Business and politics have intertwined for thousands of years, to the point where they are almost impossible to unpick.
For PRs working within the business sector, it is crucial to have an awareness of current events, particularly at a time when our trade and relationship with the EU hangs in the balance, a global pandemic has caused quite a lot of economic uncertainty and a climate crisis calls for urgent action now more than ever. By understanding what news trends the media are interested in, you will be able to write a much more successful and informed pitch or press release, and reach target publications or media outlets.
COVID-19 had become almost a norm in our day-to-day lives. Unsurprisingly, there is always a new story in the news, whether it be about statistics, vaccines, lockdowns abroad or just general updates to do with the pandemic.
For example, in The Times recently, the National Audit Office has said that Britain’s disaster plans ‘are still not good enough’ and that inadequate planning for the pandemic showed the urgent need to improve national resilience. Furthermore, four in five government plans were not good enough to keep essential services going and most departments did not even rate it as a serious risk to their operations, according to a report released.
Covid has had serious implications for all levels of education alike. Business schools and universities have had to implement mass online learning and more digital technology given that face-to-face education was seriously curtailed following lockdowns and social distancing. This had led to the creation of more “online MBAs”, where students have the option to undertake an MBA entirely online. This is useful especially for international students, where travel restrictions may have prohibited them from being able to reach their university of choice. Providing a high quality of education despite no teaching in real life has become a real priority for business schools.
Another example of current affairs that has been a running theme in the news for a sustained period of time, is of course, Brexit. On January 2021, freedom to work and live between the UK and the EU came to an end and UK nationals were required to have a visa if they want to stay in the EU more than 90 days in a 180-day period. However, despite reaching an agreement, Brexit has never been a straightforward path.
For example, in The Guardian recently, Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin has said that the UK and EU must ‘knuckle down’ on Brexit agreement as he calls for resolution on Northern Ireland, saying: ‘don’t leave it until Christmas Eve this year’. The prospects for a deal over post-Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland have been raised as Brussels welcomed the UK government’s “change in tone”.
Brexit caused quite a lot of political and economic disruption and this affected several aspects of life, including education. Many of our own clients, both domestic and international, have made changes to their courses and updated modules in reaction to Brexit. We also found ourselves sharing research on the topic in the media.
Another trending theme is sustainability and climate change. The recent COP26 summit brought parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The two week long conference saw countries agree to help increase progress towards closing the emissions gap and develop mid-century emission reductions in 2022 amongst other important initiatives.
Sustainability really has become a key theme for business schools, not just in terms of their curriculum as we do already see that in a number of programmes, but also in the career aspirations of the students coming out of the bachelor's and master's programmes. Students are interested in the knowledge, know-how and network they need to have a sustainable impact on their companies and organizations. This will aid them in becoming agents of change in an increasingly volatile world and to seize new opportunities from sustainability development.
So, why is this information important for PRs? Not only can knowledge of current political events give you a head-start when piggybacking timely news, but we can help to raise voices on responsible leadership and give academics a platform to tackle the most difficult questions that political events like Brexit may raise.
So, although it is often important to keep personal political views out of your work, it does help to be guided by current events and to try to understand the motivations and consequences of them. If you can do that, then you will surely find the right voices to add to the debate.
Originally posted October 2017, updated November 2021