This week in PR (11 January)

About the author

Richard Bailey Hon FCIPR is editor of PR Academy's PR Place Insights. He teaches and assesses undergraduate, postgraduate and professional students.

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In the news

  • Professional membership bodies the CIPR and PRCA have both responded to last week’s The Media Show on BBC Radio 4 depicting public relations as manipulative media publicity.
  • The CIPR has updated the way members are awarded fellowships. Eligible members can now nominate themselves if they have the support of five CIPR members; and nominations will now be reviewed by the Professional Development and Membership Committee (PDMC).
  • The PRCA is inviting practitioners to complete its 2019 PR and Communications Census questionnaire.
  • Victoria McKenzie-Gould has been appointed communications director at Marks & Spencer, replacing Dominic Fry who leaves after ten years as director of communications and investor relations (PR Week reports).


  • Dr Liz Yeomans retires this month from Leeds Beckett University after 25 years as a full-time public relations academic.
  • The US-based Institute for Public Relations has published a 2018 research report. Among the ‘top 10 public relations insights of 2018’ summarised here is an overview of Richard Thaler’s work on behavioural economics.
  • Anne-Marie Cotton: The communication researcher-practitioner: a mediator between split communities (7 January)
    ‘Academic research should not only focus on problems derived by researchers, but academics should serve society by dealing with problems of the real world that need reflection and advancement (which cannot usually be done by the practitioners themselves because of other priorities and lack of time / knowledge / methods), because that is exactly why society pays us”.’

Insights and opinions: Pick of the posts

These are the editor’s pick of posts about public relations this week (UK focused, but with a global outlook). Recommendations are welcome to or @pr_place

Purpose and professionalism

  • Koray Camgoz: 4 questions for the new CIPR president Emma Leech (9 January)
    ‘I started life in a PR agency start-up and over thirty years’ on, I still think that strategic and  creative communication is the bedrock of any good campaign. As a profession, we need to be agile and creative, and stop worrying about distinctions and barriers.’
  • Steve Markiner: The problem with purpose (7 January)
    ‘Even though I have run numerous projects to help companies articulate their purpose, there’s always been a doubt nagging away at the back of my mind.’


Careers and skills

  • Arianne Smart: 25 at 25 – lessons I’ve learnt in life (10 January)
    ‘Now, I’m far from being qualified to provide life advice, but to celebrate my turning quarter of a century (eek!), here are 25 pieces of advice I’ve been given, lessons I’ve learnt and quotes that I enjoy that I try to stick by.’
  • Deb Sharratt: 5 reasons why it’s important to invest in you and your career (6 January)
    ‘In addition to my day job as both a PR practitioner & lecturer, and a lifestyle blogger, in 2018 I’ve attended industry events and conferences, hosted a webinar for Vuelio, spoken at the Mojo Nation conference, written for the CIPR Influence online blog, organised the #CIPRNorthernConf, held the elected positions of Vice Chair and Social Media Manager for CIPR North East and organised the #PRideNE awards where I also won an award as Outstanding PR Practitioner in the North East. ‘
  • Stephen Davies: Getting lucky. How to maximise luck (no date)
    ‘While knowledge acquisition is important you have to be a producer of content more than a consumer of it. If you’re not creating content you’re not opening yourself up to the possibilities of people discovering you.’

Politics and public affairs

  • Stuart Thomson: The political realities of 2019 (9 January)
    ‘Theresa May’s announcement that she won’t fight the next election as leader of the Conservative Party has fired the official starting gun on who will succeed her. Every comment, policy announcement, or campaign supported by a Minister, will now be seen through the prism of the (at some point) forthcoming leadership election.’

Public and third sectors

  • Darren Caveney: Of course everyone can communicate: but not everyone is good at it (6 January)
    ‘The reality – whether we like it or not – is that there are some communications activities which non-comms colleagues can do. The problems kick in when those without the comms skills, savvy and experience decide to ignore good advice or ‘dabble’ themselves on a much larger level.’
  • Richard Evans: 50 fastest growing charities on Facebook in 2018 (7 January)
    ‘WWF has gone to number one this year, increasing its number of likes by a massive 138,769. This is over double what it achieved in 2017.’
  • Amanda Coleman: 365 days later (6 January)
    ‘The past 12 months have seen some public sector communicators being pushed to be tactical at the expense of the strategic because it is easier to achieve with limited resources.’
  • Dan Slee: GETTING READY: TWELVE things public sector comms teams need to do to get Brexit-ready (5 January)
    ‘I do think that the biggest headaches of 2019 for the UK public sector will be directly or indirectly Brexit related. From the the hard and direct impact of traffic problems and food shortages all the way through to soft impact recruitment drives as some posts are harder to fill.’

Gender, diversity and wellbeing

  • Kate O’Donnell: Recognising the huge gains tech can provide for workplace wellbeing (10 January)
    ‘Working in a creative PR agency offers a lot of opportunity for progression, but there is no denying that there can be times of high-stress for both PR consultants and our clients.’
  • Will Mapplebeck: Glued to your smartphone? There’s an app for that (8 January)
    ‘Digital Wellbeing allows you to set a time limit (mine for Twitter is an hour) and then warns you when you reach that limit for the day. You get a five minute warning, then a one minute warning and then it shuts the app down. Kaput until tomorrow.’
  • Elizabeth Bananuka: Pros we love: Sarita Shah, Senior Associate, Weber Shandwick (8 January)
    ‘In the British South Asian community, PR has a PR problem. And as I’m sure many British Indians can attest to, we look for validation from our families before undertaking big life changes (such as which job to take when leaving university). Too often I hear, “I’m not sure my parents would think PR is a good career”.’
  • Rachel Miller: Why we need to talk about mental health in Comms (7 January)
    ‘We need to take mental health and employee wellbeing seriously, I’ve seen too many excellent Comms pros suffering and unable to carry on in their roles.’

Measurement and evaluation

Brands and influence

Crisis and reputation

Internal communication

  • Sarah Holliday: Top tips for … writing intranet stories (10 January)
    ‘Make reading easy for your audience: don’t over-use capital letters or scatter your copy with acronyms. These can make a sentence confusing and interrupt the flow of reading. You want your audience to read your article once and understand it first time.’

Campaigns and creativity

  • Claire Bridges: Make 2019 the year of your big idea (8 January)
    ‘I’ve created a worksheet which includes an action-planning template that I’m sharing here – this is particularly for those of you love structure and who want to be really clear on your next steps.’
  • Jessica Pardoe: Creative Campaigns #4 – the ‘Fiji water’ photobomb (8 January)
    ‘Whether it was an intentional PR effort or simply just a model a little too instinctively drawn to the camera, you cannot deny that, as a stunt, this has worked all too well for them.’

Technology and AI

  • Pretty Green: Pretty Green’s Top Picks of CES 2019 (9 January)
    ‘Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant continue to be added to more home utilities. They will soon be able to run you a bath using Touch20 and be incorporated into other places in the bathroom… including the toilet, allowing you to listen to your favourite artists before simply telling the toilet to flush.’
  • Kerry Sheehan: AIinPR 2019: PR’s intelligent assistant (8 January)
    ‘Artificial Intelligence will further empower PRs, communicators and marketers during 2019, enabling us to work smarter faster.’

Media and digital

  • Stephen Waddington: 8 headlines from the Reuters Institute future of news report (10 January)
    ‘The news industry is losing patience with Facebook and publishers are re-focusing attention elsewhere.’
  • Gary Taylor: Don’t poke the bear (10 January)
    ‘Unlike Darryl Sparey (see below) I think there’s a lot you could cover in a half-hour broadcast and still make it an interesting discussion. You could mention qualifications, professional bodies, codes of conduct, strategic comms – as well as the topics they actually covered (note: Jerry Hall being arrested for drugs-related offences is not crisis comms, and disrupting court proceedings isn’t clever).’
  • Darryl Sparey: A national broadcast channel ain’t the place for a nuanced discussion of PR (8 January)
    ‘At Hotwire we employ everything from copy writers to financial controllers, paid search specialists and graphic designers, and the wider market is even more diverse. It’s unlikely that this was ever going to be covered to everyone in the industry’s satisfaction.’
  • Laura Crimmons: Reflecting on 2018 in PR and Four things I’ll do differently in 2019 (4 January)
    ‘Having worked across the PR and SEO industries for around seven years now, it baffled me how PR and SEO teams still remained siloed in 2018.’

#prstudent #bestPRblogs

Here’s an essential resource for job seekers:

PR Careers: 2019: 150 PR internships and graduate schemes

  • Lucy Hayball (Bournemouth): 2019: The year everything changes (10 January)
    ‘I was constantly learning on placement but on the side, I completed a Digital Marketing qualification with Google.’
  • Holly Rees (South Wales): Social Media Pressure = Depression for Kids (10 January)
    ‘That increased socialisation has come to harm many people (young and old) is disheartening for those of us who work in and enjoy social media.’
  • Heiða Ingimarsdóttir (Leeds): 2018 is gone but not forgotten (9 January))
    ‘My studies are challenging at times and I think the main reason for that is both that I am not studying in my native language and secondly because I do have to manage it around running a family of five.’
  • Orlagh Shanks (Liverpool John Moores): See under ‘Brands and Influence’ above
  • Elian Owen (South Wales): No such thing as bad publicity? (9 January)
    ‘There are however cases where bad publicity or negative press can be beneficial to a company or product. Step forward Greggs.’
  • Lauren Wilson (Ulster): Why being a part-timer is OK (9 January)
    ‘We need to end the stigma with vegetarianism and veganism and whatever else-ism. Why should they be criticised for not being at 100% when the critic is only at 15%?’
  • Alannah Stephens (Ulster): “Would you like a bag with that?” What retail taught me about PR! (8 January)
    ‘Before starting university, I didn’t realise how much I’d learned in the world of retail nor how much it had prepared me for my future career in Public Relations.’
  • Abigail Foran (Ulster): My Top 5 Favourite PR Campaigns of 2018 (7 January)
    ‘Chicken lovers across the UK and Ireland were distraught to learn that KFC experienced a chicken shortage. Despite some negative traction from customers on social media, some decided to tackle the shortage with humour.’
  • Lottie Wiltshire (South Wales): Plastic, Pastries & Snowflakes (6 January)
    ‘It’s no secret that the people who run twitter accounts for food chains are sassy geniuses and Greggs is no exception.’
  • Lauren Thomas (South Wales): PR miscommunication blunders! (5 January)
    ‘In an era where consumers are not afraid to speak up and call out companies on their wrong doings. PR has had to change and improve to adapt to growing expectations.’