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

PR-ING THROUGH CORONAVIRUS: SMALL BUSINESS HELP AND ADVICE

Coronavirus has caused truly extraordinary times, the UK – as well as several other countries – is currently on a lockdown. The first of its time.

Travel has been limited to all but essential movement, many businesses (such as restaurants, non-essential retail stores and gyms) have been forced to close their doors for the foreseeable future and the healthcare industry is under perhaps its biggest strain that this generation has ever seen. Because of current climate, we can’t shy away from the fact that many businesses are struggling. Whether you’ve had to temporarily cease trading altogether, or whether your customers are less inclined to part with their money due to the uncertainty at the moment – either way most organisations are feeling the pinch one way or another.

It’s not all bad news, however.

Though the current economic climate is bleak, and though many are struggling, we have also been given the gift of something that we wouldn’t normally have: time.

Now is not the time for radio silence, now is the time to be strengthening your brand message, communicating effectively and giving back to the community wherever you’re able. Whilst some brands have taken the stance of radio silence as the Coronavirus epidemic plays out, many others have adjusted and reacted to the current climate, and have been in a better position for it.

You have time to work on your strategies, to work on your brand position and to ensure that when this comes to pass, your business will emerge bigger and better than ever before.

If you’re a small business or an SME and struggling, there are a number of ways you can help yourself during this pandemic.

Small Business Coronavirus Help: How To Support Yourself

The government has already introduced revolutionary support for small businesses. Initiatives include a small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief, grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000. This is as well as the job retention scheme put in place.

While this might be a short-term solution to an otherwise unnerving situation, it’s also crucial for small businesses to think about their long-term plans too.

Below, we’ve racked our PR, Social Media and Marketing brains together to bring you the very best advice on how your business can survive through Coronavirus; how to keep marching on through these uncertain times and how to effectively retain your brand image and position.

Don’t Give Up On Your Team

First and foremost, you need to trust your team.

Unlike many business crises, we’re all in this together and there are many businesses from various industries that are all feeling the strain that Coronavirus has brought about. In most business cases, your team will be instrumental to your survival during this period, so before adjusting your business strategies, you should be providing your team with the technology and support needed to undertake their work and trust that they will continue to deliver remotely.

Trust opens the door to productivity; the more you give, the more you get back.

Keep On Communicating

Effective communication has never been more important.

You should be keeping your communication channels open. You may appear closed to the outside world but it’s important to share the business’s contingencies, its plans and any changes in service. Share your successes or small wins and remember your customers and stakeholders are interested in people-centric stories, as well as positive outcomes in otherwise difficult circumstances.

There’s a strong demand in the media for any positive news amidst all this negativity, so if your business has something good to share this might be a good way of spreading your news further afield and making sure that people are still engaged with your brand.

Adding to this, there’s a new sense of community re-emerging – if your business has changed how it operates or is supporting others, such as pubs offering delivery services to those in need, make sure you share this. Social media usage has increased by 22% since lockdown and provides an excellent community engagement tool which may prove beneficial in the longer term.

Though you may not be trading at the moment, it’s important not to lose momentum. Make sure people still remember who your business is, what you do. Whether this is by maintaining an active social media presence, writing blogs for your website or even appearing in the news – don’t let people forget you if you want to continue to operate a successful business when this storm has passed.

Adapt And Evolve With The Climate

If your business can accommodate it, adaptability is important right now.

Under new government restrictions, many businesses can no longer trade as usual. Is there a way you can overcome this, and support your community too? For example, many restaurants are now offering takeaways and are giving out free meals whilst they do so, which is great in strengthening the business’ Corporate Social Reputation.

Could you keep your cashflow afloat by encouraging your stakeholders to purchase vouchers from you that can be redeemed at a later date?

Other examples of how companies may adapt during the Coronavirus period is by taking advantage of the technology we have at our disposal.

Could you give your consumers a digital version of your product or service to retain your custom? Some housebuilders are now operating fully online house viewings, whilst organisations such as Chester Zoo are livestreaming a day at the zoo on Facebook to the masses.

If your business can think of a quirky and imaginative way to stay relevant, it will almost certainly survive this uncertain period.

Create A Contingency Plan – Prepare For The Future

Plan for your future, because if you adopt the right attitude, there almost certainly will be one.

Can you create a contingency plan for your business?

Though there are so many things uncertain at the moment, if you can begin to strategize and plan your bounce-back for when this comes to pass, you’ll be in a more favourable position when the market reopens once more. Make sure you’re well prepared.

Whilst we all have extra time on our hands, we can make the most of this: working on our websites, our SEOs, or even developing social media or PR strategies.

The most important thing to add to your contingency plan, for now and for the future, is a plan that sees your business remaining adept in its industry. Make sure that people don’t forget your brand. Whether this is by thinking of a new and imaginative way to run your business (such as the examples above), or whether it’s just making sure you upkeep a strong media presence. If your company steps into the shadows during this period, it’ll be much harder for it to re-emerge when it’s over.

Also, be prepared for radical change once more when lockdown is over and when the virus dissipates. When you can reopen your doors again, you’ll almost certainly be met with a different audience than the one you’ve come to know. After recovering from the most governed period of their lives, there’s no doubt that people will be more appreciative. They’ll want to explore more, they’ll want to travel more, they’ll want to eat out more and they’ll want to buy more things.

We’ll have a more spontaneous and obligated population on our hands, so make sure your business is prepared to accommodate them.

Do you need PR, Marketing or Social Media support for your business? Either in handling the Coronavirus outbreak, or preparing for when it’s over? Call us for a free, confidential assessment of your situation on 01829 720 789 or email louis@sourcepr.co.uk.

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THE PR PUSH FOR BIG BEN TO BONG IN BREXIT..?

The PR campaign that aimed to get Big Ben to chime at the point of the UK’s departure from the EU has failed to reach the required funding to go ahead.

The StandUp4Brexit group conceded that they aren’t able to raise the required £500k to hear the bell chime in the change, saying that the £272,000 already raised will instead go to veterans’ charity Help for Heroes.

Although the StandUp4Brexit team ran a good PR and social media campaign, securing 14,280 donations from 56 countries in under a fortnight, they did not manage to get the ambitious project over the line.  They did however create a debate that trended widely across national and international media through on-line, broadcast and traditional media outlets.

Although Big Ben has chimed at significant occasions in the nation’s history, including the end of wars, New Year’s Eve, royal weddings and funerals – Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice told the BBC’s Today programme that he felt “bureaucrats in the Houses of Parliament” had blocked the idea.

In an attempt to reconcile the leave and remain public, Downing St has sought to distance itself from the Big Ben chime campaign, instead focusing on plans to mark Brexit Day with a less ambitious PR campaign – preferring a simple illumination of the whole Elizabeth Tower.

PR Campaign Evaluation

If evaluating the success of Standup4Brexit’s campaign, on one level it has clearly failed in achieving its principal aim of securing the funds needed to fulfil their aims.  However, as often with PR, it has undoubtedly succeeded in getting its messages, story and position to a wide audience.  It’s created engagement and debate while also successfully linking to its core messages around sovereignty, self-determination and ‘Britishness’.

The campaign has also pressured the government into marking the occasion with its own illuminations.  There is even rumour that a recording of Big Ben’s chimes will be played through a loudspeaker at an event in Parliament Square.  They even managed to get “provisional authorisation” from the Office of the London Mayor – a staunch Remainer.

So perhaps the Standup4Brexit campaign was not a total failure after all, but let’s hope the next concerted PR campaign is focussed on healing the Brexit rift.  If used correctly, PR is uniquely placed in its ability to bring people together – then the nation will certainly have something to celebrate.

Contact the team if you’re looking to crowdfund for a campaign or if looking to raise your profile amongst influential audiences and stakeholders.

WILL PRINT MEDIA MAKE A COMEBACK IN 2020?

Since we at Source work in both digital and print media, it’s good to have our fingers on the pulse and be aware of any changes in the industry, and we’ve had our eyes peeled on some changes in the landscape for a little while now.

The digital marketing sphere has boomed in recent years, and now most people turn to social media and online articles for their news. The so-called ‘death’ of print media has been long publicised, dramatised and catastrophised by people. And who can blame them? Print media is an industry that dates back to the 1800s, with the first movable printing type system dating back to 1450. It seems wrong that such a traditional form of communication be so quickly and easily phased out.

A U-Turn in the Industry?

However, despite the huge cultural shift from paper to screens, the industry might not be as doomed as first thought. When the first e-readers hit the markets back in the mid-2000s, people feared that it would cause the total dissolution of physical copies of books. It was marketed as revolutionary – there’s now no need to go to a shop to browse titles, with the text available to be downloaded at the press of a button, often for a fraction of the price of a physical copy.

But by 2015, eight years after the Kindle first hit the market, e-books occupied just twenty per cent of the total publishing sales. While this is a fair chunk, it is still vastly in the minority of sales, with millennials reportedly being the age group that is apparently keeping the industry afloat. That’s right – we aren’t ‘killing’ an industry for a change (!).

In 2018, sales of print books made $22.6 billion, while e-book copies generated $2.04 billion. While the joys and conveniences of the e-reader market have certainly been reaped, its impact hasn’t wiped out sales or enthusiasm for physical copies. It turns out that people simply love owning physical copies of the things they like to read.

Newsquest to Launch New Salford Publication

It seemed a clear trajectory for a long time, too, that digital media was going to clear print media clean off the shelves, but earlier this year the publisher Newsquest announced that the city of Salford will be getting a new newspaper, ‘Salford City News,’ launching at the end of this month. Newsquest says that the paper will ‘fly the flag for residents,’ and will have a cover price of 80p. The website will be found at salfordcitynews.co.uk.

Karl Holbrook, Newsquest Regional Group Editor for Lancashire and Greater Manchester, said, ‘Salford is an amazing place, full of history and culture. But there is a real sense on the ground hat Salford is often ignored next to its louder sibling across the River Irwell […] We believe there is a stainable publishing future in Salford as weekly print brand and as the daily online provider of the best local content.’

The company is also launching a Teesside edition. This will cover news in the north-east region, including Middlesbrough, Redcar, Stockton, Yarm and Saltburn. Hannah Chapman, editor of the Northern Echo, said: ‘This is such an exciting time for Teesside, with a series of major projects in the pipeline which could bring massive economic boosts to the area. I regularly get asked by readers for more Teesside content, so taking the two things together, it seemed like a natural step to increase our coverage with this new edition.’

If a resurgence of physical media is to occur, what better place to start than with local publishers? Local news is often side-lined and under-resourced in comparison to its larger counterparts. News of investment into the sector is extremely promising – not only for the residents of Salford and Teesside, but for all of those whose jobs rely on physical media.

A Matter of Time?

Despite this positive blip, it will be difficult to say what is on the horizon at this point in time for the future of traditional media. The chief executive of the New York Times, Mark Thompson, estimates that the paper has ‘at least ten years’ left in physical form, but ‘there may come a point when the economics of [the print paper] no longer make sense for us.’

Whatever the future holds for print media, we’ll be on the lookout for the changes to the industry and keep the updates coming!

At Source, we embrace both the traditional and the digital world, with effective PR and communications at the heart of what we do. Get in touch with us on 01829 7208789 to learn more, or follow us on Twitter (@source_tweets), Facebook (@SourcePublicRelations) and LinkedIn (The Source).

PR PLANNING FOR A NO DEAL BREXIT

Despite two years on negotiations it seems that no one is any clearer whether there will be a deal or not when it comes to the UK leaving the EU.

This has caused a huge amount of uncertainty in the business community, with many reluctant to spend on potentially unnecessary plans, while others are doing what they can to be ready for all eventualities.

The one thing that’s certain in this uncertain world is that businesses need to consider their communications when preparing for the various scenarios.  A business needs to assure and reassure audiences to show that that are in control, regardless of the outcomes.

Much of it comes down to sentiment – employees, customers and suppliers all need to feel confident that they can survive, or even thrive, regardless of the outcomes.  If they lose their confidence or feel threatened productivity is proven to fall and commercial confidence declines.

Get Ready for Brexit

The Government has launched a new ‘Get Ready for Brexit’ campaign to help provide answers to questions and to provide support to those preparing for our departure from the EU. We’d advise that all businesses provide something similar for their employees, suppliers and customers – considering what are the likely questions, what are the threats and also what opportunities are presented.

The food and drink industry is one that looks likely to be particularly affected.  The industry-backed Brexit Food Hub provides a place for businesses to go to access a wide range of official advice and expertise from UK food and agriculture partners, including the latest information as it becomes available.

As always, ‘front foot’ communications are best as it enables a company to put its best foot forward and be prepared to head off any negative PR or communications before they develop.  If caught off guard by the media, employees or even concerned customers, it’s harder to get on the front foot and paint the positive picture that gives assurance to your various stakeholders.

If you need help getting that message out there, or some guidance about how to prepare a communications plan for Brexit, please contact us today.

PR VERSUS POVERTY PORN

There’s growing criticism of ‘poverty porn’ and in particular how charities are using crude and clichéd PR campaigns to attract donations.  Although criticism of anyone looking to make a positive difference is largely unfair, there is a case for charitable organisations to look at how they wish to portray themselves and their causes.

This is illustrated in criticism of Red Nose Day and Stacy Dooley’s work in Africa by David Lammy MP. Although a little harsh, particularly when he’s been called out for not doing enough himself to support communities in Africa, it does open the debate on how charities need to move on from relying of pushing people into ‘guilt transactions’ as they sit down on a Saturday evening to watch Red Nose Day’s entertainment or other similar programmes.

Effective PR

As with most effective PR, if your campaign can take the audience with you on the journey you secure greater and more long term buy-in.  People believe in, follow and talk about the change they feel needs to be made rather than just reaching for their spare change.  Not dissimilar to the old adage that if you give a man a fish you will feed him for a day, but that if you teach him to fish you will feed him for life.

Digital communications are also playing an increasingly important role.  Just look at the success of campaigns like the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ or Movember which dominated social media for months.  This illustrates what can be achieved by engaging with the audience and taking them with you.

The charity sector is one of the most competitive with each organisation looking to secure their share of money for their worthwhile causes.  Put simply, there are more than 180,000 charities in England and Wales and those that don’t run a planned PR programme will struggle to raise awareness and subsequent funds.

As we’ve seen by recent low budget PR and digital campaigns, deep pockets aren’t essential, but charities do need to play to their strengths and engage with their audiences.  In doing so they can achieve some great successes without having to reply on promoting poverty porn.

‘The Source’ of 2017’s Success

The Christmas and New Year break was over before we knew it, and now 2018 is in full swing. To beat the ‘January Blues’, here at The Source we’re keeping positive by reminiscing about the finest moments of last year. 2017 was filled with incredible cultural moments, from that ‘oops’ moment at the Oscars (how will we ever forget the Moonlight and La La Land mix up?!) to the recent royal engagement, but away from all the crazy going-ons of the outside world, nestled in the quaint village of Tattenhall, we had quite the year ourselves. From team expansions, to new clients, awards and of course, a rebrand! In case you missed any of our highlights from the past year, we thought we’d share them with you here.

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Fake News, can it be avoided?

In a world of “he said she said” debates across social media and “click bait” news articles, it’s difficult to know what’s real and what isn’t….

Although fake news is not a new concept, it’s now moving up the real news agenda with the help of social media – allowing a story to spread like wildfire within a matter of minutes.  People often say they find out the latest via their trending list on their Twitter page before they’ve even switched on the TV.  We can’t deny that it’s pretty impressive having access to world news at the touch of a button but you can also run into some Chinese whispers along the way.

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Client Awards: TIMco Wins Big at NBG Awards

One of our longest standing clients, TIMco have had an incredibly successful awards season so far scooping not one or even two, but three award wins at the NBG Awards 14thNovember at a Gala Dinner in the Exhibition Centre, Liverpool.

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