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It’s PR Not ER: Reflecting On Changing Attitudes In PR

So much has changed over the eight (or so!) years that I’ve spent working in PR, an industry that is known for being one of the most stressful to work in. According to PRWeek, the stress of the job was magnified during the pandemic. With the combination of juggling client relationships, deadlines, meetings and all around wanting to do our best work for clients, it’s easy to see why working at a PR agency particularly has a reputation for being a stressful working environment.

 

However, in the time I’ve worked in the industry, I’ve certainly seen a positive shift in attitudes towards working hours and mental health. In this blog, I reflect on some personal experiences and why the phrase ‘it’s PR not ER’ is one that has stuck with me over the years.

 

Throwback to 2015

 

I started working at my first PR agency in 2015 as a fresh-faced and enthusiastic account executive. I’d had a couple of post-grad jobs before that which were great to get me into the world of full-time work, but I consider the first agency I worked at as when my career really began. Although I loved the variety of work, my team, the clients, the B2B element particularly, I was on the road a lot, often not getting back until very late at night after a few days away at a time and getting back into the office again first thing the morning after. At the time, flexible working in that kind of job was unheard of. Taking TOIL (Time Off in Lieu) for sometimes extra-long hours spent working was not the done thing and the stereotypical old-school attitude of eye-rolls by management for the first person to leave the office at 5.30pm was rife.

 

Back then, working from home for me was not an option, and there was a pressure to always be ‘on’, an attitude that my colleague Jess Pardoe describes perfectly in her blog around mental health awareness in the PR industry. Alongside the travelling, there was a fair amount of alcohol and parties, and don’t get me wrong, I’m not afraid of either! However, I recall nights out in London where we weren’t ‘allowed’ to go home until all the clients had done (I’m older and wiser now and I know I’d be more inclined to stick up for myself if I was told at 3am that I wasn’t allowed to go to bed just because a client wanted to stay up and carry-on drinking). Unfortunately, this attitude wasn’t agency specific, this kind outlook working in PR and marketing agencies seemed to be across the board.

 

However, I’ve seen a shift over the years and thankfully many agencies have begun to recognise that teams don’t want or need a ping pong table or a ball pond in the office, they want flexible working, a fair salary and autonomy over their working day.

 

Is in-house PR better than agency?

 

When entering the PR world, one question on many graduate’s lips is what’s the difference between in house PR and working in a PR agency, or what is working at a PR agency like? Naturally, new grads are curious, as was I.

 

I’d traditionally worked in an agency environment but a lot changed for me during those strange years at the height of the COVID pandemic, and I decided to try something new in my career in a shift to working in-house. I was intrigued to find out what it would be like to be completely focused on one business, rather than juggling multiple clients at once.

 

There are of course pros and cons of both sides of the spectrum, and every place of work is different, but after a few months I found myself missing the agency life. There’s nothing quite like working across a variety of clients and having a team around you that just GET IT. It’s cliche but in an agency no two days are the same. One day you can be working on a new client pitch, conducting a messaging workshop or helping to organise a large-scale event, and the next you’re visiting a client’s factory dressed head-to-toe in PPE conducting a video shoot, or on the rooftop of a skyscraper building taking in the views and learning about the development.

 

The future of PR

 

A wise manager of mine once told me, ‘it’s PR not ER’ and it’s a phrase I’ve never forgotten, because she was absolutely right. As PR professionals, we strive to do the best work we can for our clients, but we can only do this if we aren’t burnt out and allow ourselves to switch off and have down time.

 

I’m glad to see that new grads, often from Generation Z are looking for more from their place of work and many agencies are now offering flexible and hybrid working, as well as more competitive benefits than were offered in the UK when I first entered the world of work.

 

As the buoyant job market and fight to recruit the best talent continues, I hope that this can only be a positive thing for employees, meaning businesses will continue to put people’s mental health first.

 

Source PR’s MD Louis understands the importance of looking after the team’s wellbeing, learn more about Source’s values.

 

Developing PR Plans For 2022 – 5 Things To Consider

As we look ahead into 2022, the team at Source PR shares below how they feel the pandemic has changed the way brands interact with customers and what PR and communication trends we’re likely to see as we head into 2022.

The pandemic has accelerated the changes in PR that have been coming over the past decade.  The move from more traditional ‘siloed’ communications towards a more holistic and integrated approach is complete.  For example, pure media relations can’t exist without reflective web content or supportive social media management – each communications silo needs to integrate and relate.

This has naturally led to a blurring of lines between PR, marketing and advertising, digital and offline – essentially requiring PR and marketing teams to develop plans that reflect an integrated approach to communications.

  1. Complete the shift to digital-first

The pandemic has ushered in a more digital world meaning companies should be looking at new ways of getting in front of their audiences and ‘meeting’ them in new ways.

In 2022, traditional PR strategies won’t work as well and companies need to adopt a digital-first strategy.  Marketers should however remember that although the platform is online that they’re targeting real people. We thrive on being liked, making conversation, and having meaningful interactions that we can relate to.

As we’re all individuals, this means that when it comes to engaging with customers, brands need to understand that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. Customers care more now than ever about their experience with the companies they are buying from and don’t want to be bombarded with generic emails or social communications that just aren’t relevant to them.

Always remember that consumers are more likely to buy from a brand that they trust, have a relationship and can relate to.

  1. Engage with, or become an influencer

It’s hard not to be aware of the growing influence of the influencer.  But what is an ‘influencer’?  In short, it’s someone with a strong following who ‘creates unique content that reaches and engages people within a specific target audience’.  When chosen correctly, they can add credibility, authenticity, and personality to campaigns, providing they are harnessed in the right way.

PR agencies are well placed to work with companies and brands to shape and foster a community of advocates and influencers.  Influencers can also help humanise the brand in addition to boosting appeal and trust, promoting products and services to new cohorts, providing invaluable user-generated content (UGC), word-of-mouth recommendations and social media chatter.

When considering an influencer be sure to undertake the due diligence and to create genuine partnerships that have strategic alignment with brand values. As ever, key performance indicators (KPIs) will play a crucial role in demonstrating whether the return on investment (ROI) is beneficial.

If you’re a business leader with proven experience in a sector, what’s to stop you from developing your own profile as a thought leader in the sector?  2022 could be the year for this and we are looking forward to working with our clients to achieve this ambition for them.

Finally, although we live in the digital age, brands need to be backed up by real people, otherwise, they risk becoming faceless.  Analysis of the social media platforms we manage clearly show that consumers want to experience the human touch and to understand the people behind the brands.

  1. Develop a social conscience

There is also greater pressure coming from consumer organisations and the public to ensure the products we are consuming have been delivered in a sustainable way, haven’t unnecessarily damaged the environment or caused distress to people or the planet.

If companies are doing good work, it’s important to share the news or at least give a vision for the future that stakeholders can buy into or be part of.  In short, communicating with a conscience has never been more crucial.

We are however still at the stage where companies are positively viewed for their good works, however, in 2022 it’s likely that there will be a shift towards the greater expectation that a company is doing the right thing.  Not acting or doing the ‘wrong thing’ therefore poses a risk to an organisation’s reputation, which can quickly spiral out of control in a digital world.

Be careful not to virtue signal or publish ‘green guff’ as the public are getting increasingly savvy and there is a risk it could backfire.  If you keep your actions aligned to your vision, values and core principles you can’t go far wrong and always keep the communities you are looking to influence in the forefront of your mind when selecting a campaign to support.

2022 will be all about developing a PR narrative that allows clients to demonstrate their credentials in a meaningful way.  When done well, community-led storytelling is more acceptable and authentic than direct brand-led communication, but this community advocacy needs to be consciously harnessed and not left to chance.

  1. Create the right content

As we continue to embrace the digital era, social and web channels are only going to gain more momentum and be an increasingly critical communication tool. In the coming year, ensure that the content provided is authentic and relevant to your audience’s interests.

There has already been a monumental rise of short-form video this year, but more companies will use the format for sales and information, not just entertainment. Of course, the sales messages conveyed via video will have to be entertaining and engaging to capture and hold the viewer’s attention.

The power of speech as a search tool will continue in 2022. Already nearly a third (29%) of people in Britain now own a smart speaker and Forrester predicts the number of households with smart speakers in the EU will reach 57.5 million by 2024. When creating content consider speech search terms as well as those typically typed into Google as increasingly consumers will rely on voice to search for their favourite product or to request information.

  1. Manage your messages

As we develop a multi-channel PR and communications strategy, communications professionals should not be lazy but adapt their messages to suit the platform.  Whether LinkedIn, Twitter or TikTok adapt the message and content to suit.  As new platforms develop, they also become more mainstream so don’t write off Snapchat and TikTok as only being relevant to younger generations.  More and more Millennials and other older generations are becoming active there.

The final point to make is to ensure your messages are adapted for various audiences.  Although much of the above relates to acquiring new customers, don’t forget that “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” and that retaining customers that are already engaged should be an equal focus for companies and brands in their PR and communications.

 

We’d love to know your thoughts on what you feel are the topics and trends for 2022?  Whether you agree or disagree with the above, I’m sure we can all agree that the only real risk is to those who choose to do nothing.  We’d happily meet to discuss or support your plans in 2022 and always love to hear or share ideas – you can contact us here.

Whatever you choose to do – we wish you the best of luck and hope you have a happy, healthy and prosperous 2022.

Photo by Djordje Vezilic from Pexels

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DOING A SOCIAL MEDIA AUDIT

There’s been an exponential rise in businesses using social media platforms to excite, entice and engage with audiences as more and more consumers turn to social media during the recent lockdowns.  To maximise performance and ensure you are on brand and have a strong message, now is the right time for companies to undertake a social media audit.

Research suggests that just under half of consumers (43%) said they were spending longer on social media because of the outbreak, and 19% say they’ll carry on spending longer on social media once restrictions lift. There has never been a better time to audit your social media than now.

The Basics Of A Social Media Audit

The good news is that a social media audit for businesses is not as painful as it sounds when left in the hands of professionals.  It’s a very worthwhile exercise to ensure brands are making the most of their opportunities, reflecting best practice and also keeping pace with the evolving social media trends and algorithms.

The basic role of an audit of all social media accounts is to help you better understand what’s happening on each network and to see at a glance the following key metrics:

  • What’s working and what’s not
  • Whether impostor accounts are stealing your followers
  • Which profiles you need to revive, repurpose, or shut down
  • New opportunities to grow and engage your audience
  • Are you being consistent and considered with your messaging

At Source PR, we’re often asked to complete company social media audits as it’s critical to understand the key elements mentioned above before embarking on developing an effective social media strategy.  To constructively move forward with an effective social media strategy it’s important to first know where you are before you determine where you want to go.

What Does A Social Media Audit Look Like?

Visibility

When undertaking a social media audit, first look at what @handles are you using, over what platforms and who has ownership or control.  Is there brand consistency across the platforms, what do the biogs say and where are you directing any subsequent web visitors?  Also, look at the imagery you’re using and check that the pages are verified to prevent imposters.

Needs & Wants

From this point you can determine what platforms and handles a business needs / wants as well as determine what’s working and what’s not.  Take the time to look at what are the most engaging posts, who is engaging with you and on what platforms as well as which networks your target audience is most active on.

Competitor Analysis

We would also recommend that you compare your approach and outlook to the competition, evaluating how you compare to them and whether you are missing any opportunities to engage with audiences or simply getting the best out of the platforms. At Source PR, we have social media tools that can track and monitor in-depth competitor activity as well as physically doing the legwork ourselves.

Identify KPIs

When auditing you social media platforms remember to stay focused on the key performance indicators (KPIs) that you want to measure.  Some of the more popular measurements can be increases in followers, link clicks, profile visits, likes / comments and other engagements.

Social Media Audit Services

Undertaking an effective social media audit for business helps determine where you are before you develop the strategy and pathway on where you want to go.  Get in touch with our team if you’re looking for support with your social media audit.  Once this is done, the real fun can begin with the development of an effective and fun social media strategy to better excite, engage and enthuse your audiences.  Watch this space and follow our social media accounts for future updates where we will share some of our social media success strategies.

PR & MARKETING STRATEGY – IS YOUR BUSINESS READY FOR LIFE AFTER LOCKDOWN?

As we approach the end of Lockdown Mark III, the government believes that the UK economy will bounce back like a ‘coiled spring’. The question is, are you ready for a return to normality, what are you doing to prepare yourselves and have you got their marketing strategy in place to maximise opportunities? If not, now is the time to take action before it’s too late.

The Bank of England suggests that consumer spending is set to surge with that the British public having saved as much as £250 billion while being locked up. Restaurants, pubs and bars are the likely immediate benefactors as well as UK holiday providers, but all these industries have suppliers and employ people who, who when earning again, will look to treat themselves after months of curtailment.

We have talked earlier about the importance of maintaining a marketing presence during lockdown and have an excellent case study of Combermere Abbey, one of the region’s leading wedding venues and accommodation providers, on how they managed it so well. The case study shows how the business was forced to close due to the Covid restrictions but rather than twiddle thumbs, took proactive measures so they were well placed to take advantage when the lockdown was lifted.

Businesses preparing for the lifting of what is believed to be the ‘last lockdown’ should also consider how the economy has been permanently altered since March 2020. Consumer spending habits, lifestyles and trends have been shifted online, people have adopted new hobbies and outlooks, and it is hard to see how the high street can bounce back without innovation or embracing more digital opportunities.

It is not just the hospitality and retail industries that is expected to bounce back, but house builders and construction industries are also likely to benefit as people look to either move home or make renovations following months of being in lockdown. A report from our client Miller Homes suggests that lifestyles have been changed by the pandemic with more home working or a demand for more outdoor space. These new ways of living and working present clear marketing opportunities.

The use of social media has also grown significantly as users feel that they have a safe space to interact, be entertained, distract themselves, and find inspiration without any risk of contagion. July 2020 saw a rise of 10.5% in social media usage, compared with July 2019, according to a GlobalWebIndex survey. Some 46% of women and 41% of men said they’ve spent more time on social media during the pandemic, making it the second-most popular digital activity.

Businesses should alter their marketing approach to reflect this and have a marketing and social media strategy in place that maximises the opportunities presented. It’s likely that the space will remain competitive and it will be the brands that have relationships with their customers and who are able to excite, entice and engage that will come out strongest.

If you’re looking for a PR or marketing strategy, the team would be delighted to have a chat to understand where you are, what the vision is and to help pull plans together so you can get there. The end of the ‘last lockdown’ is fast approaching, make sure you are ready like a ‘coiled spring’ to take your opportunities.

WHY SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT ALWAYS ABOUT ROI

Social media: a powerful tool that will connect you to your audience and help spread the word about what your brand has to offer.  It is of course another platform that can encourage sales but a recent campaign had us thinking about how social media does not necessarily need to lead to an increased ROI.

Have you ever thought about putting baked beans on your Weetabix?  I’m guessing your answer is no.  Well, it turns out that Weetabix have thought about it, to the point that they got tins of Heinz Baked Beans and delicately placed them on top of the nation’s favourite breakfast cereal.

On the morning of 9th February 2021, the Twittersphere went into meltdown with calls from Twitter users for Weetabix to delete its account.  It’s safe to say people were disgusted.  But it’s the disgust that carried this campaign to the point that the tweet became viral.  Weetabix’s tweet currently stands at 36K retweets, 65.6K quote tweets and 124.2K likes.  It’s certainly not a brand partnership that people would be expecting but that’s what makes the campaign so successful.  Pairing two foods broke the internet and catapulted the Weetabix and Heinz brands straight onto headlines.  The tweet was covered by media titles including, Sky News, Telegraph, Manchester Evening News and Daily Mail.

 

Piers Morgan even tried it on Good Morning Britain, adding to the conversation on social media and giving the campaign an even bigger boost to those who don’t have an online presence.  The campaign was given an opportunity to get another bite of the cherry, as Piers sampling the new delicacy made headlines and gave Weetabix and Heinz even more press coverage.

 

It wasn’t just the general public that made their opinions known on Twitter, other UK brands joined the conversation too, making for a hilarious Twitter thread.

Other brands were even trying their own disturbing Weetabix combinations…

Innocent Drinks are well known for running outrageous campaigns and causing a stir on social media.  At the end of 2020, Twitter descended into chaos as they claimed they had teamed up with Heinz for a ‘Beanz Machine’ breakfast smoothie.

So, it was all too funny when one Twitter user replied to the thread saying, “@innocent levels of chaos on the Weetabix page today.”

What followed was yet another strange brand collaboration, Weetabix took it even further…

 

The campaign worked so well because the country is living through lockdown 3.0 and everyone is in serious need for something to laugh at.  Plus, food combos are always a popular topic of conversation, Weetabix created a large-scale conversation that lasted for days.  The campaign brought everyone together, even if it was to share their disgust with Weetabix.

 

It’s evident from these types of campaigns that social media is not all about pushing sales messages and products.  It’s all about brand-building and gaining interest from the target audience.  A brand won’t go viral by simply tweeting about what they have to offer.  As the other brands started to respond to the Weetabix tweet, they were opening up a conversation for their own followers.  This was purely organic social media content and Weetabix only needed to spend money on Heinz Baked Beans.

 

You can almost guarantee that people had Weetabix on the brain for the rest of the day and added it to their shopping list for the next food shop!

 

Find out how we can support your business with its social media management by emailing us on louis@sourcepr.co.uk or calling 01829 72078.

 

IS LOCAL MEDIA COVERAGE JUST AS VALUABLE AS NATIONAL MEDIA COVERAGE?

At Source PR, we have plenty of experience gaining coverage for our clients, from the nichest of publications to some of the UK’s largest. From the BBC News to ITV, the Mirror Online and the Financial Times, we’ve got a track record we’re proud of.

 

But we’re no stranger to local media, either. In fact, a majority of our press releases go directly to local media journalists and publications. Forming good relationships with journalists and keeping up-to-date with the goings on of regional media is essential to our role in securing coverage for our clients.

 

But with smaller readership numbers compared to national media, is local media worth trying to get coverage in?

 

We say a resounding, loud yes: and here’s why.

 

1. A relevant audience

 

It’s obvious that directing a press release towards those who will benefit from the information most is the best course of action.

 

We work with Cheshire pubs for whom the target audience of their coverage is, naturally, local readers and viewers. While a viral Buzzfeed article or a national news story on BBC News is certainly not going to hinder their business prospects, it goes without saying that a pub first and foremost has to win over the local residents – and keep them coming back.

 

Targeting local media is the best way of helping them achieve this goal, both for online and offline coverage.

 

It’s not only smaller businesses that try for coverage in local media, either: national corporations that run campaigns and events in one particular area benefit from the local media’s ability to inform local residents, meaning they’re perfect to use for advertising and features.

 

Whether it’s a pub, a logistics company or a builders’ merchants, at the end of the day, it’s those local to the business who will be giving the business the most trade – so it makes perfect sense to reach them in their local media.

 

2. Trust is key

 

Did you know that, according to an American-based study by the Knight Foundation, local journalists are seen as more caring, trustworthy and unbiased in comparison to national media journalists?

 

The same study found that 45% of participants trust local news reporting either ‘a great deal’ or ‘a lot.’ Currently, there is a lot of mistrust for mainstream media from all sides of the political spectrum: from Donald Trump’s infamous rhetoric of citing news outlets such as CNN as ‘fake news’, as covered in our previous blog; to complaints in the UK of biased reporting from the big news outlets such as the BBC, sparking a national conversation about the need for a TV license fee.

 

Right now seems like the perfect time to invest time and energy into local media, which not only has the trust of its readership, but also keeps them informed of the most immediately relevant information to their day-to-day lives.

 

3. Keeping connected

 

Similarly, readers tend to feel more connected to their local media than to national media. A Government-backed study found that for every percentage point growth in a local daily newspaper’s circulation, local electoral turnout goes up by 0.37 percentage points. Informing readers of relevant local happenings leads readers to being more in-tune with goings on of their town or city, thereby making them feel more active participants in local democracy.

 

Some corporations have intervened in order to help keep local democracy thriving. To help combat the deficit in local news reporting, the BBC launched a Local Democracy Reporting scheme, which created up to 150 new jobs in local media throughout the UK. The reporters cover top-tier local authorities and other public service organisations.

 

In Facebook’s new ‘journalism project,’ the social media giant posits an initiative specifically for local news, stating that: “We will be collaborating with news organizations to develop products, learning from journalists about ways we can be a better partner, and working with publishers and educators on how we can equip people with the knowledge they need to be informed readers in the digital age.”

 

As Facebook has, in the past, come under fire for its lack of scrutiny of ‘fake news’, this is a great way for the corporation to step in and help make local news more accessible and verifiable.

 

Keeping it local

 

Some people think they have only made it in the world of PR if they’ve secured national media coverage. We say there’s a lot more to being successful in PR than only targeting the nationals. Targeting where your customers are reading is where it’s at, always.

 

Need some advice?

 

If you’d like some tips and support on the best ways of getting coverage for your business, you can get in touch with our friendly and experienced team via our website. We’re also on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram – why not follow us?

 

 

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.

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