This week in PR (17 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.

Love the bridges of New York... @tonylangham
Love the bridges of New York... @tonylangham


  • Tony Langham and Clare Parsons, who co-founded Lansons 30 years ago, are to receive awards for individual achievement next week (Holmes Report).

Research and academic

  • The Global Communications Report 2019 from USC Annenberg Center for Public Relations is available as a free download (name and address required). As Fred Cook writes in the foreword: ‘Today, technology changes so rapidly that it’s hard to keep up. Every day, a new app, device or platform is piled onto the growing tech stack available to media, marketers and communicators. Like it or not, our future success relies upon our ability to utilize these new tools for analyzing complex data, engaging diverse audiences and measuring the impact of our campaigns at every step of the customer journey.’

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

  • Charlie Pownall: Media jargon may be mainstream, but should not be used willy-nilly (16 May)
    ‘As communicators we are, or should be, in the business of honesty and clarity, of rigorously examining the underlying issue rather than revelling in its packaging, of reducing the gap between rhetoric and reality.’
  • Ella Minty: Lead As If You’d Be the First to Follow, And Don’t Expect To Be Followed Unless You’re Ready To Lead (16 May)
    ‘It is rather easy to be a successful leader if you know how to create a shared sense of purpose. You’ll never get consensus on everything – that’s impossible. But the key here is for you to know where the overlap and the disagreement are.’
  • Peter Bowles: It’s time for the PR industry to be protective ‘AF’ about its creative ideas (14 May)
    ‘It’s time that we got together as an industry to fight to protect our work. Rather than conference after committee on measurement, we need the PRCA and CIPR to stand up for creatives across this whole land. Without rewarding great ideas, the PR industry is just simply another press office.’
  • Si Francis: Welcome to a social enterprise utopia (10 May)
    ‘In Scotland a new stock exchange will soon be launched, currently going by the codename Project Heather, it will assess a firm’s profit, but also it’s wider performance. This will include technological innovation and social, environmental and community impact.’
  • Alex Aiken: Alex Aiken on the PRCA Communications Census 2019 (10 May)
    ‘On the positive side, the industry continues to grow. We estimate its value has now hit £14.9 billion – an increase of 8% since last year; and that industry headcount has now reached 95,000 – an increase of over 10%, meaning that the GCS is roughly 5% of the headcount and 3% of the spend of the whole industry. In every year of the past decade, the PR and communications industry has grown by around the 10% mark, a truly remarkable record in often turbulent business times.’


Consulting, careers and skills

  • Anne Nicholls: Invisible hackers. The role of the ghost writer in PR. (no date)
    ‘The first challenge for the ghost writer is ethical. It may seem dishonest for someone to put their name to a piece that has been written by someone else, but this is acceptable professional practice.’

Politics and public affairs

  • Iain Anderson: Brexit: Deal or no deal, businesses don’t care (16 May)
    ‘The numbers spent on Brexit have been truly eye-watering. According to analysis the UK’s ten largest domestic and foreign banks have spent over £1 billion on their Brexit rewiring plans.’
  • Mark Borkowski: Political symbols and How the Brexit Party are short circuiting your brain (16 May)
    ‘The politics of the right have always understood the power of the symbol. The eagle has appeared on thousands of battle colours, on millions of statues and billions of coins.’
  • Paula Keaveney: EU elections 2019 – the story so far (15 May)
    ‘It was Harold Macmillan who replied ‘events, dear boy’ when asked what would blow the Government off course. But in campaigns, events and how parties respond can make or break. And some events are carefully timed to have impact.’



  • Phil Morcom: Mental health and pr – it’s good to have someone in your corner (16 May)
    ‘I love mental health awareness week. Thousands of stigma challenging articles, blogs and social media posts. Support and advice shared. It’s a great change from even a few years ago.’
  • Paul Sutton with Alistair Beech and Leanne Ehren: Is digital connectivity bad for our mental health? [podcast] (14 May)
    ‘I now have no friends on Facebook and my Instagram is private. I feel mentally healthier and more balanced as a result.’ That’s why I quit: you just can’t separate the professional from the personal.’

Brands and influence

  • Scott Guthrie: Influencer Marketing: More Farrow & Ball than Model T Ford (14 May)
    ‘The media tend to treat the subject of influencers as one amorphous blob. A standardised, commoditised, one-size-fits-all entity. Celebrities, subject matter experts, creators, reviewers, gamers, micro influencers, nano influencers, bloggers, Instagrammers, YouTubers are all heaped into one pile.’
  • Stephen Davies: Running An Influencer-First Agency With Harry Hugo Of Goat (no date)
    ‘We’re not a tech platform. We create bespoke campaigns for clients: the human element is important to us. That requires a certain level of empathy.’

Internal communication

  • Helen Deverell: Why writing will still matter in 2039 (16 May)
    ‘For me, the craft of writing is a fundamental skill that all internal communicators need to have. And we need to banish this idea that it’s easy and something everyone can do. While it has a tactical application, it’s absolutely strategic.’
  • Keith Lewis: Employee advocacy =/v influencer relations (15 May)
    ‘The whole [Internal Comms podcast] conversation is making me reframe how I should be talking about what I do.  What I do really is influencer marketing. Our employees are our influencers. Their content is marketing – sometimes theirs, sometimes ours.’
  • Martin Flegg: The IC Citizen explained (12 May)
    ‘I created the IC Citizen because I’m worried that the internal communications profession is not ready for a future which is nearly upon us. As I see it there are three emerging threats to our profession and we are not currently ready or able to deal with any of them.’
  • Mike Pounsford: Developing Listening Organisations for the 21st Century (10 May)
    ‘Practical barriers to effective organisational listening include lack of time, discounting unpopular views (“uninformed”), poor empathy, little understanding of others’ perspectives, assumptions, not acting on feedback, or forgetting to link actions to heard concerns or suggestions.’

Campaigns and creativity

  • James Herring: RNLI gives it some welly (14 May)
    ‘An installation of 181 pairs of yellow wellies appeared alongside the River Thames this week. The boots represent the average number of people rescued by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) charity every single week across the UK & Ireland.’

Research and evaluation

  • Andy West: Why Impressions Suck (16 May)
    ‘[Seth] Godin has a way with words. His demolition of the importance of impressions is super simple.  He’s spot on when he says “that it makes sense to pay extra to reach precisely the right people. It never makes sense to pay extra to reach more people.”

Media and digital


Final session 21 May 2019, 6:30pm BST live on Facebook

  • Jessica Pardoe#CommsSchool Homework – What Have I Learned? (15 May)
    ‘This course hasn’t just taught me to push myself, it’s also given me a lot of practical knowledge that I can carry forward with me not only as a PR blogger, but as a comms professional too.’