Beauty and the Influencer Beast

Beauty and the Influencer Beast

YouTubers and Instagram Stars Have Quickly Become the Only Voice That Matters for Consumers in the Beauty Industry.

On YouTube, I am subscribed to 40 (yes, 40!) beauty “gurus”.  Excessive? Let me explain.

Over the past decade, YouTube has exploded as a user-generated platform for companies and people around the world to share their ideas, their work, their talents and their opinions. This platform has facilitated the oh-so-important co-creation process for brands and consumers to mutually create and share content.

For the beauty industry, YouTube is now an intrinsic part of communication strategy with thousands of beauty channels providing access to millions of consumers. L’Oreal’s most recent advertisement even included beauty YouTuber KaushalBeauty alongside long-time L’Oreal ambassador, Cheryl.

YouTube videos are the earned media that today’s makeup brands need to survive. These makeup channels post regular product reviews and makeup tutorials with the latest products, providing consumers with real, mostly unbiased information that they want and need before they make a purchase decision. If they don’t like the product, they tell you! Essentially, it allows consumers to ignore traditional advertisements for new products and base their decisions solely on other people’s opinions. They cut out half of the purchase decision-making process!

nikkietutorials2

Paid media is also increasingly a major part of YouTube, with makeup sponsoring videos, where the “guru” is asked to use and promote a new product, or they are sending them new products for free to review. This was my downfall – never considering that these YouTubers were getting these products for free, I was the ideal consumer for these brands: the girl who went out and bought these “must-have” products immediately, spending hundreds of pounds to keep up with my favourite influencers! (No regrets.)

YouTube and Instagram have revolutionised word-of-mouth communication, where I can search a specific term or product and instantly have access to thousands of posts and videos telling me the pros and cons of a product, and showing me how to use it. Additionally, I have access to the opinions of people of different ages, different skin tones, different skin types, different genders, from different countries (where certain brands may not be available), ex-MAC makeup artists, celebrity makeup artists… every opinion a consumer could possibly need!

youtubers

Need more proof of the power of these beauty gurus? The number of cosmetic surgery procedures fell 40% in 2016, with analysts suggesting the rise of makeup contouring tutorials may have been a contributing factor.

contour
YouTube heavyweight Carli Bybel demonstrating her famous nose contouring.

Currently, I am following 40 YouTubers who are more influential upon my makeup purchase decisions than any TV or print ad. Ultimately, Maybelline and Estee Lauder may promise “flawless coverage” with their new product offerings, but until NikkieTutorials and MannyMUA tell me it’s true, I won’t be convinced.

Charlotte Goss is a 4th year CAM student at Ulster University. She can be contacted at https://uk.linkedin.com/in/charlotte-goss-b4389895, and on Twitter @CharlotteGoss94

The Super Bowl: The Golden Opportunity

American football, the Halftime Show, and legendary advertisements, a.k.a. the PR dream. Over time the Super Bowl has come to stand as a global attraction, with millions tuning in to watch the game, and more prevalently, to see the elusive adverts and the Halftime Show. Following Super Bowl 51, it is worth examining this annual sporting event as the golden PR opportunity that it is.

It’s that time of year when the big brands battle it out and pump huge amounts of money into the world’s most expensive advertising slots to create content that will grab the US’, and the globe’s, attention. Often cinematic in nature, these adverts become as big a talking point as the game itself, and so the execution needs to be perfect. This year, the adverts were notably rooted in current affairs, with political undertones across all of the brand messages, either to speak out against the current political situation, or to portray themselves as a bipartisan brand. Here’s Budweiser’s offering, which tells the tale of the company’s German co-founder, Adolphus Busch, arriving in America, facing and defeating adversity to set up his brewing company:

And here’s Coca-Cola’s ad, which first aired in 2014, but has the pertinent message, “America Is Beautiful” – perhaps a deliberate contrast to the Trump administration’s “Make America Great Again!” slogan:

Additionally, the Halftime Show in itself has become a platform for PR stunts, with performers trying to out-do the show from the year before with large scale displays of dance routines, flames, fireworks, drones: the works! And it’s no coincidence that they announce a new album or world tour simultaneously. Indeed Beyoncé twice used the Super Bowl stage to launch her  most recent albums and world tours. It’s a formula that works, and it only gets bigger and better every year.

beyonce-superbowl
Beyonce performs during the Super Bowl Halftime show.

With a saturated and noisy marketplace, the Super Bowl is still a surefire hit for reaching the largest amount of people almost instantaneously. With the dominance of social media, and the sporting event being broadcast live around the globe, the Super Bowl is the perfect platform to attract, engage and retain consumers, to generate virality, and to rocket brands, be they companies, products or celebrity performers, into the forefront of global consumers’ minds overnight.

Charlotte Goss is a 4th year CAM student at Ulster University. She can be contacted at https://uk.linkedin.com/in/charlotte-goss-b4389895, and on Twitter @CharlotteGoss94

Political PR in the world of fake news and social media

Political PR in the world of fake news and social media

In recent days, US President-elect Donald Trump has had to battle unverified allegations which have derived from a leaked dossier created by a Washington-based opposition research firm, branding them “fake news”. Yet despite the document’s claims being wholly unverified, the story remained at the top of Facebook’s algorithm, and has led to a growing amount of media coverage clouding the public sphere.

trump-tweet

Fake news is a collection of fabricated stories and strategic narratives which are increasingly influencing public and political discourse. With 62% of US citizens saying they get their news from Facebook, fake news poses a threat to politicians trying to influence public opinion. For example, during the 2016 US election, fake news overtook mainstream news in terms of social media engagement.

facebook-election

(Source: Buzzfeed (2016) Total Facebook engagements for to 20 election stories. Available from: https://www.buzzfeed.com/craigsilverman/viral-fake-election-news-outperformed-real-news-on-facebook?utm_term=.bxxLnNkmKn#.salzVDKP9V )

So what does this mean for modern political PR practice?

With fake news taking centre stage, it shows how social media has facilitated “Chinese whispers” of sorts, allowing people to share stories like “Pope Francis Endorses Donald Trump for President”, and showing just how little “fact checking” comes in to play. Despite the impact of fake news on public action still being undetermined, it has the potential to fuel some dangerous rumours, and lead to a misinformed public and an upheaval of the current media system. If people lose their trust in all news stories and outlets as a result of constantly being bombarded with fake news, this will render earned and paid media placements pointless and valueless, as they will no longer resonate with a growingly suspicious public.

As the ever-expanding and ever-complex media system creates an obscuring trellis around key issues and demands, more and more of the public are relying on social media for news stories, and are not differentiating real news from fake news. It is therefore increasingly necessary for politicians, public figures, and organisations alike to utilise public relations in order to disseminate and distinguish the “real story”, and to protect their image.

social-media-culture

When politicians and other public figures are being derailed constantly the rise of fake news, and an invasive and powerful media agenda trying to verify the stories, PR and spin tactics may become a necessary evil. In a media environment of accelerated information flow, political figures have less control than with older media forms. This intensification of media attention puts pressure on politicians to communicate a variety of messages quickly, and thus an increased reliance on spin is a reaction to the need to maximise electoral support, engage a wide range of publics, and connect them through an alternative media filter, allowing politicians and public figures to communicate particular messages and to break through the media monolith.

 

References:

http://www.journalism.org/2016/05/26/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2016/

Khaldarova, I. and Pantti, M. (2016) Fake News: The narrative battle over the Ukrainian conflict. Journalism Practice, 10 (7), 891-901.

McNair, B. (2004) PR must die: spin, anti-spin and political public relations in the UK, 1997-2004. Journalism Studies, 5 (3), 325-338.

http://www.mediabullseye.com/2016/12/fake-news-poses-a-real-problem-for-pr/

Moloney, K. and Colmer, R. (2001) Does Political PR Enhance or Trivialise Democracy? The UK General Election 2001 as Contest between Presentation and Substance. Journal of Marketing Management, 17 (9-10), 957-968.

Moloney, K. (2006) Rethinking Public Relations. Second Edition. London: Routledge.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/craigsilverman/viral-fake-election-news-outperformed-real-news-on-facebook?utm_term=.bxxLnNkmKn#.salzVDKP9V

 

Charlotte Goss is a 4th year CAM student at Ulster University. She can be contacted at https://uk.linkedin.com/in/charlotte-goss-b4389895, and on Twitter @CharlotteGoss94

 

3 Things A Year in Industry Taught Me That PR Lectures Couldn’t

As a current final year Communication, Advertising and Marketing student, and having recently completed a year’s Regional Communications placement at The Walt Disney Company EMEA in London, I’ve come to appreciate the key inner workings of the PR industry that can only really be discovered outside of the lecture theatre, and on the job.

Increasingly, it seems that your academic achievements can only take you so far in the hunt for a job, with most employers valuing experience above all else, and so it’s more important than ever to get out there and into the nitty-gritty of the industry.

With that in mind, here are 3 things, in my experience, which I learned through my work experience, which my academic studies couldn’t teach me:

  1. NETWORKING IS KEY

The PR industry really is all about who you know! It was only through my work experience that I began to realise how fundamentally social the industry is. Alongside the fact that you’re always working as part of a wider team, networking is a core function of the profession, and occurs not only in the work environment, but at industry events and gatherings and nights out! PR professionals build up relationships with stakeholders and journalists over time, sometimes years, and retain these relationships throughout their careers. Whilst we learn this in theory as part of our university degree, actually witnessing these interactions in real life is essential for budding PR professionals, to develop the skills to form your own relationships with these types of people. Throughout my time with The Walt Disney Company, I met some great people from all over the world – exposure and experience which is very hard to come by so early on in my career. It is essential that we learn how to put ourselves out there and build a personal brand of sorts.

networking

  1. THIS IS NOT A 9-5 JOB

I hate to break it to you, but PR professionals don’t always live the glamorous life that Samantha Jones portrays in Sex and the City; they work exceptionally hard! With constant deadlines across several projects, it can get a bit overwhelming, but some of the best advice I received was from the intern before me, who told me, “You’ll get out of it what you put in.” Throughout my year I found this to be 100% true. Coming in early and working later than expected is all part of the job, but it’s worth it when the end product finally comes together. The world of PR really is non-stop!

samanthajones22
What people think PR is…
workaholics
What PR actually is…

 

3. IT’S A LOT OF FUN

“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.” – Mary Poppins

Remember I said it wasn’t all glamour and fun? This isn’t necessarily true. During my placement, I got to work on some incredible projects, like the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, numerous press junkets (including one in Milan), and countless events. Whilst I worked hard approaching all of these projects, it made them all the more rewarding to be a part of the final execution, and meant I could enjoy what I was doing. PR professionals work hard, but they play harder!

charlotte

Meeting Anthony Daniels at the Star Wars “Fashion Finds The Force” event last year.

 

PR is a really exciting industry for young professionals, and is one I have become truly enthralled with after having been given the chance to see how it really works from an inside perspective. Additionally, in today’s world, PR is an intrinsic operation within every aspect of our surroundings and culture. With its diverse nature, and the ever-changing role of the PR practitioner, PR is set to remain a key part of business, and a growing industry constantly on the hunt for new talent. This being said, a university degree is no longer enough; PR hopefuls must aim to accumulate industry experience throughout their studies, in order to have the best chance of cracking, and succeeding in, this great industry.

Charlotte Goss is a 4th year CAM student at Ulster University. She can be contacted at https://uk.linkedin.com/in/charlotte-goss-b4389895, and on Twitter @CharlotteGoss94