All things digital

In today’s society, many organisations have established themselves through ‘digital’ offerings, creating online specific content, allowing users to access news in alternative ways and diverging the uses of social platforms.


An American internet media company that focuses on social media, news and entertainment. Although the platform has a reputation for offering the weirdest quizzes available, BuzzFeed should not be laughed at. The organisation is worth $1.5 billion. The company has grown from strength to strength over the years, providing coverage over a diverse range of topics, from politics and DIY to animals and business.

The business is completely independent and has a very strong social media presence, utilising Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat. The content offered on their apps and website is mostly targeted at millennials.  Allowing for an already highly engaged audience, to consume and share content which is relevant, factual and highly entertaining. But it isn’t the witty news articles that is gaining BuzzFeed attention at the minute. It is their digital shows that are rapidly growing in popularity.

Ellen DeGeneres and BuzzFeed are both heavily invested in creating the Brother Orange movie

BuzzFeed’s online video content has gained staggering momentum, with more than seven billion views per month and whilst funny animal videos can be attributed to these statistics, BuzzFeed is taking their digital content very seriously. Ellen DeGeneres has recently partnered with them to create their original movie ‘Brother Orange’. Furthermore, their YouTube channel ‘BuzzFeed Food’ is another platform that is quickly growing, with 774,104 global subscribers.


Facebook, the platform we all know and love. Sure it’s handy if you want to post a few pictures, share how you’re feeling or leave a review on that restaurant where you had your dinner. However, Facebook is much more powerful than that.

Towards the end of 2016, Facebook launched ‘Marketplace’. Informally, many ‘buy and sell’ pages have  existed on Facebook for quite some time. With Marketplace, products that are being sold in your local community are easily accessed. Allowing users to discover items that are for sale, enhancing the relationship between the buyer/seller and making it easier to sell your unwanted goods.

Facebook states that 450million have used the platform to sell and purchase goods

Facebook is also heavily investing in advertising. Recently I was shopping on Amazon, I went out of the app and into Facebook and on my newsfeed there were recommendations and offers of the products I was looking at. Although the adverts are tailored and relevant to the user, many people are complaining that there are more adverts on their newsfeed rather than friends’ updates and photos.

People need to ensure they are not sharing too much information on Facebook, confirming their privacy


Snapchat, launched in 2011, is a multimedia and instant messaging platform with over 158 million daily active users. It is one of the most popular social platforms currently available, sending photos that last for a maximum of 10 seconds. Offering users entertaining filters, instant messaging and video chats.

Recently Snapchat introduced Snap Ads, these are video adverts that are inserted between users stories or on their discover section and although annoying, there are much more visually pleasing than Facebook’s and can be skipped unlike the majority of YouTube’s adverts.

The adverts offered by the organisation are short and appeal to the users of the social platform

However, what is a growing use for Snapchat is journalism. Large and mostly traditional news outlets are utilising the platform, providing its users with instant access to breaking global news stories. Organisations such as The New Yorker, BBC News and The Washington Post all have Snapchat accounts.

But the content being shown by these outlets is not a simple video of the latest current events, they are taking full advantage of Snapchat’s features. Utilising stickers, emojis and filters, to highlight certain aspects of the story and engage their audience.

Evidently, there is a multitude of benefits accessing the most recent content online, however, users should ensure their privacy remains intact.

Alex Slaine is a first year CAM student at Ulster University. He can be contacted on Twitter @alexslainee

Twitter, a powerful resource

Twitter, a powerful resource

Twitter is considered one of the main social media platforms, alongside Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook. The platform, launched in March 2006, is based around online news and social networking. As of quarter four in 2015, the company posted a net income of $7 million.

Twitter is everywhere, in this day and age it almost impossible to use an online service that doesn’t offer Twitter integration. Watched a YouTube video you liked? Tweet about it! Read an article on Daily Mail? Tweet about it! Even smartphones come with direct Twitter integration, allowing us to Tweet an image or our location without the need to open the Twitter app.

The platform is extremely powerful, with 310million monthly active users and 24.6% of verified accounts consisting of journalists. Celebrities use the platform to advertise new products, services and their thoughts/opinions on world events. It has reduced the gap between celebrities and us ‘normal’ people, allowing interaction in a clear and unobtrusive format.

Donald Trump has brought a large amount of speculation and controversy over his use of Twitter. Although heavily critiqued for his brash comments, a select few have found the open and honest Tweets refreshing. Using the social platform to create a sense of transparency to the new American Government.

One company who relies heavily on Twitter is ASOS, responding to any questions or problems customers may have with their orders

With Twitter, companies can highlight new product launches and aid with customer support in 140 characters or less. The platform has opened up a new medium for businesses, no longer is there a need for a large amount of expenditure placed on advertising, or any excuse that customer service is slow and unresponsive.

But are we really taking full advantage of Twitter by Tweeting about our favourite food or how our day went? Companies’ CEO’s most active on Twitter include their own CEO, Microsoft and Unilever. However, a study found that only 10% of CEO’s running the top 50 Fortune 500 companies are on Twitter.

CEO’s available on Twitter reap in a endless amount of benefits, creating an element of authenticity and accessibility to some of the most powerful people in the business world. Surely those in the business world pushing their companies’ products over social media, should be using the platform themselves.

More often than not, those in the business world, wanting to utilise the likes of Twitter take it too seriously, whilst social media should be approached with caution. Customers demand immediacy/interaction and surely business is all about meeting demand with supply?

One mistake that businesses make on Twitter is that they Tweet about business. Who wants to read sales reports and profit analysis? People on Twitter will more than likely demand fun, engaging and different. Without standing out from the crowd, how will organisations get noticed?


Innocent Drinks are one of the few companies who use social media correctly, ensuring customer engagement rather than continually pushing their products

A business taking full advantage of Twitter is Innocent Drinks, who will Tweet about anything but their products. With Tweets consisting of sarcastic weather updates, funny animal videos and much more. The idea behind this is for people to enjoy their timelines and get the brand into the consumer’s head, rather than the product.

But of course like any social media platform, it will always come along with an element of risk. Tweets can build a company’s credibility, however, creativity can also have damaging consequences. During 2013, when the horse-meat scandal was the talk of Britain, Tesco Customer Care sent out this PR disaster of a Tweet, although innocent when taken out of context, Tesco and all companies need to be aware of current events.

Organisations need to ensure they are aware of the context surrounding their posts of social platforms

It is clear Twitter is a platform made for all and can be used anyway the user wants. Although extremely powerful, individuals and organisations need to ensure that what they offer is what is being demanded of them. If not, they risk getting lost in one of the biggest social platforms on the internet.

Alex Slaine is a first year CAM student at Ulster University. He can be contacted on Twitter @alexslainee

The Rise of YouTube

The Rise of YouTube

With over 1 billion unique views every month, YouTube is one of the largest and most valued websites we have access to. Once started as a dating website, it has turned into a video sharing website worth more than $70 billion as of 2015.

In 2005 the website was purchased by Google and in 2006 it was the fastest growing website on the internet – offering more than 100 million video views online. The website is now accessible on all digital platforms, including smart phones, tables and connected TV’s.

With over 10 million subscribers, Zoe Sugg is earning at least £50,000 per month

The video sharing website has allowed ‘YouTube Creators’ to create a brand based around themselves, giving those the ability to build a career. One of the top earners of YouTube includes Zoe Sugg (more recognisably known as Zoella). She has expanded her YouTube channel to a home and lifestyle brand. Whilst channels such as the SacconeJoly’s offers advice to viewers on how to cope with family life in an informal and captivating format.

The SacconeJoly’s take reality TV to the next level, giving viewers an insight into their daily lives

More recently, the website has diverged in its usage, increasing in popularity for accessing news and current affairs coverage, with BBC and SKY both offering access to their content through YouTube. SKY offer viewers live coverage of their News on YouTube, with on average 3,000 people watching the news through this medium at one time.

Within education, Google has heavily advertised the use of YouTube in the classroom – with Teachers uploading extra resources for their pupils or University Lecturers uploading lectures for their students.

YouTube themselves will post their own videos on their ‘Teachers’ channel, encouraging teachers to utilise YouTube as a tool in the classroom

However, more crucially, it has became a key domain for marketing. Google have attacked TV advertisements and claimed that YouTube adverts are more effective. One of the main brands advertising on YouTube is Sony, showing adverts before videos and having their own channel, creating exclusive content for the website.

In terms of advertising, companies such as Apple heavily utilise this tool. Giving consumers an insight into their new offerings, creating hype around the brand and further informing customers on the use of their devices.

Celebrities such as Jamie Oliver have effectively marketed themselves. Jamie has his own channel called FoodTube, and through such has obtained a sponsorship deal with Hellmann’s Mayonnaise.

Politically, YouTube held great importance for Barack Obama during his campaign. Over this period of time, they posted over 3,000 videos on his channel. Including videos from celebrities and politicians. The channel gave viewers first hand access to Obama’s debates throughout his campaign. The British Government recognised Obama’s success and have their own channel – informing viewers on the structure of the Government and the impact they are making to our local communities.

Alex Slaine is a first year CAM student at Ulster University. He can be contacted on Twitter @alexslainee

A New Chapter

Hi everyone, my name is Alex Slaine and this is my first blog post for the PR Student Blog and I thought I would take this opportunity to explain how I came about deciding to study Communication, Advertising and Marketing at UUJ.

During my GCSE’s I was set on becoming a journalist, ether working for a news broadcaster such as the BBC or simply writing articles for a magazine or newspaper.

However, till this day I will remember the experience I gained from my placement at UTV. Learning that being a journalist is no usual ‘9-5’ job and that the ‘digital age’ is having a dramatic impact in the industry. We as readers/viewers of the news now want to consume the facts in clear and concise snippets, with social media platforms dominating the way in which we access the news. Through my placement at UTV, I learnt that the Journalism and Public Relations industry is under a much broader scope than just newspapers and TV news bulletins.

This enhanced understanding of journalism and the world of public relations, hugely impacted my A-Level choice. I chose subjects that I enjoyed, but more importantly ones that provided me with useful everyday skills which I could utilise in my future career.

My subject choice consisted of Applied Business, Journalism and Performing Arts. Each varied in content but all allowed me to gain and develop my interpersonal communication skills, overall confidence and time keeping. I felt my subject choice for A-Levels not only allowed me to obtain an education, but shaped me as a person.

For my Year 13 work experience I had the opportunity to shadow the Senior Press Officer for our then Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers. This placement confirmed that I wanted to pursue a career in public relations, offering me an insight into what working in this industry would involve.

During my work placement I had the opportunity to meet Theresa Villiers.

I enjoyed the buzz of the office, working in a time pressured environment, always having to be one step ahead of the media and providing just the right amount of information that was beneficial for the person of focus, but not so much that the facts could be misconstrued by the media. The placement lasted four days and is the main influence as to why I am studying Communication, Advertising and Marketing.

Although I have only been a student of Ulster University for a short period of time, I can confidently say I will enjoy the next four years of my studies- with the CAM course teaching me so much on topics I have a keen interest in.

It is a well known and respected degree, offering students to pursue placements and careers which they have a genuine interest in. From the communication and language module I have learnt that there are a range of different layers between our interactions than just speech. In contrast, modules such as Marketing and Consumer Behaviour have already provided me with an understanding of the process we go through when purchasing products and the strategies marketers will carry out to persuade us to purchase a product.


Alex Slaine is a first year CAM student at Ulster University. He can be contacted on Twitter @alexslainee