Archive for November, 2022

Cost-of-living special: How UK media are responding to the biggest personal finance challenge in a generation

Posted on: November 25th, 2022 by Morgan Arnold

Telegraph readers want to make savings by going green, says the paper’s Head of Personal Finance Ben Wilkinson.

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

What kind of stories are you looking for in the Daily Telegraph

We want stories that are valuable to our readers. Valuable in terms of the knowledge they provide, and also in terms of what the information can mean for our readers’ money. We want to see surprising figures or genuinely revealing analysis that puts real world events into context for readers and their money.

What matters most to your readers?

Our readers like to be informed and engaged. They want to see news angles that pique their interest backed up with solid evidence and data. They also like to comment and debate, so love a good talking-point.

How have your readers been affected by the cost of living crisis?

It’s hard to say, but I’d argue with the potential for energy bills and remortgaging costs to soar much higher, we are still yet the true impact of this crisis.

Traditionally, our readers are perhaps older homeowners who have paid off the mortgage and have decent pensions. Inflation has been their true enemy as it eats up the value of their savings.

Our readers are also keen to hear about the savings they can make with green investments such as solar panels and electric cars.

What advice do you have for brands that want to be featured on your pages?

If you want to feature you’ll have to stick your head above the parapet and say something that is worth reporting or provide some analysis or an angle that is worth something to our readers.


Hunt’s Autumn Statement begins an honest conversation with the UK electorate

By Ellie McGarahan

MHP’s Public Affairs team hosted a webinar with a panel of experts including Sonia Sodha, Chief Leader Writer and Columnist at The Observer. Here’s what she had to say on Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement and reaction to his announcements:

  • The statement put forward by the Chancellor was arguably better than many were expecting, particularly with the announcement that spending cuts will be pushed back to beyond the next general election. That said, it’s still going to be painful period for taxpayers and public services, because inflation will erode any extra funding being pumped into supporting them.
  • It’s unsurprising that we didn’t see higher taxes for the wealthy, as to do so wouldn’t have filled the fiscal black hole. Everyone will be paying for these commitments, and everyone will be poorer as a result. The government are beginning to have an honest conversation with the electorate which ultimately boils down to: “you get the services you pay for”.
  • Nobody will deny that there are global macroeconomic factors that will inevitably worsen outcomes for the UK economy, but these have been compounded by many that are unique to the UK, including: Brexit and its negative impacts on export growth; a long-term productivity issue that has long needed to be addressed; and a lack of investment in infrastructure, business funding and skills, compared to other nations.
  • Following Hunt’s statement and in the run up to the next general election, Labour will be trying to “ram home” the message that the pain taxpayers will feel as a result of Hunt’s statement on Thursday is a direct result of the “chaos” caused by Kwasi Kwarteng’s Mini Budget. They will also play into the idea that as gas companies’ profits continue to soar, many will be questioning how fair it is to effectively lower people’s real wages to prop up public services.


“We want to hear from companies there are actually helping”

By Alan Tovey, former Daily Telegraph Industry Editor, and Pauline Guenot

At the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, companies were reluctant to push positive stories. Now with country facing a fresh crisis as the cost of living stretches household budgets to breaking point, does this still hold true?

No, according to Sun Business Editor Ashley Armstrong: “There’s a huge appetite from readers to know what companies are doing to help, and who is doing the right thing.”

For businesses pushing out results, there’s certainly room to mention the cost-of-living crisis. More than one in three consumer-facing companies – 37%, according to analysis by MHP’s Capital Markets team – mentioned the term in updates to the market.

The Sun is willing to report on those companies trying to help consumers and staff as the UK dives into recession, according to Ashley. But only if they are doing it for the right reasons and not as ESG box-ticking exercise.

“We want to hear from companies that are [actually] helping,” she said. “We gave quite a lot of coverage to companies that were doing cost-of-living staff bonuses. I think that it’s really important to show that businesses can be good.”

But stunts just to make headlines that don’t deliver for Sun readers come with a huge health warning, according to Ashely. She said: “What needs to be clear is that they are actually helping, and not just trying to get good publicity.”


The Rise of the ‘Cost of Living Correspondent’

By former ITN reporter Charlotte Grant

For decades, we’ve had Economic and Business Units – now we have dedicated Cost-of-Living teams; units that will be competing against each other to get exclusives, work up fresh angles and unearth the latest data.

The BBC recently announced a new initiative called ‘Tackling It Together’ – bringing together a team of experts to help consumers through the crisis, with former Personal Finance and Consumer Affairs Correspondents like Kevin Peacheyand Colletta Smith becoming Cost of Living Correspondents.

At Sky News, Megan Baynes has been hired as their first Cost of Living Reporter. Megan told MHP the three things she’s looking for when covering the crisis:

  1. Anything data driven must be unusual or shocking. Instead of “90% of people worried about energy bills” or “half of Brits cutting back,” Megan says it’s got be something eye-catching, for example how it could now take 29 years to save for a London flat
  2. Case studies and real people are what she’s most keen on – sometimes that can get lost in the crisis and we forget that behind the data are real people, so any case study that can be put forward is a real bonus
  3. Finally, sending stories under embargo is useful – it always helps give her time to get a story planned and resourced

MHP Group Hires Capital Markets MD – James McFarlane

Posted on: November 23rd, 2022 by Morgan Arnold

James McFarlane, who has more than 15 years of experience in capital markets and corporate communications, will advise MHP Group clients on financial and strategic communications starting January 2023.

He began his career with UBS Investment Bank in New York. Before specialising in financial PR he also worked in corporate governance for BlackRock and in the Conservative Party press office for the 2010 general election campaign. Prior to MHP Group, McFarlane was a partner at H/Advisers Maitland. His experience covers investor relations, public affairs, equity capital markets and transaction work.

His appointment follows several senior hires to the MHP Group capital markets team during the course of the year, with Eleni Menikou and Ollie Hoare as a director. The group said the new hires and promotions reflect the growth in its capital markets team under the leadership of Oliver Hughes, who has run the business since March 2018.

Hughes said: “James is an excellent addition to the team and will bring fresh perspectives and expertise to clients while adding complementary experience across financial services, industrials and consumer industries.

“It’s a testament to our clear momentum and increasingly strong reputation in the market that we continue to attract such talent.”

McFarlane said: “MHP has a fantastic reputation in the City and I was drawn in by the ambition and vision of the senior team. I’m excited at the prospect of working together to grow the business even further.”

The agency said MHP Capital Markets is now ranked as a top five adviser to the FTSE 250, top 10 to the FTSE 100 and number one adviser to the AIM 50 by the number of clients.

Welcome to MHP Group

Posted on: November 21st, 2022 by Morgan Arnold

Today, we have rebranded as MHP Group, the integrated communications consultancy for the Networked Age.

MHP Group is the home of three great brands: MHP, Mischief and our leadership consultancy Accord. They offer deep specialist expertise and come together seamlessly to deliver integrated thinking for clients with multiple audiences or complex challenges.

The Networked Age is a connected world, and a connected world demands integrated thinking. That is what MHP Group exists to deliver. We use behavioural science to develop better answers for our clients.

But as the stakes get higher for brands, and reputations become more precious and fragile, you need the best specialists on your side. Our individual teams now have greater freedom to invest in the best talent and ideas.

MHP Group also reflects the long-term vision we set out earlier this year. Our growth plans include building new specialisms and expanding internationally. MHP Group will eventually become the home to new brands and locations.

Our work ranges from promoting life-changing medical advances to defining clients’ brand purpose, developing cut-through campaigns and advising boards on existential issues. The MHP Group brand reflects our eclectic and diverse offer.

Alex Bigg
Chief Executive

MHP Group wins Large Consultancy of the Year

Posted on: November 16th, 2022 by Morgan Arnold

MHP Group was last night named Large Consultancy of the Year 2022 by the PRCA, the professional industry body for the communications sector.

In presenting the award, the judges praised MHP Group for its ‘passion, energy and direction’, its work to ‘give back, both to its people and the community’ and its ‘forward-thinking innovation, with the Polarisation Tracker, Purpose Pathfinder and Return on Influence’.

Media Network: Every picture needs to tell a story

Posted on: November 7th, 2022 by masteruser

By Keith Gladdis, former Daily Mail News Editor and Maddie Pay of Mischief

Greg Bennett has been the Deputy Picture Editor at the Daily Mail for more than ten years. Here he tells the MHP Mischief Media Network what he is looking for in a picture.

How important are photographs to the Daily Mail?

Pictures have always been a major part of any newspaper. Be it news, showbiz, sport or just funny animals – a good picture always pulls in the reader when they turn the page. It attracts them to the to the piece. The tragic murder victim, the expression of joy on a goal scorer: a good image will illustrate that moment in time.

What is it you are looking for in a good photograph?

A good picture will tell and capture the whole story in one image – its news value can be on page 1 or page 31. It can just be fun and make the reader simply just smile. It obviously varies, but if it ticks a certain box, it will get put in the paper.

What is the best way for a brand to pitch an image to you?

I’m old school and a bit old fashioned. The best way to pitch any idea is to call and speak on the phone. This could result in a professional working relationship that could last 25 years or a quick, “not for us, thanks”. But never be frightened to call. You do get very rude people, but it’s all about the person you DO get on the other end. And a basic, simple follow up email can go a long way.

What do Greg’s colleagues think?

Jo Aspill, the Deputy Picture Editor of the Daily Mirror said: “A good picture really depends on the subject matter. Basically, nothing too branded, nothing in bad taste and the pictures need to tell the story of what you are trying to get across.

Derek Momodu, the Associate Picture Editor at the Daily Mirror said: “A good picture story (if it is indeed picture-led) will run if the pictures are spectacular. In my experience, a good story (just words) will run if it’s strong enough. In fact, if so, it doesn’t really matter what kind of images are provided to complement it. The story on its own will drive interest – giving a chance against others around.

“Financial Services firms must do more to protect their customers”
By Ellie McGarahan

This week, MHP’s Financial Services team hosted a breakfast Q&A with Holly Mead, Deputy Money Editor at The Times and Dr. Michael Granleese, Deputy Managing Director at Ipsos Mori. Here’s what they had to say about what’s on the minds of consumers and business journalists in the wake of the cost-of-living crisis:

  • We are now at an interesting inflection point whereby the difficulties we have previously been warned about have become many people’s stark realities. Bills are rising, mortgage rates are on the up, food prices are increasing – and many are finding themselves unable to foot the bill. The extended political crisis of the summer’s leadership election and Liz Truss’s premiership has only accelerated these issues for many.
  • Inflation has become the nation’s biggest concern, with 54% citing it as the most important issue facing Britain today. The current cost-of-living crisis isn’t just one that impacts the lowest earners and financially disadvantaged, but also the middle classes.
  • The financial services industry has left much to be desired when it comes to helping consumers. Many institutions have a huge open goal to build trust and show that they do care about their customers, but many aren’t using it. When polled by Ipsos, nearly half (49%) of UK business journalists agreed that the banking sector could do more to support their customers through the cost-of-living crisis, with 47% of arguing that the banking sector should prioritise flexibility in order to do so.
  • Consumers have a long memory and will remember a bad – or good – experience far beyond the current crisis. It’s been a long time since reputation management has been this important for many financial services firms, and journalists will be keeping a close eye on those who are handling the crisis well and – more importantly – those who aren’t.

“You never know where the day will take you”, 30toWatch winner Steph Spyro joins the Lobby
By Keith Gladdis, former Daily Mail News Editor

Steph Spyro was an MHP Mischief 30toWatch Gold Winner this year for her work as Environment Editor of the Daily Express, and since then she’s been promoted to Political Correspondent. Here we ask Steph how her role has changed since moving to the Lobby.

How has your day changed?

Being in the Lobby is incredibly exciting! You never know where the day will take you. These last few weeks have been unlike any other. I remain the Express’s Environment Editor, and there has been no shortage of green news lately. But I’ve been able to write about a broader mix of topics lately, such as on pensions, economics, immigration and health. I’m also based at Westminster now, at the heart of Government.

What kind of stories is the Daily Express looking for? Who is its audience?

Our readers are curious and eagle-eyed! They’re interested in a range of topics – from politics to the environment. Stories on pensions, mortgages and healthcare are always popular.

The cost-of-living crisis has also put personal finance high on the paper’s agenda. The war in Ukraine and the upcoming winter means energy supply will also be a key focus for the paper in the coming weeks.

Are you still looking for stories on sustainability now you have changed role?

I remain the paper’s Environment Editor, meaning I’m always looking for green stories. I’m also heading to Sharm El-Sheikh for COP27 where I’ll be in charge of the Express’s coverage of the summit.

In the longer-term, I’ll be scrutinising the environment through a political lens, chatting with MPs and holding ministers to account.

How important are awards such as 30toWatch for young journalists?

I think they’re incredibly important for both journalists and PRs/comms teams. It’s a great indication of rising talent in the industry. Nominees from years ago have gone on to be at the top of their beat.

For journalists, the award is a great acknowledgement of the hard work that goes into finding stories and exposing truths to the public.

“I want to write about the sweet spot where media and politics meet”

James Warrington joined the Daily and Sunday Telegraph as a Business Reporter in September 2021 after working for City AM. He currently runs the Telegraph’s Business Live Blog but is now moving on to become the paper’s TMT (Telecoms, Media, Technology) Correspondent.

Here he explains to MHP’s Alan Tovey what he is looking for as he gets stuck into his new beat.

What are the big stories and trends you are interested in?

I’m most interested in the sweet spot where media and politics meet. The industry is undergoing massive, rapid change, which has resulted in some issues becoming deeply politicised (e.g. BBC licence fee, C4 privatisation). Other stories, such as the launch of GB News, bring politics and media inextricably together. These themes go beyond narrow business concerns and so are often the most engaging for readers.

Other interesting broad topics include consolidation in the telecoms sector, the argument over prominence between broadcasters and streaming companies, the fight to buy up music rights and the race for production space in the UK.

Who do see as your readers across print and online? Do they differ?

While online stories – particularly those in front of the paywall – are open to a broader audience, I don’t perceive a difference between our readers in print or online. We write for an affluent, older demographic and so the stories we’re looking for reflect that.

What have you learned from working on a breaking news live blog?

The live blog has given me a good working knowledge across a range of business sectors. Doing live reporting helps to develop skills in producing copy quickly and accurately, and staying calm under pressure – especially on particularly dramatic days.

Given it’s a very digitally-focussed role, it’s also helped me to understand which topics and stories are most relevant to our readers and to hone a range of editorial skills including headline writing.

What’s the best way for companies to pitch stories to you?

In the first instance, an email or phone call is best for pitches. Once I have a relationship with a company or PR, I prefer to chat informally over WhatsApp.

Sky News takes ‘Big Ideas Live’

Sky News is focusing on science and technology in its latest Big Ideas Live on 19th November. James Rollinson chatted to one of its organisers, News Editor Leila Hudson, about what you can expect from the event.

Who is Big Ideas Live aimed at?

The event is for anyone with an interest in science and technology, and how it could affect their future. We want to offer the public an opportunity to get up close to Sky’s journalists as well as expert guests to dissect the critical issues facing us today.

Will we all co-exist in the metaverse? Are robots going to have equal brain capacity to humans?Will we be travelling to space in the not-too-distant future? These are just some of the questions we’ll try to answer.

Guests will also be able to “enter the future” – artwork will be displayed in the metaverse and augmented reality and food will be 3D printed.

Which Sky journalists are taking part?

The event will be hosted by Tom Clarke, Sky News’ Science and Technology Editor, and Sky News presenter Sarah-Jane Mee, and will feature guest speakers from some of the biggest names in tech and science. Other reporters taking part include:

  • Thomas Moore, Science Correspondent
  • Rowland Manthorpe, Technology Correspondent
  • Deborah Haynes, Security & Defence Editor
  • Tom Cheshire, Data & Forensics Correspondent

Does the subject matter reflect the direction which Sky News’ tech/science coverage is moving?

The topics reflect the issues we are facing in the world today, from Elon Musk buying Twitter, to cyber warfare and the impact of the Ukraine-Russia crisis.

The event also reflects Sky News as whole. We put a lot of focus on the climate crisis as well as scientific research, and we’re world-leading in technology, with our recent introductions of Sky Glass and Sky Stream.

When and where is the event?

Big Ideas Live will take place 9.30am – 6pm on Saturday 19th November at Protein Studios, 31 New Inn Yard, Shoreditch, London, EC2A 3EY. Tickets can be purchased here.

30 To Watch Politics Awards 2022

Posted on: November 7th, 2022 by masteruser

For over 11 years, MHP has organised the 30 To Watch Journalism Awards. The event has grown in size and stature with every passing year and there is an absolutely stellar collection of the best and brightest active in British media today.

We hope that the 30 To Watch Politics Awards can do the same for young people at the start of their career in public policy and political communication. And if the fantastic calibre of entries we received this year is anything to go by, this is an achievement that will easily be met.

Politics hasn’t been pretty in recent months. Public confidence and trust in has ebbed away and economic and civic uncertainty in the future have been the consequence. The current governmental experience could cast a long shadow if we let it.

But up and down the Country, a new generation of thinkers, campaigners and communicators have been grappling with and finding solutions to a seemingly ever-lengthening list of seemingly intractable social, economic, and diplomatic challenges.

At a time of growing political polarisation and generational change, 30 To Watch Politics wants to celebrate the people in the early stages of their careers, who are already driving future change.

It’s fair to say our judging panel – made up of 11 leading figures from across the world of British politics – agonised over the list of award winners. They were looking for rising talent who developed innovative ideas, people whose work has had an impact in terms of public engagement and policy development, and people who have acted with integrity, making their case with compelling evidence and persuasive arguments.

We hear so often that politics doesn’t make a difference, that policy doesn’t matter. But the diverse, dynamic and committed list of entrants to this these first Awards proves, politics does matter.

Our future may be in safer hands than we think.

Here are our winners:

This year’s 30 To Watch

30 to watch award politics winners
Gold Winners

Inclusivity Champion of the Year: Becky Bainbridge – RECLAIM project

The Lobby Award for Best Young Political Journalist: Tony Diver – The Telegraph

Public Health Champion of the Year: Amika George – Freeperiods

Political Thinker of the Year: Adam Hawksbee – Onward

Campaigner of the Year: Abby Jitendra – Citizens Advice

Political Communicator of the Year: Charlotte John – Simple Politics

Elected Representative of the Year: Jack Sargeant – Senedd

Unifier of the Year: Leor Zmigrod – University of Cambridge


Niall Aslam – Activist

Jessica Barnard – Young Labour

Aveek Bhattacharya – SMF

Piers Birmingham – Politika

Tabitha Boyton – Res Publica Politics

Ben Cooper – Fabian Society

Kay Davidson – British Youth Council

Oli Dugmore – JOE Media

Antonio Ferreira – Beyond

Sharon Gaffka – Campaigner

George Holt – Young Conservative Network

Tom Home – blOKes Life

Miriam Juan-Torres Gonzalez – Othering & Belonging Institute & More in Common

Kerrie Portman – Just For Kids Law, North Herts Pride and Freelance

Daisie Rees-Evans – The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB)

Emma Roddick – Scottish Parliament

Rosa Slater – The Politics Project

Chris Thomas – Institute for Public Policy Research

Peter Turay – Labour in Communications

Kwajo Tweneboa – Social Housing

Rustam Wahab – UK Fact Check Politics

Tom Westgarth – Tony Blair Institute for Global Change

The Judges

MHP Mischief’s 30 To Watch Politics Awards are judged leading figures from across the world of British politics:

  • Sir Peter Bottomley MP – Father of the House
  • Nusrat Ghani MP – Former Minister and 1922 Committee Vice Chair
  • Jo Swinson – Former Leader of the Liberal Democrats
  • James Kirkup – Director, the Social Market Foundation
  • Dr Lee De-Wit – Head of The Political Psychology Lab, Cambridge University
  • Caroline Wheeler – Political Editor, The Sunday Times
  • Roger Perowne – CEO, Savanta Comres
  • Nick Thomas-Symonds MP – Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade
  • Sonia Sodha – Observer columnist & chief leader writer
  • Robert Ede – Head of Health and Social Care, Policy Exchange
  • Alison Goldsworthy – President of Accord and Depolarisation Project Founder

Get in touch

If you have any questions about MHP Mischief’s 30 To Watch Young Journalist Awards please email [email protected].

James Gurling, Executive Chair, Public Affairs