This week in PR (22 February)

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.

Calls Landing, Leeds by @josh_hall_photos @harris.creative
Calls Landing, Leeds by @josh_hall_photos @harris.creative

In the news

  • Other winners at last night’s PRCA City and Financial Awards 2019 include Tony Langham (outstanding contribution); BNY Mellon (in-house team of the year); Headland Consultancy (City agency of the year); Tom Engleback (rising star).
  • Edelman: the world’s largest public relations firm saw turnover decline in 2018 (Holmes Report).
  • Vuelio has updated its ranking of top ten UK PR blogs: the list leads with Stephen Waddington, and includes PR Examples, Rachel Miller, Neville Hobson, Sarah Hall, Ella Minty, Marcel Klebba, Amanda Coleman, Scott Guthrie and Dan Slee.
  • How Huawei lost its PR battle in the west. This Financial Times article suggests PR advisers were often overlooked. ‘At crucial moments, the company did not heed their advice and even outmanoeuvred the consultants it had hired, according to former executives and external consultants.’
  • Why do onscreen publicists get such a bad rap? asks Pamela Hutchinson in The Guardian. ‘The most famous movie publicist of all time is surely the ruthless Sidney Falco, “fully up to all the tricks of his very slimy trade”, played by Tony Curtis in 1957’s The Sweet Smell of Success – a film that Flack’s Robin must surely have seen and studied.’
  • The CIPR has welcomed four more Chartered Practitioners: Sherrie Burnham; Kathryn Dalgleish; Fiona Hatton; Michelle Nelson.


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

  • Mike Sergeant: The Story of Leadership (20 February)
    ‘Leaders need to show who they are, what they value and where they are going. They need to set the tone, the destination and the direction. Their personal story and the story of the business must come together into something authentic, credible and commercially powerful.’
  • Claire Mason: Marketing The Future: Reinventing Thought Leadership for the Disruptive Age (no date)
    ‘Man Bites Dog defines thought leadership as: a strategic idea with the purpose of gaining and conveying competitive advantage by sharing value.’
  • Laura Sutherland: PR professionals need to be braver (19 February)
    ‘Public relations practitioners are clever. We’re curious. We want to solve problems. We need to have more confidence in ourselves and we need to assert that. We are one of, if not the only function within an organisation which has a 360 degree view, across all stakeholders.’
  • Maja Pawinska Sims: Time for PR to embrace its own purpose (19 February)
    ‘This fundamental insecurity about how the industry and its practitioners should describe themselves hasn’t been helped by the media’s appetite to diminish the role of PR.’
  • Alex Malouf: Why Communicators must stop Virtue Signalling (17 February)
    ‘Part of our roles as communicators is to agitate for change that will benefit our stakeholders. However, we are being disingenuous by sharing insights that are contrary to what is happening? Do we have activist CEOs who can openly engage on public issues in MENA?’
  • Stuart Bruce: Future of public relations in an age of change, complexity and uncertainty (16 February)
    ‘The real role of public relations is as a strategic management function. We need to be counselling the CEO before decisions are made, not simply communicating them afterwards.’

Consulting, careers and skills

  • David Brain: Marketing automation and the agency model (19 February)
    ‘There is now a thriving agency environment devoted entirely to this world of which there are two basic types. The first are ‘creative’ agencies that produce strategy and content customized to an automated environment. The other agency sector helps clients choose and implement marketing automation systems, build out their stacks and the business processes and marketing strategies around them.’
  • Isobel Arrowsmith and Harry Gardiner: PRCA PRcast – Episode 1 – Jim Donaldson [podcast] (18 February)
    ‘When I started we all had our little boxes. Over the last ten years, that’s started to get messy. But we’re the people who are great at conversations – real conversations with the people who matter.’
  • Nicky Smith: Are men with big noses more intelligent? Why not women? (15 February)
    ‘We’ve sniffed out the zeitgeist, we know there’s dumbing down; short attention spans; clever beaks are out of fashion and no one likes corporate speak, but even so we still can’t just use irrelevant content or contentious subjects to win engagement or sales. I think we have to be professional, measured and intelligent for our clients who run serious businesses, as part of projecting and protecting reputations on their behalf.’

Politics and public affairs

  • Iain Anderson: Bravery of the splitters should bring the Tories to their senses (21 February)
    ‘Left and right have become redundant concepts for the world in which we live. For most of us in business the loony left or the business-bashing ERG are very unappealing prospects.’
  • Amy Fisher: 3 Conservative MPs join The Independent Group (no date)
    ‘I wouldn’t advise betting against a ‘drip drip’ of joiners, from both sides, to the TIG continuing over the coming days. My former colleagues at CCHQ and the team at Number 10 will have taken little comfort from ex-Attorney General Dominic Grieve’s words that he has ‘no current plans’ to quit the Conservatives.’
  • Joey Jones and Euan Ryan: Labour MPs form breakaway Independent group (18 February)
    ‘The electoral system remains a huge obstacle to the development of a real centrist party, but this is a strong start, some other Labour MPs will probably join in the coming days giving a sense of momentum, and the splits on the Tory side enhance the sense that our whole politics is in flux.’
  • Will Mapplebeck: The secret of being in the room (17 February)
    I love being In the Room and I like to think I’m good at getting in there. In my job, it’s my chance to see political big beasts in the wild up close. The other week I was lucky enough to attend a meeting that featured not just one, but two, Secretaries of State plus the Mayor of London and the boss of NHS England.’

Gender, diversity and wellbeing

  • Amanda Coleman: Flying high? (21 February)
    ‘I am often travelling on my own and will eat out on my own and I don’t even think about it. But there are some times when being in a minority as a woman is really unsettling.’
  • Debs Field: Diversity Matters (19 February)
    ‘Lack of diversity in all senses in public relations is all our responsibility. It’s not up for the minority to fight their corner alone, it’s for the majority to be advocates and say enough is enough.’
  • Jessica Pardoe: Does my accent matter in public relations (18 February)
    ‘I don’t think I’ll ever feel fully comfortable with the way I sound, and especially when I’m presenting or speaking in a meeting, but I’ve come to accept that.’
  • Saranne Postans: Comms people are under more pressure than ever and we need to tackle it (18 February)
    ‘Perhaps the long-term solution, which in time, saves money through reduced absenteeism and increased productivity, is to invest in preventative measures, providing people with the tools and techniques they need to look after themselves.’

Brands and influence

  • Scott Guthrie: The REAL reason I’m thrilled to run a top 10 PR blog (21 February)
    ‘PR should have a leading place in shaping the future of influencer marketing, but it can not achieve this in isolation. We must embrace the other creative disciplines to define best practice and push for more than greater awareness but greater adoption of best practice.’

Trust and reputation

  • Michael White: Three content trends in reputation management (no date)
    Beyond the screen describes the growth of podcasting and the use of voice assistants to find content online.’
  • David Landsman: The fundamentals of reputation (18 February)
    ‘Even if you can’t always control the reputation agenda, know what you want fundamentally to be known for, and make sure your organisation’s behaviour lives up to the aspiration.’

Internal communication

Measurement and evaluation

  • Ben Harwood: How are people still evaluating in follower numbers? (no date)
    ‘In short, if your primary method of evaluation is still follower numbers, then you’re absolutely doing social media wrong. I don’t care if your boss likes it, or it makes a pretty graph, you’re doing it wrong.’
  • Paul Holmes: The PR Industry’s FOFO Problem: “Fear Of Finding Out” (18 February)
    ‘PR agencies in general have a history of looking at opportunities and seeing only threats. They worried that the digital revolution would make traditional media relations less relevant, rather than seizing the opportunity to deliver their messages through new media. They feared that the convergence of earned and paid would lead to ad agencies invading their turf, rather than seeing it as an open door to supplement their own campaigns with paid.’

Technology and AI

Media and digital

  • Antony Cousins7 ways to build a sustainable and vibrant online community (21 February)
    ‘SO many communities fail, but here’s 7 ways you can increase your engagement and chances of success.’
  • Guy Clapperton: Media training: prepare for the obvious (21 February)
    ‘The crazy thing is that in a week in which the UK has seen senior MPs from both main parties defect to a new grouping over (among other things) Brexit, if you’re a mayoral candidate you’re going to be asked about it.’
  • Arianne Smart: What are 4 billion people doing online? (20 February)
    ‘67% of the UK population are active users on social media and spend, on average, one hour 50 minutes on social media each day. UK users, on average, have seven social media accounts but are not necessarily active on all of these.’
  • Mark Ritson: It’s time to shut down digital marketing teams for good (20 February)
    ‘If you still work in a company that has a demonstrably digital team sitting separately from the marketing department, take a deep breath, a few pictures for posterity and then prepare for a reorg.’
  • Stephen Davies: Decoding The Social Media Algorithms In 2019. The Ultimate Guide (no date)
    ‘While this guide does not claim to lay out the exact inner-workings of the social media algorithms, it tries to include everything we know about them that is publicly available.’
  • Dan Gerrella: Disinformation and faking the news (19 February)
    ‘DCMS defines disinformation as the “deliberate creation and sharing of false and/or manipulated information that is intended to deceive and mislead audiences, either for the purposes of causing harm, or for political, personal or financial gain.”’

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