Build Trust: Avoid Fake News, 27th November 2018


Sophie Broom, corporate affairs and campaigns manager at RSA Group kicked off this event on 27 November 2018 with two startling facts:

  • 6 in 10 links get retweeted without the sharer having read beyond the summation
  • People believe fake news at least 20% of the time

But wait a minute…what’s the source and is it source credible? 

Is the purpose propaganda and has a ‘clickbait’ headline been used? Fake news sites don’t always look flashy – they’re after clicks and that can generate advertising revenue.

And are the facts being reported by other credible sources.  Just because the story might be trending, doesn’t mean it is true.

These are just a few questions we should ask ourselves before sharing stories and information we find online, said Sophie.

Will Moy, director at Full Fact said a lot off the research into misinformation is ‘rubbish’ but did cite the Reuters Institute for Journalism as one useful source into the issue of fake news.

Both Will, and Sophie agreed that we live in an era where it is hard to escape made up stories.  Fake news writer, Christopher Blair, makes a living from it and describes what he does as an ‘art form’.  The authors of such made up stories often cover themselves legally by using disclaimers on their sites.

What can organisations do to avoid sharing stories as part of their social media public relations activities.  Sophie offered these tips:

  • If the headline is too good/too bad to be true, it probably is
  • Check the source and beware that fake sources often mimic trusted news sources by hijacking icons such as the BBC News icon
  • Read beyond the summation
  • Use a website such as Snopes or Red Pen to help you understand the accuracy of a news story
  • When issuing your own news stories, check that they won’t get mistaken for another (possibly fake one) by searching your keywords to find out what else is out there
  • Set up Google alert so that you can see what people are saying about your news story/related topic
  • If media report any inaccuracies, ask them to correct the disinformation before the story is spread.

Lucy Cording, Director of Digital Engagement at Kekst CNC Communications says that crisis preparedness is widening to include issues around social media manipulation.

She gave a summary of some of the changes that Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have made to protect themselves from criticism regarding the spread of false stories and has this advice for public relations:

  • To protect what you put out on social from being criticised, keep your organisation’s social media guidance updated
  • Look at the guidance companies like Facebook are giving their users (the advice on use of photographs and tone of jokes/irony) as this can be helpful.

‘Seeing is believing’ came to mind when Will Moy reminded us all the dilemma that Heineken found itself in back in 2012 when it was accused of sponsoring a dog fight event. The cause?  A photograph that was shared on Facebook showing a dog fight that took place in a nightclub in Mongolia with Heineken branded banners lining the fighting ring.  Was the picture genuine?  Yes. Was it photoshopped?  No. So, the story must be true? No.

A check with Snopes explains the cause – the management forgot to take down the banners at the end of the promotional event, so the branded banners were still there the next day when the dog fight took place.

Will Moy, director of Full Fact Will believes ‘misinformation damages your (organisation’s) wealth’ and this can be seen by crisis that develop by the spread of inaccurate information.

OFCOM’s News Consumption in The UK Report 2018 shows that TV is still the most used platform for news today by UK adults (79%) yet the proliferation of channels of information in a fake news era means that many people are starting to distrust everything.  Will said that the dilemma for public relations professionals is how to get people to trust things that deserve to be trusted when they are starting to distrust everything.

Will offered these tips:

  • Pre-empt disinformation by getting your own high-quality information out first because once people’s beliefs have been set by fake news, it is harder for the organisation to change those beliefs
  • Rebut quickly, clearly, simply, consistently – and persistently.
  • If you can’t rebut or if the rebuts aren’t being effective, then take the conversation on e.g. with a new story using new research or story angle

A special thanks to speakers:

Sophie Broom, corporate affairs and campaigns manager at RSA Group @rsagroup

Sophie was named as one of PR Week’s ’30 under 30’ PR professionals to watch and is chair of the CIPR Marcomms Group.  RSA is a multinational quoted insurance group which operates consumer brand More Th>n in the UK.


Lucy Cording, director of Digital Engagement at Kekst CNC Communications. @LucyCording

Lucy has headed up digital engagement at CNC Communications since 2016 and works across the company’s client portfolio.


Will Moy, director at Full Fact. @FullFact

Will is a Marketing Academy scholar who appears regularly on TV, radio and at events to discuss Full Fact’s work and factchecks, as well as giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry and select committee inquiries.  He has been director at Full Fact since 2010, fact checking information through three

Read More

Build trust: avoid fake news, 27th November 2018

A CIPR Marcomms event, RSA Group, 20 Fenchurch Street, London EC3M 3AU #nofakenews

Content management and curation of data can be a challenge. How do you know which data to trust? How do you stay on top of social media channels’ changing terms and conditions? Most of all, how can you make sure that you avoid disseminating fake news and losing client or customer trust?

Our event on 19th September will look at the following:
• Tools and techniques to identify and deal with fake news
• How to make your brand trustworthy by not sharing fake news
• How to respond to fake news about your brand
• Knowing which data to trust
• Latest changes to social media channels’ terms and conditions

Our speakers are:
Carmen Whitelock is Head of Group Channels and Brand at RSA Group, a multinational quoted insurance group which operates consumer brand More Th>n in the UK. She will discuss how to create trustworthy content for consumer channels, and how to ensure your business avoids engaging with fake news that could undermine its reputation.

Lucy Cording, Director – Digital Engagement at CNC Communications who will be sharing some of her technical knowhow on how channels like Facebook and Twitter select stories and how her agency advises clients such as BP to create content that is trustworthy yet get traction on social channels.

Finally Will Moy from Full Fact, a registered charity, will talk about the art of fact checking. They are an impartial gauge on the truth offering a perspective on many aspects of public life and the media. They acknowledge that factchecks alone are not enough to halt the spread of misinformation. They will push for corrections where necessary.  They also provide a factchecking toolkit to give people the tools they need to make up their own minds.


Book now as places are limited. Photo ID will be required on arrival.

Read More

PR: Back to the Future, 23rd January 2018.

By Andrea Braeu.

What does the future hold for public relations?  The CIPR Marketing Communications Group asked this question at “PR: Back to the Future,” an event helping celebrate CIPR’s 70th anniversary.  A panel of five PR professionals talked about what PR might look like in 20 years’ time.

Dr. Heather Yaxley spoke about PR’s ‘herstory.’  She took us through 70 years of PR in the UK, highlighting the fact many of us have stumbled into the profession. Only the ‘right sort of chap’ was invited to join the IPR back in the day, but some women were able to build strong careers. Mrs. Gina Franklin, for example, ran an all-female agency in the 1950s and was chair of Association of Women in PR. Mrs. Franklin seems like someone we all should know more about. But her story, like so many, hasn’t been documented, even though women are now dominant in our industry. Heather showed us that PR’s come a long way. It’s gone from government propaganda machine to (increasingly) a strategic management function. We’re getting better at inclusivity.  There’ll be more opportunities in the future for self-employment and career flexibility – if we choose to take them.

Opportunity – in particular, technological opportunity – was a theme taken up by Stephen Waddington. Stephen explained how technology has given us the ability to learn more about our audiences. It can inform how we strategically communicate with them. It gives us tools to help get rid of grunt work (for example, I’ve used Grammarly and Hemingway in developing this piece). But Stephen worries that we’re not taking artificial intelligence seriously enough. That we’re being manipulated by fake news and made-up social media accounts. That we’re all affected by filter bubbles and (self-learning) algorithms. This has the real potential to erode trust. In the future as a profession, we’ll either be smarter and more sophisticated or we’ll be smaller. It’s therefore important that PRs discuss ethics and technology.

Trust and technology were taken a step further by Jenni Field.  She looked at these issues from an internal communications perspective. Jenni shared many of Stephen’s views on the impact of technology on PR. She sees a future where ‘Black Mirror’ is our reality. Authenticity is important as the lines between internal and external communication are getting blurry. We shouldn’t get caught up in technology and ‘shiny things’ instead of getting the basics right.  Jenni believes that verified information and strong governance help with building internal trust and reputation. She also sees it as a concrete way for combating fake news, which in her view is another name for the good ol’ rumour mill.

John Whyte-Venables picked up the technology from the point of MoJo – mobile journalism. John provided a great introduction to the basics of having a studio in your pocket (your smartphone). He spoke about the rise of DIY citizen journalism and video literacy. People are getting better at understanding video as a communications medium, and it’s a threat and an opportunity for PR.  John believes that broadcast media in its traditional form is too expensive – the future is cheaper, hyper-local engagement.

Getting the basics right was something Ronan Carey from Red Robot Ltd spoke passionately about. He believes that it’s not always about social and technology. Traditional tools still have a place in the future, as does relevant engagement with stakeholders. Like Jenni, Ronan believes PRs have an important role as gatekeepers of quality content. Quality also includes channels – we should never have content just for the sake of it. It’s also important to spread the risk and not put all of our content in one place.

Opportunity, trust, strategic management, technological change and basic skills. These will be important themes for the development of the PR profession over the next 20 years. Stephen Waddington summed up the session well when he said that PR is always growing and developing. At the heart of it, what we do is about human relationships. That’s true now and will be in the future.

Some of the resources mentioned by the panel:

Public Relations in Britain: A History of Professional Practice in the Twentieth Century by Jacquie L’Etang

Written content @Grammarly @HemingwayApp

Visual content @canva @piktochart

Video production @WeVideo

Listening @Talkwalker @Brandwatch

Alerts @mention @NewsWhip

Conversation analysis @Quid

Influencer mapping @traackr

Personas @crystalknowsme @IBMWatson

Dictation and translation @googledocs @Skype


Read More

Media Measurement Made Simple – 26th September 2017


No more AVEs. Not since the creation of AMEC’s Barcelona Principles. Absolutely not… Yet they persist, often at the insistence of clients, and the CIPR is making a determined effort to clamp down on this misleading measure of PR effectiveness.


Four messianic stalwarts of the drive to eradicate advertising cost as a valid measure told a Marketing Communications seminar in September that accurate measurement can be made simple, need not be expensive and can begin the process of educating clients.


Richard Bagnall, Chairman of AMEC* said demand for an AVE measure had declined from 80% in 2010 to 18% this year.  He urged PR professionals to prove value by moving from outputs to outtake/outcome metrics. He directed them to the  AMEC website where they can find the approved seven-point integrated evaluation framework. The framework can be used for free and adapted by any organisation – see


Stuart Bruce, CIPR Council member and Chairman of the Measurement Group reminded members that using AVEs did not comply with the standards of the CIPR code of conduct. “Fake or fraudulent metrics undermines the profession’s reputation,” he said, “and could put members at risk of disciplinary action.”

Sanctions come into effect one year from the publication of CIPR guidelines which are being finalised.


Measurement should be at the core of the agency offer, said Giles Peddy, Group MD for Lewis. He urged that organisations begin with the question “What business impact will your communications programme have on my organisation?”


The Lewis approach had evolved an integrated evaluation framework in three phases. The preparatory phase set organisation and communications objectives and strategies. Phase 2 set out the implementation activities, while phase 3 brought together measurements and insights arising from outputs, outtakes and outcomes, resulting in an evaluation of the impact of the communications programme on the organisation and its stakeholders.


PR professionals still using AVEs might be flummoxed about where to start, said Jerry  Ward, MD of Press Data. “Going AVE cold turkey doesn’t mean you have to quit overnight, but you do need a plan,” he said. “That beginning could be a simple as telling your data story. Take it in stages and educate your clients.”


He urged PR professionals to become data literate and to be creative. Basic measures of outcomes can start with measuring attitude changes, sales, customer satisfaction, how business performance has increased as a result of PR.


* AMEC is the professional body for communications research. September was Media Measurement Month

Eugene Bacot, CIPR Marcomms Member

Read More

How to be charismatic – 27 February 2017

Public speaking is the number one fear (often beating fear of death in polls), so the CIPR Marketing Communications Group was thrilled to welcome Deborah Frances-White to share her wisdom on how to be charismatic in the world of corporate networking and giving presentations.
Deborah is well known for her workshops and talks on charisma, diversity and inclusion. Her TEDx talk on Charisma versus Stage Fright has nearly 23,000 views. As a stand-up comedian she knows what it is like to stand in front of an audience and not only get their attention but to change how that audience feels.
Here are 5 tips that she shared:
1. Act like a 4 year old.
When children want to join in with a game or activity others are doing, they don’t wait to be invited, they don’t introduce themselves. They boldly walk up to other children and just join in the play without sharing names.
But in the corporate world of networking, Deborah described how we lurk around and sidle up to others waiting for the right moment to introduce ourselves or to be included in the conversation.
Her advice – start acting like children by assuming inclusion and we will be included.
2. Cheer up the room
Confidence often comes easily when we feel comfortable in the room. Deborah told a story of how corporate (white) men always seem at ease in a board room or heading up a conference. But that’s because those rooms have been created by them. Take the same man out of that corporate environment and put him in a back street room with a drug cartel and he’ll hold back. He won’t say anything.
Her advice – change your attitude to a room that makes you uncomfortable. Approach any talk or presentation in that space as an opportunity to cheer up the room. That’s what comedians and aeroplane pilots do so well.

3. Watch your body posture

As so well demonstrated in her TEDx talk on Charisma versus Stage Fright, Deborah demonstrated how the whole body becomes more charismatic when weight is put on the front foot. And the effect is even more powerful when the speaker comes forward and talks to someone in the audience, gently putting a hand on their shoulder.
Her advice – put weight on your front foot, as though you are walking towards the audience.
4. Be stiller
Deborah demonstrated how small fluid movements, flitting of eyes from side to side and over use of hands actually manufacture stage fright. The heart rate increases, breathing is faster and the voice starts to sound nervous.
Her advice – be in charge of your own head and your own hands because you are telling a story. So make your head stiller than normal and when you move, command the stage.
5. Don’t kill them with a slide show
The corporate world loves PowerPoint and when someone is not confident about speaking, they’ll often hide behind a lectern or over-focus on the slides.
Her advice – make yourself the star, not PowerPoint
Deborah is best known for her signature keynote for her BBC Radio 4 comedy ‘Deborah Frances-White rolls the dice’ and as the host of the wildly successful podcasts The Guilty Feminist and Global Pillage. Deborah was recently nominated for a First Women Award for her work in this field in the Best Mentor category.

Read More

Cyber Crisis seminar – 28th September 2016

Deadly data demands rigorous control


EU laws designed to protect companies and consumers against cyber fraud will pile additional burdens on business already under siege from international hackers, a Marcomms Group seminar was told. The message that ‘data is dangerous’ unless rigorously protected, was a key them of the Group’s Cyber Crisis seminar in September.

The speakers focused on three aspects of the growing cyber threat: the legal implications, preparation and protection, and communications strategies.

Helen Nuttall from international legal advisors DAC Beachcroft focused on the

provisions of the EU  Data Protection Regulations. They come into effect in 2018 and threaten fines of up to €20 million for breaches by companies of customer and consumer data confidentiality. She outlined seven key areas of cyber risk for immediate management attention ranging from sanctions and litigation arising from the new law to crisis management.

The scale of cyber fraud was revealed by Graeme MacGowan, a special risk advisor from the EU Cyber Security Cluster Advisor Board. A former advisor to GCHQ, MacGowan said that people with Facebook and Smartphone were at 33% greater risk of identity fraud. The public lost £260 million  to cyber crime in 2015 while  there had been 45 million attempted attacks against online retailers in the last three months of this year.

By 2020, when 26 billion devices will be connected, cyber crime is forecast to cost $2.1 trillion. Business faces threats not just from criminals, but also from new legislation. He urged companies to undertake company wide training and awareness: ‘Educate, train, prepare, protect, test.’

Approaches to handling cyber crises were dealt with by Ben Curson, MD of CNC Communications. He revealed that while nearly 70% of businesses say cyber security is a high priority for senior managers, only 10% had a formal incident plan.

Curson said it was crucial to prepare for the EU data protection laws as well as the general threat and that communication was a major element in cyber security. Plans for a response to cyber crisis should include a through pre-breach phase which identified threats and involved every department in the company. The crisis response plan should embrace key operations from the development of a communications strategy in the event of cyber security breaches to social media and a media hotline. Recovery from cyber attacks was an essential part of the response.


Read More

Cyber Crisis Seminar

We are living in a digital world, from the way we communicate with our customers, to the way we get our messages out to media, to the format we use to talk to our staff. But holding so much information in a digital domain brings risks – digital platforms are not restricted by borders, but can house personal, corporate and financial information of huge value.

As recent breaches have starkly highlighted, organisations whether they be retailers, telecom companies, banks, support services firms, healthcare firms or governmental bodies, are vulnerable to a potentially damaging attack. Having a plan to counteract such a threat is essential.

This event will look at how we as communicators can assess our digital risks, put together a communications plan for a cyber security breach, and ensure that our businesses, or our clients’ businesses, are prepared for a cyber crisis.

Ben Curson, Managing Director at strategic communications consultancy CNC will draw on his experience of working with clients on cyber breach planning to discuss best practice in putting together a cyber crisis comms plan; a top cyber risk lawyer will lay out the legal responsibilities for companies communicating details of a digital breach; and a representative of a private company who has recently weathered a cyber crisis, will speak from personal experience of how they handled communications, and what to do when it happens to you and your business.

Join us from 6:00pm for drinks and networking, before our speakers present at 6:30pm. The event will be an open discussion and you will have plenty of opportunity to ask questions. Drinks and canapés will be served after the event.

Link to booking information

Event hashtag: #ciprcyber

Read More

Don’t be afraid of PR’s brave new world – 11th February 2016

how to catch a cloud (1)

Since I have become involved with the CIPRs Marcomms group I have managed to dodge getting too closely involved in organising an event. The group has its AGM at the start of the year and decided to host it at the CIPR in London. At last years event they also had a couple of speakers to do talks on measurement. The event was well attended and very interesting with great speakers like Richard Bagnall from Prime /AMEC. Incidentally Richard will be launching the new Integrated Measurement Framework at AMEC’s conference in London this summer.

As measurement continues to be a hot topic it was decided to again run with this and it fell to myself and Sophie Broom to try and organise it. Sophie came up with the title ‘How to catch a cloud and pin it down’. We were aiming high! We were going to try and tackle the oh-so broad range of topics which can encompass measurement by thinking about the more subjective aspects while also trying to understand where this might be going.

At the same time Gartner produced this report about automation. Specifically it said that within two years 20% of Business content will be authored by machines. While this obviously impacts on PR (possible job losses?) this also has an impact on measurement. Consider that much of this automated content is aimed at increasing search rankings and is not meant to be read by humans at all. Should that be measured?

We presented these ideas to our speakers as a catalyst for discussion. It was certainly quite tangential from the usual “how I did my measurement for this campaign” talks and possibly rather ambitious. Before the event I discussed this with one of speakersPaul Sutton. We talked about the idea that it would be good to push people a bit and he certainly did not disappoint. I enjoyed his analysis of the concept of campaign success and how this might be measured using the headers Reach, Response, Resonance and Return. From looking at the feedback forms after the event it was clear that many enjoyed hearing about this.


Just as there is a lot of new thinking on measurement so there are a lot of new tools and we were keen to see beyond the current processes. Web ranking is unquestionably one of the measures of success for PR’s efforts. PR needs to understand more about how search engines work and Stella Bayles gave an excellent outline of the techniques and importance of getting it right. For example only 20% of the budget goes on boosting the organic web ranking yet it gets 80% of the clicks. I will certainly be one to try out her new tool Answer the Client to connect with my Google analytics data. Anything which makes working with Google Analytics any easier can only be good! She also has a great book out called ‘Public Relations’ Digital Resolution’ aimed at helping PR understand more about search engines.


Lastly Neville Hobson tackled the PR automation issue head-on. He spoke about his work with IBM and specifically using their native Watson Analytics tool. He talk was titled Cognitive PR and to me it was about using a computer in about as clever as is reasonable to help you measure and analyse your public relations efforts.


I have tried the free versions of Watson Analytics and I have to admit that it is not particularly easy. It takes time to understand. However good measurement takes a lots of thought and careful preparation. It is not easy, as has been said before. Watson Analytics is not straightforward and requires thought and an understanding of what you are trying to achieve and what it is capable of. I have tried many monitoring and analysis tools in the past and found some to be very simple, through to deeply confusing. I am not sure if it is available in the free version of Watson, but I would like to try the auto sentiment analysis. Most of the automated versions I have tried in the past have been pretty rubbish.

If Watson is as good as people say then it will be worth it’s weight in gold. If it is able to add structure to the mass of unstructured text in people’s lives it will be a massive time saver and be an enormous business advantage. But would you trust a computer to filter your email for only the important ones? This is one of the other applications for this IBM tool. And if it does it well would you leave it to analyse your (unstructured) media coverage?

I can understand why people might be slightly uncomfortable with this concept of further interference. PR has had to relinquish a lot of control with the blossoming media. Will it now be prepared to relinquish a large degree of control over its business processes as well? For example, if you are considering options for a PR strategy and your gut says one thing but the predictive analytics tool says another, who will you go with?

I for one really enjoyed the event. From a personal perspective, when I was originally asked to suggest some speakers I felt a little bit like a boy in a sweetie shop! In reality my hopes were 100% realised and it was great hearing from Paul, Stella and Neville. On behalf of the CIPR Marcomms group committee I extend my thanks to them.

Finally, how about this from Cat Abbott – great visual summary of the evening!


I’d love to hear your thoughts. Also, do subscribe for future updates. Many thanks!

Read More