Archive for November, 2023

A month of Mischief, November 2023

Posted on: November 30th, 2023 by Morgan Arnold

Welcome to A Month of Mischief,  a monthly take on the hottest passions gripping the nation, along with the latest Mischief news.

The Passion Perspective

Newsjacking is all about having quickfire reactions to the hot topics that everyone’s talking about. It’s a means for brands to insert themselves into the most engaged conversations, command attention in a timely and relevant manner and show a bit of personality!

And the best part? Newsjacking is flexible depending on your means – from major reactive stunts to simple reactive tweets, ideas can range from big productions to simple social media comebacks.

Ikea react to Balenciaga launch

Ikea’s recent Balenciaga newsjack is a great example of low-production, low-budget reactive resulting in impressive ROI. When Balenciaga announced they were launching a $900 ‘towel-skirt’, Ikea quickly jumped on the news, capturing a simple hero photograph announcing the sale of their own new ‘towel skirt’ for a fraction of price at £16. This tongue-in-cheek reactive helped them tap into an engaged Gen-Z audience across titles such as Dazed, High Snobiety, Hypebeast and Complex.

LV= Luton Fire 

But it’s also possible to newsjack harder-hitting news in a sensitive way. October saw a shocking fire break out at Luton airport, which resulted in the loss of around 1,500 vehicles. Here at Mischief, we worked with LV= to share reactive data and expert commentary around the number of customers estimated to be affected, along with guidance around what the insurer was doing to support the affected. Being able to offer helpful reassurance and advice at such a troubling time for many led to us securing top tier coverage in the likes of The Guardian and Daily Mail – all simply generated from internal data and commentary.

Newsjacking is an incredibly valuable tool, but relevance is important. Brands need to have a right to play – is it within your industry? Can you add anything meaningful to the conversation? Do you have relevant data or expert insights to add to it? Every brand will have differing criteria when it comes to deciding what makes a newsjack worthwhile and impactful.

And speaking of worthwhile newsjacks, this month, we were able to tap into multiple trending conversations on behalf of Ocado, putting the online supermarket front and centre when it came to unusual consumer shopping habits…

This Month at Mischief

Ocado Achieves Some Offal-Y Good Results

And the past few weeks have been a smash for our very own newsjackers, as we secured a wave of coverage for reactive Ocado stories. Firstly, when London restaurant Fowl’s chicken head pie went viral, this prompted us to delve into Ocado insights around offal buying. What we didn’t expect was that sales of ‘tongue’ had more than doubled YoY, and the media loved it.

Most recently, fans across the UK were devastated when Nestle confirmed the discontinuation of the Caramac bar – so much so that searches on Ocado.com skyrocketed by over 3000%, resulting in headline pieces on Mail Online and their social channels as well as over 30 ReachPLC pieces, citing Ocado’s data and commentary alone.

With additional newsjacks capturing attention across Guardian, The Sun, Daily Star and Mirror, this reactive success proved that providing media with relevant and interesting data is key to inserting our brands into the heart of trending conversations.

Read more here.

Lego Launches Galore!

Newsjacking aside, it was a busy month for team LEGO with nine events taking place throughout November. From Manchester store openings and three ‘Build to Give’ events supporting Children in Need, to a sleepover in the Natural History Museum (!) – the team travelled throughout the country spreading festive LEGO magic.

The events all generated a ton of social and earned coverage, with celebrity parent guests including Girls Aloud’s Kimberly Walsh, TV presenter Katie Piper and Strictly’s Neil Jones and ex-Love Islander Chyna Mills. Media guests came from The Guardian, Reach PLC, Pop Sugar, Hello! and the Independent.

Throughout November, an impressive 200+ pieces of coverage were earned for Lego overall, thanks to a range of engaging events with top tier media and celebrity attendees.

Read more here.

Three Take On Black Friday

It wouldn’t be November in the office without a Black Friday sell-in and Three were at the heart of it. The team’s strong relationships with tech, shopping and deals writers helped to secure multiple standalone headline pieces of coverage across the likes of The Sun, Expert Reviews and Mirror.

Alongside standalone pieces, we also secured coverage in the likes of premium lifestyle titles GQ and Good Housekeeping, elevating Three’s Black Friday offering during one of the brand’s most important moments in the year.

Read more here.

Mischief News

Team Mischief had a ball at the recent PRCA Awards this month, scooping up another two awards for Women’s Aid and Avanti. The Women’s Aid ‘He’s Coming Home’ campaign took ‘Best Purpose Campaign’ whilst Avanti came out on top in the ‘Automotive and Transport’ category. Another great night of success!

Mischief Musings

Mischief MD, Charlotte Brooks, recently chatted to PR Moment about  everything she’s learnt from her career journey so far, as well as her predictions for consumer PR as we go into 2024. The ‘In Hindsight’ podcast episode is available here.

Follow Mischief on LinkedIn, Instagram and X

Celebrating Fintech excellence: Our team’s triumph as AltFi’s PR Agency of the Year

Posted on: November 30th, 2023 by Morgan Arnold

Last week, we were honoured to be crowned PR Agency of the Year at leading fintech publication, AltFi’s, annual awards. Recognising the cream of the crop in fintech, the judges described us as not only supporting clients with proactive and responsive PR, but being a “valuable node in the fintech community.” This truly does reflect what we strive to be for our clients and is testament to our team’s dedication to setting the gold standard in communications. 

What got us to this position? Put simply, it’s the power of a fully integrated approach that delivers impactful results for our clients. In a year marked by unprecedented challenges, from the continued funding slowdown to regulatory pressures, if one thing has become clear, it’s that fintechs are now operating in an increasingly connected world, with an ever increasing and diverse set of stakeholders. Being able the manage the reputational scrutiny that comes in this environment has been instrumental in us winning nearly 20 new clients this year, from disruptive fintech scaleups like Wamo, Papara, Xapo Bank and Br-dge to incumbent financial institutions like First Sentier Investors. 

We’ve crafted powerful narratives that resonate across all channels, ensuring client’s messages are not only heard but also felt in this new marketplace. We’ve provided strategic counsel and developed messaging that addresses consumer concerns, offering reassurance and solutions amidst a cost-of-living crisis, while serving as a steady hand for clients facing economic headwinds. And, as the financial services sector continues to be driven by technological innovation and changing consumer behaviours, we’ve helped clients embrace digital transformation and meet the heightened expectations of today’s tech-savvy consumers; from AI to blockchain, we’ve demystified cutting-edge technologies and turned them into bigger stories that engage and inform.  

Being truly integrated, our approach has seen us tap into different areas of our expertise across the agency – be that public affairs, digital or internal comms, to name but a few – and leverage our comprehensive suite of services, from influencer analysis to AI-powered measurement tools.   

Crucially, our success is rooted in our commitment to attracting and nurturing the best talent in the industry. We’ve built a team of thought leaders and experts who are not only at the forefront of their respective fields but are also deeply passionate about the transformative potential of fintech.   

As we look ahead to 2024, the outlook for our team is one of strong optimism. With a robust portfolio of clients, a team of unparalleled talent and a relentless drive for innovation, we are excited for what the next year will bring. Our integrated proposition will continue to be a differentiator, allowing us to meet the evolving needs of our clients and to lead in a landscape that demands nothing less than excellence. Here’s to a future where our practice not only grows but continues to redefine the standards of fintech and financial services communications. 

Winners of the 30 To Watch: Politics Awards, 2023

Posted on: November 28th, 2023 by Morgan Arnold

We are delighted to announce the winners of the 30 To Watch: Politics awards for 2023.

As we approach a year that is likely to bring significant change to British politics, it seems fitting to search out the talent that looks set shape of politics into the future. That’s what MHP Group’s 30 To Watch: Politics is all about. 

This is the second year for our Politics awards, which were launched in 2022 as a companion for our long-established 30 To Watch: Journalism awards, which have become a sought-after prize for emerging British journalists and been proven remarkably successful in their ability to foretell a bright career. 

We were overwhelmed by the increased interest in 30 To Watch: Politics this year, with applications three-times the number received in the inaugural year. This success was in no small part driven by our committed partners: Total Politics, Savanta, Dods Political Intelligence, DeepSeer, and I have a voice, who helped us promote the opportunity to the widest possible audience.   

Congratulations to our 2023 Winners.

Tim Snowball, Head of Public Affairs 

The 2023 30 To Watch: Politics Winners:

 

Commentator ‘to watch’

Aletha Adu, The Guardian 

Mhari Aurora, Sky News 

Eleni Courea, POLITICO 

Calum Macdonald, Times Radio 

Diversity/ Inclusivity Champion ‘to watch’

Dr. Alex Bulat and & Lara Parizotto, Migrant Democracy Project 

Haleemah Farooq, Office of Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner 

Melanie Fernandes, WIPA & KPMG 

Health Champion ‘to watch’ 

Dr Azmain Chowdhury, Doctor & Content Creator 

Charli Clement, Activist & Lived Experience Consultant 

Lydia Paynter, Malaria No More UK 

Issue Campaigner ‘to watch’  

Sharon Gaffka, Freelancer and Activist 

Imogen Payter, UK Friends of Ukraine 

Afzal Pervez, Commonwealth Research Group 

Madison Rogers, Cats Protection 

Nathan Stilwell, Humanists UK 

Hannah Swirsky, Samaritans 

Local Champion ‘to watch’  

Charlie Edwards, Lancashire County Council 

Isaac Howarth, Sheffield Conservatives 

Jordan Jacobs, Rayleigh Town Council 

Parliamentarian ‘to watch’ 

Sara Britcliffe, Member of Parliament for Hyndburn 

Keir Mather, Member of Parliament for Selby and Ainsty 

Emma Roddick, Member of The Scottish Parliament 

Political Adviser ‘to watch’  

Laura Dunn, Consultant 

Alice Hopkin, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office   

Jonty Leibowitz, The Labour Party   

Muneera Lula, The Labour Party 

Henna Shah, The Labour Party 

Think Tanker ‘to watch’   

Connor Escudero, Young Fabians  

Maxwell Marlow, Adam Smith Institute 

Jenevieve Treadwell, Onward 

Massive congratulations to all of our winners. We look forward to seeing you on the 6th December for the awards ceremony.

 

Our 2023 judges:

 

The full list of judges: 

Nusrat Ghani MP, Business and Trade Minister

David Lammy MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs

Seema Malhotra MP, Shadow Minister for Skills

Tim Farron MP, Shadow Minister for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

Baroness Arlene Foster, Former First Minister of Northern Ireland

Mark Wallace, Chief Executive, Total Politics

Dean Sabri, Head of UK Political Intelligence, Dods Political Intelligence

Rebecca Deegan, Founder & CEO, I have a voice

Rosa Prince, Editor, London Playbook, Politico

Lucy Aitkens, Group Director, External Affairs, Sky

Atul Hatwal, Editor, Labour Uncut

Claire Ellicott, Whitehall Editor, Daily Mail

Roger Perowne, CEO, Savanta

Political Insider: Autumn Statement 2023: Jeremy goes hunting for a pre-election boost for the Conservatives

Posted on: November 22nd, 2023 by Morgan Arnold

Lower-than-expected inflation has given Jeremy Hunt some fiscal wiggle room, hence the gamut of crowd-pleasing announcements, especially around National Insurance and other elements of personal taxation.

The mood music coming out of No.10 in recent months has been that an autumn 2024 election was a likely bet, yet, with today’s announcements, Hunt has introduced an element of doubt into proceedings. With those National Insurance changes coming into effect in January next year, the door marked May election has not been definitively closed.

What was announced?

Jeremy Hunt said that the economy is “back on track” and that his package of measures – well over 100 – would help turbocharge that incipient growth. Split across three sections – Reducing Debt, Cutting Taxes and Rewarding Work and Backing British Business – what were the Chancellor’s key announcements?

Business Taxation and Support

  • Business rate relief standard multiplier will rise in line with inflation, though the small business multiplier freeze will continue for another year.
  • 75% business rate discount for retail, hospitality, and leisure extended for another year.
  • Full expensing for business investment made permanent.
  • Any company bidding for large government contracts required to show evidence for invoice payment within 45 days, then 30 days.
  • All alcohol duty frozen until 1st August 2024.
  • Call for evidence to expand film and high-end TV tax credit.
  • New R&D tax relief combining existing schemes and lowering rate for loss-making SMEs from 25% to 19%.

Personal Taxation

  • Self-employment taxation reform – Class 2 National Insurance abolished. Entitlement and credit access provided in full.
  • Class 4 National Insurance cut from 9% to 8% from April.
  • National living wage and national minimum wage hiked.
  • Main 12% rate of employee National Insurance for income between £12,570 and £50,270 cut by 2% to 10%. Coming in from 6th January via legislation.
  • Consult on giving savers the legal right to have employers pay into their existing pension pot if they want.

Housing and Levelling Up

  • Local authorities can recover full costs for business planning applications if timelines are fast. Otherwise, money is paid back.
  • £110 million for nutrient mitigation schemes.
  • £32 million for “busting” planning backlog and building in Cambridge, London, and Leeds.
  • £450 million for local authority housing fund.
  • Increasing local housing allowance. Extra £800 for some households.
  • Consult on allowing any house can be converted into 2 flats provided the exterior remains unaffected.
  • Freeport & investment zones tax reliefs extended from 5 to 10 years. Opportunity fund announced to encourage more investment.
  • 3 new manufacturing investment zones announced in the Midlands.
  • 2nd investment zone in Wales.
  • Funding for regeneration projects and small projects in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales.

Education

  • £7 million for educational organisations to tackle antisemitism.
  • £3 million for an anti-racist security trust.
  • £50 million funding into apprenticeships in key growth sectors.

Welfare

  • £1.3 billion spent on helping 700,000 people with health conditions find jobs.
  • £1.3 billion extra help for unemployed.
  • If after 18 months jobseekers haven’t got job, they will be entered into a programme for mandatory job placement. After 6 months the benefits will be stopped if no job. 

Energy

  • Government to publish response to Winser Review, setting out how it intends to speed up grid connections to drive energy security.

Technology

  • £500 million over 2 years to fund AI innovation centres.
  • £5 million to Imperial College to start a Fleming Centre.

Has Hunt pulled a rabbit out the hat?

By Rachel Cairnes, MHP Account Director

Today’s Autumn Statement was one of the few remaining opportunities for the Prime Minister to draw a dividing line with Labour, whilst demonstrating the Conservatives have an election-winning vision for the future of the country.

The 110 measures announced by the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, are an attempt to unite the Tory Party and appeal to voters by standing on a traditional Conservative platform. In Hunt’s words, the party believes “big government, high-spending and big tax” will lead to “less growth not more”.

On personal taxes, 27 million people are set to benefit from a 2% reduction in  national insurance (NI), from 12% to 10%, and Class 2 NI will be abolished  for the self-employed. For business, Hunt announced “the largest business tax cut in modern British history” by making full expensing permanent and extending the 75 per cent business rates discount for hospitality, retail and leisure for another year, at a cost of £4.3 billion.

Hunt had previously argued that the poor state of the public finances made reducing the tax burden ‘virtually impossible’. As inflation fell to 4.6 per cent last week, and with the UK’s ‘improved’ fiscal position (the result of a higher-than-anticipated tax take from squeezed middle-Britain) the government feels it is now in a position to ‘change gear’.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released yesterday, show the UK borrowed more than forecast or expected last month, bringing public sector net borrowing to an eyewatering £14.9 billion – £4.4 billion more than was borrowed in October the year before. Although the Chancellor said government borrowing is set to fall every year for the next five years, questions remain as to how “sustainable” today’s tax cuts will be unless serious attempts are made to reduce government spending.

Although a highly charged issue, welfare reform tends to be popular with the public. Alongside a 6.7 per cent increase in universal credit and other benefits, in line with the inflation rate for September, the government’s Back to Work Plan will remove benefits and increase the monitoring of welfare recipients in an attempt to bring 200,000 people into the workforce.

Other headline announcements include an increase in the state pension by 8.5%, a freeze on alcohol duty until August 2024 and major reform of the planning sector to speed up the processing of applications.

The Conservatives need a lead of at least three points in the polls for them to win a surprise 1992-style election victory. It may be that Hunt’s tax cuts will swing public opinion in the party’s favour, similar to Nigel Lawson’s ‘bribes budget’ of 1987.

Given the immediacy of some of the measures announced, especially around National Insurance, tongues are already wagging that the Conservatives could be teeing up for a spring election.

Yet in the current cost-of-living crisis, the measures are unlikely to reduce the financial burden on households in the immediate term, meaning it’s more likely too little too late.

Labour will remain unmoved by Hunt’s throw of the dice

By Joshua Kaile, MHP Associate Director and former Labour Political Advisor

For all the ‘giveaways’ from the Chancellor today, the headline takeaway is that economic growth has hit a dead end.

The independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has forecast the UK economy to grow by just 0.7% in 2024, down from 1.8%.

That is a significant blow to the Conservative’s hopes ahead of a General Election and one that Labour will be pouncing on in the days and weeks to come.

The Labour Party has been leading the debate on economic growth ever since Rachel Reeves became Shadow Chancellor. It’s why Labour set as its first mission for Government the target of securing the highest sustained growth in the G7.

Just last week the Shadow Chancellor set out Labour’s plans for a sweeping review of the UK’s pension system in order to unlock billions of pounds of pension funds to invest in UK businesses. The party has also been bold in saying it will ‘get Britain building again’ in order to help restore economic stability and secure the economy.

Labour’s argument has been that economic growth is vital both for the future of the country and for improving living standards for people in all corners of the UK. As the OBR also set out today, living standards are forecast to be 3.5% lower in 2024-25 than pre-pandemic.

This would be the largest reduction since records began in the 1950s. With a General Election set to be fought on economic responsibility and the cost-of-living crisis, the Government will be hoping that today’s announcements put money back in people’s pickets to help them feel better. In contrast, Labour will continue to make the case that households feel worse off after 13 years of Tory-led Governments and the only way to change the economy for the better is to change the Government.

If you would like to get in touch with the team, please contact Head of Public Affairs, Tim Snowball, at [email protected]

Political Insider: Rishi’s Reshuffle – a case of Dave-ja vu

Posted on: November 13th, 2023 by Morgan Arnold

Today’s Cabinet reshuffle was driven largely by Rishi Sunak’s desire to remove Suella Braverman as Home Secretary. According to a Number 10 source, “Suella has gone because the Prime Minister wants a united team to deliver the changes this country needs for the long term.”

James Cleverly, who recently topped Conservative Home’s Cabinet league table, moved from his role as Foreign Secretary to replace Braverman. In a highly surprising and unusual move, the role of Foreign Secretary was given to former Prime Minister David Cameron, who was today formally awarded a life peerage to allow him to return to government. The last time a cabinet department was given to someone without a seat in the Commons was in 2008, when Gordon Brown brought Peter Mandelson back into government as business secretary.

The reshuffle means that for the first time since 2010, the top four positions in government are all held by men; Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, Home Secretary James Cleverly and Foreign Secretary David Cameron.

In other moves, Rachel Maclean is “disappointed” that Sunak asked her to step down as Minister of State at the Department for Levelling Up. Thérèse Coffey resigned as Environment Secretary, with Steve Barclay demoted from Health Secretary to replace her, and Victoria Atkins appointed to Health Secretary. Details on the Cabinet changes so far can be found below.

It is also worth noting that Advisory Committee on Business Appointments rules require a minimum waiting period of six months before ministers can take up certain jobs. This gives credence to rumours circling Westminster that Sunak is preparing for a May election by asking certain ministers to step down.

Conservative viewpoint

Mario Creatura, MHP Director and former Special Adviser in 10 Downing Street

Rishi Sunak has been Prime Minister for just over a year. In that time he has sought to stabilise the challenges facing the Conservative Party brand – restoring economic credibility, and re-establishing the perception that they are the party of competence. 

With what he’s had to work with, that’s no mean feat. Whether through his conference speech in Manchester, or the King’s Speech last week, Sunak will be acutely aware that he has not many set piece moments left with which to nudge public opinion towards the Conservatives. 

Now entering Year Two, the intention within Number 10 will be to show a Prime Minister focused on delivery – and taking the positive message of the last 13 years of Conservative rule and presenting it with unashamed pride. 

That’s what is behind this reshuffle. James Cleverly has done a solid job stabilising Britain’s reputation abroad, and so is a logical choice to do the same in the Home Office. Redoubling their commitment to ‘stopping the small boats’, and simultaneously emphasising his mission to make our streets feel safer. Vicky Atkins, Richard Holden, Laura Trott and others now entering Cabinet are all strong communicators, critically important for selling a positive pre-election Conservative vision.   

The return of David Cameron has raised many an eyebrow, but could prove to be a very shrewd move. Historically popular in key ‘blue wall’ seats, it’ll be hoped that his brand of Conservativism will be able to sure up weakened support in areas moving towards the Liberal Democrats. A socially liberal former Prime Minister, with strong fiscally-conservative instincts, banging the Tory drum in the press, could be what’s needed to solidify support in key held Home County seats, and more broadly in marginal constituencies. 

Strong media performers are being brought in, experienced administrators staying in post, all intended to deliver on Sunak’s Five Promises and project a feeling of unity and competence. 

The Autumn Statement next week will seek to secure this narrative – Sunak has a strengthened team behind him, working together to tackle the biggest challenges facing our country. Whether that impacts Labour’s significant poll lead this side of Christmas, will remain to be seen.

Labour viewpoint

Joshua Kaile, MHP Associate Director and former Labour Political Advisor

Just a few weeks ago, Rishi Sunak was telling Conservative Party Conference and the country that the political system of the last 30 years has delivered politicians that spend more time campaigning for change than actually delivering it. He went on to claim that after 13 years it is he and his Government that are the faces of change that the country desperately needs.  

Today, he appointed David Cameron as Foreign Secretary. It’s a script you wouldn’t believe if Armando Iannucci had put it on our TV screens. 

Unsurprisingly, Labour has immediately pointed out that we now have an unelected Prime Minister with a Foreign Secretary deciding policy that relate to international conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine, who will not be able to be questioned by his opposite number in the House of Commons.  

Labour will also be recirculating accusations around the former Prime Ministers’ lobbying record since he left Downing Street, not to mention his policy disagreements with the Prime Minister on HS2 and the decision not to spend 0.7% on international development.  

James Cleverly has been praised as Foreign Secretary in recent months and therefore promoting a ‘team player’ to Home Secretary appears to be a fairly sensible decision. Although, the Prime Minister now possesses in his top team a man who held his job after election victories, and one of the favourites to replace him after the next election. It’s a risky strategy, but clearly Rishi is a braverman than most. 

The other appointments of the day had less controversy but will also be met by Labour criticism including the removal of the 15th Housing Minister since 2010 and the fact that Wes Streeting is now facing his fifth Heath Secretary since November 2021. Only time will tell how long this latest reshuffle lasts for. 

Cabinet-level changes*

Position  Former Holder  New Holder 
Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development   James Cleverly MP  Lord David Cameron  
Secretary of State for the Home Department   Suella Braverman MP  James Cleverly MP 
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care  Steve Barclay MP  Victoria Atkins MP 
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs   Dr Thérèse Coffey MP  Steve Barclay MP 
Minister without Portfolio (Conservative Party Chairman)  Greg Hands MP  Richard Holden MP 
Chief Secretary to the Treasury   John Glen MP  Laura Trott MP 
Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office   Jeremy Quin MP  John Glen MP 

In Conversation With Andrew Ellson: “So much has changed but also so little”

Posted on: November 10th, 2023 by Morgan Arnold

Earlier this week Andrew spoke exclusively to the MHP Media Network’s James Rollinson at a brunch event at 60 Great Portland Street in Fitzrovia.

Proprietary data is in demand

Andrew spoke at length about his interest in receiving proprietary data from brands, especially when it reveals a new trend or surprising take on a pre-conceived wisdom or stereotype. A  recent example Andrew cited was about the rising popularity of ‘boring’ noughties cars such as the Ford Mondeo. He also discussed the role proprietary data can play in complementing consumer surveys, giving those stories additional context and credibility. Businesses that can properly utilise their owned data to tell stories about consumer behaviours stand a good chance of catching Andrew’s attention.

Using his inbox as a search engine

Like many journalists, Andew receives hundreds of emails a day so finds it impossible to reply to everyone. But he stressed that just because he hasn’t responded doesn’t mean the pitch hasn’t been useful. Andrew described using his inbox as a search engine, searching for relevant data, quotes or spokespeople among his emails to see if there is anything he can use to include in his piece. Andrew said pitches can come in handy weeks and months after they have been sent, so its always worth sending through even if it doesn’t lead to immediate coverage.

There is demand for lighter stories

Following extensive reporting on the Israel/Gaza war, Andrew emphasised the desire from the news desk for lighter, feel-good stories. While significant portions of the news section continue to be dedicated to reporting on the conflict, specialist reporters are keen to run stories that can provide some light relief from the heavier news. According to Andrew, many of these can come from brands, and providing they are not too self-serving they stand a good chance of making the paper.

Cost-of-living fatigue creeping in

The cost-of-living crisis has been the dominant consumer topics for more than 18 months and we are now starting to see signs of fatigue among both journalists and readers, Andrew explained. While  major stories, such as energy bills, interest rates and inflation, will continue to be reported on, he urged brands to ensure that they are not approaching every story from a cost-of-living angle, as much of The Times audience has started to switch off from it.

Filling the Christmas basket

The release of the John Lewis ad means the consumer countdown to Christmas is officially on, and things are no different in The Times’ newsroom. Andrew shared that all journalists on the news desk have been asked to submit three ideas by the end of November for articles that can pre-written and deployed at any time over the often quiet Christmas period, so the next few weeks are the perfect time to get in touch with evergreen stories.