Working with Stephen Waddington on the COVID-19 UK PR agency startup report

Over the last 3 months I have been working alongside Stephen Waddington at Wadds Inc. to develop a dataset of all of the agencies that started since the January 2020. The aim was to find what the driving motivations behind these COVID-19 agency startups are, to spot any trends, and to understand the specialisms that are becoming popular in PR.

As a newbie in the industry, this project has been an eye-opener for the developments within the industry and has enabled me to look into the future of PR. Not only have I been conducting industry research, I’ve also been introduced to so many agency founders and industry leaders. It was lovely to speak to the eight agencies we interviewed for the report: Second Mountain Communications, BB Partners, Little Mesters, Hard Numbers, Inpulsus, Look After, Happy Yolk and CommsRebel.

Below is an overview of the report with a link at the end to the pdf.

COVID-19 UK Public Relations Agency Startup Report

More than fifty new PR agencies have been founded in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic according to a report published today by Wadds Inc. It provides insights into the market and clear direction and inspiration for anyone thinking of starting their own agency. 

The COVID-19 PR Agency Startup report explores why such a large number of agencies have been started in such a relatively short period of time. It includes a list of startup agencies and characterises them by proposition location, funding and the date they were founded. 

The lockdown created new routines and space for practitioners to think about their career and life. Alongside redundancy and furlough this is the primary driver for new agency startups. The report found that two-fifths of agency startups were founded during the first lockdown between February and July.

The UK agency market is saturated with more than 4,500 agencies according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). New agencies launching into such a crowded market need a strong proposition.

Startups recorded in the study are focused on one of three areas of innovation: services, business model or specialism. New agency propositions are focused on data, creativity and lead generation. Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), fintech and healthcare are popular markets.

The majority of agency founders have funded their new businesses from savings or lifestyle changes. Alternative approaches include raising funds from family and friends or seeking investment from a complimentary agency partner to help cover overheads.

The report finds that COVID-19 has leveled-up competition for startup agencies. Founders have been able to create content and meet people in a way that wasn’t previously possible. Video calls mean that everyone presents the same in credential and new business meetings.

Everyone interviewed celebrated the support that their launch and new agency has received from the industry. It is a vibrant and supportive community. The UK is a great place to start a public relations business.

“The report is dedicated to anyone who has founded an agency during the COVID-19 pandemic. It celebrates your work. It’s also intended as a source of inspiration for anyone considering setting up their own agency,” said Stephen Waddington, Managing Partner, Wadds Inc.

“The COVID-19 UK public relations agency startup report is an inspiring read. It’s hard not to feel optimistic about the future of our industry after reading the findings. The PR industry has adapted remarkably well to the pandemic and the explosion of new agencies is testament to the strength of our practice,” said Francis Ingham, Director General, PRCA.

“This is a fascinating, innovative piece of research into the life of any agency from start up. I hope, like the famous TV series Seven Up!, we will get the chance to follow their stories as they grow and evolve,” said Mandy Pearse, President, CIPR. 

The report found that two-thirds of the startups were located in London reflecting the location of their previous employers or personal circumstances. This is despite the fact that the pandemic has shown that there is no need for creative or professional services to be based in London. It may be that we’ll start to see a shift as a second order effect of the pandemic.

The report includes eight startup PR agency profiles: Second Mountain Communications, BB Partners, Little Mesters, Hard Numbers, Inpulsus, Look After, Happy Yolk and CommsRebel.

The 40-page report is available in an electronic format and Adobe PDF. A print edition is also available.

Availability

Report HTML version

PDF download version

Print version – please contact stephen.waddington@wadds.co.uk

The PR Students Experience: Ella McLaren

In this week’s the PR Students Experience, I spoke to Ella McLaren who is just finishing her second year on the PR degree at University of the Arts London. Below I talk about all of the projects Ella has worked on alongside her degree as well as her plans for a future in the music industry.

In The PR Students Experience we delve into past and present PR students’ modules & topics, course structure, universities’ guidance on how to enter the PR industry, career help, how they’re finding work in the industry and plans for the future.

Course Structure and Modules

Ella’s favourite topics on her course have been the modules that are more practical. In first semester this year she did a module called Planning PR Campaigns which she said she loved as it is directly related to the work you do in a PR role.

When discussing the structure of her course and module choices, Ella said, “UAL’s PR course is really structured, you get one optional module in first and second year and that’s it for the whole degree.” One of her optional module’s was in podcasting in which she created a 10 minute podcast which you can listen to here.

Ella did say that she doesn’t mind not having many modules to pick. 3 years ago she started a Liberal Arts degree at Leeds University but the freedom to choose all optional modules didn’t work out for her. The structure at UAL has meant that she is being taught the relevant subjects for her future career.

Ella loves studying PR as she thinks it really suits her skillset, she likes talking to people, she loves to write and enjoys planning. At the same time it is also challenging which means it isn’t boring for her.

Is the course up to date and is there anything that’s not included?

Throughout her modules, Ella said that her lecturers will refer to the CIPR, PRCA and any new studies and reports around PR. Her lecturers also pick up on the most recent news with lecturers even changing their lesson plans because of something that happened that week.

The degree touches on relevant topics across the world including Black Lives Matter, the pandemic, museums returning artefacts etc., and relating that to PR.

With a course structure that only allows for 2 optional modules, the UAL course tries to include as much as they can. Ella said she thinks they cover all the bases, but some things they kind of gloss over. She didn’t think they focused enough on writing skills, whether that be for press releases or magazine articles. So, Ella decided to set up a cross-campus magazine at UAL. The magazine, which is called Link, focuses on relevant issues for students, as well as opportunities for students to showcase their work.

She also said that so far her course has felt more theoretical rather than fully preparing for working in PR, which is why she enjoys any practical modules she does have.

Career Development Guidance

Although not a lot of the modules include practical, real-life experiences, her course does have a module called Public Relations Professionalism which includes a placement. So, as that module develops and she goes into final year her opinions on the practical side of things may change.

Ella hasn’t used the careers department much as she knows what she is wanting to do. She wants to work in the music industry, originally she wanted to work in artist management but after working at Mumford & Sons management agency (how cool right?!) she realised she enjoyed the publicity side of things more.

She said that since the pandemic, professional development has become a lot more independent and you as an individual need to make the most of it. For her internships she kept asking multiple places and going and looking for them herself. She said she always tells her friends “if you don’t ask it won’t happen.” Ella has two internships lined up, one with Lucid and one with Satellite 414. After contacting 71 agencies she received 10 replies, and finally 2 internships.

Ella’s future

Ella’s future is in the music industry, but she doesn’t want to box herself in with what she does. She likes a more strategic role, starting at an agency but perhaps working in-house later on.

She is excited about her internships as she’s working both at a music agency, but also an entertainment agency meaning she’ll get a well rounded experience.

As a second year, Ella has a year left of her degree. With many projects on the go and her success in landing internships, I’m sure Ella will have a great year and future ahead. I love her dream of working in the music industry.

Get involved!

If you’d like to be involved in The PR Students Experience then feel free to email me at sophsnextstep@gmail.com or DM me on Twitter! I’d love to talk to students across the country and the world to see what we are taught about PR at university.

In my next post on The PR Students Experience, I talk to Megan Harris who’s studying Business and PR at Liverpool John Moores University.

The PR Students Experience: Rhea Mathew

In this week’s the PR Students Experience, we’re going international! I spoke to Rhea Mathew who studied her MA in Communications Studies at Indiana University after graduating from her BA in Communications, English and Psychology. Rhea graduated in 2016 so this is about her experience 5 years ago and things have certainly changed since then.

In The PR Students Experience we delve into past and present PR students’ modules & topics, course structure, universities’ guidance on how to enter the PR industry, career help, how they’re finding work in the industry and plans for the future.

Course structure and modules

Rhea’s bachelors degree was a triple major over three years. Communications included all elements of broadcast, PR, radio and journalism. English looked at different specialisms e.g., British literature, English literature and Indian literature. For psychology she studied developmental psychology, industrial psychology, and lots of other areas. Each semester of each year included modules on all three majors and they would progressively get harder with heavier topics.

Unlike here in England, every year of university in America counts towards your grade. This includes first year through to final year and even attendance. At the end of every year you need to have a minimum of 75% attendance.

Assessments in Rhea’s undergrad did include exams which seems to be a norm in American degrees. No one I have spoken to so far has had exams for PR, only assignments. However, she did study english and psychology which contained most of the exams.

Her masters was focused in communications studies and after the 2 years Rhea wrote her thesis on improving communications and social media for a particular institution within her university. Rhea mentioned that her masters involved a lot of the things she was taught during her undergrad, however, her masters degree involved a lot more research.

Gaining experience during university

Rhea’s undergraduate degree was more practical based which included internships during the summer. Her first internship was with a journalism company and her second was with a PR company. These internships also added to her final grade which is a great motivation as you’re gaining experience and getting a good grade.

Was the course up to date?

Rhea said “at the time, my course was up to date. Now, not so much.” She proceeded to say the world has completely changed so a lot of things she learnt are no longer relevant. However, she mentioned that having that foundation of knowledge has been useful. Rhea thinks universities need to get up to date and include new things in their courses, like handling trolls and crisis comms on social media. She didn’t think they were doing enough and that she went looking elsewhere for extra information.

Her university is starting to reinvent the masters courses and have realised students need to learn how to handle today’s topics.

What did Rhea wish she had been taught more about?

Rhea said, “during my undergrad I wish I had been taught more about crises and how to handle a crisis. PR is not this rosey bed of glitz and glamour…but it’s not that, there’s a lot of hard work behind it.”

She wishes she was taught that side of PR more as they were taught to believe it was something it’s not.

Her courses didn’t include PR measurement and Rhea said that in her first job she had no idea how to measure her work.

What Rhea is up to now

When she finished her masters degree, Rhea got her first job pretty quickly at HP as a global communications manager for one year and internal comms for 2 years. After that she decided to try something new and joined a fellowship programme in the US at a global women’s media publishing startup doing social media management.

She used her free time to take online courses to develop her learning and has certificates from Yale and University of Toronto. During the first lockdown Rhea took a digital marketing course which has helped with her work.

Most recently, she has joined Battenhall as a social media manager. She’s enjoying her new role at the agency!

Rhea said that one thing leads to another but her advice would be to never stop learning. Whether that be online courses or go back to university, there’s always room to learn.

Get involved!

If you’d like to be involved in The PR Students Experience then feel free to email me at sophsnextstep@gmail.com or DM me on Twitter! I’d love to talk to students across the country and the world to see what we are taught about PR at university.

In my next post on The PR Students Experience, I talk to Ella McLaren who’s in her second year of a BA in PR at University of the Arts London.

The PR Students Experience: Babett Kürschner

For this week’s PR Students Experience I had the chance to meet Babett Kürschner and discuss her time at University of the Arts London (UAL). Babett is currently a third year public relations student at UAL and does a lot of extra work alongside her degree.

Babbett is very proactive and you may have seen her on Twitter. She has plenty of experience from internships and freelance work as well as her blog and course Instagram page. Her course sounds different to those I’ve read about as it has a more creative spin on PR. Read on to find out more!

In The PR Students Experience we delve into past and present PR students’ modules & topics, course structure, universities’ guidance on how to enter the PR industry, career help, how they’re finding work in the industry and plans for the future.

Course structure and modules

The public relations course at UAL is split into 3 sections: core, contextual and professional. 

Babett named a few core module titles such Media and Communications, Media Relations, Planning PR Campaigns and Investigating Contemporary Communications. She mentioned that these modules can be quite social sciences based. Contextual modules included Reputation Management and Digital PR & Communication. “Modules really build on top of one another, so in second  year we had intro to media relations but in third  year we delve more into the sociological and psychological aspects of that,” said Babbett.

The professional modules at UAL include modules such as Agency Life and Creative PR Practice. She said “Because we are an arts university, a lot of the contextual and professional modules focus on giving us creative skills so we learned to use software  like InDesign andPhotoshop.” The idea behind learning these creative skills is that as a PR professional we will most likely work together with graphic designers or photographers and commission work, so we need to have an understanding of what goes into creating a campaign, from start to finish.

One of her favourite modules was Persuasion and Public Opinion as it applied psychological theory to PR. She also enjoyed all of the practical modules like the Agency Life module which included a competition which entailed giving a pitch to a startup .

Is the course up-to-date and is there anything that’s not included?

Babett said “I think we have a nice mix of modules that include the history of PR but also lecturers using examples that are really current.” Alongside this her lecturers also include recent papers and critical PR research into their modules.

Everything that the course at UAL doesn’t have, students  have been able to initiate  themselves. Babett felt there was an opportunity to build an online community for her course, so alongside her peers she helped develop the Instagram page for her course @lccpublicrelations.

PR measurement

They started out with the different types of measurement so looking at not only output but also outcome. “The planning model does require you to have measurable objectives,” said Babett. She proceeded to say “We did some exercises about differentiating between a strategy and a tactic,which has been burned into my head.”

They were also encouraged to  measure “success” not only by metrics, but focus on outcomes like relationship  building and attitude shifts. They also looked at how you can make sense of these intangible things and how to make them tangible if you were to explain to the C-suite.

Career development guidance

In her second year on the public relations course, Babett did a module called PR Professionalism which covered CV building, cover letter writing and required students  to complete  an internship.

The course holds monthly  industry insight sessions with professionals from outside the university where students  get a chance to talk and connect afterwards. Babett mentioned that 2 out of 3 of the internships she received were from contacts she made through those insight sessions. Sadly they were put on hold  during the pandemic but impressive nevertheless.

The Public Relations degree at UAL is part of the PRCA free student membership which Babett makes the most of as she was a course rep so managed to get a ticket to the PRCA conference which was paid for by her course.

Finding work in the industry

“A lot of it is dependent on how proactive you are,” said Babett.

Before this degree she studied  business law for two years and worked in comms departments at non-profits alongside. Eventually she decided to change degrees to pursue something she was genuinely passionate about: PR. The work she had done during her initial studies meant that she had a bit of work experience going into her degree which made it easier when applying for roles.

She freelanced for a feminist magazine Vagina-nomics which she got from attending an event she knew they would be at and seeking a job opportunity. She mentioned that the people you work for is just as much about whether they’re right for you as you are right for them, so seek out the opportunities you really want.

After her internships were cancelled, Babett started her blog which is how she got recruited for her most recent job as Communications Lead at tech2impact. She reiterated that a lot of opportunities she received was by being She also does it because she enjoys writing and said “I do it because I enjoy it and not because it’s a means to an end. It’s good to be passionate about what you do, getting better at what you do, getting noticed for that and it helps to get the ball rolling.”

Babett’s future

She is doing a masters programme in Communications, Media and Creative Industries at Sciences Po which is 2 years long and she’d really like to do a gap year at the Paris office of L’Oréal, as they offer a masters gap year.

After that she’d like to work at a big agency. She said “I see PR and comms as a really good way to inflict positive change in society, we have also seen a big shift in value at agencies and I want to be a part of that change.”

As an international student who has worked in different countries, Babett would like to move around a bit more and work in different countries. Alongside this she’d also like to learn French.

Get involved!

If you’d like to be involved in The PR Students Experience then feel free to email me at sophsnextstep@gmail.com or DM me on Twitter! I’d love to talk to students across the country and the world to see what we are taught about PR at university.

In my next post on The PR Students Experience, I talk to Rhea Mathew who studied a BA in Comms, English and Sociology as well as a MA in Communications Studies at Indiana University.

The PR Students Experience: Katie Hull

In the second post for my new series The PR Students Experience, I had a chat with Katie Hull who graduated last year from University of Central Lancashire with a BA in Business and Marketing and is now studying a masters in Public Relations at Sunderland University.

In The PR Students Experience we delve into past and present PR students’ modules & topics, course structure, universities’ guidance on how to enter the PR industry, career help, how they’re finding work in the industry and plans for the future.

Choosing to study PR

When studying at UCLan Katie enjoyed learning about public relations and decided she wanted to venture into that industry, however, the university didn’t offer it. She spoke to her personal tutor who tried to put her off the idea by saying it was a “dead industry.”

Katie said that she is very glad that she didn’t listen to his opinions as she’s enjoying her postgrad much more and has really embraced the industry.

Course structure and modules

After logging in to her portal to list the modules, Katie wanted to give a special mention to Public Relations Theory & Practice 1 and 2 as she likes to learn about how much public relations has changed since the different theories were published.

Having studied both marketing and PR, Katie said that she does notice the similarities between the two and understands the confusion from people who haven’t learnt the differences. Even at university one of her modules is called PR & Marketing Communications.

An interesting module that they teach on her course is Public Relations Ethics and Critical Contexts. Katie said she struggled with actually writing for this module because she knows what is right but it was hard to put that into an essay. She did however say that the topics within the module helped with that and that it was an insightful module.

How up-to-date is the course?

Katie said the lecturers and module leaders really help keep the course up-to-date. They encourage keeping an eye on the news and social media and then ask students to bring recent examples to lectures.

She did say that she would’ve liked to learn more about digital PR with examples like SEO and link-building.

I’ve asked everyone about PR measurement and in this case Katie said she hasn’t learnt much about it.

Gaining experience for her CV

Katie’s courses at both universities have given her practical skills that she can talk about when applying for jobs such as presentations to brands and pitching to her tutor.

Alongside university Katie is doing a PR and social media internship for a 3D printing company that print face shields.

If you don’t already, follow Katie on her social media (especially Twitter). She has been so proactive and recently co-hosted #PowerandInfluence with Ella Minty and I. We spoke about being a PR student and our perspectives of PR. Opportunities like these are things that she can discuss on her CV and interviews and will help her stand out.

Katie also has student memberships at CIPR and PRCA and is building her network and knowledge from both. Something her course recommended and her lecturer Deb Sharratt is chair of CIPR North East.

Katie’s Future

Katie’s most excited about creating good, memorable campaigns for businesses. She’d love to work with some big brands!

At the moment she is looking for work and is up for moving anywhere- especially Paris. If anyone knows of any PR jobs in Paris I’m sure she’d love to hear about them.

Get involved!

If you’d like to be involved in The PR Students Experience then feel free to email me at sophsnextstep@gmail.com or DM me on Twitter! I’d love to talk to students across the country and the world to see what we are taught about PR at university.

In my next post on The PR Students Experience, I talk to Babett Kürschner who studies a BA in PR at University of the Arts London.

The PR Students Experience: Nathan Bickerton

Welcome to part one of my new series: The PR Students Experience. In this series I talk to students to see how different the PR & comms courses are at universities and their experiences with entering the world of PR.

We delve into modules & topics, course structure, universities’ guidance on how to enter the PR industry, career help, how they’re finding work in the industry and plans for the future.

For my first post in this series I spoke to Nathan Bickerton who has a BA in Business and PR at Liverpool John Moores University and is now studying an MA in Digital Marketing at the same university.

Course structure and modules

His undergrad course was small and consisted of between 16 and 20 people. It’s encouraged on the course to do a placement year but Nathan opted not to do one as he wanted to stay in Liverpool and wasn’t ready to leave his friends.

Nathan has found there to be an overlap and similarities in his two degree courses, progressing from BA Business and PR to MA Digital Marketing. There was a module he did in the third year of his undergrad called Digital Marketing Communications which ran very similarly to a masters module called Digital Marketing Strategy where he developed his own website, a campaign on MailChimp and Google Ads.

As his undergrad degree title was Business and PR, I was interested to see how much of the course was actually PR.

“Quite a lot of it. To be honest I was quite happy with that,” said Nathan.

The course started out with learning business knowledge alongside PR theory. In second and third year the course is heavily weighted on PR with modules such as Creative Media and Strategic Campaign Management. Nathan said third year was where he “really got hooked on PR” as he felt he was learning much more.

His favourite modules included Change Management which entailed planning an office move and helping employees out with the change. He liked Crisis Management and Campaign Management as they were PR heavy through planning their own campaign and doing a crisis press conference.

Nathan went on to do his dissertation in crisis management and said “it’s strange because I enjoyed the negativity that came from crisis because it’s really interesting. Understanding what happens when things go wrong.”

The course doesn’t offer optional modules, but Nathan didn’t mind this as he was happy with the modules that he had. He went on to say “the course leaders are respectable people so I trust their judgement on the modules we should be learning, we’ve been built up ready for the industry.”

How up to date is the course?

Nathan said this is one of the reasons he wanted to get involved in this series. “I cannot speak highly enough of the course, everything we get taught is current,” said Nathan.

As well as his undergrad course, he mentioned that his MA in Digital Marketing is in it’s first year of being a full 180 credit masters programme at Liverpool John Moores, so the degree structure is up to date.

My next question was about whether there was anything about PR that he wasn’t taught but wishes he had. He said no, which is great to hear. He carried this on by saying anything he needs to know now he will figure out on his own in the future and throughout his career.

PR measurement and its inclusion in the PR course

“We got taught about PR measurement but we also got taught about the limitations,” said Nathan. PR can be hard to measure but we’re embracing new ways to do so.

The course taught them about the basic metrics of measuring PR and that they got taught about links, social media monitoring, Moz and more. But he reiterated that it can’t be truly measured.

University guidance on career development

There are lots of opportunities in the UK to find help in entering the PR industry, from CIPR to the Lockdown Facebook group. But I wanted to find out what help the university gave Nathan over the last few years.

“I want to shout out to my lecturer Keith because he is an amazing bloke,” said Nathan. Keith if you’re reading this, he is very grateful for your support. Keith invited Nathan to help with a project he was working on with his sons and Nathan became involved in the social media for the project.

Nathan said all of the lecturers on his course were supportive all the way through his degree. If people had questions they’d always be happy to help and when they see you’re putting in the effort they will definitely reciprocate that effort.

As well as this he commended the university’s career service for their help with CVs, interviews or just the simplest questions.

Nathan told me a story about a time he asked the careers service for help, “I remember one time I got an interview for my first role in PR and I got told on the Thursday afternoon and the interview was the Friday morning. I emailed Linda from the careers service and she came over from another university building to help me prepare for the interview last minute.”

Nathan’s future

Nathan has plenty of ideas for what he’d like to do in the future. He’d love to travel and explore the world as he said the world has so much to offer. He also mentioned his aspiration of one day owning his own agency and has some ideas around that already.

Nathan’s dissertation for his masters is focused on Influencer Marketing and is interested in looking at the trust in influencers across different industries. We talked a lot about influencer marketing as it is the topic of my dissertation so it’s amazing to have that connection now so we can help each other throughout the summer.

He also has an exciting internship starting in May with Steven Bartlett. The opportunity came about after Nathan sent a message to Steven showcasing the Wikipedia page he had created for him. Within 10 minutes of speaking to Steven, he had been offered an internship in London for a month. Read more here.

Steven shared the post on LinkedIn saying “I offered this young guy a job ten minutes after he sent me the message. He identified a blind spot I had, created a solution, got it done and sent me a nice message.”

With Nathan’s initiative and drive I’m sure he has a big future ahead of him. We had a great chat, he’s so enthusiastic. It was lovely meeting him and to talk about his university experience and his life going forward in the PR industry.

Get involved!

If you’d like to be involved in The PR Students Experience then feel free to email me at sophsnextstep@gmail.com or DM me on Twitter! I’d love to talk to students across the country and the world to see what we are taught about PR at university.

In my next post on The PR Students Experience, I talk to Katie Hull who studies an MA in PR at Sunderland University.

Data’s Place in the PR World

It’s time for me to combine my two degrees! After studying maths, and focusing on statistics in my final year, I never thought I’d hear about it in my Media and PR degree. But I guess my undergrad is coming in handy.

Throughout my PR course I’ve heard about how it’s often hard to measure how successful a PR campaign is. However, this has changed. Data can be found anywhere on almost anything. We can now use data for campaigns, crisis management, AI and more.

What I’ve learnt is that having an idea of data, how to collect it and how to analyse it is beneficial for your career. Data is huge and will continue to be for years to come.

How is it useful for campaigns?

Data can help us plan for our campaign from the get go. Knowing your target audience’s demographics, habits and engagement can help prepare for a campaign.

You can conduct primary research to find specific data for your campaign. This can include questions that are more relevant to your business or the campaign and more targeted questions for different audiences. Again, conducting primary research after a campaign can open you up to some insightful information about what worked and what didn’t.

On the other hand, you could source secondary data from sites such as the Office for National Statistics and OFCOM to find more broad data. There are are plenty of tools for different things such as Google Analytics, Google Trends, Keyword Search, Answer the Public and plenty of others (the list is endless).

Social media platforms have integrated several tools for analysing your engagement rates. You can see how well your posts are doing across all platforms, the demographics of the people engaging and how these people are accessing your content. BuzzSumo recently analysed headlines across social media platforms to understand what makes a headline engaging.

Using data to prevent a crisis

Now, this isn’t an easy thing to do, especially now that social media turns a crisis global within an hour. But, we can use data to prevent major setbacks. With tricks such as social listening and big data, we can recognise small problems before they become a nightmare. By keeping an eye on what is being said about a brand, we can respond to any concerns and prevent a serious crisis.

Social media allows to see what is being said about a business in real time. Using this information has enabled us to see what is being said about a brand and when it was said.

The future of data in PR

Data is becoming widely used across the PR industry and has been for some time now. With social media continuing to grow in importance, we can only acknowledge how useful data is in all aspects of PR.

Something that I’ve not really delved into is data and artificial intelligence. This is definitely going to be a large part of the PR industry in the future as it is developed it could be used in different aspects of PR.

As a PR professional or graduate, it is beneficial if you have some background knowledge on data, whether that be through working with data in the past or learning how to code and interpret data. Being able to bring that to the table when applying for jobs can give you that extra leg up. I thought my switch from maths to PR was going to knock me down but I’m now confident I can use it to my advantage.

I could talk a lot about big data, statistics and analysing data. If you would like to read this then do let me know in the comments or on my social media!

Feeling Like You Belong

For this post, I wanted to open up about how I’ve felt these last few months when it comes to my life and my career.

In September I started a new degree, a masters in Media and PR. Having previously studied Maths, I was in a whole new world, I was a newbie. Having this fresh start made me change my perspective of the future, I was determined to work, meet new people and potential employers, and for once, do well. But being new to it was very intimidating, and it got in my head A LOT.

This feeling had me in slumps a lot, especially throughout this third lockdown. I know other people feel it too as I have read many posts from people in PR and others expressing their self-doubt. I came across the term ‘Imposter Syndrome’ and found that a lot of the characteristics matched up with how I was feeling. I felt like I didn’t belong in the PR world, like people would catch me out for being a newbie and that I will never make it because I’m not an expert.

The main worry I always had was my lack of experience. This, in turn, led me to signing up for anything and everything. I applied for a lot of internships at the end of 2020 and was rejected from the majority. This made me worried even more, like people were seeing through me. I spent a lot of the beginning of lockdown 3 questioning why I had changed my career path.

What I am doing to overcome this:

In January I started this blog, as a way of learning, sharing my opinion, and putting myself out there to be noticed. So far, it’s doing pretty well. Thanks to Richard (from PR Academy) sharing my posts on the student PR blogs of the week, my blog has reached a lot of people in PR. Having this place to write my thoughts has allowed me to connect with students and professionals and also helped me feel like I belong.

I don’t shut up on Twitter and it works. Twitter has been a saviour when it comes to networking online (especially since we can’t do it in person). I get involved in conversations with people from the PR industry, as well as use it as a source of information. #powerandinfluence with Ella Minty is also a great place to get chatting to people over a topic you’re all interested in, even if you’re not an expert and just want to ask some questions.

The lovely thing about following people from the PR & comms industry on Twitter is that the majority of the time they follow you back and that follow can really help because it shows that they’re also interested in what you have to say.

From this networking on Twitter I received a job! Thanks to Stephen Waddington I’ve already reached new people, new discussions and that feeling like I deserve to be working in PR. He saw the motivation in me to build my career and succeed. My confidence in myself has grown a lot over the last few weeks because of it all.

This is a feeling that most will experience, whether that be when starting something new like a job or a degree. Some people who have worked in a profession for years can still feel this way. I like to remind myself that I am working hard, it is being recognised and to just carry doing what I’m doing.

I could go on for ages about how I’ve felt these last few months, but I just wanted to share this with you as a lot goes on in my head before I post a blog, or write a tweet that people don’t know. Perhaps for those that feel the same, especially students who are studying/graduating throughout this pandemic, this is reassuring that it’s not just you.

New Era, New PR – a Clubhouse discussion about PR Agency Start-ups

Last week I finally joined Clubhouse and I must admit, I did enjoy it. The first discussion I went to was PRovoke Media’s New Era, New PR. For those of you who follow me on Twitter you may have seen that I have a new job working for Stephen Waddington. I know, check me out. The first project I’m working on is about the PR agency start-ups from the past year or so, meaning this Clubhouse chat was a must.

For someone fairly new to the PR & Comms world, it was a fascinating insight into the motivation behind agency start-ups, as well as why people want to work in this industry. The discussion provided such raw and honest answers which was lovely to hear in such an open space.

The event was hosted by Maja Pawinska Sims and Arun Sudhaman from PRovoke Media and featured guests such as Darryl Sparey (Hard Numbers), Graham Goodkind (Frank PR), Anna Geffert (Hera Communication Strategies), Jessica Hope (Wimbart) and many more.

I have lots of notes from this chat, however, I will touch on the key things that were mentioned throughout the hour-long discussion. There were a lot of similar opinions on agency start-ups, with motivation for start-up being the most common topic.

“Moments of disruption tend to spawn activity in start-ups” Graham Goodkind

A common theme amongst people that started agencies since the beginning of pandemic was the realisation that they weren’t happy doing what they were doing or the thought of ‘what do I want to do next?’. One common motivation was family.

Everyone had their own motivation for starting an agency but as Graham said, “Moments of disruption tend to spawn activity in start-ups,” it’s as if people needed those months in lockdown to step back and think about where they were in their lives and what they wanted to do next. Did it give people the push they needed?

For Felix Henderson and his partner Nic Young at Look After Group, their motivation was to help those affected by the pandemic, from industry professionals to charities and not-for-profit organisations. The agency started out as a voluntary initiative that worked with furloughed or redundant creative and comms people across the country.

“Diversification through specialisation”- Drew Benvie

Mentioned a few times throughout the discussion and brought up firstly by Graham is that more agencies now have a niche/specialisation. Having a niche is an advantage as you can focus and perfect your work. This has changed from previous agency start-ups that chose not to specialise.

For an agency with a niche to scale, they need to diversify themselves within the industry. If you can use your niche as an advantage for working with a variety of businesses, then you have the potential to scale. Through the research Stephen and I have done on PR agencies we’ve found focuses on ESG which although is a specialisation, has the ability to work with a variety of companies.

“Having a shop front is good”- Angie Moxham

Because of the pandemic we have all seen a huge shift online. We have adapted to doing everything from home. However, this shift online isn’t a new idea to us. People have been working remotely for years, but now we’re all doing it. As Arun said, “The pandemic accelerated a trend that was already coming.” I’m sure we’ll see many people sticking to remote working long after the pandemic is behind us.

On the other hand, when working with clients it is often a good idea to have that office where you can meet and pitch your work. Angie Moxham said, “Having a shop front is good,” indicating that an office is still beneficial. A lot of people also miss the vibe and the energy of an office. Opinions are split on this but I think we’ll definitely see more hybrid work set-ups from now on.

A lot of other topics were covered including finding talent and the Hollywood business model. Stephen tweeted a few key comments as well:

It was a great first Clubhouse event to go to and definitely useful for my research at Wadds Inc. Thank you to Maja and Arun for hosting and to all the guests for their opinions!

What do over 30s think of influencer marketing?

For this post I wanted to find out a little about what people over 30 think about influencer marketing. Do they know what an influencer is? Do they follow many (or any)? Do they think influencer marketing should be used within marketing and PR? I conducted a survey online and received some information that kind of confirmed everything I thought.

You may be wondering why I chose over 30s, in my opinion (and probably most) influencers and influencer marketing is quite well known amongst people under 30. Typically teenagers or people in their twenties tend to have an idea of what it means and could name a few influencers they either follow or know of.

Below I go through the questions and feedback I received. It is a mixture of positive and negative but I’ve included quotes throughout. Hopefully it’ll be insightful for both professionals and the people who answered it.

The Stats

This wasn’t a large study with 15 respondents, but everyone did provide some useful information.

80% of the respondents were women, so the majority of the feedback is from a female perspective. 66.7% of respondents were over the age of 50.

In terms of social media use, the platforms used by most were Facebook, Youtube and Instagram.

Which Social Media Platforms Respondents Use

Only 2 respondents use TikTok which is no surprise as 60% of TikToks users are ages 18-24. The other lowest were blogs and Snapchat.

Firstly I asked – Can you define what an influencer is? Which was later followed by defining influencer marketing

This one was as expected, most people used the original word ‘influence’ to define what it is, as one simply put “Someone who influences others”. Not wrong of course, they do. There were a few people who said no but if they tried to define it got the idea. The majority of the respondents knew what an influencer was or had a general idea. A couple examples are:

Female, aged 30-34: “Someone who uses their popularity on social media to promote products and get paid for it.”

Female, aged 55-59: “A person who uses social media to describe their experiences of products or services or to demonstrate their use and evaluate them. Good ones get loads of freebies to test. Some get paid to do it.”

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations Panel define influencer marketing as “The art and science of forming, or changing, a public’s opinions and behaviours via a third party online. The practice can be via earned, paid or a hybrid initiative.”

Lets compare this to some of the answers I received:

Female, aged 55-59: “Use of people who can relate to your target audience to share ideas or demo products. They might go to hotels and discuss the food or service. They often look gorgeous so people want to be like them and associate with the products they endorse.”

Female, aged 50-54: “Brands use public figures such as influencers to promote their products by using their channels as marketing platforms”

Female, aged 40-44: “An influencer encourages people to purchase items, or change their opinions.”

Most answers were similar as the respondents seemed to grasp the concept of influencer marketing.

They were then asked if they thought there was a difference between an influencer and a celebrity

As you can see, 93% answered yes. I followed this question up with their reasons why they voted yes or no. Some of the responses included,

Male, aged 55-59: “An influencer does it as part of their position. A celebrity influences because of who they are.”

Female, aged 55-59: “Influencers can become celebrities through having huge followings however they are often not known before becoming an influencer.”

Female, aged 40-44: “A celebrity is famous and well known by many.”

There were a couple of replies I found most interesting and basically confirm what I said previously about younger people knowing more about influencers.

Female, aged 55-59: “I feel that celebrities are known to people of all ages due to film, television, music, sport etc and not just known to younger people on social media platforms”

Female, aged 40-44: “Influencers seem less famous to me, but my children know lots of people who they say are famous from online who I have never heard of.

I later defined what influencers were and the answers stayed the same.

The final question was “Do you think influencer marketing should be used as a way of reaching consumers?”

This was the most interesting question for responses. 73.3% of respondents voted yes.

Most respondents were accepting of the use of influencer marketing as a good way for brands to reach their target audience, with one respondent saying:

Female, aged 55-59: “Marketing is marketing whether in the traditional way (TV adverts/posters/newspaper ads etc) or the more modern way, through social media. Both ways are maximising their audience.”

A couple of people spoke about how influencers can be seen as relatable which is a good communication tactic. Part of the popularity of influencers is the reliability and personal views they provide. We are most likely, as consumers, to go with brands that people closest to us recommend. Influencers who resemble ourselves or our friends have a similar effect.

There was one answer to this question that I wanted to include in particular. It starts off by talking about today’s consumer habits and that “we shouldn’t be encouraged by more people to buy more consumables and throw-away items”. This is true and the carbon footprint that comes with the likes of fast fashion and changing technology is an issue, I agree. The next part of this answer then referred to using locally produced products and to stop “buying useless fripperies promoted by ‘influencers'”. One of the beauties of influencer marketing is that it allows local businesses to be promoted as it is a cheaper and more credible way of connecting with a target market. Especially through earned media. One trip to a local shop and a post on Instagram could reach a lot of people and open the shop to a wider audience.

For me, I just wanted to get an insight into what people over the age of 30 thought about influencer marketing. Although I didn’t reach a lot of people with the survey, some of the replies did confirm the idea that influencer marketing is seen as a way of targeting younger audiences.

For those of you who asked if Mrs Hinch is an influencer – yes she is! A very successful one.

I know this was a long post but I hope it was an interesting one for you to read. It was certainly interesting for me to see the responses. It was also fun to do a post based around other people’s opinions. Maybe I’ll do some more in the future. Let me know if you enjoyed reading it!