Placement, 3000 Miles Away

Placement, 3000 Miles Away

Was it one of the hardest things I’ve done in my 21 years? Absolutely.

Would I do it again? … In a heartbeat.

I won’t sugar coat it, it wasn’t easy. Placement is a daunting experience as it is, it’s a tough market. The competiveness in the search for the perfect placement, the preparation for interviews, the interviews, the rejection emails. It’s all a part of the process but it’s a process worth sticking at!

Now, you’ve got the idea of the placement process, and how it works. Now throw in a placement that was 3000 miles away from home into the mix, oh and a global pandemic thrown in for good measure!

I undertook a placement as a Marketing Intern, in Boston, Massachusetts. I moved away from home in July 2019, off I went on my own accord, and to say it was a rollercoaster of emotions is definitely an understatement! There was more tears shed than I care to admit, but the opportunities and memories created within my time in Boston was nothing short of amazing, something I am extremely grateful for.

Moving away from home is never an easy experience, (unless you’re heading up to the Holy lands on a Sunday evening, returning on Thursday evening with your washing in tow obviously) but it’s an experience that is worth experiencing at least once.

Here’s a few tips I have for anyone considering heading abroad for their placement!

Research, Research, Research // I know, I know … you’re sick to the back teeth hearing these words, your lecturers are harping on to you about the importance of researching placements but trust me on this one! Learn from my mistakes. Look closely into the placement, where it is based, what work is involved in my job role and what will be commute look like? My commute was a 30 minute train followed by a 30 minute walk. I know what you’re thinking, great way of getting my 10K steps in daily but 10K steps was the last thing on my mind when it was -15 degrees at 6.30am when I was trying to get to the office for that 7.00am company meeting, there was icicles forming on the tip of my nose! (American winters are as horrendous as they are in the films!)

Get Involved, Ask Questions, Listen to Feedback // You’ve only a year in your placement. Get the most as you possibly can out of it. Get involved, ask the questions and take your feedback as a value instrument into your learning! This year will teach you more than you ever imagined, you’ll learn more about yourself as well as giving you an insight into your future career. If you placement isn’t what you imagined it to be, that’s ok! Aren’t you glad you realised that now instead of years down the line after you’re graduated, wondering where it went wrong?

Give yourself time to settle! // You’ve just moved to a different country, you’re going to be the newbie for a while! If you’re like me and from the countryside, AKA the middle of nowhere … it’s going to take you a while to get used to the city lifestyle. You will need time to adjust and acclimatise yourself to your new living and working environment but trust me, once you settle you will reap the benefits! Just relax, don’t sweat the small things, the friendships will come. There are different groups on Facebook that is definitely worth joining to find out more about the likes of joining GAA teams, finding out about social happenings in the Irish community, priorities! The GAA is always a great way of making new friends, it gives you that sense of community no matter how far away from home you may be!

Enjoy It, Grab Every Opportunity That Comes Your Way // For it could be over before you know it, trust me on that one … Thanks COVID-19! My placement was cut short by a few months due to having to return home because of COVID-19. Life is unexpected and can hold many twists and turns that we cannot plan for, so whether it be a work opportunity or a social opportunity, grab, take it and enjoy it!

So, there you have it – a few bits of advice I would give to anyone thinking about heading away on placement. It was an experience that I won’t forget, having taught me invaluable life lessons along the way. I’ll leave you with this quote which stuck to me when I was contemplating whether I should go or stay.

‘If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives’

Alanna Slane is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn

COVID-19. Which brands got it right?

COVID-19. Which brands got it right?

Whilst we are all too aware of the havoc that COVID-19 has caused, it literally cancelled EVERYTHING, but we’re nearly 10 months in and we’ve just adjusted to our new normal, but are we all aware of the brands coming out on top on this pandemic, the brands that are emerging as leaders coming through with strong and effective marketing messages?  

PR and Communications through Coronavirus back in March was tough, the world had just basically stopped, for businesses? …this time Google didn’t have the answers! Did consumers want to hear their favourite brands talk about that dreaded C-word?

Interestingly enough, only 30% of consumers voted that they didn’t want to hear their favourite brands talk about Coronavirus, whilst 75% of consumers voted that brands should address COVID-19 and send out socially responsible messages.

While consumers still expected brands to advertise during this time, it was important for brands content to strike the right tone, to go hand in hand with the current mood and emotional needs of its consumer. Brands response to the almighty challenge posed by COVID-19 meant that many planned campaigns were replaced. Replaced with messages of solidarity, empathy and commitment to stick by their people, now was the time to put their core values into practice.

Guinness, being one of the first brands to address the Virus ran a St Patricks Day message pledging $500,000 to help those affected by the pandemic, which elicited a strong positive response from its consumers. The message Guinness wanted to get across in its video was that we’re all pretty tough when we stick together, and that everyone should raise a glass to that because ‘we’ll March again!’ … This powerful video really hit home, and stuck a cord with its viewers, with its uplifting themes of unity and resilience. Well done Guinness, an emerging leader in times of crisis.

Coca Cola emerged in the early days of COVID-19 crisis too, by urging the world to respect social distancing, with their clear message ‘Staying apart is the best way to stay united’ Drawing on the emotions of their audiences in an attempt to get them to act, this message from Coca Cola was displayed in Times Square in NYC. Coca Cola was savvy in their message of trying to urge publics to social distance by having their normally tightly connected logo spaced out, in an attempt to draw attention to the importance of social distancing. Did consumers react well to this attempt to educate from Coca Cola? Some were critical of Coca Cola’s efforts as they ran the AD before they announced any response efforts.

In times of crisis, is humour a good tool to use to get messages across to your audiences? … Nandos thought so, but it’s sure to grab more attention when it’s a dig at a competitor too! This tweet the company sent out on March 18th just after competitor KFC had to pause their advertising for ‘Finger Lickin’ Good’ Having received 163 complaints because of hygiene standards, KFC announced they were pausing the use of the ‘Finger Lickin’ Good’ slogan … after all is promoting your product as ‘Finger Lickin’ Good’ in a global pandemic going to work when the world was frantically washing their hands in a bid to rid the ‘Rona’?

Nike, was another global brand striking the balance with its response to COVID-19 yet keeping in line with its brands purpose. A master in its trade of ‘Emotional Marketing’, Nike with its theme of eliciting emotion from its consumers with themes of determination, inspiration and performance created a campaign ‘Play for the World’. This carefully crafted campaign was to reinforce the message that we were all in this together, but we all ‘must do our bit, and play for the world’ as well as to unite us all in our ‘new normal’

The campaign latest ad ‘You Can’t Stop Us’ with images and video footage of their consumers working out in homes, with a few famous faces thrown in such as basketball star LeBron James, the message was to reinforce the sense that we are all in this together. The campaign message was particularly clever from Nike, as it still highlights their brands core purpose; to inspire consumers … even in the midst of a global pandemic!

Google was another global brand, who took immediate action whilst the rest of the world was trying to come to terms with what was going on in the world. The rapid action Google took was to ban all ad’s that mentioned Coronavirus, in a bid to curb profiteering of the back of COVID-19 also with spreading any false information. Instead, it focused heavily on providing its consumers with the most accurate and up to date information about anything COVID-19 related.

So whilst COVID-19 has thrown the world into disarray, several brands have successfully pivoted their PR and Comms strategies to avoid appearing insensitive to the current world we find ourselves in, but this is our ‘New Norm’ for now so we must keep going. As Guinness rightly states  … ‘We’ll March Again’

Alanna Slane is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations studentat Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn