Celebrities, social opinion, and the political sphere.

Celebrities, social opinion, and the political sphere.

For added support, just chuck a ‘Rock’ at it.

Years ago, before the introduction of social media, we all relied on the information provided to us by media outlets like television, tabloid, newspapers, radio and the like to help us understand the world and form our opinions. In the present day, the reliance on these regulated forms of media may still be important in the formation of public opinion, particularly with the older generations, however it appears that social media has introduced an immediate two-way conversation between celebrities and their fans that never existed until recently; a type of democratisation of a fan club in real-time.

Celebrities crossing over from their usual world of popularity into the political sphere to use their huge fan-base to help influence the outcome of an upcoming election or even to simply make a political statement, is not uncommon.

Marlon Brando in 1973, was nominated for Best Actor for his performance in The Godfather. In his stead, he sent Native American activist Sacheen Littlefeather. In protest against the long-standing failure for the USA to honour the treaties it had made with Native American nations and as a proclamation against the stereotypical portrayal of Native Americans in TV and film, she refused the award on Marlon’s behalf. Before this, politics had been pretty much left out of the Oscars, and worryingly for The Academy, on the night, Sacheen’s words were met with a mixture of booing and applause.

This show of ‘political shenanigans’ prompted the Academy, who were fearing a PR disaster, to ban any future award recipients from sending proxies on their behalf. There have been many other occasions where outside politics have taken centre stage at the Oscars. Who can forget Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon in 1993, and the fine performance of Michael Moore in 2003. Yes, not exactly politics as such, but certainly showing how one human can have a strong influence on matters.

Meanwhile in politics

In 1966, an actor who starred in such films as ‘The Bad Man’ called Ronald Regan was elected Governor of California and later became the President of the United States. Moving through the years, in 2008, Oprah Winfrey and George Clooney openly and loudly endorsed Barack Obama’s presidential campaign; as of yet, neither of them have opted run for President, but who knows? During the same campaign, American musician Hank Williams Jr chose to write a song, endorsing Senator John McCain’s campaign.

Chucking A ‘Rock’ At The Election

Recently, on Sunday, Sept. 27 2020, The Rock, a man who certainly knows how to spin his own PR, decided to post a video on Instagram that was far different from anything he had posted before. In his own words, “it expressed a message near and dear to my heart”. He wanted his followers “to vote blue in the 2020 election”. So with an audience of 190 million, he officially endorsed former VP Joe Biden and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris.  

His caption read “As a political independent and centrist for many years, I’ve voted for Democrats in the past and as well as Republican. In this critical election, I believe Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the best to lead our country, and as my first ever (public) Presidential endorsement, I proudly endorse them for the presidential office of our United States.” At the time of the post, The Rock had 198 million followers on Instagram, and with him rumoured to earn up to $1 million per sponsored Instagram post, he has a lot sway in the world of social media.

“it expressed a message near and dear to my heart”

Prior to this post, when The Rock posted content, his millions of adoring fans would applaud him with nothing but kind words and platitudes, however this post changed everything.

A Rolling Rock Obviously Gathers No Moss

Many Trump fans took to his account to leave their comments of dislike, and to praise their man-child of a President. Did it harm his account?

Actually no. It has grown even more, to well over 200 million. So exactly how can we define that success? In votes? In followers? Just how influential was his message in shaping the political landscape? It is near impossible to measure. It’s not like there are statisticians standing outside each polling station waiting to ask every voter questions like “which celebrity influenced your vote”?

Public attitudes.

A recent study by the YouGov-Cambridge Centre concluded that only 14% of British voters think social media is good for society.

In the same study it shows clearly that many voters actually doubt the internet has been positive for political campaigning.

According to another recent study, the USA public attitudes toward political engagement on social media are equally as eye-opening. 42% get involved online with social or political issues that are important to them, while 37% feel that social media offers a place to express their political opinions.

I am not writing this with the suggestion that celebrities should be left out of all political discourse, however I do feel that in a world where celebrities with huge social media reach are role models and supposed policy experts, there is no limit to just much they can influence the shaping of public opinion; particularly with Generation Z.

What about the older citizens? Could older generations start using social media as an online activism tool?  Professor Jen Shradie suggests “Online activism was supposed to be a utopian dream. Rather than rely on big institutions, everyone’s voices were supposed to be heard,” she says. She goes on to suggest that online activism tends to attract the younger generations to engage, not to mention the better educated; and those with the technology and communication skills do tend to get their point across to win online arguments. After all, older generations obviously hold opinions, but many of these may not be getting captured online.

It’s voting time

So, could politically uneducated, yet powerfully influential PR astute celebrities like The Rock be seen as being a potentially dangerous combination in the overall process of forming social opinion within the political sphere? Perhaps, this is a conversation we should be engaging in more often.

Gary Gates is a final year BSc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on: LinkedIn – Gary Gates

The Power of PR in Pop Culture

Public Relations surrounds me in my life and, whether I like it or not, influences me.
Pity it only took me three years into a degree to fully understand how much of an impact it has.EO3
The undeniable Queens of publicity stunts- the Kardashians- influence what half the teenage girls in the world are probably buying. We have an image in our heads of who they are and we feel like we personally know them due to the fact that they have spent years creating and building upon it. They have such a strong public image and following that now when they buy a product and show us it on their social media, we believe it’s the best of the best. So why will we so easily believe that Kim K’s new skin brand is all we need to make our life better but still ignore centuries of advice from the more experienced skin specialists. Do people only believe what they want to believe?
There have been some obvious Public Relations horror stories documented over the years in the music industry but the big question is where any of these people or their brand seriously affected or are perceptions of big celebrities and public image something as trivial as gossip and rumors? Here are three major examples of when the person behind the story was too popular to be brought down.

Kanye west

Kanye West has NEVER been one to shy away from speaking his mind and giving his opinion on subjects, even if he is not asked to. The American singer, songwriter, producer, entrepreneur and fashion designer has had his fair share of publicity blunders and bad reactions from fans. Although he is the rap worlds equivalent to Marmite and despised by so many the big questions is,
Does Kanye even care?
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Back in 2009 Kanye west made his first widely controversial debut by interrupting Taylor Swifts speech to accept her MTV award to tell the audience Beyoncé should have won instead…. Ouch. Although this resulted in some huge backlash from the general public and from other celebrities who were at the MTV awards that night it did not affect Kanye’s own sales of his album at the time. So yes, everyone thought what Kanye did was horrible, but they still will listen to and buy his music? For someone with Kanye’s ego, does this really affect him in any way? Probably not due to the fact that it gave him nothing but attention. This started a spiral of PR blunders from Mr. West who has been recorded stating president Bush doesn’t care about black people, that he is in full support of Donald Trump and that he wants to run for President himself. Kanye again came under backlash in the mid 2000’s when he defended Chris Brown for beating his girlfriend. Endless Twitter feuds with celebrities and public figures mean Kanye is never out of the tabloid headlines especially since he is married to Queen Kim K. Dr Phil even went as far as to diagnose him with mental health problems on Television. Despite all of this Kanye will still sell out every tour date he release, lives in a mansion with his multi-millionaire wife and continues to be a successful business man. So is Kanye invincible because no matter what PR disaster comes his way he survives and becomes more successful, or has Kanye created the best image for himself to do whatever he wants and not have to deal with as much back lash because that’s just what people expect of him now. Is he a mad man who doesn’t care or a genius marketing expert who has always known exactly what he is doing?

Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson was a chart-topping success both as a child with the Jackson five and as a solo artist, so it is easy to see why die-hard fans refuse to see him as anything other than the king of Pop. MJ’s whole life was filled with controversy and publicity blunders but due to the fact he has a following of devoted fans who had watched him grow up he was immune to the bad press. Who else in the world can turn into a different race and carry on as if nothing ever happened? Who else is the world can change their nose, skin and entire face but still receive nothing but love and encouragement from fans who continued to buy all his merchandise and defend him to the death that this was a skin condition and Michael had nothing to do with it.? Nobody else I can think of off the top of my head has got away with such extreme dramatic changes with such ease. Growing up I heard whispered rumors of MJ being involved with young boys but it seemed to be something nobody wanted to speak of until the recent documentary that came out in 2019 called ‘Leaving Neverland.’ This movie on Netflix is the testimony of how two boys were groomed in MJ’s mansion by the man himself. If you heard these types of allegations about your neighbor or relative you would be shocked and appalled and not stop until the truth is uncovered however MJ’s team merely brushed the documentary under the carpet as ‘Fake News’. The movie was met with hostile incredulity from Michaels die hard fans who said the boys were lying for compensation. With such a disputed take on events and many different people’s opinions coming out since his death it still doesn’t change anything and it does not take away his ‘King of Pop’ title. This makes me ask myself, what will?
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R. Kelly
Surviving R. Kelly is a 2019 documentary on Netflix that presents substantial evidence that R. Kelly was having sexual relationships with underage girls. Key witnesses, ex-wives, lawyers, friends and even his brother came forward in the movie to speak about the years and years of horror R. Kelly inflicted on the women in his life. The most shocking part of the documentary was that although the evidence was there this was still seen as a conflicting situation in people’s eyes as they did not want to give up the music and the artist they held so dear in their lives. The evidence against him was so over whelming yet his public image was so strong that R Kelly appeared to be invincible. Every time a story came out or a young girls parents tried to alert the public R Kelly would release another banger that distracted the media and not once during his years of torture and negative headlines did his record sales drop once. That is of course until recently when radio stations across America have refused to play his songs because of the Surviving R Kelly movement. All he had to do was simply re-brand himself and his loyal following would accept everything he said. He changed his image from the Pied-Piper of RnB who sings songs like ‘bump n Grind’ to a spiritual black man singing gospel songs such as I Believe I can Fly.

So, although headlines and stories could be irritating to these celebrities does it actually have any sort of overall effect of their careers or is it just an inconvenience to them?

Emer O’Neill is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram – emeroneill29 ; and Facebook Emer O’Neill

Feuds: Easy Press or PR Nightmare?

We all love a good argument. The drama, the intrigue, taking sides; it’s all fascinating. But, when there is a public feud between celebrities all of these aspects are multiplied. We love to know EVERY SINGLE DETAIL about who said what, who did they say it to, who was actually involved. It’s sometimes even more interesting to see who gets themselves involved. But, do these feuds provide easy press coverage for both parties? Do they prove to be beneficial for both sides? And what happens when your dirty laundry is aired all over the internet for everyone to see?

Now celebrity feuds are nothing new and the Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy is just the tip of the iceberg. 

Feuds have been happening in the celebrity world for as long as anyone can remember, the feud between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford which began in 1935 was so iconic it has since had its own dedicated series documenting the events. Since the likes of Twitter and Instagram were obviously not around in 1935 the two were creative in how they played out their feud in the press. Without their own personal outlets to voice their opinions, the feud centered around statement given by the two in newspapers, something we could not imagine today with the rise of social media. At the peak of their feud when Bette Davis was married to the CEO of Pepsi, Joan had a Coca Cola machine in her dressing room, probably the sassiest thing to happen in 1935. Joan however did not fare as well out of the feud as what Bette Davis did, her action got her branded as petty and cruel. It also destroyed her friendship with Bette as it was assumed that Joan, as Bettes friend knew of her attraction to the man in question.

Over the years, since the scandal of 1935, celebrity feuds have been played out quite differently than the tactics of Bette and Joan. On the whole they are still fuelled by statements given by the opposing parties, but they are mainly focussed on Twitter and Instagram. 

The Kanye West and Taylor Swift feud started on live TV, who could forget that acceptance speech for best album. From then the feud escalated. Kanye did apologise, but took the apology back and added more fuel to the fire by using Taylor’s name in his song famous. Kanye was very vocal across social media, something his PR team must have been absolutely thrilled about. But that didn’t stop the world being fascinated by the argument. With Team Kanyes and Team Taylors firmly established the feud became interactive on twitter with the world voicing their opinions in the matter. With 10 years passed since the feud was ignited, will these two put their differences aside and finally make up? Or will they make for more celeb news in the future? The exposure for both sides could really be considered as invaluable.

Celebrity feuds bring a reality to the saying ‘there’s no such thing as bad press?’. No topic is left untouched when it comes to a feud no matter how personal. Feuds can bring celebs to the forefront of the media even when they are considered to be minor on the celeb scene. 

No feud is more prevalent in this than the emotional feud that erupted between Khloé Kardashian and Jordyn Woods at the beginning of last year. With Jordyn being accused of using her friendship with the entire Kardashian family to boost her own career, she was slated for admitting to kissing Khloés baby daddy Tristan Thomas. Jordyn did not come out of this feud unscathed however. Khloé very publicly accused her of a user, and a liar. She was also cut off from the whole Kardashian family. Jordyn also lost a huge following on her social media accounts as a result of the allegations, despite her attempt to make amends with the Kardashian tribe by doing a media interview. Khloé however, did not receive the same backlash for her actions, which she received some hate for her tweets she did not receive the same amount of hate as what Jordyn did and was relatively praised for how she handled the entire situation. But, are we surprised that this feud started days before Khloé stepped out at a launch event for PrettyLittleThing?

On the other hand to personal feuds which start in the public eye, there are some feuds which could be settled behind closed doors. The now infamous instagram post from Coleen Rooney exposing Rebekah Vardy could easily have been settled in a text message, however Coleen decided to expose the mole in Rebekahs staff to the whole of Instagram and Twitter. Neither Coleen or Rebekah are known for much more than being married to footballers, so this has massively boosted both parties images. Coleen has, of course, come out the better of the two in this case. 

The media coverage of celebrity feuds has become a focal point of our daily entertainment news feeds. It seems nowadays that celebs are not worried if the press they are getting is bad press as long as they are being considered a talking point in the daily trending pages of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. All of this press equates into searches, views and likes for the participants involved.

So, is involving yourself in a feud with someone more famous than you really worth the hassle for a little bit of press?

Niamh Magee is a second year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at Twitter: niamhmagee_ and Instagram: neevmagee

My Top Favourite Campaigns!

Ever since I started to study PR and started to understand the effort that goes into creating a PR and marketing campaign, I have gained an appreciation for a campaign that can make me stop and think!

For me, the campaigns I remember the most are those were companies use their platforms to highlight the social issues happening all around the world to gain consumers attention to the social issues as well as the product they are promoting.  These campaigns are always very controversial and inspiring, social media however allows everyone to post their opinions and views without focusing on the issues being promoted. Campaigns are becoming increasing more difficult to promote as consumers are always finding ways to avoid watching or listening to ads, which requires companies to work harder than ever to gain our attention.

Here are a few of my favourite Campaigns that focus on social issues:

Nike

“Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

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Like many, I didn’t really understand the sacrifice that Kaepernick made when taking a knee during an NFL game, it wasn’t until I seen the Nike campaign that I actually researched what it all actually meant. Nike took a stance on a social issue for their 30th anniversary campaign, the campaign featured former San Francisco 49ers quarterback. Kaepernick took a knee during a pregame playing of the American national anthem in 2016 to protest racial injustice America, as a result of this he has not been signed by another team. This caused outrage among many people including President Trump who attacked the advert ‘’I think it’s a terrible message that [Nike] are sending and the purpose of them doing it.’’

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Many went as far as to burn or cut the Nike logo off their products in solidarity with their country, many felt it was unpatriotic and incited rage among consumers.. However, the campaign actually increased Nikes stocks by 5%.

Following this controversial campaign, Nike also launched a campaign featuring women in sports.

 

‘Dream Crazier’

Nike also released a campaign focusing on ‘crazy’ women in sport. This campaign worked to redefine what it means to be a ‘crazy’ woman and remove the negative connection of the word. It focuses on female athletes who have worked to break down barriers, to inspire the next generation of female athletes.

It features tennis champion Serena Williams who speaks throughout the campaign as she has personal experience of being called over emotional. She was questioned by both the media and social media when she returned to the sport after giving birth to her daughter.  Throughout history women have always been seen to be inferior to men within sport, to this day these negative stereotypes still apply.

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I have always appreciated Nike’s ability to tackle the most controversial issues without worrying how it will affect their brand but focusing more on bringing attention to issues that they support. Nike founder Phil Knight, said “It doesn’t matter how many people hate your brand as long as enough people love it.”

Jigsaw

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Jigsaw is a luxury British Fashion clothing and accessories retailer, that took a stand on immigration with their ‘Heart Immigration’ manifesto which challenged the idea that  anything or anyone 100% British.

NM24This comes at a time when no one knows what is in store for us in regard to Brexit and what this means for immigration. It focuses on the idea that is nothing is ever completely British, it is a little of this and a little of that. This was done exceptionally well by working aside ancestry UK to show how diverse fashion is as ‘British style is not 100% British. In fact, it’s just as diverse as we are’. It received a lot of support from social media as well as critiques who felt that it is not the brands place to speak on such a controversial issue.

Are we ever just one thing, if you look within your family or friend group are they a mixture of different nationalities or all one? I don’t believe any of us are just one. By using none traditional ways of promoting there brand they made me click into their campaign and look at the clothes in a more in-depth way than I would a brand who just use the same pretty pictures with pretty clothes as everyone else.

Gillette

It is  impossible to not know what the ‘me too’ movement is unless you have been living under a rock for the last few years. Gillette is just one of many brands who had to change their stance. They changed their tagline from ”The best a man can get”, replacing it with ”The best men can be”.

As a well-known men’s brand, Gillette challenged sexism, the dangers of toxic masculinity and the importance of setting a good example for boys. Throughout the ad, it shows examples of cyber bullying, sexual harassment and mansplaining. The advert also highlights the proliferation of the phrase “boys will be boys” as a means of excusing harmful or violent behaviour exhibited by young boys.

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This ad has been praised as being ‘pro humanity’ as opposed to ‘anti-male’. Actor Terry Crews supported the campaign ‘I was told over and over that this was not abuse. That this was just a joke. That this was just horseplay. But I can say that one man’s horseplay is another man’s humiliation.”

Throughout the ad, there was many examples of ways for men to improve the negative stereotype surrounding them following such a huge #metoo movement, I felt it was a very well thought out campaign that used the timing of the #metoo movement to their advantage. This is only one step they have take to actively challenge the stereotypes and expectations of what it means to be a man. As a company they have promised to donate $1m a year for three years to non-profit organisations with programs “designed to inspire, educate and help men of all ages achieve their personal “best” and become role models for the next generation”.

Piers Morgan tweeted ‘I’ve used Gillette razors my entire adult life but this is absurd virtue-signalling PC guff may drive me away’. Does he really think anyone cares about his opinion?

Project 84: Calm

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Did you know that 84 men every week commit suicide? It is one of the leading causes of death among men in the UK. CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) started a conversation about male suicide On World Mental Health Day, by creating 84 sculptures standing on top of This morning Studios in London.

NM20On the projects websites there are names and details of each of the men, who stories were told by those close to them. It shows that no matter where you’re from, what age or race you too can struggle. This campaign was implemented to put pressure on the government to make a change, this was achieved by the first UK suicide prevention minister being appointed. This campaign raised awareness for a every growing issue within the UK with  powerful message in a dignified way.

 

I can’t wait to see what campaigns are coming in 2020, as I embark on a carer in PR myself.

Niamh McNally is a final year BSc Communications Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @NiamhMc_Nally 

 

Odd One Out

As with any university student, the thought of picking a dissertation topic that you will put blood, sweat and most definitely tears in is a daunting prospect. I know I wanted to pick a topic that firstly I found interesting and secondly one that is a current issue in today’s society. With much thought, I decided to research the effects that social media has on our self- esteem and body image.

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One of my main inspirations for researching this topic was through watching a BBC Three documentary, called ‘Jesy Nelson; ‘Odd One Out.’’ We all remember Jesy as being on the X Factor in 2011, one of the four members of the girl group Little Mix. As a 12-year-old girl, I was in awe of Little Mix, an all-girl group filled with ‘ordinary’ happy go lucky girls, who had just won one of the biggest TV shows in the UK. Being thrown into fame and fortune and not being able to walk down the street without everyone knowing you, is probably a dream for many. However, for Jesy Nelson she quickly wished she had never entered and desperately longed for the life she once had.

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Watching the documentary was genuinely heartbreaking; seeing someone in the spot light who seems to have everything you could possibly want in life so depressed and dispirited. It is completely beyond my comprehension as to why anyone can fulfil pleasure through being an online troll and bringing others down for their own satisfaction. These trolls hide behind keyboards and don’t take a second to think about the impact their words have on the individual. The tweets circling about Jesy were truly repulsive: ‘The fat ugly one.’….. ‘Go kill yourself.’…… ‘Wide load coming through.’…. ‘4 members 5 chins.’ …. ‘Saggy, baggy, rough and don’t get me started on her face.’

 Controversial Katie Hopkins added further unnecessary fuel to the fire tweeting: ‘Packet mix have still got a chubber in their ranks. Less Little Mix more pick n mix.’ Jesy gave an authentic, distressing account to the consequence of the sheer level of hatred she was receiving, as she began starving herself which led to her attempting to take her own life in 2013. We are all guilty of putting celebrities on this unrealistic pedestal, I know I do!  Celebrities tend to have a god like status with a human face, however this documentary highlighted just how ‘human’ celebrities are, with the same emotions any sane person would have in this situation.

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Jesy Nelson’s documentary aired on 12thSeptember 2019, breaking the BBC Three record with 3.3 million views, 64% of which were 16-34 year olds. The film tackles mental health issues and appears to have made a real difference to those going through similar experiences. One fan tweeted: ‘The #OddOneOut Jesy Nelson documentary is one of the saddest and scary things I have ever watched. This needs to be shown everywhere to teach people the devastating effects their words and comments have. Be kind. Always.’  Another fan tweeted: ‘My favourite from day one. The girl I saw so much of myself in. Please know that not everything you see on social media is what it seems. We are all human beings.’ The amount of support Jesy has received following the release of the film has been staggering.

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I really do recommend everyone to watch this documentary, I have a lot of admiration for Jesy Nelson, in being so brave and for sharing such a deeply personal and inspiring message.  The influence that mass media has on self-esteem and body image, can be devastating. This particular case showed just how impactful vile comments can be, leading to body dissatisfaction and other health concerns including; eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression. We all come in different shapes and sizes and shouldn’t let the opinions of others bring us down. I know that this film has empowered women from all over Britain and here in Ireland to embrace the body they’ve been given and not to let petty comments from petty people affect you.

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If I haven’t bored you and you’ve got this far please if you can take one thing from this blog post; be nice to people, no matter WHO they are, everyone’s fighting a battle others know nothing about. Now on that note off I go to start this dissertation.

 

Hannah Colgan 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/hannah-colgan-b65179166/ and Instagram – @Hannahcolgan890

 

Caitlyn Jenner, “The Jungle” & The Transgender Community

It is safe to say that the Kardashian/Jenner family are among the most famous people in the world and pretty much everyone from the age of 12-35 knows who they are. So, it’s come as quite a shock to the UK public that one of Kylie and Kendall Jenner’s parents is taking on the Australian Jungle in ITV show – “I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here”.

Caitlyn Jenner (birth given name Bruce) is a transgender woman, Olympic gold medallist and American reality TV star. Caitlyn came out to the world as a transgender woman in April 2015 in an interview with American TV journalist Diane Sawyer. A cover shoot with fashion and popular culture publication ‘Vanity Fair’ followed in June (this can be seen below). Caitlyn’s tweet revealing the cover shoot was announced as the 10th most retweeted tweet of 2015.She has a reported net worth of $100 million (£74 million) and holds the Guinness World Record for the fastest person to gain 1 million followers on Twitter.

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Known for its brutal bushtucker trials that have celebrities eating animal genitalia amongst other gruesomeness; “I’m a Celebrity” is not an environment one would imagine a member of the Kardashian empire immersing themselves into.

So it poses the question why? Why is someone with Jenner’s wealth and fame taking on not only everything the ITV producers will throw at her in terms of bushtucker trials; but also, the notoriously critical UK public? It’s a question many people have tried to answer since the announcement that she was heading for “the jungle” but at this stage it’s all just speculation.

My guess is that she wants to reinvent herself after a lot of bad press over the last few years. You may argue that she’s not from the UK so she should try this so-called reinvention in the US, but the last series launch episode of “I’m a Celebrity” garnered over 14 million viewers. Only 4 more US series garnered more viewers last year – NFL Sunday Night Football, The Big Bang Theory, NCIS and Game of Thrones. With those viewing figures and the added benefit of social media publicity, the life of Caitlyn Jenner in “the jungle” is surely about to become a viral sensation around the globe.

After it was announced that Jenner was going to be a part of “I’m a Celebrity” this year, I like the true millennial I am delved headfirst into the chaotic social media uproar that occurred. The content that I saw on this social media sleuthing was horrific. The amount of transphobic and downright shameful language that people all over the internet were using in relation to Caitlyn Jenner, was truly shocking. I didn’t expect in 2019 for there to be so much hate directed towards a transgender person. Below are two examples of transphobic rhetoric being used on Twitter.

 

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One of the most surprising things to me was that all this hate was not coming from the typical people you would expect. The usual Twitter trolls and Instagram haters that we have come to expect this type of behaviour off were of course contributing to the chaos, but they were not the only source. I saw countless social media accounts with pride flags and empowering ‘bio’ messages slander Caitlyn Jenner and ‘like’ and ‘retweet’ posts making fun of her gender reassignment surgery and her life as Bruce. It was truly disheartening.

I completely understand the backlash that Caitlyn Jenner has received over the past few years, through publicly supporting Donald Trump and Ted Cruz she has rightfully disillusioned herself from the LGBTQ+ community. However, that is a judgement of her character and it should not encourage people to attack her as a trans person. If someone has a negative opinion of Caitlyn Jenner it should be about her as a person, not her transgender identity. A twitter user touches on this point, as seen below.

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The sad fact about this is that with Caitlyn Jenner entering “the jungle” she is opening herself up to the ridicule, slander and transphobia that will no doubt become a main stay on social media in the next three weeks. However it’s not only her that is affected, whilst she will be oblivious to the happenings of the outside world – the transgender members of the public will have to deal with it.

I have seen a lot of tweets detailing peoples’ concern about Caitlyn Jenner being a representative of sorts for the transgender community within the UK – one can be seen below. Bringing Caitlyn Jenner onto over 14 million screens around the UK will start conversations within households that a lot of young transgender people may not be ready to face. With the amount of transphobia present on social media right now when “I’m a Celebrity” hasn’t even started yet, it is a frightening prospect to think about what transgender people of all ages will have to see online as the show progresses.

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One Twitter user shares their interest in finding out how transphobic the UK public really are now that Caitlyn Jenner will be center stage for everyone to ridicule. Don’t get me wrong I personally don’t agree with many of Caitlyn Jenners’ choice in the past and I do not think she is a good representative for the transgender community, but as I stated earlier if you really feel the need to attack her, do just that don’t attack her identity.GD26

So over the next three weeks that “I’m a Celebrity” is viewable over every possible screen in the country – I want to encourage people not to enable transphobia. By liking a tweet or facebook post, you are supporting hatred that can cause detrimental effects to a whole community of people. By laughing at someone misgendering Caitlyn Jenner or making fun of her appearance remember that there is a whole community of people out there that this affects – Stonewall.org reports the damning fact that 89 percent of young trans people have contemplated suicide. Remember that somewhere in the UK a young transgender person is reading tweets and hearing comments in school that invalidates who they are; just remember that one word directed at one person can affect millions across the world.

 

Gareth Donnelly is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on LinkedIn at http://linkedin.com/in/gareth-donnelly-1a6161196 , Twitter – @GarethDonnelly4 and Instagram – @garethd__

 

 

How ITV’s Love Island led ‘I Saw It First’ to become an e-commerce success

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As cliché as it sounds, watching Love Island is everyone’s guilty pleasure. It was only in the series past that I decided to give in and watch the show and I could now understand why my friends were all so engrossed and didn’t want our evening plans to surpass 9pm. For 8 weeks it was the hottest discussions in social outings, work, the gym and even my mummy tried keeping up to date with the latest goss about the islanders so she could be in the know. Whilst watching these rising celebrities to be and their relationship drama unfold did you ever wonder how and where they got the look? Last year, it was reported that the shows fashion sponsor Missguided achieved an increase in sales of 40% when the show aired. Was it possible for I Saw It First to match or exceed this achievement as they signed an exclusive partnership for series 5 of the show?

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I Saw It First, who were relatively unknown before sponsoring ITV’s Love Island are a fast-fashion brand who provide for the glamorous, fashion obsessed female. Keeping up with the latest trends they never fail to end the ‘I’ve got nothing to wear!’ dilemma and all at an affordable price. Only having been on the market since 2017, I Saw It First have been on one hell of a journey. From obtaining an innovative sponsorship with the lavish Ocean Beach Ibiza to collaborations with Cindy Kimberly, Lolo Wood and Stassie (yeah, just google them) they have managed to put themselves on the fashion map.

The majority of Love Island viewers come from millennials and Gen Z; two of the biggest generations who are the true digital natives. It comes with no shock that social media was going to manifest the experience of the show as viewer’s more than likely sit with their smartphone in hand refreshing Twitter for the latest on what others had to say, like really do we ever put them down anyway? The clothing company used this as part of their strategy to help with the increase of sales. Before the show, islanders were given a nice little allowance to choose any clothes from the summer collection to wear on-screen. Not only did this create a closer relationship between the brand and islanders, perhaps allowing for them to work together in the long run but it also provided organic content to be uploaded rather than the traditional sponsored posts, conveying good old brand personality.

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Wanting to avoid anything Love Island related? Then it was best to avoid Twitter itself if you could. Swamped with memes, spoilers and outfit highlights it was the number one app to keep updated on the goss from the villa. When the first episode of series 5 aired, reports show there were over 400,000 tweets mentioning Love Island. This was I Saw It First’s time to shine as they cleverly included the Love Island hashtag in their tweets to take advantage of the incredible reach. I mean, why wouldn’t you?

The e-tailer also created a hashtag on Twitter; #ISawIsland so users could easily search for those savvy neon dresses and funky bikinis, providing a link straight to the item so it could be purchased there and then. In addition to this, they created a Love Island hub on their website with profiles of each female islander and individual story highlights of each female on Instagram with a swipe-up link so you didn’t have to go through endless pages of clothes, very convenient. They also integrated their product placement onto the show’s click-to-buy app. When using the app to vote, users were surrounded with advertisements that provided a direct link to any of the items featured, giving viewers an easy way to find and shop the outfits seen on screen whilst allowing them to build an association of the two brands. Talk about dedication! Or just really wanting to up those sales.

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I Saw It First really do have their finger on the pulse of the fashion industry. Landing this opportunity with a show that has 6 million viewers tells us that the traditional methods of marketing makes for powerful advertising formula, using reality TV as a vehicle for influencer marketing. As a result of collaborating with the show it led them to an increase of 67% in sales month on month. They continue to be consistent with their methods throughout all their social channels and ensure their content is fresh and engaging, having gained 905k followers which comes with a fantastic opportunity to access their target market even more. The partnership focuses on an audience that have the talent of scrolling miles on their phone and watching the show at the same time.

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With social commerce on the rise, rather than consumers making direct purchases through retailer websites, they’re discovering products on social platforms and perusing their purchases there, a drive to be the new online marketplace. I Saw It First’s Love Island hub, their Instagram profile and the Love Island app provide endless opportunities to do so, a marketing masterpiece.

Fionnuala Hegarty is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on: Twitter – @fionnualaheg,  LinkedIn – Fionnuala Hegarty, and Instagram – fionnualahegarty

 

Fortnite- Online Game or Marketing Machine?

Anyone part of the online gaming world (or anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for the last two years) will know in simple terms what Fortnite is. The word itself conjures up images of poorly animated cartoonish characters wielding over the top weapons and wearing far too many clashing colours. Ringing any bells?

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Last Tuesday night, a meteor hit the imaginary island and catapulted users into a black hole of nothingness for 48hours straight. Twitter went commando with a bare page cleared from all tweets and Instagram followed a similar theme. Players were left with nothing for two days. No game, no explanation, no light at the end of tunnel. And of course, the coverage followed.

The whole affair was exciting, and something never done before by Publisher Epic Games, but going off the map certainly isn’t a new PR tactic. 2016 seen Kendall Jenner delete her Instagram for a small window of time and Taylor Swift went down a similar road by unfollowing everyone and deleting all her posts to create a cloud of mystery in lieu of her upcoming album release. So what made Fortnite’s brief hiatus so special? Their stunt last week got me thinking, what makes Fortnite a standout brand without following the usual pattern of declination after a games initial peak period?

 

Everyone’s Welcome

One of the reasons Fortnite really made it to the big leagues is owing to the fact that the game was released on multiple platforms and all versions were playable to eachother, a big deal in the gaming universe. This meant that someone gaming on PC could team up with their friends on Xbox and play together, creating a much more widespread gaming experience that easily went viral. Accessibility was key to Fortnite’s success and means anyone with any gaming device is welcome to don a weird outfit and fight some strangers online with the virtual company of their friends.

 

They never stop upping their game

Fortnite was originally released without much pomp and circumstance in July 2017 and since then has regularly brought out new ‘skins’ (outfits for sale), modified their maps and changed the rules depending on when are when you are within the game. The map/set is constantly evolving in order to keep the users on their toes. Nobody is getting bored and the playerbase is growing in numbers as long as the game is alive and breathing. Two years later fans are still drooling for the constant Easter-eggs hidden within the maps.

 

Relevancy above all

Truth be told I had never even heard of Fortnite until Thanos was introduced as a limited time character. Game producers took advantage of the fact that Avengers: Infinity War was doing so well at the box office and used the information that the writers of the blockbuster were such big Fortnite fans to utilise the world’s biggest current villain as a prop in their game. Arguably, the dances done by the characters are more contagious than the games itself. Playgrounds around the world have been taken over by ‘flossing’ and ‘Electro Shuffles’ and videos of these weirdly difficult to master dance moves were constant hits online. Teacher and parents were annoyed and many schools throughout the world banned the dances. But in a world where coverage is deemed important- all press is good press. Right? The crossovers never end with regular appearances from whatever/whoever is relevant that week. These include Marshmello, The MCU, John Wick and Fifa and can come in the form of new skins, limited edition soundtracks or even a quick change in the map. The inclusion of hyped up happenings in the real world makes Fortnite a pro when in comes to effective brand promotion.

People love free stuff

Let’s be honest, we all want the goods and we want to pay a good price. Ideally nothing. As it stands Fortnite is free and has no upfront costs whatsoever meaning getting started is quick and easy. This means that the younger generation don’t have to beg for credit card details from unwilling parents and the game stands at an all time high in terms of accessibility. Now as always there is a catch. While playing, gamers can purchase virtual items via ‘V-Bucks,’ an online currency unique to the world of Fortnite and by doing so make their character more unique in style. This doesn’t necessarily give any advantage when playing but the more outrageous a character’s outfit, the more noticeable a player is, and to some gamers that means as much as winning.

 

Ga-Ga for Gaming

Not immune to this epic multiverse are celebrities. A-listers such as Finn Wolfhard, Joe Jonas and Drake can’t stay away it seems with the latter breaking a Twitch record for ‘Most viewers of all time,’ partly owing to the rapper advertising the stream on Twitter to his 36.9million followers. Even celebrities that aren’t interested are getting involved. Lady Gaga recently tweeted, ‘What’s Fortnight?’ racking up 200,000 retweets and 900,000 likes. Honestly who knows if any of these stars are #spon but even if there aren’t any pockets being lined, the celebrity involvement is definitely working.

 

Kate Lagan is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Twitter- @PredisposedtoPR and Instagram- @klagan19

WAGatha Christie

What we can learn from wags at war.

In case you’ve been living under a rock these past few days, I’m going to bring you up to speed in what has become a bigger debate than BREXIT!

Basically, Queen Bee wag Coleen Rooney took to social media to expose long-term (or should I say ex) friend and fellow wag Rebekah Vardy, for selling stories to the Sun newspaper. To cut a long story short, Rooney concocted an elaborate plan by creating ‘fake news’ stories and blocking everyone bar Vardy’s account to see if they would infiltrate into the media…low and behold, they did! See below tweet:

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In what can only be described as a plot like that of literary legend, Agatha Christie’s ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ (which has now coined what I believe to be the greatest pun of 2019) or an EastEnders’s ‘who dunnit???’, it has left the UK divided.

Rebecca Vardy, who is heavily pregnant (which will become relevant later on) has denied all accusations made against her. Once again, she took to social media to release a statement wishing that Coleen should have called her if she had these suspicions and discussed the matter privately.

This nicely leads on to the point I’m trying to make about privacy and the ‘exposing’ culture that has become a toxic cesspit in a modern era.

Whether we like it or not, social media is here to stay and has become a crux in many people’s day to day lives. Although I have tried (forced myself) to see the positives in using social media, the only advantages I could come up with are career related. For example, being proficient in social media platforms is now a highly desired skill on any CV and could ultimately lead to a career in digital marketing. However, wasn’t SOCIAL media invented as a tool to connect with people around the world, stay in contact with long-distance friends or relatives, develop friendships and connections?

Don’t get me wrong I’d be lying if I too didn’t take a leaf out of Coleen’s book and put my sleuthing skills to use (You have too don’t lie, ‘creeping’ counts). However, what concerns me is the increasing need to publicly expose people which in turn has greater knock on effects for everyone involved. Ultimately, I believe this story to be an example of why the novelty of social media has worn off and when it boils down to it a major contributor towards a failed friendship.

We should all now be aware that anything we put online is never fully private…we’ve sat through enough lectures to know this by now. Therefore, I believe we can learn from the sensationalism surrounding this story even if they are both high profile people (even if one is married to Wayne Rooney…) compared to myself or you.

SG2Rebekah Vardy left, Coleen Rooney right. Bottom left, me watching the drama unfold.

Although many people have taken to show their support for Coleen, it has also raised the question as to whether or not Rebekah should be as cruelly attacked by the public and tabloids given she is heavily pregnant. I’ve decided not to take sides, I’m merely a spectator using this purely as a form of escapism and for my love of memes. However, having said this I would not wish this upon anyone. The level of ‘trolling’ Rebekah has received I can not even begin to imagine.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that the SOCIAL element of social media is more or less non-existent in today’s society. In fact, according to RSPH’s (Royal Society for Public Health) 2017 report, ‘Social media and young people’s mental health and wellbeing’, concluded startling figures including:
• Rates of anxiety and depression in young people have risen 70% in the past 25 years.
• Cyber bullying is a growing problem with 7 in 10 young people saying they have experienced it.
• Around 70% of 18-24 years olds would consider having a cosmetic surgical procedure.

New legislations being rolled out to ‘reduce’ this e.g. Instagram ‘hiding’ the number of likes a celebrity receives or Facebook continually filtering negative content. However, I believe this to be of no use and instead we need to look at it in a smaller context. I know I’m never going to achieve 1m likes so what use is this legislation to me? Yes, we all have the option to block, report or unfriend someone in the hopes of removing any negativity or simply the old out of sight out of mind trick. But Coleen didn’t do that did she? Coleen didn’t make THAT phone call? So why should we?

I’ll tell you why, save yourself the drama!

SG3Rebekah Vardy’s twitter response.

Like my blog post this story will probably be old news. However, the implications of a story like this upon impressionable teenagers or simply copycats could be detrimental. I don’t want to end my blog all doomy and gloomy so let me challenge you this. Next time you use social media, think about why you’re using it, whether or not you’re actually being SOCIABLE and if someone’s bothering you whether or not it’s worth having a conversation or even a phone call…

Case closed.

SG4My favourite meme

Please let me know your thoughts on this. Do you agree? Who’s side are you taking?

You can find me at,

It’s……….Susan’s Greer’s account.

Joking.

Susan Greer is a final year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Twitter: https://twitter.com/SusanGr15481563
and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/susan-greer-527b79165/

Suite dreams are made of this

Public relations is a profound interest of mine and there are plentiful reasons why this area of expertise elevates me, particularly the communication aspect, as well as being exposed to so many interesting individuals. I am going to share my story with you, career choices and life experiences that have led me to believe that public relations is the ingredient that brings my ideas to a reality.

Anyway here’s my story (so far)…

The moment I realized that a career in public relations was for me was in 2014 when I took a year out from education; as I was unsure about which degree to pursue. I began working as a receptionist in the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa. The reason I decided to pursue a job as a hotel receptionist was with the intention of evolving my existing skill set and qualities as well as my interpersonal communication skills. With no prior experience in this field of work; I was dependent on landing the position solely on my interview and given the opportunity of expressing my ‘inner brand’. The interview was very formal and intimidating, however it was my time to shine and showcase what made me an eligible candidate for the position. The interviewers must have seen past my nerves as I was surprisingly successful and got offered a full-time position!

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The job opened me up to the public as I was the primary point of contact with the guests, meaning I was responsible for their first impressions as well as leaving the lasting impression as they departed from the hotel. At first the reception department was extremely daunting, It took me roughly three months to feel confident behind the desk, at this point my passion for public relations began to grow. I had soon become acquainted with the regular guests and catering to their needs became my second nature. I took pride in ensuring their stay was enjoyable and It wasn’t long before I started noticing my name frequently mentioned in trip advisor reviews, highlighting my ‘professionalism’ and being regarded as a ‘fantastic ambassador’ for the hotel. The recognition, gratitude and positive feedback was very fulfilling, and this was when I discovered that this was my major – representing companies whilst working alongside the stakeholders.

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Having proved my charisma, expressed my effective communication skills and established customer rapport in the business I decided it was time to enroll into university. I applied for my degree in ‘communication management and public relations’ whilst continuing to work for the organization. However, as my degree required me to move to Belfast, the company transferred me to their sister hotel – the world-famous Europa.

This environment was completely unknown to me as the hotel is twice the size of the Slieve Donard and I underestimated how demanding the job was and how busy I would be kept. This hotel is in such high demand and attracts numerous celebrities, who always must always be accommodated with VIP treatment. Over the 2 years I worked for the Europa I have checked in numerous celebrities including;  Van Morrison, Conor McGregor, Lee Evans, Jimmy Page and the entire cast of Game of Thrones. The public relations profession operates in a celebrity-driven world, and the very first celebrity I checked in whilst working in the Europa was Conor McGregor, and I can remember it like yesterday. I had only been working on the front desk for 2 weeks and can still remember the overwhelming, starstruck feeling that I got. I cant express it but every single guest that checked into the hotel, I had an overwhelming desire to go out of my way to make their stay great, whether it be a couple checking in for a little getaway for the weekend, simply upgrading their room and seeing the smiles on their faces made it worthwhile. Or having Game of Thrones stars phone down to the desk and request a wake up call at 4am to go filming, and ask to speak to me personally for knowing their room service order like the back of my hand. All these little things are what made my job wonderful.

 

Working in the Europa introduced me to so many amazing people and friends for life and even opened doors to new potential career opportunities. For example: One particular day I was checking out a lady and got chatting to her, she asked me an unexpected and extremely surprising question: “You have an amazing bone structure. Have you ever considered modelling?” I was evidently stunned by her question as I looked eagerly at my colleagues for an appropriate response to this bizarre enquiry. “No?” I replied as she handed me her business card shook my hand and invited me to attend an interview at her business ‘Alison Campbell Academy.’ I unknowingly just checked out the CEO of ‘ACA Models’ and had just been scouted as a model!

I was unsure how to feel about this proposition as the possibility of embarking on a career in modelling had never ever crossed my mind, but my colleagues were adamant that I attend the interview anyway, and I even managed to get signed onto their books. I have been placed onto various modelling jobs in which I have represented a specific brand for a certain advertising/catwalk events. Examples of brands that I have worked for include: Miss Northern Ireland, Danske Bank, Down Royal Race Course, Victoria Square and many more. It was very exciting to work as the spokesperson for established companies and represent their brand. I am frequently commended for my outgoing personality and charismatic nature working these jobs; I personally believe that my communication skills and devoted nature is what enabled my public relations abilities to blossom into a reality in the working front of an organization like this.

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Public relations is an ever-evolving industry that brings so much excitement and possibilities to the world. Public relations is deeply embedded into my personality. It is my lifestyle. Every given day is a new inspiration for me to undertake something new that will improve my professional and personal life. In the technologically advanced world we live in, there is an infinite variety of potential connections at our disposal. The  life experiences I have encountered have steered me to the realization that public relations is my bread and butter.

Thank you for reading,

© eline ®ussell

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 –  @celine_russ; Facebook –  https://www.facebook.com/celine.russell.7