Is sustainability merely a PR stunt? Or are business running against the clock?

I don’t know how many times per day that I look on twitter and ask myself the same question: Is the world really going to end? And yes I am dramatic but it scares the beejeezus out of me. By experiencing all four seasons in one day; hearing that 150 species are becoming extinct daily and seeing the gruesome images of plastic taking over the world, who can blame me.

I think by now everyone recognises the name Greta Thunberg (if not: she is a 16 year old Swedish girl that has became the face of the climate change movement). Now I’m no Greta, but the current movement has made me make a few small changes: buying a recyclable water bottle; reusing plastic bags etc…. the kind of things we should be doing anyways.

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My small changes may not make a difference but there are a lot of global companies out there that have the power to do so.

A few companies have began to take the movement seriously. However we have to ask ourselves: are these companies smart getting out in front early? OR do they know that it will someday become law to reduce carbon emissions?

Well if you have to do it, you may as well do it first and create a positive PR campaign – right?

 

1.Louis Vuitton

My favourite example is the owner of luxury fashion brand Louis Vuitton. He has come out and called Greta Thunberg “demoralising” whilst at the same time announcing company plans to become more green – “I prefer positive solutions that allow us to get towards a more optimistic position” he stated.

In other words: people’s eyes have now been opened by Greta Thunberg, but let’s just call the little girl names and act like we (the grown-ups) are doing this on our own initiative. (eyes rolling)

*If like me you are not a super fan, we cannot deny the fact that the (mostly negative) publicity around Greta has drew our attention to these issues.

New sustainable Louis Vuittons anyone? (Well…what they look like in my head)

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2. McDonald’s & Burger King

Another classic example is Burger King & McDonald’s plan to ban plastic toys in their kid’s meals (say what?)

In this case Thunberg has spoken for every child in the world when she states:

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Chill kids… you may not have a plastic toy but you will have a beautiful planet and we will all live another day.

The End

Jokes I’m not done yet. The fast food giants could save 1,325 tonnes per year between them thanks to new green initiatives in the UK. And false alarm: kids can still get recyclable toys, books and board games in their Happy Meals.

This is a huge step for the fast food giants and one that didn’t come overnight. This change was a result of two (8 & 10 year old) girls learning about the environment in school and starting a petition. As you can see below over half a million people have signed the petition already – You gotta give the people what they want!

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In this case once Burger King committed to becoming more sustainable McDonald’s followed to avoid negative PR… again emphasising my question: is sustainability merely a PR stunt?

 

3. Carlsberg 

I think it’s fair to say that this one has blown our minds. Drinking beer out of a paper bottle!

I for one see this as a dream come true and if you own a car and park it in Belfast’s Holylands you will too… no more flat tyres or broken windows… (Carlsberg – thank you).

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The bottle forms part of Carlsberg’s Together Towards Zero initiative, which includes a commitment to reach zero carbon emissions and a 30% reduction in its “full-value-chain carbon footprint” by 2030. Although Carlberg are using their new bottle as a PR stunt, they, unlike Mr. Vuitton can admit that they are running against the 2030 clock 

(tick…tock… tick… tock)

 

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So there you have it – the sustainability craze has hit the corporate market and according to (Burger King’s) Mr. Murdoch the craze is set to have a domino effect.

“If it makes other competitors move their practices forward, that can only be a good thing,”  

Who knows what extraordinary, sustainable inventions will form as a result.

But please listen to me when I say that if its anything like the paper straw…. go back to the drawing board!

 

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Kayleigh Tinney is a 3rd year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University, current doing a placement year at The Irish News. She can be found on: Instagram – @Kayleightinney and LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/kayleigh-tinney-76b240161/.

Fortnite- Online Game or Marketing Machine?

Anyone part of the online gaming world (or anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for the last two years) will know in simple terms what Fortnite is. The word itself conjures up images of poorly animated cartoonish characters wielding over the top weapons and wearing far too many clashing colours. Ringing any bells?

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Last Tuesday night, a meteor hit the imaginary island and catapulted users into a black hole of nothingness for 48hours straight. Twitter went commando with a bare page cleared from all tweets and Instagram followed a similar theme. Players were left with nothing for two days. No game, no explanation, no light at the end of tunnel. And of course, the coverage followed.

The whole affair was exciting, and something never done before by Publisher Epic Games, but going off the map certainly isn’t a new PR tactic. 2016 seen Kendall Jenner delete her Instagram for a small window of time and Taylor Swift went down a similar road by unfollowing everyone and deleting all her posts to create a cloud of mystery in lieu of her upcoming album release. So what made Fortnite’s brief hiatus so special? Their stunt last week got me thinking, what makes Fortnite a standout brand without following the usual pattern of declination after a games initial peak period?

 

Everyone’s Welcome

One of the reasons Fortnite really made it to the big leagues is owing to the fact that the game was released on multiple platforms and all versions were playable to eachother, a big deal in the gaming universe. This meant that someone gaming on PC could team up with their friends on Xbox and play together, creating a much more widespread gaming experience that easily went viral. Accessibility was key to Fortnite’s success and means anyone with any gaming device is welcome to don a weird outfit and fight some strangers online with the virtual company of their friends.

 

They never stop upping their game

Fortnite was originally released without much pomp and circumstance in July 2017 and since then has regularly brought out new ‘skins’ (outfits for sale), modified their maps and changed the rules depending on when are when you are within the game. The map/set is constantly evolving in order to keep the users on their toes. Nobody is getting bored and the playerbase is growing in numbers as long as the game is alive and breathing. Two years later fans are still drooling for the constant Easter-eggs hidden within the maps.

 

Relevancy above all

Truth be told I had never even heard of Fortnite until Thanos was introduced as a limited time character. Game producers took advantage of the fact that Avengers: Infinity War was doing so well at the box office and used the information that the writers of the blockbuster were such big Fortnite fans to utilise the world’s biggest current villain as a prop in their game. Arguably, the dances done by the characters are more contagious than the games itself. Playgrounds around the world have been taken over by ‘flossing’ and ‘Electro Shuffles’ and videos of these weirdly difficult to master dance moves were constant hits online. Teacher and parents were annoyed and many schools throughout the world banned the dances. But in a world where coverage is deemed important- all press is good press. Right? The crossovers never end with regular appearances from whatever/whoever is relevant that week. These include Marshmello, The MCU, John Wick and Fifa and can come in the form of new skins, limited edition soundtracks or even a quick change in the map. The inclusion of hyped up happenings in the real world makes Fortnite a pro when in comes to effective brand promotion.

People love free stuff

Let’s be honest, we all want the goods and we want to pay a good price. Ideally nothing. As it stands Fortnite is free and has no upfront costs whatsoever meaning getting started is quick and easy. This means that the younger generation don’t have to beg for credit card details from unwilling parents and the game stands at an all time high in terms of accessibility. Now as always there is a catch. While playing, gamers can purchase virtual items via ‘V-Bucks,’ an online currency unique to the world of Fortnite and by doing so make their character more unique in style. This doesn’t necessarily give any advantage when playing but the more outrageous a character’s outfit, the more noticeable a player is, and to some gamers that means as much as winning.

 

Ga-Ga for Gaming

Not immune to this epic multiverse are celebrities. A-listers such as Finn Wolfhard, Joe Jonas and Drake can’t stay away it seems with the latter breaking a Twitch record for ‘Most viewers of all time,’ partly owing to the rapper advertising the stream on Twitter to his 36.9million followers. Even celebrities that aren’t interested are getting involved. Lady Gaga recently tweeted, ‘What’s Fortnight?’ racking up 200,000 retweets and 900,000 likes. Honestly who knows if any of these stars are #spon but even if there aren’t any pockets being lined, the celebrity involvement is definitely working.

 

Kate Lagan is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Twitter- @PredisposedtoPR and Instagram- @klagan19

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

I am the last person you will find saying anything negative about Christmas, but this there is something that annoys me every year.

Does Christmas seem to come earlier each year? Like seriously, we haven’t even celebrated Halloween and the majority of supermarkets have their Christmas isles stocked with this year’s festive food and decorations. I am by no means a scrooge; I’m quite the opposite, but please, not in September.

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I am someone who cannot get enough of the festive season, but each year I wonder what the need is for stores to start bombarding us with Christmas so early.

Christmas can be an expensive time of year, after buying gifts, food, alcohol and having maybe one too many Christmas nights out, the pennies do add up. The Bank of England suggest that the typical UK household spends over £500 more in December compared to other months. So I get why people that have to buy a lot of gifts like to be well prepared and spread the costs over a couple of months, but does seeing Christmas and Halloween displays at the same time not really irritate you?

It wasn’t until I googled ‘why do shops start displaying Christmas so early’ that I came across the term Christmas Creep. Christmas creep is more commonly used in the US to describe the way retailers introduce Christmas ads, promotions and merchandise way ahead of the traditional start of the festive shopping season. For some shoppers it works, they like to be organised and have all their gifts bought before the clocks even go back but others (like me) get irritated when we see things being displayed before Halloween. Why? Because I honestly do not see the need, it’s not like we are going to forget and I doubt stores will run out of anything two months in advance.

Getting stock on the shelves early plays a large part in companies’ strategic marketing plans. Competition is high and a lot of stores make the majority of their money for the year during the festive period so I suppose it only makes sense to try and extend that success earlier into the year when it comes to present buying but does it make sense to display festive food months in advance that expire in October? Yes Asda, I am talking about you.

I came across this tweet in September

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Asda advertising their Mince pies with the packaging reading ‘juicy raisins, festive spices and crumbly pasty…because it’s not Christmas without them’ and apparently not September without Mince Pies either, right Asda?

Maybe I am just one of the shoppers that like to leave everything to the festive season. I love seeing the Christmas lights, love buying presents and the general buzz around Christmas time. As stressful as it is, there is something oh so satisfying about rushing about supermarkets on Christmas Eve to make sure that you have everything you need for a great Christmas. So personally, getting sorted as early as October seems like it would take away from the Christmas experience. My biggest fear would be that all the things we love about Christmas will lose their novelty. Before we know it, all the festive food we love, like pigs in blankets, mince pies, selection boxes and all the rest of it will just become a normal thing for families to have year round, but it’s the small things like this that really make Christmas what it is.

I guess my point is can we just let Halloween have its moment and enjoy the festive season any time from the 1st of November.

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Rant over.

Jenna Sloan is a final year Bsc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Twitter – jennaaaaa_ and LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/jenna-sloan-17152417b

Bali, Indonesia.

As a CMPR student I am constantly being encouraged to create a blog. With so many people asking me about my recent trip to Bali I thought this may be more convenient for those asking and helpful for me. I really hope you enjoy this and I don’t come across as a complete DOSE.
•DUBAI
Firstly, I feel it’s necessary that I discuss my stop In Dubai.
We stayed in Dubai for 3 nights/ fours days at the Wyndham Dubai Marina. The location of our accommodation was very convenient and there are numerous other places to stay in this region. Staying here meant we were very close to the famous pier 7 and the Dubai marina.
Most connection flights to the south east Asian  including Bali, Thailand and the Philippines stop in Dubai. I decided to stay in Dubai for an extra few days as I have never visited there and was curious to get a feel for their luxury/ wealth.

However the main reason was because the flight to Bali alone is 17 hours.

I chose to stop in Dubai on my way to Bali and not on my way back because my biggest fear was being to exhausted with the travelling and time difference that I wouldn’t enjoy Bali. Dubai is 4 hours ahead of Ireland and Bali is 7. I wanted to wean myself in as I knew my sleeping pattern wouldn’t be use to the drastic change.
So many celebrities take regular trips to Dubai and they are constantly posting their luxurious photographs on Instagram. They made certain places like the five palm Jeremiah look out of this world. I was eager to visit here and after making the time for a famous candy brunch I can confirm it is simply amazing! At all these events you can drink or eat till you drop as it is unlimited. Other famous beach clubs this is available at is Zero gravity, Nikki beach club and Barasti beach.

IMPORTANT- There are ladies day deals and offers in Dubai that are exclusive to women. For example my tickets were far cheaper than Gary’s wiBH14th more perks.
There is one thing I would encourage those to do if planning on visiting Dubai, this is the desert safari. This was phenomenal and there is so much do. As Dubai is so hot we couldn’t go to the desert until it cooled down. We left at 3pm and spent the whole evening here. Gary and myself took a dune buggy and quads out before ending the evening riding camels. This was the most expensive thing by far because we wanted to do everything on the list they gave but the most memorable. UNREAL IS AN UNDERSTATEMENT.
Now to discuss all things Bali!
Bali is without a doubt the most picturesque place in the world. The pictures on Instagram do not do it justice.

•SEMINYAK
My first stop in Bali was Seminyak. It made sense to stay here as it wasn’t far from the airport or the small islands I planned on visiting.
We stayed here for three days at the Harris Hotel. Seminyak is the more lively compared to other areas in Bali with plenty of bars and beach clubs including Finns, Potato Head and Miss Sippy . Happy hour is very popular here and all drink is at a reduced price. Seminyak is known for its beautiful beaches including double six beach and La Pancha. This place is full of colourful bean bags you should watch the sunset here as it is truly breath-taking.

WARNING- This place is quite dirty compared to other places in Bali and the islands. Do not let this put you off stopping here as it was my favourite spot.
The food in Seminyak was my favourite compared to other stops as there is so much variety Catering to everyone needs, especially the fussy eaters like myself who wouldn’t dream of touching Balinese food. Seminyak was the one place I didn’t live off carbohydrates. The rest of the stops my diet consisted of only chips and bread.

Here are a few of my favourite restaurants in Seminyak.BH15

Kynd Community -popular Bali bowls
Bali bowls and smoothies
Dusty cafe
Strawberry field                                                             Setting cielo- Italian
Ku de ta
Hard Rock Cafe
From Seminyak at Sanur harbour there was easy access to all the small islands around Bali via boat. There were fast boats and slow boats. I recommend taking fast boats and paying that bit extra. Look around and find the best deals. Try to negotiate with the men at the harbour and you are guaranteed to get cheaper and better deals. For example I noticed when walking down the harbour the prices of the boats dropped. All the boats are safe but I did feel at times and on certain boats very unsafe and uncomfortable. This may however be because of the speed of the boat and my travel sickness.
THE NUSA ISLANDS
•Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan
The first island that we stopped at was Nusa Lembongan . This was the closest island to inland Bali at just 30 minutes on boat. It was one of the smallest so we stayed here for two days and one night before heading over the yellow bridge which connected the island to Nusa Ceningan.
IMPORTANT- You can do a day trip to the Ceningan island as it is very small.

All Moped heads are easy to renBH8t and cost as little as £2 a day to run. Luckily our accommodation as with most of the places we stayed rented the moped heads out. This made visiting all the tourist places easy to get to.
Nusa Ceningan was a five minute drive via moped head from Lembongan across the yellow bridge. It had numerous swings in the ocean and small shack-like quirky bars. These bars were full of bean bags/ hang chairs and were decorated and beautifully painted according to their themes.

 

Having visited most of the bars and restaurants the ones that stood out to me in Nusa lembongan and Nusa Ceningan were-

Lemon grass bar and grill
Sea breeze
Sand Ceningan
I sat in these places for hours spending, drinking and eating everything from the menu.

IMPORTANT- There is no tax on food or drink on the islands off Bali so everything was so cheap.BH19


Places I recommend visiting whilst staying in
•Nusa Lembongan-
Jungut Batu beach
dream beach
devils tear
•Nusa Ceningan-
Blue lagoon beach
secret beach
The waters are crystal blue!

• Nusa Penida
From the yellow bridge we made our third stop which was Nusa Penida.
This was the biggest island but it was my least favourite. I felt that everything on the island was so far away from each other. I would recommend a scooter as it is the easiest way around the Island. Unfortunately when it got dark there was barely any lights and the roads were very bad. This made it hard to get back to our accommodation. Two days on this island was enough for me. In my opinion it was over populated with tourists and everywhere scenic we visited we had to pay. I found it unfair because on the other islands this wasn’t the case. However I don’t want to discourage anyone from going here as this island is full of amazing sightseeing places and famous spots.

This island was full of amazing beaches and waterfalls. Some of the famous and beautiful spots we visited include-

Angel billabong
broken beach
Kelingking beach
THE GILI ISLANDS

My fourth stop was Gili Trawangan and we stayed here for three days. We originally had planned to stay only two but added an extra day as we just loved it. From this island I was able to easily access the other Gili islands on day trips which are Gili Meno and Gili Air. These islands are beautiful they are filled with Sandy beaches, palm trees and coral reefs. There is no public transport like cars or buses, the nearest thing to this would be a horse and cart. I absolutely loved the island because of this. We rented bikes from our accommodation but everything was within walking distance.
The sunset at Gili T is amazing and the island is famously known for this. Everyday we made our way to the beach or a near by bar to grab a good seat to watch.
Gili Trawangan is more lively in comparison to the other Gili islands with plenty of bars and restaurants along the beach front. There wasn’t loads to do but instead we took this time to relax. I have no recommendations only to go snorkelling. The boat took us around all of the islands when we done the snorkelling. It made numerous stops including the famous turtle point and here we were able to swim with turtles. We also made a stop at Gili Meno to view the beautiful under water statues.

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Places to visit-

Tir na nog- Irish bar
hello Capitano
Pink coco ( pink bicycle )
IMPORTANT- The accommodation on all the islands was very cheap around £30-50 a night including breakfast. These small huts or shacks had outdoor bathrooms beautifully decorated and were nothing like any place I’d stayed before. I didn’t book accommodation until arrival on the islands. I was very uneasy about this but everything went smoothly. This worked out better for me as I was then able to decide when I wanted to move on.
•CANGUU
After visiting these near by islands we got a fast boat back to Bali which took around 2 hours. Here we travelled to Canguu this is small place and we stayed here for just one night. This place is not far from Seminyak but without the loudness. I found a beautiful villa with our own private pool so we travelled for that reason.

places to visit-

Batu Bolong Beach
Love Anchor
•UBUD
Our final stop was Ubud. We got a taxi here before renting another moped head for our stay. I felt this place was a lot more congested with traffic than the other stops. Riding the scooter here was a lot harder for this reason.
Here we stayed in the beautiful Udaya famously known on Instagram by celebrities and bloggers for its popular petal baths and floating breakfast.I was stupidly unaware before I booked this trip that a lot of hotels and resorts do this. I would encourage those travelling to Bali to look around for cheaper alternatives as lots of places specialise in these. Nonetheless the Udaya was something else and I would highly recommend.

Places to visit in Ubud include-
Tegalalang rice terrace
The sacred monkey sanctuary
Tegenungan water fall
Mason elephant park and lounge

Bridget Hughes is a final year Bsc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/bridgethughes1/, LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/bridget-hughes-382474195, and Twitter – @bridgethughes14

 

A Year In The Real World

Here it goes, first blog and I don’t really know where to go with it but I’ll start by saying I’m currently writing this to avoid thinking about the dreaded dissertation! Week 4 and I still don’t know what I’m going to write 10,000 words on, surely I can’t be the only one?

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Rewind to March 2018, a second year student competing with hundreds of others for an opportunity to take a year away from studying and get a taste of what it’s like to work in ‘the real world’. At this stage in the year many students have already secured their placements but me being me I put it off until almost the last minute. May quickly came around and I finally bagged myself a few interviews, only to be rejected! At this stage I was talking myself into forgetting about doing a placement year and moving straight into final year, sure it would mean graduating a year sooner than expected and being done with Uni, that doesn’t sound too bad? (or so I tried to convince myself)

The summer had well and truly started and I still didn’t know where I was going to be come September, meanwhile others in my class had already started their jobs, I spent the next 3 weeks checking my emails about 30 times a day hoping Conor would send a job ad that I liked the look of. To spare you all reading another paragraph of invaluable information about my hunt for placement, my lucky day came and after a successful interview I was offered a 12 month post with Tourism Northern Ireland, yay! So don’t panic, even if you think you have left it too late you still have a chance to get a good placement.

Day one, the 17th of September and as you can imagine I was as nervous as I had ever been, I was a student with no experience, how am I going to know what to do? What if they expect too much of me? What if they don’t like me? What if I don’t like them? How am I going to get up at 6am every morning for the next year and travel 45 miles to Belfast!?

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First things first, if you are planning on taking a placement year I would HIGHLY recommend applying to Tourism NI, I couldn’t have asked for a better organisation to spend a year with. I joined the Social and Digital Marketing team and although I am studying a mainly PR focused degree I wanted something a little more marketing related, so this was perfect for me. Therefore if you can take anything from this, don’t limit yourself to what you apply for, if it’s not exactly what your degree title is and you think you could do it and meet the job requirements then go for it!

The team I worked in covered so much including looking after the Discover Northern Ireland website, consumer facing social media channels, digital partnerships and influencer marketing, data feeds, email marketing and visitor information along with all the general day to day admin. I think it’s fair to say that I got an excellent all round experience of all things digital marketing.

I had a lot of great experiences working with TNI but the highlight of the year has to be getting the opportunity to be involved ‘A Major’ (excuse the pun) sporting event in Northern Ireland. Unless you were living under a rock you will be well aware that The 148th Open was held at Royal Portrush in July and I got to spend a few days working in the TNI Marquee at the event – Not even our lovely Northern Irish weather could put a dampener on this!

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I have 3 top tips for anyone who decides to do a placement.

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  1. Network, Network, Network! You will come into contact with many people and other businesses throughout your time on placement so build as many relationships as you can with these people as you never know when these connections could be useful in the future.
  2. Don’t be scared to ask questions! We all like to pretend we know everything and don’t need any help, but the most important thing is if you are unsure about something no one is going to punish you for asking a question. After all a simple question is so much easier than putting extra pressure on yourself and trying to figure it out alone (This is something I wish I got into my head a lot sooner than I did).
  3. . Enjoy your year, take every opportunity and make a good impression.

Finally, after contemplating not taking a placement year I can now say I am so glad I did and I had the best year with Tourism NI. I would encourage everyone to take advantage of the opportunity of doing a placement year as you will gain invaluable experience and meet some great people along the way. If you’re lucky enough to get into TNI, I hope your experience is as successful as mine was!

Back to thinking about the dissertation for me…

Megan

Megan Carton is a final year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/megan-carton-351485182/

5 Tools You Should Be Using If You Want to Be a Digital Content Creator

Through my job as a publicity assistant and content creator in a local PR company, it’s safe to say I’ve learnt a thing or two about creating social media content for clients. That being said before I started my job, I only had experience with one or two of these tools and have learnt on the job a lot of the way. However, getting used to using these tools now and practising with them is a great way to boost your CV and stand out to potential employers. So here’s my run down of 5 great content creation tools you should be using.

Canva

I feel like everybody and their granny talks about Canva now but surprisingly often when I bring it up I’m met by the response “What’s that?”. Canva is your best friend for creating infographics and stunning digital ads. The great part about it is, Canva is extremely user friendly and easy to get to grips with. You can type in the sort of design you are looking for, be it a Facebook banner, Instagram tile or anything you might ever need to create and it will bring up templates for you. The templates are then completely customisable with your own choice of pictures, fonts and colours. This makes it great if you are working for a brand that already has a clear brand image, as you can create graphics that will perfectly fit in with this by using the company colours and fonts.

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Lumen5

Lumen is one of my favourite content tools, as it’s a great way to turn a blog post into a piece of video content that can be shared on social media. You can simple paste the body of text into the control panel and it creates a video for you. It does take a bit of playing around with sometimes to fix the video and the background images it chooses for you, but overall you can create a video in under 30 mins that will promote a blog post and also get you good engagement on your social channels.

Hootsuite

Once you’ve created your content you are going to need a way to get it out there and a great way to do this is through social media scheduling. If you work off a content calendar Hootsuite will be your best friend as you get all your social media posts sorted in one go. You can add all your or your client’s social platforms to your account and schedule the same piece of content to go out across all your channels so you don’t have to do it manually. Top Tip: It’s best not to post on the hour or half an hour, as a lot of people do this and it’s means a lot of content going out at the same time on that platform so less chance of your posts being seen. Choose more random times such as 13:17 or 15:38.

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DaysofTheYear.Com

Using Days of The Year is a great way to keep your content fresh and relevant to your audience. You’’ find every single day of the year has a specific ‘day’ such as ‘National Video Game’ or ‘National Hug Your Friend Day’. These days’ range from the ordinary and popular to the most random and obscure things. Posts like this often have great share value as well as people can tag their friends. It also helps if you are in a rut and aren’t sure what to post about, these posts can be fun and light hearted and you can include a call to action for people to get involved themselves. On the day I’m writing this it happens to be ‘World Card Making Day’ as well as ‘World Teachers Day’ there’s endless content possibilities that could be created around these themes.

Pexels/Pixabay

If you create blog or written content, free stock photo websites can be great as you can download royalty free photos to accompany your post. Visual and video content generally does better and is more catching on social media so if you want to promote your blog post or simply talk about something it can be great to add a picture to try and increase your engagement.

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Hannah Chambers is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on: Twitter – https://twitter.com/HannahC_PR and LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/hannahchambers192/

 

 

Introducing Orlagh Shanks: An Interview With The UK’s Best PR Blogger 2018 & 2019

 

This is blogger, and former PR student, Orlagh Shanks (22), who runs the blog https://orlaghclaire.com/, where she talks all things PR related happening in the world from day to day. She also discusses all sorts of life experience topics, such as being a student, living in different cities of the world and general lifestyle categories.

I was drawn into Orlagh’s blog when I was exploring the idea of studying a PR related course at university, and with Orlagh being from the same town as me and attending the same secondary school, I felt I could gain some well trusted guidance from her blog.

Her blog was one of the many reasons I not only decided to study a PR related course, but also then decided to start my own blog.

So, for me, it is not hard to see why she has been given the title of ‘UK’s Best PR Blogger’ for not only 2018, but also 2019.

This is why I wanted to do an interview with her, for those that may not know her, in order to get to know Orlagh and find out what drives her in staying so dedicated to her blog and also to find out what her future plans are now that she has graduated. I feel that Orlagh will have some great advise for this years final year CMPR and CAM students.



Siobhan: 
Hey Orlagh, how are you? I have seen that your life has been crazy at the minute, so I appreciate your time to complete this interview. We are both from the same hometown and have both chosen to do PR related courses. You have now graduated with a first class honours, well done! So my first question for you is a typical one, why PR?

Orlagh: Hey Siobhan, I’m really good thanks! Ah, I always dread this question even though it’s so straightforward. I had always planned on following a career in finance, but my interests were always centred around magazines, fashion, entertainment and music. But growing up in the small town that we come from, a career in any of those industries was never really seen to be real or achievable to someone from Lurgan, in my eyes. But I spent three days at a PR agency in Belfast for work experience and I was sold. I wasn’t really able to explain PR to my mum and dad (or myself) but I just knew that it would allow me to somehow follow my dream career in one of those areas and be able to work with journalists since I had squashed my own idea of being a journalist once my two favourite magazines folded. Choosing PR meant that I was going to give myself a lot of options once I graduated from university and only once I started to study PR at LJMU did I realise just how many opportunities PR opens up.

Siobhan: How would you describe your course at Liverpool John Moore University?  What did you enjoy about it and was there anything you didn’t like about it?

Orlagh: It was a good course. I studied Business with Public Relations so I was able to also study modules like Marketing, Accounting and Finance, HR and Corporate Social Responsibility alongside my Public Relations modules. I enjoyed that part of it a lot as I now have a fair bit of insight into these areas of business that I wouldn’t have if I had studied Public Relations on its own. Another thing that I loved about the course was the option to carry out a placement year. I knew I was going to be making use of this once I had applied for the course.

What I didn’t like about the course was probably that it was very top line. Unlike a few other universities, my lecturers weren’t very active online in the PR community. They didn’t promote writing a blog like Conor McGrath from the University of Ulster does or Richard Bailey from Leeds Beckett. They didn’t really seem to know what was happening outside of LJMU or even that I had a blog and had won an award. It kind of felt like you were there to get the bit of paper at the end and that was it.

Quite like the schools back home, the main career choices were pointed towards working in corporate comms, crisis comms or internal comms for not-for-profits and public sector organisations. Roles such as publicity, influencer marketing and social media management weren’t discussed much or thrown into the equation.

Siobhan: Why did you choose to go overseas for university rather than stay at home?

Orlagh: Being honest, I couldn’t wait to get away from Northern Ireland. I was around 17 when my dad told me to get out of Northern Ireland as soon as I could, to make a better life for myself. I knew that there weren’t any opportunities for me and I wanted a change of scenery. I wanted to broaden my horizons, meet a lot of new people, live in a new city and see what England had to offer. I also think that if I hadn’t moved to Liverpool for university, I probably wouldn’t have applied for a placement in London as I would have gotten too comfortable being at home. Moving to England at 18 was probably the best decision I have ever made as I think everything that has happened since then has been a ripple effect from that moment. Right now, looking at Northern Ireland in the news and just being away for so long has really made me realise how far behind NI is and how much it is struggling in terms of government, healthcare, prospects etc. I know I won’t be coming home for a very long time, that’s for sure.


Siobhan: So you said you did your placement year in London, what was your experience with that? 

Orlagh: Yes! And it was the best year of my life so far, without a doubt. I was able to carry out a placement year at Coty Inc. in London working in the Luxury PR and Influencer Marketing department. I lived and breathed my job and was so excited to go to work every single day. I was basically living my childhood dream of working with magazines, going to fashion events, music events, movie premiers, working with huge fashion labels etc. It was everything I imagined and more. My placement year made me realise that you really can find a job that you enjoy and wake up excited to go to. Now that I’ve had that, I don’t want to settle for a job that I don’t enjoy when I could be working and progressing at one that I do. My team were the best, my role was the best, the other interns were great and living and working in London was an overall great experience and one that I won’t be forgetting for a long while.


Siobhan: How did you become the UK’s best PR blogger for 2 years running?

Orlagh: Truthfully, I don’t really know. I started blogging at the beginning of my second year of university, so three years ago now. I think it really helped that I was consistent and kept blogging at least once every single week and I think with the amount that I was writing, I was improving with the practice and with every blog post that I wrote. On my placement year my content really ramped up which I think helped a lot. Then during my final year, I still managed to post at least once a week, sometimes up to three times per week and was able to give a speech to students at Greenwich University in London as well as be active on social media, contribute to Twitter chats and network with other PR professionals.

I think the main thing was consistency. I made myself stick to posting something every single week and then just got into the habit of doing it. Now, it’s second nature to post at least once per week and when I don’t post, I have a weight on my shoulders until I do. I think the more time I invested into my blog, the more my stats progressed and the more recognition I received, the more I became pretty obsessed with my site. I was constantly trying to make it look better, write better content, make it easier to navigate, make social media pages for it etc. I’m quite proud of how far my blog has come in the past three years and I think the time that I put into it shows for itself. I would be up to all hours of the morning blogging away and neglecting all of my university work just so I could focus on my own website instead. And now the middle of the night is the only free time I have to blog in New York.


Siobhan: How did blogging help you during your time at university? And how do you think it has help you in your career path?


Orlagh: I guess for university purposes, it helped a lot with my essay writing. I was writing 1,000 word blog posts a few times per week, so when I was given a 2,000 word essay, it didn’t seem as daunting. This is also how I approached my dissertation. To me, 10,000 words was just like writing 10 blog posts – achievable. It also helped a lot in terms of knowing what was going on in the world of PR and being able to draw examples for my work as I was constantly reading about PR and getting involved in conversations surrounding what was currently happening.

The main thing that my blog helped me with was my career, for sure. I really do think I owe my placement year at Coty to my blog and the opportunities that followed. Any public relations graduate can say that they are interested in the subject since they studied it, but a blog really emphasises how much you are invested in the industry since you are constantly writing, reading and talking about what’s going on. Having a blog about your degree topic is probably one of the best things to have on your CV (if you can write and spell well of course).

There’s a lot of writing involved in PR, so your blog would be a great example of your capabilities, who you are as a person and your skillset for the working world of public relations.

 

Siobhan: What does the next year have in store for you now that you have graduated?

Orlagh: After graduating in July of this year, I moved to New York City at the end of August to work for a year in influencer marketing. I feel extremely lucky to be here and can’t believe that I actually am. I’ve only been here six weeks but working and living in New York has been everything I imagined and more.

I’m excited to learn more about influencer marketing and further my knowledge and skills in the area as it’s the career path that I currently want to follow and work in once my year in New York is up.

So for now, I’ll be spending the next 12 months in NYC working in the finance industry and seeing and doing as much as I possibly can. Where blogging fits into that, I don’t know as I don’t seem to have a spare minute to myself at all.


Siobhan: What advice would you give to the CMPR/CAM students of Ulster University to help them get through final year?

Orlagh: Enjoy it as best you can! It may be called final ‘year’, but in reality it’s around eight months maximum. Those months will go by in a flash and it will be straight out into the real world. Make the most of your lie-ins, your flexible calendar, your student discount, living with your friends, many nights out and everything that your university offers. I was able to go to Amsterdam with my course during my final year and it was the best way to celebrate the end of our four years together.

Also, look out for one another. Final year can be very tough and you can feel a huge amount of pressure when thinking about what you’re going to do next. That was probably the toughest part of final year for me – deciding what my next career move was going to be. Make sure your classmates are finding everything ok and if they are struggling, help them. There is no competition in university as you all want to finish with the top degree, so help make sure all of you get the result you deserve.

But seriously, enjoy it. Don’t feel that because you are in your final year that you need to spend the entire time in the library. Do your work on the weekdays and enjoy yourself on the weekends. You can have the best of both worlds and still finish with a first class degree. As long as you put the work in, you’ll get the mark that reflects it.


Thank you so much to Orlagh for being involved in this blog post and answering some questions for me. I feel that we can all take in this quality advice from Orlagh to help us complete our degrees.

View Orlagh’s award winning blog by clicking here.

 

Siobhan McKerr is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations staudent at Ulster University. She can be found on: Twitter – @Siobhan_mckerr, LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/siobhan-mckerr and Instagram: @Siobhan_mckerr.