Archive for March, 2024

A month of Mischief, March 2024

Posted on: March 28th, 2024 by Alexandra Stamp

The Passion Perspective

Spring is around the corner, we’ve got a lovely long weekend ahead of us AND the clocks are going forward meaning more daylight (finally) – there’s a lot of things to be grateful for as we sign off from March.

A few people have even more reasons to feel grateful as we leave the first quarter of the year, and that is of course the big winners of awards season.

It’d be remiss to not mention the brilliant Raye as she made history at the Brit Awards, the singer-songwriter won an incredible six of the seven prizes she was nominated for – beating Adele, Blur and Harry Styles’ record four wins at a single ceremony.

‘Oppenheimer’ continued its silver screen domination at the Oscars winning seven awards including Best Picture, whilst ‘Poor Things’ and Emma Stone took home four, hey, even Barbie and Billie Eilish got a win (deservedly) for Best Original Song, and Ryan Gosling’s epic surprise rendition of ‘I’m Just Ken’ featuring Mark Ronson and Slash of all people, provided another memorable Oscar moment.

But amidst the star-studded celebrations, one unexpected champion emerged – none other than everyone’s favourite sandal brand, Birkenstock. How, you ask? Picture this: a butt-naked John Cena gracing the stage, presenting the award for Best Costume Design, clad in nothing but a pair of, you guessed it, Birkenstocks. Whilst most people were looking at well, the rest of him, a fair few clocked onto to the new sandals, cue a plethora of articles around where to shop the new Birkenstocks (google it), a myriad of social chatter on the brand and potentially even an uplift in sales.

This doesn’t seem to be a brand campaign or #ad, so it’s unlikely the head honchos at Birkenstock would have been fretting about ROI on what would have been a costly piece of work – they’ve just relied on making and having the best product in the category. In a world where brand campaigns and advertisements flood our feeds, Birkenstock’s unassuming victory serves as a reminder that sometimes, excellence speaks for itself. By focusing on crafting top-tier products with unwavering quality, success naturally follows. Here’s to you, Birkenstock – perhaps it’s time to consider John Cena as a brand ambassador?

P.S. We really wanted to use this newsletter to talk about the now infamous Willy Wonka Experience in Glasgow however unfortunately, it technically happened at the end of February.

Anyway, a great month for Raye, a great month for Birkenstock and a great month for Mischief campaigns, here’s a taster of what we’ve been up to…

This Month at Mischief

Girls got game – Lego makes play unstoppable for all

This month LEGO’s global study uncovered how girls’ confidence is affecting their creative spark.

With expert insights from Lexicographer or “word wizard”, Susie Dent, we shone a light on how words shape girls’ creative play. A simple switch in vocab—from ‘cute’ to ‘cool’, ‘sweet’ to ‘brave’—could give girls’ creativity and confidence a well-needed boost. The data also reveals over half of children believe adults listen more to boys’ creative ideas than those of girls, a narrative we’re on a mission to flip.

These linguistic barriers didn’t stop us from smashing our Lego Unstoppable campaign by securing 44 pieces of coverage. Alongside our powerhouse team of Unstoppable influencers, including Anna Lapwood, Jamie Chadwick, and Kadeena Cox, we really got the media chatting about the lasting impact of our words. The campaign generated a flurry of top tier coverage including BBC News, Sky News, Mail Online, Daily Mirror, Express, iNews to name just a few.

Read more about the campaign here.

Pimms-urance guarentees the taste of British Summer come rain or shine…

What’s every bridge and groom’s nightmare? Perhaps it’s rain on their wedding day- and while we can’t guarantee sunshine and blue skies  – Pimms are serving up the next best thing.

Our research revealed that over three quarters (85%) of Brits scrapped their Spring and Summer plans (up to three times) last year due to bad weather. The data also shows BBQs (39%) and walks with friends (34%) were the top washed out events amongst Brits last year. In light of this, to inspire Brits to make the most out of Summer, we came up with an initiative to bring sunshine back to those dreary days.

Brits can now ‘Pimm’sure’ their events against bad weather and secure Pimm’s for their outdoor party – come rain, hail or shine.

Whilst this campaign is just heating up, we’ve had a brilliant launch and already secured coverage in Daily Star, Daily Mirror, Metro and many other top tier titles.

Scroll and stitch – Nick Grimshaw x Three say life needs a big knitwork

Ahead of the launch of Gogglebox’s latest series, we looked into the latest popular hobbies for Gen Zs. We know they love to scroll, and on average check their phones eight times during a 30 minute show, but they’re also on the hunt for something else to keep their hands entertained.

Whilst we are a nation of TV lovers, we found that 69% of Brits are itching to pick up a new hobby this year, and nearly half of Gen Z are already pros at crochet. In light of this, we hooked up Three UK with Nick Grimshaw to launch ‘Mobile Crochet’ kits, and produced a fool-proof guide to crochet your own phone holder. With Crochet now being the trendiest way to keep your hands busy while binge-watching.

The campaign secured a wave of coverage in key national titles such as the Daily Mirror and Daily Star.

Read here to get hooked.

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Financial advice in 2070: takeaways from NextWealth

Posted on: March 27th, 2024 by Morgan Arnold

Money Matters is part of The MHP Financial Services Pulse. 

A 10ft tall image of David Bowie might not be the first to spring to mind when talking about wealth management, but there it was, looking down over the hundreds of attendees at last week’s NextWealth Live annual conference.

‘Change agents’ was the dominant theme throughout the day at The Royal Institution, where we heard discussions on democratising advice, the balance of human connection over tech, managing generational change and the potential for life coaching to retain clients.

There was recognition of the need to not only adapt new models and practices, but to leverage marketing and PR to shout about this – and meet younger clients in different spaces.

A third new era of investment and wealth management

The talk that drew the most attention was from industry innovator Sandy Kaul from Franklin Templeton’s US base. She spoke about the move to designing portfolios that would be as much about delivering personal enrichment as financial; helping clients identify what they want out of life. The increase of gamification and ‘social’ investing fed into this, with the inevitable shift towards personally relevant stocks and tokenised collectibles (imagine a Taylor ‘Swift-ETF’ that covers concert tickets and merchandise as a portfolio benefit!).

She also spoke about the move to three-dimensional, hyper-personalised portfolios that span investments through to healthcare accounts, and the progression from chatbots to ‘act’ bots – holograms that could even take on the avatar of an individual adviser and lean on the data to offer guidance.

The next generation of advisers

This is where the industry is headed – an inevitability driven by client demands and a re-set in how younger generations view and access financial advice. But an ‘ageing’ financial advice industry is a challenge to this: around three quarters of IFAs plan to retire within the next decade. Someone made the point that the RDR was the death knell for advisers, with the scrapping of the commission structure that might enable younger advisers to get started (or attract them in the first place). Another argument was that licences to practice were becoming tougher to achieve and align with regulations, not market need. Once again, a reminder that it is the end-client who will ultimately steer this next era.

Connecting via communications

It was telling that the real focus on the role for marketing came from Paddy Earnshaw, Customer and Digital Director at B&Q. When 74% of customers get frustrated if content shared has nothing to do with them, and 48% spend more when their experience is personalised, he rightly emphasised the importance of connecting with customers and their communities.

That’s why wealth and investment managers, while it might be unchartered territory for some, need to be thinking more about their brand. Take inspiration from in and out of financial services, and companies that are already showing how they understand changing lifestyles. It can start small: a narrative that defines the ambition, a one-off sponsorship to test the waters, building to something longer-term that that stretches the business into different territory.

If you would like to discuss more about what these next steps should be, do get in touch on [email protected].

 

Greenhushing: Are companies running away from communicating their climate ambitions?

Posted on: March 25th, 2024 by Morgan Arnold

It’s hard to miss Spring entering its early bloom in recent weeks following the warmest February on record last month. Blossoms have appeared around a month earlier than usual in recent years, creating disruptive effects on ecosystems, and 2024 has seen a continuation of the recent extreme weather trend that has dominated headlines. With further warnings of the coming months setting fresh temperature records around the world, climate change has maintained its grip as one of today’s most pressing global issues.

And, as more voters than ever head to the polls this year, companies are grappling with their responsibilities to the planet and the extent to which they uphold and communicate their climate ambitions.

In the wake of new legislation approved by the European Parliament in January to curb greenwashing, businesses face a new reality. Generic environmental claims and misleading product information are banned, with only sustainability labels backed up by certification schemes permissible under the new rules. It comes as the UK government announced its consultation to regulate the ESG ratings sector this month. HM Treasury seeks to improve “clarity and trust” in the sector, highlighting the need for more transparent and accountable data on companies’ climate credentials.

Sustainable positioning on the retreat

While these developments, and others, will go a long way towards stamping out instances of greenwashing and increasing data quality, they could also lead to unintended consequences. Companies may opt to stay quiet on their net zero progress out of fear of falling foul of regulations.

Some financial institutions, including Blackrock and HSBC, have decided to downgrade their funds under the EU’s Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation from the most sustainable category to one that requires a looser definition. Vanguard deleted two paragraphs about its “dedication to responsible investing” from its webpage on sustainable investing for several months last year. Meanwhile, ASOS has removed the “Responsible Edit” filter section from its website without any public announcement.

A recent study by South Pole confirms this concerning trend of businesses shifting away from their sustainable positioning. The study found that most respondents in nine of the 14 industries surveyed are intentionally decreasing their climate communications, otherwise known as ‘greenhushing’. It found that 44% of companies stated that external communications on climate targets have become more challenging, and 7 in 10 listed companies admitted to greenhushing. They blame a heady mix of factors, including growing regulatory scrutiny, investor pressure, customer activism and data scarcity.

Companies may underreport their sustainability efforts for genuine reasons, such as being unable to fulfil the demand for data or the regulatory costs. Some prefer to test their green credentials over time to avoid scrutiny or fines. However, research has shown that the world’s biggest brands are missing out on billions of pounds of potential value by failing to communicate their sustainability achievements and progress appropriately.

Avoiding the greenhushing trap

So, how can companies avoid the greenhushing trap? The same principles to prevent greenwashing apply, such as ensuring the communication of environmental claims is substantiated with verifiable data and providing regular reporting on progress against clearly defined goals.

But, more than that, widespread greenhushing could set a dangerous precedent that may cause the recent momentum on corporate sustainability to stall. Communications leaders and their bosses must get comfortable with a degree of scrutiny that comes with talking about their impact on the planet. No business is perfect and scrutiny can be planned for and mitigated against. Ultimately, companies have a responsibility to tell authentic stories in order to catalyse a more sustainable future. A good example of this was Apple’s short video with Oscar winner Octavia Spencer last year. By embracing the sceptic in the Mother Nature character, Apple was able to directly address her concerns, and with it, address its critics while admitting that it still has more work to do in key areas.

While the path to net zero is not straightforward for any business, and uncomfortable headlines will occasionally need to be stomached, those that preserve and demonstrate accountability will reap the benefits both commercially and reputationally. After all, companies that lead this movement can set the benchmark, prompt others into action and, more broadly, encourage an era of more authentic sustainability communications.

You can read all of our Financial Services Pulse content here. For more information about the Financial Services team and our sustainability expertise, contact Ben Carr, Associate Director & Sustainable Finance Lead, at [email protected].

Media Network: Issue 2, 2024

Posted on: March 25th, 2024 by Morgan Arnold

In this edition you will find:

  • A discussion on health news you can use from The Sunday Times, Cosmopolitan and Times
  • Insight from FT Sustainable Views Editor Florence Jones
  • An interview with Daily Star Associate Director Tom Hutchinson
  • Advice on catching the attention of the Guardian’s Health and Inequalities Team
  • The latest news on the 2024 MHP Group’s 30 To Watch: Journalism Awards

News you can use…what it means for health and wellness reporting

MHP’s Jaber Mohamed, former reporter at The Mail on Sunday, recently chaired a panel discussion with Times Health Editor Eleanor Hayward, Cosmopolitan Features Editor Jennifer Savin, & Sunday Times Health Editor Shaun Lintern.

The five key takeaways were:

  1. Personal narratives matter: Firsthand, patient-led narratives resonate most effectively with audiences – our panel told us that their editors are demanding to see these before any stories can be run
  2. The informed consumer: People are now more health-aware, scientifically literate and proactive than ever before, prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic when the public communication of science became a daily norm. For brands, this new reality presents an opportunity to cater products and services to the new health-savvy consumer
  3. Going private: With increasing demand for immediate health solutions, there has been a notable surge in private healthcare utilisation, particularly in self-testing and OTC medication. This trend presents an opportunity for brands to provide accessible and informative resources to meet this demand
  4. Rise of health anxiety: However, while heightened awareness of health and wellness continues, there has been a corresponding increase in health-related anxiety among the public caused by the vast arrays of information that’s now available to us, often via the apps and self-tests that we access to tell us about our health
  5. System pressures: With more information comes more anxiety, but also more helpful spotting of early signs or symptoms or flagging up anomalies for medical follow up. Can the already-stretched NHS deal with all this, and what role can brands play in responsibly supporting and filling the information gap?

So what does this mean for reporting?

  • Health journalists are adapting to this evolving landscape, continuing to report on lengthy NHS waiting lists whilst trying to monitor, understand and sometimes debunk continually unfolding fads, social trends, and healthcare solutions.

And for brands?

  • Reporters are now looking for brands to aid in their storytelling by providing accurate, robust, well-balanced data to build trust and authenticity for media and consumer audiences alike.

Experts the order of the day for FT Sustainable Views

By Mathilde Milpied

With an increasing numbers of brands prioritising sustainability as a key pillar of their communications strategies, MHP’s Mathilde Milpied spoke to Florence Jones, Editor of FT Sustainable Views, about what they look for from businesses.

Can you give us an overview of FT Sustainable Views? 

FT Sustainable Views focuses mostly on long-form, in depth and analytical stories rather than covering breaking news. We write data-driven pieces that cover global trends, with both a UK and European focus. We are especially interested in policy and regulation quite policy/regulations focused – and we are often talking to investors and industry actors who can give us their views on specific green policies and how they impact industries.

Do you cover new research and reports? 

Absolutely. We also have a section called the Knowledge Hub, where we publish smaller pieces (usually under 400 words) based on reports and research – the most important criteria being that the research has to be original and say something we haven’t heard before.

How do you like to work with brands and spokespeople?

The main way I like to work with brands is by having timely access to experts and spokespeople who can add genuine value to my stories, whether by giving analysis the impact of specific policies and regulations on an area that affects their companies, or by providing analysis on data she is writing about. My team and I write pretty quickly – our turnaround is usually between two and five days, so having a quick and reliable access to experts is paramount.

We prefer receiving reports and data under embargo, as it allows us to write up the piece and schedule it ahead of the launch date. We’re not fussed about exclusives: most of our content is long form pieces. 

“Spark a reaction” to get into the Daily Star’s pages

Mischief’s Annie Knight recently spoke to Tom Hutchison, Associate Director at the Daily Star about the stories he’s looking to cover in the coming months and the growing role of AI in their reporting.

According to Tom, the Daily Star is always looking for stories that spark a reaction – whether that’s negative or positive – and that start conversations.

Research stories often work too, but they need to appeal to as wider audience as possible so that readers can relate and make a connection to the data. Breaking down research results based on demographics can be of interest. For example, playing off the north-south divide or generational differences. And if the research story can contradict the status quo or usual arguments around such divides, that’s ideal.

Tom also explained how the team is using AI to enhance their reporting. So far its mainly been used to collect information that provides background and context for an article, so that the team can focus on telling the story. While this usually accounts for a fairly small percentage the piece, it saves writers potential hours of work.

Inequality top of the agenda for The Guardian’s Health team

MHP’s Miles Watson spoke to Tobi Thomas, Health and Inequalities Correspondent at the Guardian about the stories and trends that likely to catch her eye this year.

How does your team operate? 

We’re a team of four – in a typical week we will divvy up press releases, announcements and reports etc. between us and then have our own stories or areas of focus that we’ll be working on.

Alongside general health you cover health inequalities – what’s your definition of that?

It’s a broad term but I understand it as the background reasons which affect people’s health, which could be demographic, socioeconomic, geographic or related to how easily they can access or engage with the NHS.  It’s becoming better understood in public consciousness, especially since the pandemic, but I still think there is more that needs to be done to raise awareness of it.

What kind of stories are you looking out for?

Obviously, the general election and how the parties talk about the NHS will be a big focus for me and the team. In particular, we’ll be looking out for how the parties’ manifestos will talk about the high waiting lists and the ongoing impact of strikes. I’m also interested in mental health and whether any reforms are planned to the Mental Health Act. Beyond this, I’d like to cover stories about maternal health and those which explore discrepancies in life expectancies.

What makes a good health inequalities story for the Guardian?

We need the story to be relevant or pegged to a big report or release of data – there is so much to say about health inequalities that is contained within the data. Case studies are good but really need to be tied to the main story or extremely powerful in their own right.  For example, at the beginning of this year there was a landmark data-driven reportfrom the Institute of Health Equity led by Sir Michael Marmot, the leading health inequalities expert.  I supplemented this by writing a case study about the positive results the city of Coventry is seeing since it became a ‘Marmot City’, meaning all council-commissioned public services have to take into account the impact they have on the health equity of its citizens.

MHP Group’s 30 To Watch: Journalism Awards 2024 is open for entries

By James Rollinson

Back for its 13th year, entries are now open for the MHP 30 To Watch Journalism Awards.  

Celebrating the most talented and influential young journalists in the UK across 10 categories including News & Investigations, Production, Lifestyle, Culture & Entertainment, they are free to enter are open to any journalist aged 30 and younger working across national, regional and trade media.

2024 also sees the introduction a new category, Sport, to mark a momentous year which will see Team GB head to the Paris Olympics and Paralympics, Scotland, England and hopefully Wales’ mens’ football teams compete in Euro 202, two cricket T20 World Cups alongside annual milestones such as Wimbledon and the British Open.

This year’s judging panel is made up of of more than 20 senior editors from across the UK media spectrum, including Former Head of Sky News John Ryley, Good Morning Britain’s Head of Politics Anne Alexander, BBC Breakfast EditorRichard Frediani, PA Media Head of Entertainment & Features Kerri-Ann Roper and Robert Guest, Deputy Editor of The Economist.

Entries close on 19th April, with the awards ceremony taking place on 29th May at the News UK building.

See here for further information: Journalism 2024 | MHP (mhpgroup.com)

Political Insider: Rachel Reeves’ economic vision for the UK

Posted on: March 20th, 2024 by Morgan Arnold

A prestigious rite of passage for Shadow Chancellors before her, Reeves drew parallels to 1970s Britain, arguing that we are in a moment of flux, and that the solution is an “active government” underpinned by theories of “Securonomics” and driven by three imperatives: stability, investment, and reform.

What did we learn from the Shadow Chancellor?

Securonomics

  • Drawing comparisons to Harvard Economist Dani Rodrick’s “new productivist paradigm” and the Biden administration’s commitment to “modern supply side economics”, Reeves defined Securonomics as a broad-based “platform from which to take risks” and embrace change with stability of action.
  • Spoke of the benefits of an “active” and “strategic” (“not big”) state, which she suggested was an economic imperative to protect Britain from global instability.

Stability

  • Pledged that a Labour government would retain a 2% inflation target.
  • Labour would make financial institutions and FTSE 100 companies publish carbon footprints and would create a UK green taxonomy.
  • Recognised that businesses need stability in tax, she also pledged that Labour would hold a single autumn budget every year; cap incorporation tax at 25% and row back on business taxation for the duration of parliament.
  • Labour would move the current budget into balance and would target government debt to fall as a % of GDP by the fifth year of the OBR’s forecast.
  • Labour would end the changing of fiscal rules, adding an escape clause that would only be used to suspend existing tax rules if the OBR could officially declare the UK was in an economic crisis.
  • Commented that Labour would focus on day-to-day spending, prioritising investment within a framework which would get debt falling at a share of our GDP over the medium term.
  • Noted that Labour would reverse the current Chancellor’s decision to remove climate change from a list of four objectives for the Financial Policy Committee and Monetary Policy Committee.

Partnership with businesses to encourage investment

  • Noted Labour’s desire to work with business to identify areas where Britain can develop comparative advantage.
  • Pledged that Labour would review the pension system to ensure that it is serving British savers and UK plcs.
  • Labour would end the practice of one-to-three-year funding cycles for key Research and Development institutions, instead outlining 10 year budgets which would allow for meaningful partnership with industry.
  • Commented Labour would work with universities to make sure spin outs can attract private capital.

Reform

  • Suggested that our current planning system is a barrier to economic growth and home ownership, pledging that Labour would carry out a once in a generation overhaul of nationally significant projects, updating all national policy statements within six months of coming into office to reflect the type of infrastructure crucial to our economy.
  • Labour would reintroduce mandatory local housing targets, and recruit hundreds of new town planners to tackle the backlog.
  • Highlighted the benefit of decentralisation, correlating it with higher investment, stronger growth possibilities and better educational outcomes. She said that Labour would give greater economic power to regional and local leaders, who “know their leads and assets best.”
  • Commented that the “broken” apprenticeship levy would be replaced by a growth and skills levy.
  • Pledged a “new deal for working people,” which would guarantee basic rights from day one, protection from unfair dismissal, sick pay, and parental leave; ban zero hours contracts and reverse Trade Union legislation introduced since 2010. She noted that none of this would impede businesses’ abilities to fairly dismiss employees or offer overtime/hire on the basis of short-term demand.
  • Recognised that a productive workforce required stronger public services. She re-stated Labour’s pledge to urgently resource injection into public services to get the long-term sick back into work.

Labour Insight on Reeves-ism

Joshua Kaile, Public Affairs, Associate Director and former Labour Party advisor

Depending on who you read or listen to, Rachel Reeves speech last night at the Mais Lecture was either indicating a return to New Labour, a move to radical economics, or a continuation of Tory and Rishi Sunak’s economic rules.

The Conservative accusation is that Rachel Reeves has no plan, but risks borrowing too much to invest in the growth she has promised.

The charge from some of the trade unions, most notably Unite, and those on the far left is that Reeves plans are too close to the Tories. What is the point of a Labour Government if it doesn’t look like one, they ask.

And then there are others who claim that the Shadow Chancellor is following the fiscal rules of Gordon Brown and therefore it’s a ‘return to New Labour’.

So, whilst the Tories say she’s like Corbyn, the unions say she’s like Thatcher and others claim she’s like Brown, the truth is that none of these charges quite fit.

Perhaps we need to stop trying to compare Rachel Reeves to somebody or something else. With Labour holding a commanding lead in the polls, the UK is close to having its first female Chancellor. An extraordinary achievement, smashing the remaining glass ceiling at the Treasury.

So, who is Rachel Reeves and what will a Treasury lead by her really look like?

What we know is that Rachel prioritises fiscal responsibility and is not afraid to be a Labour Shadow Chancellor stating so clearly. She will not be nudged into any direction she is uncomfortable with, and so the comparisons to Thatcher are real and fair in that respect.

But in her speech last night, Rachel made clear that she will drive forward the party’s New Deal for Working People with commitments to end zero-hours contracts and protecting workers from unfair dismissal amongst other rights. And there the comparisons to Margaret Thatcher come to a crashing halt.

The Shadow Chancellor talked eloquently about the need for investment, driven by new institutions including Labour’s National Wealth Fund and Great British Energy. This goes beyond what Gordon Brown and New Labour every managed to deliver, so accusations that she is returning to the ‘noughties’ doesn’t really stack up.

Indeed, this level of investment is closer to that promised by the two previous Labour leaders, but with one key difference. Rachel’s clear fiscal rules, including matching the Tories pledge to reduce debt as a share of GDP on a five-year basis. Her pitch to the public is that she will deliver economic growth, without borrowing too much, and use that growth to drive further investment, raising living standards for those across the country. Not just in London and the South-East.

The Tories will continue to say that this is simply not possible, and that Labour will have to borrow more or raise taxes to deliver it. Unfortunately for them, after 14 years of Conservative rule and Liz Truss’s brief but disastrous premiership, the public simply doesn’t trust them anymore.

Rachel may be often simply referred to as ‘the iron shadow chancellor’ but in private she would be just as happy being described as ‘the campaigning shadow chancellor’. And in that I think we see what a Rachel Reeves Treasury will look like. Fiscally responsible and putting growth front and centre. But whenever she is able to, we will see her drive improving living standards, and ensuring the burden lies with those with the broadest shoulders.

With a General Election just a matter of months away, it’s time we stop comparing Rachel to others and start learning what Reeves-ism really is.

MHP’s Public Affairs team will be keeping you up to date with the latest news and analysis in this important election year. Please contact [email protected] Head of Public Affairs for further information.

 30 To Watch: Journalism Awards open for entries 

Posted on: March 20th, 2024 by Morgan Arnold

The 30 To Watch: Journalism awards have opened for entries!  

Returning for their 13th year, the awards celebrate the most talented and influential young journalists across the United Kingdom.  

In 2023, winners included journalists from publications such as: BBC News, Daily Mail, Financial Times, ITV News, The Daily Telegraph, The I, The Sun and The Times.  

Entries are invited across ten categories: City & Business; Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle; Health; International Affairs; News & Investigations; Personal Finance & Consumer Affairs; Politics; Production; Science, Environment & Technology and Sport (new for 2024).  

This year 30 To Watch will include a new Sport category to shine a spotlight on the unique storytelling and great talent within sport journalism. The category will be judged by former 30 To Watch Gold Winner, Adam Crafton, Football Writer at The Athletic.

The Breakthrough award returns for 2024. The award which was launched last year in partnership with News UK, shines a light on journalists who have entered the industry through non-traditional means and celebrates mobility in the newsroom. 

Keith Gladdis, Head of Strategic Media at MHP Group said:

“With Euro 2024 kicking off in June, followed by the Olympics and Paralympics, this year seemed a perfect time to launch our new Sport category.  

“Great sports reporting has always been an important part of the newsroom but as the politics of sports becomes more complex, there is an opportunity to celebrate some brilliant investigative journalism too.” 

Former Sky News Chief John Ryley is our head judge. He said:

“I’m delighted to be part of the vital 30 To Watch awards again. It’s important to celebrate the new talent emerging in our newsrooms up the down and the country.  

“The future of our industry is always ahead of us. Let’s be clear the future of democracy depends on vibrant journalism”. 

The 2024 MHP Group 30 To Watch: Journalism Awards judges: 

John Ryley, Former Head of Sky News
Laura Wilshaw, Deputy Editor, Channel 4 News
Paul Morgan-Bentley, Head of Investigations, The Times
Peter CampbellGlobal Motor Industry Correspondent, The Financial Times
Francesca Washtell, Executive City Editor, Mail on Sunday
Robert Guest, Deputy Editor, The Economist
Shekhar Bhatia, Senior Reporter, MailOnline
Kat Lay, Global Health Correspondent, The Guardian
Shaun LinternHealth Editor, The Sunday Times
Ben O’Driscoll, Executive News Editor, The Sun
Jennifer SavinFeatures Editor, Cosmopolitan
Kerri-Ann RoperHead of Entertainment and Features, PA Media
Ben WilkinsonHead of Money, The Telegraph
Colletta Smith, Cost of Living Correspondent, BBC News
Shivali Best, Executive Science and Tech Editor, MailOnline
John Stevens, Political Editor, Daily Mirror
Anne Alexander, Head of Politics, GMB
Daniel Hewitt, Investigations Editor, ITV News
Richard FredianiEditor, BBC Breakfast
Anthony France, Senior News Correspondent, Evening Standard

The 30 To Watch: Journalism awards are free to enter, entries close Friday 19th April 

For more information and to enter the awards, please visit: https://www.mhpgroup.com/30-to-watch/journalism-2024/ 

Getting a taste of PR: From Health Intern to Account Executive

Posted on: March 14th, 2024 by Morgan Arnold

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, health has been at the forefront of public consciousness. I am not a medic or a scientist (although I do have a first aid qualification!), but health and healthcare systems has always interested me, especially how they intersect with so many other areas like politics, economics, people, cultures, and geographies. This is what led me to apply for an internship in health communications and policy at MHP Group.

From my first week, it became clear that this internship was not just going to be a checkbox on my professional journey. I was empowered by the immediate trust I received from the team. I truly felt that they believed in my capabilities, and this not only validated my skills but also propelled me to excel and made me feel that I was contributing meaningfully to the projects I was working on.

It was great helping on so many accounts with clients ranging from large pharmaceutical companies and patient advocacy groups, to charities, doing activities like stakeholder mapping, monitoring, researching briefs, report writing, and so much more. I know it is a cliché, but no-two days were the same and as a result I have been able to learn so much about the healthcare space in such a short amount of time, alongside developing my professional skill set. I was also encouraged to voice my preferences for the accounts I would like to help on, which only made the whole experience so much more interesting.

On one occasion, I voiced that I would like to work on an account which focuses on mental health, as this is an area of personal interest to me. Not only did I get to help on this account, which ended up being even more fascinating than I had anticipated, but I was also able to contribue to a key piece of research for the project. During meetings with the team, I was able to share my insights regarding this research and felt that my work was greatly appreciated.

One of the things I enjoyed most was the variety of accounts and people I was able to work on and with. Each person I worked with, whether they were an Account Executive or an Account Director, was more than happy to take time to explain and go thorough things with me and let me ask questions, no matter how small and silly (believe me when I say there were a lot of these sorts of questions!).

I’ve also had the opportunity to attend work socials – karaoke and bowling based socials, and also team trips to the pub – which were incredibly fun and a good way to get to know and feel even more part of the time.

Since finishing my internship in October, I have been able to use the skills and ideas I learnt to carry myself forward into an Account Executive role which has given me the confidence and an opportunity to find and explore my interests. So, if you want an internship that is interesting, topical, challenging (in a good way, I promise) and with a lovely group of people, I could not recommend this internship highly enough.

To find out more about life at MHP Group, visit our careers site.

The National Hockey League appoints Mischief to provide PR support across Europe

Posted on: March 12th, 2024 by Morgan Arnold

This press release originally appeared in PR Week

The win comes after Mischief, which is part of MHP Group, provided the NHL with a strategic review of its current European PR output, consulting on how it could expand its presence across the continent in earned media and grow its fan base.

Now, having been appointed on a retained basis, the agency’s remit is to expand the NHL’s European PR infrastructure across five key markets – Germany, Switzerland, Czechia, Finland and Sweden – while helping to devise a day-to-day comms strategy to increase European editorial reporting on more than 1,300 games during the current NHL season.

PRWeek understands that there was no incumbent agency for this brief.

Mischief’s responsibilities also include support for the NHL’s European events, including the NHL Global Series in Stockholm and the NHL European Player Tour.

While not a priority market, the agency also serves as the NHL’s only UK PR agency, assisting with any UK press engagement.

Jaka Lednik, senior vice-president, international, at the NHL, said: “The league has tremendous fan engagement across Europe through our international digital platforms and broadcast partners. This collaborative push for earned media with Mischief allows us to better reach casual and new fans with compelling, relevant storylines about the league and our players.”

He added: “Mischief immediately understood what we wanted to achieve, the importance of tailored strategies for each market and how best to execute to help us achieve our goals.”

Charlotte Brooks, managing director of Mischief, added: “Mischief has a rich heritage in working with some of the world’s biggest sports brands, including Team GB and the England & Wales Cricket Board, and in the last year alone we have activated major sports sponsorships for brands across Chelsea FC, Champions League and Wimbledon, so we’re excited to add the NHL to our growing sports roster.

“We are obsessed with consumer passions and look forward to working alongside the NHL to continue to exploit the existing ice hockey fandom and engage new audiences to drive huge expansion in coverage, conversation and awareness across local markets.”

*(Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)*

#InspireInclusion: Bridging data disparities to empower women from ethnic minorities in the UK

Posted on: March 8th, 2024 by Morgan Arnold

Despite advancements, data in healthcare, (or the lack of it) consistently show that women face unique challenges in accessing quality care and are disproportionately affected by health inequalities, especially women from ethnic minorities. This International Women’s Day (IWD), MHP explores the importance of addressing the gender health gap to empower women, especially those from ethnic minorities and foster inclusive practices, aligning with the spirit of International Women’s Day. 

In September 2023, the charity Wellbeing of Women, in association with MHP Group, convened the ‘Health Collective’ – a group of grassroots organisations passionate and committed to improving women’s health for all women, especially those from marginalised backgrounds. This Health Collective united to ensure improved inclusivity and outcomes in healthcare for Black women and other ethnic minorities. 

As we celebrate International Women’s Day in 2024 under the theme of “inspiring inclusion,” it is crucial to address and recognise the persistent disparities in healthcare access and outcomes that women face. Currently, the UK has the widest gender health gap in the G20 and the twelfth largest globally. 

A recent report published by McKinsey, entitled ‘Closing the women’s health gap: a $1 trillion opportunity to improve lives and economies revealed that in Canada and the UK, just 5.9 percent of grants between 2009-2020 went to research that looked at female-specific outcomes or women’s health. The data for research grants into women’s health from ethnic minorities is not readily available but is assumed to be drastically lower than 5.9 percent. In the UK, less than 2.5 percent of publicly funded research goes into reproductive health. It is very difficult to #inspireinclusion when these gaps in data exist.  

Dr Aziza Sesay, GP educator, Honorary Senior Clinical lecturer, host, speaker, health content creator and member of the Health Collective, said: 

“The theme for International Women’s Day, which is ‘inspiring inclusion’, is not about tokenism. Rather, it’s about thoroughly examining systems and working to improve them in order to benefit everyone. Data plays a crucial role in ensuring better outcomes for women, but often the methods of collecting this data are not accessible to all and can lead to biased results. The Health Collective, comprised of grassroots organisations, is essential in bridging gaps in these methods and building trust, while also amplifying the voices and expanding the reach of organisations already making a positive impact that can lead to better outcomes.” 

Health Inequalities Among Women from Ethnic Minorities: 

Women from ethnic minorities in the UK experience a multitude of health inequalities. In their report, the Health Collective identified that these range from higher rates of maternal mortality to increased prevalence of certain chronic conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. These disparities are influenced by various factors, including socioeconomic status, language barriers, and systemic racism within the healthcare system.  

The report identified barriers marginalised groups are facing in accessing women’s health services and highlights inadequate gathering of health data as a barrier. This results in the emergence of significant evidence discrepancies in vital domains such as maternal mortality. Women are frequently more likely to be misdiagnosed and wrongly prescribed medicines due to the fact that they are underrepresented in medical research. Consequently, policies and interventions formulated on incomplete information fail to address underlying inequities. For example, women are 50 percent more likely to get an initial wrong diagnosis when they’re having a heart attack as ‘common symptoms’ are based off research which is reliant on the male experience. Additionally, whilst 1 in 10 women in the UK suffer from endometriosis, it takes around seven and a half years to get a diagnosis and women are frequently misdiagnosed due to the lack of research on this condition.  

Empowering Women Through Data-Driven Interventions: 

Data-driven interventions play a crucial role in empowering women from ethnic minorities to take control of their health and well-being. By leveraging data to identify high-risk populations, tailor interventions to specific cultural contexts, and monitor progress over time, healthcare providers can deliver more effective and equitable care. Furthermore, involving women, especially those from ethnic minorities in the co-design and implementation of healthcare initiatives ensures that services are appropriate and impactful for all, leading to improved outcomes and responsive healthcare services. 

The start of this year has brought some promising advancements and initiatives in this area. At the Women’s Health Summit, the Health Secretary, Rt Hon Victoria Atkins MP, said that in Britain, Black women are almost three times more likely to die whilst giving birth or shortly after than white women. Atkins also said that women of Asian ethnic backgrounds are 1.67 times more likely to die whilst giving birth or shortly after than white women.  Describing these figures as completely unacceptable, the Health Secretary announced the launch of the first ‘Research Challenge’ worth £50 million to tackle and address these maternity disparities from the National Institute for Health and Care Research. In short, the existence of such data paves the way for change.  

Similar schemes by industry are needed to ensure consistent and regular funding for grassroots organisations, diversity in clinical trials and providing resources to drive research, innovation and development. By investing in these programmes, industry can help change the paradigm of women’s health and ensure better healthcare outcomes for all. 

Conclusion: 

Despite positive movements, it is clear that progress is slow. Hologic, a leading innovator in women’s health, in their recent report and call to action, have concluded that women’s health is in a state of emergency, not just in the UK but globally. Data serves as a critical tool for understanding and addressing health disparities. Therefore, improving available data and ensuring inclusion in healthcare research are essential steps towards promoting inclusive healthcare practices.  

As we celebrate International Women’s Day in 2024, we must reaffirm the commitment to inspiring inclusion in healthcare by addressing data disparities and health inequalities among women and especially women from ethnic minorities in the UK. Industry, Government and health systems need to work together to ensure that the health of women is prioritised. By harnessing the power of data to inform policy and practice, fostering cultural competence within healthcare systems, and empowering women to actively participate in their own care, we can create a more equitable and inclusive healthcare landscape for all women, regardless of ethnicity or background.  

Key takeaways from MHP’s Budget Briefing event

Posted on: March 7th, 2024 by Alexandra Stamp

The event was moderated by James Gurling OBE – Executive Chairman of Public Affairs at MHP Group, with panellists:  

  • Stephen Hammond MP, Treasury Select Committee and Former Minister of State  
  • Alistair Strathern MP, Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Shadow Chancellor  
  • Madeleine Grant, Parliamentary Sketchwriter and Columnist, The Telegraph  
  • Sonia Sodha, Columnist, The Observer  
  • Asa Bennett, Assistant Editor, Daily Express  
  • Chris Hopkins, Political Research Director, Savanta  

Proceedings began with Chris Hopkins, Political Research Director at Savanta, outlining the results of their overnight snap poll of public reaction to the Chancellor’s Budget announcements.  

The immediate public reception to the Budget has been muted, with support for the Spring Budget down 16 points on support for the Autumn Statement four months ago. Labour led the Conservatives on economic trust by 11 points, and 60% of UK adults do not believe that the Government’s plan for the economy is working; an increase of 11% since the Autumn Statement. 75% of UK adults do not believe that the Spring Budget will be enough to help them with the cost of living, and two thirds feel that the Budget will not benefit them or their family.  

Of the specific announcements, 61% support the Chancellor’s headline announcement to cut National Insurance by 2p, and 59% support the extension of the windfall tax on oil and gas. However, less than 50% of respondents supported the Chancellor’s announcement to abolish the non-dom tax status, potentially indicating that the public are not supportive of the Government’s perceived ‘stealing’ of Labour’s headline tax announcement.  

Quipping that the level of leakage of this year’s Spring Budget would have been a ‘sackable offence’ several years ago, Stephen Hammond MP began the panel analysis with a Conservative perspective on the Budget. He outlined that while immediate public reaction may be subdued, the long-term outcomes of the Budget will be incredibly positive for the UK.  

Speaking on NHS productivity specifically, Hammond argued that the measures introduced here would have significant and lasting benefits for the NHS without placing a significant cost on the taxpayer. However, given the lack of enthusiasm for the Budget announcements, Hammond did outline that his prediction for an election date would now be November, rather than May as has been rumoured over the last few weeks.  

Providing Labour’s response, Alistair Strathern MP outlined his intrigue regarding the Conservative’s message to ‘stick with the plan’. He argued that if the Chancellor’s idea of sticking with the plan is to take in more and more of Labour’s policy ideas, Strathern questioned how the Conservatives will defend their policies to their voters at election time.  

Strathern also pointed out that the Budget, bereft of any rabbits, showcases the difficult economic situation that the next Government is going to inherit. Additionally, given the decline in living standards that many people across the country have experienced over the last few years, Strathern pointed out that the Budget was lacking measures to get growth back on track in the UK and improve living standards.  

Providing the lobby’s view, Madeleine Grant shared how underwhelming many MPs had found this year’s Budget. Given the details that were briefed over the weekend there was very little surprise, and the contents of the Budget were not – in Grant’s view – enough to shift the dial for the Conservatives. Like Hammond, she argued that this has reduced the likelihood of a May election.  

Grant also shared that there was little within the Budget to indicate which policies the Conservatives will prioritise during the next General Election, providing little clue as to what the Government will choose to campaign on nationally over the next few months. Grant reasons that this relatively tame fiscal event was due to the “spectre of Liz Truss hanging over the Budget”, with the Government overcorrecting and stepping nervously to ensure that they do not repeat the relatively recent history of the Truss Mini-Budget.  

Finally, Grant discussed how both Labour and the Conservatives are cannibalising each other’s policy ideas. Given the current state of the economy, there is not much wiggle room for policy creativity and differentiation. As a result, Grant feels that the General Election will be determined on how much the public trust either party with the economy. Given Savanta’s polling, this does not look to be positive for the Conservatives.  

Handing over to Asa Bennett, a former Speechwriter for Liz Truss, to respond, Bennett agreed that the public’s reaction to the Budget and the absence of a rabbit in the Budget means that it is unlikely that the Budget will be used as a springboard into a May election. Bennett argued that the blame for this partially lies with the over-briefing that the Treasury undertook ahead of Wednesday’s statement, muting the rhetorical flair and spin that could be conducted post-Budget. He also argued that the stealth taxes and borrowing from future budgets to fund Budget promises has not been lost on the public, and has muted enthusiasm for the announcements.  

Bennett agreed with Strathern’s point regarding the Conservatives mimicking of Labour policies. He mused out that while the Conservatives want the credit for the Labour ideas which have proven to be successful with the public, he feels that this signifies that the Party is running out of ideas to get the public to vote blue.  

Finishing the panellist comments, Sonia Sodha spoke on the politics of the Budget. Sodha criticised the Chancellor’s messaging around the state of the current economy, pointing out that the economic hardship the public are experiencing day-to-day can’t be dismissed by the Chancellor stating that ‘it will get better’ and ‘the economy is actually doing really well’. There is a significant gap between the Chancellor’s story and people’s lived reality. Spin from the Chancellor, according to Sodha, will not sway the votes of people who are struggling financially.  

Beyond this, Sodha argued that the Conservatives are very clearly attempting to hem Labour in ahead of the election, limiting the policy levers and options available for the next Government. While Sodha sympathised with Labour’s cautiousness with regards to policy, she stated that this risk-averse attitude leaves Labour open to having their policies stolen. On Labour’s lack of Growth Plan for example, Sodha outlines the need for Labour to develop a replacement for their now defunct £28bn green investment commitment, as well as a plan for affordable housing. The Budget was significant in this way, as it set many traps for Labour for when they are in Government later this year.  

Questions from the floor

Questions were taken from the audience, ranging from the potential of another Autumn Statement before a General Election, the need for policy certainty for the energy sector, and the need for energy security and a plan for nuclear power provision.  

From Labour’s perspective, Strathern argued that the Party is prioritising policy certainty and assessment, ensuring that the UK is an appealing and competitive site for investors across the world. Both he and Hammond agreed that Labour need a strong narrative with regards to energy investment and security to soothe any concerns and crowd in investment in the sector.  

There was much discussion about when the General Election would be called. All panellists agreed that a May election appears to be off the cards, but opinions differed on when Sunak may decide to make the call. Hammond thought that a post-Summer recess call may be made to interfere with Party Conference season and avoid headlines about potential new Conservative Leadership candidates to replace Sunak. Strathern agreed that he couldn’t see how another Conference season would be useful to the Conservatives, and any election announcement would take place around this time.  

Sodha disagreed however. She stated that while a strategic and rational Prime Minister would make this choice, she felt that Sunak would try and wait out the polls, calling an election for mid-December to give the Conservatives as much time as possible to achieve a victory at the ballot box.  

Whenever the election is called, as Bennett outlined there is likely to be post-Election fallout on both sides of the aisle. The Conservatives will undertake a period of internal assessment, making drastic changes to their position in an attempt to win back support that they have lost in the last few years. Labour, while having a blank cheque for their first year in power, will quickly need to show that they are delivering change and have a plan for the future of the UK.  

With this in mind, it appears that the turbulence that the UK political scene has experienced of late will not be resolved at the ballot box, and we can look forward to continued change in the year ahead.