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NON-ESSENTIAL RETAIL STORES: HOW TO REBUILD CONSUMER TRUST

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

Rebuild Consumer Trust With Visibility

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

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

Communicate What You Are Doing Differently

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

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

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

Encourage And Share Testimonials

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

Don’t Ignore The Situation, Acknowledge It

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

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

Need Help To Rebuild Consumer Trust In Your Brand?

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

9 WAYS TO GENERATE PR FOR SMALL BUSINESSES & SMES

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

Why Bother With PR For Small Businesses & SMEs?

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

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

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

We will touch on them further below.

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

9 Ways To Generate PR For Small Businesses & SMEs

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

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

1. First, plan

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

2. Turn your business stories into news

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

3. Be chatty on social media

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

4. Communicate consistently

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

5. Be friendly with journalists

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

6. Make use of PPC & social ads

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

7. Consider influencer marketing

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

8. Support charities & the local community

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

9. Track & share your coverage

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

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

NATIONAL STORYTELLING WEEK: HOW WE USE PR TO TELL STORIES

Today marks the beginning of National Storytelling Week, a very important time for PR and marketers for multiple reasons.

You see, the basis of PR is the ability to tell a good story. As PR isn’t paying for somebody to promote your brand like you’d do with advertising (a common misconception about our sector), it’s proving to people that your brand is one worth talking about.

But how exactly can you make that happen? Well, us PR ‘Sourcerers’ have some tricks up our sleeves. That’s how.

PR People, Or Professional Storytellers?

Everybody loves a good story, you can’t deny it.

Whether it’s a book, something you read in the newspaper, or even something you hear from somebody else. It’s human nature to want to hear about new and exciting things. It’s this very nature that makes the PR industry both a successful, but also lucrative, industry.

National Storytelling Week

In one way, it’s great that people are instinctively attracted to a good story. It puts us in business. It’s what makes PR not only an affluent industry, but one that’s so important too. Because while advertising is great and very effective if orchestrated right, you can’t really beat great organic exposure for your business.

But by the same token, it’s unmistakably hard to promote a brand organically without it coming across too salesy. Whether you’re pitching to journalists, or even to the public, if it’s painstakingly obvious that your sales-led, then you can come across dishonest and interested parties will likely lose that interest very, very quickly.

That’s why storytelling is a skill, and one not everybody can master.

National Storytelling Week – How We Do It At The Source

As mentioned just above, being able to tell a great story is the bread and butter of any great PR campaign. So how to we do it here at The Source? Well, quite aptly, National Storytelling Week is just one of the ways we aim to achieve coverage for one of our brands this week.

Hooking on to the occasion, and the fact that so many will be talking about reading and books this week, we decided to seize the opportunity and arrange a donation of books on behalf of a business we represent to a local primary school, in a target area for this client. Going off previous successes, we know that journalists in the area love this kind of story and will happily write about it both online and in print, given that it’s very timely too. Being tuned in to what’s going on in the world will not only earn us some great press coverage, but gives us the opportunity to boost our brand’s CSR too.

National Storytelling Week

 

This is just one of the ways we tell stories for PR purposes in an abundance of different tactics that we’ve mastered to raise the profile of our clients, and promote their products and services to the world in a genuine and effective way. Public Relations is a complex business, but a very important one too.

It’s not easy, but that’s where we come in…

Are you looking to boost your brand’s presence, online and offline, or are needing some PR and Marketing assistance?

Please feel free to get in touch with our friendly team by clicking here. We could be the source of your business’ potential to fly high.

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.