This week in PR (28 May)

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.

The sun is out and so is my summer bike. @darylwillcox on Instagram
The sun is out and so is my summer bike. @darylwillcox on Instagram

It happened this week

  • The CIPR annual report for 2020, published this week, showed a 30% drop in income for the professional body compared with a year earlier. Expenses were cut even faster, so the CIPR still managed to generate a surplus. Obvious cuts were in headquarters staffing, in the print edition of Influence Magazine and in central London office accommodation. Despite this, the CIPR has remained active on behalf of members, and one notable figure in the annual report was that candidates from over 50 countries worldwide have now gained a CIPR professional qualification.
  • A report from Wadds Inc identifies over 50 startup public relations agencies established during the Covid-19 outbreak. Stephen Waddington writes: ‘COVID-19 created the opportunity to connect and meet with people in a way that was not previously possible. Everyone was working from home with nowhere to go. COVID-19 has also been a leveller for new agencies. Everyone looks the same when they turn up on video call.’

Ethics, professionalism and purpose

  • Crispin Thorold: Ethics – the importance of context when communicating internationally (24 May)
    ‘The integration of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles into PR practice is at the heart of the industry’s ethical evolution.’
  • Rob Flaherty: Achieving Our Full Potential in the Public Relations Field (21 May)
    ‘We are now entering a new era in the definition of the role and purpose of the corporation — from shareholder capitalism focused solely on delivering profit to investors to stakeholder capitalism focused on delivering longer-term, more sustainable value to all stakeholders (employees, communities, customers, investors and the planet).’

Academic, education and events

ESG, corporate and financial

  • Oliver Matuszynski: E, S, don’t forget G (25 May)
    ‘It is far easier to talk about the environment, reducing carbon emissions and building a sustainable future than it is to talk about more socially challenging topics of gender politics, racial divides and age prejudices. Every investor knows the importance of ESG, but they need to remember all three aspects are as important as the other in creating the future investment approach.’
  • Isabelle Smurfitt: Return to The City (24 May)
    ‘The City’s financial markets have been extremely active since the start of 2021. The London Stock Exchange saw its best first quarter for IPOs since 2007 with £5.2bn raised on the Main Market and £441m on AIM. London is still a leading choice for new listings, which is a positive sign for the City’s future appeal.’

Consulting, teams and careers

  • Ollie Tunmore: Virtual networking group set up to keep comms pros connected (27 May)
    ‘There is a reason that professional sites like LinkedIn, Indeed and Twitter have been so successful, especially in the pandemic – there is a constant need to expand your circle.’
  • Charlie Spargo: What I’ve Learnt: Nina Green, Co-founder, Content Soup (26 March)
    ‘We got on the pitch list recently for a global client you’d never believe we would get in front of, as a small Northern agency. We got through to the final stage, but in the end we didn’t get it. We were gutted, but to come second, beating huge London agencies, and to get the amazing feedback we did was such a boost for us after the weirdness of 2020.’
  • Richard Leonard: Introducing our new Group MD: Richard Leonard (24 May)
    ‘When I was 17 I interviewed to read Theology at Oxford. I then soon realised that public relations was my true calling in life, rather than the cloth…’


  • Jo Twiselton: Prioritising mental health and wellbeing in the workplace (26 May)
    ‘There are some fantastic insights for other practitioners to explore in both the case studies and the recording of the panel discussion. Look out for more follow-ups from this event in the coming weeks and months.’

Public and third sectors

  • Darren Caveney: Don’t be afraid of a crap idea. and 9 more top tips from creative agencies (27 May)
    ‘I was so pleased to hear this last tip – I have always said that there are no such things as bad ideas, just bad decisions.’
  • Ross Wigham: Respite and recovery comms (26 May)
    ‘Comms teams continue to play a vital role in supporting the health and wellbeing of an exhausted NHS workforce… We must not forget ourselves in this either. Many comms professionals have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to ensure staff, partners and the public are all well informed.’
  • Simon Gentry: An app that will change healthcare (26 May)
    ‘Released quietly, with little or no fanfare the potential of this app to enhance healthcare is immense.  For one thing it puts patients in a far stronger position, able to see what information the health service holds about them.’
  • Katie Marlow: Working in vaccine communications (21 May)
    ‘The work took me right out of my comfort zone having never worked in central government before. But I’m so glad I stepped out of that zone and feel really quite proud to have played a part in this huge public engagement and information programme’
  • Eliza Burke: What I learned making a podcast series in the NHS (21 May)
    ‘The best advice I can give is don’t overthink it. The equipment can look frightening and the concept of talking into a microphone is nerve-wracking but it’s all fine. It’s much simpler than you’d think and can be fun and interesting. I’d recommend anyone to have a go.’

Politics, public affairs and public sphere

  • William Neale: Don Dom takes aim at Hancock (27 May)
    ‘The opposition and the media are now taking Cummings as the sole arbiter of truth, which given the perception of him by the public is surprising.’
  • Fraser Raleigh: Government seeks to bring consultancy in house (27 May)
    ‘Last week the Cabinet Office announced the launch of the Government Consulting Hub, a new initiative designed to reduce the scale (and cost) of government departments’ use of external management consultants.’
  • Laura Griffiths: Dominic Cummings, double feature or In the room where it happened (26 May)
    ‘Ultimately, what we have seen today from the man who was in the room where it happened was an insight into how government behaves in a disaster. Some of the accusations and comments disclosed to the committee sounded ludicrous.’
  • Maïssane Lahmar-Savage: Portland Profile (27 May)
    ‘Paradoxically for someone working in comms and public affairs, it took me a while to realise you only get your messages across when clearly expressing them without showing you need to apologise for anything, whatever the audience may be (clients, colleagues, stakeholders). I’ve learned with experience this does not come naturally, especially as a young woman.’
  • Tim Le Couilliard: Pension superfunds – the next “big thing” in the market (25 May)
    ‘Superfunds are a new model for running pension schemes, that are being established to pool defined benefit schemes together from different sponsors, subsequently to be run as a sum-of-all-parts pension fund.’
  • Beth Park: Fears for tiers: Government quietly issues new guidance for eight COVID hotspots (25 May)
    ‘Last year’s tier system was an unfortunate example of trying to have the best of both worlds but inevitably causing chaos and confusion along the way. Chaos and confusion that, in a pandemic, can potentially have a devastating impact.’

Risk, crisis and reputation

  • Amanda Coleman: The seeds of confusion (26 May)
    ‘It may have been an oversight or a breakdown in communication but the confusion of the past 24 hours has the potential to damage confidence. People have been through a year of listening to messages, being told what to do about all aspects of their lives, and of attempting to do the right thing. Keeping people engaged with the messages when a crisis runs for a long period is always going to be a challenge.’

Campaigns, creativity and behaviour

Brands, storytelling, and influence

Planning, insight, measurement and evaluation

Internal communication

  • Jenni Field: Line managers need investment in communication skills and relevant content from the centre (26 May)
    ‘I believe that we all need an anchor point in organisations. Something we tether to. This could be a person or a location but it’s about having a point of connection. For many in the last year this will have been the line manager. Do I think the role is perfect? Absolutely not. But this research helps us think about what needs to change to enable line managers to thrive.’
  • Jane Wilson: Menopause at work. Are you on the CUSP? (26 May)
    ‘Working with employee comms and HR professionals, as well as many women in work (and sense checking with a doctor) we’ve created a simple framework to help employers consider how they respond to this growing workplace issue. This framework is called CUSP and covers Culture, Understanding, Support and Policy.’
  • Jenni Field with Sofia Cann, Martin Flegg and Kate Shaw: Hybrid Working [podcast] (15 May)
    ‘There are some jobs that just can’t be done remotely. Context is all and we need to be mindful who we are talking to when discussing hybrid working.’
  • Martin Flegg: Meaningless labels (24 May)
    ‘There are no clear universal benchmarks for what an internal communicator is, or does. No agreed levels of competence or typical tasks and responsibilities for junior, mid-senior, senior and director level roles. No clear benchmarks for reward and recognition, or cross cutting standards for qualifications or accreditations.’
  • Caroline Waddams: How to write speeches for leaders during a pandemic (23 May)
    ‘They may not follow the speech word for word, so I find it useful to make a note of what they actually say for future reference. And don’t forget the wonderful words of Maya Angelou: ‘At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.’

Technology, media and digital

  • Charlotte Stoel: What’s hotting up in the tech space right now? (26 May)
    ‘The UK tech industry has grown tenfold in the past decade. In fact, London leads in Europe and is picking up the pace on Silicon Valley. British unicorns grew from eight in 2010 to 81 in 2020 – incredible!’
  • Jade Beddington: Digital PR: Dream job earns dreamier links for (26 May)
    ‘ told us it had spotted spikes in Google search queries related to daytime napping and its benefits. A further delve also found a rise in people Googling terms such as ‘is napping good for you’, ‘napping at work’ and ‘napping during the day’.’
  • Paul Sutton with Tamara Littleton: Podcasting for Business: Worth the Effort? [podcast] (26 May)
    ‘I’ve been a big fan of podcasts for many years. I love the format and I was inspired by what other people were doing: I’ve had it on my to do list for about four years. I’m quite a procrastinator; I thought it was harder than it was.’
  • Stephen Waddington: PRCA launches Innovation Forum with Share of Search paper and challenge to the ad industry (25 May)
    ‘Our view is that while Share of Search has applications in some areas of brand marketing practice, it is a blunt metric. It also fails to address the sophistication of search marketing and public relations.’
  • Josh Greene: The Corporate Communications Guide to Wikipedia (24 May)
    [Wikipedia] prefers that people affiliated with a company leave the editing to someone else, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be a part of the process.

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