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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.

NEW TALENT SOURCED – MEET REBECCA

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

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

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

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

 

PR TRENDS FOR 2019..?

It would not be January without a wave of predictions from PR and digital agencies about what’s in store for marketeers in 2019.  So, we’ve asked around the office for our own insights and thoughts and compiled what we believe will be some of the PR and digital trends for the year ahead…

It’s all about influence

Influencer marketing will continue to be a key platform for PRs to extend the reach and position of client brands.  However, if the economy declines post Brexit we may see a consolidation of budgets and a check in the increasingly disproportionate costs charged by some influencers.  Savvy PRs will spot the up and coming influencers and ensure a brand is well positioned and appropriately exposed to generate the best ROI.

Continued pressures on traditional media. 

Traditional media reach is likely to continue to decline, but value remains through targeted exposure, brand leadership as well as links to a client’s website.  Clients will need to be comfortable with using sponsored content as part of their mix as 75% of communications professionals are already using it in their strategies to support the publishers hungry for new forms of revenue.

Strategic partners

As traditional media declines, PR agencies will increasingly be used as a strategic communications partner to clients, whether media relations, content creation or social media management.  Let’s also not forget the ability to identify opportunities for news stories and provide first-class content journalists can use.

Good PR professionals will help clients develop on-going relationships with a broad range of audiences across a range of interest segments. As a result, clients will expand and deepen their reach by securing a share of audience attention through consistent content distributed across multiple channels.

Message development

PR agencies should tailor their messages to include more visual, video and voice content depending on which device is used.  This is best achieved by creating bespoke content across multiple channels to expand and deepen a client’s reach.

Great content needs to tell a story, not just for the media but all audiences.  Also, expand the audiences you work with to include a broader set of partners: websites, content syndicators, trade associations and others who can help bring your story to a wider audience.

Positive year

PR agencies are the marketing sector’s best content creators and storytellers, and have the unique opportunity to support clients across the communications spectrum whether the space is paid for, earned, shared or owned by clients. To have a successful 2019, PR agencies needs to be confident with numbers, data, software and proving their ROI in the increasingly digital world.

IT’S MORE THAN JUST THE MESSAGE

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

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

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

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

What went wrong?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DIGITAL PR – SIMPLE STEPS TO BUILD PERFECT SITE

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

1. Make it accessible

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

2. Make it easy to find

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

3. Optimise for mobile

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

4. Make it personal

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

5. Don’t stop improving

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

6. Content is king

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

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

Back to School: What is Marketing?

‘So, what is marketing?’

I wasn’t expecting such a simple question to stump me for what felt like five very long seconds. We were attending the Careers Day at the local Ellesmere College, and we were prepped with a banner and on-brand coloured cupcakes (we know what kids want), ready to speak to students about a career in marketing, PR and communications.

We’re used to dealing with professionals who want to know how digital marketing can work cohesively with traditional PR, or how we can maximise the benefits of influencer partnerships on social media – we’re never asked a simple question which essentially asks, ‘what is that you do, every day?’

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein famously said that “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.” We weren’t dealing with six year olds here, we were talking about our industry with curious and intelligent teenagers at a crucial decision-making point in their lives.

As well as being able to help young people as they start to carve the beginnings of their future careers, the afternoon gave us an opportunity to take a step back and go back to basics: what is it that we offer?

After a couple of practice groups of students who feigned a remarkable interest whilst clearly eyeing up the baked goods, I got into the swing of it: we essentially offer a subtle form of advertising.

As opposed to large, in-your-face adverts on the side of the motorway or shoved between TV shows (which of course do have their place), we work with businesses to identify their target audience and, most crucially, understand them. Then we use a whole host of communication lines from news stories, to profiling, to social media in order to influence their audience towards the business. This comes together into a holistic campaign, using every tool we’ve got to ensure that your brand is in front of the right people, saying the right things.

If you’ve got a growing business and thinking of taking your first step into marketing, just get in touch for a laid back chat – you never know, we might even have cake.

CONTENT MARKETING – HOW TO GET YOUR DIGITAL CONTENT JUST RIGHT

Unfortunately too many clients still believe that because they’ve spent hefty amounts on a new website, all will be well and the new business will roll in.  Unfortunately, it’s simply not the case as without quality, optimised and relevant content management – there’s a high chance a potentially fruitful website will wither on the vine.

The good news however is that a growing number of businesses are seeing the benefits of effective content marketing.  Recent statistics show that as many as 91% of B2B and 86% of B2C marketers use content marketing to facilitate business growth.

Although content marketing has been with us for years now it remains an effective way to build brand trust and awareness as well as establish business credentials by simply offering highly relevant information to the right target audience.

However, like other digital marketing methods it has evolved considerably over the past decade, so here we’ve outlined a few pointers as to what works best:

  • Achieve cut through and say something new, different and relevant. There are more than 2 billion blog posts listed every day, so make sure yours cuts through by being original and not ‘me too’.  If you want to be a thought leader, say something new or challenge the status quo.
  • Focus on content that you have the right to comment on – why are you experts and why should people listen to you? Don’t blag it if you don’t know what you’re talking about as that can back-fire, instead focus on an area that your business excels in.
  • Use a quality digital communication agency to provide the right copy and content – if you’re not a writer, get some help so that you can focus on what you do best. Having a nose for a good or interesting story will also help.
  • Work with partners, suppliers and friends.Building back links is a critically important element of SEO and this is a useful tactic to not only receive endorsement but build links.
  • Think how best to share your content. Although building content and links on the page is useful for SEO, if you’ve got something interesting or unusual to say why not cascade through the right social media channels or via an electronic newsletter?
  • Take a longer term view – organic content marketing won’t immediately knock you up the SEO rankings but be specific on key words and in time it will bear fruit.
  • Evaluate and evolve. Has your content achieved any inbound links, has it been shared, have you maximised the opportunity through social media/newsletters, what’s the feedback / comments, can you place the piece editorially?

As with all digital marketing campaigns, it’s important to test, evaluate, improve and evolve.  Remember to take a long-term view that’s measured against specific goals and objectives as this always delivers the best results.

If you’re looking for a reliable digital agency in Chester that uses modern content marketing strategies, contact us and let us show you what we can do.

BLOGGERS: A BRAND’S BEST FRIEND?

Despite their increasing presence in the modern media landscape, the subject of working with bloggers will still make many business executives cringe. To several, the “blogosphere” remains a rather nebulous and untrustworthy concept which can be a little hard to grasp.

However, what initially began in 1999 as a fairly insignificant space for individuals to document their online diary has radically transformed into a bona fide digital platform and essential PR tool. The influencer landscape has a crucial impact on today’s consumers and can carry a lot of weight in terms of managing a brand’s reputation online.

Here’s why…

Blogging is everywhere

With two in every three people now reading blogs on a weekly basis, blogging has transformed from a hobby into a legitimate career choice. Studies have revealed that 23% of current total Internet usage time is devoted to social networks or blogs. With consumers spending so much time in this sphere, brands are well advised to have a presence.

Blogging affects SEO

Even if you’re only well-versed with the very basics of search engine optimisation, you’ll be aware that generating links back to your website can be enormously beneficial in terms of boosting Google rankings. Once a relevant blogger has written about your brand or services and included a link directly to your website, not only will Google recognise it as a sign of page authority but visitors to that particular blog will also be presented with a direct call to action to visit your website.

Bloggers have an influence

As bloggers give such an honest insight into their daily lives, their readers relate to what they write on a much more personal level and are therefore more likely to mimic their behaviour. In an increasingly technological world, people are turning to the internet for ‘word of mouth’ opinions as opposed to their friends and family, and that is precisely the role the blogosphere is currently playing.

As an agency, we always err on the side of caution when it comes to blogger partnerships, as there are many things which need careful consideration. Firstly, choosing a blogger that closely matches your brand ethos is essential as you’ll want to ensure the message is reaching the right audience. Secondly, ensure that you’ve done a thorough background check on your blogger’s stats. Simple sites like Coveragebot will enable you to check their domain authority and will also give you an indication of their monthly online readership. Lastly, check their social channels to ensure that their engagement rate is consistently high, not just for high following figures.

Ultimately the message is clear: if you proceed with careful consideration and choose your partnership wisely, a blog partnership can be enormously beneficial to the awareness and reputation of a brand.

Connectivity: What’s The Cost to Rural Businesses?

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

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

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

Social Media requirements

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

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

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

 

 

 

Modern Communications and Word of Mouth

A short while ago, news reached the UK that blood donors in Sweden receive a text message when their blood has been used to save someone’s life. For so many reasons, this is an excellently admirable scheme – those who are kind enough to give up their time to donate blood should be applauded, and communication to let them know that they’ve saved a life right there and then is the perfect way to let the magnitude of their kindness really hit home.

 

Whenever anyone’s using modern communications in new ways, our ears are always pricked – and with this innovative use of mobile communication, we started to think: could an initiative aimed to give back to the public, actually end up driving business goals?

 

Communication between businesses and their customers is the key topic here. By keeping customers, in this case the donors, updated throughout the entire blood journey they’ll feel more connected to the entire process. So whether you’re collecting donations or selling goods and services, keeping your customers linked and connected to the journey will only ever make them feel more valued.

 

Then you’ve got to look further down the line. If you receive a message saying that your blood has just saved another human being’s life, that’s hardly something you’re going to keep to yourself. When you get that incredibly unusual and special message, the natural reaction is to share it. Using modern communication tools sparks the unstoppable chain that is word of mouth – suddenly, a whole new group of people are aware of the service and its cause, and they can then go on to tell their work colleagues the next day about this unbelievable message their friend received.

 

By crafting the right words and sending them the right way, modern communication tools and old fashioned word of mouth work hand in hand to build and drive a brand’s message. It doesn’t matter what your goal is, by creating a unique and engaging story to communicate to your customers, you’ve started a campaign of brand awareness that has an infinite finish line.