In recent years we have seen huge shift in the way we interact with the Public, there are so many things that have been deemed as Racist, Sexist, Ageist etc etc..

With the rise of Social media and the sheer volume of people that can be reached there is now a wider audience of people with different backgrounds, religions, beliefs and races. This presents modern PR professionals with a lot to consider when creating a Campaign, Advert or Press Release. More often than not we have seen this go very wrong for some people/businesses online.

Take Comedian and Actor David Walliams, This Halloween he has dressed up as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

This caused a media storm in which the Actor was widely accused of being Racist, while others leapt to his defence stating “Have a sense of humour”.  It was this widespread debate that unfolded over Twitter was the reason I thought of writing this piece.

I personally found this funny, I found that given that it was Halloween and likeness to the leader of North Korea it wasn’t hurting anyone. I’m sure that if the Leader of North Korea wanted to dress up as the comedian there wouldn’t be as many people saying that is racist. A lot of people have seen this as racist and given that the actor has taped his eyes. I can certainly see how this could be seen as offensive and I am in no way condoning his actions. As ever Twitter became the melting pot for yet another media debacle. Below are a few of the reactions from the users of twitter.

Another issue is that of Sexism, in what is a female led Public Relations Industry where 64% of the employees are female, I may be in the minority with my thinking that it is much easier for women to express themselves than men in today’s society. Although, It is a scandalous that in fact that there is such a huge pay gap between men and women as a study conducted by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) of salaries across 432 organisations reveals that men in senior management positions are likely earning on average £11,606 more than their female peers, putting the pay gap at 26.8 per cent when taking into account bonuses, and perks like car allowances and commission.  (https://www.prca.org.uk/insights/about-pr-industry/demographics-pr-industry)

However can you imagine what the media reaction to a male host revealing a female model in the way that Ellen DeGeneres has done in the picture below. Or how a writer for the tab went around the Holylands in Belfast looking for the best looking Boys in O’Niell’s gear. I can imagine that there would be many a claim of sexism and sexually objectifying woman! I feel that this points towards the idea of double standards. However, I am not saying this is a bad thing as we all know that Sex does sell as it always has, however what has changed in how we portray that message to different genres.

Which brings me to my final point, has the world gone crazy with Political Correctness? Or does PR as an industry be more careful with what we do and say.

This is a debate that I feel will not go away overnight. However, I feel that in the direction we are going, we are going to be limiting ourselves in what we do and say. As Abraham Lincoln put it “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”. And with that I would like to add that doesn’t mean we abandon all Human Decency and become racist and sexist. Taste your words before you speak them. (SOMEONE PLEASE TELL DONALD TRUMP). With Stereotypes or Demographics playing such a huge role in how business and organisations target their audiences I feel it is only natural that they will play a part in Advertisements, Campaigns and almost all of our work, the balance has to be found where people of all genders and races are treated equally and portrayed as such in these campaigns.

Here is an interesting link to an debate on Sunday morning live from July 2017. https://youtu.be/eeGtHqoz7nM

Also here are a few examples that have caused a stir over the past few years.

 

Curtis Cregan is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be contacted on Twitter: @CurtisCregan17, and Instagram: @CurtisCregan7.

Mr Worldwide

Mr Worldwide

I have always wanted to travel around the world and see new and exciting places. However until this year I had only been to Spain, Liverpool and Blackpool not quite the exotic travels I had thought about. However, this year I visited Madrid, Liverpool and I even decided to go inter-railing. Much to my fathers despair I didn’t save a lot of money from my placement year, but sure here, your only young once!

I spent a few days visiting a friend in Madrid while he was spending a year teaching English in the Spanish capital last January. It is that trip that has convinced me to consider moving abroad to study or work after I finish my degree. Despite sleeping on the floor with a towel for a blanket in late January I loved every second of it! Sight seeing in the rain, trying tapas, seeing Real Madrid play, meeting people from all over the world to finding a home away from home in la fontera. I’ll not go into too much detail as the saying goes, “what happens on tour, stays on tour”.

Next up, across the water to Liverpool! Deciding to fly out to celebrate my 21st birthday the day after St. Patrick’s Day.. perhaps not our brightest idea. Even if the hangover nearly killed me, Liverpool didn’t beat Man City and 8 “young adults” crammed into a 8 bed hostel room with the windows locked shut and the heating on full blast. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see that many sights, I guess I’ll just have to go again.

Inter-railing

Spending 3 weeks with your mates traveling around Europe drinking, sight seeing, eating and relaxing. What could be better? I loved every minute of it. Even the few disasters that I encountered along the way. It’s safe to say that I’ve caught the traveling bug now.

Visiting Prague, Krackow, Budapest, Ljubljana, Zagreb, Belegrade, Sofia and Sunnybeach. I would love to say that I have always had a keen interest in the culture of most of these cities but I’d be lying. My knowledge of most these countries was simply that I knew a football team from my vast football manager careers. (Computer Game by the way). The route was formed because it was the cheapest way to meet some friends in sunnybeach for the final leg, but looking back I’d have it no other way.

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After months of planning out the route and dreaming of sun, shorts and well not wearing suits 5 days a week. We finally set off to Prague in August. Arriving in the beautiful city of Prague full of excitement to begin our holiday.. despite a small mix up with the hostels and the weather being awful (not that it stopped us wearing shorts) a fine, 2 pub crawls, new Friends at every corner, seeing Prague castle, sampling the local beverages and a 6 story night club with an ice bar to top it all off ( Curtis’ Top tip, Ice bars are absolutely freezing so don’t wear shorts).

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Next stop! Poland! I’ll keep this one short and sweet just like my time in Krackow. We missed our train to Krackow meaning we arrived late and while I had been told of how wonderful and brilliant Krackow was, however my sight seeing consisted of 5 or 6 bars and a Mc Donald’s due to the tight schedule we unfortunately we didn’t get to see much of Krackow. (Starting to see a bit of a theme here).

From krackow we then traveled to Budapest for the leg of the trip I had been looking forward to the most. I heard great reviews about Budapest, it’s baths, architecture and great night life and well it did not disappoint! We booked tickets for the Sparty and it was almost magical, great music in a all night pool party! The next day we returned to the scene of the crime where by morning the baths had been transformed back into a relaxing paradise to lounge about and enjoy the sun. It really is a toss up between Prague and Budapest for my favourite spot along the trip and I hope it’s not long before I am back!

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In what was the most gruelling journey I have ever experienced. The train from Budapest to Ljubljana made a Translink bus seem like a private jet. The blistering heat, lack of seats and air conditioning meant we where in for a tough ride. However when arrived in Slovenia we where all in agreement that it was one of the most beautiful places we had ever seen and that was before we even seen Slovenia’s crowning attraction. Lake bled, stunning. Just stunning. (Another Curtis top tip, 20 oil during is a horrible idea during a heatwave unless you enjoy getting sunstroke).

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Next up, off to Croatia. Well so I thought, as we arrived at the Croatian border toward Zagreb I was stopped and told I would not be granted entry to Croatia due to a missing page in my passport. I was sent back to Ljubljana to the embassy to get an emergency passport. Determined not to be a party pooper I sent my amigos on to Zagreb without me and I would meet them later that night. 12 hours later, a “missing” Wallet and dripping in sweat I arrived at the hostel defeated and exhausted. Zagreb was a lovely spot for the day I spent in it, however there wasn’t a lot to keep us entertained so off to the zoo we went spending the majority of our time beside the sea lions hiding from the 40 degree heat.

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We continued our journey east Belegrade, Serbia our next stop. If there is one lesson I’ve learned from my time in Serbia is DO NOT TRY RAKI. It is not enjoyable and honestly it came up as quick as it went down. Serbia was a lonely place with a booming night life, we managed to even briefly crash a wedding on a boat. However it was probably my least favourite of all the stops.

Last call! Bulgaria! After the longest journey in the history of long journeys we arrived in Sofia. Awaiting the arrival of 3 more friends from home to meet us. (It’s amazing how many people we met from home on our travels, two groups from newry and man from lurgan, all of which we never knew would be there.) Spending a short time in Sofia before catching our final train to Burgas or sunnybeach as its more commonly known.

Time to relax by the pool and not have to worry about another train for a long time! However expecting a holiday like Santa Ponsa was our mistake as I was left somewhat disappointed. It is amazing how different the cultures changed as the further east we traveled, I didn’t enjoy the latter stops as those at the beginning.

Despite being exhausted from all the traveling, I’m not deterred and hope to apply to university in Berlin after my degree is completed. After all imagine how beautiful German would sound in a Newry accent!

Curtis Cregan is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be contacted on Twitter: @CurtisCregan17, and Instagram: @CurtisCregan7.

My year in the Weapons Industry

My year in the Weapons Industry

If you had of asked me “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” while I studied for my GCSE’s, the answer would have been somewhere in Liverpool studying Advertising or Graphic Design. All my career prospects revolving around the idea being able to see a Liverpool game whenever I wanted and drawing cartoons. Immature and hopeful thinking, especially as I have never been the best student, “Curtis has plenty of potential but just needs to apply himself” a phrase that my dad was sick of hearing year on year at parent teaching meetings.How things have changed. I never thought back then that I would be where I am today. Although on the surface a lot is still the same; I’m still working in the same job I had when I was 16 (Shout out to Peacocks) My friends are still the same as when I was sitting my GCSE’s (lads, lads, lads) .. But what has changed is how much I’ve grown up and mainly just in the past year. Even my harshest critics in my dad would have to agree somewhat… although I get the feeling he won’t be completely convinced for a while yet.

What has changed in the past year? Well I spent the last year on Placement at Thales UK for my placement. An opportunity I am very grateful to have got. Last August in typical Curtis fashion I had left getting placement until the last minute. Two interviews later and I was starting my chapter as Internal Communications Intern for a company I knew very little about never mind the industry they are in. Thales is a global company with sites located in England, France, Australia, Germany, USA and Northern Ireland. In Thales Belfast or AOW we focused on Air Operations and Weapon Systems. As you may have guessed this is an area in which I have absolutely no background in, unless you count all the hours I dedicated to playing Call of Duty while at school. (It absolutely does not count). Luckily I wasn’t hired to know anything about Engineering or Weapon Systems.

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I was tasked with creating the Role of Internal Communications across the business line. I effectively became the point of contact for Internal Communications for 500 plus employees.

For someone who had only ever worked in bars and clothes shops this was a daunting task at first. I found myself frantically re-reading all of my notes and beginning to panic thinking I was not up for the job. To be honest it was those notes that really got me off and running within Thales. I carried a small notebook around with me gathering information on everything from every person I met from different fractions throughout the business. When I say everything, I really mean it literally. I even made note of what people looked like as not forget their name. It was this almost psycho level of detail that allowed me to create an extensive SOSTAC analysis in which to pitch to the leadership team.

The morning of the pitch I suited up got in extra early to arrive in and find that Fridays are actually ‘dress down Fridays’. As I stand there dressed to the nines while literally shaking with nerves, I make my pitch and much to my surprise I am greeted with a wave of compliments and support. It was from that moment on I knew to have confidence in what I was doing, the content I had learned from the lectures in the past two years had actually paid off! (Who knew that paying that £3,000 a year was anything more than an excuse to go out 4 days a week?!).

I then began to implement a series of my ideas, a lot of them through trial and error and it was then I learnt the importance of time keeping and how important it was. For years I have heard teacher moan and cry about these aren’t assignments you can’t do the night before and well I had a very big wakeup call when I had bit off more than I could chew and determined not to let my new employers down, I found myself working straight through the night trying to meet the harsh deadlines I had set for myself and when I found myself nodding off at my desk the next day, I learnt the importance of planning.

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While in the most part my time at Thales was plain sailing even with my incredibly cringe worthy and ‘puntastic’ email blasts and embarrassing myself to the tune of ABBA at the staff do.

I then began to grow into my role, becoming more and more involved with every aspect of the job. From seeking more responsibility in joining up with the corporate section of the business; by getting involved with air shows and All Employee Road Shows. To becoming a member of the Charity Group and the Society working group and helping them with their many fundraisers and allowing me to use a more creative side and also get some training from the Graphics team in creating posters and newsletters.

At times working in Thales seemed surreal, I felt like it was a dream that I was going to wake up from at any moment. Meeting Astronaut Tim Peake, Being sent across the water to spend a few days working in London and Southampton, training on a military helicopter simulator, attending an air show, meeting members of the Malaysian government and royal family and not to forget being asked to represent Thales at the Belfast Telegraph Business Awards. There would even be model missiles left on my desk in the mornings…

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No day was the same and rarely boring! Although I can’t pretend my head wasn’t turned when my housemates made their regular appearance to FLY Monday’s… I’m still a student after all.

I had fully expected to be making Tea and Coffees and doing the jobs that no one wanted, so I was over the moon to be granted the freedom to do my job my way. My manager was supportive from get the go, I can’t thank Thales enough for the role they have played in getting me to this stage of my development as Public Relations professional.

Who knows maybe I’ll be back one day?

Curtis Cregan is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be contacted on Twitter: @CurtisCregan17, and Instagram: @CurtisCregan7.