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PR ADVICE – CAN DEMOCRACY SURVIVE WITHOUT INDEPENDENT MEDIA?

Anyone offering PR advice to Donald Trump must have earned their corn attempting to manage his messages or even keep control of his diverging news agenda. The difficulty of offering PR advice to Donald was that, on average, the Whitehouse Director of Communications lasted just 150 days, barely enough time to effectively influence the strategy, direction or messages let alone establish working relationships with the media.

The Trump Effect On The Changing Media Landscape

During the latest presidency we have also seen a further dramatic shift in the media landscape with the emergence of ‘fake news’, direct communications through social media platforms such as twitter and a growing lack of trust in the media. This is a problem as a free and independent ‘Fourth Estate’, is supposed to hold power to account, an important element in democracy and debate.

The changing landscape has resulted in unprecedented scenes with the need for 20,000 troops to gather in the US Capitol to oversee the safe transfer of power in ‘The land of the free’. This issue has risen largely due to maverick communications and loss of control. Sadly, the storming of the Capitol buildings could therefore be a sign of things to come.

This ability to bypass an independent and regulated media has significant repercussions, particularly if the presiding narrative is that they are trying to steal the election, to not trust the media or the whole establishment. In situations like this where do you turn and who can you trust?

Would Trump Have Fared Better With Good PR Advice?

The need to be held accountable or to win an honest argument no longer applies, as communicating directly through social platforms is proven to be more effective. In Trump’s case he had more than 88 million followers on Twitter – considerably more than the readership of all the major US news outlets combined.

The net result however is illustrated by a poll in December that shows that 40% of Americans did not believe that the election was fair. This is further compounded as nearly 75% of those who voted Republican feel the election was stolen. This is despite the fact the mainstream media reported that 60 post-election lawsuits in multiple states all found that there was no fraud and that the result was fair. Logical debate is simply stifled by volumes of unproven and often unprovable claims.

It’s clear that the trust has gone and that the media are no longer seen as fair and independent reporters of the truth. The ‘lies and denies’ have gained traction and land on fertile ground particularly when communicating to an audience of followers who have built relationships with you online and who no doubt already replicate and share the same views.

Rebuilding Trust In A Post-Trump-Power World

The media also need to play their own role in rebuilding trust. There is a negative spiral occurring where media companies are not reacting to the changing landscape quickly enough or attracting the investment needed to support quality reporting. There is still a legacy of political influence or grudge bearing which needs to be overcome as it leads to poor journalism and subsequent declining influence / sales and so the cycle continues.

Social media platforms started introduced ‘fact checking’ tabs in Spring 2020 to try and manage the number of misleading claims sprouting on the platforms, but when the claims come from an historically credible source such as the President of the United States then the problems are clear. Again it comes down to who to trust – who do you believe? The large tech firms determining what’s accurate or not, the President of the US, commentators or the media?

The Wider Impact On The World

When examining the issue in context of the coronavirus pandemic the problem continues. For example, currently opinion on the vaccine is divided – with some keen to take and roll out while others believe that it’s all part of a wider conspiracy as a result of information they have listened to online (ranging from Bill Gates to 5G conspiracies). The net result however is that nearly two thirds of Americans suggest that they won’t take the vaccine right away, presenting a significant health risk to the country and an even slower recovery and return to normal.

The answer however is not to ban certain users as tech giants themselves are not regulated enough to determine who has the right to opinions. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that anyone making comments on social media platforms should be held accountable but the right to the first amendment must be paramount. That does not negate the option to prosecute racist, homophobic or inflammatory comments or to give temporary or increasingly long bans if users continue flout the rules / laws.

By determining who uses their platforms sets a precedent that may come back to bite social media companies. What happens when they are pressured to ban individuals due to one off political or cultural views or even non-related actions – simply because they do not conform to the new normal. It would be a victory for the woke but a problem for debate and therefore ultimately democracy.

The consequences could ultimately put into doubt the future of an open and free internet. How can a handful of tech bosses make decisions on who does and doesn’t have a voice on the internet? If they do then surely they should themselves be open to more scrutiny?

Where does it all stop? The ‘wokeball’ effect is already taking place with other platforms being pressured into taking similar action with facebook, YouTube and Snapchat also banning Trump. What about holocaust or climate change deniers, devout religious groups, more extreme political parties or even celebrities pushing their own agendas…?

Is Senior Counsel And PR Advice The Answer?

So, what’s the answer? Debating and arguing over differing opinions are as old as humanity itself and are instrumental in a real democracy. Debate needs to be encouraged and media companies should share both the platforms and opinions, rather than ban people or get involved in personal spats where there is a risk they become the story. Media companies should have greater support or regulation in managing their newfound power (already enough to silence the ‘most powerful man on earth’) and commentators / influencers should be open to debate as well as scrutiny.

If offering senior counsel or PR advice to corporates or individuals the same principals should apply. We would always advocate the importance of being honest, to be able to look yourself in the mirror and justify your decisions but most importantly know what you or your business stands for and be consistent to the delivery.

JO MALONE’S MISJUDGEMENT – THE IMPORTANCE OF STAYING ON TOP OF CURRENT AFFAIRS

While some businesses have folded due to the impact of COVID-19, others have managed to find their feet during it. We’ve seen tongue-in-cheek advertising slogans emerge, such as KFC’s switch from ‘It’s finger lickin’ good’ to ‘It’s good’ as a reference to the importance of hand-washing and personal hygiene,  showing an increase of sense of humour in brand communications in the past few months – a far cry from how we were all feeling back in March.

 

Staying on top of current affairs has always been an efficient way of plugging into the latest trends and hot topics, from newsjacking in PR, to keeping your social media strategies relevant. Gymshark is particularly adept at this, whether it’s voicing their support for the Black Lives Matter movement via a $125,000 donation, or something smaller, such as using the latest Twitter meme format to generate a healthy volume of engagement.

 

 

 

But it’s not just important for brands to stay on top of current affairs for their own inbound marketing, it’s also an essential way of knowing what not to say and do.

 

Gently does it

 

Jo Malone (the brand, not the person – she sold the company in 1999) recently faced backlash for exactly this. The candle and fragrance creator changed an ad that previously starred, and was conceived by, actor John Boyega to include a Chinese actor instead. The use of Liu Haoran instead was to allegedly cater to its Chinese consumer base. The original advert explores Boyega’s beginnings in Peckham, London, with the ad even starring his friends and family. The slogan for the Jo Malone campaign was ‘A London Gent’. With Boyega’s London roots, it simply makes much more sense than when compared to Haoran, who was born and raised in China. Boyega has since dropped his partnership with the company, saying that he does not condone ‘dismissively trading out one’s culture.’

 

Whilst the decision by Jo Malone was a mistake whichever way you look at it, it comes as an even bigger sting following not only the rise in protests in the last few months from Black Lives Matter, but also the actor’s own vocal support for the movement. The erasure of Boyega for seemingly no apparent reason is a reminder of the subliminal racism that is perpetuated by some within advertising industry. The Force Awakens brought in $124 million from China’s box office: though it fared much less strongly than the Avengers movies due to the lack of a nostalgia from Chinese viewers, there’s no doubt that he is known not just to Westerners, but Easterners too.

 

Keeping it current

 

If the powers that be at Jo Malone had their fingers a little more on the pulse when it comes to current political situations, would they have continued with the replacement of John Boyega for their Chinese advert? It’s difficult to say – many more factors must have been at play behind closed doors. But what we do know is that the company would have retained its partnership with the actor. There’s also no doubt that the Jo Malone will have lost the support of some of its British customers in the wake of the upset – something that could have been avoided with a little more planning and consideration for current affairs.

 

Whilst an outright support for Black Lives Matter is a risk some brands simply won’t take, many are. Some, simply to keep their fingers on the pulse, but for others like Gymshark, it’s a clear expression of their brand values.

 

Get in touch with us

 

At Source PR, we always have our eye on the ball when it comes to all things digital. For advice on PR, digital marketing and social media, including working with influencers, get in touch with our team here.

IS IT POSSIBLE TO WORK JUST AS PRODUCTIVELY FROM HOME?

If quarantine has taught us anything about ourselves, it’s whether we can – or can’t – work from home effectively. Past studies, such as this one of a call-centre in China, have shown that, contrary to popular belief, productivity actually increases when staff work from home. Though gossip serves a purpose in the workplace (some might say an essential one), eliminating this aspect of the workspace is bound to increase productivity. A further study by Airtasker found that not only were employees healthier when working from home, but they were also on average working 16.8 more days a year in terms of productivity.

However, there is definitely a sense that some people just simply aren’t suited to working from home. Those who suffer from attention disorders, such as ADD and ADHD, find it particularly difficult without the structure and supervision of the office workspace. It’s hard enough for lots of us to stay off the (non-work related) social media when you need a distraction – particularly as the news is now ever-shifting, constantly updating us with legislation changes, statistics and advice.

So, to help you keep inspired, we at Source have compiled a short but sweet list of tips to help you work effectively from home.

  1. Listen to music. While some may understandably find this distracting, others find that listening to ambient or instrumental music while working does wonders for their concentration. This works in particular with over-ear headphones if you have noisy neighbours or a lively household!
  2. Work in a tidy space. This means you won’t have the temptation to get your Mrs. Hinch on – even if that is a productive form of procrastination. Plus, a tidy desk is a tidy mind!
  3. Work smart. If you’re in a slump, for whatever reason, leave the desk and come back when you’ve refreshed with a walk or a tea break. Globally, anxiety levels are naturally high right now, so it’s sometimes better to reset yourself with a break from the desk rather than push on through a mental hiccup.
  4. Give yourself something to look forward to. Whether it’s watching a new episode of your favourite TV show that just dropped, trying out a new recipe, or spending some chill time with your pets, having something to look forward to at the end of the working day is a great mood-lifter. Though it might seem like our choices are limited right now, there’s a wealth of advice, workouts, recipes, and amazing entertainment to keep us occupied.
  5. Limit your social media intake. This isn’t just to keep yourself away from distractions, but also to fend off some of the negative impacts of being constantly plugged in. Though it’s good to stay informed on the new advice, I find the wealth of opinions, anxiety and anger that reverberates after every government update pretty overwhelming. Keep up-to-date, but don’t be afraid to hit that mute button.

Naturally, it’s impossible to keep completely off the timelines, and it’s always nice to see the ordinary goings-on of our friends and family on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!

At Source, we know all there is to know about social media, digital marketing and PR, and how to tailor it to your businesses’ needs – whatever they are. Contact us on 01829 720789, or follow us on Twitter (source_tweets), Instagram (prsource) and Facebook (Source PR).

THE NORTH WEST PR AGENCY

This week were excited to see our profile piece appear on Prolific North as a leading North West PR agency.  Although based in Cheshire, Source PR has increased its presence across the North West and is delighted to be profiled in this way.

Award winning Source PR, established more than 10 years ago, has grown year on year and is now regarded as one of the leading PR, marketing and digital agencies in Chester, Cheshire and the whole of the North West.

The great work undertaken by the team, covering all services including social media management, B2B PR, consumer PR, design and digital communications have all been recognised by clients with some excellent endorsements achieved across the board.

The team is also recognised for the work it has done in both helping with crisis communications, stakeholder engagement strategies as well as supporting rural businesses raise their profile and develop effective marketing strategies that build credibility and deliver customer engagement.

The North West PR Agency is also well placed to provide specialist communication support for businesses looking to secure planning permissions or help with their broader stakeholder communications.  With experience of working in the property and construction sectors for decades, Source PR is uniquely placed to help businesses with a broad range of communications challenges and issues.

Most recently, Managing Director Louis Hill was asked by the national media to comment on the government’s Covid-19 communications strategies.  His comments were widely picked up in the national media including the Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail as well as The Metro.  This kind of media coverage is often achieved for the North West PR Agency’s clients – resulting in Source PR often being nominated and receiving numerous awards.

The team at Source PR comes from a wide variety of backgrounds including those with proven PR skills, journalist backgrounds or specialist social media / digital agencies.  The team is now responsible for communicating with more than a million customers on a weekly basis for its clients located across the UK.

Earlier this year, the North West PR agency has also secured it’s first international client, helping one of Europe’s leading manufacturing businesses extend its presence in the UK and to raise its profile, credibility and to share the excellent work it does with new and existing customers.

If you would like to speak with a member of Source PR’s North West PR agency team, contact us today.  We would be delighted to meet and discuss how we can help your business grow.

CORONAVIRUS CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS PLAN: HOW TO USE PR TO PROTECT YOUR BUSINESS

The rapid spread of the Coronavirus has pushed the WHO to declare a pandemic.

To date, there are around 139,075 cases of Coronavirus (also known as COVID-129) globally, 5,117 have died and cases are now found in almost every country in the world.

Stock markets have been hit and the International Monetary Fund has declared that the world’s ‘fragile economy’ could be derailed if the virus is not contained.

Coronavirus Crisis Communications Plan

Source: Worldometers

Now, the question to be raised is “how can businesses deal with the Coronavirus outbreak?”.

Read more

AGRICULTURAL MARKETING CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED TO TACKLE DEPRESSION IN THE SECTOR

Agriculture has one of the worst safety records of all industries and so a new agricultural marketing campaign to tackle the issue has been widely welcomed. Being depressed and not focused can lead to accidents – with 85% of young farmers saying there is a correlation between farm safety and mental health.

The Farm Safety Foundation, which runs campaigns such as Farm Safety Week, Yellow Wellies – Who Would Fill Your Boots and Mind your Head, funds courses to train farmers on how to deal with risks in the industry and to challenge risk-taking behaviour. The effective PR campaign targeting the agricultural sector – Mind Your Head – ran from February 10-14 and Farm Safety Week is coming up from July 20-24.

Mental health awareness is at the top of the news agenda and the farming industry is demonstrably susceptible to mental health problems; according to the Farm Safety Foundation, 84% of farmers under 40 believe mental health issues are the biggest problem they face.

The main reason is perhaps the way of life experienced by many farmers: the combination of long working hours, isolation, uncertain markets and high levels of borrowing can take their toll. As agriculture becomes increasingly automated, tractor drivers may spend days alone, often out of contact due to a lack of signal; this also applies to remote hill farmers. As well as being isolating, it is concerning in case of an accident.

Social media influence

Rural isolation can be as harmful as smoking and obesity according to a study commissioned by the cross-party Commission on Loneliness which described it as a silent epidemic, with links to dementia and poor mental health.

The value of campaigns and social media influence on rural industries is immense in helping disseminate information. Contact Source PR for advice on rural PR campaigns, rural marketing and effective social media.

DIVERSIFY, BUT TELL YOUR STORY WELL

Adding income streams through diversification projects is focusing the business brains of many farms and estates in this post-Brexit landscape. And while a new farm shop, glamping enterprise or festival requires concentrated attention, it’s also vital to think about PR and marketing for your rural business to actually tell customers about your rural business or scheme.

People are wanting more from the countryside – more to see, do and experience – and this behavioural change creates opportunities. Estates and farms may be thinking of outdoor film nights, festivals, high-end camping experiences or demonstrations of local goods: these are all great stories to tell via social media and structured PR.

Rural Marketing and brand building

Take the example of creating a high-end product by rearing extensively farmed meat;  research shows that some customers are keen to pay more and travel further to make a special purchase of say, Longhorn beef. The story that needs to be told includes the health benefits of the meat, the welfare enjoyed by the cattle, the rearing system, (e.g. a grass-fed diet) and interesting breed traits. By promoting provenance, you can build a brand.

The benefits of nature are increasingly cited as helping with mental health problems; this offers opportunities for creating low-cost schemes such as walking and cycling routes or woodland glamping. With the possibility of outdoor therapy being prescribed by the NHS in future, these are good stories to tell. Likewise, with broadband and the prospect of 5G opening up rural areas creating opportunities for diverse businesses, it’s important to publicise an exciting enterprise, engaging with the local community as well as broader  promotion.

It’s easy to get bogged down in the detail of setting up a business. A different perspective on reaching out to a wider customer base can be illuminating – that’s where professional PR and marketing come in and can pay dividends.  Get in contact with our specialist rural PR and marketing team for a free business consultation.

 

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).

ELMAC TECHNOLOGIES TURN TO SOURCE PR FOR PR AND SOCIAL SUPPORT

Elmac Technologies, head quartered in North Wales, has appointed Source PR to support the business with their media relations, social media management and stakeholder engagement.  The company is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Flame Arresters, supplying clients and distributors around the world.

Elmac’s innovative Flame Arresters and Low-Pressure Venting Equipment are utilised by OEM’s and Operators in a wide range of industry sectors including; petrochemicals, oil and gas, bio-fuels, mining, pharmaceuticals, power generation, agrochemicals and distilleries.

Source PR has been appointed to raise awareness of the company’s state-of-the-art design, manufacturing, testing and commercial facilities as well as its comprehensive range of enhanced In-Line and End-of-Line Deflagration Arresters and In-Line Unstable Detonation Arresters. The Elmac product range also incorporates a wide range of valves and other low-pressure venting equipment designed to meet client-specific requirements.

Louis Hill, Managing Director at Source PR, comments: “Elmac is centred on delivering its core purpose of protecting people, property and the planet. The company has a truly global reach and we have exciting plans in place to help communicate the innovative R&D, efficient operations and unparalleled customer service they deliver.”

Digital communications

Award winning Source PR is headquartered in Chester and offers a range of communications services including public relations, social media management, content management as well as digital communications.  The company has clients across the UK, offering a range of B2B and B2C communications advice.

COLLEGIATE AC TURN TO SOURCE PR FOR STRATEGIC PR SUPPORT

Collegiate AC, one of Europe’s leading providers of contemporary student accommodation, has appointed Source PR to help them raise their profile across Europe as the company looks to secure a second wave of strategic investment.

The company currently manages more than 20 developments across the UK, Spain and Portugal with schemes typically between €35m to €100m in gross development value.  In total, they currently manage assets to a value of nearly £2bn.

Collegiate has announced its intention to raise a further £2bn of strategic investment to expand the company’s portfolio to new and existing territories across Europe and has asked Source PR to help raise awareness of the business and the opportunities presented.

Louis Hill, Managing Director of Source PR, comments: “This is a great win for the team and a further endorsement of the work we have been undertaking for clients across the property sector.  We’re excited to be involved with such an innovative and forward looking brand of student accommodation.”

Corporate PR

Headquartered in Oxford, Collegiate has a major European office in the heart of Madrid where it has an in-house team of four full time architects supporting European design, specification, procurement and construction. Collegiate AC has a reputation for delivering state of the art residences using efficient construction methods to deliver investor objectives.

Award winning Source PR is headquartered in Chester and offers a range of communications services including public relations, social media management, content management as well as digital communications.  The company has clients across the UK, offering a range of B2B and B2C communications advice.

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