Opinion 23 minute read
Ben Smith, Founder, PRmoment.com
Ben Smith, introduction
PRmoment launched in June 2009 with the aim of looking at trends and insight across the public relations sector. We wanted to be a force for positivity, for reflecting, reporting and arguing for the benefits of the communications business.
Our purpose is to showcase best practice in this ever-changing sector. We want to give our readership access to new developments, ideas, perspectives and work that defines modern public relations.
PRmoment is an online PR magazine. Our community is made up of numerous hubs, split within the discipline of public relations that they work, the sector they work in and how they engage with us — be it via social media, our email subscriber alerts, through our webinar programme or our face-to-face events.
It does vary over the course of the year but PRmoment.com averages over 25,000 unique visitors a month, which means one in three PR people in the UK come to us every month for insight, observation and analysis on what’s happening in the PR and communications sector.
Our goal is to make sure we are not an echo chamber for senior agency people. There’s enough of that elsewhere.
PRmoment is dedicated to being an inclusive, positive forum for ideas. We believe we are living in a golden age of PR; publishers have an almost insatiable appetite for content and CEOs have never been so concerned about trust in their organisations.
Successful PR people help brands tell their stories authentically.
It is that balance of authenticity, trust and reach that drives so much of what PR people do for their clients and employers.
At PRmoment we’re passionate about the business of public relations and the impact it can have on commerce, governments and society. One of the most prevailing trends to impact our sector in recent times is sustainable practice where trust and authenticity are critical success factors.
This year, we launched the inaugural ESG Awards to celebrate the successes of the companies that are ‘getting it right’. This has given PRmoment an opportunity to reflect on its own sustainable contribution and to share our progress so that we are not simply paying lip service, we are actively engaged in being a force for good.
You can read our full impact report, of click to a specific part by clicking on the sections below.
- Content and Education
- PRmoment's sustainable statement
- PRmoment sustainability targets 2022
- Expert opinions
Welcome to PRmoment’s Impact Report August 2021
The UK PR & Comms Industry:
According to the PRCA Census 2021, the value of the UK PR and Communications industry is £16.7bn*. There are currently 99,900 practitioners working in PR and communications today.
*The 2021 figure is based on the 2020 value with 6% industry growth rate (from PRCA Benchmarking 2020) and 0.85% inflation applied.
Statista calculated the global PR market to be worth $63.8 billion in 2018. By the end of 2022, Statista predicts this figure will surpass a value of $93 billion, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.9 per cent.
Compared to many sectors, public relations firms and in-house PR teams fared better than most during the 2020/21 COVID-19 lockdowns.
Despite the detrimental impact of COVID-19 on mental health and physical health, the CIPR’s Report - #PRinAPandemic 2020-2021 - highlighted that 40% of PR practitioners believe that the pandemic has had a positive impact on the PR profession.
And as we find ourselves in the at the of 2021, the focus on climate change and sustainable practice is amplifying. What impact this will have on the practice of PR and communications is still being determined. There is no doubt that businesses of all sizes will be scrutinising their sustainable footprint and looking to PR and comms experts to help them articulate their story in a credible and measurable way.
Demographics from PRmoment reader’s survey:
The table below shows PRmoment’s readership profile by gender and diversity:
PRmoment gender user profile +
PR sector gender profile **
Readers who identify as female 69%
Readers who identify as male 28%
Readers who identify as transgender/would rather not say 3%
PRmoment diversity user profile +
PR sector diversity profile **
White female 55%
White male 26%
White total 81%
16% minority groups, specifically:
Asian/Asian British female 3%
Black, African, Caribbean or Black British female 5%
Black, African, Caribbean or Black British male 1%
Hispanic or Latinx or American male 1%
Indian female 1%
Multiple/Mixed ethnic group male 1% Multiple/Mixed ethnic group female 5%
2% would rather not say
74% White British
13% Other white
Total white 87%
13% Non- White specifically:
3.5% Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups
2% Black African and Caribbean
1.7% Black British
1.1% Other Asian background
0.4% Other ethnic background
* Statistics from PRmoment’s readers survey 2021.
** Statistics from The PRCA Census 2021.
It’s important to note that the user statistics in this report apply to the UK PRmoment.com, which has predominantly a UK audience. These stats do not include PRmoment India’s user data.
Broadly, the demographics of PRmoment’s readers/listeners/watchers reflects the demographics of the community that we cover editorially. To give a comparison to national statistics according to the 2011 UK Census 87% of people in the UK are White, and 13% belong to a Black, Asian, Mixed or Other Ethnic Groups. (The results of the 2021 Census come out in Spring 2022.) Public relations in the UK tends to be based in the metropolitan areas that have an increased percentage of minority groups, compared to the UK as a whole.
With that in mind, we are determined to ensure PRmoment is relevant to all public relations professions, so we have introduced monthly editorial liaison sessions with readers from minority groups to ensure we cover issues important to them.
CONTENT & EDUCATION (working draft)
(1) PRmoment Webinars
In the last 18 months, PRmoment has hosted 26 webinars, half of which were free to attend.
5,201 people attended the PRmoment webinars during lockdown (Sept 2020 - Sept 2021.) Of these delegates, 3,581 attended free-to-attend webinars.
In September 2021, we ran an NPS question to understand how likely (or not) webinar attendees are to recommend a PRmoment webinar.
Promoters (score 9-10)
Passives (score 7-8)
Detractors (score 0-6)
We will continue to track on an annual basis.
Our webinars have given PR professionals easy access to fresh content and insight to develop their knowledge, skills and understanding across a range of PR disciplines. Here is a selection of feedback we received from delegates:
“Really great case studies and actionable information that I could take away and use. Great to see speakers other than just CEOs and MDs who could really dive into the subject matter.”
B2B Agency Director
“Beautifully constructed event with a range of speakers offering different but valuable perspectives on the same core issue. Loved it.”
“Great event, amazing guests.”
Senior Director (Agency)
In the last 12 months (Sept 2021 to Sept 2022) the diversity of speakers at our events and webinars is as follows:
Total number of speakers in the last 12 months: 68
Percentage of Male 40%
Percentage of Female Speakers: 58%
The PRmoment Awards:
In 2019, nearly 796 public relations professionals attended the PRmoment Awards in London and 336 attended the PRmoment Awards in Manchester.
Due to COVID-19, the PRmoment Awards 2020 were produced virtually, taking the format of a 50-minute pre-recorded awards show. The streaming numbers were high—2,328 watched the London PRmoment Awards live and 1,586 viewed the Manchester PRmoment Awards live.
The environmental impact of hosting virtual awards is considerably less than a face-to face-awards ceremony. As a commercial publisher, while we cannot promise to no longer run face to face events, we will always make sure we are not using unnecessary, non-reusable materials in our event production process. For example, we are using a carbon neutral hotel to host the London PRmoment Awards in 2022.
(3) PRmoment Awards Judges
The PRmoment Awards are PRmoment’s flagship event. The PRmoment Awards have become prestigious partly because we run a senior and respected judging panel. Here is the diversity of the PRmoment Awards judging panel in 2021 and 2022
(4) PRmoment Beginner’s Guide
Read by nearly 5000 PR people within the first few weeks of its launch in the summer of 2020, The PRmoment Beginner’s Guide covers a range of topics from working in-house or for an agency through to client management, corporate communications, entrepreneurship, thriving on D&I, PR and SEO and how to kick start a career in PR.
This content is part of our long term commitment to being a force of positivity to the public relations sector. All this content is free to read and is designed to act as a calling card for people looking for a gateway into public relations.
As a publisher which made the vast majority of its income through live events, the impact of COVID-19 was huge on our business. That said, similar to many other businesses, we achieved our version of a digital pivot and actually we emerged from the COVID years with an increased breadth of opportunities for our community to engage with us, be that via face-to-face events, virtual events or content (text, audio and video.)
However, we are conscious that COVID-19 was an even tougher time for many people, so in 2020 we made a £3,000 contribution to The Trussell Trust. The Trussell Trust supports a nationwide network of food banks, providing emergency food and support to people locked in poverty.
PRMOMENT’S SUSTAINABLE STATEMENT 2020/21
PRmoment uses Google Workstation, hosted in Google Cloud:
Google Clouds Sustainability Statement - “Google is carbon neutral today, but aiming higher: our goal is to run on carbon-free energy, 24/7, at all of our data centres by 2030. Plus, we're sharing technology, methods, and funding to enable organizations around the world to transition to more carbon-free and sustainable systems.”
WIRED’s Rating of Google Cloud:
Overall Greenness: B+
Energy Efficiency: A+
Technological Innovation: A
Total Renewable Energy Portfolio: 5.5 GW
Every PRmoment employee is asked to shut down their computer at the end of the working day as well as unplugging their chargers.
Via Ecologi we donate £20.80 each month to the planting of trees. Our contribution means 58 trees are planted and we reduce carbon globally by 3.53 T each month. Here’s our Ecologi profile with more details on how this works.
PRmoment team communications
We encourage our teams to use chat functions rather than email where possible, thereby reducing email traffic to reduce our carbon footprint.
Reducing our carbon footprint
PRmoment is a virtual business so our employees do not travel to offices. We also have a policy of only using air travel when it is absolutely necessary. If we can attend an event virtually or travel by train, we do.
We recycle all of our paper and ink cartridges. When we run events we work with our suppliers to ensure any waste (paper, plastic and food) is recycled wherever possible.
PRMOMENT SUSTAINABILITY TARGETS 2022
- In the next 12 months, we will move our electricity supplier to a carbon offsetting tariff
For 2022 we will increase the percentage of non-white judges for the PRmoment Awards to 22% (from 17% 2021)
For 2022 we will retain the percentage of non-white speakers at our events at over 25% in 2022
We are a micro business with only 4 employees, but as we expand we will increase our carbon offsetting contribution relevant to our number of employees
We have just launched a Patron model for our community where, if they are enjoying PRmoment’s content, they can contribute to the cost of creating the editorial. This will help us create informative content for the PR sector, produced by a sustainable model, where the content is not, in effect, subsidised by events
We have committed to measuring our Carbon Footprint as a company from 2022 onwards. Thanks very much to the guys at Don’t Cry Wolf for sponsoring/holding our hands through this process.
Every business today is on a journey with sustainable practice.
Whether it is a pioneer, mid-transformation or simply at the start of its journey, the contribution we all need to make towards combating climate change is irrefutable.
At PRmoment, we are aware that we are a small micro-sized business but we are committed to supporting sustainable practice and changing the way we work for the betterment of the public reactions sector. Our plan is to report back every year and share our progress.
We’re not suggesting that we are on the leading edge of sustainable businesses, but we certainly want to a) do what we can and b) not do harm and this Impact Report represents a line in the sand for us and an important initial step.
Here are some opinions from experts we really rate on how the public relations sector can have an impact on two of the world’s biggest problems - increasing sustainability and increasing diversity:
Build Black Better: How to develop a more diverse senior talent pool
Kamiqua Pearce, founder & CEO UK Black Comms Network
Over the years we’ve seen various industry-led initiatives to attract more diverse talent into the industry, as the business case for diversity and inclusion has become clear. However the lack of visible senior Black leaders suggests that there may be a retention issue, and was what prompted us to partner with insight agency Opinium to launch the first survey of Black communications professionals in the UK.
Our research found that almost half of Black communications professionals have never received an internal promotion.
This figure highlights the flaw in focusing purely on recruiting diverse talent into entry-level roles. The lack of internal promotion suggests that once in a role, Black professionals are less likely to be afforded the opportunity to grow their role and experience at their chosen company or agency. Although the fact that many respondents left roles to achieve a promotion speaks to their ambition to progress. It also indicates that, although they had the ability to deliver at a more senior level, their value was not being recognised appropriately where they were.
In fact, our findings show that Black employees were more likely to receive written or verbal praise for their efforts in the workplace, instead of a pay rise, bonus or promotion, which is the gateway to more senior leadership roles. Over two fifths (43 per cent) of respondents state that their colleagues’ contributions are recognised through promotions, but only 21 per cent say their own contributions are recognised in this way. The disparity underscores how a workplace culture which lacks transparency around pay and promotions can create an environment where employees are not given the same equality of opportunity.
Interestingly, the desire to take control of their career is what drove many respondents to establish or consider establishing their own consultancies.
Although this entrepreneurial response means that the skills and talent of these individuals won’t be lost to the industry completely, it does mean that the speed at which the face of the senior leadership at large agencies and in-house teams is likely to change.
As an industry we pride ourselves on delivering creative solutions for the clients and businesses that we serve. It’s why, when we published our research, we wanted to do more than simply raise awareness of these workplace issues. We partnered with experts in recruitment, talent management or diversity and inclusion to uncover tangible and meaningful solutions to prevent all diverse talent from being bottle-necked.
How to prevent diverse talent from being blocked in your organisation:
Set proportional targets: Having a clear goal means that progress can be measured. It fosters an environment where people managers have to be more intentional about their actions, and encourages them to review their existing recruitment and talent management processes if they are not yielding positive results.
Targets have to be appropriate for a business or agency and the geography of its operations. However remote working can help organisations to diversify their talent pool.
Align agreed targets to senior leaders’ remuneration: There is merit in treating diversity and inclusion as an important metric of business performance and sustainability. Across many businesses in the UK, executives’ remuneration considers the company’s Environment, Social and Governance performance as a guide for how sustainable it is.
Making diversity and inclusion the business of every senior leader means that the responsibility to drive change within an organisation does not sit solely with HR or the Diversity and Inclusion Lead.
Review talent management processes: Look at how work is distributed; is everyone being given the opportunity to work on business, clients, and projects that build and develop their skills?
Consider how good and excellent work is rewarded; is it consistent across the business or are rewards at the discretion of people managers? The implementation of companywide policies can help to ensure employees are treated equally.
Formalising the way that feedback is given on promotions will also ensure that all employees are aware of how they can progress their career.
Review the aim of your employee networks: Many organisations have created employee networks where Black, LGBTQI+ and female colleagues can network as part of their commitment to supporting their colleagues. However, if the aim of a network is to support colleagues’ career progression, these need to provide opportunities for diverse talent to widen their experience and increase their visibility amongst the senior team, or be coupled with sponsorship programmes which result in executives advocating for promising talent across the business.
Empty words don’t have the same impact as nature’s fury
Sanjani Shah, Global Head of PR, The Bodyshop
The verdict’s in. It’s a code red for humanity.
We know we are facing a crisis and it’s time for action. But the climate change movement is littered with phrases like 'carbon neutral by 2030', 'net zero by 2050' or 'reduction in emissions'. Or as Greta Thunberg puts it, 'blah blah blah'.
Not to say these goals and targets aren’t important, however, I believe passionately that it is our responsibility as communicators to turn them into something meaningful. Here are some things I’ve learnt along the way, (sometimes, the hard way).
A good place to start is to avoid business jargon and use simple, plain language. While we may pat ourselves on the back for using big words, all they do is alienate our audiences and send them into a climate-induced coma.
One way to get around this is to share tangible, concrete examples of what you are doing as a business and how customers can join. Think people and pictures.
What relatable stories can you share on what you’re actively doing to support the environment?
At The Body Shop, for example, we know vegan beauty is a big deal for our customers. So, we’re working hard to get 100% of our product formulations certified by The Vegan Society by the end of 2023. We’re sharing the news in language that’s less ‘science’ and more ‘street’. At the same time, we’re encouraging shoppers to take action to join us in our mission to protect the planet. We’re rolling out refill stations in 500 stores around the world by the end of the year to inspire people to reuse packaging rather than throw it away by making it easy, accessible and convenient. If we play our part, each person can prevent up to 32 plastic bottles going to waste each year, collectively adding up to 25 tonnes of plastic in the first year alone.
Next, that simple pearl of wisdom from our parents - think before you speak.
Every multinational and corner shop now has something to add to the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) conversation. Before you do, ask yourself do you truly have a right to speak in this space or are you just jumping on the bandwagon?
For an activist company like The Body Shop this is especially important as we are expected to have an opinion on just about everything. It’s critical to practice restraint and respectfully stay out of conversations where we are not the real experts. In other words, push your organisation to be authentic; or stay in your lane.
Having a diverse team is critical. Diversity not only brings in different perspectives, it drives authenticity and helps organisations get the message right. Importantly it helps avoid pitfalls like woke-washing. People are way more clued up than you think. They will see through your words and call you out on your inaction. As guardians of brand reputation, it’s our role to challenge internally and ask for substantiation before putting something out externally.
Your company may be doing amazing things to save the world. But there’s a blind spot we all should be really mindful of. White saviorism.
Remember that ‘white saviours’ belong in the 1980s. Let’s keep them there. Africa accounts for only 2 to 3% of the world’s carbon emissions and the West has been shipping its waste to Asia and other continents for years to keep its own house clean. Keep your narrative contemporary, rooted in reality and give credit where credit’s due. Again, diverse teams can help combat this.
And finally, let's get back to Greta Thunberg and our youth today. We're in this mess thanks to generations of blah blah blah, willful ignorance, and inaction. We're passing a filthy baton on to them. So the least we can do is give the next generation a voice on our platforms. If they aren't empowered to help us change course, our empty words will eventually be drowned out by a raging planet.
The Role of PR in a Burning World
Hugh Davies, Consultant at AQ Green TeC
What should PR people do in a world that is rapidly waking up to the realities of global warming? If the stark warnings of the recent IPCC report on climate change are to be understood and acted upon, there is a huge amount of work to do. As always, communicators must do much more than just that. We must lead the change we want to see, influence the leaders who are capable of delivering, and bring the facts to those who otherwise would not have access.
The IPCC report (from the world body responsible for assessing and reporting on the state of climate change) basically said society will have to change wholesale in order for humanity—as we know it—to survive the next century.
So what role can the PR profession play in answering this existential challenge? It’s time to dig deep and ask ourselves the old, old questions:
1. Do we lead, or do we really follow?
How often do we really project our own values, those of our profession and those of the audiences we represent in the making of strategic decisions? How often do we request a different approach, or drive for change from within the places where we work?
2. Are we brave enough to speak truth to power?
Do we respectfully, but repeatedly, point out the need for change, of direction, of behaviours and of the beliefs that make the difference between realising the values of the organisations we work for and passing them off as greenwash?
3. What happens when power doesn’t, or just can’t, listen?
Do we let it go? Or do we make the case, bring in professional and evidential support, and help our leaders know that the direction we are lobbying for is not just OK, but the right thing to do?
4. And what about ESG in a burning world?
Surely it’s more vital than ever to focus on creating and sustaining a just society, but doing this will require stronger, more open, more enlightened leadership than ever; from the PR industry, from leaders in every industry and from society, from every single member of the human race.
We are part of a complex system that is changing slowly to meet tomorrow’s needs. We will have to embrace discomfort with societal change, more than ever, to ensure that climate and ecological change don’t outmanoeuvre us as a species. I’m not certain, but the data suggests that environmental and social resilience, the sustainability of the world as we know it, lies in bold approaches to diversity and in clear, open and active governance and reporting. We have a vital role to play in adopting and enabling a clear and focused approach and ensuring the professions we ally with do the same.
There are lessons we can and have learned from living under the constraints of Covid: We can work together.
With the right data and the right KPIs it is possible to look at society as a whole and work towards a bigger picture.
Without leadership and a disciplined science-based approach, there are plenty of opportunities for confusion, conflict and breakdown. PR has had a vital role to play in sustaining us through this latest battle.
It will have an even bigger role to play – as we all do – in the biggest battle, which has already begun. It’s time for those who will lead our profession and the world forward to step up and for the rest of us to encourage, challenge and support them and be prepared to take the strain.
We are a very human breed, us PR folk. Let’s show the world we can play our part in this challenge which will test our profession and its humanity – indeed the whole of humanity – like never before.
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