This week in PR (20 April)

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.

Natural History Museum @oysays on Instagram
Natural History Museum @oysays on Instagram

News in brief

  • Sir Martin Sorrell has resigned as chief executive of WPP after three decades in charge (Holmes Report news and commentary). Here’s a brilliant piece of journalism from Ken Auletta in the New Yorker giving the full story of The Rise, Reign and Fall of W.P.P.’s Martin Sorrell.
  • Pub chain JD Wetherspoon is closing down its social media accounts because ‘it’s becoming increasingly obvious that people spend too much time on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and struggle to control the compulsion’. Evening Standard reports.
  • Prolific Australian communication scholar Jim Macnamara has been inducted into the PR News PR Hall of Fame for his work on research for planning and evaluation. Why did I call him prolific? ‘Macnamara’s research outputs in the most recent 2011-2016 ERA round include 3 books, 2 book chapters and 28 academic journal articles.’
  • Entries are now open for the PRCA / PR Week PR Internships Awards 2018.
  • Here’s how to dramatise data in a news release: ‘If Loughborough University were a country it would have been tenth in the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games medal table – ahead of Jamaica and Kenya… More than 85 Loughborough students, alumni and campus based athletes competed in seven different sports for nine different countries during the course of the Games.’
  • Tesla is having production problems, and a leaked memo from boss Elon Musk encourages a disruptive internal culture: ‘Walk out of a meeting or end a phone call if it is failing to serve a useful purpose’; ‘Sidestep the “chain of command” to get the job done’; ‘Ignore the rules if following them is obviously ridiculous.’


Our calendar of events now appears on a separate page

Thought leaders: Pick of the posts

These are the editor’s pick of posts about public relations this week (UK focused, but with a global outloook). Recommendations are welcome to [email protected] or @pr_place

Business / profession

  • Scott Guthrie: How to avoid the predictability trap (no date)
    ‘We form our own predictability trap when we hold onto assumptions based on expectations of stability and continuity in the business world. The world ain’t stable.’
  • Sabine Raabe: 5 Myths of Public Relations (18 April)
    ‘The truth is that every company engages in public relations. The only distinction is if you purposefully manage it or not. Here are 5 PR myths that may be holding you back.’
  • David Brain: Sir Martin Sorrell (17 April)
    ‘Whilst the ‘creative purists’ may cheer his departure, unless the agency industry can find another champion and advocate as global, tireless, wiley, well connected and respected, they may discover their ideas are taken less seriously in the future.’
  • Sally Costerton: High Heels and Dragons – two sides of working for Sir Martin Sorrell (17 April)
    ‘Throughout my time at WPP – and still today – I have nothing but respect for Martin. Like him, fear him, few could inspire that kind of performance.’

Careers and skills

  • Will Hart: Five Top Tips to get into PR (no date)
    ‘It’s one of the great joys of working life to be able to offer candidates their first jobs in PR and then seeing them embrace the opportunity and ‘learn to fly’.
  • Erin Salisbury: Opinion: How to future proof young leaders (16 April)
    ‘I used to think staying at work 12 hours a day and taking on as many responsibilities as possible was the only way to demonstrate value. This changed when I received feedback during a review that one of my biggest development areas was delegation.’
  • Arianne Williams: Public relations: It’s like shoe repairs and key cutting (16 April)
    ‘If we’re going to define PR as a management discipline, we need to get away from the PR-is-the-same-as-marketing narrative and educate people on the value of PR – whether that’s within other departments in ours or our client’s businesses, amongst the general public or even as professionals ourselves.
  • Simon Austin / Dean Gallagher: A Week in My Life: Dean Gallagher, associate director at Weber Shandwick Manchester (16 April)
    The week closes, as it always does, with a million and one questions flying around my grey matter. Will we be stretched on new business next week? Who should be added to our prospects list? Where’s the next award winning campaign coming from?’
  • Mike Sergeant: Seek clarity not simplicity (13 April)
    ‘Stripping away layers usually gets you to a better place in communication. Now, though, I think simplicity can’t be the destination. The final goal must be clarity.’

Campaigns and creativity

Internal communication

  • Jenni Field: From informing to engaging: the role of IC in driving engaging and authentic leadership communications (19 April)
    ‘It was great to kick off with a reminder about the mammalian brain (feelings) and neocortex (logic) and how 86% of decisions are based on feelings.’
  • Rachel Bowyer: Calling all new internal communicators… (19 April)
    ‘In two out of my three roles, I have been in a Comms team of one, trying to teach myself but a lot of the time just trying to do a decent job… Sometimes you need a safe network of people who you feel are your equals professionally and are going through the same experiences as you.’
  • Helen Deverell: Be less Rick, be more Madonna (17 April)
    ‘To understand what gives a campaign a ‘long wow’, and because there’s only so many rick-rolling references we can make, we’re going to take you on a whirlwind tour of some of Madonna’s greatest hits and apply them to some campaign best practice…’
  • Advita Patel: Working with no budget? (16 April)
    ‘I’ve pulled together a handy list of all the tools that have helped me out in my role without breaking the bank.’

Media and digital

  • Russell Goldsmith with Stephen Waddington and David Weinberger: Platinum podcasts – Technology and the future of PR [podcast] (18 April)
    ‘[AI] is a difficult and controversial area. We don’t know how this is going to develop. Some caution and humility is 100% called for.’
  • Gini Dietrich: Communicators: It’s Time to Step Up and Own the PESO Model (18 April)
    Yes, media relations (or earned media) is absolutely part of what we do—and it owns one quarter of the PESO model. But it is only one quarter. There are three other quarters in the integrated model that are just as important—and fall underneath the public relations or communications umbrella (whatever you want to call yourself).’
  • Steve Dunne: Comment: Make sure a social media influencers’ numbers add up (18 April)
    ‘Big numbers of followers and views are impressive, but the key metric is summed up by shareability – how many people share their post or retweet it? That is real third-party endorsement.’
  • Rich Leigh: Why JD Wetherspoon is right to call time on its social media accounts (16 April)
    ‘If Asos, for instance, was to pull its social for the same reasons, I’d disagree, given it doesn’t have a face-to-face channel through which to otherwise engage, but… fair play to Wetherspoon.’
  • John Whyte-Venables: Video editing on your phone (20 April)
    ‘The editing app I used on my iPhone 6S Plus – Lumafusion – could do  everything the conventional software could. And I finished my video project well before some of the others, because editing on my pocketable device meant I could work easily and unobtrusively on the fly.’
  • Stephen Waddington: A letter to Mark Zuckerberg (15 April)
    ‘We need to talk about our relationship. You’ve been there for me through the highs and lows of the last ten years. I’ve grown middle aged with you. In the past I’ve dismissed users talking down Facebook as techno fear but lately we’ve hit a rocky patch.’

#prstudent #bestPRblogs

Here are two useful resource for PR students:

And here’s our pick of the best posts by those studying public relations and/or aspiring to work in PR.

  • Orlagh Shanks (Liverpool John Moores): #SocialMedia: Do We Share Too Much Online? (19 April)
    ‘First there was Bebo, then we moved onto Facebook. But now Facebook has become inundated with our parents and older relatives so we’ve moved over to Instagram and Snapchat. Twitter’s still lurking in the background but is mostly made up of Piers Morgan bickering with Lord Alan Sugar and Donald Trump putting the fear of God in us all that he’s going to start the war to end the world.’
  • Lauren Toal (Ulster): Questions with Chris (19 April)
    ‘PR is a management discipline and it’s important for our industry that practitioners are strategic in their thinking about the value PR can bring to a business.’
  • Jessica Pardoe (Liverpool John Moores): Three Cheers for Three Years (18 April)
    Not only did I find friends for life in 2015, but I also found myself. When I first started university I was a shy, introverted and definitely (or so I thought) on the wrong course.’
  • Silvia Bajlova (Ulster): Zuck Goes to Washington (17 April)
    ‘Zuckerberg kept repeating a few obviously rehearsed and carefully drafted statements, which were aimed to reframe Facebook’s image from an international corporation to a dorm room start-up that somehow got too big.’
  • Laura Duffy (Ulster): 4 things marketers can learn from Willy Wonka- ‘The Marketing Legend’ (17 April)
    ‘From my placement year working in a marketing department I think businesses could learn a thing or two from this fictional character.’
  • Cara Cowan (Ulster): “My Movement told me be a consumer and I consumer it!” (16 April)
    I find the theory of capitalism and commodity fetishism fascinating… so much that I have based my dissertation on the topic. With the ability to target consumers based on behaviour and search activity, the fetishes for commodities are becoming harder to resist.’
  • Connor Peters (Bournemouth): Comms professionals – are we culturally intelligent? (15 April)
    ‘How does cultural intelligence impact UK businesses now? And how does social media play a part in this? Well, that’s what I’m trying to find out.’
  • Rosie Heaton (Leeds Beckett): You are special (15 April)
    ‘It’s hard to explain the pure joy that comes with HCPT’s trip to Lourdes to someone who hasn’t lived it without sounding like a crazy person.’