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INFLUENCER MARKETING – LESSONS FROM MARCUS RASHFORD

It’s fantastic to hear that the AQA exam board is looking to use Marcus Rashford as a case study on how best to use social media to instigate social change in society.  The 23 year old “black man from Wythenshawe” is not only a role model for many but a brilliant example of what an influencer can really do.

Marcus’ campaign to raise awareness of the issues associated with child poverty is rightfully textbook stuff, illustrating how best to use influence to raise awareness and deliver tangible changes to behaviour.

Within two weeks of launching, more than a million people had signed the petition calling for the government to extend free school meals through the summer holidays of the Covid-19 pandemic.  This was only the 5th time that a petition to parliament raised more than 1m signatures.

His success as an influencer is down to several reasons.  The first is that he has ‘lived experience’ and can relate to the issues he supports.  As a child, it’s well reported that Marcus Rashford had experienced significant poverty and could personally share the role that free school meals had played in his own life.  This meant he was not ‘preachy’ but honest and relatable based on his genuine experiences.

The footballer also has a significant profile on social media with more than 11.8 million followers on Instagram and a further 5 million on Twitter.  His personality shines through his posts and he remains consistently on message, relating to issues and topics that are important to him.  Marcus’ audience also relate to him on several levels whether football, as a young black man or as a role model in delivering social change.

He used his support well and his work was quickly amplified by cafés, takeaways, shops, and other outlets across the country who supported the campaign by pledging free meals to children during the holidays (in defiance of the government’s decision not to).  The campaign quickly built momentum at all levels of society and helped deliver the changes needed.

Marcus Rashford’s influence has been tangible.  He’s not only the youngest person to top the Sunday Times Giving List after raising more than £20 million in donations from supermarkets for groups tackling child poverty, but he’s also actively changed Government policy.

Last summer, Rashford managed to get the government to make a policy U-turn and agree to give free school meals to vulnerable youngsters during the Covid-19 impacted summer.  Later in October he secured a further £170m winter grant to support low-income families struggling with the continued impact of the pandemic.

Although he claims not to have ‘the education of a politician’ it’s clear his messages are simple and, like all good influencing campaigns or PR strategies, designed to engage with his audiences, encourage people to support the cause or even to take matters into their own hands.

This recognition, along with an MBE in the delayed 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, are just some of the accolades he has achieved in his young life.  Let’s hope that Marcus Rashford’s great work continues to shine on the football field and in the fields of positively influencing equality, diversity and inclusion in today’s society.

Using LinkedIn To PR Your Business

LinkedIn is a platform that we utilise often for our clients, especially those in B2B industries. With an audience of nearly 31.2 million users in the UK, 57% of which are between 25 and 24 years old, it’s hard to deny that there’s an opportunity here to PR your business. But how do you get the message right, and ensure that you’re using LinkedIn in the right way?

Adjusting Your Message For LinkedIn

LinkedIn is not your typical social media platform, it’s a professional networking site and though many argue that it’s becoming “more and more like Facebook” in recent years, the reality is, it hasn’t. From our perspective, LinkedIn is actually set very far apart from other popular social media channels such as Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and Facebook. Due to this, the content you post and the tone in which it is written ought to be considered. We wouldn’t recommend a ‘copy and paste job’ from one platform to another if you want to yield the best results. Instead, your message should be professional, informative and share all your best aspects as a company. Though a friendly and approachable voice is fine, think about how laid back you want to be, and keep in mind that LinkedIn is a professional channel at the end of the day.

What Should You Post On LinkedIn?

Referring back to the point made above, many would argue LinkedIn is becoming more like Facebook due to the content that sometimes goes out on the platform. So, what should you post on LinkedIn? We love seeing stories on business growth, and even personal development. But where to draw the line is perhaps leaving sharing what you had for dinner to other social media platforms. Instead, from experience, the content that tends to perform well includes…

  • Corporate personnel updates such as new hires and internal promotions
  • Positive things happening for your business such as profits and other good news
  • Sharing what you’re up to; if you’ve just attended an industry event – let us know
  • Any charity or CSR work that you or your business is doing
  • Examples of good work from your business, we love a proud and positive post
  • Updates for your stakeholders such as product launches and notable dates

And this is just a starter for ten! In reality, there’s lot’s that can be shared on LinkedIn, so long as the messaging is right. The best way to decide whether content belongs on LinkedIn, is to ask yourself if it will add value? If the answer is yes, then fire away.

Utilising Your Employees As Brand Ambassadors

LinkedIn is a really powerful tool, especially for individuals. Industry influencers such as Steven Bartlett (ex-Social Chain), and James Watt of Brewdog, often use LinkedIn as a way to communicate on behalf of their business. Any company can encourage this, no matter its size or industry. Your employees can act as ambassadors of your brand and share some of your messages so that not everything is being filtered through the company channel. This not only helps diversify content, but it also increases the chances of getting it seen by more people, which is always a good thing. To our clients, we often encourage their employees to get involved with LinkedIn where they can, and this starts with having consistent profiles (team headshots work well) and maintaining a certain level of integrity with the content that’s posted. Having some gentle guidelines isn’t a bad idea, and means that all members of a team are always putting their best selves forward on this platform.

How Often Should You Be Using LinkedIn?

Sometimes, companies get it wrong by posting too often or too little on LinkedIn. Using it as an effective tool to PR your business is achieved by getting the balance just right. Content can be either short-form or long-form (though LinkedIn has a very generous word count – make use of it where appropriate!) but should be posted moderately. We find that 1-2 posts a week work best for our clients; but don’t just post for posting’s sake – always make sure you have something important to say.

Making Use Of LinkedIn’s Content Tools

Another thing worth considering when using LinkedIn to PR your business is the tools and capabilities it has as a platform. The site has the functionality to host blogs that sit on your page, and can be shared on to the feed. Though this isn’t (unfortunately) yet a feature available for business pages, it’s something to consider for individual members of a team. Powered through LinkedIn Pulse, blogs are a great way to craft long-form content that can be easily accessed on the app or on desktop. Some might think that blogging is dead, but we have to disagree. Despite obvious SEO benefits when writing content for your own site, even blogging on LinkedIn has its benefits. Not only does this give you a chance to talk at length about your thoughts and opinions, but every month, an average of 409 million people view 20 million blog posts and 77% of people say they read them – numbers don’t lie!

Strike The Right Balance Between Sales & Exposure

It was found by Hubspot, that LinkedIn is around 277% more effective at generating leads than Facebook and Twitter – so don’t discount it as a marketing and sales tool. For B2B businesses in particular, there’s a big audience at your disposal. Thinking back to blogs and the power they can have, it was found that 60% of people are inspired to seek out a product after reading about it online. Reach those audiences with the right messages and you’ll not only grow your brand, but you may even pick up more business in the process. You can’t go wrong with that! We often talk about how PR isn’t about generating sales, and that social media activity should not all be about ROI. However, when it comes to LinkedIn, we are aware of its capabilities as a sales vessel, and do consider this in our strategies. Striking the correct balance is a good way to go. Keep most of your content informational to help build your brand’s exposure, but then also take advantage of the opportunity every now and again to help market a new product, or your services.

We use LinkedIn every day for our clients, and it’s an area we’re well versed in here at Source PR. If you’re looking for social media assistance for your brand, then get in touch with our friendly team.

A Summer Of Sport & PR Disasters

It’s been a fantastic summer of sport with the Olympics, Euros and a Lions series in South Africa, let alone all the smaller sporting occasions that take place every week across the country.  All have been achieved despite the global restrictions and regulations in place to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

It’s been an amazing feat of organisation and also a welcome opportunity for brands to leverage sponsorships and get their products in front of a pent-up audience looking to spend their cash that’s been accumulated in lockdown.

However, it seems that for many, the promise of PR gold did not quite materialise and in many cases, PR disasters were never far from the surface.

The Coca Cola x UEFA Blunder

Let’s start with Coca Cola multi-million pound sponsorship of the UEFA European Championship.  On one hand, this could have been a fantastic opportunity to promote the brand to a young, vibrant and global audience. However, it ended up being a complete disaster when the tournament’s leading star Cristiano Ronaldo moved two promotional bottles away from the cameras at Portugal’s pre-match press conference, urging viewers to drink water instead.  The action led to Coca Cola’s share price dropping by 1.6 per cent and $4bn being knocked off the company’s share price.  Though rectified in future conferences, the debacle made headlines all over the world, and it’s fair to say that in this instance – the publicity isn’t exactly what Coca Cola were looking for.

Toyota Throws Its Money Down The Drain

When it comes to the Olympics, title sponsor Toyota won gold when it comes to PR disasters after the company decided not to air any of its advertisements that associated the brand with the games, for fear of a backlash by concerned customers who did not want the games to go ahead due to the fear of spreading Covid.

Not only did Toyota pull its adverts, but the sponsor was also banned from the opening ceremony and opted not to attend the games in any way. This all comes despite Toyota becoming the first car company to ever sign up as a worldwide Olympic sponsor in 2015 in, an eight-year deal reportedly worth nearly $1bn.

Toyota Chief Communications Officer Jun Nagata said: “There are many issues with these Games that are proving difficult to be understood.”  It seems a bit late in the day for such comments.

Vodafone Falls Short Of Positive PR

Finally, as a rugby fan, I should also mention the Lions rugby series in South Africa.  An occasion that only comes up every 4 years and every 12 years in South Africa.  The on field scraps and poor criticisms of the referees have left a bitter feeling towards the event with many feeling that the occasion is heading towards its sell by date.

Although title sponsor Vodafone did well in engaging with fans at home, for its estimated £6.5m sponsorship fee, the company was unable to capitalise on an event that is typically enjoyed by thousands of travelling fans.  The games had to take place behind closed doors and the opportunities brands had to associate themselves with positive PR projects in the host country were dramatically reduced (despite an 1800% increase in the sponsorship cost they incurred when compared to their initial sponsorship in 1997).

In previous years, we’ve seen support in townships and deprived areas of the country which allowed for the brand to build its image and illustrate its CSR credentials.  This time around, players were sadly required to lock themselves in isolation bubbles in some of the country’s finest hotels.

The Risk & Reward Of Big Brand Sponsorships

So what’s the answer?  For me, there seems a growing disconnect between the cost / benefit to supporting such occasions.  There’s also a growing potential for a PR disaster if a star snubs your product or the public turn against the event that you have spent millions of pounds supporting and associating yourself with.

From a public relations perspective, winning hearts and minds is most important. So, before entering the agreements, consider the ‘what ifs’ and have plans in place to mitigate the issues or crisis communication challenges should they emerge.

The real opportunity comes from leveraging the sponsorship through campaigns and initiatives within the target communities.  Of all the marketing mediums, PR is best placed to build relationships with consumers and to help brands share their values through engaging and meaningful communications.

So for a marketing gold medal, talk to us and let us devise a PR campaign that is effective and engaging – rather than spending thousands on product placement or relatively worthless brand associations.

Is There More To Social Media Marketing Than Going ‘Viral’?

Often, the brief to social media managers is “make me go viral”. For businesses, it certainly does seem attractive, tweets with thousands of likes or TikTok videos hitting a million views. Going viral has its perks of course, but there is so much more to social media than this. Today, we wanted to discuss the importance of a steady social media strategy and why interactions aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

Why Virality Might Not Be ‘All That’

For many, the holy grail for Twitter users is virality. Did you know the most engaged with tweet ever was in January 2019, and was by Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa who tweeted offering £725,000 to 100 people who shared the tweet? It racked up 4.68 million retweets. The tweet was made to celebrate his fashion website Zozotown making 10bn yen over the Christmas and New Year period. However, for most this was simply an afterthought. The reason for engaging, for the most part, was to be in with a chance of winning that very attractive prize. Herein lies the issue with social media virality, and why it may be hollower than it seems.

Many brands want virality, but for what reason? In most cases, it can be seen as no more than a vanity metric. Competitions, for example, can be a great way of raising followers for a business, but unless your prize is focused towards your target audience, the likelihood is that most of those interactions will slowly begin to drop off. Oftentimes, the tweets that go viral aren’t strictly related to a brand and therefore are generating the wrong kind of engagement, or garner superficial interactions that actually will end up having very little impact on the brand, once you overlook the numbers.

For example, it’s become a growing trend for fashion retailers to post about memes, TV shows, even food. These posts tend to get plenty of shares, likes, tags, comments and so on. However, they often don’t relate to the brand itself and therefore the engagements are with the content itself, not the business who posted it. The numbers are great, but they tend not to be indicative of brand support, but rather how many people actually were interested in the content posted. If that content does not support your brand in any way, then is there anything to be gained from this?

For us, it’ll always be engagement with intent > interactions.

Are Interactions All They’re Cracked Up To Be?

Likes, shares, comments etc. are always reported on, but how important are they?

These interactions show that a user has not only just glanced at your content, but paused to read it, engage with it, and perhaps even share it with others.

But does the absence of them mean your social media content has not been successful? No.

Plenty of interested stakeholders can still engage with your tweet, without clicking that ‘like’ button. There is often more value in link clicks from genuinely interested parties and general exposure of your brand, than there is in getting a tweet with 100 meaningless likes. This is something we bear in mind when completing social media audits and strategies – we focus on content that appeals to the right demographic, and that helps build a better brand with an engaged audience.

To summarise, interactions are great, but there’s no need for concern should they not be there either, so long as you’re building a great social media profile and communicating to the right people.

The Importance Of Consistent Communications

With 45 million active social media users in the UK alone, having an airtight strategy is important. We believe it’s time to focus on meaningful interactions as opposed to the aim of going viral, as the latter is only likely to return short term success. There is far more value in an ongoing strategy that consistently delivers.

We recently published a case study on our work with client Combermere Abbey. Through consistent communications, even throughout the pandemic whilst the venue was closed, the business was able to reap some pretty impressive results upon reopening. This is thanks in no small part to an ongoing strategy that focused on consistent brand messaging, as opposed to chasing short-term wins.

Going ‘viral’ is certainly exciting, and we don’t complain when it happens. But we believe that consistently good performing social media content, that doesn’t focus on individual metrics, is important because:

  • It helps to build a reputable and well-known brand
  • It establishes your tone of voice and market position
  • It subtly markets to your consumers, time after time
  • It focuses on relevant content that meets your goals, be it exposure or conversions
  • It produces content that people engage with beyond a simple ‘like’
  • It puts you ahead of your competitors that are chasing viral posts without substance

We love a good social media result in any form, but we think there’s a lot of underrated beauty in an ongoing strategy that ticks over and consistently does favours for your brand and your business.

To find out more about The Source and how we utilise social media channels for our clients, please get in touch. We’re based in Cheshire but operate nationwide.

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DOING A SOCIAL MEDIA AUDIT

There’s been an exponential rise in businesses using social media platforms to excite, entice and engage with audiences as more and more consumers turn to social media during the recent lockdowns.  To maximise performance and ensure you are on brand and have a strong message, now is the right time for companies to undertake a social media audit.

Research suggests that just under half of consumers (43%) said they were spending longer on social media because of the outbreak, and 19% say they’ll carry on spending longer on social media once restrictions lift. There has never been a better time to audit your social media than now.

The Basics Of A Social Media Audit

The good news is that a social media audit for businesses is not as painful as it sounds when left in the hands of professionals.  It’s a very worthwhile exercise to ensure brands are making the most of their opportunities, reflecting best practice and also keeping pace with the evolving social media trends and algorithms.

The basic role of an audit of all social media accounts is to help you better understand what’s happening on each network and to see at a glance the following key metrics:

  • What’s working and what’s not
  • Whether impostor accounts are stealing your followers
  • Which profiles you need to revive, repurpose, or shut down
  • New opportunities to grow and engage your audience
  • Are you being consistent and considered with your messaging

At Source PR, we’re often asked to complete company social media audits as it’s critical to understand the key elements mentioned above before embarking on developing an effective social media strategy.  To constructively move forward with an effective social media strategy it’s important to first know where you are before you determine where you want to go.

What Does A Social Media Audit Look Like?

Visibility

When undertaking a social media audit, first look at what @handles are you using, over what platforms and who has ownership or control.  Is there brand consistency across the platforms, what do the biogs say and where are you directing any subsequent web visitors?  Also, look at the imagery you’re using and check that the pages are verified to prevent imposters.

Needs & Wants

From this point you can determine what platforms and handles a business needs / wants as well as determine what’s working and what’s not.  Take the time to look at what are the most engaging posts, who is engaging with you and on what platforms as well as which networks your target audience is most active on.

Competitor Analysis

We would also recommend that you compare your approach and outlook to the competition, evaluating how you compare to them and whether you are missing any opportunities to engage with audiences or simply getting the best out of the platforms. At Source PR, we have social media tools that can track and monitor in-depth competitor activity as well as physically doing the legwork ourselves.

Identify KPIs

When auditing you social media platforms remember to stay focused on the key performance indicators (KPIs) that you want to measure.  Some of the more popular measurements can be increases in followers, link clicks, profile visits, likes / comments and other engagements.

Social Media Audit Services

Undertaking an effective social media audit for business helps determine where you are before you develop the strategy and pathway on where you want to go.  Get in touch with our team if you’re looking for support with your social media audit.  Once this is done, the real fun can begin with the development of an effective and fun social media strategy to better excite, engage and enthuse your audiences.  Watch this space and follow our social media accounts for future updates where we will share some of our social media success strategies.

FINDING WORK EXPERIENCE THAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU

Written by our PR intern and university student Bridie Buckingham

Work experience is something we’ve all heard of. Whether at high school or university level, every teacher I’ve ever had has stressed the importance of ascertaining some sort of experience before I graduate.

Being able to detail relevant work experience on your CV will help you stand out when applying for graduate jobs. It’s a real selling point to employers if you can show that you have experience in your field or have been able to hold down a steady job whilst studying.

Any sort of experience is better than none and luckily, there’s an abundance of ways to step on the ladder.

What Kinds Of Work Experience Is There?

Internships

For those wanting to take their first steps into the working world, an internship is a great way to start.

Internships are usually the first port of call when it comes to giving your CV an emphatic boost and can be very helpful in helping you navigate your chosen field. As well as this, internships can also be invaluable in deciding whether your chosen profession really is the career path for you.

Internships are also often very flexible in terms of duration with some lasting only a few days and others a whole year. What is perhaps worth considering is that in all cases, is that it’s best to start early, as the competition can be tough.

Summer/Part-Time Jobs

Perhaps one of the best things about university is the way in which you can introduce yourself to the working world at a leisurely pace.

Internships are not for everyone, however, there is something incredibly rewarding about getting a job to help with finances and experience.

If you don’t wish to commit to an internship, then what about a part time job for work experience?

Hospitality work is obviously the go-to industry in many instances, but anything goes. It all counts as experience and it looks far better on your CV than blank space. You can even squeeze these jobs into the summer holiday if working during semester time is too stressful for you.

Societies

Often overlooked, being part of a society can work wonders for your career prospects and give you some great work experience. It can offer you the opportunity to test your skills of organisation, delegation, events creation, finance management and more importantly, interpersonal relationship building.

You don’t even need to be high up in the ranks.

Simply taking up a role within a society shows a willingness to work together with others. It will hone your ability to work towards a common goal and help you network with others you might not otherwise have the chance to interact with on campus.

Volunteering

A combination of both the easiest and hardest thing to do, volunteering can provide many benefits to a future career (with the added feel-good bonus that comes from helping others).

It can be tricky getting a foot in the door initially – however it is worth the time and effort.

At the same time, volunteering can often be a far more exciting option than a paid placement – sometimes even leading to travel across the globe.

Put simply, volunteering your time can be an incredibly rewarding work experience in terms of personal and professional growth.

However, I know this isn’t for everyone as it wasn’t for me either. With financial situations as they are it can sometimes be hard to justify an unpaid placement over a steady income.

At the end of the day, experience is experience so don’t feel pressured to do the one that ‘looks better’ because any path you take you’ll be one step closer to that dream graduate job.

Whatever you decide, the bottom line is this: all forms of work experience are beneficial. I really valued my work experience, I met some great people and got to experience first-hand just what it was like to work in the PR industry.

In fact, I loved it so much that I decided to stay on and here I am 18 months later.

HOW POETRY CAN BE USED IN COMMUNICATIONS

This article first appeared in Creative Moment and was written by Janet Hare.

Poetry has been around for thousands of years and has given the UK alone heaps of famous and infamous poets such as Chaucer, Keats, Wordsworth, Dylan Thomas, Robbie Burns, Sylvia Plath and many, many more.

Typically though it is known as a niche market, with long-form novels selling far more copies than even the most popular poet. Although Nielsen BookScan did report a 12% increase in poetry book sales in its 2018 report.

Most people see poetry as something they had to learn at school and were pleased to leave behind as they reached adulthood.

And it’s definitely not known as the dominant written form in our lives today. That accolade probably belongs to text speak, alas.

So, if that is the case, then why is poetry being used so much these days in marketing and communications?

Many big UK brands and their ad agencies have taken to using poetry in their broadcast advertising over the last 12 months or so. Nationwide and Co-op are two such companies., as well as EE and OVO.

Starting in 2016, Nationwide ran a series of ads along the theme of ‘voices’ which were designed to highlight the life and diversity of British society. The campaign was brought to life by 31 spoken word poets who lived and worked across the UK. They were given broad themes to work from and wrote original poetry under the subjects such as home, family, friendship.

The campaign apparently helped the building society grow its share of switched accounts to 20%.

It was during that year that I first saw and heard Matt Abbott’s ‘This place is ours’, his poem for Nationwide on what home meant to him. It totally held me captive whilst he talked about his Mum’s roast dinner and dressing gowns being worn all day in his Yorkshire tones. This was real life. This spoke to me.

The Voices campaign has been so successful for Nationwide that it’s still running now. In 2020 it even featured poems about the Covid pandemic from the likes of Matt Abbott and his partner Maria Ferguson, titled ‘A message to ourselves/myself in 6 months’ time.’ The Covid-time ads focussed on the theme of how things would be different in the future.

Nationwide The Voices Campaign

Image credit: The Drum

Since then, and particularly in the last 12 months, I have seen numerous other companies take to poems to express themselves in TV ads, such as the Co-op with its ‘Power of hope’ campaign which used a poem based on spoken word artist Sarah Adedeji, ‘All the people giving double’, about people’s struggles and double efforts during Covid. Even Coca-Cola has got in on the act using spoken word artist George the Poet in its TV ad marking the cultural significance of the pandemic.

So why? Why is poetry suddenly being used to communicate messages?

The answer seems simple. Empathy.

Advertisers and communicators recognise that people have turned introspective during the pandemic, spending more time contemplating. Contemplating what is important in life. And spending more time at home has given people more time to be aware of their feelings. They’ve had time to stop and think. Advertisers have recognised this. They have read the room and realised that empathy is where it’s at with good communication right now.

And it’s not only advertisers that have become aware of this. President Biden’s inauguration in the US didn’t just feature pomp and ceremony and politicians giving speeches and elbow bumps. It featured a young, black, female poet, Amanda Gorman delivering ‘The hill we climb’ poem she wrote for the occasion.

In the hours following the ceremony, social media erupted with astonishment at how powerful the poem was and how amazing Amanda, the US youth poet laureate, was in her delivery. The positive media coverage continued the next day and beyond. The impact it made was incredible.

Why did the Biden administration decide to use poetry for this world-stage event? Because they read the room and knew with all the turbulent times the country had seen, what they needed to do now to appeal to the population was show what hadn’t been shown before. Empathy.

I fully expect that Amanda Gorman’s performance will only further propel the use of poetry in communication and as an English Literature grad, that’s something that I look forward to very much.

HOW HAS THE WAY WE CONSUME NEWS CHANGED?

There are no two ways about it: the way that we get our news has changed over recent years. Accelerated even more so by the pandemic. More than once last year, simply popping out for a paper was not allowed, forcing more of us to consume content online than ever before. At The Source, we are advocates of the #BuyAPaper campaign and are not ignorant of the value of regional print coverage. It’s still an incredibly crucial source of local news. However, it is also important to recognise that the way we get our information is not the same as it was 20, 10 or even 5 years ago. But what does this mean for PR?

Breaking News: We Don’t Always Get Our News From The News

Social media has become really important in the last decade, now, not only is it a resource for connecting with friends, but it’s also a place for learning, venting, creating and most importantly to us – consuming news.

Around 45% of people say they get their news from social media, which is probably much higher than many would have thought when you consider various the demographics of the UK and the number of ways that you can actually get news such as radio, TV, newspapers and online websites.

Image credit: Ofcom

Apparently, gone are the days where you’d pick up a paper or switch on the 10pm news to find out what’s happening in the world. Thanks to smartphones and social media, we now have everything we could ever need to know at our fingertips. This has been highlighted even more so throughout the Coronavirus pandemic.

Recently, weekly reports from Ofcom have been analysing how the UK population has been getting its news through the Coronavirus crisis, unsurprisingly around 83% use traditional media to find out new information, but only 65% say it’s their most important news source.

We thought we’d put all this information to the test and find out in real-time how people are getting their news in 2021. The results show that whilst traditional media outlets are still valuable, social media is fundamental to most as a way of keeping up to date with current affairs and local news.

Of over 100 respondents, a staggering 76.7% said that without question, social media was their primary source of news and updates.

News Consumption Survey 2021

What Does This Media Shift Mean For PR?

When you run a PR agency, you need to be tuned in to the media landscape and how it changes. Ultimately as PRs our job is to improve the reputation of our clients, and to generate exposure for them on the platforms where this is most worthwhile.

This means that we need to be leveraging the most appropriate platforms for our clients at all times and understand that the way in which news is consumed can – and does – change.

Social media is incredibly important, yet sometimes it can be overlooked in the face of generating tangible PR coverage. It’s great to say you got a client’s community story in the local paper, or a backlink in the national of course, and we’re not saying that this coverage isn’t important. But we also know it’s important to look beyond the traditional methods of PR. Content should be shared in all the relevant spaces, and that includes social media now more than ever. After all, the numbers don’t lie. When your brand has a story to tell, you should be broadcasting it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, maybe even TikTok, as well as with local and national newspapers.

Will the way we consume news change again in the future? We’re pretty much counting on it. And will we be prepared for it? You can definitely count on us for that.

To find out more about how we build and protect reputations through various PR and marketing methods (that leverage the most up-to-date news sources) then why not get in touch with our team? We’re always up for a chat about what we can do for your business. Reach out via our website now or connect with us on Twitter or LinkedIn.

WHAT WE’VE LEARNED ABOUT PR FOR HISTORIC HOUSES

Having a rural PR division, we have represented various countryside historic houses over the years, with one of the best examples of our work coming from current client Combermere Abbey, which is a 12th-century abbey based on the Cheshire/Shropshire border. Other examples of venues that we’ve worked with include the Cholmondeley Estate, Adlington Hall and the Wiston Estate in Sussex. Handling PR for historic houses is a tricky aspect of marketing to navigate, as there are often a lot of moving parts as well as many things to learn; but with such a wealth of experience in this field, we’ve learned a thing or two that we’re going to share with you today.

PR For Historic Houses: Our Lessons Learned

There are so many things we’ve learned over the years at The Source from the various clients we’ve worked with, we cover both B2B and B2C industries – as well as having specialities in rural PR and marketing; this means that the team have adept knowledge of the multiple sectors in which we’ve worked. Historic houses PR is one good example, we’ve worked with multiple venues and though each is different, there are universal lessons to be learned from all.

  1. You have to become a total expert

When you work with a historic house, you have to be prepared to learn a LOT. They are called historic houses for a reason – because they have a wealth of history. We put our all into learning everything there is to know about our clients and their backgrounds – no matter how many centuries that may span over. We’d definitely recommend spending time with your client, in person if you can, learning all there is to know. One of the first things you should be doing is taking a guided tour of the venue if that’s an option for you.

  1. Be prepared for unforeseen circumstances

You should have contingency plans in place for all clients, but for historic houses in particular. The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted so many businesses and has not spared the tourism industry. If you’re handling PR for historic houses, there’s a good chance you’ll be promoting tours, open days, overnight stays, perhaps even weddings. All of these had to cease at one point over the last year due to Coronavirus. We’d recommend being well prepared for any eventuality like this and keep an eye on what support there is too. Luckily in 2021, we have had clients who were the recipient of the Culture Recovery Fund, outlined by the Government DCMS and was supported by The National Lottery.

  1. You’ll manage mini sectors all within one business

Most historic houses, especially those that are privately owned, will have multiple strands of their business to generate revenue. For example, open days, tours and overnight stays are commonplace amongst the clients that we have represented. Sometimes even weddings. This means that you’ll be promoting multiple different offerings under one entity, you’ll need to practice specific PR skills, such as travel, local, wedding and more, all of which do differ. The more you’ll work on the accounts, the more you’ll learn and that’s what makes this kind of PR so rewarding.

  1. Get ready to engage with multiple organisations

One of the best things about managing communications for historic houses is that you’ll find there’s a lot of localised support. We work closely with local organisations such as Historic Houses, Marketing Cheshire, VistEngland and Visit Shropshire to further promote our clients to lovers of local attractions and heritage. These groups can be instrumental in your strategy, as you know their audiences are going to be interested in the venues you’re marketing.

  1. You’ll think you know everything… But you never fully will

In our first point, we said that you need to be prepared to become a total expert around the historic houses that you work with, and that’s true, but also expect to never stop learning. When your client has centuries of history, there are always more stones to be overturned, and that’s why we love working with venues like this so much. In PR, they say you never stop learning, and it’s safe to say that we can certainly relate.

  1. There’s so much to love

At Source PR, we become an extension of your team, whether that’s working with marketing, sales or even business owners. We become so passionate about the businesses we work for, and we’ve found that to be our experience when working with historic houses in particular. When you manage PR for historic houses, you learn so much about them, and you play an important part in bringing the magic of them alive for many people. We live and breathe our clients, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Support With PR For Historic Houses

If you’re a historic house owner or manager in the UK in need of PR, social media, digital or marketing support, then please do get in touch. We’d love to show you what we can do. You can speak to our team via the contact form on our website, or by calling 01829 720 789. Or you can find out more about our most recent PR work for historic houses by reading the case studies on our site.

HOW TO BE AHEAD OF YOUR COMPETITION BY 12TH APRIL

If the Government roadmap goes ahead as planned, then 12th April is set to be an important date for the hospitality industry. Not only can self-catering accommodation open once more, but also outdoor attractions can reopen, as can gyms, leisure centres and beer gardens. This means that between now and then, it needs to be all-hands-on-deck for those businesses to ensure that come 12th April, you’re ahead of your competition and ready to welcome your customers back with open arms once more. Is your business ready for the lifting of lockdown?

To be on the front foot amongst your competitors now, you need to be looking at a PR, social media and marketing strategy – don’t wait until April to start communicating. If you were really on the ball, you may have already been communicating through lockdowns, as we can’t stress enough the importance of keeping in touch with your consumers, even when you’re not open for business.

If you’ve not started yet, then now is the time to. Below we’re laying out some tips and advice for how to be ahead of your competition by 12th April – especially if you’re in the hospitality industry – with the help of a little PR magic.

Beating Your Competition With Communications

Plenty of businesses have been communicating with their customers throughout lockdown, but not all have. Those that have continued to retain a PR strategy, have already started seeing the benefits of it as restrictions ease. Our client Combermere Abbey, for example, in the last lockdown enjoyed almost 100 bookings in the first few weeks after reopening them; and they’re set to enjoy similar successes this time around too. Don’t wait to start talking to your consumers, start now. This is what we’d advise.

Spend time on CSR

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is often wrongly overlooked as a PR exercise. Brand reputation is so important, and you want to be getting your name out there for all of the right reasons. You might not be able to trade at the moment, but what’s stopping you from supporting your local community or charities? We actively encourage our clients to get involved with local schools, care homes and other organisations as much as they can, not only does this open them up to new audiences and reinforces their brand reputation; but it also heightens the chance of some great regional media coverage too.

Become a regular on social

If you’ve not already been utilising a social media strategy, then now is the time to start. We’d recommend communicating with your customers regularly every week – talk about what’s coming up, what they can expect when they return and what you’ve been up to during lockdown. Everybody wants something to look forward to at the moment, and you have the potential to capitalise on that. For hospitality businesses, we’d recommend focusing on Facebook, Instagram – and perhaps Twitter and LinkedIn. Don’t forget about TikTok too – a relatively new platform but one that can do your business many favours if you get it right.

Jump on every press opportunity

Press opportunities are coming thick and fast at the moment, in only the last few weeks we’ve landed client coverage on big publications such as The Telegraph and the Daily Mail to name just a couple. Look out for where you can insert your business into the media and generate some extra exposure, either locally or nationally, to help put yourself in front of your competitors come April 12th. To speak to the team about how to jump on press opportunities like this and get your business some great media coverage, get in touch with us via our website.

Start direct communications now

If your customers are signed up for an email database… Then they’ll want to hear from you! Start putting together a plan for newsletters, but don’t overdo it either. It’s good to give your consumers an update, but make sure you’re tying it into something important, for example, you might have opened reservations or given the go-ahead to open from 12th April. Keep your communications consistent but relevant, and always on-brand.

Work on your website

Finally, don’t waste this period of closure – use it to put your business in a great position for when you can reopen. We recently wrote about how to navigate through the third lockdown and part of this included working on your website, optimising content, updating meta descriptions, page titles and so on. Also, put together an SEO blog strategy that focuses on relevant long-tail keywords, as well as including content that your customers will want to read about. With the right strategies in place, the work you do now may well be ranking where you want it to be by mid-April.

Ready, Set, Go…

If you really want to get competitive and have a great communications plan in place to ensure a successful spring and summer, then why not get in touch with our team of experts? We have a wealth of experience in hospitality PR, and would love to chat about what we can do for your business? Get in touch now, or why not check out the case studies on our website?

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