An Open Letter to a Prospective Student of PR

Dear possible student,

While deciding on what I was going to study PR barely took my notice. I always believed that I would do history or politics of a combination of both. They were my favourite subjects in school and I automatically went for them when attending any university fairs and prospectuses in lower and upper sixth. I had grand thoughts of becoming a political aid and have access to some of our countries best political minds. I wanted to be the C.J Cregg from ‘The West Wing’ for Northern Ireland. Then I remembered I lived in Northern Ireland and that thought is a bit far fetch.

But the idea of communications then stuck and I moved onto how to work in this world of press briefings and facilities. What I didn’t know was the breath of skill I was going to acquire while doing my degree. To be honest I didn’t know any of the skills I was going to gain from doing PR.

PR encompasses so many faucets and you need to be quick to adapt to these skills as they are throwing at you fast. In the past four years I have honed my writing skills, learnt many new ways of writing from press releases to speech writing. I have finally figured out how to use a camera, my blurry photos in the past are no more. I’ve learnt how to strategies and what makes a good campaign. How the best of the best have done it and why they are called the best of the best. I even now can read body language, a skill I never thought I would ever want to know or need but I grew to enjoy reading people before they even speak.

Then comes placement year, which I truly believe is one of the best experiences any one studying in this industry should try as the difference of between learning about public relations\communications and actually putting this into practice is vast. Placement teaches you to think on your feet, be exposed to real time practitioners, campaigns, issues and life is thrilling and gives you a real sense of purpose in this chosen field we area all in.

Public Relations is all about the promotion of a product, service or person. But let me promote PR for a minute. It is a specialist field that requires dedication, creativity, solid relationships and knowing your audience well enough that you are able to communicate to them in a very specific manner. Public Relations is all around us. It is required in everything we do. The most powerful person in any country tends to be the person running it, the Prime Minster, Monarch, President etc. Every single one of these will have a dedicate circle who guides and advises them and one of the key advisers will be the head of communications as they are in charge of message. This is public relations in work.

I hope you chose Public Relations as not only is it a brilliant learning experience, its fun and the opportunities are endless.

All the best.

Sincerely,

Rosa

Rosa O’Farrell is a final year BSc student in Public Relations. Rosa can be found on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/rosa-o-farrell-2a796a23/ or on Twitter: @rosaofarrell

What makes a Great Christmas Advert?

What makes a Great Christmas Advert?

For most, the first sign of Christmas is when the clock strikes midnight on Halloween night and all advertisers know this means the deluge of Christmas adverts will begin, and with that the competition of who has the best advert of the Christmas season? Over the years there have been many ones that have resonated and stayed with you long after the Christmas decorations are taken down. All of the best have different qualities that make you pick it as your favourite.

 

Some play on the heart for example the famous John Lewis, ‘Man on the Moon’ where many tears were shed over the poor lonely man who lived on the moon and the little girl on earth who desperately wanted to say hello. This advert which was a partnership with AGE UK was used to highlight the loneliness of elderly at Christmas, as well as year round, and tugged at the heartstrings of the general public who helped to generate £1 billion of sales for John Lewis in the Christmas period of 2015. John Lewis have long held the title of being the best at Christmas advertisements, usually accompanied with a song that reaches high in the top 40 of the U.K charts, for example the now infamous Ellie Goulding version of ‘Your Song’ which was then rumoured to be the first dance song of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge at their 2011 wedding. However, many others have attempted to take this coveted crown from the department store.

In 2014 the undisputed champion of the Christmas adverts appeared to be Supermarket Sainsbury’s who used history to make the perfect advert. Their depiction of Christmas Day 1914 along the trenches when German and British Troops ceased fighting and played a football match was praised across the U.K as one of the greatest Christmas adverts and a moving tribute on the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War 1. The pairing of what happened along with the moving use of ‘Silent Night’ both in English and German saw The Independent brand the marketing strategy ‘Epic’. The advertisement went viral, within 24 hours had had 1.8 million views on YouTube. It was believed to be a risky advert as if the tone want right it would have caused outrage by the British public. The tag line of #ChristmasisMadeforSharing resonated and with the advert being partnered with the Royal British Legion the advert is highly recognised as one the most brilliant television adverts of the 21st Century. Some did object to the advert calling it disrespectful but this was far outweighed by the outpouring of love for the advert.

 

 

Then there are the classics such as the Coca-Cola advert of the lit up truck driving through cities and towns with the ‘Holiday’s are Coming’ playing the background which for many really signifies the beginning of the festive period.

So what make a great Christmas advert? Is it one that makes you cry happy or sad tears, one with a well constructed message behind it or one that just starts to bring the seasonal joy to people? Everyone has there own special advert they will always back up when the best Christmas advert comes around every year, and it nearly always changes when the next batch of advertising excellence shows the following year.

Rosa O’Farrell is a final year in BSc Public Relations. She can be found on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/rosa-o-farrell-2a796a23/ or on Twitter @rosaofarrell

Saturday Night on the Other Side

Saturday Night on the Other Side

Saturday night is the night we all look forward to. We get dressed in our best, spend hours on hair and make-up, make plans, and then re-plan in the group chat where the pre is gonna happen and then go out into the City, drink, dance and be merry, and at the end of the night have that compulsory take away before we head home. This has always been the Saturday night that I have experienced, until last December when during my placement with the PSNI I embarked on a Saturday night in Belfast City Centre on duty.

As it was December, Christmas celebrations were in full swing, and this goes for inside the police station where Red TSG (Tactical Support Group) are based, as when I arrived there was two fully uniformed officers singing along to Merry Christmas Everyone by Shaking Stephens, their way of ‘preing’ for the night ahead. I sat in the debrief room and listened to the Sergeant in charge running through how they planned the night to go. I was to go with the Sergeant and two Constables on City Centre duty. It was around two weeks before Christmas and therefore they knew that Christmas parties were going to add to what is normally the busiest night of the week. The PSNI were also in the midst of running their Winter Drink Driving campaign so all officers were asked to be extra vigilant with car checks when out on patrol.

 

TSG chat to the drink driver

We set off into the city centre around 7pm and after one spin around the town we headed up towards West Belfast when a driver hit the wing mirror of the patrol car and appeared to drive off in an erratic manner, tipping off the officers that he may be intoxicated. The driver was pulled over and breathalysed. With his result coming back fail, the man was arrested for drink driving and brought to Musgrave Custody Suite. Now, many believe that all police officers do is arrest and bring arrestees into custody, however this one person arrested meant the team lost one of his officers who had to fill out copious amounts of paperwork, and as the drunk driver was a foreign national it meant they had to wait on a translator also.

Back on duty, we set back into the city and within 10 minutes we received a call over the radio for rapid response. When we got to the scene three young men had overdosed on cocaine on the street and gone into cardiac arrest. An ambulance had arrived already and paramedics were performing CPR and administrating Adrenaline to the males which thankfully brought them all round. The street became crowded with residents of the surrounding area and passersby, and the police worked on securing the scene to protect the dignity of the young men and help out the paramedics trying to save the men’s lives. One of the police officers also helped the paramedics out as he was a first aider and the Ambulance service were stretched as it was on a busy Saturday night. The partnership between the emergency services is one that many forget and is one that helps so many in wider society.

A PSNI Facebook image of the incident

Once the men had been loaded into the ambulances and more police were able to arrive on scene, we left to go back on patrol when I noticed a man lying on the ground. We pulled over and it turned out the man was having a heart attack and had come out of his house to get help. We were aware that the ambulance service was stretched to capacity now, this being about 10.30pm so the officers used all their first aid skills they knew and waited until another crew were able to come and help the man.

At around 1am, we went into the City Centre again and in the space off two hours had handed out three tickets for public urination and stopped two fights from pub revellers.

To see a Saturday night from a different perspective gave me a lot of respect for the emergency services who under hard cuts and pressures go out and do their job with a smile and are able to have a few laughs along the way. If it hadn’t been for the emergency services three young men would have lost their lives in the middle of the road, another could have caused serious damage under the influence of alcohol and many others may not have gotten home safely. In one Saturday the three officers I shadowed dealt with at least 50 different people and were shouted at and abused. It reminded me that as I get ready for my Saturday night out, there are others who are doing the same, but to ensure our safety throughout our night.

Rosa O’Farrell is a final year student in BSc Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/rosa-o-farrell-2a796a23/