Posts

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.

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.

 

 

2020 Will Be The Year Of The New Type Of PR Strategist

 

Traditional public relations (PR) has been evolving for the last ten years, but in 2020, I believe we are really going to see traditional PR experts forced to become all round PR strategist if they are going both survive and to be able to service the needs of their clients. Where we will focus not only on PR but social media, branding, marketing, copywriting, diversity in campaigns, sustainability and technology, where technology will be playing a bigger role than previously thought.

This need to become all round PR strategists will be pushed by the brands who recognize that they have to up their game, which in turn will be driven by consumers who will demand that brands do better and get it right. This isn’t something that marketing or digital professionals will be able to deliver on, but instead by communication experts who will have an overview and a real understanding of the brands they are working with and representing.

For instance, we have seen many of the luxury brands starting to drive diversity in 2019 by employing ‘diversity chiefs’ after many culturally insensitive campaigns. Chanel hired its first ‘Head of Diversity and Inclusion’, Fiona Pargeter, this year, as a way to reportedly “beef up the resources” devoted to creating diverse and inclusive environments. While, Prada launched its ‘Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council’ earlier this year in February. This was after, the brand came under scrutiny when some of its products (black monkey figurines with oversized red lips) displayed in a New York, US, store were thought to resemble blackface imagery.

Other luxury fashion houses, including Burberry, are also hiring for similar roles. Renée Tirado was named as Gucci’s first global head of diversity, equity and inclusion and followed its out-of-touch autumn/winter 2018 collection featuring a balaclava polo neck jumper with large red lips – a product accused of portraying blackface. The Italian fashion company apologized, stating it would turn the incident into “a powerful learning moment”.

These hires are not clever publicity moves, but a must have for companies worldwide who recognize that they need to embrace diversity, as there is no longer the excuse to get it wrong. Consumers are demanding better and for brands to be inclusive and sensitive.

Sustainability will be seen as a bigger core brand value and news item than any PR or Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) professional could have imagined. With climate change, plastic pollution and reducing waste continuing to dominate global headlines, companies will need to ensure that their CSR initiatives are not just used as marketing tools, as they will face a consumer and media backlash, but are instead integral to their core brand values, which is then sincerely filtered through to all their internal and external communications, operations and delivery.

Thirteen years ago, companies would start CSR projects to show their stakeholders how good they were, which was window dressing. Fast-forward to 2019, businesses need to prove how good they are!

This means creating a human connection between a brand and its audiences will be pivotal in 2020. Where the PR strategy will need to be driven by emotion and have the human element in order to be more meaningful and lead to a growing focus on expert, local and enthusiastic micro-influencers, instead of macro-influencers. Everything will be drilled down, as consumers suffer from constant information overload and expect to engage with businesses on their own terms. It’s so important to create campaigns that provoke emotions that are relevant and memorable, and therefore, PR experts will need to consider all aspects of a client’s social and digital footprint.

The best campaigns will focus on creating not just customers – but true fans who are passionate about the brand, who proactively search for information and become active advocates for the business.

Simultaneously, it will be important and a challenge consider how to reach consumers undergoing digital detoxes. How is your brand providing value to an audience overwhelmed by hypo connectivity? As interactive content and video are no longer enough; no one-size-fits-all, off-the-shelf solutions. The challenge is real –creating campaigns that tap into human truths and acknowledge human potential will be key.

I am definitely looking forward to 2020…as Serendipity PR is more than ready.

 

 

 

 

 

Indiaaaaaah!!

The last time I was back in Delhi was a year ago and each time I arrive back in the city, I notice how much it has changed. It’s a place that is continuously growing with new buildings, new suburbs and new brands. It’s a hub of activity and while I was there, numerous international conferences and events were taking place.

Delhi is a place that I used to know and a place that I love. It has something called the Delhi vibe, wrapped up in its own special smell of heat and dust…and so, it was here that I found on 27 April, where I stayed till 2 May. As I was fortunate to be invited to speak at two different events – the first was at the India CSR conference on CSR and Leadership, and the other was the Women’s Economic Forum (WEF) where I spoke about the power of networking, PR and social media.

At both events I was honoured to receive two different awards, but both awards acknowledging my work, for which I am very grateful.

The first accolade was the India CSR Author’s award and I have been writing on this topic globally for more than seven years…working on this topic since the 90’s. The WEF award was for an ‘Exceptional Woman of Excellence’ in my field.

Delhi is alive, vibrant and there are huge opportunities right now for doing business, collaboration, networking and creating new ideas.

On this trip to Delhi, I also took my client, LID Publishing who publishes business books, as they are keen to explore the Indian market. It was important for them to experience India, see how it operates and breathes, and of course for me to make them a few strong introductions.

And I too was making connections for my next business venture, which is an Indian British Trade Expo taking place here in London in November, which is being supported by the House of Lords. I am proud to say that Serendipity PR is one of the media sponsors for this event.

I shall leave you with this last thought – India is set to become the third largest economy in the world.