This month in PR (August 2019)

Here’s our round-up of news and commentary in UK public relations from August 2019.

About the author

Richard Bailey is editor of our Insights, formerly PR Place. He teaches and assesses undergraduate, postgraduate and professional students. - FCIPR MPRCA

Image @prexamples
Image @prexamples

News in brief

  • There is a contest for CIPR president-elect, to serve as president in 2021. The candidates are Mandy Pearse and Rachel Royall and members will be able to vote from 2-16 September. This means there will be female presidents for four years in succession.
  • The CIPR and PRCA have both defended the importance of public sector communications after the Home Secretary, Priti Patel MP described public engagement roles in the police force as “unnecessary” and “a waste of tax payers money”.
  • Lord (Tim) Bell has died aged 77. He was best known as an adviser to former prime minister Margaret Thatcher and for building up (and perhaps helping to bring down) Bell Pottinger. See the obituaries by Danny Rogers for PR Week and Arun Sudhaman for Holmes Report. Sudhaman writes: ‘While Bell Pottinger’s collapse, and the consequent ethical reckoning across the PR world, may have tarnished Bell’s legacy — his influence in terms of shaping London’s communications industry cannot be overlooked.’ Neal Lawson, writing in The Guardian, saw another side to his former employer.
  • Carol Rennard, known to many as Carol Arthur, has died aged 63. As Victoria Tomlinson said at her funeral service, Carol always offered ‘widsom and wise counsel’ and gave so much to colleagues, clients, the CIPR in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire and to students at Leeds Beckett University. Friends and family spoke with warmth and affection about her zest for life.

Academic and education

  • Emma Leech: Clearing: Fast, Furious… and Fickle? (14 August)
    ‘Students are increasingly aware that they have more choice than ever before and that will impact on next cycle. Plan for later decision making, longer research pre application and more of a focus on granular and highly personal content.’
  • Arianne Smart: Top tips for university students (14 August)
    ‘Here are three super-simple tips that I wish I had known at the start of my course that will hopefully help you…’

Ethics and professionalism

Consulting and careers

  • David Brain: Sir Tim Bell (27 August)
    ‘Some in the industry may be glad he has gone, but even they cannot deny the influence he had on it.’
  • Stephen Waddington: Speaking up for graduates in the workplace (20 August)
    ‘Studying at university is a consumer experience. The student demands a level of service from the teaching institution. The relationship between graduate and employer is very different. In agency land managers need to set out clear expectations. They need to mentor graduates during their first year of employment. It’s an important life transition.’
  • Marcel Klebba: Thriving in the PR agency world (15 August)
    ‘Agency is an environment heavily focused on the client. It’s very important you always put yourself in clients’ shoes. Every piece of work should be done with them in mind.’

Gender, diversity and wellbeing

Politics and public affairs

  • Tony Langham: My post-Brexit hopes for the UK (14 August)
    ‘I hope to hear of science parks, fintech hubs, medical zones, education centres and much much more in the coming months. The coming General Election will in part be a referendum on austerity, so we need to hear the plans.’
  • Peter Bingle: It’s important to be optimistic (13 August)
    ‘In modern times, the greatest political communicator was a former B Movie actor who became President of the USA when national self-esteem was at rock bottom after the dreary Jimmy Carter years.‘
  • Emily Wallace: Brexit as a fairytale (12 August)
    ‘The people just wanted to get back to being a United Kingdom again, and worrying about all the things they used to worry about before this whole sorry tale happened.’ 
  • Darren Caveney: Just answer the damn question. And why we need to do better (7 August)
    ‘I have never encouraged anyone to lie in a media response, interview or release and I strongly suspect the vast majority of our profession will be in this same place. So, who exactly are the media trainers or more general advisors who are encouraging this? Genuinely – who are they?’

Public and third sectors

Reputation management

Campaigns and creativity

Brands and influence

Internal communication

  • Martin Flegg: The curse of busy (27 August)
    ‘Why is everyone who works in internal communications so busy? Productive reflection is a skill which all internal communicators could usefully learn to help them create better organisational outcomes.’
  • Debbie Aurelius: Creating Engaging In-house Audio with Keith Lewis. [podcast] (26 August)
    ‘Empowering our people to get out there and be more social is an important part of what we do.
  • Jenni Kampf: Changing the conversation about internal communications (10 August)
    ‘We’ve been round the houses with issues like professionalisation, gaining senior staff buy-in, and measurement, seemingly stuck in a rut of talking about the same issues in the same way. So, how could we move this forwards?’

Technology and AI

  • Brendon Craigie: The tech sector may be at war, but the peace can still be won (1 August)
    ‘Recent research conducted by Tyto with 600 UK respondents about various aspects of technology, revealed that almost 76% agreed that they don’t trust big technology companies to make ethical choices. However, more than 75% also believe that digital technology is having a positive impact on society.’

Media and digital