Finally – PR & Media Together Are Making The Right Headlines About Climate Crisis

There’s not a day that goes by when we don’t see a climate, environmental or sustainable story making the headlines. I think it is safe to say that these topics are now high on the daily news agenda and it is about time. I have been actively involved working on raising the profile of the issues surrounding climate change, the impact of humans on the plant and sustainability for the last two decades…and during this time it has been a hard PR slog. As till now there has been a lack of apathy with the UK media.

I recall an environmental journalist working on one of the national broadsheets in the 90’s explaining to me his challenge of convincing his news editor to run a climate change story, that I was working on at the time. He said that unless it was directly affecting people here in the UK, it wasn’t a strong story for his editor – a story about climate change in Africa wasn’t going to interest his paper. Well fast-forward to 2019, where we are all experiencing the global butterfly effects of climate change or should I say what has since been upgraded to ‘climate crisis’ and what is happening in Africa, India, Singapore or any other part of the world is now our news.

Recently, The Guardian announced that it was updating its style guide to introduce terms that more accurately describe the environmental crisis facing the world. Where instead of “climate change” the preferred terms are “climate emergency, crisis or breakdown” and “global heating” is favoured over “global warming”, although the original terms are not banned. “We want to ensure that we are being scientifically precise, while also communicating clearly with readers on this very important issue,” said the editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner. “The phrase ‘climate change’, for example, sounds rather passive and gentle when what scientists are talking about is a catastrophe for humanity.”

This news narrative is also being driven by the private sector, as corporations have started to wake up to the long-term implications for their businesses of global warming. Companies, such as Coca-Cola, Google, Apple and Tesla are vocal about climate change and their pursuit of sustainability; and this is also changing PR.

However, some argue that this kind of media reporting creates public fear and that a ‘war on the climate crisis’ is not a positive or a balanced media response.

I say that we have wasted the last twenty years trying to put this issue on the news agenda in order to raise public awareness about the state of the climate, an issue that affects us all. We are now at a tipping point and according to the eminent, Sir David Attenborough we only have ten years to make the planetary changes that we need to survive.

At last the PR and media industry are together making the right headlines about climate crisis. It’s a start. We need consistency across all media channels. The clock is ticking.

 

Mayor of London At The Asian Voice Charity Awards

Last month Asian Voice newspaper held its annual Charity Awards at the Hilton, Park Lane, which is in its fourth year. The media title co-hosts these Awards with Charity Clarity, where together they actively support organisations seeking to solve social issues within Britain and globally.

The Awards showcase excellence; shining a spotlight on charities struggling to get the profile and/or funding that they need to move forward.

This year the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan was the chief guest and spoke about London’s great diversity, which is the Capital’s strength. The theme of this year’s awards was focused on combating knife crime, an issue that has dominated the Mayor’s agenda, who awarded the Editor’s Choice Award to the Damilola Taylor Trust, who provides inner-city youths in Britain with opportunities to play and learn, free from fear and violence.

The Mayor touched upon the serious issue of increasing knife crimes in London and how charities play a big role in tackling these violent crimes. He said, “While I am convinced London is the best city in the world, I am also not blind to the reality of the problems of this city and charities have an important role to play in filling in the gaps in the social safety net in recent years. Violent crime is on the rise across the country, including in London. As Mayor, I am determined to lead from the front when it comes to tackling this issue.”

The Charity of the Year award went to Watford-based Paul Strickland Scanner Centre, an independent medical charity working to improve the lives of people affected by cancer and other severe medical conditions. The Social Impact Award was presented to Child Rescue Nepal, which works on the ground to free children from slavery and captivity. While the Most Enterprising Award went to Medical Aid Films; it brings together health experts with filmmakers. Leah Chowdhry was named the Most Inspiring Young Person for becoming the first British Asian woman to swim the English Channel to raise funds to combat child trafficking in India.

The Sarvam Trust, which facilitates and supports the work of the Sri Aurobindo Society to help the under-privileged in rural areas of India, was the winner of the Audience Choice Award.

The Outstanding PR Award went to the Oscar Foundation, who encourage leadership, teamwork and education in schools to help prevent young people from dropping out.

Former journalist Rupert Morris moderated a discussion with an eminent panel who were – philanthropist Lord Rumi Verjee CBE; BAFTA winner Dr Carrie Grant; founder of The Media Trust Caroline Diehl MBE; and Andy Cook, CEO of the Centre for Social Justice. Together they shared their motivations for giving and civic engagement; emphasizing the importance of charity.

I was pleased to have been able to support this occasion by helping to put the above panel together and invite some of the high-profile guests who attended, who also presented the awards. It was an inspiring event and leave you this last thought from Lord Verjee who said on the night, “I am an immigrant in this country. We strive to be successful, and it is natural to give back to the society. In my life what I have realised is the more you give, the more you get back.”

 

Festival Live 10-11 May, Brighton, UK

I am looking forward to being at Festival Live this year on 10 and 11 May in Brighton, and participating on this panel, entitled – ‘Brands & Music Debate – with the world of live events continuously growing in popularity for fans, headliners & brands, what opportunities lie on the horizon? This session is at 12pm to 1pm on the 10th. 

Festival Live is a leading international B2B summit dedicated to the latest festival technologies and live event services. It attracts industry leaders and experts from around the world to reveal the latest technologies, innovations, case studies and updates from the best music festivals and live events on the planet.

The two-day event brings together the industry partners within the Music Festival and Live Events industry, where attendees and sectors include…Festival Organisers; Major and Indie Record Labels; Tour Managers; Artist Managers; Live Acts; Staging and more.

The entire event is sponsored by Discogs, which is the third largest online music website after YouTube and Spotify and the biggest seller of vinyl in the world.

If you are at Festival Live come and say hello! Here’s a  link to the event: https://www.fest.live/

Last Month’s India Britain Trade Expo, Makes The News

Last month’s India Britain Trade Expo that took place at the Queen Elizabeth Centre was a hub of conversations, exchange of ideas and strong connections; and we were delighted to receive this coverage the next day in Asian Voice newspaper featured here. The bottom line from the Expo is that India is an important trading partner for the UK and there’s a lot of opportunities to explore. Businesses here and in India are ready to trade!

We were pleased to have not just our Deputy Mayor, Rajesh Agrawal at the event, but also Arlene Foster, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party and one of the most influential women in politics right now.

The ‘women in business’ session that I moderated with four other women – Penny Power, OBE; Kamel Hothi, OBE, Dr. Priya Virmani; and Shanu Hindhuja was powerful. Each of the panellists spoke about their own journey and experience. They were all exceptional storytellers, which is why this session was so powerful. Stories have the power to engage us, connect with us and inspire us. There is nothing like a good story.

One of the main points that all the panelists agreed upon and spoke about in detail – is that men are integral to the conversations to end gender inequality — and to do that we need everyone to be involved. This is the same premise of the “HeForShe” campaign launched by the United Nations in 2014 by the actress Emma Watson, who said at the time, “We want to try and galvanize as many men and boys as possible to be advocates for gender equality. And we don’t just want to talk about it, but make sure it is tangible.”

Image Credit: Asian Voice, Newspaper

It’s No Longer Possible For Brands Not To Be Diverse In Their Advertising Campaigns

I was recently invited by a high-end luxury online shopping brand for women to give feedback on its new online advertising campaign. First-off, I had not even noticed it’s new campaign and I suppose that was in itself telling, because it had not been memorable for me. However, when I did carefully consider it, I realised why it had not hit home…and that’s because it was not relatable and it didn’t connect with me. The advert looked out of touch and dated in the context of today’s conversations and I gave this feedback to the ‘enquiring luxury online shopping brand.’ But I also wondered how they could get it so wrong?!

Research shows that female consumers are calling time on airbrushing and have ‘perfection fatigue’, which has significant implications for brands. Therefore, it is no longer possible for brands not to be diverse in their advertising campaigns, and when I say ‘diverse’ I mean diversity in the age of models, race and reflective in body-types. While thin and prepubescent bodies are still the preferred choice for the runway and print media world, social media is giving a platform for celebrating more diverse body shapes. The #bodypositivity movement is empowering women to push against narrow and unattainable beauty standards and instead celebrate their differences and their imperfections.

Again, traditional magazines and other forms of advertising have always heavily featured white models largely from western European backgrounds. This lack of diversity has meant poor representation of other ethnicities. Yet, the explosion of social media has been incredibly positive for making beauty more accessible and inclusive.

Importantly, social media is no longer the natural habitat for millennials, as older women are using the medium to smash one of the most ingrained prejudices in fashion and beauty –  age. With styling, skincare and beauty tutorials aimed at older women, they’ve celebrated and empowered this demographic. Furthermore, they’ve also vanquished the myth that fashion and beauty is limited to youth.

As a result, brands casting only young, thin, white, flawless models no longer feel relevant in the modern age. But crucially advertising campaigns are also very much about the story that a brand is trying to relay to its audience and is connected to the brand values of the company, so any kind ‘tokenism’ will immediately be apparent. It’s important for brands to not stop at advertising, but instead embrace realness and transparency in their values.

It is also important for those of us working in media and communications to keep pulling up those brands that are falling short. The needle is shifting. Diversity and inclusion should not stand as buzzwords; but treated as a reflection point where brand managers and content creators strive for approaches that avoid reductive stereotypes and unintentional continuation of classism, racism and sexism.

 

Public Relations Has Not Escaped Artificial Intelligence

 

I remember watching the film, Minority Reports in the cinema and at that time having goosebumps with what the future may hold for us, with technology. That film was 17 years ago and fast-forward on Artificial Intelligence (AI) is here. Now when we look across various industries, AI advancements continue to surge. In the consumer sector, Apple introduced its HomePod  to compete with Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home AI assistants. While, SephoraEstee Lauder and other retailers have refined the use of chatbots to engage and interact with customers rather than just talking.

My industry, PR has not escaped this wave of AI innovation and machine learning is already in common use for everyday PR tasks like developing media lists and researching. The Chartered Institute of Public Relations Artificial Intelligence panel has published new research revealing the impact of technology, and specifically AI, on public relations practice. It predicts the impact on skills in the profession in the next five years. The report found that 12% of a public relations practitioner’s total skills (out of 52 skills) could be complemented or replaced by AI today, with a prediction that this could climb to 38% within five years. Fundamental human traits such as empathy, trust, humour and relationship building can’t be automated.

There’s been quite a bit of conversation about communications content ultimately being replaced by robot writers and automation, but for now these tools are not threatening our roles as PR professionals, because effective public relations and storytelling require emotional intelligence in addition to human trust. The best kind of PR cultivates relationships among three parties: brands, customers and the media.

However, as the key to this is for now…Picking up on this topic Asian Voice newspaper, the UK’s and Europe’s leading newspaper for the British Asian community contacted me for my thoughts, which are here http://: https://www.asian-voice.com/News/UK/Meet-the-new-%27RoboReporters%27-as-your-news-anchors

India Britain Trade Expo On 12 March, London

I am looking forward to participating at the India Britain Trade Expo on 12 March 2019, which takes at the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre in London, where I am moderating a ‘women in business’ session.

I will be joined an illustrious line-up of inspiring women that includes entrepreneur Penny Power, OBE; British banker and financial adviser Kamel Hothi, OBE; journalist and founder of the children’s charity Paint Our World based in India, Dr Priya Virmani; and leader of the Democratic Unionist Party and politician Arlene Foster.

Together we will be exploring the challenges that women in business face both here in the UK and in India; are these challenges the same; what are the solutions and importantly each of the women speaking will be sharing their own experiences and stories. It promises to be an interesting and spontaneous conversation.

The backdrop to this session, is the India Britain Trade Expo, a timely event with Brexit looming, particularly as India is the world’s fastest growing trillion-dollar and poised to become the fifth largest economy overtaking the UK by 2019 according to the IMF. The wealth of opportunities for both countries to benefit from each other is enormous.

This one-day action packed event is being supported by the House of Lords, with a delegation from the Indian High Commission and is set to be one of London’s biggest trade events focused on India, where Rajesh Agrawal, London’s Deputy Mayor for business will open the Expo.

This is an event for anyone who wants to expand and go global. It will be here where conversations will happen and partnerships created. Tickets and information visit http://www.indiabritainexpo.com/ or call +44 (0)20 3693 1940

 

 

Songwriters Hall Of Fame Announces 2019 Nominees

The late American singer and songwriter, PF Sloan has finally been been recognised for the Songwriters Hall of Fame, 2019.

Sloan was one of the most prolific and influential geniuses to emerge from the golden age of the 1960s – one of the “Pioneers of Folk Rock.” Between 1965 and 1967, one hundred and fifty of his songs were recorded by major acts, of which, forty-five made the charts. Nobody has come close to that number of hits in such a short period of time.

From his little studio at Dunhill, P.F. Sloan was a veritable “hit machine” for major acts such as The Mamas and Papas (it was Sloan’s infectious guitar lick on California Dreamin’), The Turtles, Jan and Dean (that was Sloan on falsetto for most Jan and Dean’s hits), The Searchers, Herman’s Hermits, The Grassroots, Betty Everett, The Fifth Dimension, Ann Margaret, Johnny Rivers (Sloan wrote the iconic Secret Agent Man) and hundreds more.

When Sloan was 12, he encountered Elvis Presley at Wallach’s Music City in Hollywood. The King gave him a quick lesson, teaching him “Love Me Tender.” At only 13 he signed with the all-Black label, Aladdin Records. At 16, he was writing hit songs for anyone who came through the door. Sloan was authentic and there wouldn’t have been anything called the “Sunset Strip Sound” without him.

Sloan was one of the first to ever hear and give the Beatles their opportunity in America and Brian Epstein never forgot Sloan for his support. Sloan received a package from Andrew Loog Oldham, the producer of a new band called The Rolling Stones, who wrote to Sloan,  saying Epstein had suggested that he listened to their demo.

Sloan was called the Prince of Protest and the music business considered him dangerous because of his controversial folk songs. Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs and David Blue were great allies of P.F. Sloan.

 

 

 

Eulogy To P.F. Sloan: Eve of Destruction

18 September was the birthday of the late P.F. Sloan, the iconic American singer, songwriter and as I remember Sloan, his friend and co-author of memoirs, Whats Exactly The Matter With Me, Steve Feinberg, shared these thoughts with me about Sloan’s life and epic song, Eve Of Destruction.

I share these words with Steve’s permission:

“P.F. Sloan was a renegade outlaw. A genius prodigy, Pound for pound, P.F. Sloan was the most mysterious and elusive figures in the history of rock and roll–and one of the most powerful and influential songwriters to emerge from the inspired mid-sixties.

Without P.F. Sloan there wouldn’t have been the sound of the Mamas and Papas. That’s Phil who wrote and played the infectious opening hook on California Dreamin’. Phil and his partner Steve Barri were the original Grass Roots, with a hit song before there was a real group. He wrote pop songs for everyone–from Ann-Margret to Herman’s Hermits–from Jan and Dean to the Turtles. Everyone who knows anything about music from the sixties has heard Sloan songs.

And then P.F. Sloan dared to write Eve Of Destruction. P.F. Sloan was fearless. He wrote songs like Eugene O’Neill wrote plays–with passion and honesty. He gave us everything he had.

Before Eve, folk music was relegated to the rarified confines of coffee houses and beat clubs, not frequented by the majority of kids in America, whose main access to music was a.m. radio. However, these kids were full of quiet angst about the war, poverty, nuclear annihilation and racial strife. These kids were sleeping tigers waiting to be unleashed upon the world with something to say—waiting for the green light—waiting for their fuses to be lit. Eve Of Destruction lit the fuse of a generation and inspired them to stand up and be heard. Eve Of Destruction was a song that became their sword—they used that sword, righteously. This song inspired the 26th Amendment of the Constitution, lowering the voting age to eighteen.

I have received letters from former teens throughout the world—they all remember where they were when they heard Eve—how their lives changed. It is a song that awoke those tigers and became one of the seminal events in an extraordinary decade. When JerryLewis introduced Eve Of Destruction on September 20, 1965, on the Hullabaloo television show, the earth rumbled. For me, it was the line, “This whole crazy world is just too frustratin’”. It shot through me. That song was my Bar Mitzvah. Eve was my passage into manhood.

Before Eve Of Destruction, life was Hondas, cars, madras shirts, monster movies , barbecues and dances on Saturday nights—we were giving more thought to buying beer for a party under the boardwalk than dying in Vietnam. Marijuana had yet to waft into the mainstream youth culture from the coolness of jazz and the hippie underground. America was on a precipice. We had suppressed all of the anxiety of the world and thought it was secure in its place—let the grownups worry about it. It wasn’t secure. Eve Of Destruction blew our hair back and blew our minds. It stopped us in our tracks, and caused us to think—a lot of us, for the first time.

Because he wrote successful pop songs, Sloan wasn’t allowed to hammer down on new, strong iron. He was torn apart by the the folk establishment and crucified by the music business. (Bob Dylan respected Sloan. Dylan once said the if you wanted to know what was happening on the street, Eve Of Destruction will tell you that). Pete Seeger refused to be on the same bill with Phil and John Lennon thought the song was rubbish—though, in my opinion, Lennon was more influenced by P.F. Sloan than he would ever have admitted.

A writer of pop songs couldn’t possibly have anything to say. They were wrong. Sloan didn’t care. P.F. Sloan was all about the music–all about the song. And he was all about telling the truth in a song. P.F. Sloan paid the price. Phil took Eve to #1, delivered the message around the world and was then torn apart by those who did not want the message heard. The debt has been paid. Music needs an enlightenment of truth.

Think of all the hate there is in Red China!

Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama!

Ah, you may leave here, for four days in space,

But when your return, it’s the same old place,

The poundin’ of the drums, the pride and disgrace,

You can bury your dead, but don’t leave a trace,

Hate your next door neighbor, but don’t forget to say grace,

And you tell me over and over and over and over again my friend, 

You don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.”

P.F Sloan died in 2015. He spent the last three years of his life touring and playing for his loyal, adoring fans. His memoirs, What’s Exactly The Matter With Me? was published by Jawbone Press in London, in 2014.

 

 

 

Serendipity PR Sponsors GFA Enfield Under 12’s Tigers

When you run your own business, there’s really nothing like having the joy, the passion and the freedom – the freedom to choose who your clients are, how to define your brands, how you want to work and do business, and what you want to support.

I believe it’s always good as a business to be philanthropic when you can and put back into our communities.

So, sponsoring my son’s football team for his local football club, GFA (Grassroots Football Academy and Football Club) Enfield this year was a no brainer. It gives me a great sense of joy and pride, not just as a mum, but as an entrepreneur; a woman in business. There’s such a good feeling of being able to support a local sports project, which brings children together.

GFA Enfield is set up by two FA qualified coaches, gives children the access to football in their own environment irrespective of their age, gender, physical condition or background. It helps them to build their social skills, understand about working as a team, builds their confidence – all while playing football.

On Sunday 9 September, my son’s team, the GFA Under 12’s Tigers got their new kit and won their first match, 6:2. The team played with flair, heart and determination; and of course with a little bit of serendipity magic!