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Fueled in part by the ongoing effects of a worldwide pandemic, ecommerce around the world is rising at a steady pace, with a noticeable shift in consumer behavior towards online shopping. In fact, it is estimated that by the year 2040, 95% of purchases will take place online. It’s safe to say that digital commerce has now taken center stage, and businesses around the world are racing to join the ecommerce revolution. 

In order to better prepare for a digital future, brands and retailers are constantly on the lookout for ways to drive their ecommerce brand forward. We look at some of the emerging ecommerce trends that will help elevate your business and boost your sales in the digital economy. 

1. Personalised Experiences and Customer Engagement

One thing that consumers miss from traditional retail shopping is the personalised experience that comes from interacting with a retail person. This personal connection is something that they look for in their online experience, too, with 80% of consumers being more likely to do business with a company that personalises their experience. This means that it’s no longer enough to simply ship out a product in a box. Rather, ecommerce businesses should build their strategy around putting their customer first. This could mean setting up automated product recommendations or unique subscription programs, featuring inclusive sizing and diversity of models, or even something as simple as prioritising accessibility to their website by making sure it’s navigable by persons of all abilities. These simple steps demonstrate a commitment to creating lasting emotional connections with customers, thus ensuring their return. 

2. Online Product Customisation

Beyond the wholly personalised experience of shopping, customers are also increasingly expecting customised products. This is where 3D technology can take a company’s ecommerce store to a whole other level of success. Product customisation technology like Threedium’s 3D Product Configurator invites customers to become partners in the product creation process by allowing them to experiment with different versions of the product. Customers can change colors, materials, and styles until they create exactly what they are looking for. This further strengthens the user experience for the customer, and in return, increases engagement levels, product dwell times, and creates better opportunities for conversions.  

3. Custom Packaging

In the age of ecommerce, the product isn’t the only desirable part of making a purchase. Rather, the act of simply opening the packaging holds a special kind of appeal, one that has recently launched the popular trend of ‘unboxing’ videos. These videos have generated 11.3 billion views on YouTube, with at least 62% of people viewing them as research for products they are looking to purchase. It is therefore not surprising that offering customised packaging that makes a brand recognizable has become a successful ecommerce marketing tool. Aesthetically pleasing, custom packaging gives a certain air of exclusivity to a product, makes it more likely to garner brand visibility on social media, and helps make an immediate, lasting impact on customers. 

4. Augmented Reality 

There is a strong need to interact with a product before committing to a purchase, and where once high-quality images and videos were enough, today’s consumers are asking for more ways to see and feel a product before clicking buy. This is where AR comes in. Augmented reality has seen a recent explosion in popularity, with Gartner estimating that by 2020, more than 100 million will have bought products using AR. With tools like Threedium’s AR Solutions, more and more ecommerce retailers are bridging the gap between real and digital, enabling shoppers to see products in their actual surroundings, explore and try different angles and styles, until they find the right match. Such Augmented Reality solutions require no extra plugins or applications, and are extremely easy to integrate into ecommerce stores. For consumers, this means a more immersive shopping experience and confident and informed purchasing decisions. For businesses, this means higher conversion rates and fewer returns.

To speak to a member of the team  at The PHA Group, please click here.

The changing face of e-commerce: four trends to look out for 

New research from UK-based internet service provider, Beaming, has uncovered that cyber-attacks on UK businesses have increased by 30% in the first quarter in 2020, compared to the same period in 2019.

It is too early to tell just how much the Covid-19 pandemic has contributed to this rising statistic, but evidence would suggest it has. Italy, one of the countries most affected by the virus at the beginning of the outbreak, saw a spike in attempted cyber-attacks at the same time as the Covid-19 outbreak, notably targeting employees who had started working remotely.

Cynet, a leading cybersecurity technology firm who specialise in breach protection, ran some research which revealed that in March 2019 just over 20 cases of phishing were reported in Italy, whilst between 15th February – 15th March of this year, over 70 cases have already been recorded.

Switching focus back onto the UK, we’ve seen two of the biggest businesses on the block taken down by cyber-attacks in just the last week alone. First, Elexon who control Britain’s energy system fell victim to an attack – thankfully, the key system used to govern the electricity market wasn’t affected.

Whilst just last week, easyJet admitted that they were hacked in January and travel details of nine million customers were stolen, which included over two thousand customers who also had their credit card details “accessed”.

There’s no questioning it, cyber-attacks are on the rise. Maintaining your reputation during a pandemic like this is crucial, so, when it comes to an unsuspecting business who finds themselves a victim of an attack , possibly with a data breach, how can they make sure that a crisis doesn’t turn into a PR disaster?

We’ve taken a look at five key focus points that should be at the heart of your crisis communication strategy, if you do find yourself in this position.

Swift response

As soon as you’re positive that your company has been attacked, time is of the essence to communicate what you know with your customers. Even if at the time you don’t have all the details, you still need to let your customers know that you are aware and monitoring the situation.

This will help maintain trust with customers and help to quash any rumours or untrue stories emerging on social media or in the press. And although consumers might be disgruntled and worried about their data, in the long run they will appreciate you being upfront with them.

Representative

Identify within your business who are going to be your key spokespeople. Where possible, the response should be fronted by the most senior figure – a CEO or Founder – who has always been the face of the business, to maintain consistency and demonstrate strong leadership and responsibility. Do ensure however that they fully understand the situation completely before putting them forward for interview.

Whether it is one spokesperson or, as can sometimes be the case, a whole team of people who are being thrusted into the media spotlight to answer questions,, make sure they have all been correctly briefed beforehand and they understand what they should and shouldn’t be saying. One further point on this is that if you have multiple spokespeople, make sure they are all united in what they are saying in their responses – consistency is key.

Responsibility

Regardless of how the attack was allowed to happen, as a business you must clearly demonstrate sympathy and support towards your customers.

Whether you are making a statement on TV, radio or on your businesses’ social media channels, it’s an opportunity to show your customers that you value their privacy and are concerned about how the data breach took place, and will do everything you can to make the situation right. Make a commitment to finding out how it happened and make it a priority to improve security so that it cannot happen again.

Information

In 2020 it is so easy to share content and communicate updates with your consumers and the public. There really isn’t an excuse as to why you can’t keep your consumers informed throughout the process. Don’t just use one channel to communicate your message though, make sure to use all the social channels you normally would, to ensure your message is seen by more of your audience regardless of how they usually interact with your business. Ensure what’s on your social media channels regarding the attack and your response is communicated on your website, and vice versa.

Learn from the past

Finally, once your crisis is over, it’s imperative that you reflect on it and how it was handled. Were you communicating quickly and clearly enough? How did your customers react to your statements? Are there any details you should have shared earlier or differently? In reviewing what happened, you can create a pre-emptive crisis communications plan to future-proof yourself, so that everything is in place to react quickly and smoothly if a new crisis does occur.  This plan should include things like: a ‘chain of command’ regarding who communicates what and who needs to approve content before it’s released publicly, template crisis statements that you can tweak to fit the specific situation, an FAQ document, and any other potential scenarios that could arise.

Would you like to talk through your media relations crisis strategy with an industry expert? Get in touch today to find out more how we can prepare you for the worst.

How to PR your way through a cyber-attack

Every part of our way of life has been impacted by Covid-19 to some degree and the legal sector is no different. Far from existing in a vacuum, the law is dependent on human activity for its success and now, activity has stalled both inside and outside the sector. All this follows from the high of 2019, where UK legal services revenue reached £37bn and annual growth of almost 5% was forecasted for the next two years.

Already, new claims in England and Wales have fallen by 50% from April last year, as businesses hold back from launching expensive court battles during the pandemic. While UK law firms have not been as quick to dismiss staff as their US counterparts, there are already signs that the pandemic could be driving high street law firms to brink of collapse. Research published by the Law Society showed that more than 70 per cent of high street firms said that they might have to shut down within the next six months owing to lockdown. As the high street is still most people’s main contact with the law, there could be big changes ahead in how we as citizens interact with the law.

Yet, not all sectors will be as hit as hard as each other and law still has the unique capacity to adapt. As the Times writes, “the big City players are likely to save themselves from collapse, as they have done in previous — albeit less sudden — recessions, by quickly adapting to deal with other people’s pain.”

For many this may involve transitioning to fixing problems for companies triggered by lockdown, whether that is mothballing, restructuring or eventually insolvency. For the rest, there is a real opportunity and need for the legal technology sector to step into the mainstream. Despite still thriving as an industry, legal pick up of technology has not been as fast as in other sectors. Incrementally, the industry still provides an almost identical service to the one it did 20 years ago.

There are several areas where the use of technology and software to provide and aid legal services can be better utilised, but broadly speaking they can fit into three categories. Inside law firms and corporate companies, throughout the legal sector such as in courts and finally, the way we as consumers can access it.

Legal and corporate firms
Technological advancements have been slow across the sector but with the potential to harness a highly skilled workforce and significant capital investment it is also one of the most potentially exciting. One area that has been particularly successful is end-to-end contract and document automation. Not only has it removed significant drudgery from the daily life of legal professionals, but it has enabled them to free up their legal team and focus their expertise on tasks that matter, saving time and money.

With the continuing advance of the Big Four accountancy firms into legal services, clients will not stop demanding more services for less money. For most legal professionals, this will mean turning to technology providers who can give them an edge. Yet, with Stanford University’s legal tech list now as large as 1320 companies, Legal technology companies will more than ever, need an effective strategy to help them stand out.

Our work with Burford Capital, the world’s largest litigation finance company, demonstrated the power of engaging with and educating your audience through the media. We set out to challenge perceptions surrounding single case funding and establish the company as a leading authority in this new but fast-growing area of the law by successfully penetrating mainstream media.

Courts
While some hearings have been conducted remotely, there are currently more than 35,600 outstanding cases due to be heard by crown courts. Our global campaign with CaseLines, a virtual platform for court hearings, taught us a great deal about the global appetite for more accessible and technologically advanced courts. At every level of the justice system, advancements like these can not only improve the quality of justice but provide a framework for modernization elsewhere in the industry.

The fact the Ministry of Justice has shown a willingness to engage with nimble and innovative legal start-ups is encouraging, and the £1-billion digital reform process being undertaken by the UK’s HM Courts and Tribunals Service is doubly so. With government budgets for legal services tightening up globally, companies promoting access to justice and access to the law itself can drive solutions to barriers and help serve society.

Consumers
The third area focuses on how consumers interact with and access legal services. The impact of Covid—19 has made these more, not less essential, as everyday businesses have been thrust into a world of furlough and working remotely. Sparqa Legal have found that on average, businesses face legal issues 8 times a year and 90% of them believe that traditional law firms don’t provide a cost-effective solution. While the high street may still continue to provide the backbone of most property, family and criminal issues, the world of small business and entrepreneurship seems ready to embrace a more DIY approach to law.

This mission to make law more accessible and democratic should be an encouraging sign for the future growth of the legal technology world. If consumers believe they are not currently getting a good deal, it is only a matter of time before innovative technology companies move to fill that space. This area is certainly one to watch.

If you are looking for support with gaining insight into the UK media landscape or you are a legal tech innovator looking to raise your profile, please get in touch today to see how our passionate team of experts can help you achieve your goals.

Legal technology companies can break in to the mainstream

In an age where companies claim to be the leading expert in every topic under the sun, making sure your business stands out from the crowd can be an uphill battle. When it comes to the technology arena, this problem is exacerbated. The media hype around the latest technology, such as AI or cybersecurity, creates a wall of white noise that’s seemingly impossible to break through unless you’re one of the big players like Microsoft or Google.

However, all is not lost for the tech start-up that wants to get noticed in their respective area online. By choosing the right platforms to make your case and ensuring your timing is spot on, it is possible to be a flamingo amongst a flock of pigeons. Here are some of the top ways you can make sure your tech start-up stands out from the crowd.

Know what makes you unique

It’s all too easy to slip into the trap of trying to be everything to everyone. Not only will this dilute your message, but it will also confuse it. It’s important to understand what makes your proposition truly different to the rest of the competition as only then can you get across exactly what you want to say.

What do you do that no one else does? What insights do you have on AI, fintech or cybersecurity that no one else can provide or is providing right now? Do you have any unique data that can add something truly new to the wider conversation? Once you know what only you can offer, you can go out with a succinct message that will cut through the white noise.

Understand who you’re trying to target

Not only is it important to know your business, but it’s also crucial to know who you want to be in front of and why being in front of those people will help you succeed. Again, you can’t be in front of every single audience and trying to reach everyone will limit the time you can spend on specific targets such as the people who might buy your product or invest capital in the business.

Understanding why you want to target a particular audience will help focus your messaging online. If you’re looking to become a leading expert in AI for example, you need to be in the media read by those at the top of this field. If you want to sell units, being in a consumer-facing “wish-list” article will be more beneficial than an exclusive interview with the founder.

Don’t join the chorus

There seems to be an innovation or technological breakthrough every other day, with the tech du jour often lauded as the next big thing that everyone is talking about. While there’s a strong temptation to get in on the conversation and put as much of your opinions out there at once, don’t jump on every bandwagon. In the highly competitive arena of technology, you’ll most likely be drowned out by the big players.

Make sure every time you post something online or talk to the media you’re adding real value to the conversation. Choosing the right platform to ensure you’re in front of your target audience is also essential to avoid being swallowed by the noise. It’s not about being controversial, and having the ability to step back and know when the right time is to speak out or to listen will stand you in good stead.

Practice what you preach

In all your communication as a company, whether that be with customers, investors or internal staff, it’s important that you practice what you preach. Staying true to your principles is the sure fast way to maintain a level of integrity that no amount of money spent on marketing campaigns can bring. Most companies are founded in an attempt to solve a real-world problem, and being able to talk about this in a relatable way can help your company stand out from the noise.

If you would like to find out more about how our award-winning team could position you or your business in the media, get in touch with us today.

How to stand out from the crowd online

A public relations (PR) crisis can cause irreparable damage to the reputation of any business. There are many scenarios that can occur, whether you’re a large corporation, individual or multi-national organisation. We specialise in mitigating risk for you and your business and providing an on-demand crisis and reputation support solution that’s discrete, effective, and professional. We offer a crisis ‘insurance policy’ of sorts which means that you and your business are prepared for any eventuality and can continue business as usual.

How can we assist you?

  • Advice on how to mitigate negative publicity
  • Preparing, drafting and issuing press releases and handling media enquiries 24/7 on the client’s behalf
  • Guidance documents on how to protect you and your company
  • Expert media training for both broadcast and newspaper interviews to prepare your key spokespeople for interaction with the media

Not sure a public relations insurance policy is for you? Here are just some examples where our team of experts can support.

Poorly planned marketing

Marketing and PR are essential requirements to help grow your business. Sometimes your marketing efforts can backfire – even if you had the best intentions and never anticipated it becoming an issue. Whether it is a mis-use of terminology, a Freudian slip over social media, or simply an image that has been taken out of context.

For example, high-street fashion store H&M came under fire in January, when the company released an advert featuring a young black boy wearing a hoodie that featured the phrase, “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle.” The media covered the issue extensively and quickly found that this wasn’t H&M’s first incident. The PR and media backlash was extensive and detrimental to the brand’s reputation.

In many cases, their business reputation did bounce back after an initial plunge in sales and reputation. However, it can take expensive compensation packages and extensive resources to resolve the situation.

Product recalls

Our top tips during a product recall are simple.

  • Take responsibility: When sending your statement be transparent about what happened
  • Act immediately: Don’t waste time, the situation could potentially escalate so act quickly
  • Be candid and compassionate: Say sorry to your customers, own up to your mistakes
  • Cooperate: Work with the people affected and your communications team
  • Use every means possible to communicate information: Think about this as a marketing campaign, you need to get in touch with every possible customer so use all your channels available to you

Product recalls can be a large drain of resources for your in-house communications teams. Ensuring your crisis and reputation policy and plan is being executed in conjunction with the situation can be a concern as well. Working with a specialist team who can act immediately and action that process for you is imperative to reduce reputational impact, avoid injuries or accidents with customers and ensure you have reached your core demographic and their network instantaneously.

Fashion store Primark had to recall three types of their men’s flip-flops containing dangerous levels of a cancer-causing chemical last year. Primark came across really prepared and were quick to make their announcement. The interesting thing about the incident is that neither the information on the corporate website or the media statement says what the issue was. A better approach would have been to be open and clear about what the chemical is and what the risks are to customers. Being transparent and demonstrating action is a key part of responding to a product recall and shows that an organisation is taking the situation seriously.

High-risk territories

Does your brand operate in high-risk territories? When a brand or business must travel to various parts of the world there is always an extensive risk assessment put in place to ensure the safety of employees and guests and what to do if there were an incident. But in those plans have you thought about your media relationships? How would you communicate your side of the story, and how can you showcase to the public and those affected what you are doing to rectify the situation? That’s where a clear crisis communications strategy comes into its own and experts on hand to deal with your situation 24/7.

Injuries and accidents

One possible issue that could develop and become a major PR crisis is if your products cause injury or illness to your customers or an employee, or if a contractor has a detrimental accident on your watch.

For example, in these types of scenarios reactions to issues can range from customers complaining to friends and family about your business, taking to social media and forums to raise their concerns to severe reactions, such as seeking legal action to reimburse medical costs or to receive compensation for their discomfort.

In these cases, it is imperative to demonstrate steps are being taken to resolve the situation, prevent any future problems, and of course negate some reputation damage.

Personal information

The introduction of the GDPR legislation in May 2018 has made some businesses across the UK nervous of the impact on their business if there were a breach. Not just monetary issues can occur, but the risk and damage a data breach can cause to the reputation of a business.

That was the case for BT who were fined £77,000 by the ICO. Between December 2015 and November 2016, BT sent 4.9 million emails about its fundraising platform My Donate, Giving Tuesday, and Stand up to Cancer.  The ICO said that these communications were marketing, rather than messaging, and BT did not have consent to send them.

Handling customer feedback and inquiries and monitoring the ‘noise’ of the incident on social and in the media can be difficult. Our specialist crisis social team can work alongside your in-house teams to rectify the situation, whilst our PR specialists help you deal with media inquiries and publishing statements to those affected.

All smart businesses plan, and crisis management is no different; prevention is better than cure. We deploy a suite of services to manage and maintain your crisis and reputation. Contact us today to find out how we can work with you and your business.

Your crisis and reputation ‘insurance policy’

When there is uncertainty and processes see change hackers and individuals choose this opportunity to take advantage of the situation using it as a perfect distraction.

As the outbreak of COVID-19 continues to circulate around the globe, the majority of businesses around the globe have had to adapt their businesses to a far more digital offering.

Amidst the panic and chaos, hackers are now creating thousands of coronavirus-related websites on a daily basis to catch unsuspecting consumers out.

The importance of cyber security firms at this time opens up a wealth of opportunities for businesses to own this space and be seen as industry experts – be it by reacting to a breaking news story or educating the public on how to keep their data secure. Here we explore four key tips for raising the profile of your cybersecurity business.

1. Tell your success stories

It’s important to be able to bring your brand to life and personalise it through compelling case studies. A key element of PR is about telling stories and humanising a brand.

This is particularly important for tech brands with complex innovation at the heart of their product; for cyber security businesses, we always recommend publicising the actual adoption of their product or services for the greater good.

Consider how you have actually helped customers protect their data or overcome a security breach, and use this material as one of your key PR tools.

Case studies of your brand’s impact not only create engaging content but also brings credibility to the claims you make to potential customers. Real-life stories also help to educate the general public about your field and help them relate to your brand.

2. React to breaking news stories

A key strand of PR activity is to hijack the news agenda and secure comment opportunities for your spokesperson on breaking stories. Ultimately you want viewers to associate your brand with the story and to position you as the go-to industry expert.

The many broadcast news channels such as Sky News, CNBC and Bloomberg offer great opportunities for guest comment and are really effective platforms to generate exposure for your brand, so when a high profile data breach or hacking story breaks, you need to take the opportunity.

Think about the current situation the world finds itself in with the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses of all sizes and across varying industries have had to completely rethink their offering and quickly transform to remote working, something which has been in the headline news and covered in-depth on TV and radio.

Consider the expertise you have to hand and how you can weave this into the debate and offer authoritative insight. As an example we regularly secure interviews for the CEOs and MDs of our tech clients – such as Andrew Johnson, MD of PowWowNow who appeared in The Telegraph as a leading flexible working commentator.

3. Harness your unique data

When there isn’t a breaking story to comment on, you can to an extent create the news agenda by releasing industry-relevant data stemming from your own research, such as a survey of your customer database. This is a good way of owning statistics which, again, helps position you as experts at the forefront of your industry and benefit your corporate profile.

From this data you can stagger a variety of stories tailored for the industry, technology, and consumer press – we always recommend considering which interesting trends you can reveal and the headlines you can create (e.g. ‘A third of businesses are unaware they have been hacked’) with never before seen facts and figures from surveys.

4. Educate through thought leadership

A major part of raising your brand’s profile is to be perceived as an expert by potential customers, who may or may not choose your services based on what they can learn from you.

With an issue as complex as cyber security, a large proportion of businesses are still uneducated as to how they can minimise the threat of attacks through basic day-to-day practices, let alone which technologies they need to implement and invest in if an attack occurs. Thought leadership content is a great way of educating and building trust with your target audience.

In summary

To raise the profile of your cybersecurity brand, remember to shout about your success stories and how you have made a tangible difference to your customers’ operations while staying on top of the news agenda and thinking about how you can own the discussion using your expertise. Own unique data and insight to create headlines with your brand at the heart of the story, and to complement all this, educate your audience and potential customers with informed thought content across print and online.

If you would like to find out more about how our award-winning team could position you or your business in the media, get in touch with us today.

How to PR a cyber security brand

At a time when many charities would usually be in the midst of launching fundraising campaigns, having supporters take part in mass participation events, and visiting schools and businesses to spread awareness of their cause; the current Covid-19 crisis has forced many charities to stop in their tracks, quickly re-strategize, and change the way they promote and encourage engagement in fundraising campaigns. So, what can be done at a time when the whole country is self-isolating?

As consumers turn to their mobile phones and laptops to stay connected with others, there are opportunities for charities to ‘digitally-adapt’ their existing initiatives (or even launch new ones) to ensure that brand awareness remains high and funds continue to be raised.  It’s more important than ever before for charities to find a way to tap into online conversations and engage with their target audiences through virtual platforms – whilst ensuring that the messages and language they use remains sensitive to the current landscape.

Digitally adapting is an approach we recently took with our long-standing charity client, Smile Train. Every April, Smile Train – the international children’s cleft charity  –  launches the Big Smile Tea Party; an annual fundraiser which encourages friends, family and colleagues to come together over a cup of tea and some freshly baked goods, whilst raising money for children with clefts globally.

As seeing friends, families and colleagues in person would not be possible for the 2020 Big Smile Tea Party, we suggested that Smile Train give their favourite annual fundraiser a new virtual twist this year and created The Big Virtual Cuppa – a campaign that would ensure the Big Smile Tea Party still went ahead, but in a virtual way!

On Wednesday 1st April (between 3pm-6m), we launched The Big Virtual Cuppa; a nationwide tea party which encouraged people across the country to switch on their mobiles, laptops and tablets, boil the kettle, and have a ‘good old  virtual natter’ with the people they love, whilst donating to Smile Train.

Virtual Cuppa Smiletrain

With only a short amount of time to re-focus the campaign, we quickly implemented a series of tactics ahead of the launch which would help to promote The Big Virtual Cuppa to lots of different demographics – including the sharing of bespoke recipes on Smile Train’s social media channels, reaching out to the national, consumer, parenting and food & drink media to encourage them to include the campaign in their ‘things to do’ roundups, and asking family-friendly celebrities and influencers to let their followers know about the campaign (as well as taking part).

Big Virtual Cuppa’s took place across the UK, with well-known faces including Loose Women’s Nadia Sawalha, the UK’s favourite puppet duo, Sooty and Sweep, leading parenting influencer, PinkPeonyHome and popular lifestyle influencers, WeAreTwinset all holding their own Big Virtual Cuppa – or encouraging followers to host one. These posts had a combined reach in excess of 1.5 million and multiple tagged tea party posts.

PR highlights included well known lifestyle titles, Be Kind, Female First, and Veggie, as well as the popular charity title, Charity Today, all publishing dedicated features about The Big Virtual Cuppa on their websites. The leading third sector website, Charity Times and national news website, Express.co.uk, are also planning to feature The Big Virtual Cuppa in a wider feature about charities which are positively adapting to the current Covid-19 climate.

Overall, the campaign was a huge success, demonstrating how adapting to new behaviours and being fleet of foot can generate significant engagement for charities at this challenging and unprecedented time.

If you’re interested in learning more about our third sector PR and social media services at The PHA Group, get in touch today and have a chat with one of our experts.

How charities can adapt their fundraising campaigns during the COVID-19 crisis

These are unprecedented times for the world of sport. With the sporting calendar temporarily decimated, fans are searching for new ways to consume sport, while brands, teams and leagues seek new ways to engage with them. There was no blueprint for this, but one discipline finds itself well set for the situation: Esports.

At a difficult and uncertain time when we’re adjusting to a new way of living, people are naturally looking for something fun to watch and immerse themselves in while every mainstream sport & competition we know and love is temporarily on hold – and I think Esports can provide the fix that fans are looking for. 

Ben Cossor, Senior Account Director & Head of Technology

There has been a lot of conversation in the sporting world in recent months and years about the growth of Esports and its ability to move into the mainstream. Well, now it finds itself unexpectedly centre stage. Not only are existing Esports fans able to play and be entertained as usual, but traditional sports are already looking to esports to fill the void.

After the Australian Grand Prix was cancelled due to coronavirus symptoms in the paddock, Formula 1 stars Max Verstappen and Lando Norris leapt into online action. Verstappen finished 11th in “The Race All-Star Esports Battle”, where he took on a host of racing personalities and professional gamers.

Meanwhile, Norris joined “Not The Aus GP”, a virtual race around the Melbourne circuit which was organised by Veloce Esports. Both races were streamed live on Twitch and YouTube and saw huge surges in their typical viewership.

Elsewhere, West Ham United and Wolverhampton Wanderers also looked to esports to compensate for their postponed fixture. The clubs pitted their respective esports professionals against each other on EA Sports’ FIFA 20 via West Ham’s Twitch channel, whilst Leyton Orient are currently arranging a FIFA tournament of their own, with a host of idle clubs already signed up to compete.

We are also seeing an increasing amount of mainstream media coverage on Esports as journalists look for stories they can tell in their back pages, and as an agency working daily with sports journalists across the media landscape, we have seen a noticeable increase in the number of them looking for comment and information on this topic.

Of course as all fans will understand right now, there is nothing that can quite fill the void left by the sport you love to follow the most. However, in these strange times, as fans yearn for the thrill of contest, an awful lot of new eyes have turned to the digital world. And no doubt some of those fans who are tuning in to Esports for the first time now will become lifelong fans of the future.

There aren’t many good news stories in sport at the moment, but this may just be one of them. And we’ll take what we can get right now.

Are you interested in hearing about how we might be able to help you promote your offering? Speak to a member of our award-winning technology team today.

All eyes on Esports

In such a fast-paced news environment, it goes without saying that you simply must adopt an ‘always on’ mentality, to make sure you don’t miss the next big opportunity. Sport doesn’t stop, so we don’t either. From a fitness standpoint, the industry has become increasingly competitive as technology takes over and everyone is looking for the next big thing.

That being said, we pride ourselves on monitoring the news agenda meticulously on a day to day basis. It starts from the off each morning with a thorough review of the day’s biggest headlines; if you can identify that news hook dominating the agenda, it can prove to be a lucrative exercise for your clients.

Having identified topics that could ask as a catalyst to place our clients in the media spotlight, we’ll immediately target media with relative expert commentary/interview opportunities on the topic.

Through this approach, we’ve delivered impactful content that delivers a clear return for our clients. Here are just a few examples of where we’ve done it before…

PureGym

We began working with PureGym when they were a challenger brand with just 40 sites but in four years working together, they had over 150 sites and were the biggest gym operator in the UK.

PureGym was regularly featured in the trade press before working with us, but month on month we would deliver national coverage for them.

The proudest moment of the campaign though has to be when we got the PureGym brand next to Prince William.

It was announced in the media that the first-ever football match would take place at Buckingham Palace in 2013 between two of the oldest amateur league football clubs.

The PHA Group identified this as a unique sponsorship opportunity for PureGym to sponsor one of the teams.

With the media being given full access to the palace, we knew this game would get global coverage and we were proud to see pictures of the winning team standing next to Prince William appear in every UK national newspaper and in every other country around the world.

 Xercise4Less

For many of our clients, January is the most important time in their marketing calendars. It is also a very competitive period, with all fitness providers competing to grab the attention of consumers looking to start the new year with a health kick.

This was especially relevant for our work with gym chain Xercise4Less. The challenge we faced was standing out from the crowd and making their offering the most attractive against other health club providers.

We utilised the fact that Xercise4Less was giving people a five-day free pass in January to position them as the most attractive gym to try.

We secured a live on-air plug by Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis on ITV’s This Morning, as well as coverage in Daily Mail, Daily Express, COSMOPOLITAN and Liverpool Echo.

GentingBet

News agenda hijacking was also a key element of our activity for the GentingBet sportsbook. Ahead of the 2019/20 Premier League campaign start, the introduction of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was a massive talking point going into the season.

Last season saw a number of controversial decisions which would have been addressed if VAR was in use. To tap into all of the chatter around VAR, we reviewed the entire 2018/19 season and applied a VAR filter to see what could have happened if the system was in use.

The analysis suggested that Liverpool would have narrowly won the league, not Manchester City, and Cardiff City would have avoided relegation.

These provided big, media-worthy talking points which allowed us to create a genuine stir online. Resulting widespread coverage was secured with Sport Bible, Mail Online, Give Me Sport, Daily Express, Wales Online and TeamTalk.

If you’re interested in learning more about how we could hijack the news agenda for you, then get in touch with us today.

Hijacking the news agenda

Valentine’s Day is nearly here, meaning many brands will be planning their PR campaign launches to maximise impact. It’s always a competitive day in the media, and companies whose products or services match this calendar hook need to ensure they plan early to cut through the noise. This is all too important for those in the dating industry be it online platforms or applications. Having worked with several dating apps, we’ve found some press office tactics work better than others, so here are our top tips on how you can help your dating app stand out ahead of Valentine’s Day.

Case studies

A great love story always works well in the press, and any dating app should be looking to engage keen consumers wherever possible to tell their stories of finding love. While great marketing tools on your website and social media platforms, these stories also act as third party endorsements of your brand and will encourage other people to download your app for themselves. Case studies can be hard to come by, so if you do have a lead with one of your users, prepare questions in advance to try and get all the information you require for marketing and PR purposes in one go, including any relevant imagery.

Data and research

Data stories work well for time-poor journalists who don’t always have the resources to do their own digging. While market research is a commonly used and straight forward route, dating apps should also think about what data they already have, and how they could use that to create a press story.

We took this route when working with happn, using its own data to determine what makes a great dating profile, which places are best for finding matches, and more. Through these stories, we secured 200 pieces of coverage including an exclusive in the Evening Standard on London’s top five most datable women. Regularly named as one of the top dating apps in the UK, 80% of all coverage was dedicated purely to happn – not its competitors, and ultimately lead to the app attracting over two million British users by the end of our campaign.

For Valentine’s Day, think about what unique date you hold that could tell an interesting story or reveal a trend about British singles. Could you suggest the best type of restaurant for a date based on what people most often cite as their favourite food? Could you suggest the best locations to be in the UK to match with a potential Valentine? Or maybe you can reveal the best types of photo to have on your profile to get matches? Of course, it’s important to remain GDPR compliant, so ensure all data is anonymised and you cannot reveal personally-identifying information on your users.

Founder profiling

Finally, if the founder or CEO of your company has a great back story, be sure to use it to your PR advantage as well – especially if it’s to do with finding love! Compelling founder stories are an excellent way to show how the business has grown, its origins, and summarise your goals too. While a romantic back story could be a great way to encourage user downloads, these founder stories also work well for attracting the interest of investors and other businesses that may want to collaborate with you too.

All in all  – planning is the most important thing you can do to make sure your dating app gets the press it deserves come Valentine’s Day. If you need some support in growing your dating app, get in touch with us today.

How to make your PR tactics ‘match’ with the media