by Anthony Bullick
15 September 2021
With an increasingly wide range of PR and marketing channels and routes to your stakeholders, finding the right way to focus your energy for maximum gain is ever-more vital.
However, with a little forethought and planning, it’s possible to take one core piece of content and repurpose it to reach more of your target audience elsewhere to reinforce your messaging.
This forms the cornerstone of integrated PR and communications
: by telling one story across different mediums, you can get the biggest bang for your buck.
Start with video content, perhaps a case study with a client, expert commentary, or a how-to instructional.
Consider cutting out 20-second clips that can be used to enhance your social media beyond your usual post with a photograph. This will enhance the viewer’s experience and engage them with your brand for much longer that they perhaps normally would.
Transcribe the footage for a press release or blog to post fresh content on your website in a different format, as well as liaise with the media over its inclusion as editorial if its newsworthy.
Integrate the video into other marketing literature or company documents such as digital sales brochures or your annual report to add life and interactivity, which will capture the attention of the reader.
It could also be used to inspire content marketing such as infographics or an e-book to provide visual options for consuming the key messages.
Strip out the audio and launch a podcast; this medium is growing exponentially and can add a dynamic and intriguing element to your PR and marketing mix.
Host the video on YouTube, the second biggest search engine, and enhance your brand’s visibility on the platform by including well-optimised descriptions and titles.
Publish each format of the content on your website to assist with search engine optimisation (SEO) and increase your organisation’s presence in search results.
In addition, share each piece via email, such as an e-newsletter, to place it directly in your target audience’s inbox.
Include the video, podcast, blog and infographic in your social media content calendar to boost engagement on the likes of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
Add them to your paid social media activity and run A/B testing to discover which style attracts the most results.
Finally, if you have worked or collaborated with a third party such as a client, ask them to share on their own channels as their network is likely to include potential customers for you.
by David Tarbuck
11 August 2021
Don’t worry, this blog is not about the dreaded “herd immunity”, a term which has become as political as it was anything medical. Rather, it is about good mental health. Phew! That’s because the CIPR and PRCA have joined forces to inspire comms and PR pros to have conversations with colleagues and support others to overcome poor mental health.
It’s all been tied in with World Listening Day, a day that ironically I’d never heard of before the CIPR-PRCA announcement. That day was actually back in mid-July, but the campaign is running until mid-September. Not to worry, we all know that as comms professionals we should be listening all of the time, not on just one day: it’s pretty much the first line of the job description!
So, what’s the campaign about? In short, CIPR and PRCA are determined to improve the mental wellbeing of people working in our industry. To do so, they are challenging pros to host mental health conversations in the week commencing 13th September. If you’re interested, the bodies are offering conversation starter packs, which you can sign up for on this page
According to research conducted by CIPR and PRCA, 90% of PR professionals reported poor mental health in the last 12 months. This is a worrying statistic and I am concerned that our industry has, to repurpose a famous phrase, “a silent majority”. I wonder, how many people have you heard talking about their mental health challenges? I can count on one hand the people who have recently told me about their issues, and none of them were colleagues in the workplace. Just by law of averages, this suggests to me that some of my valued colleagues have been suffering with something, but preferred keeping it to themselves.
This is a difficult area to tackle because we should not pressurise people to discuss something that is personal. Being a bloke, I can tell you that this is not an area that is easy to talk about. I had a hard time during the initial stages of the pandemic, but it took me a while to open up to anyone about it. Once I did I felt better, though I wanted to do so in my own time when I was ready.
I think back to two men who have impressed me with their determination to get people to talk about mental health. Prince William has led a campaign to “break the stigma” of talking about mental health with others, using football as a vehicle to promote it. Meanwhile, Alastair Campbell has been extremely open about his ongoing challenges with depression.
Indeed, he spoke at the PRCA national conference and compared coping with his condition to a jam jar: when he is feeling well, the mental jam jar is full of family, good experiences and things that motivate him. On a bad day, the mental jam jar is more filled by negative aspects that accentuate his condition or make it unmanageable. This helps him to work out what he needs to focus on to feel better. Here is a three minute clip about Alastair’s jam jar
From a personal perspective, I think that mental health is an area that is being increasingly discussed in the workplace but I wouldn’t say that it has become an open conversation yet. This is why the CIPR-PRCA campaign is very timely. We shouldn’t pressure people to talk about their experiences, but by normalising the whole area there is a good chance that anyone dealing with a problem will feel more confident to talk about it, if and when they want to do so. As Prince William says, this will help us to break the stigma.
by Amanda Coleman (Chart.PR) FCIPR, FPRCA
19 July 2021
Working in PR and communication is a fabulous thing but can also be a very lonely place. You may be the only communication person in the organisation, or you may be wrestling with a difficult situation, all of which can feel very lonely. I know because I have been there. When I started in PR, I would never ask for help, fearing it was a sign of weakness.
Finding the right sort of support is not a weakness but a strength. It is why I strongly believe that we all need a mentor at points in our lives. Someone who will listen without judgement, will be there to provide help, and who is unconnected with our day-to-day work.
After years of benefiting from such support, I jumped at the chance of becoming a mentor, particularly as the pandemic has put a huge amount of pressure on all of us. It is part of the way I feel I can repay the support that I have received over the years.
So why would you need a mentor?
You may be looking at a change in your life and want to talk things through. You may be having some challenges at work and need to talk them through. You may just want to offload all the problems that are blocking you from what you want to achieve. You may be looking for how to take the next steps in your career. Really it doesn’t matter why, as mentoring is a way of helping whatever the issue is.
What I think matters most is that you find someone who works for you. I always have a preliminary chat with a prospective mentee to see if we feel we could work together. There is no issue with realising it isn’t going to be the best pairing and for the mentee to move on. Decide in the initial stages and find someone who will be a match.
The CIPR Progress mentoring scheme
(free and exclusive to CIPR members) gives access to a full range of mentors with different backgrounds, experiences, and outlooks. There will definitely be someone who may be able to help you just when you need it the most.
by Sarah Calderbank
5 July 2021
As someone who always looks for the positives, during the pandemic I embraced the chance to dive into more online events, learning resources and supercharge my CPD.
With a PR degree, 20 years’ industry experience and having spent the past year tackling some the most demanding communications challenges of my career, I decided now was the perfect time to take on the ultimate PR accreditation and #GetChartered.
Did you know the CIPR is the only PR organisation with a Royal Charter? It’s the highest level of assessment in our profession and is the mark of commitment to professional development and ethical standards.
So, it should be no surprise to hear that it’s not easy and not every PR practitioner will be ready. However, don’t let that put you off, I’d say it’s definitely something that every PR professional should strive towards.
You’ll be assessed against three key areas: ethics, strategy and leadership. No, not just how to write a press release or create a viral TikTok. You’re going to be demonstrating high-level strategy, critical thinking, ethical problem solving and a solid understanding of PR as a strategic management function.
Help is on hand though. There are lots of resources available on the CIPR website. I watched videos, read the blogs, carefully reviewed the Chartership Handbook and spoke to Chartered peers to get a flavour for what was involved.
I’d say it’s never too soon to start putting the building blocks in place towards Chartership. Seek out opportunities to gather as much relevant experience as you can. Volunteering, shadowing, mentoring and, of course, keeping up with your CPD, all provide great complementary opportunities beyond your current role.
I decided this was my time. I felt ready, match-fit and up for the challenge, so took a deep breath and pressed the big ‘book’ button towards Chartership.
Onto the homework. I knew this stuff; I told myself over and over, but I wanted to make sure I had some great examples at my fingertips.
I ticked off the background competencies and worked on my CPD plan. I decided to set myself goals for the next two years that would continue to stretch me, with a decent level of variety to keep me motivated. I also blended on-the-job learning with formal training and learning from others.
Ahead of the big day I received the case studies that would form the basis of the assessment.
I structured my preparation around reading, reflecting, preparing examples and a few headline notes. As advised, I tried not to over-prepare. I reminded myself I had solid experience and skills and I was determined to enjoy and make the most of the experience, whatever the outcome.
As we were still in pandemic-mode, the assessment took place in the now-familiar land of Zoom.
My fellow practitioners and assessors were incredibly supportive and friendly, as you’d expect from the PR community!
My knowledge, judgement and skills were certainly put to the test with questions, questions and more questions. It was a challenging, thought-provoking, rigorous experience, but, as a critical thinker, a surprisingly enjoyable one.
The moment I was told I had passed and was now a Chartered PR Practitioner, is etched in my memory as a career highlight! I felt proud as punch. However, the celebration was bittersweet as not everyone passed their assessments that day - a reminder that learning and professional development is a journey.
It’s been a month since my assessment and I still feel proud, confident and empowered to take on my next challenge. If you are thinking of getting Chartered, my advice is ‘go for it!’. Get in touch if I can help. @SarahCalders
by Amanda Jackson
15 April 2021
Find out what some of the North West’s PR professionals have been reading over the past few months of lockdown.
At the March 2021 CIPR North West’s social event, we all shared our top recommendations for books and podcasts. And what an eclectic list it turned out to be! Here is a snapshot of the top 20 titles and podcasts:
The Battersea Poltergeist – BBC Sounds podcast https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w13xttx2/episodes/downloads
Csuite (marketing) podcast
That Peter Crouch Podcast
Late night with Jane Garvey and Fi Glover
BBC Sounds – Night Tracks
Rough Trade edit podcast
Morecambe Bay Podcast (interesting guests – from sea swimmers and bird watching to Morecambe and Wise and photography)
Talk Art podcast
2020 R4 Reith Lectures by Mark Carney – climate, covid and credit
Where the crawdads sing – Delia Owens
Girl A by Abigail Dean
Lemm Sissy – My name is why
A cheesemongers history of the British Isles – Ned Palmer
Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine
Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart
Akin by Emma Donoghue
The Man Coach by James Boardman
Alan Partridge from the Oasthouse
Dadventures – by Alex Gregory
And in it’s own specially important category…
MyPossible Self – a free mental health app from the NHS
What have you been reading/ listening to recently? What would you recommend?
by Kevin Hegarty
11 March 2021
I'm reminded today that it's 10 years since Fukushima. I worked in comms at the UK nuclear safety regulator at the time. Here are a few PR reflections.
I supported the UK chief nuclear inspector and his team as they carried out a safety review of UK nuclear power plants, to see what lessons could and should be learned. It was an incredibly busy time, with lots of media interest.
There's an abundance of great advice on crisis communications out there and people who make a living out of advising on it. I won't claim to be the expert, but here's a couple of PR lessons I learned from my involvement in Fukushima:
Being clear on your messaging
The chief nuclear inspector was tasked by UK Government to deliver a report on the safety lessons learned. This was published with press release, big press conference, the works.
We'd worked on our messaging and thought we'd nailed it. But when put through practice and testing, we realised they needed refining.
That's where the expertise of a media trainer came in. I contributed a fair bit, but in reality mainly watched in admiration as a very experienced media trainer picked apart the 'official' wording of our messaging and made it far easier for the audience to understand. Simplifying the language and making it understandable to all, not just an informed few.
If ever there was a good reminder of the importance of having three clear key messages, this was it.
We went on to deliver a really informed, effective, packed-out press conference to the world's media.
Managing the team's workload, health and well-being
The natural instinct when a story like this breaks is to get involved.
I was on holiday on 11 March 2011. It was obvious this was a massive event - and I wanted to get involved. But the team had the right mindset.
This was clearly a long-haul project. We were a team - and a skilled team at that. It was all in hand. I needed to take my holiday, make sure I was recharged and ready to pick up from others when they in turn needed rest.
So, this lesson is really a reminder - if you're in for a long-running incident, make decisions early about team management.
Making sure people rest, making sure people are assigned to the business as usual. It's easy to let that slip if you don't make a conscious decision to consider it.
Expect the unexpected: some journalists do have an agenda
When you're in the heat of the moment and very focused about your specific story, don't forget that your event / story might just be a route in for a journalist to ask about something else.
You're putting your spokesperson up for interview - and while you can expect most of the questions to be about the subject at hand, don't expect to field just questions on that.
One national newspaper journalist in his one-to-one with the chief nuclear inspector didn't ask a single question about Fukushima - he was more interested in asking about the challenge the UK regulator was facing with many of its inspectors nearing retirement age.
There will always be the 'while I've got you on' question - so make sure you're ready for that.
Hope you find these reflections useful. Please do share your own advice and experiences.
by Amanda Jackson
9 March 2021
Since the start of the lockdown, all events have become online ones. Yet they continue to be as important as ever. They are where we meet, network, learn and explore new ideas.
The CIPR North West has continued to host training sessions – in particular, the Lancashire sub-group that I chair has staged almost a dozen on a range of topics from analytics to internal comms; from meeting the media to mental health. You can read about how we made it work here. We have had over 450 tickets booked for them, so purely from an engagement and continuous learning point of view, there has been a small Covid silver lining – we have been able to engage far more widely with our PR community.
But we realised there was still a gap. Training is absolutely necessary and hugely enjoyable, but where were the opportunities to just chat? So we decided to kick back and organise a social networking event. A way to get to know the new faces a bit better and refresh connections with other industry colleagues.
Here’s how we did it.
9 quick tips for successful online networking
1. Our webinars are team efforts so we distribute roles across the committee, with a different person handling:
Writing the event description
Putting the event listing together
Coordinating social media
A role in the webinar itself (which we’ll get to in a moment)
2. We make extensive use of WhatsApp as an organising committee, so communication doesn’t get lost in the email deluge. Over WhatsApp, we discuss the event running order, and assign ‘on the day’ tasks.
3. We have a tech check 10 minutes before attendees arrive to iron out any last minute glitches. At this check we also make sure there are at least two co-hosts assigned. This enables organisers to let any latecomers in from the waiting room (whilst someone else is talking), or mute delegates if necessary. It also is insurance against the whole event closing if the host’s system fails.
4. Whilst we’re all used to Zoom/ Teams/ Google Meetups etc, talking in a large group isn’t conducive to a relaxed, chatty environment, so once the format was explained, we quickly put people into breakout rooms. We had about five people per room, which seemed about right.
5. One person is in charge of opening/closing the breakout rooms. We opted to use the ‘automatic’ function, which randomly assigns five people to each breakout room. These rooms were closed at the end of each breakout and then ‘reopened’ again, which meant that the groups were randomly mixed.
6. In the hour session we had 3 x 15 minute breakout sessions, interspersed with feedback and setting the next conversation starter. These conversation seeds proved to be very popular, and they enabled everyone to contribute. Here are a list of ones you could try at your own event:
Over the past year, what has changed in your life … that you would like to keep?
What is your top productivity tip that keeps you on track?
What advice would you give your younger self, just starting a career in PR?
What are your book and podcast recommendations?
What is your biggest PR win/ success story?
How is your week going?
Share some example of great comms you’ve seen recently
What are you looking forward to, post lockdown?
How do you decide on training topics?
Highs, lows or funniest points in your career…
What would you say is the soundtrack to your life?
7. Timing is crucial with online events, so using the ‘broadcast to all rooms’ function on Zoom, we reiterated the topic to be discussed; and then gave a five-minute warning of the time left in each session. We had really positive feedback on this feature.
8. In order to keep the event engaging, we had different committee members introducing each new topic and asking for a quick review from a few of the groups on what they talked about. It works a bit like a layer cake:
Speaker 1: scene setting, the plan and the first topic
Breakout room 1
Speaker 2: asking for feedback from breakout topic 1; then setting groups off again with second topic
Breakout room 2
Speaker 3: asking for feedback from breakout topic 2; then setting groups off again with third topic
Breakout room 3
Speaker 4: asking for feedback from breakout topic 3. Then trailing forthcoming events
Speaker 1 again: wrapping up the event and close.
9. We always ask for feedback and use Google forms to collect and collate the data. A link to this is put in the chat, so people can fill it in during the event. Whilst online socials aren’t a patch on seeing people in real life, it was definitely a success and something we’ll be doing again.
by Natasha Calder
5 March 2021
For ambitious people working in mid-level positions, the daily grind can sometimes feel like navigating through a limbo period.
We feel comfortable in our jobs because we're good at what we do and we have a comprehensive knowledge of our organisation but among that, we're often trying to strike a healthy balance between displaying leadership, decision making and working as part of a team.
That's why in the week that acknowledges International Women's Day 2021, I #ChooseToChallenge feeling comfortable.
For some, misunderstanding a thirst for knowledge for unhappiness in your current job can be an easy mistake to make, so I challenge you to think about your goals and to set a realistic road map of how to get there.
One of your goals might be to take on more responsibility but if a promotion opportunity isn't available to you right now, or if you enjoy your job and have a great team behind you, it might be time to cast the net wider than the day job.
Seeking out new opportunities doesn't always mean finding a new employer or making a career change; it could be connecting with new people online, joining a committee or learning a new skill that will open up new challenges for you in the work place.
That's exactly what I did. The PR world is much bigger than the teams we work in, the clients we represent and the companies we direct. There is a huge PR community out there with a wealth of knowledge, perspectives and ideas to share.
By meeting new people and having conversations with other PR pros outside of our working life, we can discover our passions and feel more inspired every day.
And what's more? It's something you can do yourself at your own pace, which makes it so much more personal to your own professional development and the feeling of achievement is arguably much greater.
It's also worth remembering that being a leader isn't always something you need to aspire to.
Challenge your traditional perspectives and think about how you display leadership already.
Do you support colleagues?
Do you manage projects or clients?
Do you advise effectively and strategically?
Do you have influence with senior management?
Do you ask questions to understand the reasoning behind a piece of work or a decision?
Answering yes to one or more of these questions could be the reassurance or boost you need to feel inspired again.
Responsibility and leadership comes in all shapes and sizes. Ultimately, it's about working collectively and supporting others to reach a common end goal.
At the beginning of this post, I suggested that mid-level PR pros are trying to strike a healthy balance between displaying leadership, decision making and working as part of a team. But the important thing to remember here is that these three qualities often work hand in hand.
So this year, what will you #ChooseToChallenge?
Start the conversation over at @CIPRNORTHWEST.
by Hayley James
28 February 2021
I’m still feeling a little bit smug at the moment, following the realisation that this year I’ve completed twelve consecutive years of CIPR CPD. Get me! One thing I’m still struck by is the perception that learning how to be good at PR is expensive. The more I’ve looked into this and found different ways to develop my knowledge and expertise, the more I’ve realised that this isn’t the case at all. The trick is to find value in what you do.
Learning can be expensive; qualifications are rightly costly as they involve teaching, assessment and the expertise of others. These have their place and several years ago I completed a post graduate diploma in PR studying around work. However, qualifications are not the only way to learn if you don’t have the budget or the time right now.
The activities I’ve undertaken these last twelve months and, more importantly, have banked as CPD include volunteering, judging awards, presenting at conferences, attending webinars and virtual discussions on a variety of subjects, plus some in-house learning from work on areas including Information Governance, virtual sessions on managing priorities and team away days. I also ran a session in work on comms skills for managers; that’s five CPD points plus I’m building an army of advocates.
One major change I’ve personally noticed during the pandemic is the volume of online resources that now exist for learning that previously would have been inaccessible, due to distance or closed groups. Reading white papers, reports and research undertaken by the PR industry also count as CPD, as well as helping give you data to back up your ideas and approach when needed.
I’ve also taken advantage of some of the brilliant resources on the CIPR CPD site, such as the pre-recorded webinars and podcasts. There are plenty more in the offing and I’d like to plug the brilliant new member's careers portal that has got a wealth of information and guidance on there, regardless of where you are in your career. This is a fantastic tool for anyone.
In the past I’ve claimed points for reading books, listening to other podcasts (and there are now more PR and business-related ones than ever), speaking to students, doing free modules on platforms such as Coursera, and loads of others.
I’ve learned the hard way that my memory is more porous than it’s ever been, so I’m committing this year to upload CPD as I go. It saves the panic I’ve had these last few years at the start of February when I’ve got to track back the activities I’ve undertaken.
Learning takes many forms and there is more free learning out there than ever. Your time is valuable and spending it on your personal development is always a good investment.
Outwrite MD starts third year as Chair of CIPR North West
18 December 2020
The North West regional chair of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) is to focus on continuing to deliver value for members as the industry looks to bounce back for 2021.
Anthony Bullick, who is managing director of North Wales-based Outwrite PR, leads the CIPR North West’s team of volunteers to support the PR community with events, training and professional development.
With much of 2020 taken up with responding to the impact of Covid-19, Anthony plans to use the final year of his three-year term ensuring the body is in good shape for the future.
He said: “When I was appointed for my second year, I don’t think any of us expected 2020 to turn out like this. Just eight weeks in, everything went out the window.
“But the industry has responded magnificently; we’ve switched training days and face-to-face seminars to webinars, made the best use of social media to share learning tools, and made great strides in improving the diversity of the CIPR North West committee.”
Anthony, a chartered PR practitioner, continued: “We have an incredibly strong, talented and diverse range of committee members and the PR community in the North West is in good hands, thanks to those around me.
“The North West is home to perhaps the best PR community in the UK. Whether we’re talking about talent, skills, creativity, a desire to learn and develop, resilience, being a support network, or any other factor.
“But whatever 2021 looks like, we will continue to focus on adding value to our North West members and supporting them in any way we can.”
The CIPR enables members to expand their knowledge through courses and training, whilst offering business support and networking opportunities.
A member of the CIPR North West committee for seven years, Anthony has previously helped the group run events as well as coordinate its social media channels.
He also regularly gives talks to promote the PR industry, having presented to students at the University of Chester, Bangor University and Manchester Metropolitan University.
For more information about Outwrite visit www.outwrite.co.uk