10 Things We Took Away From BrightonSEO As Traditional PRs

At Source PR, our bag is traditional PR and social media, but we also offer digital services too. With the incredible growth of this industry, it would be crazy not to! With this in mind, we packed our bags and headed south to BrightonSEO last week to meet up with, and learn from, some of the GREATEST minds in search and digital. There’s been a handful of blog posts since rounding up the whole event, and so instead we wanted to focus on today our top 10 actionable takeaways, and how we can apply those not only to digital, but the traditional PR space too.

Digital PR And Its Place In Traditional

But first, let’s quickly talk about digital PR and how it has its place within the more traditional sectors of the industry. Digital PR is prominently focused on building backlinks to a website for SEO purposes, and whilst this is an important exercise endorsed by the likes of Google-whizz John Mueller himself, we like to make our PR efforts work harder. So, whilst digital is one of our focuses, we find it works best when bedded in with a solid social media strategy and more traditional PR activity such as events, features, interviews, and CSR initiatives. That’s the future as we see it, and it’s an exciting place to be!

10 BrightonSEO Takeaways For The Traditional World

Below, you can find out what we learned at BrightonSEO and how we’ll apply it to our PR practices. Afterwards, if you’re wanting to learn even more, we’d recommend heading over to this great blog post by Gemma Flinders which includes a whopping 89 tips.

#1 – You Can (And Should) Optimise For Instagram

Social media is huge for us at Source, and should be part of any good PR strategy. But did you know that SEO and social media can go hand in hand? One of the first talks on Friday morning by the wonderful Freya Jones covered exactly this, and she revealed some actionable tips on how to improve the visibility of your client’s posts on the ‘discovery’ page of Instagram. These included utilising alt tags, being consistent with hashtags, making sure your content is ‘interactive’ and going ‘live’ where you can too.

#2 – Traditional PR Can Earn Links Too

The one downfall of the digital PR industry, and I’m sure many would agree, is the lack of relevancy in some campaigns. It’s often spoken out about on Twitter and was actually covered in depth by Beth Nunnington in Auditorium 2 at Brighton on Thursday. As traditional PR and digital PR become more and more aligned, gone are the days of campaigns that bear no resemblance to clients. We’ve always been focused on activity that is directly related to the businesses that we work with, and this is important as it works better for your SEO too. With this in mind, it also proves that traditional PR can earn links as well! Where we’re focusing on stories that are very relevant to our clients, industry research covered at the conference shows that journalists are more likely to add links to their piece, as it directly relates to what the story is about. Win win…

BrightonSEO traditional PR

Team Source touches down in Brighton 🌤

#3 – Your Content Might Be A Win For SEO Too

For years, there has been an ongoing thought that traditional PR and digital PR disciplines need to be kept separate, but why should they? Ultimately both efforts (should) work towards improving the performance of your client. Though our type of PR is focused more around establishing a proficient reputation for the businesses that we work with, there’s no reason why it can’t work to achieve links in the way that digital PR does either. In a fantastic talk by Liz Gration, the idea of ‘content that doesn’t need outreaching’ was put to us. Think statistics pages and thought leadership-led content on behalf of contents. The latter is something we do often here at Source PR, so the idea of posting particularly strong comments to static pages and letting them work their magic is very interesting for us.

#4 – Awareness Days Have Multiple Benefits

At the beginning of last year (wow, doesn’t that seem an age ago now?), we wrote about leveraging awareness days in both PR and social. In a talk by Jen Macdonald, the benefits were reinforced and then some. Interestingly, Jen covered B2B industries which are famously harder to market within but are actually one of our specialities here at Source. She spoke about how events such as #MensMentalHealthWeek can be linked to case studies in construction to win trade and national coverage, largely because these awareness days and weeks, especially the very popular ones, provide lots of article opportunities for journalists who want to link into anything topical. Time to whip out our ‘days of the year’ calendar and get planning!

#5 – Journalists Get A LOT Of Content, We Need To Make Our Stories Worthwhile

In a talk by Dan Snow and James Carson of History Hit, the very first one of the conference, James revealed that as a former journalist of the Telegraph, around 250 articles a day was the norm. In traditional PR, creating captivating stories is in our DNA, but we need to take this revelation into consideration when putting together our campaigns, asking ourselves whether our story is not only compelling enough to be covered, but also will it be looked at by readers? Where digital PRs might see links as the end goal, our purpose is to create content that will reach our audiences, and when our PR is competing with upwards of 250 other pieces, stories need to be ‘readable’ as well as ‘coverable’ by journalists’ standards.

#6 – We Could Ditch The Discovery Phase Of The Content Marketing Funnel?

Any marketeer will know the content funnel, which is (or is some variation of): Discovery ➡️ Awareness ➡️ Consideration ➡️ Conversion. In an insightful talk on content strategy by Lucy Dodds, she revealed that we ought to ditch the discovery phase and stop focusing on traffic for traffic’s sake. As PRs, awareness (and generating it) is our thing, but this point sparked an interesting thought process. Whilst we want plenty of people to hear about our clients, we also have a responsibility to ensure that the right people are hearing about them. If your target demographic is retirees for example, is there any point in writing content that will appeal only to teenagers? Absolutely not. Even if there’s low hanging fruit there in the form of website rankings, it’s simply not worth it, as these visitors are highly unlikely to be convertible. We’re glad these conversations are being had more and more often, as it means that our industry is working harder and smarter in its efforts.

#7 – Podcasts Are The Future!

At the beginning of the year, it was predicted that revenue from podcasts would grow by around 35%. This notion was confirmed by the one and only Azeem, who taught us about the exponential opportunities that audio has. As traditional PRs, we leverage multiple channels to build a great brand image, what’s interesting to us is that it seems that podcasting is here to stay. What’s really great is that podcasts don’t have to be about niche topics either, as Azeem explained those that cover a wider range of areas of interest to the audience often do better than those that are hyper-focused. You should always have at least 4 or 5 files in the bank and hundreds of ideas before launching a channel. Certainly food for thought! Watch this space?

#8 – Traditional PR = A Winner For SEO!

A theme we identified throughout multiple talks is that search volumes often have more impact than any number of backlinks to a website. The more your brand is known and searched-for, the more likely it is to rank on Google (and other search engines). This was highlighted in particular by Stephen Kenwright during his talk on getting search, social and PR efforts working together. This tells us that as PRs, our focus remains the same as always: to build an excellent brand for our clients. Though the digital world is fast-paced and we must keep up with it, good old fashion exposure still works perfectly in creating a reputable brand. This in turn has its own benefits online, proving that traditional PR is very much here to stay.

#9 – PPC Can Support Traditional PR Too

One of the reasons that some people think the traditional PR industry is dated (it isn’t, mostly!) is because of the stubbornness of some to stick to what they know. The truth is, we live in a world that is changing by the day and what might work today, mightn’t tomorrow. One thing that was covered by multiple speakers over in Brighton was the idea of using PPC to make your other campaigns work harder. Just produced a banging blog post that you think more people need to see? Put some Google spend behind it! Or if you’re working on bigger campaigns for your clients with an aim of attracting PR coverage, generating views via PPC isn’t a bad place to start first. Speaking more ‘digitally’ (though none of this is linear), this can also help your website’s SEO too.

#10 – We Need To Talk More About Burnout In The Industry

Finally, let’s end on a note that applies not only to PR, but the whole working world. Since the pandemic, reports of burnout have increased at an alarming rate. In a compelling talk by Sean Butcher, his actionable tips to help combat mental health issues in our day and age included organising your day, managing Zoom time and being realistic with your to-do lists. As we think this is incredibly important for everybody to hear, you can find the full presentation here. Later on the Friday, keynote speaker Stacey MacNaught revealed a stat which I think gave a lot of us that sinking feeling in our stomachs. 32.1% of people say they feel bad at their job every single day. Just take that in for a moment. That’s almost 1 in 3 of us. A further 39.6% said they feel this way at least once a week. No ifs, no buts, this is simply not okay. As an industry we have a responsibility to raise up our peers and our own employees, PR is a tough job but when we’re all happy within it, it’s amazing too.

BrightonSEO traditional PR

A note from me: though most of this blog is written on behalf of us all here at Source PR, I wanted to jump in at the end and say that enough is enough. I’m so fortunate to work in a place that values us and makes us feel rewarded all the time, but sadly this is not as common in our industry as it should be. I’ll forever campaign against this until we see a real change in the industry, and that’s also why I’ve just pitched for my first ever talk for an event proposed by Hannah Butcher. So, keep your fingers crossed for me! 🤞🏻

Featured image credit: BrightonSEO.

My Take On Kim K’s Met Gala PR Stunt

Written by our PR intern and university student Bridie Buckingham

The 2021 Met Gala was earlier this week, and it has taken the internet by storm. Like most, I know little about designer brands or high fashion looks, however, that doesn’t stop me from giving my two cents on the red-carpet lineup. Sharing opinions on the best dressed of the night is one of the highlights of the night, especially on social media.

The fashion is extravagant and bold but most importantly it gets people talking (peep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s ‘Tax the Rich’ dress). Visiting Twitter on the evening of the Met Gala is like walking into an explosion of colour, however, this time, it was the absence of colour that really caught my eye.

The theme of this year’s exhibition: In America: A Lexicon of Fashion served many homages to memorable icons, yet of the most surprising looks of the night was brought by none other than Kim Kardashian West.

Dressed in black from head to toe – complete with black face covering, Kim took to the carpet distinguishable only by her signature silhouette. The outfit, designed by Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia featured a T-shirt dress over a bodysuit, worn with a balaclava and matching gloves, which left nothing on show apart from Kim’s sleek long ponytail.

Being PRs, we know exactly what this was.

This publicity stunt (because yes, it was a publicity stunt) sparked a fountain of hilarious memes to commemorate the eye-catching look (you’ll find some of my favourites at the end of this blog), whilst others speculated the meaning behind her attire.

The stunt could have been to commemorate Kanye’s mother Donda, which is also the name of his recently released album in which Kim participated in the promotions. Kim took to Instagram to ask of her haters “What’s more American than a T-shirt head to toe?!”

This may seem a very flippant answer considering it took me several minutes to even spot the ‘t-shirt’ she was wearing. However, she may be actually very smart to not give the real meaning away, instead of letting people speculate and continue the conversation.

Initially, I couldn’t see past the death eater memes but once I did, I began to realise that this PR stunt was actually a pretty clever message. As I mentioned before, even though she was covered head to toe, her famous silhouette was undeniable. It’s a “fame flex” that bolsters just how strong her brand and influence are in the world. She can change or lose form almost entirely and you would still know it’s her. She steals the spotlight without even trying and in this instance, she doesn’t even need to show skin to get attention. She can wear anything and be recognized by the world.

After a carpet full of overdone outfits, her take was somewhat refreshing. No one has ever done this before, particularly because no one has her fame or the guts to do it. Who else could make this work? She is metaphorically screaming ‘only I can do this, and I own it.’

Love or hate Kim, you can’t deny she gets excellent media coverage!

And, as promised, some more of my favourite memes of the night:

 

Featured image credit: Twitter.

Our Tips On Securing Media Coverage

Having worked both as a journalist and a PR person for nearly a quarter of a century, I have had a few years of trying to figure out what works when it comes to securing coverage in the media.

My take on it is there are a lot of factors to getting your news written about. But it really isn’t a dark art.

Here are a few tips on what works.

Make it newsworthy

The number one priority when trying to get a journalist to cover your news, is that it has to have a strong news hook. It needs to pass the ‘so what?’ factor. Don’t go to them with a weak story.

What makes a good news story is a whole blog post in itself but there are some basics to consider.

Is it of interest to the readers of the media outlet and is it the sort of story it normally covers? Look at what information creates headlines and what the media has written about other companies.

Just a side note on this though. You can have the best story in the world, but if it’s trumped by a bigger event or your timing’s off then you can definitely still fail your goal. Make sure you’re aware of the bigger news agenda that’s going on or coming up so you don’t try and compete.

Also, make yourself familiar with the media’s deadline. If you want your story to appear in print, you need to know when each copy/issue goes to bed, for example. When is all the editorial signed off?

It needs to be personal

Whilst it’s not always true these days that ‘people buy from people’ due to the marvellous invention that is the internet, it is still true that the personal touch goes, a very, long way.

This is important when you send out an email to a journalist with news attached. Don’t leave the greeting a blanket one. Use the person’s name when addressing them, not just a ‘hello’ or no greeting at all. No one wants to feel like they’re getting an email that’s gone to everyone. Everyone likes to feel that something is tailored to them.

On top of that, what’s going to get you the best chance of coverage is building a relationship with a journalist. Years ago, relationship building was about lunches, drinks and coffee but now it’s more likely to be about email or social media rapport.

Plus, you need to earn trust, which can be achieved through always providing a strong news story (see above) that’s relevant to the journalist’s readers. If a journalist knows that you always provide a decent story, they’re more likely to open your email from the very many they receive each day! This is the first hurdle you need to get past.

Always do what you say you’re going to do

Talking of trust, obviously working in PR is not always about being proactive, sometimes it’s the reactive activity that can land you the best results. We see this often here at Source PR.

That’s why, if you get an enquiry from a journalist, it’s imperative that you get back to them within their deadline. Not only does this give you the best chance of getting your client included in a news story, but it also shows that you are a reliable PR who can provide relevant information for a story on time. This means the journalist is more likely to think of you next time they need something.

If the journalist is reaching out to you, rather than you chasing them, then you’re definitely winning ☺️

I Explored The Psychology Behind Fear Mongering In The Media

Written by our PR intern and university student Bridie Buckingham

I was wondering about what to write on the Source blog this week, until a spirited office conversation piqued my interest. Whilst discussing some current media trends the phrase fear-mongering cropped up several times and I began thinking, beyond the obvious, just what does fear-mongering (or indeed scaremongering) mean in the world of media, PR and communications?

Google defines fear-mongering as “a form of manipulation which causes fear by using exaggerated rumours of impending danger.” Fear-mongering can make people anxious about the wrong things and use an excessive number of resources to avoid rare and unlikely dangers, while more probable dangers are ignored. For example, some parents have kept their children at home to prevent abduction, whilst paying less attention to more common dangers such as lifestyle diseases or traffic accidents. In short, it can be dangerous. So why do we fall victim to this type of messaging so often?

Why Does It Work So Well?

According to evolutionary psychology, humans have a strong impulse to pay attention to danger due to the awareness of dangers being important for survival throughout our evolutionary history. This effect is then amplified by cultural evolution, as the media caters to our appetite for news about dangers – world floods, civil unrest and a Covid-19 third wave to name a few – and that’s just in the last week!

What Psychological Effects Can It Have?

Fear-mongering can have strong psychological effects, some intended and some not so intentional. One hypothesized effect is ‘mean world syndrome. This is where people perceive the world as more dangerous than it is inhibiting their daily life and optimism for the future. Perhaps the scariest impact that fear-mongering can have is the ‘rally around the flag’ effect, which is most commonly seen in increasing support for incumbent political leaders. To give you an example, official warnings about the risk of terrorist attacks led to increased support for Donald Trump which eventually led to his election in 2016.

How Often Is Fear-Mongering Used?

Fierce economic competition over the years has led to commercial mass media relying extensively on scary stories and bad news in a competition that has been characterised as an ‘emotional arms race’. Stories about crime, and especially violent crimes and crimes against children, figure prominently among newspaper headlines. These stories sell. Though not overseas, an analysis of US newspapers found that between 10 and 30% of headlines involve crime and fear, with a tendency to a shift of focus from isolated crime events to more thematic articles about fear. The story is not so different over here on home turf. In the UK, media outlets often use gory sex crimes as a parameter of competition. The continued focus on emotionally touching sex crimes has had a strong influence on politics and legislation today.

Where Does It Occur?

Aside from the aforementioned used in the media, advertisers have also entered the arena with the psychological discovery that ‘fear sells’. Ad campaigns based on fear, sometimes referred to as ‘shockvertising’, have become increasingly popular in recent years. Fear is a strong emotion, and it can be manipulated to persuade people into making emotional rather than reasoned choices. Think car commercials that imply that having fewer airbags will cause the audience’s family harm, and disinfectant commercials that show pathogenic bacteria lurking on every surface… Fear-based advertising works.

Recent Uses

Fear mongering has been rife in the news of recent for obvious reasons. And whilst it is important, we know the facts and are aware of the statistics, perspective is paramount but often discarded. My colleague recently reported that there are over 2000 covid patients being admitted into hospital every day and I was shocked. I thought “wow that’s a huge number, that has got to be near enough everyone admitted into hospital in a day” – how naïve of me. According to official statistics, there are approximately 50,000 people admitted into hospital every day. After that revelation, I was now seeing those initial figures in a new light. That is the power of perspective. The news delivers stats like this every day but consistently fails to put them into context. The huge number puts everyone on edge when there’s no need. I remember at one point, during the first lockdown, the coronavirus death rate was lower than the rate of people dying from the flu every year. I don’t think I have EVER been scared of dying from the flu, however, I was terrified of catching and dying from Covid-19 many times in the past 18 months.

Going Forward

These figures should not be disregarded, nor the lives that sadly contribute to these figures, but perhaps instead of the consistent fear-mongering delivered by the press, how about a little more perspective. I’m sure we’d all like to breathe a little sigh of relief after the last 18 months, however, this will never happen if scare tactics like those we see every day continue. As marketers and communicators, we have a responsibility to relay messages ethically and use honest and genuine tactics to sell our stories, as opposed to putting fear into people. This remains an ongoing problem, and one the communications and media industries ought to actively tackle.

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.

 

Top Tips For Smashing Your ‘Virtual’ PR Placements

Written by our PR intern and university student Bridie Buckingham

To say that Covid has impacted our lives in more ways than one would be an understatement. Just one of the (many) groups to be affected by ongoing restrictions is college and university students. Many will have been planning on embarking on placements this summer and last, but due to restrictions, many of these will have been cancelled or moved online. Below, with my experience, I’m going to go over my top tips on smashing your virtual PR placements, which can still give you some top tier industry experience.

Benefits of ‘virtual PR placements’

Placements are important for students because they provide a learning experience that cannot be taught in the classroom. Summer placements or even ‘year in industry’ placements offer students a glance into the real world. What will life be like after graduation? It’s crucial that students get this opportunity to dip their toes into the world of work before their time in education is up, as going into a career without an inkling of what it is like in real life could be a devastating reality check for some.

Not to mention, job hunting without experience is a nightmare!

With that being said, most placements have gone virtual to allow students to get that valuable experience safely during this period. For me, my internship at The Source also moved online for a period. When the Covid-19 restrictions came into play, I was no longer commuting to the office and sitting at my desk surrounded by our team, instead I was working from my bed, the sofa, the floor… Basically any quiet place I could find that day!

I was communicating with the team via email, WhatsApp, and voice notes.

It was an adjustment, to say the least, but after a few weeks of trial and error, I finally got into a rhythm that worked for me. With summer placements on the horizon, I thought now would be a good time to pass on some tips for smashing your virtual PR placements.

Tips For Virtual PR Placements

Designate a workspace

Whilst many of you will have probably been sat at a desk during your virtual PR placements, that can be difficult to do from home unless you have a home office. Even then, that space may be occupied by others living in your house. In this case, set up an area of your house to use as a workspace. Sitting down in this space sends a clear signal to your brain that it’s time to focus. This is really helpful for productivity but it’s also good for creating a good work-life balance, so you’re not working in the same place that you’re spending your free time.

Take the time to go about your normal morning routine

Eat breakfast, take a shower, and get dressed for the day. Designate some work clothes, even if it’s just a loungewear set. Try to avoid remaining in your pyjamas all day, trust me, it only makes you sleepy. If you prefer to do your hair and makeup, then go for it, looking good makes you feel good right?

Make a to-do list

Perhaps one of the most important tips for managing your virtual PR placements! If your emails are piling up with assignments, write them down. Either generate a digital schedule (Asana is a great online organisation tool) or jot it down with pen and paper and stick it in a visible place. If you’re particularly organised, you could even come up with a detailed to-do list that’s broken down into categories based on importance. Regardless, this list will be your best friend as well as your arch-nemesis. After a long day, looking at all the tasks I have completed gives me a little boost whilst also allowing me to schedule the things I didn’t manage to get through today for tomorrow, so they don’t get lost in the next morning’s influx of emails.

asana

This is the Asana project management tool (credit: Asana)

Collaborate with your team

Sharing ideas with each other will improve your projects and you can make new friends in the process. Most companies will set you up with a way of contacting the team, whether it’s via teams, zoom or even WhatsApp so there’s no excuse! At Source, we use Google Hangouts as well as email and of course, picking up the phone, to communicate – but different channels will work for different teams and people.

Communication is key

Remember that. Do not be afraid to ask questions. You are there to learn (and work) and they are there to help. By asking questions you not only gain extra knowledge, but you also gain the skills and information needed to complete the task. Just because you can’t ask questions face to face, doesn’t mean you should put them off. The experience gained from PR work experience is often invaluable when it comes to finding work as a postgraduate, so don’t be afraid to ask anything and everything.

Behave as you would in the office

Last but not least, don’t treat your virtual PR placements any differently than an in-person placement. You should always be timely and productive. Maintain that professional mentality.

Hopefully these tips help someone, and whilst working from home during this time may not be what you planned, you can still make the most of it. Get that experience and put it towards your future. You won’t regret it.

Managing And Leveraging Online Review Platforms For Your Business

Review platforms can divide opinions – some see them as positive, a tool that allows a business to receive feedback from customers to improve performance or to be recognised for their good work, while others view them as potentially damaging and often unfairly given by disgruntled customers or competitors.

 

Whatever your opinion, it’s important to know how to handle them to protect your reputation or to maximise the positive benefits.  Here we outline some top tips and best practice for handling reviews.

 

Keeping on top of reviews

 

To keep on top of review submissions, it’s a good idea to check the various sites that your business is listed on every few days.  Replying to 5-star reviews is just as important as replying to 1-star reviews – let your customers know that you appreciate their feedback and use the channel to build relationships.

 

Updating your business information

 

On review platforms such as Google and Tripadvisor, you can also add extra information about your business and keep information accurate and up to date, such as opening times, news and imagery.  As restrictions slowly lift, it may be worthwhile sharing your policies and procedures in helping to make potential customers feel secure when visiting your businesses.  You can also display Covid measures on your Google/Trip Advisor listing.

 

Maintaining quality in replies

 

Replies should always be kept consistent, in line with your brand and use the same tone across all review sites.  Where relevant, you may also want to sign off a response with the business owner’s name to make it more personal.

 

 

Dealing With Negative Reviews

 

There are many different approaches that can be taken when responding to negative reviews, largely depending on your brand and how you would like to be perceived.  Rather than publicly call out a reviewer you don’t believe it’s fair, we’d advise to take it away from the site and offer to discuss further via email or on the phone.  Washing your dirty linen in public is rarely good for a business and can even cause greater reputational damage with an online argument.  Take it offline and if possible, engage in a one-on-one conversation with the reviewer before deciding on how best to respond.

 

Overall, we’d always advise that businesses address negative reviews, so you can be seen to be proactive – even if you don’t agree with the reviewer’s side of the story.  In this digital age we live in, all eyes are on your business, so it’s important to make a good impression as review sites are often visited by potential new customers.

 

When dealing with a fabricated review, depending on the platform, you can usually contest it and have it taken down.  In more serious cases, for example if a customer has been asked to leave your establishment and left a bad review to punish the business, we’ve successfully worked with the platforms in removing defamatory and unfair reviews.

 

 

Using Reviews As Part Of Your Social Media Strategy

 

Sharing positive reviews on your social media channels is a great way to showcase what your business has to offer, whether it’s to current followers or new customers who have just discovered you.

 

If you’re a restaurant/pub/bar, sharing positive Instagram story content from customers is a perfect way to illustrate what other customers think of their experiences and also provides fresh new imagery for your social channels.  This type of content is just as important as a review on Tripadvisor or Google, so it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on your social media activity and opportunities.

 

To find out more about Source PR and how we can support your brand or business with its online presence, drop us a line!

#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.

Crisis Communications & Why You Should Have Plans In Place

An organisation’s reputation is intrinsically linked with its ability to secure sales, attract top talent or even to charge a premium. Well regarded business also benefit from loyal customers who buy a broader ranges of goods and tell others.  So if reputation is all important why not ensure you have you crisis communication plans in place?

As Benjamin Franklin said; “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” Sadly however, most organisations do an inadequate job of managing their reputations, only focussing their energies when a problem has already surfaced.

So what should companies do to protect against reputational damage? The answer depends on the type, complexity and size of the organisation but there are some basic rules of thumb.

Firstly; have a crisis communications plan in place. Organisations should ensure they have the capability and capacity to  respond to negative press, social media or customer complaints. Issues can move quickly but can often be predicted – having a crisis communications plan allow a company to be responsive, co-ordinated and consistent in what it wants to convey, to who and when.

Secondly, be honest.  An organisation that communicates honestly can even build greater trust with its stakeholders in the long term, while one that appears dishonest can undermine confidence and prolong a problem.

Thirdly, get support.  When a crisis hits it can be all consuming.  Customers, suppliers and employees will all need reassurance as well as the media and/or any public authority.  All should be included in the crisis communication plan but business leaders should focus on what they do best and seek professional support to help in other areas.

Identify the members of the crisis communication team and can allocate roles and responsibilities.  This can include simple actions like who should act as spokesperson and whether more than one is needed depending on the enquiry?  Also consider who will field media calls, monitor social media and is there back up required for each role?   The plan should include contact information for all team members including personal mobile phone numbers.

A crisis communications plan shouldn’t predetermine what to say and don’t script the responses – instead focus on developing the key messages you can plan in advance as well as key company information.  Where possible anticipate what the questions may be and how the organisation should respond.  In preparing the responses, consider the who, what, when, why and how and the below offer a useful guide:

  • What was the cause of the crisis?
  • A brief description / understanding of what happened
  • Provide a timetable for future plans and actions
  • Communicate compassion for any victims of the crisis
  • Involve supporters and any emergency service responses

Although many crises can’t be planned in advance, there’s no excuse not to have a plan in place for when one crops up.  The old adage stands true that “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”, often with devastating consequences to an organisation’s name and all important reputation.

To help develop your crisis communication plan, contact a member of our experienced team and let us support you through the process.

Which Degree Is Best For A Career In PR?

Written by our PR intern and university student Bridie Buckingham

Most of us understand the pressure of choosing the right degree. It can be stressful figuring out what career path you want to take, and when you add all the possible degree options there are available nowadays – it can become very overwhelming. We all want to pick the right degree for us; one that will give us a head start in our chosen field for sure, but one we know that we will enjoy. However, with multiple routes into the world of PR it can be confusing to know which degree to choose.

PR is a complex industry and there are many aspects to it. So, as you can probably imagine, there are a broad range of degrees for you to choose from that will give you a helping hand when it comes to getting the job you want. I hope that from my experience I can shed some light onto the best options for you if you are thinking about a career in PR and take away some of that stress.

More Arts, Less STEM

You don’t have to have studied PR or marketing, to enter the PR industry. In fact, many people working in PR don’t even have degrees. Having said that, the transition out of education and into the workplace is likely to be easier and less bumpy for those who took subjects focused on communicating. Traditionally, subjects like Politics, History, English, Philosophy and even Foreign Languages tend to produce graduates better suited for PR than those with STEM degrees, for example. Although, given our growing reliance on technology, these degrees still absolutely play an important role in the evolving nature of communications too. If you have a passion for storytelling and communicating, then there’s likely a role in PR for you – no matter your educational background.

Which Degree Is Best For PR?

PR (Public Relations)

With PR degrees, the risk is that – in this fast-evolving industry – the course content can become out-of-date quite quickly. Another risk is that students may enter the workplace only to find that the working reality is VERY different from the theory. This is why I believe that PR work experience or a year in industry is essential for any PR degree. If you’re looking to go down this route, do make sure you look at courses with a placement year. Equally, try and line up lots of work experience either in-agency or in-house whilst studying; most universities will encourage and even assist you with getting relevant experience. If you’d like to learn more about how to gain PR work experience, you can read my blog on this by clicking here.

Arts & Business

Courses like Creative Writing or Art can help students develop their creative and compelling storytelling skills; something that is highly valued in PR. A creative brain produces innovative ideas and can become a highly valuable asset to a team when brainstorming strategies and avoiding repetition. Additionally, anyone who studies a business degree will understand the importance of marketing as a whole. As well as this, they will be masters at forward-thinking and possess great strategic knowledge that provides creatives with the commercial vision they need to improve performance.

Journalism

Journalism courses tend to teach students how to write all styles of articles, edit using multiple programs and curate content for multiple media outlets. They provide a kind of flexibility that other courses struggle to when it comes to specialising. Courses like this also aid in building communicative skills. Experience is also key here, and even PR experience is considered valid for a journalism degree. Many of those who have studied or worked in journalism move over to the PR industry, and their skills are invaluable to our practice.

English Language & Literature

As PR is all about understanding audiences’ behaviour and harnessing creativity, courses like English, Psychology and Journalism may give graduates a head start. English can also be paired with a variety of subjects with many relevant links, so do look into joint-honours degrees. With a BA in English, you will develop excellent written and oral communication skills, making you perfect for PR. Crucially, you’ll also learn to write well. This not only includes proper grammar, sentence structure, and punctuation, it means learning to write in a manner that is engaging and effective. Many courses may focus on writing but none to the extent of an English degree that allows you to hone your skills as a writer and communicator. You’ll also learn to read analytically. Being able to take in information and understand it before reframing this information so it can be understood by others, is a skill that is necessary for a successful career in PR.

At Source PR, our staff hold a mixed bag of degrees, including English Literature, Business & PR and Geography. PR is as about personality, imagination, creation, people skills and application. As long as you have these skills you are sure to succeed, regardless of your choice of university degree. Don’t stress and make sure to explore all your options. Happy hunting!