Questions with Chris

Questions with Chris

Chris Love, a leading Public Relations Practitioner in NI and founder of LOVE PR, offers some insight into his views on what makes a good public relations campaign and some advice for new practitioners entering into the world of PR. 

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About Chris

Chris Love is a Fellow of the CIPR and a Chartered Public Relations practitioner. A former Chair of CIPR Northern Ireland, CIPR UK Council member and Professional Practices Committee member, Chris runs his own consultancy Love PR. He is a current member of the CIPR Fellows’ Forum and winner of CIPR NI PRide Awards Outstanding Independent Practitioner three times.

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What do you think are the fundamentals to a successful PR campaign?

“There’s no one guide that fits all approach, however by applying SMART objectives and using the PESO model, both will definitely help with the structure. I can’t emphasise enough the importance of setting objectives and then working towards expected outcomes. Always ensure the campaign is being measured throughout to ensure the campaign delivers what it set out to do”.

What is a favourite PR campaign of yours?

“A favourite PR campaign of mine is #missingtype for National Blood Week. NHS convinced big brands including Nando’s, Odeon, Waterstone’s and Daily Mirror to remove the A, B & O’s from their name to highlight the lack of people signing up to donate blood. Even the street sign on Downing Street took part. An extra 30,000 blood donators signed up in the first year of the campaign in 2015 and in 2016 the campaign was rolled out across 21 countries. The campaign was started as there were 40% fewer new blood donors in 2014 compared to 2004. The campaign was designed to strengthen the donor base for the future and it has definitely paid off”.

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What information would you give to young PR professionals today to advance in the workplace?

“PR is a management discipline and it’s important for our industry that practitioners are strategic in their thinking about the value PR can bring to a business”.

 

So, there you have it folks. Simple and to the point, these words of wisdom have obviously worked for Chris, and hopefully you can take something from it for yourself in the world of PR!

 

Lauren Toal is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University, Jordanstown. You can follow her on Twitter @laurentoal5 or reach out on LinkedIn at  https://uk.linkedin.com/in/laurentoal.

Digital Strategy – Have You Got One?

Two words – digital strategy. What exactly is it, why do you need one and how do you get one? Want this explained for you without all the marketing gibberish? Read on.

Authors Karel Dörner and David Edelman broadly describe digital strategy as ‘ranging from being a general vision for change to the adoption of digital tools for improving interaction and marketing communications, to achieve overall organisation goals’.


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Is your organisation strategic in the way you use digital or do you just react?

A definite no-no for digital strategy is to use an ad-hoc approach to simply react with no defined purpose or strategy. If your company is doing this – then STOP or else be prepared for your competitors to eat your digital dinner.

Why should you digitally transform your organisation? Digital business is vital in our digitally savvy era for a company’s growth, customer relationships and overall success nowadays, no matter how big or small. Ultimately, companies without a digital strategy are directionless – they have no strategic goals for what they want to achieve online or who they are targeting with their content.

A good digital strategy will successfully use various online engagement methods such as social media management, blogs/bloggers, promotional emails and search engine optimisation (SEO). When these methods are combined with analytics, which measure their success, it can be extremely potent in increasing market share and delivering a strong ROI.

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What does analytics even mean? Basically, analytics measure engagement.

Using analytics to set specific goals and track your progress as you seek to reach your audience, alongside a cohesive strategy, allows you to effectively reach your target audience using the platforms they prefer.

Building the right brand image on the internet is the hardest thing for your company so it’s important you do it prudently. To keep your brand ahead of the curve you need to constantly update your content and strategy to reflect ever-changing consumer desires. Any digital strategy requires constant and consistent attention as change is the only constant.

So, you’ve read this far and are now wondering how to develop a digital strategy for your company? You’ll be glad to hear that it’s much simpler than it seems.

Money, money, money.At this point it is important to highlight how allocating not only a substantial initial investment but also a sufficient long-term budget to your strategy is crucial – namely for promoting social pages/tools, implementing marketing campaigns and investing in analytical tools.

The SOSTAC model is perhaps the most recognised and useful tool when it comes to planning marketing strategies.

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To be strategic your company must have specific objectives, based on completion of a situational analysis, which are aligned to your overall goals.When developing a digital strategy, it is essential to know your customers – what information can you identify on your current customers? What value proposition do you currently offer and what can be offered? Following this, a strategy can be further developed for how digital will be used to achieve these goals. All of this is done with an indication of how exactly success will be measured and voilà – you have yourself a digital marketing strategy.

Objectives for your strategy can include one or more of the following examples: do you want to increase awareness of your brand? Engage with the target audience? Build trust? Create ‘buzz’? Expand reach? Generate traffic? Increase market share? Increase sales? Achieve customer relationships management goals? You get the idea.

 Strategy answers the ‘how do we get there?’question and typically follows with customer segmentation and targeting alongside positioning and sequencing. Tacticsconsist of a clear channel plan detailing how exactly your company will reach set objectives. Actions detail the tactics and describes who does what and when. Then, control– performance must be monitored and analyzed, as highlighted in the above image of the model, to evaluate success and pinpoint how to improve your strategy.                                                                                                                                                                      

Some companies continue to shy away from adopting a digital marketing strategy, but I encourage you to invest in the channels of the future today to ensure you don’t fall behind.

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Amy Greer is a second year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram: @amyagreer & LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/amygreerrr

PR, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

PR the bulletproof vest for the rich and famous, the lying politicians key to the white house, the reason we help others.

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Why is it whenever you mention PR, people automatically think of all the negatives behind the word? The bad that has come about because of it? The rich and famous pay a large team of PR Practitioners to protect them from the public eye. People like Harvey Weinstein have been protected, even after the monstrous things he has done. Companies like BP have been hiding in the shadows for years and then one day, like Harvey, things got out of control and stories were let out and reputations were destroyed. Tony Hayward would like his “life Back” after destroying the environment with his “little Oil Spill” and after saying things like that I don’t think we should let him have it back.

And I wont even go into the “bad and ugly” things we see in politics because we’d be here all day. But not all PR practitioners do these, what are seen as ‘immoral’, things. PR can be seen like people you have the good guy and the bad guy. Batman and The Joker. But what the good guy does surly out weighs all the things done by the bad guys?

Charities all work with a PR team to persuade people into donating, volunteering, helping. But then why is there such a negative view on persuasion by a PR practitioner. Propaganda is a word that usually comes hand in hand with PR but what is done isn’t lies or manipulation most of the time PR shows the public what is truly happening.

Those God-awful advertisements we see on TV about drink driving  and speeding are hard hitting but it shows the truth behind what happens when you get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol or if you break the speed limit. Its not lies or propaganda it’s the truth. Choosing to use such gruesome and traumatic visuals could have had a very negative effect, but the opposite happened as it scared many out of the notion… well we still have the odd idiot that will get behind the wheel… Here we can see a PR team using unusual (at the time) tactics to make an impact on the public in Northern Ireland.

Another campaign that has been a huge success for the past 33 years has been Band Aid. Every Christmas this single raises over £2 Million for famine relief per year. I’m sure that you are all sick of Christmas songs by now but this, I feel, is a great example of PR at its best. The song, written by Bob Geldof of the Boomtown Rats and Midge Ure of Ultravox, has been a huge success and a very strategic way to raise money. The song has been released a few more times by more current artists, the most recent one included artists such as, One direction, Paloma Faith, and Ed Sheeran. This campaign raises money every year and therefore is a huge success in my books. This is another example of the good PR does. So why are there so many negative connotations with regards to PR?

PR is an extremely important aspect of all major charities and without it many audiences wouldn’t be reached. So all in all I feel the good most defiantly outweighs the bad. Who cares if the spin doctors are meeting in dark alleyways, or if we are being persuaded to donate to Dogs Trust. Shouldn’t we be doing our bit anyway?

Tierna Garvin is a final year student on the BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MissTierna and on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tierna-garvin-bbb3a0143/ 

 

Zuck Goes to Washington

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, testified before Congress on the 10th and 11th of April, amid the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, where it was found that more than 87 million Americans’ personal data were sold and misused for advertising purposes.

The five-hour-long sessions, where the members of the Senates’ and the Houses’ Committee grilled Zuckerberg, however, seemed to serve as an excellent opportunity for Senators, Congresswomen and Congressmen for some good ole political PR.

Each Senator had five minutes, Congresswoman and Congressman four minutes, to question Zuckerberg in the widely-broadcasted hearing. Due to the time constraints, no real probing and questioning could take place, so several members used the time available to them to appeal to their constituents and stakeholders instead. And frankly, time wasn’t the only limitation, as many of the questions also revealed the unfortunate fact, that a large number of the politicians don’t quite know how digital platforms work.

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The ‘invest in my constituency

Some members of the Committee brought up a strangely timed request for Zuckerberg and Facebook to support broadband coverage for rural areas in their constituencies – and by some, I mean at least four members.

Senator Capito of West Virginia: “My state, I’m from West Virginia, and thank you for visiting and next time you visit, if you would please bring some fiber because we don’t have connectivity in — in our rural areas like we really need, and Facebook could really help us with that.

Congressman Cramer of North Dakota directly asked Zuckerberg to consider investing in his district “Let me suggest that you look someplace perhaps in the middle of the North American continent for some people, maybe even your next big investment of — of capital could be in — in some place like, say, Bismarck, North Dakota.

The ‘I’m doing all the work

Others took a different approach and spoke about pieces of legislation they have worked on in the past or are working on at the moment to highlight their personal achievements and push their own agenda into the spotlight.

Here’s an example from Congressman Pallone of New Jersey: “Now, Congresswoman Schakowsky from Illinois and I introduced a bill last year that would require companies to implement baseline data security standards. And I plan to work with my colleagues to draft additional legislation.

Another example from Congresswoman Blackburn of Tennessee: “And you’re hearing there’ll be more bills brought out in the next few weeks. But we have had a bill. The BROWSER Act, and I’m certain that you’re familiar with this, is bipartisan.

Followed up by Congressman Lance of New Jersey: “Congresswoman Blackburn has mentioned her legislation. I’m a co-sponsor of the BROWSER legislation. I commend it to your attention, to the attention of your company. It is for the entire ecosystem. It is for ISPs and edge providers. It is not just for one or the other.

Clearly, Zuckerberg did not provide a straight answer to whether he would support any legislation, he avoided the question by answering along these lines: “in general, I think that that principle is exactly right. And I think we should have a — a discussion around how to best apply that”. At times, the viewer might have been confused whether it was a hearing or whether the members of Congress were competing for Zuckerberg’s attention and approval of their piece of legislation.

The ‘publicity stunt

Others took a completely different approach again and went for something that would grant them coverage.

Like Senator Durbin of Illinois, who seemed to be the first person to take Zuckerberg by surprise as he asked “Mr. Zuckerberg, would you be comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel you stayed in last night? You could just see Zuckerberg’s mind trying so hard to work out what he was getting at before responding with a “No”. And it worked – this became one of the most picked up parts of the hearing.

But Senator Cruz’ (Texas) questioning was, without a doubt, the most memorable of all, as Cruz came hard for Zuckerberg, accusing Facebook of engaging in “a pervasive pattern of bias and political censorship”, suggesting that right-leaning users’ content gets censored because of the political bias of Facebook’s staff. Needless to say, Cruz became the Republicans’ hero of the day.

Props also seemed to be a popular tool in attracting some attention. Large printed images (yep, Diamond and Silk), infographics, Congressman Duncan of South Carolina even brought a copy of the Constitution that he gave to Zuckerberg at the end of the hearing – an excellent photo op.

Zuck’s pre-packaged image

Now let’s have a quick look at Facebook’s CEO’s performance. Zuckerberg kept repeating a few obviously rehearsed and carefully drafted statements, which were aimed to reframe Facebook’s image from an international corporation to a dorm room start-up that somehow got too big.SB2

What he said:

“The average American, I think, uses about eight different communication and social network apps to stay connected to people.

What he really said:

We’re not a monopoly.

What he said:

“So, from the beginning of the company in 2004 — I started in my dorm room; it was me and my roommate.

“I believe, to start a company in your dorm room and then grow it to be at the scale that we’re at now without making some mistakes.

“The history of how we got here is we started off in my dorm room with not a lot of resources.

What he really said:

We don’t want to be perceived as a large corporation, even though we are. We want you to think we don’t really know what we’re doing so you can’t blame us for making mistakes.

What he said:

I don’t come to Washington, D.C., too often. I’m going to direct my team to focus on this.

What he really said:

I’m only here because you made me, but that’s all you can expect from me.

What he said:

“My top priority has always been our social mission of connecting people, building community and bringing the world closer together.

What he really said:

We want you to think that we don’t even care about money – it’s all about the people.

What he said:

I’m not the type of person who thinks that there should be no regulation, especially because the Internet is getting to be so important in people’s lives around the world. But I think the details on this really matter.

What he really said:

We want regulation that won’t really limit us, but will keep up the perception that we are being socially responsible.

Will the Cambridge Analytica scandal really hurt Facebook? We’re yet to see. Everyone expected Zuckerberg to be sweating in the hot seat, but he got away fairly easily. He apologized for making a mistake, played the victim card well, but made no concrete promises or commitments. Zuckerberg vs. Washington, 2:0.

Silvia Bajlova is an MSc Communications and Public Relations student at Ulster University. You can follow her on Twitter and contact her on LinkedIn.

4 things marketers can learn from Willy Wonka- ‘The Marketing Legend’

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (starring Johnny Depp, obviously) has always been one of my favourite films- such a child at heart!!

 

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This version was released when I was nine. I would have been sitting in front of the TV drooling over all the delicious chocolate and sweets, desperately wanting little Charlie Bucket to find the last golden ticket. Twelve years on, I’m not afraid to say I still love the film however I am watching it from a PR and marketing perspective… yes, my Saturday nights are exciting!

This is totally my own opinion, after all I’m only a final year student, I’m an amateur but from my placement year working in a marketing department I think businesses could learn a thing or two from this fictional character.

  1. Being the best

Aside from the catchy songs that I sing along to, every decision Willy Wonka makes shows us that he’s entirely focused around being the best. As the saying goes ‘businesses should “be the cheapest or be the best”.  With all the success Willy Wonka has he still recognises the need for cheaper products e.g. when he creates high-quality Everlasting Gobstoppers specifically “for children with very little pocket money”, transmitting a chocolate bar by television, and a stick of gum that tastes like a three-course meal. He makes sure that he is front-page news; fame is at the heart of what he is trying to do and he wants the promotion to be talked about, shared and trending.

  1. Competition is fierce

 

He closed the gates of his factory for good merely because competitors kept stealing his recipes, this as a result shows us just how advanced he was in his thinking in comparison to his competitors.  Now, I wouldn’t say that it’s a good idea to close up shop just because you have competitors but this is why we have creative marketing strategies, to make us ‘stand out from the crowd.’ The lesson from Willy is that if you do not have a plan for improving your current products or services and developing the next game changer in your industry, your competitors probably will.

  1. Re-opening and the media

A great creative idea will always capture the imagination of the media and echo with the audiences. What other way to do this than to hold a good old competition. In the world of social media today we see competitions for winning literally EVERYTHING from TV’s to Holidays to a huge makeup give away and the thing is, does anyone ever actually win the prizes? Is it a tactic to gain more followers and raise more brand awareness on particular social media platforms? Surely someone is going to catch on to this! The beauty Willy Wonka’s competition was that he didn’t really need his target audience to do anything, except buy as many chocolate bars as they wished to find the golden ticket, then again for any child this would be a dream, so it’s no chore!

He relied on the media like newspapers, television news and brochures. As soon as the word got out people of all ages were delving through stores in search for one of the five select Wonka bars, sales went up and profits surged!

  1. The Golden Ticket

Considering the fact that no member of the general public had ever stepped foot inside the chocolate factory, limiting the number of tickets to 5 meant that Willy Wonka automatically created a demand and major FOMO (the fear of missing out) in winning a golden ticket, it nearly becomes feverish. It created a buzz and had got everyone around the world talking about it. It was as if it was something that money couldn’t buy, you just had to believe in hope!

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As I said, Willy Wonka and his marketing strategy are fiction and not everything he does works in the real world. I mean, if companies could hire Oompa Loompa’s instead of people we would all be in trouble! However I think this is a fun way of looking at the opportunities for marketing and improving performance!

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CHOCOLATE DOES! Go on, have that chocolate that I have been tempting you with this whole post.

Laura Duffy is a final year Public Relations Student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on Instagram @laura_duffyy and on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/laura-duffy-8803b7105/ 

“My Movement told me be a consumer and I consumer it!”

“My Movement told me be a                          consumer and I consumer it!”

 

‘Wings’ by Macklemore narrates growing up in a society surrounded by consumerism. The rapper uses such thought provoking lyrics to express how as a culture, we spend unnecessary amounts of money buying expensive things that we think define our individuality, “Look at me, I’m a cool kid, I’m an individual”.

Relating back to my blogs on part one and two of ‘The Social Influencer’ and the discussion of Erving Goffman’s theory on identity, we have the ability to shape and portray ourselves as whoever or whatever we desire to be.  Humans naturally want to feel a sense of belonging therefore dress accordingly and conform to the set cultural ideologies to fit and feel accepted.  President Jimmy Carter quoted in 1979 “too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns”.  This behaviour continues as Macklemore quotes thirty something years later “We are what we wear, we wear what we are”…“I’m part of a movement”.

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Macklemore and producer Ryan Lewis express consumerism using Nike as an example throughout the song, however initially does not outright quote the brand yet references the unique and identifiable qualities associated such as the strap line “they told me to just do it” and the notorious logo “I listened to what that swoosh said look at what that swoosh did”.

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When objects are brought into the market place, people consider them to be sources of satisfaction with mystical characteristics. Consumers only see the surface of the goods and exploit the labouring process, Karl Marx conceptualises this as ‘Commodity Fetishism’ (Marx, 1954).

Nike is well-established and one of the world’s most iconic brands and market leaders for sports footwear, despite claims that link the brand to manufacturing in poor working conditions in third world sweatshops. We as consumers plead ignorance and choose to alienate ourselves from the production process and have no reservations towards paying a lot of money for products that probably cost very little to produce…hands up, I’m guilty of it!  

Through the use of celebrity endorsements such as world famous athlete Michael Jordan, Nike has managed to position themselves as athletic wear, tapping into the emotions of consumers with beliefs that everyone in this world can be an athlete wearing Nike. Macklemore expresses his vulnerability as a young boy and the influence of celebrity endorsement “I wanted to be like Mike, right wanted to be him, I wanted to be that guy”.

As the song draws to an end, Macklemore quotes “Nike tricked us all”, “it’s just another pair of shoes”…fundamentally all shoes serve the same purpose however our ideological perceptions and commodity fetishism will convince us that Nike is superior and gives us that status symbol that no other shoe could.

 

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Even tattoos are becoming a growing commodity that were once perceived as negative aspects in culture however are now considered to be trendy and cool. Somewhat like clothing, however deeper and more symbolic, ink is used to represent important values, beliefs and ideologies and many tattoo enthusiasts are willing to spend huge amounts of money on their body as an investment in art and identity representation. They are used to differentiate and individuate people, while at the same time enabling people to conform with masses of others, take for example the ‘emo’ movement and the star tattoo…

 

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‘Confessions of a Shopaholic’ by Sophie Kinsella demonstrates how commodity fetishism can drive a lot of consumers into debt, with the desire to satisfy their obsessions over material things. The novel is based on a young woman called Becky who gets herself in to debt trying to fulfil her emotional and psychological need to amass clothes, shoes, and other material objects in order to present a certain type of image to the world.

The consumerist dilemma is the consistent belief that people can live beyond their means, indulging short-term profits without consideration for the future effects of overspending. Kayne West’s song ‘Blood on the Leaves’ demonstrates how society is so backwards that we would rather have material objects than intangible things such as spiritual, emotional, mental and intellectual fulfilment and we are willing to deprive ourselves in order to obtain those material objects, as Mr West quotes “Two thousand dollar bag with no cash in your purse”.

 

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I find the theory of capitalism and commodity fetishism fascinating… so much that I have based my dissertation on the topic. Through my findings, it seems we are buying into it evermore due to the rise of digital and social media, and with the ability to target consumers based on behaviour and search activity, the fetishes for commodities are becoming harder to resist

Marx, K (1954). Capital Volume 1. 3rd ed.

Cara Cowan is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/caracowan/

 

 

FOOTBALL VS PUBLIC RELATIONS Volume 1: Part III

FOOTBALL VS PUBLIC RELATIONS

Volume 1: Part III

 

Crisis Management within Soccer

Doeg said “what makes a problem into a crisis is the media or, in some instances, the likelihood of media attention…. It is when the media intervenes too early that a crisis ensues” and with the level of technology in this day an d age media coverage is growing and its starting to unmask all the corruption within football and in some cases this has led to it being labelled as a crisis.

 

There are many different types of situations which can be defined as a crisis, such as bankruptcy, bribery, mismanagement, tax problems, transportation accident and much, much more. Unfortunately for the beautiful game, it has encountered nearly every type of crisis. With the growth of media we have seen some of the best players in the world such as Lionel Messi being accused of tax evasion, the former FIFA president Sepp Blatter receiving an 8 year ban from football for mismanagement and the Liverpool fans walking out on a match in the 77th planned rise of ticket prices to £77.

 

In my previous post I touched on the Sepp Blatter incident but never looked at the management side of this crisis, which is what I want to look at today. An example of crisis management comes with one of the most recent disasters in football, which happened on the 28th November 2016 when a plane containing 81 people crashed, killing 77 of the passengers on-board. The plane, operated by Bolivian-based charter airline Lamia, was flying from Santa Cruz de la Sierra, in Bolivia, to Medellin, in Colombia in preparation for the football match. The plane was transporting the players and staff of Associação Chapecoense de Futebol (Chapecoense). Unfortunately there were no survivors. This was an immediate crises and the effects were found across the world with everyone showing their sympathy. This was not the first time a disaster like this happen as on the 6th February 1958 a plane with the Manchester United players and staff failed to take off on a runway in Munich, causing it to crash and killing 21 people and leaving 2 people unable to play football again.

 

The club didn’t have much time to come up with a plan as they could not have expected this to happen. Since then the club have recovered remarkably as they stand as a state champions of Santa Catarina, sit 10th in the Brazilian Serie A table, only saw their Copa Libertadores hopes ended by a forfeited match, and remain in contention to defend their Copa Sudamericana crown. It was a situation that need needed careful management by all, firstly by CONMEBOL who organise the competition. The Chapecoense team were on their way to play the first leg of their final when disaster struck. Instead of rescheduling the match to another date, CONMEBOL crowned Chapecoense as champions of the competition. The club had a difficult situation on their hands as many of their players did not survive the crash and their club president was also a victim of the disaster. Many thought they would not recover but thanks to the directors and the generous support of many others. The directors of the club selected another of athletes to come in the make up the team so they could continue to compete, Paraguayan football team Club Libertad have put forward their whole first-team squad for Brazilian side. A former player (Tulio de Melo) who had left the club just the year before returned to the club to help them, he spoke about the tragedy by stating that “We will never forget what happened and what the athletes, most of whom were my friends, did for the club. We will never forget that. But we cannot regret this every day, or the sadness never passes. So we talked about this and we made a pact to play with joy and to honour our friends that died.”

 

The fact that the club have rebounded so well from this incident and that they are still fit to be competitive shows just how well this situation was managed. This is never an easy situation to handle for anyone, but I feel the club did all they could in this situation.

 

Stay tuned for future posts and I hope you have a very nice day.

 

Joseph McAuley is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. He can be found on Twitter: @JosephMcAuley96 / Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joseph.mcauley.3