Little Bit Of More Book Love For The PR Knowledge Book

I was delighted to see this unexpected book review for  – The PR Knowledge Book from Rusen Kumar, founder and managing editor of India CSR Network, India’s largest ethical news platform. Rusen is a respected media mogul in India and well-known in the areas of social entrepreneurship, social journalism and social-economic development.

Rusen has been at the forefront in driving change for not only the vulnerable people in society, but also getting corporates to act differently in India.

You can read his full review here and am hugely grateful for all his support.

My Love of Podcasts!

During lockdown and our changing world, I have been keeping myself busy with writing and podcasts, not just listening to them, but being fortunate enough to be invited on to various shows to share my stories.

I enjoyed sharing my business wisdom and stories and have recently been on two popular US based podcasts shows – CurryUp StartUp Podcast and the #365FirstChallenge

Both shows are hosted by great podcasters who have the mastery of asking great questions and importantly, good listeners, knowing just when to come in to ask that timely question.

Podcasts are great for sharing knowledge, experiences and stories with a wide audience. You can listen to podcasts about politics, business, cooking and more; the options are endless. Data shows that two million podcasts are registered by Google.

According data released from Buzzsprout, Latino podcasts are flourishing due to the large number of Spanish speakers in both the US and South America, with Chile in the lead with a podcast growth rate of 85 percent; followed by Argentina; then Peru and Mexico. The country with the fifth-highest rate is China; and I know that in India, podcasts is a growing market.

While in the UK, 12 percent of adults listen to at least one podcast per week and are the most popular among millennials (21 percent) and only five percent of Baby Boomers have caught the podcast bug.

Other research by Music Oomph shows that brands that advertise products and services during business podcasts have a 14 percent lift in purchase intent! There is plenty of research on customer behaviour proving that podcasts impact brand lift.

Other interesting podcasting statistics on customer behaviour:

  • Brands that have ads in podcasts about society and culture are most likely to have a 9.2 percent lift in purchase intent.
  • Brands that advertise in news and politics podcasts are most likely to have a 12.8 percent lift in purchase intent.
  • Brands that advertise in comedy podcasts are most likely to have a 7.3 percent lift.
  • Brands that advertise in sports podcasts are most likely to have a 9.3 percent lift.

According to Forbes – 36. 39 percent of US small and medium-sized businesses owners are podcast users and 65 percent of them listen to podcasts weekly, according to 2018 podcast listenership stats.

So, if you happen to be looking for something to listen to…give CurryUp StartUp Podcast and the #365FirstChallenge a try.

Twenty Twenty

I have been working on the PR campaign for this is incredible book(which came to me serendipitously), Twenty, Twenty by the highly-acclaimed author, Nigel Watts, which is a blueprint for 2020, which was originally published in 1995 by Hodder and Stoughton.

The book eerily and accurately predicts a global pandemic that occurs in the year 2020 causing the world to communicate largely through virtual technology, with people wearing masks, a drastic reduction of air travel leading to ‘virtual tourism’, and nature fighting back for its survival due to mankind’s destruction of our planet.

Tragically, Watts took his own life in 1999 and now 25 years later, his very brave widow, former BBC presenter and broadcaster, Sahera Chohan has republished this timely and relevant book this August; the book’s anniversary month.

At the time, when it came launched, the book received rave reviews from The Times, Time Out, Sunday Times and more. The Times said: “Twenty Twenty is about the end of the world, viral apocalypse, virtual reality…[it] asks the big questions at a time of global destruction and spiritual uncertainty…an intriguing synthesis between ancient mysticism and the brave new world of virtuality. It is a book to make the pulse race, the mind dance and the heart sink.”

Twenty Twenty foretells the events of the year 2020, where an ageing writer infected with a deadly virus and despairing of mankind’s continuing damage to the planet retreats to a derelict factory in the icy wastes of northern Canada. Meanwhile, at a remote research institute in the Californian desert, William Morrison, a virtual reality test pilot, and Julia

O’Brien, a British anthropologist, are working on a VR simulation of the Amazonian Kogi tribe. William and Julia appear to have little in common, until they discover an uncanny connection that finds them being drawn towards a derelict factory in northern Canada. As the story escalates to its dramatic conclusion, Watts powerfully manipulates the reader’s perceptions of reality, whilst blurring the boundary between creator and created.

Nigel Watts has drawn his name in the sands of time, putting him side-by-side with some of the greatest futuristic authors – Orwell, Huxley and H.G.Wells – securing Twenty Twenty not just as a book of our time, but an enduring and influential novel. Needless to say the book has been drawing lots of media attention and it has been such a great book campaign to work on…to know how it ends you will need to buy the book, which is available on Amazon.

 

 

Online Event – How PR can help SME’s kickstart their businesses post COVID-19 on 24 August

Hello! On 24 August from 10.00 to 11.30am I will be sharing my knowledge with fellow women in business at this online Federation of Small Business (FSB) Women’s event, which is a platform to learn, share, network and build vital relationships. These regular FSB events are open to all, the format is informal and educational with a female focused networking focus and a chance to hear from expert speakers too.

My session is purposefully called ‘How PR can help SME’s kickstart their businesses post COVID-19’.

Do join us if you can, be great to see you!

Click here on event to book and for more information.

Falling In Love with Bollywood Again

During my time in lockdown, I have rediscovered my love of Bollywood films again compliments of my Netflix subscription, which has the bonus of subtitles and maybe it’s also because you need ample time to watch a Bollywood film, as they average three hours long!

There’s something for everyone, the cinematography, the dance, the music and storylines. The closest Hollywood film to Indian cinema, in my view is ‘La, La Land’, which has all the magic ingredients of a Bollywood blockbuster – fun, music, songs and dance. Bollywood has songs for nearly every situation and you can never see a Bollywood movie without experiencing a great soundtrack. Plus, Indian film offers storylines about ordinary people facing challenges that help them grow as individuals. Movies like these have become global hits because of their strong storylines.

I experienced my first ever Indian film with my dad when I was about six years old and we went to see Arandhana at the local cinema in Southall, London. I remember it was a Sunday evening and as we came out of the cinema hall, my dad bought the Arandhana LP, which we would go on to play regularly. This is a film that captured my heart and at only six, I fell in love with Indian romantic drama. I have memories of my dad singing me the tunes, and as I got older, he would insist that this music was better than anything was being featured on Top of the Pops at that time!

So, what have been I have been watching on Netflix?! Well, I have been making up for my years of Bollywood void and have enjoyed the classics such as Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (Sometimes Happiness, Sometimes Sadness); Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (Never Say Goodbye); Heroine; and Hum Aapke Hain Koun (Who Am I to You?). I have wanted to go back into time and watch my favourites such as Silsila (this is an Arabic word that means chains) and Kabhi Kabhi (Sometimes), but sadly these are not on Netflix.

 

But I think my favourite film, which not quite a Bollywood production, as it’s only an hour and half long and there’s no dance or music, is Bulbul, a Netflix original. It is a period drama that looks at old beliefs and superstitions. Set in a village plagued by mysterious deaths and stories; the storyline is haunting, revolving around Satya and his brother’s child bride who are separated when Satya is sent to a foreign country. When he returns, he finds that his brother has abandoned his wife. Everything about this film is sumptuous – the acting, the costumes, the settings. It’s one of those films that stays with you, long after you have watched it.

So, if you fancy watching something different during lockdown and you have Netflix, press play for Bulbul. It might just whet your appetite for something more full on Bollywood… Mujhe Bollywood se pyaar hai (I love Bollywood).

 

 

What Will Mainstream Media Look Like Post The Pandemic

When we all emerge from this pandemic, it will be a very different media landscape. We have seen that movies and television shows have delayed productions around the world and many of our much loved media titles, might not exist, as they struggle for survival.

Though television can be consumed while we are in lockdown, the creation of it still involves bringing people together on set. Widespread efforts to curb COVID-19 has triggered unprecedented change in the TV business. Where productions have stalled, writers’ rooms have moved to teleconferencing and radio presenters have guests either zooming or phoning in.

Many alternative weeklies have stopped printing and laid off employees, because of sharp advertising declines, as many businesses have stopped operating or sadly gone bust.

Journalists, photographers and advertising staff at print titles have lost their jobs and fear they will fear that they will not be re-employed when the crisis is over as sales and advertising revenues are not expected to return to pre-virus levels. Long-term, this crisis could have a devastating effect to the news industry’s bottom line.

Though there have been faint glimmers of light, where I have read how online news platforms have seen a spike in web traffic and subscriptions, as the pandemic has attracted record-breaking audiences for online news sources. Traffic to The Guardian’s website has increased more than 50 percent exceeding all previous records, and there had been a substantial surge in the number of readers taking out digital subscriptions or signing up to make regular contributions to support its journalism.

However, it’s worth noting that media outlets like The Guardian have long struggled to earn substantial revenue from digital advertising.

Yet, while we are now all addicted to the news, wanting accurate information. UK national print newspaper sales have fallen by as much as 30 percent since the start of the government-ordered coronavirus lockdown, according to industry sources, with journalists at many local newspapers placed on leave and warnings that hundreds of reporters could be left without jobs as the advertising market collapses.

On top of this, so many independent newsagents have closed, and supermarkets are expected to cut the numbers of copies of media titles they take because of reduced footfall. Free newspapers have also been hit by the collapse in commuters and ad revenue, with London’s Evening Standard adopting an improvised door-to-door delivery model, with a reduced circulation of just over 400,000 copies being posted through letterboxes in the center of the capital.

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, director of the Reuters Institute at the University of Oxford told The Guardian that he predicts “huge declines in advertising revenues” owing to the looming recession that is likely to result in hundreds or even thousands of job losses in British journalism. He has predicted the economic effects of the pandemic could potentially remove 10 percent of all frontline journalistic jobs in the UK.

Nielsen voiced a concern of many in the industry, when he said a particular worry for British newspapers was that remaining print readers would lose the habit of reading a physical product during the lockdown.

No industry is being left untouched, many will have to innovate and change their business models to make a comeback and be part of the new world…a phoenix rising from the ashes.

 

Photo Credits: Sean McMenemy and Geralt

 

Coronavirus: Mother Earth is Pressing The Reset Button

Times are eerie and chaotic, as the world wages its war with coronavirus. Schools are closing, supermarket shelves are becoming empty, people are stockpiling, toilet roll has become gold, people are now working from home, telecommunication companies are experiencing a surge in internet use, self-isolating and social spacing are now part of our vocabulary, we no longer shake hands and the list goes on.

Everyone keeps asking themselves (as remember we are self-isolating!) What’s happened? What’s happening? When will this all end? No one has the answers, we are in this Hollywood blockbuster on our own, there’s no super hero to save us.

Except one thing is clear, our habits are changing in real time. We are re-prioritising what is important to us…friends, family, communities and neighbourhoods. Our connected on-lines worlds are more important than ever before and as our children stay home not doing the normal things that they should be doing with their friends, we now want them to connect with their friends online, to have some kind of normal in all this turmoil.

If we all stopped for a moment, stood still and took a breadth, we would realise that right now in this chaos, that our Mother Earth is pressing the reset button and the world needs a rebalance.

There are always winners in battles and in this war on coronavirus, I was wondering who are the winners – Toiletry brands? Supermarkets? Pharmaceutical companies? manufactures of toilet roll?! None of these. There is only one winner and that’s the lungs of the planet. With countries like China forced to scale back on its production and the reduction in air travel, data is already showing a reduction in pollution.

In an extraordinary way brands, businesses and organisations are reminding us to be kind right now…we have Pret giving free drinks to our heroes at the frontline, the NHS. LinkedIn, is opening up its learning courses for free and using its platform to share news more broadly, help businesses use live video to replace onsite events, and deal with business continuity. Luxury brand, LVMH Moët Hennessy, the French company behind major brands like Louis Vuitton, Fenty Beauty and Benefit Cosmetics, announced that its factories, which normally manufacture perfume will shift to manufacture hand sanitizer gel and will be delivering the products to French healthcare authorities for free. Gas and electricity suppliers have agreed an emergency package of measures to ensure vulnerable people do not get cut off amid a virus outbreak. Ex-footballers, Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs are opening their hotels to NHS workers free of charge. While Chelsea FC will be putting up NHS hospital staff for free in their hotel during this coronavirus crisis.

So, what can we be doing to get through this, amidst the worries of our finances, jobs and homes. That answer is to reconnect with ourselves, breathe, reflect, read, meditate and most of all learn to be kinder to ourselves, and just be kind.

Photo Credit: Main image by FrankundFrei from Pixabay

How To Manage Your Business Comms During Coronavirus

The world is going through very difficult times with the dreaded coronavirus and everyone is in the same boat. It feels like one of those Hollywood action-packed blockbusters, only there’s no hero to save the world right now.

However, during these times of crisis of complexity, brands are rising to these new challenges and are really engaged with consumers. Over the last week consumer brands such as Holland & Barrett; Boots UK; Riverford; Nanuska; Space NK to big global brands such as JCrew have been emailing their customers to reassure them of measures taken in-store to deal with the virus. Their messages have been mindful of others and reflect their company’s values.

This is an extract of what Seb James, MD of Boots UK sent out to the customer mailing list last week:

“For 171 years, Boots has been at the heart of community care, providing support, advice and healthcare to communities across the U.K. Never has this been truer than today, as our colleagues work tirelessly to support you and your families whilst the COVID-19 situation is ongoing.

We are doing everything we can to help our customers and our team to stay healthy and safe; whether that’s through the products we sell, the experience in our stores, or the support we provide to our employees”.

Brands in today’s chaotic world have a key role to play, especially in these new times of dealing with public health challenges. Companies need to imbibe lots of empathy with a balanced tone that is understanding, cautious and optimistic. Trust needs to be reflected along with the ability for everyone to work together and find solutions. This engagement is so much easier with all the multiple social media channels; and apart from engaging externally, internal communications is also crucial to inspire confidence in the brand.

So, what can you be doing right now as a business or brand? Well, there are three simple things you can be doing to manage your business communications during these times:

  1. Understand and know the role your brand plays in people’s lives, how it has changed and how your brand can help or be useful during this crisis. Look for opportunities to do the right thing, where it makes sense for your business. One brand who is doing this is, LVMH Moët Hennessy, the French company behind major brands like Louis Vuitton, Fenty Beauty and Benefit Cosmetics, announced on 15 March that its factories, which normally manufacture perfume will shift to manufacture hand sanitizer gel.

In a statement according to Reuters LVMH said,

“LVMH will use the production lines of its perfume and cosmetic brands … to produce large quantities of hydroalcoholic gels from Monday.”

The brand said it would be delivering the products to French healthcare authorities for free.

  1. Stay on top of the news and conversation. Everything is changing fast and what was the right message yesterday, might not be appropriate the next day. Recognising this, is the UK government who has decided to step up its external communications and hold daily briefings to keep the public informed.
  2. Understand the needs of your customers. As people are being asked to self-isolate, or stay home, there will be a number of behaviour changes that might impact their needs, as well as how they interact with your business.

Organisations and brands and that includes governments who continue to communicate factually and with empathy at this time, have the chance to resurface from the crisis with deeper consumer, customer and public connection.

 

 

Here Comes Spring

I can’t believe it’s March, I feel as though I have lived the year. Work has been full throttle and it has been exciting.

In January, I started as a visiting lecturer at Coventry University, teaching my book, The PR Knowledge Book to their second year degree students and am really enjoying it. According to The Guardian University Guide 2020, Coventry is ranked as the 15th best university here in the UK, it is the 1st for Overseas Student Experiences, based on student trips abroad from HESA 2017/18 UK data; is 2nd for Teaching Excellence according to the Times Higher Education UK metrics ranking 2017 and was University of the Year for Student Experience 2019, according to The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019.

Wondering what it is like teaching? Well it’s exhausting, as it demands all your attention and yet inspiring at the same time. It is inspiration to be in a room with the potential next generation of publicists. I am also learning, learning about the future and what will drive the next generation forward.

I have also taken on a few short term client projects and podcasts are popular. I have discovered that everyone seems to have a ‘podcast in them.’ Podcasts are popular because they are an easy-to-consume format for both business and personal topics. This year the podcast industry is going to grow even faster with a flurry of advertising activity and technological changes, which is great news for content creators and listeners. A staggering, 80% of people will listen to an entire podcast episode, or most of it, indicating that podcast listeners are very engaged in the content.

I was invited to moderate a panel organised by A Greener Festival for their annual conference. The session was titled, ‘Sustainable Sponsorship, Brands and The PR Greenwash Wobblies!’ and on the panel were Gary Pitt, Alive Activation, UK; Jacqueline Hochreiter, Budweiser Brewing Group; Adam Pearson, O2 and Zac Fox, Kilimanjaro Live.

During the session we lifted the lid on what impacts brands are having, who is pushing boundaries, what is the best practice, and where do we go from here. It was a great conversation where one of the main takeaways for me – was that brands need desperately need innovation in the sustainability space to allow them to keep making the positive changes that they want to for the planet.

And it is this last line that is going to be a recurring theme with my work this year – making the positive changes that they want to for the planet.

 

 

Thank For You The Last 10 Years & Here’s to 2020

It’s been an incredible year from celebrating 10 years of Serendipity PR to publishing my first book The PR Knowledge Book (amazon.co.uk/PR-Knowledge-B).

Thank you for the love you have shown The PR Knowledge Book & Serendipity PR this year and I’m very excited by what’s coming in 2020!