Awareness or Activism?

In today’s world, we are all (well most) social media savvy, right?

Social media alike everything has critiques however we must appreciate this platform as a means of positive influence over peoples lives. Many of us are on social media for different reasons, including friends and family, professionally or just for fun!

I know my mum doesn’t even understand the concept that you may be ‘friends’ with people on Facebook even though you maybe just know them briefly OR that if you try to zoom on Instagram you might actually end up liking that persons post. Mums for you. But other than my mum not being so savvy, the rest of us are!

Fun Fact: At the beginning of 2017, the total number of social media users in the UK had reached over 39 million users, with estimates going up to 42 million users. (Statista, 2017)

This astonishing fact has ought to mean something; at least that social media is doing something right, or even the users, us?

Social media has been widely adapted by celebrities, bloggers and people in the spotlight. They tend to try and create a sense of community for their followers to ensure this keeps up, although many are willing to share experiences that will empower others around them.

Recently on This Morning (favourite morning show ever) a star from Coronation Street, Sacha Parkinson, spoke out about her battle with ‘Endometriosis”. This was such an inspiring conversation she had reinforcing all girls to listen to their bodies.

Click here to watch this short clip.

Not only did she voice this on national television, she followed up with several social media posts and stories.

This to me has extremely positive effects on some lives encouraging girls they are not alone. Along with this it probes real discussion about issues that should be addressed and not hidden. Social media can help us to teach each other in a way that could never have been possible before now.

Lets appreciate that!

There were many movements on social media in 2017 that have actually caused some social change, or should I say were successful lobbying tactics!

One that stood out in my mind was #WomensMarch. The main mission of this campaign to dismantle systems of oppression has left echoes for everyone to hear. Teresa Shook set up a Facebook page that essentially went viral overnight when 10,000 people responded the next morning. Wow!

From this campaign social media circulated knowledge through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and more. Facebook became the hub of activity where everyone could contribute to this discussion and amazing cause. Real life activists got involved and turned this into a real life event.

Again, this reiterates the power of social media and its enormous impact globally.


Social media can effectively portray an emotional appeal and reach out to many people with the click of a button. The emergence of digital media does have its downsides, but its positives are really too good to ignore.

Is social media activity becoming a substitute for actual activism?

This question is left unanswered. BUT, it certainly is becoming a main influence to people in power. With little propaganda attached it seems a more realistic approach and most definitely raises awareness.

Some argue a hashtag is not a movement, whilst some suggest social activism WILL spark change if done right!

“Sharing is the essence of social media!”


Katy McGuigan is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University, Jordanstown. You can reach her on LinkedIn at and on Twitter @KatyMcGuigan2.

Blurred Lines

Before you think I might begin to discuss the chart single by Robin Thicke, I am not. More importantly this blog will look closer at the looming similarities between PR and advertising.


It is not unknown to most of us that PR is changing. With change comes challenges and with challenges comes opportunities. However, there are many critical perspectives and views on PR today.

PR traditionally, was nothing like it is now. There was less competition, technology hadn’t fully grasped people’s attention and the public didn’t ‘notice’ just quite as much as now.

With the evolution of a ‘digital era’ this has helped ‘blur’ the lines between advertising and PR. I am not a professional PR practitioner and this is becoming increasingly obvious, even to me.

Originally, advertising had the role of gaining sales through adverts. PR aimed to generate exposure through media outlets.

Now, can we notice the difference?

Whilst advertising and PR have merged over the years, some may argue there is still significance to both industries. To me, I can still see a huge gap. I think PR is about maintaining and establishing good will and advertising is still focused on sales. Critically, both PR and advertising are becoming obsessed with reputation and the public’s acceptance.

We have to question, is this hazy view because of the Internet?

Katy1Model cited by Gini Dietrich

Above shows the PESO model, illustrated by Gini Dietrich. With the continuous interception, this highlights the specific roles. Communication lines are becoming blurred due to a knock on effect from digital media. PESO typically helps describe the blend by looking deeper into four types of media and how they overlap.

  1. Paid media – This is something most of us value. (I know I do) It is a form of advertising. Traditionally, advertisers pay for media outlets, such as outdoor advertising. Today influencer’s influence through sponsored ads. In PR, this is paid media.


  1. Earned Media – ‘Free media’ is another term used to describe this form of media. This is an ancient concept of PR that can be formed through word of mouth, great SEO, news articles or third party endorsement. As some would say ‘you need to be a friend, to earn a friend’.


  1. Owned Media – Communication channels that are in ones control. With the involvement of a digital age, this comprises the majority of the Internet. Mediums such as blogs, websites and email contribute. Owned media, is not necessarily promotional, but to uphold the reputation you want to portray.


  1. Shared Media – Shared media has been made widely available through the use of social media. Thus the public can speak freely about brands and organisations, allowing for user generated content. (Sometimes not always a good thing) From a PR perspective, this entitles the PR practitioner to speak directly to an audience without the use of a media organisation. Therefore…

Is PR taking away from the point of advertising?

According to PR Daily, ‘the PR industry looks an awful lot like advertising’. Some will argue this is true; the media outlet is removed therefore some would call this direly selling. Is this classified as PR-ing, or advertising?

However, some will disagree by going back to basics. PR incorporates validation, the more validity it receives then the more it is desired. Again going back to the definition at the beginning, PR is more focused on reinforcing good will between an organisation and its publics.

Advertising is paid media

Public Relations is earned media

Do you agree?

With the proliferation of user-generated content across the web, it reinforces the need for a ‘credible’ source of information in today’s society. Advertisements may be eye catching, however, the public are aware these are in place to SELL. Public relations involve two-way communication strategies; some may think a more democratic outlook. Public relations encourages ‘free coverage’ and real life recommendations which consumers value.

So which do you choose?


Advertising and PR combined work as a great team. Whether the lines have been blurred into one or you advocate separate entities, incorporating all aspects at the right time, work.

“Advertising is what you pay for, publicity is what you pray for!”

Katy McGuigan is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University, Jordanstown. You can reach her on LinkedIn at and on Twitter @KatyMcGuigan2.

How the other half live

I’m sure everyone has heard the phrase, ‘How the other half live’, this particularly applies to the country in the Caribbean, Barbados.

Having just visited the lush country, there were differences in the coastal areas – to that of the towns. From what is a very glamorous and exclusive destination in some parts, is poverty stricken in others.

Would you think this?


What drives the Barbadian economy?

Tourism is the overall major economic factor that all Barbadian citizens live and work for. Having spoken to many staff in restaurants, bars and my accommodation, we found out that tourism employs most people on the island; mind you, a lot of their jobs seemed extremely enjoyable! For example, on the West Coast where I visited, water sports were a major attraction, with tourists participating on an average of 50 sporting activities per day. Yes, what a job!

NB: Not to mention they have sun ALL year (very jealous!)

Tourism in Barbados attracts people from all over the world with its exquisite beaches and popular attractions such as Harrison’s Cave (where the Caribbean ocean meets the Atlantic), Animal Flower Cave and the island’s botanical gardens.

With all of this in mind, it is a very desirable country for us to visit – especially when comparing our winter weather to theirs! That definitely made the 9-hour flight worthwhile!

NI – 0

Barbados – 1


Where to eat?

Barbados consists of magnificent restaurants that overlook breath-taking views. See below a few restaurants that are worth the visit.

  1. The Cliff  The most famous restaurant in Barbados, which is literally on a cliff, yes. It is eye wateringly beautiful, with views of the immense sunset that takes place around 5pm. (Yes I did take a picture of every one I saw) If I were to ever visit again, I would most definitely be back here, obviously to avail of their incredible cocktails.
  2. Lone Star – My favourite (maybe because there was more than just fish on the menu) goes to the Lone Star. After eating fish, a lot, you tend to want to change it up. This was perfect with European cuisine mixed in – that does include pizza… Again overseeing the sea, excuse the pun; it had such a relaxing vibe.
  3. Just Grillin’  This was a great escape from three course meals but not quite fast food; lets say more of a diner. Rated excellent in every tourist book we read, along with all natives recommending, we thought we would give it a go. Despite the very long walk (dads idea) we made it. However, there is no such thing as chips in most diners there, so we had to settle for rice – this is the Barbadian peoples favourite side order. We were all pleasantly surprised and would highly recommend. Just remember to get a taxi!


The Lone Star is described as “The Ivy of the Caribbean” as Michael Winner once said. 

I couldn’t quite believe when driving through the island from the airport, what I was really in for. The island from the outset seems dilapidated, from narrow roads, poor public transport and overall relatively run down villages. However, we were thinking to ourselves, ‘there must be a reason it is a top tourist attraction.’ When we arrived at our hotel, we were correct. With the resorts being a footstep (literally) away from private beaches, the contrast of the city and towns to the coastal areas were drastic. In saying this, Bajans have a very different way of life – sometimes I think I should take a leaf out of their book. Their attitudes are very laid back with what I would say a high context culture. Everything is done with ease and pleasure. Whilst Barbados has an on-going issue with poverty, they are blessed with the most stunning beaches I have ever witnessed.

P.S. watch out for crabs they are everywhere.


So, why visit?

If this blog hasn’t already been even slightly persuasive, I don’t know what will be. Plus my PR skills may not be great after all. Along with all the attractive visuals of Barbados, the tourist attractions and the great food, the people of Barbados make it exceptional. They are so friendly and full of life. The atmosphere they create for your stay is second to none. Sooo, if you get a chance, PLEASE take it!

I hope you have enjoyed my ramble of Barbados; serious holiday blues now!


Katy McGuigan is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. You can reach her on LinkedIn at and on Twitter @KatyMcGuigan2.


Persuasion at the heart of Christmas

As it is Christmas, I have been brought back to this time last year.

Firstly, a bit of background to what I was actually doing this time last year would help.

Whilst studying Communication, Advertising and Marketing there is a year free to complete work placement. I chose this route within my four years at Ulster University. To cut a long story short, I completed a placement year with Randox Laboratories. This was one of the biggest learning curves I have probably ever experienced. Coupled with worries, stress and a feeling of thinking I wasn’t capable enough, it ended up I was.

(Worrying doesn’t get you anywhere, I promise)

By Christmas time, I eventually came out of my shell and began contributing a lot more than I had been before, merely due to my lack of confidence when starting. To be honest, if I were to give any advice, speak up – sitting worrying what your about to say being wrong is useless, it doesn’t matter. It is much more beneficial to be yourself and act confident, even if your not… (Rich coming from me)

Just before Christmas time in Randox is always very busy with the close of business looming. For most of us we just can’t wait to get everything finished up and enjoy festivities. However, around this time it is essential to make most of the festive fun and incorporate something a little more exciting into your work. Why not!

As many of you may know, Randox is a global market leader in the in vitro diagnostics industry. Within the organisation there are many divisions and I happened to be placed in the RX series. The RX series is a range of clinical chemistry analysers for high quality semi-automated and fully automated testing…what a mouthful I know!

Before starting with Randox I was very unfamiliar with this field but by the end I was dreaming about these analysers in my sleep.

If you would like to know more about Randox, click here.

With this in mind I wanted to try and give the RX series an emotional and persuasive appeal, after all it was Christmas.

Especially around this time of year the public are easily persuaded when purchasing gifts, whether we like it or not! May it be for family, friends or even yourself a little bit of persuasion makes it slightly more justifiable. In this case, I tried to persuade a lab into buying an analyser. I’m sure you are asking how might this work. (I was at this stage too)


giphy (2)


What is persuasion?

Some may argue that PR itself is based on persuasion.

Persuasion is associated with influencing behaviours, raising awareness and educating the public. (Messina, 2007)

Adapting this definition to the campaign I completed at Christmas last year, I tried to accomplish just that. See below.

Day 1


Day 2


Day 3


Day 4


This campaign was aimed at lab staff being ‘persuaded’ to gift their laboratory this Christmas with an RX altona. To be fair, if I were a scientist, it would be pretty great!

A growing number of studies highlight the necessitous demand for visual imagery when persuading. This can therefore trigger emotion. Whilst basing this campaign on persuasion, incorporating a ‘humorous’ aspect was critical when ‘luring’ the customer in. Simply, analysers are not a fun, tangible piece of equipment (unless you are a scientist and reading this). Therefore practicing theoretical elements of public relations to any type of work can instantaneously result in a more effective outcome.

As Aristotle notes, there are three modes of persuasion; Ethos, Logos and Pathos were at the heart of this Christmas campaign.



In summary, persuasion is a very effective way of communicating to the public. Especially at Christmas time, I don’t know about you, but I tend to blame all my buying habits on the use of great persuasion. (This doesn’t stop at Christmas unfortunately!)

Lets just hope some laboratories did too.


Katy McGuigan is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University, Jordanstown. You can reach her on LinkedIn at and on Twitter @KatyMcGuigan2.