Social Media or Social Suicide?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Conor McGregor: Ultimate PR Champion

As many of you know, great PR will create a great reputation and great public image.  There is one PR campaign however which really stands out above all others and has undoubtedly captured the imaginations of people from all around the world.  At times his bravado and outrageous comments have stirred excitement and anticipation; at other times however, his circus has insulted, embarrassed and even angered many people, leaving us feeling a little weary.  Either way, it has worked.

He is Conor McGregor:  Dubliner, rock star, world champion fighter and the greatest walking, talking PR showman ever.  Not to mention every 14 year old boys absolute idol.  The former apprentice plumber from Dublin has rapidly become Ireland’s ‘Notorious’, and all through the power of his own publicity.  Like him or loath him he is the ultimate PR champion.

In 2007 Conor McGregor quit his apprentice plumbing job and had signed on to collect benefits so he could train with MMA coach, John Kavanagh.  He quickly made a name for himself as an MMA cage fighter but in 2013 he received the call from the UFC.  The rest quite simply is lucrative history.

Conor McGregor is now the reigning lightweight champion of UFC, he is the face of UFC and the sport’s biggest name.

He puts himself into headlines, he doesn’t just talk; he proclaims wild, bizarre and often insane pronouncements that simply cannot be ignored (a bit like Donald Trump, but maybe not as bad).  Take the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight of 2017; Mayweather was favourite to win, he was undefeated in the boxing ring and is arguably the world’s greatest ever boxer.  This however did not stop the ostentatious McGregor who had never boxed professionally in his life, “I’m gonna f**k this boy up. Make no mistake.”  He remained so confident in his ability, “Tell Floyd and Showtime, I’m coming. … I want $100 million cash to fight him under boxing rules because he’s afraid of a real fight.”  At this, every Irish lad quit their job, booked the flights and swiftly made their way to the bright lights of Vegas – seriously.

While UFC or boxing may not be everyone’s cup of tea, or indeed the insults traded, through relentless and intense publicity, Conor McGregor has grabbed the attention of the world and made headlines.  The public had a thirst for the spectacle that these two mega-personalities were creating each week as the so called, ‘biggest fight of the century’ grew closer.  In the end, the luck of the Irish may not have been on McGregor’s side but yet, he was a triumph for PR.

He is Conor ‘The Notorious’ McGregor.  Arguably Ireland’s biggest sporting star and despite his entertaining bravado, a very much respected sportsman.  Conor McGregor represents every working-class lad (or lass) from Ireland who wants to take a chance; the class which Conor McGregor personifies is real and current.  They too get up early and work hard, they compete with immigrants in the job, housing and health sectors, their wages are stagnating due to the economy and competition from abroad, yet they get on with it, they work for themselves and remain ambitious, much like McGregor.  They get out there like he did and do it themselves.  In Conor McGregor, the Irish see a hero.  Through mastering his craft, achieving success in PR and becoming ‘The Notorious’, McGregor is a self-made, successful and respected sportsman who never hid his ambition.  He is a representative of Ireland and what many Irish people stand for today.

Conor McGregor: Ultimate PR Champion, Ultimate Fighting Champion.

Lauren Hill is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations at Ulster University.  She can be contacted on LinkedIn:  


Donald Trump- PR mess or PR genius

It’s been over a year since Donald Trump became the most powerful man in the world and the 45th president of the United States. Do you remember what you were doing that very day and hour he won? I remember I sat up that whole night watching the results come in flicking between CNN and Fox news. I along with all the Hollywood stars though America would vote in Hilary Clinton but gosh weren’t Katy Perry and I wrong. In a year where Brexit won the vote it was silly looking back to think Donald Trump wouldn’t become president.

Throughout Donald Trump’s campaign and even now not an hour goes by without a headline or some sort of uproar about something President Donald Trump has said or tweeted. No time in history has public opinion or the media been as widespread and ongoing since ‘the Donald’ announced he was running for president all those years ago. Half a decade ago Donald Trump wasn’t really a name which people mentioned here in Northern Ireland and I’m sure it wasn’t mentioned much in any other part of the world. Back then all Donald trump was known for was the U.S apprentice (he was no Sir Alan Sugar) and for owning most of New York and Manhattan. Back then I didn’t even follow him on twitter or ever even consider following him on twitter. Nowadays, he is usually one of the most trending hashtags or something related to what he has said or done is trending. Not going to lie, but one of the best decisions I made in 2015 was following Donald Trump on twitter. L5
Donald Trump has definitely rewritten the rules on messaging and communication. From a PR perspective (or well a final year PR students perspective), some would say Trump’s approach or lack of has been a horror show (possibly similar to the shinning) from his incorrect messaging to his attacks on people (remember when he was team Robert Pattinson after his breakup with Kristen Stewart) to now his attacks against the media and their ‘fake news’. It’s fair to say Donald trump has made himself a poster boy for how not to communicate to the public… or has he?

It’s very easy to see Donald Trump’s tweets or on television and think he doesn’t know anything about communicating or Public relations but maybe just maybe he has rewritten public relations? Stay with me here…

Public relations is the professional maintenance of a favourable public image by a company or other organisation’s or individuals. Donald Trump doesn’t get much positive interactions, usually people’s public relations strategies is to gain positive interactions and dismiss backlash. However, Donald Trump’s public relations strategy is the exact opposite even now a year later after he has won the white house. Trump’s immediate off the cuff responses to the Middle East, china, the latest SNL skits, fake news or repealing Obamacare is his main strategies.

Some people believe he has thrown away the traditional pillars of talking points, messaging, communicating and replacing them with no-holds-barred dialogue. Donald trump choosing to do this means no matter if you are a democrat or republican or a member of the green party you are giving him visibility.
Trump’s approach is to raise any issue no matter what time of the day it is even if tis 3am in the morning on twitter.

Even though many hate to admit it, this strategy of Donald Trump’s is working and it is working very very well. Throughout his presidency and probably long after he will continue to have control of the topics and issues he wants on the agenda for that day.

This approach to taking over the white house has been to keep the audience tuned in and on the edge of their seats, keeping us all guessing what next will Donald Trump say.

Who would have thought Donald Trump could possibly change Public Relations? But then again suppose we never believed he would actually become president? Who’s ready for Kanye west or Dwayne Johnson (the Rock) presidency race for 2020…. L1

Lena Coyle is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @Lena_coyle

Putting the PR in Pregnancy

What do you do to boost your image and get people to talk about you? Create news. And this is exactly what the Kardashian/Jenner PR machine is talented at.

You don’t have to like them, but on some level, you have to admire what this PR savvy family has done with our obsession with fame – accurately assessing it, exploiting it and profited significantly by it.

Nothing is unplanned when it comes to their publicity – the strategically leaked stories and careful management of the not-so-staged Snapchat or Insta story. When your product is the life you lead, then you have to keep it interesting, even if that means celebrity feuds, divorce and unclarified rumours – which leads us to the spectacular PR strategy behind Kylie Jenner’s pregnancy reveal.


In late September initial word of the pregnancy broke and sent the world into a wild frenzy. We waited with baited breath for Jenner to give us some sort of sign or drop a hint to validate the news – but nothing. Months went by with Momager Kris Jenner neither confirming or denying the news and the other sisters remained surprisingly tight lipped, with Kylie remaining remarkably coy – or is it koy? Finally, on 4th February, just hours before the Super Bowl and after months of speculation regarding her pregnancy, Kylie finally broke the silence and confirmed the existence of her pregnancy and the birth of her baby girl.

The family are the epitome of an efficient PR machine, with Kylie’s pregnancy demonstrating how less is more to keep the public guessing and follower numbers growing and how a firm grip on the latest and best ways to exploit social media platforms is vital.


Jenner released a statement on her Instagram, justifying the months of silence which had led to fostered intrigue and sustained attention on the Kardashian/Jenner clan for almost a year. By neither confirming or denying the pregnancy, Kylie smartly let people to build conversations and propose ideas of their own and so we became so invested in the details that we waited for news, which was in this case – a baby.


A true testament to the power of good PR.

Mallory Blair, the cofounder and CEO of Small Talk PR, stated “announcing hours before Super Bowl stokes vitality,” she writes, pointing to the crowd mentality of such an event and the likeliness that those gathered together will discuss current events. “It also creates brand alignment with a major, national cultural moment.”

Speaking as a PR professional, Mallory expects that Kylie’s next steps will reflect the same careful strategy. “I’d guess that she’ll parse out the remaining assets as exclusives which will continue to get her leverage in how her story is shared and which of those stories receive the most attention,” she said. “For example, offering the first official baby photo or her first Q&A verses a first broadcast interview are all things that can be used to set the terms of what is and is not shared as a condition of the exclusive”.

Time alone will tell.

Amy Greer is a second year BSc CAM student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram: @amyagreer & LinkedIn:




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Women have been crying out for better representation in TV and films for years, with Wonder Woman and Gal Gadot we got that. What we have is a robust and independent hero whose physical strength is just as necessary as her compassionate and caring nature. Both are currently taking Hollywood by storm; this leading actress though is a badass on-screen and off-screen. From soldier to Hollywood, Gadot has gone far. Hollywood just can’t get enough of this leading lady.

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With the success that both Wonder Woman and Gadot has found comes with an important message for all, that can be transferred in everyday life and within PR.

“I wanted to show that women are empowered and strong, and don’t have to be saved by some male hero, but they can take care of themselves using their intelligence and their power.” – Gal Gadot

Firstly, take risks. In PR, taking risks is necessary sometimes. If we can’t answer the question will this work or not, at times, we’re going to need to take a chance and wait for the fallout. Similar to Wonder Woman, this entire project was a risk, DC movies that came before weren’t doing well in comparison to Marvel. Not only was making the film taking a chance but having Patty Jenkins was as director was another risk. It more than paid off with the movie breaking the record for the most successful live-action film directed by a woman. So take more risks.

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Patty Jenkins ‘Wonder Woman’ director

Another lesson is to find your passion. Not only being passionate about PR but finding what makes you passionate within the area will make your job so much better. Loving what you do is always said to be essential to any successful career. Gal Gadot is an example of this, having been a soldier, model, business owner to Hollywood actress.

A message we can take from Gadot’s success, having both families and successful careers are possible. With a workload that comes with juggling successful movies, promoting them and juggling family life, she shows it’s possible. She teaches women in PR; we can have it all too. This an important message being sent to young girls and women everywhere, you don’t have to choose one or the other.

Wonder Woman and Gadot show how successful PR can be. With this success comes power. Gadot, whether she wanted it or not has power. Most recently she is credited with taking a high profiled stand against sexual harassment in Hollywood by apparently requesting the removal of Brett Ratner from Wonder Woman sequel, refusing to reprise her role as Wonder Woman if it didn’t happen. True or not, this is an inspiring message to millions of women in the world, this behaviour is not acceptable no matter who you are or the money you have. This act is not something women have to accept or tolerate. True or not, this shows the Gadot’s name has power, and with it, the ability to make compelling statements. She has denied that his removal happened in this way but is still in hailed a hero, a real-life Wonder Woman and an embodiment of women’s empowerment.

This story circulating Gadot has only increased her PR image, and as result Wonder Woman. The claim is that she refused to sign on for Wonder Woman 2 until Warner Bros. removed Brett Ratner from the movie. As it stands Warner Bros. can’t afford to lose Gadot and keeping Ratner would send a negative message, undoing the powerful message sent out with the first film.  To have a man accused of sexual harassment and assault financing a film about female empowerment, would be a PR disaster. With this claim, Gadot’s influence has considerably increased.

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 “It was the first time for me — as a woman, a girl, a female — that I saw an image of strong women that are beautiful and confident and can take care of themselves,” – Gal Gadot speaking of seeing Wonder Woman fight scenes. 

With Gadot and Wonder Woman becoming more intertwined in the future, the pressure will mount to maintain the current image projected and revered by the public. Since the film’s release, Gadot’s reach has significantly increased, with 13.9 million followers on Instagram and with 1.52 million on Twitter.

Celine Ward is a 3rd year Communication Management with Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on on LinkedIn: and found on twitter @celinemward


Social media: Giving Women a Platform to be heard

Social media: Giving Women a Platform to be heard

Social media, some people love it and some people hate it. Personally I’m a big fan, most likely because I like expressing my opinion and I enjoy laughing at those Scottish tweets far too much. Another reason I like social media is because I feel like it has given people the opportunity to have their voices heard no matter who they are and where they are from. Recently social media has played a large part in promoting feminism and giving women in particular a voice. But is social media really empowering women, or is it causing as much damage as it is good?


Twitter recently extended their number of characters to 280 meaning more interesting tweets to read generally, and longer ridiculous Donald Trump tweets. However one hashtag which captured the word’s attention was the #MeToo campaign, where people shared their experiences sexual assault and harassment in Hollywood including Harvey Weinstein victims Rose McGowan, Asia Argento and Cara Delevingne. This hashtag helped to unify both men and women who had experience sexual assault and/or harassment, essentially empowering them. Being able to share their experiences on social media and seeing the support others have received from the #MeToo campaign may have given these people more confidence.


The #EverydaySexism project on Twitter which was started in 2012 on Twitter allowing women to share their experiences of sexism from the workplace to a nightclub. The project is an ongoing one with a hugely successful book sharing these women’s sexism experiences, helping to show others they are not alone and that they should not have to put up with this behaviour.


As well as unifying women, social media is show us to how men are also promoting feminism and equality. Interviews with celebrities including John Legend, Prince Harry, Ryan Gosling and Will Smith have been shared thousands of times online expressing how they are supportive of the women using their voices via social media and how they believe in equality. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is also highly featured on social media promoting equality, recently stating in his speech in New York ““Being a feminist for me means recognising that men and women should be, can be, must be equal and secondly, that we still have an awful lot of work to do”.


Although there are many upsides to social media, there are also a number of negative experiences as sometimes people use the power they are given on social media to criticise. In October Noble Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai faced criticism on social media for attending her university classes wearing western styled clothing and for not being accompanied by her father. Instead of simply letting the young woman be free to dress as she pleased, some users chose to focus on no male being present.

Dating Apps are becoming the norm, most single people use Tinder or Bumble which can quite easily affect a person’s self-esteem. A woman recently shared her Bumble experience where a man told her if she made some effort at the gym, he would consider dating her (his mum did an interview saying he’s only had 2 girlfriends before, no surprise why with charming texts like that). There is no doubt there are a number of men and women who have similarly had negative experiences with social media, showing it is not always used in a way which empowers.

Like most things in life, there are positives and negatives. The good of social media does not justify the bad, however I believe that social media is having a positive impact and allowing women to be heard.

Many people even now see feminism as a dirty word, a word that means women think they are better than men when in fact a feminist is simply a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes (shout out to Beyoncé for educating the world). Social media is one way in which people are able to learn more about feminism and giving women a voice.



Kellina Loughran is a final year student studying Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn:  and Twitter: @kellina_x

#MeToo what is it and why should I care?

It is no secret that in the news recently there has been a lot of allegations against stars in Hollywood and the emergence of the Me-Too hashtag has left a lot of people confused. Is it related? Why has my friend put it on Facebook / twitter / Instagram? Should I? I’m here to explain what it is and why it’s so important.



GM5Unfortunately, sexual harassment and sexual assault is still seen as a ‘blurred line’ (don’t even get me started on that awful song) and far too many people have experienced it in their lives – the prevalence of this hashtag proves it. Facebook reported that over forty five percent of their United States users had a friend who posted the term.

This hashtag was created to encourage any women who have been affected by sexual harassment to come forward and speak up. It came into existence when the actress Alyssa Milano posted on twitter a call to arms from her friend that women who have been harassed or assaulted sexually should post ‘Me Too’ to give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem. It was, quickly, picked up by the public and took Twitter, then Facebook, then Instagram, by storm.

By this point the scandal involving Harvey Weinstein had spread to include most of Hollywood; actresses such as Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow, as well as many others, had made accusations against Weinstein for inappropriate conduct.
The most interesting part of this is that the allegations, at this point, were still just allegations but it didn’t matter – the idea that famous actors and actresses were speaking out about this problem was enough to inspire ordinary people to also speak out. These ‘silence breakers’ have since been named TIME’s person of the year for 2017; proving that the truth, especially in the huge numbers demonstrated, has power.

This is important because it shows the magnitude of the problem. Alyssa Milano woke up to thirty-two thousand replies in the twenty-four hours following her initial tweet, by October 16th 2017 it had been tweeted more than five hundred thousand times, and used more than four million times on Facebook.



This is not a problem limited to women either – men have also been using it to speak out about their own experiences. Over 30% of the #MeToo posts were by men. This is a very underexposed area and something I will have to go into some other time!

Unlike many kinds of social-media activism, it isn’t a call to action or the beginning of a campaign, culminating in a series of protests and speeches and events. #metoo is simply an attempt to get people to understand even though it feels very far away, in the far reaches of Hollywood, sexual assault is much closer to home than we realise.

Georgia McCalmont is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University.  She can be contacted on Twitter @04Georgia or Instagram @Georgiamac26.