Archive for February, 2022

Behind the scenes of broadcast news – getting noticed in the newsroom

Posted on: February 17th, 2022 by Tomas White

Landing a spokesperson on broadcast news can be one of the greatest hits when it comes to securing coverage. It’s visual, shareable, likeable, and with more of us adapting to hybrid-working, viewing figures across channel-to-channel continue to rise and trump most print circulation figures.

TV boasts some of the biggest names and familiar faces who we rely on to provide us with the inside scoop on the latest headlines. They are the people we trust to uncover what’s really going on and for many, they are the first faces we see in the morning as we tune into breakfast news and the last before we switch off after News at 10.

So, as PR professionals, how do we ensure our clients feature? Charlotte Grant recently joined the Brand and Reputation team at MHP Mischief from ITN, and here are some of her top tips to help nail your next broadcast pitch.

1. Preparing the perfect pitch

When preparing your pitch note, the key is knowing your top line in one sentence. For broadcast media, it’s about clarity and impartially and should include these three things:

Relevance
When assessing if your story is right for broadcast, it’s important to ask yourself why it is relevant and is it going to resonate. You should consider the angle not just for the channel, but also for their specific programming.

Human Interest
Broadcast is an opportunity to tell your story visually, and in TV, one of the main ways to do this is by putting people at the heart of it. With programming across the day, broadcast news is built on its people – focusing on problems, concerns, or achievements that resonate with its audience.

Case Study
Offering the full package in a broadcast pitch can help your story go a long way and it is almost vital to your success. Competition is rife between the broadcasting channels, so if you are not pursuing an exclusive route, then it’s best to have multiple case studies available, offering a different one to each channel.

2. Context and considerations

Highly Regulated
One of the biggest considerations for pitching broadcast news that often gets overlooked is that broadcast media is governed by Ofcom. As a highly regulated programme, the newsroom cannot show any bias to how they report on a story or issue, so it’s worth making your spokespeople aware of this as they prepare their talking points.

News, in whatever form, is reported with due accuracy and presented with due impartiality” – Ofcom.

Timings
With audiences’ having an overwhelming need to consume information constantly, for example throughon-demand services and 24-hour news streaming, reporting on stories in real-time and showcasing why a story is relevant for now is critical. The newsroom is a high-pressured environment and is extremely fast-paced as they look to break a story before anyone else. It is no good pitching a story for the next day if it takes time to set up and you don’t have the capabilities to provide the right content.

B-roll or not to B-roll?
Having video footage could be another way to get your foot in the door with a producer. Having b-roll as part of your press office bank of assets should be a consideration if you are planning to pitch this media, but be aware that anything overtly branded will be disregarded.

3. Name in Lights

Once you’ve secured the opportunity, it’s important to remember that broadcast television quickly adapts and reacts to the news agenda faster than any other medium, which means your story can be dropped at any point. However, remaining on top of the news agenda will allow you to stay close to the stories that continue to develop and increase your future chances of featuring during a news bulletin. Keep the conversation open, and once a producer is aware of what you can offer, it shouldn’t be long until your name is in lights.

ESG Insights: Supply Chains

Posted on: February 17th, 2022 by Tomas White

The coronavirus pandemic has placed an unprecedented spotlight on supply chains; they are now a dominating feature on every news page, press release and regulatory announcement. It is easily the most common challenge on which we have been advising our clients for at least the last six months. With the knock-on impacts of Brexit, the Suez Canal blockage and of course COVID-19 persisting, it seems inevitable that risk managers will continue to sweat over supply chain bottlenecks and breakdowns for many months to come.

When scrutinising supply chains through an ESG lens, management teams must look beyond pandemic considerations. While companies continue to respond to COVID-19 using expanded inventories, contract extensions or onshoring, the pressures upon international logistics have masked the growing impact of climate change on supply chain networks.

Weathering disruption

Climate change is already impacting corporate profitability. Extreme weather has cost Europe approximately €500bn over the past 40 years, and last year was a major factor behind the power outages experienced by a whopping c.4% of the world’s population (c.350 million people). This year carries the burdens of increasing agricultural commodity prices and materials shortages due to the sheer magnitude of these events in 2021, the second-most costly year on record for the world’s insurers after “hurricane-riddled” 2017. As the director of the Sustainability Initiative at MIT told Bloomberg last month:

“It’s not the next big supply chain crisis. It’s the next big supply chain crises, plural.”

Supply chain vulnerability to climate change is not new, but greater awareness of the problem is. Last summer, the UK government’s Climate Change Committee concluded in their climate risk assessment that “enhancing supply chain resilience should be a priority for post-COVID recovery planning”, and a recent government report said that “more will be required in the next eighteen months to address this complex risk area”.

Yet complacency on this issue persists. Findings published by AXA Climate in December revealed that 40% of risk managers felt their organisation did not have a climate risk governance mechanism in place. Conclusions from KPMG’s recent report on global manufacturing suggested that, despite 68% of CEOs saying they will ensure their supply chains are resilient, they “may not yet have grasped that the goals of digital transformation and ESG are both consistent and work powerfully together [to] mitigate supply chain risk and enhance sustainability”.

Climate risk visibility

Climate change creates not just greater risk but greater uncertainty. As the on-demand global economy recalibrates to a more robust set of logistical networks, businesses have the opportunity to integrate supply chain climate adaptation. In the past, risk managers have relied on historical data to inform their decision-making. However, we do not know with any precision how severe climate fluctuations will become as the rate of change accelerates; historical observations are less useful for accurately informing future risk. Speaking to Michael Gloor, CEO of climate risk analytics firm Correntics, what is needed is a forward-looking approach:

“Due to the complexity of global supply chains, climate risk transparency requires more and more of a software and data-driven approach… we need to focus on key resilience issues in a company’s value chain and to identify the adaptation measures with the best cost-benefit ratios.”

The recently published annual Carbon Disclosure Project report shed grim light on the state of climate risk adaptability and transparency. For example, approximately 63% of suppliers reported that they continue to source commodities from countries with a high deforestation risk and, despite expectations that the gap between global demand and supplies of fresh water will reach 40% in less than a decade, two thirds of suppliers failed to reduce their water withdrawals from water-stressed areas. The most frequently reported water risks were flooding and increased water scarcity, yet only 13% of suppliers confirmed that they have procedures in place for identifying and assessing water-related risks that fully cover their supply chains.

For business, these risks and uncertainties could have serious consequences. They increase the likelihood of food poverty, drought, wildfires and flooding disrupting supply chains, problems which will likely get worse as climate conditions deteriorate. In financial terms alone, the CDP concluded that environmental supply chain disruption will cost companies $120 billion within the next five years.

Supply change

Environmental issues are interconnected. Social governance objectives for your supply chain better insulate stakeholders from the physical risks posed by disruptive weather. Safe working conditions and longer-term relationships with partners and employees can stimulate sustainable practises that make the sourcing of raw materials less susceptible to extreme events, while improving visibility over the composite parts of your product pipeline.

It’s hard to ignore the irony that supply chains are both the most vulnerable pieces of the corporate jigsaw to the impacts of climate change and the most responsible for causing climate risk thanks to their carbon footprint (i.e. Scope 3 emissions). Whilst corporates are rightly focused on reducing these emissions, Scope 3 tunnel vision must not blind managers to the very real and escalating risks of climate disruption to suppliers, their employees, and the goods and raw materials fundamentally underpinning corporate growth.

As the KPMG report noted, businesses “won’t likely have a healthy supply chain if they don’t focus on ESG, and without a healthy supply chain, they will likely struggle to meet their long-term goals”. Having visibility on what’s happening is crucial to comprehending climate risks, and a company that is aware of its supply chain is better equipped to deal with them.

Recommendations

Focus on adaptability and resilience

Much of the impact of climate change is unpredictable. Avoid trying to calculate risks that are in fact unknowns. Build adaptability and resilience into your business and avoid dependency on risk models which can distort the sustainability of your value chain.

Improve visibility

Where possible, use a data-driven approach to improve visibility across your product pipelines and clearly communicate findings to stakeholders. Be prepared to leverage supplier relationships with those that fall short of the mark on sustainable sourcing. Incorporating AI and blockchain technologies can also help streamline your value chain and reduce your Scope 3 emissions footprint.

Embed ESG into your supply chain

ESG means little if it remains tucked away safely at HQ. A good place to start (or to benchmark against) is ‘’The Sustainable Procurement Pathway’, found on pages 23-27 of this CDP report; this is a comprehensive guide developed by the CDP to help organisations assess and improve the management of supply chain footprints.

MHP Mischief engaged to launch new world tour for fast-growing sport padel

Posted on: February 10th, 2022 by Tomas White

The agency, and its Spanish partner Atrevia, are delivering a comprehensive programme of support in the build-up to the tour’s launch, including brand development and media and stakeholder relations.

Padel is one of the world’s fastest-growing sports, with more than 25 million players around the world and celebrity fans including Serena Williams and David Beckham. A doubles racquet sport, played on small courts, it is sociable and accessible, which has helped fuel its growth.

The mandate builds on MHP Mischief’s growing roster of sports clients, including The Hundred, beIN Media Group and the Kiyan Prince Foundation, as well as sports sponsorship activation for Three, JustEat and E.ON.

The project team combines creatives, strategists, media relations experts and designers from across the agency’s Mischief, Studio and Brand & Reputation teams.

Nick Barron, Deputy CEO of MHP Mischief, commented:

“This is an amazing project to be involved with. Padel is already one of the most popular sports in some major markets around the world, and it’s still in its infancy. The tour will turbocharge the sport’s growth and help new fans and players discover what makes it so special. The tour has stellar partners and unlimited potential.”

Too HRT to handle? First the ‘pill’, now HRT – how OTC brings us a step closer to making choice a reality for women’s health

Posted on: February 4th, 2022 by Tomas White

There has been a lot of buzz lately around women’s health and with the impending arrival of the government’s Women’s Health Strategy it’s fair to say that it seems that women’s health is finally getting the attention it deserves.

While there’s undoubtably a lot to do, and the actual implementation of changes which will improve and sustain women’s health will take time, there is a sense of optimism that we’re at least on the way.

This week’s announcement by the MHRA, the UK medicines and healthcare products regulator, that it’s considering reclassifying a hormone replacement treatment (HRT), making it available over the counter (OTC), could signal a dramatic change for women who are dealing with the symptoms of menopause.

At a time where primary care is stretched, providing more options and choice to women to actively manage their health is a welcome step, however with choice also comes great responsibility.

In the call to evidence public survey for the government’s Women’s Health Strategy, “only 9% of respondents felt that they had enough information on the menopause, and many had not learnt about or been educated on the menopause until they were experiencing it.” So, while HRT might be more readily available, do women feel confident in knowing when to seek it out?

When reforms are considered to give women more choices to manage their health, it’s imperative that this is underpinned with a full programme of education, including unbiased and clear information about any treatment choice, to equip women to make fully informed decisions.

Let’s not be down about however, because we have seen bigger strides in making choice a reality for women’s reproductive health over recent years, with campaigns tackling period stigma, an influx of ‘femtech’ gear for menstrual cycle tracking and family planning, and not to forget, the revolutionary change of making the ‘mini pill’ available over the counter. However, less focus has been given to improving choices for the millions of women entering, or are in the midst of, post-reproductive age.

It’s no secret that women’s health needs change over time. However, what has transpired is that there are common threads of needs and experiences that span across the different stages of our health journeys, with choice being instrumental to improving our health experiences and outcomes. Whether it’s freedom of choice due to advances and technologies providing more options, the power of choice giving women agency to choose the best care for themselves, or information which arms women to be able to make informed choices – the reality is that every aspect of choice is linked.

However, tackling the broader elements of ‘women’s health’, to make choice a reality for women, is made up of a multitude of different aspects and touchpoints across women’s life cycle; acknowledging the conditions themselves, tackling institutionalised behaviours, treatment development,  improving the ability to access services and solutions, and investment and commitment to developing broader innovations. And, as highlighted in the Vision for the Women’s Health Strategy, as well as other research such as the Global Women’s Health Index, it’s imperative that any reforms must adopt a ‘life course approach’ to truly close the gap in women’s health experiences and outcomes, regardless of the stage of live they are in.

It’s also not just simply about providing women with information, but consideration must be given to the way the information is communicated, who communicates it and most importantly, it must be inclusive, so it speaks to all women. For too long conversations about menopause have been taboo and normalising conversations about menopause through a consistent drumbeat of proactive communications, using different tactics, will be key to move the conversation forward.

Data shows, that many women do not feel as comfortable talking about menopause with friends, family and healthcare professionals as they do about other topics such as pregnancy, which is why it’s been welcoming to see public figures like Davina McCall and others openly speak about their experiences. Tackling stigma and moving the conversation about menopause out of the shadows into the open will be crucial to the spread of information and education, and maybe the introduction of over the counter HRT can play a part in this, bringing us one step closer to making choice a genuine reality for women’s health.

Introducing The Dissident Economy

Posted on: February 1st, 2022 by Tomas White

A few years ago, I joined a panel to discuss the implications of Nike’s “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything” campaign, in which the brand encouraged customers who disagreed with its position to look elsewhere, while locking in the loyalty of shoppers who shared their values.

One of my fellow panellists suggested that the campaign’s success meant that similar ones would soon spring up for every conceivable social justice issue, with rival brands picking opposing sides of an argument to attract different political tribes.

They were half right.

An avalanche of political brand campaigns followed. Traditionally activist brands like Ben & Jerry’s and Patagonia were soon joined in the Culture War by everyone from Sainsbury’s to Coutts.

But branding’s marketplace of ideas has only served up one flavour of politics.

Why big brands are progressive

Today, there are few brands ready to espouse conservative ideas, let alone libertarian or reactionary ones. There are no ‘pro-life’ ice cream makers or supermarkets demanding ‘tougher sentencing for criminals’. When Chick-fil-a, a US brand rooted in ‘traditional values’ did try to plant a toe on British soil, they were chased out of town.

A range of incentives prevent established brands from taking non-progressive political positions.

Progressives not only have more spending power than conservatives and a greater propensity to use it to reward brands that share their values, they tend to run the brands themselves.

Any company seeking to challenge progressive values would soon find itself at war with a progressive hegemony and activist corps in the arts, education and the media, as well as among its metropolitan, university-educated employees. Spotify discovered this when it poached Joe Rogan. ESG has also enshrined progressive values in the calculations made by investors too.

Brand activism is taking place against a polarised political backdrop, when the most effective way to rally customers behind your values is often to condemn those you stand against. Picking a side means ostracising the other side.

Just as political leaders around the world have shifted from trying to persuade the unvaccinated to emmerder-ing them and creating a more hostile environment, so too have the diminishing returns of brand activism required brands to take a harder line with dissidents.

For example, when ITV received record complaints about BLM messages in Britain’s Got Talent, it responded by taking out a full page advert in every national newspaper, telling these viewers that they were wrong.

From Culture War to Culture Schism

Most people are indifferent to most of the Culture War fights most of the time, but with each fresh victory for liberal progressivism, the ‘Basket of Deplorables’ gets bigger.

Into the basket have gone everyone from ‘the intellectual dark web’ and ‘trans exclusionary radical feminists’ to ‘conspiracy theorists’, and a host of other untouchables. Didn’t like the He-Man remake killing-off He-Man? You’re the problem. Don’t like super hero comics swapping plot and character for social justice? Then ‘don’t buy my book.

The Culture War is over. Liberal progressives won – and conservatives know it.

But The Culture War’s losers haven’t vanished off the face of the earth, nor recanted. Polarised debates rarely change minds. Dissidents now number in their millions. Their reluctance to say what they really think in public means the size of their ranks are often underestimated. And increasingly, they aren’t ‘buying the book.’

The result is a Culture Schism, where a growing share of people have stopped watching, reading, supporting and buying content and brands that they feel lectured or insulted by – and started building and embracing parallel communities, brands and institutions. As Axios put it in December:

“Conservatives are aggressively building their own apps, phones, cryptocurrencies and publishing houses in an attempt to circumvent what they see as an increasingly liberal internet and media ecosystem.”

This has produced an increasingly large and valuable Dissident Economy.

Introducing the Dissident Economy

Where do people who feel unrepresented by contemporary mainstream Western culture go? The Dissident Economy has three components:

  1. New Things

The right came to dominate US talk radio in the 90s, largely because commentators felt they had nowhere else to go. The same process is happening now.

  • As the dominant digital platforms have become more censorious, alternatives have proliferated, from Gab and Gettr to Odysee and Substack, while right wing content creators have decided that they need to own the means of production and distribution to avoid cancellation.
  • In the US, digital news brand The Daily Wire is now a film studio, snapping up cancelled stars like Gina Carano. Vice co-founder Gavin McInnes launched a subscription video service Uncensored after he was expunged from Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Republicans who felt betrayed by Fox’s move towards the political centre ground decamped to Newsmax and OAN at ferocious speed. Dissident academics launched the University of Austin.
  • In the UK, GB News, Unherd, The Critic and Reaction are among the media start-ups that are avowedly opposed to what they see as a suffocating consensus among their established peers.

Disruptive consumer brands have also rushed in to fill the void.

  • As fashion brands like Calvin Klein and Victoria’s Secret turned their backs on cheesecake marketing, Instagram exploded with start-up brands that were unafraid to sell a hard-bodied ideal. Gymshark sprang from a midlands garage to build an FMCG unicorn.
  • While major banks embraced progressivism to atone for the 2008 crash, irreverent and aggressive fintechs like Revolut hoovered up young customers who were less bothered about company culture than they were about innovative, low-cost services.

Both brands have now outgrown the Dissident Economy and have adopted progressive causes to appeal to a wider group of stakeholders.

2. Old Things

The Dissident Consumer finds solace in culture that pre-dates The Great Awokening and demand for old content is soaring.

3. Non-Anglo Things

The right is developing exotic tastes as it scours the world for content that doesn’t push progressive values, while rejecting a growing number of American franchises. Out goes The Last of Us Part II, in comes Squid Games.

  • American comic book sales are now dwarfed by Manga, even in their home market.
  • Comic-Con cosplayers in 2021 are more likely to be dressed as the heroes of Genshin Impact than of Star Trek. Japan’s Persona video game series now defines the teenage experience for young people in the way that California’s The OC and Sweet Valley High once did.
  • K Pop has replaced British and American boy and girl bands in the affections of Western tweens.

How will brands respond?

Marketing is downstream from culture. Established mainstream brands will need to tap into the Dissident Economy to avoid a loss in market share.

Mostly, they won’t be willing or able to.

Major companies have been demanding their customers pick the progressive side in the Culture War and they will find it almost impossible to court those who have since deserted them, even if they wanted to.

Polarisation has left the reactionary right largely untouchable for big brands:

As a result, we will continue to see big brands snub The Dissident Economy, leaving the way for challengers, as comedian Ryan Long observed:

Big brands will become more like political parties

Eventually, market leaders will get tired of having their lunch eaten by challengers, and the size and spending power of the ranks of disaffected consumers will force some sort of accommodation with the anti-woke.

Just as the brewing giants had to find a way to assimilate the craft brewers who stood in opposition to the globalisation and homogenisation of the beer industry, so too will big business have to learn to straddle parallel communities with virtue counter-signalling.

  • In entertainment, for example, Disney now has two branches of the Star Wars franchise that effectively operate in parallel – the ‘woke’ branch spawned by Kathleen Kennedy and the ‘trad’ arm overseen by Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni. Fans repelled by the former embrace the latter and are kept within the Star Wars tent by industry gossip about a brewing rebellion within Lucasfilm.
  • Gillette never backed away from its calamitous “toxic masculinity” campaign, but it did follow it up with a campaign which lionised prototypically masculine figures in the form of firefighters, to keep The Dissident Consumer happy.

Big brands will stay woke, but find more room for the unwoke, becoming coalitions of factions, in the same way that political parties are – staging the occasional ‘Operation Red Meat‘ for their own customers.

Expect purpose campaigns to pivot towards less polarising areas, such as conservation and animal welfare – and for big brands to be less quick to cave to social media pressure.

The size of the Dissident Economy is why Spotify will stand by Joe Rogan, even in the face of a growing progressive backlash.