Should we trust the media to tell the truth?

22nd June 2022 by Rachael Bruce

Like ostriches burying their heads in the sand, almost half of Brits (46%) say the actively avoid reading the news.

Many who took part in the Digital News Report 2022 claim there’s ‘too much news about politics and COVID-19’. The impact of politics and the pandemic on all aspects of society can’t be underestimated and yet there appears to be a growing sense of fatigue amongst the public.  Perhaps they are becoming bored of the spin being pedalled by politicians and challenged by journalists and are hoping to forget the restrictions we all endured for so long in the fight against the virus.

But not reading, watching or listening doesn’t mean whatever is making the headlines isn’t happening and isn’t impacting on people’s lives.

The same survey, by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ), found that trust in the UK media had dived recently despite rising slightly during Covid. Just 34% polled in 2022 said they trusted UK news, compared to 51% in 2015.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, The Sun was the UK’s least trusted news brand out of 15 major UK titles included in the survey, followed by The Daily Mail and The Daily Mirror; while the BBC remained the most trusted and biggest news brand in the UK.

Having made the switch from journalist to PR pro more than 10 years ago, the results of the survey sadden me, but they certainly don’t surprise me.

The old adage “don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story” still rings true for some journalists and editors today. But there also those reputable reporters who are keen to discover the truth and present a full and balanced story from all sides.

At Active PR we encourage our clients to be proactive – whether it’s good news or bad – and put their side of the story across from the start. If a news hound sniffs out a story, we recommend providing carefully considered and balanced statement. Offering “no comment” or saying “there’s no one available” doesn’t mean they won’t run the piece, just that your business won’t have its side of the story heard.

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Is flexible working with us forever?

24th May 2022 by Linda Bright

Working from home became the ‘norm’ for many during the Covid pandemic, but now it’s getting a mixed reception.

One London law firm recently said its staff could work from home permanently if they liked – but would have to take a 20% pay cut; and cabinet office minister Jacob Rees-Mogg sparked controversy when he left notes on empty desks saying he looked forward to seeing them “soon”.

At Active PR we had adopted remote working long before the pandemic and have always found our staff to be more productive, not less, once they don’t have to worry about a long commute, can manage school runs more easily and achieve a better work/life balance.

We supplement video meetings with regular ‘in-person’ get-togethers and hire meeting rooms when needed for training purposes or collaborative working; but the rest of the time we trust our staff to manage their workload and work space accordingly.

We encourage them to create an efficient but comfortable area in which to work, to take regular comfort breaks and to use all the available tools to interact with clients, colleagues and contacts as much as possible during the working day.

Performance is judged on output, quality of work and client satisfaction; we don’t physically have to see them sat at a desk for that.  

It’s definitely worked for Active PR – we’d call it a win-win situation. Our staff have saved on commuting costs and travel stress, while the business has reduced its outlay on city centre rents and rates. We’re fully focused on our clients and their needs and are just as accessible as we’ve ever been, if not more so.

While working from home will never be possible or practical for everyone – some professions will always have to show up at their place of work – we do think it deserves a permanent place in the world of PR for those who want it.

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A picture is worth a thousand words – the importance of photography in PR

4th May 2022 by Natalie Tomlinson

When thinking about your PR plans, do you have all the essential information – what are your key messages? What social media platforms do you want to use? Do you want to hold any events?

Did you think about photography?

Photography can often be overlooked, but as the saying goes – a picture is worth a thousand words.

When trying to get a story published in the media, an editor is far more likely to run an article which is accompanied by a good photograph.

And I stress the word GOOD. Out of focus, blurred or photographs showing the back of someone’s head will not make it out of Outlook.  

During my days as a news reporter, my editor, who had space to fill in his paper, would often choose articles that weren’t the best – but the photographs were!

In public relations a picture is worth its weight in gold.

With today’s technology a still image captured on your mobile can be impressive and for social media you may be able to get away with it.

But to really sell you / your business, it’s worth talking to a professional. Booking a photographer is an added expense but it will ensure your picture (and with it your story) won’t be ‘binned’ when it reaches the news desk.

Now… are you ready for your close up?!

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Six reasons successful PR is a marathon not a sprint

23rd March 2022 by Linda Bright

On Sunday, April 3, I’ll be lacing up my trainers to run the Manchester Marathon, 26.2 miles of pounding the streets. I’ve trained hard and I’m hoping experience (it’s my 10th marathon) and resilience will get me through.

Training time = thinking time and this week, as I continued to run but much shorter distances, my thoughts turned to how working in public relations is more of a marathon than a sprint.

Here’s why:

  • PR is not a magic formula that can create instant success. Just like running, it takes a strategic combination of experience, skill, timing, hard work and a sprinkling of luck.
  • PR is all about building long-term relationships – with clients, journalists, influencers etc. It’s a slow burn not a quick fix.
  • Just like a marathon training schedule, the most successful PR strategies lay down a solid groundwork in the early stages and build on it gradually over time.
  • Good planning is crucial and it’s important to have short, medium and long-term goals.
  • Being flexible is very important. Just as training runs don’t always go to plan – my own were impacted by work, travel, family life and illness – so too PR strategies can sometimes be derailed. The trick is knowing how to adapt and when and where you can compromise.
  • Be thorough and cover all bases! Just as the best marathon training plan integrates long, steady runs with shorter speed sessions, cross training and much needed rest, so too a successful PR strategy should integrate social media and digital content with traditional media relations and sometimes even paid-for activity.

Remember and follow this six-point plan and you’ll hopefully have the form, technique and energy to deliver a successful public relations campaign.

And don’t forget to take time to enjoy the results. Just as I’ll hopefully wear my marathon medal with pride, make sure your PR clients understand and appreciate the value of the results you deliver for their business.

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Fake news is making headlines… again

9th March 2022 by Kate Logan

Perhaps a phrase most famously adopted by ex-President of the United States Donald Trump, and deployed whenever he felt it convenient, “fake news” is back in the spotlight again.

This week Russia censored journalists working in the country by imposing a strict new law banning purported fake news about its armed forces from being reported. Those who are seen to have overstepped could face up to 15 years in prison.

The BBC News website has dedicated a whole section to fake news. It is currently filled with several disturbing headlines linked to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

One of those headlines – “False claims that Ukraine War is a Hoax go Viral” – is shocking to say the least given the scale of the humanitarian tragedy currently unfolding in the country.

Unfortunately, it is not the first such conspiracy theory or “fake news” story that has spread rapidly over social media and messaging apps about a major global event. The online world was only recently awash with an unprecedented amount of false notions around the Covid pandemic and its vaccines.

Fake news i.e. deliberate misinformation or propaganda (not genuine news branded fake by the likes of Trump just because the narrative didn’t suit him) presents a real danger to life and democracy.

It seems those intent on spreading fabricated stories continue to do so unabashed, despite their motivations being unfathomable to most of us.

I will end this article with a salute to the journalists standing firm on the front line in Ukrainian warzones as well as those in Russia, many of whom have resumed their reporting despite the enormous strain they must feel.

One of those journalists is a former colleague of mine from my time as a news reporter for a national news agency, who continues to undertake a role that requires more courage than I could ever hope to have.

For them, and the Ukrainian civilians facing unimaginable hardship, we must continue to call out genuine fake news, teach our children what to look out for and do our research before inadvertently spreading misinformation ourselves.

The BBC even provides a video guide targeting younger viewers about how to spot misleading stories.

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Awards – you’ve got to be in it to win it!

17th February 2022 by Rachael Bruce

Adele stole the show at The Brits, the Grammy Week schedule has just been announced and a trio of women is set to host this year’s Oscars.

It’s true to say awards season is now in full swing.

For us that means identifying awards for clients to enter and drafting submissions on their behalf.

While industry and business awards may not have quite the same level of glamour as their entertainment equivalents, they’re a chance to shine the spotlight on your success and achievements.

Here are just a few reasons why entering awards can be good PR:

  • Validation – being recognised by a panel of judges or industry experts demonstrates that you’re among the best at what you do. It helps benchmark your product, service, strategy, or policy.
  • Pride – awards encourage people to take pride in their work, knowing that they’re being judged or assessed. They can also help attract new recruits who want to work for an award-winning business.
  • Good news – making the shortlist or, even better, winning is a positive and gives you something to shout about in all of your marketing, including PR, with the bonus of having an external accreditation.
  • Celebration – whether you’ve simply been nominated, have made the shortlist or have been tipped off that you’ve won, everyone loves an excuse to let their hair down and party!

While other PR agencies may boast about holding awards for their own efforts, at Active PR we’d much rather champion the achievements of our clients instead of shouting about our own successes.

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