Sector: PR and Media Relations

Sustainability in aviation: European initiatives for more environmental protection

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Air traffic is responsible for 2.8% of the global artificial CO2 emissions. If we take into account the additional nitrogen oxides and the still unexplained influence of condensation trails on radiation into and out of the atmosphere, the factor would have to be as much as 3-5 times higher. The good news is that the effect that can be achieved by altering the system is significantly greater. With initiatives, such as the outsourcing of short-haul routes to rail, Single European Sky or Destination 2050, there is a lot of momentum in the industry.

Car, bus, train or flight: a question of framework conditions and infrastructure

The decision which form of transportation is the most eco-friendly is not as easy to answer objectively as one would hope. According to the Federal Environment Agency’s statistics for 2019, a car consumes an average of 154 g of CO2 per person-kilometre, while an aeroplane with a load factor of 70 per cent comes to over 200 g for a short flight. For medium-distance journeys (e.g. between destinations within Europe), a lower consumption of 180 g per person-kilometre is estimated, and for long-distance journeys even just 91 g. If you use ground-based means of transport, you have to plan for a significant loss of time, especially for domestic connections. A good railway infrastructure can compensate for this. Prime examples are the connection from Strasbourg to Paris in 1:45 h (500 kilometres) and from Madrid to Barcelona in 2:30 h (670 kilometres). However, comfort and time savings usually prevail if the short-haul flight is a feeder to a long-haul route. Moreover, not all international airports are connected to the long-distance network, Munich being the best example. Actually, we are seeing more airlines cooperating with train services, to build a new network of connections to their hub-airports and bringing short haul flight to the track. Swiss for example is currently launching an international train link with their Swiss air-rail service, connecting Munich main station directly to Zurich airport. And there are some more exciting initiatives in Europe that I would like to touch on briefly.

Single European Sky: One Europe, One Sky

Just like national borders, airspace borders have grown historically. Since the late 1990s, the European Commission has been working on restructuring European airspace with a view to optimising traffic flows. The aim is to create Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs) and dissolve the fragmentation caused by national borders and interests. The current challenge: if you for example fly from Stockholm to Prague on a straight and thus direct route, you cross the German and Polish airspace several times. Now you have the choice between flying only in German airspace with a smaller diversion or only in Polish airspace with a larger diversion, but German air traffic control is more expensive. The most efficient, direct routes can only be used by homogenising the airspaces and the associated airspace charges. Thus, considerable savings in paraffin of up to 10 per cent and a reduction in flight times can be achieved. Only by homogenising airspace and the associated airspace charges can the most efficient, direct routes be used. Thus, considerable savings in paraffin of up to 10 per cent as well as a reduction in flight times are achievable.

Destination 2050: Ambitious goals of the European aviation sector

In line with IATA’s (International Air Transport Association) “Net-Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050” programme, the European aviation industry is also pursuing ambitious sustainability goals with the aim of achieving CO2 neutrality. By 2050, it is estimated that about 10 billion passengers will be transported worldwide per year – compared to about 4 billion before COVID. The CO2 cuts are to be achieved at European level primarily through four sets of measures:

  1. Improvements in aircraft and engine technology – up to 37% savings
  2. Use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) – savings of up to 34
  3. Implementation of economic measures – savings of up to 8%
  4. Improvements in air traffic management (ATM) and flight operations – savings of up to 6%

IATA is focusing even more on the issue of SAF and sees the potential for savings in the following areas:

– 65 % by SAF, production must increase from 100 million litres today to at least 449 billion litres in 2050 to meet demand

– 19 % by offsetting/carbon capture. The power-to-liquid (PtL) process removes CO2 from the atmosphere with the help of (green) electricity and water, which can be used for SAF production

– 13 % through new technologies, especially new aircraft and engines

– 3 % through infrastructure/operations such as Single European Sky, fuel efficiency management systems and weight reduction

Some of these measures are already being implemented today. These include reducing weight, optimising flight routes, improving flight management and further research in the area of surfaces/aerodynamics. Swiss, for example, is currently testing a sharkskin-like surface structure on its Boeing 777-300Er aircraft, which reduces frictional resistance and thus lowers fuel consumption. And passengers can already voluntarily offset their CO2 emissions through various sustainability programmes. For a general solution, however, politics is needed to set the appropriate framework conditions, which are not only based on voluntariness. And politics is also required when it comes to SAF. Both infrastructure and framework conditions for a transition, must be created in order to render the paraffin of the future competitive. As is well known, the processes in aviation are very sluggish due to the certification procedures, so corresponding approvals are needed for each aircraft type. Refuelling with SAF is currently only permitted to the tune of about 10 per cent.

A small contribution on one single flight can make a big difference when extrapolated to thousands of flights. We are extremely excited to see where the journey will take us in the coming years and how the individual issues will evolve. As a communications agency, our team at Grayling advises airlines, airport operators, air navigation service providers and other stakeholders across the aviation industry on their communications needs. From training press officers to planning crisis response strategies or developing 360-degree consumer campaigns, we support with our local expertise and global network. If you would like to discuss your organisation’s challenges in more detail, we would be delighted to support you!


Franziska Köhl, Associate Director, Grayling Germany

From flying planes to streamlined mobility: air travel in a post-COVID era

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Will aviation ever go back to normal? The word normality is in fact deceptive given the level of ongoing transformation in the aviation industry over the last decades. Civilian air travel has been in a state of constant flux so to be quite honest there is no normal. The question we should be asking -and even more appropriate for this industry in particular- is what is our direction of travel?

All that said, there is no denying that the Covid-19 pandemic was a transformative moment for the industry. As the world started to go into lock-down in March 2020, air travel effectively came to a halt. Airports were virtually closed, operating a bare minimum of repatriation flights while airlines tried to maintain their slots by operating “ghost flights”, keeping their planes up in the air even when they were carrying no passengers.

According to industry calculations, overall there was a 66% fall in passenger numbers in 2020 as compared to the previous year, whereas currently IATA is not expecting a full recovery to 2019 levels until 2024. That is a total of 4 years severe disruption in an industry that already appeared to be in a state of constant crisis, operating in a highly competitive market, with flag carriers under pressure to compete with low cost airlines, with ever decreasing margins and no respite from the need to pay their fuel bills, their slots at airports for all the time they are not able to be up in the air and all their other external costs. The industry adage was that stalling operations for as little as one day was enough to send an airline into crisis. Survival the past four years has in most cases depended on government subsidies to prevent strategic operators from folding, with all the impact that would have on the countries of their nationality, for which having a flag carrier is of vital importance for having any control of their communication links with the rest of the world.

On top of this, even prior to the pandemic, the airline industry was under considerable pressure to change. Not just to be more competitive but to also raise its game in sustainability, with the European Union playing an instrumental role in establishing targets for emissions reductions and carbon compensation. All of this adding to short term costs in terms of renewing and modernising fleets and increasing efficiency on the routes on which they operate.

Given all these challenges, it is unsurprising that regardless of the inherent pace of change, airlines yearn for things to get back as close as possible to at least something resembling the normality of 2019, in which flying had become as regular a feature of modern-day mobility as travelling long distance by car or by train. In this sense the industry is likely to follow the lead of consumer demand. The Easter break has been a turning point for the tourist industry. Hotel occupation in Spain was 90% and as high as 100% in popular regions such as Andalusia. And while the media focused on how quiet cities like Madrid had become as Spaniards took their first opportunity in two years for a proper holiday, judging by the number of foreigners strolling in the city centre, it looked much more like an image of 2019 than 2020 even if there is still some way to go.

Meanwhile there continue to be clouds on the horizon: Covid still exists and is not just making passengers sick. The UK faced considerable disruption over the Easter break due to airline and air-traffic staff shortages, and while many consumers may still feel nervous about holidaying as intensively as they did in the past, the war in Ukraine may provide an argument for many to stay put, and not just out of fear but also out of a desire to contribute less to the energy crisis. However other prophecies about the future of air travel appear not to have been fulfilled. Some airlines are already lifting mask restrictions and business realities put paid to the idea that airlines are going to have to space apart passengers on their flights.  Even the European Union is rolling back most of the restrictions in its own common travel area and as populations start to achieve triple and quadruple vaccination there will be less pressure to continue to require vaccination certificates among the general population.

With the coming summer set to be the first big test for the travel industry and industry perspectives looking quite positive after the poor results over the past two years, what then are the key changes that we are likely to see in the coming months and years as we go back to flying more regularly?

1.     Industry consolidation. The pandemic led to most airlines relying on state support to be able to maintain their operations and this reliance on subsidies stalled a number of merger plans, for example the planned integration of Spanish airline, Air Europa in IAG. In any case, it is likely that for their long-term survival as things go back to normal such plans will be reinvigorated as the need to return to profits partly by reducing the number of players trumps other concerns.

2.     Increased cost of air travel. The lack of demand during the pandemic led to substantial ticket price reductions on more popular routes however as things go back to normal, airlines will need to recover their margins and with increased fuel costs it is likely that it gets harder to travel on a budget. As airlines increase their prices, they may also feel the need to offer more premium services to passengers to ensure that the more discerning passenger gets the services that he or she desires.

3.     Flexible payment methods. Spanish airline, Plus Ultra, has recently announced a new policy in which passengers purchasing their tickets months in advance can pay in instalments. No doubt airlines will need to continue to find innovative ways to encourage people to get back to travelling, especially when their own domestic budgets are under increasing pressure as the global economy starts to slow.

4.     Focus on sustainability. With so many negative messages about the environmental costs of air travel, airlines will need to compete in trying to regain customer confidence by promoting sustainable messages, for example linked to the introduction of cleaner aircraft, carbon compensation or investments in a cleaner future for aviation. The airlines that look like they are making the biggest effort to clean up their act will have an opportunity to reap dividends.

5.     Integrated mobility. For too long prior to the pandemic, airlines saw alternatives such as high-speed rail as the enemy with which it was necessary to compete. As sustainability concerns come increasingly to the fore and some governments even start to establish restrictions on shorter routes that they deem can be better served by rail, airlines, rail and coach companies will need to collaborate more closely to offer streamlined door to door services, often encompassing a combination of transport modes. With liberalisation on many European higher speed routes, we will see more companies seeking to expand their services and with Spanish airlines such as Air Nostrum already looking at branching out into rail transport, we will no doubt see more airlines trying to position themselves more strongly in the wider mobility space.

From a PR perspective, all these changes only reinforce the need to communicate. As the industry starts to evolve beyond Covid, changes in public opinion and consumer habits over the last couple of years will require airlines to position themselves savvily in a very different ecosystem. Even while the bread and butter of air travel may continue to be more or less as it was prior to the pandemic, the relationship that consumers have with the brands that attend to their mobility needs will never be the same. And it is here where operators have the chance to really stand out by heralding a new era of air travel.

Grayling advises airlines, airport operators, air-traffic control bodies and other stakeholders in the overall airline industry on their communications needs, from training their spokespeople, through to planning their crisis response strategies or developing 360-degree consumer campaigns aims at repositioning them for a brighter future. Should you wish to discuss further the requirements of your organisation, our professionals would be happy to guide you as you regain altitude following such a challenging two years.

Adrian ElliotHead of Digital, Grayling Spain

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 Austria 2x auf der Shortlist für den Staatspreis PR

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Gleich zwei Projekte von Grayling sind für die wichtigste Auszeichnung der Branche – den Staatspreis PR – nominiert: Der Launch von ‚alle jobs‘, umgesetzt im Auftrag des AMS Österreich sowie die #BakeAgainstPoverty Kampagne, die in Kooperation mit dem Vollpension Generationencafé ins Leben gerufen wurde.

Der digitale Talk der zum Launch der AMS Job-Suchmaschine ‚alle jobs‘ veröffentlicht wurde, ist in der Kategorie „PR-Spezialprojekte und Innovationen“ nominiert. Das Projekt wurde von Grayling in Arbeitsgemeinschaft mit UniqueFessler entwickelt und implementiert.

Die von Grayling begleitete Kampagne #BakeAgainstPoverty – der weltweite Aufruf des Generationencafés Vollpension an ‚backkundige‘ Senior*innen – hat es in der Kategorie „Corporate Social Responsibility, gesellschaftspol. Anliegen, Diversity und Inclusion“ auf die Shortlist geschafft.

Der Public Relations Verband Austria (PRVA) richtet den vom Bundesministerium für Digitalisierung und Wirtschaftsstandort ausgelobten Staatspreis Public Relations aus. In diesem Jahr wurden aus 77 Einreichungen jeweils drei Projekte in fünf Staatspreis-Kategorien nominiert. Die Gewinner werden im Rahmen der PR-Staatspreis-Gala am 24. November 2021 bekannt gegeben.


Kunde: AMS
Johannes Kopf, Gudrun Pallierer

Agenturteam: ARGE Grayling Austria/UniqueFessler
Moritz Arnold, Michaela Desch, Anna Steiner, Theresa Steffner, Sophia Hintermayer – Grayling
Robert Judtmann, Thomas Appl, Nathalie Neuwirth – UniqueFessler

Mit Unterstützung von: Uschi Juno, Beraterin für Onlinekommunikation, Geschäftsführerin MOKS und Fabian Pimminger, Web-Developer und IT-Experte

Kunde: Vollpension
Hannah Lux, Moriz Piffl-Percevic, Manuel Gruber, David Haller, Stephanie Cox, Annemarie Bernhardt

Agenturteam: Grayling Austria
Moritz Arnold, Kilian v. Dallwitz, Michaela Schützinger, Johanna Wenzl


Für Rückfragen:
Berith Hagvaag, Grayling Austria,

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.

How has WFH Changed our Corporate Communications?

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Over the past year, we’ve been tested routinely as we worked from kitchen tables, home offices or our comfy couches, sometimes with limiting patience. Video chats, social distancing and reducing group gatherings are seemingly now part of our DNA, however vaccine rollouts and some return-to-work strategies are full steam ahead in some U.S. regions that could decrease our introversion.

This begs these questions to be answered – how has working from home changed future corporate communication dynamics? Moving forward, how should we communicate differently in corporate communications? How will our societal changes during the pandemic impact corporate initiatives?

Greg Marshall, Account Executive from Grayling NY, takes a look at these discussions surrounding communications in 2021 and shares his thoughts on what professionals in this space should prepare for post-COVID.

Working from home has a new feeling

When we’re not checking our Wi-Fi connection and solving IT problems, we’re learning to balance our work schedules with personal lives with limited exposure to traditional office environments. According to a recent Prudential survey of 2,000 American adults who’ve been able to work from home during the pandemic, an overwhelming 87% want the ability to continue doing so after the risks of the virus subside.

In 2021, new communication strategies will be major underlying factors in company culture and employee engagement in new remote and hybrid workspaces. Considering how employees like to communicate and how they like to receive information and feedback will be paramount. Implementing creative adoptions of behavioral science and personal aspects of our work environments to ensure everyone is connected will be key for better performances moving forward.

For those who worked from home for the first time in 2020, new policies across corporate offices offered a reprieve from long commutes and lost time with family. According to the National Council on Compensation Insurance, only 6% of the employed worked primarily from home before the pandemic and about three-quarters of workers had never worked from home. In May 2020, over one-third of the employed worked from home due to the pandemic – a close match for pre-pandemic estimates of the share of work that could be done remotely.

We’ve seen workers move toward less expensive or more desirable locales, further from city centers or office complexes, and still showing signs that remote work is growing on people. According to a recent survey from IBM, more than 75 percent indicate they would like to continue to work remotely at least occasionally, while more than half (54%) would like this to be their primary way of working.

Telecommuting continues to be a challenge for some, particularly for parents of young children. For many younger employees that perhaps don’t have family responsibilities, cultivating relationships over Zoom, Slack or Microsoft Teams and connecting with a mentor has become more difficult working from home – something that has proven to be especially beneficial over the course of a career. Working from home is still a concept that’s a “work-in-progress” for many but becoming a mainstay in our corporate environment.  Communicating in this way will have to adapt (as it always does) and establish a new function of business that keeps us moving in the right direction.

Authenticity will lead corporate communications to success

As PR communicators, we are constantly balancing our clients, colleagues, family, friends and loved ones with different forms of communication every single day, but even for us, it gets exhausting too. Looking back to anything pre-March 2020 seems like a century ago and it’s still tough to get a grasp of where we are now. Naturally, and as is the case with many of the highly-disrupted areas of business this year, corporate leaders will now be looking to rethink the manner in which internal and external communications are approached.

To combat challenges and discover opportunities, establishing an authentic voice should be a top focus for all communications leaders right now. Whether communicating online or in person, you can see that honesty, transparency and flexibility are highly valued, which isn’t expected to change. This is especially true as we continue to experience crisis-fueled or health-related messages washing over us via email, social media or news stories.

Companies like Stanley Black & Decker has undergone some fundamental shifts in the way that information is distributed among its people. Paul Hevesy, HR Director, offered some further detail, explaining that work transformation has formed the basis of the approach. Engaging employees, sharing information, creating culture, and instilling purpose in daily objectives have become top priorities for today’s corporate environment. A digital workplace and agile work flexibility are no longer being seen as long-term business goals, but rather as immediate necessities.

“We live in a society…”

Our collective global society continues to grow each month, recovering from the biggest pandemic in over 100 years since the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.  Although local movements and grass roots initiatives will always be a staple of society, it is obvious that communication and the growth of human interaction have transformed the way we see the world now.

Discussing COVID’s impact on global society, David Krieger, director of the Institute for Communication and Leadership, commented in an open forum with Pew Research, “One of the results of the pandemic is that it is finally obvious to everyone that we are global.” Kreiger continued to explain, “Closing borders and blocking flows of people and materials represents a ‘lockdown’ mentality aimed to disrupt connectivity and stop the flow of the virus, but at the cost of disrupting the economic, social and political foundations of the globally networked society.” In this perspective from Kreiger, our world’s current positions around health, government, business and culture have many different branches that connect everyone in some form or fashion, no matter the barriers or borders.

We saw an astounding impact of societal change in 2020 in many different forms from the pandemic, including culture changes and greater expectations. According to recent research from Mitto, Americans believe actions speak louder than words, as 73% say it is important that social justice-related statements they receive from brands, nonprofits, and other organizations are not only empathetic but are followed by measurable action.

Much of these expectations also include the art of communicating mindfully, authentically, and honestly in a way that is representative and inclusive of a diverse audience. Global business will continue to see inclusivity showing up in the workplace in more impactful ways to call out disparities and lack of opportunity. Look for diversity and inclusion numbers to show up on annual reports that detail company spending and donation reports that tell the story of each company’s commitment to social responsibility.

Although 2020 will be remembered for many misfortunes, it also shined a light on long overlooked issues in communications, sparked growth in society and introduced breakthrough opportunities for businesses. Organizational leaders who stayed the course with their communications investment and societal footprint are sure to leave a positive mark on our future.

Grayling sets the wheels in motion for the Clancy Briggs Cycling Academy

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Three months on since the Clancy Briggs Cycling Academy held its last face-to-face class meant re-opening its doors on 29th March as part of the UK Government’s roadmap out of lockdown, was a big deal. So, we made a splash to announce its return.

From the series of national lockdowns and disruption to schools and their activity programmes, to the cancellation of grassroots sport, children seemingly have had less opportunities to keep active over the last year. In fact, more than two-thirds (78%) of UK parents believe their children have become less active during the pandemic, and to compound the issue, it’s been reported that up to 25% of grassroots sports clubs may not return after lockdown restrictions are eased.

Lockdown has forced a decline in the number of children participating in sport across the UK, impacting not just their physical fitness, but mental health as well. Therefore, it’s crucial for the wellbeing of our children to ensure a healthy return and prosperous future for grassroots sports post-Covid.

The Clancy Briggs Cycling Academy, which was co-founded by triple Olympic gold medallist Ed Clancy OBE and Graham Briggs, aims to ensure children have fun learning to ride whilst acquiring new skills and abilities. It hopes to move a generation of children, putting the bicycle back at the heart of childhood play, forming lifelong habits that deliver health and environmental benefits for years to come.

The highly-anticipated return of outdoor sports was a key milestone for the Academy and for grassroots sports as a whole. Despite the popularity of its new virtual offering introduced last year to support kids across the UK during lockdown, the Academy’s face-to-face sessions allow children to thrive in a more social and interactive environment with like-minded peers as well as provide more exposure to routine exercise – something which had been a concern shared by many over the past year.

Commenting on how the Academy’s first physical session went following the easing of lockdown restrictions, Ed Clancy OBE, said: “Our first session back was terrific. The kids loved it and you could see just how excited they were to be back in the great outdoors on a beautiful sunny British day. For a coach, it’s a reminder of why we do what we do – giving back to the next generation and watching them thrive in a fun, group environment.”

We supported the Academy as it set its wheels in motion with a healthy spread of national and regional coverage secured in Daily Mail, MailOnline, Yorkshire Post and Doncaster Free Press.

And the result?

  • 282K – online coverage views
  • 217 – social shares
  • 1m – print circulation

To find out more about our extensive sport expertise and how we can help you, please email

Peter Fecko appointed new CEO of Grayling CEE

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Grayling has appointed Peter Fecko as the new Chief Executive Officer in the CEE region, effective 1 January 2021.

Grayling was one of the first international agency networks to set up shop in CEE in the early 90ies and has successfully expanded its footprint in the region over the past decades – providing corporate communications consultancy and extensive public affairs support in addition to classic public relations services. In his new leadership role as CEO of Grayling CEE (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia and Ukraine) Peter Fecko is responsible for taking the region to the next level in terms of business growth.

Peter has been active in the communications industry for more than 20 years, working originally as a journalist for business media in Slovakia and prior to joining Grayling and establishing its office in Bratislava, Slovakia in 2000. Over the past 12 years, he has been managing further Grayling operations in CEE including, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Bulgaria, while continuing to provide strategic advice for multi-market key clients.

The newly created CEO role for the CEE region is linked to the recently announced new leadership roles and Grayling’s biggest-ever commitment to agency-wide cultural initiatives: significant investment has been made to ensure that Grayling staff worldwide feel more connected to each other and the business, and that best practice and local understanding is shared seamlessly across markets.

Ben Petter, Chief Operating Officer Grayling Europe, said:
“Grayling’s network in CEE is one of the agency’s great strengths. It has showed remarkable resilience throughout the pandemic, primarily because of its outstanding Public Affairs and Crisis Communications offer. Peter has such a wealth of experience in these areas, as well as Corporate Communications more broadly. Under his leadership, we are very confident that Grayling will continue to go from strength to strength in CEE.”

Peter Fecko, CEO Grayling CEE, said:
“Grayling has the most comprehensive and best-connected footprint of any agency in the CEE region. That has always made us an obvious choice for clients looking for multi-country support, but we are also seeing increasing demand for integrated Corporate Affairs services, covering both Public Affairs and Corporate Communications. This is our sweet spot across the region, and we expect to see significant growth in this area in 2021.”


5 things defining successful communication in 2021

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There’s no doubt 2020 was a remarkable year – in the literal sense rather than the positive. Individuals, businesses, brands, governments and society have been tested like never before, and it is clear that the upheaval we saw early in the year is set to continue well into 2021.

It’s a cliché to say that crisis and opportunity go hand-in-hand – but it’s also true that the changes that we are seeing in the worlds of business, politics and social affairs will cause significant changes in communications, and how companies in all areas of operation relate to customers, stakeholders and the wider world around them. Grayling has kept a close eye on the market since the pandemic began, and below, our NY team has outlined five trends which will continue to impact communications over the coming months.

1. Emotions are at an all time high.

It has been a long 11 months and it is not going to get any easier anytime soon. 2020 has been the greatest emotional rollercoaster of modern times. Americans in particular have been hit with a lot of difficult stressors with no significant break for reflection.

For brands and businesses, knowing how to adapt and accommodate the shifting emotions of staff, stakeholders and customers is increasingly critical. All brands, whether B2B or B2C, can and should consider the emotional climate in which they operate when conceiving their communications campaigns.

How can/should businesses address the emotional toll that COVID-19 is taking on all of us? Act, don’t talk. Brands and businesses have now had months to assess what COVID is doing to their customers, staff, suppliers, etc. If you are not taking steps to help some or all of your stakeholders, you’re missing a huge chance to build your brand and grow customer affinity/loyalty.

2. As distractions wane, opportunities grow.

People want to be entertained. With TV schedules looking bare, live entertainment off-limits for the foreseeable future, theaters still looking like an uncertain proposition and Hollywood’s production line having slowed considerably, people are in need of entertainment and distraction now more than ever before. Through partnerships and smart use of professional creators, and with the right strategic platform, anyone can make effective inroads into content – the demand is there.

For example, “co-watching” has provided a safe way for people to get together for “live” events during the quarantine. Recently, a virtual concert by Travis Scott in partnership with videogame Fortnite drew more than 12 million fans.

Like gaming, livestreaming has moved into the mainstream as we all become more used to spending time onscreen. Streams have moved away from just the traditional verticals and YouTube stars – streaming is not just about videogames and makeup influencers and underwhelming dance trends on TikTok – it’s also about people sharing honest elements of their lives and expertise. Whether your business or brand wants to jump into this directly, or whether it makes more sense to explore partnerships or sponsorship opportunities with established streamers, it’s a huge opportunity to reach new audiences with authenticity and immediacy.

3. Know your audience

We saw in wave one that COVID affects different communities, and different people, in drastically different ways. A one-size-fits-all approach to your communications in wave two simply won’t work; with differential lockdowns likely to continue across countries at varying times, different sectors/geographies suffering in markedly different ways, and different generations having wildly divergent experiences of this ‘new normal’, specific, tailored communications are essential.

4. Spotting the opportunity

A lot has been written (rightly) about the negative impact of COVID on business and the difficulties that are being faced – but there are also developing opportunities. Close alignment with consumer trends and policymaker’s thinking can result in stability and even success for businesses with a forward-thinking mindset.

While there’s an undeniable strain placed on bricks and mortar retailers, it’s also true that the pandemic has seen some business and areas of the sector get a new lease of life. From the creation of new sales experiences (from a consumer point of view), to helping use local spaces as an extension of CSR, to the creation of omnichannel opportunities which enable distancing needs through options like curbside pickup, there is also a real opportunity for previously faceless brands to start to build brand presence and affinity via the adoption of new tech-driven spaces. This is an opportunity for brands and businesses to not only grow through an innovative approach to different mediums, but to bank some goodwill at the same time.

5. Uncertainty = opportunity

We are faced with more uncertainty than ever before, and although this brings challenges, it also creates opportunities. Brands and businesses best-equipped to be agile will be best placed to benefit. As we accept uncertainty, people are embracing a more last minute mindset, where purchase decisions are made quickly to exploit a window of opportunity. According to Skyscanner, most vacationers are searching for flights that depart that same week and airlines are offering travel rewards and flexibility in booking like never before. By catering to this last minute mindset you can make sure you are top of mind when consumers are looking to make quick purchase decisions, or to take advantage of the latest shift in policy as it hits the headlines.

As you continue to plan for 2021, ask yourself: what did the pandemic do to your brand? The best communications solutions are always rooted in the challenge itself. We hope that the above trends serve not only as interesting food for thought, but also act as inspiration as to how you might use the new landscape in which we find ourselves to your advantage.

Get in touch with Lucia Domville from our NY office for more details.