The PR Diaries: Part II

‘Every brunette needs a blonde bestfriend- Oh, and a little bit of Barcelona.’

 

When deciding upon a blog topic I found myself sharing ideas with my bestfriend.  This was in the midst of sweating profusely at the gym, looking like a very hot and bothered baked potato.  This thought leads nicely to my first point- spontaneity.   Often, the best ideas are created from random conversations, conversations that lead to those little light bulb moments.  The more I shared my ideas with Jordan, the easier it became.  I was simply reminiscing about Barcelona and the friendships that I have gained recently.  That is when it clicked.  I felt the urge to write an appreciation post for the friends that I care deeply about.  Especially those who I have made incredible and long lasting memories with over the past couple of months.  Starting with a cheeky Spanish adventure to Barcelona.

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Friendships are incredible.  As social species we need others to survive, to feel a true sense of connectedness.  Being in the company of others helps us to feel accepted, to feel safe and most importantly to feel loved.  I have been thinking a lot about friendships lately, those that have the power to enlighten any mood.  True friends have seen us at our worst and seen us at our very best but most importantly have been there to elevate our spirits.  We have friendships that we have nurtured from a very young age.  Those relationships are special but those that we form later in life are just as precious.  I am thankful for a lot of aspects of my life and when times become tough I am especially grateful for my inner circle.  We know exactly when we click with someone.  Someone who is on our wavelength and shares similar interests to us.  Usually, it is difficult to locate these types of friends as we are each very unique.  However, I believe that those personalities that mesh perfectly make the best kind of relationships. Jordan Patterson, this is my blog post for you.

Veni, Vidi, Vici.

According to friends, family and social media, travelling alone is one of the best experiences that life can offer.  At 21, I have yet to explore another culture solo, yet it is something I am not ashamed of.  I know that I have many years ahead of me to explore the beauty of the world, it is a daunting yet exciting thought really.  I would like to share one of the best experiences of my life to date, which consisted of an adventure to Barcelona with a bestfriend.  Deciding upon a location to travel to was not hard as we both agreed that Barcelona looked so dreamy.  In addition, we are both HUGE foodies.  We are the type of girls that think about where we are eating and when- all of the time.  There may have been a small percentage of hanger involved on our trip but that is a subject that we prefer to avoid talking about!

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Hanger level 100/100

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5 inevitable things that will happen when you travel with a bestfriend:

I believe in being spontaneous.  As much as I do like to plan, I am probably the most random out of my inner circle of friends. However, it is very rare that you find somebody that matches that inner freak and equally not afraid to show it.  When I met Jordan a couple of months ago we really ‘hit it off,as they say.  Now I am really making us sound like an old married couple and I would just like to clarify that Jordan is taken.  In fact she is engaged and I am bursting with excitement for her!  When telling others that we had planned a city trip to Barcelona, they questioned our friendship, ‘have you not only known each other for a couple of months?’ You see, I believe that the duration of time that you have been close to someone does not matter.  It is the quality of that relationship in the present moment.  If that person makes you happy, makes you laugh, hold them close.  Jordan is a beautiful person, inside and out and we instantaneously bonded following our first conversation (which I am sure consisted of talking about donuts, winner).

It is important to give value to those who give value to you.  Travelling with someone that you have a lot of time for really will put your relationship to the test.  Being friends with somebody is one thing but travelling with them is a different story.  The inspiration for this blog is based upon the countless laughs and good times that we had.  There was not a day that went by that we did not have one major giggling fit- an attractive sight really.  Therefore, I would love to share 5 things that inevitably happen when travelling with a true friend- be prepared for a lot of planned and unplanned photographs- oh and many foodie shots of course!

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Stepping out of your comfort zone- I’ll do it if you do it:

 When we travel, we like to push ourselves.  This was my first trip abroad with a friend which made the experience even more exciting and interesting.  Jordan and I have a very similar sense of humour which I believe  is why we are so close.  One of us just has to say something completely ridiculous and the tears are rolling down my cheeks for half an hour afterwards. There are many aspects of our lives and personalities that set us apart of course.  However, it is important that we learn from a friendship, whether that is the platonic or romantic kind.  We both decided that we should experience ‘Hostel life’ whilst staying in Barcelona which was the best decision.  It was great meeting people from different parts of the world and sharing cultures.  As two random girls, we wanted to do something together that would mark our trip away. Thankfully we dodged the cliché ‘let’s get matching tattoos’ idea at 3am on one very spontaneous night.  Never the less, we settled for ear piercings- wild.

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You will start to say the same things:

For me, adopting a friend’s vocabulary or slang is a first level friendship achievement.  We don’t even realise we have adopted mannerisms from others until we spend quality time together. It’s weird and it is often creepy, however I believe that it is one of the most powerful indicators that you truly know a friend well.  You are comfortable in their presence which is incredibly important.  Friends are great at pointing out our flaws when needed but they are even better at lifting our spirits.  It was great walking around the ancient city streets of Barcelona, mocking each other’s slang words and living our best 21-year old selves.

Food, food & more FOOD- you will eat your body weight

Yes it is true, friends are the worst and best influences when making food choices.  You will gain 3 stone in weight, but I can guarantee that you will burn it off laughing or walking around whilst lost.  Just to reiterate this point, I love eating.  Jordan loves food as much as I do and so it made choosing where to eat very simple.  On our first night we decided to eat on ‘Las Ramblas’ where we very naturally embraced the Spanish culture-ordering two very large Pizzas which did not last for very long at all.  The Sangria counts as Spanish cuisine, right?

‘Brunch and Cake’ is a small artisan café that we happened to stumble across on our wonderings.  If you are thinking of visiting Barcelona I highly recommend this gem as their pancake stacks, waffles and cakes are out of this world.  The best way to explore Barcelona’s food scene is disregarding all plans. Planning is great when travelling but when thinking about somewhere to eat, it is best to stumble across hidden gems.  Hanger was beginning to consume us again on our last night and by chance Jordan spotted an amazing Mexican Burrito Bar.  Again, not very cultural but a great find whilst drinking a few Coronas and watching the Barcelona sun go down.

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Lights, camera, action- you will take MANY photographs.

I have no shame in posting travel photographs.  Little and often however as there is always that risk of posting only our ‘best selves’ online.  There is an element of travel photography that is special but when travelling with a friend, be prepared for some locations to transform into a low-key photo shoot.  By no means am I suggesting that you base your entire trip around trying to take the most perfect and aesthetically pleasing shot.  That is no way to live or experience somewhere new.  Both Jordan and I are strong believers in living in the moment (live, laugh, love) but in all seriousness it is so much better experiencing the beauty of Barcelona first hand.  Not through the lens of modern technology.  However, we are both guilty of sneaking in a few beach photographs which was very hard to avoid given the beautiful climate and scenes.  Being close to a friend means forming a little photography team, knowing which angles and shots suit best.  Several months have passed and we are still posting beach photographs on our Instagram accounts- they will eventually stop, sometime!

 

You will gain a true friend for life:

Travelling with a best friend taught me a lot about myself.  It taught me to be more patient, more resilient and more understanding.  Travelling with a best friend means opening your heart to compliments, constructive criticism and endless conversations filled with love, memories and laughs.  Travelling really does put our relationships to the test and if you truly want it to work, it more than likely will.  You are in each other’s space for several days and when you reach a point of not holding anything back, you know you have found someone very special.  There is great comfort in knowing that your inner circle of friends will always be here for you.  To support you and to cherish you.  In life, we need friends to support our ideas and achieve a sense of connectedness to the world around us.

As much as I enjoy my own company, travelling with a bestfriend was incredible.  If you are thinking of travelling around the world solo, do it.  If you are thinking of travelling with a partner, even better.  Life is full of unexpected twists and turns, yet all we need to do is embrace them and accept them.  Acceptance is key.  Make good out of every dull situation and explore every opportunity that is presented to you.  I would like to thank my inner circle of friends who are always here. Always keen for a chat, laugh, cry or trip to eat food (obviously).  That sense of loneliness that you experience when you return home from a trip away? This simply reminds us that we are invested in that friendship.  It is real.  Life can teach you a lot of valuable lessons, but it is our friends and sense of self that keep us afloat.  Thank you Jordan, for keeping me sane but equally insane. I am proud to call you my bestfriend and I know that the bond that we have formed through our travels will last for a lifetime! Those who travel together, stay together.

Now, let me just check Sky Scanner!

K x

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Kathryn Bigger is a final year student on the BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be contacted on: Instagram – the_fashion_fairypr / Twitter – @KatieB_05 / LinkedIn- Kathryn Bigger.

The PR Diaries: Part I

Fast Fashion & the ‘Material World.’

 

I cannot believe that it has been eight months since my last blog post, time really does fly!  As I embark upon my final year of studying Communication and PR an aspect of life has my creative mind ticking. Not much has changed over the last eight months, in fact I am pretty sure that I still adore Cacti as I outlined in my last blog and I am 100% certain that my love for food, coffee shops and fashion has not changed either (throwing that out there).  I will also just add that my love for Instagram and taking aesthetic photographs still consumes me- shocker.  What has changed the most over the past few months is my outlook in life.  My outlook on how we are guilty of trying to constantly pursue the latest trends, desperately wanting to live a life full of hope and false fantasies.  Now, you may be giving me major eye rolls right now and as cliché as it sounds I genuinely believe that most things happen for good reason. We do openly follow our passions and there is nothing wrong with that. We are all a little guilty of wanting more than what we already have and if you are reading this thinking, hold up.  I do enjoy following trends, then you are not alone.  However, what happens when we place all our focus on only the most attractive and aesthetic aspects? Are you that material girl, living in a material world?

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Fashioning the self

A recent trip to London Fashion Week inspired me to think about the pressures to conform to the latest trends- let’s not forget that both leopard and snake print are dominating the population of Belfast.  So much so we could to create a second Zoo (90% of my wardrobe).  We are each guilty of religiously following others who inspire us or those who we believe to be ‘role models.’  I believe that there is a negative stigma around the material items in life and rightly so.  When we think of material items our minds wonder to Gucci, Prada and investing in luxury fashion brands.  We may even think of our favourite online influencers and how they fashion the latest trends- not to mention the ‘social influencers take on cycling shorts’ wave which left us feeling a little Tour de France/ Bradley Wiggins (Sorry, I had to).

 

Behind the seams of reality

Our Instagram platforms have become a playground for flashing material items.  It almost feels like an online shop, yet we are sucked in by aesthetic travel photographs that surround these gorgeous clothing posts.  For me, this all feels a little wrong.  I am growing tired of the volume of ‘fast fashion’ brands that are so cleverly luring us in.  Only to try on the dress to discover that it works better as a boob tube/ crop top and the material is as thin and see through as clingfilm.  On another side note, I can openly admit that I am a keen consumer of fast fashion. As much as I try to avoid it the student life really does force us to swap luxury for affordable, with little thought about the materials used- here lies the problem.

In this digital era, I believe that there is a greater pressure to showcase our lives on Instagram.  We almost use it as a mirror, reflecting an articulated image of how we wish to be viewed by our followers.  This is not healthy.  When I buy a new item of clothing I appreciate how it looks and feels, not only on the hanger but how it fits my body.  This is the beauty of fashion as it enables us to appreciate colours, prints and textures as a form of visual communication.  Taking Fashion Week as an example, I was in awe of the array of designers showcasing garments that communicated their brand story- this is the value that is important.  Designers invest time and creative effort in developing a brand, which is why following ‘fast fashion’ can defeat the purpose of buying clothing to keep in the long run.  If your closet is anything like mine, I can put my hands up and admit that I am awful for hoarding clothes.   Regardless of how many times I have tried to flog my clothes on Depop- it is a vicious cycle!

 

‘Keep the snakes away, unless they’re Gucci

The truth is that nothing should be ‘fast’ about fashion.  Investing in luxury does not consist of spending all of your pay on expensive designer gear either, nor does it mean flashing these items online.  From a student’s viewpoint, I do not believe that it is realistic for us to splash out on luxury brands, or to try to prove to others that we can afford this kind of ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ lifestyle- we are only kidding ourselves really.  The purpose of this blog post is to prove that life is far too short to worship designer brands and materialistic items (Ok, life is also too short not buy shoes, keep it on the down low).  Think about the long run.  These items will never truly matter to us, they may only influence how we feel at the time of purchase- that feeling is short-lived.  Think about the real bodies in our lives, the ones who invest in us and bring us joy.  People that are relentlessly by your side and will be a lot longer that a bottle of Gucci Perfume.

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Gucci Gang

 

It has become extremely difficult in society to identify the true value in people, especially with online platforms concealing our true selves.  In reality we are crying out for authenticity. All too often we are told to ‘get out there, follow your dreams and afford that fancy car alongside that high-powered job.’  Is it any wonder why students and young adults in their 20s feel obliged to conform to such ideas? The pressure is all too much to afford life’s ‘little luxuries.’  To live in a society that tells us how to ‘work fast and live fast’ is becoming a challenge and I can admit to feeling overwhelmed by how I should live my life. The bottom line is to work hard enough that success becomes your noise but equally to have the time of your life.  How does that saying go? Work hard, play harder.

 

Does my environmental impact look big in this?

Delving deeper into this topic I discovered that ‘fast fashion’ has received a lot of negative media coverage recently.  Our love for fashion is taking its toll on the environment as in the UK alone we are consuming 26.7kg of new clothing per head each year.  It is not only fast fashion brands that are to blame as it is also expected that 3,781 litres of water is used in a full lifetime of a single pair of Levi’s 501 jeans.  This is just a  snapshot of how our fashion consumption is spiralling out of control.  I guess we could say that having something at our disposal only devalues that item, it is all too easy to make an online purchase without adding any genuine value- a theory that applies to a lot of aspects of life.  When something is readily available, we take it for granted.  Investing in statement items that are durable, high quality and affordable is the best method.

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As I draw my fashion ramblings to a close, I want to stress how easy it is for us to feel pressured by clothing brands.  Being lured in by marketing and influencers online has a  negative effect on our mental health.  This concludes why materialistic items will never maintain true value.  Yes, clothes are beautiful, they are powerful but they will always be around for us to purchase.  Ask yourself this, if everything you possessed was striped back, what would we be left with? We may be cold and a little naked, but we would be guaranteed to be surrounded by those we love.  So, sorry Madonna, living in the material world is not all that it would appear to be!

 

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K x

 

Kathryn Bigger is a final year student on the BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be contacted on: Instagram – the_fashion_fairypr / Twitter – @KatieB_05 / LinkedIn- Kathryn Bigger.

Blogger Brunchin & Insta Launchin’

Welcome to the ‘Blogosphere.’

The beauty of having a creative mind means that I am constantly daydreaming, sketching and thinking of new ideas (98.8% daydreaming about food).  Recently I have been thinking about life living in the ‘Blogosphere.’ No matter which city or countryside that you choose to visit, there will be an abundance of beauty, fashion, foodie and travel bloggers.  However, each Blogger has a unique story to share. If you wish to find out more about my recent blogging and PR adventures, then you have come to the right place.  I have also included my all-time favourite ‘blogger girls.’

In November (3 months ago, I know I’m a bit late) I was encouraged to attend the ‘NI Blogger Brunch’ in Babel, Belfast.  I could write a single blog post about Babel itself as the interiors are just so dreamy.  Marble coffee tables, bubble gum pink and forest green walls with a splash of 1950’s & 60s design- let’s not forget the foliage, did I mention the cacti? Babel really was the perfect setting for this event and I instantly fell in love with this gem of a rooftop bar (even before glancing at the cocktail menu).

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Ok so, I may have just got majorly distracted by all things interiors, however it played a huge role in the success of the event.  As Student Ambassador for CIPR NI, attending the brunch enabled me to network with bloggers, online influencers and PR professionals.  It was surreal meeting bloggers that I follow on Instagram. In fact, I felt as if I knew everything about them before we engaged in conversation.  A little bit creepy, right?  This is the beauty of the ‘blogosphere.’ Over the last decade blogs have evolved from glorified online journals to much more personified accounts.  It is something that we should encourage, we often perfect our CV’s ‘on paper’ (Amber Davies eat your heart out) and forget about building our online portfolios.  Showcase your writing skills, upload that cute picture of your Doggo and share your passion with others.  You never know what positive leads will evolve from a well written blog post.  On a side note, can you guess why I chose to include this Instagram account? Basic.

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Aware NI- It’s ok not to be ok.

The fabulous Sinead Doyle from MCE Public Relations and previous Chair of CIPR NI opened the Brunch, providing insight to supporting charity ‘Aware NI.’  This amazing charity aims to support those with depression, anxiety and bipolar disorders.  Many of the great workings include their support programmes which help to educate communities, schools, universities and the workplace. It is all too easy to feel disengaged from our social circles, feeling isolated online.  I believe that Instagram has advantageous frills however like all social media platforms it harbours bullying and negativity.  As someone who cares way too much of what the world thinks of her I have quickly recognised that I am not alone.  I used to care about those likes and comments to a point where I would question what I uploaded.  Now, I ask myself if I feel happy with the content that I am posting.  The bottom line, do not post for others as they cannot determine your happiness. Only you can.  Learning to be mindful and to relax has helped me immensely with my anxiety.  Take a step back and observe others, you might just gain much-needed inspiration!

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An appetite for the ‘Digital Diet.’

Whilst I am trying not to type forever, I am a self-confessed Instagram addict and have no shame.  It is nice to know that your friends may worry about you if you haven’t posted in a while!  To some it may feel like I use Instagram every hour of my life, well you are not far wrong.  When I visit a small or local business, I feel an urge to share and promote their story online, especially if I feel connected to their brand/story. Sharing my experiences with others is something I value, we should inspire others through creative content. I pledged that I would spend less time on my phone this year (good joke Kathryn). It has been a challenge to say the least, especially when you are immersed and study in the world  of PR/Digital communication.

It is also important to note that not everyone will be your biggest cheerleader along the way, so keep it real. If you are honest what is there to fault? You cannot be someone who you are not, people are not so slow in this digital age.  One valuable piece of advice that I gained from the Blogger Brunch was to post what you want, when you want, do not be put off by negative judgement.  So, what if your post does not reach 150 likes or you have not hit the 1k follower mark?  If you post a photograph that you feel good about then let that be your success.  If posting boosts your confidence, then do it.  The basic algorithm behind a successful Instagram is authenticity, interesting content and engagement.

Taking inspiration from this funky lady.  A groovy gran with style that would put your own wardrobe to shame!  ‘Baddiewinkle’ rose to fame after her granddaughter created an Instagram account for her.  What can we conclude from this? Age has no limit. Do you really think ‘Baddie’ cares about the negative comments? Absolutely not. She’s living her best badass life with no shame!

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Finally, for a nosey…

To round off this post I have picked out four special ladies that I feel I can relate to the most.  Each of their Instagram accounts are a true representation of just how lovely they are.  First up we have Niamh Serena.  I am proud to call Niamh a friend and what she has achieved so far is amazing, recently collaborating with ‘Pretty Little Thing.’ For fabulous fashion and outfit inspiration take a peek at ‘Niamhserena.’ For all things lifestyle, blooms, family life and fashion follow Anna (‘blossomingbirds’).  This girl has the most amazing interiors and collection of Emma Bridgewater mugs (an obsession of mine) I just love how humble Anna is.   She fosters an incredible work ethic combined with family life but is never afraid to voice the blips along the way.  Last but certainly not least twins Lucy and Zoe (‘allthingsbeautifullymade’ & ‘alittlebitoflife’). These ladies are incredible.  Once you visit their blogs you will understand how brave, courageous and beautiful they are.  With every story that they post I feel inspired and empowered.

If you would like to check out some of latest illustrations, fashion posts and travel adventures then hit me up at ‘the_fashion_fairypr.’

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Warning: may contain the occasional photograph of the Eiffel Tour.

Love,

K x

Kathryn Bigger is a third year student on the BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations at Ulster University. She is currently undertaking her placement year at Marks Design Collective. Kathryn can be contacted on: Instagram – the_fashion_fairypr / Twitter – @KatieB_05 / LinkedIn- Kathryn Bigger.

 

The Confessions of a PR Girl

So, here it goes …

I am Kathryn Bigger, lover of fashion, PR (shocker) and collecting cacti.

As a third-year student studying Public Relations and Communications I have certainly learnt a lot about myself and most importantly what I am capable of.  If you too have a love for all things PR, Fashion and Cacti (Avocados are so overrated) then I know you will feel right at home here. My mission is to provide insight into the wonderful world of PR and to let you know that it is OK to mess up along the path of reaching your goals. Trust me, this is a tough industry and the more you learn to dust yourself off, pick yourself up and progress forward the better!

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When I thought about writing my own content I have in some ways been put off by the negative stigma that surrounds the blogging network.  Within Northern Ireland word spreads faster than I can spread Nutella on toast (true bill folks).  Just like our small but widely diverse communities, our NI blogging network is tightly knit.  Those who fail to understand the network are quick to judge, it is nice to be nice (I see you keyboard warriors).   It is time that we focused on the positives by supporting those who are confident, courageous and creative enough to showcase their lives online – You go Glen Coco!

I will let you into a little secret, a secret that I am slowly learning to share… I wear my heart on my sleeve. Some believe that to work in PR you must be utterly glamorous, cut-throat and super confident.  This is NOT the case.  One of the many reasons why I decided to write this blog was to share with you that it is absolutely OK to be yourself. You can remain successful by being humble. Climbing the slippery ‘social ladder’ in PR may seem daunting at first, however my best piece of advice is to remain true to yourself.  Let success be your noise!

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Communication is KEY.  I am pretty sure that if my friends and family had to write one thing about me they would jot down immediately that I LOVE to talk (just as my phone bill would suggest).  Whilst chatting for hours may not be your cup of tea it has helped me immensely in the world of PR.  Making solid connections with clients is vital, it not only boosts morale but will help you to nurture new and existing relationships. Ok, so we are all capable of communicating but what is that magic ingredient that brings our ideas and conversations to life? CREATIVITY (Yes, this word deserves capitals because it is the Queen of sass).

We are created to create.  I love to communicate through illustration, just as the saying goes ‘a picture is worth a thousand words.’ The moment I put paintbrush to paper the world around me stops.  Being able to express my thoughts and feelings on a blank canvas is the most rewarding feeling.  One simple, understated design can progress into something rather beautiful.

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So, discover what you are good at and make it work for you. Exercise your talents and remember stay true to who you are. Authenticity is an extremely attractive characteristic; only you can determine your own success!

Kathryn x

Kathryn Bigger is a third year student on the BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations at Ulster University. She is currently undertaking her placement year at Marks Design Collective. Kathryn can be contacted on: Instagram – the_fashion_fairypr / Twitter – @KatieB_05 / LinkedIn- Kathryn Bigger.