10 Tips for Surviving Jaw Surgery

A few weeks ago, I wrote a lengthy post about my experience with orthognathic surgery, which you can read here. In this post, I have decided to write about my top 10 tips for getting through the recovery stage. First and foremost, if you reached the recovery stage, it means the worst is over and while you may be in pain at the minute each day really does get a little easier!

1.Do your research

I cannot stress this point enough. While there isn’t a lot of first-hand anecdotal content online regarding UK and Irish jaw surgery experiences, the stuff that you can find is really helpful. Taking a day or two to get yourself together, make a list for purchasing your supplies and even reaching out to people who have been through it will make things all the better. Especially for your carers as they may find it hard to understand your voice when your jaw is locked together!

2. Get your supplies

Following on from my point above, you will have a very long list of things you will want to buy or borrow before you go in for the operation. A few of the essentials include extra pillows, a set of baby toothbrushes, medical toothpaste and mouthwash, a few sets of comfy pyjamas (Primark’s finest!), books, magazines, Vaseline, a Netflix subscription and the list goes on. Making sure you have sufficient towels, ice packs and hot cloths is imperative. Towels are perfect for the drooling and eating. Mixing up ice packs and hot cloths will also help to bring down the swelling (and subsequently, the pain). It’s well known that it’s individual preference for heat or ice, so just see what works best for you. Or if you’re like me, keep switching it up.

3. Have the right medicine

Supplies are one thing but medication is essential. Obviously, your doctor and dentist’s advice paramount, but any recommendations help! Your doctor will tell you to get liquid paracetamol and ibuprofen because you won’t be able to fit the tablets in your mouth. They will be your saviour. I also had problems with earaches and the best thing for this for me was antihistamines! They really brought down the aches and helped me to sleep, but beware they make you really drowsy with the condition you’re already in.

Vicks is also a fail-safe recommended by mummies and grannies across Ireland! Drop some in boiling water, put a towel over your head and inhale. This will help clear your blocked nose and sinuses.  

4. Get to Tesco

Choosing between what liquids you think you can eat is a LOT harder than it seems! Having as many foods and liquids in your house as you can will help with those crucial decisions. Bear in mind you will be on a liquid diet so a blender is essential. Foods that helped me were milkshakes, soups, complan (essentially a fattening powder), protein powders, M&S mashed potatoes (…drool), yoghurts, blended stew, ice-cream and anything you can possibly think you could drink! When you get to week 3 and can start eating soft foods, Skips saved my life- they melt on your tongue and are the closest thing to crisps you’ll get for a while.

5. SHOWER

I cannot describe the feeling of showers after you get jaw surgery. For the first week or so, it was the only thing that made me feel better and 3 or more showers a day was the norm. Your face will swell up beyond belief in the weeks following the operation and even the most confident person would find it difficult to be in public. Showers will bring this swelling down (just make sure you don’t put your face under the water) and as well as that, they clear you head!

6. Make a list of things to do

Most people will get a good chunk of time off work or university for the surgery and while this may sound relaxing, it can be very boring! Make a list of TV shows (The OA being my current favourite obsession), books (Dolly Alderton: Everything I know about love!- you won’t put it down), podcasts, magazines, YouTube videos and even tasks you could do around the house. Arrange for your friends and family to come visit and make sure you’re never bored.

7. Take the dog on a walk

Or your cat, or your dad, or anyone really! Short walks will help bring down the swelling and it’s really easy to get stuck in a depressive rut during recovery. One thing though- never go by yourself! You won’t realise how weak you are and I only managed about 5 minutes every day from week 2-3.  

8. Get ready for the aftermath

Make sure you have baby toothbrushes and good dental mouthwashes. The last thing you want is a dental infection so make sure to keep it clean. When your swelling comes down and you start to see your new face, it will be strange, but if you keep your teeth nice and healthy during the recovery it will pay off when it comes to getting the braces off!

9. Make a food bucket list

This will be the fun part! Write down all your favourite foods and make an itinerary for the week before your operation. You will never crave food like you do on a liquid diet so force all your friends to join you for a Nando’s.

10. Breathe and relax

It will be sore. It will be mind-numbingly boring. It will feel like a lifetime. But when it’s all over you will be so happy you done it! Relax and enjoy your time off with some well-deserved pampering and hopefully someone looking after you! It’ll be over in no time 🙂

Lauren Wilson is a third-year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University, currently undertaking a year’s placement at Belfast City Council. She can be found at: LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/laurennxwilsonn/

Generation Meme

I haven’t posted a status on Facebook since I was about 14, yet I always check my news feed. I follow a couple of thousand people on Instagram, but my news feed isn’t filled with people I particularly know. I don’t follow hundreds of celebrities on twitter like I used to when I was a teen Fangirl, yet Twitter is my most visited app every day.

So, what am I using my social media platform for? Well isn’t it obvious… MEMES.

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My twitter direct messages are constant threads of myself and my friends sharing the latest memes with each other, most of my following on Instagram are meme pages and I only use Facebook to tag my friends in 100 posts a day with the comment “me.” I see them daily, relate to them more than anything and spend my time looking through them when I should be doing something else. Sound familiar?

Memes are part of our culture now, a way of life, a cure to our sadness. They’re how we communicate online and offline as meme quotes become a normal part of our vocab. So where did it all come from, what’s the appeal and why do we create and share them so aggressively?

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We can thank evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins for introducing the world to memes way back in 1976, where he coined the term in his book “The Selfish Gene.” Science is not my strong point so don’t quote me on this, but here’s what I gathered. Dawkins defined memes as a unit for carrying cultural ideas or behaviour, similar to how genes carry genetic information from one generation to the next. According to Dawkins, when one person imitates another, a meme is passed to the imitator, similar to the way blue eyes, skin tones and so on are passed from parents to children through genes. So the cultural ideas and satirical posts we post online are sort of like tiny bits of cultural DNA that we share with each other over social media.

So memes have been around for quite a while, but they weren’t always the way we know and love them today. Memes used to be simply playing a song, sharing art and old fashioned non internet-based stuff. Memes as we know them are digital files made especially for the internet including combination of images, video’s, gifs and hash tags. Typically they’re a funny photo or clips from a popular television show, interview or vine (miss you vine, rest in peace) which users add a humorous, satirical or usually ironic catchphrase or caption to then share it with their friends and absolute strangers on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram. And we love each other for it.

So why are we so obsessed? Communication researchers have legit spent time & money looking into why we spend so much of our precious time scrolling through memes rather than you know doing something more productive e.g. getting our degree’s.

We’re all in this together

As a generation who are so insecure and lonely that it hurts, feeling like we belong is what we crave, and memes do exactly that. Sharing the latest memes with your friends makes you feel like the part of something, it makes us feel intelligent (about the stupidest things), funny and in the know. Following the latest meme trends are conversation starters, become inside jokes between friends and are even a way to keep up with old ones. Personally, as ashamed as I am to say, I mightn’t find the energy to text a friend that I haven’t talked to in a while, but you can sure as hell bet I’ll tag them in a meme that reminds me of them and if that’s not real love I don’t know what is. Think of how your Ma connects with all her friends over recipes, cleaning tips and Cliff Richard. We connect over memes.

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Je Parle Meme

My first language in English incase you hadn’t gathered. I have a GCSE in French and could probably still recite my Oral as I still have PTSD from it. I’ll throw a Dia dhuit and Slán about the odd time. But if I was asked what my second language was – em, does Meme count?

Don’t know what to say to make your friend feel better on a bad day? There’s a meme for it. Get into an awkward tiff with your friend and don’t know what to say to break the ice? There’s a meme for it. Just had the most horrifyingly embarrassing moment and you can’t even put into words to tell your friends about it? There’s a meme for that too. Believe me, I’ve used plenty of them. There’s a meme for just about every mood, reaction or scenario that could possibly happen that sometimes you don’t even have to use words to communicate with your friends, just send them a meme and they’ll know exactly what you mean. Although it may appear ridiculously anti-social, It’s our generations favourite way to communicate and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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They make us feel good, even when we feel our worst

Plain and simple. Memes make us feel good. They make us laugh, they make the worst possible situation seem not as bad and help us laugh through the pain. I could be a hour away from a deadline with a final paragraph and conclusion still to go, but if there’s a meme relatable to that you sure as hell bet I’m gonna laugh, send it into my group chat with the caption “me rn” and I’ll be laughing when I really shouldn’t be.

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And who else feels good when they see a meme about a unfortunate situation on Facebook, and see that loads of your mutual friends have liked it, tagged their friends and related to it too. All of a sudden you don’t feel as bad for laying in bed all day when you have 101 things to do, using the last of your wages on a night out or the fact that it’s nearly summer and you forgot to work on your summer body. For the 5th year in a row. It’s as though memes put a hold on the chaos that is our generation.

21st Century Education

Just think of some of the most viral memes over the last couple of years. What’s often common context behind them? Politics. Don’t get me wrong, our world at the moment is not something to laugh at, even though America could be a satirical sitcom in its own right, yet some of the most pressing political moments in the past 2 years have made the most viral memes. (I wonder why..).

I for one don’t read the news often unless it’s an article on my timeline and I’m sure a lot of you can say the same, you should all pick up the Irish News though, so memes are like tiny little pieces of information to educate us and help even the most naive people understand what’s going on in the world and what ridiculous thing Trump has said that week.

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Memes are our lives now. They’re shaping our culture and changing the way we think, act and communicate. They bring us together, take the seriousness out of everyday life and they make me question if any of us are half wise. To sum all my blabbering up memes are class, I love them and I sure as hell hope they don’t go anywhere anytime soon, I’m already sad that I’m seeing less of the tracksuit man on my twitter timeline.

Catherine Maguire is a 3rd year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University, currently on a placement year at The Irish News. She can be found on Instagram: catherinelauram and LinkedIn: Catherine Maguire

Orthognathic Surgery And Me

My journey for straight teeth began in September 2010 when I was just 14. When the orthodontist told me I couldn’t get braces until I was 18 I cried for hours on end. I never realised how self-conscious I was about my jaw until I was told I had to live with it until I was an adult. Why? Because I had a severe underbite that was only going to get worse as I grew older. Not only would I have to wait years to get the braces put on, I was also going to need double-jaw surgery to correct my bite.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I couldn’t get braces until my jaw had finished growing so I was transferred to the RVH School of Dentistry for treatment. Every appointment letter I got excitement rushed through me, as I thought this was finally the time. Each appointment trip I was eager and hoping, only to find out my teeth weren’t ready yet. My orthodontist was reassuring and understood why I was so impatient and eventually he was happy to inform me I could get my braces come February 6th 2014 (I remember this date so well as it’s also the night I went to that Hardwell concert).

After a year and a half with a brace-face it finally started to kick in that the surgery was real and it was happening. I was told in September 2016 that my jaw was ready and I was put to the top of the waiting list and so, I waited until 13th April 2017 before I was admitted to hospital. Thankfully Ulster Hospital had just been through refurbishment and I was given a private hospital room with my own en-suite bathroom. Not that it felt like a hotel in any way, but at least I was comfortable. On Holy Thursday I brought my teddy bear and pyjamas to hospital and waited for my visitors. McDonald’s was just across the road so when my friends came to visit me I got the biggest munch I could eat (this was the last time I would eat solid food for around 3 months). After my friends left I went back to my hospital room to sleep and I can safely say I have never been so terrified in my entire life. Alone in the room my only form of contact was nurses coming in to take my bloods and check my blood pressure. Before I went to sleep, a nurse came round to give me a blood-thinning injection. He gave me the choice between injecting in the stomach or arm, and terrified by the thought of a needle in my stomach, I asked for it in my arm. Boy, was this a mistake. I can reassuringly inform you it’s 10 times less painful to get it in your stomach- get it in your stomach!!

Come Friday morning I was awakened at 6am with toast by one of the nurses. You can’t eat 4 hours before going under anaesthetic so I was given toast to make sure I had ate something. I was so nauseated and nervous, I could only eat a bite. Nor could I sleep after this, and so a long day ensued.

My surgery was scheduled for around 1pm that day so my nanny arrived at around 10am to sit with me beforehand. Little did either of us know she was going to be waiting with me for hours before I finally got called in at 5pm. I remember very little of what my nanny and I spoke about that day, I couldn’t get my mind off the surgery at all. When the doctor came in at 4pm to tell me to get ready, I had to take off my clothes and put on my surgical robe. This was definitely the scariest part. Getting wheeled down in my hospital bed to the surgery room, I have never wanted my mummy so much in my life. I’m a worrier and the thought of going under general anaesthetic filled me with intense fear. I know I was in the hands of outstanding surgeons but I couldn’t help but feel scared. I remember the corridor down to the surgery room being unbearably cold and I must have resembled a sheet of paper I was that pale. When I got to the surgery room I was wheeled into place and the anaesthetist started getting my hand prepared for the injection. Uncontrollably shaking, pale as a ghost and holding back tears, he started talking to me about my degree and tried to distract me as best he could. I was then asked to take off my underwired bra because you can’t wear metal during the surgery (Not the kind of story you expect to hear when you tell someone you’ve taken your bra off in front of 10 people, is it?). Before I was put to sleep, the doctors had to fit an endoscope down my mouth. An endoscope is a small flexible tube with a tiny light and camera attached to the end which relays images to a connected screen so that the surgeons have a better view of the mouth and throat. To get the tube down my throat I had to cough every few centimetres, this was terrifying as I was still awake and could see the camera screen. They then put the tube in my vein on my hand and I could feel the anaesthetic fluid starting to drip into my blood. They told me to count to 10 and I prayed as they counted me out. They got to 7 before I was out cold.

Waking up in intensive care I had a nurse right by my side. She was with me as soon as I woke up, talking to me and asking me questions, trying to keep me calm. Shortly after I awoke, she asked if I was in pain and if I needed any more morphine. I had to say yes as I could feel the excruciating pain start to build the longer I was awake. After an hour or so in intensive care (which I hardly remember) the nurses wheeled me back up to my room. Equally unaware of the severity of the pain I was about to endure my mummy brought along my younger brother and sister. Needless to say they didn’t want to stay long after seeing the state I was in. Shook up, they left to get a lift with my daddy. The nurses stayed with me quite a lot for the first hour along with my mum. My mummy put my pyjamas on me and gave me my phone to text my boyfriend and friends and tell them all went OK. God knows what I typed into those chats given how high I was off the morphine. That didn’t last long though. When it started to wear off I began to feel the intense ache in my jaw. Just to add to that the morphine didn’t react well to my body and I began vomiting blood (which is normal given it’s an operation of the mouth). I don’t know what was worse; the pain in my mouth, the overwhelming sense of sickness or how dizzy I felt when I woke up.

At this point I was happy the surgery was over and I was OK, but the worst really was yet to come. My mummy stayed with me that night (and also the night after- mums really don’t get enough credit). I could barely sleep as the pain really started to kick in. I sat in bed awake that whole night, too sore or tired to reach for my phone. I just sat there. I have never felt more grateful for being healthy and able in my life than I did that weekend.

Recovery from the Friday evening until I got out on the Saturday afternoon was tough. I had one vein pumping water into my veins (I could barely lift my hand let alone get myself a drink of water) and pumps squeezing my calves to prevent blood clots. Every 4 hours the nurse came round to give me painkillers, again through the veins. I stopped being afraid of the needles then and actually longed for them as they stopped my pain, even if just temporarily.

Shortly after visitors had left, I got up to use the toilet. My teeth weren’t elasticated during my surgery and the swelling hadn’t started at that point so my face had looked fine the night before. It took me 6 minutes to walk 2 metres to the toilet and after I looked in the mirror I was astonished. Despite my face looking like an enlarged grape, I could straight away see I looked different. My nose was a completely different shape and my cheekbones were sticking out under my eyes. It was freaky to look in a mirror and not see your normal face staring back at you, but I was excited nonetheless. I poured cold water over my hands and splashed them on my face. As my face was covered in blood and roasting from the swelling this felt amazing.

Before getting back into bed the nurses wanted an x-ray of my jaw. I hadn’t stood for more than 5 minutes in nearly 2 days so I was exhausted from my walk to the toilet and the thought of a trip around the hospital was distressing. Luckily, they gave me a wheelchair and my mummy and the nurse wheeled me down to the x-ray room. If you have ever got a mouth x-ray before you’ll know you often have to stand and bite onto a small metal clip. I tried my hardest to stand for as long as I could but I could sense the fear on the radiologist’s face as he watched me. I went sheet white and knew I was going to faint. He rushed over and put me back in my chair, calling my mummy in. Thankfully I didn’t faint but along came another spurt of bloody vomit. This time was much, much worse than the previous. The doctors had been round to put the elastics in my teeth (attached to the braces) and somehow I was meant to be sick with a closed mouth. I’ll not go into any further detail here…

I was meant to go home on the Saturday afternoon but the nurses thought it would be better for me to stay. The 2nd night was easier. I slept for about half an hour every 3 hours and after the night before, this felt so refreshing. My mum left at around 4am that Sunday morning- she was wrecked and with no bed I couldn’t blame her. Being the woman she is, she was back on the Sunday at 11am so it didn’t matter much anyway. On the Sunday afternoon I was told I could go home, I had never felt so relieved to be getting out of that place but also scared because my painkillers were being reduced and I couldn’t imagine the impending pain.

 

 

 

 

This will be a long-winded story to someone who has never or will never go through something like this so I’m going to put my recovery story along with any tips for getting through the aftermath into a separate post. For someone who has never been self-conscious about their teeth this may seem a bit extreme for aesthetics but I can honestly say it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. Being able to actually get your teeth out for a photo and smile naturally is something I will never take for granted again. It really is the silly things- like eating a steak (5 years without one!!), biting off a piece of sellotape when you’re wrapping a present, not living in fear that your jaw will get worse, being able to chew with teeth that aren’t your back molars, and not constantly looking disinterested or rude because your jaw is hanging from your face. I appreciate these things now, almost 2 years after my surgery.

 

 

 

 

If anyone is considering orthognathic surgery or who has relatives or friends who may be, please do get in contact. There are plenty of tips and tricks out there to help you along the way and I’d be happy to help in any way that I can, be it advice or just plain support.

Disclaimer: I am not, in any way, trying to scare people out of this surgery. Despite the horror story, it was one of the best things I ever did. I just wish someone had given me a more detailed account of the surgical procedure before I made that decision.

 

Lauren Wilson is a third-year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University, currently undertaking a year’s placement at Belfast City Council. She can be found at: LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/laurennxwilsonn/

What’s the difference between a squirrel and a rat? PR.

The reality of picking a career path from around the age of sixteen that may dictate the rest of your professional life is immense. It’s a regular convention of traditional education in our generation, but just because it’s common doesn’t make it ordinary. This decision process, aided and hindered by influences such as parents, siblings, friends and teachers, tends to divide the teenage population into two categories. A spectrum exists between the two extremities, but more broadly there is one of two responses.

  1. PANIC: This response involves someone adding years on to their prepubescent bodies and minds through the futile gesture of stress. Lots of it. Everyone reading this can think of an example of this character. Teens in this category may know exactly what they want to be from a young age and are therefore aware of the snowballing pressure of achieving academic success. At the opposite end of the panic spectrum, teens in this category might not know what they want to do at all. This is often the case with smart children who are heaped with praise and told from a young age that they can be anything they want to be. When the world is your oyster, which path might produce most pearls? The pressing weight of expectation shows no mercy to the precociousness of youth.
  1. DON’T PANIC: This response has its variants, too. At one end we have the ‘wasters’ as they’re commonly known. Those who, for one reason or another, are so indifferent to academic progress that their future education doesn’t bare consideration. Alternatively, we have the academic optimists- those who believe it will be fine regardless of how much consideration is given to the decision. How can one decision at sixteen really shape your life? And the downright oblivious – fully unaware of the significance of what’s going on.

Honourable Mention; Treefish. The Treefish is a student whose intelligence can’t be measured by methods of traditional education. Stemming from Einstein’s famous quote on judging a fish by its ability to climb a tree, this type of student should not be confused with the wasters.

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I was more of a Don’t Panic. I’m not saying I was laid back, I was closer to the oblivious category than anything else (although I often fancied myself as a bit of a Treefish). I could, with some competence, identify my own internal characteristics. I was better at knowing what I liked about myself than knowing what I could succeed in as a career. I couldn’t picture working in a real job, and I failed to see how any of my personal qualities could transfer to my internalised concept of a professional environment. I wasn’t good with numbers, I couldn’t remember the periodic table and the bandsaw quickly became the banned saw in my case. I had traits – I was relatively hard working from a young age, dedicated, honest. But I never thought I had any skills. I failed to comprehend where I could take little more than a genuine consideration for people and their happiness and make a living out of it. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment that I found out about PR because the truth is, I’m still discovering it. With each revelation about the nature of the sector, I feel confident that I’m on the right track.

So, what makes a successful PR practitioner? (I think):

Communication:

“Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people”

W. B. Yeats

I’ve always been a good communicator. In every scenario apart from texting my mother to let her know I’ve arrived safe and well, I’ve always been able to get my message across. Such a talent is central to the word of public relations. Tracing back to the 19th century and predating the first recognised PR practitioner (Ivy Ledbetter Lee), diplomat Alvin Adams states “Public relations are a key component of any operation in this day of instant communications and rightly inquisitive citizens”. Communication was, and remains, absolutely vital. If only Adams (deceased 1877) had any idea how his world of “instant communications” might develop. Which brings me on to my next point.

Media & Relations:

“It is always a risk to speak to the press: they are likely to report what you say”

Hubert H. Humphrey (Former US Vice President)

To succeed in PR, a flair for media is crucial. Definitively, PR was founded on the use of mass media to achieve organisational goals (Duhe, 2007). I’ve always been interested in the capabilities of all media, particularly as it’s developed in the digital age. Figures from Statista (2018) claim that there are 2.62 billion social media users in 2018. To add context to this figure, eMarketer (2017) states that with a global population of 7.63 billion people, 1 in every 3 people is connected online via social media. Subsequently, the impact of recent social media revolution cannot be understated (Kraski, 2017, p.924). A fundamental contrast between traditional mass media and social media is that social media takes the audience from a passive role and centralizes them in the process. The role of social media from a business perspective is a “delicate harmonizing act between users’ trust and owners’ monetizing intentions” (Clemons, 2009, cited by Van Dijck, 2013). If users feel manipulated, they can simply leave the site.

I’ve always had an interest in developing good relationships with those around me. While I perhaps lend myself to it more than I should in some instances, I feel that it’s a trait indicative that I’m in the right line of work. Positive media relations are fundamental to success in any PR role. Additionally, in an age of increasing consumer control, ethical and honest media relations are essential, particularly as stonewalling isn’t as effective as it was in previous generations due to a world of hyper-connectivity and instant communication. If an organisation refuses to converse with the media, the world will quickly know about it and begin to theorise why. Hence, communication should be transparent. This brings me on to my next point.

Ethical Practice:

“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get it’s pants on”

Sir Winston Churchill

As discussed in the previous report, many struggle to trust PR as a credible, trustworthy sector. This image comes as a result of the actions of few dictating the perception of all. PR ethics focuses on “the ethical implications of the strategies and tactics that are applied to solve… the problems of organisations” (Parsons, 2016. P.148).

An example is often made of the Philadelphia 76’ers. The basketball team pledged to deconstruct their roster in order to allow for future superstars and success, with the backing of their fans amidst a risky plan. However, lies were publicly conjured about fake trade deals and injuries, and following this realisation, the fans turned their backs. A classic example of how unethical PR backfires.

Satisfying client needs is a key role of PR. But to reference back to Grunig and Hunt’s definition “management of communication between an organization and its publics” (1984), it’s nonsensical to communicate in an unethical manner that has the potential to jeopardise public opinion or trust. As an industry, the level of ethical consideration within PR practice varies. This is not a “if you can’t beat them, join them” situation. In fact, the whole issue lends itself more to Harry Truman’s “If you can’t convince them, confuse them”. Nonetheless, I enter the industry with the plan of being as ethical as possible.

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It’s hard to pin down!

Exciting Functions of the Industry

As a profession, PR is fresh and exciting. A personal attraction of the industry for me is the variance in work. From the social elements of networking to the reflective evaluation of drafting a press release, PR doesn’t fit the archetype of a normal desk job.
It’s People-Driven. People skills are easy to overlook. Considering I have them, I plan to use them and PR is the right industry to put these tools to use.
It’s a jack-of-all-trades industry. There is an interchangeability to the industry. It’s near impossible to predict which client l could be working for next, in which industry, or the insights and knowledge I gain along the way. I consider myself as being “pro stuff” and the opportunity to get involved across a variety of industries is quietly inspiring.
The industry is hard to pin down. Some can’t see its value and some feel that its literature is outdated and in need of a revamp. Phoenix Business Review (2018) placed a PR executive 8th in their list of most stressful jobs of 2017. Interestingly, Huffington Post (2012) conducted surveys with Dunkin’ Donuts and CareerBuilder.com and found that PR consumes the second largest amount of coffee annually per profession, beaten only by lab technicians. While all this may lead to to a job that is perceived as stressful, it provides an interesting challenge both existentially and academically. Proper application of one’s self to a career within Public Relations is no doubt trying, but surely rewarding. I intend to find out for myself.

Eamon Daly is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at: Twitter – @EamonDaly5 ; LinkedIn – linkedin.com/in/eamon-daly-608780137

Damore You Know, The Less You Think

Damore You Know, The Less You Think

I don’t believe this to be a sexist rambling, nor the defence of a sexist rambling. This was rather intended to be an exploration of modern societal and political forces on free speech, decision making and potentially clever PR. I’d love to hear any thoughts on this one.

On 7th August 2017, James Damore was fired by Google for a “sexist memo” that he posted on an internal message board that depicted women as being “inferior”. I remember reading the headline. For me, it was another mundane day in a remedial office job where I thought – wow; prime-time idiocy. As if letting go of the dream job and become public enemy number one on the same day wasn’t bad enough – how could this sexist pig really believe such a thing? Disgraceful, I know.

But maybe I didn’t know. James Damore being sacked was percieved as a good move by an appalled public who couldn’t fathom what possessed him to post such a sexist memo. This was seen as a feat for equality and politically correct behaviour and thought. But at the core of the scandal-turned-viral, were Google really as moral, as progressive, as forward-thinking as it may seem?

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What Happened (as we know it):

This whole mess began with one simple meeting. Google, like they often do, held a diversity meeting which, amongst others, James Damore was invited to attend. Damore, in an interview with academic marmite Jordan Peterson (You either hate him or you love him), recalls that Google didn’t record this meeting – the only instance of this that he can rememeber during his time with the Lords of the ‘Net. Damore believed that Google’s methods of inclusive hiring which they were discussing that fateful day were arbitrary and possibly crossing the line into illegal, which would explain the lack of documentation.

They’ll listen to us all through our phones but won’t listen back to their own ideas? Proof that nobody likes the sound of their own voice on record!

Damore states that he felt uneasy at the mention of the secretive positive discrimination tactics of hiring. Once the meeting had wrapped up, Damore along with all other partcicpants were encouraged to give their feedback on an internal message board – a central convention in Google who strive for improvement wherever possible. Damore compiled a ten page memo explaining why he felt the proposed hiring methods may not be a good idea and posted it on the aforementioned message board. Big mistake, Jim.

What he Said (Well, not exactly. But the jist of it):

Damore’s core belief in his memo was that there is a biological difference between men and women that may impact a corporate reality. His musings were a review of existing modern personality and individual differences literature that found that, in its simplest form, men are more likely to be attracted to object related professions and women to people related professions (heavily linked to studies surrounding testosterone levels – don’t @ me). He even mentioned that he is an advocate of diversity and inclusion. However, he didn’t help himself in suggesting that these Biological differences “may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership”. This may be a review of exisiting literature, but he surely could have sugarcoated the bleak academic truth in this point. Manners cost nothing James (in fact, a lack of them may have cost you your job).

My Name is Sue (How Do You Do?):

Damore responded to his dismissal by choosing to sue Google, which further enraged an American public that viewed him as the biggest inidvdiual threat to feminism in the U.S. since the man who actually runs the country. Damore accused Google of intolerance of white male conservatives; three majority categories that we can assume recieve little sympathy from the “politically correct”.

Damore told the New York Times that he has “a legal right to express (his) concerns about the terms and conditions of (his) working environment and to bring up potentially illegal behavior, which is what the document does.” It must be highlighted that Google’s decision to fire Damore is perefectly legal. Even within Damore’s right to free speech, an employee can be lawfully fired for being seen to violate an organisational code of conduct, which Google believed they saw. While some forms of employee speech are protected by US Labour laws, the Constitutional right of free speech is not extrapolated to the workplace.

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Triggering Time:

I’m exploring this at the risk of coming across as sexist or non-progressive here which, as a young, caucasian, heterosexual, Catholic male in Northern Ireland, is quite politically and socially charged. As I play the role of the drawn-out, eye-rolling “Devils Advocate”, many of Damore’s arguments were grounded in scientific research up to this point. While this may change in future, many believe that we as a society must place our fundamental trust in the processes of science. The “feedback” from Damore suggested that Google’s attempts to neglect suitable candidates for an engineering role in favour of a less suitable candidate who fits into a particular race, religion, or particularly gender may ultimately impact upon job performance. The media picked up that Damore views women as “inferior” to men when really, from what I can decipher, he was merely highlighting that, statistically speaking, there are less women who interested in the field of engineering than there are men.

Personally, having worked in the recruitment division of a large technology firm, I have seen the process of hiring females with a less desirable skillset than their male counterparts purely based on their gender. The extent of Google’s actions compared to my own experience can’t quite be compared, as Google’s actions remain fairly secretive. While I fully advocate initiatives such as “women in tech” applied by my former employer and their industry competition, the gender-decisive hiring process was an aspect that I struggled to support fully. In this respect, I do agree with Damore. In writing this, I have been concerned with coming across as sexist in a hyper-sensitive era. But ultimately, I believe that people should be afforded an opportunity in a professional context based on their ability to perform the job role and all that it encompasses. From the technical elements of a role to the level of interpersonal skills required. These selections should not be made based solely on your gender and frankly, if you disagree, I don’t see how you aren’t supporting equal rights (@ me this time if you want).

Tin Foil Hat Time:

At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist – is it possible that Google, amidst an initial attempt to play fair, were afraid of possible repercussions of their positive discrimination methods and were able to shift the focus to Damore’s comments through a tactically calculated bet on how biased journalism might pander to the overly-politically-correct online consumers of today who often fail to scrutinize the validity of anything they read despite copious accounts of fake news? As I catch my breath, my mind casts to Benoit’s theory of image repair. The 14-option response kit of crisis management (devised in 1997) remains popular in today’s corporate world. Google seem to have employed the tactic of transcendence; aspiring to reframe their actions by placing it in the context of Damore’s; a more publicly detestable set of thoughts and actions.

Social Justice Warrior’s would have picked the carcass of James Damore clean in a vulture-esque fashion, if they weren’t all stage 5 vegans.

Failure to question the legitimacy of sources or the potential partisan of individual journalism is a monstrous issue in the modern digital age. Nicholas Carr in his book “What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains” discusses that, while the modern consumer has a better skillset for scanning, we pay the price with a diminishing capacity for concentration, reflection and contemplation. This alteration in mental capacity and skillset is particularly relevant in a modern age where Fake News has become practically unextractable from online media. Hence, it’s plausible that a mixture of shallow-level reading and the unattainable expectations of modern political correctness shaped Damore as an international sexist villain.

Interestingly (yet nothing more than coincidentally), Carr’s book came as a result of a widely celebrated article he wrote for US magazine Atlantic Monthly, entitled; “Is Google making us stupid?” Nice one Google. You just don’t quit- Do you? You big untouchable B****rd” (cries the writer, as he types in his Google Keep notes, processing every shred of information in this salty article from Google Chrome).

Benoit’s Image Repair Theory may be the academic grounding I need to support my argument that the dismissal and public shaming of James Damore was both a tactic of crisis management and a case of good publicity for Google as a diverse, progressive organisation. But as the case of Damore Vs Google indicates, sometimes science won’t prevail.

As I conclude, I know I took the scenic route on this one. There are issues on media consumption, disproportionate journalism, sexism and political correctness that I simply can’t condense in to one rambling article. If you can take one thing away from this – question your sources. Consider, contemplate and reflect. Don’t simply skim and absorb. And don’t hate on the concept political correctness. Lets just aspire that Social Justice Warriors would stop moving the damn goalposts every time anyone attempts to hit the target.

Eamon Daly is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at: Twitter – @EamonDaly5 ; LinkedIn – linkedin.com/in/eamon-daly-608780137

Digital Strategy For Beginners

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We all love a good browse through the internet.  So it comes as no surprise that Internet use has been on the increase in recent years, with a record high of 3.58 billion internet users worldwide this past year (statista.com 2017). Smartphones lend explanation to sky rocketing internet use, having given people more convenience to use the internet throughout the day – we have only to think of ourselves, and how frequently we check our own smartphones!

The web has been called “the most important communication revolution in human history” (Meerman,  2013, p26). With that in mind it’s hard to believe that “50% of businesses don’t have an integrated  Digital Marketing Strategy” (Smartinsights.com).  So, it seems there may be some kind of phobia around having or creating a digital presence for businesses. But, never fear! There is nothing to be afraid of, as you’ll see while we walk through this beginners guide on getting started on creating a digital strategy.

 

What is a digital strategy?

We can think about a digital strategy as “a series of actions” carried out to achieve “particular objectives” using technology as an asset to allow for new business avenue or maintain a “competitive edge”  (Mithas and Henry, 2010, p4). This might be, for instance, to generate more visits to your site and further brand awareness.

Why is a digital strategy so important?

As we’ve discussed, the world is becoming more and more digitized, so it’s more relevant than ever that your organization has an online presence and is visible to the online world (Preece, 2001 p4). Besides this, there are so many benefits to a digital strategy…

  • Cost effective –  reduces overhead fees (McGinnity, 2016), we can look to Amazon for reference, who have eliminated the costs of running individual stores in varying locations
  • Delivers “relevant messages more precisely” (Plummer et al, 2007, p7) to costumers through gathering behavioural data – for example, how long they interact with a product, clicks, logins and time spent on a site (Plummer et al, 2007 p7)
  • Allows for further market research (Li and Bernoff, 2011, p34)  – for example, through building communities to listen to, and helps in influencing target audiences.
  • “If you’re not on the internet, you don’t exist!” (Preece, 2001, p6)

With more and more people flocking to the web, digital strategy is ever more important. As Li and Bernoff  (2011) point out, there is a “social trend” wherein people are using technologies “to get the things they need from one another rather than traditional institutions like corporations” (p33), this might be through sites like EBay, Etsy or Amazon. So, it’s vital that organizations attempt to intercept this trend and develop a solid plan (Chaffey and Smith 2013, p6).

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But where do I start?

A great start to understanding strategy is an article by “Michael E.Porter – What is Strategy”. Once you’ve given that a read, we’re ready to move onto the planning process: Chaffey and Smith (2013, p25) have set out 6 stages which can help us keep on track with the planning process. When selecting your objectives, Chaffey and Smith have supplied some additional tips.  Think about the “5s’s”:

  • Sell – “using the internet as a sales tool”
  • Serve – “using the internet as a customer- service tool”
  • Speak – “using the internet as a communication tool”
  • Save – “using the internet for cost reduction”
  • sizzle – “using the internet as a brand- building tool”

(Chaffey and Smith, 2013, p43)

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Exploring Digital Strategy

Creating social media accounts such as a Facebook and Twitter pages are some great first steps to take once you have considered the above plan. It may help in giving a more perceived value to your organization, with many organizations using social media in order to “build advocates” and “engage with communities” (Waddington, 2012, p61)

it’s important to remember that while a digital strategy carried out on social media can be a great way to measure success, it’s not without its potential issues. It can damage a company’s reputation (Chaffey, 2013, p267); we only have to think of the gaffs made by Dove (2017) and McDonalds (2017). Have a read through some of the Do’s and Don’ts of Social media and how to handle your accounts. It may help you avoid some nasty backlash!

You should also consider constructing/redesigning your website; this can be used as a direct one-way communication method. It’s important, at this point, that you position your site properly; who do you want to talk to? And how can you reflect this in usability/content/design of your site (Drayton, 2007, p155). This will insure success in your websites reach, and will allow you to monitor website traffic and impressions (Plummer et al, 2007, p41).  Here are some tips to get you started with your website: 5 Steps to Designing A Great Company Website.

Finally…

Once you’ve given all the above ideas some thought and narrowed it down, be sure to focus to make sure it turns out a success.  While the digital word may seem overwhelming and challenging, it can really boost your organization and place you on the map, so to speak. Give it a go, it’s a learning process, we’re all constantly developing our skills in the fast paced digital world. You never know, you might enjoy it! The exciting digital world gives us a chance to connect with people, explore and develop. Welcome the challenge.

Griana Fox is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be contacted at https://uk.linkedin.com/in/griana-fox-a7561a11b, and on Facebook @ Griana Fox.

A career in PR, is it for you?

When I started to think about my career I had no idea what I wanted to do. Unlike my friends who knew they wanted to be nurses, teachers and astronauts from age 10 I was different, I had absolutely no idea and still to this day I am open to exploring many different career paths, but I know PR is a career that is versatile, would provide variety and most importantly is exciting.

On that note, if you’re like me and wondering whether working in PR is for you here are a few reasons why a career in PR appeals to me…

Salary

It’s hard for anyone to deny that they wouldn’t love to earn a lot of money. Being a student and earning little to nothing has only motivated me more to do well in my career and hopefully one day be as happy as Mr Krabs when I receive my paycheck each month…

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A career in PR can pay well and there are lots of opportunities for development in the PR sector, an individual could start off as a “PR assistant” and work their way up to “PR Manager” and maybe one day even “Director” showing the PR industry is versatile and provides lots of opportunities. I am interested in working in a company that I can learn and develop in rather than work in a dead-end job with no opportunity for promotion or development.

Although it depends on what sector and where in the world an individual decides to delve into, according to Reed (2017) the average salary of an individual working in PR in the UK is £40,205 a year with the lowest salary for a PR professional being £30,866 a year. The idea of earning these figures is something I am definitely striving to work towards. Compared to other jobs, PR can be a well-paid job with many benefits such as flexible working hours, holidays, maternity leave and so on.

Networking

Another reason I would like to work in PR is the copious networking opportunities I could engage in within my career. Working in PR could mean an individual has to work with many different people across many different sectors. Morris and Goldsworthy (2016; pp.13) highlight a career in PR can be glamorous, it can “involve lunches, receptions, events and parties which include many different people at a range of different locations.” Attending events and working with many different companies sounds exciting and would offer opportunities to get to know more people and build up contacts within the sector.

Working in PR can mean managing events and ensuring these events go ahead as planned. Having previous experience in event management has gave me a taste of what life in PR is like. In my opinion, PR is fast paced, pressured but exciting. It requires a lot of work and communication with lots of different people to ensure needs are met and events are successful. I also like the idea of recruiting individuals to attend events and communicating messages to individuals at events that will enhance brand image.

Variety

An aspect that made PR appeal to me was the variety of jobs that are available within the industry. There are opportunities in the voluntary, public service and private sectors. Working in PR means every role is different, there are a variety in roles and positions and a variety of different companies to work for. There are opportunities to work for a private company, an agency, a non-profit organisation, governmental body and so on. For PR professionals the world is their oyster. Working in PR opens many doors and can allow an you to have a wide experience in any sector of the industry.

I have had experience within the voluntary sector and it was a very enjoyable experience for me. However, I am interested in exploring the different types of jobs within PR. Working in PR is fast-paced and no day is ever the same, so it would be interesting to find out what working in an agency or private company is like. But, it is interesting that PR can lead you down all walks of life which is why I am interested in working in this industry.

Creativity

Another reason why a career in PR interests me is the creative flair that comes with the job. Morris and Goldsworthy (2016; pp.13) claim PR is a “creative industry”. I would consider myself a creative person and working in PR will allow me to express my thoughts and ideas whilst also working with others to produce exciting and engaging content that will influence public opinion.

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To develop written pieces, online content for social media and provide content for journalists is something that appeals to me. Writing blog posts, creating engaging social media posts and designing promotional material is an aspect of PR that is very important, and I feel I have the abilities to be creative and ensure all content is engaging and unique to a client’s needs.

In my previous experience I was able to create content for a company’s online website, write posts for social media and other promotional material. Having this experience has made me determined to find a job that will allow me to do this and more within the company.

PR matters

One could ask, can we survive without PR? I highly doubt it. PR is a necessity to any organisation and is valued more than ever before in today’s society whether it be through crisis management, creating content or securing sponsorship. With PR, there will always be jobs out there because organisations are constantly trying to improve their image or promote their brand. Also, the practice of PR is adapting to keep up with current trends and the digital transformation. It’s not just about press releases, PR is so much more than that. Therefore, PR is important to society today and working in PR has a purpose.

A great pathway to success

Working in PR enables individuals to develop a wide range of skills that are adaptable and relevant. Working in PR requires good verbal and written communication skills. PR professionals need to work well in a team, they need to be able to work under pressure and be flexible to work long hour days to meet deadlines. I love working under pressure and love the idea of meeting new people and working with lots of different clients. Although working in PR is hard, I think it will teach me a lot of skills that are required in many fields of work. I think a job in PR provides individuals the opportunity to learn and develop their skills, so they can succeed to the best of their abilities in the workplace. I also feel it will help me develop as a person through the ability to express myself through the content I create. Working in PR will also improve my confidence whilst also gaining a wealth of experience in a very exciting industry.

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All in all,  PR is a versatile and exciting job that means no day will ever be the same. I enjoy the fact that PR is fast-paced, pressurizing and will keep me on my toes. To work in PR a person needs to be creative, being able to work on my own content and create my own pieces of material is something that really excites me. PR can lead to many different opportunities and there are lots of opportunities for development within the industry. There is an increased desire for PR services in business (Morris and Goldsworthy, 2016), and working in PR means there are lots of jobs out there and lots of different sectors to work in.

I look forward to pursuing my career in PR in the future!

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