This week in PR (19 June)

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.

Today is the 40th anniversary of my family's arrival in #hongkong 🇭🇰♥️ @arunsudhaman
Today is the 40th anniversary of my family's arrival in #hongkong 🇭🇰♥️ @arunsudhaman

News in brief

  • I’d expected the person of the week to be another outlier: Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford for his successful lobbying to extend free school meals over the summer. But he’s been overtaken by one of our own: Elizabeth Bananuka for The Blueprint scheme for employers to show their commitment to and progress towards racial equality. You can read about this in her own words below.
  • On that topic, a ‘new CIPR report finds a profession with declining levels of ethnic diversity and with insufficient action being taken to address the issue. A profession good at ‘talking the talk’ but not at ‘walking the walk’.’
  • Never become the story: self-declared ‘media consigliere’ Paul Blanchard is now the subject of media investigation into his business practices (see the current Private Eye and John Sweeney’s report for Byline Times)
  • Stephen Waddington has left digital marketing agency Metia to start his own advisory firm (PRovoke Media).

Academic, education and training

  • Thomas Stoeckle and Neville Hobson with Sam Knowles: A very curious mind indeed [podcast]
    ‘I’ve become increasingly disillusioned with the cavalier way that many people in agencies and client-side have used the word insight. They’ve tossed it around as if a casual observation or the presentation of a spreadsheet was in fact insight. Insight for me is a profound and useful understanding of a person, an issue, a topic, a thing.’

Covid-19 comms

  • Ann Pilkington: We may be in uncertain times, but we can still have a comms plan (16 June)
    Adopting a fully agile approach to communication planning can seem daunting and there isn’t much guidance available on how to do this.’
  • Michael White: How Covid-19 is impacting public trust (16 June)
    ‘COVID-19 isn’t just the biggest societal and economic test we’ve faced in a generation, it’s the hunger games of reputation management. Clear winners and losers have emerged from the worldwide crisis and misjudging public sentiment forms a pattern.’
  • Charlie Pownall: UK government COVID-19 response timeline (13 June)
    ‘Here is a chronological overview of the UK government’s communications response to the COVID-19 pandemic.’

Wellbeing, gender and diversity

  • Elizabeth Bananuka: Why I’ve launched a diversity mark to promote racial diversity in PR and comms (18 June)
    ‘PRWeek’s International Agency of the Year, Manifest, is the first to secure The Blueprint status, and strategic and creative advisory firm Blurred and specialist Leeds-based tech agency InFusion Comms are the first to be awarded The Blueprint Ally status.’
  • Cornelius Alexander: A decade of promises and good intentions (17 June)
    ‘Many BME PR professionals have been victims of micro-aggressions, victimisation and overt discrimination. A report by the CIPR will shortly discuss this in greater detail with testimony from BME PROs about the issues they have faced. This report is a follow-up to one from 2015 which paints a picture of no progress in that numbers of BME PR practitioners have been falling and those who remain do not stay long as they see little opportunity for advancement. It is shameful that this ‘open secret’ has not been eradicated, and that discriminatory practises remain.’
  • Phoebe-Jane Boyd: Spotlight on the Taylor Bennett Foundation, with chief executive Melissa Lawrence (16 June)
    ‘We have been delighted with the number of agencies and in-house teams who have been in touch recently, offering to work with us and donating to the Foundation.’
  • Silvia Arto: Diversity, the richness of Collective Intelligence. A managerial point of view (12 June)
    ‘Diversity is a source of richness for a team; it must be encouraged to perform better together and multiply results. Here is my feedback on 6 dimensions of diversity which are important to me from a managerial point of view.’

Virtual events

  • Jen Kelham: Virtual events are here to stay: Key takeaways from Babel’s panel featuring the BBC, PA Media and All Day DevOps (18 June)
    ‘As a result of the pandemic there has been a significant increase in the number of virtual events – and specifically virtual conferences, press conferences, and virtual roundtables. But these virtual events present different challenges and different opportunities from their physical counterparts – particularly when it comes to engagement.’
  • Teela Clayton: Festival season #PRFest (18 June)
    ‘Following Laura’s opening speech, establishing purpose, Kuldeep Mehmi, a Taylor Bennett Foundation alum set the scene for BAME candidates entering the industry and stressed the importance of collective responsibility for implementing meaningful inclusivity.’

Consulting, teams and careers

  • Sarah Rice: To the young – be not afraid (16 June)
    ‘I’m no ‘inspiration’ and I didn’t go to uni and I didn’t follow the path most trodden and I’ve been a chambermaid, worked three bar jobs at once in London, I’ve done car ads and sold business rates. But I’ve also worked for more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, a further decade as a PR in agency, been a lecturer in journalism and PR, appeared on TV many times for a major brand.’
  • Jenni Field: How to pivot to drive growth (17 June)
    ‘For some this feels counter-intuitive but if you have a clear purpose and goal, then you must focus on that.’
  • Adam Tuckwell and Jon Wilcox with Carrie Rose: From Apprentice to SEO master [podcast] (16 June)
    ‘I made it through to the final stage [for The Apprentice] but got declined by Lord Sugar. But within a couple of weeks I received a private offer of investment to start up so I thought, wait, this could be an opportunity. I’d already done my business plan.’
  • Jo Jamieson: Seven things I’ve learnt in lockdown (15 June)
    ‘We thought Brexit would be the biggest risk to our fledgling business (Covid19: “Hold my pint…”) Thank goodness we had no idea that a nationwide lockdown was just around the corner, because it would have required balls of steel to launch when we did.’
  • Alice Baxter: Starting my comms career in the midst of a pandemic (12 June)
    ‘During these first few months, even with everyone working remotely, I’ve been encouraged to stay curious and develop daily. For those of you at a similar stage of your career, or graduates looking to get into social media or communications, I’ve highlighted my top tips for continuing the learning process in addition to your day-to-day activities.’

Public and third sectors

  • David Holdstock: Satisfaction with councils at record high (18 June)
    ‘We should all feel proud of the work councils have been doing to support their communities, reflected in what our residents feel about how we’ve supported them.’
  • Shirah Bamber: Tales from a perpetual plate spinner (18 June)
    ‘Communications spans the width and breadth of our organisations. It expands our ability to work in partnership and sharpens our understanding of our residents and communities. It enables us to raise awareness, encourage new behaviours and it helps us deal with “unprecedented crises.” Communications is an easy target but, in an era of increasing public expectation and decreasing budgets, it is more valuable than ever.’
  • Alexander Mills: 6 titles, 6 tips – comms lessons from the chicago bulls’ basketball dynasty (14 June)
    ‘The greats are not immune to failure, and neither was Michael Jordan. He got knocked down year after year, yet got back up stronger every time.’


Politics, public affairs and public sphere

  • Arvind Hickman and Danny Rogers with Paul Charles and Rachel O’Reilly: The PR Show: How a PR campaign is taking the fight to ‘ridiculous’ quarantine rules [podcast] (15 June)
    ‘There’s one word that explains the government’s quarantine rules, and that’s ‘ridiculous’. No one can understand why the government in the UK is doing it now when our cases are still relatively high and our neighbours in Europe have much lower rates.’

Brands, storytelling, and influence

  • Niki Lancaster: Will social media return to normal? Brand lessons from the pandemic (18 June)
    ‘People’s expectations of brands will have changed and the same high standard of communication will need to be upheld even as ‘normality’ returns. During the pandemic, brands were forced to become more engaging and creative with the content they produced and put out into the world, too; this standard will also need to be upheld even when consumers can get their entertainment offline again.’
  • Chris Lee: Take a Tailored Approach to Working with Influencers and Micro-Influencers (18 June)
    ‘After some recent poor pitches, even from lead agencies, I am going to impart some tips on how to work with influencers and micro-influencers.’

Internal communication

  • Kate Waters: How to host a socially-distanced staff awards ceremony (18 June)
    ‘Like other NHS staff around the country, our staff gave everything they had to fight COVID-19 and provide the best possible care to patients in difficult circumstances. We couldn’t let them go uncelebrated. But how do you reschedule a staff awards event during a pandemic?’
  • Nicole Alvino: COVID-19 and Comms – we’re not done yet (17 June)
    ‘It seems the days of formal CEO newsletters are gone. People are getting a small insight into their leaders’ personal lives with authentic videos made from home, and this little glimmer is making the relationship more genuine. Could this be where trust begins to flourish?’
  • Lisa Pantelli: Virtual experiences, not virtual events (15 June)
    ‘The beauty of virtual events is you can attract speakers from anywhere in the globe without the cost and logistics to manage. It also means you can be razor-focussed on the type of content and speakers you want to join on the day. Our speaker list included a knight, a CEO and a professor.’
  • Martin Flegg: Ethical IC in a gas lit world (15 June)
    ‘Some internal communicators may be put under pressure to be a part of this gaslighting campaign by leaders in their organisations and others, and to sacrifice balanced and truthful internal communication on the altar of the bottom line to help their employers get employees back over the workplace threshold more quickly.’
  • Debbie Aurelius and guests: How to Comms It Up with Martin Flegg, Sue Palfrey and Matt Batten. [podcast] (14 June)
    Matt: ‘I’m really chuffed when someone asks me to ‘work my comms magic’!’ Sue: ‘I hate the phrase; I just think it’s lazy.’
  • Andrew Hesselden: Pressing our buttons (12 June)
    ‘I think persuasive (or even manipulative) communications have their place, but as communicators we have great responsibility and there are ethical considerations to reflect upon.’

Technology, media and digital

  • Orlagh Shanks: What Happens When You Go Off the Grid? (15 June)
    ‘Instagram, Facebook and other social media apps are the highlight reel of your life. It shows the good times and only the good times, which is why people can get so down about being on there.’
  • Dan Lifton: A look at TikTok’s self-service ad manager (no date)
    ‘For those who have used Facebook ads and Pinterest ads, the UI here feels like a hybrid between the two.’
  • Gary Taylor: Marmite Press (14 June)
    ‘In this table I’ve listed some of the common things you might want to insert into a post, how they are coded and styled in the Old Method and how they work now with the block editor [in WordPress].’