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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?”.

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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.

STAKEHOLDER COMMUNICATIONS – FIGHTING FOR FARMERS

The high standards of British agriculture will be heralded at a London rally organised by the NFU in a bid to make the Government think twice about allowing food into the UK which is produced to lesser standards in any trade deal.  By undertaking a programme of effective stakeholder communications, the farming and food community is set to raise awareness and deliver the results and assurances they need.

The rally, on March 25 at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, Westminster, aims to secure a commitment that UK standards will be safeguarded in trade deals to be negotiated this year with Europe and the rest of the world.

It will feature speeches from environmental and consumer spokespeople, animal welfare professionals and farming leaders. The message is that UK farmers produce safe, traceable food and this excellence must not be sacrificed in the necessity to strike free trade deals.

MPs will be invited and the event will undoubtedly put pressure on Government to avoid kow-towing to other countries. The Conservative manifesto also pledged to not jeopardise UK animal welfare standards; further influence comes from a letter to the Prime Minister signed by over 60 groups including the RSPCA and Soil Association urging the protection of food standards.

Campaign publicity

Farming is not generally an industry which takes to the streets of the capital to make demands. There’s a swathe of public support for maintaining our food standards and not allowing items such as chlorinated chicken and hormone-fed beef into the UK. The unpalatable history of big landowners receiving the largest subsidy payments is now receding, which may also generate support for the industry as it adjusts to provide public goods in return for subsidy payments: this bedrock of support lessens the potential for cries of self-interest to be levelled at farmers.

The publicity campaign surrounding the rally has already succeeded in highlighting the standards of UK farming and coverage in the weeks before the event could add further weight: the power of the campaign will undoubtedly exert pressure on Government.

For advice on successful campaigning and strategic PR, contact the team at 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.

 

NATIONAL STORYTELLING WEEK: HOW WE USE PR TO TELL STORIES

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

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

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

PR People, Or Professional Storytellers?

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

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

National Storytelling Week

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

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

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

National Storytelling Week – How We Do It At The Source

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

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

National Storytelling Week

 

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

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

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

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

THE PR PUSH FOR BIG BEN TO BONG IN BREXIT..?

The PR campaign that aimed to get Big Ben to chime at the point of the UK’s departure from the EU has failed to reach the required funding to go ahead.

The StandUp4Brexit group conceded that they aren’t able to raise the required £500k to hear the bell chime in the change, saying that the £272,000 already raised will instead go to veterans’ charity Help for Heroes.

Although the StandUp4Brexit team ran a good PR and social media campaign, securing 14,280 donations from 56 countries in under a fortnight, they did not manage to get the ambitious project over the line.  They did however create a debate that trended widely across national and international media through on-line, broadcast and traditional media outlets.

Although Big Ben has chimed at significant occasions in the nation’s history, including the end of wars, New Year’s Eve, royal weddings and funerals – Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice told the BBC’s Today programme that he felt “bureaucrats in the Houses of Parliament” had blocked the idea.

In an attempt to reconcile the leave and remain public, Downing St has sought to distance itself from the Big Ben chime campaign, instead focusing on plans to mark Brexit Day with a less ambitious PR campaign – preferring a simple illumination of the whole Elizabeth Tower.

PR Campaign Evaluation

If evaluating the success of Standup4Brexit’s campaign, on one level it has clearly failed in achieving its principal aim of securing the funds needed to fulfil their aims.  However, as often with PR, it has undoubtedly succeeded in getting its messages, story and position to a wide audience.  It’s created engagement and debate while also successfully linking to its core messages around sovereignty, self-determination and ‘Britishness’.

The campaign has also pressured the government into marking the occasion with its own illuminations.  There is even rumour that a recording of Big Ben’s chimes will be played through a loudspeaker at an event in Parliament Square.  They even managed to get “provisional authorisation” from the Office of the London Mayor – a staunch Remainer.

So perhaps the Standup4Brexit campaign was not a total failure after all, but let’s hope the next concerted PR campaign is focussed on healing the Brexit rift.  If used correctly, PR is uniquely placed in its ability to bring people together – then the nation will certainly have something to celebrate.

Contact the team if you’re looking to crowdfund for a campaign or if looking to raise your profile amongst influential audiences and stakeholders.

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).

CHRISTMAS CAMPAIGNS WORTH TALKING ABOUT THIS YEAR

Christmas is just around the corner and the marketing campaigns are in full swing. However, with the festive period being such a saturated opportunity to make a real impact with your communications, not all efforts are wholly successful.

The Christmas Communications Challenge

Christmas has long been a great chance to do something a little bit different with your brand, to market it alongside the holiday period and to leverage Christmas as an opportunity to align your business with something very popular not only nationwide – but pretty much worldwide.

The problem is, is that many opportunist marketers have recognised the opportunity that the festive period presents. And thus, Christmas campaigns and adverts are more common than uncommon these days. It’s very easy for your efforts to be overlooked when they are competing against an abundance of other campaigns that get more and savvier each year. You need something pretty special and memorable.

So, how can you create a Christmas marketing campaign that truly stands out from masses? There’s no better way to learn than from the best…

Top Christmas Marketing Campaigns Of 2019

Cadbury’s Secret Santa

If a campaign returns for another year, you know it’s a successful one. This year, Cadbury’s are re-opening their secret Santa stations where you can send a bar of their chocolate to a loved one. It’s simple, but it works. The popularity of the ‘pop-up post offices’ equals widespread publicity for the brand, through press, word of mouth and social media. It’s totally Instagrammable.

John Lewis’ Excitable Edgar

John Lewis really illustrate how to perfect a Christmas marketing campaign. Through their much-loved and highly anticipated Christmas ads every year, they’ve cleverly associated themselves with being the go-to retailer during the holiday season. It’s a big responsibility, but their Christmas content is world-renowned, largely in thanks to the brand they’ve built. They have big boots to fill, but they manage to do it so flawlessly every year.

Aldi’s Kevin The Carrot

Aldi do really well in nailing down their Christmas campaigns. Much like John Lewis, their Christmas adverts have now become something of a tradition to the brand. Only with a twist. They’ve developed a character that is used time and time again. Kevin the Carrot is a name we’ve all come to know and love, and every year his return is anticipated by many. But Aldi go one step further in making the most of their Christmas marketing, their Kevin the Carrot collectibles are a huge hit amongst shoppers – meaning they profit not only from the publicity, but from raw sales too.

Deliveroo’s 10ft Gift Box

Something a little different this year was Deliveroo and KFC’s real-life marketing campaign that they executed on the South Shore of London this year. With so many traditions that are rife in the UK, it’s hard to create a new campaign that really makes an impact. But these two brands seem to have done it this year. Fashioning a giant 10ft gift box that gives passers-by a taste of KFC’s new festive burger – this campaign is one that attracts genuine footfall as well as publicity from being a little ‘out there’.

Coca Cola’s Christmas Truck

It’s old but gold. Coca Cola’s Christmas truck is a festive favourite for a reason: because they’ve built that brand and reputation for themselves through years of clever marketing. The advantage of being a well-established brand is that you can use the same marketing tactic time and time again. And instead of it becoming repetitive, it becomes iconic. The Coca Cola Christmas truck is simply a part of the festive season now, and all the while it remains a fan-favourite, the brand benefits from the publicity.

IKEA’s ‘Home Shame’ Ad

It works because it’s brand relevant, but also consumer-relevant too. IKEA released a Christmas ad this year which focuses on ‘home shame’ and how you shouldn’t be ashamed to open your home up to your family this festive period. It features an (admittedly catchy) backing track from grime rapper D Double E, which has provided multi-faceted benefits as the Swedish retailer is praised not only for promoting the Grime genre, but also just for their music choice in general. The song is now being released as a single. Christmas number one, perhaps? The marketing benefits just keep on rolling with this one…

 

Do you have any more stand out Christmas campaigns from this year? Let us know on Twitter.

WHAT’S THE INFLUENCE OF INFLUENCER PR?

Public relations has always been about influencing audiences and ensuring a brand or product is portrayed in the right light – the secret now is to use influencer PR.

Ensuring you are able to influence those who have influence over others is a crucial part of the work whether targeting journalists, MPs or celebrities.  The advent and exponential growth of social media has however seen the emergence of ‘influencers’ whose sole purpose seems to be to share their experiences and influence others.

Admittedly, the successful influencers focus on a market segment as their area of authority, whether mums, teens, fashion bloggers or people with a passion for their homes to name just a few sectors.

‘Being an influencer’ is now one of the most popular career options for primary school children. Gone are the days of kids aspiring to be lawyers, astronauts or firemen – it’s now all about becoming an online influencer.

A survey by  global affiliate network www.awin.com showed that one in five (17 per cent) of kids now wants to be a social media influencer and 14 per cent wanted to be a YouTuber – only doctor (18 per cent) scored higher.

The role of influencers is can pay dividends for the individual as well as the brands looking to engage with audiences.   A Marketingcharts.com surveyfound 22 per cent of 18-34 year-olds made a large purchase after seeing an online influencer endorsing the item – be that games, fashion, make-up or hotels.  The challenge however is finding the right influencer, with a genuine following and who has authority and an ability to engage with their audiences.

This year’s Love Island is already spawning a new wave of ‘influencers’ with huge numbers of followers.  However, research has revealed that many of their followers are in fact fake, undermining their credibility.

Tommy Fury, the most-followed contestant, has 971,000 followers but well over half (60%) of those are fake.  The contestants whose Instagram profiles have the highest concentration of fake followers are Amber Rose Gill and Jordan Hames, at 65% each.

Six of the 17 contestant accounts were reported for suspicious activity, just weeks before the contestants were publicly announced. Strangely Anton Danyluk would appear to have great influencer and support in India, Brazil and Mexico – some of the most common countries where ‘bot farms are commonly located.

Last year, Instagram claimed it was intending to target fake likes and comments from users who use third-party apps to boost their popularity.  The issue is a serious one as research from Social Chain has reported that brands are being defrauded by up to 96% of what they spend with some influencers.

The message from this seems to be clear that when used correctly, influencers have a key role to play in successfully targeting audience groups.  However, remember to do your research to ensure you know exactly how much influence your influencer actually has.

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.