PR, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

PR the bulletproof vest for the rich and famous, the lying politicians key to the white house, the reason we help others.

Image result for Good and Bad Pr

Why is it whenever you mention PR, people automatically think of all the negatives behind the word? The bad that has come about because of it? The rich and famous pay a large team of PR Practitioners to protect them from the public eye. People like Harvey Weinstein have been protected, even after the monstrous things he has done. Companies like BP have been hiding in the shadows for years and then one day, like Harvey, things got out of control and stories were let out and reputations were destroyed. Tony Hayward would like his “life Back” after destroying the environment with his “little Oil Spill” and after saying things like that I don’t think we should let him have it back.

And I wont even go into the “bad and ugly” things we see in politics because we’d be here all day. But not all PR practitioners do these, what are seen as ‘immoral’, things. PR can be seen like people you have the good guy and the bad guy. Batman and The Joker. But what the good guy does surly out weighs all the things done by the bad guys?

Charities all work with a PR team to persuade people into donating, volunteering, helping. But then why is there such a negative view on persuasion by a PR practitioner. Propaganda is a word that usually comes hand in hand with PR but what is done isn’t lies or manipulation most of the time PR shows the public what is truly happening.

Those God-awful advertisements we see on TV about drink driving  and speeding are hard hitting but it shows the truth behind what happens when you get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol or if you break the speed limit. Its not lies or propaganda it’s the truth. Choosing to use such gruesome and traumatic visuals could have had a very negative effect, but the opposite happened as it scared many out of the notion… well we still have the odd idiot that will get behind the wheel… Here we can see a PR team using unusual (at the time) tactics to make an impact on the public in Northern Ireland.

Another campaign that has been a huge success for the past 33 years has been Band Aid. Every Christmas this single raises over £2 Million for famine relief per year. I’m sure that you are all sick of Christmas songs by now but this, I feel, is a great example of PR at its best. The song, written by Bob Geldof of the Boomtown Rats and Midge Ure of Ultravox, has been a huge success and a very strategic way to raise money. The song has been released a few more times by more current artists, the most recent one included artists such as, One direction, Paloma Faith, and Ed Sheeran. This campaign raises money every year and therefore is a huge success in my books. This is another example of the good PR does. So why are there so many negative connotations with regards to PR?

PR is an extremely important aspect of all major charities and without it many audiences wouldn’t be reached. So all in all I feel the good most defiantly outweighs the bad. Who cares if the spin doctors are meeting in dark alleyways, or if we are being persuaded to donate to Dogs Trust. Shouldn’t we be doing our bit anyway?

Tierna Garvin is a final year student on the BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MissTierna and on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tierna-garvin-bbb3a0143/ 

 

FOOTBALL VS PUBLIC RELATIONS Volume 1: Part II

FOOTBALL VS PUBLIC RELATIONS

Volume 1: Part II

 

Public Relations within Soccer

Hi everyone, welcome back. If you read my last blog post you would know that I looked at the similarities between football and public relations. If you haven’t saw it yet, feel free to go check it out. Today I’m sticking with the football theme but I want to look and see what PR exists in football today.

 

Now, if we look at footballers we can’t deny that they have been blessed with remarkable talent. Fortunately for them they are able to make a living (a really good living) from displaying this talent. But where would they be without their fans? If they didn’t have the support of millions behind them then the footballing industry as we know it would not be as popular as it is today and it certainly wouldn’t be making as much money as it does. This is why I feel that it is important for the sport to give back to us. The fans. What is football without its supporters?

 

Barclays did exactly that. If you aren’t a big supporter of football then all you need to know is Barclays sponsors the Premier League, and the Premier League is the top division in England and one of the most popular leagues in the world. The new footballing seasons kick off in the middle of August and Barclay’s thought this would be the perfect opportunity to thank the fans which is why they launched this campaign on the 16th of August. Just days before the new season started. They released a 90 second video titled “Thank you” which was aimed at the fans. The video consisted of looking at different fans of different ages who supported a variety of teams in the league. It followed their journey to the match and during the match and finished it off with “To follow is to love. To the millions of fans who make the Barclay’s Premier League what it is, we say thank you.” This is the perfect message. The way the say it is the fans who make the league what it is and not the players shows their appreciation and is pretty much saying without us, they wouldn’t be able to have their dream job. This video was distributed worldwide and it hit 200 different countries reaching hundreds of millions of people. With this video they are also promoting competitions to win tickets and they have paired with the hashtag “#YouAreFootball”.

 

I feel like the reasoning behind this has been based behind some negative issues especially with FIFA. At the time they had been under the spotlight in terms of corruption and although they now have sacked their president who was responsible, I still feel like that reputation has been damaged and not mended completely. This campaign, in my opinion, was Barclay’s way of building trust and showing that they are not the same as FIFA. I feel that maybe FIFA should take a page out of Barclays book and try something to rebuild their relationship with the fans.

 

However, this is where I’m going to leave off today. Stay tuned for future posts and I hope you have a very nice day.

 

Joseph McAuley is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. He can be found on Twitter: @JosephMcAuley96 / Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joseph.mcauley.3 

And the pint of Harp

And the pint of Harp

Recently on my Facebook newsfeed I came across this video –

Now I can’t say it’s the first time I’ve seen the ad as I think it pops up on my Facebook every other week but coming across it again had me thinking.

How come we don’t see more Northern Ireland based companies getting on board with this style of region targeted advertising/campaigning?

Harp are definitely the stand out company when it comes to these types of ads as they’ve been doing them for years, one of my favourite ads tells the story about a NI resident who is missing home. He begins naming the things he misses about home the most in threes and at the end of each sequence he says ‘and the pint of harp’. Maybe its just me but I personally love it because it’s stupidly funny and so simple. If you watch the ad, it’s some what true and relatable when you’re missing home.

Their most recent campaign is currently underway and its called ‘Pure Here & There’. It’s based around the six counties in Northern Ireland and it involves two actors using a Northern Irish comedic approach when describing the most well known facts about each county and their including cities and towns. There are six ads for all of Northern Ireland’s six counties and any Northern Irish resident with a sense of humour will appreciate them.

Pure Here & There, Co. Antrim

Pure Here & There, Co. Armagh

Pure Here & There, Co. Down

Pure Here & There, Co. Fermanagh

Pure Here & There, Co. Legenderry

Pure Here & There, Co. Tyrone

I think this campaign is a brilliant example of knowing your audience. I hope nobody takes offense to this but harps main consumers are men, obviously. The two characters in the adverts for the campaign are of course men (if you watched any of the links above) and they work their way around Northern Ireland describing its most famous features in horrible fashion as they sup on Harp beer however that’s what makes the adverts funny. My point is that this sense of humour is performed by men for men and I think Harp know that.

Along with the television adverts they have been selling their harp cans with individual county names on them and their accompanying iconic landmarks designed onto the can. They have even avoided the on-going controversy surrounding Derry\Londonderry by calling it Legenderry, turning a negative into a positive.

There is also the main ‘Pure Here’ advert that tries to figure out the perfect drink that has the pure essence of Northern Ireland. It’s a mix of a column from the giant’s causeway, shavings from the H&W cranes and the buzz of a night out in Belfast however the ad ends by saying these things are undrinkable and that harp had it right all along and closes with the slogan, pure here. An unexpected anti-climax but good advertising all the same!

As a fan of Harp and all things Northern Ireland I think this campaign is excellent, and its because they incorporate everything that people love about Northern Ireland into their campaign in a brilliantly clever manner and more local companies should follow!

They embrace the fact that they are a Northern Irish company and have made a campaign around that using the humour of the area. This style of campaigning and advertising does nothing but good things for their name and I’m sure their brand awareness has soared in Northern Ireland as a result of this. Their beer is probably doing pretty well too.

Aaron O’Reilly is a final year Public Relations Student at Ulster University. He can be contacted on Twitter: @aaronoreilly and on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aaron-o-reilly-ab0708121/ 

Big Brother is watching you…

Towards the end of 2016 Spotify put its abundance of listener data and insights to playful use in a new Out-Of-Home ad campaign, placing billboards globally after an initial release in the UK, US, France and Germany.

The adverts were created by the company’s in-house marketing team and revealed some of the weird and wonderful habits of its users, using accumulated and even some personal data, Spotify generated headlines such as;

“Dear person who played ‘Sorry’ 42 times on Valentine’s Day, what did you do?”

“Dear person in the Theater District who listened to the Hamilton Soundtrack 5,376 times this year, can you get us tickets?”

Spotify then ended many of the billboards with the tagline “Thanks 2016. It’s been weird.” In ways a celebration of both a great year for music and also the continued support and listenership of its users.

JA1

JA6

The ad campaign by Spotify was clever and engaging and was received extremely positively by consumers for the most part.  What they managed to do in a way was to humanise the technology – this worked particularly well based on the personal and emotional connection that people have to it.

 

A not so successful story for Netflix…

On December 11th 2017, Netflix tried to apply a similar approach to Spotify in customer data and insight sharing, only this time using their Twitter account as the medium.

Netflix revealed that 53 people had watched its latest Christmas movie ‘A Christmas Prince’ everyday for the past 18 days, adding to the end of the tweet – “Who hurt you?”  The tweet has gained more than 100,000 retweets and 400,000 favourites at the time of writing.

JA5

The tweet was intended to be light-hearted and humorous, but has faced a massive backlash from consumers, with many users describing it as being “creepy”.  The tweet has also managed to kick off a debate around how closely the company is watching its customers, and raises the questions, what exactly can it do with the data generated by the viewing habits of its users, and more alarming, how many people in the company have access to the data.

JA3

JA4

Netflix were quick to defend the tweet and certainly didn’t feel that they had anything to apologise for.  They did however, reassure their users that their privacy was not totally being invaded with an official statement saying; “The privacy of our members’ viewing is important to us.”

But the question is – how did Netflix fail at something that Spotify managed to do so well?

The Spotify campaign had an underlying positive tone to it, celebrating the weird and wonderful habits of its users.  One the other hand, Netflix took a slightly harsher tone in their tweet.  ‘A Christmas Prince’ is a movie that they produced and marketed and it follows a format not unlike the ever-popular Hallmark Christmas movies.  The tweet comes across as a little judgemental, shaming those for falling in love/becoming maybe a little obsessed with their movie.

It could also be perhaps that people hold different emotional connections to music and TV or Movies.  Therefore, to be potentially confronted by your TV viewing habits would feel a lot more intrusive than for someone to know what music you’re in to.

Up until now we thought that the scariest feature about Netflix was the ‘Are you STILL watching’ screen that may pop up while you’ve been watching the latest addictive series for 4…5…10 hours straight (no judgement here!).  Now we know they’re documenting everything we watch.

Is this a PR disaster?  Maybe, a little.  Will it have lasting impact on the company?  Probably not – people will still continue to ‘Netflix and chill’ and binge watch their favourite TV series.  Perhaps next time though…Netflix should think of all the implications before trying to be funny on Twitter.

 

Jonny Allen is a final year Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University.  You can find him on LinkedIn here – https://www.linkedin.com/in/jonny-allen-257237112/

Blurred Lines

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

Katy2

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

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

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

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

Now, can we notice the difference?

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

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

Katy1Model cited by Gini Dietrich

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Is PR taking away from the point of advertising?

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

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

Advertising is paid media

Public Relations is earned media

Do you agree?

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

So which do you choose?

Both.

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

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

Katy McGuigan is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University, Jordanstown. You can reach her on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/katymcguigan1/ and on Twitter @KatyMcGuigan2.

Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Female Figure

On Friday the 27th of January, KFC tweeted a video to advertise their new “Smoky Mountain BBQ” chicken. KFC’s advertising campaigns are renown to star their legendary mascot Colonel Sanders – however, in this recent video the star of the show is a female Colonel.

Image result for kfc reba

Image result for kfcThe role of Colonel Sanders was taken up by Reba McEntire, a successful country singer from the United States. She appears in the video as the Colonel and as herself in the audience. McEntire’s Colonel celebrity predecessors include Rob Lowe, Billy Zane and Ray Liotta. In fact, this is the first time that KFC has had a woman as the primary protagonist of a campaign.
The new campaign has sparked an array of mixed reviews. Many find that KFC’s choice is empowering for women, whilst others find it upsetting that McEntire had to take up male features to be accepted as the Colonel – why could she not play a female Colonel?

But maybe depicting her as the classic male Colonel was a somewhat of a wise move by KFC. Maybe this is just the first step of a complete mascot evolution. If this is the case, then maybe other brands will follow this set trend of KFC and who knows, by the end of 2018 we could be experiencing a range of new and evolved logos and mascots. Maybe a Burger QUEEN, an AUNT Ben – or who knows, maybe Julius Pringles will swap that moustache for a nice set of eyelash extensions.

 

Image result for kfc reba

Link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwzoDS3zL_4

Rachel Reilly is a second year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/rachelreilly98

Placement or No Placement?

For months I was debating whether to do a placement year or continue to final year and with many pros and cons for both, many interviews and 2 placement offers, I decided, why not? It’s always good to have experience!

I had heard so much about Ardmore Advertising and this was the place I knew I wanted to spend my placement year, so when I got offered the job I was more than excited to start!

After wondering what it was like to work in a busy advertising agency, I was quick to find out for myself!

The rumours are true, the world of advertising is busy, very busy, and interning is definitely not just photocopying and fetching coffee! People start to filter into the office just before 9am with their tea or coffee in hand (or hot chocolate if you’re like me), soon the office is buzzing as emails are opened and answered. I was given a training schedule but each day is like a game of whack-a-mole, jobs just keep popping up, time management is clearly a skill that is essential in advertising!

My role within the agency was as an Account Executive were my basic role was acting as a link between clients and the agency. In the client services team, I worked alongside account managers and directors to ensure all client requests were being handled and to the best of our ability as an agency.

Apart from the usual account management work a particular highlight from my time at Ardmore was an overnight trip to Liverpool with Stena Line.

Stena Line asked us to create a video for their social media page to share the benefits of travelling onboard. A few of us at Ardmore took over Stena Line UKIE’s Instagram story for the day where we documented our journey on the Stena Line day crossing from Belfast to Liverpool! Our Instagram story got a fantastic level of engagement and a short boomerang video we posted to Facebook got over 55,000 views.

We arrived at the docks at about 8.30am for check-in. The staff were so friendly and we checked-in in less than 5 minutes! Plenty of time for a coffee before hopping on the bus that drove us to the ferry.  We checked out our cabins, did some onboard shopping, had a walk on deck, we even got taken up to the captain’s quarter! We got to the Stena Plus lounge which felt like a mini VIP area with complimentary tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, crisps, fruit, sweet treats and magazines. We ordered breakfast; pancakes, a fry, eggs benedict and granola with fruit – all really delicious! We felt so settled that we didn’t want to leave but before we knew we had arrived in Liverpool and within 10 minutes we arrived at the Marriott Hotel in Liverpool. We went to San Carlo for dinner, the food was delicious!

Bright and early on Wednesday morning we got some breakfast, went to the pool and sauna and got ready to hit the town for some shopping – this beat any day in the office! After a few hours of shopping and walking around the centre of Liverpool, we headed towards the Albert Dock where we got some lunch and had a few cocktails. After an hour of relaxing in the sun, we got ready for the Beatles experience which inspired us to recreate The Beatles Abbey Road album cover which did take multiple attempts – who knew fake walking could be so difficult?

After taking pictures at every iconic landmark in Liverpool and exploring the city, we went for dinner at the Salt House Tapas which was amazing! With all of us absolutely stuffed we went back to the hotel to collect our bags and headed back to the Port where we got the Stena Line overnight crossing back to Belfast.

After our trip we worked with Street Monkey to create a video for Stena Line’s social channels which documented our trip.

Check out the video!

 

I accomplished a very successful year at Ardmore and the experience gained will be invaluable in my future career path. I gained a better understanding of the advertising industry; agency life and how one campaign could have a widespread effect on consumers and their buying habits. The year at Ardmore helped me develop my own personal skillset which 100% will benefit me in any career path I may undertake in my future.

Because of my placement year I now have a greater understanding of what goes behind all those ads we drive past daily and realize that it is not just a straightforward process of designing something and getting it printed or dispatched. One simple strapline, colour, or design could have weeks and weeks of work behind it.

I worked with private and public sector clients, and can say that it opened my eyes a lot in terms of budgets and even just the general handling of clients.  The key activities I undertook each day enabled me to attain a greater understanding on the foundations of advertising that are essential for any career in the industry.

As a result of spending one year in a top advertising agency in Northern Ireland, I have valued my experience and believe that I will benefit when applying for jobs when I graduate because of the experience I have had.  The Ardmore team are amazing and were so welcoming to me on my year in Ardmore – there’s no two days the same in Ardmore and that’s the beauty of it.

Hopefully if you are thinking about doing a placement year or not, this blog piece will help you to make the decision that is right for you!

Christine Murtagh is a final year Bsc student in Communication, Advertising and Marketing at Ulster University. Find her on Twitter @Cmurtagh95, and Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christine-murtagh-413409b9/