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.

SOCIAL MEDIA ADVICE FOR B2B COMPANIES

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

Top Social Media Advice For B2B Companies

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

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

Find The Right Social Media Platforms

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

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

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

Utilise Industry News

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

People Like People

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

Keep Things Interesting

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

Social media advice for B2B companies: competitions

Leverage The Right Hashtags

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

Don’t Underestimate Facebook Groups

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

 

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

A GUIDE TO COMMUNICATING THROUGH THE THIRD LOCKDOWN

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Lion at Malpas voucher

What To Say When There’s Nothing To Say

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

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

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

Other Lockdown Communication Tips

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

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

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

OUR TOP PR CAMPAIGNS OF 2020 (SO FAR)

As the year draws to a close, we’ve taken a look at some of our favourite PR campaigns of 2020. A difficult year to say the very least, there’s been a lot of red tape around executing certain marketing stunts. With not one, but two national lockdowns, it’s certainly not been easy. However, a lot of brands have navigated through this year with energy, creativity and determination – certainly all things that account to a great communications strategy.

2020 has been the year where some have chosen to stop communicating, but where it has never been more important not to do so. We’ve seen our clients reap the rewards of continuing with strong messaging through lockdown, to be met with an abundance of sales after restrictions were lifted, such as Combermere Abbey. We’ve also been able to work with the likes of local charity Hospice of the Good Shepherd, who found that PR activity including, even during these strange and uncertain times, paid off – with broadcast news coverage on BBC North West Tonight contributing to over £50k raised for the charity. It pays to communicate well, and there’ve been plenty of brands who’ve proved that over the last year. Here are some of our top picks at The Source.

Our Top PR Campaigns Of 2020

Beth Ellis: KFC’s Slogan Switch-Up

Beth Ellis, PR account executive has heaps of praise for another fast-food brand, KFC, who changed their iconic slogan earlier this year in line with national hygiene advice…

“Even though the campaign came out in August, pretty late in the day after the initial lockdown in March, I think it strikes the perfect tone for how businesses should be advertising during such a sensitive time. It takes one of the most famous marketing slogans in the world and removes the part that would be deemed ‘unhygienic’ or unwise right now, without not going over the top or overly sentimental. As it’s an old company, KFC cleverly uses a photo of its original fried chicken bucket to indicate that, while things are very strange right now, life goes on and tough times will pass – worth considering that the chain was founded during the Great Depression and has seen its way through rocky times in history.”

PR campaigns 2020 - KFC chicken

Credit: KFC

Janet Hare: Alex Scheffler’s Covid-19 Book For Children

Janet Hare, client services director, explains her favourite campaign of the year that tackles Coronavirus education…

“Children undoubtedly were one of the hardest-hit groups of people when Covid-19 struck in Spring this year. Suddenly their lives were turned upside down when no school and no friends became the government ruling for several months. How could adults who were they themselves struggling wildly with the otherworldly concept of a pandemic communicate to those much younger what it all meant and offer reassurance that everything would be OK? They had no clue themselves. Suddenly faced with a situation never seen before, how could they find the right words to say the right things to the children who looked up to them for guidance and reassurance? Luckily, parents around the country were rescued by the warm comforting blanket of someone inextricably linked with a time of peace, cosiness and safety – storytime. In April, well-known illustrator Axel Scheffler, who does the drawings for many of Julia Donaldson’s much-loved children’s books, got together with his publisher at the nations’ parents time of need to create a free book to explain the pandemic through familiar and comforting rhythms of words, characters and illustrations. What children needed at a time of uncertainty surrounded by worried adult faces and scary news bulletins was what children and adults let’s face it, always rely on, the comfort of the familiar. The digital book aimed at primary school children, ‘Coronavirus: A book for children about Covid-19’ was written with input from a professor of infectious diseases, a psychologist and several teachers and was made free to download. The publishers then went onto record an audio version of the book, read by the voice of Paddington and Paddington 2’s Mr Brown, Hugh Bonneville. Again, a familiar and comforting voice. For me, this gave me the words I needed in the right tone to enable me to help my child understand what was going on in a suddenly mad world. For countless other parents and adults, it came to the rescue and satisfied a need just at the right time. Although it wasn’t done from a place of profiteering to me timing and tapping into and meeting a need are essential to marketing a product successfully. If then you can also tap into a positive emotion, such as comfort, then that’s surely the winning combo! Since then, Axel and Julia have also got together to create coronavirus-related scenarios for some of their best-loved characters such as The Gruffalo and Stick Man lending the familiar once again to the absurdity of the current situation whilst adding humour also into the mix!”

PR campaigns 2020 Covid-19 book Axel Scheffler

Credit: Axel Scheffler

Jessica Pardoe: Burger King Says “Support McDonald’s!”

Jessica Pardoe, senior PR account executive notes one of her favourite lockdown campaigns, and this one has been considered controversial…

“Burger King’s communications strategy is notoriously famous for bashing their biggest competitor, McDonald’s. From encouraging customers to drive there, and drive away to get a free whopper, to responding to claims surrounding the unnatural longevity of a big mac by proudly broadcasting their own mouldy whoppers. Which is why, as the UK entered a second lockdown, it was a surprise to see Burger King UK encouraging their customers to actually support no others than their arch enemy McDonald’s, as well as other big competitors. I personally really liked this as it was bold enough to win them plenty of press coverage, as well as generating a lot of conversation on social. The only issue with the campaign is that they could have perhaps encouraged customers to shop smaller independent businesses, rather than the large corporations that are already probably sitting on a great deal of money. At the end of the day though, what Burger King opted to do had a bigger talk-ability impact and you have to weigh up those kinds of decisions with your marketing.”

PR campaigns 2020 Burger King visit McDonalds

Credit: Burger King Twitter

Evie Shaw: “Thank You For Not Riding With Us” By Uber

Evie Shaw, Account Manager, gives kudos to Uber for encouraging people to stay home…

In the fast-paced world of marketing & PR, the main goal for a brand or a business is always to subtly (or not so subtly) push a product or a service.  We’re exposed to numerous campaigns every day; some stand out and some don’t. This year Uber caught my attention and it wasn’t because they were advertising their app or service. Uber was actually thanking people for not riding with them and asking viewers to, “stay at home for everyone who can’t”. The brand created an ad that was relatable to every single person in the country and the world. It shows scenes of family members saying hello through a window, friends sharing a glass of wine on Zoom and families doing home workouts with the dog getting in the way!  Although 2020 has been an incredibly hard year for everyone, Uber touched on the elements of togetherness and solidarity that have come from lockdown and the “stay home” message. Yes, Uber wasn’t advertising themselves, but they were still able to highlight their brand in a positive way and as we come to the end of 2020, the Uber ad is one that I’ll remember for being heart-warming and supportive.  It was a great piece of PR for the brand and a positive reputation-building exercise.

Louis Hill: Captain Tom’s Triumph

Louis Hill, Managing Director of The Source, praises our new national treasure, Captain Tom Moore…

There have been some amazingly creative campaigns throughout 2020, but we should at least mention the government’s efforts in raising public awareness of how to best protect ourselves, the NHS and others from the threats posed by Covid-19. Using simple communications and an easy to recall “hand, face & space” mantra, the public was able to easily understand and take action.  The communications show how a simple message can be easily carried in the media, over the airwaves and on-line – particularly when reinforced by a range of commentators and celebrities, all supported by clear visuals.  Sadly the communication is in sharp contrast to current messaging surrounding the UK’s complex and overtly complicated and divisive Tiered system. We should also pay a special homage to Captain Tom who managed to raise more than £33m for the NHS.  Again, this illustrates how a simple idea that captures the imagination can truly resonate and reach into people’s hearts and minds.  It also shows that even in this digital age, it’s the people, story and characters that matter.  Captain Tom may even have taken the title of the UK’s oldest ‘influencer’ with the likes of GQ putting him on their cover. Very well deserved and not at all bad for a centenarian…

PR AND MARKETING FOR CHESHIRE’S MOST ICONIC PUBS

Two of Cheshire’s most iconic pubs have called on Source PR to help support them with their PR, social media and content marketing as they look to reengage with customers after lockdown.

The Swan in Tarporley and the newly refurbished Lion in Malpas, both part of The Bear Inns Group, have benefited from multi-million pound investments and refurbishments and are now looking to raise awareness of their features as well as re-engage with the community.

The Swan, an historic coaching inn dating from 1565, has been an integral part of the South Cheshire community for over 400 years.  The refurbished pub maintains its characterful Georgian features including log fires and rustic decor in keeping with its coaching inn roots.

The Georgian coaching inn offers 16 double bedrooms all of which are en-suite.  Located in the main building, or the adjacent coach house, the rooms have been recently refurbished to offer a unique and characterful place to stay in the heart of Cheshire, just eight miles from Chester, and only a short commute to Manchester or Liverpool.

To support the local community, The Swan has joined the Government initiative, ‘Eat Out to Help Out’.  The new government scheme incentivises customers to eat out in their favourite eating establishments by giving them a discount which the business can then claim back from the government

The Lion is a fully renovated country pub with double bedrooms set in the heart of Malpas, one of Cheshire’s most picturesque villages.   Formerly The Red Lion, the site dates back to the 16th Century and has welcomed locals and visitors for centuries.  Scheduled to reopened in Autumn 2020 after extensive renovation and refurbishment, the pub now offers a large open bar area with a range of quality local ales and lagers, wines and spirits as well as classic cocktails.  The area has been cleverly segmented to offer a cosy spaces with fires, open bar area as well as relaxed and more formal dining areas throughout.

The complete renovation and refurbishment saw the addition of 16 double bedrooms.  Residents are offered a range of beautifully decorated rooms, each named after local Cheshire villages. The double rooms are all en-suite and have been designed by award winning Lister Carter, a leading interior design company.

Louis Hill, Managing Director of Source PR, says: “Pubs are an integral part of the community, providing not only an excellent pace to eat and drink but importantly a place for people to come together.  We love pubs and this could not be a better PR brief for us to get stuck into.”

Source PR has a track record of supporting the opening of pubs, bars and restaurants having supported Cheshire Cat Pubs & Bars with their seven pubs across the UK, culminating in them winning the UK’s Best Pub.  The team also helped Jerry Brunning, founder of Brunning & Price, when he returned to the sector with the launch of the Swan in Marbury.

THE MARKETING STRATEGIES YOU SHOULD BE USING RIGHT NOW

As the UK is slowly easing out of lockdown, it has never been more important to deploy a number of marketing strategies to help support your business as it begins to resume normalcy. Normality might be a stretch, as life as we know it has changed a lot over the course of the law few months.

Nevertheless, lots of brands have adjusted their procedures accordingly so that they can work and trade in the “new normal” we have found ourselves to be in. Now that provisions have been made, it’s time to start marketing to your pre-existing, and potential new customers – let’s make up for lost time.

The value of marketing should never be understated. Even during UK lockdown where many businesses had to close, there was still a need to communicate and keep your brand alive. The idea was to not let your customers forget about you, and to keep them engaged and excited for when you may be able to resume ‘business as normal’. Now, since non-essential retailers have been able to open, and as the hospitality industry begins to resume next month, your marketing strategies need to change accordingly. No longer is the message: “we are here waiting for your return”, it is “we are back, and this is why you should be spending money with us”.

To get such messages across, you’ll need to use a number of marketing strategies and tactics. One is often not enough. In order to recuperate the losses that lockdown might have brought, you’re going to want to be visible to a large audience of varying demographics and with different interests. As well as remarketing to existing customers, now’s the time to start encouraging new ones in too.

Below, our team have put together some advice on marketing for hospitality, retail and other industries that might have been impacted by the Covid-19 restrictions.

Marketing Strategies For Hospitality, Retail & Other Sectors

As mentioned above, you’re going to want to deploy a number of marketing strategies in order to reach as many (relevant) people as possible. There are a number of ways in which you can do this, and they include…

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is great for retargeting, as chances are your followers like your content, or even better – your brand. As such, utilising social media could be the low hanging fruit for your reopening marketing strategies. Use platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to share business updates, inspirational content, hygiene protocols that will give your customers a safe experience, and anything else that you know is a particular hit with your consumers. To help build following, and to get people excited about your brand again, you might even want to run a social media competition or two. The most important thing is to remain active, you want to be popping up time and time again to your audience so that you’re on their mind ahead of 4th of July, where most businesses will be able to resume trading.

Word Of Mouth Marketing

Word of mouth marketing remains to be the best tactic there is. It’s said that as many as 83% of people would trust a reccomendation, if it came from their friends or family. Though this is largely an organic process, there are some things you can do to help it along. Why not encourage your consumers to leave you a good review on social media, or focus on branding so that even after they leave your establishment, they remember you. This could be a branded gift bag, or even something as small as a branded after-dinner mint if you’re a restaurant. When a customer goes home, and their friend or relative asks about you (perhaps being prompted after seeing your brand), you’re going to want them to say good things. Of course, word of mouth marketing is largely encouraged by the business providing an excellent service or product, so this should be a crucial focus as you reopen, or prepare to reopen on the 4th of July. Remember to share positive testimonials on social media too, as they can help reinforce to stakeholders why your brand is awesome. Reading a good review could be the final push a potential consumer, who’s been sitting on the fence, needs to pay you a visit.

Public Relations (PR)

PR is our bread and butter here at Source PR, but it also fundamentally important to your overall marketing strategy. Public Relations is a blanket term which covers your reputation management, this can be built up in lots of ways. Fundamentally though, it’s important to work on your strategy, possibly by utilising a PR agency, to ensure your brand image is a strong one, and one that rises above key competitors in your industry. A big part of PR is media relations, which involves getting your brand into media titles, both online and in print. This kind of exposure for your brand is great as you adjust to trading again, as it can reach a potential audience pool wider than your social media, for example, might be able to get.

PPC & Paid Social

Another way to reach a wider audience, and one that we would recommend if you’re trying to grow your consumer base is PPC and paid social. This involves using the ad-services on Google, as well as Facebook and Instagram. Paid social ads mean that your content will reach eyeballs that might never have interacted with your brand before (or those that have, that are yet to make a conversion), whereas PPC will put you at the top of a Google results page when potential customers are searching for queries that relate to your business.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Another way to target searchers, and perhaps the most effective, is through Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). When your customers search for queries, such as “DIY stores near me” then if your business name appears near the top of that results page, it’s more likely that they’ll come to visit you. In fact, according to Think With Google, 82% of smartphone users use a search engine when looking for a local business. SEO, the process of improving your website so you rank higher for these terms, is a difficult strategy that takes many years to master, but is a marketing strategy well worth considering. Why? Because you can not only reach a new audience, but also one that’s geo-targeted. Plus, the number of searchers is huge. According to Hubspot, Google processes around 70,000 searches every second.

Which marketing strategies will you be deploying as we move out of lockdown? If you need assistance in social media, PR, PPC, Paid Social, SEO, Influencer Marketing or any other means of communication, then why not send us a message and see how we can support your business?

NON-ESSENTIAL RETAIL STORES: HOW TO REBUILD CONSUMER TRUST

On the 15th June 2020, the Government allowed non-essential retail stores to reopen after being initially forced to close in April due to the outbreak of Coronavirus. Since, it’s been a tough ride for business owners. Trying to maintain a level of consumer trust whilst also being unable to operate is difficult. With many workers on furlough and so many businesses having to cease trading in all respects, some companies mightn’t have had the time to work on their communications and brand reputations during the lockdown period. So, if this is you, we’ve put together some advice on how to rebuild consumer trust and your brand image as you reopen today.

Rebuild Consumer Trust With Visibility

Rebuilding trust starts with being transparent and visible. There are a number of channels you can use to communicate with your stakeholders: social media, email, face to face, even through the press by getting publicity for your brand. You’ll also want to reach people that aren’t in your pre-existing consumer pool, too. We’ll touch on rebuilding stakeholder relations further down, but to really get your foot off the ground as non-essential retail stores begin to reopen, you’re going to want to make sure you’re visible to the entire public. As many people as you can be.

Spread the word of your reopening far and wide, make use of social media, and also sponsored posts where appropriate. Generate press coverage for your business and be loud. It’s all about being visible, especially if you trade in a saturated market. Don’t go quite and assume people will remember you – it’s been a torrid time for us all, you’ll need to remind people why they will love your brand. This is the first step of rebuilding trust.

Communicate What You Are Doing Differently

Now that you have the attention of stakeholders, you need to make sure you’re telling them the right thing. When announcing that you are reopening for trading, you’ll also need to communicate at the same time the steps you are taking to be Covid-19 secure. Presently, non-essential retail stores are only allowed to reopen if they can follow the 2m social distancing rules and can put precautions in place to protect shoppers. You’ll likely be doing this, so let your customers know too.

Lockdown has been an extraordinary and unprecedented time for us all, not least in the UK but across the whole world. Consumer attitudes are bound to have shifted and thus it’s only to be expected that some may be reluctant to get back out there and visit retailers such as yourself again. If you want to rebuild consumer trust, you need to be prepared to be very open, honest and detailed about how you are keeping people safe; and more importantly – you need to ensure those responsible measures are adhered to.

It could be as simple as posting on social media the signage you have installed, the sanitation points that you have around stores or the precautions staff are taking when they come into contact with consumers, or you could post updates on your website or email your databases. Have you and your staff taken Covid-19 hygiene courses in preparation? Share that too. There are plenty of ways to put the message across, the most important thing is making sure it’s said one way or another.

Encourage And Share Testimonials

One of the best forms of marketing remains to be WOM (word of mouth). Around 75% of people go to friends of family for product or service recommendations. If you’re offering a great in-store experience that allows customers to feel safe, then it’s likely they’ll tell somebody that they know about it. However, as a business, it helps to move that along even more and encourage wider testimonials. Is there a way you can incentivise customers to review their shopping experience? If so, this is something worth capitalising on as not only does this encourage further support from the public but it also gives you content to leverage on social media to keep on reinforcing and rebuilding consumer trust in your brand.

Don’t Ignore The Situation, Acknowledge It

Finally, it could be tempting to adopt a ‘business as usual’ stance. Not all brands will want to address the issue of Coronavirus head on, perhaps in fears of it putting more fear into consumers or even because simply that’s what everybody else is talking about. However, news concerning Covid-19 is quite frankly unavoidable. It’s fair to assume that almost everyone living in the UK will be aware to some degree of what has happened, and as such to not address it could even be seen as ignorant.

It’s important to acknowledge as a brand why you were closed, why you are now reopening and most importantly – what you have changed. Government regulations aside, you have a duty to your consumers to adopt safe measures as a retailer, being upfront about these is important – if you communicate to your customers and explain that their safety is paramount, this is a good way to rebuild consumer trust and encourage them that it is safe to shop with you.

Need Help To Rebuild Consumer Trust In Your Brand?

If you’re a brand – non-essential retailer or other – and are in need of support as your business reopens, then get in touch with The Source. Whether you’re needing to communicate to your customers, or market to a wider audience, we have experience in both B2B and B2C PR, marketing, social media and digital communications, we can help you.

THE BEST CRISIS PR CAMPAIGNS TAKE COURAGE

The best PR campaigns often take courage of convictions or a willingness to do something differently in order to influence and engage with audiences to improve outcomes.  This is even more the case in a crisis PR / communications, where the stakes are high and a wrong move can be costly.

As is often the case, the risk reward equation needs to be carefully balanced, with business leaders making the call based on the advice and expertise given by their PR agency or advisors.

But equally sometimes in business, politics or society the right action just feels right, is based on a calculated risk and an intuitive understanding of the people you are looking to engage with.

There is no better example of this than the crisis communications undertaken by Chris Swanson, Genesee County Sheriff, who put down his helmet, weapons and joined protesters marking the murder of George Floyd saying, “I want to make this a parade, not a protest”.

Simply brilliant.  He had a clear understanding of his audience, the courage of his convictions and the leadership to take his team with him.  He also faced significant risks as he faced a potentially angry mob who were protesting against police brutality and who in other regions and states had clashed violently.

Swanson took off his helmet, ordered other officers to put down their weapons and smiled and high-fived people in the crowd.  The crowd responded by chanting, “walk with us!”.  So, he did. “Let’s go, let’s go,” Swanson said as he and the cheering crowd proceeded. “Where do you want to walk? We’ll walk all night.”

His leadership and actions marked a change in behaviour as well as the emergence of #walkwithus.  Several law enforcement officials have taken his lead with more in the past few days engaging with marchers and showing solidarity either by marching, kneeling or publicly denouncing the death of Mr. Floyd.

This positive and persuasive response is in marked contrast to the confrontations that have escalated and cities, including Chicago, New York and Philadelphia, where violence and vandalism have targeted police in recent nights. Videos have shown police officers using batons, tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets on protesters, bystanders and journalists, often without warning.  Sadly at least five people have been killed so far in violence connected to the protests that started after Mr. Floyd died in police custody.

So why was this crisis communication so successful?  It was not a crisis PR campaign orchestrated with big budgets and celebrity influencers but simply honest and genuine communications that understood and related to its audiences.

It also took a lot of bravery and showed exceptional leadership in a time of crisis.  It was however considered communications and one based on an understanding of the audience, confidence in the team and an honest appraisal of the situation.

Well done Sheriff Swanson, setting an excellent example not only in policing, humanity and empathy but crisis PR communications as well.

9 WAYS TO GENERATE PR FOR SMALL BUSINESSES & SMES

Getting publicity for your business, especially in times such as these, is important. A sound PR strategy can help to increase your leads, boost your sales, widen your consumer base and also improve your overall brand awareness. If you’re a small business or SME (turnover of around £1.5m+) it’s important to communicate with your stakeholders and spread the visibility of your brand, so you can turn your SME into a larger scale operation. Chances are, you won’t have a fully-fledged internal PR team to guide your strategies, you might be looking for a PR agency to support your organisation, but until then, we’ve put together 8 easy tips around how to get PR for small businesses and SMEs

Why Bother With PR For Small Businesses & SMEs?

But first, PR (Public Relations) is the function of protecting and improving your brand visibility and reputation.

Not only does it work in safeguarding your brand against any public backlash and handling your communication strategies in a crisis, but a great PR strategy will also help to grow your reputation and make your business name more recognisable amongst your target audience.

This can be through growing your social media following or generating awareness of your business in relevant media outlets – both of these, along with other PR tactics, work to an overall aim of making your small business name more recognisable. They include:

We will touch on them further below.

Some very large organisations may have an in-house PR and marketing team, others, as well as SMEs and smaller businesses, may utilise the support of a PR agency, like ours.

9 Ways To Generate PR For Small Businesses & SMEs

There are a number of ways in which you can generate media attention and publicity for any brand, we have covered them here. With smaller organisations, you may have to work a little harder to get your name out there – there will likely be some degree of competition no matter what industry you’re in, so you need to make your brand memorable.

From our years of experience in PR and Marketing, here’s 8 ideas we would recommend you test to generate PR for your small business

1. First, plan

Know what you want to say and mostly importantly – to whom. What are your USPs, strengths and benefits? How do you want people to see your business? This vital planning will help shape your communications that can be consistently delivered via a number of channels, be it media, social or online.

2. Turn your business stories into news

If you’ve done something amazing as a business, turn it into news and let everyone know about it. For example, if you’re supporting a cause this can help to strengthen your reputation and position you as a responsible business if you spread the word. Likewise, trade titles are often interested in appointments of senior staff. You may be surprised at what makes a good PR story. Start by publishing information on social media, and then perhaps get in touch with the local papers with a press release, to see if they’d like to write about you.

3. Be chatty on social media

One of the best ways to build your brand reputation is to maintain an active voice on social media. PR covers online presence as well as getting media coverage in print, making sure you’re putting out great content on relevant channels and engaging with your customers is a key PR tip for small businesses and SMEs.

4. Communicate consistently

Even in hard times such as the Coronavirus outbreak, it’s important to keep communicating with your consumers. Don’t let them forget about you, and then turn to your competitors instead. As a business, a loyal consumer base is vital so ensure that you remain a consistent flow of communication through avenues such as social media, media appearances, email marketing and so on.

5. Be friendly with journalists

Even if you have no news to share, you can still get PR coverage for your small business or medium enterprise by remaining friendly with journalists; they might be looking for a business to feature in a round up piece – and could opt to use you if you’re on their radar. This tip is better matched with a PR agency, who will have a large database of journalists that they have built.

6. Make use of PPC & social ads

It’s worth considering PPC and social media advertising in your strategy, a great way to generate guaranteed exposure of your organisation. You’ll need to read up on the best keywords to target and then make sure you’re utilising the channels that your target audience frequent the most, but as with any other step, it’s important to remain consistently visible.

7. Consider influencer marketing

Working with influencers is still a viable way of generating PR for your brand, influencers are often trusted sources of information, with around half of Gen Z and millennials saying they trust their opinions. Create a database of reliable accounts and negotiate with them to promote your product or service.

8. Support charities & the local community

Everybody loves a good, positive story… So, make one. You can generate PR for small businesses, SMEs and multi-million-pound businesses by working with and supporting local charities and your community. Whether this is through fundraising, sponsorship or perhaps providing free goods and services to worthy causes. Doing fantastic things is a sure-fire way to achieve regional PR coverage for your small business at the very least.

9. Track & share your coverage

Most importantly, it’s crucial to track any PR coverage you might have achieved and share this to further strengthen your brand’s reputation. If you’re finding it hard to place where your brand might have been covered, you can set up Google Alerts for the name of your business. Be sure to share coverage on the relevant social media channels to further reinforce the integrity of your brand.

If you’re in need of further PR support, then why not arrange a free consultation with us to see how we can help strengthen your reputation and grow your brand. The Source PR is a PR Agency in Cheshire, North West, with over a decade of experience in supporting SMEs to larger corporations with PR, social media, marketing, SEO and more.

WORKING WITH INFLUENCERS IN 2020: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

According to the annual UK influencer survey, a yearly research piece published by Vuelio in partnership with the Canterbury Christ Church University, there has been a year on year increase in the amount of earned and average income of influencers in the UK – this includes bloggers, vloggers and instagrammers. Today, we wanted to talk to you about working with influencers in 2020, covering:

The State Of Influencer Marketing In 2020

According to the findings mentioned above, around 1 in 5 influencers say that it is their main source of income, this is twice as many as in 2016. This tells us that the influencer marketing industry is on the rise, and therefore is still – as ever – a profitable means of generating publicity for your brand (if utilised correctly, which we’ll cover further down).

A quick look at Google Trends will also tell you all you need to know about the state of influencer marketing over the past years, ending of course, at the present day in 2020.

Working with influencers - State of the influencer marketing industry

Unprecedented growth in this industry means that influencer marketing is certainly a channel you should be considering in your wider communications strategy, if it suits your brand.

Influencers are operating on a number of channels, the most popular being blogs, but also across social media on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube and even TikTok. The average number of accounts that an influencer runs at any one time is 5, so there’s often a great chance that your brand will be seen by a vast audience and through a variety of media types.

The report from Vuelio also tells us that influencers are posting more frequently than ever before, with the highest percentage of survey respondents saying they post 5 or more times a week – meaning there’s plenty of opportunity for sponsored content for marketers and brands.

Working With Influencers: What Do You Need To Do?

If you’re a brand owner, working with influencers could be a golden opportunity. But how do you work with influencers? There are a few grounds rules that you should follow…

  1. Do your research

Before going out on a whim, do some background research into what kind of influencers you want to promote your product or service. Be mindful, though. Googling ‘fashion influencers’ will often turn up the most popular influencers out there, but these people tend to charge thousands for a single post, that’s if they’ll even consider your brand – if you’re just dipping your toe into influencer marketing, you’ll want to find more mid-tier accounts that have a loyal following but that won’t cost the earth to utilise. You can do this by looking through Instagram and in Facebook groups, or better yet, work with a PR agency with experience in working with influencers, and tell them your goals.

  1. Target the right audience

Be sure that firstly, your brand suits influencer marketing (you can determine this by cross referencing your target audience against demographics of different social media channels). Then, you’ll want to utilise influencers who are based in your niche. The most popular areas of influencer marketing are fashion and beauty, travel and lifestyle – if your brand fits into these sectors than working with influencers is certainly an avenue worth exploring.

  1. Make sensible offers

Vuelio’s UK influencer survey found that most influencers received between £1 and £100 per sponsored post, and over half of influencers said they would reject a pitch due to lack of sufficient compensation. Most influencers will promote a product or service for a fair price so long as it is relevant to them. However, you do risk harming relationships if you do not make a sensible offer. Brands will pay influencers different amounts depending on the type of content required, and to answer the question: “can I work with influencers for free?” the answer is yes, sometimes. According to Vuelio, 23% of influencers have produced branded content without any compensation, mainly because the pitch sent to them from brand or PR added value to their audience. Just be careful and considerate when making contact for the first time.

Working with influencers survey

  1. Set goals and follow them

As with any type of marketing, you’ll want to set goals and use KPIs to track them. What do you want to achieve with your influencer marketing? Is it sale of products, brand recognition or simply just more traffic to your website? Once you have defined what you want to achieve from working with influencers, you’ll then be able to work with them on a method that best suits you. It could be a social media post, a sponsored blog or even an Instagram takeover.

Why Should You Work With Influencers?

If your influencer marketing strategy is spot on, then working with influencers can be an invaluable experience for your brand. Why?

  • It can help to grow your following on social media channels
  • It creates endorsements for your products or services
  • It can drive traffic to your website or social media pages
  • It can result in sales of your product of service
  • It can create testimonials for your brand that can be used at a later date
  • It can help build your brand image and by creating a positive association with a prominent person
  • It can help reach your target audience in a new and exciting way
  • It can help find a new audience of potential consumers for your brand

For assistance with your influencer marketing strategy, call us on 01829 720 789 or send us a message for a free consultation, we have affluent experience in working with influencers and will help you open your brand to this modern way of marketing.