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With the ever-increasing power of online influencers, as a PR agency it is crucial we know how to maximise on influencer relationships so that we can generate opportunities for our clients.

A strong relationship with a respected influencer and positive blog reviews can be a great way of increasing brand credibility, raising brand awareness, driving sales and increasing an online presence.

To get the inside scoop first hand, we interviewed three of the UK’s top lifestyle influencers, to talk targeted approaches, PR turn offs and best practice for PRs. This advice is invaluable and highlights the importance of a targeted approach, considering whether your brand is a good fit before contacting influencers and how to entice influencers to events, with the aim of gaining high quality, and credible endorsements in return.

Lauren Ellis

Lauren Ellis UK Blogger

Lauren was first inspired to set up her own beauty, fashion and lifestyle blog after studying PR at University. She has been running her blog and social media channels for over 3 years now, and her goal is to keep her followers informed on the hottest beauty and fashion trends you can find on the high street.


Instagram – 51.8K

Twitter – 4.2K

YouTube – 2K

How do you like to be approached by PRs/ brands?

Definitely via email. I find it easier to develop a working relationship via email in comparison to Instagram direct messages, for example. It enables the chance to have a direct contact to speak to and build a relationship with.

What do you look for when it comes to brand partnerships?

I think it’s important to only work with brands that you genuinely like and have an interest in. I also find it really encouraging when a brand contacts me with regards to a partnership having really researched my blog / social channels.

Do you ever directly approach brands you would like to work with?

Yes, absolutely! Because there are so many bloggers we shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to a brand we would like to work with!

What do you feel makes for a good blogger/Press event and what entices you to attend?

I enjoy attending events that are attended by the PR company / brand as it enables you to introduce yourself and meet somebody that you have been liaising with over email. I have been to a few events in the past where it has been difficult to differentiate press with actual PR’s / employees of the brand, making it difficult to build relationships.

In terms of encouraging attendance, I feel it’s important to give the blogger an exclusive. E.g. first look at a new collection or an actual sit-down event whereby you get to hear more about the brand / products etc. For me, it isn’t all about receiving a goodie bag!

Which social media channels do you find most engage your followers?

Instagram primarily but ever since the algorithm issues, I have found Twitter and Snapchat to be increasingly engaging.

Do you have any advice to budding bloggers?

I would say go for it! Don’t be afraid that there are already lots of bloggers out there, there is definitely room for everyone and if you are passionate about it then put yourself out there! Be consistent (difficult, I know) but make sure you post about something you love!

Carms London

Carms London UK Blogger Influencer Handbook

Carms is a London based lifestyle, fashion and beauty blogger. She uses blogging to explore her interest in fashion, and to express herself.


Instagram – 87.6K

Twitter – 1.6K

Have you had any bad experiences working with PRs?
I have had a few bad experiences, mainly including lack of communication, late payments, different replies from multiple people from the same brand causing lost thread in emails, and having to redraft content multiple times!

Is there anything that puts you off working with certain PRs/brands?

I usually love working with new PRs and new brands, but honestly I wish brands understood the hardship that goes into the effort of creating content, I sometimes take up unpaid work as I love the brand of the current campaign in hopes of repost or to help build our own profiles, but at the end of the day it is our jobs so paid campaigns, even if not always helps keep a strong relationship with brands/ PR’s as it doesn’t make you feel like you’re always doing it for nothing.

Do you ever directly approach brands you would like to work with?
Yes – I have done before with brands that I really love, or feel really suited to! This is via email, showing stats and examples to see whether the brand wants to collaborate with too.

Do you ever post negative reviews and if so, how do you manage the relationship with the PR or brand?
I usually try and be professional even with brands PR’s that I’ve not had a good relationship with – I think being professional but friendly is important!  But, if there is an issue, I do usually try to discuss it directly with the brand and try to find a way to overcome the issue. 
Which social media channels do you find most engage your followers?

Instagram, even though I am slowing branching to YouTube as I feel like I will be able to engage to my audience there more too! 

Do you have any advice to budding influencers? 

Consistency, quality and an aesthetic is key! Keep posting! You will have times where you peak, where you’re slow, but keep yourself inspired!

Style and Stylus

Style and Stylus UK Blogger Influencer Handbook

Rashpal is the man behind Style and Stylus, a menswear fashion blog. He started his blogging journey back in 2014 so that he could pursue his passion for fashion. Originally a fashion and illustration blog, the blog has evolved into a fully-fledged fashion destination, with Rashpal’s overall aim being to “challenge how menswear is perceived to the modern man.”


Instagram – 5.7K

What do you look for when it comes to brand partnerships? 

A brand must fit my style and we both must be on the same wavelength. I also look for long term partnerships, I like to have a close relationship with brands so we can bounce ideas off each other and create great content together.

How do you distinguish between paid for/non-paid for content on your blog and social media channels?

Wording plays a key part in how I distinguish paid/gifted content. I am transparent with my audience about this on my social channels. Also, all paid content is listed under collaborations on my website.

Is there anything that puts you off working with certain PRs/brands? 

It’s good to be paid or be gifted for great content and in some circumstances, product loans. Free articles and content is something I avoid, as it devalues my contents worth.

What is the strangest request you have ever received from a PR?

One PR sent me a women’s facial mask without any email or prior notice, needless to say I declined featuring it!

Do you ever directly approach brands you would like to work with?

If I am genuinely passionate or love a brand ill make sure they know, hopefully they keep me mind for future campaigns. Its best to be transparent in this industry and brands rather work with someone who appreciates their product.

Do you ever post negative reviews and if so, how do you manage the relationship with the PR or brand?

I don’t post negative reviews, but I avoid working with brands that I don’t like and in some cases declined working with them

Which social media channels do you find most engage your followers?

I find Instagram the most successful for promotion, although for product reviews you can’t beat a website. It’s good to have several social media platforms so you don’t narrow your reach.

Do you have any advice to budding influencers?

Create good, interesting, and appropriate content first and foremost, make sure you blog about something you are passionate about and do it for the right reasons.

Q&A: Advice from the UK’s top influencers

By Tim Snowball, Head of Political Strategy

While the consequences of the British public’s momentous decision to leave the European Union are still largely unknown, it is certain that there will be far reaching consequences for large and small businesses operating up and down the county.

Despite everyone from Angela Merkel to Jean Claude Juncker making it clear that they will not enter negotiations with Britain until Article 50 has been triggered, Theresa May seems to be in no rush to start the leaving process. In many ways this is sensible, allowing time for Britain to plan, recruit a negotiating team, start exploring trade negotiations with other nations, and making it less of a bargaining chip in the French and German elections, but it does mean that many businesses feel that they are in limbo.

Theresa May Brexit UK Prime Minister

Image courtesy of U.S Embassy London,

Traditionally, many businesses, particularly smaller businesses, prefer to wait and see, and adapt to political change. But with Brexit, this approach is unlikely to serve them well. The deal we get will go on to determine the relationship we have with the rest of the world and will have a profound effect on Britain’s economy going forward. It is therefore essential that all businesses across the UK regardless of their size should take a proactive approach to public affairs to ensure that they are protected from upcoming risks, and make sure their needs are being heard by those who will be negotiating Britain’s exit from the European Union. It is worth remembering that even if your organisation isn’t using public affairs, your competitors almost certainly are.

So what can proactive public affairs do to help your business through the Brexit process?

  1. Making Sense of Brexit

For many, Britain’s decision to leave the EU came as a total shock – as evidenced by the highs and lows of the FTSE 100 on the night of the 23rd June – and many businesses felt unprepared. However it is now essential that you fully understand what the process is for leaving the EU, and how it might impact upon your business. Furthermore, a good public affairs team can continually feed you the latest intelligence from Westminster – providing you with an early warning system, but also the ability to exploit any favourable opportunities that come along.  Not doing so leaves your business at risk of being unprepared for major changes, and at a disadvantage to your competitors.

Public Affairs Brexit EU

Image courtesy of Rich Giraud,

  1. Advocacy

Unless you speak up for your business, no-one else will. Every business will be affected by Brexit in some way, which could include everything from implications on trade, changes to employment law, or the impact on the economy. It is essential that you decide what your business needs from any deal that the government negotiates, and that you make sure that all the key stakeholders know what it is that you want, but also what the consequences could be if it doesn’t happen. Your public affairs team can help you hone the messages you need to give, and identify your key stakeholders.

  1. Seizing Opportunities

Despite the tumultuous period ahead, it isn’t all bad news. Whilst the UK government looks at ways to untangle EU laws from our own, it is likely that Brexit will throw up a host of opportunities that could help your business grow and operate more easily in the future. Is there a particular regulation that you feel is limiting your business, or an EU mandated tax which is particularly regressive?

There has never been a better time to seize the moment and put forward the case for scrapping it. Your public affairs team can advise you on the best way to go about this, whether it is a public campaign, a campaign fought with relevant trade associations or a softer campaign to influence stakeholders.

Poll Card EU Referendum Brexit Voting Card

Image Courtesy of Abi Begum,

  1. Remember the EU

We might be leaving the EU but for many business owners, it is likely that you will continue to operate in, and do business with EU countries. Notably, one potential outcome of Brexit is that Britain continues to have access to the single market on the proviso that we conform to all associated rules – without the British Government having any say over them. For this reason, it is important that your public affairs strategy doesn’t ignore the EU or the individual governments in relevant EU countries.

Negotiating Britain’s exit and the deal we get doesn’t just affect Britain – the UK is the EU’s largest single export market, so it is important for businesses to be influencing both sides of the negotiating table to make sure that the deal we get works for both EU countries and Britain.

  1. Business as usual

Although it may not seem like it, Theresa May’s new Government does have legislative priorities outside Brexit. Recent announcements on social justice, grammar schools, Hinkley Point and a U turn on prison reforms show that this is a government determined to make its mark. It is important that your public affairs team let you know what is on the horizon so that you are pre-warned of anything in the UK’s domestic policy that might affect your business. A strong public affairs team will also look for, and create, relevant opportunities to influence policy and raise your reputation within Westminster. Having a presence in Westminster should always be a priority, regardless of what is happening in Brussels.

EU Flag, Brexit

Image courtesy of,

Brexit: why you need public affairs

An Interview with Tim Snowball

Tim SnowballThe PHA Group’s Public Affairs team is led by our Head of Political Strategy, Tim Snowball. During his eight year political career Tim was a close Political Adviser to the former Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg MP, while working in various roles in Parliament, Government and as Director of Communications for the Liberal Democrats. A year on since his move to Public Affairs, The PHA Group’s David Brookes asks Tim about his career, the move to public affairs and how he is using his past experiences to help The PHA Group’s clients now.
Q: Over the last decade you’ve worked on a huge number of campaigns. What have been some of the highlights for you?
In politics, three campaigns that I have worked on stand out. Nick Clegg and Joanna Lumley’s successful campaign to secure residence rights for Gurkhas in 2008; the “Cleggmania” 2010 General Election campaign, which I coordinated from Lib Dem HQ; and the Liberal Democrat’s successful campaign to raise the tax threshold for millions of ordinary people, the promotion of which was a focus for a large part of my time as Liberal Democrat Director of Communications. All were successful because they had a clear goal, involved an integrated communications approach and had a lot of energy behind them.
Q: You were in the room when the 2010 coalition was formed. Can you give us a behind the scenes glimpse of what this was like?
Frenetic! Everyone was exhausted after the General Election, but there was intense pressure to form a stable government quickly to ensure stability in the markets. There was a real sense of both responsibility and opportunity.
I accompanied Nick Clegg for the bilateral negotiations with David Cameron and Gordon Brown. What was striking was the different approaches taken by Clegg and Cameron. While David Cameron negotiated pragmatically considering what was politically doable, Nick Clegg started from values and policy priorities. Although the Lib Dems were widely regarded as achieving a lot from the negotiations, recent history has perhaps demonstrated that a more political approach would have been better in the long run!
Q: Up until July 2015 you were political advisor to the Deputy PM. Why did you decide to leave politics move into public affairs?
Working for Nick Clegg for eight years was an enormous privilege and I am very proud of what I and the Liberal Democrats achieved in government. But eight years is a long time in any career and I felt the time was right in 2014 to move into the commercial world.
The opportunity to work for a dynamic and fast growing firm like The PHA Group, and to build a new public affairs team that combined the best of PR, campaigning and communications strategy was too good to pass up.
A year on, Public Affairs is now a core PHA offering and one that the company is rightly proud of. We offer a first rate service, that gives our clients a unique tailor-made experience and the comfort of knowing that the people that impress them at pitch will be the same people who deliver their account.
Q:  Do you feel that your background gives you an advantage over other public affairs advisors?
I have been fortunate to have worked in parliament, at the heart of government and at a party headquarters; to help shape strategy, run campaigns and be part of policy making. This means that I am well placed to give our clients rounded advice based on experience of how decisions are really made.
I am also delighted to have been able to bring on board talented colleagues with similarly front line experience across the political spectrum. Our latest hire is Emily Burditt, who joins us from the parliamentary office of Cabinet Minister Robert Halfon MP, the Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party.
Q: Since you joined PHA what sort of campaigns have you worked on?
At PHA we are currently helping British Pensioners living overseas (represented by the ICBP) to secure the right to receive annual uprating on their state pensions. We are supporting Living and Dying Well to communicate their evidence based perspective ahead of an anticipated assisted suicide debate; and we are helping the Loomba Foundation secure profile for International Widow’s Day.
On the corporate side, at the end of last year we ran a successful campaign to launch Xendpay, a remittance service designed to challenge the wider money transfer market, reducing costs for consumers. The company has secured praise in parliament and at the UN, and experienced unprecedented growth.
Q: What has been the highlight?
The highlights are the breakthroughs. When an individual we are working with finally secures their desired role or when we have made genuine progress with the government on behalf of one of our campaigns. Achieving change is what public affairs is all about.
Q: Where do you have particular expertise?
At the moment we’ve made a conscious decision to remain a generalist agency, rather than to specialise in a particular policy area. Ultimately our offering is the strategic communications expertise and political experience that allows us to ensure that all our clients can pursue their objectives effectively, whatever their sector or industry.
At the moment we are working with clients from the private, public and charity sectors, and covering finance, retail, international development, politics, leisure, entertainment and representative bodies.
Q: Which groups in particular do you think would benefit for a public affairs strategy now?
The PHA Group’s Public Affairs team specialise in two key areas; integrated campaigns and individuals.
Now is a perfect time for organisations, whether corporate or third sector, who want to change their relationship with government, or shift their reputation in parliament, to re-consider their public affairs approach. Many of our new clients join us after long standing public affairs relationships with other agencies and say they see a significant shift in energy and momentum when they move to us.
For individuals with political ambitions now is a great time to take a more strategic approach. Often the world of politics can be bewildering or frustrating. The PHA Group can help realise goals in a way that builds on, rather than risks, your reputation. We are currently working with high profile individuals with business backgrounds who want to get more involved with each of the major parties.
Q: What’s the difference between Public Affairs and PR?
Both Public Relations and Public Affairs are fundamentally about reputation management and influence. The difference is the audience. While PR focuses on influence through journalists, Public Affairs focuses on influencing politicians (or sometimes politicians through politicians).
The truth is however, politicians don’t exist in a bubble. They consume traditional and social media like the rest of us. Therefore the most effective public affairs campaigns are integrated. At The PHA Group we call it “hand in glove” working and it’s one of the things I think we are particularly good at.


From Politics to Public Affairs

Cutting through the social noise

We live in the age of #social. From the alarm going off with an update first thing, to the last re-tweet before closing your eyes, our lives are swimming in big data.

In turn, content is scheduled and targeted to within a second of our lifestyle habits. Creative and incentivised campaigns consume and entice us into liking, sharing, retweeting, re-pinning, registering and downloading. Key Influencers guide or provide us and millions with their opinions. All via the iPhone, whilst we’re watching something different on the iPad, whilst another “The future of social” channel has sneaked in via the Android. And that’s just our personal social habits.

Amongst all of this, our individual social footprint, our profiles and interests, indeed our daily existence is pursued by multiple brands, all competing for our attention and engagement across the myriad of social channels and apps via multiple platforms.

It’s the way that we as individuals and the brands we engage with, now tell our stories.

There are a wide number of topical blogs predicting the social trends for 2015, including some of the obvious, some of the amazing and some of the obscure. It’s all positive. The beauty of Social and Creativity is that it morphs, adapts and expands on the platforms it is provided with, be that new or existing.

So rather than predicting the next big social channel, which at this moment in time may still subject to #Crowdfunding, what are some of the key social media techniques and mythologies that will help brands cut through that digital noise and tell their story today?

  1. Visual Content:

It’s nothing new, but as more brands fight in the clutter of digital and social space, the use of visual content to promoting a brand, an offer, a product or simply to tell a story will be of more importance. We’re time poor, so we scan timelines or go on recommendations. As a result we like smart creative, often simple ideas. We see them as they are visual as we flick down timelines or we share them on recommendations of their creativity.

  1. Content formats:

But if everyone just scheduled visual images, we’d just be in a slightly different big data boat. Visual content can take shape in a range of formats. Whilst not new, the ever creative expansion of Infographics neatly compresses big data for us into bite size chunks, provide effective methods to communicate anything from intensely factual information through to top level, key brand messaging.

Meanwhile as creative campaigns integrate across multiple channels and platforms, the use of short form animation (from animated GIFs, through to cinemagraphs along with the short creative video clips), helps us to engage.

  1. Creative, Shareable and targeted content

A percentage of that content, which the creative team have spent far too long on, often sees little or no immediate engagement. Despite using the best hashtag ever, it still plummets down the timeline.   If the idea has been developed to engage with the “known” interest and habits of the intended audience do make sure it’s scheduled around when they are receptive to engage, and on the channels and devises they use.


And don’t forget to adhere to social channel guidelines. When scheduled and targeted at the right times on the right channels, in the right way, that brilliant, creative idea or campaign will create engagement.

  1. Creative Paid for advertising:

In line with this, as Facebook and Twitter continue to develop their paid for, sponsored and promoted algorithms, it’s generally recognised that the days of pure organic growth and related engagements are dwindling. That said, the Insights available for these platforms almost ensure that your content will at least be within the sofa area of your intended audience. And you can experiment and dabble without breaking the marketing budget.

Paid for also doesn’t stifle creativity. Using different paid for functionality, in a creative manner, such as Tweetcards, will always help your sponsored campaign cut through the sponsored campaigns. You don’t need an algorithm to work that out.

  1. Search and Social

Everyone from content marketers through to PR agencies can see the continued convergence of SEO and Social media. As platforms continue to map our coffee tastes with our location via our colleagues favourite barista, the smart evolution of social based search will continue at pace.

“Real” reviews, (for which Google + is no longer an empty room waiting for the party to start) provide personalised sentiment, which in turn adds authenticity, whilst Influencer campaigns are an incredibly effective method of swimming ahead of the big data current.

Similarly to producing any form of campaign, identifying the correct key influencer starts with the strategy and planning.


From brands experimenting within the social arena, to those taking their first tentative post, the amount of digital noise and jargon can seem daunting. From a very basic perspective;

  1. Develop a base strategy: (Understand your audience, your competitors, key channels and influencers)
  2. Focus on the channels that will benefit you
  3. Create an integrated content plan around your core audiences.
  4. Be smart about how you create content.
  5. Monitor and evaluate
  6. Engage (regularly)
  7. Have a crisis plan, as some things may go wrong. It’s the way the world spins.

Developing strategies and creative campaigns to tell your digital story takes time. But it’s time worth investing in, as social content is ultimately for a digital footprint life, not just a one off timeline.

5 tips to help keep it social in 2015

How to run a successful reputation management campaign

Case study: The Criminal Bar Association






When it comes to protecting the reputation of your organisation, brand or personal profile there are many tactics and strategies you can employ (see our top ten tips here (link)).

Often the best way to protect your reputation is to take a pro-active rather than a reactive approach and in this example we illustrate how launching a PR campaign to raise awareness about an issue can, in the long term, safeguard your reputation.


In 2013 the long-term reputation of the British justice system was deemed to be under serious threat when Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, proposed changes to the UK’s legal aid system.

Grayling discussed measures including price competitive tendering for legal aid contracts, the removal of choice of legal representation and an income cut off for legal aid for households earning and income of £37,000 per annum or more. He stated that these changes could save taxpayers £200 million.

Immediately there was a backlash from barristers, solicitors and members of the legal profession who believed these moves could seriously damage the reputation of the justice system. The argument was that by removing access to legal aid and creating a system where any company could pitch for legal contracts, the quality of British justice would be seriously undermined.

The campaign

stratThe Criminal Bar Association tasked The PHA Group with launching a PR campaign to put pressure on the Government to change their stance on legal aid, avoiding a system where the legal help could be sold to the lowest bidder and safeguarding the legal professions future reputation.

The campaign objectives were:

• To force the Government to take seriously the objections of the united legal profession.
• To allowing the legal profession time to put forward alternative cost-saving measures which maintain the fairness of the justice system and protect the rights of ordinary people.
• This was to be done within a 40 day consultation period.


faceOur first action was to identify case study examples of personal stories that would resonate with the public and highlight the importance of legal aid.

One story we identified, for example, included a grandfather who was wrongly accused of possessing indecent images of children (actually holiday photos of his grandson). Without legal aid he wouldn’t have been able to afford the legal support which saw him found innocent of all charges within 30 minutes.

The next step was to target specific media outlets (including the regional, national and broadcast media), developing strong angles that would generate coverage and raise the profile of the campaign.

We placed coverage in publications including The Evening Standard, The Mail on Sunday and The Financial Times:


The campaign saw more than 40 pieces of national media coverage, keeping the issue firmly on the agenda of the public and politicians alike.

Through sheer weight of coverage and the public and political pressure this generated, we were able to force the government into shelving the proposed £220m cuts for a minimum of one year. A huge victory and one which has given the legal profession added time to prepare their arguments in a bid to save their livelihood and reputation.

PR dos