the recommendations of the Independent Commission on Widening Access, and to develop a School Engagement Framework.
  • A student income and expenditure survey will be carried out.
  • A lifelong learning strategy to integrate youth and adult learning into the wider education and skills system will be developed.


  • £4m is being invested in the Promise Partnership for holistic family support
  • Kinship carers will be better supported, the recovery plan for the Children’s Hearing System will be implemented, and revised National Guidance for Child Protection will be published.
  • A redress scheme for historical child abuse in residential care will be legislated for.
  • A new Bill will incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of Children into Scots law.


  • The Housing to 2040 Vision and Principles and Route Map are to be published later this year.
  • An accord will be agreed between the Scottish Government and the construction industry.
  • The quality of Scottish Government grant-funded homes will be improved, with guidance on the use of offsite construction, outdoor and home working space, and digitally enabled social housing.
  • The current hosing adaptation system will be reviewed.
  • The use of night shelter and dormitory provision for the homeless should end and be replaced with Rapid Rehousing Welcome Centres. A six-month pilot project to provide settled accommodation for those currently living in Edinburgh hotels will be funded.
  • An updated Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan will be published
  • Guidance on discretionary housing payments will be strengthened, and funding will be increased by £3m.
  • A £10m Tenant Hardship Loan Fund will be established legislation preventing evictions will be extended for up to six months.
  • Homelessness prevention pathways will be implemented and the requirement for those facing homelessness to have a local connection will be removed.
  • A review of purpose-built student accommodation will take place.
  • Local authorities will be given powers to license short-term lets and introduce control areas.

Equality and Human Rights:

  • An equality and human rights mainstreaming strategy will be developed.
  • The First Minister’s National Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership will work on incorporating the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women into legislation and consider incorporating the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People and the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination.
  • Funding for the Scottish Human Rights Defenders Fellowship will be increased.
  • Access to free period products will be enshrined into law.
  • A £13m Delivering Equally Safe Fund will support prevention and early intervention for women and children at risk of violence and abuse.
  • A review of past and present initiatives to tackle systemic racism will take place.
  • The Scottish Government will work with local authorities to make sure local housing strategies reflect challenges faced by minority ethnic communities.
  • An independent expert group will make recommendations on reflecting Scotland’s colonial and slavery history in museums and society.
  • A Minority Ethnic Leadership and Development Programme will be established.
  • An anti-destitution strategy will be published to support those affected by no recourse to public funds.

Transport and Planning:

  • The Scottish Government will promote the idea of the ’20-minute neighbourhood’.
  • The Town Centre Action Plan is being reviewed.
  • Through a Place Based Investment Programme, £275m will be invested in community-led regeneration. The Empowering Communities Programme will strengthen community anchor organisations and create more shared space local working hubs.
  • £500m over five years is to be committed to active travel.
  • Local authorities will be able to turn temporary infrastructure projects implemented during the pandemic into permanent schemes.
  • Engagement on the future of transport will take place with young people and work has begun to deliver free bus travel for under-19s.
  • Scotland’s Road Safety Framework to 2030 will be published.
  • Work will take place to introduce more low emission zones and a new air quality strategy will be consulted on.


  • The Scottish Government will work with stakeholders to tackle the backlog of court cases caused by COVID-19.
  • Action will be taken to support the use of community interventions rather than short sentences.
  • The prison estate will be modernised, with replacements for HMP Barlinnie and HMP inverness, and a new female custodial estate.
  • The recommendations of Lady Dorrian’s Review of the management of sexual offences will be considered.
  • The Fireworks Action Plan will be taken forward, with a public awareness campaign before bonfire night, and tighter legislation on fireworks considered.
  • Further consultation on dangerous dogs will take place.

Legislative Programme

The following new bills are to be introduced in the forthcoming parliamentary year:

  • Budget Bill
  • Domestic Abuse Bill
  • The UNCRC (Incorporation) Bill
  • University of St. Andrews (Degrees in Medicine and Dentistry) Bill

The following existing bills will be progressed in the forthcoming parliamentary year:

  • Defamation and Malicious Publication Bill
  • Forensic Medical Services (Victims of Sexual Offences) Bill
  • Hate Crime and Public Order Bill
  • Heat Networks Bill
  • Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) Bill
  • Social Security Administration and Tribunal Membership Bill
  • UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Continuity) Bill
Lucy Parissi

Baking Blogger Spotlight: Lucy Parissi, Supergolden Bakes

If you’ve been bitten by the baking bug and are in need of new recipes to try, Lucy Parissi has a blog bountiful with straightforward ideas for bakes.

Read on for what goes into the creation of a successful blog like Supergolden Bakes and whether it’s possible to make something with Nutella that tastes bad (you may be surprised…).

What keeps you passionate about baking and blogging about it?
I have enjoyed baking since I was very young – it is what got me into blogging back in 2012. I find baking very therapeutic, but it is also creative and obviously enjoyable to sample and share the results. I don’t think I will ever tire of trying new baking recipes or giving traditional recipes a new twist.

How have you had to change your approach to blogging, or your content, during the COVID-19 crisis?
I started baking a lot more! Initially I created recipes that dealt with certain ingredient shortages (no eggs/yeast) and I also got bitten by the sourdough bug!

Have you tried any of the recipes that have gone viral/been popular during lockdown?
I tried the viral Dalgona Coffee (whipped coffee) and it is worth the hype! I actually created a whipped coffee cocktail for my blog.

What’s the worst bake you’ve ever attempted to make?
I recently tried a three ingredient Nutella cake during the early days of lockdown. It looked fantastic but didn’t really taste good, which surprised me. I didn’t share the recipe in the end as I wasn’t happy with it.

Best tasting thing you’ve ever made?
This changes daily! The Biscoff Cheesecake and Chocolate Poke Cake I made recently have both gotten rave reviews.

For those who haven’t yet started baking, which basic tools would you suggest they stock the kitchen up with?
A hand mixer is great for beginners and very budget friendly. But if you intend to do a lot of baking, then invest in a good stand mixer like the Kenwood kMix or KitchenAid. Then you can build up your collection of cake pans and tools as you get more proficient and try new recipes and techniques.

Favourite TV chefs?
I don’t really watch that many food shows on TV! I like Nigella Lawson and Rick Stein, and enjoy the American Chef’s Table series on Netflix, though.

How do you collaborate with brands and which kind of brands do you really like working with?
I get approached by a lot of brands. The ones I enjoy with the most are those who allow me to approach a campaign or brief creatively without being boxed in by too many guidelines. I have enjoyed long term partnerships with several brands/campaigns such as Lamb, Try it Love it, Thermapen, Amarula and Angostura Bitters.

For PRs looking to work with you and your blog/website, how would you prefer they approach you and with what kind of content?
I prefer to create recipes and videos for my site as opposed to just on Instagram. I always enjoy using ingredients in a creative way and prefer to create original recipes. Other than that, I am open to all ideas! I have worked with brands on a freelance basis to create recipes and photography for their exclusive use. I used to work as a designer and art director on magazines and cookbooks so working as a freelance photographer and recipe developer is something I relish.

What other blogs do you check out regularly (whether baking-related or not)?
To be honest, I actually don’t have much time to read blogs regularly anymore! I keep up with new content on Instagram where I follow a lot of food bloggers from around the world. If a recipe or post catches my eye, I will hop on to read it. I recently discovered Lion’s Bread when I got into sourdough baking.


CovidComms Awards

Time to reflect and recognise

The last five months have seen nearly every aspect of the way we work changed. PR and Comms teams have managed fast changing news and policy against a backdrop of job losses, media fragmentation and an increasingly complex stakeholder landscape. It has been hugely challenging – but has also prompted an outstanding response.

As we begin to adjust to the ‘new normal’, we want to create a record of lockdown and share lessons learnt but also celebrate the brilliant efforts made. This is why we’re delighted to partner with CorpComms Magazine on the CovidComms Awards that will take place in November. This week, I caught up with Helen Dunne, Editor of CorpComms, to discuss what they’re all about and how people can enter.

Our webinar kicked off with Helen explaining how she had been inspired to develop the CovidComms Awards by a series of conversations with industry leaders who were determined that the exceptional work since the crisis began wouldn’t be forgotten. In their view, too often the industry moves on without reflecting on what has gone before and the improvements that could be made.

For Helen, lockdown and the sustained crisis management had accelerated key trends that the industry had been trying to address for a number of years. How to make senior leaders more accessible and able to talk to internal and external audiences with authenticity. These are issues that have been quickly solved by Zoom calls where senior leaders are interrupted by children or pets and home decorations are on display.

The ‘radical transparency’ we’ve seen is part of a broader trend where PR strategy is increasingly aligned to customer and employee engagement. At last, internal and external communications are on equal footing with both critical to overall reputation.

Against this backdrop, Helen came on to talk about the awards and why she hopes people will enter. Firstly, the award categories have been designed based on what has emerged as critical during the crisis including leadership, wellbeing and comms designed for essential workers. The hope is for the awards to be as accessible as possible with reduced entry fees and nomination forms that require only 500 words (max). Judging will happen remotely and shortlisted alongside winning entries invited to share their insights with the industry. It will create a record that we hope inspires the industry into the future.

Finally, recognising that many still feel uncomfortable about ‘mass’ events, the awards night itself is being planned to be entirely virtual but with options for ‘at home’ celebrations to take place simultaneously. Knowing CorpComms, it will still be a night to remember even if radically different to what would normally happen!

To find out more, and most importantly, to enter before the early bird deadline on 4 September, go to


PRCA Ethics Council launches #PRCAethics month

The PRCA Ethics Council has launched #PRCAethics Month with the theme of ‘The PoweR of Ethical PR’ to move PR dialogues towards ethics-driven action and behaviors.

Throughout September #PRCAethics will release educational content focusing on issues affecting the PR industry across the globe, building to the 2020 PRCA UK National Conference on 24 September, which takes the theme of ‘PR as a Force for Positive Change’.

The PRCA Ethics council has also confirmed a research audit project with the remit ‘to raise ethical standards around the world’, with results due in early 2021.

PRCA Ethics Council Chair David Gallagher said of the launch: ‘In a calendar year defined by utter disruption and chaos at transformative levels, one thing in our industry has remained steadfast: the importance of ethical decision-making, relationship-management and communications. This September, the PRCA will join once more with our members to drive ethics as a global topic to the larger public. It’s an inherent part of our organisational brand.’

Formed in May 2020, the PRCA Ethics Council is set to announce further appointments and ambassadorships. Recent members welcomed include Fletcher Marketing PR Senior Strategist Mary Beth West as Co-Chair.

More on #PRCAethics Month can be found on the PRCA website.

Sheena Thomson

PR Spotlight: Sheena Thomson, Conduit Associates

‘Work-wise, nothing fazes me and I am known to bring calm to chaos and conflict’ – while 2020 is turning out to be a particularly tumultuous time for the PR industry, Sheena Thomson has the mettle to weather the storm. With leadership training in the Royal Navy, time consulting overseas in Thailand and the Middle East, and experience of stressful and sometimes life-threatening situations, crisis comms is just one part of the Conduit Associates founder’s particular set of skills.

Read on for Sheena’s advice on staying calm in a crisis, how well military skills can transfer to a career in communications and why working in PR is well worth sticking with.

Tell us a bit about your career so far and what led you to PR…
My career always seems to raise eyebrows as it has been pretty unconventional. After studying fashion, I went into retail and ended up as a production buyer for Laura Ashley. As much as I enjoyed it, I felt it wasn’t challenging enough, so joined the Royal Navy to get leadership training and follow a clear career path. Although I specialised in personnel selection, my last job before leaving was running the press office at the huge Royal Navy base at Faslane in Scotland. It is home to the strategic nuclear deterrent, so it was a busy job. It was a mix of issues and crisis management, community engagement and traditional media relations. It was a great start to my PR career, and I have stuck with PR since.

What helped you decided to start your own consultancy, and what were your initial aims with Conduit Associates?
I had established a small consultancy before in Thailand and enjoyed the independence this gave me. I was living in Thailand at the time it became politically unstable, leading up to the military coup in 2014, so decided to return to the UK. I had been overseas for nearly 12 years, including time in the Middle East, so when I came home, I found the job market had both changed considerably and it took time to see where my skills and experience fitted in to the market. I decided to return to my roots specialising in issues and crisis communications, setting up Conduit Associates. This also enables me to still support my clients overseas, as well as build my client base in the UK.

What skills from your military background transfer well to public relations?
Teamwork is essential in the military environment, and effectively leading or working with people is at the heart of any mission or task success. This has been the most directly transferrable skill. Understanding the true concept of strategy and tactics, both military disciplines that have transferred into the civilian space, are the other skills that have remained with me throughout my career. They have provided me with a natural instinct to think short, medium and long-term with any PR task or client brief.

My training from psychologists as a personnel selection officer was also useful. My job for five years was to interview people, listen, analyse the answers and evaluate. These listening and analysis skills have also remained with me throughout my career and transfer extremely well to public relations, in particular crisis communications.

How has lockdown changed the way you work?
Before lockdown, I worked from home two days a week, and spent the remainder in London in front of people or working remotely. So, for me, the biggest change is that I am, of course, now in front of people on screens. I have adapted pretty well, although part of my offering is soft skills training, and there are limits to what can be achieved online when you are developing individual skills, confidence and capability online in our respective home environments.

Do you think the PR industry can ever return to the way things were before the COVID-19 crisis?
I don’t think any industry or sector can completely return to how things were before the COVID-19 crisis. I think it is a watershed moment as we have all seen what is possible when we are compelled to adapt and change. In normal times, change and transformation of any kind takes effort and planning, but this has been blown out of the water as we have pivoted to pretty much whatever we need to do to keep productive and present. We have also seen such monumental change in all sectors, many of which simply won’t return to how they were before e.g. retail, aviation, etc. The PR industry will be no different. We are already seeing new agencies and restructuring of in-house teams to reflect PR and communication needs going forward as the economy starts stepping towards recovery.

Having worked in hostile environments during your career, how do you deal with work-related stress now?
My mantra is to ‘take a moment’ if I feel stressed, and walk away from the task – or whatever the trigger is – to recalibrate my thinking and put things into perspective. It doesn’t happen often, though; I have been in so many stressful situations dealing with both dangerous and sometimes life-threatening situations during my time in very busy press offices in my post-conflict days. These days, my stress threshold is very high and rarely triggered. This is why crisis communications is such a great fit for me. Work-wise, nothing fazes me and I am known to bring calm to chaos and conflict.

Which particular sectors among your client base do you see making the quickest recovery post-pandemic?
I think we are already seeing the shoots of recovery through consumer and healthcare demands. We have all been locked up and had our freedom of movement restricted, so the leisure, fitness and travel industry will continue to adapt to the demand, despite the obvious public health challenges. People want to get out and enjoy themselves again!

The UK tourism sector in particular will recover quickly. I also think we will see a return, in part, to manufacturing of goods of national strategic importance that had moved to offshore production. A good example is PPE. We simply couldn’t get enough of it when we needed it most and were completely dependent on offshore supplies, with luxury brands like Burberry manufacturing scrubs in response to desperate hospital pleas. The stockpiling strategy failed too, compounding the issue. We may pay more for UK manufactured goods, but we will have flexibility and access to them when we need them. There will also be the added benefit of transparent governance in the supply chain and we won’t be flying goods around the world.

With so many journalists being furloughed, has contact with the media been harder over the last few months?
I have not experienced issues with this – I have always found news desks helpful in signposting and directing me to who I need to speak to when routines are disrupted, for whatever reason. In general though, I think it is quite worrying how journalists have been furloughed – they are absolutely critical to society as they are there to hold people to account on behalf of the public. In fact, I blogged about it a few weeks ago. We need journalists and, along with all other severely impacted sectors, I hope journalism recovers quickly.

The PR industry has a diversity problem – what can agencies do to create diverse teams and promote people from a variety of backgrounds into higher roles?
Talent is talent, and I am a firm believer that everyone deserves a chance to let that talent shine. Racism is a blight on society – I still struggle to understand how people can discriminate on the basis of skin colour. Skin is an organ which we all have, just like the rest of our vital organs, so why some people think the colour of an organ makes us different, to me, just doesn’t make rational sense. Our brains and hearts underneath the skin are the same and I wish that mindset was more widespread as our brains and hearts is what drives what we bring to society as individuals, among many other things.

Back to the issue, I believe an integrated approach works best, based on my experience working with diversity and other cultures overseas. Provide talent with the opportunities that will allow their interests and skills to shine vs opportunities that tick boxes. Be courageous and bold, and where systemic issues and biases linger, sort it out. But most of all, take action to rectify the problem, as diversity is part of our society and it needs to be the case in the PR industry also to properly serve the needs of our society and our clients.

What have you enjoyed most about your career and what advice would you give to those considering working in the PR industry?
There are many things to draw upon, but I think the reason I have stuck with PR for so long is that it always gives me the opportunity to be constantly curious, be a great listener, be analytical and think through problems, strengths and opportunities. I also enjoy developing and applying creative and relevant ideas and recommendations, but most of all, using my seemingly natural people skills. I think this is what has helped define my success, along with seizing opportunities as they present themselves. Of all these skills, being a people person is the most important for a successful communicator, regardless of what discipline you choose in PR. My advice – if you have any or all of these skills, PR is a good fit and can be immensely interesting and rewarding when you seize opportunity. Even in these challenging times, opportunity is already starting to re-emerge.

Taboo topics

5 tips for approaching taboo topics in healthcare comms

This is a guest post from Abbie Moujaes, marketing manager at online clinic for men Numan.

‘Do something about erectile dysfunction’. That’s the tagline that runs across Numan’s TV ads on Sky Sports, on our social posts dotted between holiday snaps, and is the driving force behind all of Numan’s comms. Awkward? Yes. Effective? Definitely. When it comes to taboo topics in healthcare, the best approach is head-on.

1) Be bold… and be everywhere
I’ll never forget my surprise when I learned that Bodyform’s 2017 Blood Normal campaign was the first time red blood had ever been shown on an advert about periods. Only then did it dawn on me how strange it was to use the blue liquid of the ads before. If you’re trying to get people on board with taboo topics, being bold and doing things that defy the norm can pay off massively in terms of coverage and brand awareness.

2) Get into the detail
While 60-second TikToks and 50-character memes seem like an appealing way to communicate, there’s still much to be said for longer-form content. When a survey at Numan found that over 62% of men thought that the penis was a muscle, we wrote a book explaining exactly what the penis was, how it worked, and why it sometimes didn’t. We called this the Book of Erections. Written by an NHS doctor, this was more than an attention grabbing PR headline – it followed a genuine need for men and women to have more information about the male body. Health issues are complex and there can never be too much trustworthy content about them.

3) Get expert help
There’s a lot of B.S. out there when it comes to medical information in the tabloids, social media and even on TV. Pseudoscience fills our feeds and minds with inaccurate and often conflicting information. Creating a group of like-minded, scientifically-educated professionals who can clear up the space and provide a trusted, reliable voice when it comes to health issues is one of the best things you can do. Joining forces with already established campaigns can also help your cause. Numan’s team of GPs, clinicians, nutritionists and psychosexual therapists will be at the forefront of comms during Urology Week in September – a campaign with its own aim to ‘break the taboo around urological issues’.

4) Talk to your customers
Reading reviews, receiving regular updates from your customer service team, setting up calls (incentivised, if necessary) with customers can do wonders for your comms strategy. Who better to help you get a first-hand experience of the awkward subject at hand? And if you don’t have direct access to customers, or want to get a feel for people that haven’t yet sought a solution, try sites such as Reddit for some in-depth conversations about practically every health topic out there.

5) Find those success stories
Focusing on a positive solution can help break the taboo around any issue. Sharing success stories, complete with customers who are proud to reveal their identity, images to boot, are a sure-fire way to communicate the goals of your company. They publicise the outcome rather than the problem, giving confidence to others that they can reach the same result.

The hard part – finding customers who are willing to do this. But, if you’re doing all of the above, sooner rather than later, this should be easy.