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Remix Your Algorithm — Shifting Our Culture at FleishmanHillard to Confront and Remove Bias

August 31, 2020
By Emily Graham

At FleishmanHillard we have a bold ambition to be the most inclusive agency in the world and we are forging the path that will get us there. It won’t happen overnight, but the past few months have made us examine ourselves closely. It’s clear – we must think of new, bold ways to challenge our organizational culture, attitude and how we ‘show up’ for our colleagues, stakeholders and clients.

Detailed in our agency’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) strategy are programs designed to add diversity to our workforce and nurture, as well as challenge, our colleagues to continue crushing barriers and biases that keep us separate. This healthy confrontation will help us attain an inclusive environment where equity is our mainstay.

We know that our actions, when intentional, make us better counselors and citizens. I don’t know about you, but I’m not satisfied with being satisfied, or with being comfortable while our agency, and our world, requires more. There’s no better time than the present to make a change.

We recently launched Remix Your Algorithm (RYA) for our employees as one of our agency’s global DE&I initiative to broaden perspectives and help us break out of the biased echo chambers and feedback loops that reinforce what we already think.

Technology is embedded into many aspects of our lives and algorithms play a bigger role than many of us realize in shaping how we see the world. The problem is that these algorithms can influence and determine what we see, hear and feel, and when we passively accept the idea that the algorithm knows best – complex issues become black and white, diversity disappears and the echo chamber is all that’s left.

We’ve all seen what can happen in society when people don’t seek to challenge their bias – they act upon their prejudices, and the harm is real. We need to unlearn and challenge assumptions and broaden our points of view in order to combat the detrimental effects of our bias and encourage understanding.

You might wonder why this is particularly important to our agency; the fact is that FleishmanHillard guides the communication strategies for some of the biggest companies in the world. We can’t deny that we hold a great deal of influence and it’s with that in mind we wanted to challenge ourselves to rethink how we see the world, not just as an organization, but as 2,300+ individuals in a network that spans 80 offices in more than 30 countries.

We want everyone who meaningfully engages with our firm – from our employees to our clients – to think intentionally about how connected – or not – they are to perspectives that are different from their own.

Whether it’s adding a new media outlet to your regular morning reading or engaging in courageous conversations with people who have different lived experiences than you, RYA is about impactfully and purposefully bringing new ideas and points of view into your orbit.

The launch of RYA is just one step in driving sustained behavioral change and we know that genuine and authentic commitment to DE&I means doing the work – all day, every day.

Each month we’ll introduce a new RYA concept to help all of us view algorithms and their role in our lives through another lens. We’ll also share stories of FleishmanHillard employees who are remixing and how it’s going.

Working with our TRUE Global Intelligence practice, we’re building touch points for RYA data and insight collection to help evolve and deepen the program along the way.

I want to invite you to examine how you can remix your own algorithms, and then do it – even if it’s just one thing. It may be challenging at times, perhaps a little inconvenient. But no real change ever comes about by sticking to your comfort zone. If we can look up in four weeks’ time and truly have broadened our perspectives, then maybe we’ll be one step closer to being the change we all wish to see in the world, starting here at FleishmanHillard.


FleishmanHillard Wins in Four Categories at Marketing Magazine’s PR Awards Hong Kong 2020

ST. LOUIS, August 31, 2020 – FleishmanHillard received recognition for exceptional client work on behalf of Manulife Hong Kong and TD Ameritrade at this year’s PR Awards Hong Kong, presented by Marketing Magazine.

The global public relations and marketing agency earned Gold in the Best Launch/Rebranding category, Silver in the Best PR Campaign: Finance and Insurance category and Bronze in the Best Integrated Communications category on behalf of client, Manulife Hong Kong, alongside other agency partners. The agency also won Gold in the Best Results-Driven Campaign category on behalf of client, TD Ameritrade.

The PR Awards Hong Kong program recognizes campaigns and agencies that utilize impactful communication techniques to drive meaningful results. Each entry is reviewed by a panel of senior industry experts.

  • Manulife Hong Kong, “Manulife Tax-Deductible Solutions Launch Campaign: A Phased Approach to Creating Buzz and Driving Behavioral Change” (Gold, Best Launch/Rebranding)
  • Manulife Hong Kong, “Manulife Tax-Deductible Solutions Launch Campaign: Capturing Unprecedented Industry Opportunities in a Highly Competitive Environment” (Silver, Best PR Campaign – Finance and Insurance)
  • Manulife Hong Kong, “Manulife Tax-Deductible Solutions Launch Campaign: Delivering Effective Multi-Channel Communications to Maximize Consumer Engagement” (Bronze, Best Integrated Communications)
  • TD Ameritrade, “Leading the Next Generation of US Stock Trading” (Gold, Best Result-Driven Campaign)

Winners were announced during a virtual ceremony on August 28.

View the complete list of Marketing Magazine’s PR Awards Hong Kong here.


Inspiring Consumer Support of Irish Craft and Design Amid COVID-19

August 27, 2020

The impact of COVID-19 on retail has been significant but one sector that truly felt, and continues to feel, the burden of lockdown and social distancing measures in Irish craft and design. As a sector that thrives on tourism and visits to studios and galleries across the country, sales dwindled rapidly during quarantine with many reporting that they were not trading and were concerned about the future of their businesses. […]

The post Inspiring Consumer Support of Irish Craft and Design Amid COVID-19 appeared first on Ireland.


On the Record with Elizabeth Yuko, PhD: The Relationship Between PR Professionals and Press

August 25, 2020
By Caitlin Teahan

For this ‘On the Record’ post, Caitlin Teahan explores the ups, downs and in-betweens when it comes to the relationships between PR professionals and members of the press. Seasoned freelancer and notable bioethicist, Elizabeth Yuko, PhD had a candid conversation with Caitlin focused on her personal experiences and point of view.

CT: What do you think about the relationship between PR professionals and journalists?

EY: It is hard. There is such a spectrum of PR people and you don’t all belong in the same category. You have people who are extremely helpful, non-pressuring, but on the other hand you have people who are not helpful and constantly harassing me. Most people fall in the middle somewhere. It really depends on the person.

CT: Would you say PR professionals and journalists depend upon each other or would you consider one or both independent of the other?

EY: Hmm…I don’t do a lot where I necessarily need to work with PR people. A lot of times they are the gatekeepers to the people I need to talk to, so it isn’t that I necessarily need them. There are absolutely situations where I have been able to turn a pitch from a PR person into a pitch to a publication. Much less so lately, but in the past, it has been helpful for getting ideas. Once you have a good relationship with a PR person in your specific area, it does make your life easier. The randos that pop up are not helpful!

CT: What have you personally experienced that has been a positive in terms of your relationship with a PR professional?

EY: Ooh! So, I went on a press trip a week after my mom died. The trip was just me and the PR person, which had never happened to me before. I was thinking it was going to be very weird since it was in the middle of everything going on in my life. It ended up being great and we had a great dynamic. It was a good experience because I removed myself from a stressful situation and he was extremely accommodating while I was mourning, which a lot of people are not comfortable with. He was empathetic and while this may not be considered a ‘normal’ example, it really mattered to me.

I am so grateful for that experience and that trip. I also have a great relationship with a brand PR person who arranged for me to go on another trip. It included a spa experience and, knowing that I was caring for my ailing mother at that time, they were incredibly kind. But they also set up a chat with a specialist at the spa who did beauty treatments for cancer patients. They didn’t just show us what to do for my mom but followed up after — which was an extremely personal experience because of my mom. It didn’t involve anything to do with my work or the assignment, it was just incredibly meaningful and relevant to me. But at the same time, I know more about this service they offer and can share that knowledge with friends.

CT: On a lesser note, anything overly negative?

EY: Yes. The follow-ups that just don’t stop or even worse, the follow-up when I have actually responded! At that point, I get a little catty and tend to copy and paste my past response. But I cannot think of anything horrible. It is the consistent, little annoying things. Honestly, I am trying to think of ‘bad ones’ but I delete them so quickly that I don’t even think about it!

CT: Let’s talk about those little things. Can you give me some examples?

EY: Sure. Freelancers also usually have no idea when an article is going to run. Most publications I write for don’t let us know, so the PR person’s guess is as good as ours. I understand why a PR person wants to know this, but as a freelancer, we genuinely don’t know either. If you’ve already asked us about this once, and we respond saying that we don’t know/have no say in the publication date, please, please don’t keep emailing for “updates.” We don’t have any.

Along the same lines, I get a lot of requests along the lines of “send me the link when the story runs.” If this is an article where I’ve done in-depth interviews with sources, or it’s a personal/sensitive topic, I will absolutely send them a link the minute I know an article is up. But they’re never the ones who ask. It’s usually in cases where I had to write a 25-item listicle with a different source for each item. Going through and contacting each PR person I worked with for something like that takes a long time. In so many of these cases, it’s something that could be solved by the PR person setting up a news alert for their client.

CT: What is the most important thing for a PR professional to remember when working with journalists?

EY: One thing I wish PR people would know is that as freelancers, we have no control over the headline, the final edit, and the images. I get so many emails about this. One outlet I work with has their own photo department and have a very specific style. I once quoted someone and her PR person reached out about the image they selected as they didn’t feel it went with their spokesperson’s ‘vibe,’ to which I said no way! That isn’t something I can control. It is a weird ask even when I was an editor but now, it just isn’t an option. Publications do things differently; it is their stylistic preference. Having a better understanding of what freelancers have control over or don’t would save a lot of back and forth.

The PR person wastes their time asking and I waste my time responding. Sometimes they ask to get in touch with my editor so they can handle it directly. That puts me in a weird position, because as you know, editors are not always willing to share their contact information, especially with journalists let alone PR people. I don’t want to be the one that has put my editor on some annoying mailing list! That is another weird one to deal with.

Now that I am thinking, I have been getting so many pitches for ‘snake oil’ and totally ridiculous products in the wellness space. I get it. But I am now getting them from people I don’t even know — not from my usual contacts — and I can’t even begin to tell you how many I am getting a day. Especially from CBD brands. They follow up THE SAME DAY. What is up with that? Just don’t do it. Not only are they pitching things that aren’t right for me, but they are following up the same day. In my head I am saying, ‘I don’t know you and this topic isn’t for me. Do some research.’ Also keep in mind when you are pitching products, most product round-ups and things are done in-house, with the publication’s staff. So, while I appreciate it, as a freelancer, I can’t always write about it. I get why I am on your list but keep that in mind.

Last thing I will say — things get tricky when it comes to branding. Some publications do not care if your sources are brand representatives or spokespeople. At other publications, it is not permitted. I can’t control that. So, when I send out a HARO and a PR person responds with content, I may include them, but their specific brand may not be mentioned. That isn’t my call. One of my outlets doesn’t mind if I use brands as part of expert commentary, others are not OK with a specific mention like that. It would be helpful if the PR person would just let me know that if I cannot mention a brand, they cannot give me the quote when they reach out. On the flip side, I was once doing a story on eating disorders and mental health, and the photo the editor had picked to run with it was a person on a scale. The PR person reached out and noted that the image is quite triggering for people — that kind of call out is completely legitimate. We were able to change that. That is a time when their reaching out is productive, but it is a different situation than asking me to add in the spokesperson’s blog title, for example.

CT: Any last piece of advice or things to know?

EY: One last thing. I hate getting asked, ‘What are you working on right now?’ Especially now. No one at this point has a beat or a direction. We are all over the place. I don’t know what I am working on right now! Half of what I am working on right now are random assignments. It is just the work I am getting thrown that day that I have to take because of the current state of things. That question also creates more work because they are asking me to send them a report of my activity. It changes from day to day, so I really do not know. It may work for some journalists though, so it depends.

I do make a genuine effort to respond to those emails. I respond in batches twice a day. I used a canned response for ones I am not interested in, and then, if I have worked with someone before or it could be a future fit, I do try to respond personally. As a freelancer, I get what it is like to have your work and emails ignored. The issue is, PR people think my response means I will answer your questions. I don’t have time to list out my subjects for you! In one sound bite: think about if what you are asking is making more work for that person. If it generates unnecessary work, then maybe you should think twice before sending.

CT: Thank you for taking the time, as always, a pleasure!

EY: Thank you!


Online Shopping in South Africa: Are Your Virtual Doors Open for Business?

If there’s one thing we’re good at – it’s spotting an opportunity in crisis. Unfortunately, the crisis we do speak of is the global pandemic that has shaken the foundation of our day-to-day behaviour and ways of working. […]

The post Online shopping in South Africa: are your virtual doors open for business? appeared first on South Africa.


Gearing Up for Fall Communications

August 21, 2020

When: August 26, 2020, 12 – 1 p.m. ET

Where: Webinar

Register here for webinar

FleishmanHillard in Boston will host four guest speakers for an hour-long discussion on preparing for the Fall 2020 landscape. Topics will include social injustice, COVID-19, returning to campus and CEO communications this fall and beyond.

Katie Scott, head of global communications for Iron Mountain (client) and Kathy O’Reilly, senior press officer for Philips (client) will map out steps to take when preparing for the fall COVID-19 landscape. Kelly Lynch, vice president of strategic initiatives and chief of staff for Babson College (client) will discuss returning to campus as hybrid learning takes over.

Emily K. Graham, FleishmanHillard’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, and FleishmanHillard’s Diane Poelker will explain how to continue communications surrounding social injustice and what CEOs can implement to prepare for key moments this fall, respectively.

Learn more about the discussion here.


Being an Intern during a pandemic…

August 19, 2020
By Nechia Khuzwayo

Many think that internships are about fetching coffee and picking up effortless work that falls to the side. Amidst the pandemic, it may be fewer coffee runs, but the truth is being an intern, even the support-kind, is as taxing as a full-time job. […]

The post Being an Intern during a pandemic… appeared first on South Africa.


#RightByHer Campaign: Supporting Women’s Rights in Africa

August 18, 2020

Earlier this year, the German NGO Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW) approached our Brussels office for a new video project. After the #TrumpetHealth video campaign, they wanted us to help raise awareness on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) issues for women in Africa. […]

The post #RightByHer Campaign: Supporting Women’s Rights in Africa appeared first on European Union.


FleishmanHillard Shortlisted for Four Asia Pacific Consultancies of the Year Honors

ST. LOUIS, August 17, 2020 — FleishmanHillard has been named a finalist in four Asia Pacific Consultancies of the Year categories, presented by PRovoke Media. The global public relations and marketing agency received shortlist nominations for Asia Pacific Regional Consultancy of the Year (Large), Greater China Consultancy of the Year, North Asia Consultancy of the Year and Healthcare Consultancy of the Year.

The awards program honors the Asia Pacific region’s top PR agencies across geographic locations and specialist disciplines. Shortlisted firms were chosen from more than 125 submissions.

Winners will be announced during the virtual Asia Pacific SABRE Awards ceremony on September 24.

See the complete list of Asia Pacific Consultancies of the Year finalists on PRovoke Media.


FleishmanHillard Named to Inaugural PRNews Agency Elite Top 100

August 17, 2020

ST. LOUIS, August 17, 2020 — FleishmanHillard has been selected to PRNews’ first-ever Agency Elite Top 100, a list that highlights the most innovative and strategic PR firms in the U.S.

Agencies were evaluated based on more than a dozen criteria, including agency products, services and expertise.

FleishmanHillard received recognition for its Top Client Growth Accelerator program, evolved Intelligence Engine and Authentic Executive offerings.

Learn more about the Agency Elite Top 100 list here.