This week in PR (13 May)

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.

It happened this week

  • James HalliwellWagatha Christie: ‘A PR debacle, an extraordinary spectacle, a carnival of gruesomeness [subscription required] (12 May)
    ‘Rather than a way to restore a damaged reputation, UK libel law is infamous for being a quick way to add ruinous financial injury to insult. In any libel trial, original slurs on reputations are repeated then pored over – and, if it’s a high-profile trial, splashed across the tabloids and gossiped about.’

Industry / profession

  • Mark Borkowski: Rob Mayhew and the universal experience of PR (9 May)
    ‘Gabriel Gatehouse’s brilliant podcast The Coming Storm demonstrates how an intoxicating combination of mythology and memes created a political movement that rocked the world’s most powerful democracy to its core. That isn’t to condone QAnon, far from it, but we should be taking hard lessons from its terrifying rise to prominence and using them to create communications mediums with real, world-changing influence.’

Purpose and ESG

  • Steffan Williams: Proxy Problems (no date)
    ‘Make sure your actions are consistent.  If you have a position on an issue, make sure another part of your business isn’t lobbying against it.  Consistency and a clear transition path will reduce clashes with shareholders and make for an easier navigation of the ESG waters ahead.’

Consulting, teams and careers

Gender, diversity and wellbeing

  • Naomi MG Smith: Let’s talk about depression (11 May)
    ‘I’m not a fan of therapy, I feel like I’m rubbish at it and I struggle to be consistent with attendance because it’s hard work to look inside yourself. However, getting a Life Coach has been a game-changer. Life coaching looks forward rather than backwards and enables me to bring my true self to the space, reflect, and grow.’

Public and third sectors

Politics, public affairs and public sphere 

  • Nick Williams: Public affairs should learn the lessons of 1997 (12 May)
    ‘After 12 years of Conservative government, are public affairs consultancies and in-house teams prepared for the next General Election? As much as they may have personal views about the Labour Party, are they really putting their clients’ best interests at heart by refusing to engage Labour or claiming that they will never win the next election?’
  • Max Sugarman: The Government’s approach to foreign lobbyists suggests wider reform is needed (12 May)
    ‘Whilst a new foreign lobbying register is a positive step, it highlights a rather haphazard approach by the Government to lobbying in the UK. Currently, if you’re a consultant lobbyist, you are legally required to sign up to the UK Register of Consultant Lobbyists, yet there is no such requirement for inhouse lobbyists.’
  • Tom Haynes: A government back on track? (10 May)
    ‘Election promises to level up in areas like education, transport and infrastructure are all included in the Queens Speech, with ambitious, long-term plans for reforms. These changes may be significant in the longer term, but the challenge for the Government will be to show that they are delivering for voters – both those in the red wall and those in the Conservative heartland seats in the South of England — by the next election.’
  • Nick Vaughan and Andrew McQuillan: Political Insider: Queen’s Speech (no date)
    ‘For only the third time in her reign, the Queen did not deliver the Queen’s Speech. Instead, it was left to Prince Charles to set out the Government’s legislative agenda for the new parliamentary session which began today.’
  • Steve Richards: Hanging in the balance? What we can learn from the local elections (9 May)
    ‘The calm ceremony of the Queen’s Speech will be in marked contrast to the wider political storms. Politics has rarely been more topsy turvy. For months there was speculation about whether Boris Johnson could survive ‘partygate’. Now there is a near panic at the top of the Labour Party about Keir Starmer’s fate being in the hands of the Durham police.’

Risk, crisis and reputation

Behaviour, content and influence

  • George Hartrey: The value of content marketing (12 May)
    ‘Liberty Media knew what they were buying when they stumped up their cash – an opportunity. That’s exactly what you and your business have.’
  • Laura Sears: Influencing legislation: what this week’s inquiry report means for content creation (10 May)
    ‘While the report focused a lot on content creators themselves, it also provided some insight on the external perception of influencer marketing and the need for safeguarding consumers.’
  • Zoë Clark: What makes someone a ‘tech influencer’? (10 May)
    ‘What is clear is that no one becomes an influencer overnight. And frankly, no one should aim to be an influencer as an ultimate goal. The goal should be to provide value and generate quality content and relationships.’
  • Shayoni Lynn: All about habits (no date)
    ‘Habits are learned – they are the associations we make between responses, context and rewards. The more we are rewarded in some way, the more we repeat the behaviour until it becomes a habit.’

Internal communication

  • Mike Klein: Exploring measures of engagement and the role of internal communication (12 May)
    ‘Focusing on alignment – creating clarity around what people are supposed to do, why they are supposed to do it, and the prioritization of action and resources can identify and close direct gaps in understanding and performance in a way that a focus on engagement cannot.’
  • Andrea Greenhous: 7 Things You Need to Know about Neuroscience and the Employee Experience (11 May)
    ‘Change in organizations increases uncertainty, triggering fear, anxiety and often paralysis. There is a natural tendency for leaders to withhold information, but a lack of transparency about how decisions will be made and why further increases uncertainty. It goes without saying that open, honest, and frequent communication in organizations can reduce apprehension and prevent distress during times of uncertainty and change.’
  • Sue Dewhurst: Helping leaders to communicate – a steer from behavioural science (10 May)
    ‘COM-B is a diagnostic tool. It invites you to be clear about what you want to change, by identifying specific behaviours. Then it helps you to understand more about how to change those behaviours, by understanding what might be driving people’s behaviours today. Importantly, it asks you not to make assumptions but to invest time watching, listening and learning.’
  • Jenni Field: How a communication audit can help you be less chaotic (9 May)
    ‘If you are exploring the effectiveness of internal communication inside your organisation, start with an audit.’

Media, digital and technology

  • Ian Silvera: Is now the time for decentralised social media? (10 May)
    ‘From a commercial perspective, what is the big user experience/scalability feature of the new decentralised social media networks? If they are just clones of Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram, they might not get much traction at all, especially from the general public who may be uninterested in the philosophical debates which sometimes bog the Web3 community down.’