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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.

 

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.

THE NORTH WEST PR AGENCY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NATIONAL STORYTELLING WEEK: HOW WE USE PR TO TELL STORIES

Today marks the beginning of National Storytelling Week, a very important time for PR and marketers for multiple reasons.

You see, the basis of PR is the ability to tell a good story. As PR isn’t paying for somebody to promote your brand like you’d do with advertising (a common misconception about our sector), it’s proving to people that your brand is one worth talking about.

But how exactly can you make that happen? Well, us PR ‘Sourcerers’ have some tricks up our sleeves. That’s how.

PR People, Or Professional Storytellers?

Everybody loves a good story, you can’t deny it.

Whether it’s a book, something you read in the newspaper, or even something you hear from somebody else. It’s human nature to want to hear about new and exciting things. It’s this very nature that makes the PR industry both a successful, but also lucrative, industry.

National Storytelling Week

In one way, it’s great that people are instinctively attracted to a good story. It puts us in business. It’s what makes PR not only an affluent industry, but one that’s so important too. Because while advertising is great and very effective if orchestrated right, you can’t really beat great organic exposure for your business.

But by the same token, it’s unmistakably hard to promote a brand organically without it coming across too salesy. Whether you’re pitching to journalists, or even to the public, if it’s painstakingly obvious that your sales-led, then you can come across dishonest and interested parties will likely lose that interest very, very quickly.

That’s why storytelling is a skill, and one not everybody can master.

National Storytelling Week – How We Do It At The Source

As mentioned just above, being able to tell a great story is the bread and butter of any great PR campaign. So how to we do it here at The Source? Well, quite aptly, National Storytelling Week is just one of the ways we aim to achieve coverage for one of our brands this week.

Hooking on to the occasion, and the fact that so many will be talking about reading and books this week, we decided to seize the opportunity and arrange a donation of books on behalf of a business we represent to a local primary school, in a target area for this client. Going off previous successes, we know that journalists in the area love this kind of story and will happily write about it both online and in print, given that it’s very timely too. Being tuned in to what’s going on in the world will not only earn us some great press coverage, but gives us the opportunity to boost our brand’s CSR too.

National Storytelling Week

 

This is just one of the ways we tell stories for PR purposes in an abundance of different tactics that we’ve mastered to raise the profile of our clients, and promote their products and services to the world in a genuine and effective way. Public Relations is a complex business, but a very important one too.

It’s not easy, but that’s where we come in…

Are you looking to boost your brand’s presence, online and offline, or are needing some PR and Marketing assistance?

Please feel free to get in touch with our friendly team by clicking here. We could be the source of your business’ potential to fly high.

HOW DARING DOES IT PAY TO BE WITH YOUR ADVERTISING?

It’s no secret that it’s very hard to make adverts effective if they’re being broadcasted to a really wide audience, for your advertisement to be totally effective, it needs to be able to attract and maintain attention long enough for that engagement to be transferrable.

So how do you make something worth somebody’s time? How do you make your marketing more memorable than the rest?

Daring Advertising Done Right

One way to snatch the attention of your audience was demonstrated perfectly recently by City to Sea, a brand devoted to bettering the way us humans treat the environment. First seen in cinemas just last week,  it draws attention to the environmental issue of flushing non-degradable wet wipes down the toilet. Totally impolite and boldly unapologetic, the ad was centered around an asterix that proclaimed itself “a talking assh*le”.

“Be A Good Assh*le” was its ultimate message. And what a good message it was!

Although climate change is finally getting a lot more airtime and attention, we still don’t doubt that if the advert wasn’t so impudent and surprising, it probably wouldn’t have been as recognised as it is. But, because of the crudeness, and because of the unaccustomed nature of its content, this cinema ad has exceeded expectations… Sparking debate far further than the cinema seats of its viewers. Already, talk has begun on social media – which is only spreading the message wider and wider.

Ultimately, caring for the environment is a really important message. We’re really glad to see that this brand took a risk to promote the message that flushing wipes down the loo that aren’t degradable is really, really bad for the environment. 

You can’t deny that the risk they took really did pay off.

Daring advertising - City to Sea be a good assh*le

Their message was frank and impenitent – is this the best way to be?

Is Taboo Advertising The Way Forward?

We cant deny that the intrepid nature of the “Be A Good Assh*le” advert worked a treat in this circumstance. It’s reportedly had audiences in fits laughter and has sparked a good old conversation on Twitter.

However, is this a tactic all brands should adopt as we move forward in a world that’s ever less-receptive to advertising? One that’s always demanding originality and creativity?

Well, as with anything, we’d say that this is certainly a method that cannot be overdone. Much like a lot of things, if you use this one time and time again, it’ll decline in effectiveness. The be-all and end-all is that this advert was surprising, and it had the shock-factor. If you try and use it as inspiration for your own content, it’ll likely not have the same effect the second time round.

Not that this is the first time anyone’s ever sworn in an advertisement, mind. It’s just the first time we’ve seen it done with such brashness in a long time.

Furthermore, being taboo doesn’t sit well with everyone. We’d be inclined to believe there’d be a large proportion of the population who wouldn’t appreciate this kind of thing, who would see it as crass and inappropriate. As with any time you’re bold and daring with your marketing, you’d definitely be taking a risk to deploy this idea. There are some brands this kind of marketing simply wouldn’t gel with, for sure. You need a brand that’s really quirky, unique and quite unapologetic. For example, we could imagine brands such as  Innocent Smoothies and Ben & Jerry’s rolling with this kind of advertising and it working, other more luxury brands, such as Harrod’s for example, we couldn’t.

Here at The Source, we represent a wide range of brands from both B2B industries and B2C. For some of our clients, this idea wouldn’t work for them because it doesn’t suit their brand at all, for others, it might just.

This being said, for any brand, the message learned is that creativity always wins. The best ideas are those that are rooted within, and that aren’t necessarily taken from others.

This post originally appeared on, Jessica Pardoe – one of our PR Executive’s – blogs. You can find that post here.