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How and why PR must continue to show its support for Ukraine

According to the British Red Cross, the level of humanitarian need in Ukraine is still staggeringly high. Millions of people are going without essentials including electricity, warmth and water. Countless homes, schools, hospitals and important infrastructure have been destroyed. The war might not always be high up on the news agenda, so it is important for those in PR to continue to raise awareness.

Harness the power of storytelling

Lily Germain, content planner at PR agency Bottle: “The war between Russia and Ukraine is very much happening, shown in the recent headlines like the one about Putin being accused of trafficking Cubans to fight for Russia. But despite this, updates overall seem to have died down. Before it felt like everyone was spending every waking minute doing what they could to support Ukraine, and now it seems to be ticking along in the background.

“But it should be just as important now as it was at the beginning of the war to show support for Ukraine. As the PR community, one thing we can do is harness the power of storytelling. It may not be financially viable to continuously donate, and you might have given away all the provisions you can. But we can keep telling their stories. In 2022, nearly a third of Ukrainians were forced to flee their homes, most abandoning loved ones who stayed to fight. To continue to show support we should be acknowledging those who have had their lives turned upside down by the conflict.

“Regardless of when the war is over, those affected won’t be able to flick a switch and go back to their lives before. Giving these people a platform means we haven’t forgotten, and we’re doing our jobs.”

Post, post and post again

Chris Oatway, marketing coordinator at Mattresstek: “I too feel like the war has quietened down in the media, but I’m not sure how anyone can ethically forget that it’s still going on. People have been displaced, lives have been ruined and taken/lost.

“People can help by posting about it. Sharing stories of Ukrainian people to show their lives have been changed and that they are innocent people caught up in the atrocity. People can obviously also support the charities and aid organisations providing support to those still there, on the borders and in neighbouring countries. Short of being there in person, that’s all we can really do, with the Ukrainian people in our thoughts. Of course, there’s the political aspect of boycotting Russian-provided products. With belief, determination and solidarity, we can and will win.”

Champion sporting and charity events

Ed Parshotam, copywriter and communications consultant: “The Russia-Ukraine war might have begun to fade from public consciousness, but the bar had been set high. Awareness of the conflict almost certainly remains above that of the civil wars raging in Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Syria, and Somalia, or the terrorist insurgency and sexual violence in Sudan, as well as the ethnic violence in South Sudan and Myanmar.

“Regrettably - but also understandably - people simply lack the cognitive bandwidth to process and respond to the global scale of human misery.

“That’s not to say the PR industry doesn’t have a role to play in raising awareness, or that the existence of other wars is a reason to downplay the brutality inflicted on the people of Ukraine.

“Fortunately, there are examples of important ongoing activity. At the beginning of August, Game4Ukraine brought together celebrities and former World Cup winners to take part in a charity football match.

“Elsewhere in sport, Ukrainian tennis player Elina Svitolina proved adept at generating earned media coverage on her journey to the Wimbledon semi-final. Good intentions remain - and it continues to be possible to gain cut through in a world of limited attention spans.”

Raise awareness and give to charities

Here are some of the organisations which are working hard to support those affected by the invasion of Ukraine. You can show your support by donating either time or money, or by publicising their hard work.

It is important not just for Ukraine, but for the world, that we continue to show our support. PR as an industry has a great deal of power to raise awareness, and it must make sure it uses this power to the full.

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