The PRmoment Podcast is a series of life story style interviews with some of the leading lights of UK PR.
The review of PR Pitches and mergers & acquisitions in UK PR: February 2024
25:01Welcome to our February 2024 Review of PR Pitches and mergers & acquisitions in the UK PR scene with Andrew Bloch, where we will discuss the biggest, most seismic pitch wins and mergers and acquisitions that the PR sector has seen in 2023.Andrew is the lead consultant - PR, Social, Content and Influencer at the new business consultancy firm AAR and a partner at PCB Partners, where he advises on buying and selling marketing services agencies.Andrew was also co-founder and managing partner at PR agency Frank, before stepping back in 2020 to found Andrew Bloch & Associates.A quick mention about the relaunch of PRmoment. If you take a look at PRmoment.com, you'll see a brand new design with lots of new features, hopefully, easier navigation and also the launch of our new subscription training service for senior folks within agencies' PRmoment Leaders. Do take a look and let us know if you like it.Thanks also so much to the PRmoment Podcast sponsors the PRCA.2 mins Andrew talks us through this month's biggest PR pitch wins in the UK:Tortilla, the Mexican fast food restaurant, appoints PR agency Houston.Orlebar Brown - a luxury swimwear brand owned by Chanel - appoints PR agency W.Bolt appoints PR agency BoldspaceBurger King appoints PR agency The AcademyVersuni (Philips brand owner) appoints PR agency Smoking Gun.(Ketchum continues to partner with Philips. Tin Man continues to handle global comms.)Heineken’s trade PR goes to food and drink PR specialist Fleet StreetBallantines Whisky appoints Pangolin on a global brief.M&C Sport and Ents retain the global music brand strategy brief and Firstlight Group handle corporate comms.Four Seasons appoints Red - replaces PRCO after a 30-year client-agency relationship.Greggs appoint That Lot for a social media brief.Santander appoints two agencies - Lansons Team Farner for its consumer PR and MHP for its public affairs work.eToro appoints Lansons/Team Farner on a combined corp and brand brief.British Gas appoints Smarts for a consumer PR brief. (Working alongside BCW)“If there is a lack of long-term client commitment you have to adjust your cost base accordingly. The great agencies do that.”“We don’t do this for fun. There is no point running an agency that doesn't make any money.”16 mins Andrew talks us through February's M&A activity:Faith Brand Communications is acquired by Fantastic MediaSEC Newgate acquires a 70% stake (over five years) in Athens HQ V+O Group.Real Chemistry acquires Avant Healthcare.Havas acquires b2b marketing specialist Ledger BennettCognito, an independent global PR agency, has completed the majority acquisition of its German operation Cognito DACH.
Did anyone read the PR ethics code? A discussion about the PR ethics with Mary Beth West and Trevor Morris
35:44Welcome to the PRmoment Podcast.Today, we’re talking PR Ethics, basically because Mary Beth West, who is a senior strategist at Fletcher Marketing PR in the US, has funded research by the Institute of Business Ethics (IBE), which compares and contrasts 24 global ethics codes of PR.On the show today, Mary Beth is going to talk through some of the themes of this research. Today’s podcast also sees the return of the finest voice radio voice in PR - Trevor Morris, who I suspect will bring some practical thoughts on the real-world implementation of PR ethics codes. Trevor and his co-author Simon Goldsworthy wrote the book Public Relations Ethics.A quick mention about the relaunch of PRmoment. If you take a look at PRmoment.com, you'll see a brand new design with lots of new features, hopefully easier navigation and also the launch of our new subscription training service for senior folks within agencies' PRmoment Leaders. Do take a look and let us know if you like it. Thanks also to the PRmoment Podcast sponsors the PRCA.Here is a summary of what Trevor, Mary Beth and PRmoment founder Ben Smith discussed:2 mins Do published ethics codes serve a critical role in public relations? “Of all the ethics codes in PR…accuracy and honesty were the values that were universal.”“There are other elements of codes that are not universal, such as guarding of conflict of interests. ““AI is another one that is not dealt with in codes.”“PR ethics codes are an important benchmark. You have to have them… But the reality is that very few people have read them.”“When they do get used it’s often after the event. When something has gone wrong.”“For the codes to be effective, they need to be memorable. Shot, sharp and memorable.”6 mins Mary Beth talks us though the differences in PR ethics codes globally.“Another element of this white paper was to determine how old some of these codes are. There is a prominent code here in the US, which is a very good code. But it hasn’t been updated in nearly 25 years.”9 mins What are the compliance gaps in global PR ethics currently?“Of the 24 ethics codes we evaluated, 20 of them had an order to comply with the code to be a member. Only 13 of the codes, however, say that they are enforced.” “Only 6 of the codes made it easy to submit an (ethics) complaint.”“Only 2 of the 24 codes offered whistleblower protection mechanism.”11 mins “Very few PR people have ever been prosecuted for anything related to their work. There are far more lawyers and accountants that run into those kinds of problems.”13 mins “Trust is fundamental to the career of a PR person. If you lose that trust, it is potentially career-ending.”14 mins To what extent does PR have an ethics problem?“I think we have a lot of ethics problems in this industry. When you look across the full scale of all of the different acres in which communication can be manipulated to mislead.”“There is a danger that the codes start to behave like a priest, that you must never say anything that is not 100% transparent. And I don’t think that is possible.”“Ethics codes are not a silver bullet. If a public relations profess&
How do find your organisation's reputation North Star? With Delphi's Ellie Thompson and ZOE's Danielle Restivo
49:58On the show today, I’m chatting with Delphi co-founder Ellie Thompson and ZOE’s communications director, Danielle Restivo, about how to find your organisation's reputation North Star.Ellie was previously CEO at Harvard. She launched Delphi alongside Louie St Clare and Pete Marcus in May last year.Danielle has had in-house experience in senior roles at the likes of Linkedin, SAP, Google and Vodafone. She joined ZOE as its communications and PR director in 2023.The central premise behind the subject for today’s show is that if reputation were prioritised where it should be within organisations - communications directors would be the CEO’s best friend. And currently, in the main, they are not.So today, we’re going to chat about the reasons for this - who’s at fault, and hopefully, we’ll touch on some suggested solutions for any comms directors out there who can empathise with this issue.Before we start a plug for our latest webinar launch. The topic for this one is “How to track the success of an earned media campaign." tickets are free, and we’re putting this one on in partnership with our good friends at Carma. The event is promoted on the homepage of PRmoment.A quick mention about the relaunch of PRmoment. If you take a look at PRmoment.com, you'll see a brand new design with lots of new features, hopefully easier navigation and also the launch of our new subscription training service for senior folks within agencies' PRmoment Leaders. Do take a look and let us know if you like it. Thanks also so much to the PRmoment Podcast sponsors the PRCA.Here is a summary of what Ellie, Danielle and PRmoment founder Ben Smith discussed:2 mins Why do organisations need a reputational North Star? “A reputation north star gives you your reputational requirement…It gives you absolute clarity. …It’s a living shifting thing.”“It’s about what reputation we need if that’s what we want to achieve as a business.”4 mins What is the difference between a Reputational North Star and your comms team’s objectives?6 mins Do many companies try to define their reputational North Star?7 mins How should companies define their reputation North Star?10 mins Your North Star Gap: How far away is your organisation’s reputation from your reputation, North Star?12 mins Do you think too many in-house comms teams get beaten down by the day-to-day?15 mins How have we got to a place where, for some organisations, comms doesn’t play a leading role in an organisation's reputational management?20 mins To what extent is the in-house comms role a process of internal stakeholder management?24 mins Danielle explains ZOE’s reputational North Star.28 mins How can communicators make the shift from brand awareness amongst their target audiences to a good reputation?32 mins For some comms teams, there is an increasing emphasis on impact on sales. To what extent is this a product of reputation, and to what extent should a comms team take a shorter-term lead generation approach?39 mins Ellie’s theory of Reputational Capital: Your reputation is like a bank account. You will have to make deposits into it and withdrawals from it. But don’t go into your overdraft!46 mins What are the attributes of a successful in-house comms team?
Rajar’s results for Q4 2023
14:11Welcome to the PRmoment Podcast.This is a bonus podcast where we chat about RAJAR results for Q4 2023 with Alex Blakemore, newsroom producer at Markettiers. For those of you who aren’t aware of RAJAR - it was established in 1992 and operates the single audience measurement system for the radio industry in the United Kingdom.Each quarter, it publishes the listenership figures for UK radio. This offers a really interesting insight for PR people on how the UK public engages with this important channel.Before we start, a quick mention about the relaunch of PRmoment. If you take a look at PRmoment.com, you'll see a brand new design with lots of new features, hopefully, easier navigation and also the launch of our new subscription training service for senior folks within agencies' PRmoment Leaders. Do take a look and let us know if you like it. Thanks to the PRmoment Podcast sponsors, The PRCA.Highlights for this bonus pod include:2 mins “88.5% of the UK population listen to the radio each week- that’s around 49.5m adults.”“20.5 hours a week is the average listening time for live listening.”“Commercial ration is on the rise.”“13% of people are using catch-up radio.”4 mins The BBC has lost share in these most recent Rajar results. The BBC share is now 43%, down from 47% in Q3 2023.7 mins This is the first set of Rajar results since the BBC started using more syndicated programs across its radio stations in the afternoons.9 mins Alex talks us through some highlights of radio stations that have seen big increases in listenership in the last quarter.10 mins The continuing growth of podcast as a channel.11 mins Alex looks ahead to the Olympics and the Euros and the broadcast opportunities for PR people.12 mins Finally, Alex talks about potential interviews and story opportunities trends around the UK election later in the year, including the period of purdah.
Matt Neale, CEO of Golin, on the PRmoment Podcast
47:38Welcome to the PRmoment Podcast. On the show today, we've got Matt Neale, Golin's global CEO. I first met Matt just after we launched PRmoment in around 2008 when he was co-CEO of Golin in London.Since then, Matt's moved to New York, been promoted goodness how many times and now runs Golin globally. It's great to see a Brit in a global role at a big global agency.Matt joined Golin in 2005 from its then sister agency Weber Shandwick - he was appointed joint MD of the London office alongside Jon Hughes.It worked out, and Golin London started to fly. Matt was promoted to President International in 2011 and was appointed global CEO in 2019. It’s been widely reported that Golin had revenues of approximately $300 m in 2022. Golin works predominantly in the consumer and healthcare sectors.Thanks so much to the PRmoment Podcast sponsors the PRCA.Here is a summary of what Matt and PRmoment founder Ben Smith discussed:2 mins Matt predicts whether Trump is going to win.6 mins Matt reflects on the news that BCW and Hill & Knowlton are going to merge to form Burson.11 mins Matt talks about the Group CEO role and how it's different from the CEO role.16 mins Matt reveals how the move to America came about.19.30 mins Will Matt be the last Brit to make it to hold one of America’s big PR jobs?20 mins What does America think of the UK now? “8 times out of 10 - when the UK makes it onto mainstream news - it’s about the Royal Family.”25 mins How much bigger are PR budgets in the US than in the UK?“A good rule of thumb is that the US PR budget is 10x the UK budget.”27 mins Matt explains the reason behind the higher salaries in the US.29 mins Matt gives his advice to anyone who's at the start of their PR agency CEO journey.35 mins Matt talks about how three people have mentored him: Fred Cook, David Brain and Andy Polansky.40 mins How has the PR agency model changed in recent years?43 mins Does Matt reckon he’ll ever live in the UK again?
January 2024 PR Pitches and M&A Review
41:19Welcome to our January 2024 Review of PR Pitches and mergers & acquisitions in the UK PR scene with Andrew Bloch, where we will discuss the biggest, most seismic pitch wins and mergers and acquisitions that the PR sector has seen in 2023.Andrew is the lead consultant - PR, Social, Content and Influencer at the new business consultancy firm AAR and a partner at PCB Partners, where he advises on buying and selling marketing services agencies.Andrew was also co-founder and managing partner at PR agency Frank, before stepping back in 2020 to found Andrew Bloch & Associates.Before we start, a plug for our latest webinar launch; the topic for this one is “How to track the success of an earned media campaign." tickets are free and we’re putting this one on in partnership with our good friends at Carma. The event is promoted on the homepage of PRmoment.Thanks also so much to the PRmoment Podcast sponsors the PRCA.2 mins We kick off with some thoughts from Andrew and I on WPP’s merger of BCW and Hill&Knowlton“It’s really nice that they are honouring Harold Burson.”“It’s potentially going to be the biggest PR agency in the UK… taking them ahead of Brunswick.”“You rarely merge two firms together because they are doing so well.”“It's been reported that both of these firms had a tougher time in America; they’ve had a better time of it in the UK.”“It just makes sense. You don’t need that many agencies in one group, especially when they have that much overlap.”7 mins A discussion of January’s biggest PR pitch wins:The Dept for Science, Innovation and Tech appoint Unlimited and Pablo as lead creative and strategic partners, with Nelson Bostock Unlimited providing the PR support. Andrew pays tribute to Nelson Bostock co-founder Roger Nelson, who passed away recently.Iceland appoints Tangerine for creative consumer, corporate, sustainability, crisis and social.“A massive win for Tangerine.”The Savoy hires the PR agency Fox Communications to handle media relations, digital media, and influencers.“A lot of specialist agencies have done extremely well in the last few years.”Sudocrem appoints Brazen.Kidney Cancer and UK Reflo, the sustainable performance wear brand, appoint PR agency PHAOatley appointed Blurred for consumer, corporate and public affairs work following a 6-way pitch. Nest - Britain's largest pension scheme backed by govt - also hire Blurred. Henkel appoints BCW (soon to be Burson!) The Ministry of Justice appoint Kindred on £1.3m Luke “The Nuke” Littner -the teenage dart sensation who reached the final of the world championships, has appointed Soapbox London.Airbnb appoints The Romans. Previously, Hope&Glory has held the Airbnb account for nine years, and Andrew and Ben pay tribute to that body of work.Giff Gaff appoint Splendid for a strategic and creative comms brief.Stonegate Group - Pitch. The UK's largest pub company, operating nearly 5,000 pubs, includes brands like Slug & Lettuce and Walkabout. “It’s busy and this time of year is always busy. We’re still facing some of the challenges we saw last year...which is delaying decisions.”"Whenever there is a lack of confidence in the economy, there is a lack of confidence in making appointment decisions.”30 mins A round-up of PR’s January’s M&A activity“2024
My career in hindsight: Kindred’s Sharon Bange on the PRmoment Podcast
37:10Welcome to the PRmoment Podcast. On the show today, I’m chatting with Sharon Bange, joint managing director at Kindred.Sharon has been at Kindred for an extraordinary 20 years. In that time, the business has seen huge change, including nearly going out of business when the then-new Conservative government came into power in 2010. It’s one of those firms that has consistently punched above its weight when it comes to creative, award-winning work.Kindred is a consumer PR firm that has a fee income of £3 million and 35 employees.Before we start, we’ve got some huge news - you need to enter The PRmoment Awards 2024 quickly.There are some exciting changes this year; we’ve tweaked the categories, refined the entry form and with no additional entry fee, we’ve launched a regional champions scheme so we can reach the work right across the UK. The final entry deadline is 26th January.Thanks so much to the PRmoment Podcast sponsors the PRCA.2 mins Sharon talks about why she originally wanted to be a social worker, rather than work in PR?4 mins Sharon talks about why she’s currently undertaking a Psychology Master's.7.30 mins Has an increased knowledge of psychology made Sharon view PR campaigns differently?8.30 mins Sharon has spent 20 years at Kindred. How come?“It’s not been one job. There have been many different guises over the years.”“When you’ve been somewhere that long, you help shape the values of the place.”“It’s not that I’ve never had a reason to leave…it’s that there’s always been lots of reasons to stay.”13 mins. We covered it in 2019 when Sharon previously came on the show, but briefly, she talks us through how and why Kindred, with a fee income of approximately £8/9 million at the time, lost 90% of its clients in a couple of months back in 2010.“90% of the clients were in the public sector…by the summer, the business had been completely decimated.”18 mins Sharon reveals her in hindsight lessons of her career1. Don’t be a clone“20 years ago, I felt the pressure to conform to how I thought PR people should be…it was still trouser suits back then.”2. Question everything“At Kindred, we want and expect people to have more of a voice; it’s their agency, too.”3. Know your role as an employer “We’re a business, an employer. Not a family.”4. People are specialists, not generalists, and that’s fine“We don’t have generalists any more. We have multi-specialists.”29 mins How has PR changed?“There are more people with deep expertise that make PR more sophisticated.”31 mins Does Sharon worry about the current state of the media?33 mins How has Kindred kept its creative edge after all these years?34 mins. How tough was the process of becoming a B Corp for Kindred?
How technology is rebooting communications: Ashwani Singla, founding managing partner of Astrum Reputation Advisory
39:10Welcome to the PRmoment Podcast. On the show today, I’m chatting with Ashwani Singla, founding managing partner of Astrum - Reputation Advisory. Astrum is an Indian PR firm which specialises in reputation management and corporate communications.It employs 30 people in India and one in America!Ashwani set up Astrum in 2015, previously he worked for the likes of Genesis Burson Marsteller and Penn Schoen Berland.Most of the listeners of this podcast are in Europe, so I thought it would be good to get an Indian perspective on how technology is likely to change PR. The scale of India’s technology sector is obviously huge, and it’s interesting to get a perspective from a country whose GDP is growing at over 7%, compared to the UK’s at about 0.5%.Before we start, we’ve got some huge news - The PRmoment Awards 2024 are OPEN! The final entry deadline is on January 26th.There are some exciting changes this year; we’ve tweaked the categories, refined the entry form and with no additional entry fee, we’ve launched a regional champions scheme so we can reach the work right across the UK. Do check out the PRmoment Awards microsite.Also, thanks so much to the PRmoment Podcast sponsors the PRCA.Here is a summary of what Ashwani and PRmoment founder Ben Smith discussed:2 mins Astrum recently published a report on how communicators can navigate the digital disruption we’re seeing currently. Ashwani talks us through the three conclusions coming out of that report.3 mins The report was titled “Technology Reshaping Communicators?” What were the lessons from the report about how AI is likely to change the framework for effective reputation management?9 mins How are consumers responding to AI-produced content in India?“Content consumption is going to become more personalised, experiential, and immersive.”11 mins Does AI mean that reputation management as a business function requires a reboot?“Social science, data science: to be able to assimilate information and patterns quickly to be able to create content.”“You must be proficient at making videos…visual storytelling is the next skill you must acquire.”14 mins Ashwani talks about the example of Prime Minister Modi as a 360-degree communicator.16mins “Largely our consumption of content is going to go through the mobile phone.”18 mins What are the dominant channels on mobile in India?19 mins Where does India see itself from a global economic and political influence perspective? “India sees itself as the voice of the global South.”“India is not dependent on exports like China, it is largely a domestic economy. That makes it unique and a robust, stable economy.”25 mins Are we seeing a change in how consumers use social media? Closed digital channels such as WhatsApp are ever more popular. That has huge implications for how brands use social media.27 mins Aswani talks about how deepfake content has already become an industry and how it was used in the Bangladesh elections."Big tech has become a big risk for governments…so compliance is going to play a very big role in the reputation (of big tech firms.)”34 mins Do we have enough good senior in-house corporate comms decision-makers to lead the PR sector through this period of huge change?“I see a FOMO factor in the (PR) industry.”
The intersection of Purpose, ESG and CSR with Lewis Iwu, founding partner at Purpose Union on the PRmoment Podcast
41:40Welcome to the PRmoment Podcast. On the show today, I’m chatting with Lewis Iwu, founding partner at Purpose Union, about the intersection of Purpose, ESG and CSR.Are the terms interchangeable? Has Purpose superseded CSR and how much confusion is there both amongst communicators and consumers about the crossover between these terms?Purpose Union was co-founded by Lewis in 2019, has about 20 employees and previous clients include Natwest, Sky and The Wellcome Trust. The agency specialises in corporate counsel and communications strategy. All its work is purpose-related.Before we start, we’ve got some huge news - The PRmoment Awards 2024 are now - OPEN!There are some exciting changes this year; we’ve tweaked the categories and refined the entry form, and with no additional entry fee, we’ve launched a regional champions scheme so we can reach the work right across the UK. The final entry deadline is 26th January.Do check out the PRmoment Awards microsite.Also, thanks so much to the PRmoment Podcast sponsors the PRCA.2.30 mins From a communications perspective, how does Lewis define the differences between purpose, ESG and CSR?“ESG is investor relations communicating to markets about your credentials as a sustainable business, a business that cares about society.”“There is a movement away from CSR... Companies have become more sophisticated.”7 mins To what extent have brand purpose and ESG been negatively impacted by the anti-woke movement?10 mins What is the role of comms in purpose policy within a business?13 mins As a comms agency, is your role to help companies find their purpose or is the assumption that they already know that?15 mins Purpose Union has developed a scorecard model that helps companies decide whether they should speak out on specific issues. Lewis talks us through how that model works.17 mins How do companies balance the risk of not speaking out versus the risk of not speaking out?21 mins Has an organisation's purpose become more important for its employees than its customers? 24 mins Does the structured nature of the B2B buying process make purpose more important for some B2B brands than those targeting end consumers?26 mins Do most consumers really care about the purpose positioning of one company, compared to its competitors? Don’t consumers care more about the product, the price and the convenience of the distribution?29 mins What are the three questions Lewis asks organisations before they respond to purpose-related issues?34 mins The CEO is completely crucial to an organisation's purpose strategy, right? If they don’t get it, you're doomed, aren’t you?35 mins The purpose and environmental event caravan grows every year. What are the roles of events like Davos and COP? Do they help drive progress, or have they become a distraction?37 mins What is the role of the comms director in setting and driving an organisation's purpose strategy?
My career in hindsight: Bieneosa Ebite on the PRmoment Podcast
42:23Welcome to the PRmoment Podcast. On the show today, I’m chatting with one of my favourite people, the wonderful Bieneosa Ebite. Bieneosa is head of communications and government affairs, inclusion & diversity at GSK.In this regular format of the PRmoment Podcast with Ben Smith, we’ll be catching up with UK public relations leaders - and our guests will share their, in hindsight, secrets that they wish they'd known when they started their careers!Bieneosa Ebite joined GSK 18 months ago. Previously, she was at Centrica for eight years. She ran her own agency, Bright Star Public Relations, from 2007 to 2014, but Bieneosa is best known as the chair and co-founder of Ignite, which was the original not-for-profit organisation established to promote the benefits of cultural diversity in public relations. Before we start, we’ve got some huge news - The PRmoment Awards 2024 are now - OPEN!There are some exciting changes this year; we’ve tweaked the categories, refined the entry form and with no additional entry fee, we’ve launched a regional champions scheme so we can reach the work right across the UK.Also, thanks so much to the PRmoment Podcast sponsors the PRCA.Here is a summary of what Bieneosa and PRmoment founder Ben Smith discussed:2 mins Bieneosa tells us why, for the “first time in my life, work doesn’t feel like work.”“My purpose as a human being is aligned with what I’m doing professionally.”“How do we get more people from underrepresented groups into the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) sector careers.”5 mins Improving diversity is a wide remit: Bieneosa talks us through where she tries to make a difference in your current role.9 mins Does science and, more broadly, STEM have the same diversity issues as public relations?“One of the things that is missing is representation at the senior level in the public relations sector.”“When I started in PR, I didn’t feel like I belonged.”“People have left PR because they don’t feel welcome.”14 mins Bieneosa and Ben reminisce about how and why Ignite was a trailblazer!“Having a community is great, but I’m all about campaigning to make change.”“What I found was that at that time, diversity and inclusion almost was like a fashion for PR…it was in vogue for a time, and then it would go quiet.”18 mins Here is the link to Ben Smith's interview with Taylor Bennett Foundation alumni Kwaku Aning, Shanice Hoo Mills and Toni Adeola on a recent PRmoment Podcast.“If you want to see change, you have to agitate. Otherwise, nothing will happen.”“When it’s something that affects you…ten years is too long… You want change now.”“If you address things head-on, you stand a better chance of being able to solve issues. If you skirt around it and don’t want to say the word (racism) - nothing will ever change.”32 mins What would Bieneosa do differently in her career if she had her time again?“Investing in a mentor or a coach is something I didn’t do early enough.”34 mins What is the difference between a mentor and a coach?39 mins Looking back at public relations’ DE&I journey - how does Bieneosa think PR is doing?40 mins What KPIs does Bieneosa a look for when assessing a sector's progress on DE&I?