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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?

PR & MARKETING STRATEGY – IS YOUR BUSINESS READY FOR LIFE AFTER LOCKDOWN?

As we approach the end of Lockdown Mark III, the government believes that the UK economy will bounce back like a ‘coiled spring’. The question is, are you ready for a return to normality, what are you doing to prepare yourselves and have you got their marketing strategy in place to maximise opportunities? If not, now is the time to take action before it’s too late.

The Bank of England suggests that consumer spending is set to surge with that the British public having saved as much as £250 billion while being locked up. Restaurants, pubs and bars are the likely immediate benefactors as well as UK holiday providers, but all these industries have suppliers and employ people who, who when earning again, will look to treat themselves after months of curtailment.

We have talked earlier about the importance of maintaining a marketing presence during lockdown and have an excellent case study of Combermere Abbey, one of the region’s leading wedding venues and accommodation providers, on how they managed it so well. The case study shows how the business was forced to close due to the Covid restrictions but rather than twiddle thumbs, took proactive measures so they were well placed to take advantage when the lockdown was lifted.

Businesses preparing for the lifting of what is believed to be the ‘last lockdown’ should also consider how the economy has been permanently altered since March 2020. Consumer spending habits, lifestyles and trends have been shifted online, people have adopted new hobbies and outlooks, and it is hard to see how the high street can bounce back without innovation or embracing more digital opportunities.

It is not just the hospitality and retail industries that is expected to bounce back, but house builders and construction industries are also likely to benefit as people look to either move home or make renovations following months of being in lockdown. A report from our client Miller Homes suggests that lifestyles have been changed by the pandemic with more home working or a demand for more outdoor space. These new ways of living and working present clear marketing opportunities.

The use of social media has also grown significantly as users feel that they have a safe space to interact, be entertained, distract themselves, and find inspiration without any risk of contagion. July 2020 saw a rise of 10.5% in social media usage, compared with July 2019, according to a GlobalWebIndex survey. Some 46% of women and 41% of men said they’ve spent more time on social media during the pandemic, making it the second-most popular digital activity.

Businesses should alter their marketing approach to reflect this and have a marketing and social media strategy in place that maximises the opportunities presented. It’s likely that the space will remain competitive and it will be the brands that have relationships with their customers and who are able to excite, entice and engage that will come out strongest.

If you’re looking for a PR or marketing strategy, the team would be delighted to have a chat to understand where you are, what the vision is and to help pull plans together so you can get there. The end of the ‘last lockdown’ is fast approaching, make sure you are ready like a ‘coiled spring’ to take your opportunities.

PR ADVICE – CAN DEMOCRACY SURVIVE WITHOUT INDEPENDENT MEDIA?

Anyone offering PR advice to Donald Trump must have earned their corn attempting to manage his messages or even keep control of his diverging news agenda. The difficulty of offering PR advice to Donald was that, on average, the Whitehouse Director of Communications lasted just 150 days, barely enough time to effectively influence the strategy, direction or messages let alone establish working relationships with the media.

The Trump Effect On The Changing Media Landscape

During the latest presidency we have also seen a further dramatic shift in the media landscape with the emergence of ‘fake news’, direct communications through social media platforms such as twitter and a growing lack of trust in the media. This is a problem as a free and independent ‘Fourth Estate’, is supposed to hold power to account, an important element in democracy and debate.

The changing landscape has resulted in unprecedented scenes with the need for 20,000 troops to gather in the US Capitol to oversee the safe transfer of power in ‘The land of the free’. This issue has risen largely due to maverick communications and loss of control. Sadly, the storming of the Capitol buildings could therefore be a sign of things to come.

This ability to bypass an independent and regulated media has significant repercussions, particularly if the presiding narrative is that they are trying to steal the election, to not trust the media or the whole establishment. In situations like this where do you turn and who can you trust?

Would Trump Have Fared Better With Good PR Advice?

The need to be held accountable or to win an honest argument no longer applies, as communicating directly through social platforms is proven to be more effective. In Trump’s case he had more than 88 million followers on Twitter – considerably more than the readership of all the major US news outlets combined.

The net result however is illustrated by a poll in December that shows that 40% of Americans did not believe that the election was fair. This is further compounded as nearly 75% of those who voted Republican feel the election was stolen. This is despite the fact the mainstream media reported that 60 post-election lawsuits in multiple states all found that there was no fraud and that the result was fair. Logical debate is simply stifled by volumes of unproven and often unprovable claims.

It’s clear that the trust has gone and that the media are no longer seen as fair and independent reporters of the truth. The ‘lies and denies’ have gained traction and land on fertile ground particularly when communicating to an audience of followers who have built relationships with you online and who no doubt already replicate and share the same views.

Rebuilding Trust In A Post-Trump-Power World

The media also need to play their own role in rebuilding trust. There is a negative spiral occurring where media companies are not reacting to the changing landscape quickly enough or attracting the investment needed to support quality reporting. There is still a legacy of political influence or grudge bearing which needs to be overcome as it leads to poor journalism and subsequent declining influence / sales and so the cycle continues.

Social media platforms started introduced ‘fact checking’ tabs in Spring 2020 to try and manage the number of misleading claims sprouting on the platforms, but when the claims come from an historically credible source such as the President of the United States then the problems are clear. Again it comes down to who to trust – who do you believe? The large tech firms determining what’s accurate or not, the President of the US, commentators or the media?

The Wider Impact On The World

When examining the issue in context of the coronavirus pandemic the problem continues. For example, currently opinion on the vaccine is divided – with some keen to take and roll out while others believe that it’s all part of a wider conspiracy as a result of information they have listened to online (ranging from Bill Gates to 5G conspiracies). The net result however is that nearly two thirds of Americans suggest that they won’t take the vaccine right away, presenting a significant health risk to the country and an even slower recovery and return to normal.

The answer however is not to ban certain users as tech giants themselves are not regulated enough to determine who has the right to opinions. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that anyone making comments on social media platforms should be held accountable but the right to the first amendment must be paramount. That does not negate the option to prosecute racist, homophobic or inflammatory comments or to give temporary or increasingly long bans if users continue flout the rules / laws.

By determining who uses their platforms sets a precedent that may come back to bite social media companies. What happens when they are pressured to ban individuals due to one off political or cultural views or even non-related actions – simply because they do not conform to the new normal. It would be a victory for the woke but a problem for debate and therefore ultimately democracy.

The consequences could ultimately put into doubt the future of an open and free internet. How can a handful of tech bosses make decisions on who does and doesn’t have a voice on the internet? If they do then surely they should themselves be open to more scrutiny?

Where does it all stop? The ‘wokeball’ effect is already taking place with other platforms being pressured into taking similar action with facebook, YouTube and Snapchat also banning Trump. What about holocaust or climate change deniers, devout religious groups, more extreme political parties or even celebrities pushing their own agendas…?

Is Senior Counsel And PR Advice The Answer?

So, what’s the answer? Debating and arguing over differing opinions are as old as humanity itself and are instrumental in a real democracy. Debate needs to be encouraged and media companies should share both the platforms and opinions, rather than ban people or get involved in personal spats where there is a risk they become the story. Media companies should have greater support or regulation in managing their newfound power (already enough to silence the ‘most powerful man on earth’) and commentators / influencers should be open to debate as well as scrutiny.

If offering senior counsel or PR advice to corporates or individuals the same principals should apply. We would always advocate the importance of being honest, to be able to look yourself in the mirror and justify your decisions but most importantly know what you or your business stands for and be consistent to the delivery.

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.

JO MALONE’S MISJUDGEMENT – THE IMPORTANCE OF STAYING ON TOP OF CURRENT AFFAIRS

While some businesses have folded due to the impact of COVID-19, others have managed to find their feet during it. We’ve seen tongue-in-cheek advertising slogans emerge, such as KFC’s switch from ‘It’s finger lickin’ good’ to ‘It’s good’ as a reference to the importance of hand-washing and personal hygiene,  showing an increase of sense of humour in brand communications in the past few months – a far cry from how we were all feeling back in March.

 

Staying on top of current affairs has always been an efficient way of plugging into the latest trends and hot topics, from newsjacking in PR, to keeping your social media strategies relevant. Gymshark is particularly adept at this, whether it’s voicing their support for the Black Lives Matter movement via a $125,000 donation, or something smaller, such as using the latest Twitter meme format to generate a healthy volume of engagement.

 

 

 

But it’s not just important for brands to stay on top of current affairs for their own inbound marketing, it’s also an essential way of knowing what not to say and do.

 

Gently does it

 

Jo Malone (the brand, not the person – she sold the company in 1999) recently faced backlash for exactly this. The candle and fragrance creator changed an ad that previously starred, and was conceived by, actor John Boyega to include a Chinese actor instead. The use of Liu Haoran instead was to allegedly cater to its Chinese consumer base. The original advert explores Boyega’s beginnings in Peckham, London, with the ad even starring his friends and family. The slogan for the Jo Malone campaign was ‘A London Gent’. With Boyega’s London roots, it simply makes much more sense than when compared to Haoran, who was born and raised in China. Boyega has since dropped his partnership with the company, saying that he does not condone ‘dismissively trading out one’s culture.’

 

Whilst the decision by Jo Malone was a mistake whichever way you look at it, it comes as an even bigger sting following not only the rise in protests in the last few months from Black Lives Matter, but also the actor’s own vocal support for the movement. The erasure of Boyega for seemingly no apparent reason is a reminder of the subliminal racism that is perpetuated by some within advertising industry. The Force Awakens brought in $124 million from China’s box office: though it fared much less strongly than the Avengers movies due to the lack of a nostalgia from Chinese viewers, there’s no doubt that he is known not just to Westerners, but Easterners too.

 

Keeping it current

 

If the powers that be at Jo Malone had their fingers a little more on the pulse when it comes to current political situations, would they have continued with the replacement of John Boyega for their Chinese advert? It’s difficult to say – many more factors must have been at play behind closed doors. But what we do know is that the company would have retained its partnership with the actor. There’s also no doubt that the Jo Malone will have lost the support of some of its British customers in the wake of the upset – something that could have been avoided with a little more planning and consideration for current affairs.

 

Whilst an outright support for Black Lives Matter is a risk some brands simply won’t take, many are. Some, simply to keep their fingers on the pulse, but for others like Gymshark, it’s a clear expression of their brand values.

 

Get in touch with us

 

At Source PR, we always have our eye on the ball when it comes to all things digital. For advice on PR, digital marketing and social media, including working with influencers, get in touch with our team here.

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.

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