This week in PR (20 March)

About the author

Richard Bailey FCIPR MPRCA is editor of our Insights, formerly PR Place. He teaches and assesses undergraduate, postgraduate and professional students.

Just a little foreboding. On the positive side - no sign of zombies (yet). 🧟‍♂️ 🧟‍♀️ @jasonmackenzie on Instagram
Just a little foreboding. On the positive side - no sign of zombies (yet). 🧟‍♂️ 🧟‍♀️ @jasonmackenzie on Instagram

News in brief

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19): The CIPR has an information, support and advice page; the PRCA plans to launch a Global Covid-19 Public Communications Taskforce; IC Kollectif has collated A helpful list of resources for communication professionals.
  • In other news, the government has delayed the introduction of IR35 employment rules affecting many freelance contractors in the private sector, putting it back to April 2021.
  • Conferences: The International History of Public Relations Conference has been cancelled. The plan is to hold it next year in Boston, MA.
  • OK Mentor: Georgia Rudkin of MHP is involved in this new mentoring scheme open to young women looking to enter the creative industries. Georgia writes: ‘The idea of the programme is to teach ‘board level’ skills from a much earlier age.  The line-up of mentors is amazing and we’re keen to expand the list to include senior PR professionals too.’

Coronavirus comms

Purpose and professionalism

  • Robert Phillips: Fairytale Leaders & The Holy Trinity (March 2020)
    ‘Good leaders must be honest about the inevitable difficulties on the journey ahead, especially when they know it’s going to be tough. (Presidents and Prime Ministers, please take note).’
  • Karan Chadda: Purpose-fully Panglossian (15 March)
    ‘Some companies are getting a little ahead of themselves. They keep talking about the destination but the journey isn’t really clear.’
  • Mark Borkowski: Let’s measure in units of trust (13 March)
    ‘As it seems more and more likely today, that those who can work from home will be encouraged to, we need leaders who can measure in units of trust to ensure that things are achieved, a sense of community is ensured and some sort of normal is retained.’

Consulting, teams and careers

  • Ann Pilkington: Making virtual working, work (18 March)
    ‘At PR Academy we ditched the office about a year ago. And we’ve been virtual ever since. Here’s how we make it work.’
  • Carrington Comms: How to shine in your first PR agency job (16 March)
    ‘Put simply, mistakes make you better at your job in the long run because you know what not to do next time!’

Politics, public affairs and public sphere

  • Stuart Thomson: Coronavirus and public affairs (16 March)
    ‘It is worth thinking about other forms of engagement, such as using webinars or livestreaming smaller scale discussions (and recording them for later use). Trying to look for the positives, it may be a way of testing out some new engagement techniques for use in the future. But the reality is that most issues simply do not rate very highly at the moment. In which case for most organisations, think about pausing for a while and plan to start again after the Easter recess.’

Risk, crisis and reputation

  • Tony Langham with Ralph Jackson and Rachel Atkins: Protecting reputation from crises [podcast] (no date)
    ‘It was once the case that the lawyer didn’t like the PR people to craft messages that could lead to a liability. Now we’re both working together to make sure the company does and says the right thing. By working together, the client gets better advice. There are ways of saying sorry without admitting liability.’

Wellbeing, gender and diversity

  • Gary Taylor: Splendid isolation (18 March)
    ‘This is not going to be a mere 14-day lockdown. It might not even be a two-month affair. Think you could do it for six months? Or longer? I know I can’t, and I’m doing it now!’
  • Rachel Miller: How to do whatever it takes (18 March)
    ‘Over the past couple of weeks I’ve published thousands of words here on my blog to help you and made my crisis communication guide available as a free download and video.’

Campaigns and creativity

  • Jessica Pardoe: Coronavirus: Lessons From A Football Club (13 March)
    ‘Following the news that their game has been cancelled, [Aston Villa] had a bunch of food that would have been absolutely devastating to see go to waste. Luckily, they’ve got their heads screwed on at HQ and saw an opportunity to benefit the local rough sleepers and those who arguably are perhaps amongst the most vulnerable right now.’
  • Andy Green: How viral can combat virus: What we need is a coronavirus meme strategy (13 March)
    ‘First coined by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in his seminal book ‘The Selfish Gene’ (1976), Dawkins advocated how humanity had two forms of communication: genes enabling our DNA to be transmitted from one generation to another and memes. Memes he suggested, serve as parallel means of transmission for any cultural artefact. By cultural artefact this can mean anything from a message to a behaviour.’

Brands, storytelling, content and influence

  • Orlagh Shanks: Can Influencing Be Taught? (18 March)
    ‘It’s a tough gig being an influencer (from what I can see). The ones that I follow and watch every day often wake up to 1,000 messages every morning – imagine your inbox being that full every single day. And after answering all of those questions, you have to produce content for your followers who will ask questions if you don’t.’

Measurement and evaluation

  • Marianne Morgan: Could listening be the key to better measurement (16 March)
    ‘The clients and colleagues who deliver the best measurement are the ones who have taken time to think about what they want their PR to achieve – whether that is awareness, a perception change or an influx of sales leads – and how to measure that single, most-important thing effectively.’

Internal communication

Technology, media and digital

  • Jade Beddington: Journalists looking for non-coronavirus content (18 March)
    ‘Not every journalist or media outlet wants constant Covid-19 related pitches – so we’ve put a compilation of journalists (by industry) looking for stories that are virus free. Hurrah!’
  • Paul Sutton with Ashley Friedlein: The future of messaging in business [podcast] (18 March)
    ‘One of the biggest trends in recent years has been the growth in messaging apps. Whatsapp recently reported 2 billion users, while – other than Instagram and TikTok – growth of mainstream social media has stalled.’
  • Dan Slee: TRUSTED SOURCE: Looking to Michael Caine in Zulu to better communicate the coronavirus pandemic (15 March)
    ‘I would rather listen to the Chief Medical Officer explain to me the toughest step imaginable and why science says this is the best step rather than feel played by a politician using old school media management techniques.’
  • Holly Hodges: PR blogger spotlight: Rachel Miller, All Things IC (13 March)
    ‘The speed at which we communicate and publish today means the relationship between the media and public relations is constantly evolving.’

#prstudent #bestPRblogs

  • Hannah Chambers (Ulster): How Is Social Media Facilitating Social Distancing? (19 March)
    ‘How is social distancing being made social? By Netflix Party of course. If you can’t have a movie night with your friends do the next best thing and download Netflix Party Chrome Browser Extension which allows you to watch the same programmes as your friends and chat about it within the same browser.’
  • Shea Hamill (Ulster): When One Door Closes, Another Door…Closes?? (19 March)
    ‘Who knew a run in with my old teacher would give me the push I needed to make another attempt at Uni. Here I am, in my final year studies writing my first blog. Who would have guessed with my track record?’
  • Siobhan McKerr (Ulster): When I grow up I wanna be….a PR professional (19 March)
    ‘The first time I had heard of the term Public Relations was when I was finishing my A-levels and discovered a local girl from my area who was studying a business and PR course at university and had created a blog where she discussed all things PR related. Through reading her blogs I realised that, while I had no clue what she was talking about, the topics she was discussing really intrigued me. That girl was Orlagh Shanks, now the UK’s top PR blogger for 2018 and 2019.’
  • Niamh Murray (Ulster): The green day that felt blue (18 March)
    ‘A lot of people said that St Patrick’s Day was “cancelled”. But, it wasn’t.  You can’t “cancel” a day. You can cancel events, concerts and plans; not a nationality.’
  • Fionnuala Hegarty (Ulster): Eat, Pray, Love PR (18 March)
    ‘A lot of PR involves creating engaging content: writing blog posts, creating social media posts and developing written pieces. I got to do this more actively on my placement year and it was one aspect of the job I thoroughly enjoyed doing.’
  • Steven Batey (Sunderland): What Can I Do During The COVID-19 Outbreak to Keep Me Entertained? (17 March)
    ‘As I sit here in my flat instead of going to University due to the outbreak, here’s a list of five things I’m planning to do over the next few weeks and hopefully this can give you some inspiration if you’re bored and sick of watching Netflix!’
  • Myhoa Hoang (Leeds Beckett): In times of crisis and global union (17 March)
    ‘Listening doesn’t harm or hurt that much if you do it proactively and intuitively. Be selective. Be picky. But don’t ever stop listening.’
  • Connor Lamb (Sunderland): Elderly shopping hour – a PR stunt or not? (17 March)
    ‘In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Iceland have introduced an elderly shopping hour to some of its stores.’
  • Teela Clayton (Leeds Beckett): Let’s iron out this virus (17 March)
    ‘I’ve tried to keep myself largely out of the flow of disinformation, the constant figures, the projections, the photos of health workers in hazmat suits like harbingers of doom. I’ve been plagued with selfish thoughts: if I get it, will I get an extension on my dissertation? Will I still find a job come May? Will we all be able to go on holiday at Easter? Do I have enough toilet roll to see out the week?’
  • Rory Drake (Sunderland): Coronavirus Suspension: How club Twitter accounts filled the gap (16 March)
    ‘Being short of content ideas can be a problem in PR, especially when it comes to social media, and for many football clubs up and down the country this could now be a very real problem.’