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NON-ESSENTIAL RETAIL STORES: HOW TO REBUILD CONSUMER TRUST

On the 15th June 2020, the Government allowed non-essential retail stores to reopen after being initially forced to close in April due to the outbreak of Coronavirus. Since, it’s been a tough ride for business owners. Trying to maintain a level of consumer trust whilst also being unable to operate is difficult. With many workers on furlough and so many businesses having to cease trading in all respects, some companies mightn’t have had the time to work on their communications and brand reputations during the lockdown period. So, if this is you, we’ve put together some advice on how to rebuild consumer trust and your brand image as you reopen today.

Rebuild Consumer Trust With Visibility

Rebuilding trust starts with being transparent and visible. There are a number of channels you can use to communicate with your stakeholders: social media, email, face to face, even through the press by getting publicity for your brand. You’ll also want to reach people that aren’t in your pre-existing consumer pool, too. We’ll touch on rebuilding stakeholder relations further down, but to really get your foot off the ground as non-essential retail stores begin to reopen, you’re going to want to make sure you’re visible to the entire public. As many people as you can be.

Spread the word of your reopening far and wide, make use of social media, and also sponsored posts where appropriate. Generate press coverage for your business and be loud. It’s all about being visible, especially if you trade in a saturated market. Don’t go quite and assume people will remember you – it’s been a torrid time for us all, you’ll need to remind people why they will love your brand. This is the first step of rebuilding trust.

Communicate What You Are Doing Differently

Now that you have the attention of stakeholders, you need to make sure you’re telling them the right thing. When announcing that you are reopening for trading, you’ll also need to communicate at the same time the steps you are taking to be Covid-19 secure. Presently, non-essential retail stores are only allowed to reopen if they can follow the 2m social distancing rules and can put precautions in place to protect shoppers. You’ll likely be doing this, so let your customers know too.

Lockdown has been an extraordinary and unprecedented time for us all, not least in the UK but across the whole world. Consumer attitudes are bound to have shifted and thus it’s only to be expected that some may be reluctant to get back out there and visit retailers such as yourself again. If you want to rebuild consumer trust, you need to be prepared to be very open, honest and detailed about how you are keeping people safe; and more importantly – you need to ensure those responsible measures are adhered to.

It could be as simple as posting on social media the signage you have installed, the sanitation points that you have around stores or the precautions staff are taking when they come into contact with consumers, or you could post updates on your website or email your databases. Have you and your staff taken Covid-19 hygiene courses in preparation? Share that too. There are plenty of ways to put the message across, the most important thing is making sure it’s said one way or another.

Encourage And Share Testimonials

One of the best forms of marketing remains to be WOM (word of mouth). Around 75% of people go to friends of family for product or service recommendations. If you’re offering a great in-store experience that allows customers to feel safe, then it’s likely they’ll tell somebody that they know about it. However, as a business, it helps to move that along even more and encourage wider testimonials. Is there a way you can incentivise customers to review their shopping experience? If so, this is something worth capitalising on as not only does this encourage further support from the public but it also gives you content to leverage on social media to keep on reinforcing and rebuilding consumer trust in your brand.

Don’t Ignore The Situation, Acknowledge It

Finally, it could be tempting to adopt a ‘business as usual’ stance. Not all brands will want to address the issue of Coronavirus head on, perhaps in fears of it putting more fear into consumers or even because simply that’s what everybody else is talking about. However, news concerning Covid-19 is quite frankly unavoidable. It’s fair to assume that almost everyone living in the UK will be aware to some degree of what has happened, and as such to not address it could even be seen as ignorant.

It’s important to acknowledge as a brand why you were closed, why you are now reopening and most importantly – what you have changed. Government regulations aside, you have a duty to your consumers to adopt safe measures as a retailer, being upfront about these is important – if you communicate to your customers and explain that their safety is paramount, this is a good way to rebuild consumer trust and encourage them that it is safe to shop with you.

Need Help To Rebuild Consumer Trust In Your Brand?

If you’re a brand – non-essential retailer or other – and are in need of support as your business reopens, then get in touch with The Source. Whether you’re needing to communicate to your customers, or market to a wider audience, we have experience in both B2B and B2C PR, marketing, social media and digital communications, we can help you.

THE BEST CRISIS PR CAMPAIGNS TAKE COURAGE

The best PR campaigns often take courage of convictions or a willingness to do something differently in order to influence and engage with audiences to improve outcomes.  This is even more the case in a crisis PR / communications, where the stakes are high and a wrong move can be costly.

As is often the case, the risk reward equation needs to be carefully balanced, with business leaders making the call based on the advice and expertise given by their PR agency or advisors.

But equally sometimes in business, politics or society the right action just feels right, is based on a calculated risk and an intuitive understanding of the people you are looking to engage with.

There is no better example of this than the crisis communications undertaken by Chris Swanson, Genesee County Sheriff, who put down his helmet, weapons and joined protesters marking the murder of George Floyd saying, “I want to make this a parade, not a protest”.

Simply brilliant.  He had a clear understanding of his audience, the courage of his convictions and the leadership to take his team with him.  He also faced significant risks as he faced a potentially angry mob who were protesting against police brutality and who in other regions and states had clashed violently.

Swanson took off his helmet, ordered other officers to put down their weapons and smiled and high-fived people in the crowd.  The crowd responded by chanting, “walk with us!”.  So, he did. “Let’s go, let’s go,” Swanson said as he and the cheering crowd proceeded. “Where do you want to walk? We’ll walk all night.”

His leadership and actions marked a change in behaviour as well as the emergence of #walkwithus.  Several law enforcement officials have taken his lead with more in the past few days engaging with marchers and showing solidarity either by marching, kneeling or publicly denouncing the death of Mr. Floyd.

This positive and persuasive response is in marked contrast to the confrontations that have escalated and cities, including Chicago, New York and Philadelphia, where violence and vandalism have targeted police in recent nights. Videos have shown police officers using batons, tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets on protesters, bystanders and journalists, often without warning.  Sadly at least five people have been killed so far in violence connected to the protests that started after Mr. Floyd died in police custody.

So why was this crisis communication so successful?  It was not a crisis PR campaign orchestrated with big budgets and celebrity influencers but simply honest and genuine communications that understood and related to its audiences.

It also took a lot of bravery and showed exceptional leadership in a time of crisis.  It was however considered communications and one based on an understanding of the audience, confidence in the team and an honest appraisal of the situation.

Well done Sheriff Swanson, setting an excellent example not only in policing, humanity and empathy but crisis PR communications as well.

IS IT POSSIBLE TO WORK JUST AS PRODUCTIVELY FROM HOME?

If quarantine has taught us anything about ourselves, it’s whether we can – or can’t – work from home effectively. Past studies, such as this one of a call-centre in China, have shown that, contrary to popular belief, productivity actually increases when staff work from home. Though gossip serves a purpose in the workplace (some might say an essential one), eliminating this aspect of the workspace is bound to increase productivity. A further study by Airtasker found that not only were employees healthier when working from home, but they were also on average working 16.8 more days a year in terms of productivity.

However, there is definitely a sense that some people just simply aren’t suited to working from home. Those who suffer from attention disorders, such as ADD and ADHD, find it particularly difficult without the structure and supervision of the office workspace. It’s hard enough for lots of us to stay off the (non-work related) social media when you need a distraction – particularly as the news is now ever-shifting, constantly updating us with legislation changes, statistics and advice.

So, to help you keep inspired, we at Source have compiled a short but sweet list of tips to help you work effectively from home.

  1. Listen to music. While some may understandably find this distracting, others find that listening to ambient or instrumental music while working does wonders for their concentration. This works in particular with over-ear headphones if you have noisy neighbours or a lively household!
  2. Work in a tidy space. This means you won’t have the temptation to get your Mrs. Hinch on – even if that is a productive form of procrastination. Plus, a tidy desk is a tidy mind!
  3. Work smart. If you’re in a slump, for whatever reason, leave the desk and come back when you’ve refreshed with a walk or a tea break. Globally, anxiety levels are naturally high right now, so it’s sometimes better to reset yourself with a break from the desk rather than push on through a mental hiccup.
  4. Give yourself something to look forward to. Whether it’s watching a new episode of your favourite TV show that just dropped, trying out a new recipe, or spending some chill time with your pets, having something to look forward to at the end of the working day is a great mood-lifter. Though it might seem like our choices are limited right now, there’s a wealth of advice, workouts, recipes, and amazing entertainment to keep us occupied.
  5. Limit your social media intake. This isn’t just to keep yourself away from distractions, but also to fend off some of the negative impacts of being constantly plugged in. Though it’s good to stay informed on the new advice, I find the wealth of opinions, anxiety and anger that reverberates after every government update pretty overwhelming. Keep up-to-date, but don’t be afraid to hit that mute button.

Naturally, it’s impossible to keep completely off the timelines, and it’s always nice to see the ordinary goings-on of our friends and family on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!

At Source, we know all there is to know about social media, digital marketing and PR, and how to tailor it to your businesses’ needs – whatever they are. Contact us on 01829 720789, or follow us on Twitter (source_tweets), Instagram (prsource) and Facebook (Source PR).

STRATEGIC PR FOR RURAL BUSINESSES IS VITAL

Businesses in the countryside are showing great resilience in these testing times and with clever use of strategic PR for rural businesses they are winning valuable goodwill which, along with the positive use of social media, they must ensure continues post Covid-19.

Many farm shops and rural outlets have adapted their operations to run doorstep deliveries and are overwhelmed with demand as supermarkets become unappealing places to visit. While this is proving a lifeline to the elderly and isolated, the opportunity must not be lost amid the Corona chaos of highlighting the quality of local produce and its sustainability when delivered locally. Much of this demand is based on trust and a back-to-basics appeal of receiving safe, affordable, traceable, local food in troubled times. Such appreciation will potentially lead to future loyalty and maintaining a strong PR and marketing message is important.

Social media messaging

Internet use has predictably risen during the crisis and as such it is the best way to raise the profile of an individual business. Rural business owners may now have the time to upgrade their social media and PR messages – this is the moment for the sector to shout about its strengths and capitalise on the wave of goodwill. A communications plan is needed to share with stakeholders and customers to keep them informed about how a business is functioning now and its future plans.

Rural = Safe

Post lockdown, our rural areas will potentially see an upsurge in visitors as foreign holidays may be put on the backburner for the rest of the year, with the UK regarded as a safe place to be. Businesses such as holiday cottages, camp sites and outdoor experience ventures need their websites and marketing strategies to be ready for this.

Appreciation of rural businesses, especially food producers, is now at a high and while it is keeping many of them afloat, it must be sustained by fresh business thinking. Now is the time to build your brand before normal life resumes; that will be the time to launch promotions and offers which can be prepared now.

For strategic PR for rural businesses or advice on using PR and digital marketing to strengthen your rural business contact Source PR on 01829 720789 or email gill@sourcepr.co.uk

CORONAVIRUS COMMUNICATIONS: WHY FIRMER GOVERNMENT MESSAGING WAS NEEDED

Anyone can get it.

Anyone can spread it.

Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives.

This is the new messaging that the government released last night, after previous attempts of strong Coronavirus communications messaging to the public arguably failed.

Coronavirus Communications – How Important Is Getting The Message Right?

Throughout the unfolding of this pandemic, the government has been met with the challenge of keeping the public well informed and engaged; essentially, they hold the key to successfully containing the virus. The challenge, however, is to share key information, without causing panic or underplaying the issue.

Initially, this begun with the government trying to assure people that the virus would be able to be contained, in multiple press confrences it was downplayed. Now, several weeks on, the Coronavirus communications tactics have changed.

Learning from their mistakes, we believe that the government has noted that their earlier tactics were not successful, and have now moved to more open, transparent, and if you like – firmer – comms.

The announcement of the lockdown was unlike anything this generation has ever seen. The messaging from the government was clear and concise: you must not leave your home.

Before this, using words such as ‘we advise’ and ‘we suggest’ meant that many did not feel inclined to follow the rules, which could potentially be to blame for the increase outbreak of Covid-19 that the UK is now experiencing.

Now, they have gone one step further: explicitly stating that anyone can get Coronavirus, and consequently, anybody can spread it. You must stay home if you want to protect the NHS and save lives.

Coronavirus Communications - New Government Messaging

The best Coronavirus communications ads are those that are clear, but also relatable. They need to hit home and feel personal. The handwashing ad message put out by the government, for example, was effective – giving people a clear message and a simple way of ensuring the right amount of time is taken by twice singing one of the UK’s best-known songs – ‘Happy Birthday’.

This kind of message sticks in the mind, and is something that we don’t doubt the public would have taken on board, as the message was strong and no-nonsense.

Again, the ‘catch it, bin it and kill it’ advert that we’ve all come to know shows a simple way for people to take basic protective measures with clear illustrations and a simple message.

There are no suggestions, there is a firm ‘you must do this’ tone in the messaging, and this is why it works.

Why Did The Government Change Their Message?

The more generic advice to ‘stay off work and self-isolate for 14 days’ if feeling unwell, argugably lead to exploitation.

It’s a simple message but one that required more detail considering the potential impact on the economy. In situations like this, a rigid Coronavirus communications message is required and though trying not to cause hysteria, it would have been a better idea for the government to give the public all the information they had available. Perhaps then, the population may have understood the implications and repercussions of continuing to socialise and ignore social distancing guidelines for as long as they did.

They say a picture paints a thousand words, this comparison image of the Kaaba in Saudia Arabia shows the impact that the right messaging can have:

Coronavirus Communications - New Government Messaging Coronavirus Communications - New Government Messaging

The shift in the outward communication from the government now has seen more definitive messaging in place: “you must stay at home”, “you must not see friends”.

Following this, a large proportion of the working population is now doing so remotely, people are following guidelines to only leave the house once daily, and shops are now practicing prolific social distancing measures. The change in communication is in no doubt responsible for this, and it goes to show the importance of putting across the right message.

Communication works.

In all cases though, the government must also refrain from getting drawn into ‘Armageddon scenarios’ by speculating on figures for potential rises in deaths or NHS capabilities.

We’ve already seen incredible panic food buying in shops and it is likely to detract from the messages around how best to manage the impending epidemic. Your message needs to be clear and strong, and needs to ensure no room is left for speculation.”

Getting your communications right isn’t easy, if it was, everybody would be experts!

 

If you or your business is in need of professional, quality and, if needs be, confidential Coronavirus Communications advice, please email louis@sourcepr.co.uk or call 01829 720 789.

Louis, Managing Director of The Source, recently gave the press his advice around the Government’s updated Coronavirus messaging as the updated campaigns were announced; his comments can be found in the Metro, ITV, Yahoo, Daily Mail and more.

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THE NORTH WEST PR AGENCY

This week were excited to see our profile piece appear on Prolific North as a leading North West PR agency.  Although based in Cheshire, Source PR has increased its presence across the North West and is delighted to be profiled in this way.

Award winning Source PR, established more than 10 years ago, has grown year on year and is now regarded as one of the leading PR, marketing and digital agencies in Chester, Cheshire and the whole of the North West.

The great work undertaken by the team, covering all services including social media management, B2B PR, consumer PR, design and digital communications have all been recognised by clients with some excellent endorsements achieved across the board.

The team is also recognised for the work it has done in both helping with crisis communications, stakeholder engagement strategies as well as supporting rural businesses raise their profile and develop effective marketing strategies that build credibility and deliver customer engagement.

The North West PR Agency is also well placed to provide specialist communication support for businesses looking to secure planning permissions or help with their broader stakeholder communications.  With experience of working in the property and construction sectors for decades, Source PR is uniquely placed to help businesses with a broad range of communications challenges and issues.

Most recently, Managing Director Louis Hill was asked by the national media to comment on the government’s Covid-19 communications strategies.  His comments were widely picked up in the national media including the Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail as well as The Metro.  This kind of media coverage is often achieved for the North West PR Agency’s clients – resulting in Source PR often being nominated and receiving numerous awards.

The team at Source PR comes from a wide variety of backgrounds including those with proven PR skills, journalist backgrounds or specialist social media / digital agencies.  The team is now responsible for communicating with more than a million customers on a weekly basis for its clients located across the UK.

Earlier this year, the North West PR agency has also secured it’s first international client, helping one of Europe’s leading manufacturing businesses extend its presence in the UK and to raise its profile, credibility and to share the excellent work it does with new and existing customers.

If you would like to speak with a member of Source PR’s North West PR agency team, contact us today.  We would be delighted to meet and discuss how we can help your business grow.

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.

MORE PR ‘SOURCERERS’ JOIN THE TEAM

We’re excited to announce that four new PR ‘Sourcerers’ have joined the team to meet client demand and to grow the business through a new specialist Rural Division.

The new appointments include Janet Hare who joins as client director, Gill Broad who joins to head up the company’s new Rural Division, Sarah Larkin who joins as an account manager and Jessica Pardoe who also joins the team to meet the growing demand from clients for social media management and digital PR campaigns.

Janet is an experienced PR professional having previously held senior media positions with BT, The National Lottery and The Millennium Dome.  Janet joins the agency and takes responsibility for client management, managing the growing team and overseeing the successful delivery of client campaigns.

Gill Broad has been appointed to head up Source PR’s newly created Rural Division.  The division has been specifically created to provide strategic communications, PR and marketing advice to rural and agricultural businesses or those seeking to engage with the sector.  Gill joins from Fisher German and prior to that worked as a senior reporter for NWM Media.

Sarah Larkin joins the team to manage the company’s consumer team.  Sarah has extensive experience having previously worked as marketing manager and Kings School Chester and with Marks & Spencer Money where she managed a range of financial services products.  Sarah also founded So Baby, a range of organic baby food that was sold in Waitrose, Tesco and Ocado.

Growing Team

The team has also been bolstered by the arrival of Jessica Pardoe who joins as a PR & Digital Media Executive.  Jess joins from Techmark and will now support the Source PR teams with digital PR, content marketing and social media management.

Louis Hill, Managing Director of Source PR, says: “These are exciting times for Source PR as we grow the team with some senior appointments and launch a new division specifically targeting those operating or looking to influence the rural sector.  We are well positioned for continued growth and to support our client’s ambitions.”

Source PR, located near Chester, is one of the region’s leading PR, marketing and digital agencies.  The company operates across the property, manufacturing and professional services sectors with clients including; Meadow Foods, Miller Homes and British Pipeline Agency.

If you’ve got a positive can do attitude and are looking for a career in PR or social media, contact us today.

Social Media Management

We’re often asked by clients about social media management or support in developing and devising social media campaigns as often they neither have the time nor necessary skill set to effectively attract and engage with their chosen audiences.

When looking to hire outsourced marketing support the key is to ensure you align your broader marketing communications strategy to incorporate what you’re saying to customers through your social channels.

It’s critical to get it right so you’re able to deliver consistent, timely and relevant messages.  Once the strategy is agreed, here are some top tips to getting your posts right:

  • Content is king – remember your audiences and make it relevant to them, not just a sales message
  • Don’t post if you’ve got nothing to say – ‘Happy Friday’ is a waste of time
  • Be consistent – know what you want to say, why and what you’re saying elsewhere
  • Share insight – entice and engage by providing audiences with relevant content that supports their needs or makes them relate to your brand
  • Use pictures or video to tell a story – audiences tend to spend less that 3 seconds per post, using visual aids can quickly convey a message

Outsourcing the management of your social media to a team of people that do it every day has some obvious advantages.  Not only will the team have the time and expertise to develop posts but will also provide you with the valuable insights into post performance and customer interactions.

Benefits of Social Media

Other benefits of effective social media management include having the option to:

  • Manage multiple accounts across various platforms
  • Analyse social engagement
  • Schedule posts in advance
  • Receive comprehensive reports of analytics
  • Monitor comments and respond efficiently
  • Collaborate with team members on content

The ultimate goal of social media management is to save you time, increase awareness of your products or service and therefore ultimately customers and profits.  If you want to know more contact us or slide into our DMs.

 

SOURCE PR – BEST RURAL DIGITAL, COMMUNICATIONS OR MEDIA BUSINESS? WE ARE FINALISTS

We’re delighted to announce that Source PR has been named as a finalist in this year’s Rural Business Awards in the Best Rural Digital, Communications or Media Business category. Branching out into Rural PR, Source PR has a good deal of experience within this sector and therefore we are honoured to recognised as finalists in the Rural Business Awards.

The Rural Business Awards were established in 2014 to give recognition to businesses operating right across the Rural sector, to acknowledge the breadth and depth of opportunity presented by the Great British countryside, as well as to celebrate the achievements of rural businesses, from engineering through to artisan food producers and professional services organisations.

Rural PR By Source PR

Source PR has been recognised for the excellent work they have been doing to support a range of rural businesses with their PR, digital and marketing communications campaigns.  The judges were particularly impressed with the work that Source had done communicating with farmers, landowners and estates across the country for a range of clients including BPA, Meadow Foods as well as a number of pubs and restaurants.

Based in Cheshire, UK, Source PR are PR and Marketing specalists with experience in Rural PR across both traditional and digital channels. Harnessing social media, press and various other mediums to strengthen reputations – Source PR have a keen passion for Rural marketing and this nomination is testament to that.

The Rural Business Awards, sponsored by Amazon, are fast becoming the UK’s most prestigious and respected awards for rural businesses, helping to develop a strong network and community of rural business owners.  The finals are decided by an independent panel of judges drawn from the rural business sector, official government agencies and rural charitable organisations.

Louis Hill, Managing Director of Source PR, comments: “Reaching the finals of such a prestigious award is testament to the quality work the team delivers for clients day in day out.  Being situated in the heart of Cheshire, we’re well placed to work with a range of very successful rural businesses and help deliver effective PR, digital and communication campaigns that make a real difference.”

Rural PR Agency Cheshire - Source PR

North Finalists

Source PR, based in Cheshire, is a finalist in the North region which is the largest of all regions, encompassing the wild majesty of the Scottish Highlands and the picturesque rolling countryside of the Yorkshire Dales, dramatic windswept coastlines of Northumberland and the glittering tranquillity of the Lakes right the way down to Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Isle of Man and Cheshire. Certainly fitting opponents!

After the second round of judging, the category winners for the North will be announced at the regional awards presentation on Friday 11th October 2019 at Newcastle University.