The PR Diaries: Part I

Fast Fashion & the ‘Material World.’

 

I cannot believe that it has been eight months since my last blog post, time really does fly!  As I embark upon my final year of studying Communication and PR an aspect of life has my creative mind ticking. Not much has changed over the last eight months, in fact I am pretty sure that I still adore Cacti as I outlined in my last blog and I am 100% certain that my love for food, coffee shops and fashion has not changed either (throwing that out there).  I will also just add that my love for Instagram and taking aesthetic photographs still consumes me- shocker.  What has changed the most over the past few months is my outlook in life.  My outlook on how we are guilty of trying to constantly pursue the latest trends, desperately wanting to live a life full of hope and false fantasies.  Now, you may be giving me major eye rolls right now and as cliché as it sounds I genuinely believe that most things happen for good reason. We do openly follow our passions and there is nothing wrong with that. We are all a little guilty of wanting more than what we already have and if you are reading this thinking, hold up.  I do enjoy following trends, then you are not alone.  However, what happens when we place all our focus on only the most attractive and aesthetic aspects? Are you that material girl, living in a material world?

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Fashioning the self

A recent trip to London Fashion Week inspired me to think about the pressures to conform to the latest trends- let’s not forget that both leopard and snake print are dominating the population of Belfast.  So much so we could to create a second Zoo (90% of my wardrobe).  We are each guilty of religiously following others who inspire us or those who we believe to be ‘role models.’  I believe that there is a negative stigma around the material items in life and rightly so.  When we think of material items our minds wonder to Gucci, Prada and investing in luxury fashion brands.  We may even think of our favourite online influencers and how they fashion the latest trends- not to mention the ‘social influencers take on cycling shorts’ wave which left us feeling a little Tour de France/ Bradley Wiggins (Sorry, I had to).

 

Behind the seams of reality

Our Instagram platforms have become a playground for flashing material items.  It almost feels like an online shop, yet we are sucked in by aesthetic travel photographs that surround these gorgeous clothing posts.  For me, this all feels a little wrong.  I am growing tired of the volume of ‘fast fashion’ brands that are so cleverly luring us in.  Only to try on the dress to discover that it works better as a boob tube/ crop top and the material is as thin and see through as clingfilm.  On another side note, I can openly admit that I am a keen consumer of fast fashion. As much as I try to avoid it the student life really does force us to swap luxury for affordable, with little thought about the materials used- here lies the problem.

In this digital era, I believe that there is a greater pressure to showcase our lives on Instagram.  We almost use it as a mirror, reflecting an articulated image of how we wish to be viewed by our followers.  This is not healthy.  When I buy a new item of clothing I appreciate how it looks and feels, not only on the hanger but how it fits my body.  This is the beauty of fashion as it enables us to appreciate colours, prints and textures as a form of visual communication.  Taking Fashion Week as an example, I was in awe of the array of designers showcasing garments that communicated their brand story- this is the value that is important.  Designers invest time and creative effort in developing a brand, which is why following ‘fast fashion’ can defeat the purpose of buying clothing to keep in the long run.  If your closet is anything like mine, I can put my hands up and admit that I am awful for hoarding clothes.   Regardless of how many times I have tried to flog my clothes on Depop- it is a vicious cycle!

 

‘Keep the snakes away, unless they’re Gucci

The truth is that nothing should be ‘fast’ about fashion.  Investing in luxury does not consist of spending all of your pay on expensive designer gear either, nor does it mean flashing these items online.  From a student’s viewpoint, I do not believe that it is realistic for us to splash out on luxury brands, or to try to prove to others that we can afford this kind of ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ lifestyle- we are only kidding ourselves really.  The purpose of this blog post is to prove that life is far too short to worship designer brands and materialistic items (Ok, life is also too short not buy shoes, keep it on the down low).  Think about the long run.  These items will never truly matter to us, they may only influence how we feel at the time of purchase- that feeling is short-lived.  Think about the real bodies in our lives, the ones who invest in us and bring us joy.  People that are relentlessly by your side and will be a lot longer that a bottle of Gucci Perfume.

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Gucci Gang

 

It has become extremely difficult in society to identify the true value in people, especially with online platforms concealing our true selves.  In reality we are crying out for authenticity. All too often we are told to ‘get out there, follow your dreams and afford that fancy car alongside that high-powered job.’  Is it any wonder why students and young adults in their 20s feel obliged to conform to such ideas? The pressure is all too much to afford life’s ‘little luxuries.’  To live in a society that tells us how to ‘work fast and live fast’ is becoming a challenge and I can admit to feeling overwhelmed by how I should live my life. The bottom line is to work hard enough that success becomes your noise but equally to have the time of your life.  How does that saying go? Work hard, play harder.

 

Does my environmental impact look big in this?

Delving deeper into this topic I discovered that ‘fast fashion’ has received a lot of negative media coverage recently.  Our love for fashion is taking its toll on the environment as in the UK alone we are consuming 26.7kg of new clothing per head each year.  It is not only fast fashion brands that are to blame as it is also expected that 3,781 litres of water is used in a full lifetime of a single pair of Levi’s 501 jeans.  This is just a  snapshot of how our fashion consumption is spiralling out of control.  I guess we could say that having something at our disposal only devalues that item, it is all too easy to make an online purchase without adding any genuine value- a theory that applies to a lot of aspects of life.  When something is readily available, we take it for granted.  Investing in statement items that are durable, high quality and affordable is the best method.

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As I draw my fashion ramblings to a close, I want to stress how easy it is for us to feel pressured by clothing brands.  Being lured in by marketing and influencers online has a  negative effect on our mental health.  This concludes why materialistic items will never maintain true value.  Yes, clothes are beautiful, they are powerful but they will always be around for us to purchase.  Ask yourself this, if everything you possessed was striped back, what would we be left with? We may be cold and a little naked, but we would be guaranteed to be surrounded by those we love.  So, sorry Madonna, living in the material world is not all that it would appear to be!

 

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K x

 

Kathryn Bigger is a final year student on the BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be contacted on: Instagram – the_fashion_fairypr / Twitter – @KatieB_05 / LinkedIn- Kathryn Bigger.

Blogger Brunchin & Insta Launchin’

Welcome to the ‘Blogosphere.’

The beauty of having a creative mind means that I am constantly daydreaming, sketching and thinking of new ideas (98.8% daydreaming about food).  Recently I have been thinking about life living in the ‘Blogosphere.’ No matter which city or countryside that you choose to visit, there will be an abundance of beauty, fashion, foodie and travel bloggers.  However, each Blogger has a unique story to share. If you wish to find out more about my recent blogging and PR adventures, then you have come to the right place.  I have also included my all-time favourite ‘blogger girls.’

In November (3 months ago, I know I’m a bit late) I was encouraged to attend the ‘NI Blogger Brunch’ in Babel, Belfast.  I could write a single blog post about Babel itself as the interiors are just so dreamy.  Marble coffee tables, bubble gum pink and forest green walls with a splash of 1950’s & 60s design- let’s not forget the foliage, did I mention the cacti? Babel really was the perfect setting for this event and I instantly fell in love with this gem of a rooftop bar (even before glancing at the cocktail menu).

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Ok so, I may have just got majorly distracted by all things interiors, however it played a huge role in the success of the event.  As Student Ambassador for CIPR NI, attending the brunch enabled me to network with bloggers, online influencers and PR professionals.  It was surreal meeting bloggers that I follow on Instagram. In fact, I felt as if I knew everything about them before we engaged in conversation.  A little bit creepy, right?  This is the beauty of the ‘blogosphere.’ Over the last decade blogs have evolved from glorified online journals to much more personified accounts.  It is something that we should encourage, we often perfect our CV’s ‘on paper’ (Amber Davies eat your heart out) and forget about building our online portfolios.  Showcase your writing skills, upload that cute picture of your Doggo and share your passion with others.  You never know what positive leads will evolve from a well written blog post.  On a side note, can you guess why I chose to include this Instagram account? Basic.

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Aware NI- It’s ok not to be ok.

The fabulous Sinead Doyle from MCE Public Relations and previous Chair of CIPR NI opened the Brunch, providing insight to supporting charity ‘Aware NI.’  This amazing charity aims to support those with depression, anxiety and bipolar disorders.  Many of the great workings include their support programmes which help to educate communities, schools, universities and the workplace. It is all too easy to feel disengaged from our social circles, feeling isolated online.  I believe that Instagram has advantageous frills however like all social media platforms it harbours bullying and negativity.  As someone who cares way too much of what the world thinks of her I have quickly recognised that I am not alone.  I used to care about those likes and comments to a point where I would question what I uploaded.  Now, I ask myself if I feel happy with the content that I am posting.  The bottom line, do not post for others as they cannot determine your happiness. Only you can.  Learning to be mindful and to relax has helped me immensely with my anxiety.  Take a step back and observe others, you might just gain much-needed inspiration!

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An appetite for the ‘Digital Diet.’

Whilst I am trying not to type forever, I am a self-confessed Instagram addict and have no shame.  It is nice to know that your friends may worry about you if you haven’t posted in a while!  To some it may feel like I use Instagram every hour of my life, well you are not far wrong.  When I visit a small or local business, I feel an urge to share and promote their story online, especially if I feel connected to their brand/story. Sharing my experiences with others is something I value, we should inspire others through creative content. I pledged that I would spend less time on my phone this year (good joke Kathryn). It has been a challenge to say the least, especially when you are immersed and study in the world  of PR/Digital communication.

It is also important to note that not everyone will be your biggest cheerleader along the way, so keep it real. If you are honest what is there to fault? You cannot be someone who you are not, people are not so slow in this digital age.  One valuable piece of advice that I gained from the Blogger Brunch was to post what you want, when you want, do not be put off by negative judgement.  So, what if your post does not reach 150 likes or you have not hit the 1k follower mark?  If you post a photograph that you feel good about then let that be your success.  If posting boosts your confidence, then do it.  The basic algorithm behind a successful Instagram is authenticity, interesting content and engagement.

Taking inspiration from this funky lady.  A groovy gran with style that would put your own wardrobe to shame!  ‘Baddiewinkle’ rose to fame after her granddaughter created an Instagram account for her.  What can we conclude from this? Age has no limit. Do you really think ‘Baddie’ cares about the negative comments? Absolutely not. She’s living her best badass life with no shame!

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Finally, for a nosey…

To round off this post I have picked out four special ladies that I feel I can relate to the most.  Each of their Instagram accounts are a true representation of just how lovely they are.  First up we have Niamh Serena.  I am proud to call Niamh a friend and what she has achieved so far is amazing, recently collaborating with ‘Pretty Little Thing.’ For fabulous fashion and outfit inspiration take a peek at ‘Niamhserena.’ For all things lifestyle, blooms, family life and fashion follow Anna (‘blossomingbirds’).  This girl has the most amazing interiors and collection of Emma Bridgewater mugs (an obsession of mine) I just love how humble Anna is.   She fosters an incredible work ethic combined with family life but is never afraid to voice the blips along the way.  Last but certainly not least twins Lucy and Zoe (‘allthingsbeautifullymade’ & ‘alittlebitoflife’). These ladies are incredible.  Once you visit their blogs you will understand how brave, courageous and beautiful they are.  With every story that they post I feel inspired and empowered.

If you would like to check out some of latest illustrations, fashion posts and travel adventures then hit me up at ‘the_fashion_fairypr.’

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Warning: may contain the occasional photograph of the Eiffel Tour.

Love,

K x

Kathryn Bigger is a third year student on the BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations at Ulster University. She is currently undertaking her placement year at Marks Design Collective. Kathryn can be contacted on: Instagram – the_fashion_fairypr / Twitter – @KatieB_05 / LinkedIn- Kathryn Bigger.

 

The Confessions of a PR Girl

So, here it goes …

I am Kathryn Bigger, lover of fashion, PR (shocker) and collecting cacti.

As a third-year student studying Public Relations and Communications I have certainly learnt a lot about myself and most importantly what I am capable of.  If you too have a love for all things PR, Fashion and Cacti (Avocados are so overrated) then I know you will feel right at home here. My mission is to provide insight into the wonderful world of PR and to let you know that it is OK to mess up along the path of reaching your goals. Trust me, this is a tough industry and the more you learn to dust yourself off, pick yourself up and progress forward the better!

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When I thought about writing my own content I have in some ways been put off by the negative stigma that surrounds the blogging network.  Within Northern Ireland word spreads faster than I can spread Nutella on toast (true bill folks).  Just like our small but widely diverse communities, our NI blogging network is tightly knit.  Those who fail to understand the network are quick to judge, it is nice to be nice (I see you keyboard warriors).   It is time that we focused on the positives by supporting those who are confident, courageous and creative enough to showcase their lives online – You go Glen Coco!

I will let you into a little secret, a secret that I am slowly learning to share… I wear my heart on my sleeve. Some believe that to work in PR you must be utterly glamorous, cut-throat and super confident.  This is NOT the case.  One of the many reasons why I decided to write this blog was to share with you that it is absolutely OK to be yourself. You can remain successful by being humble. Climbing the slippery ‘social ladder’ in PR may seem daunting at first, however my best piece of advice is to remain true to yourself.  Let success be your noise!

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Communication is KEY.  I am pretty sure that if my friends and family had to write one thing about me they would jot down immediately that I LOVE to talk (just as my phone bill would suggest).  Whilst chatting for hours may not be your cup of tea it has helped me immensely in the world of PR.  Making solid connections with clients is vital, it not only boosts morale but will help you to nurture new and existing relationships. Ok, so we are all capable of communicating but what is that magic ingredient that brings our ideas and conversations to life? CREATIVITY (Yes, this word deserves capitals because it is the Queen of sass).

We are created to create.  I love to communicate through illustration, just as the saying goes ‘a picture is worth a thousand words.’ The moment I put paintbrush to paper the world around me stops.  Being able to express my thoughts and feelings on a blank canvas is the most rewarding feeling.  One simple, understated design can progress into something rather beautiful.

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So, discover what you are good at and make it work for you. Exercise your talents and remember stay true to who you are. Authenticity is an extremely attractive characteristic; only you can determine your own success!

Kathryn x

Kathryn Bigger is a third year student on the BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations at Ulster University. She is currently undertaking her placement year at Marks Design Collective. Kathryn can be contacted on: Instagram – the_fashion_fairypr / Twitter – @KatieB_05 / LinkedIn- Kathryn Bigger.