How PR is Changing our Perspective on Mental Health

Opening up about our mental health has always been considered a difficult topic. Up until recently, people were unaware of the meaning behind the term ‘Mental Health’ and what it involved. Understanding mental health and the issues that many people face is a relatively new concept. Thankfully, now in the 21st Century, people are becoming more accepting of mental health struggles; they are not as ignored as what they once were. According to public affairs expert and mental health advocate Katrina Gay, the stigma surrounding mental health is continuing to breakdown and the public relations sector has had a huge impact on this breakthrough.

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The public relations industry and the progression of mental health understanding work extremely well together. This is the case more so now than ever due to the digital advancements and the growing use of the Internet within the public relations sector. People do not want to be defined by their mental health issues; they want to be accepted for who they are as a person and valued for their personal qualities and skills. The Internet and particularly social media platforms, have provided people with a voice to express themselves with.

Creating campaigns to remove the stigma attached to mental health has become an increasingly popular method to achieve this goal. However, the way in which these campaigns are approached needs careful thought and attention. Mental health is a sensitive topic for many people to discuss, it can cause a great deal of discomfort and distress if approached in the wrong way. A fantastic campaign currently run by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry known as Heads Together, has made tremendous improvements to how mental health is viewed by society. These Royals used their statuses to their advantage to promote mental health awareness. The campaign reaches out to a range of audiences such as young people and people who have lost loved ones. A fantastic way in which they promoted their campaign was to get involved in the 2017 London Marathon. Each runner that took part in the London Marathon received a ‘Heads Together’ headband and a letter from the three Royals wishing them luck on their marathon, and to also show support for Heads Together. This went viral, journalists, bloggers and mental health advocates instantly began to talk about this and what the Heads Together campaign was all about.

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Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are great tools to use for reaching out to people about mental health. This can be through campaign promotion, setting up a Facebook page where people can talk about their mental health struggles and how to seek help, or posting a Twitter blog on understanding mental health. A great Facebook page currently run by ‘The Mighty’  has a range of tips and advice on coping with mental health difficulties.

The CIPR (Chartered Institute of Public Relations) makes a huge effort to promote mental health care, particularly around certain times of the year such as Mental Health Awareness Week. They work alongside the mental health charity ‘AWARE’ and aim to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. The CIPR also provides information for people working within the PR industry on how to manage stress and the struggles involved within this career. 59% of people working within the PR industry have experienced mental ill health. It can be a challenging career and the CIPR aim to make public relations professionals more aware of mental health. Also, how organisations within this sector can support employees who may be struggling.

People within the public relations profession have a knowledge on how to effectively communicate. By using their skills, they can help to continue to breakdown the stigma surrounding mental health. This can be through an effective campaign, working alongside mental health charities and advocates, sponsoring events such as Mental Health Awareness week, or simply by publishing reports on current speeches or events that have taken place regarding mental well-being.

It is vital that we continue to work on how we can change the way in which mental health is viewed and what can be done to create a positive energy surrounding discussion on this topic.

References:

https://www.headstogether.org.uk/prince-harry-opened-the-2017-virgin-money-london-marathon-expo-excel-centre-london/

https://ciprni.co.uk/be-more-aware-of-your-mental-health/

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Anna Haughian is a final year Communication Management and Public Relations Student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on Twitter  @anna_haughian and on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anna-haughian-667834131/

 

 

Meet the media… Cool FM and Downtown Radio

Last week I had the privilege of attending CIPR NI Meet the Media Event, hosted by Cool FM and Downtown Radio. For a lot of people getting to see where the likes of Pete Snodden, Rebecca McKinney and Gary Myles create the magic that goes into their nationwide breakfast shows is a onetime opportunity. Luckily for me, I have the pleasure of being a member of Cool FM and Downtown’s street team, so the station is not an unfamiliar sight. Getting to work for Northern Ireland’s leading radio station really is a dream come true, and ‘work’ doesn’t feel like ‘work’ when every event is even more exciting than the last.

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Although I know how successful Cool FM, Downtown and the stations newest recruit Downtown Country are, it never ceases to amaze me to see the colossal listening figures they bring in. The day began with Mark Mahaffy, Managing Director, taking us through ‘What’s New in Local Media’ and more importantly, ‘What’s New in Cool FM/Downtown’. As Northern Ireland have the strongest affinity for local radio in the UK, it is not surprising that Cool FM and Downtown are thriving, with the Cool Breakfast Show with Pete, Paolo and Rebecca alone bringing in 297,000 listeners. With listening figures at an all-time high of 697,000, PR practitioners should be utilising the power of radio to promote their clients.  But it’s not just through radio that Cool FM and Downtown reach the masses, their Facebook page has 668,000 followers. As programming director and presenter Stuart Robinson pointed out, ‘with Facebook it’s all about engagement’. With their quirky news stories and hilarious memes Cool FM’s engagement on Facebook is sky high. So being able to get a story or promotion for your client on Cool FM or Downtown’s social media accounts, could maximise exposure.

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As there were facts and figures flying about, a break was much needed. But not just any tea break, in true radio fashion, it was quiz time. Having to identify five songs from Cool FM, Downtown and Downtown Country, did not prove well for me, scoring a feeble five points (my music knowledge selective to Cool FM). Luckily for the rest of the room there were some budding music experts who won Digital Radios and Shania Twain tickets for their impressive scores. However, I did notice a few other embarrassed faces whose music taste must be similar to my own, anything top 40 from the last decade.

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Next, and most importantly for the PR professionals in the room, Caroline Beatty from the Creative Solutions department talked us through some of the creative media campaigns they have created for clients. A shining example being Metro, who wanted to promote their £2 night fare. The Creative Solutions department cleverly crafted the Metro Matchmaking campaign, where singletons took to a bus in Belfast City Centre for some speed double dating.  By tailoring to clients objectives and budget the Creative Solutions Department offer a full creative media service, to boost exposure as much as possible.

Finally, Head of News, Nigel Gould, explained the work of the news team and how best to approach getting a story coverage. With 17 daily news bulletins across the stations, news has become as big as the music. By covering consumer, lifestyle and business news alongside the hard hitting stuff, Cool FM and Downtown are appealing to all ages and backgrounds with their news coverage. His top tip to PR professionals who want to get a story covered was to ‘help yourself by recording your story, but make sure the person is being interviewed and not just reading from a sheet’.

Of course our day had to end with a tour around the studios to see where the real fun takes place. We were lucky enough to have sneak peak of the new video production suite which will be used to record local artists, Facebook videos and so much more, so keep a look out for what’s to come from Cool FM, Downtown and Downtown Country in 2018, Northern Ireland’s leading commercial broadcaster.

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Olivia x

Olivia McAleenan is studying for a MSc in Communications and Public Relations with Advertising at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter @OliviaMcAleenan / LinkedIn https://uk.linkedin.com/in/olivia-mcaleenan-88774413b /Facebook – Olivia McAleenan / Instagram @oliviamcaleenan

 

Make the most of your mobile by making a movie…

As one of the @CIPR_NI student ambassadors I have the pleasure of attending their events. This week I attended the Mobile Movie Making workshop hosted by the lovely Niamh MacCauley, Video Marketing Officer at Purple Dot Videos (@DgnEnterprise). Before attending this event I always thought of myself as a wiz at making movies, mostly for family events or to make a university presentation that bit more interesting. Little did I know how impactful a video could be to promote a product or make a company’s website stand out from their competitors. Niamh summed up just how important video marketing can be for her clients by pointing out that ‘it only takes two minutes to watch a video that would take ten minutes to read.’ In today’s digital age, everything can be done on our phones. Need to book a taxi? Use your phone. Want to pay for a coffee? Use your phone. Want to make a promotional video for a client? Use your phone!
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Many people would assume that videos made for a company are filmed using the most high tech equipment to make sure everything looks professional, think again! Niamh showed an example of a video she had made for a client, asking the audience to pick out which frames had been filmed using a phone and which were captured on a drone. It was impossible to tell! The whole video was smooth and high quality, I would never have guessed any of it was filmed on an iPhone. Whether you need a video for Facebook or for the foyer of a waiting room, a mobile can be used to capture and edit the piece. Niamh’s first golden rule of making a video for any occasion is to keep it short and sweet, especially for social media, no longer than sixty seconds. The workshop was graced with workers from Q Radio (@goQRadio) and Belfast Telegraph (@BelTel) to name but a few, many of whom use mobile journalism (mojo) on a daily basis. Niamh relayed her mojo tool kit; the first item may surprise you… a selfie stick. Yes, the holiday maker’s favourite selfie stick can be used to film mobile videos and create weird and wonderful angles. The only downside is you need an incredibly steady hand or you may end up with a rather shaky video. If you are not blessed with a steady hand a trusty tripod can also be used for mobile videos.
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The next piece of equipment Niamh recommended was the Mobile gimbal, which can cleverly transform a mobile into a smart motion camera. Although it may set you back around £200, a mobile gimbal is a must have if you want to create smooth and slick videos. A slightly cheaper must have to keep in your mojo toolkit is a power bank. As many of you may realise taking videos can drain your battery, so if you are taking footage at an event don’t be caught out by that red flashing low battery light.
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I don’t want to give away too many of Niamh’s top tips, so I’ll give you an insight into the practical elements of the workshop. Create your own coffee advert… In a group of tea drinkers, I was assigned to be the coffee drinker, not that I was complaining on a Friday morning. Our brief, to show the coffee being enjoyed and stirred. Once Niamh had rounded up all groups videos she was able to quickly edit it all together using the video editing programme Magisto, to show us the finished product. Magisto converted our mobile videos into a captivating story in a matter of minutes.
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Not only can your mobile be used to record videos it can also be used to edit your work. Niamh’s favourite editing app being Splice. Niamh finished by highlighting that a ‘website is fifty times more likely to appear on the first page of a search engine results page if it includes a video.’ So, get your mobiles out and start videoing!

Olivia x

Olivia McAleenan is studying for a MSc in Communications and Public Relations with Advertising at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter @OliviaMcAleenan / LinkedIn https://uk.linkedin.com/in/olivia-mcaleenan-88774413b /Facebook – Olivia McAleenan / Instagram @oliviamcaleenan

How To Increase Your PR Job Prospects In Northern Ireland

 

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When considering a career in the Public Relations industry I believe there is a few important questions you must ask yourself before diving into a career in PR. Due to the fast paced, forever changing, and high-pressure environment you will be working in you must have an acquired skill set, hold a great level of determination and drive to prosper within the industry.

 

The first question I would ask myself is…

 What is PR?

Well much to the dismay of many people it does not involve being responsible for promoting nightclubs across social media nor is it attending lavish events and living this glamorous lifestyle that the media portray a job in Public Relations to be.

One of my favourite definitions of Public Relations is one from the PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) which states “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” Public Relations is essentially all about reputation and relationships which is something we touched on in our lecture about PR, Rhetoric and Persuasion in week 2.

 

Am I interested in what is going on in the world around me?

Having an interest in current affairs and reading about what is happening in the environment around you is a very important aspect of a PR practitioners job as they regularly analyse trends and brainstorm campaign ideas with various clients daily. Therefore, being informed and knowledgeable about what is happening in the world around you will set you apart from others.

 

What does a job in PR involve?

A job in PR can be quite varied and diverse depending on the company you work in so it’s hard to specify, although the ability to be a flexible, highly organised individual with the ability to work under pressure and possess excellent written and communication skills is a must.

 

So, with the above questions in mind. How do you go about increasing your chances of employment in this field? I thought I’d share some of my own personal top tips to help anyone that is considering a career in Public Relations!

 

CIPR membership

For an excellent discounted rate of £35 annually for students the Chartered Institute of Public Relations will provide you with endless opportunities to develop your skills and knowledge of PR to help you climb further up your career ladder through providing courses to attend, achieve chartered status and hosting events with likeminded individuals who you will have the opportunity to network with.

 

Follow Key PR Influencers/Blogs

Getting involved in the world of online blogging by reading, commenting and sharing PR related blogs online. Check out PR Week, PR Daily, PR News Online and follow key influencers on Twitter for example @CIPR_UK, @PRstudies, @BobPickard and @pracademy to stay abreast of the latest news!

 

 Work Experience

Get your foot in the door – offer yourself up for paid/unpaid internships in local agencies to get real life experience of the job because when you start a career in PR you will automatically be expected to know how to write a press release, develop a campaign strategy, plan an event, liaise effectively with journalists and so on. This is also a great way to determine whether the job is for you or identify areas in which you would like to specialise.

 

Public Relations Courses

Enhance your CV with a PR qualification – there are plenty to choose from both online and face to face through the PR Academy. These CIPR accredited courses will provide you with working examples to give you a more thorough understanding of the industry.

 

Be Passionate

The ever-changing nature of the PR industry means passion is key to success. Stay abreast of latest news, get involved and prepare to be forever learning!

 

Nicole Hanna is a final year BSc student in Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be contacted on LinkedIn at https://goo.gl/pLviS8 or on Twitter @NicoleHanna101

Who runs the PR world…? Most Definitely Girls!

In the wise words of the inspirational Oprah Winfrey, “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.” A theme which ran prominently throughout the CIPR NI (@CIPR_NI), Women in PR Panel Event, which took place in the ESparkGlobal (@ESparkGlobal) Belfast Hub in Lombard House. With not a man in sight, the room was full of budding PR professionals and women at the top of their professional game. Since my last blog I was fortunate enough to be chosen as one of the new Student Ambassadors for CIPR NI alongside the brilliant Kathryn Bigger (@KatieB_05). We are already planning events and making connections so watch this space for some exciting news…

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I have to begin by introducing you to the incredibly accomplished panel, Gemma-Louise Bond (@GemmaLEBond), Michelle Canning (@micanning) and Susie Brown (@Brownturf). Gemma, also known for her fabulous blog ‘That Belfast Girl’, at just 25, has been able to achieve career goals, someone starting out in the world of PR could only dream of. As the Marketing Assistant at Victoria Square, Gemma is responsible for keeping its brand as iconic as its stunning glass dome. Next up we were introduced to the skilled Michelle Canning, who made a brave career change at 41 into the world of Communications. Now the Communications Manager at Northern Ireland Housing Executive, Michelle has utilised her skills as a Journalist to propel herself into this senior role. Last, but by no means least, was Susie Brown, whose impressive CV speaks for itself. Alongside her busy career as Interim Director of Corporate Development at Tourism NI, Susie also headed the ‘Be Seen Be Heard’ media initiative to improve gender balance on Northern Ireland’s airwaves. The first thing, we, as an audience were asked to do, was introduce ourselves to the rest of the room. Networking, always being at the fore of any PR event. Hearing the positions of the rest of the women from leading PR firms in Northern Ireland was inspiring for me, going in as a novice.

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Michelle Canning raised the invaluable point that even rejection in the workplace can be good, using J.K Rowling as the prime example of being turned down time and time again but not giving up. This led the chair of the night, Sara McCracken (@dougalhorse) to ask the panel what they felt were the biggest barriers they have faced in the workplace. Having come up against ageism and unconscious bias, the panel explained how they faced challenges head on to overcome and conquer them. As an advocate for women being heard throughout Northern Ireland, Susie raised the thought provoking statement that “you can’t be what you can’t see”, sparking a conversation change towards self-confidence. How can young women coming up in the world of PR aspire towards anything if they cannot ‘see’ someone else doing just that. The moral of the story being to speak out about what you’re doing and don’t be afraid to big yourself up.

When asked where they wanted to go in the future all three women had very different answers. Gemma has a very clear five-year plan, with the end goal of being the director of a company by the age of 30 (which I have no doubt she will achieve). Michelle doesn’t make plans but achieves what she wants through sheer determination. Susie spots an opportunity and runs with it, making her the definition of a #boss. All three women left us with their final words of wisdom… ‘speak out and influence up’, ‘stand up and be counted’ and ‘be confident in who you are’. I’ve already ordered the board mounts with these inspirational quotes for my future PR office.

Thank you so much to the three forward thinking, self-empowered women who shared their experiences and to CIPR NI for organising such a #girlboss event.

Olivia x

Olivia McAleenan is studying for a MSc in Communications and Public Relations with Advertising at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter @OliviaMcAleenan / LinkedIn https://uk.linkedin.com/in/olivia-mcaleenan-88774413b /Facebook – Olivia McAleenan / Instagram @oliviamcaleenan

Here’s How To Get a Job in PR – Reason #4 Will Shock You

  1. Apply for a job in PR
  2. Go To The Interview
  3. Smash The Interview
  4. Pretend to be a man because according to a recent survey they still get paid more for doing the same job. See, number 4 was genuinely shocking, I’ll be covering the CIPR State of the Profession next and go into detail. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Accept Job In PR
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Figure 1 – CIPR State of the Profession 2016

Well, now you’re here you may as well read the rest. You can skip to the TL;DR at the bottom if you don’t want to.

Everyone seems to start these things with a bit of background of themselves, so here it goes. My name’s Anthony, I was on placement at a fantastic company (don’t let them know I said that), I’ve done work experience at leading PR agencies (or so they tell me), I’m a CIPR Student Ambassador annnnnnnd I still don’t know why I’m studying Public Relations. Go figure eh? I hear you say, “obviously you know why you’re studying PR, you picked it didn’t you?” (maybe you didn’t say that, but let’s assume you did). Yeah, I did. Originally, I picked Business Economics with Marketing, then I changed my mind picked Communication, Advertising & Marketing, got accepted, changed my mind and picked PR because it seemed more fun. In hindsight, both CAM and PR are really the same but PR has a bit of politics involved. I was, still am, concerned with having fun and enjoying what I do with making money being a nice benefit too.

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I spent most of my first 2 years studying in PR wondering what I had to do to stand out in the industry. I mean if you can’t make yourself stand out, how are you meant to make a company stand out and how are you meant to make a career out of it, right? I spent hours researching everything from speech-writing to how individual leaders, from Chavez to Obama, speak. I’ve worked with members of the CIPR as a student ambassador and watched how they carry themselves in meetings. And luckily for you I’ve come to a conclusion that I want to share with the world.

You’ll never make yourself stand out if you’re trying too hard. You want to be like the CEO of that successful PR agency? Congrats, so does everyone else. You need to let go of everything and just be yourself. Are you the kind of person that cracks jokes all the time? Keep on doing it. Do you see yourself as a professional businessman/woman? Keep on business-ing. Are you rather boring? Keep on studying CAM. The point is, you need to be yourself.

Buttttt back to me, why don’t I know why I’m studying PR? Easy, cause it’s terrifying; what if I’m no good at social media? What if no one likes my writing style? What if someone finds out that I have an undying hatred for humanity? Who cares!? You’ll find your niche, trust me. I haven’t yet, so I’m not a good example but there’s loads of people on my course who seem like they know what they’re doing so I probably will one day too. If not, maybe PR isn’t for me. That’s the beauty of the world though. PR may not be for me or you, but I’ve learnt that it’s not the end of the road. PR has still done a lot for me, I’ve learnt more about businesses and how to make businesses work than what I would have done studying any business degree! The lessons you’ll learn will stand you in good stead for the rest of your career. So hang in there, you won’t get anywhere worrying about the destination. Take a leap of faith and see where it takes you!

But how do you make yourself stand out? “Gotta create your own brand” lecturers have been telling us it every. Single. Year. But how? Start with LinkedIn. If you don’t have a LinkedIn, stop reading and go make one. List your skills and get people to endorse you for them. But be honest about it. I put ‘Public Speaking’ in mine, went into work on Monday got pulled to the side by my boss and asked me to speak at the Chartered Institute of Credit Managers (NI) Legal Action Workshop on the role a debt collection agency can play for businesses. Boom, on stage in front of 100 people with a minimum of 10 years’ experience in credit control all listening to these very well-respected lawyers from North and South of the border, and then me. Banter. If you’re going to exaggerate, be prepared to back it up! Then Twitter, people who work in PR love Twitter, which means you can connect with them! And they can see everything you post and like and retweet… make a separate account for ‘work’. And then you could always start a blog! I did and hit 80,000 views in a month, but that’s a story for another time/I’ve 4 blogs to write and not giving everything away in my first.

So, go out, the tools are there, and start creating you!

TL;DR – Start of it rambles on a bit but the message might be to hang in there, don’t try too hard to be like everyone else and you’ll be just fine.

Anthony Boyd is a final year student on Bsc in Public Relations at Ulster University. He can be found on Twitter: @anthonyboyd16 or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anthony-boyd-4a5a63b4/

PRide and Joy: NI’s outstanding communicators celebrate 2017

PRide and Joy: NI’s outstanding communicators celebrate 2017

Friday 13th may be unlucky for some, but for many of Northern Ireland’s PR practitioners, the night ended in trophies, applause and possibly some sore heads in the morning!

For the past 18 months, I have had the privilege of sitting on the CIPR NI Committee as a Student Ambassador. During my time I have sat opposite some the leading lights in Northern Irish public relations and have witnessed the organisation of some brilliant events for PR professionals across the country.

There is however, one event on the PR calendar which can’t be missed – The PRide Awards.

Now, I’ve heard the rumours about PR, “it’s all parties and drinking and schmoozing”, and despite what this post may suggest, trust me it isn’t. But for one night a year, that stereotype might be a little true.

The CIPR PRide Awards NI is an annual awards ceremony to recognise the hard work and creativity of PR professionals and communicators over the past 12 months. It’s that one night of the year when professionals put away their laptops, put down the phone and come together for a night of celebration and healthy competition.

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Like previous years, the PRide Awards 2017 were held in the Culloden Hotel, Holywood. Taking the lead in organising the event along with the team at CIPR HQ were Seona McGrath from Smarts Communicate, Jane Williams from JComms along with Sinead Doyle and Alana Taylor from MCE Public Relations, who put together a brilliant evening.

I was kindly asked to be this year’s trophy assistant at what would be my first year in attendance, which much to my surprise included an official announcement and my name on the screen, hopefully, the amount of make-up on face hid my reaction. The awards portion of the night was hosted by Stephen and Cate from Q Radio, while I was tasked with delivering winner envelopes and passing on trophies. Thankfully, I didn’t manage to mess it up.

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There I am, in the background, looking the wrong way

The big winners on the night were PR agency powerhouses Smarts Communicate, with Seona McGrath deservedly picking up the Outstanding Young Communicator Award, and JComms. Also showing very strongly, proving the strength of practitioners across the country were in-house communication teams. Some of the winners included Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, North West Regional College and Translink.

Click on this link if you want to see a full list of the winners from the night along with the winning case studies: https://www.cipr.co.uk/content/awards-events/pride-awards/northern-ireland/results-and-case-studies

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For those of us studying and working in the industry, we know first-hand that public relations is often one filled with misconceptions. For most, PR is ‘selling tickets to nightclubs’. The PRide awards are the perfect response for those who criticise the industry and its professionals, and give us students who face questions about how ‘serious’ our degree is, some back up for those unwanted questions.

Another important aspect of the night, was supporting the CIPR NI charity of the year, AWARE. AWARE NI are the national depression charity for Northern Ireland and provide vital support across the country for those suffering from a mental health condition. Led by an incredible team, AWARE NI offer many essential programmes which require funding. Thanks to some great raffle prizes and generous donations, £1450 was raised impacting the lives of 96 pupils across NI – a job well done!

If you want to find out more about AWARE NI check out their website:

http://www.aware-ni.org/

The PRide Awards and the CIPR NI in general offer a great chance for young professionals to meet established practitioners, so if you get the chance check out one of the social events I would really advise doing so. Our industry is in great hands and growing year on year which can only be a good thing for those us who need a job in the next few years.

Images are courtesy of Press Eye

Kirsty Wallace is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be contacted at www.linkedin.com/in/kirsty-wallace-851504115 and on twitter @KayyWallace