Industry Watch: Budgets and International Happiness

Posted on: 2013-03-25 in Opinion   |   Tagged: aimee postle industry watch


The first in our series looking at the PR winners and losers from the previous week’s headlines. By Aimee Postle (@AimeePostle), a dual-qualified PR and marketing account director at Warwick-based automotive and cleantech specialist agency Prova PR.

Aimee PostleAn auspicious start to Industry Watch, launching in the week of the much anticipated – and much maligned – Budget 2013, as well as International Happiness Day. As ever, there were winners, there were losers and there were PR point-scorers.

Mr Osborne joined Twitter, generating a barrage of insults and more than 33,000 followers in just 24 hours. A clever marketing ploy to dilute the Budget story or a mistimed entrance to a party to which he wasn’t invited? There was certainly a lot of criticism but at least the Conservative media team, which will be running the account, can use it as an informal sentiment measurement tool. Indeed, social media channels can perform a vital listening function for organisations and businesses who are heavily influenced by the mood of the general public. And people have not held back in their views so far!

One of the winners of the Budget was the beer industry. A petition raised on the subject of beer duty by the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) secured more than 100,000 signatures in 2012, causing the issue to be debated in Parliament. And, following a concerted campaign by the Taxpayer’s Alliance, the alcohol escalator on beer was abolished. The ‘Mash Beer Tax’ campaign featured all of the traditional elements of influence PR; including media interviews, an informational microsite, regional events, direct marketing through beer mats in pubs and a letter writing campaign to MPs. Proof that getting the basics right can pay real dividends.

Another tax which received significant attention was the planned rise in fuel duty. As expected, this was cancelled within the Budget. Again, the campaign by industry and the general public had a significant role to play, with Fair Fuel UK the most recognised component. Indeed, the Fair Fuel UK campaign actually won a CIPR award in 2012, recognising its achievements in raising awareness of the issue. However, while celebrity spokesperson Quentin Willson was happy with the freeze, the actual aim of the campaign had been to cut the duty altogether. And so the social media output continues, the lobbying of politicians goes on and the Fair Fuel UK campaign brings on board new supporters every day.

Looking outside of the Budget, the launch of the UN’s International Happiness Day was notable for the apparent lack of engagement. The vast majority of the UK media and social media channels noted it only in juxtaposition to the Budget. However, on the same day, the OECD launched its Guidelines on Measuring Subjective Well-being, Action for Happiness celebrated Happy Heroes at the House of Lords in the UK and The Happiness Effect was launched in Singapore. This movement aims to change behaviours and get people thinking more positively by building happy habits – such as smiling – over the course of 100 days. This is a strong example of a campaign which is using online and social media to transcend political, cultural, social and geographical boundaries.

Finally, because you can’t talk about Spring in the UK without talking about snow… it has been yet another miserable end to a week. Homes have been flooded, transport has faced chaos and people have been able to indulge in discussing their favourite pastime, the weather. But, as PR people work from home, connecting to their networks via VPN, dialling into conference calls, spare a thought for local authorities, haulage firms, courier businesses, emergency services and all other industries which have to keep operating to prevent the country from grinding to a halt. Not everything can be done from the comfort of a warm living room and, in challenging conditions, communicating with customers and stakeholders is more important than ever.

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About this blog

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The B2B PR Blog is a resource for both PR professionals and people working in B2B industries on how to devise and implement successful B2B PR campaigns. The blog is managed by b2b pr specialist Heather Baker, founder TopLine Comms, an inbound marketingB2B content marketing agency and proud HubSpot partner agency and takes contribution from anyone sensible in the industry with something intelligent to say.  Follow Heather on Twitter @TopLineFounder or contact her via email on [email protected].

 

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