Social Media or Social Suicide?

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Most people enjoy it, some people are addicted to it and for some people it can get them into a lot of trouble. I, being of a traditional mindset, am one of the few who believe in NOT having it. I’m talking about social media, of course! I view social media like a big night out: it may have been fun and games in the beginning, but it always ends up in a headache…

I have engaged with most social media platforms at some stage or another, but they never quite did it for me. Facebook seemed like a way for other people keep an eye on me. I didn’t do anything interesting enough to justify an Instagram account and I just didn’t get the point of Twitter. Now, I do have LinkedIn, but seeing as it doesn’t involve posting holiday snaps or getting tangled in heated cyber discussions with your friend’s auntie’s boyfriend, it doesn’t really count.

Social media is undoubtedly a fantastic tool to keep in touch with childhood friends or to share pictures with family members living afar. However, it seems strange that some use it to air their dirty laundry, post pictures of their three meals a day, or to voice their inappropriate views.

Social media has evolved, and the trends have changed, but the premise remains the same – you can say pretty much whatever you want to a potentially global audience. Comments, posts and hashtags ‘go viral’ and before you can say ‘Instagram filter’ your opinions are being judged by a lot more than your 170 Facebook friends.

And now the social media user’s greatest enemy is the screen grab. You can guarantee that no matter how swiftly you deleted something, if you have said something controversial, racist, homophobic or just downright ridiculous, someone out there will have a permanent record of it. And in this hyper-sensitive world, it is taking increasingly less for anyone, anywhere to be outraged about one’s social media content.

This year’s ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here’ was immediately in the headlines for a lot more than gruesome trials and female campmates in bikinis. Jack Maynard, a YouTube star, exited the show after just three days due to social media controversy. Resurfaced tweets from 2011 showed Jack using homophobic and racist language, when he was simply an unknown teenager.

Despite the fact that his spokesperson immediately issued an apology and Jack himself has delivered a lengthy expression of regret, it has irreversibly damaged his image and personal brand. He is set to lose out on £20,000 a month through endorsements and his social media following has taken a dramatic dip in the recent weeks too.

On a more worrying note, President Trump is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to social media controversy. His Twitter account could be the cause of nuclear war before long. With power comes great responsibility, something the leader of the free world should be given a lesson on, before re-tweeting far-right videos and indulging in playground name-calling with eccentric, but nuclear-equipped, dictators.

Organisations, celebrities and politicians are among the many who spend time and money working with the right people to ensure they maintain the best possible public reputation. Public Relations practitioners shed blood, sweat and tears to manage someone’s standing and yet they allow them to have social media, which has the power to undo all their work, instantaneously.

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I am relieved that I don’t know anyone as controversial as Trump and I don’t bank on seeing any of my peers on Love Island or I’m a Celebrity anytime soon. However, I, along with my classmates, am in the process of looking for graduate jobs and my increasing knowledge of PR would suggest we all need to think before we type. Our social media posts may not be splashed over the front page of ‘The Sun’ but they could be on a potential employer’s radar, with proportionality damaging results.

As soon-to-be graduates, our own reputation is one of our greatest assets and we need to manage it carefully. So when it comes to social media; learn from the mistakes of others, take notice of the principles of PR, and most of all, mind your Ps and Qs.


Jenny Craig is a 4th Year BSc in Communications, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be contacted via LinkedIn –

A Mammoth Challenge: Alien in an Agency


To anyone that has done a placement year in an agency, I salute you. I’m sure some of you were the same as me when it came to your first day of placement; you imagined walking into a spacious, penthouse office with floor to ceiling windows looking out over some trendy part of the city. Complete with a Don Draper-esque character sitting moodily in a glass office in the distance, surrounded by expensive furniture and industry awards; but minus the cigarette and brandy obviously (I wasn’t completely delusional).

The reality was somewhat different… I arrived at an old redbrick industrial building in my UFO (uncomfortably formal outfit) in Belfast City Centre. I climbed the stairs to the top floor (penthouse: check) into Mammoth Brand Agency; a contemporary, clean office with the sound of music quietly playing in the background.

It was a creative hub and compared to what I knew, this was like another planet. I was surrounded by row after row of brightly lit Macs being operated by brightly dressed people. The ‘suits’ typed furiously, talking with confident knowledge on the phone, to one another and in one or two cases, to themselves. Then there was me – the impostor!

During the first few weeks in my role as Account Executive it felt like every morsel of information I had been given in first and second year had packed up and gone on a gap year. The simplest of tasks seemed daunting and everyone spoke in the same language – one I didn’t understand. I had crash landed in Mammoth and I just wanted to go home.

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Once I was given a fully-fledged Mammoth email signature everyone I emailed seemed to assume I knew what they were talking about – but truthfully, I barely understood what I was saying. I had come to Mammoth hoping to find intelligent life, and as a result ended up feeling a little stupid myself.

Then one day, the penny dropped. I began to understand the jargon and industry lingo that whirled about in the atmosphere around me, I even used it myself from time to time, although it sounded ridiculous coming out of my mouth. I was tentatively given more and more client projects, allowing me to build (or potentially shatter) relationships, and get valuable feedback for future tasks, not just ‘get me a cuppa and go easy on the sugar this time’.

I listened to every conversation I could, wrote down everything that was remotely relevant and asked as many questions as I could without annoying everyone within 10 feet of me. Going into the office every day brought a new challenge (aside from climbing the three flights of stairs to get there), I was becoming a bona fide member of Client Services.

A year and a half later and I am still working in the agency, although I’m not too proud to admit that the feelings I had during the first weeks can rear their head from time to time. But for those doing their placement years or hoping to in the future, it is worth it! Try to ignore all the teething problems and soak up every bit of insight and expertise that is given to you during this invaluable year.

I’m happy to say that with every day that passes in Mammoth I feel less like an Extra Terrestrial and more like an Account Executive.


Jenny Craig is a 4th Year BSc in Communications, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be contacted via LinkedIn –

Premature Jubilation – Does Christmas come too early?

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It happened some time ago, and it was less of a shock to me than it should have been. It was a mild evening on Wednesday 25th October and I saw the first house of the year to be decorated for Christmas. I was just getting used to the horror of people adorning their homes with Halloween decorations, especially ones that spring into life themselves if someone within a mile’s radius walks past.

I cast my mind back to my own childhood – no matter how incessantly my brothers and I begged; our tree was always put up the Sunday before Christmas and not a day earlier. We knew that once the tree went up we could get properly excited for the festive period, as it was just around the corner. I’m not sure we could have handled the excitement for a solid two months!

Nowadays the build-up begins subtly, when menu choices for the greatly anticipated/dreaded work Christmas dinners have to be finalised sometime in mid-August. Not to mention the array of wardrobe choices everyone goes through beforehand… thank goodness ASOS have a free returns policy!

Then the panic about presents starts to creep in. Disney on Ice tickets and the latest fad toy aren’t available for long and they certainly don’t come cheap. It seems some parents would rather increase their credit card limit (and heartrate) than see their little ones go without one of the ninety requests on their Santa List.

The Telegraph has pointed out that the average household spend at Christmas exceeds £800! The only other day that would cost more than that is a wedding day, but the difference being you don’t plan on having a wedding once a year… presumably.

Packages start arriving by the truck load from early November. The familiar look of worry that flashes across the face of the receiver as they open the packaging. What if the unthinkable has happened? They have got the wrong delivery! Even more nerve-wracking is when the delivery possibly won’t arrive on time, because everyone knows that a present that arrives after Christmas is just as bad as not getting a present at all.

It impacts our working lives too. I work as a beauty therapist and December appointments were booked up before I started back into final year. We are even open seven days a week for the month of December (including Christmas Eve) to ensure no one misses out on looking their best for Christmas. Personally, I am of the opinion that it’s our Christmas too and clients should get organised or get lost, but the owner has a slightly different view.

Companies like ‘Park Christmas Savings’ advertise 12 months a year so it isn’t difficult to see why some folks get ‘wrapped up’ thinking about the festive period long before December. Just the other day I overheard one of their adverts recommending a saving programme to ensure ‘the perfect Christmas in 2018.’

We haven’t even had 2017’s Christmas and they are already talking about next year’s! It may be business but it is exhausting.

Then to really round off the festive period, we have Boxing Day sales, just in case we didn’t get enough the day before, we can run out immediately to treat ourselves some more. Or maybe we simply shouldn’t have to wait to return the presents that someone has painstakingly chosen for us.

Now don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t consider myself to be a scrooge by any means; I enjoy singing along to Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas’ after a few mulled wines and lighting a spiced orange candle as much as the next person. But when did the festivities become so prolonged and etched with pressure and panic?

It’s not realistic to say that Christmas in 2017 should be completely un-commercialised. But it would do no harm to remember that, if we are lucky, it is first and foremost a time to spend with people we love. Even if the day wouldn’t be complete without an argument or two.

But anyway, let me finish by wishing you all a Merry Christmas and in case I don’t see you… Happy 2019!


Jenny Craig is a 4th Year BSc in Communications, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University.  She can be contacted on LinkedIn at