This week in PR (13 November)

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.

#lestweforget🌹 @uleygirl on Instagram
#lestweforget🌹 @uleygirl on Instagram

News in  brief

  • Politics has dominated this week, with public relations becoming the story on two occasions. The Sunday Times splashed with the reported £670,000 paid to ‘boutique public relations consultants’ Admiral Associates to support the government’s vaccine taskforce.  Then the resignation of 10 Downing Street director of communications Lee Cain, who had been offered the role of chief of staff, suggests factional in-fighting at the heart of government. You can read opinions on both these stories below. UPDATE: Overnight, the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg suggests that Dominic Cummings will also be leaving his role this year.

Covid-19 and comms

  • Sam Knowles: A nightmare on Downing Street (9 November)
    ‘It’s fair to say that the data storytelling given by Johnson, Whitty, and Valence truly was a nightmare on Downing Street.’
  • Rod Cartwright: Is Comms Being Sacrificed For Politics, Policy & Procurement? (10 November)
    ‘I am no procurement expert, but it stretches credibility that none of these contracts could have been let in a way that included at least some accelerated competitive tendering, potentially including agencies from the GCS Service Roster, announced in 2016 and extended last year.’

Purpose and professionalism

  • Amanda Coleman: In the spotlight (12 November)
    ‘As professional communicators we are not good at explaining what we do. My worry is that the more it becomes a little understood profession, the more people will take their references from those national media stories that they see.’

Consulting, teams and careers

  • Katie Marlow: Winter warmers (11 November)
    ‘In the last ten years I have learned what I need to keep working and positive through some really tough times. Here are my quick tips.’
  • Paul Sutton and guests: Reflections on What 2020 Means for Marketing Communications [podcast] (11 November)
    ‘In March and the first week of April every agency client but one put us on hold. By July pretty much everyone was back, but they didn’t want to continue on a retainer. We’ve actually made more money as a result, as we’ve been billing our actual time rather than our projected time.’
  • Stephen Waddington: Self-assessment tool for benchmarking personal development in public relations (11 November)
    ‘I use this tool with individuals that I coach and agency teams… The completed form provides the basis for a discussion alongside an individual’s goals, and those of an organisation.’
  • Drew Benvie: 10 ways to avoid lockdown burnout (10 November)
    ‘Since March, our team size has grown by more than 30%, and our work is increasingly being delivered to clients internationally. The challenge is no longer about how to thrive in a digital-first world – it’s how to avoid burning out as the natural boundaries of our working lives disappear.’

Wellbeing, gender and diversity

  • Melissa Lawrence and Sarah Pinch: Join the changemakers  (11 November)
    ‘At the Taylor Bennett Foundation we have, for the last 12 years, been supporting BAME young people into careers in Public Relations and communications, a profession that is woefully under-representative.  With an award winning, successful track record we are proud of what we have achieved.  But there is so much more to be done.’
  • Stella Bayles with Sarah Waddington: Diversity in Public Relations  [podcast] (9 November)
    ‘There are a lot of underrerpresented groups in public relations. This [book series] is one small way I’m trying to address this.’

Public and third sectors

Politics, public affairs and public sphere

  • Danny Rogers: From the editor-in-chief: Cain, Boris, Symonds and terrifying parallels with the unravelling Gordon Brown machine (12 November)
    ‘In Johnson’s case, the factionalism appears to be between the ardent Brexiteers (Cummings, Cain and others were key figures in the successful Vote Leave campaign) and more liberal, centrist characters such as Symonds – a former Conservative Party comms director herself – and certain influential MPs.’
  • Ella Minty: A Vaccine Won’t Save Us (11 November)
    ‘How can any mass communication campaign ever succeed if those we all look up to, seek guidance and leadership from, trust with our lives and livelihoods, are the first ones to totally disregard the messages and guidance put out?’
  • Richard Rawlins: We can and should learn from Trump (9 November)
    ‘Trump has reinvented political communications – he is disruptive, straight talking (to the ears of his base), he is expert at using language which connects through social media, and critically he got stuff done; he put action before activism.’
  • John Brown: The sinister strategy of conspiracy creation (9 November)
    ‘For conspiracy theories to work well, they need vocal allies and enemies. If there is enough on both sides, these ‘doubt probes’ then start to morph into structured conspiracy campaigns.’
  • Stuart Thomson: Know your way around government: The need to be prepared for when things go wrong (9 November)
    ‘The immediate benefits of public affairs may not always be obvious but it is worth the investment.’

Campaigns and creativity

  • Jessica Pardoe: Creative Campaigns #16 – Reuse That (Primark) Bag! (9 November)
    ‘All it takes is the question: “where did you get your wrapping paper?” to spark up brand-related conversations in American households this Christmas. WOM marketing continues to be the most influential, making ‘talk-ability factor’ really important in any campaign.’

Brands, storytelling, and influence 

  • Simon Monger: Humaning and storydoing… I’m sorry, what?! (12 November)
    ‘I don’t want to be too critical. We all know just how tough it is to be a comms pro – in whatever discipline – in 2020. And I’m certainly not a marketeer, nor am I a PR professional. But I’d be interested to hear what you think about this new campaign. Does humaning and storydoing work for you?’
  • Scott Guthrie: How influencers are shaping popular culture with Vik Khagram of BCW [podcast] (11 November)
    ‘One of the big opportunities is to use influencers as storytellers and not as billboards. It’s the stories that elevate something into excellence. Sales is one side of it, but it’s getting the brand point of view across through creative and emotive storytelling that’s also authentic. The message is just as important as the market.’
  • Katy Howell with Nick Watt: Serious Social – Branded Communities Podcast Content Plan

    (10 November)
    ‘It’s not just about customer awareness and sales. You can also build advocacy, loyalty and – a big thing for me – retention.’

Measurement and evaluation

Paul Cheal: A deep dive into PR measurement and evaluation with global expert, Jim Macnamara [podcast] (12 November)
‘We talk about MEL – measurement, evaluation and learning – because learning is a missed element of it. M and E is too often a rear view mirror exercise. How can we learn to be smarter and better about evaluation?’

Internal communication

  • Katie Macaulay with Dr Valerie Young: Episode 38 – The secret thoughts of successful people [podcast] (no date)
    ‘Psychologists first termed it the imposter phenomenon – it’s not a psychologically-diagnosable syndrome, but it got referred to that in popular culture. If we can ‘genderalise’, then women are more likely to have imposter feelings than men.’
  • Martin Flegg: A minor reinvention (11 November)
    ‘It’s important for all of us that work in internal communication and who are serious about doing a good job and becoming better at what we do. A compass guides the way.’
  • Claudia Preda: You get to be data-driven and creative, developing all kinds of skills as you go (10 November)
    ‘Internal Communication [is] all about people – getting to know them, building positive relationships with and among them and, ultimately, making them excited about logging onto their laptop every day.’
  • Rachel Miller: How to communicate the death of an employee (10 November)
    ‘Throughout my Comms career over the past 21 years I’ve unfortunately had to communicate deaths in various guises. First as a Journalist, then while in-house for a decade, and now in an advisory capacity as a Consultant.’
  • David Blecken: Analysis: The Electrification of Employee Engagement (10 November)
    ‘With companies instituting the option of remote working permanently, the job of communications is set to become more difficult and will undoubtedly require higher calibre internal communicators.’

Technology, media and digital

  • Alistair Clay: TFB 060: How to stand out in a busy journalist’s inbox [podcast] (no date)
    ‘I’m going to take you through a few simple steps you can employ every time you pitch to a journalist. Your email header is key: you need to have your story in five words or less. You’ve got to hit them with the conclusion straight away.’

#prstudent #bestPRblogs

  • Kayleigh Tinney (Ulster): The £4,000 depression (12 November)
    ‘When will they realise that this year is different and that we do not have the same advantages as previous students? We do not have the luxury of face-to-face classes, asking questions and not waiting days or weeks for a response, getting help and advice from our peers or accessing the appropriate books.’
  • Babett Kürschner (LCC/UAL): Ethical BEAST’s: The Next Generation of Leaders? (12 November)
    ‘Meet BEAST, as in Becoming Ethically Aware Students, not a wild animal – though its members are just as fierce.’
  • Megan Laura Harris (Liverpool John Moores): NHS Campaign: COVID-19 App (11 November)
    ‘I am really interested in the two different techniques. Personally, I think I would be more inclined to download the app after watching the emotional advertising video than the infographic video.’
  • Emma Street (Lincoln): Order from McDonald’s (10 November)
    ‘It’s an ingenious way to add to Burger King’s brand personality – showing them to be the nice and friendly ones, with an approachable tone and an easygoing attitude.’
  • Chanelle Quinn (Ulster): A PR disaster for Oatly? (10 November)
    ‘Why have Oatly received backlash and are being ‘Cancelled’ by many consumers now?’
  • Lydia Killen (Ulster): Coronavirus crisis; how brands are successfully addressing it (9 November)
    ‘Many would argue that brands were faced with a sink or swim dilemma. The options were to think on their feet; either physically changing the product or the service they provide, remaining relevant through crisis marketing or suffer irretrievable losses.’