Why a career in PR interests me

My first introduction to the PR industry was reaping the benefits of free concert tickets and backstage passes to meet many artists thanks to my aunty working as the Sales and Promotions Manager in Cool FM and Downtown Radio for many years. As Morris and Goldsworthy (2016; pp.13) highlighted a career in PR can be glamorous, it can “involve lunches, receptions, events and parties which include many different people at a range of different locations.” Without really knowing what the PR industry entailed I knew that it was a very social job and the idea of having a social and interactive job piqued my initial interest around the time of my A-Levels at school.

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I pride myself on being a strong communicator, someone who isn’t afraid to speak out and I find it quite easy to chat to new people which I have realised is a vital characteristic needed to work in the PR industry. From my placement, especially, I have learned that PR practitioners must be confident when speaking to a range of people. For example, throughout my placement I had to present to clients, negotiate with journalists and liaise with third parties such as designers and videographers. Naturally, I am quite a bubbly and outgoing person and I felt that I thrived in these situations. I’ve learnt that having the ability to communicate effectively is paramount in the PR industry and luckily this is something that comes effortlessly to me.

 

Despite always being interested in public relations and enjoying my first two years of CMPR it wasn’t until I completed my placement at a PR agency in Belfast that concreted for me that a career in PR was the correct choice. The interest and time my bosses invested in me has definitely instilled my love for public relations and its many difference aspects, which brings me on to my next reason as to why a career in PR interests me – variety. According to Jane Johnston and Clara Zawawi, there are over 20 potential roles and areas that you can specialise within the PR industry (Johnston & Zawawi 2004, p. 8). From creating billboard campaigns, to writing manifestos and front-page newspaper press releases to help host All Party Group meetings in Stormont and delivering social media workshops, for me one of the most attractive aspects of working in PR is the variety of work you do each day. Every day of my placement was different, every client is paying for your expertise in a different area of PR and for me this kept me interested and motivated in the job. I am not the type of person who could do the same thing in an office, 9-5 Monday to Friday and that is most definitely not the case with PR. Although I have realised that working in PR can mean working long hours for example, working 9-5 in the office then attending an event at 7pm. Therefore, the ability to be flexible is also key in this industry.

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The knowledge and experience I gained throughout my placement year has been invaluable and has cemented a solid foundation for the beginning of my career in PR. From my placement I have realised that the ability to social network is essential. Being an extremely sociable and chatty person anyway I took to this quite easily and have already made contacts in the industry through meeting different clients, journalists and reporters when emailing and calling them to sell in press releases and stories. I think my personality suits the sociable side of PR and thus is another accrediting factor in me wanting to pursue a career in PR.

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One of the most appealing aspects of the industry for me, especially being 21 years old, is knowing that anywhere I travel to in the world I will be able to get a job in PR and use the knowledge I have gained at university. The idea of working in a different country, learning new skills and having endless opportunities to meet new people and experience different cultures excites me and in turn would definitely make me a more employable person. I believe that having a degree in PR can open many doors and offer many different areas to work in. Already through my placement I have worked with private sector, public sector and voluntary sector organisations. PR gives you the choice whether to work in a PR agency where you deal with many different clients and sectors or within the one company in the Communication, Marketing or PR department and I find this an appealing characteristic of the industry. PR is a combination of media related jobs and the versatility of the job deepens my love for the industry.

 

I believe in doing a job that has an impact on someone or something and throughout my placement I have learnt that PR professionals are highly sought after and respected, often having the last word on major decision makings. PR has become a necessity to any organisation now-a-days be it through crisis management, creating content or event management and it is ever-growing and adapting to keep up with current trends in today’s society. Companies rely on and trust in PR practitioners to improve their business or service to make them more creditable and successful.

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Growing up I was always the leader, organiser and problem solver and little did I know that these attributes would stand by me when choosing my career. During my placement year when I met with clients, I instantly had to take control of the situation and act professionally and this is something that I found came quite naturally to me. Clients were paying for our company’s expertise and advice and thus it was key that we acted in a confident and professional manner. I enjoyed the professional side of the job and dressing appropriately.

 

Working in a busy and popular PR agency in Belfast meant that I had to multitask and manage many different clients and tasks at the same time and this allowed me to develop my time management skills and ability to know which tasks to prioritise to ensure deadlines were met. Luckily, I thrive on deadlines and knowing that I always had a target to meet by a certain date or time helped me stay focused, interested and engaged in the jobs I was working on. Although the industry, and in particular some clients, can be very demanding and fast paced I enjoy this pressured but exciting side of working in PR.

 

The ability to be creative and write captivating and engaging content is vital when it comes to working in PR. Throughout school writing was something that I enjoyed and has always been a strong point for me. During my placement my boss always talked me through the stages of writing press releases and the importance of attention to detail when doing so. Thus, I believe my writing ability has greatly developed and by the time my placement had finished I had written many press releases that ended up as front page stories in the Irish News, Belfast Telegraph and Newsletter, as well as helping to script video campaigns and write manifestos.

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An area of the industry that I grew to love during placement was seeing through a project from the very beginning to the end. For example, the initial meeting with a client to discuss ideas for a Christmas billboard campaign to working with designers to create the visuals for the billboard, the copious amount of update meetings with the client in between to the finished result of seeing the billboards across the country. This instilled a great sense of satisfaction and fulfilment in me each time and I think achieving that is important in a job to stay focused and motivated.

 

In today’s society I believe crisis management is inevitable and is becoming a much bigger part of PR. If an agency can provide good crisis management expertise it makes it much more attractive to clients. The ability to acknowledge and identify problems is something that I find comes quite naturally to me and thus I do not panic when the situation arises. I think this is important as well as acting professionally when working in PR, especially when a client comes to you with a problem. I quite enjoy the buzz of working out a strategy to overcome the problem when the situation occurs.

 

Public Relations is constantly evolving and changing along with trends in society. It is exciting and fresh and there is no end to the number of tools and platforms to help improve PR practitioners daily. They need to keep up to date with social media, new technologies and trends and this is something that I find myself doing personally everyday through what I wear, what I watch on TV and social media outlets that I use.

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Finally, I believe that the pinnacle to why a career in Public Relations interests me ultimately is the idea of working in teams and with many different people. I am a people person and thrive on being around lots of people. I enjoy the ethos of working with different groups of people and seeing the different skills they bring that all come together to create the finished product and end result. I look forward to pursuing my career in Public Relations once I graduate.

 

Niamh Mac Manus is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter – @niamh_mac_manus and Linked In – @NiamhMacManus

Have you too been victimised by marketing decoys?

The answer, I’m sure for the majority is yes, even without realising. Everyone loves a bargain right? I can’t speak for us all, but I know for sure I can justify just about absolutely anything that is on sale, regardless whether I need it or not. Initialled mug for my tea? Yes please, because the other 40 cups at home just aren’t the same without the letter ‘N’ on it. A coconut lip scrub with avocado oil for extra soft lips? Aye sure it’s on offer, may as well – You get the drift!

It’s no secret that certain marketing tricks exist to help separate you from more of your money. Most people know about strategic item placement, music to fit your shopping mood, and other tricks of the trade, but are you sharp enough to spot them all?

 

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Here’s a list of 6 marketing stunts we fall victim to everyday;

  1. Decoy Pricing

You know when you’re choosing the size of popcorn you’re going to get at the cinema and the small is £3 and the large is £8? You would probably just buy the small. However, if there was a medium for £7 most people would buy the large because “it’s only one pound more than the medium.” This is a tactic that boosts sales of high profit items by creating another version of the product solely to make the dearer version seem more reasonable by comparison.

  1. The expensive dish on the menu

I’ve always wondered who actually buys the steak at £35 in a restaurant? Apparently, it’s sole purpose isn’t there to be bought. For a long time now, menu strategists have used this tactic of creating one or two ridiculously overpriced options on the menu with the intention to make everything else on the menu appear more affordable. Steak at £35? No way. Prawn Linguini at £23? Yep, bargain!

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  1. False sense of urgency

When you are shopping for something but spy the “limited time offer” or “last remaining stock” signs, it’s hard to resist having a look. The latest incarnation is when we are online looking at travel websites. “Limited offer flights to Madrid £60 return. 5 seats remaining, 16 people are currently looking at this offer.” We instantly think “better hustle” and are often persuaded into buying the flights there and then in case we miss such an offer. Often these signs are in red and there is a reason for that: people usually react faster and more forcefully when they see the colour red. Again, mind games!

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  1. Odd number pricing strategy

Why is it that a book at £9.99 seems so much cheaper than a book at £10? This hinges on our psychological inclination to think that £9.99 seems closer to £9 than £10 because we see the number 9. We know it’s not true, but it gets us every time!

  1. Buy One Get One Free

It really is no secret that wherever and whenever we see the word ‘free’ we are instantly interested. ‘BOGOF’ is one of shopper marketing’s biggest weapons that we are all well aware of yet still can’t resist it. This usually results in us buying something more expensive than we had planned because we can now justify it by thinking ‘sure I’m getting something free, so the money from that I can spend on something else’- we’ve all been there! Let’s be honest though, most of the time we were never going to buy the ‘free’ item in the first place anyway, nor do we need it, right?

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  1. In-store product placement

Ever wonder why you always have to trek to the back of a grocery store just to get a loaf of bread or pint of milk? They are placed at the back for a specific reason. They are necessities that most people come into a grocery store for. Ever see the bright, random offers that greet you as you walk into the grocery store? Yes, they are also there for a specific reason – to make you spend money on things you don’t really need. Having to walk down different isles to get to what you want will increase the chances of you picking up some items that you didn’t come in for thus increasing your spend in the store.

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At the end of the day, these secret marketing strategies are just one big catalogue of manipulations really. Hopefully by reading this it will make you slightly more aware of the sneaky games retailers play on us daily.

Niamh Mac Manus is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram – @niamhmacmanus_ , Twitter – @niamh_mac_manus and Linked In – @NiamhMacManus.

Instagram Vs Reality

When I sat down to write my first blog, with not a clue what to write about I did what I do best every time I procrastinate. I lifted up my phone, clicked on Instagram and began pointlessly scrolling. It was then that it clicked, Instagram really is one big illusion.

There’s so much more to life than the perfect Instagram post, so many hiccups and imperfections covered up by a filter.

For me personally, I took a scroll through my own Instagram feed. It went like this – two weeks in California for Christmas, a summer touring around California with my best friend, winning Camogie championship with my best friends, trips to Dublin and London and plenty of nights out in between. Yeah you could say I’ve had a pretty good year but in reality I’ve also had the most mentally challenging and toughest year imaginable.  

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Here’s a small insight – It began last March when my Granda died, as this was the first death of someone very close to me, it hit me and my whole family hard, he was a big part of all our lives. Then 13 months later, my aunty Orla died. 49 years of age, the life and soul of every room she walked into, vivacious, healthy and with so much more to give and fulfil in her life. How could this happen to her? When she took herself to the hospital a few days after she came home from holidays with what she thought was a ‘bug’ from the plane home little did she, or any of us, know that within just 60 short days she would’ve been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer with secondary tumours in her lymph nodes, liver and kidneys and die.

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My aunty Orla and I at my 21st birthday, 5 weeks before she died.

I don’t even know how to begin to explain the sadness, anger, frustration, anxiety, depression and grief that has overtaken me this past year but what I do know for sure is that it’s ok to feel like this and it’s ok to ask for help, as hard as it is to admit to.

I know for sure there are many friends and maybe even family members of mine reading this now who were totally unaware of the way I’ve been feeling. What I’m trying to say is that it’s easy to post an Instagram story out for lunch on a Saturday but what you don’t see is the anxiety attacks, petit mal seizures*, days of meltdown, tears and not leaving my bed that had happened before I finally headed out for that lunch.

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The thing I’ve learnt about grief is that it affects everyone differently and at different times. I remember straight after Orla died I was so confused why I wasn’t so sad all of the time and felt bad about it and it wasn’t until my granny sadly passed away after a long 13 years of suffering profound brain damage from a car accident in September that all of a sudden I became sad, angry and confused about Orla’s death – grief just having it’s moment. In the midst of this, my dad had taken a heart attack and had two stents put in. As if I wasn’t stressed and anxious enough, being the complete daddy’s girl that I am I was struggling to come to terms with everything that had gone on, the fear of what if it was too late for my dad, it was tough.

Anyway, I suppose what I’m trying to say is that everyone is fighting a battle none of us are aware of. Loosing 3 very influential and special people within 17 months has been an extremely tough time for me yet looking at my social media outlets you’d be none the wiser.

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Don’t get me wrong, I will continue to scroll through and post on Instagram but at the end of the day Instagram is like our ‘life highlight reel’, our social media persona and I’ve learnt not to compare myself to other people. The point is this—do not fall victim to the highlight reel. Do not fixate on the lives of others, don’t compare your life to someone else’s. No one’s life is perfect. As my very wise Granda used to say “be slow to blame, you might’ve done the same.”

Thanks for reading!

Niamh Mac Manus is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter – @niamh_mac_manus, Instagram – @niamhmacmanus_ and Linked In: Niamh Mac Manus

*An absence seizure is a form of internal epilepsy which causes you to blank out or stare into space for a few seconds and can result in you becoming forgetful.