This week in PR (18 January)

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.

Tower Bridge @marcelkl
Tower Bridge @marcelkl

In the news

  • With so much else to preoccupy our thoughts this week, it’s remarkable that a short promotional film from the US should achieve such cut-through. The Gillette film has divided opinion, and several commentators have their say from a public relations perspective below under ‘campaigns and creativity’.
  • Extreme weather events and climate change are high on the list of the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2019
  • Stuart Smith is leaving Ogilvy PR for an in-house role (Holmes Report).
  • Sarah Henderson has been promoted to managing director at Pretty Green.
  • Davnet Doran is going in-house at Britvic.


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

  • Amanda Coleman: Being human (17 January)
    ‘Humanity and authenticity were themes for the morning with a recognition that we need to be real. It means the end of ego run PR businesses and a recognition that staff are people.’
  • Robert Phillips: Message to Davos: the world needs a new kind of leadership (16 January)
    ‘The book title [Trust Me, PR is Dead] was ironic but ultimately mis-leading. Storytelling will never die. It feeds a profound human need for comforting narratives. This does not mean that PR is suddenly a profession (it isn’t) or that lying – some call it “fake news” – is acceptable.’


  • Richard Edelman: A letter to Dan (16 January)
    ‘We have six hundred creatives, planners and paid experts, along with 700 people in digital. So, a quarter of all employees are no longer classic PR experts.’
  • Elena Georgieva: 10 questions to ask before you hire an analyst (no date)
    ‘We’ve put together ten questions that you should ask any analyst firm sales rep before making your decision to commit to a subscription.’
  • Arun Sudhaman with Alan VanderMolen: The Echo Chamber podcast (14 January)
    ‘The Chief Communications Officer (CCO) has played second fiddle to the Chief Marketing Officer, especially in consumer-facing companies. You’ve also seen legal overtaking the CCO. Now, the CCO and the skills of a modern CCO are needed in the boardroom more than ever in my 30 year career.’

Careers and skills

  • Chris Lee: What journalists bring to PR (no date)
    ‘As someone who considers two years in the IT trade pressroom as my most valuable grounding for a further 17 years in PR, I want to discuss what a journalist can bring to the PR table. Clue: it not just about copywriting…’
  • Sarah Stimson: How to get a job in tech PR (15 January)
    ‘I thought I’d throw it open to my own PR community to see if anyone had any tips, and they really delivered. It was such helpful advice I thought others might find it useful too, so here it all is.’
  • Farzana Baduel: How to build influence in the workplace (no date)
    ‘Do you know your value? Do you allow others to define your value? If you develop your self-awareness, you will have a true understanding of your value to your organisation and read beyond your job description to understand the sub-text of your true value and existence at work.’
  • Laura Sutherland: Be remarkable at what you do (15 January)
    ‘There is a tendency to look at what others are doing and get FOMO, or to question what you are currently doing, but to be remarkable in your own business means focussing on your product or service and delivering it in your own special way. No-one else can do that.’
  • Lianne Robinson: How to plan your maternity leave when you’re a freelancer (14 January)
    ‘Going a year or even just a few months with no income is a very scary concept, especially when you are self-employed.’
  • Stephen Davies: 40 life lessons at 40 years old (no date)
    ‘Over time I realised that I actually like where I’m from. I’m proud of my upbringing and my working class background. It was a parochial upbringing which gave me a naive way of seeing the world. Twelve years in London has given me more of an understanding of how the world really works.’

Politics and public affairs

  • John-Paul Danon: Brexit: The Uncivil War – reflections of an ad man (13 January)
    ‘Programmatic advertising – the ads you’re served online and on social media tailored to match your browsing history – is, without doubt, a powerful tool in the communicator’s armoury. It can target communication campaign messages to specific groups of people based on the anonymised data collected… But it is not in itself insidious, nor evil, nor does it have magical properties.’

Public and third sectors

  • Ben Verinder: Cash-strapped colleges should invest in PR (17 January)
    In many colleges, PR exists solely in the form of press agency to support student recruitment[. The vast majority of UK colleges do not employ a qualified public relations practitioner. While there are some brilliant, experienced and qualified practitioners out there, they are the exception.’
  • Amanda White: An inspiring start to the new year (15 January)
    ‘I’m excited about the opportunities that our Public Advisory Board and our wider public engagement strategy will offer for the future of health data research.’
  • Alex Aiken: Standards, Democracy and Communities: GCS Challenges for 2019 (14 January)
    ‘The Director of Communication Group met this week and discussed our ambitions for the year ahead. I set out three priorities – raising standards, strengthening our democracy and reassuring communities. Each of these objectives is supported by tangible activity that I believe will help the profession and serve the country.
  • Stephen Welch with Fayrouz Essack: “I wanted to move from more of a tactical, transactional approach.” – A Q&A (11 January)
    ‘The Early Talent Programme is a two-year programme run by the UK Government Communication Service (GCS) to help professionals build and develop their career. I started in April 2017 and it has really helped me build my career.’

Brands and influence

Internal communication

  • Advita Patel: Top three tips to unleash your inner rebel! (18 January)
    ‘Ask the right questions. So often we take things on without questioning the rationale for it and we end up slogging our guts out for minimum return.’
  • Mike Lepis: 2019 employee experience trends and predictions: What is on the radar of EX professionals this year? (15 January)
    Employees today are no different than a savvy customer base. They demand and deserve the same respect, authenticity, clarity, and attentiveness you would give a customer who pays for your service or product.’
  • Debs Field: The Only Way is Ethics (15 January)
    ‘There is no point in using our media relations to proclaim how great and upstanding you are if, behind closed doors, your staff know it’s a lie! Not least because all it takes is one disgruntled colleagues and a social media feed.’
  • Nick Helsby: Internal communications must seize its moment in 2019 (15 January)
    ‘The new UK Corporate Governance code takes effect from January and will require companies to show how directors have engaged with employees and how their interests, and those of other stakeholders, have influenced board decision making.’
  • Martin Flegg: ‘We need posters and leaflets’ – a simple misunderstanding (13 January)
    ‘Why does a conversation with stakeholders about communication usually start with tactics, and not the business and communication objectives which need to be achieved? I think it’s because of a few fundamental but simple misunderstandings. Here are three of them.’
  • Helen Deverell: How to create compelling content (11 January)
    ‘Having a strategy and plan doesn’t mean you can’t be creative, simply that you’re more targeted in the way you bring information and stories to life.

Campaigns and creativity: Gillette

Technology and AI

Media and digital

  • Stephen Waddington: How to use paid media as part of an integrated PESO campaign (17 January)
    ‘Paid media is an important element of an integrated paid, earned, shared and owned (PESO) model but it’s the least understood.’
  • Kieran Moriarty: Stories: The Imitation Game (16 January)
    ‘Way back in 2013, Snapchat launched one of social media’s most groundbreaking innovations – Stories. Since then, Stories have gone on to be replicated on pretty much every platform and have even overtaken the traditional news feed on Instagram.’
  • Gemma Storey: Are paywalls the future of online news? (11 January)
    ‘Why shouldn’t media outlets use a paywall? Journalists have to eat after all. High-quality journalism costs money. But is a paywall the answer? Is there another way that these businesses can survive in the age of social media?’

#prstudent #bestPRblogs

Here are two bonus posts of interest to PR students:

  • Lucy Hayball (Bournemouth): Living life through ‘the gram’ – tips for a less ‘social’ life (17 January)
    ‘I know how much I rely on social media, I’m no idiot. I know how much time I spent on it – now even your iPhone can tell you how many hours you’ve spent scrolling through Instagram in one day, that’s pretty scary.’
  • Aoibheann McKinley (Ulster): Are we a “lazy” generation? (17 January)
    ‘If you didn’t have your smartphone to tell you about everything and anything, would you go to the library to search for a book to read up about it? I mean, the effort!’
  • Niamh Murray (Ulster): Fake News (15 January)
    ‘Fake news is more than a few computer hackers having a laugh and pulling a prank on the general public. It’s more than ‘satire’ and sarcasm. These fake stories are malicious. They’re giving close-minded people ammunition and supposed “reasons” to hate others and what they stand for.’
  • Holly Rees (South Wales): Razors and snowflakes (15 January)
    ‘At no point does the [Gillette] film say that being masculine is bad, nor does it in any way suggest that men should be ashamed of who they are (excepting those that harass people/spread violence/etc.).’
  • Griana Fox (Ulster): Spinning a yarn (15 January)
    ‘[Politics] really does affect our everyday lives, from policy to taxation, so it’s important to incorporate keeping up with current affairs into our daily routines – it’s all too easy to fall down YouTube rabbit holes for hours.’
  • Lauren Thomas (South Wales): How being an emo kid lead [sic] me into a PR degree (12 January)
    ‘If it wasn’t for this scene growing up I honestly don’t think I’d even be into PR or marketing or anything like this as if it wasn’t for going to gigs and working events I wouldn’t be so interested in the workings behind such things.’