This week in PR (18 December)

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.

 I've seen this fishing boat many times driving to Oban and always thought it would make a good picture but wizz past too fast to stop. The one time I stop the fisherman turns up!
@darylwillcox on Instagram
I've seen this fishing boat many times driving to Oban and always thought it would make a good picture but wizz past too fast to stop. The one time I stop the fisherman turns up! @darylwillcox on Instagram

This round-up will take a short break, resuming on 8 January 2021. Be safe; enjoy the peace.

News in brief

  • CIPR president Jenni Field has awarded the Sir Stephen Tallents Medal to Kerry Sheehan and the President’s Medal to Rachel Miller.
  • PRovoke Media’s Innovator 25 EMEA 2020 lists a diverse collection of insiders and outsiders (eg Marcus Rashford) who are change-makers. 14 of the 25 are from the UK; 60% are women and more than half are non-white.

Covid-19 and comms

Purpose and professionalism

  • Phoebe-Jane Boyd: 10 PR and communications trends for 2021 (14 December)
    ‘We have to professionalise ourselves. Sometimes the worst instances of disinformation and fake news are perpetrated by those claiming to be PR consultants. All membership bodies have to distance themselves and call out poor practice.’

Consulting, teams and careers

  • Vicki Marinker with Rod Cartwright: Episode 6: Sorry seems to be the hardest word – communicating during a crisis [podcast] (18 December)
    ‘You have to have the courage of your convictions as an adviser, and you have to be willing to speak truth to power even if that is not what the client wishes to hear. You have to give advice based on the client’s needs.’
  • Debs Field: Reflection and recovery (16 December)
    ‘I decided to prioritise myself and started getting coaching. I never realised what a fantastic decision that would turn out to be. Being able to commit to time just for me (and my brilliant coach) to reflect over actions, behaviours and decisions has felt like hitting a ‘pause’ button.’
  • Nick Barron: Anatomy of a communicator (15 December)
    ‘Most of this year’s communicators owe much of their success to effective use of social channels, but their work shows that the most effective campaigns combine direct communication and mainstream media platforms.’
  • Orlagh Shanks: 3 Things to Consider Before Changing Career (14 December)
    ‘Many freelancers live month-to-month and no month is ever the same income-wise. Whether you would like that no month is ever the same, you are constantly chasing invoices or searching for work, that would be up to you. Perhaps the benefits outweigh the negatives?’

Wellbeing, gender and diversity

  • Nafisa Shafiq: Belonging in pr and comms; a tale of a polyglot (17 December)
    ‘I was raised speaking Punjabi at home, I was taught to read Arabic at mosque, I learnt French at school, I watched Bollywood movies as I grew up – listening to songs in Hindi, and during my summer holidays, I was taught to read, write and speak in Urdu.’
  • Sara Hawthorn: Are you better now? (17 December)
    ‘I have what is being termed Long Covid. Right now, I’m waiting on a referral to a Long Covid clinic, eight months after crushing breathlessness and tingling fingers brought paramedics out and a nerve-wracking trip to St James’ Hospital.’
  • Amanda Coleman: When you hit rock bottom what next? (15 December)
    ‘When I started 2020 I was in a dark place. My world was in pieces and I really didn’t know what this year was going to bring. All I did know was that I was struggling to deal with each day.’
  • Annique Simpson: Celebrating 2020: 5 ‘impossible’ things I did this year (15 December)
    ‘If there was ever a time where humans needed reminding that the world is a positive, just and hopeful place, it’s now.’

Public and third sectors

  • Ross Wigham: No shortage of challenges (13 December)
    ‘There’s no shortage of challenges around managing expectations, winter, a growing mental health crisis, possible financial downturn, the spectre of Brexit and of course covid.’
  • Darren Caveney: The best zoom call ever, a winner announced and speaking truth to power (13 December)
    ‘The comms2point0 site is over nine years old now and truly is a treasure trove of comms insight and wisdom. In 2020 there have been almost 100 posts published – that’s one post every 3.5 days.’

Politics, public affairs and public sphere

  • Simon Francis: The digital future for charity public affairs (no date)
    ‘The shift online has come with some drawbacks. Most notably a rise in hate speech directed at charities, MPs and their staff.’
  • Stuart Thomson: Post Brexit Britain (14 December)
    ‘Any thoughts about 2021 needs to reckon with elections in May and the opportunities and threats they bring, but also about the chances of, for instance, a mini-budget early next year with a full budget towards the end of the year (along with spending announcements).’

Brands, storytelling, and influence 

  • Sophie Shaw: Storyboarding your social (no date)
    ‘Simply put, if you want to excel in 2021 then you need to understand that boring content will not stand-out. The need for high-quality and impactful content is a pre-requisite if you’re to avail of social success.’
  • Nick Gold: Brands which tell stories will thrive during the recession (14 December)
    ‘During a time of recession, it is natural to retreat back to defensive positions, to see it through, to consider that the game is to stay in the game.  However…Disney, AirBnB, Microsoft, IBM or General Electric were born out of recession.’
  • Alec Harden-Henry: 85% of FMCG firms report a negative influencer experience, so what’s going wrong? (14 December)
    ‘Ask any influencer marketing manager and they will tell you that doing influencer marketing at scale is tough.’

Internal communication

  • Jill Spurr: Engagement springs from within (16 December)
    ‘When a proportion of your workforce is at the creaking limit of engagement, it’s much, much too late for presents and freebies. It’s too late for anything but reinforcing employees’ why through a visible leadership team living the values.’
  • Agnes Costa: Goodbye Gatehouse… Hello Gallagher! (15 December)
    ‘The future is EX-shaped; and looking inside your organisation to focus on the holistic employee experience is key to ensuring you’re ready for the now while evolving for the long term.’
  • Rachel Miller: How mature is your internal communication? (14 December)
    ‘This maturity model helps you accurately identify where a Comms team is now. You can then use it as a blueprint to match the team’s aspirations.’
  • Martin Flegg: Voice only (13 December)
    ‘There is now good evidence, and a growing body of research, which demonstrates that being continually visible on camera is not good for us. In fact, it is downright stressful and detrimental for both workplace performance and our wellbeing.’
  • Tom McGovern: Why targeting influential employees is more effective and efficient than all-colleague approaches (11 December)
    ‘The push to reach as many employees as possible and ‘get everyone on the same page’ often does more harm than good. A much more effective and efficient approach is one which involves identifying influential employees and focusing efforts on these individuals.’

Technology, media and digital

#PRstudent #bestPRblogs

  • Shauna McKillop (Ulster): Did You Grab A ‘Deal’ In PLT’s 99% off sale? (17 December)
    ‘Recently I have turned away from fast fashion brands such as Boohoo and Pretty Little Thing firstly because I am not a fan of the quality of their clothes and secondly, because I have learned more about the brands themselves.’
  • Lauren Campbell (Ulster): The Christmas Shopping Experience: 2020 Style (17 December)
    ‘2020 has been a difficult year for everyone and according to Mintel, 77% of consumers believe that it’s more important than ever to have a good Christmas this year to make up for the events of 2020. This increases the pressure to give the perfect gift this year.’
  • Courtney McGoldrick (Ulster): Child Poverty & Domestic Violence – A Real Issue in 2020 (16 December)
    ‘This Christmas will be very different for many families around the globe, so we need to make it our mission to help where we can.’
  • Babett Kürschner (LCC/UAL): Social Media Platforms and Anti-Social Behaviour: The Rise and Fall of Parler (no date)
    ‘Initially, the platform proclaimed to be a “safe space” (or rather echo chamber) where users could express their opinions without regulations or censorship. But Parler fell victim to social risks that have afflicted the fate of many other alternative social networks.’
  • Katie McKeown (Ulster): A puppy – not just for Christmas nor lockdown, but for life. (15 December)
    ‘With millions working from home and being placed on furlough, the demand for new furry friends to keep us company throughout the dreary days of lockdown has soared dramatically and it is understood that this has led to prices for popular pooches such as Cockapoos and French Bulldogs now being quoted at double their usual price.’
  • Joshua Van Loggerenberg (Ulster): 2020: The Year That Changed Consumerism (14 December)
    ‘It is already very clear that the high street will look very different in the coming years as retailers’ transition to online stores and weaker players begin to disappear.’
  • Elyshia Dixon (Sunderland): Sustainability and it’s Classism issue (13 December)
    ‘I feel my conscious effort to ditch fast fashion and buy second hand to help aid the planet back to recovery has become a hobby over the years rather than an ethical standpoint, as well as being affordable for me on a student budget.’
  • Lauren Phoenix (Newcastle): Children in need – Fundraising during a pandemic (11 December)
    ‘According to Charities Aid Foundation during COVID-19, there has been an increase in demand for charity services, however, the donations have dropped over 50%, meaning that fundraising is vital during this time.’

We’re taking a break until the New Year, so let’s take a look at the individual leaders at Christmas:

Student University # appearances
Eloise Newman Solent 10
Babett Kürschner LCC/UAL 6
Megan Laura Harris Liverpool John Moores 5
Kayleigh Tinney Ulster 5
Ciara Hughes Ulster 3
Rachael Thompson Sunderland 3


Now let’s look at the most prolific universities: you’ll see the contrast between collective and individual efforts.

University #students included #appearances
Ulster 37 47
Solent 3 12
Sunderland 4 6
Liverpool John Moores 1 5
Leeds Beckett 3 4