Archive for October, 2022

Top Tips For Speaking To Health Journalists

Posted on: October 20th, 2022 by Tomas White

Here are my top tips:

Focus on what it means for the patient

Health journalists are very consumer focused.  What they care about most is what does the story mean for real people. How many lives will your product save? Or how will it make them happier, healthier and live longer? You should always focus on the people you are helping, never the product when trying to sell in a health story.

For example, when the government was planning for a No Deal Brexit, there were concerns over the practice known as ‘parallel exporting’ – when companies buy medicines meant for UK patients and sell them on for a higher price in another country.  The government was forced to take the unprecedented step of banning this practice on certain drugs deemed to be in short supply.  There were fears it would cause panic buying amongst the public.  We put the focus on the patient and portrayed the export ban as an attempt to protect to UK supplies of Hormone Replacement Therapies (there were a number of HRT drugs on the list). The government was widely praised for taking such decisive action.


Always have a story – don’t let them pick the angle

When I first started in PR my Head of News gave me some sage advice about engagement with the media, he said: “If you don’t give them something to write about – they will find something to write about”

This means never agree to an interview unless you have a positive story to tell. If the story is negative, issue a reactive statement. If you agree to interviews without a story, the journalist will find a story and it may not be one that you like. The NHS’ former Chief Executive Simon Stevens would rigidly adhere to this principle and his team would never let him make any media, parliamentary or public appearances without a positive story to tell.


Use the data to your advantage

The best stories are about people but they should always be supported by evidence – facts and figures can go a long way towards winning an argument or illustrating a point. The pandemic saw the proliferation of data-based health stories on topics such as the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines or the number of infections, hospitalisations and deaths. A good stat can make an entire story.


Don’t deal in misinformation

This one should hopefully go without saying but lying to journalists is always a bad idea. While not knowing the answer to a question is embarrassing, misleading the public can have far more serious consequences.  If you don’t know the answer, say you don’t know or that you’ll get back to them.

Sir John Bell, Regius professor at Oxford University, a man at the heart of the team that got the Oxford vaccine out of the lab and into the arms of millions was highly critical of the misinformation spread by decision-makers in the EU about that vaccine.

He said: “They have damaged the reputation of the vaccine in a way that echoes around the rest of the world. I think bad behaviour from scientists and from politicians has probably killed hundreds of thousands of people – and that they cannot be proud of.”  Sir John was referring to the decision by Germany not to give the AZ/Oxford jab to those over 65 and comments by French President Emmanuel Macron, calling the vaccine “quasi-ineffective” in the elderly. But just hours later, the European Medicines Agency approved the jab for adults of all ages.


This is a sobering example of why you should always stick to the facts when working with health stories.

For more insights contact the MHP Media Network [email protected]

Capital Markets ESG Insights: October

Posted on: October 17th, 2022 by Tomas White

In this latest iteration of the MHP Capital Markets’ quarterly ESG Insights newsletter,we examine how the energy crisis in Europe has impacted the road to net zero.

We discuss the anti-ESG rhetoric that is dominating headlines in the US, and explore the controversy surrounding HSBC’s ex-Head of Sustainability, Stuart Kirk, and key learnings from this, particularly when it comes to corporate communications that touch upon controversial topics. We also feature Benchmark Holdings as our Client in Focus.

For any questions or feedback please contact us at [email protected]


For any questions or feedback, please contact the team at [email protected].

Media Network: COP27 Special: What the major media players are planning

Posted on: October 14th, 2022 by Tomas White

“There are lots of small COPs, this is one of those” 

By Keith Gladdis, former Executive News Editor of the Daily Mail 

Ben Spencer, the Science Editor of the Sunday Times will be in Sharm El-Sheikh to cover the second week of COP27.

He says: The Sunday Times is interested in COP27 but it coincides with the G20 and US mid-terms, so there will be a lot of geopolitics to compete with.

“COP27 is also a completely different proposition in a different era. COP26 was a major event – it was meant to be the ‘implementation COP’ – the one to bring home the Paris agreement of COP21. Not all COPS are like that. COP3 in Kyoto in 1997 was big, COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009 was big, COP21 in Paris was big, COP26 was big. There are a lot of small ones in between – COP27 is one of those.

“COP26 also coincided with a high-water mark of interest in climate change. The invasion of Ukraine and the global energy crisis has meant there are now other priorities.

“For brands to get cut through around COP27 they need to offer something that has a real impact on the public.

“But beware of greenwashing, it’s a big issue. Hypocrisy always makes for good stories. Backing up statements with real substance is key – don’t just say what you’re going to do, say how you’re going to do it and back it up with evidence.”

Sky News continues to lead climate coverage

Charlotte Grant, former ITN reporter looks at how Sky News plans to cover COP27

Sky News is sending two teams to Egypt and will be pre-filming some pieces beforehand.

Over the past two years, Sky News has led the way on climate coverage with the launch of their ‘Daily Climate Show,’ the first daily news show dedicated to climate change, as well as their pop-up channel ‘Climate Live’ during COP26. We can expect Sky News to maintain their commitment to the subject.

As the first African COP, it’s likely the issue of what’s “fair” will come into play, especially in terms of loss and damage. Have the main emitters like India, China, Australia and the USA honoured last year’s promises? From a UK perspective, could the government be preparing for reduced UK ambitions for net zero? And what is the impact of the Ukraine war – is it causing a realignment of energy strategy with negative environmental consequences, from more coal burning for example, or could there be more positive implications like a greater focus on solar and wind?

Hannah Thomas-Peter will be leading Sky’s coverage of COP. We’ve been told it’s never too early to start sending pitches to her.   

The Guardian will pay close attention to COP27’s business agenda

By James Rollinson  

Speaking earlier this week, Alex Lawson, The Guardian’s energy editor, said that the paper is focusing heavily on the lead up to COP27, and want to highlight its importance to their readers.

The Guardian always sends their environment team to COP, and this year Alex is interested in the business side of the conference. Specifically, he will be following:

  • What is on the agenda for British companies, and what are they looking to push at COP
  • How much progress British businesses have made in the past 12 months
  • How does Britain compare to other countries on progress

Perhaps unsurprisingly given its location, Alex doesn’t get the sense that the public are as interested in COP this year, with minds focused on financial and political issues.

The team are still on the lookout for brands using COP27 as an opportunity to Greenwash though, and will expose any opportunistic behaviour.

And in non-COP27 related news…

Global appeal is the key for landing stories with Insider

With the world moving again following the Covid-19 pandemic, MHP Mischief’s Miles Watson spoke to Insider transport reporter Stephen Jonesabout the stories he is looking to write.  

What makes for a successful Insider story?

The majority of our audience is US-based so any story needs to have a global appeal. For example, if I’m writing a story about the Elizabeth Line, I might instead frame it as ‘London’s new $25 billion underground line’. There’s no hard or fast rule, but it’s vital that our readers can relate to the stories we cover.

Our readers are very consumer-focused rather than business-focused, they want to understand how a business decision or company results could impact their lives. It’s important to attract them through bold but realistic facts and figures and also be able to provide some techy elements too.

Stories which are visually appealing also do really well, so we like to see photos. One thing that I’m always keen to do is factory visits or be able to ‘go behind the scenes’ of a brand or a product. Our audience love to have access to things they wouldn’t see usually.

Where do you see transport stories going?

This summer’s ‘Travel chaos’ – and telling the story of how the global travel industry is interconnected where issues in one part of the network can have knock-on impacts on the other side of the word – will continue to garner interest for at least the next 12 months; the problems are structural and will not be resolved overnight. Otherwise, future-gazing stories, looking at the EV boom, or the potential of automated vehicles will always attract mine and our readers’ eye.

“What is ITVX and what does it mean for news content?”

Ahead of ITVX’s launch in November, Charlotte Grant, spoke to Hannah Emerson-Thomas, Editor of ITV News London and launching News on ITVX.  

What is ITVX and how will it work?

ITVX will replace the ITV Hub and ITV Hub +. It’s a free streaming service that will be available on smart TVs, laptops, tablets and mobile. Many original commissions will be available first on ITVX, and at least one premium programme or series will be launched each week of the year.

The free to watch content will include our ITV News service, which will take a prominent place on the ITVX portal.

From a news perspective, what will it mean for viewers?

We want to deliver a news service to ITVX 24/7, but this does not mean we are trying to create a rolling news channel on ITVX.

There will be a number of windows which viewers can scroll through and click on if they’re interested in watching, and crucially be the same original, impartial and accurate journalism our viewers have come to expect.

We’ll have a regular news bulletin of the main stories of the day, updated whenever a story changes or a new story breaks. We also hope to have explainers for our viewers too on what certain news stories mean for them and their families.

Will you be looking for more news content? What sort of stories will you be looking for?

We want to make sure we are covering a wealth of stories across the country and the globe. We aren’t going to be covering ‘different’ news to our linear programmes, it’ll be the same editorial standards we already closely follow at ITV News. We’re always interested in politics, health, education and consumer stories – human interest stories basically. And of course - strong picture stories.

BBC regional news – why local matters to communicators

By Ian Kirby, former political editor, News of the World

The recent skewering of new Prime Minister Liz Truss on BBC local radio was a brutal reminder that we are blessed with many talented and fearless regional journalists across the UK.

Rhodri Talfan Davies, director of BBC Nations, runs the Beeb’s regional coverage. He said of his journalists: “They can lay out the facts impartially and dispassionately – and ensure local voices are at the heart of the debate.”

Regional news can be a better way to reach audiences than many prime-time news programmes or newspapers. Each week 20 million people access local news via the BBC, the 6.30pm BBC regional news slot is watched by four to five million every day.

Crucially, as our consumption of news via the web and social media has exploded, these audience numbers have largely stayed stable for a decade.

Despite cuts across BBC News, the Corporation has been quietly investing in its regional political coverage, employing a dozen TV political editors and another 43 radio political reporters.

While overall headcount is falling, local specialists on topics like business and home affairs are also increasing, as are investigative resources through the Local Democracy programme.

“We don’t want to be a paper that complains”

By Abigail Smith

Jamie Nimmo – Associate Business Editor at the Sunday Times – spoke earlier this week abut the importance of keeping conversations moving in a polarised political climate.

He said his editor is “obsessed” with solutions-based reporting and suggested that there is a gap in the market for this type of journalism, which the Sunday Times is eager to fill. This leaves the door open for brands that are willing to go the extra mile to help their customers.

Thanks to the Sunday papers’ longer lead times, Jamie and his team like to weigh up all aspects of a story, while others chase the headlines during the week. This often leads to longer, more in-depth pieces, which is always worth bearing in mind for anyone with a meaty story to land.

The Network Effect: Turning Supporters Into Advocates

Posted on: October 13th, 2022 by Tomas White

The Network Effect: Turning Supporters Into Advocates

Today, only half of people regularly advocate for a cause they believe in or a brand they love.

For communicators, this is a huge untapped opportunity. If we can unlock and harness our advocates, they will tell our stories for us, reaching their tribes authentically. We can change minds faster and more effectively by engaging the people our audiences listen to, who will then engage their own tribes. This is a domino effect we call The Network Effect.

To harness The Network Effect we need to tap into what makes supporters advocate and overcome what stops them. Working with behavioural science experts at Influence at Work, we have identified ten factors which shape our willingness to speak up or share content.

  1. Identity
  2. Loyalty
  3. Connection
  4. Obligation
  5. Reward
  6. Intention
  7. Commitment
  8. Impact
  9. Backlash
  10.  Trust

Some will make us advocate, others will hold us back, and they effect all of us to different degrees. That’s why we worked with Savanta to develop a nationwide study to measure how these impact different types of audiences. By understanding what makes our audiences speak up, what might stop them, when they may promote and when they may criticise, we can adapt messaging, content and communications strategies which are truly effective.

Engaged effectively your supporters can reach people you can’t, influencing opinion where you hit walls, and creating a domino effect of advocacy.

The Network Effect harnesses the power of your supporters.

Listen below to hear Deputy CEO, Nick Barron, Head of Strategy Kate Gomes, and COO of Influence at Work Sophie Armour introduce The Network Effect.



To find out how the network effect can increase the reach and effectiveness of your campaign, contact the team: [email protected].

Charlotte Brooks Becomes Managing Director And New Mischief Lead

Posted on: October 4th, 2022 by Tomas White

Charlotte has been a key member of the Mischief leadership team for four years, leading major client relationships including E.ON, Seven Dials and Three, and helping to transform Mischief into an integrated offer, embedding digital, influencer and performance capabilities.

Mischief have a range of exciting clients including Lego, Just Eat, The Hundred and Nestle, with recent wins including Cupra, LV=, Ocado and ITV.

Charlotte succeeds Greg Jones, who will leave the agency at the end of this month.

Alex Bigg CEO of MHP Mischief,  said:

“Charlotte was the natural choice. She combines passion, vision and outstanding client counsel. Most importantly, she is a great leader and has an exciting plan for the future development of the Mischief brand. It is testament to the strength of the team that we were able to make this key appointment by promoting from within.

“I’m grateful to Greg for the great work he did to drive the integration of MHP and Mischief, steer his team through Covid and attract great talent and brands.”

Charlotte Brooks, Managing Director and Mischief Lead, added:

“Disruptive creativity is our heartland, and that has never been more important. It’s been exciting over the last few years to translate that approach across new channels and marketing disciplines and, ultimately, to deliver bigger, better and more impactful work for our clients.

“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to take Mischief to the next level and to be part of such an incredible leadership team.”

Venture Capital Dry Powder is Building Up…

Posted on: October 1st, 2022 by Morgan Arnold

Last week a few of the MHP Mischief team headed over to Greenwich for FT Sifted’s inaugural in-person summit. Thousands of people from across the tech and investor ecosystems gathered to discuss the latest innovations in the space, discussing everything from how to hire the best talent right through to how, and when, to exit.

Amidst all the chatter, one message rang clear across all conversations – the current fundraising climate is more challenging than it was twelve, or even six, months ago. Businesses of all shapes and sizes have pivoted from a ‘growth at all costs’ mindset, to one where profitability and sustainability is the focus. This is naturally being led by a tightening of the purse strings from investors. The days of the 2021 mega-round are past us, and as one Index Ventures partner noted recently ‘last year was the party and this year is the hangover’.

It’s reflected clearly in the numbers too, with CB Insights data showing that global venture funding hit $74.5B in Q3 2022, a nine quarter low. This was a 34% drop quarter on quarter – the largest percentage drop in a decade.

Taking a step back, this market dip is a good thing for the overall health and stability of the tech ecosystem. While of course it’s never nice to see companies announce layoffs or downrounds, the truth is that the market has always moved in cycles, and those that survive difficult conditions come out of the other side stronger and lead to better long-term outcomes.

To butcher a G. Michael Hopf quote: “Hard times create strong businesses, strong businesses create good times, good times create weak businesses, and weak businesses create hard times.”

The good news for businesses going through those hard times right now is that, by all accounts, there’s a mountain of VC dry powder waiting for them on the other side should they make it. Investors were keen to stress at the Summit that while they may be being more selective with who they invest in currently, there’s still capital available in the market and there are huge stockpiles behind the scenes just begging to be allocated. Few investors are actually reducing fund sizes, meaning that available capital, or dry powder, is building and building.

So when are we going to get back to the party and shake off our hangover? The truth is that nobody really knows, but we heard estimates that VCs are anticipating a market pickup as early as late Q1 / early Q2 next year – so we may not be waiting all that long. That’s an exciting prospect for startups building currently.

However, not everyone has the runway to wait it out, which is what’s led to the downrounds, layoffs and closures that we’re seeing now. Capital is still available though, it’s just tougher to get and comes at more of a premium. Nevertheless, here’s what VCs and angel investors are looking for currently:

  • Profitability – The pursuit of growth above all else is no longer in vogue, investors want clearer evidence of that path to profitability, and positive unit economics
  • Sustainability – Scrutiny around making a wider positive impact is no longer reserved for the bigger players. Every business, no matter the size, will get asked about its thoughts and strategy around environmental and social impact
  • Top talent – The battle for talent remains in the industry, and it’s not going away anytime soon. Put simply, there aren’t enough quality developers and engineers in the market for everyone currently. Having strong product and tech employees will give you a significant edge
  • Vision – As always, a founder’s vision and their ability to effectively communicate that is paramount

Interestingly, that ties to a trend we’re seeing here at MHP, particularly when it comes to fintechs. The briefs we’re receiving from clients and prospects are less about ‘help me directly drive sales to end-users’ and much more frequently ‘help us tell our story in a way that attracts top talent and investors’. Employer brand building has never been so important as the war for talent only intensifies.

The next few months will be tough for startups, there’s no doubt about that. Those that survive though, will be better positioned for growth in the medium to long term. If there was one key takeaway from the Summit, it’s not a question of when the fundraising market will pick back up, but when.