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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.

A Summer Of Sport & PR Disasters

It’s been a fantastic summer of sport with the Olympics, Euros and a Lions series in South Africa, let alone all the smaller sporting occasions that take place every week across the country.  All have been achieved despite the global restrictions and regulations in place to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

It’s been an amazing feat of organisation and also a welcome opportunity for brands to leverage sponsorships and get their products in front of a pent-up audience looking to spend their cash that’s been accumulated in lockdown.

However, it seems that for many, the promise of PR gold did not quite materialise and in many cases, PR disasters were never far from the surface.

The Coca Cola x UEFA Blunder

Let’s start with Coca Cola multi-million pound sponsorship of the UEFA European Championship.  On one hand, this could have been a fantastic opportunity to promote the brand to a young, vibrant and global audience. However, it ended up being a complete disaster when the tournament’s leading star Cristiano Ronaldo moved two promotional bottles away from the cameras at Portugal’s pre-match press conference, urging viewers to drink water instead.  The action led to Coca Cola’s share price dropping by 1.6 per cent and $4bn being knocked off the company’s share price.  Though rectified in future conferences, the debacle made headlines all over the world, and it’s fair to say that in this instance – the publicity isn’t exactly what Coca Cola were looking for.

Toyota Throws Its Money Down The Drain

When it comes to the Olympics, title sponsor Toyota won gold when it comes to PR disasters after the company decided not to air any of its advertisements that associated the brand with the games, for fear of a backlash by concerned customers who did not want the games to go ahead due to the fear of spreading Covid.

Not only did Toyota pull its adverts, but the sponsor was also banned from the opening ceremony and opted not to attend the games in any way. This all comes despite Toyota becoming the first car company to ever sign up as a worldwide Olympic sponsor in 2015 in, an eight-year deal reportedly worth nearly $1bn.

Toyota Chief Communications Officer Jun Nagata said: “There are many issues with these Games that are proving difficult to be understood.”  It seems a bit late in the day for such comments.

Vodafone Falls Short Of Positive PR

Finally, as a rugby fan, I should also mention the Lions rugby series in South Africa.  An occasion that only comes up every 4 years and every 12 years in South Africa.  The on field scraps and poor criticisms of the referees have left a bitter feeling towards the event with many feeling that the occasion is heading towards its sell by date.

Although title sponsor Vodafone did well in engaging with fans at home, for its estimated £6.5m sponsorship fee, the company was unable to capitalise on an event that is typically enjoyed by thousands of travelling fans.  The games had to take place behind closed doors and the opportunities brands had to associate themselves with positive PR projects in the host country were dramatically reduced (despite an 1800% increase in the sponsorship cost they incurred when compared to their initial sponsorship in 1997).

In previous years, we’ve seen support in townships and deprived areas of the country which allowed for the brand to build its image and illustrate its CSR credentials.  This time around, players were sadly required to lock themselves in isolation bubbles in some of the country’s finest hotels.

The Risk & Reward Of Big Brand Sponsorships

So what’s the answer?  For me, there seems a growing disconnect between the cost / benefit to supporting such occasions.  There’s also a growing potential for a PR disaster if a star snubs your product or the public turn against the event that you have spent millions of pounds supporting and associating yourself with.

From a public relations perspective, winning hearts and minds is most important. So, before entering the agreements, consider the ‘what ifs’ and have plans in place to mitigate the issues or crisis communication challenges should they emerge.

The real opportunity comes from leveraging the sponsorship through campaigns and initiatives within the target communities.  Of all the marketing mediums, PR is best placed to build relationships with consumers and to help brands share their values through engaging and meaningful communications.

So for a marketing gold medal, talk to us and let us devise a PR campaign that is effective and engaging – rather than spending thousands on product placement or relatively worthless brand associations.

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?

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DOING A SOCIAL MEDIA AUDIT

There’s been an exponential rise in businesses using social media platforms to excite, entice and engage with audiences as more and more consumers turn to social media during the recent lockdowns.  To maximise performance and ensure you are on brand and have a strong message, now is the right time for companies to undertake a social media audit.

Research suggests that just under half of consumers (43%) said they were spending longer on social media because of the outbreak, and 19% say they’ll carry on spending longer on social media once restrictions lift. There has never been a better time to audit your social media than now.

The Basics Of A Social Media Audit

The good news is that a social media audit for businesses is not as painful as it sounds when left in the hands of professionals.  It’s a very worthwhile exercise to ensure brands are making the most of their opportunities, reflecting best practice and also keeping pace with the evolving social media trends and algorithms.

The basic role of an audit of all social media accounts is to help you better understand what’s happening on each network and to see at a glance the following key metrics:

  • What’s working and what’s not
  • Whether impostor accounts are stealing your followers
  • Which profiles you need to revive, repurpose, or shut down
  • New opportunities to grow and engage your audience
  • Are you being consistent and considered with your messaging

At Source PR, we’re often asked to complete company social media audits as it’s critical to understand the key elements mentioned above before embarking on developing an effective social media strategy.  To constructively move forward with an effective social media strategy it’s important to first know where you are before you determine where you want to go.

What Does A Social Media Audit Look Like?

Visibility

When undertaking a social media audit, first look at what @handles are you using, over what platforms and who has ownership or control.  Is there brand consistency across the platforms, what do the biogs say and where are you directing any subsequent web visitors?  Also, look at the imagery you’re using and check that the pages are verified to prevent imposters.

Needs & Wants

From this point you can determine what platforms and handles a business needs / wants as well as determine what’s working and what’s not.  Take the time to look at what are the most engaging posts, who is engaging with you and on what platforms as well as which networks your target audience is most active on.

Competitor Analysis

We would also recommend that you compare your approach and outlook to the competition, evaluating how you compare to them and whether you are missing any opportunities to engage with audiences or simply getting the best out of the platforms. At Source PR, we have social media tools that can track and monitor in-depth competitor activity as well as physically doing the legwork ourselves.

Identify KPIs

When auditing you social media platforms remember to stay focused on the key performance indicators (KPIs) that you want to measure.  Some of the more popular measurements can be increases in followers, link clicks, profile visits, likes / comments and other engagements.

Social Media Audit Services

Undertaking an effective social media audit for business helps determine where you are before you develop the strategy and pathway on where you want to go.  Get in touch with our team if you’re looking for support with your social media audit.  Once this is done, the real fun can begin with the development of an effective and fun social media strategy to better excite, engage and enthuse your audiences.  Watch this space and follow our social media accounts for future updates where we will share some of our social media success strategies.

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?

PR & MARKETING STRATEGY – IS YOUR BUSINESS READY FOR LIFE AFTER LOCKDOWN?

As we approach the end of Lockdown Mark III, the government believes that the UK economy will bounce back like a ‘coiled spring’. The question is, are you ready for a return to normality, what are you doing to prepare yourselves and have you got their marketing strategy in place to maximise opportunities? If not, now is the time to take action before it’s too late.

The Bank of England suggests that consumer spending is set to surge with that the British public having saved as much as £250 billion while being locked up. Restaurants, pubs and bars are the likely immediate benefactors as well as UK holiday providers, but all these industries have suppliers and employ people who, who when earning again, will look to treat themselves after months of curtailment.

We have talked earlier about the importance of maintaining a marketing presence during lockdown and have an excellent case study of Combermere Abbey, one of the region’s leading wedding venues and accommodation providers, on how they managed it so well. The case study shows how the business was forced to close due to the Covid restrictions but rather than twiddle thumbs, took proactive measures so they were well placed to take advantage when the lockdown was lifted.

Businesses preparing for the lifting of what is believed to be the ‘last lockdown’ should also consider how the economy has been permanently altered since March 2020. Consumer spending habits, lifestyles and trends have been shifted online, people have adopted new hobbies and outlooks, and it is hard to see how the high street can bounce back without innovation or embracing more digital opportunities.

It is not just the hospitality and retail industries that is expected to bounce back, but house builders and construction industries are also likely to benefit as people look to either move home or make renovations following months of being in lockdown. A report from our client Miller Homes suggests that lifestyles have been changed by the pandemic with more home working or a demand for more outdoor space. These new ways of living and working present clear marketing opportunities.

The use of social media has also grown significantly as users feel that they have a safe space to interact, be entertained, distract themselves, and find inspiration without any risk of contagion. July 2020 saw a rise of 10.5% in social media usage, compared with July 2019, according to a GlobalWebIndex survey. Some 46% of women and 41% of men said they’ve spent more time on social media during the pandemic, making it the second-most popular digital activity.

Businesses should alter their marketing approach to reflect this and have a marketing and social media strategy in place that maximises the opportunities presented. It’s likely that the space will remain competitive and it will be the brands that have relationships with their customers and who are able to excite, entice and engage that will come out strongest.

If you’re looking for a PR or marketing strategy, the team would be delighted to have a chat to understand where you are, what the vision is and to help pull plans together so you can get there. The end of the ‘last lockdown’ is fast approaching, make sure you are ready like a ‘coiled spring’ to take your opportunities.

IS LOCAL MEDIA COVERAGE JUST AS VALUABLE AS NATIONAL MEDIA COVERAGE?

At Source PR, we have plenty of experience gaining coverage for our clients, from the nichest of publications to some of the UK’s largest. From the BBC News to ITV, the Mirror Online and the Financial Times, we’ve got a track record we’re proud of.

 

But we’re no stranger to local media, either. In fact, a majority of our press releases go directly to local media journalists and publications. Forming good relationships with journalists and keeping up-to-date with the goings on of regional media is essential to our role in securing coverage for our clients.

 

But with smaller readership numbers compared to national media, is local media worth trying to get coverage in?

 

We say a resounding, loud yes: and here’s why.

 

1. A relevant audience

 

It’s obvious that directing a press release towards those who will benefit from the information most is the best course of action.

 

We work with Cheshire pubs for whom the target audience of their coverage is, naturally, local readers and viewers. While a viral Buzzfeed article or a national news story on BBC News is certainly not going to hinder their business prospects, it goes without saying that a pub first and foremost has to win over the local residents – and keep them coming back.

 

Targeting local media is the best way of helping them achieve this goal, both for online and offline coverage.

 

It’s not only smaller businesses that try for coverage in local media, either: national corporations that run campaigns and events in one particular area benefit from the local media’s ability to inform local residents, meaning they’re perfect to use for advertising and features.

 

Whether it’s a pub, a logistics company or a builders’ merchants, at the end of the day, it’s those local to the business who will be giving the business the most trade – so it makes perfect sense to reach them in their local media.

 

2. Trust is key

 

Did you know that, according to an American-based study by the Knight Foundation, local journalists are seen as more caring, trustworthy and unbiased in comparison to national media journalists?

 

The same study found that 45% of participants trust local news reporting either ‘a great deal’ or ‘a lot.’ Currently, there is a lot of mistrust for mainstream media from all sides of the political spectrum: from Donald Trump’s infamous rhetoric of citing news outlets such as CNN as ‘fake news’, as covered in our previous blog; to complaints in the UK of biased reporting from the big news outlets such as the BBC, sparking a national conversation about the need for a TV license fee.

 

Right now seems like the perfect time to invest time and energy into local media, which not only has the trust of its readership, but also keeps them informed of the most immediately relevant information to their day-to-day lives.

 

3. Keeping connected

 

Similarly, readers tend to feel more connected to their local media than to national media. A Government-backed study found that for every percentage point growth in a local daily newspaper’s circulation, local electoral turnout goes up by 0.37 percentage points. Informing readers of relevant local happenings leads readers to being more in-tune with goings on of their town or city, thereby making them feel more active participants in local democracy.

 

Some corporations have intervened in order to help keep local democracy thriving. To help combat the deficit in local news reporting, the BBC launched a Local Democracy Reporting scheme, which created up to 150 new jobs in local media throughout the UK. The reporters cover top-tier local authorities and other public service organisations.

 

In Facebook’s new ‘journalism project,’ the social media giant posits an initiative specifically for local news, stating that: “We will be collaborating with news organizations to develop products, learning from journalists about ways we can be a better partner, and working with publishers and educators on how we can equip people with the knowledge they need to be informed readers in the digital age.”

 

As Facebook has, in the past, come under fire for its lack of scrutiny of ‘fake news’, this is a great way for the corporation to step in and help make local news more accessible and verifiable.

 

Keeping it local

 

Some people think they have only made it in the world of PR if they’ve secured national media coverage. We say there’s a lot more to being successful in PR than only targeting the nationals. Targeting where your customers are reading is where it’s at, always.

 

Need some advice?

 

If you’d like some tips and support on the best ways of getting coverage for your business, you can get in touch with our friendly and experienced team via our website. We’re also on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram – why not follow us?

 

 

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