Posts

PR VERSUS POVERTY PORN

There’s growing criticism of ‘poverty porn’ and in particular how charities are using crude and clichéd PR campaigns to attract donations.  Although criticism of anyone looking to make a positive difference is largely unfair, there is a case for charitable organisations to look at how they wish to portray themselves and their causes.

This is illustrated in criticism of Red Nose Day and Stacy Dooley’s work in Africa by David Lammy MP. Although a little harsh, particularly when he’s been called out for not doing enough himself to support communities in Africa, it does open the debate on how charities need to move on from relying of pushing people into ‘guilt transactions’ as they sit down on a Saturday evening to watch Red Nose Day’s entertainment or other similar programmes.

Effective PR

As with most effective PR, if your campaign can take the audience with you on the journey you secure greater and more long term buy-in.  People believe in, follow and talk about the change they feel needs to be made rather than just reaching for their spare change.  Not dissimilar to the old adage that if you give a man a fish you will feed him for a day, but that if you teach him to fish you will feed him for life.

Digital communications are also playing an increasingly important role.  Just look at the success of campaigns like the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ or Movember which dominated social media for months.  This illustrates what can be achieved by engaging with the audience and taking them with you.

The charity sector is one of the most competitive with each organisation looking to secure their share of money for their worthwhile causes.  Put simply, there are more than 180,000 charities in England and Wales and those that don’t run a planned PR programme will struggle to raise awareness and subsequent funds.

As we’ve seen by recent low budget PR and digital campaigns, deep pockets aren’t essential, but charities do need to play to their strengths and engage with their audiences.  In doing so they can achieve some great successes without having to reply on promoting poverty porn.

NEW TALENT SOURCED – MEET REBECCA

We’re delighted to announce that Rebecca Shearman has joined Source as a Junior Account Executive.  Becca joins the award-winning team from Mercury Press & Media in Liverpool where she worked as a Features Writer.

Becca will support clients from a range of business sectors including; property manufacturing and professional services and adds the additional resource needed to deliver PR and social media campaigns after a number of recent account wins.

Louis comments; “She’s a proven writer, a people person and has slotted right in with the team.  2019 has started with a bang and a wave of new client wins.  We aim to maintain this momentum by delivering engaging and insightful campaigns while also being great people to work with.”

Source is always on the look-out for top talent.  If you feel you have something to offer, please contact us by emailing your CV to hello@sourcepr.co.uk.

 

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.

IT’S MORE THAN JUST THE MESSAGE

Anyone who’s been involved in media training or been interviewed on TV or radio has probably been advised to focus on three or four key messages to ensure that they get their point across.

Fair enough, and there’s no denying that is some pretty sound advice, particularly if there is the potential for the interview to become complex or to be pulled in different directions.

There is however one problem, and that problem has been beautifully highlighted by someone who should quite frankly know better.  Our esteemed PM.

She could be accused of running perhaps the worst political campaign this century when she squandered a 20 point lead in the polls, to nearly lose the General Election to an opposition that many had predicted would be wiped off the political landscape.

What went wrong?

So, what went so wrong? In my view it was the over use of the ‘Strong and stable leadership’ message.  People started counting the absurd number of repetitions and it was not long before the memes started and social media undermined the message – along with the robot like delivery.  I believe Ikea even used it in their advertising along with a picture of the PM seated at a desk with the caption “strong and stable” shelving.

Theresa May, and many of her ministers, forgot one of the most important elements of an interview and that’s to add some personality and dynamism if you’re looking to attract support and get people to back your cause.

This is not meant to be a party political broadcast for any party or policy, but I fear that she’s falling into the same trap when looking to secure the votes needed to deliver on her Brexit proposals.

Let’s keep an ear out for how many times she says; “It’s a good deal for our country that takes back control of our borders, laws and money…”.  We have less than a fortnight before the ‘meaningful vote’ so no doubt plenty of time to be driven mad by the repetition.

If she wants the message to cut through she will need to not just repeat it like a small child on a drum kit, but instead install confidence and support through her body language, confidence in her convictions and even tone of voice.

If not, she’ll run the risk of only ever beings seen as ‘May-bot’ who is good at reciting messages but misses the bigger picture.

Looking to develop your communications strategy or develop messages? Get in touch and let us help you through the process.

DIGITAL PR – SIMPLE STEPS TO BUILD PERFECT SITE

In an increasingly digital world, having a website has never been more important for the emerging brands of today. Whilst the tech-savvy amongst you may already be well-versed with the mechanics of website build, we explore some of the key factors to consider for ensuring that your website is as effective as it can be:

1. Make it accessible

In today’s increasingly fast-paced digital environment, web browsers are looking for quick answers and instant gratification. If your website is clunky and difficult to navigate, a user is quite simply not going to waste their time trying to find out exactly what it is that you offer. Make the message simple and clear from the get-go to grab your reader’s attention. If your message is complex, consider introducing the use of infographics and imagery to make the information more digestible.

2. Make it easy to find

With over 4 billion searches made on Google every single day, it is essential that you consider search engine optimisation (SEO). In layman’s terms, the key to effective SEO is to outline the keywords that you wish your website to be associated with and then to make sure that you are using them effectively throughout the site. A great way to do this is by regularly updating your blog content. This will also show readers that your website is constantly being refreshed and will encourage repeat visits.

3. Optimise for mobile

According to research carried out by TextLocal, 85% of smartphone devices are now used for internet browsing, compared to 72% of laptop devices. This shift in browsing habits means that smartphone optimisation is now one of the foundations for effective website build, as opposed to an afterthought. Where traditionally sites have been optimised for desktop during build, this trend is now changing, and many are now favouring a mobile-first approach in order to enhance the experience for smartphone users.

4. Make it personal

According to research from Accenture (2017), more than one in two consumers (56%) are more likely to shop at a retailer in store or online that recognizes them by name. Capturing customer data on your website provides a fantastic opportunity for personalising the customer experience, from sending birthday wishes through to sending recommendations based on their browsing preferences.

5. Don’t stop improving

Once your web build is complete, the journey doesn’t stop there. Websites need to be constantly monitored and updated in order to perform their very best, and a great tool for helping you to measure this performance is Google Analytics. This tool will breakdown the nitty-gritty details of your site, down to the keyword they used to find you in the first place. GA can work wonders for making those small improvements that will help guarantee that users spend a longer time browsing and engaging with your page.

6. Content is king

If you want your website to appear in the top search engine rankings, content remains king. Google and other search engines will be looking to see what ‘authority’ your site has for the search terms offered. Get the content right, populate with blogs / vlogs and articles that build credibility and authority and secure links to the site. All this helps get the all-important SEO.

If you are thinking about starting a new web project and would like any assistance with the process, then do get in touch with us.

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.

MAKE IT, DON’T FAKE IT

Since Donald Trump’s election the term ‘fake news’ is being increasingly used to discredit all sorts of stories which people don’t agree with, from heavyweight political scandals to the quirky, more light hearted stories commonly found on social media.

So what is ‘fake news’? Essentially it’s when outlets deliberately publish hoaxes, propaganda and disinformation purporting to be real news, often using social media to drive web traffic and amplify the effect.

Why bother?  Well it’s all about generating clicks and advertising revenue, or to enhance, discredit or boost a person, policy or organisation.  Fake news can take many forms but is principally based around;

  • Disinformation: False information which is intended to mislead the audience, rather than explain the full story
  • Propaganda or spin: One-sided information, which often omits key facts or evidence which contradicts it
  • Subjective news: The presentation of one side of an argument more positively than the other
  • Infotainment: Usually stories about celebrities which are based largely on opinions rather than facts.

It could be argued that companies and media outlets have been peddling fake news for ages but the issue appears to be growing as the growth in news channels and social media platforms is pushing ‘editors’ to become more creative with their content in order to attract readers and page visits.  However, if regularly delivering fake news they risk undermining the reputation of their organisations as respected news channel.

Protect your reputation

The same applies to businesses or individuals who seek to mislead their audiences for short term gain.  If you have built up good contacts in the media, you can also quickly lose your goodwill by getting them to help spread stories about your business which aren’t strictly true.

Importantly, it can also damage a client’s authority and position as a media expert in their field and ultimately destroy the trust between your business and your customers, with obvious consequences.

We’d advise against propagating fake news but instead developing meaningful and trustworthy relationships with the media and other digital platforms that build credibility and authority in a sector or service.

Don’t issue news stories unless the story is genuinely newsworthy, which means there needs to be something about your story that makes it interesting and prompts people to read it. Think about your audience and ask why they should care about your story.  Is it something they need to know? Is it something that they need answering? Can your story help them in any way?

Also be mindful of what you like or share on social media. It’s easy to inadvertently like, retweet or share a fake news story. But if you do, you’re unwittingly helping to spread the fake news or even endorse it.

Certain sections of the PR industry are renowned for using trickery, sleight of hand and dark arts to pull the wool over people’s eyes on behalf of their clients.  But if you’ve got a good story to tell, why rely on cheap gimmicks?  At Source PR we offer straightforward, effective and most importantly honest advice.  That’s the best way to build relationships and get results without the need for fake news.

Connectivity: What’s The Cost to Rural Businesses?

Tap. Click. Check-In. Tag. Review. The issue of whether businesses should or should not have an online presence is no longer a debate: today it is a must. But just how much can the issue of rural connectivity affect us?

We’re incredibly lucky here at Source – we enjoy a quaint rural village location, but within easy access of cities and commuter routes to visit clients all around the country. Poor 4G signal and dodgy internet isn’t something we particularly suffer from (touch wood), but this is certainly not the case for many other rural businesses.

The issue of poor connectivity goes further than just the frustration to business owners as they run their operations, it also affects customers, guests and clients. These effects are twofold – firstly, in this day and age, it is a fact that visiting customers expect good levels of connectivity as standard. Even those who come to stay with rural hospitality businesses to ‘get away from it all’ to leave the beeps of incoming texts and void of social media behind for a while and get back to nature, still expect some level of coverage just in case they want to reconnect with the outside world – they want the option.

Social Media requirements

Secondly, online social media presence is a great asset to any rural business. When guests are staying or customers use your services, they have the ability to help build your brand with a like, positive review or comment. Whilst customers are enjoying themselves in the moment, they’re most likely to check-in to let their followers know what they’re up to or upload an Instagram story showcasing your business to a whole new audience.

Allowing guests to connect with your business and express themselves in real time is invaluable – although many can create a positive review and upload photos when they’re back home, opportunities could be missed as this task slips down customers’ to-do lists when ‘real life’ settles back in.

The cost of poor connectivity can have a huge impact on rural businesses – so let’s hope the issue becomes a higher Government priority!