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FleishmanHillard Fishburn · Issue 4 · August 2020


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Thinking Allowed

Introduction to Thinking Allowed

Compassionate Communications in brand marketing

Compassionate Communications in reputation management

Lifting the lid on our own D&I journey

Consumers have spoken: How will you show you have listened? How ‘building back better’ promotes your political reputation & protects your licence to operate COVID-19 enabling progressive health and compassionate humanity COVID-19 and the Green Recovery: British expectations & what it means for business

Our thinking and following us!

In little over half a year the coronavirus pandemic has prompted unprecedented change in all facets of society. It is likely to act as a catalyst for long-term shifts in behaviour and worldviews that would usually take place over years – or even decades. At FleishmanHillard Fishburn (FHF), we have sought to understand the lasting repercussions for brands of these shifts in consumer behaviour, beliefs and attitudes. By undergoing this analysis, we are in a better position to guide clients through a very different world.

Our in-house research team, True Global Intelligence (TGI), conducted two surveys, one at the beginning of lockdown in March and another in June. The insights they revealed have shaped the counsel we provide on the new reality for companies, their narratives, their positions within the community and the pivotal role they play as a voice on social issues. Comprehending the new level of expectation is the first step in facing ‘the new normal’ and being ready to rise to the challenge will soon become a key differentiator for brands.

Issue 4 · August 2020 · 2

For the UK, faith in corporations is lacking, with only 19% of the UK of the opinion that major corporations are committed to doing the right thing. Consumers are demanding more action from companies by solving or helping social issues – 66% of the UK want companies to take a stand on discrimination and equality / racism, while 47% want a stand on climate change. These issues and expectations of companies have evolved through lockdown (see graph below). Overwhelmingly, the UK public believes companies need to show they are committed to doing the right thing (91%) and must go beyond mandated regulations to actively work to solve societal issues (81%). Corporations need to balance these demands with the pure pursuit of profit or business growth.

Issues companies should take a stand on

This issue of Thinking Allowed offers our consultancy on the key topics in the research along with advice on what companies should and could do within their communications and PR strategy, to implement the change the UK public want to see.

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The surveys demonstrate the need for businesses to review their purpose and authenticity to ensure their values are as important to them as business growth. Managing Director of Corporate Reputation Stephanie Bailey analyses this emerging era of corporate communications and companies’ dilemma when it comes to staying silent or taking a stand. Lauren Winter, Managing Director of Brand and Consumer Marketing, looks at the impact this will have on brand marketing. The pandemic has highlighted, and in many ways exacerbated, the disparities among different ethnic groups and other minorities in societies across the world – and the UK is no exception. Consumers are now taking notice and challenging companies to do better, with over half feeling that CEOs should speak about issues related to inequality (See stats overleaf). This echoes the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and the broader shifts in corporate behaviour to address diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Our Deputy CEO Ali Gee writes about FHF’s own diversity journey, the steps we are taking as an agency, what we have achieved as well as what needs to happen across our industry more widely. With 20% of UK respondents stating that their relationship with brands has changed during COVID-19, brands must figure out the right response – right now. Do they need to start from scratch, or can they blend previous models with demands from newly enlightened consumers? Dee O’Connell, Director of Insight and Strategy, discusses where companies need to act, what consumers want and how brands can honour this relationship shift.

Inequality at the top of the agenda for the UK


of the UK believe it is important for companies to show that they are committed to doing the right thing


think the pandemic has shown significant disparities in the ability of ethnic groups, low income families and the elderly to access quality medical treatment


Think CEOs need to take a stand on inequality


of Britons state they will investigate how a company behaved during the COVID-19 pandemic

Most of the UK will investigate how a company behaves while responding to the below issues when considering when to buy their product:

56% 53%

Climate change

Racial inequality

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People are demanding more from society. They closely observe brands, companies and governments and analyse their decisions. Partner Liam McCloy looks at the impact of this trend on public affairs and how politicians might respond to the public’s demands for a better society. He discusses the different actors at play when attempting to ‘building back better’, what the eyes of society expect corporates to do and how businesses can help to reach this goal. The healthcare industry has been placed under immense strain over the past few months, but it has also shown its responsiveness by providing swift solutions to aid the crisis, many of which may not have come to fruition without the catalyst of the pandemic. Innovation within healthcare technology has flourished during the crisis by questioning the norm, argues Consumer Director Emma Padden. She looks into the changing attitudes that have facilitated this, with 67% of the UK public stating they would share personal data with companies to help control the spread of the virus and 33% want real time digital monitoring of number of people on a premise at one time to help safeguard public health. Realising and accepting the power of healthcare technology could be a new way to support society after the pandemic is over.


of the UK would share personal data with companies to help control the spread of the virus


At the start of 2020, climate change was firmly at the top of the global agenda. While the pandemic has inevitably affected some of this momentum, it has also prompted many to reflect on the world around us. Our Head of Purpose, Holly Rouse, discusses the profound effect the pandemic has had on the environment and examines ways in which care for climate change has actually deepened during lockdown. 64% of respondents believe the environment is better off due to actions taken to tackle the virus and more than half claim that protecting the environment is important to them. Please enjoy our Thinking Allowed opinions on this research and we hope you find the report thoughtprovoking and useful. We would be delighted to discuss the research, our thoughts and how you or your company can communicate through this complex and everevolving environment. All research referred to in this magazine is from FleishmanHillard’s TRUE Global Intelligence seven-country study, COVID-19 Mindset: The Collision of Issues.

Research Methodology TGI, the in-house research practice of FleishmanHillard, fielded an online survey of a total of 8,817 adults 18 and older in the US, UK, China, South Korea, Italy, Germany and Canada from June 8 – 19, 2020. Within this report, we discuss the UK data only, which had 1,277 respondents with the margin of error being ±2.9% and was weighted by gender and age. For any questions related to the COVID-19 Mindset study, contact

of the UK want real time digital monitoring of individuals in premises to help safeguard public health

Deirdre Livingston Research Manager, Intelligence Thinking Allowed

COMPASSIONATE COMMUNICATIONSIN BRAND MARKETING In recent months, our world has turned outside in and the effect of the pandemic on our lives has been substantial. Meeting rooms have turned into video conferences, planned vacations are trips to the park. Life as we knew it was put on pause and switched to another channel at the same time. It is without surprise that recent events are leading to domino effects on our relationships, not just with one another, but with our expectations of brands and societal issues. Across key topics including healthcare, discrimination and racial equality, the world is beginning to ask more from brands and organisations. With only so much being possible to do at home and with a new view on the fragility of life, consumers have raised their expectations of what brands should do during this time. As our research finds, 66% of Britons say companies should take a stand on discrimination and equality, but only 19% believe major corporations are committed to doing the right thing. Either most of us aren’t doing enough, or we aren’t doing enough to show the world what it is we’re doing. Ingrained into this issue is the unenviable question of a brand’s purpose and authenticity and their relationship with the ambition of commerce and growth. It’s a relationship that has become more sensitive than

ever, with brands not just being punished for not doing enough but also doing too much in the wrong space and at the wrong time. Any posturing and virtue signalling will be lambasted and, in our era of cancel culture, this has the potential to spread like wildfire. Nonetheless, with 91% of the UK thinking it’s important for companies to show that they’re committed to doing the right thing, being silent has never been riskier. Continued self-reflection and awareness is key for brands looking to understand where they fit in the jigsaw of culture. Don’t put all your trust in your manifesto and data analytics. No matter how diverse, we all have biases and need various stop-gaps where outside communities and expertise can come in and sense check what we could simply never understand without hearing it from the source itself. Whether providing a platform for voices or leading the effort yourself, compassionate communication first requires listening to consumers. However, there has been a lot of listening during these past few months – and the time to make changes was yesterday. The brands that can listen to the cultural conversation and then help lead it will be shaping not just their own future, but influencing the communities and brands of tomorrow.

Lauren Winter Managing Director of Brand and Consumer Marketing, EMEA Issue 4 · August 2020 · 6

COMPASSIONATE COMMUNICATIONS IN REPUTATION MANAGEMENT COVID-19 has had a profound impact on everyone, irrespective of race, gender or geography. This collective experience will change things. Some of these things are more tangible and easier to accept, such as the rapid adoption of online services and digital transformation, while others are much harder to fully understand and will change the way we behave, and ultimately how we will accept the behaviours of those around us.

response. Similarly, those companies that deliver positive societal benefits that go beyond rhetoric and show actionable change are seeing a discernible positive uplift in their reputation; this matches expectations laid out in the survey. The same can be said for the leaders within those organisations, with almost half (47%) of those surveyed expecting to understand how their company’s values support the values of their communities, customers and employees.

Many will feel a new vulnerability along with a wider recognition of the instability of some of the foundations that they have long taken for granted. However, on the positive side there has been a collective awakening to core values, whether it’s looking after your friends, family and neighbours, or ensuring that you take care of your local community and environment, which will also impact on perceptions.

Those that take a stand with humanity will also be warmly received as lockdown has brought communities closer. It has underscored the need for humane responses, with 48% stating that they expect leaders to show empathy and compassion for their communities, customers and employees in their words and actions.

We can see this playing out in our research. Against a backdrop of tax subsidies and furloughing, expectations of companies’ behaviours have skyrocketed but scepticism is widespread, as most of those surveyed find it difficult to believe that a company will put societal needs ahead of commercial interests. That said, the opportunity is there for those organisations that seize it. When companies have reduced executive pay or paid back furlough schemes, there has been a positive

Choosing which issues to take a stand on can be complex but, uniquely, the research looked at the difference between those that people cared about and those they expected companies to take a position on. Health, understandably, is front and centre of mind for many, but other key concerns also include the environment, data security and discrimination. Aligning those issues with areas that a company can authentically communicate on will ultimately be key to having a markedly positive impact on a company’s reputation in this new world. Stephanie Bailey Managing Director, Corporate

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“Aligning those issues with areas that a company can authentically communicate on will ultimately be key to having a markedly positive impact on a company’s reputation in this new world.”

Issue 4 · August 2020 · 8

LIFTING THE LID on our own D&I journey

With employee and stakeholder expectations at an all-time high, how does one even begin to step up on Diversity & Inclusion (D&I)? This is a question many of our clients are grappling with. Sometimes the sheer scale of the task can be daunting, so we hope that by sharing a little about our own experience, we might help others make that move forward.

“IT’S A PIPELINE PROBLEM” I’ve been in PR for so long that I’ve started lopping off years when talking about it. It’s somewhere way north of two decades and in that time, one of the most oftrepeated topics of conversation has been about why the industry is so un-diverse. If my memory isn’t failing me (and that’s possible), for the full two decades, the standard answer was that it was a ‘pipeline problem’. “We can’t help not hiring more diverse candidates.

Thinking Allowed

There aren’t any out there. It’s not our fault.” About two years ago, we decided enough was enough. We were tired of listening to the excuses. But, truth be told, we were as un-diverse as the rest of the industry. And again, in truth, we didn’t really know what to do about it.

BHAGS – ALWAYS THE BEST PLACE TO START We started nailing our colours to the mast before we knew what we were in for. We committed to not-stop until we were the “most diverse and inclusive agency in London”. What we meant by this was that our work, and the workforce who create it, would represent the society in which we live. Properly. Meaning we set hard representation targets. A series of Big Hairy Audacious Goals. We chose to do this in part because it was just ‘right’, in part because it makes commercial sense, and also because by doing this we can help our clients do

better work.

LONG ON VISION, SHORT ON KNOW-HOW There was just one rather large problem. And that was how to go about it. We needed expertise and know-how. Which is where EY came in. We appointed EY to guide us on this journey. They’re the accreditation body for the government-backed National Equality Standard – the benchmark for best practice in D&I. They came in and audited us from top to bottom across 35 different areas of our policies and practices. Everything from our approach to flexi-time, to the data we collect on applicants and the expectations we have of our suppliers. They then held a series of focus groups with our team to ascertain what their experience of our culture is really like on the ground.

THE SCORES ON THE DOORS The upshot? We did ok, but there were a lot of areas for improvement and, thankfully, that’s where their expertise really helped. Over the last year, we’ve lifted the lid on every single thing that needed improvement and taken their feedback on board. There were big things like making sure we eradicated bias (as far as that’s possible) and incorporating D&I objectives into all leadership objectives. Then there were small things like making sure our team knew why we were committed to D&I, therefore being clear on the business case.

THE RE-AUDIT A year on and it was time for our re-audit. Having been given 365 days to respond to EY’s initial audit, we found out last month that we’d made it. We are now the only PR agency, in fact the only creative industry agency, in the country to have achieved this, so that’s a big step forward. All that said, achieving the National Equality Standard is exactly that. A standard. It doesn’t solve our lack of diversity, or magically change our culture overnight. So to supplement this, we decided to focus on tackling challenges of our own in addition to the ongoing commitment we have supporting Omnicom’s employee resource groups for women, people with disabilities and the LGBTQ+ community. One of our main focuses is on hiring. Here, we’ve formed a partnership with RARE Recruitment, which specialises in diverse candidates. We also partner myGwork to attract LGBTQ+ candidates and the Taylor Bennet Foundation for a broader socio-demographic contingent. Our diversity data told us we also needed to tackle four key issues: mental health, ethnic minority representation, hidden disabilities and the socioeconomic profile of people that work at FHF. Our team has created awareness campaigns to bring some of these issues to light and normalise talking about them. We’ve also spent time crafting what we call our Regs – the behaviours we want to live by – to deliver on our inclusivity goal.

WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE US? So we’ve learned a lot. We’ve achieved a fair bit. But we’re horribly aware that we have a long, long way to go. Come back to us in a few years and ask how we’re getting on. We’ll still be on the case.

Ali Gee Deputy Chief Executive and D&I Lead Issue 4 · August 2020 · 10


How will you show you have listened? We are all activists now. The blinkers are off and ordinary people are seeing the world laid bare. It’s messy, it’s difficult – and at times it’s downright depressing – but above all, there’s hope. And that is what corporates now hold in their hands. The hope of millions of people is being placed at the feet of the FTSE. And alongside it is the plea; please do something good with it. Please don’t let us down. Because we can’t do this without you. The truth is that companies and consumers have never needed each other more; the relationship is now one of greater equilibrium. When power balances alter, it takes time for both parties to adjust. In the case of companies, C-suite execs are tackling questions on how to deal with the ceding of power, whereas for consumers, it’s all about how to leverage their new clout. In the past, companies have looked to each other to guide what actions they take. What’s the industry standard? What’s my nearest competitor doing? What does it take to go one up on my peer group? Leadership looked like leading the pack.

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But your planners – those in your agency or business who help you understand the motivations of the people who move your world and how to move with them – will now be hard at work figuring out what your consumers truly want and need to see from you. In short, how you can honour their hope. In this case, hope is also a synonym for ‘help’. Consumers are asking for help from companies to behave better. There is a real opportunity for honesty here; companies cannot change their behaviours without consumer change. Which, for directors of comms and marketing, means taking a more singular focus on who you need to impress and impress discussion upon. Convince your consumers, and maybe the rest will follow. The key word for me in this latest research is ‘committed’; the lack of commitment that consumers feel from companies. It’s a word that the corporate world throws about a lot, but the intent has disappeared. No one knows what it means to be committed anymore; this is particularly true for companies.

This is a really exciting moment for planning; the development of insight and strategy that becomes the bedrock of what your company does next. Planners live to get inside the hearts and minds of audiences. We’re nosy, and we should not be walking away until we have helped you to really unpack what commitment looks like in 2020 for your audience. It needs to go deeper and further than just knowing what they care about. It has to tell you how and where you need to show up and who you should show up with. It needs to define the next generation of work you do. It starts with simple questions and it leads to deeper interrogation and deepened disclosure. What are the specific issues that your consumer base cares about? What change do they hope for? How do they perceive you in relation to that hope? What would change their mind? What do you really need to do/say/change you show them that you committed? Where do you need to show up to show them you are committed?

Bringing the perspectives of the people into your business is critical. Are you crowd-sourcing or are you co-creating? Are you setting foundations or putting the cherry on the top of something already baked? Are you up for healthy challenge or do you just want validation?

We talk a lot in this industry about behaving with authenticity. Ahead of launching any campaign, businesses question whether this is something that they can credibly claim to care about. But when it comes to climate change, D&I and health in the workplace, I’d suggest that, unless your business is run by aliens, we can all credibly claim to care about the environment along with the wellbeing and good treatment of fellow humans. So, use your consumer insight to understand not whether you should get involved, but what your involvement looks like and ultimately feels like to the people who receive it. The world needs some serious healing. And that requires genuine hard graft, but you’ve got a better chance of getting more of it right if you ask the right questions of the right people first. For some, that means picking up where you left off with renewed vigour. For others, it means starting again with a different energy. But make no mistake, every single one of us has work to do to understand what this research means for our businesses and our clients. It all comes down to what every CMO needs to ask themselves today: what will your business do with the hope that your customers have placed at your feet and how will you dig deep to do it in ways that count?

Depali (Dee) O’Connell Director, Insight & Strategy Issue 4 · August 2020 · 12

HOW ‘BUILDING BACK BETTER’ PROMOTES YOUR POLITICAL REPUTATION & PROTECTS YOUR LICENCE TO OPERATE The Prime Minister made a judgement call in late June to look beyond the immediate horizon of tackling the spread of the Coronavirus. He looked ahead to a new Britain, a country already familiar with the threats of the pandemic, and considered what kind of economy and society the UK should be as we learn to live with the virus. He said:

“… this moment also gives us a much greater chance to be radical and to do things differently to build back better, to build back bolder, and so we will be doubling down on our strategy, we will double down on levelling up… I believe in building people up, giving everyone growing up in this country the opportunity they need whoever you are, whatever your ethnicity, whatever your background.”

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Since then, the phrase ‘build back better’ has been leapt upon by campaign groups and businesses alike, all keen to align their respective calls for regulatory intervention or support with the Government’s agenda. It cannot be all about this ‘ask’, however. Businesses and organisations must demonstrate how they are seeking to do things differently in this ‘new normal’, despite the country entering a deep recession and facing the very real risk that the virus might spike again, disrupting everything over the winter months. This increased expectation also comes at a time when the Brexit clock is ticking fast, and so businesses have a lot on their plates along with possibly limited bandwidth to respond to the environment around them.

What’s the public affairs ‘prize’ for doing this? In short: It’s the opportunity for businesses to shape a policy and regulatory framework that maximises the opportunity to ‘build back better’ in a way that works for their evolving business models and investment plans. The alternative, in contrast, is to have regulations imposed on them that raise questions over their reputation and restrict their licence to operate. Our new research outlined in this magazine looks at the current expectations the public has for businesses to ‘build back better’ and what they might be looking for as a result. The priorities for the public that map to the Government’s agenda are: A more diverse and representative workplace – 76% of people think working from home creates opportunities to hire more diverse populations where travel to work has been a barrier. While the Government will not dictate who businesses should and should not employ, they are looking closely at how inclusive the UK workforce is as well as the wider economic and societal benefits that accrue from this. Companies and organisations should consider sharing any progress they are making on D&I agendas with their local MPs as well as participating in industry-wide discussions. Fair treatment in the workplace – With a recession upon us, it is no surprise that 32% of people feel their financial situation or finances will be worse in the next six months. The Government will be under pressure from its backbenchers, particularly those representing ‘Red Wall’ constituencies recently won from Labour at the general election, to ensure that ‘work pays’. Business will want to work closely with government to shape policies that support the train and retaining of staff and maximise levels of productivity. More local and resilient supply chains – 89% of people believe that having the capability to manufacture products domestically will make the country stronger and more resilient in the next global crisis.

Our trade negotiations now are taking place within a COVID-19 context. Can we have both quality and quantity? Do we want seasonality or year-round variety? Businesses should explore these trade-offs with consumers and customers to help politicians shape and manage public expectations. Paying their fair share – 90% of people believe that healthcare workers must be compensated in a way that reflects the value that they bring to society. Who, though, is going to pay for this? The Government might be willing to borrow, but ultimately taxes will have to rise. With the ‘age of austerity’ a recent political memory, businesses will want to engage with government early on the issue of how much they are able to bear this time round. Wider corporate social engagement – 84% of the UK believes it is important for companies to actively work to solve social issues. During lockdown, businesses were keen to show how they were supporting their local community. With everyone returning to their day jobs, there is both an opportunity and a challenge for businesses to show how they might maintain this wider sense of social purpose while trying to turn a profit. For some the two are not in conflict, while for others it remains a question of priorities and resource. Ultimately the public (and consequently the politicians) will reward those companies and organisations whose behaviours resonate most closely with their values. This seems like quite the to-do list for businesses, many of whom are facing incredibly difficult choices as they try and weather the impact of COVID-19 to date. However, it is clear that this government is keen to find agendas that resonate with the public against the backdrop of Brexit deadlines, a deep recession and a potential winter health crisis. If businesses fail to ‘build back better’ by themselves in the eyes of society, then government will find ways of helping them.

Liam McCloy Partner, Public Affairs Issue 4 · August 2020 · 14

COVID-19 enabling progressive health and compassionate humanity COVID-19 has taken the world to its knees with a humanitarian and economic crisis. We were largely unprepared, arrogant and selfish, making decisions based on practically no information. The world has been winging it, which is scary. What has been even more amazing is witnessing what panic can reveal about culture – how nations, societies, communities and individuals react to the unknown. However, we must also look at the positives, because through the panic comes sparks of innovation, inspiration, conversation, joy, compassion and ultimately, hope. Questioning the norm has been pivotal, and change is happening quicker because of it. Humanity at its best. Many lessons have been learnt (hopefully!) throughout the pandemic. First, the world is clear that it isn’t just a three-month sabbatical – our research shows almost 1 in 2 (46%) Britons expect this to take up to a year. This is life now for the immediate future – we just have to adapt. We’ve learnt to cook again; Joe Wicks has energised the nation and we’ve taken a long hard look at social care and realised the limits of our health care system. Overall, we have learnt how, as humans, we can quickly adapt to change and how we can expediate change that improves our daily lives. Compassion

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taught us that if we look after ourselves, we will in turn protect others. We have learnt that self-care is health care. Our research also demonstrates that human compassion in health reveals itself through compliance, with 95% of the British public willing to mask up for the sake of their health, and more importantly for that of others. More than two in five (44%) are happy for temperature checks in public spaces. A third (34%) are happy for a robot to do it for them. While as a nation we take data and privacy exceptionally seriously, we are willing to share our data for the greater good of health and safety, as long as it will not be used to discriminate. Two-thirds (67%) would share personal data with companies to help control the spread of the virus; more than one in three (35%) of the UK are willing to use apps that track and trace where someone has been or has been identified as being exposed before allowing the person to enter the public space. We’re also broadly happy (33%) to use real-time digital monitoring of social distancing, using data to manage how many people are on a premise at one time. Naturally, this opens a wider conversation about how we share appropriate data and protect our privacy at the same time.







of the British public are willing to mask up for the sake of their health

would share personal data with companies to help control the spread of the virus

are happy for temperature checks in public spaces

of the UK are willing to use track and trace apps

COVID-19 ENABLING THE POWER OF HEALTH TECH The pandemic has also fundamentally changed the NHS. Our pressured healthcare system was already struggling to manage, but projections by the NHS Confederation show that the NHS waiting list is expected to rise from about 4.2 million currently to about 10 million by Christmas 2020. Established in 2019, NHSX was set up to augment and ease the day-to-day lives of staff and patients through the use of technology. The pandemic has forced the pace of change, with previously conservative doctors quickly turning to digitally-enabled practices and resistance to the sharing of data dropped in recognition that it couldn’t be avoided. Track and trace technology, video conferencing, virtual appointments and AI-enabled operations planning have all been embraced. According to NHS England, 99% of GP practices are now actively using remote-consultation platforms and, in the first two months of COVID-19, the NHS app saw its engagement rate surge 110%. Ultimately this pandemic is forcing the hand of digital technology in the NHS. What was once approached with caution or even apathy is now the day to day norm.

are happy for a robot to do it for them

are happy to use real-time digital monitoring of social distancing

WELLTECH CHANGING OUR ACCESS TO A HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE Data and trends also show that we are taking more time for our health and wellbeing. With gyms out of bounds we took the importance of staying fit and healthy into our own hands; health and fitness products sold out within weeks of lockdown. Personal trainers pivoted to Instagram Live for free workouts. Gyms switched their classes to Zoom. Fitness brands worked with influencers to host online classes, enabling them to access bigger audiences; everyone found a way to make beneficial health and wellness easily accessible. So much so that one fitness brand used this insight to plough ahead with a notable acquisition, investing $500m in a reflective display start-up that enables users to simultaneously stream workouts and watch themselves replicating the gym experience at home, perfecting form and function. With potential gym closures and social distancing in place, this could be a smart move. So a lockdown to keep us safe has made us reflective and take even greater hold of our health – but will this appetite for a better relationship with our personal health and wellbeing stay in the long term?

Emma Padden Director, Brand & Consumer Marketing Issue 4 · August 2020 · 16

COVID-19 and the Green Recovery BRITISH EXPECTATIONS & WHAT IT MEANS FOR BUSINESS 2020 was expected to be a critical year for climate change, with much talk ahead of the UK hosting COP26. Unsurprisingly, since coronavirus started to spread, global warming and climate change have taken something of a backseat. But, in the last few weeks, things have started to change. With many countries past the initial peak of the virus and beginning to flatten the curve, there is now increasing talk of the need to ‘build back better’, with an emphasis on any recovery needing to be ‘green’. Already we’ve seen more than 200 top UK firms call on the Government to deliver a COVID-19 recovery plan that is in line with climate goals, while a group of 57 charities and businesses formed ‘The Climate Coalition’, urging the Prime Minister to use economic rescue packages to build a net-zero economic recovery. But the link between COVID-19 and climate change has, in fact, been there from the outset. The pandemic has had a profound positive effect on nature and the environment in ways that we could never have predicted in such as short space of time.

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From falling CO2 emissions and clearer waters, to bluer skies and even the urban birdsong. Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that climate factors like air pollution have in fact worsened the pandemic and led to greater rates of infection. This therefore begs the question: will COVID-19 have a lasting and positive impact on our climate and our views towards protecting our environment? The answer, according to the British public, appears to be a resounding yes – as long as business and the Government step up to the mark. Before the pandemic, research conducted by FHF found that the environment was the number one issue that consumers wanted companies to address. And COVID-19 has done nothing to diminish this. The latest research from FHF’s TGI team set out at the front of this magazine found that, in the UK, coronavirus has significantly deepened people’s climate concerns. One in four people say the pandemic has made them more worried about climate change, while nearly two-thirds (64%) believe the environment is better off due to the actions taken to tackle the virus.

22% 6% trust the government to provide information on climate change

of Brits trust business


believe that big, structural change is needed from companies to address the climate crisis

The British public also want to see the same level of urgency that society has applied to COVID-19 used to tackle climate change, with an expectation that businesses and government will lead the charge. Yet trust in business and government to deliver is at an all-time low. Fewer than one in four (22%) trust the government when it comes to providing information on climate change, with only 6% Instead, 66% believe that big, structural change is needed from companies to address the issue at large.


of the public want to hear about businesses sustainability commitments

Next, those at the top need to step up. People want leaders and CEOs to talk about climate change and its consequences. And third, communicate with striking impact – don’t be afraid to talk about risk, as well as the real and present danger climate change poses.

There is therefore a clear disconnect and gap between the expectation of consumers and the perceived action from business to deliver. Granted, the corporate world has always been at the forefront of innovation when it comes to climate change. But if there is deep mistrust in business to act, how can it bridge the consumer expectation gap?

It’s the businesses who do these three things consistently across a multitude of channels that will win back trust among the British public when it comes to the environment. And while COVID-19 has been devastating for so many, it has created a critical opening for tackling climate change which, just six month ago, would have been unthinkable.

First, business leaders must change the way they communicate. FHF’s research shows that the public wants to hear about the actions taken by business (39%) about their sustainability commitments (32%).

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that when society pulls together it can tackle a global challenge. There is – and remains – a glimmer of hope that we can, and will, do better.

Holly Rouse Partner & Purposeful Business Lead Issue 4 · August 2020 · 18

OUR THINKING Next generation thinking is here. The latest report from our Youth and Culture team, Gen C: A new virtual sanity, investigates how Gen C behaviours and brand expectations are changing amidst the pandemic, and whether they can be expected to stay. View the report here

We are hosting a panel event on August 18th at 11am with leading broadcasters on how Covid is impacting their news agenda and has changed the relationship between the media, businesses and PR. If you would like to attend. Please email here if you would like to attend:


HOW THE PANDEMIC HAS CHANGED THE NEWS Join us for a webinar hosted by FHF Head of News Pete Meikle 11:00 - 12:00 Tuesday 18th August 2020

5 News Presenter

BBC “Today” Business Presenter

ITV News Head of Newsgathering

Claudia-Liza Armah

Katie Prescott

Andrew Dagnell

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Our multi-discipline Food, Agribusiness and Beverage team have produced some in-depth thinking and advice on the key issues for the FAB sector. View the magazine here

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Profile for FleishmanHillard UK

Thinking Allowed - Issue 4  

This edition we focus on our latest consumer research showing how the UK public is continuing to react to the Coronavirus and how businesses...

Thinking Allowed - Issue 4  

This edition we focus on our latest consumer research showing how the UK public is continuing to react to the Coronavirus and how businesses...

Profile for fhflondon

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