This week in PR (11 September)

Guest editor of This Week in PR, Heather Yaxley (@greenbanana) highlights a selection of communication-related stories and news-linked items that caught her attention over the past seven days.

About the author

Heather leads the CIPR public affairs diploma and digital communication diploma courses. PhD, BSc, PG, RSA, CAM  

Oxford. Social distancing, and the cox has full PPE. @richardsbailey
Oxford. Social distancing, and the cox has full PPE. @richardsbailey

Data driven stories

I’m a big fan of the use of research and data by organisations to gain insight and drive communication programmes. The best of these not only generate numerous opportunities to create story-driven content, but gain traction as the organisation’s original data is picked up in news and other curated pieces.

One example is the latest annual Girlguiding survey into the lives of girls and young women in the UK. The finding that a third (34%) of 11 to 21-year-olds say they use a filter or app to enhance a photo before posting it online featured in a follow up piece by media including the BBC. The new coverage links to the #filterdrop campaign by make up artist Sasha Pallari – which uses the hashtag to underline its point about edits on Instagram with a growing number of comments, as well as original and follower posts.

 

Other statistics stimulate debate – which has been the case with survey results published by the SMMT regarding electric vehicles. Analysis added a claim that the UK requires 1.7 million public charge points by the end of this decade and 2.8 million by 2035.

This proved contentious with discussion on a LinkedIn post by Tom Callow, Head of External Affairs at bp Chargemaster amounting to 70 comments so far.

I’m sure that similar examples can be found most weeks as the ability to generate – and capitalise on – a well-executed data-driven story continues to be of value regardless of communication channels.

 

Professional Credentials

The CIPR published its 2019 Annual Report this week – with its title: Strong, Resilient, Sustainable, echoing this year’s dominant three-word trend. Reading through the reported achievements of 2019, we see how fast the world of PR/communications is changing.

We have several strong professional bodies in the UK and around the world supporting PR/communication practice and those who work in it. The progress that both CIPR and PRCA have made in various areas in recent years have been supercharged by the challenges and opportunities brought about by COVID-19.

Every week brings new initiatives – here focusing on employment:

This dynamic context reminds us of the volatility of building a career in this professional field – and a need to reflect, learn and update our skills continuously. Every day, there are new opportunities to access free learning resources, good quality webinars and topical podcasts – all of which can enhance our professional credentials.

September is the ‘back to school’ month – and my social media timelines this week have been filled with doorstep photos of children ready to return to education. As someone who has been involved in professional development for over 20 years, I am always impressed at this time of year by the commitment of those who sign up for to study for qualifications offered by professional bodies and educational establishments, such as PR Academy.

 

New thinking

Last Saturday, I ran an online workshop for the CIPR Diploma for a Unit that I haven’t taught for a while. This gave me an opportunity to look at some of the latest thinking in a couple of areas. Taking the spirit of This Week in PR as a chance to learn something new, here are two areas that are worth looking at.

1.The Dutch School of Thought offers some fascinating insight and resources in respect of Thought Leadership. A take-away from the site is this quote:

“We still think the future is something that just happens to us, and therefore we are mostly aware of the present. We should lose that attitude of unawareness and start realizing the future is in our hands” by Cécile Cremer.

2. Communication Insights is a publication series by the Academic Society for Management & Communication. The latest issue published in August is called Redesigning Communication: Five steps toward an agile communications department.

I know that many practitioners are interested in how to work more effectively, flexibly and adaptably longer-term following the drive in this direction caused by working from home this year. Some answers may be found in this and the other seven issues in the series.

 

Helping others

Finally I’d like to return to social media and the topic of community influence. Its easy to take a polarised view – either the future is going to be entirely driven by AI and digital communications, or the power lies in human capabilities and strength of relationships. Are we faced with a future controlled by automation, robotics and giant tech firms – or will we all switch off and detox from the digital world?

Where do you fit on the continuum? As professional communicators we have a responsibility to contribute positively as humans and controllers of organisations’ online presence.

In our roles as brand, organizational and cause advocates, we should never forget that through our work we are affecting other people. This work can also have an effect on our well-being – positively and negatively. We are faced with the daily hope and horrors of kindness and cruelty on social media.

It is heartening to see so much support on social media channels, such as Twitter, for World Suicide Prevention Day. There are so many people – including within our own networks struggling with mental health issues. Indeed, many of us have faced, or are facing, problems particularly this year.

If you are in a difficult place – you can find contact details for help via: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/suicide/ – and of course, if you think you know someone who you can support even with the smallest of positive gestures, please do so.

 

 

Thank you for reading – and reflecting on another week in PR. Next week, Richard Bailey will return with his review.