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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.

 

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.

How Will July 19th’s “Freedom Day” Change The Way We Communicate?

On Monday 19th July, England is expected to enjoy the end of all Covid-19 induced restrictions. This means nightclubs can open, unlimited numbers can meet both indoors and outdoors, bar service at pubs and restaurants will resume and events such as festivals can get underway for the summer. One of the most anticipated and discussed decisions of the years so far, the opinions surrounding July 19th is truly a mixed bag. As PRs for a number of hospitality clients, this change in the rules is huge for us. So, today, we wanted to talk about how the so-called ‘Freedom Day’ next week will change the way we PR.

Using This Opportunity For Comment Placement

Firstly, July 19th brings about a huge opportunity for businesses, especially those that might have been closed or operating under tight restrictions up until now. We’ll be leveraging these opportunities to get our clients in the press, plenty of journalists will be doing live blogs and frequent articles on ‘Freedom Day’ – how can you join in on the conversation? Only recently, we got one client, the owner of an esteemed wedding venue, in the BBC thanks to being quick-off-the-mark with a reactionary comment to the extended restrictions.

Positive But Mindful Comms

One of the most important things to remember next week, is that although many of us are excited to see the end of restrictions, there are also many who aren’t. Some will still feel hesitant about re-entering normal life and may be still cautious about the virus. Communications should naturally be very positive and enthusiastic, but it might not also be a bad idea to continue communicating about safety restrictions that may be remaining in place for your clients, for those who are more anxious about the situation.

Capturing & Communicating Moments

July 19th is a date that will no doubt go down in the history books, it’s important to capture and communicate special moments from the day. Perhaps you’re a new pub or restaurant having your first ever person at the bar, or maybe a wedding venue hosting your first celebration in 12 months? Whatever it is that’s happening for you or your clients on July 19th, be sure to celebrate it on social and with the media. So many people will be talking about all the various (and hopefully positive) changes to life as we know it, you want to make sure you’re a part of that conversation too.

Ditching The Old Messaging

One of the biggest ways that July 19th will change the way that we ‘PR’, is that most of the messaging from the last year will go out of the window. Though it’s still important to communicate any safety measures where applicable, you’re also going to want to drop most of the Covid-19 messaging from your comms. Many establishments will undergo huge operational changes over the next few weeks, as PRs it’s our job to effectively relay those to audiences and make sure that we’re all on the same page as we enter this next step together.

Embracing Changing Content

Over various periods of lockdowns, home working and ongoing restrictions, the content you would have gotten through from clients would likely have been different. Now that England is opening up again, this is likely to change again. Work with your clients to create the kind of content you wouldn’t have before, whether that’s photography with people enjoying your establishment and your services, or even utilising newfound freedom to create more interesting content such as TikTok videos and Instagram Live updates.

Supporting Others With PR

Finally, one thing we’re planning to consider in our future communications strategies, is that people have suffered throughout the various lockdowns and restrictions, we want to support them with our clients anyway we can. Only recently, with our client Miller Homes, we supported a primary school local to their development who had struggled with fundraising over the past year. This is part of our ongoing CSR activity for our client, and something we’ll consider across the board. Showing you’re helping those out who might’ve been less fortunate than yourselves over the last year, is a great way of reinforcing a positive brand message.

At Source PR, we have a number of clients that will benefit from the July 19th opening, and we’re excited to be supporting them in this next phase. If you’re a business looking to get the most out of the new (or rather, lack of) restrictions, please do get in touch with our friendly team – we’d love to have a chat and get the creative juices flowing.

Crisis Communications & Why You Should Have Plans In Place

An organisation’s reputation is intrinsically linked with its ability to secure sales, attract top talent or even to charge a premium. Well regarded business also benefit from loyal customers who buy a broader ranges of goods and tell others.  So if reputation is all important why not ensure you have you crisis communication plans in place?

As Benjamin Franklin said; “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” Sadly however, most organisations do an inadequate job of managing their reputations, only focussing their energies when a problem has already surfaced.

So what should companies do to protect against reputational damage? The answer depends on the type, complexity and size of the organisation but there are some basic rules of thumb.

Firstly; have a crisis communications plan in place. Organisations should ensure they have the capability and capacity to  respond to negative press, social media or customer complaints. Issues can move quickly but can often be predicted – having a crisis communications plan allow a company to be responsive, co-ordinated and consistent in what it wants to convey, to who and when.

Secondly, be honest.  An organisation that communicates honestly can even build greater trust with its stakeholders in the long term, while one that appears dishonest can undermine confidence and prolong a problem.

Thirdly, get support.  When a crisis hits it can be all consuming.  Customers, suppliers and employees will all need reassurance as well as the media and/or any public authority.  All should be included in the crisis communication plan but business leaders should focus on what they do best and seek professional support to help in other areas.

Identify the members of the crisis communication team and can allocate roles and responsibilities.  This can include simple actions like who should act as spokesperson and whether more than one is needed depending on the enquiry?  Also consider who will field media calls, monitor social media and is there back up required for each role?   The plan should include contact information for all team members including personal mobile phone numbers.

A crisis communications plan shouldn’t predetermine what to say and don’t script the responses – instead focus on developing the key messages you can plan in advance as well as key company information.  Where possible anticipate what the questions may be and how the organisation should respond.  In preparing the responses, consider the who, what, when, why and how and the below offer a useful guide:

  • What was the cause of the crisis?
  • A brief description / understanding of what happened
  • Provide a timetable for future plans and actions
  • Communicate compassion for any victims of the crisis
  • Involve supporters and any emergency service responses

Although many crises can’t be planned in advance, there’s no excuse not to have a plan in place for when one crops up.  The old adage stands true that “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”, often with devastating consequences to an organisation’s name and all important reputation.

To help develop your crisis communication plan, contact a member of our experienced team and let us support you through the process.

WHY COMMUNITY MATTERS IN YOUR PR STRATEGY

Community relations – sometimes known as CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) – can be overlooked in the face of immediate, tangible benefits. However, a good PR strategy will consider community and the value of it for your brand. Whether that’s using your platform to champion smaller businesses, or actively supporting charities and organisations.

This was proven very recently on April 12th, as pub beer gardens opened across England as part of the Government Roadmap. With the hospitality industry arguably one of the hardest hit amid the Coronavirus pandemic, Tesco decided they would dedicate their advertising space on this monumental day to a better cause. On Monday, they launched the following ad in multiple English newspapers.

Tesco April 12th Print Ad

This kind of media coverage would have been costly, so the idea that Tesco used it to champion smaller, local outlets as opposed to their own business, was very well received. It’s the perfect example as to why community relations matter in any PR strategy. Whether your business is large or small, you cannot go wrong with CSR.

Let’s explore why…

Why You Should Consider The Role Of Community Relations In PR

Community relations are so important to any brand for a multitude of reasons. Some of which include:

  • Building a better brand reputation
  • Making your brand more recognisable in the local area
  • Giving your brand a personality
  • Showing consumers that they’re buying from a brand that cares

For these reasons and many more, is why a whole host of brands work hard on their CSR strategies. Community relations isn’t a black and white area of PR, there are different things that businesses can be doing to improve their image, and it doesn’t matter how big or small your brand is. Some of the things a business can do include:

  • Adopting a sustainability policy
  • Fundraising for charity
  • Donating a portion of sales to charity, such as a % of a sale from a certain product
  • Using a bigger platform to champion smaller businesses
  • Working with local schools and organisations
  • Supporting employees and their own community initiatives
  • Backing smaller sports teams
  • Lobbying for change using your own platforms
  • And so much more (why not ask us what would work best for your brand?)

Why The Tesco Ad Worked

Going back to Tesco and their print advertisement, though it didn’t directly promote their products, it still helped to give the brand a push and generate positive coverage. Tesco’s selfless community relations act ended up returning far more than we can assume a traditional advert would have. Results included more conversation on social media and more positive feelings towards the brand.

Tesco Exaxample Of Community Relations

This links into the age-old debate that PR is not always about ROI and sales. It’s about building a better and more engaging brand. One people recognise as caring and community-driven. This reputation is worth way more than a single newspaper advert. Furthermore, Tesco still got great coverage in the online media as well as from their print ads. Not to mention the fantastic reaction on social media. A traditional advert would never have piqued attention quite like this.

Whilst linking up and supporting your community – whether on a local or national level – might not return immediate sales, it’s a crucial brand-building exercise that any good PR strategy should consider.  At Source PR, we often work with our clients to bring them together with the local area. We often support with this kind of community relations PR work with Miller Homes, one of our clients in the property industry. If you’re interested in finding out more about how this works in a PR strategy, read our case study. Want to know more? Why not reach out to our team?

WHAT WE’VE LEARNED ABOUT PR FOR HISTORIC HOUSES

Having a rural PR division, we have represented various countryside historic houses over the years, with one of the best examples of our work coming from current client Combermere Abbey, which is a 12th-century abbey based on the Cheshire/Shropshire border. Other examples of venues that we’ve worked with include the Cholmondeley Estate, Adlington Hall and the Wiston Estate in Sussex. Handling PR for historic houses is a tricky aspect of marketing to navigate, as there are often a lot of moving parts as well as many things to learn; but with such a wealth of experience in this field, we’ve learned a thing or two that we’re going to share with you today.

PR For Historic Houses: Our Lessons Learned

There are so many things we’ve learned over the years at The Source from the various clients we’ve worked with, we cover both B2B and B2C industries – as well as having specialities in rural PR and marketing; this means that the team have adept knowledge of the multiple sectors in which we’ve worked. Historic houses PR is one good example, we’ve worked with multiple venues and though each is different, there are universal lessons to be learned from all.

  1. You have to become a total expert

When you work with a historic house, you have to be prepared to learn a LOT. They are called historic houses for a reason – because they have a wealth of history. We put our all into learning everything there is to know about our clients and their backgrounds – no matter how many centuries that may span over. We’d definitely recommend spending time with your client, in person if you can, learning all there is to know. One of the first things you should be doing is taking a guided tour of the venue if that’s an option for you.

  1. Be prepared for unforeseen circumstances

You should have contingency plans in place for all clients, but for historic houses in particular. The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted so many businesses and has not spared the tourism industry. If you’re handling PR for historic houses, there’s a good chance you’ll be promoting tours, open days, overnight stays, perhaps even weddings. All of these had to cease at one point over the last year due to Coronavirus. We’d recommend being well prepared for any eventuality like this and keep an eye on what support there is too. Luckily in 2021, we have had clients who were the recipient of the Culture Recovery Fund, outlined by the Government DCMS and was supported by The National Lottery.

  1. You’ll manage mini sectors all within one business

Most historic houses, especially those that are privately owned, will have multiple strands of their business to generate revenue. For example, open days, tours and overnight stays are commonplace amongst the clients that we have represented. Sometimes even weddings. This means that you’ll be promoting multiple different offerings under one entity, you’ll need to practice specific PR skills, such as travel, local, wedding and more, all of which do differ. The more you’ll work on the accounts, the more you’ll learn and that’s what makes this kind of PR so rewarding.

  1. Get ready to engage with multiple organisations

One of the best things about managing communications for historic houses is that you’ll find there’s a lot of localised support. We work closely with local organisations such as Historic Houses, Marketing Cheshire, VistEngland and Visit Shropshire to further promote our clients to lovers of local attractions and heritage. These groups can be instrumental in your strategy, as you know their audiences are going to be interested in the venues you’re marketing.

  1. You’ll think you know everything… But you never fully will

In our first point, we said that you need to be prepared to become a total expert around the historic houses that you work with, and that’s true, but also expect to never stop learning. When your client has centuries of history, there are always more stones to be overturned, and that’s why we love working with venues like this so much. In PR, they say you never stop learning, and it’s safe to say that we can certainly relate.

  1. There’s so much to love

At Source PR, we become an extension of your team, whether that’s working with marketing, sales or even business owners. We become so passionate about the businesses we work for, and we’ve found that to be our experience when working with historic houses in particular. When you manage PR for historic houses, you learn so much about them, and you play an important part in bringing the magic of them alive for many people. We live and breathe our clients, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Support With PR For Historic Houses

If you’re a historic house owner or manager in the UK in need of PR, social media, digital or marketing support, then please do get in touch. We’d love to show you what we can do. You can speak to our team via the contact form on our website, or by calling 01829 720 789. Or you can find out more about our most recent PR work for historic houses by reading the case studies on our site.

HOW TO BE AHEAD OF YOUR COMPETITION BY 12TH APRIL

If the Government roadmap goes ahead as planned, then 12th April is set to be an important date for the hospitality industry. Not only can self-catering accommodation open once more, but also outdoor attractions can reopen, as can gyms, leisure centres and beer gardens. This means that between now and then, it needs to be all-hands-on-deck for those businesses to ensure that come 12th April, you’re ahead of your competition and ready to welcome your customers back with open arms once more. Is your business ready for the lifting of lockdown?

To be on the front foot amongst your competitors now, you need to be looking at a PR, social media and marketing strategy – don’t wait until April to start communicating. If you were really on the ball, you may have already been communicating through lockdowns, as we can’t stress enough the importance of keeping in touch with your consumers, even when you’re not open for business.

If you’ve not started yet, then now is the time to. Below we’re laying out some tips and advice for how to be ahead of your competition by 12th April – especially if you’re in the hospitality industry – with the help of a little PR magic.

Beating Your Competition With Communications

Plenty of businesses have been communicating with their customers throughout lockdown, but not all have. Those that have continued to retain a PR strategy, have already started seeing the benefits of it as restrictions ease. Our client Combermere Abbey, for example, in the last lockdown enjoyed almost 100 bookings in the first few weeks after reopening them; and they’re set to enjoy similar successes this time around too. Don’t wait to start talking to your consumers, start now. This is what we’d advise.

Spend time on CSR

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is often wrongly overlooked as a PR exercise. Brand reputation is so important, and you want to be getting your name out there for all of the right reasons. You might not be able to trade at the moment, but what’s stopping you from supporting your local community or charities? We actively encourage our clients to get involved with local schools, care homes and other organisations as much as they can, not only does this open them up to new audiences and reinforces their brand reputation; but it also heightens the chance of some great regional media coverage too.

Become a regular on social

If you’ve not already been utilising a social media strategy, then now is the time to start. We’d recommend communicating with your customers regularly every week – talk about what’s coming up, what they can expect when they return and what you’ve been up to during lockdown. Everybody wants something to look forward to at the moment, and you have the potential to capitalise on that. For hospitality businesses, we’d recommend focusing on Facebook, Instagram – and perhaps Twitter and LinkedIn. Don’t forget about TikTok too – a relatively new platform but one that can do your business many favours if you get it right.

Jump on every press opportunity

Press opportunities are coming thick and fast at the moment, in only the last few weeks we’ve landed client coverage on big publications such as The Telegraph and the Daily Mail to name just a couple. Look out for where you can insert your business into the media and generate some extra exposure, either locally or nationally, to help put yourself in front of your competitors come April 12th. To speak to the team about how to jump on press opportunities like this and get your business some great media coverage, get in touch with us via our website.

Start direct communications now

If your customers are signed up for an email database… Then they’ll want to hear from you! Start putting together a plan for newsletters, but don’t overdo it either. It’s good to give your consumers an update, but make sure you’re tying it into something important, for example, you might have opened reservations or given the go-ahead to open from 12th April. Keep your communications consistent but relevant, and always on-brand.

Work on your website

Finally, don’t waste this period of closure – use it to put your business in a great position for when you can reopen. We recently wrote about how to navigate through the third lockdown and part of this included working on your website, optimising content, updating meta descriptions, page titles and so on. Also, put together an SEO blog strategy that focuses on relevant long-tail keywords, as well as including content that your customers will want to read about. With the right strategies in place, the work you do now may well be ranking where you want it to be by mid-April.

Ready, Set, Go…

If you really want to get competitive and have a great communications plan in place to ensure a successful spring and summer, then why not get in touch with our team of experts? We have a wealth of experience in hospitality PR, and would love to chat about what we can do for your business? Get in touch now, or why not check out the case studies on our website?

SOCIAL MEDIA ADVICE FOR B2B COMPANIES

Social media marketing is pretty vital to every company, but it’s easier for some than it is others. Marketing plans can be particularly tricky to navigate at the best of times, so we’re here with some social media advice for B2B companies from The Source team. We have a wealth of experience in B2B PR support, which includes content marketing, social media and media relations and from that experience, here’s what we recommend.

Top Social Media Advice For B2B Companies

Click on the links below to jump to specific social media advice for B2B companies…

  1. Find the right social media platforms
  2. Utilise industry news
  3. Remember that people like people
  4. Keep things interesting
  5. Leverage appropriate hashtags
  6. Don’t underestimate Facebook groups

Find The Right Social Media Platforms

Not every platform will work for every company, that goes for B2C industries as well as B2B. For example, TikTok marketing is a great opportunity for brands with a visual appeal, such as tourism providers, wedding dress manufacturers and cosmetic companies. Other platforms, such as LinkedIn, work much better for B2B marketing, especially for service products such as CRM software, for example. There’s no one way to decide which social media platform will work best for your B2B company, so the best way to approach is through trial and error. See which types of content get the most engagement, and where. Traditionally, though, we’d match the following top platforms to the following sectors..

  • Instagram – mainly B2C, with opportunities for B2B
  • Twitter – mainly B2B, with opportunities for B2C
  • Facebook – both B2C and B2B
  • TikTok – mainly B2C, with opportunities for B2B
  • LinkedIn – mainly B2B
  • Pinterest – mainly B2C

So, if you’re heading a B2B company and want to give social a go, it’s worth dipping your toe in the water with LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and potentially Instagram and TikTok also. We have some more social media advice on what kind of content to focus on below.

Utilise Industry News

You shouldn’t be content curating all of your posts, as most of your audience will be following your accounts because they want to hear from you, however, utilising relevant industry news in posts is a good way of keeping your audience informed of relevant and interesting developments. It keeps you abreast with your sector and positions you as an expert in that field, furthermore, it creates a good mix of content to keep your strategy fresh and current. We’d recommend around an 80:20 ratio of curated to original content, but don’t be afraid to mix this up week on week.

People Like People

As we mentioned above, people like people. Though you’re selling ‘business to business’, there’s still a person behind that brand at either end. A study by Princeton University proposed the stereotype model, which boils down to the fact that people judge others on their warmth and competence. The more ‘friendly’ you appear, the more likely people are to trust you – this applies to your social media followers too. Though it’s important to draw a line and remain professional, it’s also a good idea to be conversational in your content and help build trust in your brand. Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy says it’s important to demonstrate warmth first and then competence, especially in business settings. A lot of effective social media marketing begins with an understanding of human psychology.

Keep Things Interesting

It’s a common misconception that B2B communications have to be stiff and corporate, try injecting a light tone of voice into your content or experimenting with light-hearted competitions for engagement. With one of our B2B clients Altecnic, they ran a 12 days of Christmas giveaway which included a daily video of their Technical Manager dressed as Santa. You need to remember that your audience is human and keeping things engaging is a sure way of retaining engagement and growing following. If there’s a certain lull, never underestimate the power of a social media giveaway either, no matter your industry.

Social media advice for B2B companies: competitions

Leverage The Right Hashtags

Researching into hashtags is never time wasted. You can now use hashtags in your posts across LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and more recently, Facebook. One of our B2B clients frequents the ‘#PlumbersHour’ hashtag because this is where their core audience is. Hashtags are often followed by those interested in that kind of content, so if you have a specific audience of your B2B brand, then find out what the kind of conversations that they’re already in, and join in. You can discover hashtags through researching related terms on Instagram and Twitter, and also by looking at what other influential accounts are tapping in to.

Don’t Underestimate Facebook Groups

Finally, our last piece of social media advice for B2B companies is not to underestimate the power of a Facebook group. Similarly, to leveraging hashtags, Facebook groups can be a great way to find your audiences. In 2019, Facebook announced that Facebook says there “are more than 400 million people in groups that they find meaningful”, meaning there’s a huge potential audience if you know where to look. Start by searching keywords on Facebook that are relevant to your brand for example “food manufacturing”, “plumbing” or “health and safety”.

 

For more advice and support for B2B PR, social media, content marketing and more, please get in touch with our friendly and experienced team through our website. Or, you can keep up to date with what The Source is up to on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

WHAT MAKES THE BEST PR AGENCY?

As the new year begins and we enter a third lockdown, now seems the right time to think about what will make the best PR agency for clients whether in Manchester, Liverpool or the North West.  Here, we share our thoughts on what makes a PR and social media agency successful and how good client relationships are the secret to taking marketing results to the next level.

Key Characteristics Of The Best PR Agency

Know the client. I mean really know the client

One key skill for PR executives working in agencies is the ability to juggle various client demands at any one time. It can be very challenging working in a PR agency, but it does allow executives to get a broad range of experience under their belts, which in turn adds value back to clients.  You can really become mini experts in a number of different industries in no time, and the best PR agencies will always be the embodiment of this skill.  After working client side, I realised that there’s always more to know about a business, to understand its strategic decisions and its relationship with stakeholders.  If you can take this in-depth approach and apply it on the agency side, whether for B2B clients or B2C clients, you not only offer better communications advice but can also help shape the client’s business direction.

Put substance before style

I’ve never been a big fan of the PR stunt or more general ‘PR puff’.  Although creative ideas remain the backbone of what we offer, the best PR agencies should always consider whether the proposals are achievable and whether they deliver real returns and impact for clients?  There’s nothing worse than a Mr Negative in a creative brainstorm or planning process, however the best PR agencies always keep an eye on the prize and an effective balance between style with a healthy dose of substance behind it all.  Over promising and under delivering is the worst of all worlds.

Tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth

When looking back on my career, I do recall a moment when working in house for one of the UK’s leading retailers and we were advising the board on how to handle the media in light of a poor set of annual results.  The CEO was his usual bullish self, pushing for us to make this claim or that.  I realised then that my boss, a very successful director of communications, was essentially the grey man of the boardroom by only telling the CEO wanted to hear.  I made a vow to myself never to be that grey man and to always offer honest PR / communication advice based on experience.  Clients are at liberty to adopt or ignore it but for effective relationships, always be honest (perhaps that’s why I never became a Director of Corporate Affairs..!?). To us, this is one of the most important things that makes the best PR agency.

It costs how much?

The days of big spending PR campaigns may be over, but the requirement for showing a return on investment is omnipresent.  It has never been more important and the best PR agency will always demonstrate that great ideas shouldn’t cost the earth to deliver. We live in a quicker, more transparent society and one that does allow great stories and content to be shared easily.  Also, if you know your client, you should know what they need to spend to succeed – don’t turn your back on big budgets but always be aware of what will be delivered in return.

Know what PR campaigns work

You’d be amazed how many clients still view being on a breakfast TV sofa as a success.  Be honest from the outset and tell B2B PR clients that sales of their new widget are rarely achieved after an interview with Phil or Fern.  Be targeted, selective and know their customers and where their products or services need to be – this adds real value.

Be supportive and flexible

With Covid 19 still causing business disruption, the best PR agencies will continue to be flexible and supportive of their client’s changing needs and priorities – including knowing how to handle a crisis situation.  Having the right strategy and the flexibility to evolve it ensures a client’s business remains focussed on priorities and the changes on the ground.  Our work with Combermere Abbey is one such example of a business that faced hardship due to lockdowns but came out stronger on the other side.  Let’s hope the same is true for other businesses as we eventually emerge from this pandemic.

If you’re looking for a PR agency or social media agency in Manchester, Liverpool, Cheshire or the North West, please get in contact and let us show you why we are the best PR agency.

A GUIDE TO COMMUNICATING THROUGH THE THIRD LOCKDOWN

For the third time in our lives, and thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, England has been plunged into a third nationwide lockdown. Clear instructions were given by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday that we must “stay home, protect the NHS, save lives”. This means that non-essential retailers are to close, with most hospitality outlets such as pubs, restaurants and hotels being closed already due to pre-existing tier restrictions. Navigating the next few months is without a doubt going to be tricky, but we at The Source are on hand to support you with any questions around communications you might have.

Should You Be Continuing With PR & Social Media Through Lockdown?

We might be biased, but we believe it is crucial to continue communicating with your customers, even during periods of total closure. There are many reasons for doing so, which we will explain further below. But first, we’d direct you to our PR case study for Combermere Abbey, a luxury wedding venue and holiday accommodation. Throughout the first and second lockdown, this client retained their PR and social media activity, understanding the importance of consistent communications. As a result, following the lifting of restrictions last summer, the abbey was inundated with bookings, and enjoyed a busy year, all things considered.

A social media campaign we ran for our client Combermere Abbey got great engagement during lockdown, read our case study to find out more…

The financial implications of a third lockdown mean you might be wondering whether a PR and social media strategy is worth the budget, we believe it is because…

  • Your competitors may still be communicating, and you don’t want to lose customers to them if you go quiet.
  • People will want things to look forward to, you can get them excited about the future and ensure that when restrictions are lifted, they’ll come to you.
  • You might be able to pivot your business and still make revenue during lockdown, for example by offering gift vouchers or a takeaway service.
  • With people being at home a lot more, it’s likely social media usage will rise once more, now is a great time to work on building your following and introducing your brand to a wealth of new people.
  • Now is a great time to gauge interest for later on this year, you can subtly generate interest and then introduce a hard-hitting marketing strategy when restrictions are hopefully lifted in the spring.

The Lion at Malpas voucher

What To Say When There’s Nothing To Say

An issue, of course, of communicating through lockdown is that you might feel as though you have nothing to say. It could be the case that your business is fully closed for the next few months, and up until now your social media has been focused around sales. However, just because you can’t sell to customers, doesn’t mean you should stop talking to them. It can be hard to find the inspiration of what to post for sure, so here’s 5 of our top tips…

  1. Switch up your call to actions, instead of directing people to purchase, suggest they visit your website to read a blog, or follow your social media pages for more updates instead.
  2. Get people excited about the future, by showing them what’s on offer for when restrictions are lifted.
  3. Give your customers updates. If you’re a gym and you’re renovating a certain area, shout about this on your social media – people want something to look forward to.
  4. Introduce confidence offers for people to encourage revenue now, for example if you’re in the holiday business, are there deals and secure booking policies that you can introduce, for people who book now for stays later this year?
  5. Share happy memories from times gone by. If you’re a wedding venue, for example, why not encourage past brides and grooms to post pictures from their happy days. Positivity is what got brands through the last 2 lockdowns, and it’s what will get us through this one too.

It’s worth noting that you shouldn’t post for the sake of it, though, as this could end up doing more harm than good. However, if you can find a relevant message to your brand – then hold on to that.

Other Lockdown Communication Tips

There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for marketing, but there are some tips and tricks you can go by to ensure an efficient communications strategy throughout this third (and hopefully final) lockdown. If you’re now convinced that it’s important to stay in touch with your customers, both old and new, then here’s some of our advice for actioning that…

  • Use different means of communicating, as not every customer will use the same channels. You can typically reach an older demographic via informational newsletters and Facebook or try Instagram or TikTok to communicate to a younger audience.
  • Test what works well by trying different types of content on different platforms, then stick to what works once you’ve determined a winning formula.
  • This is a difficult time for us all but try to focus on the positives if you can. Share happy memories and get your customers looking forward to visiting you or buying from you when restrictions are lifted.
  • Use this time, if you can, do get involved with the local community and help out. Brewdog recently made headlines by offering their empty bars to the NHS to be used as vaccination facilities. Your acts don’t need to be extravagant as this, but it always helps to generate good PR if you can help out in any way you can. Why not raise money for a local charity in a lockdown fundraiser, or donate surplus stock to a foodbank?
  • Pivot your business and operate online if you can, this can be from offering a takeaway service through to creating e-vouchers. Continue to encourage people to support businesses and shop local.

If there is any more advice you’d like, or any questions for our team of experts, please don’t hesitate to tweet us, or send us a private message through our website. We look forward to hearing from you soon and until then, stay safe.

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