Working With Influencers – Takeaways From The Cheshire Creatives Club Workshop

Last month, I was very honoured to be on the panel of the Cheshire Creative Club’s ‘A Content Creators Toolkit’ workshop in Alderley Edge. The group describes itself as an inclusive network for North West based creatives, and naturally, we’re pleased to be members at Source PR.

The workshop was all around how influencers can work with brands, and vice versa really – it’s a two way street! I was there to offer advice from a PR’s perspective on how content creators can approach agencies who represent brands they’d like to work with, and also to sing the praises of influencer marketing to the businesses I met with too.

I left the Churchill Tree, where the event was held, though, feeling as though I took away even more than I gave. The room was packed full of influencers from all over the North West who had no end of interesting insights and anecdotes. I learned so much from them, and I wanted to write up my takeaways today in a roundup of everything you need to know about working with influencers in 2022. The communications industry is ever changing, an influencer marketing is a strand that’s no different, so it’s important for us at Source PR that we’re working in the latest landscape!

3 Things I Learned About Working With Influencers In 2022

Understand ASA guidelines

One of the most tangible elements of influencer marketing, are the boundaries around working with content creators and respecting the rules they have to follow too. The information from the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) changes regularly, and this can heavily regulate the content that an influencer may share on your behalf. Not only as a PR or business should you be mindful of this and never ask someone that you’re working with to bend the rules (which I found out had been the case for some!), but you should also be including this within your terms and agreements too, to maintain a good ethical marketing practice.

You can find out more information on the ASA website, but a friend of Source PR and who I sat alongside on the panel, Bethany Francesca, was extremely clued up on the whole thing and gave a succinct rundown which was pretty much… Whether you’ve been gifted it, or paid to promote it, you must mark it as an ad. A good format to follow is:

  • Ad (gifted) – acknowledging something was sent to you for free, but that you have not been asked to promote it in any way
  • Ad (PR) – acknowledging something was sent to you for free, and you have been asked to promote it on your feed
  • Ad / Promotion – acknowledging that you have been paid to promote a product, or service, and that copy and prompts may have been provided to you

It’s not just about being ethical as a brand either. Influencers that make sure that they follow guidelines rigidly are also likely to have more trust from their followers, who know that they’re being shown authentic content with genuine opinions.

It’s key for businesses to work with these types of creators.

Working with influencers in 2022

Be careful with how you contact

Despite being on the panel at the workshop, it was great to hear from the other side of the room too. The session was so interactive, and for every point I was made there was always something to support it. One thing I was particularly interested to hear about, was how influencers like to be contacted. When working with influencers, especially in 2022 after a couple of turbulent years, it’s important to establish a positive relationship as soon as possible.

It’s important to acknowledge that everyone has different communication preferences from brands and PRs, some prefer email whilst others would rather be ‘DMed’ on social directly. As a business it’s our job to determine that, but usually it’s pretty easy to work out. If an influencer has their email address in their bio, then send them a note that way. If they don’t but their DMs are open, then that’s the option you should take.

It should really go without saying, but I learned that so many still get it wrong. Your pitch to an influencer should always be personal. Most people (including me despite having barely any followers) have had those “Hi babe, we love your page, would you like to promote our product?” messages to their social. Instant delete. As a genuine business with an authentic proposition, you want to make sure your message isn’t coming across in the same way – make your words targeted and honest, and most importantly, make sure the influencer knows you’re speaking to them.

Instigating a positive response from the first contact sets a good foundation for a healthy relationship moving forward, and when working with influencers this is really important in ensuring your partnership works for both of you.

Pay people what they’re worth

Finally, and a big message from Jenny and Amanda who hosted the workshop, was a resounding one. Freelance doesn’t mean FREE. If you’re asking an influencer to share your messages and promote your product or service, you have to expect to offer some remunerations. You wouldn’t ask a magazine for a free advertising space, would you?

Of course, not all gifted opportunities are paid, and the influencers in the room agreed that they would only take one of these partnerships if it fit their brand, but also was something that they wanted to have or wanted to do (or would have done or bought already). For example, a parenting influencer may really appreciate complimentary tickets to an event, but we can’t always expect content creators to want to talk about your product for no money. After all, they need to pay the bills too.

The key message really, is to not take the mick. If you’d pay for this kind of promotion in a magazine, then you should be paying an influencer for it too. Building a good rapport is done on mutual respect, and the more you can offer the creators you work with, the more they’ll be able to do for you in return too.

Influencer Marketing In 2022

If this all sounds like a world you’d like to explore, but you’ve not got the time to handle it – why not talk to us? We have great relationships with influencers in Cheshire and have databases of those across the country. We also have years of experience in influencer marketing and have lived through the many changes of this discipline first hand. If you’d like to get in touch, do reach out and we’ll have a chat about how influencers could help your business.

Working with influencers in 2022

Credit: Yasmin Thomas Photography

Thank You!

And finally, I’d just like to say a massive thank you to Jenny Schippers and Amanda Cope for asking me to be on the panel at the Cheshire Creatives Club workshop. I absolutely love being a part of the group and it was so good to learn from the others in the room, as well as offer my advice too.

Is Love Island To Blame For The Rise And Impending Fall Of Fast Fashion?

Love Island is set to grace our screens for the next six weeks, and for the first time ever, islanders will be wearing pre-loved clothing with eBay as its official partner, ‘dumping’ former fashion sponsor of several years, I Saw It First.

This news came as global fashion giant Missguided announced its administration plans, which led us to question – can a reality dating show be to blame for the rise and subsequent fall of the fast-fashion empire?

Adopting A New Approach

This year, Love Island is adopting a more sustainable approach when it comes to dressing its islanders. The show has teamed up with eBay, alongside vintage stores, and charity shops to showcase what preloved items you can find online. This came as a great surprise at first, especially seeing as previous series of the show have been sponsored by fast fashion brands including Boohoo, Pretty Little Thing and most recently, I Saw It First. Islanders could be seen in the brand’s clothing, which people at home could purchase for as little as £5 (and they did!).

Love Island’s Influence On Buying Habits

Love Island is undoubtedly a pioneer within the fast fashion industry. With an 11% rise in clothing sales observed whilst the show ran last summer, it has a massive influence on what young people buy and where they buy from. On social media, it’s widely known that young people follow the show’s participants and other reality stars, which influences their dress choices. Following their appearances on television, these celebrities frequently remain in the public spotlight, using their platforms to promote fashion businesses. Ex islander Molly-Mae made a name for herself and the brand Pretty Little Thing (PLT) when she became Creative Director of the company in 2022. Her following has risen exponentially since her appearance on the show, which in turn contributes to the millions of sales from her collaboration with PLT.

The fall Of Fast Fashion

More recently, however, the show has been criticised for encouraging fast fashion, coming to a boil when in 2019, Missguided advertised a £1 bikini during an ad break for Love Island, with former contestants modelling the said item of clothing.  This no doubt cemented the link between extreme fast fashion and reality television, which it had been accused of promoting for years. Despite its widely publicised environmental consequences, the industry continues to thrive. Public consciousness has struggled to compete with the low-cost and quick turnaround benefits of mass production.

It’s Cool To Be Sustainable 🌎

Gen Z has long been considered ‘woke’ when it comes to issues that concern the environment today. In a recent study it was seen that this generation is more likely to buy sustainable, high-quality, products. 73% of Generation Z consumers are willing to pay 10% more for sustainable products, in fact! In terms of ‘second hand’ and ‘preloved’ clothing apps we’ve already seen a jump in second-hand clothing sites like Depop and Vinted, buying vintage and thrifted clothing is seen as ‘cool’ amongst young people nowadays. As the islanders grace our screens tonight for the first time this year, will this notion only be cemented as thrifting and re-selling become cemented as ‘trendy’?

Saying Goodbye To Fast Fashion?

Public and viewer buying habits are very much influenced by the people they see on TV, but will we see a decline in sales from fast fashion brands and a rise in second-hand buying?

Of course, only time can tell.

But what we can say, is we hope to see a shift in the fashion industry when it comes to sustainability, many brands like John Lewis and Selfridges have already opted into second-hand shopping services for customers to combat clothing waste. With the new move from love Island, it’s expected that many brands will hopefully follow suit including fast fashion industries.

It’s PR Not ER: Reflecting On Changing Attitudes In PR

So much has changed over the eight (or so!) years that I’ve spent working in PR, an industry that is known for being one of the most stressful to work in. According to PRWeek, the stress of the job was magnified during the pandemic. With the combination of juggling client relationships, deadlines, meetings and all around wanting to do our best work for clients, it’s easy to see why working at a PR agency particularly has a reputation for being a stressful working environment.

 

However, in the time I’ve worked in the industry, I’ve certainly seen a positive shift in attitudes towards working hours and mental health. In this blog, I reflect on some personal experiences and why the phrase ‘it’s PR not ER’ is one that has stuck with me over the years.

 

Throwback to 2015

 

I started working at my first PR agency in 2015 as a fresh-faced and enthusiastic account executive. I’d had a couple of post-grad jobs before that which were great to get me into the world of full-time work, but I consider the first agency I worked at as when my career really began. Although I loved the variety of work, my team, the clients, the B2B element particularly, I was on the road a lot, often not getting back until very late at night after a few days away at a time and getting back into the office again first thing the morning after. At the time, flexible working in that kind of job was unheard of. Taking TOIL (Time Off in Lieu) for sometimes extra-long hours spent working was not the done thing and the stereotypical old-school attitude of eye-rolls by management for the first person to leave the office at 5.30pm was rife.

 

Back then, working from home for me was not an option, and there was a pressure to always be ‘on’, an attitude that my colleague Jess Pardoe describes perfectly in her blog around mental health awareness in the PR industry. Alongside the travelling, there was a fair amount of alcohol and parties, and don’t get me wrong, I’m not afraid of either! However, I recall nights out in London where we weren’t ‘allowed’ to go home until all the clients had done (I’m older and wiser now and I know I’d be more inclined to stick up for myself if I was told at 3am that I wasn’t allowed to go to bed just because a client wanted to stay up and carry-on drinking). Unfortunately, this attitude wasn’t agency specific, this kind outlook working in PR and marketing agencies seemed to be across the board.

 

However, I’ve seen a shift over the years and thankfully many agencies have begun to recognise that teams don’t want or need a ping pong table or a ball pond in the office, they want flexible working, a fair salary and autonomy over their working day.

 

Is in-house PR better than agency?

 

When entering the PR world, one question on many graduate’s lips is what’s the difference between in house PR and working in a PR agency, or what is working at a PR agency like? Naturally, new grads are curious, as was I.

 

I’d traditionally worked in an agency environment but a lot changed for me during those strange years at the height of the COVID pandemic, and I decided to try something new in my career in a shift to working in-house. I was intrigued to find out what it would be like to be completely focused on one business, rather than juggling multiple clients at once.

 

There are of course pros and cons of both sides of the spectrum, and every place of work is different, but after a few months I found myself missing the agency life. There’s nothing quite like working across a variety of clients and having a team around you that just GET IT. It’s cliche but in an agency no two days are the same. One day you can be working on a new client pitch, conducting a messaging workshop or helping to organise a large-scale event, and the next you’re visiting a client’s factory dressed head-to-toe in PPE conducting a video shoot, or on the rooftop of a skyscraper building taking in the views and learning about the development.

 

The future of PR

 

A wise manager of mine once told me, ‘it’s PR not ER’ and it’s a phrase I’ve never forgotten, because she was absolutely right. As PR professionals, we strive to do the best work we can for our clients, but we can only do this if we aren’t burnt out and allow ourselves to switch off and have down time.

 

I’m glad to see that new grads, often from Generation Z are looking for more from their place of work and many agencies are now offering flexible and hybrid working, as well as more competitive benefits than were offered in the UK when I first entered the world of work.

 

As the buoyant job market and fight to recruit the best talent continues, I hope that this can only be a positive thing for employees, meaning businesses will continue to put people’s mental health first.

 

Source PR’s MD Louis understands the importance of looking after the team’s wellbeing, learn more about Source’s values.

 

Investigating How PR Helped Labour To A Landslide Win 25 Years Ago

Believe it or not, it is possible to see exactly where ‘Cool Britannia’ reached its high watermark.

It wasn’t at the Trainspotting film premiere or the 1996 Brit Awards, it was in fact at Downing Street of all places.

Why? A transformed Labour Party had just swept to power with an historic election win under its, at the time, charismatic leader Tony Blair.

In the wake of this victory, the new Prime Minister held a drinks reception at Number 10, which saw him host the great and the good of British society.

A now infamous image of him shaking hands with Noel Gallagher emerged from the bash which came to symbolise the unlikely fusion of politics and culture that took place in the mid-1990s.

Between Tony Blair’s election as leader in 1994 and the eve of election three years later, Labour had manoeuvred themselves into a position where they had become inextricably linked to the burgeoning Cool Britannia movement and subsequently the party of hope.

The movement symbolised optimism, hope and new beginnings and was sound tracked by Britpop and characterised by a rare self-assuredness in British culture, highlighted by Trainspotting’s warning to Hollywood that ‘their time was up’.

So how did PR help Labour to victory?

Past PR Failures

 It was no accident that Blair’s Labour found themselves at the heart of this.

Spearheaded by former journalist Alastair Campbell, the party employed a communications and PR strategy that centred on a consistent message of ‘newness’, positivity and the prospect of a ‘new dawn’ for the country.

However, having such a well-oiled media machine was a novelty for the party.

In the 1980s, Labour became synonymous with defeat, after losses in 1983 and 1987. Frankly it needed a brand overhaul.

During the eighties, the ‘Red Wedge’ movement, which saw figures such as Paul Weller promoting the party, seemed to be the perfect PR opportunity but ultimately it failed to translate to election success.

By 1992, however, election success was a real possibility after the Conservatives were deemed responsible for economic failures and Labour responded with the slogan ‘It’s Time for Labour’.

Despite party confidence, victory once again eluded them. This was, in part, down to a huge PR gaffe as reports emerged that a Party Election Broadcast about a sick little girl was fraudulent and this led to ethical questions in the media about the PEB, which damaged the party’s prospects.

The gaffe, known as ‘Jennifer’s Ear’, was a turning point in the election and cost them and the party’s incoherent public relations strategy was floundering in comparison to the Conservatives’ campaign.

With advertising giant Saatchi and Saatchi, the Conservative Party produced a series of slick and powerful billboards such as the famous boxing gloves image claiming a Labour government would bring in a ‘double whammy’ of higher prices on one hand and higher taxes on the other.

The Conservatives’ scare tactics warning against a Labour government worked well and many political commentators opine that the former’s victory was merely as a result of the electorate’s lack of trust in the latter.

Emphasising A ‘Newness’

 From the 1994 election onwards, Blair and his team set about re-branding the party to distance themselves from the past election failures and showcase to the electorate that this was the party of the new century.

With Campbell onboard as a relatively unknown campaign director, Labour had a clear and strategic message which helped them to re-brand.

This was obvious from the outset as in Blair’s first party conference speech as leader, he included the slogan ‘new Labour, new Britain’.

‘New Labour’ would be central to how the party marketed itself and it has been claimed by Blair that it was Campbell who coined the name.

‘New’ was the key buzzword for Labour in their campaigning, highlighting themselves as a modernising force that was in sharp contrast to the Conservatives, who they framed as antiquated and out of touch.

This strategy was key to how they would cast themselves alongside the Cool Britannia movement. In fact, they thrust themselves into the movement at the 1996 Brit Awards when Tony Blair presented the Outstanding Contribution award at that year’s ceremony.

Presenting this award was an opportunity that Blair took to position he and his party as relatable and a far cry from the culturally out-of-touch politics of old.

Cool Britannia symbolised a positivity in the light of the new millennium that was similarly exalted by Blair and his party who rode this wave perfectly.

By emphasising a ‘newness’, Labour were able to position themselves as synonymous with the cultural powerhouses of the time and seemed to offer hope to the electorate, while framing the Conservatives as the polar opposite.

With the D-Ream hit ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ sound tracking the party’s campaign, this newness and fresh-thinking made the public think that things really could only get better.

Getting The Message Across

Back in 1992, the tabloids had waged a war on Labour, denouncing them at every turn.

The Sun were the most vehement opponent of the party, producing infamous headlines such as ‘If Kinnock wins, will the last person to leave Britain turn out the lights?’.

However, in the five years that followed, the party had been able to woo journalists and courted moguls such as Rupert Murdoch into supporting New Labour.

This meant that having once been the denouncer of the party, Britain’s biggest newspapers The Sun and Murdoch’s other red-top The News of the World, were now ardent supporters of New Labour.

Not only did they have the press onside but as part of a new centralised comms organisation at Millbank Tower, New Labour’s message was a unified and well-oiled one, unlike days gone by when it could often be confused and fragmented.

These two factors combined helped the party to deliver key, coherent messages to the electorate about their competencies and deflect attention away from the Conservatives scare-mongering of the ‘new danger’ of New Labour.

Their campaign director Alastair Campbell, a former journalist himself, understood the mechanics of the media and he employed clever soundbites and, the now much maligned, spin to ensure that Labour’s message was clear and positive.

Using the media in such a way, along with centralising communications, meant that the party could communicate to the electorate that they could be trusted on issues such as the economy and crime, with their slogan ‘tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime’ proving effective.

It Was PR Wot Won It

 While the famous Sun headline ‘It was the Sun wot won it’ celebrated a Conservative victory over Labour in 1992, the very same paper was celebrating the reverse result in ’97.

A huge part of Labour’s election win 25 years ago, was down to its ability to communicate and using the media to its advantage.

It also rode the wave of optimism and hope in Britain that was propelled by Britpop, Brit Art a burgeoning film scene and maybe even England’s success at Euro 96 and positioned itself front and centre of this.

This created the perfect electoral cocktail that was guzzled by a triumphant party just as, as they claimed, ‘a new dawn ha[d] broken’.

 

Featured image from Flickr: https://flickr.com/photos/axeley/2526998419/in/photolist-4RiwAg-2kWs6ka-MFQhcH-bs3QPm-7iTDku-bs3QEw-8Gkni8

 

In-article image from Flickr:  https://flickr.com/photos/scottishpoliticalarchive/5181666183/in/photolist-8TToQ8-z7wUJ-4uVxGe-BEC2K-4nFaBr-4nTWc3-z7wt7-z7wrB-7UfLqj-dN9PeL-4nCuTF-3nECci-ASNx5z-BECz3A-4oeqC5-rRRkKQ-4oamyz-4nCuT6-YfBeRg-3nK7JU-3nK7EC-3nEChe-YsX4TT-YcWy3s-95o86E-5RUeW4-4D5JXx-9VdpLH-wu7w43-cAUExd-agCYsg-7Ucvur-7Ucv44-5gwtK8-YuHPaB-2jBMsYK-avHLUm-8u3rbV-2h9sdZ7-2h9sdVV-2h9pDCH-2h9sdP2-2h9sdXD-2h9rprA-2h9pDxH-2h9pDBa-2h9rpvD-2h9rpFZ-dyWDSd-2gM3d

My Experience Studying PR at University

Moving away for university was something I always wanted to do. Being from a small town in the North of Ireland, it felt like most people followed the same path staying at home for university. I wanted a fresh start in a new city. Following in my brothers’ footsteps I decided Liverpool would be the perfect place to make that new start.

I studied business at A-level, which was something I thoroughly enjoyed, therefore wanting to continue down that path at university.

When applying for university, John Moores really stood out to me. The university’s facility of business offered a range of business degrees and specialist areas. The opportunity of courses the university provided helped me decide on a specialist degree in Business and Public Relations.

Why Did I Choose PR?

Public Relations was something I had little to no knowledge on, but the university modules intrigued me to want to learn more. With modules including ‘Creative Media’, ‘Event Management’ and ‘Marketing Communications’, these were some new areas I was interested in exploring.

Throughout the course I began to see and learn how important Public Relations was within a business, such as with the rise of ‘influencers’ and a whole online world where companies could now promote and market themselves. Whilst working through a range of different modules I got to experience how PR helps to run a businesses, from writing press releases to crisis comms and even dabbling in digital marketing skills like google analytics.

‘Integrated digital marketing’ was one of the most engaging and interesting modules I took at university. The module included the building and design of a holiday website for upmarket clients selling luxury properties. Blogs and email campaigns were also elements within the website creation.

I got to where I am now because of the experience I received throughout the course, particularly in the digital marketing module. I current work as a Junior Account Executive with Source PR, I am pleased to be able to put my newfound knowledge to use.

Preparing For A PR Campaign – #1 Set Clear Goals

Breakthrough creative ideas, solid journalist contacts, storytelling craft, strong press release writing skills are all things that go towards preparing for a PR campaign and making it great. However, to achieve the best results for a PR campaign, we need to go right back to the start.

The brief. And more specifically, the goals.

First Steps… Preparing For A PR Campaign

Setting Clear Goals Is Key!

If the brief for a PR campaign is too vague then it will fail before it’s even started. With no clear goals and objectives to aim for, how can success be measured? How can a client and a PR practitioner know they have been on the same page in their aims to succeed?

Communication Is Important

Both sides need to spend time communicating and questioning at the very beginning of a relationship to gain the facts and test mutual understanding of what any PR activity is trying to achieve. This is essential before embarking any further on working together.

Understanding Your PR Aims

It’s also crucial that the person requesting the PR understands what it can achieve and how it fits into the wider marketing mix and sales funnel. PR is not going to drive direct sales, although many people believe that’s what they’re going to get by spending money on it.

That belief will only get you disappointment, I’m afraid.

Defining SMART Goals

So, if you’re the PR deliverer or PR requester it’s vital that you both sit down and define what the goals are for the activity and how that’s going to be measured. If the goal is ‘to appear in Time magazine’ when you’re an SME based in a small village in Lancashire then, sorry to break it to you, but that’s not very realistic. Nothing is impossible (depending on budget and how creative you are willing to get!) but it’s not very likely.

Better goals are ones such as ‘to increase the visibility of our brand in relevant trade media’ or ‘raise the profile of our MD as an expert in X subject matter’. Any decent PR person will be able to come up with a relevant campaign to achieve either of those two.

However, to get the best out of your PR campaign, the goals need to be SMART ones and need to be made collaboratively with the PR team so they both meet your objectives and are achievable with any activity proposed.

Once you’ve set the goals with your PR team, then to achieve them you need to trust their advice on what is going to give you the best chance at hitting them. They are the experts you are employing to do the job so let them do what they are good at and ensure you have regular reviews on what progress they are making.

Tips For Developing A Career In PR

A career in PR can be extremely rewarding and it sounds incredibly cliché, but every day is different, truly! Unfortunately, it can be said that PR has a PR problem. It’s not currently taught in the school curriculum, and whilst there are university courses out there, they aren’t as abundant as the likes of business management and classic marketing. In a bid to tell you more about what working in PR is like, and how you can enter this industry, we’ve put together our top tips for developing a career in PR below.

We are also hiring, so if you have experience in communications, social media, marketing or similar, then we’d love to hear from you. Please do drop our friendly team a message, or, read on!

What Does A Career In PR Involve?

‘Public relations’ is the maintaining and growing a brand’s reputation. This can be anything from handling crisis communications when things go wrong, to the more positive and exciting task of getting a business’s name ‘out there’. Day to day, working in PR can include writing and issuing press releases, running CSR (corporate social responsibility) campaigns, managing social media accounts, creating website content, and so much more! At Source PR, we always say we act as an extension to our client’s marketing and sales teams, supporting them at every step. This is great as it means for us, no day is the same, and for our clients, it means they get a passionate team of professionals working on their account.

4 Tips For Developing A Career In PR

Does PR sound as though it may be for you? Great! The good thing about this industry is that it can be home to all types of people with different skill sets. PR needs its mix of introverts and extroverts, as well as people with different capabilities whether writing, creative thinkers, planners or simply confident communicators. You may already have some experience in PR, or you may have none at all. Either way, here’s our advice for you.

  1. Go and seek experience

PR is a real ‘hands on’ job, so when developing a career in PR we’d always recommend getting some industry experience under your belt, whether that’s through a placement year or doing some internships (you don’t have to be a student do to them!). Entry-level PRs sometimes find they are pipped to the post by applicants who have a little more experience than them, you can help combat that by bolstering your CV with time spent at agencies and businesses. Most PR agencies will gratefully take on interns and individuals for work experience, so the best thing to do is ask!

  1. Be proactive with your learning

When working in an industry as versatile as PR, things can change quickly. So, we always encourage our own team to be proactive in the steps they take to keep their knowledge up to date. There’s a wealth of industry conferences, training days and resources out there for you to dip your toe in. If you’re looking to get ahead in your career, we couldn’t recommend this enough. Plus, you never know who you’ll meet at events, they’re great for networking!

  1. Get social media savvy

As social media experts ourselves, naturally we see having your own social media presence as important! Though it’s not vital in developing a career in PR, it certainly helps. You can use Twitter and LinkedIn as vessels to share the things you’re doing that are industry-related, and also use those platforms to network too. We love using our own social media channels to share updates on what life is like here at Source PR, as well as broadcasting some great bits of coverage for our clients. You can follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as Facebook and Instagram.

  1. Hone the right skills

The most crucial thing to us is passion, so make sure that PR is the industry you want to pursue your career in. Once you have that nailed down, then you can focus on the skills you need to be successful in the sector and develop them. As eloquently written by our PR intern Bridie, there are a number of different ways you can ‘enter’ PR, whether that’s through a traditional PR course at university, a journalism or English one, or no degree at all! We think the attributes most crucial when developing a career in PR are:

  • A creative nature
  • Great writing skills
  • Proactivity and enthusiasm
  • Team player
  • Friendly and personable
  • Willingness to learn
  • Being organised
  • Passion for PR

The PR industry is incredibly supportive and whether you’re just getting started or are looking to make your next move, there are a bounty of resources out there to help you along your way. As we mentioned earlier, we are currently growing our team here at Source PR. We’re a small, hardworking team that has a genuine desire to do the best work for our clients. We care about your development and help each other out every day. If you’d like to find out more, you can check out our job post on LinkedIn, or pop us a message to hello@sourcepr.co.uk.

Photo by cottonbro: https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-holding-black-iphone-5-5053835/

Greenwashing In PR: Making Sure Your CSR Messages Are Whiter Than White

Greenwashing is a hot topic and hit the headlines recently when The Independent revealed that the number of adverts banned for “greenwashing” has tripled in a year.

But what does greenwashing mean? According to the Cambridge dictionary, to greenwash is to make people believe that your company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is.

When it comes to a business’s values, environmental issues are often top of the agenda for many in 2022, but it’s clear that the public are becoming savvy when it comes to CSR (corporate social responsibility) claims with regards to an organisation’s green credentials.

Below, we examine some businesses accused of greenwashing in an attempt to gain positive PR and look at an example of a brilliant business that is genuinely making a difference when it comes to climate change.

Ryanair

Ryanair is known for cheap flights and more recently for establishing one of the most talked about accounts on TikTok. In 2020 the Dublin-headquartered airline made the headlines for all the wrong reasons when announcing itself as Europe’s “lowest emissions airline.” The Advertising Standards Agency promptly banned these adverts as the claim was simply not true. To make this claim, the airline had pulled stats out from 2011 and not included some of the major airlines in their table of C02 emissions, as well as failing to factor in seating density.

Epic fail.

Shell

Oil and gas giant Shell were left red faced and accused of gaslighting in 2020 when the social media team posted a poll asking followers if they were “willing to change to help reduce emissions.”

Under normal circumstances this would be a fair question, however given around 1-2% of global CO2 emissions come from Shell’s activities every year, while it continues to invest billions in oil and gas, this didn’t sit well with many. The queen of environmental campaigning herself, Greta Thunberg, even waded in on this one.

Shell’s poll and replies can be found here.

Backlash: Greta tweeted about Shell

Pura

Perhaps it’s self-indulgent to mention one of Source PR’s own clients as an example of some good (or great, even if we say so ourselves) positive PR that is centred around an environmentally savvy business. We’re particularly proud of this one so we’re going to shout about it. Pura is a new client for Source PR and one that the team were excited to work on. Founded in 2020 by new parents and husband and wife duo Guy and Abi Fennell, Pura’s aim is to prevent baby wipe and nappy pollution by creating plastic free, biodegradable baby products. When the couple’s new baby Ezra arrived, Guy and Abi were shocked at the number of nappies and baby wipes that their new addition required every day and that ultimately end up in landfill.

After discovering that baby wipes containing plastic often take over 100 years to degrade and nappies up to 500 years, the pair have been on a mission to create positive change.

When Pura teamed up with Source PR, one of the first media announcements was an initiative supported by the Welsh government to resurface 1.4 miles of road with dirty nappies. Pura and nappy recycling experts NappiCycle teamed up in the resurfacing of the road between Cardigan and Aberystwyth.

Unsurprisingly this environmentally-friendly and innovative piece of news received regional and national media coverage from the likes of BBC News, ITV News, The Daily Mail and The Mirror.

BBC Pura coverage

When you’re setting out to publicly talk about a particular cause, such as helping to save the planet, it’s crucial to critically examine claims and statistics in order to make sure you don’t end up creating a PR disaster over a PR coup.

Here at Source, we will make sure that you have nothing going on in your business that will contradict the claims you want to state before we speak out loud about them. This can make the difference between a PR crisis or a PR celebration.  If you think we could help you with your paid, earned, shared and owned media activity, then get in touch.

Are April Fool’s Day Campaigns Still Effective For Brands?

Written by our PR intern and university student Bridie Buckingham

We all have iconic April Fool’s Day campaigns that come to mind, whether that’s from years gone by or more recently.

Perhaps it’s Ant & Dec’s fictional rebrand to Dec & Ant? Or the Teletubbies’ dive into cryptocurrency with TubbyCoin? What about Paddington’s shocking revelation last year that actually, he’s not that into marmalade anymore.

For 364 days a year, brands work hard to create content that builds and strengthens trust with their audience. This is the bread and butter of PR, and it isn’t easy!

But on a single day (or even just the morning, if you’re the superstitious type) in April, many brands suspend those trust-building efforts in the name of creating content deliberately meant to fool (or worse, make fools of) their audiences.

Does April Fool’s Day really give brands a reason to break the rules and craft fake content and ‘sell’ faux products?

Should You Pull An April Fool’s Day Campaign With Your Brand?

To sum it up in a sentence: if your brand has never used humour-based content before, don’t do it.

April Fool’s Day pranks can, and do, work for businesses that can make them relevant, but if your brand isn’t prepared to devote significant resources to develop a thoughtful, well-executed campaign, it’s not worth dabbling in. There are plenty of examples to justify that.

As is often the case with other awareness days and national holidays, sometimes brands may attempt to be involved in a particular celebration because it’s trending, but actually have nothing topical to contribute. Some call it woke washing and this can actually do your brand more damage than good. Don’t be a ‘jack of all trades, and a master of none’, get involved when you know you can do it well. Here at Source PR, we’re all about not just posting for posting’s sake, we love relevancy – and that’s what PR in 2022 should be all about.

Is It The Right Time For April Fool’s Day Campaigns?

As Russia continues to wage war on Ukraine, we are in a similar to predicament to that of 2020, where we asked whether it was appropriate to execute April Fool’s Day stunts at all, no matter the brand? It’s an interesting question and certainly one there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to. So, our Account Manager Jess asked the PR population of Twitter, here’s what they said…

How To Execute A Branded April Fool’s Stunt (At Your Own Risk!)

However, if you feel like an April Fool’s gag is the perfect stunt for your brand then, our advice would be…

  • The most believable April Fool’s jokes often come in the form of e-commerce landing pages for gag products. This approach is your best bet if your main goal is media mentions or backlinks since it gives journalists a perfect place to send their readers.
  • If your content is fresh, unique, and valuable, media and other sites are more likely to talk about it, so make your stunt trendy.
  • Use the 1st of April as a time to test audience response to products or services that seem outlandish. Maybe a bacon-scented candle may work after all?!
  • Use a separate landing page for your content – don’t mix fact and fiction on the same page. Your consumers won’t thank you for that.
  • Don’t develop a promotion that disrupts your audience’s use of your products or services.
  • Harness the appeal of an immediate reveal, don’t lead your customers on and make sure you’re putting your content out at the right time, especially if using social scheduling content.
  • Make the content relevant and satisfy the audience’s curiosity quickly.
  • Finally, invite your audience inside your humorous content efforts and enlist their help (in the form of hashtags or other interactive features) in spreading the fun on social media.

Hopefully, we’ve supplied you with some food for thought. But always bear in mind that April Fool’s pranks can go very wrong very fast. You can never be assured that your joke will go down well with your entire audience. Think about the risk vs. reward.

We’d love to continue the conversation on social media, so if you have any thoughts to add please do let us know on Twitter.

Influencer Vs. Creator – Who’ll Come Out On Top In 2022?

In a recent webinar with Head of Ryanair’s social, Michael Corcoran, one of his arguments that I found particularly compelling (and perhaps a little controversial) was that influencer marketing is on the decline, and is about to be replaced with working with creators instead. Will creator marketing catch on? I’ve been thinking a lot about it since, and here’s what I think.

So Wait… Who’s Who?

But first, let me explain, to my understanding, what influencers and creators are, and indeed what the difference between them is.

Influencers are who we’re more likely to be familiar with, as they’ve been around for a long time now… Think back to the pre-2010s when Zoella was just dipping her toe into YouTubing! Influencers are users of social media channels, most commonly Instagram now, who do what they say on the tin – they influence their followers to use a service or buy a product, mostly because they’ve been paid to say they like it.

Creators, on the other hand, are users who’ve built a following not through sponsored brand deals, but by making content that we love to engage with. The best place to go for a wealth of examples of this, is my favourite platform of the moment – TikTok. Think trainspotting Francis Bourgeois (2.2m followers) or comedian Cole Anderson (1.1m followers); they’ve garnered popularity by creating content that people enjoy.

The blinding difference is that most influencers are effectively paid to say they like and endorse something, whereas creators (at the moment anyway) don’t tend to get paid by businesses for what they create, they may generate revenue through other means such as TikTok’s creator fund, for example. The one word that comes to mind is authenticity.

Don’t Kill The Influencer!

In the interest of being completely transparent, I think ‘death of the influencer’ is very dramatic. Though I certainly see why marketing is shifting more to bespoke content creation (as I’ll come on to in a little while), I don’t think we can discredit the impact of influencers altogether. In fact, I’d continue to endorse using them for a number of businesses and think they are just as effective, if not more effective thanks to increased social media usage, than ever before. The shift, for me, is the need to focus on relevancy. Gone are the days where ex Love Islander’s promoting car air fresheners seems like a good idea (was it ever a good idea?!) and here are the days where we only work with influencers who have a genuine connection to our brands and an impressionable audience who trust the content that’s being posted by said influencer, sponsored or otherwise. This is what we’ve always done with our clients, and it’s what I believe is the next step for influencer marketing. Unfortunately, this inevitably means that influencers without a niche or a hard-earned following, such as reality TV stars, for example, will become less relevant. But what it does mean is we can start putting more weight behind smaller accounts that have just as good, if not a better, influence. Don’t just take my word for it, though, 89% of brands still deem influencer marketing as a vital string to their marketing bow in 2022.

Why Creators Are An Attractive Option

In the way that once, influencers would post a hybrid mix of organic and sponsored content which made them feel more impressionable and approachable, now, creators have stepped into those shoes and are becoming more popular for the same reasons. By not relying on brand deals, they are building and retaining audiences through the quality content they put out. They’ll often have a loyal following – which makes them particularly attractive to brands trying to reach new audiences. Plus, creators can promote products and services in new and exciting ways, and many a time you wouldn’t even know you’re seeing sponsored content until you read a disclaimer in the description. This is the ideal scenario for brands who want to be seen, but not in overly gimmicky way that feels bogus.

Will The Two End Up Merging?

Yes. I absolutely think that influencers will inevitably become creators and the lines will blur. For the most part anyway. In a way you could argue that influencers have already been creators, as they didn’t build a following through entirely promotional content – they’ve have had to create organic content at some point. To add to this, many of the influencers that we work with here at Source PR still retain that mix and balance, which gives them credibility, so in a way, I guess they are creators in their own right. As TikTok becomes harder to ignore, even overtaking Google as the most used website in 2021, I in no doubt expect to see more influencers moving over to that platform and diversifying their content to remain relevant. This is another reason I’d say that the influencer is not ‘dead’, so to speak because they always have the chance to change up their strategy and move with the times. I for one will definitely be keeping my eye on it over the next year, and look forward to seeing what opportunities arise.

So, Which Should You Use?

To end, let’s summarise. What’s best to use for your business, influencer, or creator? To put it very, very simply (and I promise influencer marketing is not this simple when you actually do it), if you have a product that is diverse enough to be marketed creatively and in different ways, then try your hand at creators. For example, I’ve seen a number of sponsored videos on TikTok now for food and hygiene brands as these can easily be inserted into any situation or scenario. Or, if you have something you’d rather be promoted in a specific way, then the influencer is your best bet as you can work with them to control the narrative. Remember though, always go for relevancy over vanity metrics, such as followers. In fact, research even suggested that mid-level reach is better than going big when working with creators too. I’d say travel businesses could test either, you can curate content with influencers to promote your accommodation/resort in a nice, manicured way, but could also work with influencers whose MO is to visit lovely places and create videos about them, to do the same for your business. The key with whichever form of third party marketing you utilise is to not expect magical results from it, be realistic and try different things until you find the perfect formula. You’ll be laughing when you do!