Measurement matters more now than ever before – An interview with AMEC Chairman Richard Bagnall

Measurement matters more now than ever before – An interview with AMEC Chairman Richard Bagnall

A recap from #CommsCamp measurement webinar with Muckle Media, Managing Director, Nathalie Agnew and guest speaker, Richard Bagnall. We’ve come to the end of our initial 10-week content series #CommsCamp. Although measurement may be the final step of our communications wheel, we strongly believe that measurement is integral to everything we do and is something you should be thinking about at every step. In this session, we heard from AMEC Chairman, Richard Bagnall, on his perspective of measurement and where it’ll take us in the future. Why does measurement matter? As an ex-PR in the early to mid-90s, Richard remembers the days when AVE wasn’t a swear word and column inches were all the rage! As you can imagine, measurement has changed quite a bit but why is it so important? For a starter, you can’t know if you’ve succeeded at something if you’re not measuring the results. Richard explains ‘when you’re driving a car you need to take a number of things into consideration to get to the right direction; routes, speed limits, fuel gauges etc, so if you’re not looking where you’re going who know where you might end up.’ Measurement matters more now than ever before, particularly for those working in PR and communications. We live in an age of accountability with COVID-19 turning our world upside down even more than it already was. Richard predicts budget cuts far and wide in the industry, “Finance directors will be looking at their budgets and cost centres. If they see PR as a cost centre aka an activity just doing ‘stuff’ rather than creating value, you can expect to have your budget cut. You have to prove meaningful measurement to justify your work.” Justifying your worth Richard adds that there has never been more opportunity to count ‘stuff’ than there is now, but it’s not just about counting the things that are easy to count. He quotes Alex Aiken, Executive Director for Government Communications at the UK Government, who talks about SOS – sending out stuff (or sometimes a much ruder ‘S’ word!) and the perils of being a PR machine that churns out content and ticks boxes rather than focusing on outcomes. It’s very tempting for companies to simply use a measurement provider when they’re so busy, but the problem is it’s not necessarily measuring the stuff that matters. These platforms tend to be counting media content that is easy to capture (likes, impressions, shares etc). This show people that you’ve been busy doing ‘stuff’ but it doesn’t tell them if you’ve achieved or added value to the organisation. Richard explains “that as PR and communication professionals, we need to stop counting stuff without thinking about what it actually is and start questioning what are the metrics that show added value. This comes from understanding where your organisation wants to go, how communications supports this and blending the 3 Os (outputs, outtakes and outcomes). Outputs – The stuff we have always counted and tends to show our activity Outtakes – What do people think now that they’ve seen or heard the campaign you’re working on? Outcomes – What has changed? Higher brand awareness, more sales, greater engagement with a topic, etc. You need to be able to tell a story to get meaningful measurement. Start with the challenge, benchmark where the organisation is and where they plan to go and tie it in with the 3 Os. It’s about contribution not attribution One of the biggest challenges we face in communications is attribution, particularly when you’re working on something with a large budget that has multiple channels behind it. We’ve all launched a PR campaign to go with an above the line campaign and then struggled to attribute how PR helped the sales figures when blended in with other channels. Richard explains that PR and comms isn’t just earned media anymore, we now operate across paid, earned, shared and owned (see our blog on channels for more on this here), so, we are able to measure and integrate that. It’s much better to demonstrate your contribution rather than fight over very specific attribution, how did PR contribute to a specific effect? You can benchmark this against the organisation’s metrics (sales, spikes, uptake) and weave it together to tell that meaningful story. AMEC, best known for the Barcelona Principles, has created an ‘Integrated Evaluation Framework’ which takes the original Barcelona principles and operationalises them. This shows how organisations with any budget can measure in a meaningful way across PESO, plans, objectives, strategy and activities. It’s all about taking something complicated and making it digestible, plus doing what we all do best which is storytelling. We understand that it’s not easy to turn off a metric you’ve been using for years like AVE, but it’s about educating and supporting your employees, clients and agencies rather than shaming people into adopting new approaches. Find out more about the interactive tool and a wealth of information to guide you through here. Future of measurement Richard sees the future of measurement going in one of two ways. With all the advances we’ve made in the last few years, Richard fears that we’re at risk of going back into the dark ages with the monitoring and evaluation market, due to the massive influx of venture capital into the industry. Data is becoming the new oil and companies see it as making an easy profit. It is predicted that media intelligence software will grow 14.8% over four years. This is hugely attractive to start ups and they tend not to employ experts but salespeople. This raises the issue of price commodity due to lots of similar platforms over promising resulting in things becoming cheaper and cheaper. Richard believes this is a dangerous avenue as these platforms tend to count the things that are easy and is half accurate. Although technology and AI is good for the heavy lifting, we need humans to bring context, relevance and insight against the data it finds. We need people to answer the ‘what?’, ‘so what?’ and ‘now what?’ and software tools can’t do that for you. Nathalie concluded that a common thread from the #CommsCamp series has been “let’s be strategic, make a difference and prove what we did”. If you missed any of the #CommsCamp sessions, you can find prerecordings for all the workshops here with worksheets available for download. For more information regarding our media training courses, please email
The small stuff matters – Recap from our #CommsCamp Crisis Webinar

The small stuff matters – Recap from our #CommsCamp Crisis Webinar

With Muckle Media, Managing Director Nathalie Agnew and guest speaker, Former Head of Communications at the Greater Manchester Police, Amanda Coleman. Crisis is a bit of an anomaly on our communications wheel as we walk you through different stages to ultimately deliver a well-rounded strategic plan. Crisis however is one of those things that’s important for everyone to plan depending on your organisation and its current situation. At times, crisis will become more or less relevant but as a base we recommend having a crisis manual in place just in the event of something happening. Things to consider when creating a crisis plan When thinking about a crisis plan it is important to consider ‘what is a crisis and what is an issue?’. A crisis; This is something that makes a fundamental change to your organisation An issue; If you manage this carefully you can avoid it becoming something bigger like a crisis This will be different for every organisation, but, by identifying issues now you can potentially stop it from becoming a crisis. Nathalie recommends having two separate plans in place for each of these.
  • Outline key contacts and roles
One of the biggest issues we have is a crisis never happening during regular hours (Mon-Fri, 9-5), they usually happen when least expected, during the night, the weekend, or over the holidays. It’s important to be prepared right away. A critical starting point would involve creating a list outlining all of the teams contact details and clear roles including ownership over each stakeholder group.
  • Utilise key messaging
Key messages in a crisis are likely to be related to safety, learning and empathy. You may need a secondary set of messages that supports the overall messaging. However, if you’ve created a really strong set of key messages, from an organisation perspective you should be able to deliver these even at a time of crisis. A good way of testing these out is thinking if you could use them in both a good and bad situation.
  • Create a scenario plan
It may not be something you want to do but think about 10 things that could possibly go wrong in your organisation. What would cause the most damage and where are those weak points? Once you’ve established this you can group these together to create a scenario plan.
  • Respond to key stakeholders
A fundamental point in any crisis plan is thinking about how to respond to specific stakeholders. If you have a crisis and haven’t informed your team or suppliers for example, then you’re going to have some gaps. If you get everyone onboard early, it will help you in the long run.
  • Learn from previous mistakes
There are two ways to learn from previous mistakes, the first involving a review and thinking about best practice and what you’ve learned. Was your messaging received the way you intended it and was anything misconstrued? The second option would be looking at how similar organisations have handled a crisis e.g. restaurants being closed due to a COVID outbreak. Take a look at their media coverage, social channels and get a feeling for those who have done well. This will give you some key learning that you can then apply to your plan. Approaching a crisis in the first 60 minutes This stage is absolutely critical and is where you need to act fast to establish the facts. Start by drafting an initial statement, often referred to as a holding or drawer statement, outlining the facts and setting an expectation of future communications. This might be something you push out proactively or prepare in the case of recieving outbound enquirires. Think about how you will respond on digital and social media. In the case of a major crisis, Nathalie recommends establishing a hashtag and being proactive. Although this may be a brave step, it allows you to monitor and take control of the communication by sharing the information first. By this point you should be ready to put out your holding statement to media, acknowledging that you’re aware of the situation and informing them when you will be back in touch as well as contacting any key stakeholders. Here we treat media as its own separate group to stakeholders. Establish who in your team is dealing with what and set a comms plan of how regularly you will go out to your stakeholders. Divide an action plan and map out what’s needing to be done. For more insights on the following steps to the initial 60 minutes, please get in touch with our team who will share more inofmration. Handling a crisis during a national threat Amanda Coleman has worked in the comms industry for over 20 years and has gone on to set up her own crisis communications consultancy. One of Amanda’s most notable roles was leading the comms team for Greater Manchester Police when the Manchester bombings occurred. Something Amanda notes as a key turning point in her career and has shown her how the world and crisis comms has evolved. Amanda explains that the beginning of a crisis is fairly straightforward and tends to be the easiest part once you get over the initial shock. Your key messages are likely to be much easier to control when you’re dealing with the initial situation but as it develops it becomes more complicated and that’s the most challenging part. Greater Manchester Police, like many major cities, planned extensively for something like this happening but it still came as a surprise when it actually happened and you don’t realise the full extent of it till much longer after. Amanda mentioned at the time of the bombings she was really busy putting out as much information as possible overnight, in the following days, months, and even years. When sharing this information, Amanda expressed “it’s so important to be open, honest, transparent and say as much as you can about what’s happening. But, remember to be clear when you don’t know things otherwise you’re at risk of saying something to cover gaps and being held hostage to it in the future.” At the heart of everything she does, Amanda finds it crucial to remain focussed on people (your team, your organisation, the people affected), as it’s easy to get swept away and become distanced in the midst of everything. Over the years, Amanda has done a lot of reflecting on crisis comms and finds there needs to be more importance placed on wellbeing during a crisis response. It was one of her hardest challenges telling her team not to come in the night of the attack because she needed them rested and well to help be at their most effective the next day. Nathalie added that the lines are becoming more blurred nowadays between creating a healthy work and home life balance. To conclude, Amanda added “when dealing with a crisis, look from the outside in as if you’ve just recieved the news and see if the words resonate and are appropriate. The small stuff really does matter.” #CommsCamp runs every Thursday 09:30-10:30 via Facebook Live and live updates on Twitter. If you missed the crisis session you can view it back here. For more information regarding our media training courses, please email
Spreading the message – Recap from our #CommsCamp Channels Webinar

Spreading the message – Recap from our #CommsCamp Channels Webinar

With Muckle Media, Managing Director Nathalie Agnew, Director Rosemary Gallagher and guest speaker The Herald’s Business Correspondent, Kristy Dorsey. Channels is a discussion we feel needs to wait until you have the right audience and strategy in place. It may feel quite late on but when you’re looking at a big, creative and strategic plan it is usually best to keep consideration of channels to near the end. Are your channels working together to deliver the key message? At Muckle Media, we love using the PESO model (paid, earned, shared and owned media) to map out channels. This is overall a good starting point for mapping out your channels, however Nathalie believes since it was created the lines have started becoming more blurred, for example if you’re working with an influencer the activity could fall into a few of these categories. It’s also important to not see the PESO list as a to-do-list – you probably can’t and shouldn’t be on all of these channels.
Unless you are a huge organisation with a large budget, you shouldn’t expect to be using every channel. Nathalie advised that it’s best to focus on what is going to work for you and get the most bang for your buck.
  • Earned Media – This tends to be the most common starting point for those working in comms. We’re beginning to put more spend behind things but earned is where our brains are typically wired to compared to other departments. From a public relations perspective Nathalie believes influencer relations is something we’ve always done in one way or another and although it’s not new, we’re seeing it packaged up differently, it’s all about how we take the story and best deliver it to the audience.
  • Shared Media – Here we can think about communities and how you can build on your community advocates that use your organisation. It’s all about using your biggest fans and turning them into superfans! This will help spread your message across their network as well as your own. Beware too of any detractors, who should be considered in your stakeholder mapping. Brand ambassadors are also another example of shared media. This could be through the form of celebrities or even case studies using real people with real stories to tell people about your brand.
  • Owned Media – This is really important channel to consider particularly when thinking about your content. It’s the stuff you control and sits on your channels e.g. blogs, video content, podcasts etc. Search Engine Optimisation should have its own plan but well considered PR and social can also help to move your brand up the search engine ranks.
  • Paid Media – It’s really worth while to include paid in your strategy depending on your budget. We often see people putting in huge amounts of effort into shared and owned media by creating great content but only reaching a small organic audience. E-mail marketing may feel like an outdated channel but Nathalie advocated that it’s still an incredibly effective method. If you have a solid marketing list and magical content, email marketing can really help drive sales, engagement and sign ups. Nude’s Adultish is one of our favourites.
We’re increasingly starting to see comms teams moving away from just serving earned media and catering more to the other channels. That’s where reputation comes in, we’ve covered this more extensively in our previous #CommsCamp episode, which you can read about here, but ultimately it’s thinking about things like thought leadership, trust and credibility and benchmarking your organisations reputation. Attracting new business to your organisation One of the areas that sits across the full PESO model spectrum is inbound marketing. Inbound marketing is effectively people coming to you. It generally comes from creating great inbound content and taking people on a journey and effectively ending up with them in some form of engagement funnel. If you’re in the B2C market and have products to sell, this could involve people self-serving, looking at the products, putting them in their basket and completing the sale. If you’re working in B2B this might revolve around lead generation or service sign-ups for the third or public sector. A good starting point to learn more about inbound marketing is the Hubspot certification program. Here you will find a huge number of training programmes that are completely free and you can sort by beginner up to expert. The HubSpot CRM is also a great free starting point, then when you build on your strategy you can pay to add on more services you may find useful. An interview with The Herald’s Business Correspondent Muckle Media Director, Rosemary Gallagher, gained some interesting insights into what it’s like to work for a business desk in one of Scotland’s national newspapers. American native, Kristy Dorsey believes that not everyone may appreciate business but it’s something that affects all of our lives and plays a vital role in the economy. Over the years, she has found her role becoming more ‘condensed’ and explains that once upon a time a journalist’s job would be to read press releases, write stories and interview people. However, with digital journalism now being so key, you’re expected to put the whole story together (headlines, social aspects, pictures etc). These all use to be separate jobs on their own but have since been merged into one, meaning the inevitable impact is that time is the most precious commodity to journalists. As you’d imagine, compelling content is the main factor that drives readership and is something Kristy is always on the hunt for but she explains it doesn’t need to be offered as an exclusive (however, don’t pitch something as new if it’s already appeared elsewhere!). She goes onto explain that smaller firms make the opposite mistake of being slow off the mark with stories, pitching something that happened 6-8 weeks ago. “It’s in the name ‘news’, it’s new not something that happened months ago!”. Kristy concluded that good picture for the online world is not an ‘advantage’ it’s essential, the visual for anything online is absolutely imperative along with video. Something to take away To help you establish a channel plan, try using this simple format to get you started.
#CommsCamp runs every Thursday 09:30 – 10:30 via Facebook Live & live updates on Twitter. If you missed the channel session you can view it back here. For more information regarding our media training courses, please email
Creating good content – Recap from our #CommsCamp Content Webinar

Creating good content – Recap from our #CommsCamp Content Webinar

There’s a reason we leave content till later on in the #CommsCamp series as we believe you really have to grasp your strategy, audience and stakeholders before creating strong, targeted content. If you go into this too quickly, you’re at risk of being too tactical and not strategic enough. Brand Guidelines – It doesn’t need to be complicated! Brand guidelines communicate a variety of things around your brand, both internally and externally. If you don’t feel you’re at the stage of having extensive guidelines you could have something as simple as a document outlining your chosen typography, sizes, pantone colours and logo variations. The calligraphy style may be pretty and popular but is not always practical so make sure you have backups for different scenarios. This will ensure that things are applied correctly and consistently across the organisation. There are many ways of presenting these guidelines like a collage or look book. This is an artistic way of showing off you styles to your organisation and stakeholders. A good exercise to carry out is think about what makes great content for your organisation and transfer this over to your guidelines. A tone of voice section or separate document is also a good addition. Creating great content Looking beyond the brand guidelines, you want to be thinking about content that’s original and distinctively yours. Nathalie adds “viral is often an overused word that stakeholders can expect from a campaign, but truly organic, viral content can be few and far between and usually the content with the highest reach has significant budgets behind them.” As communicators we need to educate our client side and organisations that going viral isn’t quite as easy as it sounds! There are lots of other ways you can make interesting, engaging content;
Being entertaining may be a good starting point depending on your message and organisation. Nathalie has seen some great Twitter content coming out from the UK police accounts trying to engage the audience on their more serious topics. In communications, we’ve got this holy grail of coming up with original thought leadership which is fantastic but can’t always be done. You might want consider being ‘thought provoking’ instead and offering an opinion on a story already out there. Alternatively, you could go out and do your own research for provoking or if appropriate, more controversial thoughts. At preproduction stage, try testing your content and bigger proposition with some core questions ‘would we talk about this at the pub or watercooler?’, ‘would I share this with my friends or colleagues?’. If you’re team are not willing to engage with the content you are working on you might have to rethink about your work culture or content. Types of content You’ve got your idea, big or small, that you can run your whole series around or have a quick tactical pitch. There’s two ways which you can split this content, user generated and corporate content. Ideally, you’d have a mix of both; User generated: This gives you extra credibility and turns your customers, service users etc into ambassadors and helps you reach their network through their content. A great way of achieving this method is creating visually appealing branding/products and encouraging people to share their experience through your hashtag. Corporate content: This is content you create yourself and push out. For assisting assets we can produce four main types of content: pictures, video, audio & copy. Pictures – Think about standalone pictures or graphs that could work alongside the article. Nathalie believes there’s real value in bringing in a press photographer to get some killer shots particularly for bigger events/activities. At Muckle Media we use this checklist for getting the perfect picture;
  • Feature the person linked to the story
  • No more than three people
  • Always have props, the more creative and eye-catching the better!
  • Include some form of branding
  • Use your location to tell a story
With this formula in place, think about where you’d like it to be placed in newspapers and social channels. Video – This can get expensive but it doesn’t need to be. Filming on your smartphone can look very slick especially with extra props (tripod, lighting etc). This content doesn’t always need a storyboard or be heavily edited. On your social channels try keep it short and snappy. Copy – An obvious one but probably the most important! Make sure you’ve got something prepared with the story if it needs it. Nathalie doesn’t favour clickbait headlines but believes you need to consider that there’s a lot of content out there so it can be difficult to grab someone’s attention. Think to yourself what you would click and have you found what you were looking for otherwise you’ll have terrible by trace and your followers won’t trust your content. Audio – People tend to forget about audio beyond podcasts. If you’re doing any kind of video it’s important to make sure you have good audio prepared. You could also use your smartphone to record a clip to share with radio stations when putting out a big story. We’re finding this is becoming increasingly popular and they’re being used more and more. In the next session of #CommsCamp we’re going to build upon your content and explore four types of channels – paid, earned, shared and owned media (also known as the PESO model). This will help get your content out to all your channels most efficiently. #CommsCamp runs every Thursday 09:30 – 10:30 via Facebook Live & live updates on Twitter. If you missed the content session you can view it back here. For more information regarding our media training courses, please email
Managing stakeholders – Recap from our #CommsCamp Stakeholders webinar

Managing stakeholders – Recap from our #CommsCamp Stakeholders webinar

With Muckle Media, Managing Director Nathalie Agnew and guest speaker, The Scotsman & Scotland on Sunday, Consumer Affairs Correspondent Jane Bradley. Once you’ve grasped the insights, found ‘golden egg’ opportunity and created a strategy you are now ready to explore your stakeholders in-depth. In this webinar series we focussed on how to effectively identify, communicate and manage your stakeholders as well as finding out Jane’s do’s and dont’s for pitching to a journalist. Identifying your stakeholders Mapping your key stakeholders isn’t something you do once and file away, they’re constantly evolving and changing. There are many key times that your stakeholders might change quickly, for example during an election your local MSPs could switch overnight, so it’s important to treat a stakeholder map as a live document. To get you started, we’ve identified some different stakeholder groups you might have in your organisation. This won’t apply to everyone, but it gives you some core ‘buckets’ to help file your stakeholders into;
Nathalie explains the sometimes suppliers can be the forgotten partners, but having great stakeholder management is incredibly important and having good supplier relationships can often help you achieve bigger goals e.g. maybe you could create a joint venture to reach an exciting new market. Depending on your industry you may also have regulators, just now almost every organisation has this after being regulated by COVID restrictions and government guidelines. Communities is a fantastic word which is all encompassing, increasingly within the digital world and the way in which news and stories are being delivered. Communities can really come into their own and are usually built with a group of people passionate about a cause. These would also include the local communities in which you operate, be that geographically or by topic – e.g. mummy bloggers. One of your favourite stakeholders is of course media. Although we’ve been covering media relations in almost every element of #CommsCamp Nathalie also believes that communications and PR is about so much more than just media. Influencers for example are becoming increasingly important and in demand for many brands. We’re not just talking about Love Island winners! There’s been some interesting but controversial activity coming out from the government throughout the communication of COVID that you can read more about here. Power & Interest You can’t talk stakeholders without discussing power & interest. There are four key areas which are commonly used in the industry and it goes without saying that this document should be kept highly confidential once populated within your organisation; Monitor – Not interested or particularly powerful. Monitor this group if they approach you, you don’t see them as being key to moving forward. Keep Informed – Interested in your organisation/cause but not hugely powerful. You might not want to directly consult with them, but you need to keep them informed. Keep Satisfied – Powerful but not very interested. Depending on the stage of your plan, sometimes you’ll find political or certain journalist stakeholders going in here. Engage & Consult – Very powerful & interested. You might be tempted to put everyone here but you’ll soon realise some stakeholders are best suited elsewhere. It’s important to ensure you have a dynamic stakeholder map, this can effectively change over time as you approach different milestones, opportunities or challenges. Go with your gut feeling We then move onto a really interesting discussion hosted by Muckle Director, Rosie Gallagher and Jane Bradley. Jane has been in lots of roles throughout her journalism career, but the biggest gamechanger for her is the shift to online. When she started 15 years ago she explained that there was an online presence but it wasn’t such a big thing “the paper went online and not the other way round”. In the last ten years, she’s had to take online writing much more into consideration. Journalists are now finding a lot of their time being eaten up with admin tasks like uploading stories onto the site, captioning pictures, thinking of new headlines etc. When Jane first started out, her role was to ultimately find the story, write it up and pass it over. Throughout the session Jane shared several nuggets of insight into a modern newsroom, here are some of her top tips.
  • Have an interesting story with a new hook
  • Provide stats if available
  • Exclusive stories are always welcome (Scotland on Sunday is all exclusive content)
  • If pitching for Scotland on Sunday, be early in the week to ensure a good spot
  • Don’t send embargoed releases four days in advance. The day before is preferred
  • Get in touch before 10am to get the story into the daily news planning conference
  • Best to e-mail as she has lots of stories coming through but if it’s something very specific feel free to call
Since the pandemic, Jane’s job hasn’t changed much apart from drastically reduced face-to-face interaction and nearly every story being pandemic related! She still believes it’s really important to meet with people to form a relationship but finds it difficult to get time away from her desk so if you can bring a concrete story to the table as part of a background coffee briefing, it makes it all worthwhile. Jane signed off this series of #CommsCamp with words of wisdom “as a comms professional you know what is a good story, you know in your gut if we’re going to run it. So if something isn’t a story go to your client and let them know it’s wasting your time and the journalists!”. #CommsCamp runs every Thursday 09:30 – 10:30 via Facebook Live & live updates on Twitter. If you missed the stakeholder session you can view it back here: For more information regarding our media training courses, please email
Colour coding your personality – Recap from our #CommsCamp Capacity webinar

Colour coding your personality – Recap from our #CommsCamp Capacity webinar

With Muckle Media, Managing Director Nathalie Agnew and guest speaker, Connect Three, Client Development Director Shona Marshall. We’re halfway through our #CommsCamp series with this week’s workshop focussing around ‘capacity’ and how you can use the resources you have to best create a long-term plan. We also delved into the ‘insights programme’ and explored what a colour coding system says about your personality and how you interact with your colleagues and peers. How does your organisation work? Due to the current climate situation many organisations are reforming and adapting their team structures. It goes without saying but diversity is key across the entire organisation not only communications. The breadth of ideas and scoop of understanding is endless, have a look at this within your teams and from a recruitment perspective. A few examples of the most common structures include;
  • Hierarchical team Traditional structure which includes clear job titles Everyone reports into the next level up Often found in big organisations and places like the army Decisions get made at the top and passed down the chain Easy to manage
  • Flat organisation Completely flat People have choice over what direction things go in Needs really good organisational culture to ensure things get done More businesses are embracing this flatter structure, in particular purpose led organisations
  • Holacratic People work in bubbles to support each other
  • Servant leadership Hierarchical structure flipped The leader of the organisation sits at the bottom and asks how they can help and support their employees
Nathalie favours the servant leadership structure and believes a good exercise for the team is to think about what structure you want to have, is it built for the future and true to the companies’ values? Personal development They say every day’s a school day and this applies to our personal development where a huge blend of skills is required in marketing, communications and PR. The PESO channel model (paid media, earned media, shared media and owned media) covers a huge range of skill sets and behaviours from analytical thinkers to creative, extroverts – we can’t expect to be able to do all of this at an expert level. Nathalie believes there is a big issue when it comes to appreciating these unique skills as a lot of organisations look for people experienced in all areas as opposed to a more specialist role. Think about what you enjoy doing and are naturally good at and you are more likely to achieve better outcomes. No matter what level you get to in your career, there’s always room for evolving and developing your skills. A few places you might want to consider going for extra training are PRCA, CIPR, Marketing Society, college/university courses or the IoD. The CommsCamp series is included in the CIPR CPD database, so don’t forget to log your points if you are a CIPR member! High & lows of teamwork As a high-performance team, how can understanding insights help achieve big things? Shona believes this can be accomplished by four fundamental things: process, focus, climate and flow. Each of us has a unique perspective on how important they are for us as individuals, but ultimately the combination is vital for a high performing team and here are some things to consider; Process – People want to know how it works from a people process point of view. What level of clarity do people have about the ‘norms’ within the team? Is there the right blend of skills? Focus – Is there a shared purpose that every team member understands and believes in? Is there a purpose and desire to deliver accountability? Climate – Consider the current climate, the more variable circumstances within a team the more challenging it can be for people to communicate. Flow – You know you’re in the flow when you’re in it! If you’re in the flow of a great team you’ll remember it and feeling it brought you. The Insights® system is a really accessible way for people to find out where they fit within a team. Shona uses four colour energies to determine behavioural aspects. You may have a preference for one over the other, but it’s important to remember we’re not solely one colour, the mix of colours help us bring different and unique things to the table. Typical traits include;
  • Red: Extrovert, Focussed, Competitive, People Orientated
  • Yellow: Extrovert, Socially Dynamic, Persuasive, Enthusiastic
  • Green: Introvert, Feel, Care, Inclusive, Empathy (which we can see being dialled up during the pandemic)
  • Blue: Introvert, Cautious, Precise, Detail Orientated
If you’d like to explore the insights programme and self-awareness more to become a high performing communications team contact Shona #CommsCamp runs every Thursday 09:30 – 10:30 via Facebook Live & live updates on Twitter. If you missed the capacity session you can view it back here: For more information regarding our media training courses, please e-mail
Four principles to purpose led communications with ASICS EMEA Communication Director Caroline Fisher #CommsCamp

Four principles to purpose led communications with ASICS EMEA Communication Director Caroline Fisher #CommsCamp

A recap from #CommsCamp planning webinar with Muckle Media, Managing Director Nathalie Agnew and guest speaker, Caroline Fisher.

The Hot Topic!

It’s a conversation many comms teams are having at the moment; purpose led communications. In its simplest form, a purpose led strategy involves using the power of a brand to create a better world, and this often drives innovation in business.

A perfect example of a successful purpose led strategy was the Dove ‘Real Beauty’ campaign, which created cut through in an industry which traditionally has presented an ‘ideal beauty image’ as the holy grail for consumers to aspire to. Instead, Dove used real people as models, which Caroline framed as ‘category show stopping at the time’. They leaned into the issue that young teenage girls were experiencing diminished confidence as a result of these aspirations. It achieved distinctiveness with a purpose.

Picking sides

In one camp, people see purpose as a ‘silver bullet strategy’ and putting it at the forefront of everything you do will result in success. The other camp refutes the power of purpose and finds it difficult for consumers to connect with. Caroline sees the answer laying somewhere in the middle. She explains, ‘it’s powerful not just from a communications perspective but from an organisation point of view’ but advised against jumping on the bandwagon – purpose needs to come from the centre and run throughout the organisation, it can’t just be used for comms.

Caroline joined ASICS EMEA 18 months ago and wanted to put purpose at the heart of everything they do. By looking at the heritage of the organisation, Caroline unpicked their strengths through purpose and identified four key principles that help deliver success.

Four principles to purpose led communications

  1. Make your purpose distinctive. This is where companies can fall into a trap of ‘sameness’ so explore how your competitors are positioning themselves and find your unique purpose.
  2. Be credible. Build your purpose on a much higher level than just your product or service.
  3. Be relevant. Consider if the topic is something people care about, are you leaning into a trend or are you focussing on an issue? What you may see as important isn’t necessarily what the world feels so lean into cultural trends that already exist.
  4. Be prepared to commit. It’s easy to define and create a purpose but it won’t materialise unless you’re prepared to do something. As Fiona Milliken said in a previous #CommsCamp interview, think in years not months.

From this Caroline believes that there can be huge business benefits from having your purpose become your positioning and revolving everything around it.

Employees – the best brand advocates

Your employees are brand advocates from day one, so be sure to implement lots of training, activities, and benefits that feed back into your core purpose. ASICS’ purpose is ‘sound mind, sound body’ and they have a strong belief that the two are inextricably linked. With a healthy mind, we will be motivated to move and when we move our bodies, we move our minds to become optimistic, energised and clear.

Caroline also added that ‘it’s important to land your purpose internally before taking it outside, it your employees don’t believe in what you are projecting it could potentially backfire on you’. Try building partnerships you can go far with and who share the same purpose values.

And as Caroline concluded ‘be single minded and committed to what you’re working on. Don’t be afraid to put money behind it and do something different!’.

In our next #CommsCamp workshop we will be discussing steps you could implement to help interact better with your colleagues and employees and a core part of this is having a shared organisation and team.

#CommsCamp runs every Thursday 09:30 – 10:30 via Facebook Live & live updates on Twitter

If you missed the ‘planning’ session you can view it back here:

Planning for Bright Ideas – Recap from our #CommsCamp Planning webinar

Planning for Bright Ideas – Recap from our #CommsCamp Planning webinar

With Muckle Media, Managing Director Nathalie Agnew and guest speaker, Asics Communications Director Caroline Fisher.

We are now four weeks into the #CommsCamp webinar series with our latest instalment on ‘planning’. In this session, we explored how to tactically execute your communications strategy. Asics Communication Director, Caroline Fisher joined us to provide her four principles for purpose led communications which will follow in another blog.

Realising your Bright Idea (and the small ones too!)

People tend to think that creativity is only applied in consumer-focused communications. However, Nathalie is a firm believer that you can be creative with anything and loves applying this thinking to any communications brief. So, if you work within a B2B/corporate organisations, there’s potential for you to move the dial and do something new and exciting.

A broad starting point would be exploring these four key areas;

  • Become aware of upcoming opportunities and trends relevant to your industry
  • Create a rolling quarterly communications plan
  • Have a monthly content plan with a news pipeline
  • Be response to real time communication opportunities

It’s important to remember that although a big, long-term campaign can contribute to achieving your business goals, wins can also come from tactical, small steps like launches, press releases, a really great piece of content or engaging social post. There is a lot of great social media content happening now with brands interacting with one another to fuel engagement. Collaborations are a great way to tap into other’s networks and grow your own following.

User generated content is another way of accessing rich content to share on your owned channels, this being an approach Nathalie advocates via encouraging customer feedback. Why not try our BIG (and small) idea bingo, available on our webinar, to help generate some new, fun ideas?

Time to plan

You’ve injected some creativity. Now you have to create the ‘ultimate plan’ which is crucial to successful delivery of an idea.

Consider key calendar dates. You can find inspiration from platforms like ‘awareness days’ to help get something in at global level but be aware of international events and holidays if you want to keep it within the UK.

Keep on top of current affairs. There may be an opportunity for your business/brand to share its opinion via comment or thought leadership articles, providing an opportunity to raise the profile of business leaders and credibility of the organisation.

For instance, topical themes occurring right now are US import tariffs, Brexit, e-commerce trends, property prices etc. To track these, you can use something simple like Google alerts or by simply reading and watching the news, listening to local radio stations phone in segments and podcasts.

Creating a space

What documents do you need to develop and deliver a communications strategy? Nathalie believes you need to think about what works for you and your organisation, and what fits the strategy and the timeline you’re working to.

Ideally you should have an annual plan aka the ‘big picture’ split into quarters. Each quarter might have its own focus and allocated budget, as well as KPIs to monitor return on investment. These quarterly plans might be more high level supporting this you could have a monthly detailed plan to outline more immediate prioritises. Centralised planning software like Trello, Basecamp or Asanac can be useful to keep on top of these priorities including upcoming news stories or social media activity.

For social media activity, getting some scheduling software like Hootsuite can be useful for planning out and scheduling your content. This will be covered more in our #CommsCamp content and channel sessions.

Having a planning system in place will make your work a lot easier to keep track of in the long run. Work hard now, relax later.

#CommsCamp runs every Thursday 09:30 – 10:30 via Facebook Live & live updates on Twitter.

If you missed the ‘planning’ session you can watch it back here:

If you missed the ‘planning’ session you can watch it back here:

Developing and delivering key messages – Recap from our #CommsCamp Reputation webinar

Developing and delivering key messages – Recap from our #CommsCamp Reputation webinar

With Muckle Media, Managing Director Nathalie Agnew and guest speaker, STV Journalist Rona Dougall.

Our third #CommsCamp webinar series focused around ‘reputation’ and explored the development of key messages to help shape and manage the image the reputation of your organisation. In this session, Nathalie shared her top eight tips for handling media interviews. We also found out why this week’s guest speaker, Rona Dougall, was told she would never be allowed to interview Donald Trump again!

Review your key messages regularly

Your spokesperson should be delivering key messages at every media opportunity. Some comms teams will be far progressed with this and if you work for a larger organisation you might already know your key messages and have a ‘message house’ in place. Nathalie believes the most messages you ever need are five messages, but, if you can distil it down to three all the better. The less messages you have the easier it is for your spokespeople to remember and consistently deliver them. Our worksheets have some great starting tips for developing key messages.

As we’ve mentioned throughout our #CommsCamp series, things in the world have changed a lot recently so it may be the case that your key messages are no longer relevant. It is important to revisit your key messages regularly to ensure they support your strategy. Some starting questions to consider are; What do you do that no one else does? What is your differentiator? If you were on TV talking about your brand, what one thing would you want people to take away?

Once your key messages are in place you can start to prepare your spokespeople to deliver them.

Prepare but don’t over prepare

Media interviews should be done with a clear purpose and because there’s something that can be gained from completing the interview so a call to action can be a good key message for media interview. Nathalie recommends using briefing sheets for prep stating the opportunity, why you’re speaking to the audience and what you want to gain.

Rona explains that a journalist’s nightmare is someone ‘defensive or evasive and that gives really long or short answers’. A pet peeve of Rona’s is also spokespeople not being available, when putting out news announcements it’s important that you have someone prepared in the event of a media opportunity.

Although this may be something Rona disagrees with, as she likes a straight talker, we recommend not just answering the question but ensuring you are also sharing something you want to share. Henry Kissinger would open press conferences by asking ‘Do you have any questions for my answers?’ as he already knew exactly what he wanted to say.

Rona added ‘it’s crucial to prepare your spokespeople for coming on tv, have deep thoughts on what it is you want to say, why you’re on the programme and what is your key messaging’.

Nathalie recommends thinking of key messages as ‘rocks’ and that you should throw three ‘rocks’ per interview to get your message across.

Interesting people with interesting stories

Rona loves interviewing interesting people from authors to feisty politicians and actually interviewed Donald Trump before he became president. Unfortunately, the US President wasn’t to forthcoming about discussing his golf course and demanded to never interviewed by her again, a story Rona wears with a badge of pride.

Being warm and approachable goes a long way in making the brand look appealing. Rona explains other factor that make for a good spokesperson are ‘some with enthusiasm for their brand, concise and articulate’.

Although less people are visiting the studios, Rona has found that people are more available for online calls via Skype or Zoom ‘it’s much easier to get a hold of guests and the audience are much more forgiving about the quality of the interview due to the current circumstances’.

Use your spokespeople to your best advantage

You should be confident that your messages will work across a number of channels, so review or create a set of key messages that can be applied to lots of scenarios. Look at developing a spokesperson grid and getting input from your colleagues on who should be the spokesperson for what topics and channels. And lastly, consider media training as it is important for your spokespeople to have a basic level of awareness and now is a great time to be doing it with everyone at home.

At Muckle Media, we offer full day media training courses to help prepare your organisation for a full range of scenarios and give practical experience. For people regularly in the media, we recommend doing a ‘media refresher’ every 12 months to test positive things coming up but also potential crises. And as Rona concluded ‘Try relax and enjoy yourself, remember it’s a great opportunity for you to push your brand’.

#CommsCamp runs every Thursday 09:30 – 10:30 via Facebook Live with live updates on Twitter.

If you missed the reputation session you can view it back here:

For more information regarding our media training courses, please email

Think about strategy in years, not days and weeks – Recap from our #CommsCamp Strategy webinar

Think about strategy in years, not days and weeks – Recap from our #CommsCamp Strategy webinar

With Muckle Media, Managing Director Nathalie Agnew and guest speaker, General Manager at Eleven PR (Sydney) Fiona Milliken.

The second #CommsCamp webinar series focuses around ‘strategy’, which saw us exploring strategy as long-term thinking and planning in years rather than days and weeks. We spoke broadly on this topic and various tools you can use but also took a closer look at one specific area ‘purpose led communications’ with expert advice from this week’s guest speaker Fiona Milliken.

The word ‘strategy’ is often overused and misapplied

Strategy can be a difficult thing to get your head around even though we come across it on a regular basis. We often see the word being overused and misapplied, brands will talk about having all different kinds of strategies, and whilst we can apply strategy to lots of things we’ve found that quite often it’s not actually a strategy but more of a ‘tactical plan’. We explained the difference, which our guest speaker Fiona Milliken succinctly describes as ‘strategy is thinking in years, not day or weeks’.

Tactics are important for achieving the strategy, but you need to elevate your plan and identify how communications can provide a long-term view of where you want to go. Think to yourself ‘what are the core pillars for achieving the end goal?’. This is exactly why we don’t talk about content or channels until much later in our planning process, these are generally tactical ways to deliver on a strategy.

Understanding your proposition in the market

A lot of what we discuss in this session feeds back into insights, if you don’t have these and don’t understand your customer or you position in the market it’s going to be really difficult to create a solid strategy. Nathalie explains ‘if you get the insights right, then the strategy will almost create itself and should be right in front of you’.

We divide proposition into two sections, value proposition and customer profile. Value proposition focuses on your organisation and what it can offer. Something to consider here is the ‘gain creators’, this is the benefits you can give to others and on the opposite level we have ‘pain relievers’ which are the issues you solve, you tend to see this a lot in start-ups who had found a gap in the market.

The customer profile should align with your value proposition, think about your customer and the pain/challenges they might face. This can help later on with thinking of some creative campaigns. Fiona pointed out ‘customers are wanting brands that have similar values and beliefs to them and see how they can make a difference’.

Purpose can’t purely come from communication, it needs to sit across an organisation

Although they’re not a new thing we’re starting to see a lot more purpose led strategies, Fiona explains ‘ in its simplest form, it’s using the power of a brand to create a better world’.

From years of experience, Fiona has found that customers aren’t making decisions based on products, services or even price anymore, they’re actually interested in what the brand has to say and with lots of big issues in the world at the moment, now is the perfect opportunity for brands to be an engine for good and make positive changes.

Fiona believes that every brand should have a purpose, but not every brand needs a social purpose. It’s not for specific sectors or verticals but more about the decision the brand makes itself. Some things to consider for a social purpose are brand heritage, what’s your brand’s beliefs and values, this should come from the bigger brand strategy and be seen in everything you do. If you think of ways to use this creatively it can be a really strong business tool.

Nathalie added ‘there are various versions of what they call the ‘hedgehog’ to help you find a way to identify purpose and is also worth applying to yourself as a communicator’. The hedgehog combines what you are passionate abut, what the world needs and what you can sell.

Checking in

It’s important to regularly check in with your colleagues and employees to ensure that the strategy is working. Some things you might want to consider are preconceptions or misconceptions, what success looks like, what’s held you back and how can you get there? And as Fiona concluded ‘Have fun with it! Being authentic is really important, make sure it’s at the heart of your strategy’.

#CommsCamp runs every Thursday 09:30 – 10:30 via Facebook Live & live updates on Twitter.