The rise of the Momfluencer

The rise of the Momfluencer

A help or a hinder?

influencer

[ˈɪnflʊənsə]

NOUN

a person or thing that influences another.

“he was a champion of the arts and a huge influencer of taste” · 
            marketing

a person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media.


The universal definition of an ‘influencer’ that comes up when you type the word into google. It is hard to define the term influencer in everyday conversation. Does it depend on your  amount of followers? Amount of likes? How ‘pretty’ you are? Your fashion sense? How many brands want to work with you?. The influencer marketing hub carried out research on influencer marketing in 2020 and found large companies have doubled the amount of creators they activate per campaign in the past two years. The influencer marketing industry is set to grow to approximately ¢9.7b by the end of 2020. But with the rise of influencers, comes the rise of the momfluencer. 

There are many types of momfluencers, in the same way there are many different mums. The indie, hippie, van travelling mum. The stay at home, cleaning obsessed, bargain hunter mum. The picture perfect, themed snack, full time job mum. All different but in a lot of ways all the same. Mum blogs, parenting websites and online support groups have all been around for a long time, however the momfluncer is a new wave of ’support’. A lot of fellow mums question whether momfluencers really are there for support and advice, or are they just there to make you feel bad about what you’re not achieving. If you follow mums from each of these categories, you’re going to wish you could be just like each of them in different ways, which is impossible. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of momfluencers who are honest and open about the realities of motherhood. The sleepless nights, tears and tantrums (and not just from the children), the relationship struggles, financial worries and mental health problems. However, when you look at some momfluencers with their matching pyjamas, full-face of makeup, multiple smiling children and gleaming house you wonder how much of it is real and is it truthful advertising?

Stacey Solomon, a popular ‘Momfluencer’.

It is hard to judge momfluencers as a whole, as there are so many, both macro and micro influencers. Some who aim to spread awareness of important topics such as maternal mental health, baby loss, pregnancy struggles and parenting advice. Others give useful tips on cleaning, cooking, juggling work and relationship advice. Like most things, exposing yourself to momfluencers can be good in small doses. It is really up to the individual to manage their exposure, and take time to learn that not everything online is what it seems. Momfluencers are here to stay, so love them or hate them, choose the ones that are a help and not a hinder.

Brand’s however, love the momfluencer. Momfluence.co is a website that was launched specifically for brand’s to find the right momfluencer: ’Our platform will make it easy for you to find the right momfluencers for your brand, and set up campaigns that actually make you money and grow your business’.  Brand’s such as Pampers, Dove, Johnson and Johnson, Ella’s Kitchen and Tommee Tippee all use brand ambassadors, influencers and paid stories and posts in their marketing. Influencers can paid anywhere between £50 – £500 to advertise a brands product or service. Mum’s buy things more than any other consumer group, and with mum’s always having a fear of judgement or not seeming good enough, most will do (buy) whatever it takes to keep up the image up of a good mum. 

With lockdown babies continuing to be born through the current pandemic and online shopping not showing any signs of slowing down, the Momfleuncer is here to stay.

Aileen Gallagher is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at LinkedIn and Twitter

Why Does a Career in Public Relations Interest Me?

Why Does a Career in Public Relations Interest Me?

To answer the question why does a career in Public Relations interest me? As well as why did I chose a Public Relations degree to study? The answer isn’t as straight forward as the questions, there are a number of different reasons and answers, for how I ended up on this career path. In this blog I’ll be (roughly) explaining my story as to how I ended up studying and enjoying the field of Public Relations. I will start by explaining what interested and attracted me to the industry in the first place as well as, how I chose my degree and what I have learned over the course of my studies.

For another who doesn’t know what public relations is, it can often be confused with advertising and mis-defined as being just about promotion. Grunig and Hunt define Public Relations as “Management of communication between an organisation and its publics”. Charted Institute of Public Relations defines it as “the discipline which looks after reputation, “It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.” It can be argued that there is no distinct definition of  what Public Relations is, and in many ways it is so broadly scoped it is undefinable. Personally I believe it is about the management of multiple different relationships within an organisation/person of interest and how they use this to communicate, promote and attract attention in their interest across a range of multimedia platforms.

When leaving high school I initially accepted an offer to study Law and marketing, as in the past I had always been torn between what I wanted to study. Soon after beginning my Law degree I quickly became bored. The copious amount of reading, referencing and interpreting became boring to me. The only aspect of law I was interested in was the real life cases and how they were resolved. I was still curious about marketing and business but I had realised I was also very interested in social psychology. I decided to change courses and I began looking for something that would interest me more, within a number of universities. When I came across the course Communication Management and Public Relations I was initially struck by the many different areas of study that it involved. I wanted to learn more about communication and I also wanted to know more about how to use communication in a professional context. I also researched into the career opportunities and found them interesting. I have always been a very confident person and that is why I thought that public relations would suit my personality better.  

Originally what attracted me to Public Relations was its communication aspect, how fast-paced and current the industry is.  Another aspect of public relations I liked was that unlike marketing, they don’t push promotions in an informal fashion towards consumers rather convince consumers by creating connections and relationships that are mutually beneficial.  Take Edward Bernays as an example. Bernays is often described as the father of Public Relations and his work and campaigns were not only successful, but they changed the world that we live in today. For example Bernays was employed by American Tobacco Companies and in 1928 he created the revolutionary  “Torches of Freedom.” Campaign. Smoking at the time was a Taboo in America for women and “smoking by women in North America and Europe had long been associated with loose morals and dubious sexual behaviour.” Bernays thought he could change this idea and he believed “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society.” Bernays organised multiple demonstrations of women smoking these women included debutants as well as prominent figures from the Women’s Movement and Churches. The demonstrations obviously attracted huge media attention and as a result newspapers across the country published stories on it. It’s crazy to me that through this occupation it was quite literally possible to change the world! 

During the course of my studies into to Public Relations, I have learned a lot about its uses in politics. I fascinated by the work of spin doctors and I was intrigued at how these people were able to take something that felt like bad news and turn it into something they could use for their benefit. While people often have mixed opinions over whether or not the use of spin particularly in politics is ethically correct Ludlam and Smith define it as “new strategic thinking”. I agree and, I think that there is an art to spin and it requires a great deal of knowledge as well as the ability to work on your own initiative. The labour party in England has often been accused of spinning facts to their own advantage, For example back in 2015 when Ed Miliband was the leader of the labour party, he took part in an interview which was held in the kitchen of his supposed £2 million house. These images then surfaced in an article published by the Daily Mail. The kitchen was in a modest state considering the price of the house, and the Daily Mail article compared it to a “utility room”. The article also went on to suggest that this might be the work of spin doctors as at the time Ed Miliband was running in the general election and he had just promised to introduce a mansion tax if he won. It was thought that by placing him in a less expensive looking kitchen it would favour the idea that he is a man of the people. Another example is throughout the course of Jeremy Corbyn’s time in office he was accused of spin multiple times. Back in 2016 when Owen Smith became the main leadership challenger for Corbyn. Smith gave a speech at the time condemning Conservative spending towards the NHS as well as accusing them of having plans to privatise the NHS. This was in order to present Smith as a socialist and an advocate for free health care, the only problem with this is that Owen Smith had spent five years working in big pharmaceutical companies as well as spending some of that time working as a corporate lobbyist. He also previously had the role of  head of policy and government relations for Pfizer. As this information was being brought to light in the press Corbyn timed a policy announcement well, which was to remove tax relief for pharmaceutical innovation. The idea was to frame Corbyn as someone who was anti/against big pharmaceutical companies compared with Smith the “lobbyist”.

From the examples I have given I can understand as to why someone would question the ethics of the use of spin. However, I believe that spin is a strategic thought process that involves a lot of planning, timing and driving of the news agenda. This skill requires a good judgment and knowledge about the industry you are working in.

Another aspect of Public relations that I find interesting is crisis communication. When an organisation gets into a crisis situation it usually contributes to public distrust. It is the PR practitioners job to ensure as little damage as possible is done to the firm. For example Pret a Manager dealt with a severe crisis in 2016. A 15-year-old girl died after having an allergic reaction to one of Pret a Manger’s baguettes. She collapsed on a British Airways flight and went into anaphylactic shock which caused her to go into cardiac arrest. Pret a Manager became the centre of the scandal as the baguette did not have any allergen advice on its wrapper. At the time food allergen advice was produced on site, and there was no legal requirement to provide it on the label. It was expected that staff deliver allergen information orally when asked. Pret a Manger received heavy criticism from both the press and the public. In this case Pret had to take some of the blame, in the beginning they tried to blame the British airways staff but in order to save company reputation the company CEO realised a statement saying that the firm was “deeply sorry” and that they were making “meaningful changes” to prevent something like this happening again. As a result Pret called for changes on the food labelling laws, gave the family compensation and encouraged other businesses to create change in their food allergens labelling. This is a successful example of the skill involved in crisis communication and how they were able to create a positive out of the terrible situation by getting the law changed.

A career in public relations interests me deeply. Although, I’m not entirely sure as to what direction or aspect of PR that I will end up working in. I feel safe in the knowledge that it always interests me, sometimes this is a quality I think people over look when planning a career. I think if you’re interested in what you do not only will you do well but you will enjoy your work as well.

Alicia Fox is a third year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at Linkedin and Twitter.

Confessions of an Online Shopaholic.

Confessions of an Online Shopaholic.

‘Your order has been shipped’. If I had to choose five words which kept me going during during lockdown it would be these.

 In a world where every social media site or news source was flooded with the latest Covid-19 statistic or isolation horror story the home pages of my shopping apps felt like a safe haven with the only reminder of reality being a patterened face mask. My frequent shopping habit was problem enough as it was before lockdown but the pairing of hours spent scrolling through ASOS and Zara’s ‘New-In’ section along with increased disposable income now there was no outtings and you had yourself a dangerous combination.

What doesn’t help is that we live in a generation where looks and aesthetics are more important than ever before and especially among young women; being seen as fashionable can be viewed as a very valuable currency. A largely followed Instagram page for girls these days can be the goose that lays the golden egg, because along with clout comes opportunity and even more conveted is the seemingly endless stream of free stuff. While ‘OOTDs’ and ‘Look Books’ were previously confined to Instagram and Youtube the spillage onto TikTok was detrimental to my bank account. Every third video seemed to be a different variation of the same types of outfit, flared trousers with chucky trainers and an oversized jumper, a tennis skirt with a sweater vest and collar and then a strappy mini dress with a leather jacket and Doc Martins. Despite everyone seemingly having the same rotation of outfits, this new style seemed to require a lot more items and therefore more shopping. ‘Basic’ style is basically blasphemy in todays world of online fashion, long gone is the reign of the old faithful skinny jean and nice top combo, and the irony of it is, is that standing out has never looked more like fitting in. Unknowningly once again it seems, it is the same outfits just in different fonts.

There is comfort however in knowing that there’s many of us in the same boat, even if it is one that’s sinking. A common trend on twitter during lockdown did seem to be the on-going joke that many people started to get on first name basis with their delivery drivers. It’s hard not to love seeing them coming when it was one of the few things to look forward to during lockdown. While buying something physical instore is a rush, there has to be something said for the process of online shopping and how each stage provides its own release of satisfaction; ‘Your order has been processed’, ‘Your order has been shipped’, ‘Your order is out for delivery’ and then waiting feverishly for the driver to arrive only brings greater enjoyment to finally having the parcel in your hands.

One of the worst parts of online shopping however is how easy they make it to buy things you know you shouldn’t. Buy Now Pay Later is a cruel mistress and one not to be played with. Students are typically well used living beyond their means ‘loans in, wits out’ a phrase used far too often by people living large during freshers week and then scraping by until the next payment comes in, but now with the likes of Klarna this doesn’t apply to online shopping. Klarna is just one of many online financing services which allow you to pay in installments or at a later stage. While it’s well and good to use it once in a while when you’re short on cash and need something for an emergency it should be used with caution. All too often I have had friends become trigger happy with it and then been hit with reality when a hefty bill eventually comes through.

Unfortunately it seems that 2021 will mostly be a case of ‘all dressed up and got no where to go’ so here’s to hoping for the health of our finances that the fashion gurus won’t go changing up styles anytime soon.

Sophie Fox is studying BSc Hons Communication Management and Public Relations at Ulster University. You can contact her on Twitter and LinkedIn

Why does a career in PR interest me?

Why does a career in PR interest me?

Flashback to 2015, I had just finished school in upper six and had just applied for a Media studies degree. Patiently waiting to hear back from UCAS in the coming weeks. To be frankly honest, I knew in my heart it wasn’t the course I wanted to do, it was just something my teacher had encouraged you to apply for as it was the ‘known’ thing to do, and after all, one of my A levels was in Media Studies, it seemed the right thing to do.  Skip a short while later and I decided a year out was the best option for me, as I wasn’t quite sure what direction I wanted to go in, so I started applying for every job going.

Skip along another year and after a year working in Tesco, I knew I wanted to go back to studying but just had no idea what. An email had come through to me about an information open night in Ulster University about 3 courses that seemed interesting to me. These were, CAM, CMPR and Advertising. A representative from each course had stood up and talked about their experience from each course and by the end of it I knew in my heart CMPR was the one for me. The clue being in the name with ‘public relations’ on the end. After speaking to Kerry-Ann course director at the end of the presentation she had explained that with the grades I achieved in my A-Levels, being 3 Cs, that I would not be accepted for the course. As I was walking out with my head held low, she ran after me and explained about the part-time option and I would be able to complete the course over a longer period and achieve the same degree at the end. I felt this was a sign and knew this was the beginning of my PR journey.

Apart from imagining in my head what the PR industry was like, being luxurious and glamourous or as Morris and Goldsworthy (2016; pp.13) describe as ‘involve lunches, receptions, events and parties which include many different people at a range of different locations.’ I knew it involved building relationships and meeting new people regularly and being a ‘social butterfly’ as my mum would call me, that this was the job for me.  Actually, it sounded too good to be true!  From learning the basics of PR in first and second year of my course, it was not until final year that I really started to dig deeper. My lecturer Conor has a massive role to play in this as his enthusiasm about the subject really inspires me and allows me to develop my own opinions on the subject and not just what you are taught through curriculum.

I would not say that I am an overly confident person when it comes to speaking in front of other people but to describe my personality I would say I am a bubbly person and love meeting new people and this is one of the reasons a PR career interests me. For example, in my workplace I am not afraid to say when I think a situation is being handled wrongly, however, when I’m in a classroom environment I do feel nervous quite easily and put a lot of pressure on myself.  This is where I need to adapt the skills of giving my opinion more freely when asked, just as I would in a one to one situation with a manager for example. However, learning from other PR practitioners has helped me develop some of these skills. For example, Ella Minty a well-recognised lecturer/leader/adviser runs sessions on Twitter weekly giving advice and the opportunity to give your opinion on a variety of topics. I think this is a great way to not only develop new skills but also take on board other PR practitioner’s opinions which I think is a very valuable asset for a career in PR.

Which brings me to my next point, I love how much variety there is to be offered within a PR career. No one day is the same, and constantly learning on the job. I do not have a lot experience in the PR area with doing part time in the course I did not have the opportunity to do a placement year, however, I run a social media account for a dance school I teach in which allows the parents to keep up with everything their kids are up to on a weekly basis. Whether this be a press release or a simple image it allows me to experiment with different styles and ideas that work and those that don’t so that I will keep my audience entertained and informed.

I personally believe that PR is at the heart of all things in communication sector and holds the key to the future to all things media related. By consuming the media and being social savvy is another great way to pursue your passion and career path around PR. I would say I have always been interested in all aspects of the media, growing up in an era of the smart phone revolution I had to quickly adapt to having the up to date social media platforms where information about anything and everything spreads like wildfire and as Sophie Chadwick, 2020 says ‘it’s important to note that social media has already changed the course of public relations, almost beyond recognition.’ With the mass media still playing a crucial role in society and around PR it is important to recognise the pros of social media and how it can be used effectively within a PR career as well as sometimes causing crises.

Practice makes perfect. Throughout the course of my PR module in final year, Conor has kept on at us to practice being in the midst of what we are learning. So, whether it be a press release or a blog, practice being in the moment as there is “no time like the present”. This is how I knew I also wanted a career in PR. Nothing satisfies me more than having a diary and being organised for months ahead, or having an idea in my head and grabbing my laptop to write it all down in the hope that it might be a useful idea to come in handy someday. And like any job you cannot know everything from day one so this creative mind mapping and thinking of ideas in my head that may be useful in the future is another asset that would be ideal for a career in PR.

Although there are many great opportunities within PR and how I would love a career in it the future, I know it could be an extremely pressurised environment to work in.  I think that even though there would be many rewarding parts of working in PR, there would also be times when there is a lot of pressure on staff to meet deadlines and work long hours to get a campaign finished on time.  I feel that even though I would describe myself as someone who works well under pressure, at times I might let things get to me and may feel overwhelmed as I someone who likes to get things right and would put a lot of pressure on myself.  I also know that I would have other team members around me and we could work together to overcome any challenges we might face using the skills each of us has gained.  Eventually, I know I would become a key individual in a workplace by working within a team and becoming a valued team member which other organisations would recognise and possibly want to employ.

Like in any career, eg fireman, doctor or astronaut, I believe you can do anything when you put your mind to it. I want to try and get more experience before I begin my career in PR or whatever direction I take in the future. This involves understanding myself more as a person and projecting this in a respectable way to employers to relate and understand that I am right for the job role in PR. By keeping up to date with ongoing movement in PR is also crucial, for example on social media platforms such as Twitter where updates are being put up hourly about what is trending in PR circles. Finally, by practicing my writing when and where I can eg. writing a blog and posting it or setting myself goals to practice things I am not so confident at, such as public speaking. The drive and enthusiasm aspects that come with the career and how it matches to my personality makes me excited for the future and I hope this reflects on why I want a career in Public Relations.

Megan Strain is a part-time final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at – Instagram and LinkedIn.

Launch Day Woes for PS5

Launch Day Woes for PS5

The arrival of the long awaited and desired PlayStation 5 is officially upon us – that is if you were one of the lucky few who managed to get their hands on one!

The brand new PlayStation 5 was set to be the biggest technology release of 2020 and vouched to introduce ‘a new era of gaming’ with a world of new digital features. After a gap of seven years since the PS4 came around, Sony, the technology giants threw everything at the launch of the new successor which included multiple large scale marketing strategies. The most notable of which was replacing all London Underground signage with recognisable PlayStation branding, including the boisterous decision to showcase this on Oxford Circus – right outside the flagship store of major rivals, Microsoft.

With the whole gaming world anxiously awaiting the launch, what could possibly go wrong? Well, what about a worldwide supply shortage resulting in a frenzy of outraged customers??

All of the leading online retailers such as Argos, Curry’s and John Lewis found themselves in the predicament of being sold out of the unusually large games console before lunch time had even struck. Upon realisation of just how in demand the PS5 was, Curry’s were quick to implement a virtual queuing system which grew strenuously to more than 150,000 people. When the flood gates opened this soon descended into chaos and acrimony when those who managed to brave their way through the queues learned their unfortunate fate that they were to be without the console due to insufficient stock. *Now I know I might fall on the dramatic side but to the outraged customers, this is what their ordeal felt like, (trust me…I have four older brothers)*

To add to the frustration of customers, the high online traffic volumes caused many websites to crash entirely meaning that no purchases could occur at all. John Lewis was among one of the brands who attempted to combat this with an automatic apology to customers, reminding them of the “much-anticipated launch of the new Sony PlayStation.”

As if it was not bad enough that Sony clearly misjudged the supply and demand ratio for those ordering on launch day, even some of those who were savvy enough and PRE-ORDERED the console as early as September were left unhappy as they battled with delivery issues. This sparked rows over who was to blame with gaming retailer, Game issuing an email to customers blaming the courier service for the delivery delays.

To defend themselves, the trusted delivery service Yodel issued a statement outlining their role, “Yodel does not work directly with Game…we have been consistently clear on the order volumes we are able to carry for them and it is deeply disappointing that Yodel’s name has been incorrectly used in an email to customers on the status of orders.” The jury is still out on who’s at fault there…

Things went from bad to worse when some of the fortunate few who managed to bag themselves one of the highly sought after PS5 realised the position of power they were in. Before long, the consoles could be found creeping their way onto second-hand sale sites such at HUGELY inflated prices. For the disc edition that’s RRP is £449.99, bids could be found as high as £1400,00. That’s a 211% INFLATION!!

Throughout the entire ordeal, the absence of an update from Sony left gamers feeling very in the dark. Although asked for a statement, the technology gurus refused to comment. Odd. Only just now, has Sony Executive, Jim Ryan left us with a short and sweet answer that left very much still to be desired, “Everything is sold. Absolutely everything is sold.” This doesn’t make things look too hopeful for those who missed out.

To conclude, I wish you luck if you choose to endeavour in the hunt for the lucrative PS5 but please, please, do not be one of those people who will fall for the crazy Ebay prices…

Eimear Delargy is a final year BSc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn and Twitter

Why does a career in public relations interest me?

Why does a career in public relations interest me?

Oliver, S. (2010) claims “if you asked a hundred people to define public relations you would get a hundred different answers.” To begin, when describing relations, I believe it has numerous definitions and it simply cannot be labelled to one.  Different people in society would have a range of perspectives and opinions on defining “what is public relations?” However, I personally agree with the definition provided by Bernays, E. (1923) in which he states “information given to the public, persuasion directed at the public to modify attitudes and actions, and efforts to integrate attitudes and actions of an institution with its publics and of publics with those of that institution.” Bernays definition explains public relations perfectly for me as he clarifies that based on what we hear and see in the media and on the news, we then proceed to form our attitudes and views on the particular matter in question even if we are not knowledgeable in that field. We then tend to form our opinion on the topic. Bernays emphasises how the media plays a huge role in influencing our opinions and behaviour on different areas in the way it is portrayed via public relations.

The Modern Day Publicist: Traditional Public Relations (PR) Vs. Digital PR

Why public relations really interest me is because it is an industry that is forever changing. There are always new and exciting things happening in the world that you can never predict. For example, let us consider COVID-19. According to the CIPR (2020) “ the impact of Covid-19 and the opportunities it presents for the communications profession finds the pandemic has accelerated changes already underway within practice and concludes it has demonstrated the strategic role of communications.” This emphasizes that with the pandemic happening it has impacted public relations massively. It is so important to be up to date with new rules, covid-19 death rates around the world and in Northern Ireland, reports from the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, updates from Boris Johnson along with updates from the public health agency. It is equally important to report about the hospitality sector which has been significantly impacted by covid-19. It is so important that public relations provides this information to the public and allows them to gather important information that is very relevant and essential to know when it comes to something as unprecedented as Covid-19 and allow people to develop their attitudes, behaviours, opinion and plan. From here, they will determine what to do with this information and make vital adjustments to their life.

Grunig, J. (1989) claims “public relations is the management of communications between an organisation and its publics.” A career in public relations interests me because I have a passion for strong communication skills and being able to strategically communicate within the workplace because I know it is integral when working effectively with your colleagues, different companies, brands and media agencies. These key factors are all linked to PR and are therefore essential to develop your communication skills and how to use them effectively. Additionally, another key topic I am very passionate about is having strong organisational skills because by having both communication skills and organisation skills combined it provides you with the underpinning knowledge to nurture a relationship with your co-workers, companies you work with and essentially, it allows you to develop connections in the industry which is very important. Building relationships in public relations is key because it helps manage your reputation which is another important tool to have when working in public relations. Building a strong working relationship with a brand for example, allows you to develop trusted media connections which is vital to have in this industry. By having media connections, you can issue a press release in times of a bad advertising campaign or during a crisis when you may need crisis management support for example therefore, your trusted media connection can help you repair the damage.

Today more than ever your online presence is crucial in a world where everyone is digitally connected. “Much of social media is done in public, by the public, and the dynamics that have shaped public relations in the past media relations, interactions with opinion leaders and influencers, and of course, crisis/reputation management are not only present in social media, but often accentuated and amplified by it.” (Breakenridge, K.D 2012). This is another point to why I am interested in a public relations role because when looking for a job, promoting a product or brand or networking in the world of marketing and advertising, it is vital to establish your online presence. Having a strong online presence allows you to build connections digitally, ultimately opening the window to partnering with other brands, gaining advice from other PR professionals, and obtaining a portfolio of connections, to better identify how to maximise your content and market yourself online.  Public relations are concentrated on public opinion and today social media is a forever expanding market where PR is becoming an integral part of marketing communications. Ultimately, PR effects the performance of marketing. Therefore, to achieve greater success, building connections digitally with a PR agency is an essential path.

I enjoy the strategical and planning process leading up to a campaign, and public relations covers all these components.

The PR strategy consists of:

  • Context
  • Situation /Issue Analysis
  • Objectives
  • Publics
  • Messaging
  • Planning
  • Implementation
  • Evaluation

“Having a sense of direction and of what is important is part of well-being at work and indeed being able to mark off progress and milestones is an intrinsic element of job satisfaction.(Gregory, A. 2010) For example, when creating a campaign, I thrive on having a strategy in place and establishing on how to successfully market a campaign and make it successful. A career in PR appeals to me as I enjoy looking at the brand ethos and ensuring that is promoted relevantly and speaks to their vision and mission. When carrying out a piece of work I enjoy looking at the strengths and weaknesses of a brand/campaign, establishing what the brand is trying to achieve, narrowing down target audiences to ensure it is a success, creating a powerful message and ultimately  delivering it to the public, through creativity, planning, delivery and  evaluation. “Public relations play a role in assisting the organisation clarify its purpose and values”. (Moloney, K. and McGrath, C. 2020) Additionally, as I enjoy this process, I believe I would thrive in a PR role and apply the PR strategy to everything that I do to make any future job roles enjoyable and  importantly successful.

Overall, a career in public relations interests me because I enjoy strategical processes, planning, organising, creating ideas and coming up with crisis management tactics because this allows me to learn more about the industry, how to create a successful business plan and make it a huge success , which is any organisations ultimate goal. Social media is a wonderful resource for PR and media communications today as it allows you to not only access an extensive network but also to take advantage of advertising and marketing opportunities in order to build awareness of your business or campaign. I have experience working in the social media and marketing world through my placement year therefore, doing this in PR environment is something I would love to be involved in.

I also enjoy keeping up to date with the latest trends and monitoring other brands and seeing how they are contributing to the “woke” era. I would love to bring this into my PR career and ensure as a brand or company we are relevant with the current times, where the outcome would be establishing a solid reputation and a great online presence in a world which is ever changing. I am interested in organisational communication as this is very relevant to a PR career where you must be able to strategically communicate and have effective interaction. Personally, a career in public relations grabs me because I enjoy industries that are evolving, and public relations offers just that. It is never the same and that is what makes it exciting, innovative and current. This ultimately, retains that enjoyment in a career where public relations keeps creativity levels high and engaging.

The Art of Selling in Public Relations | "What's HAppening" Blog

Tara Hamill is a final year student in Ulster University studying Communication Management and Public Relations. She can be found on Twitter, Linkedin and Instagram

Unlock the Power of Productivity

Unlock the Power of Productivity

When it comes to being productive, we often start off with a to-do list a mile long and a mind full of motivation. Yet come 5 o’clock the two measly tasks that have been ticked off your list fill you with frustration, leaving you confused as to where the day went.

Well that’s all about to change, for the next few minutes I invite you to read through a few tips that helped me trade my hoodie in for a suit and tie as I transitioned from CMPR student to working in a professional environment.

With so much going on in the world around us, it can be extremely hard to stay focused on the task at hand, leading to copious amounts of time wasted scrolling through twitter, Instagram, tiktok etc. constantly trying to satisfy our insatiable appetite for consuming content. Although it may be hard at times, we must resist these urges and fight to reclaim our productivity! It doesn’t matter if you are a CMPR student or an industry titan; People are always looking for ways to be more productive in their life.

Enough waffle, wage war on procrastination with the tips below:

1. Make a focused list (Big 3)

A major misconception about productivity is the belief that you need to be focusing on accomplishing more things each day. If you want to be truly productive, your to-do list needs to be concise, prioritising the most important things that need to be accomplished or, as Chris Bailey puts it: “Productivity isn’t about doing more things — it’s about doing the right things.”

What works for me is – each morning I spend a couple of minutes writing down everything that I wish to accomplish that day whether it be completing an assignment for uni or finishing a report for my manager. From this list I pull the three most important tasks that I need to get done, this is my ‘BIG 3’ and I work form here.

If you’re like me there are times when something can end up distracting you and by the time you get back to your task, your whole train of thought is gone. However, by your three high-priority tasks written down you can easily switch between them if needed without ever feeling like you are starting from scratch. Limiting yourself to three also keeps it simple, so simple that you’ll actually do it.

2. Say NO

Tip 2 requires a bit of self-control. Throughout my placement year I realised that it is okay to say no and can often be beneficial when wanting to achieve maximum productivity. A lot of people can be easily persuaded by friends into going out (myself included) but sometimes you must resist the temptation in the short term for a greater pay off down the line.

What have we learned? Say no to the pint/cocktail, instead opt for a cup of tea and an early night. After all a tired, hungover version of yourself is not optimal for smashing through your BIG 3.

3. Make use of what’s available

There will be times in a workplace when you get the opportunity to try things and develop new skills but there are also times when deadlines are fast approaching, and jobs need finished. It is important to be able to delegate responsibility and ask for help when needed.

Cultivating good relationships with the people around you and knowing when to use their strengths can work wonders in terms productivity, utilising each other’s skills can speed up a task and reduce stress levels all round.

Make sure you know what resources you have available whether it be an online tool or a person with a certain skillset. Don’t waste three hours struggling with something that can take someone five minutes – unless you have the time to devote to working on that skill.

4. Down time

No one can work at 100% all the time. For me it helps having a clear separation from work come 5 o’clock. It’s easy to get caught up in work stress even after you leave the office. I like knowing that once I leave the office I can switch off, and not worry about emails or calling clients/colleagues. Having this clear distinction helps me stay focused knowing that from 8:30 – 5:00 I am working, aiming to be as productive as possible.

At the end of the day, you can read all the self-help books, go to workshops and watch all the videos teaching you how to be productive but realistically the only obstacle to overcome is yourself. Figure out what works for you and repeat it consistently until it becomes a habit.

So why not try it? Get started with your BIG 3 and unlock the power of productivity and enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done.

Joshua Van Loggerenberg is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on LinkedIn and Instagram

HOW FASHION COMPANIES EVOLVED THEIR BRAND TO SUIT DEMAND

HOW FASHION COMPANIES EVOLVED THEIR BRAND TO SUIT DEMAND

Fashion is a market that thrives on evolution. Every season, we explore a new trend, influenced by ever-changing pop culture, runway design and brand marketing. The fashion industry is equipped to deal with fast paced universal change.

Although, I am not so sure they had anticipated a global pandemic that would overturn the world. 

COVID-19 was completely unprecedented (a word we hear all too much, I know, I know), hijacking the fashion industry in a matter of weeks. Many retailers struggled to sustain their business, resulting in a decline in revenue, staff layoffs and company closures.

We often hear the term ‘we are worlds apart’ being used to describe the differences between cultures and countries. Depending on where you are in the world, fashion is different. This is due to diverse trends, lifestyles and inspirations. It could be argued that this is no longer the case and for the first time ever, the world has never been so comparable.

Thanks to mandatory lockdown which strained to all corners of the world, our new daily routines are surprisingly similar. We are all staying at home, working remotely and finding ways and means to entertain ourselves in our free time (which there is noticeably a lot more of… so long social life). 

Although this situation is far from ideal, I think it is extremely important that we realise how lucky we are to have social media, allowing us to remain together, in a time when it is so important to remain apart. Not only does social media help us to keep in touch with our families and friends, it allows us to connect and share our experience worldwide. The pandemic has evolved consumer behaviour considerably, leading to unique global trends that suit our new ‘at home’ lifestyles.

Have you baked banana bread, learned Tik-Tok dances or completed a Chloe Ting workout?

No? Why lie? Of course you have.

The fashion industry has particularly benefited from this ‘global connection’ and has found itself amongst some of the most popular lockdown trends. In order to maintain sales, it is important that fashion companies place a high focus on monitoring these trends, evolving their brand to suit the demand.

Quick-thinking companies jumped at the opportunity to transform their brand into COVID-19 Chic. With the world now working from home, gone were the days of office dress codes, smart shoes and warm coats. The trend of 2020 quickly became driven by comfort dictated consumer spending, with loungewear coming out on top, with the slight exception of a smart shirt for a zoom meeting.

MODELS AT HOME

An area that was hugely impacted for the fashion industry was modelling opportunities. E-commerce fashion brands rely on models and clothing shoots to advertise their pieces online. Regrettably, like everything else, this could not happen, as these shoots involve a huge entourage of professionals in a studio to get the perfect shot.

Fashion brands have had to once again get creative, asking their models to style their new-in looks at home. This strategy proved very effective for brands, especially ASOS who have launched their ‘Models at Home’ campaign. Seeing clothes being styled at home by models of all different shapes and sizes, allows consumers an insight never seen before.

This ‘Models at Home’ strategy has created a refreshing change, removing the robotic, studio environment, allowing consumers to see how ‘normal’ people style outfits in their own environment.

FACE COVERINGS

Face coverings have quickly become an essential accessory during this crisis and in some cases have been a lifeline for fashion companies. The demand for face coverings was immediately colossal, becoming a wardrobe staple overnight.

Brands have been quick to avail of this demand, creating fashionable masks to allow consumers to replace their disposable, unflattering versions with trendy and exciting creations.

This trend was valuable for fashion brands in several ways. It has created a new design path to go down, generating product sales to make up for those that they will have lost. It has also created a demand for work within companies, saving jobs and creating new trends.

Face coverings have created a new way for fashion brands to increase their sustainability, allowing them to use their material offcuts, reducing waste. This is beneficial for their environmental reputation, something that often has negative connotations for fashion companies.

These companies can create positive media exposure for their brand by utilising the sustainable approach and showcasing this on social media. This will benefit them in several ways, promoting their desire to contribute to the fight against COVID-19 and creating an effective sustainability PR campaign, presenting their drive to increase sustainability within the fashion industry.

Social media influencers have embraced the fashionable face coverings. With lockdown restrictions easing slightly, there is a desire to dress up when we are finally getting out and about again. To keep up with this evolving trend, it is important that fashion brands not only create pretty face coverings but also create co-ordinating versions, to allow consumers to match with their clothing. This links with the sustainable approach, using patterned offcuts as well as generating further sales.

Matching your mask to your dress? That’s so fetch.

LOUNGEWEAR

A ground-breaking trend during lockdown has been loungewear. Wardrobes once overcrowded with uncomfortable jeans and stiff blazers are now significantly softer, showcasing comfortable, yet respectable transitional pieces. Although we were all advised to ‘stick to our work routine’ when at home, I think we can all agree that the work uniform was the first thing to go.

The demand for loungewear had already increased pre-lockdown, with social media influencers showing off their casual outfits of the day (#OOTD) for their workout routines and online meetings. It could be argued that many influencers already lived that ‘Working from Home’ lifestyle due to their workload being predominantly online.

However, this could not have prepared the fashion industry for the immense appeal for matching gym sets and velour tracksuit bottoms. Like all of us, fashion companies were unsure how long this pandemic would last and therefore did not know the longevity of demand for loungewear. It was important for brands to create something that would be comfortable yet functional and versatile, ensuring the pieces could be used both lounging at home but also could be dressed up for a socially distanced lunch date in town. 

Brands such as ASOS, Pretty Little Thing and Topshop utilised the ‘comfortable yet functional’ ideology when creating their loungewear pieces, ensuring they looked stylish, steering clear of the dreaded ‘is that loungewear or pyjamas?’ question.

With most of the world working from home, it can be agreed that the office dress code has been long forgotten. This begs the question, ‘will it ever return?’ After spending months curled up on the sofa with our laptop, in our cosy, yet oh so stylish loungewear, will we be itching to get back into our blazers for a sense of normality, or have our priorities permanently shifted?

The fashion industry has so far excelled throughout the pandemic, adapting to a huge change in trends, assisting in the making of personal protective equipment (PPE), maintaining a presence on social media, without the help of fashion shows/runways and using their imagination in order to fulfil tasks.

At this stage, we cannot be sure when this will all come to an end but one thing, we can be sure of is… WE HAVE CHANGED.

Will we ever return to our office uniform?

Will we ever put ourselves through the torture of high heels in a nightclub again?

Will face coverings ever go away?

Who knows?

But one thing is certain, COVID-19 has changed the fashion industry forever and companies have evolved their brand to suit demand.

Ellen Turbett is a final year BSc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram and LinkedIn.

Netflix – The marketing platform that resurrected Formula 1

Netflix – The marketing platform that resurrected Formula 1

Picture the scene; just finished a long day of lectures and finally completed that assignment you’ve been working tirelessly on all week. You’ve got a cup of tea in hand and are ready to switch on the TV to watch the final episode of your favourite Netflix series that you’ve been totally consumed with for the past few weeks; life is bliss. Then it hits you; what am I going to watch when this series ends, I’m getting tired of watching the same sort of genres, it’s time to switch things up but I don’t know what other types of series would interest me. This is why I love Netflix, don’t get me wrong I love watching a series that I know I’ll be interested in, there’s nothing better than switching on an episode of Gavin and Stacey on a rainy day to lift the mood. However there’s something about becoming fascinated by a Netflix show you thought would never interest you that can’t be beaten.

It is widely known that Formula 1 is a predominately male sport, it involves expensive motorcars and high speed racing. Before its premiere to Netflix on 8th March 2019, if asked about Formula 1, the only piece of information I would have known is that Lewis Hamilton drives in a red suit. This is in fact incorrect as Lewis drives in a sparkling white one for Mercedes Benz, information I only found out from watching the Netflix series. I would never have stumbled across this Netflix series only that I began noticing how much my dad who was a big football and rugby fan, talked about it from the day he began watching it. I mean who could have pictured it; a young female driver of a 2008 Ford Fiesta, who doesn’t break the speed limit, stalls on average around 3 times a day, completely engrossed in a Netflix series all about high speed racing, cars reaching up to 200mph to determine over a number of races who is the F1 World Champion. But that’s the power of Netflix.

When searching up Formula 1 on google, the suggested drop down menu’s presented many negative connotations, one that struck me was: is Formula 1 a dying sport? Although it is unlikely that Formula 1 bosses have ever seen this question specifically, it is without doubt that they would have gathered information over the years about the public’s views on the sport and its popularity. After furthering my search, I came across many articles that suggested Formula 1’s success was behind them and that the sport had started to be considered ‘stupid’, other articles provided statistics showing the drop in its popularity over the years. Not only this but Formula 1 had received much backlash for its lack of diversity and how it was still very sexist in terms of being predominantly, if not an all male sport. Formula 1 had failed to move with the times and this had not went unmissed by the general public. It was clear to everyone that something needed to be done if Formula 1 wanted to continue its legacy.

Up until 2017 Formula 1 was limited to what they could broadcast across social media. This all changed when Liberty Media purchased the global motorsport business and gave drivers and their teams the freedom to post across mediums such as Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. To an extent this worked well, it gauged supporter’s attention and allowed for much needed interaction amongst supporters and drivers. However the real genius was in the creation of their Netflix documentary. Formula 1 could not have choose a better platform to market their competitive motorsport than the online streaming mastermind that is Netflix. Their careful decision making enabled them to reach an audience of 158.3 million Netflix subscribers all around the world. Drive to Survive performed particularly well in the United States where it had a higher demand than 96.1% of all Documentary titles as shown in the graph below.

Current Renault and previous Redbull driver, Daniel Ricciardo also noted the he has seen an increase in the amount of people recognising him in the United States and said that Drive to Survive put Formula 1 racing on the map. He said that before Drive to Survive “not really anyone would say hi to me – not in a bad way, but they wouldn’t recognise me from being an F1 driver. And now it’s all ‘we saw you on Netflix, it was great, Drive to Survive’.”

Data from Research Agency Digital-i found that in its first 28 days, the Netflix Documentary Drive to Survive had been streamed over 1 million times in households within the UK. This has been hugely successful for Liberty Media whose aim was to expand its audiences, particularly to younger demographics which has also proved successful as since 2017, 62% of Formula 1’s new followers have been under the age of 35. Netflix has proved to be one of the most pivotal factors in the boost in popularity of the Formula 1 motorsport.

Liberty Media also made strategic use of Digital Marketing to promote Formula 1 further. As I mentioned earlier through restrictions being lifted on the content that was allowed to be posted, social media has been hugely effective in keeping fans of the motorsport engaged and interested. Content posted on Instagram including Instagram lives being filmed as drivers prepare to race, Youtube videos being posted to their 4.58 million subscribers on a daily basis and Tik Tok videos showing highlights from the races using popular sounds on Tik Tok are a few of the effective marketing methods used by Formula 1 to promote their motorsport further. Even with the coronavirus pandemic, Formula 1 showed fans how they could adapt and continue to interact across the world through the creation of the Virtual Grand Prix Series which proved a standout. Its run was able to pull in 21.8 million views on digital platforms, as well as 695 million impressions across social.

It was no surprise that Formula 1 Netflix Documentary: Drive to Survive has been a hugely successful marketing strategy employed by Liberty Media. The Netflix Documentary highlighted a side to Motorsport racing that had never been seen before. The previous two seasons have shown a more human side to a largely mechanical sport. Viewers are exposed to the emotional side of the motorsport not just for the driver but for their families and all the team involved in the success of a driver. From turmoil to triumph, this Netflix Documentary uncovers a candid glimpse into the life of an F1 driver and shows much more than just the on-track action that fans are used to seeing. I’m already excited about season 3 even though a release date is yet to be confirmed, but as I said before, that’s the power of Netflix!

Aoife Teague is a final year BSc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram and Twitter

Supermarkets lead the way for a Zero-Waste future

Supermarkets lead the way for a Zero-Waste future

It is estimated that five million tonnes of plastic is used every year in the UK, nearly half of which is used in packaging. Plastic waste often does not decompose and can last centuries in landfill or in the natural environment, which in turn can pollute rivers and oceans, soils and harm the creatures that inhabit them. Most families throw away an estimated 40kg of plastic per year, which could otherwise be recycled. However, is recycling huge amounts of plastic the answer to saving our planet?

The UK Government had a strategic ambition to “…work towards all plastic packaging placed on the market being recyclable, reusable and compostable by 2025”. In Particular, they have an “ambition” of zero avoidable waste by 2050 and a “target” of eliminating avoidable plastic waste by the end of 2042.  Best get moving then.

Could there be an easier way to incorporate reducing plastic waste into our daily lives?

The latest innovation to our high streets are refill stations or dedicated refill stores. The concept behind this idea is to reduce waste and encourage reuse of plastic or glass containers to prolong their use and eliminate single use plastics.

The Co-operative

The latest supermarket to trial this concept is the Co-Operative. On 19th November 2020, The Co-op opened a brand new £3m eco-friendly concept store in Lichfield, near Birmingham. The Central England Co-op store features free water refills, eco-friendly fridges that reduce carbon footprint by 60%, and a zero-waste refill hub. The Zero-waste refill hub that is featured, will see them work with wholesale and DTC business Suma in a concept known as the Refillery.

The Refillery features large dispensers filled with Suma products that are 100% organic, vegan and Fairtrade and will allow customers to weight products into their own containers, in a bid to cut down on food packaging and waste. Other features include, free hot and cold water refills where customers can top up their own water bottles.

Asda’s Sustainability Store

Asda is another leading supermarket chain to trial a new sustainability store. The store is located in Middleton, Leeds and since opening it has unveiled their new plastic reduction strategy, with a promise that customers will not pay more for greener options.

They have partnered with some of the UK’s most popular household brands including Vimto, Kellogg’s, PG Tips, Randox and Persil to help shoppers reduce, reuse and recycle. This one store alone is set to save one million pieces of plastic per year!

Some of the new store features include:

  • 15 huge refill stations which include 30 household staples from coffee beans, oats, cordial, rice and even shampoo and detergents to name a few.
  • 53 fresh produce lines in total sold in a loose and unwrapped format.
  •  Asda’s first reverse vending machine for cans, plastic and glass drink bottles, and a hanger recycling facility which will be rolled out across all stores.
  • The store will also showcase sustainable fashion lines through George, including clothing made from recycled polyester and coat hanger-less denim. George will also feature a partnership with ‘Pre-Loved’, a vintage wholesaler who will be selling bespoke vintage clothing from well- known brands- A supermarket first!

Sainsburys & Ecover

Earlier this year Sainsburys teamed up with ecologically sound brand ‘Ecover’ to trial a cleaning refill station in a bid to cut back on plastic waste. A trial in one of their superstores in North London, allowed customers to fill up on washing up liquid and detergents or alternatively, purchase Ecover products and reuse the bottles up to 50 times.

This trial was part of Sainsburys plan to reduce, reuse or replace plastic across the business’s operations as well as reducing carbon emissions.

Tom Domen, Global Head of Long-Term Innovation at Ecover, said: “At Ecover we want to challenge the idea of single use packaging and our disposable culture. This partnership with Sainsbury’s is an important step in kickstarting a REFILLUTION® in the UK and realising our goal of making refills more accessible for everyone.”

M&S ‘Fill Your Own’

Earlier this year, M&S launched a new ‘Fill Your Own’ Isle into a store in Southampton and later extended it into stores in Manchester after a positive response.  They aim to address climate change challenges and encourage consumers to reduce and reuse with all products offering even better value per gram than the packaged alternatives.

After a few months trial M&S highlighted some key customer insights to the trial. Customers loved the idea as it brought an element of Family fun to shopping, portion flexibility and a chance to try new products that they normally wouldn’t purchase.

Is this what the future of grocery shopping looks like?

Will other leading supermarkets follow suit?

 I know what you are thinking, but when can we expect to see this concept in their Northern Irish Stores? Maybe 2021 is the year.

In the meantime, I have discovered a new refill store in Belfast, The ‘Refill Quarter’. Opened around a year ago, they offer an endless range of home staple refills to local yummy treats.  

Happy ‘Re-filling’!

Chanelle Quinn is a final year BSc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on: LinkedIn.