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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

Influencer Marketing Lessons From Marcus Rashford

It’s fantastic to hear that the AQA exam board is looking to use Marcus Rashford as a case study on how best to use social media to instigate social change in society.  The 23 year old “black man from Wythenshawe” is not only a role model for many but a brilliant example of what an influencer can really do.

Marcus’ campaign to raise awareness of the issues associated with child poverty is rightfully textbook stuff, illustrating how best to use influence to raise awareness and deliver tangible changes to behaviour.

Within two weeks of launching, more than a million people had signed the petition calling for the government to extend free school meals through the summer holidays of the Covid-19 pandemic.  This was only the 5th time that a petition to parliament raised more than 1m signatures.

His success as an influencer is down to several reasons.  The first is that he has ‘lived experience’ and can relate to the issues he supports.  As a child, it’s well reported that Marcus Rashford had experienced significant poverty and could personally share the role that free school meals had played in his own life.  This meant he was not ‘preachy’ but honest and relatable based on his genuine experiences.

The footballer also has a significant profile on social media with more than 11.8 million followers on Instagram and a further 5 million on Twitter.  His personality shines through his posts and he remains consistently on message, relating to issues and topics that are important to him.  Marcus’ audience also relate to him on several levels whether football, as a young black man or as a role model in delivering social change.

He used his support well and his work was quickly amplified by cafés, takeaways, shops, and other outlets across the country who supported the campaign by pledging free meals to children during the holidays (in defiance of the government’s decision not to).  The campaign quickly built momentum at all levels of society and helped deliver the changes needed.

Marcus Rashford’s influence has been tangible.  He’s not only the youngest person to top the Sunday Times Giving List after raising more than £20 million in donations from supermarkets for groups tackling child poverty, but he’s also actively changed Government policy.

Last summer, Rashford managed to get the government to make a policy U-turn and agree to give free school meals to vulnerable youngsters during the Covid-19 impacted summer.  Later in October he secured a further £170m winter grant to support low-income families struggling with the continued impact of the pandemic.

Although he claims not to have ‘the education of a politician’ it’s clear his messages are simple and, like all good influencing campaigns or PR strategies, designed to engage with his audiences, encourage people to support the cause or even to take matters into their own hands.

This recognition, along with an MBE in the delayed 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, are just some of the accolades he has achieved in his young life.  Let’s hope that Marcus Rashford’s great work continues to shine on the football field and in the fields of positively influencing equality, diversity and inclusion in today’s society.

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 AND MARKETING FOR CHESHIRE’S MOST ICONIC PUBS

Two of Cheshire’s most iconic pubs have called on Source PR to help support them with their PR, social media and content marketing as they look to reengage with customers after lockdown.

The Swan in Tarporley and the newly refurbished Lion in Malpas, both part of The Bear Inns Group, have benefited from multi-million pound investments and refurbishments and are now looking to raise awareness of their features as well as re-engage with the community.

The Swan, an historic coaching inn dating from 1565, has been an integral part of the South Cheshire community for over 400 years.  The refurbished pub maintains its characterful Georgian features including log fires and rustic decor in keeping with its coaching inn roots.

The Georgian coaching inn offers 16 double bedrooms all of which are en-suite.  Located in the main building, or the adjacent coach house, the rooms have been recently refurbished to offer a unique and characterful place to stay in the heart of Cheshire, just eight miles from Chester, and only a short commute to Manchester or Liverpool.

To support the local community, The Swan has joined the Government initiative, ‘Eat Out to Help Out’.  The new government scheme incentivises customers to eat out in their favourite eating establishments by giving them a discount which the business can then claim back from the government

The Lion is a fully renovated country pub with double bedrooms set in the heart of Malpas, one of Cheshire’s most picturesque villages.   Formerly The Red Lion, the site dates back to the 16th Century and has welcomed locals and visitors for centuries.  Scheduled to reopened in Autumn 2020 after extensive renovation and refurbishment, the pub now offers a large open bar area with a range of quality local ales and lagers, wines and spirits as well as classic cocktails.  The area has been cleverly segmented to offer a cosy spaces with fires, open bar area as well as relaxed and more formal dining areas throughout.

The complete renovation and refurbishment saw the addition of 16 double bedrooms.  Residents are offered a range of beautifully decorated rooms, each named after local Cheshire villages. The double rooms are all en-suite and have been designed by award winning Lister Carter, a leading interior design company.

Louis Hill, Managing Director of Source PR, says: “Pubs are an integral part of the community, providing not only an excellent pace to eat and drink but importantly a place for people to come together.  We love pubs and this could not be a better PR brief for us to get stuck into.”

Source PR has a track record of supporting the opening of pubs, bars and restaurants having supported Cheshire Cat Pubs & Bars with their seven pubs across the UK, culminating in them winning the UK’s Best Pub.  The team also helped Jerry Brunning, founder of Brunning & Price, when he returned to the sector with the launch of the Swan in Marbury.

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).

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.

 

SOCIAL, SALES & REPUTATION

Social media is ever-changing and ever-growing, with new updates bring the capability of sharing more and more information in different forms month on month. For businesses, this can seem like a perfect sales platform, with the ability to use strategic spend to target potential leads.

Of course, as social media companies recognise their worth to businesses, the cost to advertise goes up. But those looking to generate sales on social media shouldn’t be down-heartened – as a well-thought out and strategic ads campaign can still bring valuable results.

But we’re not here to talk about advertising strategies – let’s be honest, we’d be here for hours – but rather the value of non-sales focused social content. It can be tempting to see any posts that don’t directly link to sales goal as pointless, but it’s important to remember that social media shouldn’t be a platform with the sole purpose of sales.

Social media acts as the face of your business’ brand. Any potential customers will check social media pages to get a feel for what your brand does, and how you work. The amount of content you post, its relevance, the reactions you spark, your engagement and interactions all help to shape who you are in both your current and potential customers’ eyes.

Social media

Social media can, of course, support sales, but it’s also there to build and maintain reputation – an exercise which should never be underestimated. Having a solid, reliable reputation has no quantitative metrics to measure success, but it is vital for business growth. Constantly working on proactive reputation building essentially gives your business credibility points in the bank – credibility as a successful, industry-leading and valuable service for a customer to invest in.

So, when looking at your business’ social media: keep an open mind, and remember that thought out, strategized posts are still working to build your reputation and secure your long-term growth.

PR TRENDS FOR 2019..?

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

It’s all about influence

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

Continued pressures on traditional media. 

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

Strategic partners

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

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

Message development

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

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

Positive year

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

Back to School: What is Marketing?

‘So, what is marketing?’

I wasn’t expecting such a simple question to stump me for what felt like five very long seconds. We were attending the Careers Day at the local Ellesmere College, and we were prepped with a banner and on-brand coloured cupcakes (we know what kids want), ready to speak to students about a career in marketing, PR and communications.

We’re used to dealing with professionals who want to know how digital marketing can work cohesively with traditional PR, or how we can maximise the benefits of influencer partnerships on social media – we’re never asked a simple question which essentially asks, ‘what is that you do, every day?’

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein famously said that “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.” We weren’t dealing with six year olds here, we were talking about our industry with curious and intelligent teenagers at a crucial decision-making point in their lives.

As well as being able to help young people as they start to carve the beginnings of their future careers, the afternoon gave us an opportunity to take a step back and go back to basics: what is it that we offer?

After a couple of practice groups of students who feigned a remarkable interest whilst clearly eyeing up the baked goods, I got into the swing of it: we essentially offer a subtle form of advertising.

As opposed to large, in-your-face adverts on the side of the motorway or shoved between TV shows (which of course do have their place), we work with businesses to identify their target audience and, most crucially, understand them. Then we use a whole host of communication lines from news stories, to profiling, to social media in order to influence their audience towards the business. This comes together into a holistic campaign, using every tool we’ve got to ensure that your brand is in front of the right people, saying the right things.

If you’ve got a growing business and thinking of taking your first step into marketing, just get in touch for a laid back chat – you never know, we might even have cake.

The Remarkable Evolution of Instagram

Since its inception in 2010, Instagram has been quietly picking up traction thanks to its attractive scroll of infinite new content – not to mention the rapidly improving photo quality on iPhones. From carefully staged selfies to artistically arranged flat lays, the platform has quickly established itself as the top social platform for engagement. Read more

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