Our Take On The Latest Social Advertising Bans

The news broke last week that adverts promoting cosmetic procedures to under-18-year-olds have been banned in the UK. And that got us thinking… Is blacklisting the best way to eliminate controversial campaigns?

 

According to The Guardian, adverts promoting “breast enlargement, nose jobs and liposuction at under-18s” are included in the crackdown, which was orchestrated by the UK advertising watchdog.

 

Where won’t they be?

 

The new rules, which come into force from May 2022, bar these ads from appearing on all media outlets, from Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, to billboards, posters, and newspapers. Magazines and radio are also subject to this new legislation, and influencers don’t get off scot-free either – they can no longer advertise to young, impressionable audiences.

 

Why has this happened?

 

Over the last ten years, the rise of social media, reality TV shows and the ‘influencer’ have led to more and more of us striving to achieve unattainable physiques, looks, and even new personality traits.

 

The saying ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ is quite apt here, and, sadly, many of the companies and individuals advertising these products and procedures have, in some cases, taken advantage of their younger audiences.

 

Arguably, we’ve all become a lot more impressionable throughout the pandemic because all we’ve been able to do is scroll and chat online. We’ve spent time looking into other people’s lives, routines, and health and fitness regimes on the socials to distract ourselves from the external circumstances, like the pandemic.

 

Has anything else changed?

 

Yes. Not only are companies unable to advertise their cosmetic procedures, but private doctors also aren’t allowed to practice them either. If they continue carrying out cosmetic operations to under-18s, they’re at risk of going to jail and paying fines.

 

Is this the first time this has happened?

 

This isn’t the first-time adverts and marketing campaigns have gotten out of hand. First, it was tobacco companies with the Tobacco Advertising & Promotion Act 2002 that prohibited tobacco products from advertising and sponsorship, and then more recently fast food and ‘junk food’ industries have been told to put a muzzle on their television and online advertising campaigns after 9 pm starting from 2023.

 

By implementing this latest ban, the UK government hopes it can reduce the obesity crisis and lower the number of people eating late in the day. The online aspect of the ban affects all aspects of paid online marketing, such as Facebook ads and promotions on Instagram.

 

 Are bans like these a good idea?

 

Yes, I think so. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had some great campaigns in the past connected with food, cars, and even cigars and makeup. But, in the olden days, once you switched off the television or radio, they were gone. Now, they make their way into our inboxes, social media direct messages, and into our SMS messages.

 

These bans will prevent younger people from being too heavily influenced by their idols and feeling under pressure to purchase a product, or undergo a potentially costly and unnecessary procedure, to be relevant or to ‘fit in’.

 

7 Times ‘Squid Game’ Impacted Marketing Campaigns – For Better or Worse

The South Korean mega-hit ‘Squid Game,’ Netflix’s most popular show ever (officially!), hasn’t just been dominating streaming figures, conversation, and online memes – it’s also been leaving a cultural footprint on the marketing world, too.

 

The show isn’t for everyone: it’s action-packed but ultraviolent, and, despite moments of light-heartedness, can make for heavy watching. Despite this, it’s become a worldwide phenomenon – and it’s little wonder businesses are hopping on the trend wherever possible.

 

However, as ‘Squid Game’ is a very clear critique of what show creator Hwang Dong-hyuk describes as the ‘extreme competition’ of ‘modern capitalism’ – which has strong echoes of ‘Parasite,’ the South Korean Oscar-winning film by Bong Joon-ho – a misjudgement may have been made by some marketing teams on exactly what the appeal of Squid Game is: and, crucially, why their product might not be apt for a themed campaign.

 

Below, we’ve put together the good and the not-so-good ‘Squid Game’ campaigns…

 

The Good

 

 

Food websites and bloggers alike have jumped at the opportunity to provide recipes for South Korean food featured in Squid Game. This include Delish’s recipe for Dalgona Candy, used in Episode 3 of the show, a simple but effective way of catching the attention of those looking to try the sweet treat. There’s also Kcal, a Glasgow-based restaurant that has come up with its own Dalgona-inspired pancakes: if you can cut the shape out using only your knife without breaking it, they’re yours for free! We think this is a genius way of involving the fun in their food – and definitely less dire consequences than in the show…

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Kcal Kitchen Glasgow (@kcalkitchen)

 

Along with the ‘Good’ are the extremely cute Squid Game pet costumes on Etsy – which come in both contestant and guard form. As any pet owner knows, some of our furry friends are bloodthirsty enough, so it’s more than fitting to have them join in the fun…especially as Halloween is right around the corner.

 

Via Bustle.com

 

Heineken’s use of the star in its logo is also another inventive and interesting way of hopping on the bandwagon; similarly, competitor Budweiser imposed their logo into a Dalgona biscuit (not quite as ingenious, but some quick thinking nonetheless).

 

There’s also debt management company Relief, who used the craze to print and distribute 10,000 lookalike business cards that have the now-infamous shapes across the front of the card. On the back reads: ‘There’s a better way to get out of debt.’

 

Via The Drum

 

 

No matter how successful it may be, the nature of a TV craze like ‘Squid Game’ means that it’s a flash in the pan moment – here today, gone tomorrow – meaning brands have to think on their feet to come up with a campaign both fitting and eye-catching.

 

This sometimes can, unfortunately, mean that companies don’t take enough time to correctly judge the tone and meaning behind exactly what’s got the public in a frenzy about a certain piece of media. Which brings us on to…

 

The Not-So-Good

 

With ‘Squid Game’ being a show about characters crippled by debt – the very reason they sign up to the game in the first place – there couldn’t be a more inappropriate campaign than by Klarna, the payment company that allows users to pay in instalments.

 

Via Twitter

 

 

The company was fired at on social media after sending out a push notification offering customers to pay for ‘Squid Game’-themed costumes…in instalments. This controversial system of payment has also recently been under fire recently after a Facebook advertisement for Zilch went viral: a company that provides instalment payment plans for takeaways such as Domino’s and Papa Johns.

 

It doesn’t take a genius to realise that the idea of promoting this kind of app, in association with a show that depicts debt problems as so debilitating that desperate individuals would choose fighting to the death rather than overcoming it, is a bit of a misguided move.

 

Though Klarna does not charge fees or interest to users, it has been compared to payday loan companies for its encouragement of overspending. According to the Guardian, ‘The debt charity StepChange says it has an increasing number of clients who have money owing on “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) among their debts when they turn to it for help. Klarna is easily the largest BNPL player in the UK market.’

 

It’s a no-brainer: though it might take a bit more time, ultimately, weighing up whether or not your brand actually fits in with the latest viral craze or not is far more beneficial than a temporary hop on the bandwagon that might get you into hot water. It’s tempting to fire at all cylinders in accordance with the online chatter, but, as Klarna have found, that’s not always the wisest move.

 

My colleague Jess recently wrote a blog debunking the myth that you’re only as good as your last 30 days of PR. In it, she suggests that the pressure of hopping onto trends may lead to only half-hearted efforts – and, crucially, that the best campaigns always take a bit of time. And that’s ok.

 

At Source, we’d love to help you and your business with all things marketing, digital and PR. Head to our contact page or drop us a line on 01829 720 789 today to speak to one of our team.

 

 

 

Was The Social Media Blackout A Good Thing?

Last week, the world experienced a six-hour social media blackout. The three social media giants: Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp, all crashed at once. Disaster! In light of this this, and other semi-apocalyptic events that have happened over the past 18-months, many thought this was another sign of humanity’s untimely demise!

But thankfully, it wasn’t.

Our thumbs were spared from scrolling while Mark Zuckerberg delved into what went wrong at Facebook, the parent company of Instagram and WhatsApp. After some tinkering on the Monday night, he got the planet’s scrollers scrolling again by Tuesday morning.

According to BBC News, the outage was caused by “an internal technical issue which took Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram offline at about 16:00 GMT on Monday.” After this, what we’d like to know is whether you think temporary social media shutdowns are a good idea? Drastic I know, but hear us out…

 

The Idea of a Social Shutdown

What if, for two months out of 12 every year, the social media giants went quiet, and we were all logged out?

After a couple of years of only being able to interact with each other on our phones, we can certainly see the benefits of social media, and admittedly a blackout would be a challenge. Over the last couple of years, social media outlets have enabled us to continue to communicate with our friends and family from all over the world.

Businesses also rely heavily on social media to promote products or services. But this still risks creating a revenue shortage because there’s no one to advertise to. And, following the outage, the BBC revealed that Zuckerberg himself might have lost in the region of £4.4bn, while Facebook’s shares dropped by almost 5%.

So maybe it isn’t a good idea after all. But what if there was a way of solely targeting private social media users? Stay with us…

 

Would Routine Blackouts Work?

So, the financial implications for some companies are quite severe… Granted. But, if we take another look at the human side of things, ditching our social platforms for a while has been proven to help people’s mental health.

According to Parade.com, ceasing to use social media can cause people to feel anxious at first, and some even develop withdrawal symptoms. But, after a couple of weeks, your mental health should improve. Parade states that “studies have shown a direct correlation between depression and excessive social media use.”

After interviewing Dr. Mehmet Oz, a cardiothoracic surgeon and Columbia University professor, Parade found that of “6,500 12- to 15-year-olds in the U.S, those who spent more than three hours a day using social media might be at heightened risk for mental health problems.”

 

The Key? Focus On Yourself

Finally, I feel like the most compelling reason why we should all be forced to take a break from social media every now and again is because of comparing ourselves with others. This can cause disillusionment with your own life, and you can start to doubt yourself, which is a pretty precarious situation to be in.

Even though many of the ideas discussed above will not come to fruition anytime soon, the message to take away from this blog is that social media, unless you use it to make a living, shouldn’t be the be all and end all.

What do you think?

Influencer Marketing Lessons From Marcus Rashford

It’s fantastic to hear that the AQA exam board is looking to use Marcus Rashford as a case study on how best to use social media to instigate social change in society.  The 23 year old “black man from Wythenshawe” is not only a role model for many but a brilliant example of what an influencer can really do.

Marcus’ campaign to raise awareness of the issues associated with child poverty is rightfully textbook stuff, illustrating how best to use influence to raise awareness and deliver tangible changes to behaviour.

Within two weeks of launching, more than a million people had signed the petition calling for the government to extend free school meals through the summer holidays of the Covid-19 pandemic.  This was only the 5th time that a petition to parliament raised more than 1m signatures.

His success as an influencer is down to several reasons.  The first is that he has ‘lived experience’ and can relate to the issues he supports.  As a child, it’s well reported that Marcus Rashford had experienced significant poverty and could personally share the role that free school meals had played in his own life.  This meant he was not ‘preachy’ but honest and relatable based on his genuine experiences.

The footballer also has a significant profile on social media with more than 11.8 million followers on Instagram and a further 5 million on Twitter.  His personality shines through his posts and he remains consistently on message, relating to issues and topics that are important to him.  Marcus’ audience also relate to him on several levels whether football, as a young black man or as a role model in delivering social change.

He used his support well and his work was quickly amplified by cafés, takeaways, shops, and other outlets across the country who supported the campaign by pledging free meals to children during the holidays (in defiance of the government’s decision not to).  The campaign quickly built momentum at all levels of society and helped deliver the changes needed.

Marcus Rashford’s influence has been tangible.  He’s not only the youngest person to top the Sunday Times Giving List after raising more than £20 million in donations from supermarkets for groups tackling child poverty, but he’s also actively changed Government policy.

Last summer, Rashford managed to get the government to make a policy U-turn and agree to give free school meals to vulnerable youngsters during the Covid-19 impacted summer.  Later in October he secured a further £170m winter grant to support low-income families struggling with the continued impact of the pandemic.

Although he claims not to have ‘the education of a politician’ it’s clear his messages are simple and, like all good influencing campaigns or PR strategies, designed to engage with his audiences, encourage people to support the cause or even to take matters into their own hands.

This recognition, along with an MBE in the delayed 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, are just some of the accolades he has achieved in his young life.  Let’s hope that Marcus Rashford’s great work continues to shine on the football field and in the fields of positively influencing equality, diversity and inclusion in today’s society.

A Summer Of Sport & PR Disasters

It’s been a fantastic summer of sport with the Olympics, Euros and a Lions series in South Africa, let alone all the smaller sporting occasions that take place every week across the country.  All have been achieved despite the global restrictions and regulations in place to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

It’s been an amazing feat of organisation and also a welcome opportunity for brands to leverage sponsorships and get their products in front of a pent-up audience looking to spend their cash that’s been accumulated in lockdown.

However, it seems that for many, the promise of PR gold did not quite materialise and in many cases, PR disasters were never far from the surface.

The Coca Cola x UEFA Blunder

Let’s start with Coca Cola multi-million pound sponsorship of the UEFA European Championship.  On one hand, this could have been a fantastic opportunity to promote the brand to a young, vibrant and global audience. However, it ended up being a complete disaster when the tournament’s leading star Cristiano Ronaldo moved two promotional bottles away from the cameras at Portugal’s pre-match press conference, urging viewers to drink water instead.  The action led to Coca Cola’s share price dropping by 1.6 per cent and $4bn being knocked off the company’s share price.  Though rectified in future conferences, the debacle made headlines all over the world, and it’s fair to say that in this instance – the publicity isn’t exactly what Coca Cola were looking for.

Toyota Throws Its Money Down The Drain

When it comes to the Olympics, title sponsor Toyota won gold when it comes to PR disasters after the company decided not to air any of its advertisements that associated the brand with the games, for fear of a backlash by concerned customers who did not want the games to go ahead due to the fear of spreading Covid.

Not only did Toyota pull its adverts, but the sponsor was also banned from the opening ceremony and opted not to attend the games in any way. This all comes despite Toyota becoming the first car company to ever sign up as a worldwide Olympic sponsor in 2015 in, an eight-year deal reportedly worth nearly $1bn.

Toyota Chief Communications Officer Jun Nagata said: “There are many issues with these Games that are proving difficult to be understood.”  It seems a bit late in the day for such comments.

Vodafone Falls Short Of Positive PR

Finally, as a rugby fan, I should also mention the Lions rugby series in South Africa.  An occasion that only comes up every 4 years and every 12 years in South Africa.  The on field scraps and poor criticisms of the referees have left a bitter feeling towards the event with many feeling that the occasion is heading towards its sell by date.

Although title sponsor Vodafone did well in engaging with fans at home, for its estimated £6.5m sponsorship fee, the company was unable to capitalise on an event that is typically enjoyed by thousands of travelling fans.  The games had to take place behind closed doors and the opportunities brands had to associate themselves with positive PR projects in the host country were dramatically reduced (despite an 1800% increase in the sponsorship cost they incurred when compared to their initial sponsorship in 1997).

In previous years, we’ve seen support in townships and deprived areas of the country which allowed for the brand to build its image and illustrate its CSR credentials.  This time around, players were sadly required to lock themselves in isolation bubbles in some of the country’s finest hotels.

The Risk & Reward Of Big Brand Sponsorships

So what’s the answer?  For me, there seems a growing disconnect between the cost / benefit to supporting such occasions.  There’s also a growing potential for a PR disaster if a star snubs your product or the public turn against the event that you have spent millions of pounds supporting and associating yourself with.

From a public relations perspective, winning hearts and minds is most important. So, before entering the agreements, consider the ‘what ifs’ and have plans in place to mitigate the issues or crisis communication challenges should they emerge.

The real opportunity comes from leveraging the sponsorship through campaigns and initiatives within the target communities.  Of all the marketing mediums, PR is best placed to build relationships with consumers and to help brands share their values through engaging and meaningful communications.

So for a marketing gold medal, talk to us and let us devise a PR campaign that is effective and engaging – rather than spending thousands on product placement or relatively worthless brand associations.

From Journalism To PR: What Have I Learned During My First Month At Source?

It’s been roughly a month or so since I started my role as an Account Executive here at Source, and the time has flown!

So, with that in mind, I’m going to try to give you a brief synopsis of what I’ve learned during my first month.

One thing has become immediately clear since moving over from journalism and into PR and marketing – I’m having to employ a high level of proactivity that, perhaps, my previous roles didn’t necessarily require.

I’m no longer reacting to press releases appearing in my inbox, interviewing business leaders, or hounding the phones for potential news stories.  Instead, I’m having to think outside of the box a bit, juggle different client needs, and deliver on the campaigns in place – all of which is an enjoyable challenge.

What does that involve then?

Well, rather than searching for stories, I’m searching for publicity opportunities for my clients at Source. For example, interview or feature opportunities for client businesses or submitting awards as they’re a great way to enhance their reputation and build credibility.

Social media is also increasingly important to client businesses and to ignore it would be suicide for a company looking to broaden its customer base. At Source, I research and create posts for my clients that cover a wide variety of topics, from industry news, people developments to charity initiatives.

Writing social media posts is a small contribution, but a few posts a week can keep your followers in the loop with regards to what’s happening on the inside, and what a company is doing to either improve its reputation or give back to the community.

It’s also been rewarding to get a better feel for some of the company’s software which helps identify and target key journalists or influencers and the social media scheduling and analysis tools which ensure we target the right post at the right time and to the right audience.

Time allocation

At the moment, I still feel like I’m getting to know Source PR, how we operate and, of course, my clients, but everyone here has been really helpful since I’ve arrived and I’m certainly starting to find my feet!

So far, I’ve also spent time has been spent writing blogs and building content for client websites, which has also really helped me get to know them. Curating the weekly social posts for the clients I look after is another great opportunity for me to familiarise myself with them, their industries, and the top industry publications.

But, because of the more proactive nature of PR, I’m starting to realise that the sooner the more ‘scheduled’ tasks can be done, like the socials, for example, the better! This then allows more time to look for new client opportunities or to add value to campaigns which helps cement existing relationships.

How’s it going?

In summary, I’m really enjoying it so far! I know which aspects of the role I can make my own and where my strengths lie, but I also know what I need to do to become a proficient Account Executive. Hopefully, with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, I’ll be able to head out and meet with some of our clients, too – it will be good to put some names to faces! So, as far as I’m concerned, it’s onwards and upwards from here.

 

WHY COMMUNITY MATTERS IN YOUR PR STRATEGY

Community relations – sometimes known as CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) – can be overlooked in the face of immediate, tangible benefits. However, a good PR strategy will consider community and the value of it for your brand. Whether that’s using your platform to champion smaller businesses, or actively supporting charities and organisations.

This was proven very recently on April 12th, as pub beer gardens opened across England as part of the Government Roadmap. With the hospitality industry arguably one of the hardest hit amid the Coronavirus pandemic, Tesco decided they would dedicate their advertising space on this monumental day to a better cause. On Monday, they launched the following ad in multiple English newspapers.

Tesco April 12th Print Ad

This kind of media coverage would have been costly, so the idea that Tesco used it to champion smaller, local outlets as opposed to their own business, was very well received. It’s the perfect example as to why community relations matter in any PR strategy. Whether your business is large or small, you cannot go wrong with CSR.

Let’s explore why…

Why You Should Consider The Role Of Community Relations In PR

Community relations are so important to any brand for a multitude of reasons. Some of which include:

  • Building a better brand reputation
  • Making your brand more recognisable in the local area
  • Giving your brand a personality
  • Showing consumers that they’re buying from a brand that cares

For these reasons and many more, is why a whole host of brands work hard on their CSR strategies. Community relations isn’t a black and white area of PR, there are different things that businesses can be doing to improve their image, and it doesn’t matter how big or small your brand is. Some of the things a business can do include:

  • Adopting a sustainability policy
  • Fundraising for charity
  • Donating a portion of sales to charity, such as a % of a sale from a certain product
  • Using a bigger platform to champion smaller businesses
  • Working with local schools and organisations
  • Supporting employees and their own community initiatives
  • Backing smaller sports teams
  • Lobbying for change using your own platforms
  • And so much more (why not ask us what would work best for your brand?)

Why The Tesco Ad Worked

Going back to Tesco and their print advertisement, though it didn’t directly promote their products, it still helped to give the brand a push and generate positive coverage. Tesco’s selfless community relations act ended up returning far more than we can assume a traditional advert would have. Results included more conversation on social media and more positive feelings towards the brand.

Tesco Exaxample Of Community Relations

This links into the age-old debate that PR is not always about ROI and sales. It’s about building a better and more engaging brand. One people recognise as caring and community-driven. This reputation is worth way more than a single newspaper advert. Furthermore, Tesco still got great coverage in the online media as well as from their print ads. Not to mention the fantastic reaction on social media. A traditional advert would never have piqued attention quite like this.

Whilst linking up and supporting your community – whether on a local or national level – might not return immediate sales, it’s a crucial brand-building exercise that any good PR strategy should consider.  At Source PR, we often work with our clients to bring them together with the local area. We often support with this kind of community relations PR work with Miller Homes, one of our clients in the property industry. If you’re interested in finding out more about how this works in a PR strategy, read our case study. Want to know more? Why not reach out to our team?

JO MALONE’S MISJUDGEMENT – THE IMPORTANCE OF STAYING ON TOP OF CURRENT AFFAIRS

While some businesses have folded due to the impact of COVID-19, others have managed to find their feet during it. We’ve seen tongue-in-cheek advertising slogans emerge, such as KFC’s switch from ‘It’s finger lickin’ good’ to ‘It’s good’ as a reference to the importance of hand-washing and personal hygiene,  showing an increase of sense of humour in brand communications in the past few months – a far cry from how we were all feeling back in March.

 

Staying on top of current affairs has always been an efficient way of plugging into the latest trends and hot topics, from newsjacking in PR, to keeping your social media strategies relevant. Gymshark is particularly adept at this, whether it’s voicing their support for the Black Lives Matter movement via a $125,000 donation, or something smaller, such as using the latest Twitter meme format to generate a healthy volume of engagement.

 

 

 

But it’s not just important for brands to stay on top of current affairs for their own inbound marketing, it’s also an essential way of knowing what not to say and do.

 

Gently does it

 

Jo Malone (the brand, not the person – she sold the company in 1999) recently faced backlash for exactly this. The candle and fragrance creator changed an ad that previously starred, and was conceived by, actor John Boyega to include a Chinese actor instead. The use of Liu Haoran instead was to allegedly cater to its Chinese consumer base. The original advert explores Boyega’s beginnings in Peckham, London, with the ad even starring his friends and family. The slogan for the Jo Malone campaign was ‘A London Gent’. With Boyega’s London roots, it simply makes much more sense than when compared to Haoran, who was born and raised in China. Boyega has since dropped his partnership with the company, saying that he does not condone ‘dismissively trading out one’s culture.’

 

Whilst the decision by Jo Malone was a mistake whichever way you look at it, it comes as an even bigger sting following not only the rise in protests in the last few months from Black Lives Matter, but also the actor’s own vocal support for the movement. The erasure of Boyega for seemingly no apparent reason is a reminder of the subliminal racism that is perpetuated by some within advertising industry. The Force Awakens brought in $124 million from China’s box office: though it fared much less strongly than the Avengers movies due to the lack of a nostalgia from Chinese viewers, there’s no doubt that he is known not just to Westerners, but Easterners too.

 

Keeping it current

 

If the powers that be at Jo Malone had their fingers a little more on the pulse when it comes to current political situations, would they have continued with the replacement of John Boyega for their Chinese advert? It’s difficult to say – many more factors must have been at play behind closed doors. But what we do know is that the company would have retained its partnership with the actor. There’s also no doubt that the Jo Malone will have lost the support of some of its British customers in the wake of the upset – something that could have been avoided with a little more planning and consideration for current affairs.

 

Whilst an outright support for Black Lives Matter is a risk some brands simply won’t take, many are. Some, simply to keep their fingers on the pulse, but for others like Gymshark, it’s a clear expression of their brand values.

 

Get in touch with us

 

At Source PR, we always have our eye on the ball when it comes to all things digital. For advice on PR, digital marketing and social media, including working with influencers, get in touch with our team here.

CORONAVIRUS COMMUNICATIONS: WHY FIRMER GOVERNMENT MESSAGING WAS NEEDED

Anyone can get it.

Anyone can spread it.

Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives.

This is the new messaging that the government released last night, after previous attempts of strong Coronavirus communications messaging to the public arguably failed.

Coronavirus Communications – How Important Is Getting The Message Right?

Throughout the unfolding of this pandemic, the government has been met with the challenge of keeping the public well informed and engaged; essentially, they hold the key to successfully containing the virus. The challenge, however, is to share key information, without causing panic or underplaying the issue.

Initially, this begun with the government trying to assure people that the virus would be able to be contained, in multiple press confrences it was downplayed. Now, several weeks on, the Coronavirus communications tactics have changed.

Learning from their mistakes, we believe that the government has noted that their earlier tactics were not successful, and have now moved to more open, transparent, and if you like – firmer – comms.

The announcement of the lockdown was unlike anything this generation has ever seen. The messaging from the government was clear and concise: you must not leave your home.

Before this, using words such as ‘we advise’ and ‘we suggest’ meant that many did not feel inclined to follow the rules, which could potentially be to blame for the increase outbreak of Covid-19 that the UK is now experiencing.

Now, they have gone one step further: explicitly stating that anyone can get Coronavirus, and consequently, anybody can spread it. You must stay home if you want to protect the NHS and save lives.

Coronavirus Communications - New Government Messaging

The best Coronavirus communications ads are those that are clear, but also relatable. They need to hit home and feel personal. The handwashing ad message put out by the government, for example, was effective – giving people a clear message and a simple way of ensuring the right amount of time is taken by twice singing one of the UK’s best-known songs – ‘Happy Birthday’.

This kind of message sticks in the mind, and is something that we don’t doubt the public would have taken on board, as the message was strong and no-nonsense.

Again, the ‘catch it, bin it and kill it’ advert that we’ve all come to know shows a simple way for people to take basic protective measures with clear illustrations and a simple message.

There are no suggestions, there is a firm ‘you must do this’ tone in the messaging, and this is why it works.

Why Did The Government Change Their Message?

The more generic advice to ‘stay off work and self-isolate for 14 days’ if feeling unwell, argugably lead to exploitation.

It’s a simple message but one that required more detail considering the potential impact on the economy. In situations like this, a rigid Coronavirus communications message is required and though trying not to cause hysteria, it would have been a better idea for the government to give the public all the information they had available. Perhaps then, the population may have understood the implications and repercussions of continuing to socialise and ignore social distancing guidelines for as long as they did.

They say a picture paints a thousand words, this comparison image of the Kaaba in Saudia Arabia shows the impact that the right messaging can have:

Coronavirus Communications - New Government Messaging Coronavirus Communications - New Government Messaging

The shift in the outward communication from the government now has seen more definitive messaging in place: “you must stay at home”, “you must not see friends”.

Following this, a large proportion of the working population is now doing so remotely, people are following guidelines to only leave the house once daily, and shops are now practicing prolific social distancing measures. The change in communication is in no doubt responsible for this, and it goes to show the importance of putting across the right message.

Communication works.

In all cases though, the government must also refrain from getting drawn into ‘Armageddon scenarios’ by speculating on figures for potential rises in deaths or NHS capabilities.

We’ve already seen incredible panic food buying in shops and it is likely to detract from the messages around how best to manage the impending epidemic. Your message needs to be clear and strong, and needs to ensure no room is left for speculation.”

Getting your communications right isn’t easy, if it was, everybody would be experts!

 

If you or your business is in need of professional, quality and, if needs be, confidential Coronavirus Communications advice, please email louis@sourcepr.co.uk or call 01829 720 789.

Louis, Managing Director of The Source, recently gave the press his advice around the Government’s updated Coronavirus messaging as the updated campaigns were announced; his comments can be found in the Metro, ITV, Yahoo, Daily Mail and more.

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RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS DAY: HOW CAN BRANDS GET INVOLVED?

February 17th is Random Acts of Kindness Day in the UK, and ever interested in Awareness Days and how they can be leveraged in PR and Marketing campaigns, we thought we’d take a look at how brands can get involved.

The Source are an ethical PR and marketing agency, we’re heavily invested in the rural community and work with brands who care deeply about their CSR and reputation. As such, days like Random Acts of Kindness Day are the exact kind of events that we’d look to include in our PR strategies.

Here’s a little more on why exactly we do this… 

Managing CSR For Brands

PR is all about brand reputation, it’s building and maintaining an image for a business and positioning them as ethical and responsibility. CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) plays a huge part in this. For us, we like to make sure that the brands we work with are well versed in being involved with local communities and that support charities too.

It’s really important for your brand to have a great CSR strategy, as this can make or break your business’ reputation. Days such as Random Acts of Kindness Day can help to do exactly this…

How To Get Involved In Random Acts Of Kindness Day

Random Acts of Kindness Day is just one of the many Awareness Days worth getting involved in if you’re wanting to improve your brands CSR and overall reputation. What’s more, these kinds of Awareness Days are abundantly spoken about in the media, so it’s also a great PR and marketing opportunity for getting your brand some media coverage too.

Here’s some of our ideas as to how your brand can get involved in Random Acts of Kindness Day this year:

  • Donate some money to a local charity, such as an animal shelter or food bank. Don’t pre-plan the donation, just head in and leave a cheque (and ask if they wouldn’t mind a quick photo, of course).
  • Get some of your team out doing a litter pick or beach clean-up, showing kindness to the environment and to the earth.
  • Visit a local nursing home or children’s hospital and drop off some bits and bobs that you’ll know they’d love. This one might be a little harder to be ‘random’ as you’ll probably have to get in touch with a co-ordinator first, but it’s still a kind thing to do.
  • Email a small business or charity and offer an hour or two of your services for free, they won’t be expecting an email like that and if you work in a service-led industry (such as PR like us) that extra hour or two might benefit their business more than you could ever anticipate.
  • Ask your staff members to bring in a few items of food, or some clothing that can be donated either to a local food bank or charity shelter, helping out small businesses is a really nice idea for Random Acts of Kindness Day.
  • Shout about a small business on social media, if you have a great online presence – this could mean a world of difference to them in getting them some great exposure for their brand. Take for example the ‘Hinch Effect’, not too long-ago famed influencer Mrs. Hinch posted a story of the company who fitted her a loft ladder. And the results, well, click here to find out what happened.

Want help utilising strategies like the above, and turning your kindness into coverage, as well as a strong brand image? Get in touch with The Source to find out a little more about what we do, and how the ‘Sorcerers’ can support your brand’s marketing strategy.

Call us on 01829 720789. Or, see what we get up to on social…

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