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OUR TOP PR CAMPAIGNS OF 2020 (SO FAR)

As the year draws to a close, we’ve taken a look at some of our favourite PR campaigns of 2020. A difficult year to say the very least, there’s been a lot of red tape around executing certain marketing stunts. With not one, but two national lockdowns, it’s certainly not been easy. However, a lot of brands have navigated through this year with energy, creativity and determination – certainly all things that account to a great communications strategy.

2020 has been the year where some have chosen to stop communicating, but where it has never been more important not to do so. We’ve seen our clients reap the rewards of continuing with strong messaging through lockdown, to be met with an abundance of sales after restrictions were lifted, such as Combermere Abbey. We’ve also been able to work with the likes of local charity Hospice of the Good Shepherd, who found that PR activity including, even during these strange and uncertain times, paid off – with broadcast news coverage on BBC North West Tonight contributing to over £50k raised for the charity. It pays to communicate well, and there’ve been plenty of brands who’ve proved that over the last year. Here are some of our top picks at The Source.

Our Top PR Campaigns Of 2020

Beth Ellis: KFC’s Slogan Switch-Up

Beth Ellis, PR account executive has heaps of praise for another fast-food brand, KFC, who changed their iconic slogan earlier this year in line with national hygiene advice…

“Even though the campaign came out in August, pretty late in the day after the initial lockdown in March, I think it strikes the perfect tone for how businesses should be advertising during such a sensitive time. It takes one of the most famous marketing slogans in the world and removes the part that would be deemed ‘unhygienic’ or unwise right now, without not going over the top or overly sentimental. As it’s an old company, KFC cleverly uses a photo of its original fried chicken bucket to indicate that, while things are very strange right now, life goes on and tough times will pass – worth considering that the chain was founded during the Great Depression and has seen its way through rocky times in history.”

PR campaigns 2020 - KFC chicken

Credit: KFC

Janet Hare: Alex Scheffler’s Covid-19 Book For Children

Janet Hare, client services director, explains her favourite campaign of the year that tackles Coronavirus education…

“Children undoubtedly were one of the hardest-hit groups of people when Covid-19 struck in Spring this year. Suddenly their lives were turned upside down when no school and no friends became the government ruling for several months. How could adults who were they themselves struggling wildly with the otherworldly concept of a pandemic communicate to those much younger what it all meant and offer reassurance that everything would be OK? They had no clue themselves. Suddenly faced with a situation never seen before, how could they find the right words to say the right things to the children who looked up to them for guidance and reassurance? Luckily, parents around the country were rescued by the warm comforting blanket of someone inextricably linked with a time of peace, cosiness and safety – storytime. In April, well-known illustrator Axel Scheffler, who does the drawings for many of Julia Donaldson’s much-loved children’s books, got together with his publisher at the nations’ parents time of need to create a free book to explain the pandemic through familiar and comforting rhythms of words, characters and illustrations. What children needed at a time of uncertainty surrounded by worried adult faces and scary news bulletins was what children and adults let’s face it, always rely on, the comfort of the familiar. The digital book aimed at primary school children, ‘Coronavirus: A book for children about Covid-19’ was written with input from a professor of infectious diseases, a psychologist and several teachers and was made free to download. The publishers then went onto record an audio version of the book, read by the voice of Paddington and Paddington 2’s Mr Brown, Hugh Bonneville. Again, a familiar and comforting voice. For me, this gave me the words I needed in the right tone to enable me to help my child understand what was going on in a suddenly mad world. For countless other parents and adults, it came to the rescue and satisfied a need just at the right time. Although it wasn’t done from a place of profiteering to me timing and tapping into and meeting a need are essential to marketing a product successfully. If then you can also tap into a positive emotion, such as comfort, then that’s surely the winning combo! Since then, Axel and Julia have also got together to create coronavirus-related scenarios for some of their best-loved characters such as The Gruffalo and Stick Man lending the familiar once again to the absurdity of the current situation whilst adding humour also into the mix!”

PR campaigns 2020 Covid-19 book Axel Scheffler

Credit: Axel Scheffler

Jessica Pardoe: Burger King Says “Support McDonald’s!”

Jessica Pardoe, senior PR account executive notes one of her favourite lockdown campaigns, and this one has been considered controversial:

“Burger King’s communications strategy is notoriously famous for bashing their biggest competitor, McDonald’s. From encouraging customers to drive there, and drive away to get a free whopper, to responding to claims surrounding the unnatural longevity of a big mac by proudly broadcasting their own mouldy whoppers. Which is why, as the UK entered a second lockdown, it was a surprise to see Burger King UK encouraging their customers to actually support no others than their arch enemy McDonald’s, as well as other big competitors. I personally really liked this as it was bold enough to win them plenty of press coverage, as well as generating a lot of conversation on social. The only issue with the campaign is that they could have perhaps encouraged customers to shop smaller independent businesses, rather than the large corporations that are already probably sitting on a great deal of money. At the end of the day though, what Burger King opted to do had a bigger talk-ability impact and you have to weigh up those kinds of decisions with your marketing.”

PR campaigns 2020 Burger King visit McDonalds

Credit: Burger King Twitter

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.

PR-ING THROUGH CORONAVIRUS: SMALL BUSINESS HELP AND ADVICE

Coronavirus has caused truly extraordinary times, the UK – as well as several other countries – is currently on a lockdown. The first of its time.

Travel has been limited to all but essential movement, many businesses (such as restaurants, non-essential retail stores and gyms) have been forced to close their doors for the foreseeable future and the healthcare industry is under perhaps its biggest strain that this generation has ever seen. Because of current climate, we can’t shy away from the fact that many businesses are struggling. Whether you’ve had to temporarily cease trading altogether, or whether your customers are less inclined to part with their money due to the uncertainty at the moment – either way most organisations are feeling the pinch one way or another.

It’s not all bad news, however.

Though the current economic climate is bleak, and though many are struggling, we have also been given the gift of something that we wouldn’t normally have: time.

Now is not the time for radio silence, now is the time to be strengthening your brand message, communicating effectively and giving back to the community wherever you’re able. Whilst some brands have taken the stance of radio silence as the Coronavirus epidemic plays out, many others have adjusted and reacted to the current climate, and have been in a better position for it.

You have time to work on your strategies, to work on your brand position and to ensure that when this comes to pass, your business will emerge bigger and better than ever before.

If you’re a small business or an SME and struggling, there are a number of ways you can help yourself during this pandemic.

Small Business Coronavirus Help: How To Support Yourself

The government has already introduced revolutionary support for small businesses. Initiatives include a small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief, grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000. This is as well as the job retention scheme put in place.

While this might be a short-term solution to an otherwise unnerving situation, it’s also crucial for small businesses to think about their long-term plans too.

Below, we’ve racked our PR, Social Media and Marketing brains together to bring you the very best advice on how your business can survive through Coronavirus; how to keep marching on through these uncertain times and how to effectively retain your brand image and position.

Don’t Give Up On Your Team

First and foremost, you need to trust your team.

Unlike many business crises, we’re all in this together and there are many businesses from various industries that are all feeling the strain that Coronavirus has brought about. In most business cases, your team will be instrumental to your survival during this period, so before adjusting your business strategies, you should be providing your team with the technology and support needed to undertake their work and trust that they will continue to deliver remotely.

Trust opens the door to productivity; the more you give, the more you get back.

Keep On Communicating

Effective communication has never been more important.

You should be keeping your communication channels open. You may appear closed to the outside world but it’s important to share the business’s contingencies, its plans and any changes in service. Share your successes or small wins and remember your customers and stakeholders are interested in people-centric stories, as well as positive outcomes in otherwise difficult circumstances.

There’s a strong demand in the media for any positive news amidst all this negativity, so if your business has something good to share this might be a good way of spreading your news further afield and making sure that people are still engaged with your brand.

Adding to this, there’s a new sense of community re-emerging – if your business has changed how it operates or is supporting others, such as pubs offering delivery services to those in need, make sure you share this. Social media usage has increased by 22% since lockdown and provides an excellent community engagement tool which may prove beneficial in the longer term.

Though you may not be trading at the moment, it’s important not to lose momentum. Make sure people still remember who your business is, what you do. Whether this is by maintaining an active social media presence, writing blogs for your website or even appearing in the news – don’t let people forget you if you want to continue to operate a successful business when this storm has passed.

Adapt And Evolve With The Climate

If your business can accommodate it, adaptability is important right now.

Under new government restrictions, many businesses can no longer trade as usual. Is there a way you can overcome this, and support your community too? For example, many restaurants are now offering takeaways and are giving out free meals whilst they do so, which is great in strengthening the business’ Corporate Social Reputation.

Could you keep your cashflow afloat by encouraging your stakeholders to purchase vouchers from you that can be redeemed at a later date?

Other examples of how companies may adapt during the Coronavirus period is by taking advantage of the technology we have at our disposal.

Could you give your consumers a digital version of your product or service to retain your custom? Some housebuilders are now operating fully online house viewings, whilst organisations such as Chester Zoo are livestreaming a day at the zoo on Facebook to the masses.

If your business can think of a quirky and imaginative way to stay relevant, it will almost certainly survive this uncertain period.

Create A Contingency Plan – Prepare For The Future

Plan for your future, because if you adopt the right attitude, there almost certainly will be one.

Can you create a contingency plan for your business?

Though there are so many things uncertain at the moment, if you can begin to strategize and plan your bounce-back for when this comes to pass, you’ll be in a more favourable position when the market reopens once more. Make sure you’re well prepared.

Whilst we all have extra time on our hands, we can make the most of this: working on our websites, our SEOs, or even developing social media or PR strategies.

The most important thing to add to your contingency plan, for now and for the future, is a plan that sees your business remaining adept in its industry. Make sure that people don’t forget your brand. Whether this is by thinking of a new and imaginative way to run your business (such as the examples above), or whether it’s just making sure you upkeep a strong media presence. If your company steps into the shadows during this period, it’ll be much harder for it to re-emerge when it’s over.

Also, be prepared for radical change once more when lockdown is over and when the virus dissipates. When you can reopen your doors again, you’ll almost certainly be met with a different audience than the one you’ve come to know. After recovering from the most governed period of their lives, there’s no doubt that people will be more appreciative. They’ll want to explore more, they’ll want to travel more, they’ll want to eat out more and they’ll want to buy more things.

We’ll have a more spontaneous and obligated population on our hands, so make sure your business is prepared to accommodate them.

Do you need PR, Marketing or Social Media support for your business? Either in handling the Coronavirus outbreak, or preparing for when it’s over? Call us for a free, confidential assessment of your situation on 01829 720 789 or email louis@sourcepr.co.uk.

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CORONAVIRUS CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS PLAN: HOW TO USE PR TO PROTECT YOUR BUSINESS

The rapid spread of the Coronavirus has pushed the WHO to declare a pandemic.

To date, there are around 139,075 cases of Coronavirus (also known as COVID-129) globally, 5,117 have died and cases are now found in almost every country in the world.

Stock markets have been hit and the International Monetary Fund has declared that the world’s ‘fragile economy’ could be derailed if the virus is not contained.

Coronavirus Crisis Communications Plan

Source: Worldometers

Now, the question to be raised is “how can businesses deal with the Coronavirus outbreak?”.

Read more