SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGEMENT TAKES A NEW TWIST

Social media management takes a new twist as Twitter announces plans to ban political ads from its service globally, with the action to come into force on 22 November.

The broad ban will cover all adverts specific to candidates and issues, however some ads will be allowed to remain, including those encouraging people to vote. The organisation says, via a tweet, that they ‘believe political message reach should be earned, not bought…?’.

This comes ahead of the US Presidential election campaign as well as the General Election here in the UK.   Although on one level it makes sense and provides more of a level playing field for campaigners, regardless of their financial backing, it does open a whole area of debate.

Some of the key points that come to mind, include whether it is right for a media outlet to ban all political advertising or would it be better to implement the existing guidelines on advertising that prevent false claims, libel or malign forces acting inappropriately?

There are also a number of very grey areas including; what exactly determines a political advert?  Should the ban cover all topics relating to racial equality, women’s rights or even climate change?  It’s clear that an all-out ban would be hard to police, subjective as to what areas are covered and could pose more problems than it answers.

There is no doubt that ‘fake news’ or worse still intentionally deceptive stories should be more effectively managed on-line or at least come with an open disclaimer.  There is a growing problem of fake news as it polarises opinion, misleads and unduly influences susceptible voters – often even making the news in more genuine outlets.

The Conservative Party has also recently been told off for doctoring a video of Sir Keir Starmer outlining Labour’s position on Brexit.  Anyone with a modicum of intelligence could immediately tell it was a ‘joke’, however there is a fear that over policing of such activities or such extreme social media management could both dry up political debate but worse still put politics above mockery – at a time when our political leaders are opening themselves to satire and Spitting Image is making a timely comeback.

Twitter exemptions

As we wait for the full details of Twitter exemptions next month, it’s a shame that a media outlet is planning to unilaterally determine what advertisers can or can’t say and to therefore ironically have an influence on a political outcome.  Perhaps it is because they simply want to apply pressure on competitors like Facebook who secure significant revenue streams from political advertisers?

The media is no doubt changing and rightfully so.  We must however welcome, embrace and use new digital communications platforms but it’s critically important that the media operates to a level playing field where rules regarding false promises or advertising are closely monitored and managed.  If that is the case then there would be no need for media outlets to take matters into their own hands and influence their own audiences by determining what they’re willing to share with their customers.

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.

MAKE IT, DON’T FAKE IT

Since Donald Trump’s election the term ‘fake news’ is being increasingly used to discredit all sorts of stories which people don’t agree with, from heavyweight political scandals to the quirky, more light hearted stories commonly found on social media.

So what is ‘fake news’? Essentially it’s when outlets deliberately publish hoaxes, propaganda and disinformation purporting to be real news, often using social media to drive web traffic and amplify the effect.

Why bother?  Well it’s all about generating clicks and advertising revenue, or to enhance, discredit or boost a person, policy or organisation.  Fake news can take many forms but is principally based around;

  • Disinformation: False information which is intended to mislead the audience, rather than explain the full story
  • Propaganda or spin: One-sided information, which often omits key facts or evidence which contradicts it
  • Subjective news: The presentation of one side of an argument more positively than the other
  • Infotainment: Usually stories about celebrities which are based largely on opinions rather than facts.

It could be argued that companies and media outlets have been peddling fake news for ages but the issue appears to be growing as the growth in news channels and social media platforms is pushing ‘editors’ to become more creative with their content in order to attract readers and page visits.  However, if regularly delivering fake news they risk undermining the reputation of their organisations as respected news channel.

Protect your reputation

The same applies to businesses or individuals who seek to mislead their audiences for short term gain.  If you have built up good contacts in the media, you can also quickly lose your goodwill by getting them to help spread stories about your business which aren’t strictly true.

Importantly, it can also damage a client’s authority and position as a media expert in their field and ultimately destroy the trust between your business and your customers, with obvious consequences.

We’d advise against propagating fake news but instead developing meaningful and trustworthy relationships with the media and other digital platforms that build credibility and authority in a sector or service.

Don’t issue news stories unless the story is genuinely newsworthy, which means there needs to be something about your story that makes it interesting and prompts people to read it. Think about your audience and ask why they should care about your story.  Is it something they need to know? Is it something that they need answering? Can your story help them in any way?

Also be mindful of what you like or share on social media. It’s easy to inadvertently like, retweet or share a fake news story. But if you do, you’re unwittingly helping to spread the fake news or even endorse it.

Certain sections of the PR industry are renowned for using trickery, sleight of hand and dark arts to pull the wool over people’s eyes on behalf of their clients.  But if you’ve got a good story to tell, why rely on cheap gimmicks?  At Source PR we offer straightforward, effective and most importantly honest advice.  That’s the best way to build relationships and get results without the need for fake news.

Connectivity: What’s The Cost to Rural Businesses?

Tap. Click. Check-In. Tag. Review. The issue of whether businesses should or should not have an online presence is no longer a debate: today it is a must. But just how much can the issue of rural connectivity affect us?

We’re incredibly lucky here at Source – we enjoy a quaint rural village location, but within easy access of cities and commuter routes to visit clients all around the country. Poor 4G signal and dodgy internet isn’t something we particularly suffer from (touch wood), but this is certainly not the case for many other rural businesses.

The issue of poor connectivity goes further than just the frustration to business owners as they run their operations, it also affects customers, guests and clients. These effects are twofold – firstly, in this day and age, it is a fact that visiting customers expect good levels of connectivity as standard. Even those who come to stay with rural hospitality businesses to ‘get away from it all’ to leave the beeps of incoming texts and void of social media behind for a while and get back to nature, still expect some level of coverage just in case they want to reconnect with the outside world – they want the option.

Social Media requirements

Secondly, online social media presence is a great asset to any rural business. When guests are staying or customers use your services, they have the ability to help build your brand with a like, positive review or comment. Whilst customers are enjoying themselves in the moment, they’re most likely to check-in to let their followers know what they’re up to or upload an Instagram story showcasing your business to a whole new audience.

Allowing guests to connect with your business and express themselves in real time is invaluable – although many can create a positive review and upload photos when they’re back home, opportunities could be missed as this task slips down customers’ to-do lists when ‘real life’ settles back in.

The cost of poor connectivity can have a huge impact on rural businesses – so let’s hope the issue becomes a higher Government priority!

 

 

 

Make Your Brand Stand Out From The Crowd

If the phrase ‘we’ve updated our privacy policy’ sends a shiver down your spine, don’t worry – you’re not alone. The recent changes in GDPR laws have left few untouched by consent forms and promises of the sacred nature of personal data collection. But we’re not here to talk about the value of an opted-in database (worthy of a whole other post of its own, with our client Textlocal finding that 54% of opted-in SMS users will respond to a business text), but rather about the panic that ensued as the 25th May approached – and how this can harm your brand.

Read more

Where will competitors be spending their Marketing Budgets in 2018?

It’s a competitive world out there with ambitious businesses each seeking a secret recipe for a successful ‘marketing mix’ to help them win business and out compete competitors.  So, to help those who may be a little lost or unsure, we thought it would be useful to share what our clients are doing and the marketing trends that are proving popular in 2018.

Read more

‘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.

Read more

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.

Read more

Emojis – More Than Meets The 👁

The task of connecting with the Millenial market is getting harder and harder as young people become savvier about brand messages and stunts. But their love of emojis is showing no sign of slowing down – but proceed with caution: as the symbols have grown in variety, so have their meanings… Read more

The Power of Social Media

Social media has the power and the ability to change the world. It’s a broad claim, but the proof is in the figures; our good friends at Clicky Media have calculated that 92.6% of the 65 million UK population have internet access and over half of the population are active on social media sites – and this is just the UK, so imagine the numbers on a global scale! Social platforms are continuously developing; we have gone from basic status sharing sites to ones which are now inundated with gifs, memes, user-generated content and ‘reactions’, all of which keep internet users engaged and ‘tuned in’ to the events of the wider world. Read more