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?

How We’ve Fallen Out Of Love With Love Island’s Marketing

Much has been made of this year’s Love Island. Since around springtime this year, long-time fans called out their desperation for the seventh season. With this being the first summer series since 2019, combined with a slightly delayed release this year, the anticipation for Love Island could not have been more fervent. Let’s be honest – we were all looking forward to hearing “can I pull you for a chat?”, a heated row or two around the fire pit, and curveball bombshells that come in with the express purpose of tearing apart a new and delicately-formed kinship. After the last eighteen months we’ve had, we craved the escapism of Majorca, a place the majority of us couldn’t make our way to for obvious reasons.

 

Yet despite the anticipation, this year’s offering seemed to fizzle out almost immediately after its inception. Islanders simply weren’t gelling with one another, playing it safe, or exhaustively professing their love for one type of girl: ‘blonde.’ After an underwhelming finale, in which Liam and Millie were the winners, various claims swarmed the internet that the show had “lost its magic.” Those of us who watched in the early days might be surprised that such a behemoth of television has hit a seven-year itch, but it was perhaps inevitable… Cult shows like Big Brother no longer hold the public’s attention like they did back in the early 2000s.

 

Under the influence

 

Unlike Big Brother, which simply became part of Britain’s cultural furniture and therefore was seen as less and less controversial (so, arguably, less compulsive viewing), part of Love Island’s decreasing appeal is the way in which every aspect of the show has become hyper-marketed. From the contestants themselves, to the products they use – everything seems tailored to have the viewer putting something in their online shopping basket by the end of each episode.

 

That’s not to say brands are unwise to work with Love Island contestants, and influencers in general. Quite the opposite: it’s literally a million-dollar idea. Why not work with ‘normal’ people who have recently had internet fame imposed upon them to promote your product or service? We’re well-versed with helping businesses work with influencers, and the results are almost always fruitful.

 

Too much of a good thing

 

The problem is that it is such a good idea that everyone wants a slice of the pie. We’ve now ended up in a situation where the over-saturation of the Instagram-influencer-slash-fast-fashion-brand-ambassador is having viewers tuning out, turning off and unfollowing. This year’s show saw a dramatic drop in viewers, with Love Island’s initial 6 million viewership per episode having halved by the final weeks – a far cry from its peak in usual seasons, which was around 7 million viewers per episode. Likewise, the largest Instagram followings amassed this year were by Liberty Poole and Millie Court, both at 1.1 million. But these pale into comparison when it comes to Molly Mae Hague, who left 2019’s show with a huge 2.5m followers (however, do remember that she was an influencer and YouTuber prior to appearing on it). Lucinda Strafford, who arrived mid-season, was so transparently in the villa for a fashion brand deal according to Twitter users that a flurry of memes followed her exit from the show.

 

 

Lucinda has since snapped up a deal with sister brand I Saw It First after being voted off the show.

 

Keeping it real

 

People like authenticity. Typically, the influencers that do the best on the outside world are the ones who do the least brand promotion. Some speculate that part of Molly Mae’s success, for example, is that she doesn’t go down the route of peddling any old product the way that other influencers have been known to such as diet pills and CBD gummies, the scientific effects of which tend to be dubious. TikTokker Manrika Khaira, who appeared on Channel 4’s The Circle earlier this year and who has over 400,000 followers on the platform, works only occasionally with brands, and stresses to her followers that nothing she promotes is something she wouldn’t use herself.

 

On the flip side of the coin, last year, YouTuber Jack Dean paid former Islanders to promote his fake moisturiser brand, which they needed little encouragement to do, claiming that they’d been using the moisturiser for a long time and explaining all of the supposed benefits. The video has since hit over a million views. Exposés like these that reveal the cracks in the veneer of influencer-dom. Since the inception of Love Island, the British public has been sold a lifestyle of free products, brand partnerships and gifted getaways – it makes complete sense that, seven years down the line, the desire to find love has been eclipsed by the desire for fame and money.

 

In your face

 

So how has this affected the public’s perception of the show, other than the decrease in viewership?

 

My lovely colleague at Source, Jess, put out a poll on Twitter to her 3,000+ followers to ask them how they felt effectively marketed to by Love Island. Their responses were very clearly in favour of the more subtle marketing of the previous years’ series, as opposed to the much more obvious zoom-ins, strategic placements and sponsorships of the current year.

 

 

The fatigue with Love Island, and influencers in general, was always going to happen sooner or later. But brands should think carefully as to whether or not the idea of working with fresh-face influencers has lost its novelty or not – and whether or not viewers find the persistency of their presence in the show annoying enough to avoid their products altogether. At the end of the day, viewers and social media users are far more likely to buy a product when it has come from a reputable source: not simply because someone they saw on television for a few weeks tells them to in a sponsored post. This brings to mind the astonishing statistic that as many as 92% of us buy from brands based on the (honest) opinions of friends of family. As ever, authenticity is key!

 

At Source, we know a thing or two about working with influencers, bloggers and more, and how it can work best for you and your businesses. Give us a call today on 01829 720789 to talk to one of our experienced team members.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

#PrideMonth – Where Does ‘Rainbow Washing’ Begin & CSR End?

June is Pride Month, the famous rainbow flag designed by gay rights activist Gilbert Baker in 1978 (and its updated variations) is flying high at the moment. From football clubs to entertainment channels, car companies and news outlets – where not so long ago the very idea of a corporation supporting LGBTQ+ rights would have been unheard of, let alone expected – displaying the flag in solidarity for Pride Month now seems to be the norm for businesses.

 

And we think that’s great!

 

Spreading the message of support and inclusion, not only for LGBTQ+ employees but also for those falling under the umbrella everywhere, is a simple but progressive gesture that helps those individuals feel assured, included and seen. At the very least, it’s a symbol of solidarity: and after decades of discrimination and ignorance, it’s an incredible U-turn.

 

Right?

 

‘Politics’ or human rights?

 

Pride Month is a little like the BLM movement (which we wrote about in a previous blog) in the sense that any corporation, company and person, by pledging their support of it, is, technically, making a “political statement.” That doesn’t mean it’s inadvisable, but it is fairly new territory. In a now-bygone era, political statements were avoided by most companies as so to not discourage anyone from purchasing their product or service. There are exceptions: companies like Ben & Jerry’s have always interwoven politics thanks to the strong views of its founders.

 

But is providing overt support to LGBTQ+ once a year designed to truly make employees feel supported, or is it simply something others have coined ‘rainbow-washing’? I.e., appealing to a particular demographic, while doing nothing of substance that might tangibly improve their experience in the workplace. There’s also the question of exactly which movements, charities or awareness days accompany should actually support: and, in the case of clapping for the NHS, or taking the knee at football games, who dictates when the gesture should begin and end?

 

A meme relating to ‘corporate pride’

A new attitude?

 

In my view, there’s no right answer to this. The right to visibility, without fear of discrimination, has been fought by LGBTQ+ activists for decades, so surely a swathe of rainbow flags and pledges to ‘equality’ from corporations is just another sign of the times? Surely well-meaning (if empty) gestures are better than the previous alternative. There’s also the obvious issue of homophobia, which has by no means been eradicated from society, despite the legislation that means workplaces are not allowed to discriminate based on sexual orientation. A prejudiced person might feel put off by the overt display of solidarity towards LGBTQ+ people a company displays, thus ensuring the message has got through.

 

 

But how much a company actually does for LGBTQ+ people is another matter entirely. It’s all well and good to change your logo and release new products with the Pride theme, but do your employees actually feel safe from discrimination? Are you inclusive of LGBTQ+ people all year round, or just in June? And is your brand only marketing pride within territories in which it’s a much less controversial move to do so?

 

Brewing up a storm

 

Another key question to ask is, does a culture of fear and silence exist behind the veneer of a progressive, inclusive branding? Companies such as Brewdog have been tarnished with allegations from a group of former employees, Punks With Purpose, of having a “rotten culture,” giving weight to “sexist and misogynistic brewers”, and were alleged as “becoming a lightning rod for some of the worst attitudes present on both the internet, and in real life.” Whether or not these accusations can be taken at face value (though the letter was signed by more than 60 employees), it’s certainly not the look Brewdog have hoped to project. The IPA company has released both Pride and Pink IPAs in the past, aimed at those celebrating LGBTQ+ rights and the movement of feminism. Yet, according to these allegations, their own employees have suffered discrimination, ‘genuine safety concerns’, not to mention ‘assault’ and ‘gaslighting.’ Brewdog are, in a way, an easy target thanks to their prominent online presence. It’s likely that dozens of similar companies exist this way, whose employees have not, or cannot, voice their concerns to the media.

 

Leeds Pride, 2016

 

In conclusion

 

So, what’s the takeaway from all this? Well, ‘good PR’ (which we are experts in!) is best generated when there is a coherent and clear message from your business. And from making tangible differences as opposed to being all talk. If employees and higher-ups are on completely different pages, that’s going to bode badly for your reputation, no matter how much CSR you output. Just look at the Brewdog situation. You might get a headline from a product marketed towards a marginalised group, but if your business is beleaguered with negative reviews expressing how awful and toxic the environment is to work in, that’s not exactly going to work in your favour.

 

As we know, how your employees feel about your business will do wonders for your reputation: and is a sure-fire way of having job applicants knocking down your door!

 

As ever, clarity, simplicity and honesty are your best bet. There’s no better way of doing that than, quite simply, practicing what you preach – if you decide to preach at all.

 

At Source, we’re experts in all things marketing, PR, and communications. If you’re in need of some advice, why not give us a call on 01829 72078, or get in touch with us via our TwitterFacebookInstagram or LinkedIn.

WHAT WE’VE LEARNED ABOUT PR FOR HISTORIC HOUSES

Having a rural PR division, we have represented various countryside historic houses over the years, with one of the best examples of our work coming from current client Combermere Abbey, which is a 12th-century abbey based on the Cheshire/Shropshire border. Other examples of venues that we’ve worked with include the Cholmondeley Estate, Adlington Hall and the Wiston Estate in Sussex. Handling PR for historic houses is a tricky aspect of marketing to navigate, as there are often a lot of moving parts as well as many things to learn; but with such a wealth of experience in this field, we’ve learned a thing or two that we’re going to share with you today.

PR For Historic Houses: Our Lessons Learned

There are so many things we’ve learned over the years at The Source from the various clients we’ve worked with, we cover both B2B and B2C industries – as well as having specialities in rural PR and marketing; this means that the team have adept knowledge of the multiple sectors in which we’ve worked. Historic houses PR is one good example, we’ve worked with multiple venues and though each is different, there are universal lessons to be learned from all.

  1. You have to become a total expert

When you work with a historic house, you have to be prepared to learn a LOT. They are called historic houses for a reason – because they have a wealth of history. We put our all into learning everything there is to know about our clients and their backgrounds – no matter how many centuries that may span over. We’d definitely recommend spending time with your client, in person if you can, learning all there is to know. One of the first things you should be doing is taking a guided tour of the venue if that’s an option for you.

  1. Be prepared for unforeseen circumstances

You should have contingency plans in place for all clients, but for historic houses in particular. The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted so many businesses and has not spared the tourism industry. If you’re handling PR for historic houses, there’s a good chance you’ll be promoting tours, open days, overnight stays, perhaps even weddings. All of these had to cease at one point over the last year due to Coronavirus. We’d recommend being well prepared for any eventuality like this and keep an eye on what support there is too. Luckily in 2021, we have had clients who were the recipient of the Culture Recovery Fund, outlined by the Government DCMS and was supported by The National Lottery.

  1. You’ll manage mini sectors all within one business

Most historic houses, especially those that are privately owned, will have multiple strands of their business to generate revenue. For example, open days, tours and overnight stays are commonplace amongst the clients that we have represented. Sometimes even weddings. This means that you’ll be promoting multiple different offerings under one entity, you’ll need to practice specific PR skills, such as travel, local, wedding and more, all of which do differ. The more you’ll work on the accounts, the more you’ll learn and that’s what makes this kind of PR so rewarding.

  1. Get ready to engage with multiple organisations

One of the best things about managing communications for historic houses is that you’ll find there’s a lot of localised support. We work closely with local organisations such as Historic Houses, Marketing Cheshire, VistEngland and Visit Shropshire to further promote our clients to lovers of local attractions and heritage. These groups can be instrumental in your strategy, as you know their audiences are going to be interested in the venues you’re marketing.

  1. You’ll think you know everything… But you never fully will

In our first point, we said that you need to be prepared to become a total expert around the historic houses that you work with, and that’s true, but also expect to never stop learning. When your client has centuries of history, there are always more stones to be overturned, and that’s why we love working with venues like this so much. In PR, they say you never stop learning, and it’s safe to say that we can certainly relate.

  1. There’s so much to love

At Source PR, we become an extension of your team, whether that’s working with marketing, sales or even business owners. We become so passionate about the businesses we work for, and we’ve found that to be our experience when working with historic houses in particular. When you manage PR for historic houses, you learn so much about them, and you play an important part in bringing the magic of them alive for many people. We live and breathe our clients, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Support With PR For Historic Houses

If you’re a historic house owner or manager in the UK in need of PR, social media, digital or marketing support, then please do get in touch. We’d love to show you what we can do. You can speak to our team via the contact form on our website, or by calling 01829 720 789. Or you can find out more about our most recent PR work for historic houses by reading the case studies on our site.

PR & MARKETING STRATEGY – IS YOUR BUSINESS READY FOR LIFE AFTER LOCKDOWN?

As we approach the end of Lockdown Mark III, the government believes that the UK economy will bounce back like a ‘coiled spring’. The question is, are you ready for a return to normality, what are you doing to prepare yourselves and have you got their marketing strategy in place to maximise opportunities? If not, now is the time to take action before it’s too late.

The Bank of England suggests that consumer spending is set to surge with that the British public having saved as much as £250 billion while being locked up. Restaurants, pubs and bars are the likely immediate benefactors as well as UK holiday providers, but all these industries have suppliers and employ people who, who when earning again, will look to treat themselves after months of curtailment.

We have talked earlier about the importance of maintaining a marketing presence during lockdown and have an excellent case study of Combermere Abbey, one of the region’s leading wedding venues and accommodation providers, on how they managed it so well. The case study shows how the business was forced to close due to the Covid restrictions but rather than twiddle thumbs, took proactive measures so they were well placed to take advantage when the lockdown was lifted.

Businesses preparing for the lifting of what is believed to be the ‘last lockdown’ should also consider how the economy has been permanently altered since March 2020. Consumer spending habits, lifestyles and trends have been shifted online, people have adopted new hobbies and outlooks, and it is hard to see how the high street can bounce back without innovation or embracing more digital opportunities.

It is not just the hospitality and retail industries that is expected to bounce back, but house builders and construction industries are also likely to benefit as people look to either move home or make renovations following months of being in lockdown. A report from our client Miller Homes suggests that lifestyles have been changed by the pandemic with more home working or a demand for more outdoor space. These new ways of living and working present clear marketing opportunities.

The use of social media has also grown significantly as users feel that they have a safe space to interact, be entertained, distract themselves, and find inspiration without any risk of contagion. July 2020 saw a rise of 10.5% in social media usage, compared with July 2019, according to a GlobalWebIndex survey. Some 46% of women and 41% of men said they’ve spent more time on social media during the pandemic, making it the second-most popular digital activity.

Businesses should alter their marketing approach to reflect this and have a marketing and social media strategy in place that maximises the opportunities presented. It’s likely that the space will remain competitive and it will be the brands that have relationships with their customers and who are able to excite, entice and engage that will come out strongest.

If you’re looking for a PR or marketing strategy, the team would be delighted to have a chat to understand where you are, what the vision is and to help pull plans together so you can get there. The end of the ‘last lockdown’ is fast approaching, make sure you are ready like a ‘coiled spring’ to take your opportunities.

SOCIAL MEDIA ADVICE FOR B2B COMPANIES

Social media marketing is pretty vital to every company, but it’s easier for some than it is others. Marketing plans can be particularly tricky to navigate at the best of times, so we’re here with some social media advice for B2B companies from The Source team. We have a wealth of experience in B2B PR support, which includes content marketing, social media and media relations and from that experience, here’s what we recommend.

Top Social Media Advice For B2B Companies

Click on the links below to jump to specific social media advice for B2B companies…

  1. Find the right social media platforms
  2. Utilise industry news
  3. Remember that people like people
  4. Keep things interesting
  5. Leverage appropriate hashtags
  6. Don’t underestimate Facebook groups

Find The Right Social Media Platforms

Not every platform will work for every company, that goes for B2C industries as well as B2B. For example, TikTok marketing is a great opportunity for brands with a visual appeal, such as tourism providers, wedding dress manufacturers and cosmetic companies. Other platforms, such as LinkedIn, work much better for B2B marketing, especially for service products such as CRM software, for example. There’s no one way to decide which social media platform will work best for your B2B company, so the best way to approach is through trial and error. See which types of content get the most engagement, and where. Traditionally, though, we’d match the following top platforms to the following sectors..

  • Instagram – mainly B2C, with opportunities for B2B
  • Twitter – mainly B2B, with opportunities for B2C
  • Facebook – both B2C and B2B
  • TikTok – mainly B2C, with opportunities for B2B
  • LinkedIn – mainly B2B
  • Pinterest – mainly B2C

So, if you’re heading a B2B company and want to give social a go, it’s worth dipping your toe in the water with LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and potentially Instagram and TikTok also. We have some more social media advice on what kind of content to focus on below.

Utilise Industry News

You shouldn’t be content curating all of your posts, as most of your audience will be following your accounts because they want to hear from you, however, utilising relevant industry news in posts is a good way of keeping your audience informed of relevant and interesting developments. It keeps you abreast with your sector and positions you as an expert in that field, furthermore, it creates a good mix of content to keep your strategy fresh and current. We’d recommend around an 80:20 ratio of curated to original content, but don’t be afraid to mix this up week on week.

People Like People

As we mentioned above, people like people. Though you’re selling ‘business to business’, there’s still a person behind that brand at either end. A study by Princeton University proposed the stereotype model, which boils down to the fact that people judge others on their warmth and competence. The more ‘friendly’ you appear, the more likely people are to trust you – this applies to your social media followers too. Though it’s important to draw a line and remain professional, it’s also a good idea to be conversational in your content and help build trust in your brand. Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy says it’s important to demonstrate warmth first and then competence, especially in business settings. A lot of effective social media marketing begins with an understanding of human psychology.

Keep Things Interesting

It’s a common misconception that B2B communications have to be stiff and corporate, try injecting a light tone of voice into your content or experimenting with light-hearted competitions for engagement. With one of our B2B clients Altecnic, they ran a 12 days of Christmas giveaway which included a daily video of their Technical Manager dressed as Santa. You need to remember that your audience is human and keeping things engaging is a sure way of retaining engagement and growing following. If there’s a certain lull, never underestimate the power of a social media giveaway either, no matter your industry.

Social media advice for B2B companies: competitions

Leverage The Right Hashtags

Researching into hashtags is never time wasted. You can now use hashtags in your posts across LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and more recently, Facebook. One of our B2B clients frequents the ‘#PlumbersHour’ hashtag because this is where their core audience is. Hashtags are often followed by those interested in that kind of content, so if you have a specific audience of your B2B brand, then find out what the kind of conversations that they’re already in, and join in. You can discover hashtags through researching related terms on Instagram and Twitter, and also by looking at what other influential accounts are tapping in to.

Don’t Underestimate Facebook Groups

Finally, our last piece of social media advice for B2B companies is not to underestimate the power of a Facebook group. Similarly, to leveraging hashtags, Facebook groups can be a great way to find your audiences. In 2019, Facebook announced that Facebook says there “are more than 400 million people in groups that they find meaningful”, meaning there’s a huge potential audience if you know where to look. Start by searching keywords on Facebook that are relevant to your brand for example “food manufacturing”, “plumbing” or “health and safety”.

 

For more advice and support for B2B PR, social media, content marketing and more, please get in touch with our friendly and experienced team through our website. Or, you can keep up to date with what The Source is up to on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

A GUIDE TO COMMUNICATING THROUGH THE THIRD LOCKDOWN

For the third time in our lives, and thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, England has been plunged into a third nationwide lockdown. Clear instructions were given by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday that we must “stay home, protect the NHS, save lives”. This means that non-essential retailers are to close, with most hospitality outlets such as pubs, restaurants and hotels being closed already due to pre-existing tier restrictions. Navigating the next few months is without a doubt going to be tricky, but we at The Source are on hand to support you with any questions around communications you might have.

Should You Be Continuing With PR & Social Media Through Lockdown?

We might be biased, but we believe it is crucial to continue communicating with your customers, even during periods of total closure. There are many reasons for doing so, which we will explain further below. But first, we’d direct you to our PR case study for Combermere Abbey, a luxury wedding venue and holiday accommodation. Throughout the first and second lockdown, this client retained their PR and social media activity, understanding the importance of consistent communications. As a result, following the lifting of restrictions last summer, the abbey was inundated with bookings, and enjoyed a busy year, all things considered.

A social media campaign we ran for our client Combermere Abbey got great engagement during lockdown, read our case study to find out more…

The financial implications of a third lockdown mean you might be wondering whether a PR and social media strategy is worth the budget, we believe it is because…

  • Your competitors may still be communicating, and you don’t want to lose customers to them if you go quiet.
  • People will want things to look forward to, you can get them excited about the future and ensure that when restrictions are lifted, they’ll come to you.
  • You might be able to pivot your business and still make revenue during lockdown, for example by offering gift vouchers or a takeaway service.
  • With people being at home a lot more, it’s likely social media usage will rise once more, now is a great time to work on building your following and introducing your brand to a wealth of new people.
  • Now is a great time to gauge interest for later on this year, you can subtly generate interest and then introduce a hard-hitting marketing strategy when restrictions are hopefully lifted in the spring.

The Lion at Malpas voucher

What To Say When There’s Nothing To Say

An issue, of course, of communicating through lockdown is that you might feel as though you have nothing to say. It could be the case that your business is fully closed for the next few months, and up until now your social media has been focused around sales. However, just because you can’t sell to customers, doesn’t mean you should stop talking to them. It can be hard to find the inspiration of what to post for sure, so here’s 5 of our top tips…

  1. Switch up your call to actions, instead of directing people to purchase, suggest they visit your website to read a blog, or follow your social media pages for more updates instead.
  2. Get people excited about the future, by showing them what’s on offer for when restrictions are lifted.
  3. Give your customers updates. If you’re a gym and you’re renovating a certain area, shout about this on your social media – people want something to look forward to.
  4. Introduce confidence offers for people to encourage revenue now, for example if you’re in the holiday business, are there deals and secure booking policies that you can introduce, for people who book now for stays later this year?
  5. Share happy memories from times gone by. If you’re a wedding venue, for example, why not encourage past brides and grooms to post pictures from their happy days. Positivity is what got brands through the last 2 lockdowns, and it’s what will get us through this one too.

It’s worth noting that you shouldn’t post for the sake of it, though, as this could end up doing more harm than good. However, if you can find a relevant message to your brand – then hold on to that.

Other Lockdown Communication Tips

There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for marketing, but there are some tips and tricks you can go by to ensure an efficient communications strategy throughout this third (and hopefully final) lockdown. If you’re now convinced that it’s important to stay in touch with your customers, both old and new, then here’s some of our advice for actioning that…

  • Use different means of communicating, as not every customer will use the same channels. You can typically reach an older demographic via informational newsletters and Facebook or try Instagram or TikTok to communicate to a younger audience.
  • Test what works well by trying different types of content on different platforms, then stick to what works once you’ve determined a winning formula.
  • This is a difficult time for us all but try to focus on the positives if you can. Share happy memories and get your customers looking forward to visiting you or buying from you when restrictions are lifted.
  • Use this time, if you can, do get involved with the local community and help out. Brewdog recently made headlines by offering their empty bars to the NHS to be used as vaccination facilities. Your acts don’t need to be extravagant as this, but it always helps to generate good PR if you can help out in any way you can. Why not raise money for a local charity in a lockdown fundraiser, or donate surplus stock to a foodbank?
  • Pivot your business and operate online if you can, this can be from offering a takeaway service through to creating e-vouchers. Continue to encourage people to support businesses and shop local.

If there is any more advice you’d like, or any questions for our team of experts, please don’t hesitate to tweet us, or send us a private message through our website. We look forward to hearing from you soon and until then, stay safe.