Archive for February, 2023

Turning supporters into advocates on Rare Disease Day

Posted on: February 28th, 2023 by Morgan Arnold

What’s in a name?

The irony of the moniker, Rare Disease, to describe a collection of diseases affecting, statistically, 5 people in every rush hour underground carriage, is now well understood. By drawing on the collective impact of Rare Disease day, the awareness platform has supported the patient and clinical community by shining a light on a group of conditions that may fly under the radar.

However, research by MHP Group and our partners, the Behavioural Science consultancy, Influence at Work, shows that ‘Identity’ is one of the primary drivers of positive and public advocacy. A campaign’s ability to connect with people on a personal and individual level and for them to say ‘this reflects my values and who I am’, is a critical success factor in engagement. This might mean, for some, the brand ‘Rare Disease’ is one step removed from the specific condition they or their loved ones live with, masking a degree of the personal connection and lived experience. The balance between collective strength and individual impact is one to manage.

Identity was just one trigger identified in our research, which comprised of quantitative polling among 5309 members of the general public and 1701 people with long-term conditions, working with our partners, Savanta.

Triggers and barriers to campaign advocacy

Behavioural science tells us that as the world grows more polarised, we listen more to “people like us” and less to anyone else. More and more of what we see and hear is shaped by what people in our networks say and share. Moreover, ‘health’ does not operate in a vacuum. While people like us working in the industry consider the conditions we advocate for deserving of all necessary attention; in the real world, health is seen as a topic alongside other societal campaigns, including homelessness, climate change, gender- and race-based rights. This means, we have to work even harder to cut through, to effectively engage and make the change we are seeking.

The result is that advocates can inspire action faster and more effectively by engaging the people their audiences listen to, who will in turn then engage their own tribes. This is the domino effect we call The Network Effect.

Including identity, there are ten key factors recognised that determine whether someone is likely to advocate for a cause or campaign. These drivers and barriers provide insight on the messaging, content and campaign approach that might most effectively inspire people to take an action on rare diseases.

The five drivers of advocacy

  1. Loyalty – “This matters to me”. When audiences feel a personal loyalty to an issue or cause, they are likely to be motivated by messaging that focusses on the impact their action will have. For example, messaging like “Together, we can speed up diagnosis” or “With your help, we can find a cure”
  2. Connections – “I support the people behind this”. Including a personal appeal in your messaging is likely to help motivate someone to want to advance your cause. For example, “As the parent of a child with a rare disease…” or “As a doctor working in the field of rare diseases…”
  3. Obligation – “I owe them”. Celebrating your track record may help inspire action by creating a feeling of obligation to your cause or campaign. For example: “For 40 years, we have supported people living with rare diseases…”
  4. Reward – “It’s good for me to do this”. To generate a sense of reward for your advocates, paint them an emotional picture of the impact their support will have. For example, “You can give a child a future…”
  5. Identity – “This reflects who I am”. We know that people support campaigns that validate their identity and make them feel good about themselves. Demonstrating that other people them support you will reinforce their sense of self and also create a powerful social norm. For example, “Join the thousands of people who have signed our pledge…”

The five barriers to advocacy

  1. Intention – “I don’t care enough”. As many people will have no lived experience of rare diseases, it may be challenging to motivate them to act. This can be overcome by linking the campaign to something bigger or by making the issue more relatable. For example: “1 in 17 people have a rare disease” or “This is about more than just rare diseases, it’s about the future of the health system”
  2. Follow-through – “It’s a low priority”. If the issue does not feel urgent, potential supporters may not be included to take action. Making the action time-bound can help generate a sense of urgency. For example: “We are on the edge of a breakthrough…”
  3. Impact – “It won’t change anything”. Show your supporters how their action will help you achieve your goal. For example: “If we reach 100,000 signatures, we will…”
  4. Backlash – “People will judge me”. If stigma prevents people taking action to support a cause or campaign, consider creating content that will support them to have private conversations. For example, “Download our guide on talking your parents about rare diseases”
  5. Distrust – “I don’t trust them”. We know that industry is less trusted than the clinical or advocacy community, so collaborations can help build momentum behind industry-supported campaigns. For example, “We’ll teamed up with…”

As we reflect on this year’s Rare Disease Day, we can see just how far the cause has come in driving awareness and action for the millions of people who live with rare conditions worldwide. Like any health-related campaign however, the movement is up against fierce competition from other cause-related movements, all vying for attention, money and time. By pausing to consider the learnings from the Network Effect, the community – and its broader supporter base, including the Health team at MHP Group, can learn how to ensure continued success and impact for many more years to come.

Political Insider: The Windsor Framework

Posted on: February 28th, 2023 by Morgan Arnold

The Merry Dealmakers of Windsor

The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the President of the EU Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, struck a joyful tone when unveiling the details of the Windsor Framework. Sunak hailed a “new chapter” in UK-EU relations, while Von der Leyen even referred to her counterpart as “dear Rishi”. Their hope is that the deal will end years of stalemate and smooth trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

What is in the deal?

  • A green lane for those sending goods to Northern Ireland from the UK, while those exporting onwards will go through a red lane with full EU customs clearance in Northern Irish ports
  • In a change from the existing Protocol, UK VAT and excise changes will apply in Northern Ireland
  • Drugs approved by the UK regulator will be available in Northern Ireland
  • A new emergency brake for the Northern Ireland Assembly which can be pulled in exceptional circumstances to opt Northern Ireland out of future single market legislation. This will require 30 of the 90 members from at least two parties in the Assembly to vote for this and will then be subject to further discission at an EU-UK level. This has been described as the “Stormont Brake”
  • The EU has said that should the deal be implemented, the UK will be able to re-enter the Horizon science programme
  • The UK Government has abandoned the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, introduced by Boris Johnson to unilaterally scrap it. In turn, the EU has dropped corresponding legal action against the UK

Are people happy?

Sunak gave a confident performance in the House of Commons and he will hope this is the reset his leadership needed. None of the usually loud Eurosceptic voices on the backbenches came out and denounced the deal, though many are unlikely to have had the chance to scrutinise it in full detail. The ominous silence from Boris Johnson, who has just seen his “oven ready Brexit deal” junked in the most public way, will be worth watching. Labour were true to their word in saying that they would support the deal the Government got. On the outside, many have praised the skill of the UK negotiating team for having got the EU to move on some of its crucial red lines.

Is Brexit finally done then?

Not quite. The Democratic Unionist Party are still reading through the document and, having been stung by the devil hiding amidst the detail of previous UK-EU deals, will be going through it with a fine toothcomb. One problem appears to have emerged early on – how the so-called “Stormont Brake” will work. Ian Paisley, the party’s MP for North Antrim, has said that in his view the European Court of Justice will remain the final arbiter and it is therefore not really a veto at all.

It is worth noting however that Paisley is prone to the odd solo run and that his party leader, Jeffrey Donaldson, has been cautious in his response so far. Ultimately, the success of the deal hinges on the DUP feeling confident enough that they can resume power-sharing in Northern Ireland. Elsewhere, there are quibbles starting to emerge about how much bureaucracy has actually been cut back by the Framework, though it is worth noting the major business organisations in Northern Ireland are broadly happy.  Former DUP leader at Westminster Nigel Dodds has also pointed out that the Government appear to have oversold how much the deal will allow Northern Ireland to benefit from UK state aid decisions.

What happens next?

The various parties involved will be given time to chew through the document. While a vote in the House of Commons is not scheduled to take place imminently, the real focus is on events in Belfast. Sunak, who is in Northern Ireland today to sell the deal, will be hoping that he has done enough, though hardliners in unionism will hold the DUP’s feet to the fire in the coming days.

Could this be a turning point for Rishi Sunak?

Sunak will feel pleased that his more constructive approach to negotiating compared with that of previous UK Governments has led somewhere. Mass ministerial resignations have not materialised and for the moment, the ERG are on side. Movement on the Protocol should in theory allow for movement on other shared areas of interest with the EU, such the small boats crisis. If this starts a sequence of policy wins, then he and others around him may feel that the electoral tide may yet shift. However, with the DUP as yet undecided, the tentatively positive mood of today could quickly turn dark.

Andrew has written an opinion piece for The Spectator’s Coffee House considering how unionist politicians will respond in the coming days which can be read here

MHP Group launches Wave 5 of the Polarisation Tracker

Posted on: February 24th, 2023 by MHP Group

Wave 5 of the MHP Group Polarisation Tracker, produced in partnership with Cambridge University Political Psychology Lab, is now available.

In Wave 4 of the Tracker, published in summer 2022, we found a strong correlation between a belief that the economy is performing poorly and hostility towards elites. If your fortunes are worsening, you are more likely to believe that the ‘people in charge’ are aloof, conspiratorial and actively hostile to your interests.

Since then, the economy has worsened and across the board people we surveyed are now more pessimistic about their own, future generations and our collective prospects.

So what effect has that had about how the British public now feel about elites?

The public are suspicious: Three quarters of voters believe ‘people in power often work together to frustrate the will of the people,’ while two thirds believe ‘mainstream media aren’t really independent, they work together to push the elite’s political agenda.’

This populist critique straddles the political divide and presents major challenges to businesses, media brands and other institutions. It also creates a vacuum unscrupulous political actors could step into. At a time when we are already divided this is a vulnerability that we have a responsibility to address

Elsewhere, the data uncovers a deep sense of misgiving and pessimism about the road ahead. Divisions persist between groups, but there are points of unity, and in general the public is united in despair. The cost of living crisis resonates through our entire findings – 85% of respondents told us they were experiencing financial difficulties. A rise from our previous tracker.

Everyone agrees things look and feel bleak. There is a widespread belief that future generations will have it harder than ones before and that Britain is headed in the wrong direction as a country. When people think the system is rigged against them – even if it isn’t – hostility and support for civil disobedience can rise.

So this time, we conducted questions to test how people would feel if tensions continued to escalate. Would people have sympathy for striking workers, for those who refused to pay bills they could not afford, if people took part in unlawful protest? Whilst theory suggests economic hardship will divide we uncovered a more generous picture – at least for now.

Using a vignette based on a story in Panorama, we found a high degree of sympathy for those who were struggling so refused to pay their bills or taxes. This means the momentum behind the ‘do not pay’ movement may continue to gather pace, and support. The Government may find it increasingly difficult to deliver on its agenda. Unprepared businesses could find themselves caught in the crossfire.

In previous waves, voters have told us they are broadly unimpressed by businesses speaking out about political issues, and the hostility towards brand activism (especially related to identity politics) has grown since Wave 4.

With recession looming, however, there is one field where brand activism is much more welcome: Economic policy. We found widespread support for the outspoken criticism senior executives from the British Chamber of Commerce and Evercore made  on the economic instability during Liz Truss tenure as Prime Minister. We found widespread support.

There was support too, for brands that satirised Truss’ performance and seven week long Prime Ministership.

Underneath these findings remains a cause for real concern. Animosity between different groups in the UK remains high and increased. While our polling offers glimmers of hope that sympathy can cross divides, the environment we are operating remains one where tensions are likely to increase further.

As in the previous waves of this research we have worked with Lee de Wit and David Young at Cambridge University’s Political Psychology Lab. Their insight and analysis has strengthened both this research and the clarity of its implications.

All is far from lost but the signs are ominous, and their implications for leaders complex, challenging and unignorable.

Download Wave 5 of the Polarisation Tracker.

Mischief Boosts Senior Team With Three New Hires

Posted on: February 20th, 2023 by Morgan Arnold

The appointments announced today take the Mischief management team to nine and are part of managing director Charlotte Brooks’ “transformation strategy for the brand” as she “builds on Mischief’s disruptive heritage to develop fully integrated creative capabilities”.

Dan Deeks-Osburn is joining from Freuds, where he was strategy director. As Mischief’s strategy and insights lead, he will be responsible for “driving forward insight-driven creative work rooted in culture” and “be instrumental in supporting Mischief’s ever-growing integrated cross-channel offering”.

Dan will lead the strategic direction of some of Mischief’s flagship accounts, including LEGO Group, LV= and Just Eat, and will start in his new role next month.

Josie Whittle has left Weber Shandwick, where she worked her way up from assistant account executive to director over more than a decade, to join Mischief as a senior director.

She starts in her new role this month and will oversee some of the agency’s biggest accounts, such as Seven Dials, E.ON and Ocado. Whittle will also be responsible for delivering multi-market campaigns across EMEA and North America.

Vish Rana returns to Mischief in an associate director role after 18 months at Taylor Herring, where he was a senior account director. Vish previously spent more than three years at Mischief, where he was an account director, before leaving in 2021.

He starts back at the agency next month and will specialise in culture and entertainment, leading on projects such as the Three Live Nation sponsorship and ECB’s The Hundred.

Commenting on the appointments, Charlotte said: “We are thrilled to have Dan, Josie and Vish joining the Mischief management team. We’ve had some brilliant recent wins, including the likes of Jack Link’s, Petplan, JD Williams and ITV, and we’ve seen rapid organic growth across our existing client base as we expand our influencer and performance capabilities.”

She added: “By bolstering our specialist skill set, we hope to build upon this success and achieve our ambitious plans for the year ahead – particularly when it comes to growth, agency culture and the expansion of our integrated offer.”

Launching the new Media Network Podcast

Posted on: February 20th, 2023 by Alexandra Stamp

We are excited to announce the launch of the Media Network Podcast.

Each episode, we’ll talk with high profile journalists and editors from across the media landscape, diving into the key topics and themes from across the newsrooms of the UK.

In our first episode, we are joined by Becky Barrow, News Editor at The Sunday Times, and Anthony France, Senior News Correspondent at The Evening Standard.

You can watch the full video below, or listen along on Spotify:




The Creative Shootout and The Very Creative Caterpillars

Posted on: February 16th, 2023 by Charmaine

Take a second to think about the most terrifying thing you’ve ever done. Now multiply that by 100… that pretty much sums up the experience some of the Mischief team (Lewis Durkin, Joe Colquhoun, Annie Knight and myself) went through recently… and it was AWESOME. 

The Creative Shootout has grown to become one of the creative industry’s most anticipated annual moments and rightly so. Those who have taken part have war stories and tales of comradery to share, while those who have observed, pour with admiration. 

So what is it? 

It’s a competition that invites teams of four from across the creative world, everything from PR, advertising, social and everything in between, to compete in a Dragon’s Den style pitch in front of a live audience. The clincher? From the point they’re given the brief (for a charity) they have just four hours to come up with the campaign before being required to present it to the room of approximately 200 people which includes judges and industry peers. Winner takes all, and by all I mean they win the opportunity to execute the campaign for the partner charity, this year FoodCycle – and win £10k. 

Before even getting to this stage, teams need to ‘enter’ by answering a mini brief. This whittles the competition down to a mere nine teams for the big day. This year’s entry brief was to create an engaging piece of content of no longer than 60 seconds. Given FoodCycle is about tackling food waste, poverty and loneliness, we honed in on loneliness and created a powerful piece of content urging them to let us help break the ‘cycle’ of loneliness. It involved a guest appearance by a lovely – but lonely – elderly man, Keith. You can see it here. 

We thought it was a cracking piece of content and so did the judges because we made it through to the live final…a feat in itself!

The campaign

The brief for the final was to come up with a campaign that would create awareness for FoodCycle and differentiate it from a ‘foodbank’. For those who aren’t aware, FoodCycle takes leftover food from supermarkets and creates these into three course community dining meals for locals to attend. And anyone is invited, whether you’re in need of a hot meal, company, both or neither (there’s no judgement!) Ergo, like a foodbank it tackles food waste and poverty, but loneliness is what sets it apart. We decided our path to success was to come up with a campaign that showed how being ‘nourished’ is about more than the food you eat, but the company you eat it with. 

To deliver this message in a simple way that people of all ages could associate with, we leveraged a cultural touchpoint that’s relevant for people of all ages and backgrounds – The Very Hungry Caterpillar. For those who need a refresher, the Very Hungry Caterpillar ate and ate and ate until he finally felt full – prompting his transformation into a butterfly. 

Our idea was to ‘remaster’ this to show how food on its own was not enough. In our proposed version, called ‘The Very Lonely Caterpillar’ even though he ate and ate and ate to the point of feeling full, he still wasn’t nourished enough to make his transformation into the butterfly. He was still missing something. Enter, ‘The Social Butterfly’ a FoodCycle volunteer to inform him that it was the vital social connection that he was missing. Our Very Lonely Caterpillar went on to attend a FoodCycle meal where he took part in the community dining experience and voila(!) he finally felt nourished enough to transform into a ‘social butterfly’ himself, which, poetically, saw him become a FoodCycle volunteer too.  

Cue applause. 

We loved it, and so did the room. In fact, we were one of only three teams on the evening to receive more ‘green lights’ than reds in the live audience scoring. 

The competition was fierce and in the end we were awarded an admirable third place (we’d like to thank our parents, friends and fourth form English teachers for helping us get there… etc etc) 

In all seriousness, we’re super proud of this result. We beat out approximately 60 other teams to even GET to the live final, and to finish in the top three is a career highlight for all of us.  

Kudos to all those who took part, it was quite the ride! We’ll hopefully be back to give it another stab in the live final in 2024, until then, may you all transform into the butterflies you want to be.

‘Ordinary’ investors aren’t ordinary – ignore them at your peril

Posted on: February 16th, 2023 by Charlie Barker

Is the plight of the ordinary – “retail” – investor finally about to change?

While Joe Public has always been able to buy shares in listed companies, they are rarely able to get in on the action when these same PLCs raise funds by placing new shares.

Why does this matter? Because by only involving institutional or professional investors, retail punters are denied the opportunity to buy new shares at prices that are usually discounted, while their existing stakes are being diluted by the same transaction.

We know from feedback that they find this infuriating, with corporates often berated about such lack of access at AGMs and on bulletin boards.

The situation isn’t much better with new companies coming to market either. Barely one in 10 of the initial public offerings (IPOs) in the UK since October 2020 gave retail investors the opportunity to buy shares.

There are recent signs of progress, however.

Last summer we heard helpful words from a Government-backed paper to encourage change, with the UK Secondary Capital Raising Review recommending that companies give “due consideration” to the inclusion of retail investors in all capital raisings.

And now we are seeing action, as the pre-eminent technology platforms that enable retail participation in capital market transactions gain backing from the network of dealmakers and retail money managers needed to make those recommendations a reality.

Just earlier this month investment bank Peel Hunt announced a far-reaching collaboration with other key City firms that will help open up fundraisings to the public. The bank has secured the backing of Jefferies, Numis and Rothschild & Co for the relaunch of its REX retail access platform as a new, independent entity called RetailBook. The partners will promote RetailBook in return for the chance to take up a stake in the platform.

The UK’s largest savings and investment platform, Hargreaves Lansdown, also has the opportunity to become a shareholder in RetailBook. It has agreed to exclusively use the platform to give its 1.7million customers the ability to participate in follow-on share offerings until June 2023. The partnership is a key innovation as part of efforts to offer a “market leading service to clients and ensure that retail investors get access to opportunities”, the company said yesterday.

RetailBook’s arrival is the most significant move in an accelerating trend that recognises both the financial firepower retail investors have, as well as the value of ‘ordinary’ investors taking stakes in companies as they grow.

Last month, London Stock Exchange-backed technology platform PrimaryBid announced a tie-up with market maker Winterflood to offer stockbrokers and wealth managers a way to enable their retail investor clients to get involved in fundraisings.

With so many key players in UK capital markets coming together so retail investors can access transactions previously shut off to them, momentum is clearly building. And with it, there’s growing recognition of the value to corporates of tapping the £1trillion of capital that ‘ordinary’ investors control.

So if companies were once asking whether they need to worry about communicating with ordinary investors, the question now, more than ever, should be: what is our retail investor engagement strategy?

Whether it’s having a greater say in AGM voting, or providing additional capital for the next fundraise, the retail investor increasingly cannot be ignored.

Charlie Barker is an IPO specialist in MHP’s Capital Markets team, experienced in advising listed and private companies on their communications with investors and other key stakeholders around complex issues, including fundraisings.

Political Insider: Sturgeon resigns: where does Scotland go from here?

Posted on: February 15th, 2023 by Morgan Arnold

What’s happened?

The end of an era in Scottish and British politics. Nicola Sturgeon has announced that she is to stand down as First Minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish National Party. Under her, the party has become the immovable object at the heart of Scottish political life. Yet, for all that electoral success and the personal recognition which came with it, Sturgeon failed to shift the dial on the fundamental objective of separating Scotland from the rest of the UK.

Why has it happened?

Sturgeon herself said her resignation was not a reaction to “short-term” issues and rationalised her decision in terms similar to those offered by Jacinda Arden following her departure as Prime Minister of New Zealand. But what is really at play?

Referendum ructions

There have been rumblings over recent months that the end game had started for Sturgeon but many within the nationalist movement will be shocked by the speed of events. The Supreme Court ruling towards the end of 2022 that the Scottish Parliament could not hold a unilateral referendum on independence ignited unparalleled dissent in recent SNP history, with MPs and MSPs railing against Sturgeon’s plan to treat the next general election as a de facto referendum. Acknowledging this, Sturgeon has said the SNP will be “free” to decide a new course at its special conference on its independence strategy in March.

Discontent at Westminster

The ousting of her close associate Ian Blackford from his role as SNP Leader at Westminster and the subsequent election of Stephen Flynn – the Aberdeen MP who is reported to have described Sturgeon’s position on North Sea oil as “crazy” – was a sign that her previous iron grip was loosening.

Grim polling

Recent polling will have worried Sturgeon and her tight-knit group of advisers. Research by Lord Ashcroft for the Scottish political journal Holyrood found half of SNP voters believed Sturgeon’s plan to treat the next general election as a de facto independence referendum was not credible and also found that the unionist side had a 12-point lead on the question of independence. Her former mentor and now erstwhile foe, Alex Salmond, has reacted to her departure by saying that squandering the impetus towards independence will be her legacy.

Not so Bonnie Scotland

While internal SNP machinations over the road to independence are the underlying factor, the end of the Sturgeon era has been hastened by what some will view as a wider malaise in Scottish public life. A faltering health service, spiralling drugs deaths, the diminishment of Scottish education and failures in public procurement – such as the botched attempt to replace the ferries serving Scotland’s islands which has cost the Scottish tax payer £500m – are emblematic examples her opponents will point to.

Rishi Sunak is not the only politician facing allegations of presiding over a culture of sleaze. The SNP’s finances are under investigation and Sturgeon’s husband, the SNP Chief Executive Peter Murrell, is at the centre of the issue. With the SNP keen to create the impression that it is somehow more moral and just than Westminster, this and the legacy of the Alex Salmond court case and various other scandals have diminished that carefully constructed narrative.

However, the fallout from the Scottish Government’s gender recognition reforms have proven particularly toxic; footage of Sturgeon stumbling over her words when asked whether a convicted double rapist, who had transitioned after the crimes were committed, was a man or a woman was excruciating viewing. For many, the whole issue of gender reform has shown fundamental faults with the way the Scottish Government develops and delivers policy.

Despite this, Sturgeon said she remained confident that Scotland was on the cusp of independence. It will be up to her replacement to prove that point.

 Who replaces her?

The timings of the leadership election are a matter for the SNP’s National Executive Committee, with those details to be set out in the next few days. In her resignation statement, Sturgeon did suggest that a less polarising figure than her may be best placed to deliver independence; the slight issue in that diagnosis is that there is no candidate of similar stature readymade to fill those shoes and, like it or not, the constitution will be inherently divisive regardless of the players involved.

A consequence of Sturgeon’s style of politics – a top-down approach to devising policy and her being front and centre of seemingly all SNP and Scottish Government communications – means that very few of her ministers have any meaningful public profile.

The early front runner appears to be Kate Forbes, the 32 year old Finance Secretary who has said she is refreshed and ready to go after maternity leave. Subject of some sympathetic profiles in the press recently, her candidacy may be hobbled by her strongly held Presbyterian beliefs which run counter to a membership which is largely more liberal on issues such as abortion and transgender rights. Where she sits on the latter issue in particular, will be crucial.

Angus Robertson, the party’s former Westminster leader and now an MSP, has never been short in coming forward and will likely enter the contest. Humza Yousaf, viewed by many as a potential successor a few years ago is now regarded as somewhat gaffe prone having underperformed across various portfolios including Health, Transport and Justice.

Sturgeon said the election contest will allow the Scottish public to see the “array of talent” on offer in the SNP. With 69% of participants in a poll at the weekend for the Sunday Times plumping for “don’t know” when asked who should replace Sturgeon, that talent does not seem immediately obvious. Fundamentally, whichever has the most compelling offer on how to get independence will win the day.

What next?

What are the immediate issues arising from today’s shock development?

New SNP Strategy

Whoever wins will have two clear long-term challenges. Emerge from Sturgeon’s shadow and somehow chart a plausible way of convincing the UK Government to allow a referendum, which Sturgeon found akin to pushing water uphill. For a party which has under both Salmond and Sturgeon presented a united front, a competitive elections process will have the unfortunate consequence of airing years of built up grievance in public.

In the short-term, they will need to urgently solve the Gordian knot of the gender reform issue; this is as essential as agreeing on a path to independence. To persist with a demonstrably controversial and ill-thought out policy will continue to prove repellent to middle Scotland and many nationalists. Its potential to do serious electoral damage cannot be underplayed.

Sturgeon spoke about the need to have a more rational and dispassionate discourse in Scotland. Sturgeon herself used phrases like “democracy deniers” to describe unionist politicians and said in an interview she “detests Conservatives”. A more measured approach from her successor would help achieve that. For the Conservatives in Scotland, they have in effect lost their most effective recruiting sergeant. No.10 will be hoping for a leader who pursues a more conciliatory tone.

Building bridges with business

The new First Minister will have to reset the Scottish Government’s relationship with business. Many movers and shakers in Edinburgh and Glasgow feel as though policy is made in a vacuum and that Sturgeon took no heed of the realities of corporate life; the botched implementation of a new deposit return scheme and planned restrictions on alcohol advertising are the latest battle grounds. Many feel that come the next Holyrood election, the SNP should junk their current working arrangement with the Scottish Greens who are viewed as forcing the party to tack to the left on too many issues.

Can Labour win back Scotland?

Today is a big opportunity for Keir Starmer. Scotland is essential to Labour’s prospects and their analysis is Sturgeon’s persona wedded many of their former voters to the SNP. Her departure from the stage has been described by Scottish Labour stalwart Jim Murphy as a “very significant moment in the election of a majority Labour government”. Until now, the Starmer bounce has been somewhat more tentative in Scotland and Labour’s offer to the Scottish electorate remains vague – unkind observers have described it as SNP-lite, especially since Labour have been broadly supportive of the SNP on the question of gender reform. Some thought on what a progressive, unionist agenda means in Scotland is needed.

41 days, 11 shortlists and one great team

Posted on: February 15th, 2023 by Morgan Arnold

The three awarding bodies all commend different achievements, and we are thrilled to see the diverse range of work from across the company being celebrated.

The Sabre Awards

The SABRE Awards, hosted by PRovoke Media, recognise campaigns and agencies that demonstrate the highest levels of strategic planning, creativity and business results, with work spanning North America, EMEA, Asia-Pacific, South Asia, Africa and Latin America.

We were shortlisted in two categories; the Executive Communications category, for our campaign ‘Hybrid is Here’ with workspace provider IWG, and in the Energy and Natural Resources category, for ‘Green Means Go’for our work with the country’s largest electricity supplier, E.ON.

The PRCA City and Financial Awards

MHP’s Capital markets team were shortlisted in two categories in The PRCA City and Financial Awards, an award which recognises the talent and impact of individuals, teams and campaigns from the best of the City and Financial PR and communications industries.

For our work with Ultra Electronics, we were shortlisted for Best M&A or Communications in Support of a Transaction Award, whilst the team, who are also one of the UK’s leading financial communications firms, werealso shortlisted in the Best City Agency category.

The PRWeek UK Corporate, City & Public Affairs Awards

The PRWeek UK Corporate, City & Public Affairs Awards are an opportunity to showcase and celebrate the best campaigns, projects, agencies, in-house teams and individuals across corporate communications, financial PR, and public affairs. We are proud to have been shortlisted across 7 categories in the 2022 awards, including two awards for individuals within the team and for Best Integrated Agency for Corporate and Public Affairs. The shortlist includes:

  • Best agency for corporate and/or financial comms
  • Best handling of a merger or acquisition deal for our work with Ultra Electronics Group
  • Best integrated agency for corporate and public affair
  • Best use of media relations in a campaign, for our work with IWG plc
  • Best use of media relations in a campaign, for our work with E.ON
  • Corporate and/or financial comms professional of the year (agency) – Oliver Hughes
  • Corporate and/or financial comms professional of the year (agency) – Rachel Bower

A huge congratulations to the whole team at MHP, and congratulations to all those nominated, we are looking forward to celebrating with everyone across the various ceremonies.

If you would like to learn more about MHP Group and our services, please get in touch with our team.

Mario Creatura joins MHP Group’s public affairs practice

Posted on: February 9th, 2023 by Morgan Arnold

Mario Creatura was the first Downing Street special adviser appointed to oversee digital communication, serving under Prime Minister Theresa May between 2017 and 2019. During his time at Downing Street, he was responsible for May’s digital comms strategy and developed the cross-government digital campaigns operation with the Cabinet Office.

He has joined us from Dentons Global Advisors, where he led a digital unit supporting clients including the John Lewis Partnership, Budweiser and Lockheed Martin. His work on our digital advocacy will benefit clients across the business.

Creatura reports to Tim Snowball, the former head of FleishmanHillard’s UK public affairs practice, who joined the MHP Group as head of public affairs last month.

Snowball said: “Mario is a proven pioneer of digital communications in the political arena and I am delighted to bring in his capabilities to further develop our campaigning approach to public affairs. Public affairs is evolving as a discipline and digital advocacy is increasingly a mainstream element of our work for clients.”

In 2015 Creatura became public affairs manager at Heineken UK, leaving after two years to become a special adviser to May. After unsuccessfully standing as the Conservative candidate for Croydon Central in the 2019 general election, Creatura became head of strategic and digital comms at Virgin Money. In 2021 he was appointed associate partner and head of digital public affairs at Dentons Global Advisors.

Creatura said: “Organisational reputations can truly be forged in the online arena. Understanding how to wield it to inspire key stakeholders, shape the digital debate and advocate for causes that matter is something that I’ve always found fascinating.”

He added: “The talented team at MHP share that passion – which is why I’m delighted to be helping our clients to modernise and develop their campaigning, which increasingly needs a digital dimension to be impactful.”