The word “unprecedented” is everywhere. Cardi B warbling “Coronavirus” is on repeat in my head. Each day is rolling into the next and every now and again, I have to forcibly relax my jaw after realising I’ve been anxiously clenching my teeth.
I’ll stop there… while quarantine has been an unusual transition, I’m definitely feeling very grateful for my health and loved ones during “these strange times” (another *very* popular phrase).
Something that has been helping though, is seeing the creativity and innovation that has been sparked by brands as a result of lockdown. Humour can be tricky to get right during a crisis but can also be a great outlet and distraction from all the scary news that’s clogging up every social media platform at the moment.
Here are some brands I think have nailed it on the head with humour and creativity.
Ryan Reynolds & Mint Mobile
Filmed in the style of many Zoom quizzes and virtual meetings now taking place across the world, this gave me a proper chuckle. The ad titled “New ManageMint” opens with Reynolds appearing to be recording from his laptop as he introduces a slideshow, poking fun at himself and his movies throughout.
The actor sarcastically tells us “instead of using the magic of film, I’m gonna use the magic of slides!” I love this light-hearted ad and how it gets the brand’s message of low-cost mobile service across in a fun and creative way. Definitely worth a watch!
“WAZZZAAAAA” was to 1999 what the Go Compare opera man is today. It’s one of the first ads I remember seeing as a child. I don’t think I even knew it was from an ad at the time? I just remember everyone shouting WAZZZAAAA at each other, quite often in a context that didn’t make sense (E.g. Q: “Well, what’s new with you?” A: “WAZZZAAAA”). Turns out it was an ad for Budweiser! And now, the beer brand has repurposed the ad to reinforce the message of staying home and social distancing during the Coronavirus lockdown.
It isn’t a fantastic time to launch an outdoor advertising campaign, given that no one is leaving their house these days. This was the problem snack brand Emily Crisps faced when they realised their first OOH advertising campaign was going to be seen by a lot less eyes than they had initially planned. Despite the challenge, the brand turned it into an opportunity to express humour and get their personality across by changing the creative a little.
Initially, the message was to “ditch dull, eat bold” referring to the fact that most crisp brands look similar to the standard red, green and blue packaging. Instead, Emily Crisps have kept he “eat bold” slogan for their OOH campaign, while making fun of themselves too. One of the digital executions reads “Our first ever poster, seen by a runner and one pigeon. Typical.” Another says “Do an ad when it’s warmer, they said… more people will see it, they said. Pffft…” and “Hmmm… maybe we should have made a TV ad instead”.
Coronavirus (cue the Cardi meme) has altered our lives in every way imaginable and it has been a really difficult time for a lot of people. Seeing brands harness their creativity and rise to the challenge that lockdown has brought, has been incredibly inspiring.
I do believe that a pinch of humour (when used in the right way) is a great way for a brand to show their personality and ultimately create a unique form of engagement with their customers. It lets us see the human faces behind the Big Corporation mask and in this case, reminds us that these brands are going through the challenges of Coronavirus along with us.
I think everyone would agree that normality has been thrown out the window and a ‘self-isolating book for dummies’ would be greatly appreciated right now. But that’s not going to happen anytime soon so I have came to the conclusion that we have two options:
We can let the situation take control of us
Or accept that we can’t control the situation but we can control our reaction to it.
The cliche is true: we really are all in this together. I am now 5 weeks into isolation and the version of me that you would have seen 4 weeks ago is extremely different to now.
When isolation began I worked from home for a few weeks. Truth be told if not for work I would have lost my mind! It was the only thing filling these long and empty days (and I know a lot of people will relate). Next thing you know I am off work for 4 weeks and now what? This is the question I asked myself repeatedly. For the first time in so long I had no purpose and that was the most difficult thing. The next few days was a downward spiral of: anxiety, sleepless nights and mind draining bordem.
Looking back now I’m annoyed that I wasted a week moping around feeling sorry for myself. Little by little, day by day I started doing things that I had been putting off because I was so busy. Then it occurred to me that I have been handed a huge opportunity! Think about it under normal circumstances if someone said to you: ‘take 4 weeks off work and do nothing or go try new things or spend time with your family’ YOU’D BE BUZZING! SO that’s exactly what I did!
A New Chapter
First steps: Write a list of things that you always said ‘I’d love to try that’. Now go and do it. It’s that simple. Read the book that you bought 6 months ago, try a 30 day online yoga class, bake a cake, start a blog.
(This actually is my list and I have now done all of the above!)
Doing all of these things was great and it distracted me for an hour everyday. But I knew that if I was to take back control I would have to be in control of my emotions and my mind. After a lot of research and many podcasts later I learnt that journaling may be the answer to all of my problems. I have kept a journal on and off for many years but I’ve never committed to it, so after lots of research I realized that I definitely wasn’t doing it right before nor was I getting the many benefits out of it.
“ What a comfort is this journal I tell myself to myself and throw the burden on my book and feel relieved.” Anne Lister.
After a few weeks I perfected the journaling technique that worked for me. This quotation is the best way that I can explain it. Usually we would open up to other people. But there is so much going on in the world right now that no one wants to hear my first world problems, so I open up to my journal. I wanted something that would: add structure to my day, allow me to aim for goals, let me reflect on how I felt and visualise beyond this time in my life (creating a sense of hope). I can honestly say that the benefits that this process has had on my mental health has been mind blowing and for the first time in a long time I have control and I am happy.
I was always that person that bottled things up and kept myself to myself. I hid behind an insecure smile and I found it difficult to sleep because the conversation between me & my mind was so negative. I can not stress enough the positive impact this has had on my life and especially on the quality of my sleep. I now sleep like a BABY!
Tip: I have gotten into the habit of finishing my journal entry every night by writing down a few things that I am GRATEFUL for. Because no matter how tough the situation is, we all have at least one thing in our lives that we are grateful for.
The new me had so much energy and positivity that I wanted to share my thoughts about journaling with other people. I believed that everyone should have the chance to experience how I feel. So, on 15th April I set up my own blog on Instagram called mindtalkblog. It talks about all things journaling: what it is; how to do it; tips & techniques etc. and to my surprise the response has been amazing!
I have wanted to create a blog for years but something in the back of my mind has always stopped me. Perhaps it was my confidence or perhaps I had to go through this experience first. But finally I ran out of excuses because all we have at the minute is time. Time to take chances, time to grow and time to flourish.
So I will say it one last time: When you can’t control the situation, control your reaction to it.
Brexit, same-sex marriage becoming legal in Ireland and the hilarity of Donald Trump actually being the President of the United States. Those are a few of the historical events of my young adult life that I thought I’d be telling my children and grandchildren about. I never thought I would be telling them about the time a global pandemic shut down the world and changed life as we knew it.
When Coronavirus first came onto the scene I, along with many, didn’t take it too seriously. I just washed my hands with a bit more attention to detail, palm to palm… right palm over left… and don’t forget your thumbs, and waited for the media hype to die down. Up until March, I was attending work and class as usual, living in Belfast, planning the trip of a lifetime with my best friends and rolling my eyes when my Mum would say, “What if the Coronavirus is still around then?”. It was then that COVID-19 got closer and closer to home, cases of the virus and deaths were on the rise and plans to close schools, businesses and social spaces were in the works. I left work on the 13th of March after a day of hearing customers say, “This isn’t good. By next week I think the world will be a lot different.” and I started to think that they were right.
Within a few days, I had to cancel an upcoming St. Patricks day trip to Amsterdam, was temporarily let go from my part-time job, I learnt that I would not be going back to University for the last few weeks of my Final semester and Boris told us that when a friend asks you to meet, say no. For many of us life has been on pause for weeks now, I’m on day 38. And in those 38 days, I have found myself looking at things differently and realising the amazing things I took for granted before COVID-19 changed our lives as we knew it.
“We are not trapped, we are safe at home.”
After a few days of frustration, disappointment and anxiety about the fact that I had to prematurely move out of my student house in Belfast and move back home for the foreseeable future, no longer live with my friends and spend every day minus 1 hour within these walls, I realised how lucky I was to have a safe home to spend quarantine in. Heat without having to stick £5 on the meter every few days, my mothers cooking and the company of my loved ones which I previously would have taken for granted. All of us who are able to spend this time inside with our families are fortunate, and it puts a perspective on the essential workers who are putting themselves at risk every day to protect us. Please protect them by staying at home.
To all my friends who I have ever cancelled plans on or not followed through with that, “omg we need to get coffee sometime!” I’M SORRY, I’LL NEVER DO IT AGAIN. I will never hesitate when someone asks me to go out, to watch a movie or to go for a walk. Want company on a trip to Tesco? I’ll be there. I miss cooking dinners with my friends and struggling to have everything ready at the same time. I had to binge watch Too Hot Too Handle by myself without running commentary from my friends, lusting over the boys and wishing we looked like the girls. I miss Limelight Mondays, Hatfield Tuesdays, Funkarama Wednesdays. I miss the supportive chats that we had when one of us had a bad day, was worried about a deadline or our futures and the cup of tea (or bottle of wine) from your best friend that fixes everything. At a time like this that is detrimental to many peoples mental health, it makes you realise how much a little chat and a cuddle from your bestie makes everything okay. But for now, watsapp check inns, a Saturday night on house-party and making plans for the epic reunion when this is all over will have to do.
My University Life
I am thankful that as I began final year, I was in a great place mentally and after completing an amazing placement I was enthusiastic and excited about starting my final year at university. I made a promise to myself that I would enjoy every moment because it was my last year and it would soon be over… and it was over sooner than I thought. I was so fortunate to make a group of friends within my first couple of weeks as a First Year in Jordanstown, a group that has carried through to final year and no doubt the rest of my life. My group of friends and classmates were something I never took for granted, but I took for granted the coffee dates between lectures, university nights out and struggling through a hangover together the next day. The “are you going in?” texts, the “wtf is going on” during lectures texts and the “HAVE YOU STARTED THIS ASSIGNMENT???” texts. Complaining about the car parking prices whilst telling myself “I really need to start getting the bus” but never doing so because the walk to the bus stop is just too much effort in the morning and I’d rather have those 11 extra minutes in bed. Buying an overpriced mexican wrap from Spar and eating lunch on the mall followed by the collective “should we go to the library or should we just go home” discussion.
As I complete my degree online without the thrill of hand submitting my dissertation or looking forward to my friends and I throwing our caps in the air at a Summer graduation, I am disappointed, but can’t help reflect on the past 4 years and realise that your University days really are the best days of your life.
the little things I will never take for granted again
Calling into my Grannies for a cuppa and a natter
Spending time with my extended family
Going to a job I loved with co-workers I loved even more
Barista Bar Coffee (really thankful for the coffee machine my Brother got for Christmas)
Brunch, lunch and dinner dates even though I said I’d save money and cook at home all week
Making plans with my friends without having to say, “If we’re able too by then.”
Contemplating going to the Gym and then not going
Bumping into friends on the street
Awkwardly bumping into people you follow on Instagram and the two of you not knowing whether to say hello or not so you just give each other an awkward nod
Going for a browse in the city and coming home with £60 worth of stuff I didn’t need
Opening an ASOS parcel without my mum disinfecting it first
Last minute nights out that end up being the best nights ever
The world as we knew it will never be the same. I say this without the intent to belittle the severity of the virus, the lives lost, the pressure it has placed on the NHS and the disastrous effect it has and will have on our economy. Putting all of that aside in this instance, and purely looking at the way this has affected our outlook on life. This has put everything into perspective, shown us what is important, what’s not, how we should appreciate the little things in life and hold our loved ones a little closer. I think we will all lead a very different life after this, and maybe, that isn’t a bad thing.
Catherine Maguire is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram: catherinelauram and LinkedIn:Catherine Maguire
So far, 2020 has been one big slap in the face. We all had big plans for this year, and I don’t think the “c-word” (behave, I mean the other c-word) was in any of them. But I have chosen not to let it break me.
If anyone here has read my last blog post on ‘Mindset’ you will know that I tend to look for the positives in everything and I like to make the best out of a bad situation. In this situation however, I didn’t have to look very far to see the good side. All I had to do was look outside and see that my neighbour who hasn’t gotten off the sofa in 10 years, is now outside doing their daily walk, or go onto Facebook and see my old school friend putting on a live concert in their living room just for the hell of it.
I want to make it clear that I understand how utterly horrible this virus is and I do hope it leaves us as quickly as it arrived. Nonetheless, the virus has put us all in the same situation. It’s here whether we like it or not, so we may as well make the most of it eh?
When our mate Boris announced the lockdown, it was bittersweet. On one hand, we all knew it needed to be done and that it was the only thing that was going to get us closer to defeating the enemy. On the other hand, there was a state of grief that masked the entire country. We had to say ‘see you later’ to a lot of the things that we take for granted every day – our friends, family members, hugs, our freedom.
I know I am extremely lucky in all of this; I live with my wonderful family, I have the countryside on my doorstep, and I am both emotionally and physically healthy. I am fully aware that there are others who don’t have the privileges I have and this lockdown may be mentally exhausting for them. To those people, I salute you. However, if you are in a similarly lucky position to me then I want you to stop moping around and start to see why lockdown is actually a blessing in disguise.
In the short time we have been gifted with lockdown, I have realised a few things about the human race:
1. We do a lot of things just to please other people
I don’t know about you, but I have not worn make up, washed my hair, dressed nicely, put on fake tan, or shaved my legs half as much as I would if we weren’t in lockdown. Boys, call me disgusting, but if a girl is telling you that she has, she’s probably lying.
The only time I have put on make-up or clothes that aren’t sweats, is when I am recording a video for my music pages. But why? Because that’s the only time other people see me.
We all like to pretend that we wear make-up and do all these things for ourselves to feel good – and don’t get me wrong, it does feel good to strut around your bedroom feeling like Rihanna – but can anyone here honestly tell me that they have put in half the effort in the last 4 weeks as they would have in normal times? Of course not! I mean, what’s the point in making an effort just so you can stare at yourself in the mirror?
Maybe it is about time we started doing these things for ourselves. If you want to buy nice underwear, curl your hair and wear red lipstick just to make your morning coffee, then do it. Likewise, if you feel your best in a pair of sweats and a messy bun, that’s okay too! We’ve got to start saying “I am going to do this because it makes me feel good” because right now, you are all you have.
2. We all needed a break
I don’t know what to believe when it comes to the origin of this virus. I do like to entertain the idea of conspiracies and theories, just because they are a lot more exciting than some dude in China scranning a bat and starting a global crisis. Nobody has a definite answer as to where this started or where it will all end but what I do believe is that this needed to happen.
I said it from the start, but maybe this is Mother Nature’s way of telling us to chill the f*#k out. It’s like she has given us this beautiful planet with all its resources, where we can roam freely and do as we please – as long as we don’t take it too far. The same way our parents allowed us to go and play with our friends, as long as we are back before the streetlights go on. But what happens when stay out till after dark? We get grounded. Our parents trusted us to be home by curfew but when we broke that trust, the privilege got taken away from us.
We have been abusing our planet for years, thinking we could continue to do so and we would keep getting more and more chances. But we were on our final straw and we didn’t even know it. We pushed our luck and used our last chance.
I read an article about the fish returning to the rivers in Venice since the residents and tourists have disappeared. This, among other amazing observations, shows how much we as humans have damaged the earth’s natural beauty and maybe the only way to restore the planet is to keep the humans away for a while. An American living in Wuhan said, “I used to think there weren’t really any birds in Wuhan, because you rarely saw them and never heard them. I now know they were just muted and crowded out by the traffic and people. All day long now I hear birds singing.”
As well as the world needing a break from the humans, I think the humans needed a break from the world.
We wake up, go to work, come home and go to sleep, then we wake up and do it all again the next day. I work in the events industry and someone said to me at the beginning of all this, “what are you going to do if you can’t work?”. I replied “I am going to walk, run, cycle, play guitar, draw, write, sing, read, listen to music… maybe just live my life?”
They were shocked. Imagine your life not revolving around work?
As a society, we live to work, we don’t work to live. All I ever hear are people saying:
‘I need a break…’
‘How is it Monday again already?’
‘I wish I could have some time off to do nothing…’
We have been given the break we’ve been asking for, yet there are people who can’t wait to get back to ‘normal’. We go through the rat race of life, constantly competing with others. Whether it is for a promotion or scrolling through Instagram to see who has the most expensive handbag, we are always pushing other people down in order to raise ourselves up. And we call this normal?
I read a tweet that said “Coronavirus has proved that everything around us is a fake social construct. We are learning to live without things our lives revolved around, like work, school, gym, malls and society. It’s taught us that in the end its your own home and family that keep you safe.”
Now that all the things we thought were important have been taken away from us, it’s like we are being forced to face ourselves. To ask ourselves, when all is said and done, what is really important, what is really ‘normal’. The system has been shut down and we don’t have to keep running anymore; we don’t have to keep pretending anymore.
So before you try and rush back to ‘normal life’, ask yourself which parts of ‘normal’ are really worth rushing back to.
3. When this is over, we gotta seize the day
Carpe Diem. We’ve all heard it, I’m sure some of you even have it hanging on the back of your door. But have you ever thought about what it means?
How many of you have made plans in your life that you just ‘never got round to’? Maybe you were planning to find your dream job, maybe you were planning on going to the gym to get your dream body, or maybe you were planning to travel the world – but you just ‘never got round to it’.
I had plans, we all did. There are things we say we are going to do, but we always put them off.
“The gym will still be open on Monday, I’ll start then.”
“The flights are too expensive this year, I’ll travel next year”
“I’ll go see granny next weekend instead, she will understand.”
The truth is, you have been telling yourself you will start the gym every Monday for the last 10 years and your poor granny boils the kettle for you every Sunday but you are always too busy.
Too often, we take these little privileges for granted and expect them to be available to us forever. But guess what? The gym isn’t open on Monday, you can’t fly anywhere anytime soon and you most definitely cannot go and see your granny next weekend.
We need to start seizing the day. We have been putting our goals off for too long, and now the possibility of achieving them has been taken away from us. None of us expected this to happen but we assume that these things will always just be there when we want them, and now they’re not.
We will reach the other side of this and it is not the end of the world. But one day it will be, so if there is anything you can take away from this lockdown, it’s that life is short. Book that flight, apply for that job, buy that car you’ve always wanted. Start working on your dreams, before it’s too late.
4. Humanity is at its best when we are united
Finally: the most positive thing to arise from our current situation. Never before has the whole world had to come together to fight one common enemy (except in the last season of Game of Thrones).
For the first time in the history of mankind, celebrities, CEOS, politicians, cleaners, receptionists and interns are all in the same boat. Suddenly, it doesn’t matter how successful you are or how much money you have – nobody is immune and the only thing that is going to get us through is the common realisation that we are all the same.
Personally, I think I speak to my friends and family more now than I did before lockdown. We are so far apart but, in some ways, we are closer than ever. We are finding new ways to communicate and using our imagination to keep ourselves entertained.
I never thought I’d see the day when all my friends would spend their Saturday night doing a virtual pub quiz and I certainly never thought we’d be in our 20’s still nominating each other to neck pints and do handstands, but hey, we adapt.
The thing is, normally we are all too busy to see each other or hang out. We always have something more important to do or someone else to please, but when everything is stripped back, that’s when we can see the people who will keep us sane during the hard times. The people who are always there in the background. You may not always have time to show them your appreciation, but when life gets too much and you feel like falling down, those are the people who you will catch you. Every. Single. Time.
One of my best friends recently said to me, “I am so grateful I’ve had this time to bond with my little sister. I never had a childhood with her because I moved away when she was younger but we are so much closer now”.
And that’s what this is about. As I said at the start, I know this isn’t an ideal situation and there are definitely some people who aren’t as blessed as you and I, but we are the lucky ones and it’s time we started recognising it.
If there’s anything I love more than a salted chilli chicken snack box, it’s a good old piece of reactive marketing.
Brands use reactive marketing as a way of engaging their audience with spur of the moment content and advertisements responding to real-time events, news, topics, TV shows, hashtags and threads. It’s a way to appear relevant, relatable and humorous. Although generally successful in getting people talking and your brand noticed, it’s a tricky business in terms of having a limited time to create the content before its irrelevant, and the risk of offending the generation of snowflakes, whom I refuse to identify with. The fallout from a bad piece of reactive marketing can cause a lot of damage to a brand’s reputation and often they would have been better of just remaining silent… but that’s no craic. We all love a bit of controversy.
It’s no shock that the only real-time event that most brands are responding to right now is COVID-19. As the pandemic, unfortunately, continues to spread brands are thinking of creative ways to encourage us to partake in social distancing, stay indoors and wash our hands, MORE OFTEN! Please don’t tell me you ever ever ever need to be reminded to wash your hands, you detty pig. Here are a few of my faves.
A reactive marketing masterpiece if you ask me. I found this piece as I was scrolling through twitter a few weeks ago and it was a breath of fresh air amongst upsetting coronavirus updates, pessimistic tweets *unfollow* and reminders that there are still people who think it’s okay to bounce around households and see their friends. Did ye not hear what Boris said.
The campaign had the aim to encourage people to stay at home by creating Billboards and Adshels with spoilers from Netflix shows including Money Heist, Love is Blind and Stranger Things with the tag line “You Should’ve Stayed at Home.” I was disappointed to see that it wasn’t actually real and was actually an idea by a duo from an advertising school in Miami who created the concept as a marketing suggestion for Netflix. I did see some comments where people were infuriated at the thought of seeing a spoiler for their favourite Netflix show when they were on their way to essential work or to get essential supplies. Which is a fair point. But how amazing if those who are not following guidelines, acting like they are above the law and are single handily decreasing the chances of us seeing our loved ones, or having pints with our mates anytime soon had their favourite binge of the moment ruined. Karma. SPOILER ALERT: if you have a life and didn’t binge Love is Blind in 3 days please look away now.
Copywriter Luke O’Reillys created this piece of advertising as part of a One Minute brief challenge and Guinness loved it. They’ve fully credited the creator Luke and have used it as their way of encouraging people to stay at home during this time. I love the simplicity of it. Guinness also created a pretty emotional video in light of St. Patrick’s celebrations being cancelled across the world. Anyone else still pure devastated about this btw?
The Guinness team collected clips of Guinness and St. Patricks day celebrations over the years and told us all that although we can’t celebrate together this year, we must stick together during this pretty tough time and, “Don’t worry, we’ll march again.” How emotional. I don’t even drink Guinness but I want a Guinness.
Coke and McDonald’s response to the pandemic was spacing out their lettering to encourage social distances, whilst Burger King rejigged their tagline “home of the whopper.” to “Stay home.”
Contrary to popular belief there are other things we can talk about aside the Coronavirus. Can someone remind my Mum of this, please? So here are just a few honourable mentions I want to include from some of my favourite reactive marketing of all time.
When Beyonce dropped her latest Ivy Park collection we couldn’t help but die at the fact we could all go to a fancy dress party as a Sainsbury employee if we bought this particular piece. The memes came in almost instantly and soon went viral with the hashtag #SainsBey. Later that day Sainsbury were absolute legends in the field of reactive marketing and came out with this. Bravo Sainsbury.
Coolen Rooney’s outstanding piece of cryptic literature in 2019 is the best thing I’ve read since the Great Gatsby. The suspense throughout had my heart in my mouth. I still can’t believe It’s……….Rebekah Vardy’s account. The dispute took the Twittersphere by storm and if any brand had any wits about them they would have taken every opportunity to use it for some quality reactive marketing. And Innocent Smoothie was soon to score with their newest “bolt from blue” drink saying it was “THE ONLY THING JUICIER THAN COLEEN V REBEKAH.” Must be pretty damn juicy.
“I’ve had te go te Burger King.”
Remember in 2018 when KFC ran out of Chicken and it was the WORST THING THAT COULD POSSIBLY HAPPEN and people were literally claiming it to be a national emergency. We really didn’t know what 2020 had in store, did we? Anyway, I have the utmost respect for KFC staying cool, calm and collected and rejigging their branding to read FCK. Reassuring to know even Colonel Sanders fcks up sometimes.
So they’re just a few of my favourite reactive marketing campaigns over the past year or so. Over the past month, I have loved seeing the biggest brands ditch their product placements and USP ploys and simply encourage us to stick together and beat this virus.
Stay safe & healthy everyone and whilst the NHS work endlessly to protect us (ye legends) please protect them by staying at home.
Catherine Maguire is a final year year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram: catherinelauram and LinkedIn:Catherine Maguire
Why Does a Career in Public Relations Interest Me?
Choosing a Career
At the age of 6 I wanted to be a fire fighter, 9 a forensic scientist, 15 a journalist and now at the age of 21 I feel I can now answer that dreaded question- “what do you want to be when you grow up”? after years of uncertainty it took 21 years of ruling many different jobs out in order to find the place where I feel most me. After experiencing numerous work environments and feeling like a lost sheep in most of them, I was totally filled with dread that I would have to settle for a job that I didn’t find purpose or fulfilment in. It took 21 years of life experiences and 3 years of university to finally find a role where I can be the best version of me. From a young age, I have always been pushed towards higher education. My parents saw it as the only option for me, they saw it as an opportunity to make something of myself. Neither of my parents continued with their education after the age of 17 and always say how it is one of their biggest regrets in their lives. My father has had every job under the sun, you name it he’s done it, he has never felt a proper sense of security in any of his jobs and if I’m being totally honest, that scares me. I’ve seen struggle first hand which has prompted me to get to where I am today. My aim from a very young age was to obtain a career that want to get out of bed for every morning, have financial security and to achieve a sense of comfort and purpose in my chosen career path. the big question for me for so long was, ‘what career will it be’? I can happily say after one of the hardest years of my life, I’ve finally found it.
Why public relations?
There are many reasons why anyone would want to work in public relations. Whether it be Endless variety, the not so shabby salary or the chance to become a globe trotter doing what you love for a living. Public relations is seen as a very desirable job, one I was oblivious too for a long time.Before I chose a university course I done a test online to find the ‘perfect job for me’ it asked me various questions about my likes, dislikes and wants in a job- the result was unanimous, Public relations. from here I began to research what all was involved in the role of a public relations professional and I couldn’t have been more enthralled.it all just seemed too good to be true, so what were the main points that initially attracted me to PR? Media-I like discovery and experimenting with new media tools such as social media as it was one of the reasons I discovered public relations. Another is the variety that comes with a public relation role. In the words of Jane Johnston and Clara Zawawi, there are over 20 potential roles and areas that you can specialise in the PR industry (Johnston & Zawawi 2004, p. 8). Finding something I was passionate about was an important factor when choosing a degree, the variety component instantly led me to CMPR. And lastly communication, I am a very people- driven person, being in a job that gave me countless opportunities to build relationships was a huge driving factor, I loved the idea of creating a positive impact on my community and thought through public relations I could achieve this goal.
A career in Public Relations
Incorporating Public relations into my chosen career path will be an attractive feature that not many other candidates in the teaching world will obtain and I will use it to my full advantage. as you may have gathered my chosen career path is to teach. Preferably in a secondary school as a business studies teacher.For the past two years, I’ve worked in my local secondary school as a learning support assistant and it has been the best two years of my life, before this I’ve never considered teaching as a career. I then went on to consider if my degree and teaching could go hand in hand with each other and discovered the skills I’ve gained over my past three years of university could be transferred into my life as a teacher. So, how do public relations relate to teaching? Now that we are in the 21st century and the Age of Information, a school district needs a communications professional to manage communication strategies that are proactive for a school district, instead of reactive. School districts must make a choice to be an active player in their community, not a passive one of the past. (Marsha Chappelow, Ph.D.https://www.nspra.org/getting_started,. ) As a public relation graduate I could provide support and a professional insight into how to Communicate with internal and external publics, help as a Community relations liaison and take different actions to ensure the schools continued success. I would do this with the help of Public relations research such as polls and surveys, I could also conduct research that will help determine the publics opinion on the school itself as a base to set an action plan in place. I will use all components of my degree to help in and out of the classroom.
Incorporating public relations into the school environment
From my time in university I’ve become familiar with the use of SWOT analysis. SWOT is an acronym for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This would help evaluate the internal and external factors of the school. I would then highlight in on certain factors, these factors could be used on multiple publics. I would also use them in the classroom environment as public relations is a huge component of the business studies course.
Attract the customer– Firstly recognise who the customer is, in this environment it is the school employees, the students and their parents and the members of the community. Each customer requires different needs for example school employees need to feel valued, the better an employee is treated, the better they will perform, also to ensure a high level of employee retention.
Ensuring school website is “with the times”– never judge a book by its cover, right? Well in this case, this is exactly what potential students and their parents will do. By ensuring the content is of high quality and up to date, this is a high potential selling point for the school if done correctly. You are trying to sell the school to potential customers and If a website isn’t attractive, those customers may make the decision to go elsewhere, based on appearance alone.
Stories:I know you’re probably thinking, story telling seriously. From my own experience story telling has been a factor of public relations that immediately grabs my attention every time. This is because People want to hear success stories to help ensure they are making the right decision. Stories move people. A good story can convince parents that entrusting their children into your hands is a smart choice—or that spending their resources, both time and money, on the school will be an investment in their child’s future. As Terry Tempest Williams wrote “story telling is the oldest form of education.” (Terry Tempest Williams (1984). “Pieces of White Shell: A Journey to Navajoland”, p.4, UNM Press). Just recently I was asked by the principal of the secondary school I used to attend if I would write a short article for the newspaper as it was the schools 60thanniversary. She simply wanted my thoughts on the school and my most fond memories of my time there. This is a great example of how public relations is being used to its highest accord. Getting past pupils to share their fondest memories in a 6-page spread, will highlight to potential students/parents, the surrounding the community and competitors of their continued success.
Social media-I am a strong believer that social media sells. Years ago, it may have been difficult to measure your public relations success. Social media is unique in the sense that you can adequately assess your relationships with your key audiences by measuring the number of shares, comments and likes to see what they enjoy seeing most and using that to provide your audience with content that is of interest to them. The social media platform also allows you to measure the number of people who are viewing each post. These are useful tools to ensure that you can measure the amount of recognition the school is receiving from the targeted publics. All these components are indicators of how good public relations can build strong relationships through good communication.
To conclude I believe that public relations has been a detrimental factor in my chosen career path. As you can see from above I’ve already began to plan different techniques of how to improve public relations within the school environment by mentioning some of the approaches I find most effective and interesting. By being equipped with my knowledge of public relations and clear goals of what I aim to achieve I hope this will set me aside from other competitors. I hope to implement these both within the classroom itself and throughout the school community. Public relations has shaped a huge part of the way I think and see things, it has allowed me to think outside of the box, and for that I’ll be forever grateful.
As I returned home from my Barcelona placement excursion I secured a job in Dublin. My main incentive was to gain some more experience for my CV and to prepare me for the world of work.
Before I knew it, my 2nd big city experience of the year commenced.
Initially, Dublin didn’t seem a city I thought I would gel with, but I was so wrong!
I started my new job in an event management company on Camden Street, smack bang in the centre of the Dublin scene. My new workplace was everything I wanted and more, the happiness you get when having delightful work colleagues has such a detrimental impact on your daily wellbeing. I slowly found myself walking into work in the morning with a spring in my step. An eagerness to learn and excitement to see my works pals. I very quickly became one of the team.
Working on some of the coolest events the country had to offer I became very tired but so appreciative of the opportunities I was getting to experience! Seeing the most extravagant corporate employee parties to the madness behind the festival preparation scene. The backstage hustle was one I definitely loved and it gave me such an insight into my future career, and my excitement for it.
Not losing sight of the beauty that is our capital city… I loved the walk to work in the morning, getting to walk the streets of ‘the big smoke.’ Seeing the Molly Malone statue sit nicely whilst sipping on my Butlers coffee, I had never felt more at home. My lifestyle in Dublin seemed to be one that I fitted into perfectly. From the 9-5 working day to the sociable evenings with friends or a run around UCD campus to clear my head, I couldn’t fault it.
Being a stone’s throw from St Stephens Green made for lovely lunch time strolls and being only quick jaunt to Grafton Street was perfect for the occasional lunchtime shopping trip… ok very frequent shopping trip.
Back to the job, my favourite project had to be the “Tesco Finest* Banquet at Electric Picnic”. The Tesco Banquet was a fine dining experience prepared by chefs Derry Clarke and Mark Moriarty. Creating that finest experience at Electric Picnic, with all proceeds going to Pieta House (a charity helping those with mental health illnesses) and Temple St Children’s Hospital.
The set up began and then, all of a sudden it was festival week and we were in a field. The hard work was about to begin. The Marquee shot up, deliveries were arriving, crew men were assembling sets. Photo opportunities started to look the part, the bar was installed and stocked up, trees and décor began to take over what once was a plain old field. And with a wave of a magic wand we had a Banquet fit for the President himself. (It was not this simple and straightforward at the time, it was extremely stressful, but alas).
Showtime was upon us (EEK!). The Banquet began on the Saturday of Electric Picnic weekend so we had one more day to ensure absolute and utter perfection.
Well, before I knew it I was greeting Greg O’Shea (Ahhh!) and friends alongside other special guests into our Tesco finest* dining experience and showing them to their seats. Playing it very professional and cool, of course. The dining commenced on our first sitting and everything after that was a blur, but, it was amazing. The feedback was great and the general feel of the Banquet was beautiful. The Tiny Quartet’s strings accompanied by Niamh Farrell’s vocals sent goose bumps racing up your arms whilst guests sampled a 5 course meal fit for a king.
Just like that, it was over. We had 4 sittings with hundreds of guests and some very happy clients. With a whopper of a sum raised for the charities selected, how could we not be happy?
Undeniably a stressful, yet incredible, and very fulfilling job to take part in. I very much look forward to see what next year holds!
As Mark Anthony once said, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”