Archive for June, 2023

Advocacy is All Year, Not Just in June

Posted on: June 29th, 2023 by Morgan Arnold

Pride Month should be a month to celebrate what you have done for the community and hold up a mirror to reflect on what can be changed across the other 11 months of the year. It is an opportunity to celebrate LGBTQ+ communities and their impact on society. For decades people from these communities have blazed a trail in improving healthcare systems, from shaping the response to the HIV epidemic to fostering inclusive cancer care.

In an age where people increasingly only listen to or trust people like them, knowing how to engage with the community will help brands and campaigns to achieve cut-through. Over Pride Month MHP conducted a series of interviews with individuals working in LGBTQ+ healthcare; we present four key takeaways on organising health campaigns centred around LGBTQ+ people. Applying these principles will give your campaign longevity and cut-through ensuring you are engaging in impactful advocacy for the remaining 11 months of the year:

  • Authenticity

The community has a strong shared identity, formed from years of campaigning for equal rights and building a movement for change when many policymakers wouldn’t listen. Campaigns should aim to put LGBTQ+ people front and centre in leading and visible roles, whilst sharing positive stories from employees and audiences.

The community is naturally distrustful of companies paying lip service to diversity as a way to profit off of them or improve their image. Activists prefer to work with authentic allies, and will research a brand first before doing work with them; however, they are also keen to work with companies with a genuine commitment to improve their allyship and advocacy.

  • Understand your audience and make sure your message is landing

The LGBTQ+ community is not a homogenous bloc. Each age bracket has varying percentages of people who identify as LGBTQ+. For example, 91% of baby boomers say they are ‘straight’, only 71% of Gen Z do. Once other demographic factors have been taken into account shape a bespoke message based on the targeted audience with which you wish to engage. However, understanding your audience is just the start of the process. Community engagement should be end-to-end, from campaign development to launch (and beyond). For example, Invisible Women, demonstrates the problems that crop up when women and their needs are not thought about during service implementation or campaign design, and can be extended to other underserved groups. A lack of data collected on LGBTQ+ people came up in many of our conversations as a reason for campaigns failing to make an impact.

  • Understanding where to find your audience

LGBTQ+ people experience significant barriers in accessing healthcare, with many distrustful of healthcare settings due to experiencing discrimination or having their concerns dismissed. Clinics are known to heighten anxiety in some people – so where clinically possible seek out alternatives, such as LGBTQ+ bars, cafes, internet fora and social media. A good example is ‘Best for my Chest’ who met with people in non-clinical settings and used this as a way to distribute information on breast cancer. A feedback loop enabled the North East London Cancer Alliance to tailor their services to improve outcomes for LGBTQ+ patients.

  • Messaging

The community will engage with the messaging of a campaign if it’s in accessible and inclusive language. Avoid communicating in a jargon-heavy way, which may alienate some people. Crucially, ensure that you are using terminology that respects gender identity and avoids stigmatising your audience. A good example is how the HIV advocacy community has pioneered “people-first” language that aims to portray the population it describes in a non-judgemental way and centre the person rather than the condition in communications.

Knowing how to engage with LGBTQ+ audiences is necessary because they are a marginalised group that at times falls through the cracks in healthcare. Pride Month is always an occasion to foreground issues facing these groups but the struggle for visibility and representation is persistent. Look out for more from MHP on this subject in the coming months about how healthcare services and campaigns can be developed with these communities front and centre.

Cannes Lions 2023: What We Learnt So You Don’t Have To

Posted on: June 27th, 2023 by Morgan Arnold

With rosé headaches now hopefully subsided (whether you made it to the South of France or not), Mischief has been reflecting on what this year’s festival tells us about developing work that really captures the attention of consumers. 

And to avoid you having to do the hard work too, we’ve pulled out 5 trends we think are important to consider if your goal is to create a truly unforgettable piece of work.

  1. It’s Okay to Have Fun:

In recent years, purpose-led campaigns have taken centre stage at the festival, but in Cannes 2023, thankfully, fun made a resounding comeback. From Budweiser’s ‘Bring Home the Bud’, a brilliant pivot after alcohol was banned within stadiums at Qatar 2022’s, to Vow’s ‘The Mammoth Meatball’ a dramatisation of lab-grown meat, this year’s entrants embraced the power of laughter and levity.

And don’t just take our word for it – scientific studies have shown that humour can actually help enhance brand recall so there’s no need to get stage fright when it comes to embracing comedy.

One example we particularly liked of fun in action was Iceland’s Out Of Horse email, where those fancying a holiday to Iceland could create an original out-of-office email, with the help of a horse.

No clue what we’re on about? Check the full campaign out here – OutHorse Your Email:

  1. Culture is King:

The PR Lion Grand Prix winner “Self Love Bouquet” by Doordash is a near perfect example of a brand nailing an authentic cultural connection, as they launched a Valentine’s Day bunch of roses with a difference, featuring the iconic Rose sex toy as the centrepiece.

Not only did they take advantage of a broader cultural shift towards celebrating self-love and empowerment, they used the timely hook of Valentines Day to launch whilst also tapping into popular culture, linking to Miley Cyrus’ viral sensation that quite literally starts “I can buy myself flowers’.

By tapping into the zeitgeist and understanding the cultural nuances of your target audience, stronger connections await.

Find out more here (Doordash – Self Love)

  1. Technology is Friend, Not Foe:

Rather than the AI induced doomsday fear mongering that has been dominating discourse of late,  Cannes 2023 highlighted the outstanding creative results that can be achieved by combining human insight with the latest emergent technologies.

From immersive experiences to AI-driven everything, brands harnessed technology as a powerful tool for enhancing creativity and storytelling.  Two of our favourites are Cadbury Celebrations; AI-powered ad templates for small businesses in India and Stella’s AI imaging software used to determine beer types from famous paintings”.

This integration of innovative technologies allowed campaigns to captivate audiences in unique ways, leading to more engaging and immersive brand experiences. By embracing technology as an ally, brands can push the boundaries of creativity and create memorable interactions with consumers.

  1. Make It Real:

Whilst clever copywriting and beautiful storytelling have their place, standing out requires going beyond just surface-level messaging.

Cannes 2023 winners demonstrated a real way for consumers to be part of the campaign, with some of our favourites including:

  • Adidas’ 321 campaign which encouraged the broader industry to adopt their move of championing athletes with Down Syndrome, a brilliant call to action that ensured the impact travelled across the world
  • Heinz’s Vintage Drip campaign which perfectly balanced targeting streetwear obsessed fans with a chance to get their hands on some ironic merch, demonstrating a sense of self-aware absurdity
  • Tide who showed the extreme lengths that passionate sports fans would go not to wash their ‘lucky’ jersey, with a brilliant reward for those that did

Audiences are seeking genuine connections with brands, and as always, campaigns that tell relatable stories and evoke emotions have a stronger impact. By creating content that is authentic, relatable, and meaningful, brands can forge deeper connections with their target audience, fostering brand loyalty and advocacy.

  1. Get Passionate About Passions:

With an abundance of consumer data, the key to great brand campaigns lies in transforming it into compelling factors that truly drive consumer purchases: their passions. Cannes 2023 was testament to this.

From exploring the subcultures and niche communities that exist within target demographics (such as Clash of Clans tapping into gaming nostalgia for their ‘Clash from the Past campaign), to inventive routes into what audiences care about (Heineken hijacking sneaker culture with Heinekicks), through to flipping conventions to make an important point such as Dove’s, The Cost of Beauty campaign – there was a clear theme.

Looking to supercharge your next campaign with the power of passions? Get in touch with us at [email protected]

Wizz Air appoints MHP Group for financial communications support

Posted on: June 26th, 2023 by Morgan Arnold

This press release originally appeared in PR Week

Working with Wizz Air’s leadership team, our Capital Markets team will provide strategic counsel for the carrier’s programme of engagement with investors and financial media.

Founded in Budapest in 2003, Wizz Air was listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2015 and is a member of the FTSE 250. The airline has more than 180 aircraft, carrying over 50 million passengers a year across Europe and the Middle East.

Wizz Air was named Europe’s most sustainable airline in last year’s Centre for Aviation Awards for Excellence.

Ian Malin, chief financial officer at the airline, said: “Wizz Air has come a long way in the last 20 years, so it was right to reassess our approach to engaging with the financial markets.

“Throughout the tender process, we were impressed by MHP’s breadth of experience across aviation, the markets and the media.”

MHP Group managing director James McFarlane said: “Wizz Air is one of the most exciting airlines in Europe, with one of the youngest, most fuel-efficient fleets in the world.

“We are delighted to be working together as Wizz Air enters its next phase, with plans to more than double in size in the coming years.”

This win follows strong growth for MHP’s Capital markets team under the leadership of Oliver Hughes.

In the past year, it has advised on high-profile work including Shaftesbury’s £5bn merger with Capital & Counties, completion of Advent International’s £2.6bn takeover of Ultra Electronics and the launch of SSE’s £25bn renewable energy investment plan.

TeamGB appoints Mischief for 2023 Paris Olympic Games

Posted on: June 19th, 2023 by Morgan Arnold

This press release originally appeared in PR Week

Mischief has been assigned to execute an integrated plan to “plant Team GB” into the national consciousness ahead of the Paris Olympic Games next summer.

Mischief will help raise the profile and tell the stories of the British Olympic team – hoping to create hype ahead of the Games and increase the nation’s passion for Team GB ‘beyond the back pages’.

The full-service comms programme will include creative campaigns around milestone moments, talent amplification, fan engagement, data capture, social media and press office support.

Charlotte Brooks, managing director of Mischief, said: “When we talk about passion-powered comms, it is a commitment to targeting consumers via the things they love. We know Team GB is a sporting entity the public falls in love with, so our goal is to ensure the love affair lives beyond the weeks of Olympic competition.

“Whatever your age, race, sex or religion – there is someone in Team GB that you can relate to. The athletes are everyday people with extraordinary talent and we cannot wait to use their unique blend of personality and performance to deliver creative gold.”

Discussing the pitch process, Carly Hodgson, head of marketing at Team GB, said Mischief presented “huge creative energy and the camaraderie between them was clear, as was their attention to detail”.

She added: “We were immediately excited by the thought of delivering the campaign they presented, given our aim to engage existing fans while targeting new ones.”

Mischief’s Team GB win adds to a host of sports partnership credentials for the agency. Within the past year, it has delivered Champions League and Women’s World Cup activations for Just Eat, women’s football sponsorship work for Lego, and The Hundred competition for the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board).

Media Network: Issue 5, 2023

Posted on: June 16th, 2023 by Morgan Arnold

Reuters Institute report reveals a steep drop in news consumption among young people

By Ian Kirby,  former Political Editor of the News of the World

There are now two adult generations, with ages ranging from 18 to 35, who would never consider regularly buying a physical newspaper. And the younger members of this group are also highly unlikely to have looked at a news website, let alone an inky newssheet as they get their news direct from social media.

Oxford University’s Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2023 is the most authoritative global survey of attitudes to news and consumption habits. The latest edition, published this week, demonstrates the majority of news consumption has moved from print and television to digital and is now quickly shifting beyond this to TikTok, Instagram and YouTube.

The new research shows:

  • More people now access news via social media than via traditional websites, but they don’t share it – meaning personal stories have greater reach than “straight” news
  • Traditional news brands are failing to respond quickly enough by embracing new channels that might attract the younger audience they need to secure their future
  • In the UK, these brands are relying on agenda-setting stories to preserve their dominance of the daily news agenda, but financial challenges continue to deepen
  • Meanwhile a growing proportion of people are avoiding the news due to the negativity of major themes dominating the headlines, or because they don’t trust it.

The global picture

The strongest legacy news brands in countries such as the UK and USA are managing stem of decline more slowly, but in the Global South traditional news outlets are disappearing as the use of TikTok, Instagram and YouTube rise, with influencers and celebrities more likely to be regarded as reliable sources of information.

Consumption of traditional media, such as TV and print continues to fall in most markets (down 8% year-on-year), with online and social consumption not making up the gap. A rising proportion of people (36%) say they are now actively avoiding the news – because they don’t want a reminder of a grim agenda that has been dominated by war, pandemics and divisive political agendas or because they don’t trust it.

Despite the political and economic threats facing many people, fewer than half (48%) of Reuters Institute’s aggregate sample now say they are very or extremely interested in news, down from 63% in 2017.

What does this mean for traditional news brands?

Traditional news brands continue to lag far behind the readers they are seeking to attract, according to the report They are stuck in a cycle of serving the readers they have rather than investing in change to attract the future audiences they need to attract. Only 50% of top publishers create content for TikTok, despite 44% of 18- to 24-year-olds saying they use it and one in five using it as a primary source of news.

Social media is the new gateway

Meanwhile, social media is now the gateway to content. Almost one in three (30%) people say they access news via social media, while only one in five (22%) goes to a news website first. In the UK, the over 35’s habits haven’t changed much in the last five years, but only 24% of 18 to 24s say they ever access news via a website. They are also less likely to click through, like or share content – just 10% of UK social media users share news stories.

And the algorithms of Facebook and Instagram favour personal stories over news content and news organisations cannot monetise the content they are producing for social media. Its previous role as a conduit to their own news sites is fading as people scan the content then stay on the social media channel.

Interest in news is fading

The rise in news consumption seen during the covid pandemic has faded away. The report reveals only 48% of respondents say they are interested in news, and – worryingly for news media – only 17% are willing to pay for it. Only 9% of the UK respondents said they pay for a news website subscription, among the lowest in the world (although the report didn’t explain to them they do pay for the BBC via the licence fee). Tough economic conditions mean news subscriptions are increasingly seen like gym membership – over a third said they had cancelled or renegotiated the cost of the news they were paying for.

The remaining audience, which actively consumes and shares news, is more likely to be male and better educated but partisan.

Fake news on the rise

Another factor behind in the interest in news fading is the increase in concern about disinformation. Almost a third (31%) of news users in the UK said they had seen fake news on Covid, 26% on politics, 22% on climate change and 19% on the war in Ukraine.

UK in focus

The Reuters Institute says: The UK media scene is characterised by strong public and commercial broadcasters and a competitive and outspoken national press. But both sectors are under pressure from changing audience behaviour, falling revenue, and rising costs.”

While the BBC’s coverage of the Queen’s funeral was watched by 22m people, the Corporation is required to save £500m a year and embarking on deep and extensive cuts. Newspaper sales are down between 8% (the i newspaper) and 23% (the Sunday People).

Meanwhile, legal challenges continue to cost hundreds of millions of pounds to organisations such as Reach plc (Daily Mirror etc) and the Daily Mail group.

The report reveals revenues from subscriptions are continuing to rise from its low base, with The Times and Sunday Times doubling their profits, the Guardian gaining 1m subscribers and the Telegraph almost 600,000.

However, the robust nature of reporting has meant that traditional news brands dominate the news agenda, such as the Covid lockdown scoops of the Daily Mirror and ITN News. Extensive lobbying has also staved off government attempts to sell off Channel 4.

Other key stats:

 

In summary

Nic Newman, one of the report’s authors, says:

“While some individual news brands have been very successful at building online reach or even convincing people to subscribe, this year’s data show how fragile these advances are in the face of economic and political uncertainty, fragmenting audiences, and a new wave of platform disruption. Even as a few winners are doing well in a challenging environment, many publishers are struggling to convince people that their news is worth paying attention to, let alone paying for.

“In the short term, growth is severely challenged by the combined impact of rising costs and falling revenues, as well as increasingly unpredictable traffic from legacy social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

“In the longer term, our data suggest that significant shifts in audience behaviour, driven by younger demographics, are likely to kick in, including a preference for more accessible, informal, and entertaining news formats, often delivered by influencers rather than journalists, and consumed within platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.”

Our take on the Reddit blackout

Posted on: June 16th, 2023 by Morgan Arnold

If you haven’t heard of this yet, to sum it up: Reddit has introduced charges for developers using its Application Programming Interface (API), which is the behind-the-scenes code that enables third-party apps to access and display Reddit content, and this decision has caused a wave of backlash within the Reddit community…

In addition to paid administrators, Reddit uses tens of thousands of unpaid moderators, aka ‘mods’, to help run the platform by spending an hour or so a day making sure nothing inappropriate for their subreddit is being posted. It’s this group of unpaid moderators who caused the blackout on Monday, where more than 7,000 subreddits have been shut down, including five of the 10 most popular communities on the site, which each have memberships of more than 30 million people.

There’s been a bit of a hive mentality on Reddit around this. On some of the still live subreddits, it seems that the majority of users actively posting are unhappy with the decision to charge for the API. Accessing the API used to be free for all, but charges will be introduced from 19th June. Users care so much because there are some key negative outcomes for their Reddit experience if the platform starts charging third-party developers.

One issue is how this will impact third-party apps like Apollo, which some Reddit users prefer to use to scroll through Reddit, as they don’t like the native user interface of Reddit itself. Apollo, along with three other major third-party apps, have said they will be shutting down as a result of Reddit’s new API pricing. This will impact how a portion of users likes to engage with Reddit. It’s worth keeping in mind that an estimated 52 million people access Reddit daily, whereas around 900K access it via Apollo, for example, which is one of the biggest third-party apps to be affected (so Apollo closing would affect under 2% of its users).

Reddit is unique in that it has a minority of volunteer technical users who develop applications for others to use on the platform, such as automated comment-bots, for example. These users have also expressed their annoyance at Reddit’s API pricing, as it could potentially hinder their contributions. However, given their smaller numbers and Reddit’s apparent focus on larger “enterprise” third parties with substantial user bases, we think that any major impact on this group is unlikely.

There’s an unofficial history of Reddit users having issues with the platform. They’re a very involved online community and have opinions on how things should be done, so a big change like this (which Reddit rarely does – especially compared to the constant changes of all other social platforms) is likely to cause a stir. Reddit users often hold strong opinions on how things should be done and have a history of voicing their issues with the platform. Consequently, a significant change like this, which is a rarity on Reddit compared to the constant changes seen on other social platforms, is bound to create waves.

In our opinion, while this development may tarnish Reddit’s reputation within its community, we would be surprised if it has a lasting and significant negative impact on day-to-day Reddit usage in the coming months as things settle down. Reddit boasts a dedicated, loyal, and unique user base, and we’re not confident that they would permanently boycott the platform.

Although we don’t currently recommend any specific actions for brands on Reddit, as this appears to be a temporary situation with many subreddits now live again, it’s still worth keeping an eye on this issue for any further developments.

For the latest, updates from Reddit’s CEO can be found on r/reddit. Users are actively participating and extensively sharing their thoughts, evident from the current 33K comments on the CEO’s main announcement, which is telling of just how engaged the Reddit user community on this issue.

Media Network: Issue 4, 2023

Posted on: June 8th, 2023 by Morgan Arnold

In Conversation with Claire Hubble, Head of Social Media at The Telegraph

Josh Powell reports

MHP’s James Rollinson recently hosted a Q&A with The Telegraph’s newly appointed Head of Social Media Claire Hubble. Here’s what she had to say on the evolving role of social media in breaking, reporting, and consuming news.

On the relationship between social and the newsroom: “We are increasingly the first to see new trends or content that has gone viral and Senior Editors are increasingly turning to us for advice or research. The way consumers search for things like holiday destinations or restaurant recommendations is changing, with increasing numbers using TikTok or other social platforms rather than Google. The newsroom is increasingly aware of this and so social is having more of an impact on reporting.”

On how different channels form a part of The Telegraph’s social strategy:

  • “TikTok has created an entirely new way of presenting and consuming news. We saw this with the war in Ukraine, where for the first time we were seeing first-person perspectives of war, people fleeing the country and even those in the trenches”.
  • “It’s important for The Telegraph to maintain a presence on platforms like Twitter as they feel a responsibility to ensure users can access verified news sources. With the current spread of misinformation, the importance of having a Twitter presence has only been amplified for us”.
  • “Reddit has become a key part of The Telegraph’s social strategy, both for breaking news and for building trust between consumers and journalists. One of the key causes of news avoidance is distrust for journalists and publications and the industry needs to make news more accessible. Reddit’s popular “Ask Me Anything (AMA)” threads have enabled users to ask journalists questions and receive responses in real-time, which has aided in building trust across news desks”.

On how brands and PRs can engage with the social team: “The Telegraph’s social team is not directly involved in commissioning stories, but social can play a role in increasing interest. It’s worth flagging to editors if the release topic is popular on social media or if there is a relevant hashtag that the piece feeds into as it shows organic growth potential. Similarly, if the spokesperson or brand you’re pitching to has a large social following, note that they are willing to engage with or reshare any content posted. Pitches that demonstrate an awareness of how the story fits into social media trends stand out and are more likely to be picked up”.

On what the future looks like for social media: “2023 is going to be the most exciting year for social media to date as some of the large platforms are experiencing a decline… Consumers have proven they’re open to trying new apps – the rise of BeReal over 2022 was a good proof point for that, though it has struggled to carry its momentum into this year. It’s worth keeping a close eye on Barcelona and Blue Sky – two relatively new platforms that are showing potential to compete with Twitter”.

ITV News is looking ahead to COP 28

By former ITN reporter Charlotte Grant

It’s not till November, but ITV News is already considering how it will cover the UN climate summit COP 28 in Dubai. This year’s conference is already proving controversial as the host, the United Arab Emirates, is one of the biggest producers of oil and gas.

In the run up to the summit, Philip Sime, ITV’s Health and Science Producer says they’re looking to cover the impact of climate change from various places around the world as well as from the UK.  He says “we want to also ensure we cover the technical innovations that can help us meet the challenges posed by climate change.”

With a consumer focus and TV packages lasting around two minutes, the key element for ITV News is good picture. Whenever they consider a pitch, producers think: who can we speak to and what can we see/film to tell this story in the most engaging way?

The Financial Times is the UK’s most trusted news brand

By Abigail Smith

News reported by the Financial Times and BBC is the most trusted in the UK, according to new research.

At the other end of the scale, The Sun is the least trusted UK news brand, just below The Star, according to YouGov’s study of audience trust.

With its reputation holding strong, the FT has been named the most trusted of 32 UK outlets, with four in 10 saying they trust its reporting.

Overall the FT is rated at +30, derived from combining those who trust the outlet, giving a positive (+) verdict, against those who distrust it, giving a negative (-) rating.

The next most trusted outlets were ITV (+28), Channel 4 (+27), and the BBC (+22). Those in which the public had the least trust were The Sun (-53), The Star (-50), and then The Mirror and The Daily Mail (both at -37).

The research found that age had a major impact on how outlets were viewed. Among respondents aged 18 to 24, the BBC was the most-trusted outlet with 51pc of Gen Z saying they trusted the public service broadcaster – higher than the general population. Other outlets trusted by this generation included The Guardian (41%) and Channel 4 (37%).

Among older respondents, the BBC, ITV and Financial Times were most trusted. More 50 to 64 year olds said they trusted the BBC than any other outlet (42%), followed by the FT and ITV (41% each).

How to pitch health stories

By Miles Watson and Jaber Mohamed

MHP’s specialist health team works across all levels of the media, from policy to consumer issues and from national to specialist media. Knowing where and how to place your story is vital: we spoke to two journalists writing for different audiences about what stories work best for them.

Kate Pickles, the Daily Mail’s Health Editor (Medical), tells companies to pitch the unexpected. She said:  

“The Daily Mail loves health stories. We love stories that get people talking – so when you are thinking about pitching to us think about whether your story will spark conversation.

“It can be a different take on an everyday topic or an unexpected finding. But of course it needs to be new.

“If a story is good and there isn’t the space in the newspaper, it will go on the MailOnline website, which is the largest English language news site in the world. So if you want to reach the largest possible audience we are the best publication for that.”

Nick Kituno, correspondent at the Health Service Journal, tells clients to frame stories in the context of existing issues that are impacting healthcare:

Our stories focus on the: “So what?” They aim to get down to a core issue that exists right now, why it matters, and the potential long-term implications if left unchecked.

This means understanding what is happening on the ground – locally, regionally and nationally – through our extensive range of knowledge, contacts building and understanding of technical NHS policy.

There isn’t much room for innovation or solutions-led stories which pharma may be more familiar with, but there may be more scope for this in our opinion or sponsored pages.

The inverse is better – lead with the issue and the material consequences of not solving it, and then follow up with solutions that may exist. If you can demonstrate this through data, that’s better.

Rachel Rickard Straus was recently promoted to Money Editor across the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday Titles.

Giles Usher breaks down what she wants to hear about from PRs

What is a perfect Money Mail story?

We are looking for stories that a large number of readers will find relevant to their own lives. I really like “hidden in plain slight stories”, which are stories on topics that may already be in the public consciousness but have some scope to really unpack and can move things forward from what we hear in the news.

Who is a typical Money Mail reader?

Given we are a national title our work reaches millions of people of many demographics. That said, we do skew towards older, more affluent readers. That isn’t to say that they aren’t interested in stories about younger generations, and all our pieces also run online where the audience is naturally a bit younger.

We are also aware of not being too London-centric in our reporting, and case studies are a great way of bringing more geographical diversity into what we do.

Is there anything that you are more likely to run on a Sunday?

In a word, exclusives. Almost everything in the Sunday edition will be an exclusive, unless it’s a huge story that is too big to ignore. We also tend to run investment content on a Sunday, rather than Wednesday

What are the key topics that are currently keeping you busy?

Unsurprisingly, the cost-of-living crisis remains hugely important. We are constantly trying to provide helpful advice to readers by offering solutions to specific problems. We are also looking at the impact of prolonged and sustained inflation, in particular the knock-on effect on interest rates and the consequences for savers. The same can also be said about energy bills and pensions.

In conversation with Claire Hubble

Posted on: June 7th, 2023 by Morgan Arnold

On the relationship between social and the newsroom:

We are increasingly the first to see new trends or content that has gone viral and Senior Editors are increasingly turning to their us for advice or research. The way consumers search for things like holiday destinations or restaurant recommendations is changing, with increasing numbers using TikTok or other social platforms rather than Google. The newsroom is increasingly aware of this and so social is having more of an impact on reporting.

On how different channels form a part of The Telegraph’s social strategy:

As a legacy brand, it’s important for The Telegraph to have a presence on all channels.

TikTok has created an entirely new way of presenting and consuming news. We saw this with the war in Ukraine, where for the first time we were seeing first-person perspectives of war, people fleeing the country and even those in the trenches. The Washington Post and New York Times are doing particularly well at presenting their news in a TikTok native manner.

Twitter has undergone significant changes over the past year, with many journalists losing their “blue tick” status that serves as verification of identity. It’s important for The Telegraph to maintain a presence on platforms like Twitter as they feel a responsibility to ensure users can access verified news sources. With the current spread of misinformation, the importance of having a Twitter presence has only been amplified for us.

Reddit has become a key part of The Telegraph’s social strategy, both for breaking news and for building trust between consumers and journalists. One of the key causes of news avoidance is distrust for journalists and publications and the industry needs to make news more accessible. Reddit’s popular “Ask Me Anything (AMA)” threads have enabled users to ask journalists questions and receive responses in real-time, which has aided in building trust across news desks. 

On the decline of digital-first news sites:

Digital-first publications like Buzzfeed and Vice relied predominantly on social traffic. News publishers have reported a significant drop in link-referral traffic in the past two years so brands like these will be disproportionately affected by it. It makes a strong case for diversifying across channels and platforms. If brands only have a presence on one or a limited number of social channels there’s a real risk. Any change in the algorithm or a shift in consumer behaviour can then have a major impact on visibility.

On how brands and PRs can engage with the social team:

The Telegraph’s social team is not directly involved in commissioning stories, but social can play a role in increasing interest. It’s worth flagging to editors if the release topic is popular on social media or if there is a relevant hashtag that the piece feeds into as it shows organic growth potential. Similarly, if the spokesperson or brand you’re pitching to has a large social following note that they are willing to engage with or reshare any content posted. Pitches that demonstrate an awareness of how the story fits into social media trends stand out and are more likely to be picked up.

On what the future looks like for social media:

2023 is going to be the most exciting year for social media to date as some of the large platforms are experiencing a decline. Twitter is witnessing a decline in interest and loyalty amongst its user base following the takeover by Elon Musk and subsequent changes to user experience. Consumers have proven they’re open to trying new apps – the rise of BeReal over 2022 was a good proof point for that, though it has struggled to carry its momentum into this year. It’s worth keeping a close eye on Barcelona and Blue Sky – two relatively new platforms that are showing potential to compete with Twitter.

Britain’s fintech glow-up as British fintech’s grow-up

Posted on: June 1st, 2023 by Morgan Arnold

It’s no secret that the UK’s fintech sector has been going through a turbulent time recently.  In the past few weeks alone there have been stories around crumbling valuations, regulatory uncertainty, and about the viability of the UK as a region that can truly create a ‘tech powerhouse’. Amidst ever-shifting macro-economic conditions the sector remains firmly in the spotlight, and that’s not going to change anytime soon…

Among all the noise, there’s positive news out this week from two of the UK’s most talked about fintech businesses, everyone’s (kind of) favourites – Starling and Monzo. No strangers to the headlines, both businesses have this week released 2023 annual reports, and the results are well worth diving into.

If you’re so inclined, and happen to have a spare few hours, you can go through the full reports here (a cool 206 pages) and here (163 pages) or alternatively, you can read on for a quick overview…

Let’s start with Starling.

TLDR: Massive profit as revenue spikes.

Here are the headlines:

  • Revenue rose from £216m to £453m (up 109%)
  • Profit jumped from £32m to £195m (up 509%)
  • Much of the revenue increase can be linked to interest income rising to £349m from £122m (up 186%) but interchange fees also played a smaller part
  • Starling’s customer deposits stand at a healthy £10.6bn – higher than Monzo’s at £6bn and Revolut’s at £7.4bn
  • Total lent to customers rose from £3.3bn to £4.8bn, with the majority (70.5%) coming from mortgages
  • Starling customers spent £16.5bn using their cards, up from £11.9bn (up 39%)

It’s a hugely impressive set of results that’ll silence a lot of the industry that were saying just a few years ago that a business like Starling could never be truly profitable in this environment. In many ways, it can be argued that Starling is ‘leading’ the challenger bank pack.

But the annual report wasn’t Starling’s only piece of news from last week, indeed it was somewhat overshadowed by the announcement of CEO Anne Boden’s departure. There’s no denying Anne has done an absolutely brilliant job at the helm of Starling and will be sorely missed. The foundations she’s laid have set the bank up for continued success and, in my opinion, she’ll go down as one of the great fintech CEOs of our time. She’s certainly leaving on a high.

Next to Monzo.

TLDR: Rising revenue and growth investment taking precedence over profitability

Here are the headlines:

  • Revenue rose from £154m to £355m (up 131%)
  • Losses decreased slightly from £119m to £116m (down 2%)
  • Revenue increase largely driven by investment income spiking from £38m to £168m (up 342%) and interchange fees increasing from £79m to £127m (up 61%)
  • Customer deposits rose from £4.4bn to £6bn (up 36%)
  • Card spend increased to £33.6bn from £24.4bn (up 38%)

In the detail of its report, Monzo also increased its provisions for potential loan losses after a move into the Buy Now Pay Later industry through its Flex product. It’s set aside £101.2m to cover bad loans this year, up from only £14m last year.

While Monzo hasn’t quite seen the same levels of growth as Starling this year, make no mistake, this is still a very encouraging set of results. Indeed, it even noted that it was profitable in the first two months of 2023. On that point, one interesting quote from CEO TS Anil was given to CNBC “Profitability was always a choice as we balance continuing to invest in growth with profitability. We could have chosen to be profitable a few quarters ago.” At a time when many fintechs are primarily focused on profitability over some of the aggressive growth we saw in previous years, this is a refreshing change of pace.

While these are two sets of strong financial results, there are, as always some caveats and considerations. Two big ones are that:

  • Like many, Starling and Monzo have been buoyed by rising interest rates in the UK. As rates fall, margins will likely get squeezed.
  • The figures in these annual reports are still absolutely miles off the level and scale of what we continue to see from the more traditional high street banks, no surprises there. Taking customer deposits for example, Starling’s £10.6bn and Monzo’s £6bn may sound impressive on paper, but pale in comparison to when compared to, for example, Lloyds’ £512bn.

Despite those caveats I think these two sets of results give the British fintech sector something to cheer about. Two profitable, or near profitable, unicorns that are continuing to go from strength to strength amidst a difficult macro-economic climate. These success stories give a lot of hope to the thousands of fintech businesses in the UK that are looking for similar scale in the coming years. It’s a sign that Britain’s fintech landscape and ecosystem is maturing, and that new businesses can succeed in sectors that have remained unchanged for decades.

A while ago I wrote about VC powder building up in the tech ecosystem. This is something that’s still the case, but the signs are there that money is starting to loosen a little, and you can bet your bottom dollar that the fintech sector will be one of the big beneficiaries when it does. Indeed, that aligns with something that we’re seeing here at MHP from clients, there’s funding out there for fintech businesses as the power players like Monzo and Starling lead from the front and show investors that profits are possible.