The Great and Good of Public Relations in Northern Ireland

The Great and Good of Public Relations in Northern Ireland

This time last year I didn’t know what public relations was.  I had no interest in or idea of the importance and relevance of “PR” in everyday life. I would automatically have thought of the stunts devised to distract the public’s attention from the real stories or those who offer discounted entry to Thompsons and Alibi on a Saturday night in Belfast. However, since I began studying an MSc in Communication & Public Relations in September, this understanding has been altered.  Recently, having attended a CIPR conference which showcased the very best of public relations in Northern Ireland, my narrow understanding has been radically altered – so much so that I’ve dedicated my first blog post to the great and good of PR in NI. (I swear I’m not hoping for a job offer at the end of this.) I should probably apologise for the delay in writing this post – juggling a full time masters degree with an internship and a part time job is more excessive than I imagined. And people say men can’t multi-task? Pfftttt! Again, this point is rubbish because I’ve edited this post while brainstorming dissertation topics over a few bottles of wine. Hope you enjoy. 

1 – “We Do Great Things And We Can Prove It”

This point had to be first as it really got me thinking. It’s the motto of ASG and Partners agency but for me it sums up what we all should be aiming for. Regardless of our jobs, positions, activities – our focus should always be on doing great things and making sure we can prove it at the end. As Gold Award winners in the Community Relations category, Sasha McKnight highlighted the positive impact which PR has not only on businesses but the communities which they are based in. Marks & Spencer (M&S, marksies, whatever you call it), in Northern Ireland utilised the expertise of ASG & Partners to mark their fifty years of existence in Northern Ireland while reinforcing their position as a supporter of the local communities which they were established in. Retaining this client for almost two decades is proof in itself of the great work this agency carries out. Without trust, success will be impossible in this business. The moral of the story – do great things and prove it! The PR industry in Northern Ireland whether public sector or private are time and again proving their greatness!!

AA11

2 – Community Relations

This thread ran throughout these presentations. Public relations has the ability and resources to benefit and promote communities. The examples of M&S; JComms work with “The Titanic Hotel” which retold the stories of those who had worked and fell in love around the Belfast docks; the community effort of the local people of Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry who worked alongside Ruth Rodgers and the Southern Health and Social Care Trust Comms team to save its emergency department from closure; the promotion of Basketball in Northern Ireland by Massive PR and Byrony Chapman, a sport which was at one time popular among both communities and the “Let’s Keep on Supporting People” campaign run by Weber Shandwick which raised awareness of the importance of the “Supporting People” organisation in Northern Ireland are testament of the importance of this aspect. Incorporating the community into public relations strategies is key and helps to build and maintain a positive and successful reputation for the organisation.

3 – Media Relations

The interconnectedness of PR and the media was reinforced throughout the student conference. Lewis et al (2008: 2) have pointed to the dance theory – “it takes two to tango.” Essentially, PR relies on the media as a conduit for spreading its campaign messages while the media relies on PR for fresh material. The PRide campaign winners utilised an extensive network within the media frame to enhance their success. I was impressed with the different techniques used. These ranged from JComms dedicating a specific launch night for the press, ahead of the community and stakeholders and the Southern HSCT who worked extensively with the local newspaper, “The Newry Reporter” to find a positive solution. Of course, Social Media was also utilised as an appropriate mechanism for developing these campaigns. Charlotte Goss and Clearbox were tasked with bringing relevancy for Bushmills Irish Whiskey to a younger consumer. While traditional press methods were vital for the other campaigns, connecting with a younger audience through social media channels was integral for this one.  Along with 300 pieces of media coverage across online, print and social media, 773,000 reaches on Instagram and 21,700 engagements on social media posts, Clearbox effectively achieved their objectives. Being aware of your audience and how best to interact with them is important in any campaign.

AA22

4 – Low Budgets

A successful PR campaign requires serious financial investment? Not quite. The campaigns organised by ASG & Partners and Weber Shandwick were gold standard award winners and guess what? They were both low budget campaigns. Impressive or what? What is even more impressive is the impact they had on wider society. The M&S campaign took on fifty local projects which benefited over fifteen thousand individuals inside two weeks. Incredible! On the other hand, the issue of homelessness needs no introduction for most. It’s becoming a prevalent sight in most of our cities and unfortunately is spreading into small towns. The loss of three million pounds in funding would have exacerbated this situation further as well as impacting on the elderly, young people and those with disabilities who relied heavily on the fund. Enter Johnny Stewart and Weber Shandwick. Despite not having a significant budget, this campaign ensured that £2.6 million of funding was returned and that greater awareness of the importance of this organisation was raised. PR plays a substantial and sustainable role in people’s everyday lives. This is the message I intend to share when people question the relevance of PR in today’s world.

5- Youth and Experience

This conference highlighted to us students the diversity which exists within the PR industry here in Northern Ireland. Youth and experience. Female and male. Public sector and private sector. PR grads and those who took a different path. The main point- whatever the background, with hard work, dedication and a willingness to learn, the world (and the PR industry here and further afield) is our oyster. Listening and learning from Brittany Breslin, the CIPR NI’s Young Communicator of the Year was a fantastic opportunity. Her passion for the industry is inspiring and her advice on networking with individuals in journalism and advertising was invaluable. Moreover, the success of Charlotte Goss and Johnny Stewart, recent graduates from the Public Relations and Communications undergraduate degrees at Ulster University was another encouraging moment. In a climate where graduate jobs seem difficult to find, the success of these two is very reassuring. It would be rude of me not to lavish praise on Sasha McKnight, Jane Williams and Ruth Rodgers. These three ladies epitomise the calibre of practitioners here in Northern Ireland. They both started at the bottom of the ladder and in a relatively short space of time, have reached the top. For the student body, it was an incredible opportunity to learn from all these individuals. I would like to thank all the speakers, Dr Phil Ramsey and Dr Conor McGrath from Ulster University and the CIPR NI Committee especially Arlene McPhillips for attending the conference and highlighting the benefits of student membership of the CIPR.

I realise I’m late to the blogging scene but I’ve really enjoyed working on this one. I hope anyone that’s read to this point will have learnt something about this industry and can appreciate the talented individuals/organisations that surround us. I certainly have!

Jordan Mullan is an MSc in Communication and Public Relations student at Ulster University, and a student member of the CIPR Northern Ireland committee. He can be found at: Twitter – @Jordan_Mullan ; LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/jordan-mullan-23b1a2b8/

Online shopping vs IRL (In real life) shopping

If you’re like me and you love to shop you will know the struggle of finding the time to look properly while trying to do everything else that is going on like Uni, work and socialising, of course. There are two different types of shoppers, there are those who only shop online and people who actually love going in to shops.

There are pros and cons to both these ways of shopping…

Online shopping pros;

It’s right at your finger tips… Literally AB2

There are so many apps now on our smart phones for shopping the latest trends and even our groceries can be bought online and brought to our houses. We don’t even have to leave the house or if we are in work we can do it on our break, basically we can shop anywhere and everywhere, I think that is the appeal for most consumers. I have shopped online a few times because compared to normal stores there is an endless amount of clothes and styles on those apps, I mean endless you could spend hours just looking at tops alone. These sites also give you suggestions so you barely even need to look that far because they’ve already picked a look for you. With online shopping you also don’t have the stress of having to fight your way through people especially when it comes to Christmas time and Belfast City Centre is completely packed with everyone trying to get what they need. A perk I also enjoy from online shopping is getting it delivered to work because it’s like getting presents while I’m there, this defiantly helps with the 8 hour shift I don’t want to do.

Online shopping cons;

When we order online we have to wait usually 3-5 working days for our parcel to arrive and if there is a weekend in between then that’s two extra days added which is just unfair in my opinion, yes there is next day delivery but for most online shops that doesn’t apply to Northern Ireland… defiantly unfair. Then we have the charge of postage, although postage usually isn’t that dear it’s still charge on top of your items but if you’re like me and you see ‘free postage on orders over…’ and your order is just under that priceAB1 then I will buy something else, now this makes no sense because you are most likely now spending more money but it’s all about the principle of it, well that’s what I tell myself anyway. Sizing can be a problem, I like to try things on before I buy them because sizing in some shops can be completely different than sizing in another so if I order online half the time I usually send the stuff back or have to get another size which means I have to wait another 3-5 working days and that is just way to much waiting about for my gifts from me to me.

I prefer IRL shopping one reason for this is because I am a student and I can go into the city centre on a Monday at 10am when no one is there which makes it a lot easier.

IRL shopping pros;

When you go into a clothing shop and you can actually see what you are buying, you sometimes find that it looks nothing like what you saw online(which has happened to me quite a lot) so you know exactly what you are getting. You can try on the clothes before you buy them like I pointed out earlier, this is defiantly a good thing for me because I don’t have to send half of my order back. Customer service as annoying as it can be at times I still prefer to talk to a person rather than do everything through technology, having someone tell you they love what you’re buying at the till makes you feel good (even if it is a lie). We get what we want straight away. This is a big pro for me because I can be very last minute so being able to get and outfit and go works well for me and my at times unorganised lifestyle.

IRL shopping cons;

We all know how busy Castlecourt and Victoria Square can be at the best of times and it AB3is even worse around Christmas so if you aren’t a student or you can’t work from home you have to shop at the busiest and worst day to go into the city centre… A Saturday. It really is a horrible day to be anywhere near shops because everyone is off and then trying to get home after you’ve fought your way through the crowds is another nightmare, you could sit in traffic for hours. Being told they don’t have your size… this is to say the least, heartbreaking news, I hate, hate, hate when I have found the perfect outfit then the sales assistant tells me they don’t have my size then I have to start the process all over again or worse they tell me to look online, and you now know how shopping online makes me feel so you can imagine how I feel when that line is thrown in my face.

So, those are my thoughts on online vs IRL I’m sure some of you will share the same thoughts as myself in this department and if not you now know my views on two methods of shopping xo

 

Aoife Ni Cheallaigh Bairr is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/aoife-ni-cheallaigh-bairr-a42534164/

The High-Street Hustle

Success within a changeable industry

 

As reports of huge retailers filing for bankruptcy or closing a multitude of stores grow increasingly regular as the weeks fly by, it’s pretty hard not to think about what the future really holds for the High Street as we know it. As an Assistant Manager of a popular Belfast Retail Store (and frequent over-spender), I for one have struggled to keep up with the changes in Belfast City Centre over the last year with so many stores moving premises, rebranding, or ceasing trade entirely.

The world has gone online, and it’s more and more obvious by the day just how much of an impact the digital age is having on our High Streets. A recent report by The Office for National Statistics published in August 2018 states how online spending has “continued to increase to reach a new record proportion of all retailing at 18.2%.” With no doubt a strain is evident, what is the secret to achieving a steady turnover in a world dominated by Amazon Prime?

 

Brick and Mortar

The key to maintaining success in this increasingly competitive high street market is to focus on customer perception. Why may a customer choose to head into the City Centre for a bit of shopping on a Saturday afternoon, rather than snuggling up on the sofa with their iPad and a nice cuppa, scrolling through ASOS for hours on end.

The answer? Communication. That all important customer interaction is what keeps people coming back. This is something that you will not get online, and for many tends to categorise shopping as an enjoyable pastime rather than a necessity. How many times have you found yourself engaging in conversation with a Sales Assistant (usually surrounding a completely random topic), and left the store with a smile on your face. Equally, a less enjoyable encounter may reduce the likelihood you will rush back to that store.

NB2

 

Carrier bag 5p, Experience Priceless

Belief in your brand is vital. Customers do not want to be sold a product, but a lifestyle. Present your belief in the item, the company, and most importantly your genuine interest in the people who are giving you a reason to switch on the lights.

If you’ve ever worked in retail, you have undoubtedly heard the infamous comment that a particular item is cheaper online. Fast fashion is rapidly available, but isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. For this particular group of individuals, the price point will not be the pinnacle when contemplating a purchase (although I’m pretty sure there is a good percentage of Belfast’s population who’d happily switch to the online market just to get out of having to pay 5p for a carrier bag). A friendly, positive attitude and a soft-sell, non-scripted approach is best-practice. A customer should never feel as though you are pushing an item in exchange for an additional cocktail on Saturday night. Let’s just say Disneyland would not hire me pre-morning coffee, but the secret is simple… buy the Latte, pop on that retail smile and put your best self on the floor.

 

I can’t, but we can

The team. The word itself says it all. There is no ‘I’ in team, and the foundations for the successful running of a Retail Store will always come down to those representing the brand. A customer doesn’t know the Managing Director, they don’t know who runs the Warehouse or who manages Payroll (and probably don’t particularly care either). All they are interested in is the product, and respectively the individual selling it to them. A company can have an incredible hierarchical back-bone, but in most cases the customer will not see beyond the Sales Assistant.

Your team members are your forefront, the lead on your reputation, and act as the focal pull to the potential customer. Training is vital, and can make or break a retailer. Build a strong, dependable, enthusiastic team that will do all necessary to avoid providing a customer with reason to grow disengaged with the service implemented in-store.

Buy now or cry later

Visual Merchandising is your best friend. Creating a visual atmosphere that draws people in will change your life (well maybe not your life but your footfall counts at least). You may be surprised by how many people prefer to see an item in person before purchasing. The opportunity to touch it, feel it, and try it on… (spoiler alert: you’ll also save yourself the bother of repackaging an unwanted item and carting it to the Post Office).

I personally find myself more likely to develop an attachment to an item that I have held in my hand, as opposed to the multitude of items on my Topshop ‘online WishList’. We have the ability to view short catwalk snippets, and even spin online images 360 degrees to view the item from all angles, but is this really the same as viewing the item in person and physically touching it? A glimpse at how the item looks partnered with your style, how it feels, does it look the same as advertised… (pretty much all of the guess-work involved in an online haul).

NB7

 

Sink or Swim

I am sure Brexit alongside other factors will bring more ups and downs to our Economy, our High-Street and our Retailers. This is a bridge we will cross when we come to it. The present is our priority, and we are more than capable of continuing to thrive (and even grow). Do we give in to the online market? Or do we present an experience that will make the customer want to return to the store. Online retailers are here to stay, but I believe in the importance of brick and mortar and believe that many others do too. Know your competition, monitor KPIs, set targets and aim to exceed them. Provide unmatchable customer service and respect the sales team (they are the face of your brand). Sell an experience over a product, reiterate the importance of a consistent Brand Identity and implement Consumer-led Strategy. Take every chance you have to thrive.

To remain competitive and relevant in a constantly evolving industry may be a challenge, but remind yourself that impossible is only an opinion. If your work isn’t fun, you’re not playing for the right team.

Nora xx

 

Nora Brennan is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on: Instagram – @noraellenb / Twitter – @noraellenb / LinkedIn- Nora Ellen Brennan.

The surprisingly holy holy lands

Holy lands? Nothing holy about the place. With a name like ‘the holy lands’ and street names that consist of Palestine Street, Jerusalem Street and Damascus Street, you’d imagine this place to be a very quiet, religious area. But that’s where you’re mistaken. In the center of Belfast, this area is dominated by students who drink five nights a week and Romanians. Like every 18-year-old when going to university I was skeptical about living in the holy lands, as their life style focused more on partying and not enough on their academic studies. After deciding to live down with my friends as a student, my suspicions were confirmed. Despite blessing our house with holy water, some demons definitely got in. These are not the usual demons that you hear about at mass, these are the demons that are controlled and possessed by one too many jaeger bomb. Despite having holy water in our house, the only holy water we needed was a spar slush puppy to help cure our three-day hangover. This was my regular healing process each week.

However, it does seem that there are miracles happening in this area, as people be drinking to five o’clock in the morning and still manage to make their 9’oclock lectures looking like they’ve had their Weetabix and 8 hours sleep. I myself fell a victim of the late night drinking and the early lecture partaking. It seems like a great idea at the time, however, the next morning this was definitely not one of my good ideas.

Located in the heart of the holy lands, was our very own food shelter in the form of press 29. This is where most student could have a nice warm meal and discuss with their own Samaritans about which commandment they may have or have not broken the night before. I could honestly say there has been times, where I feel this place has truly saved me.

In addition, we do show our faith once a year, as we celebrate our dear St. Patrick on the 17th of March, for freeing Ireland from snakes. On this day we take to the streets with music and alcohol to show our appreciation for the patron saint of Ireland. When taking to the streets us student have our own rendition of Noah when he was in the ark with all the animals. It is otherwise known to us students as rock the boat. It’s basically the same thing.

The holy lands can be all fun and games, until everyone’s student loans start to wither away. This normally starts a month after returning for fresher’s. At this point we would be praying for Jesus himself to appear and perform the feeding of the 5000…students. I think every student at this point, would be well and truly grateful for a free feed, even if it is only fish and bread. As much as they would prefer it too be a Boojum. Beggars can’t be choosers!

I suppose the holy lands does show traits of being a holy place in its own way, as there does be a lot of praying, modern day student miracles and celebration of saints. In theory, it is a holy land however, it is an unorthodox fashion.

Finally, despite the flaws of going to Hatfield every Sabbath, Limelight every Monday, and back to the Hatfield on a Tuesday. I have still managed to secure my place in final year, and that is well and truly a miracle in itself. I would advise every student with the option to live nowhere else but the holy lands.

Chloe Toner is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn – linkedin.com/in/chloe-toner-937039153

A/W Fashion – Belfast Fashion Week 18-19

Those of you who know me, know that I’m a little fashion obsessed! So when I heard about the Ulster PR Student Blog, I couldn’t help but want to inject a few fashion and style posts into the blogosphere. I have previously enjoyed writing posts for my own blog & thought what better way to ignite the old writing flame inside me than to write a few posts for our own student blog!

I hope you enjoy! Dearbhail (@dervbrogan) xx

Belfast Fashion Week – The Runway Edit

DB19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A/W Fashion Week in Belfast could not have come at a better time following the recent  fire at Belfast’s beloved Primark. The fire has produced a devastating impact on the footfall of shoppers in the surrounding area.

The fabulous spectacle that was ‘The Runway Edit’ took place in the beautiful St Anne’s Cathedral, right in the heart of Cathedral Quarter and showcased some beautiful on-trend pieces from both global and local retailers and was just what Belfast needed to encourage locals to ‘stay shopping’.

#OOTN (What I Wore):

DB20

As it was my first Belfast Fashion Week you can imagine how hard it was for me to decide what to wear. Do I go ‘classic and chic’ or just plain ‘all out there’? I’ll let you decide on that one. My top, skirt and bag are all from Topshop, which I paired with with this AMAZING trucker jacket from Boohoo & these slick boots that I picked up on sale in Primark for £3 a few years back!

DB18

What THEY (the gorgeous models) Wore:

The show, hosted by Cathy Martin (CMPR) & Tiffany Brien (Influencer), kicked off with a fabulous directors cut showcasing all of Cathy’s (@cathymartin10) top picks for this A/W season including pieces from River Island, M&S and one of my all time favourites Stradivarius.

DB17DB16

 

Left: Cathy Martin & Tiffany Brien host the Runway Edit

Right: Joy modelling Red Tartan Trench Coat – Stradivarius £69.99

 

 

DB14DB15

Left: Veronica modelling Topshop fuscia velvet suit jacket £49 & trousers £39

Right: Sophie modelling Lazy Oaf yellow fur coat £150 with ASOS yellow scarf

 

 

DB13

DB12

 

Left: Rebecca modelling ASOS green puffa jacket, ASOS green scarf, Topshop tapered green trousers

Right: Nuala modelling ASOS lilac corduroy trousers £45, jacket £60, lilac pussy bow blouse

 

Some for the party girls (or boys, whatever tickles your fancy):

DB10

DB11

 

Left: Joy modelling ASOS metallic pink trousers, Zara sequin top

Right: Ellen modelling Missi paillette body suit £26.99 DV8, River Island rose gold pencil skirt

 

DB8

DB9

 

Left: Stefania modelling ASOS pink skirt, River Island pink faux fur jacket £85

Right: Maria modelling River Island floral pant suit

 

DB7

DB6

 

Left: Thandi models ASOS fringe beaded sequin mini dress 3150, New Look faux fur jacket £49.99

Right: Rebecca models ASOS purple/silver paillette jumper and Topshop silver trouser

 

George @ Asda:

George at Asda surprised me so much this year as they are KILLING IT with their A/W pieces. Heres a round up of my favourites:

DB5

DB4

DB3

Other retailers involved in the fabulous show included Debenhams, Oasis and New Look, along with pieces from local boutiques such as Blush (Lisburn Road), Serenity Ten (Maghera) and Lily Rose Boutique (Moria). If I could sum up what I’ve learnt about the coming A/W trends from this years BFW in three words, they would HAVE to be; blocks (colours), prints and sequins! 

I hope you’ve enjoyed my fashion favs from the show and hopefully it inspires you to  go and treat yourself (or that special someone) with something fresh and fabulous this season. So go on! Go out and support your local highstreet and boutiques this Christmas, it couldn’t be a better time to go shopping!

DB2DB1

Lots of love, Dearbhail (CAM Student UUJ / Wannabe Blogger) xoxo

P.S: If you love fashion as much as me, be sure to follow me on Instagram @dervbrogan where I post outfit photos daily!

 

Photo Credit: Brendan Gallagher (Photographer)

Event Credit: Cathy Martin (CMPR)

Dearbhail Brogan is a Second Year BSC in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on: Instagram – @dervbrogan ; Twitter – @dailydeeblog

The Guinness Goddess

Guinness, a pint of plain, Irish champagne, the black stuff: its iconic. For a 22 year old girl I usually get a lot of stick and raised eyebrows when I order a pint of stout in a bar, however I would have to admit that I am quite the Guinness Connoisseur “an expert judge in matters of taste.”

Here’s everything you need to know about the emerald isle’s best brew about.

Guinness lingo:

The art of the G: How to pour a pint of Guinness

Bishops Collar: a head that’s just too big

Cream leak: whenever some cream dribbles down the glass of an untouched head; a major leak may suggest a watery pint but a small slow dribble suggests a healthy one.

G-man/ G-woman/ G-punter: Guinness lover

G-tache: The Guinness moustache created from a decent, creamy pint. All good pints will give you one. A watery one will not give you a G-tache

Priests’ collar: The creamy, post-settlement head on a lovely pint of Guinness.

The Birth of Guinness:

Arthur Guinness signed a 9000 year lease in 1759 on a tiny abandoned warehouse in the very heart of Dublin and completely transformed St. James gate into a brewery, and Guinness was born. By the time Arthur died in 1803 he had built his empire and passed his business on to his son Arthur II, a successful brewery with promising export trade.

Guinness is good for you:
The famous slogan and one of the most iconic advertisements of all time first appeared in televised adverts in the late 1920’s claiming the beverage to be more nourishing for you than milk. The quote is not around anymore but still remains true as a pint only contains 125 calories – less than a pint of semi-skimmed milk!See the source image

The Guinness book of records:

The modern Guinness World Records has its origins at the Guinness brewery. In the 1950s, after an argument with friends over which was the fastest game bird in Europe (failing to find an answer in any reference book) Sir Hugh Beaver (an industrialist/engineer) decided to create the now iconic book that would settle all common pub disputes.

See the source image

The Art of Pulling the Pint
There’s good reason for that finger-tapping wait for your pint. Over 119.5 seconds, the Guinness glass is three-quarters filled, rested until the nitrogen bubbles have risen (this creates the dark colour and velvety head), before being filled to the top. In my own experience patience is key in these situations, (good things come to those who wait.)See the source image
Guinness Today

Fast-forward a couple of centuries, and Arthur’s beer is now famous worldwide. Now brewed in 49 countries around the world, and served in 150, he has certainly made his mark. Surprisingly though, the largest annual consumption of Guinness is not in Ireland, but in Nigeria (hard to believe I know!).

See the source image

The perfect pint

Establishing whether or not you have been poured a cracking pint or a mediocre one is a procedure that I have been using for a few years and it all starts with the wobble test. A little shake of a fresh pint being ever so careful not to spill any – that can let on if its a watery one! Obviously the creamier the head is, the less chance of a spill there is. This step is then followed by observing the head, if its been poured correctly you should have a lovely thick and creamy finish, however if your bar man was in a rush you may have been served a pint of black watery muck with suds on top.

Where to get the perfect pint in Belfast

In my experience I have come to know that any bars that seem crowded or particularly busy will not serve a perfect pint of Guinness, however that is a broad statement and some establishments make the cut! It is often the smaller pubs that tend to be filled with old men watching the horses that do the best pints, these are the guys with the knowledge and expertise, these are the real Guinness Connoisseurs!

However, I am only a cub at 22 years of age I don’t especially like to go to the local pub on a Saturday night and would much rather be surrounded by folk my own age that equally enjoy a pint of plain, therefore I have chosen my two favourite venues that can accommodate a girl my age whilst also serving me a cracking pint.

The Duke of York: The best pint you’ll ever taste. The bar men know their stuff in this place, they don’t rush the art of pouring. Better yet (better yet) they freeze their pint glasses which I think is a beautiful touch and the reason I keep going back!

Five Points: The atmosphere in this place is second to none, the pints never fail me and are always so refreshing and consistent – not one watery one served in here!

Celine Russell is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn –  https://www.linkedin.com/in/celine-russell-849ba4171/ ; Twitter –  https://twitter.com/celine_russ; Facebook –  https://www.facebook.com/celine.russell.7

 

The good, the bad and the ugly of student life.

From the moment I decided that I wanted to go to university in 6th year, I suppose you could say it was all I could think about. The independence, partying and of course the student loan. Coming to the end of my uni experience I decided now is the perfect time to reminisce on the good memories and of course the bad… I suppose those preparing for University and those that have just started are wondering what the downside of this life could possibly be. In my experience, I did only have good memories of student life minus the landlords I have encountered with over the past three years.

From the moment you first get that student loan into your bank you feel like you’re the richest person on this planet, until its 4 months down the line and you’re ringing your bank begging for an overdraft. If I was to give one piece of advice when it comes to your loan, it would be pay your rent up front and then you won’t feel as half as rich anymore. However, in saying that I don’t think I ever learnt from my own mistakes, so don’t feel bad if you’re only a month into your loan and you have half of it spent already.

When it comes it choosing the house that you’re going to live in for most of the year, do it wisely. My experience when it comes to student houses hasn’t been great, from the ceiling near caving in in my first-year house to my bedroom ceiling actually caving in in my second-year house. The luxury house that we viewed at the start turned into a living nightmare was the only way to sum up this house. We thought it was the best house within the holylands until we had realised a month in and we were living in an Ikea showroom and not a real house.

From the moment it had click with us that this house only looked nice but didn’t perform like the way you expect a house to, that’s whenever it went downhill for us. When you realise the house that you’re meant to live in is the worst place in the world, what else do you think of doing as a student apart from using it as a house for drinking. The house slowly dwindled in condition which eventually when it came to May time we couldn’t even bare the smell of the amount of drink that had been split over our living room. In fact, the living room was a complete and utter eyesore.

However, another reason for turning what was meant to be our home into an eyesore was the landlord. The experience that we had with our landlord was the worst encounter you would ever wish to have. Our house was falling apart, and they wouldn’t answer the phone to us, the only ever contact we would have with them was whenever it was the first of the month and they were looking their £250. There was actually one time whenever they eventually came to fix a leak that we had for about a month and the ‘builders’ were throwing bricks off our roof and we were told “do not go out your back or you will die”. I’m not too sure but I don’t think it was in anyway safe or legal what they were doing. Anyone we had told about our landlord, knew of him and knew what he was like, so if you ever go to rent a house in the holylands, I would advise you to use a legal property agent.

In saying all this, I can’t recommend student life enough so enjoy it while you can but just don’t pick the worst house and landlord in the holylands.

Kacie O’Connor is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @kacieoconnor