This week in PR (29 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.

My makeshift, outdoor office today - channeling a casual, Dominic Cummings garden press conference vibe @itsjamesherring
My makeshift, outdoor office today - channeling a casual, Dominic Cummings garden press conference vibe @itsjamesherring

News in brief

    • One name dominated this week’s news in the UK, and there’s much commentary on Dominic Cummings below. We won’t add to it here.
    • There was another spat between a government and the media this week; one that may have much longer repurcussions. In the US, an executive order signed by Donald Trump threatens to treat social media services such as Twitter and Facebook as publishers rather than platforms, making them liable for the content shared on their services.
  • Results of the annual European Communication Monitor study are being released this afternoon.
  • Niamh Murray from Ulster University has been named as the UK’s best PR student blogger 2020 with Emma Rogers of Solent University a close runner up. Graduating students this year have experienced the abrupt termination of face to face teaching, the postponement of graduation ceremonies, and an uncertain entry into the post-Covid working world.

Covid-19 comms

  • Dan Slee: COVID COMMS #14: Why you need to write a truly local locked-down comms plan (28 May)
    The adrenaline phase, as one person described it is over. So now is the #clapforcarers phase. In England anyway, we’re entering the local lockdown phase. This means that local restrictions may be introduced for schools, workplaces or towns.’
  • Susan Kinnear: Dominic Cummings and the Durham Debacle. (28 May)
    ‘This is about a SPAD, paid out of the public purse to act as a communications strategist, who has fundamentally destroyed his own strategy, and by doing so put thousands of lives at risk.’
  • Adam Shepphard: And you think I’m reckless? the hubris of the maverick communicator (27 May)
    ‘Communications in government, communications in power, communications with responsibility, communications that impact on every aspect of people’s lives, cannot be filtered down into a three-word slogan (although it would make our lives easier if it could be).’
  • David Sykes: The best corporate responses to Covid-19 (27 May)
    ‘Sometimes, companies have done well with gimmicks and stunts, but the real winners are those who’ve gone above and beyond to do a great job. Here, we’ll take a look at some of the winners of pandemic PR.’
  • Arvind Hickman with Amanda Coleman, Ian Kirby, Annalise Coady and Steve Hawkes: The PR Show – Assessing the Government’s coronavirus comms [podcast] (no date)
    ‘The ‘stay alert’ message is ambiguous but the situation had to evolve. If I’m being fair, I think they’re in a hard place.’
  • Jo Field: Virtual stakeholder engagement (26 May)
    ‘Stakeholder engagement is about building relationships with the communities and groups that are interested in your organisation and its products, services projects and campaigns.’
  • Andy Green: Why Cummings behaviour was immoral on ALL six moral pillars (25 May)
    ‘What is the right thing or moral thing to do? Although these are among the most profound questions one can ask, we are helped by an insightful tool devised by American social psychologist Jonathan Haidt and featured in his book ‘The Righteous Mind’.’

Purpose and professionalism

  • Paddy Blewer: The challenges of defining PR and casting out the undesirables (28 May)
    ‘Call out bad practice where you see it. Call out hypocrisy. But I’m not sure we can say “they’re not PR” people because they lie or work for abhorrent clients. The best we can hope is to brand them as renegade operators that if hired, come with their own moral stigma.’
  • Koray Camgoz: PR will re-emerge from COVID-19 leaner, smarter and better connected (May 27)
    ‘The crisis has had a profound impact on our industry. Let’s start with the bad. 60% of employees have been furloughed and 50% of PR businesses expect to make redundancies. There’s no getting around the fact that this crisis will blow a hole in our industry.’
  • Jenni Field: Watch president Jenni Field’s May video update (27 May)
    ‘As many of us have challenges with our financial, professional and personal health, there are lots of resources available to you on our dedicted webpage.’

Virtual events

  • Mark Pinsent: Your Guide to the (Possibly) Perfect Virtual Awards Ceremony (26 May)
    ‘End with a kitchen disco, tell everyone you love them, then belt out Sweet Caroline on the karaoke around 3am. Essential to wake up your other half by noisily trying to get your keys in the front door with one eye shut for focus.’

Consulting, teams and careers

  • Antonia Welch: PR agencies: Will the office survive? (26 May)
    ‘With an average age of just 29, it’s also worth remembering that PR is a very young profession. While home working will make sense for the experienced minority, juniors need to learn from others, something facilitated by an office environment.’
  • Teela Clayton: The (long and winding) road to PR (26 May)
    ‘When the time was right, PR would pluck me from my English teacher obscurity and give me a starring role. And I’d be ready for it. I can’t tell you the exact moment that something changed. It’s more of a colliding series of events and realisations. But after a decade of being a teacher, I jacked it all in.’

Public and third sectors

  • Anna Caig: Why communications doesn’t always get the professional respect it deserves – part 2 (26 May)
    ‘Both on behalf of yourself and, even more importantly, on behalf of your team. You will have to push back. You will have to say no. You will have to call people – sometimes senior people – out on their unrealistic expectations or less than ideal behaviour.’
  • Jane Appleton: Crisis comms: 11 weeks and counting (25 May)
    ‘We will live with this for many years. It will grace CVs as the ultimate example of both “What were you most proud of?” along with “What experience have you learned most from?” I might only have changed a word on a poster, but if that changed one person’s behaviour, and that person stayed well, have I done my bit? Years of reckoning await us all.’

Wellbeing, gender and diversity

  • Aarti Shah: Q&A: Jo-ann Robertson On Mental Health & Wellness In The PR Industry (27 May)
    ‘The demands in our industry aren’t going anywhere, so we need to give everyone personalized support to manage the integration of work and life. Where people feel supported and trusted they are better able to flex their time and style depending on their priorities. Having a culture which allows people to talk openly and confidently about the pressure they are under and their mental health, as well as having no fear in asking for help, is absolutely critical.’
  • Amanda Coleman: The real me (27 May)
    ‘I still find it surprising that people are interested in what I have to say. When I started this blog almost a decade ago (something I think I need to celebrate on its birthday) it was done for me alone. Slowly people started to follow, read and give me feedback. I still write it more for me than anyone else. I think what is it that I would find helpful, interesting or entertaining to talk about and then I sit and write.’
  • Tim Johns: Willpower (27 May)
    ‘With too much choice we end up sticking with what we know. We become more and more reluctant to try new things or to broaden our horizons. We know we should try new things, fulfil our ambitions, or do what’s in our best interests, but we invariably stick to our old ways of behaving.’

Brands, storytelling, and influence

  • Paul Sutton with Emily Leary and Scott Guthrie: Beyond COVID: Influence comes of age [podcast] (27 May)
    ‘We’ve previously looked to influencers, especially on platforms such as Instagram, for aspiration. I think now we’re turning to influencers for inspiration and we’re looking for education.’
  • Caroline Rothery: Six steps to a leaner content operation in a post Covid-19 world (27 May)
    ‘While many of us have got used to working in leaner operations and without the usual tools and resources, what happens next? By experimenting with how your team collaborates, communicates and experiments, you can cut the fat from your team’s workflow and become a lean lockdown-proof team.’

Internal communication

  • Janet Hitchen: IC should report to the CEO (28 May)
    ‘Culture is one of the most important things in your business. It is what people join for and why they happily stay with you for several years or more. People join for lots of other reasons too, but, I think for your business to sing loud and long, culture is what will sustain it through product changes, growth spurts, organisational disruption and the rest of the crazy ups and downs life throws at us. IC is the best placed function to lead this charge.’
  • Erica Goodwin: Finding My Rhythm of Resilience (27 May)
    ‘As internal communicators, we fundamentally believe employees are the heartbeat of any organization. We spend our time and energy to help keep our colleagues engaged because we care deeply, and we know our work matters. So, what happens when we are not engaged ourselves?
  • Stuart Sinclair: What is employee engagement? The long answer or the short answer… (28 May)
    ‘A major milestone in the establishment of employee engagement in mainstream business thinking was the MacLeod Report ‘Engaging for Success: Enhancing performance through employee engagement’, commissioned by the UK government and published in 2009.’
  • Katie Macaulay with Adriènne Kelbie: Episode 10 – Your biggest, best, boldest self [podcast] (27 May)
    ‘You wanted to hear from successful chief executives using internal communication to drive the performance of their organisations. Adriènne Kelbie is the first female chief executive of the Office for Nuclear Regulation; she has been described as a transformational leader.’
  • Rachel Miller: How to communicate with compassion (26 May)
    ‘Right now, many Communication practitioners around the globe are communicating some incredibly difficult information in our companies. From restructures to the deaths of colleagues due to COVID-19, what we say and how we make people feel are paramount.’
  • Sue Dewhurst and Liam FitzPatrick: Time to take stock (no date)
    ‘There’s a ton of great advice out there but it’s smart to start by asking “what does our organisation need employee communications to achieve?” Get that one straight and the new question – “are we doing it in the right way?” almost answers itself.’
  • Kevin Ruck: Something’s happening and it’s happening right now (25 May)
    ‘Some of the ‘traditional’ communication capabilities such as copywriting will fade in importance as AI comes in and generates copy and stories for us. AI will incorporate better systems for employees to keep themselves informed which can be merged with systems for employee voice. Internal communication specialists can then focus more on activities such as leading, coaching, advising and business partnering alongside ensuring the ethical use of AI for communication, a huge challenge in itself.’

Technology, media and digital

  • Dan Parris: Media relations during lockdown: Thoughts and tips (28 May)
    ‘Here are my observations on how the PR industry has changed and the challenges this has presented from a day-to-day media relations perspective.’
  • Sheena Thomson: Don’t shoot the messenger (27 May)
    ‘In the near 30 years I have dealt with the media, nothing has changed in terms of what journalists do.  What has changed is how they do it, how this is received by some and how people consume news.’
  • Sam Knowles: Welcome to the world, “How To Be Insightful” (26 May)
    ‘As the world blinks and thinks about recreating and re-establishing itself in the wake of the first global pandemic of the age of globalisation, we have never needed more urgently the tools, skills, and strategies to innovate, pivot, and evolve at pace.’