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JO MALONE’S MISJUDGEMENT – THE IMPORTANCE OF STAYING ON TOP OF CURRENT AFFAIRS

While some businesses have folded due to the impact of COVID-19, others have managed to find their feet during it. We’ve seen tongue-in-cheek advertising slogans emerge, such as KFC’s switch from ‘It’s finger lickin’ good’ to ‘It’s good’ as a reference to the importance of hand-washing and personal hygiene,  showing an increase of sense of humour in brand communications in the past few months – a far cry from how we were all feeling back in March.

 

Staying on top of current affairs has always been an efficient way of plugging into the latest trends and hot topics, from newsjacking in PR, to keeping your social media strategies relevant. Gymshark is particularly adept at this, whether it’s voicing their support for the Black Lives Matter movement via a $125,000 donation, or something smaller, such as using the latest Twitter meme format to generate a healthy volume of engagement.

 

 

 

But it’s not just important for brands to stay on top of current affairs for their own inbound marketing, it’s also an essential way of knowing what not to say and do.

 

Gently does it

 

Jo Malone (the brand, not the person – she sold the company in 1999) recently faced backlash for exactly this. The candle and fragrance creator changed an ad that previously starred, and was conceived by, actor John Boyega to include a Chinese actor instead. The use of Liu Haoran instead was to allegedly cater to its Chinese consumer base. The original advert explores Boyega’s beginnings in Peckham, London, with the ad even starring his friends and family. The slogan for the Jo Malone campaign was ‘A London Gent’. With Boyega’s London roots, it simply makes much more sense than when compared to Haoran, who was born and raised in China. Boyega has since dropped his partnership with the company, saying that he does not condone ‘dismissively trading out one’s culture.’

 

Whilst the decision by Jo Malone was a mistake whichever way you look at it, it comes as an even bigger sting following not only the rise in protests in the last few months from Black Lives Matter, but also the actor’s own vocal support for the movement. The erasure of Boyega for seemingly no apparent reason is a reminder of the subliminal racism that is perpetuated by some within advertising industry. The Force Awakens brought in $124 million from China’s box office: though it fared much less strongly than the Avengers movies due to the lack of a nostalgia from Chinese viewers, there’s no doubt that he is known not just to Westerners, but Easterners too.

 

Keeping it current

 

If the powers that be at Jo Malone had their fingers a little more on the pulse when it comes to current political situations, would they have continued with the replacement of John Boyega for their Chinese advert? It’s difficult to say – many more factors must have been at play behind closed doors. But what we do know is that the company would have retained its partnership with the actor. There’s also no doubt that the Jo Malone will have lost the support of some of its British customers in the wake of the upset – something that could have been avoided with a little more planning and consideration for current affairs.

 

Whilst an outright support for Black Lives Matter is a risk some brands simply won’t take, many are. Some, simply to keep their fingers on the pulse, but for others like Gymshark, it’s a clear expression of their brand values.

 

Get in touch with us

 

At Source PR, we always have our eye on the ball when it comes to all things digital. For advice on PR, digital marketing and social media, including working with influencers, get in touch with our team here.

BEN & JERRY’S SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGEMENT – VIRTUE SIGNALLING OR VIRTUAL POSTURING?

Throughout my PR career, the advice has always been for corporates to steer clear of politics, religion or criticising the competition in the belief that it’s better to lead by example than to criticise others for the actions they take.

It now seems that view is behind the curve when looking at Ben & Jerry’s latest tweet to @PritiPatel which challenges UK policy on the management of illegal immigration as well as the crisis that is currently happening in the Channel.

On the surface, it makes a lot of sense to raise awareness of the social issues and highlight the fact that we are all people living together on one planet.  It’s also right to raise the issue faced by people caught in wars and torture as well as the brutal realities of climate change.  But should an exclusive and pricey ice cream brand to be leading the charge?

In fairness, the messaging reflects the views of B&J’s customers, the hippy ideology of the founders as well as the brand’s long-standing social principles.  It’s also positive that a business with more than 450k+ twitter followers is using its might to raise awareness.  Even from a communications perspective, at least they are taking a stand and saying something rather than the bland, generic guff that many corporates are guilty of sprouting.

Virtue Signalling or Virtual Posturing

However, before being so bold you need to make sure your own house is in order as your actions will invite scrutiny.  This scrutiny will not, and should not, be limited to the topics the brand chooses to engage in – but all areas of its operations.  This could include; what is the company doing to support climate change, how can it justify the price / profiteering of its products, are they ignoring the critically high obesity levels in the population or even what action is it taking to actually support the plight of refugees?

This scrutiny could also be applied also to the parent company Unilever who bought the brand for $326m nearly 20 years ago.  Only yesterday, ‘Unilever’ was one of the top trends on Twitter throughout the day, as many pointed out that they have issues closer to home that such as whether they are guilty of marketing a ‘skin lightening’ cream to people of colour, the exploitation of vulnerable parts of the world or even tax avoidance – that indirectly leads to less money being made available to house refugees?

To gauge people’s views on the matter my colleague @jessicapardoePR undertook a quick twitter poll and found that two thirds of responders (75+) were in favour of the company’s stand.  Although just a snapshot, this is revealing as it’s clear consumers want the brands they associate with to reflect their own ideology.

With the growth in social media and more direct communications, brands are now better placed than ever before to manage their own messages.  Previously they would have had to use the media as a mouthpiece and face the additional scrutiny that this entails.

Social media platforms are however notorious for having a life of their own with innocent or well-meaning tweets often spiralling out of control when twisted by a ‘woke world’ or those with an axe to grind.

The virtue signalling of Ben & Jerry’s latest tweet has indeed attracted such criticism, but as with most effective PR strategies, this has just extended its message and helped to position the business as a champion of cause related campaigning.  It’s a risky route to take but in the case of founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, fortune seems to favour the brave.

 

PR AND MARKETING FOR CHESHIRE’S MOST ICONIC PUBS

Two of Cheshire’s most iconic pubs have called on Source PR to help support them with their PR, social media and content marketing as they look to reengage with customers after lockdown.

The Swan in Tarporley and the newly refurbished Lion in Malpas, both part of The Bear Inns Group, have benefited from multi-million pound investments and refurbishments and are now looking to raise awareness of their features as well as re-engage with the community.

The Swan, an historic coaching inn dating from 1565, has been an integral part of the South Cheshire community for over 400 years.  The refurbished pub maintains its characterful Georgian features including log fires and rustic decor in keeping with its coaching inn roots.

The Georgian coaching inn offers 16 double bedrooms all of which are en-suite.  Located in the main building, or the adjacent coach house, the rooms have been recently refurbished to offer a unique and characterful place to stay in the heart of Cheshire, just eight miles from Chester, and only a short commute to Manchester or Liverpool.

To support the local community, The Swan has joined the Government initiative, ‘Eat Out to Help Out’.  The new government scheme incentivises customers to eat out in their favourite eating establishments by giving them a discount which the business can then claim back from the government

The Lion is a fully renovated country pub with double bedrooms set in the heart of Malpas, one of Cheshire’s most picturesque villages.   Formerly The Red Lion, the site dates back to the 16th Century and has welcomed locals and visitors for centuries.  Scheduled to reopened in Autumn 2020 after extensive renovation and refurbishment, the pub now offers a large open bar area with a range of quality local ales and lagers, wines and spirits as well as classic cocktails.  The area has been cleverly segmented to offer a cosy spaces with fires, open bar area as well as relaxed and more formal dining areas throughout.

The complete renovation and refurbishment saw the addition of 16 double bedrooms.  Residents are offered a range of beautifully decorated rooms, each named after local Cheshire villages. The double rooms are all en-suite and have been designed by award winning Lister Carter, a leading interior design company.

Louis Hill, Managing Director of Source PR, says: “Pubs are an integral part of the community, providing not only an excellent pace to eat and drink but importantly a place for people to come together.  We love pubs and this could not be a better PR brief for us to get stuck into.”

Source PR has a track record of supporting the opening of pubs, bars and restaurants having supported Cheshire Cat Pubs & Bars with their seven pubs across the UK, culminating in them winning the UK’s Best Pub.  The team also helped Jerry Brunning, founder of Brunning & Price, when he returned to the sector with the launch of the Swan in Marbury.

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.

WORKING WITH INFLUENCERS IN 2020: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

According to the annual UK influencer survey, a yearly research piece published by Vuelio in partnership with the Canterbury Christ Church University, there has been a year on year increase in the amount of earned and average income of influencers in the UK – this includes bloggers, vloggers and instagrammers. Today, we wanted to talk to you about working with influencers in 2020, covering:

The State Of Influencer Marketing In 2020

According to the findings mentioned above, around 1 in 5 influencers say that it is their main source of income, this is twice as many as in 2016. This tells us that the influencer marketing industry is on the rise, and therefore is still – as ever – a profitable means of generating publicity for your brand (if utilised correctly, which we’ll cover further down).

A quick look at Google Trends will also tell you all you need to know about the state of influencer marketing over the past years, ending of course, at the present day in 2020.

Working with influencers - State of the influencer marketing industry

Unprecedented growth in this industry means that influencer marketing is certainly a channel you should be considering in your wider communications strategy, if it suits your brand.

Influencers are operating on a number of channels, the most popular being blogs, but also across social media on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube and even TikTok. The average number of accounts that an influencer runs at any one time is 5, so there’s often a great chance that your brand will be seen by a vast audience and through a variety of media types.

The report from Vuelio also tells us that influencers are posting more frequently than ever before, with the highest percentage of survey respondents saying they post 5 or more times a week – meaning there’s plenty of opportunity for sponsored content for marketers and brands.

Working With Influencers: What Do You Need To Do?

If you’re a brand owner, working with influencers could be a golden opportunity. But how do you work with influencers? There are a few grounds rules that you should follow…

  1. Do your research

Before going out on a whim, do some background research into what kind of influencers you want to promote your product or service. Be mindful, though. Googling ‘fashion influencers’ will often turn up the most popular influencers out there, but these people tend to charge thousands for a single post, that’s if they’ll even consider your brand – if you’re just dipping your toe into influencer marketing, you’ll want to find more mid-tier accounts that have a loyal following but that won’t cost the earth to utilise. You can do this by looking through Instagram and in Facebook groups, or better yet, work with a PR agency with experience in working with influencers, and tell them your goals.

  1. Target the right audience

Be sure that firstly, your brand suits influencer marketing (you can determine this by cross referencing your target audience against demographics of different social media channels). Then, you’ll want to utilise influencers who are based in your niche. The most popular areas of influencer marketing are fashion and beauty, travel and lifestyle – if your brand fits into these sectors than working with influencers is certainly an avenue worth exploring.

  1. Make sensible offers

Vuelio’s UK influencer survey found that most influencers received between £1 and £100 per sponsored post, and over half of influencers said they would reject a pitch due to lack of sufficient compensation. Most influencers will promote a product or service for a fair price so long as it is relevant to them. However, you do risk harming relationships if you do not make a sensible offer. Brands will pay influencers different amounts depending on the type of content required, and to answer the question: “can I work with influencers for free?” the answer is yes, sometimes. According to Vuelio, 23% of influencers have produced branded content without any compensation, mainly because the pitch sent to them from brand or PR added value to their audience. Just be careful and considerate when making contact for the first time.

Working with influencers survey

  1. Set goals and follow them

As with any type of marketing, you’ll want to set goals and use KPIs to track them. What do you want to achieve with your influencer marketing? Is it sale of products, brand recognition or simply just more traffic to your website? Once you have defined what you want to achieve from working with influencers, you’ll then be able to work with them on a method that best suits you. It could be a social media post, a sponsored blog or even an Instagram takeover.

Why Should You Work With Influencers?

If your influencer marketing strategy is spot on, then working with influencers can be an invaluable experience for your brand. Why?

  • It can help to grow your following on social media channels
  • It creates endorsements for your products or services
  • It can drive traffic to your website or social media pages
  • It can result in sales of your product of service
  • It can create testimonials for your brand that can be used at a later date
  • It can help build your brand image and by creating a positive association with a prominent person
  • It can help reach your target audience in a new and exciting way
  • It can help find a new audience of potential consumers for your brand

For assistance with your influencer marketing strategy, call us on 01829 720 789 or send us a message for a free consultation, we have affluent experience in working with influencers and will help you open your brand to this modern way of marketing.

POSITIVE PREDICTIONS IN DIGITAL MARKETING FOR 2020

According to a report by PayPal’s Commerce Index, the number of businesses in the UK expected to begin marketing on social media is set to double in the next six months – a huge increase from the approximate 600,000 businesses that already do so. British businesses are finally set to catch up to the rest of the global average of 35%: currently, just 24% of UK businesses use social media to market their products.

The increase could partially come down to the rise in millennial business owners and marketing heads – with the younger generation being more app and social-media savvy, it stands to reason that millennial-owned businesses would use tools they already know and love to market their services. Yet it’s not only the increase of millennials in the boardroom that are to blame – success stories of brands who invest wisely into the digital sphere and see great returns have spurred interest in the less traditional methods of marketing.

An example of a business that has begun to take digital marketing more seriously is Pandora, which has hired London digital marketing agency Fifty-Five to further enhance its social media and overall online presence. According to The Drum, Pandora is ‘in the process of increasing its investment in digital media as a way to build its brand and drive sales, as well as attract new and loyal customers instore.’ Pandora’s inclusion of the digital sphere as a crucial aspect of its branding is indicative of the turn towards less-traditional marketing techniques that businesses have been embracing more and more over recent years. Despite the brand already being a household name, Pandora is evidently interested in the further capabilities that digital marketing can provide.

If its experience will be anything like the retailer Oasis, it’s likely to be worth it. The clothing store has turned to more savvy digital marketing technique after it faced multiple store closures throughout the UK. Despite the setbacks, Oasis saw an extraordinary 175% increase in revenue and an overall 20% rise in customer engagement after it circulated an email with an ad video featuring Frankie Bridge, former member of The Saturdays. Sophia Holland Thomas, Digital Marketing Manager at Oasis, said, ‘Videos are capturing consumer attention like never before and video marketing is becoming an increasingly important vehicle for companies looking to engage with a millennial audience, where they can enhance their outreach and revenues.’

If that wasn’t enough, the data insights and consulting company Kantar recently released a report that offered its predictions for the upcoming year in the technology and digital world. Duncan Southgate, Global Brand Director at Kantar, wrote, ‘Digital is set to consolidate its dominance in 2020, with 84% of marketers planning to increase spend in online video, and 70% planning to increase spend in social media, according to our recent Getting Media Right report.’

All evidence seems to point to the growing importance and prevalence of digital marketing, and businesses are expected to invest accordingly. And if the success stories of the likes of Oasis are anything to go by, it can be assumed that this will only be good news for those brands that take the leap from traditional, linear marketing such as TV, radio or billboards. At Source, we embrace both traditional and the digital world, where influence and recommendation is key. We’re fluent in the world of online marketing and provide a tailored approach to brands and businesses that look to increase their online reach.

Get in touch on 01829 7208789 to learn more, or follow us on Twitter (@source_tweets), Facebook (@SourcePublicRelations) and LinkedIn (The Source).

PR TOP TIPS TO IMPLEMENT IN 2020

Public Relations (or PR) is said to be the second oldest profession, first implemented to spread the word about the quality and benefits of the world’s oldest profession.

The reality is that Public Relations has been around forever as people, companies or organisations look to raise their profile or the benefits of the good and services they offer.

The industry continues to evolve to reflect the changing media landscape and the ways in which audiences gather their information or are influenced by the world around them.

Despite these significant changes, much of the core principals remain the same.  We would suggest that companies large or small take stock and when looking ahead for 2020 ensure they consider the following five core pillars of success.

The five simple top tips:
  • Know your business, product or service – what are the key features or benefits and why is it different or better than others. This will help you to be clear on your proposition and what exactly you want to say.
  • Know your customers – who are you looking to influence and what are their behaviours? Your customers may be varied but map out who they are and what they do – if necessary, make plans specific to each audience.
  • Find a creative angle – Don’t be ego centric but think why is this relevant to my audiences and why is it of interest to them.
  • Share your news – if you don’t share your news then it’s unlikely that someone will do it for you. Make sure your your content is right for the platform and if targeting journalists make sure it’s relevant to them and their audiences
  • Don’t get stuck in a rut – PR and digital communications is changing rapidly and so are audience behaviours. If something does not work, try something new and different.

If you’re unsure of the best way forward, speak to an agency that is able to give you straight forward, honest advice.  We have PR, social media and digital clients across the North West, Wales and UK and our Chester PR, marketing and digital teams are available to support your business needs.

Finally, one last tip would be to be proactive.  2020 is a new year and therefore a new opportunity to make the right plans that will help take you and your business forward.

 

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.

 

COLLEGIATE AC TURN TO SOURCE PR FOR STRATEGIC PR SUPPORT

Collegiate AC, one of Europe’s leading providers of contemporary student accommodation, has appointed Source PR to help them raise their profile across Europe as the company looks to secure a second wave of strategic investment.

The company currently manages more than 20 developments across the UK, Spain and Portugal with schemes typically between €35m to €100m in gross development value.  In total, they currently manage assets to a value of nearly £2bn.

Collegiate has announced its intention to raise a further £2bn of strategic investment to expand the company’s portfolio to new and existing territories across Europe and has asked Source PR to help raise awareness of the business and the opportunities presented.

Louis Hill, Managing Director of Source PR, comments: “This is a great win for the team and a further endorsement of the work we have been undertaking for clients across the property sector.  We’re excited to be involved with such an innovative and forward looking brand of student accommodation.”

Corporate PR

Headquartered in Oxford, Collegiate has a major European office in the heart of Madrid where it has an in-house team of four full time architects supporting European design, specification, procurement and construction. Collegiate AC has a reputation for delivering state of the art residences using efficient construction methods to deliver investor objectives.

Award winning Source PR is headquartered in Chester and offers a range of communications services including public relations, social media management, content management as well as digital communications.  The company has clients across the UK, offering a range of B2B and B2C communications advice.

DIGITAL AGENCY – HOW THE TIMES ARE A CHANGIN’

When working in a digital agency in Chester and providing B2B PR or consumer PR clients with support and advice, it’s so important to keep up to date with the ever-changing world of new technologies, insights and applications.

Understanding and using new technologies helps keep you at the forefront of providing valuable advice and delivering current campaigns for clients that really work for businesses and customers alike.

If you stand still too long or stop to give yourself a pat on the back, there is a real chance that you’ll get left behind.  It’s fast moving, challenging but when compared to the old days of pure PR – very rewarding.

For years there was always the question of ‘how do you put a value on PR?’  Historically it was a measurement of column inches or messages density, but now there are so many additional factors that should be considered whether it’s directly reaching thousands of customers with engaging messages through social media or producing content that improves a client’s reputation or thought leadership position. Each post or article can be measured in terms of who read it and what action they took as a result.

Digital

With the growth in digital the whole world is more transparent.  The engagement on each post can be measured, the actual number of people who read an online article can be seen and the customer journey for each purchase can be viewed as cookies follow customers through their entire purchasing process.

This is great.  It helps justify marketing budgets and provides a real opportunity to show a return on an investment.  Most important of all is that it makes you realise that you are actually making a difference, that the work you’re creating is driving sales and that the campaigns work.  The times are changing and look set to continue to evolve which has to be great news for clients and digital PR agencies alike – as long as you can keep up.