The value of media events, in 2023 and beyond

The value of media events, in 2023 and beyond

Five reasons you might want to revisit the event budget

While the days where a PR pro was as valuable as their little black book are somewhat ancient history, relationships still underpin the industry. Arguably, connections with your can be the difference between your product or service simply getting a mention in the media, to securing a glowing endorsement with your key messaging included.

It’s that third-party championing that we know is so valuable to a brand and its reputation. How do we get other trusted individuals to organically talk about our brands and products in the way we want them to be talked about? We can’t put words in their mouth, and with real organic endorsement it’s not best practice to provide a strict brief. The solution therefore is to ensure your media genuinely believe in the message. This is where media events can prove incredibly valuable.

In a post-pandemic world where events are only just gearing up again properly, it could be easy to question what value and ROI events can offer, especially considering the investment that is sometimes required.

It is our belief that events do firmly still have a role and prove valuable in generating that third-party endorsement that is so critical to brand reputation. Whether it’s a celebration, an opening, a relaunch, or a regular date in the diary to schmooze, here are our five core reasons as to why press events remain an ROI-generating PR tactic in 2023:

 

  1. Relationship building

It is rare to get face to face opportunities with time-poor journalists. To steal their time away from their desk and convince their editor this event is seriously worth attending, you’ve got to be offering something special – but when you do, you can benefit from the valuable opportunity to get to know your key journalists. They are more than their job title as a writer or reporter, and engaging in a human-to-human conversation is a great way to build a relationship and become ever-more memorable.

 

  1. Authentic experience

Providing your target media with a first-hand experience of your product or service and a glimpse behind the scenes will only help to generate the authentic endorsement that is any PR person’s dream. Journalists put their own neck on the line when they publish news about a brand. Therefore, they simply won’t shout about something they’re not convinced of personally. Press events provide an opportunity to trial and taste what your business has to offer, and with bells on.

 

  1. Bring your values to the fore

In-person events provide the opportunity for brands to demonstrate what matters to them and bring this commitment to life. From charitable activity, to sustainability, workplace culture, or provenance, events allow businesses to demonstrate how their values extend to everything they do. Show your values “in real life” through the event format and set up, via tours around the site to showcase your daily commitment to what matters, or through a speech by the CEO.

 

  1. Generate a story

If you’ve prised an enviable guest list of journalists away from their desks, it’s critical to ensure they take value away from the day. Especially in the consumer and lifestyle world, journalists are always looking for the next trend, the next big hitter, and ultimately the next story that will sell. Press events give brands the opportunity to showcase which trends they are watching and demonstrate how they are responding to emerging themes. Talking proactively about industry developments puts the brand at the heart of an emerging story and gives your audience a red-hot story to return to their editor with.

 

  1. Not forgetting influencers

Today, social media influencers should absolutely be regarded as a critical segment of the media. Similarly to journalists, the right influencers have a trusted voice, a captive audience, and… influence! Social media and influencers can help a brand reach audience demographics that traditional press can’t. There are niches upon niches across social platforms and so tapping into these as a brand can be beneficial too. In their world where visuals are king, providing influencers with an aesthetically engaging day out at an event can allow brands to organically connect with online communities.

 

Well-organised and effective events with an unmissable atmosphere are the hallmarks of LLPR. From launch parties to intimate gatherings, public consultations to lavish dinners, we pride ourselves on delivering memorable events that aren’t just a great night out but deliver hard on your commercial objectives. Our events are carefully curated to attract guests who will spread the word, invest in your product, and become valuable brand ambassadors.

If you’re considering how an event could support your business in 2023/24, we’re the team for you.

Find out more: https://www.lizleanpr.co.uk/events/

Greenwashing: How marketing has introduced virtue signalling to the environment

Greenwashing: How marketing has introduced virtue signalling to the environment

LLPR’s Sam Bird gives us the low down on the greenwashing epidemic – and what brands can do to communicate their credentials within their sustainability journey in a transparent manner, which evokes consumer confidence.

‘Greenwashing’ is a buzzword which has begun to appear more frequently in the PR and communications industry in recent years, but what does it actually mean? And, more importantly for our clients, what are the potential trip hazards it creates?

The recent increase in widespread climate activism has seen the sustainability trend take off, especially amongst a younger demographic that is often labelled as more ‘woke’ (whether that is good or bad is up to your interpretation I suppose!)

Understandably, this has led to a considerable increase in consumer desire to support sustainable companies and purchase sustainably sourced products, with a study *1 showing that that 70% of Gen-Z try to shop ‘green’ from ethical companies and another *2 discovering that 73% of millennials would pay more for items from sustainable brands. The consumer demand has led to more brands attempting to tap into this market, with many consequently being found guilty of ‘greenwashing’.

 

What is Greenwashing?

Essentially, greenwashing is a form of marketing spin whereby companies use environmental messaging to persuade the public (sometimes deceptively) that their products and values are more environmentally conscious than they actually are. Companies will share and exaggerate misleading environmental credentials with the intention of attracting an environmentally invested audience.

Despite common belief, greenwashing has actually been around for some time, tracing back to the 1960s during which American electric companies used clever ads that marketed nuclear power plants as environmentally friendly and safe. Subsequently, greenwashing has taken place for many decades, with American environmentalist Jay Westerveld first coining the term in 1986, but it is the last 15 years which have seen this dishonest practice take on a new far-spreading life of its own.

The widespread impact has been well documented by Monique Goyens, Director General at European Consumer Organisation, who said “Greenwashing is everywhere and has exploded as it is an attractive ploy for marketers”, explaining that there is now a “huge confusion between truly green products and greenwashed ones”.

 

What can cause Greenwashing?

The main source of greenwashing is companies failing to evidence their sustainability claims; this is what proves that their environmental credentials are both accurate and display a real intention to make a positive difference. It is not commonly known that providing evidence is a requirement and establishes the brand’s credibility, rather than simply stating that a product is “responsibly sourced” or “eco-friendly”. Genuine companies will be more than happy to provide accurate, publicly available information on energy consumption, water pollution, emissions, etc.

Marketers frequently use certain sustainable buzzwords that position their brand as environmentally conscious which are actually very vague and easily misleading. Many of these terms do not even have agreed definitions from UK or US regulators so are used in a vague context, when in actual fact, consumers should be informed how these credentials are actually achieved. These include ‘responsibly sourced’, ‘eco-friendly’, and ‘natural’ to name a few.

It may take you by surprise, but when product labels or ad campaigns use environmental imagery such as nature and animals, it can be a deliberate act of greenwashing. This is because this imagery is usually associated with a sustainable message and environmentally friendly products, giving consumers the feeling that the product or service is eco-friendly.

Another common greenwashing pitfall is when companies launch an eco-friendly aspect of their product range and then promote it endlessly, whilst the bulk of their services still remain far from environmentally friendly.

 

What are the potential consequences of Greenwashing?

It goes without saying that greenwashing comes with the risk of hazards and potential problems for a business. Recently, several investigations have been undertaken into greenwashing claims, including high-profile organisations such as Innocent, ASOS, H&M, and even the European Union. The UK’s regulator is the Competition and Markets authority (CMA), conducting these inquiries which can affect a business in several ways, including very hefty fines and bad publicity.

A business may also be forced to remove an advertisement entirely if it is found to be in breach of the CMA’s regulations, or in other cases the communications or labelling in question must be changed to ensure accuracy. Alternatively, organisations guilty of greenwashing can be required to publish statements of wrongdoing, publicising their shortcomings by sharing accurate information on sustainability credentials and pledging to change in-house systems, such as supply chains.

 

So, what can a business do to avoid greenwashing?

Certification Schemes

Certification schemes are available in several industries to establish credibility regarding a brand’s environmental initiatives, proving their sustainability claims.

Life cycle assessments

Companies can execute life cycle assessments by conducting an audit of the company’s in-house systems and supply chain to develop an understanding of their own sustainability credentials. This will prevent the marketing team from making mistakes or exaggerations within communications.

Transparent Communications

Above all, it is vital that businesses share transparent communications with audiences and the media regarding their environmental efforts, whether that be providing evidence of sustainability claims, or discussing the mistakes and improvements that will be made.

 

At LLPR we believe that honesty is integral and goes a long way to establishing consumer confidence and loyalty, and that’s something we constantly strive for in our ways of communicating.

 

 

*1 – Mckinsey Study – https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/Industries/Consumer%20Packaged%20Goods/Our%20Insights/True%20Gen%20Generation%20Z%20and%20its%20implications%20for%20companies/Generation-Z-and-its-implication-for-companies.pdf

*2 -Nielson Study – https://ashtonmanufacturing.com.au/66-of-consumers-willing-to-pay-more-for-sustainable-goods-nielsen-report-reveals/ (Original report is now unavailable online)

Ottie’s work experience at LLPR

Ottie’s work experience at LLPR

I first heard about LLPR through my dad, who previously has had a very good experience working with the team. In addition, the agency also manages public relations for Dorset County Show, which my family has always been affiliated with.

Currently I am studying Business ‘A’ Level in my final year of school, and I would like to go into a career in business- which is a big minefield, so I wanted to explore the types of jobs that are on offer! Specifically, I am interested in marketing and brands, so PR attracted my attention.

When I first came to chat to Liz Willingham, Managing Director of LLPR, I immediately felt inspired and excited about the future and the world of work. Liz and I had a brilliant discussion about her company, how she set it up, interwork relations, business culture, and the future for young people. Liz was very interested in what I had to say, and I was curious about the world of PR after hearing about her career and the amazing clients that LLPR works with. When Liz offered me work experience, I felt excited.

After my first day of work experience, I had already decided that this was the type of environment that I would like to work in. The team are friendly, hard-working, considerate and skilled in making a good cup of tea!

Many of the team members this week have dedicated time to give me advice, describe their roles in the company, and tell me about their careers, which has been very interesting and helpful as I decide my next steps.

This week I have been given CV and personal statement advice, sat in on meetings with clients, written three blog posts, given a presentation, conducted exciting research tasks, learnt about stakeholder engagement. and more. I have learned that Public Relations covers a large area – every task I have done has been different, which I like because variety is important to help keep you motivated and engaged.

Three members of the team are doing apprenticeships with the PRCA, which is interesting to learn about as I am at the stage where I am debating whether to go to university.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience with Liz Lean PR and would recommend to anyone who is interested in the industry.

World Wellbeing Week: why a week just isn’t enough

World Wellbeing Week: why a week just isn’t enough

In our fast-paced industry, it is important to have a year-round focus on mental health and wellbeing which is why we continue to prioritise mental health at LLPR, not just during World Wellbeing Week.
We have an in-house Culture and Welfare Officer who is a trained Mental Health First Aider and spends dedicated time overseeing the cultural aspects of the business and devising new initiatives to boost team wellbeing.
Shona Byrne explains why desk yoga won’t just be a team fad for World Wellbeing Week (27 June – 3 July) and gives her perspective on why having a continual focus on wellbeing in the workplace is so important.

We all instinctively know what we should do and what bad habits can put us in a bit of a funk, leading to our mental health not exactly being in tip-top shape. So why is it that we sometimes continue to ignore what is good for us and remain in a vicious cycle of bad habits?

At LLPR we empower our employees to make the right choices in the day which are going to benefit their wellbeing the most. For example, we normalise taking multiple screen breaks in the day and encourage our team to make the most of their lunch breaks outside. We do this as it is proven to boost morale, productivity, creativity and reduce stress. Bit of a no brainer, right?

This is why during World Wellbeing Week I wanted to build on these pre-existing initiatives and encourage the team to try a few new recommended mindful activities which could easily be adapted to the working day.

Typically, we begin a working day at LLPR with a morning meeting to catch up on anything non-work related. It is important to have this face-to-face time, so it was easy to use this time during World Wellbeing Week to try a series of mindful tasks.

These activities included desk-based yoga, a free writing session and meditation. I also shared MHFA England (Mental Health First Aid) approved resources which provide the tools and questions needed to check in with yourself and be honest about the current state of your mental health.

At the start of each week, I ensure there is plenty of fresh fruit for the team to enjoy and this week was no different but with a few superfood editions which specifically help combat stress and anxiety.

I hope the takeaways have been impactful for the team and that the week acted as a reminder that being conscious of our wellbeing is so important and is such a priority that we’re asking them to take time out of the working day to focus on their mental health.

The smallest tweaks to your daily routine can have the biggest impact on your mental health and wellbeing, and this is something we will be carrying forward as a team. The free writing session had the biggest reaction from my colleagues, and I am already floating the idea of this being a regular feature in our morning meeting slots.

Chrome shows just how the cookie crumbles 

Chrome shows just how the cookie crumbles 

Google recently announced that third party cookies will be phased out on its flagship browser, Chrome, by the end of 2022. This garnered a wide range of responses across the web, from joy to panic. Exactly why Google is making this big step is fairly straight forward, but what it could mean for the future of online marketing remains in the air for many.

So, what exactly IS a third-party cookie? Essentially, they are small, traceable files which websites share with you whilst interacting with them.  As you browse the internet, these small files leave breadcrumbs of data for other websites to read and use to personalise their advertising and experience to cater to your needs and desires.

 For example, if you spend some time searching for a specific pair of shoes, each website you visit will note down your search preferences and mark you with that information. When you visit websites in the future, they will see that you have been looking for a certain style of shoe and show you similar adverts. In this example, third party cookies are a polite helper to connect the user to their intended product or service with ease. However, in more malicious cases, third party cookies can be used to utilise a user’s data to produce tailored content designed to manipulate and convince without their knowledge.

 Safari and Internet Explorer have already discontinued third party cookies. As Chrome is the most popular browser, with a majority share of 62% of online users in 2022, this will be the biggest step to remove cookies from the user experience to date.

 For this reason, it sems a no brainer why Chrome is moving to discontinue the trackers. First party cookies, the ones that remember your account login details, what’s in your shopping trolley and what posts you’ve liked will be staying around as they are essential for user experience. The decision by Chrome is to aid the data protection of its users and limit how much personal information can be shared with external companies.

 

However, for digital marketers, this presents an interesting bend in the road. How can we help our clients reach out to specific demographics and find new audiences if the tools to separate them from the crowd disappear?

Thankfully, a path forward is being paved by Google. To replace the service provided by third party cookies, Google is developing its ‘Google Privacy Sandbox’. This offers an ‘opt in’ option for websites to host a protected ‘cookie jar’ on their database for first party cookies and other small bites of data which give the users their personality.

This ‘cookie jar’ can be accessed through a read only view by external websites to find users with specific interests. The data remains on the initial website which the user trusts. The system is still being built by Google and further updates as to how this will work are yet to be announced.

Should this be the way forward, it would present a few extra steps to digital marketing when trying to locate key demographics, but it would be done in the confidence that the data is reliable and collected through safer, more moral standards.

The questions that remain are not only how far the internet is willing to go with its cookie analogy (Google’s Privacy Sandbox’s mission statement being “cookies having independent partitioned states”, or… CHIPS…), but whether the majority of online users will welcome the changes. Although data protection is of great importance to global security, might some people rather have personalised adverts which echo their online habits?

 

As NFTs creep into social media, how safe is your marketing plan?

As NFTs creep into social media, how safe is your marketing plan?

What exactly are NFTs, and what impact could they have on your marketing strategy?

LLPR’s PR & Digital Marketing Executive, Max Dobson, demystifies the latest digital buzzword and explains why social media platforms are about to take the NFT leap.

NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) are the modern day, digital equivalent of trading cards, finding their boom in mid-late 2021 with Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s original first tweet being sold for $2.9 million.  

NFTs are simple PNGs which can be bought and sold using crypto currency and stored in carbon reliant, power-hungry computer systems. They’ve also gained a reputation as an expensive way to boast to your friends – with some being rare, limited editions like the Bored Ape Yacht Club collection, a limited series of colourfully designed monkeys which can command tens of thousands for a single piece.

As with any online mega trend, things got out of hand. Now, social media monopoly, Meta, wants in.

According to a memo shared to the Financial Times last week, Facebook and Instagram owner, Meta, is developing a scheme to allow users to integrate their NFT collections with its social networking platforms. This would open the opportunity for users to show off their collections to followers and create exclusive groups and pages with the expensive PNGs as the key to entry. Following this news, big brands are scratching their heads to figure out how to navigate the marketing landscape when hurdles such as this are in place. Surprisingly, there is some hopeful forecasting for smaller businesses in such a future.

Facebook has already tried its hand at digital currency with its launch of ‘Facebook Credits’ in 2009 as a way for users to buy in-game benefits for programmes like Farmville. An NFT / Meta integration, however, would be a further development in the age of crypto where users will be able to buy and sell natively within Meta’s platforms. According to sources, Meta is also considering introducing a scheme where users are rewarded with ‘Zuck Bucks’ (as Meta employees are apparently calling them) for positive online behaviour or for interacting with championed brands.

This is where the foot in the door of Web-3 begins to step on some big brand’s toes. Introducing the potential of financial gains for interacting with your brand allows companies the chance to buy their customer’s loyalty. Starbucks, for example, announced recently they are introducing a line of NFTs which, when purchased, gives access to an exclusive club with various benefits, extra content, and new ways to interact with the coffee giant.

Should other companies wake up and smell the coffee, following Starbucks into the NFT game, customers showing off their exclusive access to swanky clubs and cool collectables could be the easiest marketing strategy imaginable – and customers will be paying to do it.

 

 

But is the NFT bubble beginning to burst?

Total spending in blockchains has globally begun to show signs of wanning in 2022, almost halving from January ($12bn) to April ($7bn). There is also a factor of oversaturation, with 9.2 million NFTs sold to a total of 1.8 million people.

One can gather from the data that the explosive introduction of the trend is past its initial peak, with the dust settling on a landscape regulated by those who are already invested and brands looking for a late inclusion into the crypto market. With Meta’s plans to welcome NFTs onto platforms like Instagram and Facebook via NFT hosting sites like Ethereum and Polygon, there could be a resurgence of popularity as access for more casual users becomes easier.

Launching an aggressively exclusive, paid-for membership to extra content and deals might be a progressive step into Web-3 for global corporations who want to benefit off the Bored Ape success. However, for smaller businesses, it could be nothing short of guerrilla marketing, scaring loyal customers away.

The fact that Meta is rushing to bring NFTs into its platforms is proof that users are actively demanding and searching for more ways to interact with their favourite brands, with those with more money to burn happy to use it on flashy gimmicks. Smaller companies (smaller than the omnipotent giants like Meta and Starbucks) have the benefit of being able to offer this interaction in a transparent, human approach.

Being true to your reputation both online and offline is a tried and tested way to ensure that loyal customers feel valued and appreciated – as a PR agency we are aware how far relatability and human connection can go. So, don’t worry, we won’t be selling our staff pictures as NFTs anytime soon, unless anyone out there wants to make an offer?