The Power of PR in Pop Culture

Public Relations surrounds me in my life and, whether I like it or not, influences me.
Pity it only took me three years into a degree to fully understand how much of an impact it has.EO3
The undeniable Queens of publicity stunts- the Kardashians- influence what half the teenage girls in the world are probably buying. We have an image in our heads of who they are and we feel like we personally know them due to the fact that they have spent years creating and building upon it. They have such a strong public image and following that now when they buy a product and show us it on their social media, we believe it’s the best of the best. So why will we so easily believe that Kim K’s new skin brand is all we need to make our life better but still ignore centuries of advice from the more experienced skin specialists. Do people only believe what they want to believe?
There have been some obvious Public Relations horror stories documented over the years in the music industry but the big question is where any of these people or their brand seriously affected or are perceptions of big celebrities and public image something as trivial as gossip and rumors? Here are three major examples of when the person behind the story was too popular to be brought down.

Kanye west

Kanye West has NEVER been one to shy away from speaking his mind and giving his opinion on subjects, even if he is not asked to. The American singer, songwriter, producer, entrepreneur and fashion designer has had his fair share of publicity blunders and bad reactions from fans. Although he is the rap worlds equivalent to Marmite and despised by so many the big questions is,
Does Kanye even care?
Back in 2009 Kanye west made his first widely controversial debut by interrupting Taylor Swifts speech to accept her MTV award to tell the audience Beyoncé should have won instead…. Ouch. Although this resulted in some huge backlash from the general public and from other celebrities who were at the MTV awards that night it did not affect Kanye’s own sales of his album at the time. So yes, everyone thought what Kanye did was horrible, but they still will listen to and buy his music? For someone with Kanye’s ego, does this really affect him in any way? Probably not due to the fact that it gave him nothing but attention. This started a spiral of PR blunders from Mr. West who has been recorded stating president Bush doesn’t care about black people, that he is in full support of Donald Trump and that he wants to run for President himself. Kanye again came under backlash in the mid 2000’s when he defended Chris Brown for beating his girlfriend. Endless Twitter feuds with celebrities and public figures mean Kanye is never out of the tabloid headlines especially since he is married to Queen Kim K. Dr Phil even went as far as to diagnose him with mental health problems on Television. Despite all of this Kanye will still sell out every tour date he release, lives in a mansion with his multi-millionaire wife and continues to be a successful business man. So is Kanye invincible because no matter what PR disaster comes his way he survives and becomes more successful, or has Kanye created the best image for himself to do whatever he wants and not have to deal with as much back lash because that’s just what people expect of him now. Is he a mad man who doesn’t care or a genius marketing expert who has always known exactly what he is doing?

Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson was a chart-topping success both as a child with the Jackson five and as a solo artist, so it is easy to see why die-hard fans refuse to see him as anything other than the king of Pop. MJ’s whole life was filled with controversy and publicity blunders but due to the fact he has a following of devoted fans who had watched him grow up he was immune to the bad press. Who else in the world can turn into a different race and carry on as if nothing ever happened? Who else is the world can change their nose, skin and entire face but still receive nothing but love and encouragement from fans who continued to buy all his merchandise and defend him to the death that this was a skin condition and Michael had nothing to do with it.? Nobody else I can think of off the top of my head has got away with such extreme dramatic changes with such ease. Growing up I heard whispered rumors of MJ being involved with young boys but it seemed to be something nobody wanted to speak of until the recent documentary that came out in 2019 called ‘Leaving Neverland.’ This movie on Netflix is the testimony of how two boys were groomed in MJ’s mansion by the man himself. If you heard these types of allegations about your neighbor or relative you would be shocked and appalled and not stop until the truth is uncovered however MJ’s team merely brushed the documentary under the carpet as ‘Fake News’. The movie was met with hostile incredulity from Michaels die hard fans who said the boys were lying for compensation. With such a disputed take on events and many different people’s opinions coming out since his death it still doesn’t change anything and it does not take away his ‘King of Pop’ title. This makes me ask myself, what will?

R. Kelly
Surviving R. Kelly is a 2019 documentary on Netflix that presents substantial evidence that R. Kelly was having sexual relationships with underage girls. Key witnesses, ex-wives, lawyers, friends and even his brother came forward in the movie to speak about the years and years of horror R. Kelly inflicted on the women in his life. The most shocking part of the documentary was that although the evidence was there this was still seen as a conflicting situation in people’s eyes as they did not want to give up the music and the artist they held so dear in their lives. The evidence against him was so over whelming yet his public image was so strong that R Kelly appeared to be invincible. Every time a story came out or a young girls parents tried to alert the public R Kelly would release another banger that distracted the media and not once during his years of torture and negative headlines did his record sales drop once. That is of course until recently when radio stations across America have refused to play his songs because of the Surviving R Kelly movement. All he had to do was simply re-brand himself and his loyal following would accept everything he said. He changed his image from the Pied-Piper of RnB who sings songs like ‘bump n Grind’ to a spiritual black man singing gospel songs such as I Believe I can Fly.

So, although headlines and stories could be irritating to these celebrities does it actually have any sort of overall effect of their careers or is it just an inconvenience to them?

Emer O’Neill is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram – emeroneill29 ; and Facebook Emer O’Neill

Does WIFI connect us?

Does WIFI connect people?

Over the past three weeks I have been learning what life is like without WIFI, through no choice of my own I might add. I have been spending my days with my two closest friends in our new flat in Belfast. We had been excited to move in, however as nice and comfortable as the flat is, our friends still will not visit for long because of one overwhelming detail, no WIFI. There have been several phone calls made to Virgin Media and several mix ups, mistakes and confusing conversations that have happened in the past weeks to try and put the problem right. It can be argued that we are a very laid-back bunch and the problem could have been sorted sooner. However here we are, still no sign of the WIFI being sorted.

As much as I would like to consider myself as one of the very few young people today who is not completely dependent on the internet and social media I cannot help but notice, especially over the past weeks, how much it controls so much of what I do and how much it surrounds me in my day to day life. Being twenty-one in this day and age means that a lot of our news and gossip comes via group chat messages on WhatsApp. This means we felt very in the dark about things going on the outside of our flat and relied on people visiting to gather any juicy information we were missing out on. As students all on the minimum wage at our part time jobs it’s worth mentioning that we couldn’t afford to keep buying data from O2, who charge ten pounds for the smallest amount of data and get away with it because of desperate people, like ourselves. I can’t help but think, what did people used to do?

How we survived
Boredom soon set in when we couldn’t scroll through Instagram or view Snapchats or even watch a movie together because we had no television and, wait for it, no Netflix. We were forced to entertain ourselves. One major lesson I have learned over the past few weeks is how fun it can be to cook a meal with your friends and sit down to enjoy it while having an actual face to face conversation. I Felt like I was learning things I never knew about these girls I have known for several years. However, another lesson I have learned is how easy it is to overeat when there is nothing else to do… I even had a friend turn to me and say, in a very serious tone,
‘I really don’t know what I’m going to do when I finish this yogurt’ .

We decided we would not let it get the best of us, we convinced ourselves we could be entertained without any form of internet. We ventured outdoors. For anyone out there who ever finds themselves without WIFI for long periods of time I really recomCM8mend the cinema. I know it’s not the cheapest form of entertainment for fellow students but even going one night a week was a great reason for us to leave the house and do an activity together. We even started doing home workouts together, as we currently can’t afford the gym membership, which made us feel really productive and bonded us together even more. A morning walk to buy a coffee became something to really look forward to instead of it being the chore it used to be, having to leave the house. One major thing we all noticed was how out of place we felt when standing waiting in places and not having a phone to scroll through. We noticed everywhere we looked people were staring at screens or had earphones in. The overall experience has left me pondering one big question, does WIFI bring people together, or keep us apart?

Reasons I feel we need WIFI
1- The internet is an amazing invention that enables us to instantly contact a whole group of people through one easy click.
2- We can see News from around the world at any time and because of this young people are much more involved in what is happening in the world.
3- If used correctly, the internet can really be educational. For example any random question that pops into my head during the day I can google it and find the answer instantly, this saves a lot of arguments with my brothers during debates.
4- I have stayed in touch with friends from my school who have moved countries or drifted from me in real life and I can see what everyone is up to.
5- The world, in my opinion, is much more open to different cultures and knowledgeable about them because of the internet and social influencers.
6- It’s hard to feel lonely when the whole world is at your fingertips

Reasons I feel we don’t need WIFI
1- I feel like I spend so much of my day staring at screens and this feels very unnatural to me and has affected my eye sight and attention span.
2- When being on your phone takes you out of the present moment you are in with the people really standing in front of you it is hard to argue that we are more connected because of it.
3- Social media sights can turn into popularity contests very easily when young people start competing for likes and basing how they see themselves by the number of likes their selfie got.
4-There is an evil side to the online world that opens young people up to risk and danger and online bullying.
5- While not having any form of WIFI, data or phone usage I noticed how much it had taken over my life.

So basically, overall my experience has taught me that as much of a hassle as it was and as bored as I felt at times, I need to learn to be less dependent on WIFI. I now know I can live without it, it is possible, but maybe I just don’t want to.

Ever O’Neill is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram – emeroneill29 ; and Facebook Emer O’Neill