CIPR case study – Best Use of Social Media

What it was:

Review of a case study from the CIPR Awards for social media campaigns – MSL Group’s campaign -“Always #LIKEAGIRL”


What I learned:

Key points from the campaign:

  • Activity was based on solid research insight (confidence plummeting at puberty).
  • Activity was very much in line with the grain of the brand’s previous activity i.e. supporting women and aspiration
  • Turned a well-worn pejorative on its head.
  • Global message was managed seamlessly across continents.
  • Campaign created an empowering call to action which has potential to become a movement.
  • Campaign harnessed celebrities and social media influencers.
  • Content yielded a very large number of earned media placements (approx 1900)

What I will aim to do differently as a result:

Use insight and research to understand pain-points and concerns for the target audience.

Make sure activity is in keeping with and strengthens any existing brand values or history.

As a potential creative avenue, explore common uses of language around the audience or topic and see if these can be subverted or challenged.

Think about whether a campaign can generate a movement which has life beyond the campaign.

Business Ethics across Generations

What it was:

A report on trends in attitudes to ethics in business, reviewed as part of my PR CPD.

What I learned:

Ageing  populations  and the new generation entering  the workplace are creating opportunities and challenges for employers in embedding ethics.

Understanding different characteristics of these generations is fundamental to building a culture founded on ethical values.

Four generations can be (loosely) identified:

  • Traditionalists (born between 1922 and 1945)
  • Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964)
  • Generation X (born between 1965 and 1982)
  • Generation Y or Millennials (born between 1983 and 2004).

Millennials account for 25% of the workforce in the US and it is predicted that by 2020, they will form 50% of the global workforce

Boomers and Traditionalists seem to be less prepared than other age groups, as they developed professionally before such a function became commonplace. However, the underlying attitudes of these two generations seem to be less accepting of unethical behaviour.

Millennials want worthwhile work – a majority want to work for a company that makes a positive impact, half prefer purposeful work to a high salary, and 53% would work harder if they felt they were making a difference to others

Organisations should seek to leverage the different generations’ strengths, to create a working environment that values differences and bridges potential generational gaps

A strong ethics culture can motivate employees to do the right thing and increase employee engagement

Use of ethics ambassadors across the divide: Potentially,  Millennials can be effective ethics ambassadors as they are natural networkers and familiar with new technologies, but at the same time older employees may have a more established reputation for integrity.

Use of metrics and bench-marking to segment the workforce can be useful to understand the employee’s expectations from their job at different stages of their career.

What I will aim to do differently as a result:

Try to reflect likely communication styles of different generations in internal communications activities.

Remember different motivations of staff of different generations.

Consider use of “generational ambassadors” in internal campaigns.

Try to ensure that senior staff are aware of these differences when they communicate (junior staff likely to be a different generation from them!)

Be careful about following this analysis too slavishly – cannot discriminate against any one generation (Equalities Act) e.g. by assuming one generation is susceptible to acting unethically. 

Also a good idea to take such inter-generational analyses with a pinch of salt! 


Attitudes of the British Public to Business Ethics 2017

What it was:

Review of an article on business ethics current trends as part of my CIPR CPD. Source:

What I learned:

Trust in business ethics has recovered very slightly (48% to 52%) since last year

The key issues of concern are:

  • Corporate tax avoidance
  • Executive pay
  • Exploitative labour practices
  • Work/life balance

As an observation – these top 4 issues are (arguably) linked, focusing around perceived unfairness between senior executives and staff.

The report notes that the relative recovery in attitudes to business ethics could be driven by falls in attitudes to ethics in other sectors (presumably Government)

Among the lower-level issues of ethical concern, Human Rights has dropped off as a concern. Meanwhile Data/Privacy has grown as an issue of concern.

Millennials appear less concerned about data privacy, perhaps counter-intuitively?

What I will aim to do differently as a result:

  • Recognise that corporate reputation concerns are affected by current events and press coverage, just as in the public sector
  • Appreciate that the public’s issues of ethical concern evolve over time but show reasonable consistency from year to year – i.e. they are not overly driven by current events
  • Recognise that underlying themes (e.g. perceived unfairness between senior executives and staff) can manifest across numerous ethical themes
  • Remember that different generations of staff may react differently to ethical issues.

Campaigns that shook the world: The evolution of public relations – Danny Rogers

What it was:

I read the book ‘Campaigns that shook the world: The evolution of public relations’ by Danny Rogers as part of my Continuous Professional Development during February 2016.

What I learned:

Key points of learning for me from the campaigns covered in this book:

Thatcher election campaign

  • First modern political campaign in UK; visual, impactful
  • identifed potential swing groups of voters e.g. women labour voters
  • Event advertising – creating news spike from small number of ad sites
  • close alignment with newspaper editors
  • avoided battles they can’t win

New Labour, New Britain

  • Rolling news; rebuttal; The Grid
  • Blair and his advisers were a client/agency relationship, much like Thatcher
  • Aspiration was key to campaign

Royal renaissance

  • long term campaign
  • use of exclusive photographs
  • relationship with media changed; robust and uneven campaign

Rolling stones

  • wide and comprehensive campaign, lots of tie-ups, sponsorship
  • top team were engaged and flexible, did media that was tailored and adapted
  • pioneering of big stadium gigs

David Beckham

  • managing the narrative
  • lots of tie-ins and comms
  • spanning into new sectors; novelty

London 2012

  • clarity and consistency of the vision; did not deviate
  • team discovered that there is a growing chasm between media coverage and actual perception
  • used consistent opinion tracking throughout


  • use of co-branding and partnering
  • some valid criticism of campaign which is a middle-man for fundraising, lack of transparency?

Obama for America

  • Clear phases to the campaign
  • aspirational
  • ground campaign: use of data to maximise and maintain subscriber lists etc.


  • Authenticity of message carried through the campaign
  • Issue marketing and thought-provoking content

Summary – some common attributes of successful campaigns:

  • Integrated campaigns
  • Clear vision, unified team, authenticity
  • PR-led strategy, consistent narrative
  • Collaborative approach to media
  • Forging partnerships
  • Embracing evolving concept of celebrity
  • Integrity, purpose
  • Optimising digital tools
  • Building genuine movements

It’s worth being aware that this book necessarily looks retrospectively at successful campaigns and is therefore potentially post-hoc rationalisation of why they were successful – potentially, many unsuccessful campaigns would exhibit the same attributes.

What I will aim to do differently as a result:

  • Have a clear vision and position, don’t deviate from it, keep all activity consistent and within that framework
  • Movements can be created and harnessed but think about authenticity
  • Think about celebrity, what this could mean in my work context, and how to embrace it
  • Think big, wide and long term when it comes to major campaigns
  • Don’t be afraid to think about affecting or re-baselining the fundamental relationships between players (e.g. between your organisation and the media, or by partnering) – truly successful campaigns are sometimes those that completely re-engineer the comms landscape. Don’t accept that landscape ‘as is’.


Reputation Management – options when all else fails

What it was:

Chartered Institute of Public Relations briefing, 21 October 2010

What I learned:

There are things that PRs can do when reputation is under attack
Tony Balir described the media as a “feral beast”
Some PR firms use intelligence gathering to protect clients/target critics.
The Press Complaints Commission can step in to help stop doorstepping very quickly.
PCC judges that information made available on social media profiles is fair game
Understand what libel law can do in such situations.
Stay calm! Remain emotionally detached.
Know your enemy – and consider contacting them.

What I will aim to do differently as a result:

Be aware of approaches that can be adopted in a reputational crisis.