📈 It's trend time
None of us could have predicted the turbulent events of 2020 so it seems foolhardy to attempt to do it for 2021. It hasn't stopped BusinessWire inviting an expert panel of media and PR experts to talk about the future. I'm one of three panelists on a live webinar on 10 December at 6:00pm GMT, 7pm CET, 1pm ET, 10am PT. My fellow panellists are Ginger Porter, the president of Golin's Central Region responsible for managing the agency's headquarter office in Chicago, and Sandra Fathi, president of Affect PR, a top technology, healthcare and professional services PR company.
The Economist's Tom Standage has penned an interesting summary of ten trends to watch in 2021. I'm grateful to CPP Group's trend-watching John Brenan for emailing to alert me to this as I'd missed it. Tom has written several fantastic books, including one of my favourite books about social media - Writing on the Wall, which details the first 2,000 years of social media.
If you aren't familiar with the 10b5-1 rule this is a fascinating account by Den Howelett in Diginomica about how executives at Pfizer and Moderna have used it to personally make millions after the announcement of COVID-19 vaccines. If this sounds to you like illegal insider trading, Den explains how thanks to Rule 10b5-1 it's apparently legal. It raises interesting ethical questions and highlights the difference between morals and principles and just following rules to the letter.
When OnePitch CEO Jered Martin asked on Twitter "What inspired you to work in PR?" I was one of many PR professionals to respond. My answer was "Finding out I didn't have to decide on just one industry but could actually learn about anything from castrating sheep and sending video down a phone line to making compost and court cases about mad cow disease. Just over 30 years later I still love the variety." Genuinely the variety is the main reason I love public relations. In the last few years I've worked on everything from lobbying to get the government to fund building small modular reactors (mini-nuclear power stations) and the reputation of steel works to measuring public policy for one of the world's biggest technology companies and helping a US pharmaceutical company avoid a major issue become a serious crisis. Every day is a school day.
Tips and tricks
If you've ever been on one of my training courses or I've done consultancy for you then you've probably heard me talking about the importance of research, insight and planning. The challenge is most PR and communication teams don't have a dedicated research professional. This is a great introduction to qualitative market research. Thanks to David Brain for sharing it. Incidentally, if you're looking for a great market research tool then take a look at David's company Stickybeak. I'm having a play with it at the moment and will share my thoughts once I've finished investigating it.
Earlier this year I joined the PRCA's COVID-19 Task Force and was lucky enough to work with many of the fantastic public relations professionals from all around the world. This is a fantastic report on the communications lessons we can draw from this year. As well as reading the report you can also watch a recoding of 60-minute webinar hosted by task force chair Tony Langham where they summarise the main findings.
Digital and social
Sherwin-Williams is an American Fortune 500 company that manufactures and sells paints and related products. In the US it also sells through its own retail stores where customers can do things like mixing their own custom colours. A student working in one its stores created the @tonesterpaints TikTok account to share videos of mixing paint and it quickly racked up more than 1.2 million followers. He approached the central marketing team at Sherwin-Williams which initially ignored him. He finally heard from head office when human resources fired him! The most worrying aspect of this is its happening in 2020. We've had social media for more than 15 years so a company 'not getting it' in 2020 is shocking.
Pope Francis is meant to be a forward-thinking modern pope, but I'm not sure that's the explanation as to why his official fransiscus Instagram account liked a decidedly risqué photo of Brazilian bikini model Natalia Garibotto. This is also the hardest story I've had to find a photo for since I started That Was The Week That Was. The photo liked is definitely Not Safe For Work so instead I'm using a picture of some lockers in a school - you'll understand if you track the original photo down yourself, but I accept no responsibility for your actions 😊.
I'm not a big fan of 'PR stunts' but occasionally one catches my eye because it's actually good and not just a publicity stunt. This work by Danny Whatmough and team at Red for Sony is fantastic. If you don't know central London you might not realise these PlayStation control signs replacing official London Underground signs are right outside what was Microsoft's flagship store (before its recent closure). I sourced the picture from Danny's LinkedIn account, so I'm hoping I'm using an official media shot.
We all know that NHS communicators do a brilliant job and this year they've been even more amazing than usual. The NHS Confederation and NHS Employers publishes the NHS Communications Bulletin which showcases some of amazing work and also signposts some great resources. This issue contains stories on Bradford Teaching Hospitals has worked to dispel COVID-19 myths and conspiracy theories and a link to resources and graphics to use during Disability History Month (18 November-20 December). Thanks to Luke Farley for this one.
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