Sector: Consumer PR and Brand Communications

Life at Grayling: Interview with account executive Evelyn Cowen

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In our latest post on life at Grayling, we meet Evelyn Cowen, who joined us in September 2022. We get the lowdown on why they chose PR as a career and their experience so far.

What attracted you to a role in PR?
Prior to starting at Grayling, I had an extremely varied but somewhat esoteric range of experience, including running an electronics repair business, working in the Royal Household, engaging in activism, and pitching an ambitious – if moderately fantastical – scheme to a global sustainability company involving the mixing of precious metals with a radioisotope.

In addition to the innate interest in current events every PR employee possesses, there really is no other industry that combines and develops these disparate interests. Grayling, more so than most firms, has the client list to back this up, with clients in practically every industry going and plenty of opportunities to work with them.

I am very much of the opinion that no other industry develops such a wide range of skills so quickly, and I have very much been proven right. Working in PR allows one to experience limited ‘doses’ of a huge range of industries, and that makes it a phenomenal place to begin a career. If one isn’t sure what sort of place one would like to work at, PR encourages one to trial a range of them, and Grayling more so than most.

What challenges have you faced?
Compared to some people, I have a unique set of challenges to take into account. I was apprehensive on my first day, as physical disability can affect how I work. I was thrilled when – unprompted – I was shown a variety of gender-neutral spaces, and it was made clear that Grayling encourages unique styles of working tailored to the individual.

Almost immediately, my requirements were accommodated, and equipment was purchased which allowed me to work at full capacity. Crucially, working with a disability can be unpredictable, which doesn’t play well with the time-sensitive and varied requirements of our clients. Despite this, everyone, regardless of seniority, treated me fairly and allowed me to work around my health. This was hugely gratifying, and part of a unique culture which allowed me to not just get the work done but also to prosper.

This is not only unusual but hugely gratifying; this work-as-you’re-able approach naturally comes with its own challenges, but the supportive infrastructure at Grayling balances everything out. This is not only a unique approach in the industry, but one that very clearly is only possible due to the collaborative atmosphere of the firm.

So, what’s it been like working at Grayling so far?
I find working at Grayling very exciting, as something new seems to appear every minute and my skillset develops at lightning speed as a result. Cliché aside, there are few other scenarios where a person can, in a single day, design and commission a line of merchandise to promote a major infrastructure bid while also working on a radical new climate and land preservation initiative. In my first week, I’d amassed enough to elevate my CV to godhood, let alone my first month!

The office community is unlike anywhere I have worked before; it is genuinely collaborative and organic, with hierarchy and seniority acting more as a guide than a rigid framework. People of all positions engage largely as equals and cooperate in a natural and instinctive way. Personally, I observe this to be an excellent way to structure a PR firm, as the needs of clients too are fluid, fast-moving and don’t necessarily adhere to a strict framework.

As such, Grayling seems better placed to anticipate and respond to change far more effectively than a lot of firms, and crucially everyone seems happier while they do it.

What are your personal ambitions for your career in PR?
In all honesty, Grayling is such a whirlwind that my ambitions change almost daily! As it stands, my primary aim is to build upon my skills and advance my knowledge. The company is absolutely overflowing with talent and experience, and I’d like to make use of it.

Consumer PR is an area I’ve never worked in, and I’m keen to develop my knowledge of that area by ranging out and collaborating with our team. Something I’m also keen to do is reinforce my network, which Grayling actually offers very useful guidance for.

I’m always impressed by the vast number of journalists, advisors and fellow PR professionals that many of my colleagues can call upon immediately, and I’m keen to connect with and establish my own list.

You can connect with Evelyn here on Linkedin.

If you’re keen to work with Grayling, check out our Join Us page to see what roles we have currently open. We look forward to hearing from you!

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How we communicate is an ever-changing science shaped by society and technology. To succeed in this rapidly changing environment, businesses need to be at the forefront of the changes that will define whether they can reach, engage and be heard by audiences across the globe.

Here are five key insights that Grayling believe will create a communications advantage in 2023.

  1. Connecting with fragmented audiences

Audiences have continued to fragment and separate, making them even harder to reach because their sources of information are so varied. Even via social media or news aggregators, they are likely to see content that interests them. Simple ‘catch-all’ demographic data and assumptions won’t cut it anymore; brands need to crunch advanced data to customise their approach, creating engaging and shareable content that matches the motivations and interests of their audiences.

  1. The digital hyperloop

The rapid change in technology and cultural trends has made long-term planning incredibly difficult. The challenge in keeping up has led many creators to spend more time crafting content they know their audience will engage with, rather than simply jumping on the next trend. Similarly, PR and communications outreach and content must focus on ideas people will connect with and be prepared to pivot quickly according to changing trends and the public mood.

  1. Levelling up internal communications

The pandemic changed industrial relations forever. Employees are less driven by money and more by conditions, benefits, training and values. This trend has placed significant responsibility on internal comms and challenged HR teams to accommodate a wide range of needs across generations. Internal comms has become a battleground for the best talent in the market.

  1. The AI evolution

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has played a small part in the PR toolkit for years, for example, with increasingly intuitive search engines and grammar tools. However, in the last year, AI has flown up our collective agendas with AI-powered writing tools such as ChatGPT and image applications like Midjourney. AI will continue to learn and improve but the challenge is to understand what role new AI tools will play within the organization, train staff on how to make the most of them, and to be aware of pitfalls such as fact-checking, copyright and plagiarism.

  1. A post-purpose world

Consumers are alert to purpose-washing tactics and can spot a brand’s “say-do gap” from a distance – and they are not afraid to call it out either! Organisations need to demonstrate their purpose with action, not words.

Read the full report here: GAINING ADVANTAGE IN 2023

If your organisation wants to understand what any of these five insights mean for your business, please get in touch. We’d be delighted to discuss them with you.

Grayling named Large Consultancy of the Year at the European Excellence Awards

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Grayling has been named Large Consultancy of the Year at the European Excellence Awards 2021. The awards, which took place on Friday 10 December, also saw Grayling win across four other campaign categories including Food & Beverage (UK), NGOs & Associations (Russia), Benelux & France, and Germany, Switzerland & Austria.

These awards cap a stellar 2021 for Grayling across Europe. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Grayling has delivered double digit revenue growth across the continent. Underpinning this growth has been a strategy which has driven greater integration and collaborative working across all European offices. In the past year, Grayling has focused further on blended services, particularly higher margin, strategic consultancy work. The existing diverse set of skills has been bolstered by key hires across Grayling’s pan-European teams.

The multiple awards reflect the hard work of Grayling’s staff across Europe. Despite the pandemic, Grayling colleagues have delivered the highest quality of service for the clients.

Sarah Scholefield, Global CEO said: “We are delighted to be named Large Consultancy of the Year at the European Excellence Awards, alongside four wins for outstanding client campaigns across the region. These incredible results are testament to the dedication and hard work of our staff across Europe. The pandemic has presented many challenges for our people, but they have all consistently delivered outstanding campaigns and results. I couldn’t be prouder of the work they have done and we’re all looking forward to continuing this success in 2022.”

European Excellence Award wins:
  • Large Agency of the Year category – Grayling won the prestigious Large Agency of the Year award following a year which saw growth across all our European teams, in both revenue and employee numbers, and a number of landmark client wins.
  • Food & BeverageGrayling in London picked up the award for their work with fish-free brand Good Catch with OurWay, a campaign described by Ad Week as “promotional gold”.
  • NGOs & Associations – the Grayling Moscow team capped off a brilliant year – having already been named Russia/CIS Consultancy of the Year at the PRovoke Awards – with a win for their work with the Social Partnership Development fund, on the campaign No more Chemistry with Chemo which tackled the issue of social isolation for women with cancer in Russia.
  • Benelux & FranceGrayling in Paris were recognised for their work with client Badoo in the Benelux & France category. The campaign, entitled Yes to Real Encounters, Yes to Beautiful Encounters, addressed the issue of microaggressions in the dating process and involved the production of a short film to raise awareness and educate the public on the issue.
  • Germany, Switzerland & Austria – The team at Grayling Vienna have been named in the regional Germany, Austria and Switzerland category for their campaign Raising Worldwide Awareness about Old Age Poverty. This campaign was carried out with Vollpension Generationencafé and aimed to raise awareness about age-poverty and Covid-induced isolation for elderly citizens around the world.


For more information about the European Excellence Awards click here.

Grayling 7x shortlisted at the European Excellence Awards

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Grayling has been named seven times on the shortlist for the 2021 European Excellence Awards, which celebrate the best campaigns and agencies from across Europe. The nominees for this year were selected from over 800 applications for each category.

Grayling was this year nominated in the prestigious Large Agency of the Year category, testament to the fantastic year we have had. We have seen growth across all of our European teams, in both revenue and employee numbers, and have added clients including The Lego Group to our rosters.

Grayling UK has been recognised in the Food & Beverage category for their work with fish-free brand Good Catch on OurWay, a campaign described by Ad Week as “promotional gold”.

Our team at Grayling Russia are ending a brilliant year, having already been named Russia/CIS Consultancy of the Year at the PRovoke Agency of the Year awards, with two European Excellence Award nominations. They have first been named in the NGO’s & Associations category for their work with the Social Partnership Development fund, on a campaign named No more chemistry with chemo which tackled the issue of social isolation for women with cancer in Russia, and secondly in the Influencer Communications category for their work with client Crocs.

Grayling France were recognised for their work with client Badoo in the Benelux & France category. The campaign, entitled Yes to real encounters, Yes to Beautiful encounters, addressed the issue of microaggressions in the dating process and involved the production of a short film to raise awareness and educate the French public on the issue.

The team at Grayling Austria have been named in the regional Germany, Austria and Switzerland category for their campaign Raising worldwide awareness about old age poverty. This campaign was carried out with client Vollpension Generationencafé and aimed to raise awareness about age-poverty and Covid-induced isolation for elderly Viennese citizens.

Finally, Grayling Hungary have been recognised for their work with Diageo; the Hungarian team organised a livestreamed concert, with access granted on the completion of a ‘DRINKiQ’ quiz – an innovative way of educating Hungarians on the importance of responsible drinking.

The jury – which included Grayling’s global CEO Sarah Scholefield (who recused herself from judging Grayling entries) – will meet in late November to discuss the shortlist, and the winners of the European Excellence Awards will be announced at a virtual ceremony on 10th December.

UK rail industry reveals its biggest consumer rail campaign since the pandemic

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Today the rail industry unveils ‘Let’s get back on track’, a national marketing campaign which celebrates rail’s role in connecting people to the places and things they love the most. 

Designed to encourage people back to the railway and make rail travel their preferred mode of transport again, the campaign highlights how rail is an enabler of reconnection by bringing to life the different journeys people take on the train every day; to explore the country, head back to the office, see a grandchild for the first time or just to go ‘out out’ again.

The advertising campaign launches today and follows on from National and Regional PR activity that encourages the public to ‘Seize a day’ by train when the restrictions have eased. As part of the PR launch the rail industry released the first of a series of studies that highlight the social and economic importance of train travel.

In addition to activity taking place across the train companies owned marketing channels, including at stations, a paid media campaign will run on TV and on-demand from today until the beginning of September alongside radio, OOH and digital that will run up to the end of October.

Speaking about the new campaign, Merel van den Boomen, Marketing Strategy Director at Rail Delivery Group, said: “Rail is fundamental to helping people reconnect whilst also at the centre of the country’s economic recovery from the pandemic, which is why the industry has come together to develop a national emotionally-engaging campaign to drive consideration of train travel and re-connect the UK. We can’t wait to welcome our customers back on our trains and are encouraging them to ‘seize a day’ and travel by train so they can have a relaxed journey, explore Britain and spend time with their loved ones again”.

Ryan Lietaer, Founder and CEO at independent creative advertising agency Accomplice, commented, “The past 12 months has reminded us just how precious it is to be connected to the people and experiences that bring meaning to our lives. Rail is an unbeatable way make those connections and so we built ‘Let’s get back on track’; an integrated communications platform designed to celebrate the national journey of reconnection. This is a campaign for all of us and the story of how we move forward together via rail”.

Lewis Starnes, Managing Partner at Spark Foundry, added, “It’s been a real pleasure to work with the industry and plan how we will share these wide and diverse emotional stories of reconnection with consumers and give people that reassurance to travel by train.  Unsurprisingly, trusted premium media environments like TV and National news sites where attention is highest were an essential part of the mix. It was also important to evolve the campaign messaging across the summer, matching different leisure interests to the right consumer group. We’re excited to see these plans drive rail recovery after a tough year and get us all back on track.”

Estelle Boon, Head of Consumer at Grayling UK, said: “Encouraging the consumer to embrace rail travel again after such a long period of not doing so requires the kind of behaviour change comms that genuinely drive sales. A PR programme that is truly integrated is key and our remit has extended well beyond media engagement and reputation management, to customer promotions, content and advice tailored to human needs. It’s a privilege to be part of a campaign that will make a difference to the nation as a whole post-pandemic.”


For more information please contact:
George Eddy, Grayling UK,, 07766111572


About the ‘Let’s get back on track campaign’
The Let’s get back on track campaign is at the heart of the rail industry recovery programme, developed by RDG in collaboration with the Rail Revenue Recovery Group (RRRG) and TOCs with DfT’s consultation. This is the biggest consumer rail campaign since the pandemic with a significant media investment behind it, to allow the rail industry to reach key audiences and drive consideration of train travel. The campaign will launch on 16th August via a broad mix of media channels to ensure national coverage.

About the Industry Recovery Programme
In response to the impact of the pandemic on public sentiment towards rail, the industry has developed a strategic framework to help bring customers back and drive revenue recovery via a cross industry collaborative approach. An 18-month Industry Recovery Programme was developed with three key phases;

  1. To reassure customers about how rail companies are working together as part of the industry’s Safer Travel Pledge to highlight what the industry has been doing to help customers travel with confidence.
  2. Drive awareness and reappraisal of rail travel by encouraging people back on the trains with the national ‘Let’s get back on track campaign’ leading this.
  3. Show the importance of rail in the national recovery, focusing on the environmental and economic benefits of train journeys.

Communication in sports surrounding COVID-19 vaccines: Tokyo Olympics and the NFL

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As vaccination rollouts continue around the world and more people are making the decision on whether or not to get vaccinated, our favourite athletes and teams are no exception. The fight against COVID-19 is not over and both the International Olympics Committee (IOC) and National Football League (NFL) recognize that safety is still a high priority. Communications are once again at the forefront of fighting the battle.  

  • How has the threat of COVID-19 impacted the Olympics so far? How have political leaders balanced this issue so far with their communications?  
  • How has the NFL’s stance on vaccines influenced athletes’ decisions of their vaccine status? 
  • With a handful of athletes that have publicly expressed their vaccine status and created polarization around their decisions, how will this impact their peers and competition?  

Greg Marshall, Account Executive from Grayling NY, takes a look at these discussions surrounding vaccinations ahead of the Tokyo Olympics this week and in the NFL ahead of their 2021 season.  

Vaccinations and rising COVID cases impacting Tokyo Olympic games  

As opening ceremonies draw closer, the precarious balancing act of holding onto the 2020 Olympics amid the rise of COVID-19 cases is difficult. Olympic organizers said on June 8 that they would bar spectators from most events at the Games scheduled to open on July 23, a decision that followed a new state of emergency in Tokyo from a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases. 

According to the Associated Press in May, John Coates, Vice President of the IOC said the games would open even if the city and other parts of Japan were under a state of emergency due to rising COVID-19 cases. As of July 14, IOC President, Thomas Bach told reporters that 85% of athletes and officials who will live in the Olympic village, and all IOC members and staff will be vaccinated or immune. Between 70% and 80% of international media representatives will be vaccinated. 

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga acknowledged the severe challenges the country of Japan faced as the more contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 had begun to circulate more rapidly, leading many to believe that Japanese government may push back at the IOC. But vocalizing some mixed messaging, Mr. Suga said he was committed to an Olympic Games that would not serve as another victim of the pandemic, but as an example of fortitude in the face of adversity. 

An online petition to cancel the Tokyo Games had collected around 450,000 digital signatures as of mid-July. The Asahi Shimbun newspaper, an official partner of the Olympics and one of the largest daily newspapers in Japan, echoed the same position in an editorial. They called out Japan’s prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, to “objectively assess the situation and decide on the cancellation of the event this summer.” Making matters worse, Bach referred to the Japanese people as “Chinese” during his first public comments after landing in Japan and addressing COVID-19 issues around the Games. 

Swimming star, Mark Andrews, is the biggest name from Team USA to reveal that he has not been vaccinated, saying he didn’t want taking the vaccine to interfere with his training schedule. USA Track & Field (USATF) said on July 6 that it’s athletes do not have to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before the Tokyo Olympics but it will be compulsory for all staff members making the trip. 

According to the New York Times, public anxieties amongst health experts have been running high as athletes have begun to pour into Japan from around the world. So far, at least four members of Olympic teams have tested positive for the coronavirus and been quarantined. Organizers insist the Games can be held in a safe bubble with athletes regularly tested, contact traced and socially distanced. By the time the Games start, officials expect more than 80% of athletes to be vaccinated. First lady, Dr. Jill Biden, will be attending the opening ceremonies to support Team USA. France President Emmanuel Macron is also expected to attend. 

NFL players, coaches and front office personnel vaccination debacle 

The discussions around the National Football League and vaccinations for their players continues to be a polarizing discussion topic ahead of their 2021 season. The NFL and NFL Players Association have been clear in their communication that they aren’t forcing their players to get vaccinated and have reiterated players can’t be cut for remaining unvaccinated through the beginning of training camp, but those who refuse to get the shots through the end of the season will have to live and work under strict restrictions and guidelines similar to the 2020 season.  

Despite the NFL strongly encouraging and incentivizing vaccinations, several prominent players throughout the league have expressed scepticism about the vaccine’s safety and have not been vaccinated, which could impact their availability to play and practice this season. 

Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold confirmed on June 9 that he has not been vaccinated, stating, “I still gotta think about all those certain things that go into it.” Detroit Lions left tackle Taylor Decker –  who recently signed a four-year, $60 million contract extension – said in April, “I did not get vaccinated, and I’m not going to. I’m just not going to speak to the reasons why. I have my reasons.” Last month, Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley stirred up controversy via a series of social media posts questioning the efficacy of vaccines, tweeting, “Do what you think is right personally. Don’t feel like you have to go with the ‘trend.’ Have a mind of your own.” 

Jeff Chadiha, a senior columnist for NFL media, told me, “Most of the league is still learning how to handle their own status on vaccine policies. Most coaches and players aren’t publicly disclosing their stances, but everyone has a opinion. Teams continue to answer internal questions as we approach training camp in a few weeks.”

The news regarding NFL players getting fully vaccinated against COVID-19 continues to improve as the start of training camp approaches. Pro Football Talk noted this past Tuesday that eight teams have now hit the 85% vaccination threshold among players that allows for the loosening of certain coronavirus-related health and safety protocols. But the biggest incentive with NFL COVID-19 protocols entails that vaccinated players will not be subject to quarantine if they come into contact with a person with COVID-19. That means those players would not miss practice time or games, while an unvaccinated player would. For players – especially those battling for roster spots – availability is critical. 

“In terms of competitive advantage, vaccination rates definitely matter,” said Chadiha. “With superstars not being vaccinated, it will have a huge affect – especially on team chemistry. There could be some tensions for athletes that need to be addressed by team personnel moving forward.” 

Communication lessons to learn with vaccinations and event planning 

As mentioned in one of my previous blogs, COVID-19 unequivocally and universally sparked the demand for strategic communications and crisis management. Both the IOC and the NFL can agree that finding the right language to convey their messages is more complex than some realize.   

Communications leaders must build thorough relationships with the public, partners and stakeholders and lean on language to support that process. As we can tell from both the Tokyo Olympics and NFL vaccine protocols, sometimes not everything is accepted and managed properly. Sometimes, there are things that are out of your control that affect your organizational objectives, including confusion and mixed messaging. The money-generating opportunities and brand building around the Olympics and the NFL 2021 regular season continues to be dynamic, especially when fans are involved.   

Traditionally, the role of crisis communicators is to protect the reputation of the organization and maintaining its public image, however in 2021, that’s not all it entails. As we saw with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, his public address on facing adversity and not becoming “another victim of the pandemic” created a strong message and stance of the Olympic Games planning process, however his hidden message that the Japanese government could make adjustments (hinting at the second rescheduling) if the Delta variant spreads rapidly could create public confusion.

It’s a waiting game to see if more communications strategy will be needed as the Games begin and progress week-by-week. For the NFL, there could be some additional communication strategy needed if the Delta variant spreads rapidly in the U.S. and affects our social engagements – so far, we’re still in decent shape. Check out my previous conversation with Jeff Chadiha on the NFL and other sports leagues were handling COVID last summer, which could forecast how they might tackle a Delta variant – if needed. Hopefully not, fingers crossed.  

Targeted advertising in the EU: to regulate or to ban, that is the question

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The current European Commission has a strong digital agenda and has made Internet regulation one of its key priorities. Sofia Calabrese, Senior Consultant in Grayling Brussels’ New Technologies practice assesses what this might mean for targeted advertising.

“We are building a dystopia just to make people click on ads.” said sociologist Zeynep Tufekci in a popular TED talk, echoing concerns from policymakers, academics and civil society. It was 2017. Four years later, we still have not answered the question of whether should regulate online advertising – and if yes, how? This remains one of the essential questions around Internet regulation, particularly in the EU’s Digital Services Act and Artificial Intelligence Act proposals, encompassing issues ranging from data protection to Artificial Intelligence and from disinformation to democracy.

Since the adoption of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation in 2016, targeted advertising has been a shadow looming over EU policy discussions. The current European Commission has a strong digital agenda and has made Internet regulation one of its key priorities. Although there is no legislation solely dedicated to targeted advertising (yet), some of the most political digital files would attempt to address such issues. In particular, the Digital Services Act will introduce new transparency obligations to inform users if, and why, they are targeted by each ad and who paid for it. Some policymakers went further and asked for an outright ban on targeted advertising. This could happen if EU policymakers do not manage to find effective rules to tackle the matter, despite the subsequent negative consequences on the advertising industry and the online ecosystem. But why is targeted advertising such a delicate issue for Internet regulation?

Digital advertising is a form of advertising which uses the Internet to deliver promotional marketing messages to consumers. Targeted advertising is a form of online advertising that exploits users’ data to recommend products or services it expects the user will like. It is said to be more efficient for companies, as it minimises advertisement to non-interested consumers, and more beneficial for consumers as they will only receive advertisements for products they are interested in.

To be effective, targeted advertising requires huge amounts of data. According to David Hansson, cofounder of web software company Basecamp, targeted advertising is one of the main causes for privacy concerns online. If companies could not use data to target ads, they would not need to obtain the data in the first place and misuse it later. If this sounds extreme, think about the Facebook hearing by the US Senate at the peak of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg was asked how Facebook could make money by offering a free service: “Senator, we run ads,” Zuckerberg simply replied.

Regulating targeted advertising: is it possible?

Privacy is the first issue posed by targeted ads that has been addressed by EU policymakers, notably with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the e-Privacy Regulation; the latter contains rules on cookies and is still under discussion. IAB Europe, representing the advertising industry, argues that such rules are sufficient, if properly enforced. Some policymakers, however, are pushing to include additional rules on targeted advertising in the Digital Service Act, the new EU legislation to regulate online content. Such rules would not only be limited to privacy, but also include transparency obligations and codes of conduct.

Furthermore, targeted advertising is managed by algorithms and algorithms are known to pick up and perpetuate existing biases. It is common knowledge that women tend to see more ads for lower paid jobs, while people of certain ethnicities are more likely to see ads on legal advice for petty crimes. This reinforces stereotypes and increases inequality. Artificial Intelligence regulation is one of the top priorities in the EU with the recent proposal on an Artificial Intelligence Act. This legislation will attempt to avoid discrimination and ensure high-quality datasets for certain high-risk AI applications. Such applications do not include targeted advertising – yet. More discussions on the issue are still to come.

Finally, many think that issues related to the effect of disinformation on democracy are exclusively linked to political ads, but this is wrong. Algorithms favour news with controversial headlines and tendentious material, as users are more likely to click on the link and get access to the page containing the ads. This eventually favours one-sided, polemical and fallacious content leading to more disinformation around all sort of topics, including on politics. Judging from the severe consequences of disinformation in real life, such as the events of Capitol Hill or the anti-vax movements, policymakers are finding it hard to fight disinformation online. Attempts such as the EU Code of Practice on Disinformation, transparency measures and promoting the role of fact-checkers do not seem to have succeeded yet.

Banning targeted advertising: is it worth it?

Currently, effective policies to address targeted advertising have not yet been found. Given the serious concerns around ads, it is therefore not surprising to hear requests for a more radical solution: an outright ban on targeted advertising. Some also argue that the benefits of targeted advertising are not as significant as they are presented, and that contextualized advertising would be a valid alternative to address some of the issues described above while maintaining equal profits for companies.

Is this the end of targeted advertising? There is no straightforward answer. At this stage, most policymakers are trying to find new rules that would not ban targeted advertising completely. Should that not work, banning targeted advertising altogether could represent the last resort. However, if policymakers manage to work with relevant stakeholders towards establishing efficient rules to address the main concerns – data protection, algorithmic discrimination and disinformation – it will be possible to make the Internet a safe environment for users while preserving the opportunities offered by targeted advertising.


Interested in further updates on the EU’s digital policies? Get in touch with our tech experts in Brussels:



#bakeagainstpoverty: Grayling communicates internationally for social business Vollpension

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The Viennese social business Vollpension actively campaigns against old-age poverty around the world and has launched the #bakeagainstpoverty initiative for this purpose. Now, Grayling’s offices in more than 20 countries worldwide are raising awareness of the initiative through targeted media relations and strategic communications consultancy – all on a pro bono basis.

Old-age poverty and isolation are two growing challenges worldwide that have been massively intensified by the Covid pandemic. In Austria alone, more than 220,000 senior citizens live in old-age poverty, a large proportion of whom are women. The social business Vollpension is not only actively committed to combating this problem in Austria, it also offers a cross-border solution to growing old-age poverty and loneliness with its international baking platform, #bakeagainstpoverty.

Bake around the world

Senior citizens from all over the world can apply until 15th September 2021 to generate income through online baking courses from their kitchen at home, with the added benefit of avoided loneliness during the pandemic and staying in digital contact with other people. The Viennese social business wants to encourage as many senior citizens from as many countries as possible to apply for the “Bake Against Poverty” campaign and will support the participants with training in media and digital skills. The first baking courses will go online at in autumn 2021. Through this international baking platform, Bake Against Poverty offers a cross-border solution to the growing problem of poverty and loneliness among the elderly.

Grayling supports in more than 20 countries

“Old-age poverty is an issue all over the world, even in countries like Austria that have strong social security systems”, said Hannah Lux, one of the founders of Vollpension. “The local Grayling team, plus the agency’s international network, was our preferred partner and the great media response from countries like Spain, the Philippines and even neighbouring Germany confirms that we made the right choice.”

The international hub for the project is in Austria and Grayling’s corporate affairs team of Kilian v. Dallwitz, Michaela Schützinger and Johanna Wenzl coordinates media relations in more than 20 countries, including the USA, UK, China, France, Germany, Spain and Russia, with Grayling’s international offices rolling out activities using their local and cultural know-how.

“Poverty and a lack of digital literacy in old age are among the great challenges of our time and we see it as part of our social responsibility to support this initiative pro bono,” said Grayling Austria CEO Sigrid Krupica. “We are proud to be able to leverage our international network for this client. The successful international roll-out is an impressive demonstration of how relevant the topic is in other countries too.”


For inquiries, please contact


Photo: From left to right: Kilian v. Dallwitz, Sigrid Krupica (both Grayling Austria), Hannah Lux (Co-founder, Vollpension), Johanna Wenzl, Michaela Schützinger (both Grayling Austria), in front: Granny Kathrin from the Vollpension team in Vienna. Copyright: Marvin Strauss.

All together now: no stopping the New Collectivism

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COVID-19 has accelerated – rather than slowed – the movement towards better business. That was the overwhelming verdict of the expert panel recently brought together by Grayling to discuss the findings of our recent whitepaper New Collectivism: Building Better Business.

Our research found that over two thirds of senior leaders in large companies agree that businesses have a collective responsibility to the societies in which they operate. Underscoring the effect of the pandemic and looking ahead to a crucial COP26 in Glasgow, three quarters of these senior leaders also said that ESG issues would be more important this year.

Commenting on the results of the research panellist and All Together founder Jamie Mitchell maintained that he had expected the pandemic to knock the sustainable business movement off course. Instead, he said, “COVID just revealed the stark inequalities in society in this bleak way, revealed the fragility of the planet in this most clear way – and a new wave of civic leadership appeared from business [as a result].”

He argued that the pandemic has reinforced and accelerated existing arguments and trends around better business: “We seem to be coming out of the pandemic with a universal, singular point of view…which is very exciting.”

For panellist Roksana Ciurysek-Gedir, Chairwoman of the Impact Advisory Board of White Oak Global, the banks and investors who were previously sceptical about sustainability and who advocated the “profit only” model are now also on board. During the discussion, she characterised the old approach as “maximising profit, then throw money to fix environmental problems caused by this approach afterwards.” Now though, almost the entire sector agrees that “the sustainability revolution is the biggest investment opportunity in history. There isn’t a single institutional investor who isn’t talking ESG and impact investing.”

However, according to Ciurysek-Gedir, only measurement and transparency can ensure that businesses are keeping their promises when it comes to sustainability. “We know that if something is not measured, it doesn’t get done.”

Kerry Irwin, Director of Communications, EMEAR at Tetra Pak pointed the role of consumers when it comes to this shift in business thinking. “It’s one of their biggest concerns”, she argued. While responding to this pressure and effecting change across a huge organisation can seem daunting, businesses have to make deliver on what they promise: “even if it’s small steps.” “It requires a full 360 degree change right across the business.”

Dan Mobley is Corporate Relations Director at Diageo. During the webinar, he underlined how the understanding of profit and risk in the business world had dramatically shifted over the course of recent years – particularly for a company that counts some of the world’s oldest brands among its portfolio. “When you’re looking at taking decisions where the payback is decades away, you have to build a sustainable and inclusive business – the cost of inaction is very real.”

However, he cautioned against some of the “utopian” rhetoric around sustainability and warned that trade-offs are inevitable for global businesses. “For example, one of the easier ways to get to net zero is going to be invest in clean technology in rich countries rather than poor ones. Business, governments and civil society have to come together to address these trade-offs because none of us can solve it alone.”

The panellists all agreed that, despite the challenges of driving change across organisations, the time for better business is now – and that the COVID-19 pandemic has only supercharged this drive for sustainability. There really is no stopping the new collectivism.


Please find the full recording of our session on the “New Collectivism” below:


If this is a challenge you recognise within your organisation, Grayling can help. We provide a wide range of expert communications services across Europe, including public affairs, public relations and digital communications. Please don’t hesitate to drop Tom Nutt, Grayling’s Head of Corporate, UK & Europe, an email to learn more.