And the award goes to…?

One of the main roles of public relations is crisis management. This relates to how you as a business act and respond to a disruptive situation that can damage your reputation. Some key examples of times when crisis management was needed include disasters like the BP oil spill and the infamous Tesco horse meat scandal.

While these were massive environmental and health and safety disasters, a more minor call for crisis management came just a few days ago during the 2017 Oscars. So let’s talk about how they did.

What exactly happened:

So, during the 2017 Oscar ceremony “La La Land” was called to receive the award for Best Picture. The cast took to the stage during the usual applause and began the usual speeches thanking family and everyone involved in the movie. What was then unusual, was the interruption during which Jordan Horowitz, producer of the film, took over the microphone and announced that actually they hadn’t won and called Moonlight to the stage. Warren Beatty who made the false announcement, then explained that the card had read “Emma Stone-La La Land,” and that this had caused the mistake. The whole process was altogether awkward and confusing, made no better by Jimmy Kimmel’s following attempts to lighten the mood.

Who was at fault:

Many media outlets took to placing the blame solely with Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway for reading the wrong film. However, later  focus shifted from the presenters to the people in charge of the envelopes containing the results. This responsibility fell to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) who are in charge of calculating and distributing the results for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who run the awards ceremony.

It was then discovered that Brian Cullinan, chairman of the US board of PwC, was the one who gave Warren Beatty the wrong card, intended instead to announce Best Actress. As two members of PwC are the only ones to know the results during the ceremony, the blame could be placed entirely with them.

However, there is some speculation that the Academy attempted to alter the entrance of the presenters too close to the results, thereby affecting the flow of the whole process and confusing the PwC representatives.

This suggests that both parties were to blame.

So how did they do:

It took exactly two minutes and twenty five seconds for the mistake to be rectified from the time when the wrong announcement was made. This may not seem like a lot but if we instead say that two members of the cast had time to make heartfelt speeches before they were told something was wrong it comes across as a lot more significant.

Moreover, it then took three hours for PwC to release a statement of apology. While this also may not seem like a monumental amount of time, let’s remember that this event was broadcast live meaning that there was no gap between when the mistake was made and when it was discovered.

We sincerely apologize to “Moonlight,” “La La Land,” Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Oscar viewers for the error that was made during the award announcement for Best Picture. The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected. We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred.

We appreciate the grace with which the nominees, the Academy, ABC, and Jimmy Kimmel handled the situation.

-PwC

This was also three hours of silence compared to the previously very active Twitter accounts of the two PwC representatives; activity that only further suggested that they were not paying attention and careless with their roles of handling the results. This three hours allowed media outlets to start placing blame on all parties including the innocent presenters.

Accountant Brian Cullinan's now deleted tweet which he posted just before the envelope mix up

Only after PwC made the statement accepting all accountability did the Academy issue their own apology to the presenters, cast and fans. This significant gap of three hours during which no comments were made by either PwC or the Academy allowed the media to speculate that neither party wanted to accept responsibility. This simply painted both parties in a negative light, furthering the damage done.

Moreover, the crisis was made worse by the fact that it overshadowed the opportunity for positivity on behalf of the Academy. After last year’s #OscarsSoWhite trend which called for more diversity in the awards, the victory of Moonlight would have been the perfect circumstance to highlight for some much needed positive publicity. The fact that this was overshadowed by the new trend #OscarFail made the crisis all the more damaging.

In conclusion, both parties attempted to manage the crisis separately in order to avoid shouldering the blame. It would have been better dealt with if PwC had accepted responsibility while the Academy brought the focus back to the success of the night. A united front accepting blame immediately but emphasising the positives might have limited even more confusion.

Chloe Peoples is a 2nd year CAM student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on Twitter @ChloePeeps or on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/chloe-peoples

Fighting Placement Panic

Right now I am sitting on a bus surrounded by people who are equally as disappointed in the Wi-Fi service as I am. Let’s hope inspiration really does strike in unlikely places.

I’m travelling towards a placement interview and so excitement (and nerves) are running high. For a career in PR, work experience is essential and so degrees that offer placement years are a must. However, trying to find experience can be a gruelling process and a lot of people have the same opinion of trying to find placement.

I know that I’m definitely not the only one starting to feel the pressures of finding a placement so this post is focused on little tips that may help you if you’re anything like me. Keeping on top of what you’ve already done and trying to find the best placement for you can be difficult. Here are just a few tips that I’ve found useful that may help you calm those frayed nerves!Related image

KEEP A LIST 
This may sound simple and tiresome but I can’t stress how helpful it is to keep a list of placements that you have applied for. Even a simple notebook with a list of placements you’ve applied for and the dates you’ve applied can be really useful when you start to feel overwhelmed or have those worrying thoughts like “Should I have heard back by now?” If you keep a note of the closing dates of these placements, you’ll have a better idea of when you should get a response.

COMPANIES HAVE BLOGS TOO
A great way to find out more about a company before you apply for their placement or even to prepare if you’ve been offered an interview is to check whether they have a blog. Lots of companies nowadays have blogs run by employees, graduates or even current placement students detailing what their role is and a bit more on the company culture. For example, Unilever run a great blog that includes posts from placement students! A resource like this can really help you decide whether or not a placement is the right fit.

SEARCH ALL AVENUES
Most universities have an online resource that you can use to find placements that suit you. While this is a great tool it shouldn’t be the only one you use. Websites like http://www.ratemyplacement.com and http://www.glassdoor.co.uk can also be useful in finding possible placement opportunities. They usually also include a review service so you can see immediately how others have fared with this position.

DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS
It’s so easy to feel inadequate or disheartened when others around you start getting interviews or even offers and you don’t even feel like you’ve started. While it’s not good to be so picky about placements that you don’t apply for anything, you should never apply for a placement that you wouldn’t accept if you got the chance. If you haven’t found one for you and others have that’s fine. Just keep looking and remember that it’s your job to make sure you get the most out of this opportunity as possible.

Hopefully this will help you keep on top of your placement search. I wish you all the best of luck and happy hunting!

Chloe Peoples is a 2nd year CAM student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on Twitter @ChloePeeps or on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/chloe-peoples

Celebrity Sells: The Rise of YouTubers

Celebrity Endorsements have been used by businesses for years as a way of creating likability and trust; both for the company and in the company’s product. Some great examples of this include Cheryl Cole and L’Oréal, David Beckham and H&M, and Michael Jordan and Nike.

This practice has evolved in recent years to include a whole new range of celebs: YouTubers. YouTube has grown into a digital powerhouse with over one billion users. This channel reaches more 18-49 year olds than any other outlet, making it an advertiser’s dream. This reach was then emphasised AGAIN when “YouTube stars” became a reality. Popular YouTubers have as dedicated a fan base as any traditional celebrity and, because they seem more authentic and genuine, their endorsement is more readily trusted. Let’s take a look at some companies that saw this opportunity and used it well.

Lilly Singh and Estee Lauder

With just under 11 million subscribers Lilly Singh is the proud owner of one of the most popular YouTube channels under the name IISuperwomanII. Not only does she make globally enjoyed videos, she also has created music, clothing and movies. This woman has a strong fan base and brand making her the perfect choice for Estee Lauder when they launched “Lana Steele: Make up Spy” on one of their own YouTube channels “I love MakeUp.” This series followed the adventures of Lana Steele, a heroic spy who uses her favourite make up products to disguise herself before she goes to fight the bad guys. While this all sounds unbelievably cheesy, people loved it. Estee Lauder went from getting an average of 100k views on their videos to over 600k on each episode of Lana Steele and there’s even talk of a second season! Watch it yourself below!

 

Kurt Hugo Schneider and Coca Cola

Kurt Hugo Schneider runs a hugely successful YouTube channel with over 8 million subscribers, dedicated to making music with other musicians as creatively as possible. This content includes playing songs using a bicycle and even through an original version of patty-cake. Butterfinger capitalised on this just a few days ago when they partnered with Schneider and he created a Back Street Boys classic using butterfinger bars to create different sounds. This is reflective of previous endorsements in 2013 when Schneider created the song “Safe and Sound” using glasses of coke. This Butterfingers video has already gained almost 600K views and this is likely to keep growing. Watch the video yourself using the link below!

 

These successful endorsements show that the way companies partner with celebrities is growing. YouTubers make more trustworthy and seemingly credible endorsers and their skills can allow companies to really get creative. Gone are the days when we watched Snoop Dogg rap about hot-pockets (yes this happened see link below).

 

No more stilted and cringeworthy advertisement performances from well-paid celebrities but instead genuine entertainment from people who make their money sharing self-made content in an interactive and modern way.

Chloe Peoples is a 2nd year CAM student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on Twitter @ChloePeeps or on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/chloe-peoples

 

Event Planning: Tips and Tricks

Merry Christmas everyone! It’s December which means I can officially talk about Christmas without annoying anyone (disregard my last blog post done in November…whoops). I have recently started an internship which I absolutely love and which has also kept me unbelievably busy seeing as a lot of their fundraising is centered around Christmas.

Drawing on this experience, I’ve decided to share some of the tips I’ve learned about how to make your event as successful as possible. So in no particular order let’s get started!

Use Excel

Excel was a godsend for me when it came to managing the actions already carried out by the fundraising team. It was a great way to make sure businesses weren’t contacted twice (unprofessional or what) and also perfect for clearly showing what still had to be done within the team. As long as you have one document with a list of what has to be done, with what has been completed and what has still to be completed clearly marked to share with your team, you can’t go too far wrong.

Excel-Logo.png (214×230)

It can also be a quick way of updating someone who maybe was off the day before, on what the immediate situation is.

Keep it simple. Maybe make a colour code for certain rows e.g green rows are the activities completed, red still have to be and yellow are ongoing or pending developments.

 

 

When possible, use a phone call

I know that I sound really old-fashioned here but I’m a great fan of just a simple call when contacting businesses for support. Maybe you’d love them to provide donations or prizes for your event. Maybe you just want their help in spreading the word. A lot of people would say “Just drop them an email.” Emails are faster. Emails can be a great way of sending extra information on your event like a leaflet or pictures. Emails are also impersonal, easy for them to ignore and impossible for you to track. A phone-call can be a great way of getting an immediate response from your chosen contact. It is seen as more personal and if you are dealing with a local business, can be a great way to develop a strong foundation for a mutually beneficial relationship in the future. ALWAYS get a name, and then you’ll know who to ask for in the case of organising their involvement.

 

Make use of the other teams as much as you can

Even if you’re only working within a small fundraising team of three or four people don’t ignore the rest of the organisation. It can be easy to be stuck in your little bubble of events planners all working in blissful harmony (apart from the pre-event panic of course) but don’t discount the experience of others. In my case one of the volunteer managers actually had contacts with a local café who catered for her recent volunteer dinner and happened to know they were looking for an opportunity to get more involved with charity. We contacted them and got two prizes to use for our event!

 

It will come together

And last but not least DO NOT PANIC. I know that a few days before the event it can seem like there’s still so much to do and not enough hands or time or patience or anything. Staring at an excel spreadsheet and seeing all reds (downside of the colour code) can make you want to give up. Just take a few deep breaths and think “What can I do and mark off this list right now?” Focus on what you can fix and do it bit by bit and on the day you’ll laugh at yourself and think what was I ever worried about!

 

Chloe Peoples is a 2nd year CAM student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on Twitter @ChloePeeps or on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/chloe-peoples

Battle of the Christmas Ads

 

Advertising and Public Relations are two very different things. While advertising is a paid announcement shared on various media outlets, PR is a strategic communications process that works on building relationships for the company.

HOWEVER, having said that, when advertising becomes a sort of company tradition it could also be important for the company’s PR as it can help to develop consumer relationships and improve the perception of the company. This is never more relevant than right now with the epic annual battle of the Christmas ads well under way.  So let’s use these as a way to explore how advertising and PR can be linked.

John Lewis:

Let’s just imagine John Lewis didn’t run a Christmas ad next year? What would the consumer response be? Absolute outrage! Christmas would be cancelled and it would be all John Lewis’s fault.  Okay that might be a slight exaggeration but you can be absolutely sure that their reputation would suffer.

From 2007 John Lewis have launched creative Christmas themed advertisements to put their store in the consumer’s mind just before they start to spend. But in 2011 they used their Christmas ad to do so much more when they launched “The Long Wait.”

This ad was the first of theirs to create and follow a story; the story of a young boy who couldn’t wait for Christmas. He tried to use magic to move the clocks forward and rushed to sleep on Christmas Eve. Not because he wanted his own presents but because he couldn’t wait to give one to his parents. It didn’t show any of their products and instead focused on creating an emotional connection with their consumers to cement their reputation as a company that understood what really mattered during the holidays.

Now every November consumers wait, with their Christmas jumpers at the ready, for the next ad to send them into a festive frenzy. Many believe that this ad is key in starting off the Christmas season. How can an annual tradition of Christmas ads which makes this company synonymous with festivity, giving and Christmas joy not be seen as an integral part of maintaining their image and relationships with consumers?

Coca-Cola:

I’m sure everyone reading this is well aware of the Coca-Cola Christmas truck ads. I would even be brave enough to say there is no other Christmas ad which so clearly influences a company’s PR activities than this. Started in 1995 the “Holidays are Coming” advert which featured the Coca-Cola Christmas trucks has now been on our screens annually for over twenty years. This advertisement has also gone on to inspire Coca-Cola’s annual PR event known as the Coca-Cola Christmas truck tour in which consumers are invited to come to various cities to watch these iconic Christmas trucks drive by. This ad and the corresponding events have done a lot to develop good relationships with Coca-Cola lovers.

 

However, given that it’s 2016, the year of shock and chaos, now seemed to be as good a time as any to finally make a change to this iconic advert. This year Coca-Cola removed Santa’s wink to the young boy at the end. This has caused havoc on twitter with some fans even considering creating a petition to #bringbackthewink. The fact that this small change could evoke such a passionate response shows that these advertisements have become an important part of many consumers’ Christmases and therefore can have a huge impact on their relationship with and perception of the company.

All’s Fair in Love and Ad Wars:

These two might be the most iconic and renowned, but nowadays it seems that every company can see the value in creating a formal salute to the holidays. Don’t get me wrong: I’m sure increasing profit is still the end game here. But companies would be foolish to disregard the importance of that fuzzy feeling consumers get when they watch a doll find a home at Christmas (McDonalds link below). It can create a great sense of connection with the brand and if done right and for long enough like in the case of Coca-Cola and John Lewis, it can inspire positive relationships and even further events.

Some great ads that have caught my eye this year are:

McDonalds

 

Dementia Ad

 

Three Network (sequel to 2015 Christmas Ad)

 

Chloe Peoples is a 2nd year CAM student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on Twitter @ChloePeeps or on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/chloe-peoples

Public Relations: Top Success Stories

Hi everyone! My name’s Chloe and I am currently studying Communications, Advertising and Marketing with Ulster University. As you have probably already guessed from the title, this course involves some modules in Public Relations; which I’m sure a lot of you find boring but hopefully that’s where I come in!

PR is not only relevant for businesses, we as consumers are affected by it everyday. PR can change everything; from what we think of a company to what we think of the world around us. On the most basic level, public relations is about professionally communicating with the public. But today, when consumers have all the power and it’s so much easier to flit from one brand to another, it can be a vital way of differentiating yourself from competitors.

So here are, in my opinion, the top 3 PR stunts which were hugely successful in terms of longevity, societal impact and profit.

Tour de France 

Believe it or not the Tour de France started as a PR event run by a newspaper company in France. In 1903 Henri Desgrange, former champion cyclist, decided to increase the awareness of his newspaper “The Bicycle,” which later became “The Car,” by organising a bike race. This bike race ran over 1500 miles over rough terrain and encouraged consumer involvement and commitment. The cyclists rode through the night; the roads weren’t paved like they are now so the conditions were terrible and yet it was such a success that it doubled the newspaper’s circulation and even managed to put rival papers out of business. The fact that it’s been over 100 years and people still flock to this annual, now international event just goes to show how powerful PR can be when done right.

Lucky Strike’s “Torches of Freedom”

Known now as the first PR campaign to ever be put into action, “torches of freedom” changed the way 1920s society thought about women smoking. In the 1920s Edward Bernays, known as “the father of public relations,” was employed by the American Tobacco Company and tasked with increasing the number of people who smoked cigarettes. During this time women’s rights were still being fought for in the US and Edward Bernays decided to use this to his advantage. Bernays informed different newspapers and media outlets that during NY’s Easter Sunday Parade women would be lighting their “torches of freedom.” People flocked to the parade and found 10 women marching, while smoking their Lucky Strikes cigarettes. It was a form of rebellion against a society that perceived smoking as unladylike, masculine and in some cases, even criminal. While Bernays and the American Tobacco Company may have ignored health implications in favour of sales, it can’t be denied that this had a big hand in changing the perception of female smoking, proving that even the way a society thinks can be influenced by PR.

The Blair Witch Project

While this didn’t really change the whole of society or inspire a 100-year-old event, the success of the viral PR campaign run by the creators of “Blair Witch Project” was so colossal that it has to be mentioned. For those of you who may not know, the film centres on three filmmakers who go missing in the woods while searching for a legend known as the “blair witch.” Their film is later “discovered” and pieced together. Before the release of this film, in 1998, Haxan Films created a website www.blairwitch.com (which still exists today) and released information about the film as though it were completely real. For six months, information was added to the website as though it were only being discovered. They released tapes of footage to college campuses as though it were real and even handed out missing person flyers with the faces of the filmmakers. Everything about this movie was presented as a documentary, which increased awareness and created a kind of frenzy amongst the public.

All in all, this film which was created with only $20,000-$25,000 reeled in $248million at the box office. No independent movie has ever even come close to matching this success. This just proves that even without Facebook or YouTube, viral PR can generate success if you get creative enough.

So there you have it. I hope this clarified what PR is and how it can be used. Regardless of budget, PR is successful when you get creative, know your consumer and are aware of the world around you.

Chloe Peoples is a 2nd year CAM student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on Twitter @ChloePeeps