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LIFE AS A STUDENT AND INTERN DURING A PANDEMIC

Written by our PR intern Bridie Buckingham…

I think it is safe to say that this past year has not been kind to us. Staying at home, working from home, studying from home: they’re taking their toll. It is not always easy to adjust to a ‘new normal’ but never has it been more necessary.

For someone who has always struggled with time-management, this new normal has really given me the push I needed to stay ahead of the game. Balancing work, school and home life has always been a demanding task, but now that they are all crowded within the same four walls, it can seem a bit overwhelming at times.

It is all too easy to allow yourself to get bogged down with the negativity, but those anxious feelings are never going to dissipate unless you adopt a more positive mindset. I struggled a lot, as I’m sure we all did, during the first lockdown but as time has gone on my outlook has changed. Whether you have used this period for self-improvement, or you’ve simply taken a step back to recharge, both are valid. There is no need to force productivity, it only fuels negativity. A healthy mind is the most important asset to have right now and if that comes from spending time with family and putting work on the backburner then finding a healthy balance is essential.

This is something I wrestled with in the first lockdown, juggling university, work and home life seemed impossible at times yet now I sense big tops in my future. I am lucky that the team at Source PR are so accommodating, allowing me to work around my online classes. Without their help I don’t think I would have been so fortunate. It is strange not being able to see them each week, only communicating via email or WhatsApp, it makes me miss the office, but I know we will be back one day. For now I am enjoying life as an intern, each week is different, allowing me to explore the world of PR whilst also gaining valuable work experience in the field.

When it comes to studying from home, I was sceptical at first, but it has turned out to be a blessing in disguise. All my lectures have been delivered seamlessly and on time, with help available at every turn. Delivered via teams, the seminars are still as interactive as ever, in fact I think the delivery is advantageous as many people who were too shy to give input in face-to-face seminars have gained confidence from the comfort of their own home.

With my family also working from home, bandwidth problems are a reoccurring nightmare in our house, with several of us trying to access classes via teams at the same time, we sometimes struggle to get a clear connection. The work sometimes piles up but with regular half-terms and reading weeks it is easy to catch up. Overall, I think my second-year experience has been the best it could’ve been considering the circumstances; however I can’t say the same for first years.

To add to the mayhem, I also challenged myself to learn a language this year. In a joint venture with my sister we decided to teach ourselves Korean as we have always wanted to visit South Korea. I have dreamed of living abroad and being able to speak another language fluently since I was little, so I thought if now isn’t a good time to start, when is? With my TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) end of year module coming up in just a few short weeks, I hope I will get to put my new skills to good use and take myself across the globe, Covid permitting of course.

For more insights and regular blog updates, you can find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. You can also get in touch via our website.

 

안녕히 계세요 (annyeonghee geseyo)

SOCIAL MEDIA ADVICE FOR B2B COMPANIES

Social media marketing is pretty vital to every company, but it’s easier for some than it is others. Marketing plans can be particularly tricky to navigate at the best of times, so we’re here with some social media advice for B2B companies from The Source team. We have a wealth of experience in B2B PR support, which includes content marketing, social media and media relations and from that experience, here’s what we recommend.

Top Social Media Advice For B2B Companies

Click on the links below to jump to specific social media advice for B2B companies…

  1. Find the right social media platforms
  2. Utilise industry news
  3. Remember that people like people
  4. Keep things interesting
  5. Leverage appropriate hashtags
  6. Don’t underestimate Facebook groups

Find The Right Social Media Platforms

Not every platform will work for every company, that goes for B2C industries as well as B2B. For example, TikTok marketing is a great opportunity for brands with a visual appeal, such as tourism providers, wedding dress manufacturers and cosmetic companies. Other platforms, such as LinkedIn, work much better for B2B marketing, especially for service products such as CRM software, for example. There’s no one way to decide which social media platform will work best for your B2B company, so the best way to approach is through trial and error. See which types of content get the most engagement, and where. Traditionally, though, we’d match the following top platforms to the following sectors..

  • Instagram – mainly B2C, with opportunities for B2B
  • Twitter – mainly B2B, with opportunities for B2C
  • Facebook – both B2C and B2B
  • TikTok – mainly B2C, with opportunities for B2B
  • LinkedIn – mainly B2B
  • Pinterest – mainly B2C

So, if you’re heading a B2B company and want to give social a go, it’s worth dipping your toe in the water with LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and potentially Instagram and TikTok also. We have some more social media advice on what kind of content to focus on below.

Utilise Industry News

You shouldn’t be content curating all of your posts, as most of your audience will be following your accounts because they want to hear from you, however, utilising relevant industry news in posts is a good way of keeping your audience informed of relevant and interesting developments. It keeps you abreast with your sector and positions you as an expert in that field, furthermore, it creates a good mix of content to keep your strategy fresh and current. We’d recommend around an 80:20 ratio of curated to original content, but don’t be afraid to mix this up week on week.

People Like People

As we mentioned above, people like people. Though you’re selling ‘business to business’, there’s still a person behind that brand at either end. A study by Princeton University proposed the stereotype model, which boils down to the fact that people judge others on their warmth and competence. The more ‘friendly’ you appear, the more likely people are to trust you – this applies to your social media followers too. Though it’s important to draw a line and remain professional, it’s also a good idea to be conversational in your content and help build trust in your brand. Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy says it’s important to demonstrate warmth first and then competence, especially in business settings. A lot of effective social media marketing begins with an understanding of human psychology.

Keep Things Interesting

It’s a common misconception that B2B communications have to be stiff and corporate, try injecting a light tone of voice into your content or experimenting with light-hearted competitions for engagement. With one of our B2B clients Altecnic, they ran a 12 days of Christmas giveaway which included a daily video of their Technical Manager dressed as Santa. You need to remember that your audience is human and keeping things engaging is a sure way of retaining engagement and growing following. If there’s a certain lull, never underestimate the power of a social media giveaway either, no matter your industry.

Social media advice for B2B companies: competitions

Leverage The Right Hashtags

Researching into hashtags is never time wasted. You can now use hashtags in your posts across LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and more recently, Facebook. One of our B2B clients frequents the ‘#PlumbersHour’ hashtag because this is where their core audience is. Hashtags are often followed by those interested in that kind of content, so if you have a specific audience of your B2B brand, then find out what the kind of conversations that they’re already in, and join in. You can discover hashtags through researching related terms on Instagram and Twitter, and also by looking at what other influential accounts are tapping in to.

Don’t Underestimate Facebook Groups

Finally, our last piece of social media advice for B2B companies is not to underestimate the power of a Facebook group. Similarly, to leveraging hashtags, Facebook groups can be a great way to find your audiences. In 2019, Facebook announced that Facebook says there “are more than 400 million people in groups that they find meaningful”, meaning there’s a huge potential audience if you know where to look. Start by searching keywords on Facebook that are relevant to your brand for example “food manufacturing”, “plumbing” or “health and safety”.

 

For more advice and support for B2B PR, social media, content marketing and more, please get in touch with our friendly and experienced team through our website. Or, you can keep up to date with what The Source is up to on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

WHAT MAKES THE BEST PR AGENCY?

As the new year begins and we enter a third lockdown, now seems the right time to think about what will make the best PR agency for clients whether in Manchester, Liverpool or the North West.  Here, we share our thoughts on what makes a PR and social media agency successful and how good client relationships are the secret to taking marketing results to the next level.

Key Characteristics Of The Best PR Agency

Know the client. I mean really know the client

One key skill for PR executives working in agencies is the ability to juggle various client demands at any one time. It can be very challenging working in a PR agency, but it does allow executives to get a broad range of experience under their belts, which in turn adds value back to clients.  You can really become mini experts in a number of different industries in no time, and the best PR agencies will always be the embodiment of this skill.  After working client side, I realised that there’s always more to know about a business, to understand its strategic decisions and its relationship with stakeholders.  If you can take this in-depth approach and apply it on the agency side, whether for B2B clients or B2C clients, you not only offer better communications advice but can also help shape the client’s business direction.

Put substance before style

I’ve never been a big fan of the PR stunt or more general ‘PR puff’.  Although creative ideas remain the backbone of what we offer, the best PR agencies should always consider whether the proposals are achievable and whether they deliver real returns and impact for clients?  There’s nothing worse than a Mr Negative in a creative brainstorm or planning process, however the best PR agencies always keep an eye on the prize and an effective balance between style with a healthy dose of substance behind it all.  Over promising and under delivering is the worst of all worlds.

Tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth

When looking back on my career, I do recall a moment when working in house for one of the UK’s leading retailers and we were advising the board on how to handle the media in light of a poor set of annual results.  The CEO was his usual bullish self, pushing for us to make this claim or that.  I realised then that my boss, a very successful director of communications, was essentially the grey man of the boardroom by only telling the CEO wanted to hear.  I made a vow to myself never to be that grey man and to always offer honest PR / communication advice based on experience.  Clients are at liberty to adopt or ignore it but for effective relationships, always be honest (perhaps that’s why I never became a Director of Corporate Affairs..!?). To us, this is one of the most important things that makes the best PR agency.

It costs how much?

The days of big spending PR campaigns may be over, but the requirement for showing a return on investment is omnipresent.  It has never been more important and the best PR agency will always demonstrate that great ideas shouldn’t cost the earth to deliver. We live in a quicker, more transparent society and one that does allow great stories and content to be shared easily.  Also, if you know your client, you should know what they need to spend to succeed – don’t turn your back on big budgets but always be aware of what will be delivered in return.

Know what PR campaigns work

You’d be amazed how many clients still view being on a breakfast TV sofa as a success.  Be honest from the outset and tell B2B PR clients that sales of their new widget are rarely achieved after an interview with Phil or Fern.  Be targeted, selective and know their customers and where their products or services need to be – this adds real value.

Be supportive and flexible

With Covid 19 still causing business disruption, the best PR agencies will continue to be flexible and supportive of their client’s changing needs and priorities – including knowing how to handle a crisis situation.  Having the right strategy and the flexibility to evolve it ensures a client’s business remains focussed on priorities and the changes on the ground.  Our work with Combermere Abbey is one such example of a business that faced hardship due to lockdowns but came out stronger on the other side.  Let’s hope the same is true for other businesses as we eventually emerge from this pandemic.

If you’re looking for a PR agency or social media agency in Manchester, Liverpool, Cheshire or the North West, please get in contact and let us show you why we are the best PR agency.

A GUIDE TO COMMUNICATING THROUGH THE THIRD LOCKDOWN

For the third time in our lives, and thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, England has been plunged into a third nationwide lockdown. Clear instructions were given by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday that we must “stay home, protect the NHS, save lives”. This means that non-essential retailers are to close, with most hospitality outlets such as pubs, restaurants and hotels being closed already due to pre-existing tier restrictions. Navigating the next few months is without a doubt going to be tricky, but we at The Source are on hand to support you with any questions around communications you might have.

Should You Be Continuing With PR & Social Media Through Lockdown?

We might be biased, but we believe it is crucial to continue communicating with your customers, even during periods of total closure. There are many reasons for doing so, which we will explain further below. But first, we’d direct you to our PR case study for Combermere Abbey, a luxury wedding venue and holiday accommodation. Throughout the first and second lockdown, this client retained their PR and social media activity, understanding the importance of consistent communications. As a result, following the lifting of restrictions last summer, the abbey was inundated with bookings, and enjoyed a busy year, all things considered.

A social media campaign we ran for our client Combermere Abbey got great engagement during lockdown, read our case study to find out more…

The financial implications of a third lockdown mean you might be wondering whether a PR and social media strategy is worth the budget, we believe it is because…

  • Your competitors may still be communicating, and you don’t want to lose customers to them if you go quiet.
  • People will want things to look forward to, you can get them excited about the future and ensure that when restrictions are lifted, they’ll come to you.
  • You might be able to pivot your business and still make revenue during lockdown, for example by offering gift vouchers or a takeaway service.
  • With people being at home a lot more, it’s likely social media usage will rise once more, now is a great time to work on building your following and introducing your brand to a wealth of new people.
  • Now is a great time to gauge interest for later on this year, you can subtly generate interest and then introduce a hard-hitting marketing strategy when restrictions are hopefully lifted in the spring.

The Lion at Malpas voucher

What To Say When There’s Nothing To Say

An issue, of course, of communicating through lockdown is that you might feel as though you have nothing to say. It could be the case that your business is fully closed for the next few months, and up until now your social media has been focused around sales. However, just because you can’t sell to customers, doesn’t mean you should stop talking to them. It can be hard to find the inspiration of what to post for sure, so here’s 5 of our top tips…

  1. Switch up your call to actions, instead of directing people to purchase, suggest they visit your website to read a blog, or follow your social media pages for more updates instead.
  2. Get people excited about the future, by showing them what’s on offer for when restrictions are lifted.
  3. Give your customers updates. If you’re a gym and you’re renovating a certain area, shout about this on your social media – people want something to look forward to.
  4. Introduce confidence offers for people to encourage revenue now, for example if you’re in the holiday business, are there deals and secure booking policies that you can introduce, for people who book now for stays later this year?
  5. Share happy memories from times gone by. If you’re a wedding venue, for example, why not encourage past brides and grooms to post pictures from their happy days. Positivity is what got brands through the last 2 lockdowns, and it’s what will get us through this one too.

It’s worth noting that you shouldn’t post for the sake of it, though, as this could end up doing more harm than good. However, if you can find a relevant message to your brand – then hold on to that.

Other Lockdown Communication Tips

There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for marketing, but there are some tips and tricks you can go by to ensure an efficient communications strategy throughout this third (and hopefully final) lockdown. If you’re now convinced that it’s important to stay in touch with your customers, both old and new, then here’s some of our advice for actioning that…

  • Use different means of communicating, as not every customer will use the same channels. You can typically reach an older demographic via informational newsletters and Facebook or try Instagram or TikTok to communicate to a younger audience.
  • Test what works well by trying different types of content on different platforms, then stick to what works once you’ve determined a winning formula.
  • This is a difficult time for us all but try to focus on the positives if you can. Share happy memories and get your customers looking forward to visiting you or buying from you when restrictions are lifted.
  • Use this time, if you can, do get involved with the local community and help out. Brewdog recently made headlines by offering their empty bars to the NHS to be used as vaccination facilities. Your acts don’t need to be extravagant as this, but it always helps to generate good PR if you can help out in any way you can. Why not raise money for a local charity in a lockdown fundraiser, or donate surplus stock to a foodbank?
  • Pivot your business and operate online if you can, this can be from offering a takeaway service through to creating e-vouchers. Continue to encourage people to support businesses and shop local.

If there is any more advice you’d like, or any questions for our team of experts, please don’t hesitate to tweet us, or send us a private message through our website. We look forward to hearing from you soon and until then, stay safe.

OUR TOP PR CAMPAIGNS OF 2020 (SO FAR)

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

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

Our Top PR Campaigns Of 2020

Beth Ellis: KFC’s Slogan Switch-Up

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

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

PR campaigns 2020 - KFC chicken

Credit: KFC

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

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

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

PR campaigns 2020 Covid-19 book Axel Scheffler

Credit: Axel Scheffler

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

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

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

PR campaigns 2020 Burger King visit McDonalds

Credit: Burger King Twitter

Evie Shaw: “Thank You For Not Riding With Us” By Uber

Evie Shaw, Account Manager, gives kudos to Uber for encouraging people to stay home…

In the fast-paced world of marketing & PR, the main goal for a brand or a business is always to subtly (or not so subtly) push a product or a service.  We’re exposed to numerous campaigns every day; some stand out and some don’t. This year Uber caught my attention and it wasn’t because they were advertising their app or service. Uber was actually thanking people for not riding with them and asking viewers to, “stay at home for everyone who can’t”. The brand created an ad that was relatable to every single person in the country and the world. It shows scenes of family members saying hello through a window, friends sharing a glass of wine on Zoom and families doing home workouts with the dog getting in the way!  Although 2020 has been an incredibly hard year for everyone, Uber touched on the elements of togetherness and solidarity that have come from lockdown and the “stay home” message. Yes, Uber wasn’t advertising themselves, but they were still able to highlight their brand in a positive way and as we come to the end of 2020, the Uber ad is one that I’ll remember for being heart-warming and supportive.  It was a great piece of PR for the brand and a positive reputation-building exercise.

Louis Hill: Captain Tom’s Triumph

Louis Hill, Managing Director of The Source, praises our new national treasure, Captain Tom Moore…

There have been some amazingly creative campaigns throughout 2020, but we should at least mention the government’s efforts in raising public awareness of how to best protect ourselves, the NHS and others from the threats posed by Covid-19. Using simple communications and an easy to recall “hand, face & space” mantra, the public was able to easily understand and take action.  The communications show how a simple message can be easily carried in the media, over the airwaves and on-line – particularly when reinforced by a range of commentators and celebrities, all supported by clear visuals.  Sadly the communication is in sharp contrast to current messaging surrounding the UK’s complex and overtly complicated and divisive Tiered system. We should also pay a special homage to Captain Tom who managed to raise more than £33m for the NHS.  Again, this illustrates how a simple idea that captures the imagination can truly resonate and reach into people’s hearts and minds.  It also shows that even in this digital age, it’s the people, story and characters that matter.  Captain Tom may even have taken the title of the UK’s oldest ‘influencer’ with the likes of GQ putting him on their cover. Very well deserved and not at all bad for a centenarian…

5 SOCIAL MEDIA TIPS TO KEEP YOUR ENGAGEMENT UP

Plunged into the second England-wide lockdown of 2020, it’s imperative that communications are continued on social media. Remaining vocal not only reassures customers, but it also keeps a brand at the forefront of their mind. When a company has something to sell through lockdown, even better. You can read our blog from the first lockdown on the importance of continuing your marketing efforts by clicking here.

Below, our social media experts at The Source have gotten their heads together and put together some helpful social media tips to keep your engagement up. The kind of advice that focuses on quality engagement, as opposed to vanity metrics and big numbers. After all, it’s better to have 10 interactions from users with purchase intent, than 100 people who’ll just scroll on without a second thought.

Five Social Media Tips For Good Engagement

Don’t Sleep On Boosted Posts

Don’t have the money for a paid ad campaign on Facebook right now? Don’t worry. Boosted posts are a great way to get around this, as you can push specific content out to a certain, refined audience (that you build yourself). You won’t find yourself paying out big budgets for this either. If you have something particular to push over a short period of time, such as last-minute room availability in a hotel, or an offer linked to an upcoming holiday (Bonfire Night, for example), then a boosted post may be the ideal cost-effective solution for you. Pre-lockdown, we boosted a Facebook post for one of our clients in the hospitality sector and for just £30, over the course of 7 days the campaign returned over 100 targeted website link clicks, as well as a reach of nearly 7000 people. That’s around a 30p cost per click and 0.04p per eyeball. You can find out more about the ins and out of boosting posts on Facebook’s help page.

Social media tips - boosted posts on Facebook

Promote On Other Platforms

When it comes to boosted posts, the usual go-to is Facebook – but the same advice can be used on Instagram too, which has a boosted post function that works alongside Facebook (due to their ownership of the platform). This means it’s super easy to do. One that’s often not mentioned in social media tips, but one that’s well worth considering… LinkedIn. Their sponsor function is a little trickier to get to grips with, with extremely specific audience filters that can provide a reach anywhere from hundreds to millions of users – but once you do get a hang of the process, it’s a great way for clients to reach the audience that are exactly right for them. Despite it being a little more costly (a daily sponsored post must be £8.00 minimum), LinkedIn was designed with B2B companies in mind, so if your clients are aiming to reach businesses and business owners, it’s well worth the investment.

Hashtag Phrases, Not Words

You can get a lot of engagement out of hashtags on Twitter in particular, but one of the best approaches (due to character limit) is to focus on phrases as opposed to single words. The reason for this, is that if someone is wanting to find out information about marketing, for example, then it’s easy enough for them to simply type the word ‘marketing’ into the search bar. Whether you’ve hashtag-ged in the post or not, as long as you’ve used the right keyword, your tweet will still be filed there. Hashtags that consist of multiple words or slogans usually get better engagement as they’re related to specific search patterns. The best tactic to use is to jump on the hashtags that are trending, wherever they’re relevant to your brand. For example, if you work with a client that produces cakes or baking ingredients, then rather than using characters up to hashtag #cake, why not wait until a Tuesday and start up a conversation around the Great British Bake Off? Use the hashtags #GreatBritishBakeOff or #GBBO which are usually trending in the UK between around 7pm-10pm on a Tuesday evening (when GBBO is on TV, that is). Another tip when it comes to hashtags, is capitalising each word to make it easier to read, for example you should say #ShopLocal instead of #shoplocal.

Tap In To New Industries

Crossing over to new industries is a great way to build your following up and widen your exposure. If your business is in food sauces, for example, try linking your content in to relate to restaurants or cafes, as opposed to keeping it really niche. This way, your business is available to a much bigger audience – but as those restaurant owners might want to purchase your sauces in the future – it’s a relevant audience too. One of the best ways to reach these new sectors is to share insights and relevant content. Get a Feedly stream going that includes trade publications for the industries you’re hoping to target so you can reshare their content, and don’t miss appropriate hashtags too, especially on Twitter and LinkedIn. They can help make sure you’re reaching the right people.

Try New Things

Lastly, another great social media tip to keep up the momentum with your social media is to experiment and try new things. A/B testing is an excellent method to trial different kinds of content, and you’ll likely find a tactic that works really well for your business. Every brand is different so it’s imperative you find what suits yours best. You could also try different platforms to see what works well for you. You might have traditionally always used Facebook and Instagram, but how about LinkedIn to reach a more corporate audience? Or, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, TikTok marketing is very new and upcoming and the reach can be insane. You can check out an example here of a local estate agents who’re using TikTok to showcase the homes they have for sale, and average reach is around 20k views with some videos reaching over 900k impressions.

Social media tips - use TikTok

Credit: Social Films

For more social media advice, along with PR and marketing insights too, be sure to keep a close eye on our blog. Or, to keep up with what we’re doing on social – you can find us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

WHY YOU SHOULD CONSIDER TIKTOK MARKETING FOR YOUR BRAND

TikTok is a social media platform that has grown rapidly. 2 years ago, it’d have been hard to imagine a channel that could compete with the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. But now, in 2020, there’s a new player in the game – and it looks like TikTok is here for the long haul. So much so, that TikTok marketing campaigns are now being launched and the app becomes more profitable by the day.

Today, the news has broken that people in the U.S will be banned from downloading TikTok from Sunday onwards. However, it’s hard to dismiss the marketing potential available on this app – it’s certainly not worth sleeping on.

Initially released in 2016, just over 4 years ago, TikTok’s popularity grew steadily before rocketing in the past year or so. Now, TikTok has approximately 3.7 million active users in the UK who engage with the app for an average of 41 minutes a day. Not only this, but it’s the 7th most active social media app in the world and is set to reach 10 million UK users by 2021. Not bad for a platform founded a few years ago, whilst the other key players have been established for decades.

With such a huge, interactive audience, it would be crazy not to consider TikTok marketing for your brand, below we’re discussing exactly why this is an avenue worth pursuing.

5 Reason To Consider TikTok Marketing

  1. Fantastic Engagement Rates

Reach on TikTok reaches into the millions daily. It only takes a scroll down the FYP (For You Page) to see videos with 1m+ likes and many more views. It’s also estimated that the biggest TikTok influencers in the UK have higher engagement rates on that platform, than on Instagram. Cloutmeter indicates that TikTok users average a healthy 52.1% engagement. Influencer marketing has long been a dynamic option for brands with multi-level marketing campaigns, and there are many reasons as to why you should be considering influencers in your strategies. The idea of TikTok marketing is a relatively new one, but one well worth utilising in its early stages. The reach of content has potential to exceed even traditional media such as newspapers and online articles.

  1. Wide Demographics

Most would discount TikTok marketing, thinking you can only reach a younger demographic. This isn’t actually the case. In the US, over 51% of viewers are 35 or older and 37% have household incomes of $100k or more. There are various different niches to the app, from food to art, travel to fashion. No matter your business, there’s likely an audience that you can reach on TikTok with the right kind of targeting.

  1. Current And Trendy

As with all marketing campaigns, it can be easy to fall guilty to sticking with what you know. However, this often means that activity can become tired and ineffective. This is one of the reasons why it’s important to vary content on paid social ads, and to update your PPC campaigns regularly. It’s also a reason to consider TikTok marketing. If your brand is in need of a boost, then why not ditch the status quo and try something new? If you work with only one or two influencers initially, then the stakes are rather low – your returns could be far greater, making it a risk worth taking.

  1. Avenues For Lots Of Businesses

You might think TikTok marketing is only for fashion and lifestyle brands, but this isn’t the case. One of the reasons that TikTok is so popular amongst a massive demographic, is because it caters to different audiences. Clever algorithms mean that users see the kind of content they’re interested in, and you’d be surprised at how niche these topics can go. Niches spotted by The Source PR team include…

  • Dancing & singing
  • Comedy
  • Fashion
  • Makeup & beauty
  • Reading
  • Art & crafts
  • Farming
  • Dog grooming
  • Cake making
  • Cooking
  • University & learning
  • Marketing
  • Science
  • Cars & transport
  • Cleaning

And so much more. If your company is open to exploring new things, then you can almost certainly give TikTok marketing a go.

  1. Opportunity For Virality

Last but not least, another reason to consider TikTok marketing is that it appears to be easier to achieve virality than on any other social media platform. When a post gets over a million likes on Instagram, it’s rather a big deal. However, on TikTok, content exceeds this figure on the daily. If you create a great piece of marketing with an influencer with a respectable following, then the chances of a great reach are really quite favourable.

If your brand isn’t already utilising a TikTok marketing strategy, perhaps it should be. For advice on influencer marketing, as well as PR, social and digital, you can get in touch with our team here.

5 REASONS TO USE A PPC MARKETING AGENCY POST-LOCKDOWN

As the UK eases out of lockdown, and more businesses open their doors again in the ‘new normal’, many are likely wondering how to get customers to trust it’s safe to visit again, and how to boost sales after months of inactivity. The truth is, there are many ways in which you can rebuild your brand’s trust and also introduce it to new potential consumers. One thing you might consider, is a PPC marketing agency.

PPC is otherwise known as ‘Pay-Per-Click’ and is a paid advertisement where the fee is worked out by the number of times a link has been clicked on. Most commonly, PPC is seen on Google, which merges with YouTube too. PPC usually works well when running alongside paid social, another method worth considering for your marketing strategies.

PPC can be an effective marketing tactic, no matter your budget. It’s also an advertising option applicable to most, if not all businesses. You could be a small company, or large-scale corporate, and PPC would still likely bring about measurable benefits to your business.

5 Benefits Of Using A PPC Marketing Agency

So, why use PPC? And moreover, a PPC marketing agency? A PPC marketing agency is a business that offers PPC advertising services to other businesses. They sometimes also offer other services too, such as paid social, SEO and more. An agency can sometimes be utilised instead of an in-house team, or can work alongside them. Here are 5 reasons why you might consider PPC now your business is back up and running…

  1. You’ll get easy-to-measure results

One of the best things about PPC advertising, is that you can measure and track your results, pretty much from the word ‘go’. If utilising PPC through Google, you can use data studio to record KPIS such as clicks, goal completions and conversions. If you marry your PPC strategy up to your Google Analytics too, you can also check bounce rates and more. You can see what elements of your campaign is working and also see the results right before your eyes – putting more faith in PPC.

  1. You can reach your target audience

PPC is also a popular marketing choice as you can target your audience with algorithms. With keyword research, you can identify what your potential consumers are searching for and then target them with your PPC strategy. This is particularly worth thinking about when 95% of clicks go to the top 4 results on the search page – 3 of which are ads. A PPC marketing agency will know how to effectively locate target keywords and then utilise them within a PPC strategy.

  1. Refining your strategy is easy

As mentioned above, tracking your PPC results is easy. As such, refining your methods are too. If you find out something isn’t working, then you can turn that element of the ad off. You can use trial and error to test keywords and home in on the tactics that are succeeding and driving the most conversions.

  1. Learn from other businesses

A big benefit of working with a PPC marketing agency, is that they will likely have experience in a wide range of fields. If you opt to work with a company that has B2B as well as B2C clients, then you can discover what’s worked well for them, and how that could benefit your own PPC strategy.

  1. Work with experienced professionals

Lastly, one of the main reasons why companies choose to use a PPC marketing agency, is because they are experts in their field and have a wealth of experience. When working with an agency, their bread and butter is the service they offer. Furthermore, there’s usually more than one person working on your account.

PPC marketing agency statistics for 2020

Credit: Econsultancy

Other Marketing Strategies To Use

Marketing works best when you focus on more than one tactic, working towards the same outcome, using different strategies. This is what’s known as a marketing strategy, and it can be the key to a successful business in a post-lockdown world. Whilst there are many benefits of using a PPC marketing agency, you might want to consider an integrated agency that offers the whole hog. Other tactics well worth considering, and all for different reasons, include…

If you’re looking for a PPC marketing agency, that has experience in the fields above too, then why not give us a call? We are a PR, marketing and digital agency with a whole range of skills – we can help with your PPC advertising goals, as well as use our other expertise to help your business thrive in a post-lockdown world. To get in touch, give us a call on 01829 720 789, or contact us online.

THE MARKETING STRATEGIES YOU SHOULD BE USING RIGHT NOW

As the UK is slowly easing out of lockdown, it has never been more important to deploy a number of marketing strategies to help support your business as it begins to resume normalcy. Normality might be a stretch, as life as we know it has changed a lot over the course of the law few months.

Nevertheless, lots of brands have adjusted their procedures accordingly so that they can work and trade in the “new normal” we have found ourselves to be in. Now that provisions have been made, it’s time to start marketing to your pre-existing, and potential new customers – let’s make up for lost time.

The value of marketing should never be understated. Even during UK lockdown where many businesses had to close, there was still a need to communicate and keep your brand alive. The idea was to not let your customers forget about you, and to keep them engaged and excited for when you may be able to resume ‘business as normal’. Now, since non-essential retailers have been able to open, and as the hospitality industry begins to resume next month, your marketing strategies need to change accordingly. No longer is the message: “we are here waiting for your return”, it is “we are back, and this is why you should be spending money with us”.

To get such messages across, you’ll need to use a number of marketing strategies and tactics. One is often not enough. In order to recuperate the losses that lockdown might have brought, you’re going to want to be visible to a large audience of varying demographics and with different interests. As well as remarketing to existing customers, now’s the time to start encouraging new ones in too.

Below, our team have put together some advice on marketing for hospitality, retail and other industries that might have been impacted by the Covid-19 restrictions.

Marketing Strategies For Hospitality, Retail & Other Sectors

As mentioned above, you’re going to want to deploy a number of marketing strategies in order to reach as many (relevant) people as possible. There are a number of ways in which you can do this, and they include…

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is great for retargeting, as chances are your followers like your content, or even better – your brand. As such, utilising social media could be the low hanging fruit for your reopening marketing strategies. Use platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to share business updates, inspirational content, hygiene protocols that will give your customers a safe experience, and anything else that you know is a particular hit with your consumers. To help build following, and to get people excited about your brand again, you might even want to run a social media competition or two. The most important thing is to remain active, you want to be popping up time and time again to your audience so that you’re on their mind ahead of 4th of July, where most businesses will be able to resume trading.

Word Of Mouth Marketing

Word of mouth marketing remains to be the best tactic there is. It’s said that as many as 83% of people would trust a reccomendation, if it came from their friends or family. Though this is largely an organic process, there are some things you can do to help it along. Why not encourage your consumers to leave you a good review on social media, or focus on branding so that even after they leave your establishment, they remember you. This could be a branded gift bag, or even something as small as a branded after-dinner mint if you’re a restaurant. When a customer goes home, and their friend or relative asks about you (perhaps being prompted after seeing your brand), you’re going to want them to say good things. Of course, word of mouth marketing is largely encouraged by the business providing an excellent service or product, so this should be a crucial focus as you reopen, or prepare to reopen on the 4th of July. Remember to share positive testimonials on social media too, as they can help reinforce to stakeholders why your brand is awesome. Reading a good review could be the final push a potential consumer, who’s been sitting on the fence, needs to pay you a visit.

Public Relations (PR)

PR is our bread and butter here at Source PR, but it also fundamentally important to your overall marketing strategy. Public Relations is a blanket term which covers your reputation management, this can be built up in lots of ways. Fundamentally though, it’s important to work on your strategy, possibly by utilising a PR agency, to ensure your brand image is a strong one, and one that rises above key competitors in your industry. A big part of PR is media relations, which involves getting your brand into media titles, both online and in print. This kind of exposure for your brand is great as you adjust to trading again, as it can reach a potential audience pool wider than your social media, for example, might be able to get.

PPC & Paid Social

Another way to reach a wider audience, and one that we would recommend if you’re trying to grow your consumer base is PPC and paid social. This involves using the ad-services on Google, as well as Facebook and Instagram. Paid social ads mean that your content will reach eyeballs that might never have interacted with your brand before (or those that have, that are yet to make a conversion), whereas PPC will put you at the top of a Google results page when potential customers are searching for queries that relate to your business.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Another way to target searchers, and perhaps the most effective, is through Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). When your customers search for queries, such as “DIY stores near me” then if your business name appears near the top of that results page, it’s more likely that they’ll come to visit you. In fact, according to Think With Google, 82% of smartphone users use a search engine when looking for a local business. SEO, the process of improving your website so you rank higher for these terms, is a difficult strategy that takes many years to master, but is a marketing strategy well worth considering. Why? Because you can not only reach a new audience, but also one that’s geo-targeted. Plus, the number of searchers is huge. According to Hubspot, Google processes around 70,000 searches every second.

Which marketing strategies will you be deploying as we move out of lockdown? If you need assistance in social media, PR, PPC, Paid Social, SEO, Influencer Marketing or any other means of communication, then why not send us a message and see how we can support your business?

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.

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