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

 

Why Study a Masters?

Why Study a Masters?

Never, in my life, did I ever think I was going to do a Masters, never mind a Masters in Communications and Public Relations. However, I’ve somehow found myself here. And honestly, it has been one of the best decisions I have made yet. And here’s why. 

I left school with hopes of being an English teacher and so I went on to do a bachelors degree in English with Education at Coleraine. However, I found very quickly, that being a teacher was not for me, although I continued with the course until the very end. I came out of it with a 2:2 and feeling very much like I had wasted three years. Don’t get me wrong, the course was fantastic with great teachers, it unfortunately just wasn’t for me. 

And so, I spent three long months trying to get myself full-time work with zero experience and honestly, little motivation. I personally found it so hard to find something that I could apply for, given that my course wasn’t particularly specialised and I had done a minor in education that was primarily aimed at going into teaching. I also had very little experience, as my course didn’t offer a year’s placement, which a lot do, and so I felt slightly at a disadvantage. 

Until one night, I went to my friend’s house and they all suggested I do a Masters. To begin with, I laughed. Thought a Masters was just something people did to put off going into work for another year. But then I thought about it, realised it would open more doors and, possibly, spark a passion in me for something that I didn’t know I had a passion for. 

So the next step was what? What Masters course will I do? I began looking on the Ulster website and nothing really jumped out to me except for the Msc Communications and Public Relations course. I remember in school I had wanted to study CAM but didn’t think I would get the grades and so didn’t apply and forgot about it, But here was a Masters course, that was very much like CAM, that I did have the grades for! And so I applied in August and here I am in April, absolutely loving it. 

Starting a Masters however, was very daunting for me. I didn’t know what to expect at all. I thought there was going to be nobody my own age in the class and I thought I wasn’t good enough for it and I was going in with no knowledge of the Jordanstown campus and no friends there. But I was so, so wrong. I felt so welcome when class began. Everyone was so friendly and chatty and we are a small class which I love. The lecturers are amazing too. Very approachable, will answer any questions or queries you have and are up for a bit of craic too!

 

Now this is not to say that a Masters is easy. Because, believe me, it’s not. Yes it may only be two days a week, but that just means more independent study, more than I ever had to do. And let’s not forget that there is only student funding for tuition fees and so I have had to start working full-time on top of my studies. But it is so worth it. Not only have I gained another qualification, but I’ve opened so many more doors. I’ve gained a new perspective and I’ve found my passion. I’m more engaged in my classes than I ever was at undergraduate level and I’ve learned so many new skills. And I’ve made so many new friends.

If you’re in final year, I would never rule out a Masters. I am so happy I chose to do one, and, if you’re anything like me, a Masters just might be for you.

Kathleen Convery is an Msc in Communications and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Linkedin – https://www.linkedin.com/in/kathleen-convery-814078158/

 

Why I chose a PR degree…

Why I chose a PR degree…

I remember when I was really young, the first thing I ever wanted to be when I grew up was a pop star – big surprise there, every 6 year old girls dream! Watching Britney Spears on the TV every single day and admiring her so much, can you blame me?

As I began to grow up a little more, I wanted to then become a hairdresser, then a pilot, then an astronaut! My dreams came crumbling down around me when I found out that to be a pilot or an astronaut, you have to have perfect eyesight – I wanted to break my little round face glasses into a million pieces. As if my eyesight was the only thing holding me back from being an astronaut and not the fact that I had a really average set of GCSE’s!GA10

As I was getting a bit older, around the time of my A-Levels I had started to become really interested in social media – Instagram in particular. I was completely in awe of all these ‘Instagrammers’, who were making a living out of advertising products on their page, like teeth whitening and big makeup brands. How had they built themselves up so well that worldwide companies wanted them to advertise their products? I couldn’t get my head around it.

My aunt, who works in PR, was able to explain to me all about advertising and social media and how it is such a big platform today for companies and businesses to advertise their products through, with the help of influencers and celebrities. From then, I have always been so intrigued and loved researching all about it.

As an A-Level business studies student, we learnt all about marketing, advertising, media and communication, and I knew from then that it was what I wanted to further my education in. I began researching University courses that could accomodate this. Originally, I wanted to go away, to Edinburgh or Liverpool, to study, but I had happened to stumble upon the CMPR course at Ulster University. I couldn’t believe my luck when I began looking into it, and all the different modules it had. I was immediately drawn to this course, and put it down as my number one option.

One of the aspects of PR that interests me the most, is the variety. PR really is just a blend of everything media related. Promotion, advertising, campaigns, keepingGA11 up an image, brand management, press releases, media releases – the list goes on! There is a mix of absolutely everything. The reason I like this so much, is because I enjoy working in a fast-paced and dynamic workplace, rather than just doing the same thing day in and day out. It makes work interesting and different each day, and that’s what excites me the most about any of my future careers that I may have in PR.

As I mentioned earlier, I have an aunt who works in PR. Although i’ve never really realised it, but she’s been one of my main influences to choose a degree in PR. She has built her way up to the top of an extremely tough industry, and her success is inspirational. Although she works hard, she also has a lot of perks to her job and recently worked on the Strictly Come Dancing Tour, and was sending me all her selfies with the celebs and judges! I was so envious! I can remember being younger, and she used to take me to the premiers of all the newest films, as she worked for CineMagic. They are some of my fondest memories.

These are just a few of the reasons that I chose a degree in PR! Why did you choose PR?

G x

 

Grainne Arkins – final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/grainne-arkins-a54401173/ and Twitter: https://twitter.com/GrainneArkins

 

Five Things I’ve Learned before Graduating

As my final semester with Ulster University and the stress of final year continues to loom overhead, the end is almost in sight. However, as I was procrastinating from my assignments last week, I stumbled across an interview between pop star Taylor Swift and Elle USA to mark her thirtieth birthday. The article is titled ‘30 things I learnt before turning 30’, with Taylor providing life anecdotes and advice from friendships to family. Whether you’re a fan of Taylor Swift or not, I highly recommend reading this article as I instantly felt motivated after reading it. You can read it by clicking here.

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Although I’m only 22, this article inspired me to compare Taylor’s anecdotes to my own life, and compare it to all the things I’ve learnt before graduating. It allowed me to reflect on how different I am now compared to the 18 year old girl who stepped foot at Ulster back in September 2015.  Therefore, I’ve been inspired to write this blog about 5 things I’ve learnt before graduating university. Although everyone is feeling the heat and is eager to finish, I couldn’t help but think of all the positive things that have happened since beginning my journey at university.

 

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  1. Positivity is key: Failing and rejection is normal

As clichéd as it is, and I know we hear it all the time, failing is a part of life that will never cease to exist. I remember being so afraid of failing things at university. I was very academic in secondary school, and I didn’t want this to change in university. I’d been warned by my older sister of how different university marking/grading  is compared to school, and I remember in first year receiving my grade for my first ever assignment and feeling slightly disappointed.  I’d predicted in that moment that I was failing my degree and that I wasn’t cut out for university, but in reality I was completely overreacting. It’s easier to focus on the negatives, however it’s how we deal with those negatives is the game changer. From constructive criticism on your style of writing, to improving your interview technique or even receiving criticism from friends, it’s always beneficial to use this to continuing improving and bettering yourself.

I’m a very big fan of the quote: “what’s for you won’t go by you”, therefore failing helps facilitate the opportunities that are meant for you. A positive outlook can go a long way, and you’ll never stop failing in life, so keep continuing on your journey.

 

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  1. Be involved: Take interest in your degree

I can only speak from my own experience, but to get the most out of university and your experience at university is down to adopting a pro-active attitude. Due to the nature of my degree, I discovered from first year that it is important to have an understanding of what’s out there in the industry, whether that is local agencies or companies and learning more about the work they do. The university is excellent for introducing us to key notable speakers from Northern Ireland and beyond, as well as putting us in contact with successful past alumni of the university. I’ve really enjoyed attending these sessions, and yes, although it may mean staying in university that extra bit later, it’s a great way to network and meet people in the industry. This is a brilliant way to help secure contacts for your placement year, or for later in life.  There are a number of competitions/ opportunities available through our degree. In first year I took part in the PANI (Publicity Association Northern Ireland) and had the opportunity of working with local advertising agency, Ardmore Advertising.  Fortunately, our team were lucky enough to win this competition, meaning that our campaign for local charity Shelter NI went live across Northern Ireland in September 2016. Not only did I get the experience of working with a local agency; I also got to meet new students I wouldn’t normally have been in contact with, as we completed the competition with two graphic design students from the Belfast campus.  Small things like that not only enhance your university experience, but allow you to find your feet within the industry.

  1. Getting the right balance between work/play

Undoubtedly, there is a massive jump between secondary school life and university, as well as a massive jump from first to second year in university. Especially in first year of university, I found myself with a lot more free time than I did in secondary school. I didn’t know what to do with my new-found freedom. I always found it extremely important to get the right balance between work and play when managing my time. For many, this means finding the right balance between partying and studying, but I saw this free time as an opportunity for personal development. Free time allows you to indulge in new interests. For me, I decided to use my free time to work on gaining more experience in fields relating to my degree, for others it meant taking up a new sport/hobby. As I am in the final stages of final year, it’s truly opened my eyes to the importance of having a balance between work and play even more than before. There’s always going to be an assignment you should be doing or a journal article you need to read but spending time with friends over a cup of tea, going to the cinema in the evening or going on a night out with friends shouldn’t make you feel guilty (although I know I’ve been there). It’s so important to not burn the candle on both ends, but instead enjoy everything in moderation. A motto that I’ve found myself adapting in university is: “At the end of the day, I’ll get it done.” – and you will.

 

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  1. “I need a dollar, dollar, a dollar is all I need!”

One of the best days in the life of a student is when they receive their student loan installments. I have thoroughly enjoyed these days, and I’ve even had count-down apps on my iPhone counting down the days until I receive the next installment in my bank account. (Sad, I know) The opportunities available for using your money are endless, and a new-found sense of generosity kicks in; both to yourself and others. “Shall I buy every item in my ASOS basket?” “I’ve had a long day, I deserve this Dominoes.”  “I’ll pay for the taxi, you can pay for the drinks inside!” – (this is NEVER the case).

One thing that I’ve learnt from university is the importance of budgeting money. University for many introduces a list of bills/payments, from paying for rent to buying groceries for meals. If you’re struggling to keep on-top of your spending,  simple things like creating budgeting plans or giving yourself a weekly allowance can help keep your spending in check. Just don’t go too wild with your overdrafts…

  1. If you need help – ask.

This relates to a series of problems. If you’re struggling with the workload and unsure what you’re meant to be doing on an assignment, your course director and lecturers are more than happy to answer any of your questions via email or meet in their office hours. I’ve never been someone to shy away from asking questions, as ultimately the only person you’re disadvantaging is yourself. University can be a tough time for many people, as it’s an opportunity to fully embrace independence and finding your feet in society. For many, it’s described as the best years of your life; however there is an unspoken pressure that you must be enjoying yourself and having fun 24/7 which is unrealistic. If you feel that you need to talk to someone professionally, the university has a ‘Mind Your Mood’ campaign on their website and work closely with Inspire to provide one on one counselling.  If this isn’t something you think you need, even talking to a friend and venting out your stresses will make you feel a lot better. A problem shared is a problem halved, even if the solution isn’t always clear.

In conclusion, I’m excited to see what the next stages of my career will be; however, I’ve had the best couple of years at Ulster University both on placement and with an amazing group of people in my class – I couldn’t have gone through university without them.

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Abigail Foran is a final year BSc in Communications, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @abigailforan ; LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/abigail-foran-755800118/

Effortless PR Campaigns that blew up the world of social media

Hearing new and creative PR stunts happening every day, leaves you curious how people come up with these bizarre ideas. Always so simple yet so fanatically smart. As I came across one comical PR campaign back in September, I became hooked, it has become a weekly ritual for me to look up PR stunts of the week. Some successful, some not so successful.

What makes a good PR Campaign? Personally, and most obviously, I would say that the most important factor of a good PR campaign is that it should be engaging and entertaining. Something humorous is often a success, depending on the brand or product of course. It is important that the campaign is going to make the customers want to share it with their friends through different means; social media, sharing links privately or even making people talk about it in person.

Here are some of the most successful campaigns that caught my eye over the past few months.

  1. KFC will give $11,000 to first baby born on Sept. 9 who’s named Harland

Want a quick and easy way to make $11,000? Have a baby! Well… maybe not quick, and definitely not easy. But it certainly is a way, as KFC are offering $11,000 to name your baby after Colonel Harland David Sanders himself to mark the 128th birthday of KFC.

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This bizarre idea is a brilliant way to get the conversations sparking between customers. It is also memorable, as there is going to be a human walking around to ensure that people don’t forget the famous name.

Although this is a great way to guarantee your future child a hard time growing up at school, is it really worth $11,000?

  1. Deliveroo’s homage to the Friends meat trifle

Everybody loves friends (well, if you’re not a millennial), and Deliveroo is no exception. They boldly decided to celebrate the 14th anniversary of the final episode of friends which was back in 2004, by putting one of the show’s most infamous meals on the menu.

In “The One Where Ross Got High”, Rachel contributes to their thanksgiving meal by making the glorious meat trifle. Of all meals on the Tv show, Deliveroo decided to put this meal on the menu, available to order for £6.

Combining lady fingers, jam, custard, raspberries, beef sautéed with peas and onion, bananas and whipped cream (you read that in the voice of Rachel, didn’t you?). The desert was available to order through Deliveroo’s ‘Regina Philange’ pop-up shop for a limited time.

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Apparently, to my surprise, it actually didn’t taste like feet! Reports suggest that it was unexpectedly tasty. Although as much as I fully support this campaign, the dessert would not be my cup of tea!

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  1. Church stages screening of The Exorcist to raise money for restoration

This is something that I would most definitely NOT be taking part in. But it is without a doubt going to get people talking.

One of the most profitable horror movies ever made, The Exorcist was screened in a church in Strasbourg, France on the 20th of September this year as part of the annual Film Festival. The purpose of this campaign was to raise money which will go towards the structural restoration of the church.

The choice in venue goes hand in hand with the film which is based on a real-life exorcism carried out by a Roman Catholic priest in the US.

You certainly need to be a brave character to even consider appearing at a screening like this

This campaign is relative, engaging and audacious!

  1. Russians promised ‘free pizza for life’ in exchange for a permanent Domino’s logo tattoo

Unlike the above campaign, this is one that I would 100% consider taking part in. I mean, free pizza? For life? For a cute pizza tattoo? Yes please!

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Domino’s Pizza in Russia launched this competition to give free pizza’s for life for anyone who got the domino’s logo permanently tattooed on their body. This took over social media pretty swiftly and there were more than plenty people willing to jump at the opportunity. Again, free pizza? Why wouldn’t you?

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With these kinds of comical PR campaigns, the media will come to you, and the news will spread by itself. However, it is still important for the company to make it as shareable as possible. The campaign needs to be distributed wisely to the audience, ensuring that the correct target audience, socials and journalists are being reached. This will guarantee that your creative idea for a campaign won’t go to waste.

Aoibheann McKinley is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn – https://uk.linkedin.com/in/aoibheann-mckinley 870316112 ; Twitter – @aoibheannmckinl ; Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/aoibhymcmua/?hl=en