HOW TO LEVERAGE AWARENESS DAYS FOR YOUR PR STRATEGY

If there’s one thing we love working on here, it’s a great PR story. After all, “advertising is saying you’re good. PR is getting someone else to say you’re good” (Jean-Louis Gassée). Just one of the ways that we secure national and regional coverage for our clients time and time again is through leveraging what are now commonly known as awareness days.

Some important, others more ‘just for a laugh’, but all totally worth incorporating into your PR & Marketing plans if frequenting the news is part of your business strategy. Awareness days are the world’s answer to celebrating pretty random things for no apparent reason. Covering everything from ‘National Pizza Day’ to ‘Faux Fur Friday’, it seems that nowadays there’s a day (or week) to champion pretty much anything.

But how, as PRs, can we work these days in our favour? Awareness days, if they fit your brand, are great to schedule into your wider strategy. However, remember that your whole PR strategy should be varied and built around different factors, don’t just focus it on one thing.

Here’s some bases you need to cover if you want to use awareness days in your communications strategy.

Know What Awareness Days The Press Like

As with pretty much any PR story, it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on if the publications you’re targeting won’t be interested in it. The same concept goes with taking advantage of awareness days, you need to make sure that journalists are actually interested in them before moving forward. Spend some time shortlisting the days you’d like to target, then research the press coverage for those days across previous years. You’ll soon get a taste of whether the media is interested in these occasions, and moreover you’ll find out which journalists tend to write about them.

For example, a quick Google search will tell you that ‘Blue Monday’ (20th January) is a popular press topic…

Blue Monday - Using Awareness Days For PR

Google is one of the best free tools at our disposable, it can be used to shape so many different PR campaigns and strategies.

But ‘National Hug A Plumber Day’ (25th April) doesn’t return so many results. This tells you it’s probably not worth centring your press strategy around that particular awareness day. (We can’t imagine why!)

Don’t Do It Just To Do It

One thing to be conscious of is not just jumping on the bandwagon with awareness days. It’s not uncommon to see journalists taking to Twitter to say they’re fed up of ‘Blue Monday’ or ‘Singles Day’ stories. They’ve gotten so popular in the last few years that now, most people take a stab at trying to get some publicity from them. With this in mind, you need to make sure you’re only using this tactic when it really aligns with your strategy. Having a clear cut plan in place means you’ll be providing a journalist with a great story that won’t be just another email directed to their ‘deleted’ folder.

Match The Awareness Days With Your Brand

Something else you need to do if using awareness days in your PR strategy, is to ensure they’re a good fit for your brand. Some occasions are pretty versatile and can be suited to any number of different industries (Random Acts Of Kindness Day (February 17th), for example) but others are clear cut for a certain type of brand.

At the end of the day, as with any PR activity, you need to make sure that your story is valuable to the reader, but is also relevant. For example, a supermarket jumping on ‘Gorgeous Grandma Day’ (23rd July) doesn’t quite make sense and it won’t help your brand feel any real PR benefit. It’s better to stick to what makes a good read, and what generates great PR value too.

Make A Good Story

Talking of good stories, that’s another thing you really need to get right if you want to make use of awareness days in your PR strategy.

A little like how it’s important to check that certain awareness days are interesting to journalists; you’ll also need to do a recce on whether the ideas you have are press-worthy too. Ultimately, you can spend weeks or even months planning an idea around a topical awareness day, but if your efforts don’t result in a good story, then it could all be for nothing.

Using Awareness Days In PR

This ‘Christmas treat’ story we did last year worked a treat, because we knew it was timely and a good, heart-warming story.

There are many different ways to check what journalists are into covering, but some of our favourites include:

  • Following journalists on social media if they have professional accounts, as you can see what kind of stories they’re interacting with and therefore get a good sense for the topics that they cover.
  • Checking your target news sites every morning, spending 10 minutes a day exploring what stories are being covered.
  • Looking at what stories are getting the most engagement on social media and through article views. A lot of journalists are KPI’ed on interactions, so if you can provide them with a story that’s likely to get them some – they should love it.
  • Use Google Trends to see what people are searching for and therefore are interested in at the moment. This free tool from Google is a great way of auditing what’s popular in the world at any given time.
  • Check past news stories which have covered similar awareness days and see if you can spot any recurring themes. For instance, if being involved with local primary schools has been popular time and time again, then that’s probably a good place to start when brainstorming ideas for your own campaigns.

If done right, awareness days can help to really boost your PR activity when incorporated into your strategy, whether you’re B2B or B2C. Not only can they help strengthen your reputation, but they can increase your news and social media presence too.

If you’re looking for a little extra help with your PR, marketing or social media, then why not chat to us about how we can help? Here at The Source we have a growing team of professionals with expertise to cover all bases, whatever your brand vision is, we’ll have a solution. Call us on 01829 720789 or send us a message today. Or, see what we get up to on social…

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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).

CHRISTMAS CAMPAIGNS WORTH TALKING ABOUT THIS YEAR

Christmas is just around the corner and the marketing campaigns are in full swing. However, with the festive period being such a saturated opportunity to make a real impact with your communications, not all efforts are wholly successful.

The Christmas Communications Challenge

Christmas has long been a great chance to do something a little bit different with your brand, to market it alongside the holiday period and to leverage Christmas as an opportunity to align your business with something very popular not only nationwide – but pretty much worldwide.

The problem is, is that many opportunist marketers have recognised the opportunity that the festive period presents. And thus, Christmas campaigns and adverts are more common than uncommon these days. It’s very easy for your efforts to be overlooked when they are competing against an abundance of other campaigns that get more and savvier each year. You need something pretty special and memorable.

So, how can you create a Christmas marketing campaign that truly stands out from masses? There’s no better way to learn than from the best…

Top Christmas Marketing Campaigns Of 2019

Cadbury’s Secret Santa

If a campaign returns for another year, you know it’s a successful one. This year, Cadbury’s are re-opening their secret Santa stations where you can send a bar of their chocolate to a loved one. It’s simple, but it works. The popularity of the ‘pop-up post offices’ equals widespread publicity for the brand, through press, word of mouth and social media. It’s totally Instagrammable.

John Lewis’ Excitable Edgar

John Lewis really illustrate how to perfect a Christmas marketing campaign. Through their much-loved and highly anticipated Christmas ads every year, they’ve cleverly associated themselves with being the go-to retailer during the holiday season. It’s a big responsibility, but their Christmas content is world-renowned, largely in thanks to the brand they’ve built. They have big boots to fill, but they manage to do it so flawlessly every year.

Aldi’s Kevin The Carrot

Aldi do really well in nailing down their Christmas campaigns. Much like John Lewis, their Christmas adverts have now become something of a tradition to the brand. Only with a twist. They’ve developed a character that is used time and time again. Kevin the Carrot is a name we’ve all come to know and love, and every year his return is anticipated by many. But Aldi go one step further in making the most of their Christmas marketing, their Kevin the Carrot collectibles are a huge hit amongst shoppers – meaning they profit not only from the publicity, but from raw sales too.

Deliveroo’s 10ft Gift Box

Something a little different this year was Deliveroo and KFC’s real-life marketing campaign that they executed on the South Shore of London this year. With so many traditions that are rife in the UK, it’s hard to create a new campaign that really makes an impact. But these two brands seem to have done it this year. Fashioning a giant 10ft gift box that gives passers-by a taste of KFC’s new festive burger – this campaign is one that attracts genuine footfall as well as publicity from being a little ‘out there’.

Coca Cola’s Christmas Truck

It’s old but gold. Coca Cola’s Christmas truck is a festive favourite for a reason: because they’ve built that brand and reputation for themselves through years of clever marketing. The advantage of being a well-established brand is that you can use the same marketing tactic time and time again. And instead of it becoming repetitive, it becomes iconic. The Coca Cola Christmas truck is simply a part of the festive season now, and all the while it remains a fan-favourite, the brand benefits from the publicity.

IKEA’s ‘Home Shame’ Ad

It works because it’s brand relevant, but also consumer-relevant too. IKEA released a Christmas ad this year which focuses on ‘home shame’ and how you shouldn’t be ashamed to open your home up to your family this festive period. It features an (admittedly catchy) backing track from grime rapper D Double E, which has provided multi-faceted benefits as the Swedish retailer is praised not only for promoting the Grime genre, but also just for their music choice in general. The song is now being released as a single. Christmas number one, perhaps? The marketing benefits just keep on rolling with this one…

 

Do you have any more stand out Christmas campaigns from this year? Let us know on Twitter.

THE MRS HINCH EFFECT: PROVING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF INFLUENCER MARKETING

What better an argument for influencer marketing than none other than Mrs. Hinch herself?

The cleaning sensation has far surpassed giving you the inspiration to tidy your home. She’s now a fully-fledged Instagram influencer who has over 2 million devoted followers.

Yesterday, via Instagram stories, Sophie shared the profile of a small business she’d dealt with only earlier that day. After herself and her family had a loft ladder installed, and after posting a few videos of the ladder in action, she also uploaded a screenshot of the company who fitted it for her, recommending them to her followers.

As far as we’re aware, this wasn’t a gifted service nor the product of influencer marketing, this was just Mrs. Hinch genuinely recommending a business she’d had a good experience with.

The ‘Hinch’ Effect

The business, ‘Mister Loft Ladder’, had just 49 followers before they were ‘hinched’…

Screenshot 2019-11-26 at 08.43.02.png

…Which is a world away from their follower count now. When checking last night, their following had grown from 48 to just over 28,000. When checking again just now, their follower count is up to a staggering 33,000.

Screenshot 2019-11-26 at 08.45.39

Just to put this into perspective, 48 to 33,300 is an increase of 69275%.

The influence of this influencer is off the scale.

How Influential Are Influencers?

Not all influencers are this influential, but those who have a genuine engagement and who only promote products they are truly compassionate about, are still wholly successful.

Mrs. Hinch is one such patron, only promotes products and services she genuinely uses herself. And what more, not every Instagram story or grid post from her is promoting sponsored content. In fact, around 80% (not official, so don’t quote us on this) of her social media is genuine, honest reviews of products that she’s brought out of her own pocket.

That’s what makes her relatable. And that’s why her words have such an impact.

It’s all about trust.

These kinds of personality traits are something we look for when working with influencers at Source PR. Follower count isn’t important as genuine engagement and honest influence.

Numbers Don’t Lie

But don’t just take our word for it, we also have a few facts to back up our view that Mrs. Hinch is probably the most influential Instagram user out there.

Research by Rise At Seven found that Sophie has…

  • Around 93.6k authentic engagements per POST
  • 94% of followers that are highly engaged
  • NO paid or fake following

Mrs. Hinch Engagement.jpeg

Furthering this, during her Instagram hiatus during her pregnancy earlier this year, research by Silverbean found that search interest in Mrs. Hinch’s preferred cleaning brands fell to an average of 23.3/100, down from 28.9/100 in May 2019.

Not only is she a rising star in the world of social, but her fans are devoted and consistent. You can’t go far wrong with an endorsement from Mrs. Hinch.

Thus proving the argument that Influencer Marketing is still very much alive and kicking. You just have to make sure you’re working with the right kind.

Interested in hearing more about the right kind of influencer marketing? Get in touch with us today to find out what we can do for your business.

This post originally appeared on, Jessica Pardoe – one of our PR Executive’s, blogs. You can find that post here.

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.

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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.

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