Fortnite, In Real Life

If I asked you to name a company that are estimated to be valued at over 8.5 billion dollars in January 2019, Epic Games probably wouldn’t be one of the first names on your list. Epic Games, Inc. formerly Potomac Computer Systems, is an American video game developer based in Cary, North Carolina. The company was founded by Tim Sweeney as Potomac Computer Systems in 1991, originally located in his parents’ house in Potomac, Maryland.

This might not mean a lot to most people reading the opening paragraph, however one word will likely change that.

Fortnite (this does not mean 2 weeks).

To provide some context in case you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know what Fortnite is. It is a survival game where 100 players from all over the world parachute from a big blue “Battle Bus” onto the Fortnite map and the last player alive wins. Players can also select game mode options to play as part of a team where the last team standing wins. This may seem a bit gruesome if you haven’t seen a game of Fortnite, the characters are all cartoon based and there are no blood or guts so can parents of young children please chill out.

The game has attracted massive attention, with over 40 million logins each month. Pretty good for a “free” game isn’t it? Yes that’s right, it costs absolutely nothing to download and play Fortnite yet it generated over 645 million dollars in three months. This is mostly from in-game cosmetics and the games internal currency called “V-Bucks” (which you can buy with real money) which are used to buy new characters, accessories and even dances.

Public Relations

Epic games specifically with Fortnite use very clever Public Relation strategies, which in some cases has even gained attention from the mainstream media. To add some more context, within the game there is the possibility of finding a “llama” which contains useful materials for players to use to their advantage.

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It is quite a good thing if a players finds a llama which are scattered all over the map and can be found anywhere. For the official launch of the much anticipated Fortnite Season 5, Epic Games organised for these in-game llamas to appear in different locations all over the world (yes real life).

This was a very unusual way to raise anticipation for the season 5 update but it got a very positive response from social media. It encouraged people who had no idea what Fortnite was to download the free game and gave Epic Games the potential to make even more money.

Durr Burger

Another example of Epic games PR stunts was “Durr Burger”. To add some context, there is a location within Fortnite called “Greasy Grove”. This place is centred on a fast food burger restaurant, whose mascot is called “Durr Burger”.

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Within the game at the beginning of season 5 mysterious things started happening, items were disappearing from the map and appearing elsewhere. Epic games organised this to happen with “Durr Burger”. It had disappeared from its home on the top of the restaurant and players were wondering where it was, then this happened.

“Durr Burger” was spotted in real life, like the llamas. In a Californian dessert a real life “Durr Burger” showed up, this gained a huge amount of attention on social media. Members of the public were visiting “Durr Burger”, taking photos and was a very popular topic on local radio in California.

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Epic Games spend a lot of time on developing Fortnite, creating new content within the game with weekly and seasonal updates to keep it fresh and attract new players. Season 7 came out with a widely-predicted Christmas themed update, but Epic Games will certainly have future surprises for us.

Eoin Crossan is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/eoin-crossan-848a30171/

Suite dreams are made of this

Public relations is a profound interest of mine and there are plentiful reasons why this area of expertise elevates me, particularly the communication aspect, as well as being exposed to so many interesting individuals. I am going to share my story with you, career choices and life experiences that have led me to believe that public relations is the ingredient that brings my ideas to a reality.

Anyway here’s my story (so far)…

The moment I realized that a career in public relations was for me was in 2014 when I took a year out from education; as I was unsure about which degree to pursue. I began working as a receptionist in the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa. The reason I decided to pursue a job as a hotel receptionist was with the intention of evolving my existing skill set and qualities as well as my interpersonal communication skills. With no prior experience in this field of work; I was dependent on landing the position solely on my interview and given the opportunity of expressing my ‘inner brand’. The interview was very formal and intimidating, however it was my time to shine and showcase what made me an eligible candidate for the position. The interviewers must have seen past my nerves as I was surprisingly successful and got offered a full-time position!

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The job opened me up to the public as I was the primary point of contact with the guests, meaning I was responsible for their first impressions as well as leaving the lasting impression as they departed from the hotel. At first the reception department was extremely daunting, It took me roughly three months to feel confident behind the desk, at this point my passion for public relations began to grow. I had soon become acquainted with the regular guests and catering to their needs became my second nature. I took pride in ensuring their stay was enjoyable and It wasn’t long before I started noticing my name frequently mentioned in trip advisor reviews, highlighting my ‘professionalism’ and being regarded as a ‘fantastic ambassador’ for the hotel. The recognition, gratitude and positive feedback was very fulfilling, and this was when I discovered that this was my major – representing companies whilst working alongside the stakeholders.

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Having proved my charisma, expressed my effective communication skills and established customer rapport in the business I decided it was time to enroll into university. I applied for my degree in ‘communication management and public relations’ whilst continuing to work for the organization. However, as my degree required me to move to Belfast, the company transferred me to their sister hotel – the world-famous Europa.

This environment was completely unknown to me as the hotel is twice the size of the Slieve Donard and I underestimated how demanding the job was and how busy I would be kept. This hotel is in such high demand and attracts numerous celebrities, who always must always be accommodated with VIP treatment. Over the 2 years I worked for the Europa I have checked in numerous celebrities including;  Van Morrison, Conor McGregor, Lee Evans, Jimmy Page and the entire cast of Game of Thrones. The public relations profession operates in a celebrity-driven world, and the very first celebrity I checked in whilst working in the Europa was Conor McGregor, and I can remember it like yesterday. I had only been working on the front desk for 2 weeks and can still remember the overwhelming, starstruck feeling that I got. I cant express it but every single guest that checked into the hotel, I had an overwhelming desire to go out of my way to make their stay great, whether it be a couple checking in for a little getaway for the weekend, simply upgrading their room and seeing the smiles on their faces made it worthwhile. Or having Game of Thrones stars phone down to the desk and request a wake up call at 4am to go filming, and ask to speak to me personally for knowing their room service order like the back of my hand. All these little things are what made my job wonderful.

 

Working in the Europa introduced me to so many amazing people and friends for life and even opened doors to new potential career opportunities. For example: One particular day I was checking out a lady and got chatting to her, she asked me an unexpected and extremely surprising question: “You have an amazing bone structure. Have you ever considered modelling?” I was evidently stunned by her question as I looked eagerly at my colleagues for an appropriate response to this bizarre enquiry. “No?” I replied as she handed me her business card shook my hand and invited me to attend an interview at her business ‘Alison Campbell Academy.’ I unknowingly just checked out the CEO of ‘ACA Models’ and had just been scouted as a model!

I was unsure how to feel about this proposition as the possibility of embarking on a career in modelling had never ever crossed my mind, but my colleagues were adamant that I attend the interview anyway, and I even managed to get signed onto their books. I have been placed onto various modelling jobs in which I have represented a specific brand for a certain advertising/catwalk events. Examples of brands that I have worked for include: Miss Northern Ireland, Danske Bank, Down Royal Race Course, Victoria Square and many more. It was very exciting to work as the spokesperson for established companies and represent their brand. I am frequently commended for my outgoing personality and charismatic nature working these jobs; I personally believe that my communication skills and devoted nature is what enabled my public relations abilities to blossom into a reality in the working front of an organization like this.

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Public relations is an ever-evolving industry that brings so much excitement and possibilities to the world. Public relations is deeply embedded into my personality. It is my lifestyle. Every given day is a new inspiration for me to undertake something new that will improve my professional and personal life. In the technologically advanced world we live in, there is an infinite variety of potential connections at our disposal. The  life experiences I have encountered have steered me to the realization that public relations is my bread and butter.

Thank you for reading,

© eline ®ussell

Celine Russell is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn –  https://www.linkedin.com/in/celine-russell-849ba4171/ ; Twitter –  @celine_russ; Facebook –  https://www.facebook.com/celine.russell.7

PaddyPower’s Top 5 Publicity Stunts

PaddyPower is one of the leading Irish bookmakers who will do just about everything for some publicity, whether it be conventional marketing or controversial PR stunts,  From taking bets on whether Oscar Pistorius will “walk” from his murder trial to publishing a poster portraying Jesus and the disciples gambling at the last supper.  Personally i think most of the PaddyPower advertisements are hilarious and they continually think of  clever ways of advertising their brand. PaddyPower’s marketing department definitely produce material based on the understanding that “all publicity is good publicity”.

Below is a list of previous PaddyPower PR stunts that i believe are some of their best pieces of work.

5. Cheltenham festival pants 

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During the 2013 Cheltenham festival, PaddyPower offered race-goers the chance to get the best seats in the house in a flying pair of PaddyPower underpants. The giant flying underpants were not only seen by the 70,000 people in attendance but also was picked up on live TV broadcasts. Cheltenham festival organisers subsequently demanded that PaddyPower take down their flying pair of pants following the involvement of the Civil Aviation Authority.

 

4. Nicklas Bendtner’s Lucky Pants

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During a EURO 2012 group game Nicklas Bendtner coolly dispatched an equalising goal for Denmark, he then proceeds to pull down his shorts where he reveals a pair of PaddyPower lucky pants,  The stunt landed Nicklas a £80,000 fine which PaddyPower paid on behalf of Nicklas. The fine was issued on the same day that Croatian fans were fined £60,000 for racial slurs directed at Italian striker Mario Balotelli, PaddyPower publicly addressed the harsh penalty fee and were disappointed in EUFA’s “double standards”.

3. Ryder Cup Sky tweets

In a campaign to support Team Europe at the 2012 Ryder Cup golf tournament, PaddyPower decided to take to the skies above the Medinah Country Club to issue the worlds first ‘sky tweet’.  PaddyPower hired a fleet of aircraft’s to display tweets in the sky in support of Team Europe. The messages were quickly seen by the golfers and was picked up live on Sky Sports broadcasts. The campaign was so successful that BBC re-used the footage for their 2012 Sports Personality of the Year awards.

2. PaddyPower’s Drive Through Confession Box

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Prior to the Pope’s visit to Ireland on August of 2018, PaddyPower erected a giant drive-thru confession box to facilitate for the Irish population to repent decades of sins from the comfort of their own car. PaddyPower even carried out a special survey before building the express lane to eternal salvation, when asked if they found it convenient to attend confession, the majority (61%) said no, and a further 15% said it could be improved, cue PaddyPowers “convenient” method of attending confession.

1.Always bet on black

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Ahead of the one of the most anticipated fights the world has ever seen between undefeated Floyd Mayweather and Irish MMA champion Conor McGregor, Floyd steps up for his weigh-in, slips off his trousers only to showcase PaddyPowers bright green lucky pants with the phrase “always bet of black” embroidered on them in an apparent gut-shot to his opponent’s ‘f**k you’ pinstripe suit effort during the fighters’ promo tour for the event. Quite frankly, nobody had seen this coming especially given that PaddyPower, an Irish betting company wasn’t backing one of their own in Conor McGregor. Instead they had fledged allegiance to undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather.

PaddyPower even held twitter competitions to win a free pair of PaddyPower lucky pants signed by Floyd himself.

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James McGirr is a final year BSc Public Relations & Communication Management student at Ulster University. He can be found on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/james-mcgirr-247328143/ & Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jimmymcgirr

What would we do without PR?

Public Relations (PR) has a valid role in today’s democratic society. Moloney and Colmer (2001; pp.89) suggest “The thesis is that PR is on a journey from being the property of the UK elite to the possession of many, if not most of its citizens.” Liberalisation led to economic growth which created a sustained customer boom, therefore creating an incessant need for PR services in society and this has grown to become a necessity in many parts of today’s society.

The 20th century gave birth to a new type of media relations (Zerfass, et.al. 2016) and this has created a dynamic shift in PR to correspond with the digital age (Toledano and Avidar, 2016).

According to Moloney (2004; pp.163) “The shift to online and social media communication has impacted the practice of PR.” PR practitioners can now create online content to influence public opinion and create awareness of a company/brand but it’s down to the individual if they decide to consume the information online. This epitomises Habermas’ (1989) “The Public Sphere”, reiterating the idea that all citizens in society now have access to transparent information and whether we consume this information, is completely up to us.

PR and Mass Media

PR is now prevalent on social media in many different forms. Businesses are now promoting their brand on their Facebook pages, influencers are now endorsing products on their Instagram and celebrities are expressing their views on their twitter feeds. Therefore, social media is now a powerful way to support PR (LaMarre and Suzuki-Lambrecht, 2013). It is now possible to promote a PR campaign fully online.  Social media is free, easy to use and consumed by much of our society today.  Therefore, PR through social media is very important when carrying out any PR strategy today.

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One could also argue that PR professionals are still seeking coverage from journalists but also bloggers in today’s society. According to Walden (2015; pp.526) “Bloggers play an influential role in society by breaking news, discussing news and being cited in the traditional media, which makes this a critical stakeholder group for PR professionals to work with.” The blogger phenomenon has really grown in the past few years and now PR professionals are working with bloggers to promote brands and endorse products on their Instagram and YouTube channels. Therefore, the practice of PR is changing to meet with the current trends in society.

It is now so easy to have a direct means to publics through online PR. Social media allows PR practitioners to maintain relationships with their publics in a more coherent and sustainable way (Komodromos, 2014). PR through social media can reach a lot more people and better communicate a message around the world (Toledano and Avidar, 2016). Morris and Goldsworthy (2016) claim we are living in a creative industry and PR is prominent in popular culture, clearly showing that PR’s role in the media is very important.

Social media is only one aspect of PR in the media. Engagement with newspapers and print media is just as important. Today, PR practitioners work to try and influence public opinion through the media. Morris and Goldsworthy (2016; pp.14) emphasise this idea noting “Public Relations is at the heart of things” through being at the centre of mass media. Van den Heijkant and Vliegenthart (2018) argue “PR materials are an important and easy accessible resource for the news media and might seriously impact the actual content of media coverage.” Therefore, PR has a distinctive role in controlling content in news media today.

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PR and Business

PR also has an important role to play within business today. Organisations require coherent PR strategies to promote a new product or service to their consumers. To connect with consumers, maintain relationships with consumers and attract new consumers, organisations need to have a strategic PR plan in place.

PR practitioners can support businesses in many different ways. PR practitioners can manage any crisis that may occur within a business. A crisis can occur at any time in any place and if businesses are not prepared, they face huge repercussions in terms of their reputation and credibility. Companies can hire PR professionals to create coherent crisis management plans that will look at the possible crises and provide steps to ensure the crisis is managed effectively. PR practitioners can also speak on behalf of a company to ensure they respond to a crisis in the right way that is legally sound and will protect the company image. Therefore, PR can have a very important role in managing crises.

Another aspect of PR in business is Sponsorship. Sponsorship is used by PR practitioners to increase public awareness of a company, reinforce public awareness of a brand and enhance its reputation. According to Ronald, (2004; pp.42) “PR can help management to get more benefit from sponsorship by guiding management to projects that will produce massive national or worldwide media coverage and the most heartfelt public gratitude.” PR practitioners can use their means to promote the good that a company does and overall enhance a company’s public image. For example, a company can use PR to promote their corporate social responsibility. (CSR) If a company is involved in charitable work or has programs that support the community, PR practitioners can use this to increase brand awareness and improve the company’s image.  Ronald (2004; pp.43) goes as far to suggest that PR can “be like bread cast upon the waters that returns to thee many fold and repeatedly”. Therefore, using PR in sponsorship can have huge advantages for businesses today.

PR and Politics

PR and Politics are hugely intertwined in today’s society. PR has been used in Politics since the 1860’s but Morris and Goldsworthy (2016) argued the Thatcher and Regan years created enormous needs for PR services. Since then, there has been a huge reliance on PR in political communication. Hobbs (2016; pp.372) supports this view claiming ‘spin’ is central to processes that constitute representative democracy.  Nowadays, politicians rely on their PR advisors or “spin doctors” to influence public opinion and control the agendas of the media. Moloney (2004; pp. 967) goes as far to suggest that PR “is an integral part of political presentation in the intermediated mass democracy which is modern UK politics.”

According to Morris and Goldsworthy (2016; pp.12) “PR has become an important role in the battle to secure people’s votes.” Therefore, PR is very important in effectively communicating political messages to the public to gain support and influence public opinion. Especially today and for the past 2 years our newspapers, television screens and social media pages have been infiltrated with the word “Brexit” making it hard to avoid politics in society. Political parties and advisors have been using PR throughout the last few years to try and influence public opinion and sway voters to leave or stay in the European Union. Therefore, PR has a very important role in politics today.

To secure votes and support, political communication is about conveying the right message and PR practitioners today stand right behind politicians advising them the best route to take to gain support (Moloney, 2004). This idea of ‘Spin’ can cause some debate in the literature, some would argue that PR is the voice of people’s values and opinions as Moloney and Colmer, (2001; pp. 89) note, “We can be publicly gay, or single parents; start businesses; go on strike; campaign for consumer rights; speak for war or peace and take up nay faith or hobby which suits.” Showing that PR allows people to have their own views and express these views explicitly.

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On the other hand, Hobbs (2016) argues that spin can allow Political advisors to twist the truth and cause some ethical issues in government. An example of this is the Conservative party’s Brexit campaign, Boris Johnson in an effort to secure public support for the Leave campaign, toured around the UK in a bus with a very distinctive message on it….

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This claim that £350 million pound will be spent on the NHS could have swayed many voters to vote leave in the Brexit referendum on this promise alone, but it was then revealed that this was in fact, not the truth. After the vote it was abandoned by the Conservative party along with many other promises (The Independent, 2016). Therefore, it can be argued that PR in today’s society can be associated with manipulation just to get votes (Moloney, 2004).

Another way Political parties influence opinion through PR is through controlling the agendas of independent media organisations through information management (Moloney, 2004).  In the context of Northern Ireland some newspapers support unionist views and some newspapers support nationalist views and content of each will be targeted at audiences that support these ideals. In the wider UK according to YouGov (2017) The Daily Mail is seen as right wing, The Guardian as left wing and The Independent as centrist. Therefore, one could argue that newspapers are trying to persuade opinion rather than provide information that allows individuals to form their own opinions.

All in all, PR has a very distinctive role within politics today. Moloney (2004) suggests that it is hard to distinguish between PR and Politics and the two go hand in hand. This shows that PR has become an essential part of political presentation to communicate a message and defend this message, PR practitioners are essential to a governing body clearly indicating PR has a very important role in a mass democracy.

So, what would we do without PR?

PR is all around us and with the changing trends and creation of the digital age PR’s role has changed and adapted to these concepts. PR is not just about press releases, it’s about using social media to enhance brand image, a political image or even a blogger’s image. It is hard to ignore PR today, we see it everywhere, in our newspapers, on our televisions and twitter feeds. We are constantly being influenced through PR and PR allows us to express our own opinions and values. Therefore, it’s hard to deny the importance of PR and its roles in today’s society.

Orlaith Strong is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @orlaith_strong and Linkedin: @orlaithstrong

A Career in PR …

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Public relations can offer me a challenging and rewarding career in which I will have the opportunity to work on tasks and projects that will have a diverse range of jobs to undertake. I am highly interested in current affairs such as politics and what’s going on in the business world. I find it fascinating to know what businesses, entrepreneurs and politicians/parties are doing well and what ones are on a downfall. Keeping up to date with political parties’ proposals and the likes of Brexit is an area which I am keen to be working with in my day to day jobs and tasks. To be a PR practitioner I would need to be aware of current trends and issues as it will be essential if I want to offer advice to clients or an organisation. No two days would ever be the same if I was working in PR. This spikes my interest as the same boring routine everyday would make me lose my motivation to work harder and would result in a negative impact on my productivity.

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Studying PR and communication for the past 2 years has allowed me to grow in confidence. Group projects that include us sharing presentations with our class has enabled me to be a better public speaker and to learn skills to help me when it comes to talking to a wide range of people. These skills are essential if I want to start a career in PR as it will involve speaking with clients or journalists and groups of people who may be important to an organisation or client. A job in PR would let me gain insight into the impact of communication and how it effects our day to day lives from our buying habits to who we vote for. It will allow me to have the opportunity to work in many different fields from politics, to airlines or even universities.

When I was in upper 6th in school I studied English Literature as one of A-levels. I realised I had a passion for writing and creativity but quickly learned that I had a preference towards the work I had to complete for my Business Studies class. In Business Studies we competed in a national competition which involved us creating and promoting a new cereal bar. During the task I completed a press release and a blog on the health benefits of cereal bars. It allowed me to be creative without the restraints of only analysing a book, poem or play.  As a result of this I was attracted to PR as I knew it would include creative communication. In school we also went on a trip to the Coca Cola factory where their PR practitioner met us, gave us a tour and answered all of our questions. I remember thinking it seemed like a really enjoyable job and she informed us off different tasks she would complete. She told us how she dealt with the press or the general public that had questions about Coca Cola which raised my interest. When I started to research what a job in public relations would entail communicating with colleagues, the media and the public interested me. I am extremely interested in organising events such as exhibitions, open days and press tours as it allows you to get out of the office and engage with key stakeholders. In school I was part of a debating team which allowed me to practise and sharpen my verbal communication skills and taught me how to clearly present my ideas and thinking’s. The creative aspects of PR are off interest to me as I enjoy making brochures, handouts, promotional videos and so on. Similar to most student’s social media interests me as it’s something I would feel comfortable working with. PR would include tasks such as managing and updating and engaging with an organisation or client’s social media site. Working in public relations can teach me how to create content on these platforms that will be useful and engaging to its audiences.

Writing assignments, speeches, blogs, press releases and so on interested me. I knew I had already developed writing skills in school that were essential for working in PR and I enjoyed sitting down to create a piece of work. I’m a very talkative person so the fact that PR is mainly focused on communication is a massive positive for me. I am really comfortable talking with new people, doing interviews and answering the phone. I would love to have a career that involved fostering community relations such as open days and tours that would include communicating with stakeholders. People who work in PR are expected to network and socialise which I find appealing. Dealing with clients, the media and colleagues and building and maintaining relationships with them significantly interests me as social and work life may become a little intertwined.

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One of the main benefits of working in PR I could find during my research was that PR can involve a lot of travelling depending on the organisation. This interests me as it can be exciting and motivating to be working in a new environment. It gives the opportunity to meet and learn from new people which in turn can increase your skill set and make you more employable for future jobs. Travelling with work would also allow you to visit and see places that you may not have seen before and would give the opportunity to experience new cultures, even if it is only for a short period.

I like that it mainly has a professional dress code and you will hold a lot of responsibility. Having a lot of responsibility in work helps motivate me to complete projects and be more creative with my thinking. A career in PR would open many doors for me and allow me to gain brilliant work experience which could lead to a massive variety of jobs.

 

Anna Grant is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram – annagrantx

Celebrities in Crisis: Is all PR really good PR?

“When written in Chinese, the word ‘Crisis’ is composed of two characters: One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.” John F. Kennedy.

This quote pokes the bear in the great debate about Celebrity PR scandals, and as we move away from the archaic belief that “All PR is good PR”, it’s clear to me that one critical element of Public Relations remains; Crisis Management.  Feel free to disagree, but from my experience the two go hand in hand and every PR campaign should have an element of crisis built in, just in case the “What if?” situation becomes the “What now?” situation.

What has really grabbed my attention over the past year is the amount of crises I have seen in the celebrity world amidst the huge Harvey Weinstein scandal.

Harvey Weinstein has really piqued my interest in this area over the past and I along with the rest of the developed world have watched as the dramatic, complex, and undignified scandal unraveled before our eyes.

In case you missed it (or have been in a coma for the last year) back in 2017, Harvey Weinstein, a Hollywood mogul always pictured at glamorous Hollywood parties pictured with many famous A-List stars was slammed across all media channels after a number of different women came forward claiming they were sexually harassed by the now former film producer.

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In the early hours of the scandal, The Weinstein Company released a statement to the media saying that they were launching an inquiry into the allegations,  which translated in PR language means “give us some time to try and come up with a wordy statement that doesn’t answer any of your questions but makes it look like we know what to do in this situation and has been picked apart by our lawyers to ensure limited legal liability.”

After 13 more women spoke out, celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and George Clooney condemning him, his lawyer resigning, his wife leaving him and the inevitable dismissal from his own company there really was no scope for any kind of crisis management plan. Weinstein could only deny the allegations but the mass effect the media coverage had on this huge scandal meant his reputation had no hope of a recovery.

The Weinstein case seemed to cause a ripple effect in the celebrity world and soon enough many PR practitioners representing many different celebrities, business people and even government officials were facing this unprecedented crisis.

Another case that caught my eye was The Spacey Scandal…

Kevin Spacey was one of Hollywood’s most decorated actors and personally starred in one of my favourite Netflix tv series- House of Cards.

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So, naturally when this crisis came out I was stunned.

A grand total of 30 men claimed that Spacey, made a sexual advance upon them dating back to 1982.  Kevin Spacey’s response?

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Personally, I found his response quite interesting in terms of crisis management. He doesn’t try to deny the claims like Weinstein, he also doesn’t admit that he did it. But he tries to protect his image by apologizing and revealing something very personal about his life. In terms of PR one could raise the question… is Kevin Spacey revealing his sexuality as a PR spin? Is he trying to deflect from the situation? Who knows. But, a common tactic especially for PR Spin Doctors is to bury bad news in bad news, so it could be argued that this is a tactical move.

Anyway, it’s not all about sexual allegations when discussing PR scandals in the celebrity world. Comedian Kathy Griffin faced a huge media crisis when a picture was released of her holding a decapitated head of Donald Trump (look away if you are squeamish).

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Her management of this crisis was completely different to both Spacey and Weinstein. In fact, she admitted she was wrong and explicitly begged her fans for forgiveness claiming she “went too far”. Interesting, but her career and reputation were still damaged, and she was pulled from a huge TV ad as well as having to cancel several comedy shows.

All in all, crises in the celebrity world are usually unprecedented, erupt suddenly with little time to figure out how to recover. PR has an important role to play in the world of celebrity, there are many different ways to manage the type of crises I have mentioned but no matter what, when stories are leaked in the media they are everywhere. Forever. Try as they may, it can be difficult for celebrities and top figures to comeback from these types of catastrophes.

So, can celebrity PR scandals be managed?  In my opinion, it depends. It depends on the context, the scandal, the fan following, the time, the circumstances and sometimes, just sometimes, these factors can create the perfect storm. They can be managed to an extent but evidently, PR teams cannot prepare for the types of crises that can implode on them out of the blue on a Monday morning.  Hats off to them for the effort!

Orlaith Strong is a Final Year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter @orlaith_strong and LinkedIn @orlaithstrong

Why a PR Career?

Why does a career in PR interest me?

Four years ago, once I finished school, I took a year out away from studies as I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and what career path I wanted to follow. Heading off away from my work and responsibilities, I lived in Australia for a year and during that time I visited family friends, from back home that moved out a long time ago whenever I possibly could. Which therefore goes on to lead me into when and why I first thought about PR as a future career for myself.

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I was first introduced to PR by a family friend in Australia, who I and everyone knew as the ‘globe-trotter’. He was constantly travelling with his job working for a PR firm but as he said, at his own leisure (if he didn’t want to he didn’t ever have to, although I understand that this may not sit well with all jobs and PR companies). The excitement of having a fluid job seemed to pique my interest, so being intrigued I started to ask more questions about what exactly he did for a living and with that, he couldn’t answer me with a set-in stone answer as his job was always continually ‘evolving’. He stated the fact that I was a good outgoing person with great communication skills, this would sit very well with people wanting to go into the PR industry for a career. I was never particularly interested in a job that was completely enclosed in a somewhat ‘box’ which would have a repeated, recurrent routine also suited my personality. Having all these thoughts in mind, one particular word that he told me stood out from the rest: ‘Stunts’. Horton (2008) says that, ‘Public relations stunts are an effective form of message delivery when integrated with concepts being communicated’. I began to think of PR stunts and how interesting they were as a form of creative communication and began to think ‘I could think of some great innovative PR stunts myself’. Having this new-found perspective on PR, this was my first overall impression of the industry itself as a whole.

‘Public relations is closely associated with whatever is newest, freshest and most fashionable – and often with what is most successful (and indeed is, disproportionately, a young person’s industry)’ (Morris & Goldsworthy, 2015). With this little seed that my family friend planted in my head, I then started to look at different PR stunts and how they went about being created, what ideas were good and innovative (even mad) by looking at the likes of Red-Bull, who creatively took ‘Red-Bull gives you wings’ maybe even too literally by having a man jump out of a spaceship and plummet to earth, these great stunts began my interest in looking up degrees surrounding PR and Communication.

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Goldsworthy & Morris (2015) state that although PR work might be portrayed as artificial, it is rarely viewed as dull and it likes to be seen as ‘a creative industry’.  The creative side to PR is very appealing to me. The artistic approaches which can be applied to a career in PR would constantly leave me fascinated and with this always thinking and creating new ideas.  In popular culture especially, PR’s role can often be thinking up of ideas for certain events, parties and festivities (which might also lead to attending them). The communication side of this and constantly meeting new people for all various reasons, in my view this has no comparison to a certified office work routine, no matter how small the reality of it may be.

On the subject about a daily office routine, people in PR, like my said family friend, can work almost anywhere, even with a permanent post in a particular business, this doesn’t seclude the fact that in this industry you might and most likely will not be working a 9-5 job every week. Society pressures of having a specific routine do not sit well with me and a repetitive almost mechanical nature in a job wouldn’t suffice. A career in the PR industry could almost guarantee little to none boredom. How the economy of today’s world is working, this further reiterates my point of wanting a job in the PR sector.

Gordon (2011) mentions different types of PR sectors, that you can choose to branch out in, depending on what interests you. ‘PR seems to offer would-be practitioners the chance to decide what interests them, do the PR for it and get paid into the bargain’ (Goldsworthy & Morris, 2015). This would interest me as I could reach out and dip into areas of PR that would suit my liking, such as fashion, music, nature and even sports. As the variety of PR is so vast and complex, this would give me multiple opportunities to experience different sides to PR and the large variety of work would leave me to choose areas that I also wouldn’t be particularly fond of therefore stay away from and areas that I would like to stick at and delve into more that would suit my particular needs and interests.

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PR consultancies are having to distinguish themselves and seek out a competitive advantage as they are ‘selling an intangible service and ultimately the difference is about personalities, but this is notoriously hard to articulate convincingly’ (Goldsworthy & Morris, 2015). This therefore means that PR practices need to keep up to date and in trend with social media and society outside of this. Keeping on top of new technologies and rapidly responding to new social trends interest me as I like to keep ‘on trend’ myself, whether it be with my peers on online, so as this is an integrated aspect of PR this would interest me and my tastes of the work surrounding this.

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Like any career, you cannot go into a job knowing everything. ‘There are few if any scientific laws in PR’ (Smith, 2013). Learning from experience is always key, but this is even more validated within the PR industry. Creative working and thinking is wisdom and collective learning is very interesting and a career in this industry is so unsolidified and not set in stone that embracing your imaginative side interests me.

PR’s role can be tough, ‘pitching stories to sceptical journalists or bloggers, or taking that difficult call when the media have uncovered a damaging story’ (Theaker, 2012). Preparation must be done in advance for these types of situations, which can be make or break for some businesses depending on how big stories or certain situations are. Some people may find the responsibility of this too much, or not wanting the stress that may come along with some ambiguous, unplanned situations, although organisations value these type of PR people, that can stay cool, calm and collected in these types of situations. As I have a very calm nature, I like to work under pressure without it being to over bearing for me and I would like to be given the opportunities to experience these types of pressures. Overcoming these aspects of the job, particularly with myself, a strong sense of job satisfaction would come out of these types of situations for me if they are dealt with properly and respectfully. As being helpful in these situations this could make you a valued representative in an organisation which certain businesses would want and would definitely have perks.

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When naming some large international PR consultancies, I couldn’t think of any at all. ‘Most people have difficulty identifying PR campaigns, and, when they try, frequently confuse them with advertising and other forms of marketing’ (Goldsworthy & Morris, 2008). This interests me are PR as a whole is quite unknown. With certain names, fact and PR concepts, PR is kept at a rather large scale as a blank canvas. The mysteriousness of PR and that surrounding it keeps an interest towards it and I find that extremely interesting.

Public relations is and continues to be a heavily influenced aspect of my personality and I implement some aspects of it into my everyday life, influencing brands I buy such as what I wear, what I eat, and I watch on television.

The fluidity and creativeness aspects of the career, such as stunts really peak my interest in the PR industry as a whole. Interestingly in today’s society PR’s work is still relatively unknown to people outside of the industry and people actually working in a PR career, this ‘secretive’ aspect for me creates a magnetic pull ever more so towards a career in PR as the unknown is exciting and somewhat stimulating.

Alexandra McEvoy is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on: Twitter – @alexmcevoy_ ; Linkedin – https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexandra-mcevoy-111ba5171/