Published 10th March 2023

Leveraging earned media is your secret weapon to remaining competitive

By Will Painter, Founder and CEO, WP Communications

It’s been a while since my last blog post, and quite frankly embarrassingly long. There’s a list of excuses somewhere amongst the client work, pitch deadlines, campaign launches and RFPs.

However, I’m not one for making excuses and to combat the cliché of PR agencies not doing their own PR, I will make a conscious effort to blog more in 2023 and share my insights to the industry.

I was inspired to write this blog by a prospect who said “Why is earned media important? Can’t we blast adverts online to get people’s attention?”

Yes, you could choose to “blast adverts,” however, will it achieve the optimal result. And by optimal result what are your objectives? Who is your audience? What do we want to achieve?…A few seconds of silence. Yes, we need to define our audiences first and our objective is to generate sales by building brand awareness.

To which I replied, if you see an advert online how does it make you feel? What does it tell you about the company? Can I trust you based on this advert? How do I know you will deliver what you advertise?

Yes advertising is important for getting eyeballs on your brand quickly (and may I add relatively costly to do so compared to securing editorial), however it is more difficult to build a brand’s reputation with advertising alone.

This is where earned media comes in, endorsing your brand via authoritative and trusted sources. Earned media can build a perception of your brand through story-telling to create fame and influence. And finally, it creates an emotional connection with your target customer to generate sales.

Integrated communications: A combination of earned media, paid and owned media is the key to building your brand awareness in a competitive market. Your brand becomes your USP that people will remember in the decades to come. It is the art of brand storytelling that will keep your company relevant, respected and trusted.

Published 8th May 2020

By Will Painter, Founder and CEO, WP Communications

COVID-19: Business growth in a crisis

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Business as unusual

COVID-19 has led to a change in business practices, with the largest remote working experiment the world’s ever witnessed. 

With an unprecedented response by governments across the world to co-ordinate mass lockdowns, companies have taken drastic action to protect their staff and keep businesses afloat – implementing home working, furloughing, seeking financial support, and making tough decisions around restructuring.

The reputational damage of the pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to cause reputational damage to businesses if they do not handle operations and communications effectively.

There have been a number of cases where businesses are making the news headlines for the wrong reasons, due to practices which aren’t fit for purpose: jeopardising the wellbeing of the workforce or profiteering from a state of crisis.

Meanwhile, many companies have gone into a communications ‘lockdown’ due to an uncertainty of the duration and long term impact of COVID-19, unsure of how to respond and if it is appropriate to comment on the crisis.

Businesses that tread a risk-adverse path to communication cause just as much damage to their brand. In the absence of communication they are at risk of speculation. Is the business operational? Is the workforce active? What are their plans for the future?

Business resilience and growth

For businesses to stay resilient and grow they must champion a strong brand during the pandemic, establishing their position within an environment of uncertainty. Companies must become thought leaders who can find an authentic voice within the crisis. A voice that demonstrates flexibility and empathy with their customers and employees.

Furthermore, communication must be aligned with action. How do you want your company to be remembered? What steps is your business taking to promote strong leadership, and how are you navigating your responsibilities appropriately?

As lockdown restrictions are lifted, organisations need to identify where their brand fits within a post-pandemic world, how they can communicate authentically, and how they can prepare themselves to keep the business resilient for the future.

Interested in finding out more about communicating and growing your business in a crisis? We’d love to hear from you:

Published 9th May 2019

By Will Painter, Founder and CEO, WP Communications

When Is Good PR Not Good PR?

Recently there has been much debate in the media around charitable donations and many opinions have been shared on whether one cause is more deserving than the many other causes affecting our world.

It’s important to note that this article is not a forum to judge on acts of charity as whatever the intentions may be, a donation is always welcome to contribute to a worthy cause. There are many good causes around the globe that need ongoing support. And there are unexpected incidents and natural disasters that can very quickly enter the public’s consciousness and motivate people to make contributions to funds that restore people’s lives or property.

On occasion, charitable contributions from an organisation, or an individual, might be regarded as so generous that the donation becomes a big story – even if that was not the intention of the organisation or the individual at the time. If an incident is of such a scale that it generates news reports across the globe, it is very hard to keep any sizeable charitable donation away from scrutiny.

Donations around Notre-Dame demonstrate how acts of corporate kindness can be put under the microscope, bringing into question the intentions of organisations and individuals – and whether it is a way of elevating their status.

The proliferation of social media has meant that we no longer wait to read ‘Letters to the Editor’ in the daily newspapers in order to garner an understanding of public opinion and sentiment. Opinions, commentary and criticism are readily shared online and usually within minutes of news being announced.

Almost immediately, a brand can understand how the public and more importantly, how its target audience, has reacted to an announcement.

What is important to consider, is how the publicity around good deeds can impact on an organisation’s reputation and influence perception. Whether the contribution is made publicly or privately, and what method of communication is used to inform colleagues, peers, clients and if at all, the general public.

There is wide agreement that organisations should invest some of their people’s time, and a proportion of profits, into contributing to a better society. When actively communicating corporate social responsibility initiatives, it’s important that it should be carried out with the cause at its heart rather than for the corporation itself. At the same time, if the CSR programme becomes a big story, the organisation needs to be prepared to deal with the subsequent reactions.

CSR programmes should be authentic through being reflective of an organisation’s values. Programmes should also align with stated organisational goals and purpose of the brand. Employees form a large part of CSR engagement and attitudes among the workforce, and can influence whether new talent will choose to join a brand.

If there is alignment of CSR to corporate values, there needs to be a balanced approach to communicating CSR programmes and their outcomes. A brand that goes out to extol the virtues of its good deeds will backfire. External and internal communication around CSR must always centre on the cause. Secondly, it must demonstrate a clear ‘why,’ to provide a narrative of why the brand is engaging with the charitable cause. Finally the results of the brand’s engagement with the charity must be conveyed to demonstrate its impact.

Anything that is too focused on promoting the brand itself can come across as too self-congratulatory and inauthentic. The public sees through this and will very quickly voice its opinion.

Will article is also featured on Total Business Magazine here.

Interested in finding out more about how to deploy an effective CSR programme? Contact:

Published: 17th April 2019

By Jonathan MacPherson, Corporate Communications Director, WP Communications

Don’t Neglect Your Talent In a Crisis

For those entities that are well prepared, crisis communication lays out the steps an organisation needs to take to ensure that key external audiences – typically clients, stakeholders and suppliers – are kept informed. A good crisis communication plan will include holding statements and templates to inform these audiences about the crisis; what its effects on the organisation and its people are; and the actions being taken to control and end the crisis.

Crisis communication plans should also include internal requirements, but they often only contain an initial statement outlining how all employees should refrain from communicating about a crisis and templates for further internal updates as more information becomes available.

Very few crisis communication plans will consider an employee’s reaction to a crisis and the potential for their perception of the organisation’s values to be altered and their view of its management to change.

There are numerous case-histories that can be researched on how external audiences react to the way that organisations communicate during emerging issues and full-blown crises. There are very few that consider how employees react.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) highlights the role that HR has in ensuring internal stakeholders are swiftly and efficiently communicated with during a crisis.

“While many companies naturally direct their energies outward during such situations, more HR professionals and executives are coming to realize that communicating quickly, often and well with internal stakeholders is equally important, if not more so. Indeed, in an age when every employee can serve as a de facto spokesperson, executing effective internal communications can help ensure worker safety, minimize damage to your brand, return your workforce to productivity and build trust among employees.”

Crisis Management in Today’s Business Environment: HR’s Strategic Role – Society for Human Resource Management

There are crises that can directly affect employees – think of catastrophic events and natural disasters – and in these cases, quickly and efficiently connecting with employees is critical to ensure first and foremost that they are safe.

When the crisis has no direct impact on employees, less emphasis is placed on communicating with them to ensure they are well informed but as the SHRM highlights, organisations must also consider how employees might regard the brand during and following a crisis. Their views of the organisation may change, which in turn may affect their trust, their productivity and ultimately, their desire to remain as an employee.

Talent is not a commodity. Retaining and nurturing talent is a key management objective, so why would an organisation neglect to communicate with its talent during a crisis?

Reassure them; then inform them; and in doing so, you may ensure that when anyone asks them about the crisis, that they can in good conscience answer; “It was bad, but they did the right thing.”

Interested in hearing more about how integrated communications can help you with crisis and issues management?

Drop us an email to:

Published: 21 Sept 2018

By Will Painter, Founder and CEO, WP Communications

Why a new approach to PR measurement is essential to demonstrate ROI to brands

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What is PR?

Public Relations is about managing reputation with the aim of earning support and influencing behaviour and opinion. It is the strategic, planned effort of establishing and maintaining goodwill between a business and its publics, or more commonly referred to as ‘audiences.’

Why is it valuable?

In today’s saturated market, reputation and awareness enables businesses to stand out from the crowd and compete whether they are a start-up, scale-up or established brand.  Strategic and creative external communications can help to manage reputation by forging strong relationships with customers and stakeholders.

Existing measurement methodologies 

For a long time agencies have pushed a form of measurement that is out-dated. One which enables them to wash their hands of client sales and business performance. This is not in the best interests of brands.

A variety of measurement categories are being used to demonstrate campaign impact including coverage volumes, readership figures, sentiment analysis, message penetration, website views, and click-throughs.

These are all useful ways of tracking the output of external communication efforts but can they truly be an indicator of business impact? The answer is no – they do not demonstrate a direct link to sales performance or business growth.

Some PRs avoid this issue altogether out of the fear that their communication campaigns will be judged directly against business success. Fundamentally, if they are not measured against business success there’s something very wrong here. Why would a business invest in PR if they are unable to calculate the level of return on investment? This is a major concern for marketing teams when working with PR agencies, and is a key reason why PR budgets are being cut across the industry.

A new approach to PR measurement 

We must go beyond a measurement model where key performance indicators (KPIs) are self-serving to agencies, and provide a better way of showcasing return on investment linked to sales performance and business impact.

The first step is to take accountability and integrate fully with client teams and stakeholders. Public Relations does not operate on its own in a vacuum. It’s part of an integrated business and marketing ecosystem. To provide a better form of measurement we need to remove the polarisation between ‘agency’ and ‘client,’ and see brand building as a collaborative one involving marketing, sales, customer relations, business development and the c-suite.

Effective PR shapes and creates conversations which lead to opportunities to grow client businesses and influence purchasing decisions to drive sales.  To measure success we need to track external communications efforts within the context of the brand’s customer relationship management (CRM) process over a sustained period of time.

Only then can we measure the true impact of PR.

Interested in hearing more about how public relations can grow your business, drop us an email to

Published: 21 May 2018

By Will Painter, Founder and CEO, WP Communications

‘The future of work is flexible collaboration’ 


There’s no doubt that agile or flexible working practices is a hot topic of discussion across a variety of industries at the moment. Both small and large businesses are realising the benefits of increased productivity and workforce motivation that flexible working brings.

A 2017 report by the Holmes Report shows that the global PR industry is worth over £11.2bn.  More than ever before, the PR and communications industry provides a golden opportunity for aspiring and established communications consultants to work across a diverse range of brands and sectors.  

However, there is a current lack of trust which is stunting true flexible working across workforces and not enough employers are putting these schemes fully into practice, merely paying lip-service to the diverse needs of growing and highly skilled workforces. 

Flexible working has many benefits including increasing employee motivation, engagement, well-being, and productivity.  At the same time, it is helping to meet the needs to clients much more effectively.

Brands desire better and more measurable business outcomes from PR and marketing activities.  An agile workforce serves these needs, with teams of specialists scaled around specific client objectives while at the same time maximising resources. By enabling people to work in a way that is convenient and productive for them exceptional results are delivered.

By deploying a network of specialists the amount of relevant experience is increased, including a greater understanding of the client’s business, the client’s customers, and the industry. This is instead of the traditional generalist model: spreading teams too thinly across accounts which may not have the prerequisite knowledge or experience to service the customer effectively.

For productivity and high levels of service to be ensured businesses need to change nostalgic, traditional working models and embrace agile practices where team members are treated as valued partners and collaborators. 

It’s time to champion employee empowerment.  This will lead to greater productivity, well-being, and deliver better outcomes for the clients they work with. 

Interested in hearing more about roles at WP Communications, drop us an email to