New Year, New First Minister for Wales

Lisa Childs, Senior Account Director at Copper, looks ahead to what a new First Minister of Wales in 2024 means for Wales’ net zero ambitions

The news in Cardiff Bay this week was the worst-kept secret in Wales; a question of when, not if, following heavy hinting and the postponement of Welsh Labour’s annual conference from March to July 2024.

On Wednesday, Mark Drakeford announced his resignation as Welsh Labour leader. In his statement, he said: “When I stood for election as Leader of Welsh Labour, I said I would stand down during the current Senedd term. That time has now come”.

However, I don’t think anyone was expecting the announcement would come before Christmas, hurtling the WhatsApp groups of Cardiff Bay into chaos.

It was an emotional day, as we reflected on the sacrifices the First Minister made during the pandemic, the visible impact the loss of his life partner has had on him, and lamented what might have been had the Covid-19 pandemic not dominated his premiership.

Mark Drakeford succeeded Carwyn Jones as First Minister in 2018 and outlined his intention to stand down and First Minster halfway through his second term. Mr Drakeford will stay on as First Minister of Wales until his successor is elected as Welsh Labour leader, and appointed as First Minister, in March 2024.

 

Battle of the big-ticket departments

The First Minister’s announcement has sparked the firing gun on the next Welsh Labour party leadership election. The expected front runners are Vaughan Gething (Minister for Economy) and Jeremy Miles (Minister for Education and Welsh Language) – although rumours are also circling around Eluned Morgan (Health Minister) and Hannah Blythyn (Deputy Minister for Social Partnership).

Vaughan Gething has been forefront of engagement with stakeholders regarding the Celtic freeport and investment in Wales, and benefits from union support, an existing profile within the business community and, perhaps, higher public recognition due to his previous role as Health Minister during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nonetheless, both front runners have served as prominent Cabinet members in the Welsh Government so it is likely that, no matter the outcome, we will see a continuation of the current approach towards decarbonisation and major energy and infrastructure projects.

 

What this means for energy and infrastructure policy

The First Minister has been steadfast in his commitment to net zero, with his close ally Julie James heading up the key department responsible for maximising the opportunity that net zero presents for the Welsh economy.

With the Infrastructure Bill making its way through the Senedd, the establishment of Ynni Cymru, the Celtic Sea offshore wind opportunity and other developments on the horizon, Wales is on the cusp of a green energy revolution.

However, if we are to decarbonise, if we are to reach our net zero targets, and if we are to achieve 100% of Wales’ annual electricity consumption from renewable energy by 2035, then we must also acknowledge that we do not currently have the grid connectivity to do so.

It is widely recognised that the lack of grid infrastructure is holding back the green economy; indeed, the Climate Minister, Julie James, highlighted it as the number one issue for her team at the Future Energy Wales conference held in November 2023. This would surely be a priority policy area for the incoming First Minister and their climate minister to focus on.

Another priority, which the Infrastructure Bill attempts to solve, is around the constraints in the DNS consenting process that is leading to delays and adding critical time to project lifespans.

Wales is not on track to meet its 2035 commitments unless the Welsh Government supercharge their consenting processes. Renewable UK’s Plug The Gap report questioned whether Wales’ DNS system is robust enough and up to the challenge presented by the climate emergency.

There have been 22 applications under the regime in the past 7 years, with a 41% refusal rate. Of the 9 projects refused, 44% were refused by the Minister against the Inspector’s recommendation.

Due to the long-term nature of this policy area, industry and developers will no doubt be calling out for the incoming First Minister to provide consistency, collaboration with industry, and clarity on how we are going to achieve the bold promises and targets set by the Welsh Government.

 

Clear red water?

Having governed in Wales for over 25 years, and against a backdrop of a Conservative UK Government since 2010, how the future First Minister of Wales interacts with the UK Labour team and Kier Starmer will be of interest to business leaders and commentators alike.

Both front-runner candidates are seen to be aligned to the Shadow Cabinet and their policy platform, so any potential for “clear red water” or policy divergence between the Welsh Government and potential future UK Labour Government should be kept at bay.

 

Process

Whilst Welsh Labour haven’t announced the process for electing the next leader, we can assume that it will follow the process used in 2018.

When Carwyn Jones stood down and Mark Drakeford was elected 5 years ago, Welsh Labour used the one-member-one-vote system – like the one used to elect Jeremy Corbyn.

It means all party members – and members of unions and affiliated groups – get an equal vote. So, whilst optically important, which candidates are backed by which unions and other affiliated members becomes less important. Nonetheless, we know that Vaughan Gething enjoys staunch support from the Welsh trade union movement.

In 2018, after candidates were announced, we also saw which Labour Senedd Members (then Assembly Members) nominated each candidate in the Welsh Labour Leadership Election – with Vaughan Gething and Eluned Morgan coming second and third to Mr Drakeford. Although a formality and not weighted in the election, shoring up the backing of fellow MSs will be a key target for candidates and will bolster their campaign.

A rejected alternative option in 2018 was to reform Welsh Labour’s electoral college, giving half the vote to party members and half to affiliated members. To reiterate, the process for electing a leader in 2024 is yet to be confirmed.

 

Copper Cymru

At Copper we have a growing team in Wales of highly skilled and experienced professionals dotted all around the country. We can support with strategic communications, public affairs, community relations and branding & design from project inception to delivery.

We have over 15 years’ experience in delivering for clients in Wales and are currently supporting clients with exciting projects in wind, solar, grid, carbon capture and storage, and re-industrialisation.

We’ll be following the Welsh Labour leadership election every step of the way and providing our expert analysis.

 

Let’s chat // Coffi a chlonc cyn bo hir?

To join our Copper Connect mailing list, or if you’d like support with Welsh public affairs, please get in touch with Lisa.Childs@copperconsultancy.com to find out more.

Copper Consultancy welcomes Scott McLeod, Account Manager 

 

Working within the Strategic Communications practice, Scott joins Copper from Weber Shandwick, where he worked as a Senior Associate. Scott brings a breadth of knowledge and experience working across traditional, digital and social media platforms. His experience covers a range of global corporate clients including Equinor, Jotun, Offshore Energies UK, and DLA Piper.  

 

Scott’s multi-sectoral experience includes energy, maritime, petrochemicals, technology, professional services, and infrastructure. Bringing with him over seven years of experience in media relations, technical writing, and strategic communications. At Copper, he will join a growing team of skilled communicators, creative content creators; and media relations, digital, and stakeholder engagement specialists. 

 

Having spent most of his career in the north east of Scotland, Scott has witnessed the energy transition first hand. Playing an active role in helping several oil and gas operators and supply chain companies diversify and cement their position in the renewable industry.  

 

Commenting on the appointment, James Hillier, Head of Data Insight and Strategy said: “Scott’s experience and knowledge of the renewable energy industry and technologies makes him an excellent fit for our team. His proven track record of supporting multinational and specialist organisations – across the corporate and industrial sectors – in addressing complex communications challenges will be a real asset to our business.” 

 

Find out more about Copper Consultancy’s strategic communications offer here. 

 

You can also find out more about careers at Copper here or visit our LinkedIn page for current vacancies. 

Reaching your target audience can be a challenging task at the best of times and becomes even more difficult when your target audience is considered traditionally hard-to-reach‘. 

Hard-to-reach audiences refers to a group of individuals who are difficult to engage through traditional marketing or outreach efforts. This varies but could be individuals who have limited access to technology, speak a different language than the majority of the population, live in remote areas or potentially individuals with a disability that makes it difficult for them to interact with certain types of content. 

To communicate effectively, it’s important to build a deeper understanding of your target audience. Your strategy may require a unique approach, one that mirrors their needs and desires will help maximise engagement.  

 

1.Unearthing audience insights 

Understand who they are, what they value, and how they engage with digital channels. Be sure to take onboard their side of the story. 

Gaining intel on your audience can be achieved in a number of ways. This could be through conducting surveys, or through third-party results such as census data and attitude reports. 

Using social media and website analytics can provide a wealth of data to understand your audience’s interests, behaviours and preferences. For some projects it may be worth conducting focus groups to gather qualitative data. Are you unsure if you’re effectively reaching your audience? Using digital analytics to identify gaps in your data can show areas where you are not effectively reaching your target audience, using this information can help to inform a need for an alternative method, such as face-to-face events.  

Remember that finding audience insights for hard-to-reach audiences requires patience, creativity, and persistence. By utilising a variety of tools and approaches, you can gain a better understanding of your target audience and create more effective marketing strategies. 

 

2. Tailor your messaging  

Use the information you have about your audience to tailor your messaging. Centre your campaign around a compelling message that resonates with them. Speak their language, address their pain points, and offer solutions or ways to add value specifically designed for them. 

With projects where another language may be spoken, it’s important you consider this in your communications. For example, we work with a number of projects that operate in Wales and therefore ensure materials are available billingually.  

As we also mentioned the importance of accessibility, when creating materials, it’s important that factors are considered such as: 

  • Utilising camel case in hashtags on social media.  
  • Adding captions or subtitles to video content.  
  • Provide alt. Text with images to allow accessibility programmes to acces the intel.  
  • Use a clear font and avoid underlining, italics and upper case as much as possible.  
  • Consider the colours used in graphics. Contrasting colours are typically more accessible. 

 

3. Utilise the power of social media  

Social media platforms provide a gateway to a vast array of audiences, making them invaluable for reaching hard-to-reach groups. However, ensuring that you select relevant platforms is a fundamental step in successfully reaching your target audience. Remember, social media should be a two-way communication, not a brand monologue. Fundamentally, social media is socialising in the digital world and interactions are key to building relationships virtually.  

However, in the instance that your audience is not on social media, whether that’s due to demographics or whether they have access to technology, then it’s vital to find the right channels to communicate with them such as more traditional forms of marketing including elements such as in person events and print materials.  

 

4. Take a holistic approach to all digital communications  

When using multiple platforms to engage and facilitate dialogue with community members and stakeholders, remember that some individuals will see all communications and others just one. Each method of communication needs to stand alone, but also work alongside other communications. Your audience does not want to receive the same content in four different formats.  

 

5. Leverage influencers to gain advocates 

Collaborating with influential figures in your industry or community can help bridge the gap between your brand and hard-to-reach audiences. Influencers can command the attention and trust of the very audience you’re targeting. Choose influencers who align with your brand values and have a demonstrable impact on your intended audience. When thinking of our projects, examples of influencers could be local businesses, MPs, community or religious groups, schools, etc. 

 

If you try to please everyone, you will please no one.

Tackling hard-to-reach audiences can be a daunting task, but if you invest time in generating audience insight, and building a careful execution plan, you can reach those hard-to-reach audience groups and hopefully gain some advocates for your campaign 

 

If you’d like to find out more about how Copper can help with your communications strategy get in touch today.

Feel free to reach out to Hannah Jarrett, our Digital and Social Media Manager to discuss improving your digital communications approach.

 

From engagement to strategic comms: my first few months

Before starting at Copper back in May, I wasn’t aware of how much my background in engagement would support my growth into strategic communications. Throughout my first weeks at Copper, I was granted the opportunity to learn first-hand the ins and outs of strategic communications. Quickly learning how essential it is to the success of many projects.

A good strategic communications plan will allow you to tactically inform and influence your audience to achieve their objectives. In this piece, I’ll take you through the OASIS framework – objectives, audience, strategy, implementations, and scoring/evaluation – which is a surefire process to ensure all angles are considered when planning your strategic communications. I will also use this framework to highlight my key takeaways from my first few months at Copper.

 

Objectives

My first key takeaway is that defining your objectives is the most important aspect of strategic communications. They will guide the development of your strategy and ensure targets are met. However, defining objectives is not as simple as you may think. You must navigate the complex web of the wider business objectives alongside your own. In our work for Shell, we are working across three separate projects. This involves supporting their energy, automotive, and aviation sub-streams. However, each piece of work needs to be undertaken with consideration of Shell’s wider objectives – one of which is to become (and therefore perceived as) more sustainable.

 

Audience

After defining your objectives you’ll then need to define your audience. This is because your audience’s needs, values and priorities are key to informing the strategy and content which follow. Your audience includes two key groups: influencers (public figures who can become advocates or opponents of your project, campaign) and ‘end users’ (your ultimate target audience).

Before beginning any communications plan, Copper completes a stakeholder mapping exercise, which allows us to define and determine who we will be targeting. It is important to truly understanding your audience as people, and what works for them, instead of simply seeing them as a target to influence. This provides you with a better understanding of how to manage and communicate with the audience empathetically and effectively.

 

Strategy and implementation

From agreeing your audience and objectives, the next point to consider is your strategy. You should be able to capture your strategy in a line or two, which can be unpacked into more detailed workstreams below. This then informs your tactics which is the implementation of your project, including the content, channels, and activity that accompany your strategy. Which is usually the longest, part of the process which requires a high level of detail. Providing the shape of the full programme of activity, or at least the next phase.

A crucial aspect of your strategy is your messaging – clear and concise messaging is essential if you are to influence and inform your audience. A detailed and nuanced understanding of your audience will enable you to create a targeted and defined message that supports the narrative of the overall strategy. Developing a concise strategy and plan for your chosen messaging is much more likely to allow you to achieve the set objectives.

Top tip: remember that your messaging needs to be active, and not passive.

Scoring/Evaluation

Here at Copper, when it comes to scoring and evaluations we take into account the deliverables following the three O’s: outputs, outtakes and outcomes. Utilising various tools and metrics to ensure return on investment for our clients. 

Copper

My first couple of months at Copper has allowed me to deep dive into the world of strategic communications, learning so much from the range of projects that Copper work on. You can read more about the work that Copper’s strategic communications team does here:

All the talk about ‘Threads’ got you at a loose end? We’re here to help untangle the details.

Threads is a new social networking platform by Meta. Meta also own Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. Threads is being criticized for its noticeable similarities with Twitter and is being deemed as a rival app. It has been 3 months in the making and growth has been rapid in comparison to other burgeoning competitor applications, such as Mastodon.

 

Is your business already utilising Instagram?

If so, it is advisable that you make a break onto the social channel. This will allow you to benefit from the seamless transition and initial potential growth. Instagram users are able to follow the same accounts they currently follow on their Instagram profile.

The platform is quite different to Instagram as it favours content in the written form. The channel allows you to produce up to 500 characters, include links, photos and videos up to 5 mins in length.

 

Want to avoid getting your brand communications in a tangle?

Threads allows you control over who can mention you or reply to you. This helps provide an element of brand security when joining public conversations. You can also add ‘hidden words’ to filter out replies, to ensure all content is appropriate to your audience. This approach will allow you to maintain more control over your brand.

 

Threads is stringing together a new approach to social networking…

Have you heard that it’s part of an open social networking protocol called Activity Pub? But, what does this truly mean for your brand and the longevity of the channels potential?

Threads allows developers to build new features, allowing unique user experiences. This results in a wider opportunity for experimentation and for brands to become more innovative.

This is thanks to the Fediverse, which refers to the interconnection of servers in the backend of the platform. Allowing information to flow between platforms and services. Over time, Threads could become inter-usable with other apps like WordPress, which is currently not something which is available to the market.

 

Why is the EU stitched up and not accepting Threads?

Threads is currently unavailable within the European Union due to their new Digital Markets Act.  This means that Meta has to figure out a few things about the regulation of data sharing between their platforms. With GDPR being of high importance within the UK, companies will need to be mindful of new guidance and regulations. Key concerns are around the way the application will utilise personal data.

 

Getting tied up in paid potential for Threads?

Currently there is no advertising capabilities on the platform. However, we are expecting that they will be managed via Meta Business Suite.

Aside, from the data questions it seems that there might be a way to connect data and audiences from our Instagram and Facebook accounts. This will mean we can learn more about our audiences and in the future we will be able to target on a more granular level. Rumour has it, due to connected data regarding audience reach, this will amplify the opportunity to work with influencers.

 

Weaving in a new approach to social media means a few loose Threads

  1. All users have to have a linked Instagram profile, whilst this makes for a seamless transition this does slightly limit the audience who may not choose to utilise Instagram as a form of social media.
  2. Search and Filter options are limited so far, this demonstrates how the algorithm has power over optimizing feeds and what users are exposed to.
  3. Unlike all other social channels there are currently no hashtags in place, making it difficult for brands to reach their target audience.
  4. Currently yet to develop a large enough consumer base of high-profile users. Lots of people utilize Twitter in order to find thought leadership content which would be lacking without the right users.

 

Is this new social platform the next best thing? Or hanging by a Thread?

It is not yet clear to determine if Threads can be a relevant tool to drum up public engagement from a localised perspective. But this could change with the development of hashtags, key word searches or geographical related filters. However, until these features are available, it is unlikely to be a tool of particular importance for projects that wish to communicate their progress and benefits to their local communities.

Every social media manager, digital marketer and communications agency is likely being asked the same questions right about now. However, the reality of all new digital developments is that content will need to adopt a test and learn approach. Therefore, we look forward to being able to assess the ROI of Threads and how it can contribute to the brands overall marketing and communications strategy. The proof will be in the analytics and data that we are able to analyse from content we produce on the channel.

 

Want to find out more about our Digital and Social Media Manager? 

Copper Consultancy appointing Jamie Bannerman to bolster its strategic communications offer

Helping to spearhead the firm’s ambitions to expand in Scotland. Joining from Portland, and previously Weber Shandwick, Jamie has significant experience in driving strategic campaigns. Through delivering specialist support for global organisations such as KPMG, BP, Pfizer, the Taskforce for Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) and more.

As Copper continues to see significant opportunities for sustainable growth, Jamie will not only strengthen the agency’s foothold and expansion in Scotland. But, his diversified skillset and experience is set to be a strategic advantage to clients across the infrastructure, construction and energy sectors.

Director of Strategic Communications, Annabel Beardsmore, said: “Jamie’s experience leading global communications strategies is immensely valuable for our business. He has a proven track record of supporting multinational and specialist organisations – across the corporate and industrial sectors – in addressing some of the most complex communications challenges they face. His appointment to our strategic communications practice is already bolstering the bespoke and creative expertise that our clients receive and creating new service offerings.”

Jamie’s multi-sectoral experience includes energy, corporate affairs, petrochemicals, technology and infrastructure. At Copper, he will be helping lead a team of skilled communicators, creative content creators; and media relations, digital, issues, and stakeholder engagement specialists.

Commenting on his appointment, Jamie said: “I am driven by the big challenges. And there is nothing more pressing to our industry and society than the transition to net zero and a sustainable economy. Copper is, consciously, a specialist agency that has a long-standing commitment to and record of success in supporting clients in addressing those challenges.

“I am in no doubt that I join the company at an exciting time. With ambitious growth plans, significant investment in the team, and the backing of the RSK Group, I am excited to add my skills and experience to the mix.

“Most importantly, I am here to support our clients. We live in a world that is increasingly noisy and chaotic, and the pace and scale of change that is on the horizon is unparalleled. Intelligent and creative communications can cut through the noise, calm the chaos and distil the complex; and that is what I will be helping to deliver for clients.”

To find out more about Copper Consultancy’s strategic communications offer, visit the website.

 

 

 

 

Copper Consultancy has appointed Hannah Jarrett to the position of Digital and Social Media Manager to provide additional expertise to clients in both paid and earned digital marketing.

Hannah has more than five years of cross-sector experience with global teams delivering high quality social media, event and marketing campaigns. Alongside social media expertise, she is skilled in content marketing, building target audiences and using analytics to optimise marketing campaigns.

Starting with Walt Disney World during her placement year at university, Hannah has worked with global teams in a range of sectors including luxury cruise company Royal Caribbean, and most recently leading the delivery of RSK Group’s social media strategy.

Having joined Copper from RSK Group, Hannah is well versed in the sustainability landscape and understands the complexity of working with a wide variety of clients.

Commenting on her appointment, Hannah said: “The growing demand for public engagement in major infrastructure development and for businesses to build genuine networks means digital has as big a role as ever in helping us reach our target audiences. Keeping my finger on the pulse, as social platforms and digital channels evolve, I am relishing the opportunity to apply my skills and support clients as we all work towards a net zero society and more sustainable economy.”

Annabel Beardsmore, Director, Strategic Communications, said: “With Hannah joining the team, we are able to provide additional value to new and existing clients by amplifying campaigns and messaging through targeted digital and social media. Hannah joins Copper’s strategic communications team and will collaborate with teams across the company to create cohesive marketing messages and reshape the company’s digital approach to help keep clients ahead of the curve.”

Copper’s Strategic Communications team provides public affairs, public relations and corporate strategy support to some of the largest organisations in the UK at the forefront of the UK’s drive to net zero.

Party Conference Season 2023 may feel like a long way off, but organisations are already finalising their plans, and fringe events will quickly become booked up.

This year we are leveraging our unique position to play ‘matchmaker’ for the Conservative and Labour party conferences. Our party conference cupid service matches clients with a complementary event partner to split the costs of organising a presence at conference, saving you at least 50% on the cost.

By partnering, you have an opportunity to:
• Have a cost-effective presence at a Party conference.
• Combine forces with a partner, and access a wider network of politicians, businesses and media.
• Raise your profile and put your company at the centre of a debate or policy issue.

We would love you to complete our survey which can be found here – https://forms.office.com/e/2sbaELK7ds

To find out more please email patrick.traynor@copperconsultancy.com.

With the local elections just days away, eyes will turn to the big metropolitan councils in the North of England to see how the main parties will fare.

The thinking amongst those “in the know” is that we will face a General Election with the next 12 to 16 months, meaning these elections could be the last chance for each Party to set their stall out before the main event.

“The North” is often a region looked at by political pundits and pollsters alike as they try and predict the likely results of a General Election. In 2019 the region was dominated by “red wall” analysis, a term coined to describe those mainly urban, Labour heartlands, which spread across large parts of the North and Midlands. Towns and cities such as Hartlepool, Bolton, Durham, and Sedgefield were all labelled in this way, as the Conservatives won a record number of seats in the region from Labour.

So the 2023 local elections will be of massive interest. It will provide us an opportunity to see whether Labour have managed to claw back some of its popularity in these seats, or whether the Conservatives are maintaining its strength. We may also see a small uprising in the minority parties such as the Liberal Democrats or Green Party, who all hope to make gains in the coming weeks.

We have identified three areas of interest below:

Liverpool

One of the most fascinating elections across the country will be those taking place in Liverpool. Dominated by scandal over the last few years, Liverpool City Council has traditionally been a Labour stronghold, with the party holding the majority of council seats since 2010. However, issues around the former Labour Mayor, Joe Anderson, and much party infighting has left the ruling Labour Group fighting on many fronts.

Boundary changes and the move to single-member wards also hold unprecedented opportunities for the other groups. The Liberal Democrats (once the party of power in Liverpool from 1998 to 2010) are hopeful that they can get more councillors elected, with some predicting the group could end up on around 30 councillors. Elsewhere the Green Party and Liberals (not to be confused with the Lib Dems) will be looking to extend their numbers.

It would take a swing of massive proportions to remove Labour from power in Liverpool. However, whilst we don’t expect the city to be governed by a different group after May, we do expect a greater opposition to the Labour group when the votes are all counted.

 

Hartlepool

2019 saw the Council taken by a coalition of Conservatives and independent groups. A once strong Labour area, Hartlepool became the symbol of the red wall seats which were swept up by the Conservative Party under the leadership of Boris Johnson.

May 2023 provides us will a real opportunity to see whether the Conservatives have managed to sustain this power or whether the once-traditional Labour vote has gone back to where it always was, pre-2019.

Onne fly in the ointment is that the Conservatives and independents are defending eight seats, whilst the Labour group are only defending four. Whilst this could mean that it is unlikely that Labour can win a majority of councillors during the election, it does mean the Conservatives have more to lose going into polling day.

Hull

One of the major surprises of last year was in Hull. The Liberal Democrats took control of the City Council, after Labour had held power for just over a decade.

The Council is on a knife edge, with the Liberal Democrats having a majority of just one. This year, they are defending eight seats, many of which have very small majorities. This could make the race for Hull Town Hall a fascinating battle. Our analysis shows that the key battles will be in Pickering ward and University ward, two seats that Labour must win to take back control.

This council is too close to call and we expect many recounts during the actual counting of votes.