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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.

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.

9 WAYS TO GENERATE PR FOR SMALL BUSINESSES & SMES

Getting publicity for your business, especially in times such as these, is important. A sound PR strategy can help to increase your leads, boost your sales, widen your consumer base and also improve your overall brand awareness. If you’re a small business or SME (turnover of around £1.5m+) it’s important to communicate with your stakeholders and spread the visibility of your brand, so you can turn your SME into a larger scale operation. Chances are, you won’t have a fully-fledged internal PR team to guide your strategies, you might be looking for a PR agency to support your organisation, but until then, we’ve put together 8 easy tips around how to get PR for small businesses and SMEs

Why Bother With PR For Small Businesses & SMEs?

But first, PR (Public Relations) is the function of protecting and improving your brand visibility and reputation.

Not only does it work in safeguarding your brand against any public backlash and handling your communication strategies in a crisis, but a great PR strategy will also help to grow your reputation and make your business name more recognisable amongst your target audience.

This can be through growing your social media following or generating awareness of your business in relevant media outlets – both of these, along with other PR tactics, work to an overall aim of making your small business name more recognisable. They include:

We will touch on them further below.

Some very large organisations may have an in-house PR and marketing team, others, as well as SMEs and smaller businesses, may utilise the support of a PR agency, like ours.

9 Ways To Generate PR For Small Businesses & SMEs

There are a number of ways in which you can generate media attention and publicity for any brand, we have covered them here. With smaller organisations, you may have to work a little harder to get your name out there – there will likely be some degree of competition no matter what industry you’re in, so you need to make your brand memorable.

From our years of experience in PR and Marketing, here’s 8 ideas we would recommend you test to generate PR for your small business

1. First, plan

Know what you want to say and mostly importantly – to whom. What are your USPs, strengths and benefits? How do you want people to see your business? This vital planning will help shape your communications that can be consistently delivered via a number of channels, be it media, social or online.

2. Turn your business stories into news

If you’ve done something amazing as a business, turn it into news and let everyone know about it. For example, if you’re supporting a cause this can help to strengthen your reputation and position you as a responsible business if you spread the word. Likewise, trade titles are often interested in appointments of senior staff. You may be surprised at what makes a good PR story. Start by publishing information on social media, and then perhaps get in touch with the local papers with a press release, to see if they’d like to write about you.

3. Be chatty on social media

One of the best ways to build your brand reputation is to maintain an active voice on social media. PR covers online presence as well as getting media coverage in print, making sure you’re putting out great content on relevant channels and engaging with your customers is a key PR tip for small businesses and SMEs.

4. Communicate consistently

Even in hard times such as the Coronavirus outbreak, it’s important to keep communicating with your consumers. Don’t let them forget about you, and then turn to your competitors instead. As a business, a loyal consumer base is vital so ensure that you remain a consistent flow of communication through avenues such as social media, media appearances, email marketing and so on.

5. Be friendly with journalists

Even if you have no news to share, you can still get PR coverage for your small business or medium enterprise by remaining friendly with journalists; they might be looking for a business to feature in a round up piece – and could opt to use you if you’re on their radar. This tip is better matched with a PR agency, who will have a large database of journalists that they have built.

6. Make use of PPC & social ads

It’s worth considering PPC and social media advertising in your strategy, a great way to generate guaranteed exposure of your organisation. You’ll need to read up on the best keywords to target and then make sure you’re utilising the channels that your target audience frequent the most, but as with any other step, it’s important to remain consistently visible.

7. Consider influencer marketing

Working with influencers is still a viable way of generating PR for your brand, influencers are often trusted sources of information, with around half of Gen Z and millennials saying they trust their opinions. Create a database of reliable accounts and negotiate with them to promote your product or service.

8. Support charities & the local community

Everybody loves a good, positive story… So, make one. You can generate PR for small businesses, SMEs and multi-million-pound businesses by working with and supporting local charities and your community. Whether this is through fundraising, sponsorship or perhaps providing free goods and services to worthy causes. Doing fantastic things is a sure-fire way to achieve regional PR coverage for your small business at the very least.

9. Track & share your coverage

Most importantly, it’s crucial to track any PR coverage you might have achieved and share this to further strengthen your brand’s reputation. If you’re finding it hard to place where your brand might have been covered, you can set up Google Alerts for the name of your business. Be sure to share coverage on the relevant social media channels to further reinforce the integrity of your brand.

If you’re in need of further PR support, then why not arrange a free consultation with us to see how we can help strengthen your reputation and grow your brand. The Source PR is a PR Agency in Cheshire, North West, with over a decade of experience in supporting SMEs to larger corporations with PR, social media, marketing, SEO and more.

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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THE SOURCE TO SUPPORT HOSPICE OF THE GOOD SHEPHERD WITH COMPLIMENTARY CHARITY PR

As times are rather tense right now, let’s have some positivity.

A few weeks ago, for Random Acts of Kindness Day, we shared that we’d decided to offer 6 months’ worth of complimentary charity PR to a local organisation who we felt were really in need of it.

Charity PR assistance - Source PR and Hospice of The Good Shepherd

After leaving the decision to you, the public, we were blown away with the response and all of your nominations.

Who We Decided To Offer Charity PR To, And Why…

Careful deliberation between the team has led us to a decision that the charity we wish to support is…

The Hospice of The Good Shepherd, who are based nearby to our office in Cheshire.

The Hospice of The Good Shepherd are a superb local charity who, free of charge, provide special palliative care for people with both cancer and non-cancer life limiting illnesses, at all stages. The dedicated team of staff and healthcare professionals tend to the physical, emotional and social needs of those with a life-limiting illness and help to maintain their dignity. Not only this, but they also care for relatives, carers and friends as well as patients.

Being a local Cheshire charity with such an important goal, though the decision was not easy, we felt very natural choosing Hospice Of The Good Shepherd for our charity PR campaign.

Charity PR - Source PR Support Hospice Of The Good Shepherd With Complimentary PR

We’re looking forward to showing you the work we plan to do with them.

Looking For A PR Agency?

If you’re looking for PR support for your business, why not give us a call and find out what we can do for you? Based in Cheshire, our integrated PR agency contains a team of experts in all things PR, social media, digital marketing and more.

Click here to get in touch, or give us a call on 01829 720 789.

 

Featured image credit: Chester Tweets.

THE LIFE OF A SOURCE PR INTERN – BY BRIDIE BUCKINGHAM

As part of National Careers Week, our intern, Bridie Buckingham wrote about her experiences of being a ‘sourcerer’ intern and the pros of work experience.

Bridie also gives her own to advice for those who are thinking about their future career aspirations.

I’ve been a PR intern at Source PR for over seven months now and I must say they have been some of the best and busiest months of my life. A lot has changed in that time, I moved across the country, started at a new university and changed my degree to a completely new field of study.

Read more

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.

 

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.