This week in PR (8 March)

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.

Photo: Lucy Hayball
Photo: Lucy Hayball

In the news

  • Bell Pottinger: the firm may have collapsed in 2017, but according to a report in The Times, the administrators are pursuing former directors for money. Lord Bell had left the firm before it collapsed, but he is being pursued for £1 million over a damaging BBC Newsnight interview, with the administrators claiming this was in breach of his exit deal.
  • Greggs: Good financial results are being attributed to the vegan sausage roll and to the quality of its publicity (BBC reports). “There’s a lot to like about Greggs – it’s a publicity machine, recession-proof, and has a knack for adapting to consumer habits,” said Arlene Ewing, Investment Manager at Brewin Dolphin.
  • PR Week’s Powerbook 2019 was published this week. It’s a list of almost 400 prominent men and women in UK consultancy and corporate comms – but continues to have a blind spot over the contribution of academics and authors.

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

  • Kirsty Hulse: Five ways to have difficult conversations without being an asshole (6 March)
    ‘We need to incorporate more reason, more listening, more rationale and more empathy in to our discourse when we disagree; to prevent us ostracising the opposition, devolving debates in to personal attacks and pinning someone down without allowing for context, change or growth.’
  • Ross Wigham: An alternative comms reading list: 8 books to change your thinking (7 March)
    ‘There are thousands of business and self-help books out there but when it comes to communications and PR the same few books same to come around time and again. While they are always very helpful I find that inspiration often comes from the most unlikely of places or from reading outside of our core subject.’
  • Chris Measures: Public relations – bring on the clowns (6 March)
    ‘Done right [public relations] is the glue between the departments in the company, and the multiple roles that people do. There’s no-one else, except perhaps for the CEO, who has this company-wide oversight. And, let’s face it, often people lower down an organisation may feel too overawed by the big boss to tell her or him the whole truth.’

Consulting, careers and skills

Politics and public affairs

Gender, diversity and wellbeing

  • Mandy Cunliffe: Arigato (7 March)
    ‘Never in a million years did I think that the thing that would help me the most would be writing things down. And never in a million, trillion years did I think that my words about my own issues would have helped so many others at the same time.’
  • Amanda Coleman: A woman’s life (7 March)
    ‘[Today] is international women’s day and that means different things to different people. This year it has extra significance for me as I am a Women in PR ambassador and many of the women in my life are facing tough battles.’
  • Rachel Miller with Gihan Hyde: Diary of a female communicator in a world of 30,000 men (6 March)
    ‘I quickly walked him through my career journey and he was impressed but there was one problem… I am a female and females are not allowed to work in the Saudi Construction Sector.’
  • Josephine Graham: One small step for womankind – support a new movemet through your choice of GIFs (5 March)
    ‘In my somewhat unscientific survey of the 45 most popular gifs offered to me on Twitter on my iPhone, 30 were men (including children and male cartoons such as Spongebob), eight showed animals or were of non-specific gender and just seven were women.’
  • Bridget Aherne: Suffering from imposter syndrome? It’s because diverse role models in PR are rare (4 March)
    ‘I suffer imposter syndrome and feel that someone from my background doesn’t deserve to be a chartered PR, at the top of their game, in our industry.’

Brands and influence

  • Jason MacKenzie: The business of branding: From vision and values to hearts and minds (5 March)
    ‘Brand building isn’t a cosmetic exercise. It requires a root and branches approach. Strong brands understand themselves deeply. They achieve cut-through in today’s cluttered communications landscape through consistency and clarity.’
  • Sarah Hall: White saviour row hits at the heart of influencer relations (5 March)
    ‘Stacey Dooley’s crass Instagram post was the lightning rod, but this storm was caused by Comic Relief’s continued reliance on sending celebrities to Africa to produce broadcasts that play to the worst stereotypes of a diverse continent.’
  • Scott Guthrie: Tapping the influence of online gamers (4 March)
    ‘Online gamers can provide brands with access to hard-to-reach audiences who no longer watch linear television and who actively use software to block online advertising.’

Trust and reputation

  • Mark Borkowski: Sad day for good intentions (2 March)
    ‘Comic Relief is, and always has been, a brilliant organisation. The most talented showbiz luvs the country has to offer, putting on a show that provokes great British generosity and helps some of the poorest people on the planet.’

Internal communication

  • Emma Bridger: World Book Day – Here are a few of our favourites! (no date)
    ‘World Book Day (7th March) isn’t just about the kids – we should all be celebrating books! It’s a great excuse to see what good reads are out there and hear from others, about what books have inspired them.’
  • Pauline Foster: My top 10 books for internal communicators (6 March)
    ‘It’s World Book Day – an initiative set-up to get the UK sharing stories. If you’re managing internal comms in your organisation, why not take 10 minutes to share a story on your company intranet or social media groups?’
  • Katie Marlow: Three things – internal communication: what it isn’t; what it is; and why it matters (4 March)
    ‘Over the years, I’ve found that assumptions of what internal communication is and what it isn’t are often quite different to the reality of what it is and can be, and how much impact it has.’
  • Emer Beirne with Helen Schick: The Art of Strategic Planning (4 March)
    ‘Five drivers form the basis of the Alzheimer’s Society internal communication strategy: channels, events, managers, strategic narrative and employee voice.’

Measurement and evaluation

Media and digital

#prstudent #bestPRblogs

  • Yana Miladinova (Bournemouth): When brands take a stand (7 March)
    ‘On the eve before International Women’s Day, I am looking at the two campaigns that got my attention since the beginning of this year. Two campaigns overtaking the news and the social media engagement. Two brands trying to change our culture.’
  • Beth Smith (Sunderland): Meet the PRofessionals | Fran Ratliff, OPR (7 March)
    ‘Work experience isn’t enough these days – do try and secure placements where you can but also think really carefully about what can set you apart from your peers and use it to your advantage.’
  • Jordan Mullan (Ulster): The Great and Good of Public Relations in Northern Ireland (7 March)
    ‘This conference highlighted to us students the diversity which exists within the PR industry here in Northern Ireland. Youth and experience. Female and male. Public sector and private sector.’
  • Megan Tidbury (Southampton Solent): Crisis communications: Do you need to know about it in the PR industry? (6 March)
    ‘Last week, I took part in the university’s annual crisis simulation: Solent in Crisis. I was really excited to see how theory could influence actions throughout the day and put my knowledge into action.’
  • Ruth Leonard (Ulster): Time to unfollow the influencers? (6 March)
    ‘It’s hard not to scroll through Instagram and not spot at least one sponsored post. Influencer marketing has become too mainstream, too commercialised, and too common. Content is becoming less organic and genuine.’
  • Katie Gebbie (Sunderland): Four Key Tips and Resources For Ethical PR Practice (6 March)
    ‘Honesty is the cornerstone of maintaining good-relations with all of a client’s stakeholders: employees, customers, investors, the media, the local community and so-on, therefore it is integral to success.’
  • Niamh Murray (Ulster): How to lose customers and alienate people (3 March)
    ‘I was right, I didn’t win the competition. But no one did. So, why did Missguided do it? Why choose to misguide consumers?’
  • Ceri Jones (South Wales): New blogger FAQ: Top 10 questions answered (3 March)
    ‘I started this blog with the intention of helping new bloggers get their feet off the ground, so the majority of my readers are brand new to the blogging world (that probably includes you!)’
  • Holly Rees (South Wales): Communication Cymru (1 March)
    ‘Increasingly, workers in Wales are being asked to read, write and speak at least conversational Welsh before even being considered for a job.’
  • Orlagh Shanks (Liverpool John Moores): #FridayFive: Five Things I’m Thankful For (1 March)
    ‘I’m still only 21 and have been to and been given the chance to attend some amazing events which means I have my whole life to experience more. I’ve come a very long way in such a short amount of time that it feels like the past few years have been a blur and all a dream.’