Outstanding Young Communicator 2019

In September 2019, I won the Outstanding Young Communicator Gold Award in the CIPR Anglia, Thames and Chiltern PRide Awards.

My work was judged as the best in the region by leading PR experts. Here was my entry:

Demonstrate your commitment to professional development and your career growth

As a master’s degree graduate in Corporate Communication and Public Affairs from Robert Gordon University, my professional objectives revolve around the strategic function of PR and are threefold:

  • Demonstrate professional growth;
  • Contribute to the PR industry;
  • Pursue academic achievements.

After only two and a half years at PRIME Research – a Cision company – I took over a team of 6 people to manage. Three months later in October 2018, I was promoted Account Manager and now oversee our UK policy research center, where we provide international media measurement solutions for organisations such as the European Commission and the Council of the European Union. I have worked on quantitative and qualitative research, data analytics and social media measurement while strengthening my project and client management skills.

Professional development does not stop at promotions. I decided to become a CIPR member, learn about ethics and leadership in PR as well as complete my CPD points. Following this success, I decided to follow the CIPR Specialist Diploma on Crisis Communication and study during evenings and weekends.

The course has given me the confidence advise my clients at a board level, tackle the profession’s credibility issues and demonstrate the strategic value of PR by exploring real-life scenarios and drafting my own crisis communication plan for a governmental organisation.

In addition to this, I have been volunteering for more than a year as the Digital Content Editor of the Public Relations Oxford group. I take the lead on web and social presences, plan and develop engaging content that connects Oxford’s PR professionals. I also attend the group’s quarterly conferences and make the most of networking opportunities.

Outline your work-related achievements over the last two years and how they contribute to the wider industry

My experience for global brands and governmental organisations in PR measurement has helped me understand the importance of media monitoring and risk management. It has also helped me comprehend the challenges communicators face when demonstrating the value of their work. More particularly, I want to tackle the issue of AVEs in measurement by providing new metrics based on my clients’ objectives and raise awareness about how AVEs do not represent the value of PR.

I was chosen to represent the CIPR at an event in Norwich during AMEC’s measurement month. There, I led a practical workshop to offer professionals innovative ways of measuring the impact of their work using the AMEC framework.

I was also a guest speaker at Robert Gordon University, where I gave a lecture to future professionals about PR measurement and best practice.

Additionally, I regularly engage with peers on social media, mainly Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as write professional and engaging content on a blog. My articles appeared on Influence Magazine, Gorkana, Equities, PR Place, Communication World Magazine – Internal Association of Business Communicators and CommPro.Biz.

Outline the biggest work-related challenge you’ve faced in the past two years, including details of what happened, how you overcame it and what you learnt from it

I have faced three common challenges: the use of AVEs, the generation of actionable insights and disinformation in the media.

Communicators want to be able to demonstrate direct return-on-investment results in order to secure increased budgets from their clients and finance departments. Convincing clients to move away from AVEs is a challenge because it is an easy-to-understand metric and they have traditionally referred to it in the past. Instead, I have advised clients to refer to key message penetration scores, analyse audiences’ reactions and assess the sentiment of the coverage they received.

Similarly, the focus on outcomes rather than outputs has been another exciting challenge. The use of the AMEC framework has helped me differentiate the outputs from the outtakes and the outcomes, and emphasise the impact of PR on organisational objectives. This has taught me that despite PR not being a tangible discipline, there are still meaningful ways to generate insights that can guide an organisation. For example, I worked for various brands from the Volkswagen group when media were reporting on the dieselgate. An analysis of their coverage highlighted that certain spokespeople were better at communicating the key messages from the brand’s crisis communication plan than others, suggesting that those should therefore be more visible by journalists.

Another challenge is the issue of misinformation and fake news. My policy clients have been particularly attentive to this phenomenon. I have helped monitor and analyse their coverage so they could respond in a more efficient way, like I did for the European Commission when Hungary’s Prime Minister Orban launched a campaign targeting President Juncker.

A summary of a campaign you are particularly proud of, including details of the brief, objectives, strategy, tactics, outputs, outcomes and budget

Due to the essence of my work for a measurement and research consultancy, I do not commission campaigns. I measure their effectiveness and support organisations with their goals. Despite my role not being tactical, I believe this is still PR. 

At the end of May 2019, the European Commission presented its latest Enlargement Package recommendations in Brussels, Belgium. The report assesses the implementation of reforms in the Western Balkan partners and Turkey. The objective is to raise awareness about the European Commission’s enlargement strategy and demonstrate that an EU membership is a credible enlargement policy, a geostrategic investment in peace, stability, security and economic growth in the whole of Europe.

I proposed a media image evaluation report based on reach, volume and sentiment metrics that would review important policy topics within traditional and social media, highlight some care points and pave the way to future communication events.

The event came after the European Parliament elections, when populist and Eurosceptic parties emerged in various countries. Meanwhile, we had to understand the impact of those discussions within the European Union, as enlargement initiatives have to be approved by all 28 Member States.

Final recommendations included the need for:

  • A push for positive messaging regarding the reforms implemented by North Macedonia and Albania, especially in the Netherlands, Denmark and France where the proposed opening of the negotiations was regarded critically;
  • Clarification regarding the compliance with membership criteria to limit negative coverage in Turkey;
  • Strengthened communication on the possibility of an agreement between Serbia and Kosovo;
  • Continued collaboration with EU-associated accounts on social media.

The European Council is now to consider the enlargement recommendations of the Commission and take decisions on the steps ahead.

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