Perfecting your PR (Part 1)

PR Dispatch is the UK’s first PR subscription dedicated to independent product-based businesses.

Rosie Davies, gives advice her expert advice on the importance of PR for your brand, in a two part series.

What you need in place before doing PR

For many brands PR is an inevitable part of brand growth, but it’s important not to jump into the deep end. You only have one chance to make a lasting impression on the press, so it’s important you have everything you need in place to get it right first time. Fret not though, we’ve rounded up everything you need before you think about embarking on PR.

It may sound obvious but reading the publications is the most important part of being featured in press.
— Rosie Davies, PR Dispatch CEO

 

1.    Imagery

When approaching press imagery is one of the most crucial aspects of your brand. Before you contact editors be sure that you have high resolution cut-out images of your products on a white background, as well as beautiful lifestyle images that perfectly represent your brand – the press work quickly, so you will need to have these on hand to send to the editor immediately if they ask for them.

2.    Pricing

It’s so important to have a solid pricing structure in place before contacting press – if your product has been featured in a magazine at one price and is listed on your site at another then it prevents your brand from getting the most out of the coverage you have earned.

3.    Social media

To many people’s dismay social media is no longer optional; it’s crucial to brand awareness and growth. Before even considering featuring a brand they haven’t heard of, many editors will check their social channels out to see whether they’re a good fit for their feature. A beautifully curated feed that tells your brand story will give you a push in the right direction. Don’t forget to follow the editors on social media too!

4.    An understanding of the magazines

It may sound obvious but reading the publications is the most important part of being featured in press. Magazines have an audience to write for and if your product isn't right for that audience, then you’re not right for that magazine. Reading and understanding the features will very quickly give you an idea of whether or not your brand is right for that publication.

For just £28 per month we give you the contacts and know how to get in touch with magazines yourself. Getting your product featured in a magazine takes time and persistence but we are here to help you every step of the way. @PRdispatch

For just £28 per month we give you the contacts and know how to get in touch with magazines yourself. Getting your product featured in a magazine takes time and persistence but we are here to help you every step of the way.

@PRdispatch

Keep an eye out for part 2, coming up in May!

BRAND STORIES | THE POWER OF STORYTELLING

Deeply rooted in every culture, storytelling traditionally conveys the very essence of our human existence. Today in our consumer driven society, it plays a pivotal role in selling us our desired experiences.

For fashion and beauty brands, story telling is key.

Not only do you want to convey very clearly who you are and what you stand for, but research by Headstream has found that; when people love a brand story, more than half (55%) are more inclined to buy the product in the future, 44% will share your brand story and 15% will buy your product straight away.

Hired by Lowie to shoot their SS16 campaign and look book (and subsiquent AW16 & SS17), the Novel team were tasked with distilling the message of the collection into a desirable and aspirational style-story that would appeal to both their established customer base and potential new customers.

A heritage inspired womenswear label based in London, Lowie was founded in 2002 and has become one of sustainable fashion’s success stories, growing into a unique, sought after brand. Known for their soft knits and vintage inspired prints, Lowie’s limited runs and pretty but unfussy aesthetic, have earnt them a dedicated following.

For SS16, Lowie’s mood board for inspiration was bursting with Mexican prints and embroidery, Mexican wool souvenir jackets with appliqued scenes from the 1950’s, cacti, bright colour pops, playful scenic prints and heritage-styling; not to mention one of our favourite artists, Frida Kahlo.

Now, had we had the budget, we could have jumped on the first plane to Mexico, rocked up to Frida’s Blue House and vaulted the wall to shoot! However that would have been way too obvious and way too expensive.

Now, had we had the budget, we could have jumped on the first plane to Mexico, rocked up to Frida’s Blue House and vaulted the wall to shoot! However that would have been way too obvious and way too expensive.

Whilst we wanted to adhere to the collection’s inspiration, we also wanted to tell the story of the contemporary graphic prints used for this collection.

Styling

The perfect accessory has the power to transform an outfit and accentuate its style story. We went for accessory brands that both helped us subtly tell the visual story of the collection and the social and environmental story behind Lowie, the sustainable brand.

Hair and Makeup

Nothing can be a more powerful visual signifier for Frieda Kahlo’s style than her iconic hairstyle. We adapted it to fit the Lowie aesthetic, weaving trimmings from the collection through the models hair, ensuring a subtly extension of the collection, beyond the clothes.

Location

Opting for modern architecture with nods to bold Mexican colours in the artisanal decoration and cool, mid century furniture. The location summed up the Lowie woman. Modern, creative and artistic.

Casting

Whom, other than a brunette, to play our modern Frida? 

The result

Sustainable business and fair tax: is it a level playing field? (Part 3)

SUE PHILLIPS; ACCOUNTANT, AND LOVER OF SUSTAINABILITY, BOTH IN BUSINESS AND IN THE OTHER SENSE, HAS WRITTEN A THREE PART SERIES ON THE IMPORTANCE OF TAX FOR BRANDS AND BUSINESSES CLAIMING TO BE SUSTAINABLE AND ETHICAL. READ HER TIPS AND EXPERT ADVICE ON THE SUBJECT.

Image via Investment Network SA

Image via Investment Network SA

Tax (and perhaps finance generally) can seem quite daunting if you're not an accountant . . . But clearly it's essential for your long-term business success to understand your company's financial performance. Remember, sustainability is often defined as people, planet and profits! So what I'm aiming to do in this three-part resource on tax is to:

 

1.     explain why tax is a key ethical and sustainability issue;

2.     explore whether tax transparency can potentially benefit your reputation; and

3.     outline some practical tips for managing tax.

 

Practical tips for managing tax

If you've read the previous two sections of this resource on tax, you'll be aware that there's a world of difference between tax planning and tax avoidance. Tax planning is an acceptable and common business practice, and can help give you that essential competitive edge.

Every business is different: for example, you might be a sole trader, part of a partnership or a limited company; a large or a small business; operating purely within the UK, or importing and exporting internationally; you might have employees, or not. So it would be impossible, and irresponsible, for me to attempt to provide specific tax advice as such. But I hope these tips are helpful in thinking about how best to manage tax in your business.

 

  • Ultimately, even if you take on a bookkeeper or accountant to look after your accounts and/or complete your tax return, you're responsible for the content and accuracy of your submissions to HMRC. It's sensible to have sufficient basic financial knowledge to be confident in commissioning, discussing and authorising financial work carried out on your behalf. If you lack confidence in this area, you might want to investigate training in basic finance for non-financial managers. Even a short one-day course could be beneficial.

 

  • Make sure your accounting records are in good shape (accurate, up-to-date, and with a logical structure to assist retrieval and analysis of financial information). Cross-reference online and paper records. This will make things easier for you and your bookkeeper or accountant not only for tax return purposes, but also when it comes to producing financial statements and undertaking audit or independent examination. If your financial systems are efficient you're more likely to pay lower professional fees than if this isn't the case.

 

  • Make sure you're comfortable with the difference between profit and loss, and cashflow. Your accounts may indicate profits, but that doesn't necessarily mean you'll have cash available to pay your tax when it falls due. This is particularly likely to be a potential problem if your company is small-ish but expanding rapidly.

 

  • Record key deadlines for submission of tax returns and for payments, and plan to meet them to avoid interest and other penalties.

 

  •  If there's a risk you might not be able to pay your tax on time, resist the temptation to bury your head in the sand. Contact HMRC immediately as you may be able to agree more time to pay, or arrange to pay your bill in instalments.

 

  • Make sure you discuss tax with your accountant before the end of the tax year. You may want to plan your income and/or expenditure during the period in question in order to manage your tax as efficiently as possible: for example, if you're a sole trader approaching a tax threshold (where you'll pay a higher rate of tax above a specified level of profit).

 

  • And make sure you have confidence in your accountant to help you achieve your long-term business aims. Do they have an appropriate level of bookkeeping or accountancy qualification? Do you speak the same language? Not literally, but do you find conversations with them confusing or do they explain things using terminology you can understand? Do they keep you updated with relevant developments in tax law, and other financial matters? Do they relate your finances to your overall business plan and performance? Is their focus backwards on the accounts to date; or do they help you plan for the future?

 

In summary, remember that paying attention to financial sustainability, including (fair) tax, should put you in a better position to achieve the social and environmental sustainability that, hopefully, underpins your conscious business model.

Contributed by Sue Phillips (ACCA)

www.wherestuffcomesfrom.org

Resources

Gov.uk on 'Money and tax'

Gov.uk on 'Business tax'

'Supporting Small Business' (HMRC publication)

 

Sustainable business and fair tax: is it a level playing field? (Part 2)

SUE PHILLIPS; ACCOUNTANT, AND LOVER OF SUSTAINABILITY, BOTH IN BUSINESS AND IN THE OTHER SENSE, HAS WRITTEN A THREE PART SERIES ON THE IMPORTANCE OF TAX FOR BRANDS AND BUSINESSES CLAIMING TO BE SUSTAINABLE AND ETHICAL. READ HER TIPS AND EXPERT ADVICE ON THE SUBJECT.

Image source: Public Domain Pictures

Image source: Public Domain Pictures

Tax (and perhaps finance generally) can seem quite daunting if you're not an accountant . . . But clearly it's essential for your long-term business success to understand your company's financial performance. Remember, sustainability is often defined as people, planet and profits! So what I'm aiming to do in this three-part resource on tax is to:

1.     explain why tax is a key ethical and sustainability issue;

2.     explore whether tax transparency can potentially benefit your reputation; and

3.     outline some practical tips for managing tax.

 

Tax transparency and business reputation

Lots of people don't like paying tax. But a lot of us like public services such as the education system and the NHS. Which perhaps explains why media revelations (such as the Panama Papers leak) about wealthy individuals and global corporations actively striving to reduce their tax liabilities cause such an outcry. As PWC (Price, Waterhouse and Cooper) advise their clients: "The spotlight is firmly fixed on the amount of tax that businesses pay, so it’s more important than ever that you’re clear about your tax transparency and communications. . . . Tax reputation is a key business issue."

However, tax legislation is hugely complicated. And this is due, in part, to successive attempts to close off tax loopholes which in turn create unanticipated consequences and new loopholes.

If you want a better understanding of current tax issues, it's worth taking a look at Owen Jones' interview with Margaret Hodge (former Chair of the Public Accounts Committee) in The Guardian in late 2016. She explains the difference between tax planning (acceptable and normal business practice) and tax evasion (an illegal attempt to avoid paying tax).  And she discusses tax avoidance, which falls somewhere in-between tax planning and tax evasion. It's not illegal and, in fact, it's an increasingly acceptable and common business practice. But does that make it right? Margaret Hodges describes tax avoidance as exploitation of inevitable ambiguities in the law in a way which is "morally reprehensible and wrong".

But why is it wrong? The Global Reporting Initiative (an international independent organisation helping businesses, governments and other organisations understand and communicate the impact of business on critical sustainability issues such as climate change, human rights, corruption and many others) report that "corporate tax avoidance in Europe is estimated to cost EU countries EUR 50-70 billion a year in lost tax revenues".

In the Guardian interview (above) Margaret Hodge discusses the UK 'tax gap'; the difference between tax which should be collected and tax which is actually collected. HMRC have calculated the 2014-15 tax gap as being around £36 billion. But Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK argues that this figure is misleadingly low as it ignores, for example, profit-shifting techniques used by large multinationals to move profits to low or no tax jurisdictions. He estimates the tax gap could have been as high as £119.4 billion in 2013-14. Either way, that's an awful lot of UK hospitals, or schools!

In the first section of this three-part resource on tax, I asked whether it's a level playing field when it comes to tax. Tax campaigner, Richard Brooks, argues that HMRC's 'customer relationship manager' model and lack of public transparency when dealing with the largest corporations gives an unfair advantage, perpetuating inequality. Margaret Hodge also discusses the 'revolving door syndrome' whereby tax specialists from major accounting and auditing firms advise governments on creating tax law, then use the knowledge they've gained to advise wealthy individual and corporate clients on avoiding those same taxes.

But conscious consumers increasingly expect companies to contribute responsibly to the societies in which they generate profits. In the future, will people favour companies taking a responsible approach to tax? And how can your company connect with those potential customers?

One option is to sign up for the UK's first 'fair tax' accreditation, the Fair Tax Mark, to demonstrate your commitment to doing the right thing when it comes to tax. Such accreditation won't be right for every company, of course; it'll depend on your size, strategy, and availability of funds and other resources. But, hopefully, the more companies promote their commitment to fair tax, the more public pressure there'll be for all companies to take a responsible approach to tax.

Above all, be proud to pay your fair share of tax, supporting vital public services and contributing to a fairer society overall.

 

Contributed by Sue Phillips (ACCA)

www.wherestuffcomesfrom.org

 

More resources

Fair Tax Mark (fair tax accreditation)

Tax Justice Network (research on offshore finance and tax havens)

'The Great Tax Robbery: How Britain became a tax haven for fat cats and big business', by Richard Brooks

Gov.uk on 'Money and tax'

Gov.uk on 'Business tax'

 

Sustainable business and fair tax | Is it a level playing field? (Part 1)

Sue Phillips; accountANT, and lover of sustainability, both in business and in the other sense, has written a three part series on the importance of tax for brands and businesses claiming to be sustainable and ethical. Read her tipS and expert advice on the subject.

Does not paying tax make you "smart"? Donald Trump certainly thinks so. And he's not alone. But, if you're a business with a conscious focus on sustainability and ethics, does that change your attitude to tax? And, if so, why?

Tax (and perhaps finance generally) can seem quite daunting if you're not an accountant . . . But clearly it's essential for your long-term business success to understand your company's financial performance. Remember, sustainability is often defined as people, planet and profits! So what I'm aiming to do in this three-part resource on tax is to: 

1.     explain why tax is a key ethical and sustainability issue;

2.     explore whether tax transparency can potentially benefit your reputation; and

3.     outline some practical tips for managing tax.

Image via Images of Money Tax

Image via Images of Money Tax

 

Tax as a key ethical and sustainability issue

Tax has been around for a long time. In fact, it's been around longer than money. People have paid taxes since pre-Biblical times, albeit sometimes 'in kind' with goods or with their own labour. And questions of who should pay tax, how much tax they should pay, and for what purpose have caused disagreement ever since.

In the UK, taxes were historically a way for royalty to raise revenue, often to fund military ambitions and wars. And there's still a nominal link between the Crown and the government when it comes to tax: after all, HMRC stands for Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. But, in the twenty-first century, types and levels of tax are determined by the government, not the royal family.

 Every time we cast an election vote, we're expressing an opinion on what kind of society we want to live in (for example, whether we want universal and free (at the point of delivery) healthcare, and access to education); and how this should be paid for (whether progressive tax, where the richest individuals and the largest companies pay more, or so-called 'flatter' levels of tax). So, tax can be seen as a fundamental aspect of modern democracy.

 Coming back to the earlier point that sustainability can be defined in relation to people, planet and profits; tax revenue, or lack of it, has implications for social, environmental and economic sustainability at national level. (These are, of course, hugely complex and often controversial subjects so this is the briefest of introductions. If you want to know more, take a look at the Resources section below.)

 Taxation is one of the ways the government funds public services. Taxes help to pay for the NHS; schools; and welfare benefit payments to individuals who can't work (whether due to sickness, disability or just lack of suitable employment opportunities), or who've retired. And it's also one of the fiscal tools used to achieve social objectives such as full employment. In addition, governments can use taxation in support of environmental objectives: perhaps levying taxes on products and services with an adverse environmental impact, such as polluting fuels or landfill; or offering incentives to entrepreneurs developing environmentally-friendly solutions.

 The aspect of tax which probably generates most disagreement is its potential to redistribute income and wealth. Which is one reason why 'fair tax' campaigner, Richard Murphy, in his book 'The Joy of Tax: How a fair tax system can create a better society' makes the observation that "tax and morality are inextricably linked".

So a key issue is what happens if individuals and companies don't pay their fair share of tax. Clearly there's less government money available to fund social objectives. And, even if companies provide corporate sponsorship for health or education initiatives, this undermines democratic political processes which give people the opportunity to vote for the kind of public services they want. It hands influence and control over such decisions to companies who may not, of course, actually be based in the same country.

All in all, tax is inextricably linked to ethics and sustainability.

 Are you wondering how this applies to you and your company? Well, another fundamental question is whether global corporations benefit from arrangements such as tax havens in ways which make them more financially competitive than smaller, conscious enterprises? Is it a level playing field, or do larger corporations have access to tax concessions which give them an unfair advantage? I'll cover these issues in the second part of this three-part resource on tax.

Contributed by Sue Phillips (ACCA)

www.wherestuffcomesfrom.org

 

More resources

'The Joy of Tax: How a fair tax system can create a better society', by Richard Murphy

Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) article on 'tax transparency, regulation and the need for greater disclosure'

Gov.uk on 'Money and tax'

Gov.uk on 'Business tax'

 

 

 

 

Marketing Statistics | How do they apply to your business?

We see time and time again, that smaller sustainable/ethical brands have not factored a marketing budget into their business plan.

While you may have the most ethically produced product around, if you aren't able to present it to the consumer in an engaging and authentic way allowing you to stand out in an over saturated market place, your business model is simply, not sustainable. 

Irrespective of what your business does, you need to be sure that you are competing across the board, and not simply amongst your the limiting title of "ethical fashion." After all, we know that ethical fashion should be the norm, and not the exception!

Here are some facts on current marketing trends worth considering to ensure that you are able to get your wonderful brand out to world, and that your reach can positively impact your business and the livelihoods of the people that help make our products, while not adding to the current fast fashion business model.

 
 

Marketing Statistics

  • Articles with images get 94% more views than those without. NewsCred, 2014

  • 46% of marketers say photography is critical to their current marketing and storytelling strategies. CMO Council, 2015.

  • 39% of marketers believe that more of their budget should be allocated to the acquisition or creation of compelling visual assets. CMO Council, 2015.

  • 84% of marketers agree attribution is either critical or very important to marketing success, a 140% increase since last reported. AdRoll, 2016.

  • About half of small businesses plan to invest more in their websites in 2016, and half plan to increase their web advertising budgets. Infusionsoft & LeadPages, 2016.

  • When people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later. Brain Rules, 2015.

  • In 2016, most small businesses using digital marketing will aim to drive sales, build brand awareness, or simply convey information. Infusionsoft & LeadPages, 2016.

  • 41% of customers interact with ads targeted at their interests compared to random ones. Usabilla, 2015.

  •  56.3% of global marketers said they upped their annual data-driven marketing and advertising expenditures this year. The GDMA & The Winterberry Group, 2015.

  • 88% of marketers plan to increase or maintain their spending level during 2016 compared to 84% last year. ALF Insight, 2016.

  • 62% of companies outsource all or part of their digital marketing tactics, primarily the most difficult types to execute. Outsourcing supplements internal skills to improve performance. Ascend2, 2016.

  • Marketing Land reported 72% of ad agencies think online video advertising is just as effective as—if not more than—television advertising. PR Daily, 2015. 

  • Advertisers saw the largest Y/Y click growth of 2015 in Q4, as traffic grew 19% and spend grew 18%. Merkle, 2016

  • 63% of millennials say they stay updated on brands through social networks; 51% say social opinions influence their purchase decisions; and 46% “count on social media” when buying online. Leaderswest, 2014

  • 85% of B2B marketers say lead generation is the most important organisational goal for the next 12 months. Content Marketing Institute, 2015.

  • Videos on landing pages increase conversions by 86%. Social Fresh, 2014.

  • Despite all the hype about online, 67% of B2B content marketers consider event marketing to be their most effective strategy. Social Fresh, 2014.

  • 88% of consumers have purchased a product they pinned on Pinterest, and 49% have purchased 5 or more products they’ve pinned. Jeffbullas, 2015.

  • The effectiveness of digital marketing to achieve important objectives is increasing to some extent for 89% of companies, with 29% saying “Effectiveness is increasing significantly”. Ascend2, 2016.

  • The most popular social media platform among B2C businesses is Facebook, with 94% reporting its usage. Other popular platforms are Twitter (82%), YouTube (77%) and LinkedIn (76%). Content Marketing Institute, 2015.

  • The top 5 local marketing tactics for 2016 are: social media marketing, search engine optimisation, mobile-friendly website, Facebook advertising and search engine advertising. ReachLocal, 2016.

  • 66% of B2C marketers say Facebook is their most effective social platform; this is followed by YouTube (53%), Twitter (50%) and Instagram (42%). Content Marketing Institute, 2015.

  • Website and email are still the most popular channels among the majority of marketers, followed by webinars, social media, and organic search. Kapost, 2015.

  • As consumers spend more time on their mobile devices, marketing campaigns are following suit. Mobile ad spend continues to lag mobile time spent, providing an opportunity for creative marketers. IAB, 2015.

  • 45% of marketers say blogging is their #1 most important content strategy. Social Media Examiner, 2015.

  • Brands that create 15 blog posts per month average 1,200 new leads per month. Hubspot, 2016.

  • Only 27% of marketers have a process in place to aggregate, organize, and manage the visual assets being used across their marketing teams. CMO Council, 2015.

  •  22% of brands do not implement welcome campaigns to engage new subscribers, and 43% do not use reactivation campaigns to reengage lapsed or inactive subscribers. Yesmail, 2016.

  • 76% of people feel that marketing has changed more in the past 2 years than in the previous 50. Adobe, 2016.

Source: www.freely.net

Attribution Theory | How Your Brand Can Become Part of The New World Order

We need to offer the consumer a new theory of what ethical and sustainable fashion is all about. We are selling them the future after all! 

Attribution theory is the study of human behaviour relating to how we purchase products and services. The theory assumes that people draw upon their past experiences when facing a new situation.

Often without even realising it, we  assess the quality of a product or service as we using it. Regardless of whether we are happy or disappointed with its performance or customer service, we develop conclusions about the product, the manufacturer, or even the entire sector.  When a consumer sees a similar product on the market, his/her past experience will influence his future purchase decisions. That is why it is vital that we not only provide the consumer with an outstanding product, but that we convey the added value of it's provenance with engaging visuals, in order to provide a new theory of what ethical/sustainable fashion can look like.