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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.

NEW TALENT SOURCED – MEET REBECCA

We’re delighted to announce that Rebecca Shearman has joined Source as a Junior Account Executive.  Becca joins the award-winning team from Mercury Press & Media in Liverpool where she worked as a Features Writer.

Becca will support clients from a range of business sectors including; property manufacturing and professional services and adds the additional resource needed to deliver PR and social media campaigns after a number of recent account wins.

Louis comments; “She’s a proven writer, a people person and has slotted right in with the team.  2019 has started with a bang and a wave of new client wins.  We aim to maintain this momentum by delivering engaging and insightful campaigns while also being great people to work with.”

Source is always on the look-out for top talent.  If you feel you have something to offer, please contact us by emailing your CV to hello@sourcepr.co.uk.

 

PR TRENDS FOR 2019..?

It would not be January without a wave of predictions from PR and digital agencies about what’s in store for marketeers in 2019.  So, we’ve asked around the office for our own insights and thoughts and compiled what we believe will be some of the PR and digital trends for the year ahead…

It’s all about influence

Influencer marketing will continue to be a key platform for PRs to extend the reach and position of client brands.  However, if the economy declines post Brexit we may see a consolidation of budgets and a check in the increasingly disproportionate costs charged by some influencers.  Savvy PRs will spot the up and coming influencers and ensure a brand is well positioned and appropriately exposed to generate the best ROI.

Continued pressures on traditional media. 

Traditional media reach is likely to continue to decline, but value remains through targeted exposure, brand leadership as well as links to a client’s website.  Clients will need to be comfortable with using sponsored content as part of their mix as 75% of communications professionals are already using it in their strategies to support the publishers hungry for new forms of revenue.

Strategic partners

As traditional media declines, PR agencies will increasingly be used as a strategic communications partner to clients, whether media relations, content creation or social media management.  Let’s also not forget the ability to identify opportunities for news stories and provide first-class content journalists can use.

Good PR professionals will help clients develop on-going relationships with a broad range of audiences across a range of interest segments. As a result, clients will expand and deepen their reach by securing a share of audience attention through consistent content distributed across multiple channels.

Message development

PR agencies should tailor their messages to include more visual, video and voice content depending on which device is used.  This is best achieved by creating bespoke content across multiple channels to expand and deepen a client’s reach.

Great content needs to tell a story, not just for the media but all audiences.  Also, expand the audiences you work with to include a broader set of partners: websites, content syndicators, trade associations and others who can help bring your story to a wider audience.

Positive year

PR agencies are the marketing sector’s best content creators and storytellers, and have the unique opportunity to support clients across the communications spectrum whether the space is paid for, earned, shared or owned by clients. To have a successful 2019, PR agencies needs to be confident with numbers, data, software and proving their ROI in the increasingly digital world.

IT’S MORE THAN JUST THE MESSAGE

Anyone who’s been involved in media training or been interviewed on TV or radio has probably been advised to focus on three or four key messages to ensure that they get their point across.

Fair enough, and there’s no denying that is some pretty sound advice, particularly if there is the potential for the interview to become complex or to be pulled in different directions.

There is however one problem, and that problem has been beautifully highlighted by someone who should quite frankly know better.  Our esteemed PM.

She could be accused of running perhaps the worst political campaign this century when she squandered a 20 point lead in the polls, to nearly lose the General Election to an opposition that many had predicted would be wiped off the political landscape.

What went wrong?

So, what went so wrong? In my view it was the over use of the ‘Strong and stable leadership’ message.  People started counting the absurd number of repetitions and it was not long before the memes started and social media undermined the message – along with the robot like delivery.  I believe Ikea even used it in their advertising along with a picture of the PM seated at a desk with the caption “strong and stable” shelving.

Theresa May, and many of her ministers, forgot one of the most important elements of an interview and that’s to add some personality and dynamism if you’re looking to attract support and get people to back your cause.

This is not meant to be a party political broadcast for any party or policy, but I fear that she’s falling into the same trap when looking to secure the votes needed to deliver on her Brexit proposals.

Let’s keep an ear out for how many times she says; “It’s a good deal for our country that takes back control of our borders, laws and money…”.  We have less than a fortnight before the ‘meaningful vote’ so no doubt plenty of time to be driven mad by the repetition.

If she wants the message to cut through she will need to not just repeat it like a small child on a drum kit, but instead install confidence and support through her body language, confidence in her convictions and even tone of voice.

If not, she’ll run the risk of only ever beings seen as ‘May-bot’ who is good at reciting messages but misses the bigger picture.

Looking to develop your communications strategy or develop messages? Get in touch and let us help you through the process.

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.

CONTENT MARKETING – HOW TO GET YOUR DIGITAL CONTENT JUST RIGHT

Unfortunately too many clients still believe that because they’ve spent hefty amounts on a new website, all will be well and the new business will roll in.  Unfortunately, it’s simply not the case as without quality, optimised and relevant content management – there’s a high chance a potentially fruitful website will wither on the vine.

The good news however is that a growing number of businesses are seeing the benefits of effective content marketing.  Recent statistics show that as many as 91% of B2B and 86% of B2C marketers use content marketing to facilitate business growth.

Although content marketing has been with us for years now it remains an effective way to build brand trust and awareness as well as establish business credentials by simply offering highly relevant information to the right target audience.

However, like other digital marketing methods it has evolved considerably over the past decade, so here we’ve outlined a few pointers as to what works best:

  • Achieve cut through and say something new, different and relevant. There are more than 2 billion blog posts listed every day, so make sure yours cuts through by being original and not ‘me too’.  If you want to be a thought leader, say something new or challenge the status quo.
  • Focus on content that you have the right to comment on – why are you experts and why should people listen to you? Don’t blag it if you don’t know what you’re talking about as that can back-fire, instead focus on an area that your business excels in.
  • Use a quality digital communication agency to provide the right copy and content – if you’re not a writer, get some help so that you can focus on what you do best. Having a nose for a good or interesting story will also help.
  • Work with partners, suppliers and friends.Building back links is a critically important element of SEO and this is a useful tactic to not only receive endorsement but build links.
  • Think how best to share your content. Although building content and links on the page is useful for SEO, if you’ve got something interesting or unusual to say why not cascade through the right social media channels or via an electronic newsletter?
  • Take a longer term view – organic content marketing won’t immediately knock you up the SEO rankings but be specific on key words and in time it will bear fruit.
  • Evaluate and evolve. Has your content achieved any inbound links, has it been shared, have you maximised the opportunity through social media/newsletters, what’s the feedback / comments, can you place the piece editorially?

As with all digital marketing campaigns, it’s important to test, evaluate, improve and evolve.  Remember to take a long-term view that’s measured against specific goals and objectives as this always delivers the best results.

If you’re looking for a reliable digital agency in Chester that uses modern content marketing strategies, contact us and let us show you what we can do.

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!

 

 

 

My Time At The Source – What To Expect From Your Work Experience

During my first year of sixth form, it was expected that as a student you would find a week of work experience during the summer term. Initially, I was terrified at the mere thought of spending an entire week in such an alien environment, with complete strangers. Being a typical teenage boy, I had no idea what I wanted to do, let alone where or with whom.

After much thought, I came to the conclusion that to compliment my A-levels: English Language, Fine Art and History, I may want to consider a career in PR or marketing. Not to mention my natural fascination with social media – being a millennial and all.

So I began scouring the internet for an agency near to home that had an interesting mix of local and national clients, and came upon Source PR. The sleek and contemporary aesthetic of their website piqued my interest, and from looking at their clients, I was very impressed. I contacted Source and felt welcomed by their enthusiastic response for work experience.

On arrival, I was made to feel right at home, with everyone at Source being extremely friendly. More importantly, I was made to feel useful, and quickly set about different tasks that were carefully explained to me by the team. One fear I had about work experience was that I would spend my hours making cups of tea or watching someone else do their job. It was a relief that my time at The Source was as engaging and exciting as it was.

I juggled: blogs, media releases, and social media. All tasks were equally valuable, and from going into the week with little to no idea of the inner workings of a PR company, I have ended the week with a new understanding of just how important PR is. Everything today is about reputation and I now know how dependent companies are on PR to help shape their image. Working here I have developed my critical thinking as every tweet or blog is written with perception in mind. How will the client, their customers, and even potential customers perceive the discourse? What effect will this perception have on the company? This idea extends to even the most minute and seemingly insignificant forms of text. Each client has their own tone and representation that they seek to create.

Over the week, I got used to the office environment and felt like a member of the team. Source employees happily answered any questions I had. I would encourage anyone partaking in work experience to be outgoing and to ask lots of questions, as it will make your week much more valuable. Speaking as someone who usually keeps his questions to himself, it is well worth trying to pipe up every now and again… even if it is just from 9-5 each day.  I best thing was that I was even made comfortable putting forward some of my own ideas and opinions – most notably when suggesting campaign ideas or proofreading texts.

The level of feedback I had during my week was exceptional. I was well commended for anything that I did right and constructively steered in the right direction for everything that I perhaps didn’t do as well in. I gladly have taken any feedback into account and encourage anyone to do the same as it will help to further your skills and knowledge – no one expects you to be perfect!

Overall, I had a great time working at Source. Each day was made fresh and interesting and the relaxing environment of the office made me interested in a potential career in PR in the future. “PR not ER” was bounced around a few times and honestly, I think it perfectly captures what my time was like at Source. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and am thankful to Louis and the team for granting me the opportunity.

P.S I’d like to expend a special ‘thank you’ to Evie who was fantastic and really helped me during the week.

 

Alex is a 6th form student at West Kirby Grammar School

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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‘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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