#86: Friday 16 March 2012
Tips, links and news-bites on best practice PR


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Last summer Frances Abebreseh was one of six graduates to take part in the Taylor Bennett Foundation internship programme, which is seeking to foster more ethnic diversity in the PR industry by providing paid training and work experience to talented Black, Asian and minority ethnic graduates who aspire to a career in communications.

After an intense ten weeks of learning, backed by the Brunswick Group, and including practical training in PR, media and business, plus numerous networking opportunities, agency visits and careers coaching, Frances and her counterparts began looking for their first break in the industry. The Foundation helps with that process too, and it was at the recommendation of a Taylor Bennett director that Frances applied for her first PR role at Mumsnet. Her application was successful, and now she's happily working for the popular and influential website in their press office.

We spoke to Frances about her role at Mumsnet, and her thoughts on how to increase diversity in the PR industry.

What does your current job involve?
Maintaining press office databases, responding to initial inquiries from journalists, collating and analysing press coverage, actively contributing to media campaigns, and assisting in the development and distribution of media materials.

Is working in PR what you expected?

Broadly speaking yes! But that's because the Taylor Bennet internship works really hard to prepare you.

Do you think there is a lack of ethnic diversity in PR, and how should the industry tackle it?

There is definitely, and not just ethnic diversity, I think there is a social class issue also. On the former, programmes like TBF are making fantastic strides to change things.

I think one of the core issues is that PR is never really presented as a viable career option to young people from ethnic minority communities. Their parents push them towards more vocational studies that lead to the professions or a trade, because of the perceived and (in many cases actual) financial rewards and job stability that some of those professions provide, not to mention the prestige and status (every Ghanaian parent basks in telling their friends that their son/daughter is a doctor/barrister/solicitor - in descending order!).

I think as - via programmes like TBF - more people from ethnic minority communities start to work in PR, then awareness of the sector will grow amongst those communities, making it a more obvious option for young people, and easier for their parents to endorse . And I think over time more people from these communities will consider jobs based on their interests rather than just the starting salary and pension pot - and that will boost involvement in the more creative industries.

Find out more about Frances' experiences of PR by reading the full interview online here.
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There have been more developments in the good old lobbying register story this month, as the government undergoes its consultation on what their statutory register should look like.

Obviously the public affairs bit of the PR industry has been considering this matter for quite sometime now, and the CIPR and Association Of Professional Political Consultants recently launched the latest version of their voluntary register of lobbyists' interests via the joint UK Public Affairs Council. They'd like government to just adopt their register, though the PR Consultant's Association, originally partners in UK PAC, are no longer backing that system.

Either way, both the government and parliament's Political & Constitutional Reform Select Committee are now considering anew the best way to regulate the lobbying industry, in a bid to throw a little more transparency on to the ways companies and organisations talk to decision makers and advisors in Westminster and Whitehall via their PR reps.

And earlier this month the aforementioned PRCA made a submission to the select committee outlining the opinions of its public affairs group. Once again the Association called on the statutory register to apply to all lobbyists in all sectors, and not just agency lobbyists, as the government's most recent proposals have suggested. This is something on which the PRCA agrees with its former partners in the UK PAC project.

Confirming his organisation had made a submission to parliament, and that making any register fully inclusive was their key message, PRCA boss Francis Ingham told esPResso: "Statutory registration is a necessary step forward in increasing transparency in the industry that we support. However, to only include multi-client consultancies would mean that the register would only capture around 20% of the lobbying industry. The register must be founded on a universal definition that is based on the professional act of lobbying itself - not a specific type of lobbyist. Otherwise it appears as an unjustifiable tax on consultancies".
The PR Society Of America has completed its previously reported bid to find a new definition for what exactly it is that PR does, having decided that their existing strapline dating from 1982 - "Public Relations helps an organisation and its publics adapt mutually to each other" - was no longer adequate.

And the new definition is - "Public Relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organisations and their publics". You can read more information on why that was chosen after an extensive online debate on the PRSA website here.

So, should the British PR industry now be embracing this definition too? Well, the PRCA consulted its members on that question and the majority weren't completely happy with the PRSA's new description, meaning the UK trade body doesn't feel it can also embrace its American counterpart's definition.

Says PRCA boss Francis Ingham: "The PRSA is to be commended on its efforts here - they've spent a lot of time and effort working to get this right. However, most PR leaders in the UK think that this definition isn't quite right. So while we are very grateful to the PRSA for their contribution to this debate, we won't be adopting their definition".

The PRCA has published some of the UK responses to the PRSA's new definition here.
Whatever you think about the big banks, I think most PR people will have felt a little sympathy for the comms team at Goldman Sachs this week, when one of the finance firm's executive directors decided to announce his resignation from the company via an op-ed piece in the New York Times in which he blasted his now ex employer's management approach and corporate culture, reaffirming most of what the banking sector's critics have been saying in recent years. Presumably the phones were ringing off the hook in the Goldman Sachs press office.

I dont know whether they checked out PR Daily, which used the incident as an excuse for a quick refresher on the very basics of good crisis comms. Just in case you ever find one of your employees writing an angry resignation letter in a national newspaper, perhaps you should give these the once over!
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Allying your brand with a political debate that is dividing public opinion isn't something most companies would consider, but then Ben & Jerry's has never been a conventional brand.

The ice-cream makers have teamed up with gay rights organisation Stonewall to speak out in support of proposals to introduce gay marriage by rebranding their 'Oh My! Apple Pie' flavour to 'Apple-y Ever After', and adding a picture of a male couple standing on top of a wedding cake to the packaging. The firm's website then explains why they are supporting the campaign in favour of gay marriage, and encourages consumers to write to their MPs in support of the proposals.

Welcoming the support from the ice cream brand, Laura Doughty, Deputy CEO of Stonewall, told Campaign: "We're truly moved by Ben & Jerry's support for same-sex marriage in Britain. All people want is to call their long-term relationship by the same name as everyone else. Our strong advice to those who disapprove of same-sex marriage is just not to get married to some-one of the same sex".
Ah, QR codes, or 'quick response' codes if you like, they're interesting aren't they? The blocky bar codes have become rather fashionable in the last couple of years as every smart-phone owner finds that they have a bar code reader in their pocket.

Well, I say fashionable, media owners and marketers have embraced the QR code big time, because they can be used to link printed material (magazines, adverts, posters etc) to a website, in that consumers can scan the code with their phones and be taken straight to any relevant information online without having to type anything in. It's a simple tool, which is why you'll now find QR codes everywhere.

Perfect. Except, some people are now saying that, while publishers and marketers have embraced the modern bar codes, consumers haven't really, most indifferent to the QR craze occurring before them on ad boards everywhere, and many still totally in the dark as to what the block squares are even meant to be used for.

With that in mind Craig Villamor and Brad Frost recently set up a Tumblr and posted pictures of QR codes used by marketing types that it seems unlikely anyone will ever scan, and encouraged the public to do likewise. You can read about the results in this Guardian piece here.
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So, the Press Complaints Commission finally fell on its sword last week, after months of intense criticism over its handling of the phone hacking scandal - the PCC having previously endorsed News International's official line that one rogue reporter was behind all the illegal voicemail-accessing at the News Of The World. It was a claim that was never very convincing, and which has been blown to bits since last year's Guardian scoop on the hacking of Milly Dowler's voicemail account.

Already criticised by some for being toothless as a regulator, it being paid for and answering to the very newspapers it was meant to keep in check, the PCC's failings on phone hacking, and the subsequent widespread debate on how the British press should be regulated, made it impossible for the Commission to carry on. Promises to reform and regroup fell on death ears, not least because various reforms had supposedly been made before the PCC was charged with the task of holding NI to account over the original allegations in The Guardian about rampant hacking at the NOTW.

Despite initially trying to hang on in the wake of Hackgate criticism, moves to dismantle the PCC and review press regulation from scratch began earlier this year, and were confirmed last week. It's thought that it could take over a year for the industry to put in place a new self-regulation body, and negotiations to do so could well be influenced by the Leveson Inquiry and other government reviews into libel and privacy.

Meanwhile, the CEO of the CIPR, Jane Wilson, welcomed the PCC's decision to shut down and start again, telling esPResso: "The PCC has been unable to maintain public confidence in recent years, mainly due to the unwillingness of some titles to submit to industry self-regulation and questions regarding its effectiveness as a deterrent to poor professional conduct, including those concerns raised at the Leveson Inquiry. The transitional arrangements must provide continuity and the regulatory regime that follows it should be one that actively rebuilds public trust in the professional standards of UK journalism but does not cross the line into government control of media".
As print circulations continue to decline, and with publishers desperately trying to work out how to make their online operations generate decent revenues, an ever increasing number of newspaper people seem to now be considering something many previously didn't dare think about - what life beyond print will look like.

Some are already speculating as to which might be the first UK papers to make the ultimate leap, to become online only news providers, maybe with a weekly rather than daily print product. Some reckon The Guardian, others one of the Scottish broadsheets. But whatever, more and more people are willing to accept that daily printed papers will eventually die out, and it might happen sooner than we think.

And this was particularly well summarised by the Editor of the Irish Times Hugh Linehan this week, in a speech at Limerick University reported on by Roy Greenslade at Media Guardian. Said Linehan: "My favourite line about this, if you're familiar with the movie 'Spinal Tap', is the point where the manager is asked why the band's most recent album didn't sell... 'it's just that their appeal is becoming more selective'. And, in a way, that is one of the things that is happening in newspapers. Our appeal is becoming more selective in print, and let me be really frank and lay my cards on the table: I think print will die".

He continued: "It may retain a place in people's affections in the same way as vinyl does for a certain niche in the music industry. There may be certain types of high-end products closer to magazines than to newspapers that will continue in the future. But anybody who subscribes to really quality products on tablet and iPad will be aware that a lot of things people say print does best, those are on borrowed time".

Wise words. And to be fair, an increasing number of newspaper owners seem to be preparing for the post-print age, with Trinity Mirror this week announcing it would launch subscription-based digital versions of some of its titles for tablet devices, including the Daily Mirror, available for subscriptions in the region of £10 a month.
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As blogging comes of age, and now that there are an albeit small group of bloggers who have turned their online ramblings into a proper job or commercial enterprise, giving those new to prolific blog writing something to aspire to, the issue of sponsored blog posts and links is becoming more hotly debated.

Banner ads and Google AdWords alone are unlikely to enable bloggers to give up the day job, so other ways of commercialising blogging activity will have to be considered - but does that mean bloggers are crossing the line into advertorial, something editors and journalists at established media have long resisted?

In an interesting opinion piece for The Guardian, American writer SE Smith states the case for why "bloggers need to be upfront about sponsored content".
So you've encouraged your clients - whether they be a CEO, comms chief, entrepreneur or celebrity - to embrace the social media revolution and participate in the Twitter phenomenon, then they go tweet something that they really should not. Or accidentally reveal some information that probably shouldn't have been shared. Inspired by a recent Twitter faux pas by a basketball player Stateside, Read Write Web spoke to some PR experts in the US about advice they give any tweeting clients. Check out the tips here.

So Facebook recently updated brand pages on the social network to introduce the new fangled timeline thing that has been available to individual users since late last year. It means that brands, celebrities and artists with profiles on the social network might have to reconsider how they present themselves and their content. Yes, yet another rethink! But Simply Zesty have posted some tips to help you work it all out.

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It's the latest Unicorn Jobs! New jobs go live at www.unicornjobs.com all the time, but here are ten great roles that have gone live recently. For more information click on the job title. To apply for any of these jobs send a covering letter and CV to jobs@unicornjobs.com, including the job reference number in the subject line.

Business Development Director, Tech, London, £50k-80k
This central London agency requires a Business Development Director to join the team and set the strategy for the growth of the agency. Your key objective would be to work with the board to develop and implement business development plans around new sectors, and to develop necessary contacts to support this activity. A strong agency background with a tech focus and a proven track record of attracting and winning new business are essential to this role. Ref: TF446

Freelance PR Manager, B2B / Ecommerce / Corporate, central London c. £35k pro-rata
One of the largest online b2b marketplaces is looking for freelance, part-time (3 days a week) PR support for an initial period of 6 months. The ideal candidate will have strong b2b, corporate and media relations experience as duties will include proactive news generation and corporate announcements. Must be comfortable working in a small team and pitching all types of story angles. Ref: KP420

Account Manager, Retail/Luxury/Food, London, up to £30k
One of the UK's best consumer PR agencies, with an enviable client list in the Food & Drink, Luxury and Retail sectors, is seeking an Account Manager. Your key client would be a high profile luxury/food /retail destination so you must have a strong consumer agency background, excellent media contacts and selling in skills and a creative streak. Ref: TF445

Account Director/SAD, Property/Infrastructure, London, up to £50k
A Senior Account Director (or excellent AD) is required to work on a range of corporate and b2b client with an emphasis on infrastructure (energy, property, construction). You must have strong client handling skills, excellent media relations skills, a genuine interest in the "built environment" and the issues affecting the sector. You will be required to drive client programmes forward with energy, intelligence and proactivity. Ref: TF444

Digital Account Manager, Tech, London, up to £40k
This agency, known for bold digital communications campaigns, is seeking a Digital Account Manager to join the team. You should have a proven ability to develop and execute digital comms strategies, strong project management skills, an in depth understanding of web and social analytics and the ability to provide social media policy recommendations to clients at all levels. A varied and creative role for a candidate who is passionate about digital media. Ref: TF447

Associate (AM/SAM/AD), Financial Services, London, £30k-45k
This leading financial communications agency is seeking a fluent Russian speaker to join their dynamic team as an Associate (AM/SAM/AD).Working specifically within the International team, your responsibilities will include formulating and implementing financial communications strategies, assisting in the preparation of messaging materials, researching new business opportunities, building relationships with clients and key press and analysts. Ref: TF442

Senior Account Executive/AM , B2B/Media, London, up to £28k
Our client is an independent b2b PR agency based in London, developing and executing highly effective campaigns to help new media businesses achieve their objectives. Due to a flurry of new clients, they are seeking a Senior Account Executive /AM with a background in b2b particularly in the media, marketing, telecoms or utilities sectors. Client facing experience and excellent writing skills are essential. Ref: AC440

Associate Director, Consumer/Corporate/Issues, London, c. £60k + bonus + benefits
This top rated award-winning London PR agency is looking for a strong Senior Consultant (Associate Director) to take the lead on a broad portfolio of client accounts from both the private and public sector. You should have several years' agency experience, including some big brand, blue chip accounts, an excellent track record in delivering integrated campaigns and the ability to retain and grow accounts. Ref: AC437

Associate (6-12 month contract), FMCG, London, c. £65k+
This international communications consultancy is seeking a dynamic Associate Director with big brand experience to join the central London office and work with one of the agency's biggest clients in the FMCG sector. You must have strong strategic planning skills, a creative streak and global toolkit experience. Ref: TF431

To discuss how Unicorn Jobs can help you fill your roles
contact Tanya Ferris at tanya@unicornjobs.com or Anne Carter at anne@unicornjobs.com or call us on 020 3051 1525

Unicorn Jobs is part of the Taylor Bennett Group
and are hosts of the Taylor Bennett Foundation diversity in PR programme

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Send press releases and news stories to esPResso@unicornjobs.com

If you are interested in being interviewed or in writing an opinion piece email sarah@unicornjobs.com

To discuss Unicorn Jobs recruitment services contact Tanya Ferris at tanya@unicornjobs.com or Anne Carter at anne@unicornjobs.com or call us on 020 3051 1525