This week in PR (23 November)

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.

Budapest (Tor Martin Nilsen @bergensprinsen)
Budapest (Tor Martin Nilsen @bergensprinsen)

For attention

  • Could you help promote renewable energy? How would you defend the extraction of oil and gas? The energy sector is large and complex, and a new CIPR think tank has produced An introduction to Energy PR for those considering this as a career path. ‘Energy PR sets the agenda from a place of greater understanding and balance. Making complex issues and technologies accessible to a general audience and cutting through the ‘noise’ in today’s media is one of the most important things we can do, but also one of the greatest challenges our practitioners face.’
  • Voting is open in the Comms2point0 UnAwards18 and in the PRCA Council elections
  • Here are the winners of Public Affairs Awards Europe


  • Here’s an admirably clear analysis of public relations theory and ethics from Johanna Fawkes. She describes a schism: ‘When I present to colleagues in the fields of cultural or communication studies I am frequently met with astonishment as I unpack the multiple perspectives that comprise the academic terrain of public relations. They have conceptualised public relations as monolithic and utterly toxic. Meanwhile, many scholars within public relations characterise it as a key force in the democratic process and a contributor to social good.’
  • Surely it’s just a tabloid story – and it can’t be true? Lecturers asked to stop using capital letters to avoid upsetting students (Metro, 19 November). Unfortunately, the clarification from Leeds Trinity University appears to confirm the memo and its contents. What’s worse, these are journalism students and the memo was presumably sent to journalism lecturers (one of whom must have spotted a potential story in it). Though this appears to be the more considered reaction of the university:

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

Consulting, skills and careers

  • Isabel JohnstonPR: Why should a business invest in storytelling? (22 November)
    ‘[Communications] drives real conversation: Two-way, not just you shouting out to the world what your product entails. People don’t want to be talked ‘at’ but talked ‘to’. Customers that are fully engaged share a much higher share of your revenue compared to the average customer (Gallup).’
  • Sara Collinge: Let’s start charging for the value we deliver instead of the hours we work (22 November)
    ‘The industry standard of charging a retainer fee for a number of hours is a bit like your Bon Jovi tour jumper; outdated, full of holes and no longer fit for purpose. We should be charging for the value we add rather than the hours we deliver.’
  • Brittany Farquhar: How to progress in a junior PR role (no date)
    ‘If you’re at the beginning of your public relations career, this is a time of growth and soaking up all the experience and mentoring you can. It’s a period where it’s okay not to know everything.’
  • Jacqueline Purcell: Is the copyright cat out of the bag? (20 November)
    ‘All my material now contains the word  ‘copywrong’ and an unambiguous string of sentences that leave the reader in no doubt that to copy is wrong. They are to request permission if they want to copy, I provide them all avenues to reach me to ask for such permission.’
  • Dan Gerrella: How communicators can lead the debate on social value (20 November)
    ‘Using “strength of community” as an example, one of the aims is to make the community feel that they have ownership of a project.’
  • Jessica Pardoe: You don’t have to be Samantha Jones to work in PR (16 November)
    ‘You don’t need to have the Samantha Jones personality to succeed. You can be an introvert in PR and still do well.’

Ethics and professionalism

  • Debs Field: Spice up your life (22 November)
    ‘In a discussion I had this week, a colleague made a great point about why they engaged with their membership body – if we solely rely on our day-to-day environment, you can become institutionalised in to believing your company is the right, and only, way.’
  • Ella Minty: Walking a Path Never Taken (21 November)
    ‘Public Relations or Strategic Communications or Corporate Affairs “specialists” or whatever you may wish to call them should be comfortable to discuss with heads of governments or C-suite functions, international correspondents, tribal leaders, protestors, politicians and street cleaners.’
  • Stephen Waddington: Public relations in 2019 (21 November)
    ‘Here’s my analysis of the opportunities and challenges that public relations faces in the next 12 months. It’s where I’m placing bets over the next 12 months. Please let me know what I’ve missed.
  • Simon Francis: Solving public relations PR problem (20 November)
    ‘We must do more to focus on what really matters – the real impact of our work. In a post Bell Pottinger world, no PR can shy away from knowing exactly what the social impact and consequences of their work are.’
  • Koray Camgoz with Lawrence Slade: #PRpays: Energy UK interview [vlog] (20 November)
    ‘A word of caution against being trapped in the social media bubble. The other responsibility of a good PR team is to break you out of that.’

Gender and diversity

  • Alister Houghton: 60 seconds with Curzon PR’s Farzana Baduel (22 November)
    ‘It is all too easy to become narrow-minded and intolerant of alternative viewpoints. It is important to champion diversity in race, gender, age, sexuality, political viewpoints, and educational background to encourage news consumption from media outlets which often give opposing viewpoints.’

Measurement and evaluation

  • Michael White: The PR industry needs confidence (21 November)
    ‘It’s measurement that justifies our work, validates better fees, raising revenue overall – resulting in higher salaries.’
  • Claire Simpson: Time for PR to measure up (20 November)
    ‘Unveiled at a joint AMEC and PRCA conference in London, the Measurement Maturity Mapper is essentially designed to ‘measure the measurement’.’
  • Stuart Bruce: In public relations, correlation is not causation (20 November)
    ‘When I work with PR professionals to help them to improve how they measure and evaluate communications one of the most common mistakes I see is not taking sufficient account of the difference between correlation and causation.’
  • Jesper Andersen: Free e-book: demonstrating the value of communication part II (20 November)
    ‘For the second year in a row, I have had the privilege of collecting and editing articles from some of the world’s greatest communication measurement & evaluation minds. The result is this free e-book, which is a collection of 12 articles from experts all around the globe.’

Brands and influence

  • Scott Guthrie: The dangers of blacklisting influencers (22 November)
    ‘There are seven key identifiers to look out for when vetting a prospective influencer to determine whether it is likely they have committed some degree of influencer fraud.’
  • Danica Ross: Niche work if you can get it (20 November)
    ‘Done well, a brand’s ‘tribe’ can become not only an army of advocates, but an unmatched advantage for product development, and even sales.’
  • Stephen Davies: The current state of influencer marketing with Scott Guthrie [podcast] (19 November)
    ‘We’re at an inflexion point. Last year, as a term, ‘influencer marketing’ was googled more than ‘social media marketing’ and the industry is forecast to be worth as much as $10bn by 2020. But there’s a change in mood in the media in how it portrays influencer marketing.’

Crisis and reputation

  • Charlie Pownall: How Cathay Pacific botched its data breach communications (22 November)
    ‘While the extent of the damage to the company and its reputation remains unclear, the breach has been described by Cathay’s Chairman as ‘one of the most serious’ the airline has faced, and that its response would be ‘different’ tomorrow.’
  • Mike Love: The reality gap: 6 “P”s (21 November)
    ‘It may be that a reality gap is closed through better communication to address erroneous perceptions or neutralise prejudice. Or it may be that the gap can only be closed if the reality, as well as the perception, is addressed. It may be that perceptions can only be changed if we first change the reality.’
  • Sheena Thomson: ITL #296  – Reputation beyond borders: assessing and mitigating risk (19 November)
    ‘An assessment of all local customs and practices is essential not just to navigate business operations, but also to assess if they are ethically acceptable or manageable against their stated values.’

Internal communication

  • Debbie Aurelius: How to measure internal communications using a simple learning model (19 November)
    ‘I’m delighted that the CIPR Inside team are taking time to thoroughly research current measurement practice in internal comms. To respond to that call for input, I wanted to share a model I’ve used for measuring internal comms outcomes, and which I discovered in a different job role.’

Campaigns and creativity

  • Alex Myers: Why Mum’s been hoodwinked by Iceland (20 November)
    ‘Will we start to see more brands deliberately pushing their outrage bandwagons down the hill and watching them roll? I hope not.’
  • Freya Jepson: They Shall Not Grow Old (20 November)
    ‘Recently I have been wondering as it is 100 years since the end of the First World War, if people my age will carry on traditions and remembrance. With few soldiers left to tell their brave stories, who will carry it on?’

Media and digital

  • Martin Dyan: The Role of the ‘Media Specialist’ (20 November)
    ‘The principles are the same as 10 years ago, even though the way we practice them are different. But the most important thing to remember is that good PR is not just public relations; it’s about building Personal Relationships.
  • Paul Sutton with Danny Whatmough: Where digital PR is headed in 2019 [podcast] (21 November)
    ‘The PR industry has always had a measurement problem. When it gets into the digital realm, we have access to lots more data points but so often the strategic direction is not put in place to allow for meaningful measurement at the end. It’s not that we can’t measure it, we need a much broader conversation around clarity on return on investment.’
  • Iliyana Stareva: Why Use Inbound PR? (20 November)
    ‘Successful PR is no longer about writing press releases and pitching them to a bunch of journalists and counting coverage as the measure of success.’
  • Anne Nicholls: The dilemma of the poacher turned gamekeeper (no date)
    ‘The public relations profession is a natural habitat for ex-journalists. The reasons are obvious. Fluency in writing, a well-honed news sense, the ability to tell a story and strong interpersonal skills – all essential in journalism – are needed by PROs as well.’
  • Dan Slee: NEWS CHANGE: How newspapers are re-inventing themselves for a chance of survival (20 November)
    ‘I loved being a reporter. But all the newspaper offices I’ve ever worked in have closed and the industry as I knew it is dead. But a new one that can look the 21st century in the face has emerged.’
  • Nigel Sarbutts: Johnston Press – PR Must Act to Defend the News media (18 November)
    ‘The headlines have focused on the company’s major titles like The I, The Scotsman and The Yorkshire Post but nearly 150 titles and their staff now face a more uncertain future.’

#prstudent #bestPRblogs

Editor’s note:

There are more posts to consider than I can include here. So I’m issuing monthly challenges to help me select. November: For AMEC Measurement Month (#amecmm) I’m keen to read your thoughts on the ROI of blogging and social media. December: I’m looking for book reviews (you choose the book). January: Your reflections on health (mental, physical and/or financial).

  • Elian Owen (South Wales): A change in measurement: The death of AVEs. (21 November)
    ‘Measurement is important as essentially we need to know what works and what doesn’t. This allows us to evaluate campaigns and adapt if necessary. It is also very helpful as clients like to know what they are getting for their money.’
  • Niamh Murray (Ulster): Cavemen vs Robots: Who Would Win? (22 November)
    ‘Early humans and ‘cavemen’ were able to live self-sustainably. They found their own food, hunted animals, made their own clothes (not as nice as Missguided’s but they did the best they could) and built houses with their bare hands. They were able to do so much more with so much less. And they were able to survive without depending on technology and the internet.’
  • Orlagh Shanks (Liverpool John Moores): The Lifespan of an Influencer (21 November)
    ‘All of these social media platforms that we have accounts on, are only rented spaces of the internet. We don’t own them; the platform owns them. This means you could be locked out of your Instagram account at any moment and never be able to return. Twitter could remove your account for any reason. YouTube could shut you down in a second.’
  • Scout Dobbin (Ulster): Why Does it Feel So Good to be Banned? (21 November)
    ‘Iceland have come a long way from their TV ads featuring the latest B-list celebrity standing in front of a ridiculous spread of party food, aiming to persuade us to buy a frozen pig wrapped in a chicken and bacon blanket and served in a vol-au-vent.’
  • Heiða Ingimarsdóttir (Leeds): Governed by fear or humour? (20 November)
    ‘The financial crisis in 2008 hit Iceland very hard. Icelanders weren’t happy. The government said too many people had bought flat screen TV’s without having the money. The people were blamed.’
  • Andrea Price (South Wales): Why we need Pudsey bear more than ever! (19 November)
    ‘The United Kingdom is presently the fifth largest economy, in the world, yet what the United Nations  Inquiry uncovered are levels of poverty and deprivation which the government should be ashamed of. ‘
  • Sarah Heath (Ulster): Ge ne uis or l’eau de chris? (19 November)
    ‘This new campaign was in fact in aid of increasing awareness of male suicide, smart, eh?’
  • Lottie Wiltshire (South Wales): Is this the fall of bloggers and social influencers? (18 November)
    ‘There has been so much hype around bloggers and influencers that brands just threw money at them with no due diligence and that’s why so many people have managed to game the system.’
  • Beth Smith (Sunderland): Google your business – How to choose the best SEO words (17 November)
    ‘We all want our websites and content to get the most traffic possible, and while there are many ways to achieve this, one thing to prioritise is key words and search engine optimisation.’
  • Yana Miladinova (Bournemouth): The perks of blogging (16 November)
    ‘Blogging gives you a key selling point during interviews. It is an evidence that you can adopt a different style of writing (not an academic one!), you are up-to-date with hot topics in the industry and you are persistent enough to do something in the long term.’