WHY COMMUNITY MATTERS IN YOUR PR STRATEGY

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

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

Tesco April 12th Print Ad

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

Let’s explore why…

Why You Should Consider The Role Of Community Relations In PR

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

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

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

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

Why The Tesco Ad Worked

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

Tesco Exaxample Of Community Relations

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

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

FINDING WORK EXPERIENCE THAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU

Written by our PR intern and university student Bridie Buckingham

Work experience is something we’ve all heard of. Whether at high school or university level, every teacher I’ve ever had has stressed the importance of ascertaining some sort of experience before I graduate.

Being able to detail relevant work experience on your CV will help you stand out when applying for graduate jobs. It’s a real selling point to employers if you can show that you have experience in your field or have been able to hold down a steady job whilst studying.

Any sort of experience is better than none and luckily, there’s an abundance of ways to step on the ladder.

What Kinds Of Work Experience Is There?

Internships

For those wanting to take their first steps into the working world, an internship is a great way to start.

Internships are usually the first port of call when it comes to giving your CV an emphatic boost and can be very helpful in helping you navigate your chosen field. As well as this, internships can also be invaluable in deciding whether your chosen profession really is the career path for you.

Internships are also often very flexible in terms of duration with some lasting only a few days and others a whole year. What is perhaps worth considering is that in all cases, is that it’s best to start early, as the competition can be tough.

Summer/Part-Time Jobs

Perhaps one of the best things about university is the way in which you can introduce yourself to the working world at a leisurely pace.

Internships are not for everyone, however, there is something incredibly rewarding about getting a job to help with finances and experience.

If you don’t wish to commit to an internship, then what about a part time job for work experience?

Hospitality work is obviously the go-to industry in many instances, but anything goes. It all counts as experience and it looks far better on your CV than blank space. You can even squeeze these jobs into the summer holiday if working during semester time is too stressful for you.

Societies

Often overlooked, being part of a society can work wonders for your career prospects and give you some great work experience. It can offer you the opportunity to test your skills of organisation, delegation, events creation, finance management and more importantly, interpersonal relationship building.

You don’t even need to be high up in the ranks.

Simply taking up a role within a society shows a willingness to work together with others. It will hone your ability to work towards a common goal and help you network with others you might not otherwise have the chance to interact with on campus.

Volunteering

A combination of both the easiest and hardest thing to do, volunteering can provide many benefits to a future career (with the added feel-good bonus that comes from helping others).

It can be tricky getting a foot in the door initially – however it is worth the time and effort.

At the same time, volunteering can often be a far more exciting option than a paid placement – sometimes even leading to travel across the globe.

Put simply, volunteering your time can be an incredibly rewarding work experience in terms of personal and professional growth.

However, I know this isn’t for everyone as it wasn’t for me either. With financial situations as they are it can sometimes be hard to justify an unpaid placement over a steady income.

At the end of the day, experience is experience so don’t feel pressured to do the one that ‘looks better’ because any path you take you’ll be one step closer to that dream graduate job.

Whatever you decide, the bottom line is this: all forms of work experience are beneficial. I really valued my work experience, I met some great people and got to experience first-hand just what it was like to work in the PR industry.

In fact, I loved it so much that I decided to stay on and here I am 18 months later.

HOW POETRY CAN BE USED IN COMMUNICATIONS

This article first appeared in Creative Moment and was written by Janet Hare.

Poetry has been around for thousands of years and has given the UK alone heaps of famous and infamous poets such as Chaucer, Keats, Wordsworth, Dylan Thomas, Robbie Burns, Sylvia Plath and many, many more.

Typically though it is known as a niche market, with long-form novels selling far more copies than even the most popular poet. Although Nielsen BookScan did report a 12% increase in poetry book sales in its 2018 report.

Most people see poetry as something they had to learn at school and were pleased to leave behind as they reached adulthood.

And it’s definitely not known as the dominant written form in our lives today. That accolade probably belongs to text speak, alas.

So, if that is the case, then why is poetry being used so much these days in marketing and communications?

Many big UK brands and their ad agencies have taken to using poetry in their broadcast advertising over the last 12 months or so. Nationwide and Co-op are two such companies., as well as EE and OVO.

Starting in 2016, Nationwide ran a series of ads along the theme of ‘voices’ which were designed to highlight the life and diversity of British society. The campaign was brought to life by 31 spoken word poets who lived and worked across the UK. They were given broad themes to work from and wrote original poetry under the subjects such as home, family, friendship.

The campaign apparently helped the building society grow its share of switched accounts to 20%.

It was during that year that I first saw and heard Matt Abbott’s ‘This place is ours’, his poem for Nationwide on what home meant to him. It totally held me captive whilst he talked about his Mum’s roast dinner and dressing gowns being worn all day in his Yorkshire tones. This was real life. This spoke to me.

The Voices campaign has been so successful for Nationwide that it’s still running now. In 2020 it even featured poems about the Covid pandemic from the likes of Matt Abbott and his partner Maria Ferguson, titled ‘A message to ourselves/myself in 6 months’ time.’ The Covid-time ads focussed on the theme of how things would be different in the future.

Nationwide The Voices Campaign

Image credit: The Drum

Since then, and particularly in the last 12 months, I have seen numerous other companies take to poems to express themselves in TV ads, such as the Co-op with its ‘Power of hope’ campaign which used a poem based on spoken word artist Sarah Adedeji, ‘All the people giving double’, about people’s struggles and double efforts during Covid. Even Coca-Cola has got in on the act using spoken word artist George the Poet in its TV ad marking the cultural significance of the pandemic.

So why? Why is poetry suddenly being used to communicate messages?

The answer seems simple. Empathy.

Advertisers and communicators recognise that people have turned introspective during the pandemic, spending more time contemplating. Contemplating what is important in life. And spending more time at home has given people more time to be aware of their feelings. They’ve had time to stop and think. Advertisers have recognised this. They have read the room and realised that empathy is where it’s at with good communication right now.

And it’s not only advertisers that have become aware of this. President Biden’s inauguration in the US didn’t just feature pomp and ceremony and politicians giving speeches and elbow bumps. It featured a young, black, female poet, Amanda Gorman delivering ‘The hill we climb’ poem she wrote for the occasion.

In the hours following the ceremony, social media erupted with astonishment at how powerful the poem was and how amazing Amanda, the US youth poet laureate, was in her delivery. The positive media coverage continued the next day and beyond. The impact it made was incredible.

Why did the Biden administration decide to use poetry for this world-stage event? Because they read the room and knew with all the turbulent times the country had seen, what they needed to do now to appeal to the population was show what hadn’t been shown before. Empathy.

I fully expect that Amanda Gorman’s performance will only further propel the use of poetry in communication and as an English Literature grad, that’s something that I look forward to very much.

HOW HAS THE WAY WE CONSUME NEWS CHANGED?

There are no two ways about it: the way that we get our news has changed over recent years. Accelerated even more so by the pandemic. More than once last year, simply popping out for a paper was not allowed, forcing more of us to consume content online than ever before. At The Source, we are advocates of the #BuyAPaper campaign and are not ignorant of the value of regional print coverage. It’s still an incredibly crucial source of local news. However, it is also important to recognise that the way we get our information is not the same as it was 20, 10 or even 5 years ago. But what does this mean for PR?

Breaking News: We Don’t Always Get Our News From The News

Social media has become really important in the last decade, now, not only is it a resource for connecting with friends, but it’s also a place for learning, venting, creating and most importantly to us – consuming news.

Around 45% of people say they get their news from social media, which is probably much higher than many would have thought when you consider various the demographics of the UK and the number of ways that you can actually get news such as radio, TV, newspapers and online websites.

Image credit: Ofcom

Apparently, gone are the days where you’d pick up a paper or switch on the 10pm news to find out what’s happening in the world. Thanks to smartphones and social media, we now have everything we could ever need to know at our fingertips. This has been highlighted even more so throughout the Coronavirus pandemic.

Recently, weekly reports from Ofcom have been analysing how the UK population has been getting its news through the Coronavirus crisis, unsurprisingly around 83% use traditional media to find out new information, but only 65% say it’s their most important news source.

We thought we’d put all this information to the test and find out in real-time how people are getting their news in 2021. The results show that whilst traditional media outlets are still valuable, social media is fundamental to most as a way of keeping up to date with current affairs and local news.

Of over 100 respondents, a staggering 76.7% said that without question, social media was their primary source of news and updates.

News Consumption Survey 2021

What Does This Media Shift Mean For PR?

When you run a PR agency, you need to be tuned in to the media landscape and how it changes. Ultimately as PRs our job is to improve the reputation of our clients, and to generate exposure for them on the platforms where this is most worthwhile.

This means that we need to be leveraging the most appropriate platforms for our clients at all times and understand that the way in which news is consumed can – and does – change.

Social media is incredibly important, yet sometimes it can be overlooked in the face of generating tangible PR coverage. It’s great to say you got a client’s community story in the local paper, or a backlink in the national of course, and we’re not saying that this coverage isn’t important. But we also know it’s important to look beyond the traditional methods of PR. Content should be shared in all the relevant spaces, and that includes social media now more than ever. After all, the numbers don’t lie. When your brand has a story to tell, you should be broadcasting it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, maybe even TikTok, as well as with local and national newspapers.

Will the way we consume news change again in the future? We’re pretty much counting on it. And will we be prepared for it? You can definitely count on us for that.

To find out more about how we build and protect reputations through various PR and marketing methods (that leverage the most up-to-date news sources) then why not get in touch with our team? We’re always up for a chat about what we can do for your business. Reach out via our website now or connect with us on Twitter 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.

WHY REAL ‘WORK PERKS’ GIVE YOU THE BEST PR

It’s safe to say that the pandemic has shown employees all over the world their workplace’s true colours. The range of response from managers, bosses and directors has been enormous: from some workplaces forcing their employees to download tracking applications that monitor their every move, to others fully embracing the opportunity to let their staff work from home, encouraging flexibility and independence. (We’re happy to state that Source PR is in the latter category!) Naturally, business owners want to ensure their staff are still working effectively, but the lengths some go to have the potential to negatively impact the mental health of an already-fragile workforce.

 

Not so innocent?

 

The treatment of staff by businesses goes a long way in terms of marketing purposes: companies such as Google, Ben and Jerry’s and Innocent Smoothies have made a name for themselves with their relaxed approach to workspaces. Google’s workspaces include their infamous nap pods, in which employees are encouraged to isolate themselves inside when they’re feeling drowsy, slides and ping-pong tables. Ben and Jerry’s also incorporate ‘nap times’ into their work day, and Innocent’s London headquarters is coated in artificial grass and coffee-shop style benches, accompanied by a total absence of dress code – meaning there’s not a power suit in sight.

 

But do all of these so-called ‘perks’ – frequently cited on job websites in lieu of an actual salary in black-and-white – have the ability to make a happier and more productive workforce? Or are they simply opportunities for brands to appear ‘youthful’, fun-loving and innovative, all whilst sidestepping fair wages, effective HR protocol and – in the US – healthcare benefits?

 

THIS is it

 

I recently saw an Instagram post from the vegan food company ‘THIS’, which gave a refreshingly honest account of the cost of living in London – where its headquarters are – which is escalating far higher than wages can keep up with: particularly entry-level wages.

 

The post announces that the company will give each employee a starting salary of £35,000, as “life on £18k a year in London is massively crap.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

@this.uk via Instagram

 

By posting their news in a simple Instagram post – with little fanfare and fuss, and an emphasis on its desire to avoid ‘nauseating virtue-signal[ing]’ – THIS ensures that its followers know its intentions are not to generate as much buzz possible (a quick Google shows that they didn’t distribute a press release) but to inform them of their brand values. That’s not even mentioning the pay rise itself, which is a huge leap for a two-year old vegan food company, and will doubtlessly come as a welcome surprise to its employees.

 

The post is its most-liked by a country mile, with over 23,000 likes, in comparison to its average of 1,000-3,000 per post – meaning that the good news has generated more than its fair share of positive, organic PR. I’d never heard of THIS before seeing the post in question shared on friends’ Instagram stories, but now follow the page and, as a vegetarian, will definitely be checking the range out!

 

It just goes to show that tangible perks – in this case, a fair wage by London standards – help generate buzz in the way that Google’s playground offices (now yesterday’s news) initially did.

 

The price is right

 

Another example of not only good PR, but increased revenue that has been generated by tangible increases in workplace benefits, is the story of Dan Price, owner of Seattle card payment company Gravity Payments. After reading a study on the salary that Americans needed to be at their happiest – approximately $70,000 – Price decided this would be the minimum salary of every member of staff. This would require him to take a humongous $1m pay cut if he were to give this to all 120 of his employees.

 

However, implementing the pay rise across the board proved to be beneficial to say the least. The employee headcount at the company has doubled, with applicants naturally flooding to the business with their CVs in hand, and payments processed by Gravity rose from $3.8bn to $10.2bn due to the increased, and highly motivated, workforce.

 

After the success of his experiment, Price has featured on CNN, the Kelly Clarkson Show and Democratic nominee Andrew Yang’s podcast: all generating excellent PR for Gravity Payments, which by this point had received plenty. (His employees also all chipped in to buy him a Tesla!)

 

PR or ER?

 

By contrast, during the last few years, Google has been plagued with defamatory headlines: earlier this year, more than 200 Google employees formed the company’s first union demanding, amongst other things, fair wages, and the ability to work without fear of discrimination. The company is also currently battling three antitrust lawsuits, and in 2018 was subjected to global protests after numerous allegations of sexual misconduct were uncovered at the company.

 

Though a huge, global corporation like Google is naturally going to generate a mixed bag of positive and negative coverage, it’s clear that it has placed more of an emphasis on its image to attract employees as opposed to real benefits – a tenuous provision in the age of social justice and activism, that, consequently, has only worsened its reputation and allowed for damaging headlines and coverage.

 

Authenticity is key

 

It’s wise to want to project a positive image of your business, but authenticity and transparency are fail-safe ways of ensuring the ‘bubble’ never bursts. And if that means more employee satisfaction surveys and fewer ping-pong tables, it might be for the best for everyone involved – your brand included.

 

At Source, we know a thing or two about how best to present your company to the world. We have over ten years’ experience in PR, digital marketing and communications, including crisis comms: why not give us a call on 01829 72078, or get in touch with us via our Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOW TO BE AHEAD OF YOUR COMPETITION BY 12TH APRIL

If the Government roadmap goes ahead as planned, then 12th April is set to be an important date for the hospitality industry. Not only can self-catering accommodation open once more, but also outdoor attractions can reopen, as can gyms, leisure centres and beer gardens. This means that between now and then, it needs to be all-hands-on-deck for those businesses to ensure that come 12th April, you’re ahead of your competition and ready to welcome your customers back with open arms once more. Is your business ready for the lifting of lockdown?

To be on the front foot amongst your competitors now, you need to be looking at a PR, social media and marketing strategy – don’t wait until April to start communicating. If you were really on the ball, you may have already been communicating through lockdowns, as we can’t stress enough the importance of keeping in touch with your consumers, even when you’re not open for business.

If you’ve not started yet, then now is the time to. Below we’re laying out some tips and advice for how to be ahead of your competition by 12th April – especially if you’re in the hospitality industry – with the help of a little PR magic.

Beating Your Competition With Communications

Plenty of businesses have been communicating with their customers throughout lockdown, but not all have. Those that have continued to retain a PR strategy, have already started seeing the benefits of it as restrictions ease. Our client Combermere Abbey, for example, in the last lockdown enjoyed almost 100 bookings in the first few weeks after reopening them; and they’re set to enjoy similar successes this time around too. Don’t wait to start talking to your consumers, start now. This is what we’d advise.

Spend time on CSR

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is often wrongly overlooked as a PR exercise. Brand reputation is so important, and you want to be getting your name out there for all of the right reasons. You might not be able to trade at the moment, but what’s stopping you from supporting your local community or charities? We actively encourage our clients to get involved with local schools, care homes and other organisations as much as they can, not only does this open them up to new audiences and reinforces their brand reputation; but it also heightens the chance of some great regional media coverage too.

Become a regular on social

If you’ve not already been utilising a social media strategy, then now is the time to start. We’d recommend communicating with your customers regularly every week – talk about what’s coming up, what they can expect when they return and what you’ve been up to during lockdown. Everybody wants something to look forward to at the moment, and you have the potential to capitalise on that. For hospitality businesses, we’d recommend focusing on Facebook, Instagram – and perhaps Twitter and LinkedIn. Don’t forget about TikTok too – a relatively new platform but one that can do your business many favours if you get it right.

Jump on every press opportunity

Press opportunities are coming thick and fast at the moment, in only the last few weeks we’ve landed client coverage on big publications such as The Telegraph and the Daily Mail to name just a couple. Look out for where you can insert your business into the media and generate some extra exposure, either locally or nationally, to help put yourself in front of your competitors come April 12th. To speak to the team about how to jump on press opportunities like this and get your business some great media coverage, get in touch with us via our website.

Start direct communications now

If your customers are signed up for an email database… Then they’ll want to hear from you! Start putting together a plan for newsletters, but don’t overdo it either. It’s good to give your consumers an update, but make sure you’re tying it into something important, for example, you might have opened reservations or given the go-ahead to open from 12th April. Keep your communications consistent but relevant, and always on-brand.

Work on your website

Finally, don’t waste this period of closure – use it to put your business in a great position for when you can reopen. We recently wrote about how to navigate through the third lockdown and part of this included working on your website, optimising content, updating meta descriptions, page titles and so on. Also, put together an SEO blog strategy that focuses on relevant long-tail keywords, as well as including content that your customers will want to read about. With the right strategies in place, the work you do now may well be ranking where you want it to be by mid-April.

Ready, Set, Go…

If you really want to get competitive and have a great communications plan in place to ensure a successful spring and summer, then why not get in touch with our team of experts? We have a wealth of experience in hospitality PR, and would love to chat about what we can do for your business? Get in touch now, or why not check out the case studies on our website?

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.

LIFE AS A STUDENT AND INTERN DURING A PANDEMIC

Written by our PR intern and university student Bridie Buckingham

I think it is safe to say that this past year has not been kind to us. Staying at home, working from home, studying from home: they’re taking their toll. It is not always easy to adjust to a ‘new normal’ but never has it been more necessary.

For someone who has always struggled with time-management, this new normal has really given me the push I needed to stay ahead of the game. Balancing work, student and home life has always been a demanding task, but now that they are all crowded within the same four walls, it can seem a bit overwhelming at times.

It is all too easy to allow yourself to get bogged down with the negativity, but those anxious feelings are never going to dissipate unless you adopt a more positive mindset. I struggled a lot, as I’m sure we all did, during the first lockdown but as time has gone on my outlook has changed. Whether you have used this period for self-improvement, or you’ve simply taken a step back to recharge, both are valid. There is no need to force productivity, it only fuels negativity. A healthy mind is the most important asset to have right now and if that comes from spending time with family and putting work on the backburner then finding a healthy balance is essential.

This is something I wrestled with in the first lockdown, juggling being a university student, work and home life seemed impossible at times yet now I sense big tops in my future. I am lucky that the team at Source PR are so accommodating, allowing me to work around my online classes. Without their help I don’t think I would have been so fortunate. It is strange not being able to see them each week, only communicating via email or WhatsApp, it makes me miss the office, but I know we will be back one day. For now I am enjoying life as an intern, each week is different, allowing me to explore the world of PR whilst also gaining valuable work experience in the field.

When it comes to studying from home, I was sceptical at first, but it has turned out to be a blessing in disguise. All my lectures have been delivered seamlessly and on time, with help available at every turn. Delivered via teams, the seminars are still as interactive as ever, in fact I think the delivery is advantageous as many people who were too shy to give input in face-to-face seminars have gained confidence from the comfort of their own home.

With my family also working from home, bandwidth problems are a reoccurring nightmare in our house, with several of us trying to access classes via teams at the same time, we sometimes struggle to get a clear connection. As a student, the work sometimes piles up but with regular half-terms and reading weeks it is easy to catch up. Overall, I think my second-year experience has been the best it could’ve been considering the circumstances; however I can’t say the same for first years.

To add to the mayhem, I also challenged myself to learn a language this year. In a joint venture with my sister we decided to teach ourselves Korean as we have always wanted to visit South Korea. I have dreamed of living abroad and being able to speak another language fluently since I was little, so I thought if now isn’t a good time to start, when is? With my TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) end of year module coming up in just a few short weeks, I hope I will get to put my new skills to good use and take myself across the globe, Covid permitting of course.

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안녕히 계세요 (annyeonghee geseyo)

PR ADVICE – CAN DEMOCRACY SURVIVE WITHOUT INDEPENDENT MEDIA?

Anyone offering PR advice to Donald Trump must have earned their corn attempting to manage his messages or even keep control of his diverging news agenda. The difficulty of offering PR advice to Donald was that, on average, the Whitehouse Director of Communications lasted just 150 days, barely enough time to effectively influence the strategy, direction or messages let alone establish working relationships with the media.

The Trump Effect On The Changing Media Landscape

During the latest presidency we have also seen a further dramatic shift in the media landscape with the emergence of ‘fake news’, direct communications through social media platforms such as twitter and a growing lack of trust in the media. This is a problem as a free and independent ‘Fourth Estate’, is supposed to hold power to account, an important element in democracy and debate.

The changing landscape has resulted in unprecedented scenes with the need for 20,000 troops to gather in the US Capitol to oversee the safe transfer of power in ‘The land of the free’. This issue has risen largely due to maverick communications and loss of control. Sadly, the storming of the Capitol buildings could therefore be a sign of things to come.

This ability to bypass an independent and regulated media has significant repercussions, particularly if the presiding narrative is that they are trying to steal the election, to not trust the media or the whole establishment. In situations like this where do you turn and who can you trust?

Would Trump Have Fared Better With Good PR Advice?

The need to be held accountable or to win an honest argument no longer applies, as communicating directly through social platforms is proven to be more effective. In Trump’s case he had more than 88 million followers on Twitter – considerably more than the readership of all the major US news outlets combined.

The net result however is illustrated by a poll in December that shows that 40% of Americans did not believe that the election was fair. This is further compounded as nearly 75% of those who voted Republican feel the election was stolen. This is despite the fact the mainstream media reported that 60 post-election lawsuits in multiple states all found that there was no fraud and that the result was fair. Logical debate is simply stifled by volumes of unproven and often unprovable claims.

It’s clear that the trust has gone and that the media are no longer seen as fair and independent reporters of the truth. The ‘lies and denies’ have gained traction and land on fertile ground particularly when communicating to an audience of followers who have built relationships with you online and who no doubt already replicate and share the same views.

Rebuilding Trust In A Post-Trump-Power World

The media also need to play their own role in rebuilding trust. There is a negative spiral occurring where media companies are not reacting to the changing landscape quickly enough or attracting the investment needed to support quality reporting. There is still a legacy of political influence or grudge bearing which needs to be overcome as it leads to poor journalism and subsequent declining influence / sales and so the cycle continues.

Social media platforms started introduced ‘fact checking’ tabs in Spring 2020 to try and manage the number of misleading claims sprouting on the platforms, but when the claims come from an historically credible source such as the President of the United States then the problems are clear. Again it comes down to who to trust – who do you believe? The large tech firms determining what’s accurate or not, the President of the US, commentators or the media?

The Wider Impact On The World

When examining the issue in context of the coronavirus pandemic the problem continues. For example, currently opinion on the vaccine is divided – with some keen to take and roll out while others believe that it’s all part of a wider conspiracy as a result of information they have listened to online (ranging from Bill Gates to 5G conspiracies). The net result however is that nearly two thirds of Americans suggest that they won’t take the vaccine right away, presenting a significant health risk to the country and an even slower recovery and return to normal.

The answer however is not to ban certain users as tech giants themselves are not regulated enough to determine who has the right to opinions. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that anyone making comments on social media platforms should be held accountable but the right to the first amendment must be paramount. That does not negate the option to prosecute racist, homophobic or inflammatory comments or to give temporary or increasingly long bans if users continue flout the rules / laws.

By determining who uses their platforms sets a precedent that may come back to bite social media companies. What happens when they are pressured to ban individuals due to one off political or cultural views or even non-related actions – simply because they do not conform to the new normal. It would be a victory for the woke but a problem for debate and therefore ultimately democracy.

The consequences could ultimately put into doubt the future of an open and free internet. How can a handful of tech bosses make decisions on who does and doesn’t have a voice on the internet? If they do then surely they should themselves be open to more scrutiny?

Where does it all stop? The ‘wokeball’ effect is already taking place with other platforms being pressured into taking similar action with facebook, YouTube and Snapchat also banning Trump. What about holocaust or climate change deniers, devout religious groups, more extreme political parties or even celebrities pushing their own agendas…?

Is Senior Counsel And PR Advice The Answer?

So, what’s the answer? Debating and arguing over differing opinions are as old as humanity itself and are instrumental in a real democracy. Debate needs to be encouraged and media companies should share both the platforms and opinions, rather than ban people or get involved in personal spats where there is a risk they become the story. Media companies should have greater support or regulation in managing their newfound power (already enough to silence the ‘most powerful man on earth’) and commentators / influencers should be open to debate as well as scrutiny.

If offering senior counsel or PR advice to corporates or individuals the same principals should apply. We would always advocate the importance of being honest, to be able to look yourself in the mirror and justify your decisions but most importantly know what you or your business stands for and be consistent to the delivery.