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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NATIONAL STORYTELLING WEEK: HOW WE USE PR TO TELL STORIES

Today marks the beginning of National Storytelling Week, a very important time for PR and marketers for multiple reasons.

You see, the basis of PR is the ability to tell a good story. As PR isn’t paying for somebody to promote your brand like you’d do with advertising (a common misconception about our sector), it’s proving to people that your brand is one worth talking about.

But how exactly can you make that happen? Well, us PR ‘Sourcerers’ have some tricks up our sleeves. That’s how.

PR People, Or Professional Storytellers?

Everybody loves a good story, you can’t deny it.

Whether it’s a book, something you read in the newspaper, or even something you hear from somebody else. It’s human nature to want to hear about new and exciting things. It’s this very nature that makes the PR industry both a successful, but also lucrative, industry.

National Storytelling Week

In one way, it’s great that people are instinctively attracted to a good story. It puts us in business. It’s what makes PR not only an affluent industry, but one that’s so important too. Because while advertising is great and very effective if orchestrated right, you can’t really beat great organic exposure for your business.

But by the same token, it’s unmistakably hard to promote a brand organically without it coming across too salesy. Whether you’re pitching to journalists, or even to the public, if it’s painstakingly obvious that your sales-led, then you can come across dishonest and interested parties will likely lose that interest very, very quickly.

That’s why storytelling is a skill, and one not everybody can master.

National Storytelling Week – How We Do It At The Source

As mentioned just above, being able to tell a great story is the bread and butter of any great PR campaign. So how to we do it here at The Source? Well, quite aptly, National Storytelling Week is just one of the ways we aim to achieve coverage for one of our brands this week.

Hooking on to the occasion, and the fact that so many will be talking about reading and books this week, we decided to seize the opportunity and arrange a donation of books on behalf of a business we represent to a local primary school, in a target area for this client. Going off previous successes, we know that journalists in the area love this kind of story and will happily write about it both online and in print, given that it’s very timely too. Being tuned in to what’s going on in the world will not only earn us some great press coverage, but gives us the opportunity to boost our brand’s CSR too.

National Storytelling Week

 

This is just one of the ways we tell stories for PR purposes in an abundance of different tactics that we’ve mastered to raise the profile of our clients, and promote their products and services to the world in a genuine and effective way. Public Relations is a complex business, but a very important one too.

It’s not easy, but that’s where we come in…

Are you looking to boost your brand’s presence, online and offline, or are needing some PR and Marketing assistance?

Please feel free to get in touch with our friendly team by clicking here. We could be the source of your business’ potential to fly high.

THE PR PUSH FOR BIG BEN TO BONG IN BREXIT..?

The PR campaign that aimed to get Big Ben to chime at the point of the UK’s departure from the EU has failed to reach the required funding to go ahead.

The StandUp4Brexit group conceded that they aren’t able to raise the required £500k to hear the bell chime in the change, saying that the £272,000 already raised will instead go to veterans’ charity Help for Heroes.

Although the StandUp4Brexit team ran a good PR and social media campaign, securing 14,280 donations from 56 countries in under a fortnight, they did not manage to get the ambitious project over the line.  They did however create a debate that trended widely across national and international media through on-line, broadcast and traditional media outlets.

Although Big Ben has chimed at significant occasions in the nation’s history, including the end of wars, New Year’s Eve, royal weddings and funerals – Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice told the BBC’s Today programme that he felt “bureaucrats in the Houses of Parliament” had blocked the idea.

In an attempt to reconcile the leave and remain public, Downing St has sought to distance itself from the Big Ben chime campaign, instead focusing on plans to mark Brexit Day with a less ambitious PR campaign – preferring a simple illumination of the whole Elizabeth Tower.

PR Campaign Evaluation

If evaluating the success of Standup4Brexit’s campaign, on one level it has clearly failed in achieving its principal aim of securing the funds needed to fulfil their aims.  However, as often with PR, it has undoubtedly succeeded in getting its messages, story and position to a wide audience.  It’s created engagement and debate while also successfully linking to its core messages around sovereignty, self-determination and ‘Britishness’.

The campaign has also pressured the government into marking the occasion with its own illuminations.  There is even rumour that a recording of Big Ben’s chimes will be played through a loudspeaker at an event in Parliament Square.  They even managed to get “provisional authorisation” from the Office of the London Mayor – a staunch Remainer.

So perhaps the Standup4Brexit campaign was not a total failure after all, but let’s hope the next concerted PR campaign is focussed on healing the Brexit rift.  If used correctly, PR is uniquely placed in its ability to bring people together – then the nation will certainly have something to celebrate.

Contact the team if you’re looking to crowdfund for a campaign or if looking to raise your profile amongst influential audiences and stakeholders.

MORE PR ‘SOURCERERS’ JOIN THE TEAM

We’re excited to announce that four new PR ‘Sourcerers’ have joined the team to meet client demand and to grow the business through a new specialist Rural Division.

The new appointments include Janet Hare who joins as client director, Gill Broad who joins to head up the company’s new Rural Division, Sarah Larkin who joins as an account manager and Jessica Pardoe who also joins the team to meet the growing demand from clients for social media management and digital PR campaigns.

Janet is an experienced PR professional having previously held senior media positions with BT, The National Lottery and The Millennium Dome.  Janet joins the agency and takes responsibility for client management, managing the growing team and overseeing the successful delivery of client campaigns.

Gill Broad has been appointed to head up Source PR’s newly created Rural Division.  The division has been specifically created to provide strategic communications, PR and marketing advice to rural and agricultural businesses or those seeking to engage with the sector.  Gill joins from Fisher German and prior to that worked as a senior reporter for NWM Media.

Sarah Larkin joins the team to manage the company’s consumer team.  Sarah has extensive experience having previously worked as marketing manager and Kings School Chester and with Marks & Spencer Money where she managed a range of financial services products.  Sarah also founded So Baby, a range of organic baby food that was sold in Waitrose, Tesco and Ocado.

Growing Team

The team has also been bolstered by the arrival of Jessica Pardoe who joins as a PR & Digital Media Executive.  Jess joins from Techmark and will now support the Source PR teams with digital PR, content marketing and social media management.

Louis Hill, Managing Director of Source PR, says: “These are exciting times for Source PR as we grow the team with some senior appointments and launch a new division specifically targeting those operating or looking to influence the rural sector.  We are well positioned for continued growth and to support our client’s ambitions.”

Source PR, located near Chester, is one of the region’s leading PR, marketing and digital agencies.  The company operates across the property, manufacturing and professional services sectors with clients including; Meadow Foods, Miller Homes and British Pipeline Agency.

If you’ve got a positive can do attitude and are looking for a career in PR or social media, contact us today.

PR TOP TIPS TO IMPLEMENT IN 2020

Public Relations (or PR) is said to be the second oldest profession, first implemented to spread the word about the quality and benefits of the world’s oldest profession.

The reality is that Public Relations has been around forever as people, companies or organisations look to raise their profile or the benefits of the good and services they offer.

The industry continues to evolve to reflect the changing media landscape and the ways in which audiences gather their information or are influenced by the world around them.

Despite these significant changes, much of the core principals remain the same.  We would suggest that companies large or small take stock and when looking ahead for 2020 ensure they consider the following five core pillars of success.

The five simple top tips:
  • Know your business, product or service – what are the key features or benefits and why is it different or better than others. This will help you to be clear on your proposition and what exactly you want to say.
  • Know your customers – who are you looking to influence and what are their behaviours? Your customers may be varied but map out who they are and what they do – if necessary, make plans specific to each audience.
  • Find a creative angle – Don’t be ego centric but think why is this relevant to my audiences and why is it of interest to them.
  • Share your news – if you don’t share your news then it’s unlikely that someone will do it for you. Make sure your your content is right for the platform and if targeting journalists make sure it’s relevant to them and their audiences
  • Don’t get stuck in a rut – PR and digital communications is changing rapidly and so are audience behaviours. If something does not work, try something new and different.

If you’re unsure of the best way forward, speak to an agency that is able to give you straight forward, honest advice.  We have PR, social media and digital clients across the North West, Wales and UK and our Chester PR, marketing and digital teams are available to support your business needs.

Finally, one last tip would be to be proactive.  2020 is a new year and therefore a new opportunity to make the right plans that will help take you and your business forward.

 

DIGITAL AGENCY – HOW THE TIMES ARE A CHANGIN’

When working in a digital agency in Chester and providing B2B PR or consumer PR clients with support and advice, it’s so important to keep up to date with the ever-changing world of new technologies, insights and applications.

Understanding and using new technologies helps keep you at the forefront of providing valuable advice and delivering current campaigns for clients that really work for businesses and customers alike.

If you stand still too long or stop to give yourself a pat on the back, there is a real chance that you’ll get left behind.  It’s fast moving, challenging but when compared to the old days of pure PR – very rewarding.

For years there was always the question of ‘how do you put a value on PR?’  Historically it was a measurement of column inches or messages density, but now there are so many additional factors that should be considered whether it’s directly reaching thousands of customers with engaging messages through social media or producing content that improves a client’s reputation or thought leadership position. Each post or article can be measured in terms of who read it and what action they took as a result.

Digital

With the growth in digital the whole world is more transparent.  The engagement on each post can be measured, the actual number of people who read an online article can be seen and the customer journey for each purchase can be viewed as cookies follow customers through their entire purchasing process.

This is great.  It helps justify marketing budgets and provides a real opportunity to show a return on an investment.  Most important of all is that it makes you realise that you are actually making a difference, that the work you’re creating is driving sales and that the campaigns work.  The times are changing and look set to continue to evolve which has to be great news for clients and digital PR agencies alike – as long as you can keep up.

PR VERSUS POVERTY PORN

There’s growing criticism of ‘poverty porn’ and in particular how charities are using crude and clichéd PR campaigns to attract donations.  Although criticism of anyone looking to make a positive difference is largely unfair, there is a case for charitable organisations to look at how they wish to portray themselves and their causes.

This is illustrated in criticism of Red Nose Day and Stacy Dooley’s work in Africa by David Lammy MP. Although a little harsh, particularly when he’s been called out for not doing enough himself to support communities in Africa, it does open the debate on how charities need to move on from relying of pushing people into ‘guilt transactions’ as they sit down on a Saturday evening to watch Red Nose Day’s entertainment or other similar programmes.

Effective PR

As with most effective PR, if your campaign can take the audience with you on the journey you secure greater and more long term buy-in.  People believe in, follow and talk about the change they feel needs to be made rather than just reaching for their spare change.  Not dissimilar to the old adage that if you give a man a fish you will feed him for a day, but that if you teach him to fish you will feed him for life.

Digital communications are also playing an increasingly important role.  Just look at the success of campaigns like the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ or Movember which dominated social media for months.  This illustrates what can be achieved by engaging with the audience and taking them with you.

The charity sector is one of the most competitive with each organisation looking to secure their share of money for their worthwhile causes.  Put simply, there are more than 180,000 charities in England and Wales and those that don’t run a planned PR programme will struggle to raise awareness and subsequent funds.

As we’ve seen by recent low budget PR and digital campaigns, deep pockets aren’t essential, but charities do need to play to their strengths and engage with their audiences.  In doing so they can achieve some great successes without having to reply on promoting poverty porn.

My Time At The Source – What To Expect From Your Work Experience

During my first year of sixth form, it was expected that as a student you would find a week of work experience during the summer term. Initially, I was terrified at the mere thought of spending an entire week in such an alien environment, with complete strangers. Being a typical teenage boy, I had no idea what I wanted to do, let alone where or with whom.

After much thought, I came to the conclusion that to compliment my A-levels: English Language, Fine Art and History, I may want to consider a career in PR or marketing. Not to mention my natural fascination with social media – being a millennial and all.

So I began scouring the internet for an agency near to home that had an interesting mix of local and national clients, and came upon Source PR. The sleek and contemporary aesthetic of their website piqued my interest, and from looking at their clients, I was very impressed. I contacted Source and felt welcomed by their enthusiastic response for work experience.

On arrival, I was made to feel right at home, with everyone at Source being extremely friendly. More importantly, I was made to feel useful, and quickly set about different tasks that were carefully explained to me by the team. One fear I had about work experience was that I would spend my hours making cups of tea or watching someone else do their job. It was a relief that my time at The Source was as engaging and exciting as it was.

I juggled: blogs, media releases, and social media. All tasks were equally valuable, and from going into the week with little to no idea of the inner workings of a PR company, I have ended the week with a new understanding of just how important PR is. Everything today is about reputation and I now know how dependent companies are on PR to help shape their image. Working here I have developed my critical thinking as every tweet or blog is written with perception in mind. How will the client, their customers, and even potential customers perceive the discourse? What effect will this perception have on the company? This idea extends to even the most minute and seemingly insignificant forms of text. Each client has their own tone and representation that they seek to create.

Over the week, I got used to the office environment and felt like a member of the team. Source employees happily answered any questions I had. I would encourage anyone partaking in work experience to be outgoing and to ask lots of questions, as it will make your week much more valuable. Speaking as someone who usually keeps his questions to himself, it is well worth trying to pipe up every now and again… even if it is just from 9-5 each day.  I best thing was that I was even made comfortable putting forward some of my own ideas and opinions – most notably when suggesting campaign ideas or proofreading texts.

The level of feedback I had during my week was exceptional. I was well commended for anything that I did right and constructively steered in the right direction for everything that I perhaps didn’t do as well in. I gladly have taken any feedback into account and encourage anyone to do the same as it will help to further your skills and knowledge – no one expects you to be perfect!

Overall, I had a great time working at Source. Each day was made fresh and interesting and the relaxing environment of the office made me interested in a potential career in PR in the future. “PR not ER” was bounced around a few times and honestly, I think it perfectly captures what my time was like at Source. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and am thankful to Louis and the team for granting me the opportunity.

P.S I’d like to expend a special ‘thank you’ to Evie who was fantastic and really helped me during the week.

 

Alex is a 6th form student at West Kirby Grammar School

‘The Source’ of 2017’s Success

The Christmas and New Year break was over before we knew it, and now 2018 is in full swing. To beat the ‘January Blues’, here at The Source we’re keeping positive by reminiscing about the finest moments of last year. 2017 was filled with incredible cultural moments, from that ‘oops’ moment at the Oscars (how will we ever forget the Moonlight and La La Land mix up?!) to the recent royal engagement, but away from all the crazy going-ons of the outside world, nestled in the quaint village of Tattenhall, we had quite the year ourselves. From team expansions, to new clients, awards and of course, a rebrand! In case you missed any of our highlights from the past year, we thought we’d share them with you here.

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