From international projects such as Euregiorail to clients active in different countries such as Thalys, Bijl PR’s work often transcends national borders. To help our clients tell their story outside of the Netherlands, we are happy to rely on the help of our international colleagues from the Global Communications Alliance. A worldwide network of like-minded, independent agencies with together many years of experience in communication, PR and public affairs. In the blog series ‘Partners abroad’ we talk to our partners about the profession. What characterizes communications and PR in the UK, India or Canada? In the third edition we travel to London. We talk to Sara Ghaffari, associate director at PLMR.

The agencies of the Global Communications Alliance share local and international knowledge with each other. And we work together. In this way, we support our clients as broadly as possible. We are proud that Bijl PR is part of this network, together with 15 other agencies, spread across Europe, Asia, North America, South America and Africa. Including PLMR! 

PLMR has consultants based across the UK – from cities including London, Birmingham and Glasgow to more rural areas their on-the-ground teams can support clients with local and national knowledge. PLMR specializes in corporate communications, PR, digital and public affairs. Their work often has a social impact. Examples include an award-winning campaign in partnership with the Food Foundation and Marcus Rashford, which showed families where they could access meals for their children during spring break, and a campaign with the Big Issue to support their objective to combat mass homelessness.

Educational time

While the time of lockdowns are over, the world of work doesn’t seem to be going back to how it was before the pandemic. In the United Kingdom too the way of working has changed forever. Sara believes that location-independent and flexible working are here to stay, but that a balance between physical and online must be maintained. Sara: “We have all learned so much from the past few years. It would be a missed opportunity to ignore that experience or go back to the ‘old normal’. But we have also experienced how important it is to continue to meet colleagues and clients physically.”

New opportunities come with new challenges

In addition to hybrid working, fake news is a development that is unfortunately the topic of the day in our field. We asked PLMR, what we as communication professionals should do about the spread of fake news via social media. Sara: “There are several things we can do, starting with taking our responsibility seriously when creating media stories and campaigns on social media and making sure we always fact check our sources.” The British PR expert also thinks that we have to be aware of the use of online channels: “The rise of social media, online websites and influencers means that traditional news broadcasts are no longer the place where everyone gets their ‘news’ from. This opens up new opportunities to share stories, but at the same time means that we have to look carefully at who we work with and what channels we use.”

Always sharp

We know better than anyone that yesterday’s news is no longer relevant today. We have to stay sharp and always look for unique and beautiful stories in order to create news value and convey the message to the right target group. But what characterizes PR in the UK? According to Sara, the political system has a lot of influence: “We have a devolved political system in the UK, with different political bodies and processes in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as regional media outlets that have large readerships and very powerful SEO rankings.. It is our job to ensure that our clients are aware of the unique interests of audiences in the different areas. And of course this is reflected in our campaign planning. We have regional specialists at PLMR who help our clients to align their plans with these regional differences.”

A look to the future

In addition to current developments, we are also looking ahead. What can we expect according to PLMR? Sara: “A continued growth of visual content. Especially now that platforms like TikTok are getting bigger and bigger and getting a more mature audience.” In addition, she thinks that social themes are becoming increasingly important: “The green agenda and diversity and inclusion remain dominant topics.”

Just do it!

Finally, we asked Sara what was the best advice she ever received from a fellow professional. In her case, a simple, but incredibly important piece of advice: “When in doubt, just pick up the phone and talk to someone.” We could not agree more. Just do it!