The Great and Good of Public Relations in Northern Ireland

The Great and Good of Public Relations in Northern Ireland

This time last year I didn’t know what public relations was.  I had no interest in or idea of the importance and relevance of “PR” in everyday life. I would automatically have thought of the stunts devised to distract the public’s attention from the real stories or those who offer discounted entry to Thompsons and Alibi on a Saturday night in Belfast. However, since I began studying an MSc in Communication & Public Relations in September, this understanding has been altered.  Recently, having attended a CIPR conference which showcased the very best of public relations in Northern Ireland, my narrow understanding has been radically altered – so much so that I’ve dedicated my first blog post to the great and good of PR in NI. (I swear I’m not hoping for a job offer at the end of this.) I should probably apologise for the delay in writing this post – juggling a full time masters degree with an internship and a part time job is more excessive than I imagined. And people say men can’t multi-task? Pfftttt! Again, this point is rubbish because I’ve edited this post while brainstorming dissertation topics over a few bottles of wine. Hope you enjoy. 

1 – “We Do Great Things And We Can Prove It”

This point had to be first as it really got me thinking. It’s the motto of ASG and Partners agency but for me it sums up what we all should be aiming for. Regardless of our jobs, positions, activities – our focus should always be on doing great things and making sure we can prove it at the end. As Gold Award winners in the Community Relations category, Sasha McKnight highlighted the positive impact which PR has not only on businesses but the communities which they are based in. Marks & Spencer (M&S, marksies, whatever you call it), in Northern Ireland utilised the expertise of ASG & Partners to mark their fifty years of existence in Northern Ireland while reinforcing their position as a supporter of the local communities which they were established in. Retaining this client for almost two decades is proof in itself of the great work this agency carries out. Without trust, success will be impossible in this business. The moral of the story – do great things and prove it! The PR industry in Northern Ireland whether public sector or private are time and again proving their greatness!!

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2 – Community Relations

This thread ran throughout these presentations. Public relations has the ability and resources to benefit and promote communities. The examples of M&S; JComms work with “The Titanic Hotel” which retold the stories of those who had worked and fell in love around the Belfast docks; the community effort of the local people of Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry who worked alongside Ruth Rodgers and the Southern Health and Social Care Trust Comms team to save its emergency department from closure; the promotion of Basketball in Northern Ireland by Massive PR and Byrony Chapman, a sport which was at one time popular among both communities and the “Let’s Keep on Supporting People” campaign run by Weber Shandwick which raised awareness of the importance of the “Supporting People” organisation in Northern Ireland are testament of the importance of this aspect. Incorporating the community into public relations strategies is key and helps to build and maintain a positive and successful reputation for the organisation.

3 – Media Relations

The interconnectedness of PR and the media was reinforced throughout the student conference. Lewis et al (2008: 2) have pointed to the dance theory – “it takes two to tango.” Essentially, PR relies on the media as a conduit for spreading its campaign messages while the media relies on PR for fresh material. The PRide campaign winners utilised an extensive network within the media frame to enhance their success. I was impressed with the different techniques used. These ranged from JComms dedicating a specific launch night for the press, ahead of the community and stakeholders and the Southern HSCT who worked extensively with the local newspaper, “The Newry Reporter” to find a positive solution. Of course, Social Media was also utilised as an appropriate mechanism for developing these campaigns. Charlotte Goss and Clearbox were tasked with bringing relevancy for Bushmills Irish Whiskey to a younger consumer. While traditional press methods were vital for the other campaigns, connecting with a younger audience through social media channels was integral for this one.  Along with 300 pieces of media coverage across online, print and social media, 773,000 reaches on Instagram and 21,700 engagements on social media posts, Clearbox effectively achieved their objectives. Being aware of your audience and how best to interact with them is important in any campaign.

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4 – Low Budgets

A successful PR campaign requires serious financial investment? Not quite. The campaigns organised by ASG & Partners and Weber Shandwick were gold standard award winners and guess what? They were both low budget campaigns. Impressive or what? What is even more impressive is the impact they had on wider society. The M&S campaign took on fifty local projects which benefited over fifteen thousand individuals inside two weeks. Incredible! On the other hand, the issue of homelessness needs no introduction for most. It’s becoming a prevalent sight in most of our cities and unfortunately is spreading into small towns. The loss of three million pounds in funding would have exacerbated this situation further as well as impacting on the elderly, young people and those with disabilities who relied heavily on the fund. Enter Johnny Stewart and Weber Shandwick. Despite not having a significant budget, this campaign ensured that £2.6 million of funding was returned and that greater awareness of the importance of this organisation was raised. PR plays a substantial and sustainable role in people’s everyday lives. This is the message I intend to share when people question the relevance of PR in today’s world.

5- Youth and Experience

This conference highlighted to us students the diversity which exists within the PR industry here in Northern Ireland. Youth and experience. Female and male. Public sector and private sector. PR grads and those who took a different path. The main point- whatever the background, with hard work, dedication and a willingness to learn, the world (and the PR industry here and further afield) is our oyster. Listening and learning from Brittany Breslin, the CIPR NI’s Young Communicator of the Year was a fantastic opportunity. Her passion for the industry is inspiring and her advice on networking with individuals in journalism and advertising was invaluable. Moreover, the success of Charlotte Goss and Johnny Stewart, recent graduates from the Public Relations and Communications undergraduate degrees at Ulster University was another encouraging moment. In a climate where graduate jobs seem difficult to find, the success of these two is very reassuring. It would be rude of me not to lavish praise on Sasha McKnight, Jane Williams and Ruth Rodgers. These three ladies epitomise the calibre of practitioners here in Northern Ireland. They both started at the bottom of the ladder and in a relatively short space of time, have reached the top. For the student body, it was an incredible opportunity to learn from all these individuals. I would like to thank all the speakers, Dr Phil Ramsey and Dr Conor McGrath from Ulster University and the CIPR NI Committee especially Arlene McPhillips for attending the conference and highlighting the benefits of student membership of the CIPR.

I realise I’m late to the blogging scene but I’ve really enjoyed working on this one. I hope anyone that’s read to this point will have learnt something about this industry and can appreciate the talented individuals/organisations that surround us. I certainly have!

Jordan Mullan is an MSc in Communication and Public Relations student at Ulster University, and a student member of the CIPR Northern Ireland committee. He can be found at: Twitter – @Jordan_Mullan ; LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/jordan-mullan-23b1a2b8/

CIPR/UU Student Conference 2019

CIPR/UU Student Conference 2019

On Wednesday 20th February, eager students gathered to hear a variety of talks by CIPR Northern Ireland PRide winners showcasing their award winning campaigns. They were set for a highly informative conference. The room was booming with inspiration with representatives from private agencies and also the public sector.

Jane Williams, brand communications director for JComms, spoke first, explaining how they had won the best use of media award generated for the Titanic Hotel construction and launch. She first settled any ambivalent feelings students had about it, by placing prominence on community throughout the campaign and building amicable relationships with those who had ties to the Titanic Hotel Belfast. They faced a huge brief but persevered and dove deeply into history focusing on the authenticity of the Titanic. They were research focused so they could be well informed. Jane  gave valuable insight on how to prevent media fatigue for launching big events. AA7

Following on as Gold Award winners in the community relations category, Sasha McKnight from ASG & Partners raised momentum again with her opening quote “We do great things and we can prove it”. ASG set the bar high with M&S to capture the milestone of 50 years since its first store in Northern Ireland opened. They took on 50 projects in such a short space of time. Sasha tenaciously reiterated that their focused approach highlighted the importance of going back to objectives. Stating they had to unearth new meaning for coverage in Northern Ireland, she felt that stakeholder engagement was key to a successful campaign.

The theme of building strong local ties through human interest stories was brought to life by Bryony Chapman of Massive PR (the outstanding small consultancy winner), who faced the brief of repositioning the Basketball Belfast classic as a world class event. She spoke of strategies used to optimise media coverage to build awareness for the Belfast classic and the Sport Changes Life Foundation. Bryony gave us great insight into managing media relations which was the epitome for a successful campaign. Charlotte Goss of Clearbox described in detail their spirited campaign with Bushmills Irish whiskey and how they transitioned the traditional image of Irish whiskey for younger people. The stellar results of their research showed that 76% of young people from 25-35 years of age hadn’t answered their call and were not doing what they loved. They transformed this statistic into a campaign by #AnswerTheCall. This campaign brought to the forefront the sheer power in partnering with local creatives.The CIPR NI’s young communicator of the year, Brittany Breslin, stressed the importance to students of internships and gaining experience within the industry. She emphasised that networking was valuable to those entering the industry.

Next came a speaker from the public sector. Ruth Rogers, head of communications for Southern Health & Social Care Trust (winner of the issues, crisis and reputation management category), described in detail the crisis facing her team with the Emergency Department of Newry’s Daisy Hill hospital and the possible threat of reduced hours. Ruth exposed the bones and  mechanisms behind the strategy used which placed community participation on a pedestal as it was the key to the success of the project. Ruth instilled in us that creativity is at the forefront in public sector communications.

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To conclude the conference, Johnny Stewart from Weber Shandwick outlined their award winning low budget campaign with “Supporting People” who provide accommodation for the elderly, homeless, young people and those with disabilities. This campaign called for almost £3 million of funding to be returned to 80+ providers of the Supporting People programme. Johnny informed us about the “media kits” that were introduced and numerous guides produced for the SP providers, ensuring they equipped the SP providers in the best way possible. They managed to see £2.6 million of that funding returned. It hit home to the students how PR plays a pivotal role in peoples’ day to day lives and not just ostentatiously in the world of influencing.

To the students’ delight there was a great mix of solid campaigns. It gave us the students, plenty of scope and food for thought for a career in public relations. The conference showed that the world is your oyster when it comes to public relations and that it will be impactful and exciting whatever career path you choose.

20 February 2019, Mandatory Credit ©Press Eye/Darren Kidd

Catherine Mockler is an MSc in Communication and Public Relations student at Ulster University, and a student member of the CIPR Northern Ireland committee. She can be found at: LinkedIn – https://ie.linkedin.com/in/catherine-mockler-01b40b94.

Questions with Chris

Questions with Chris

Chris Love, a leading Public Relations Practitioner in NI and founder of LOVE PR, offers some insight into his views on what makes a good public relations campaign and some advice for new practitioners entering into the world of PR. 

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About Chris

Chris Love is a Fellow of the CIPR and a Chartered Public Relations practitioner. A former Chair of CIPR Northern Ireland, CIPR UK Council member and Professional Practices Committee member, Chris runs his own consultancy Love PR. He is a current member of the CIPR Fellows’ Forum and winner of CIPR NI PRide Awards Outstanding Independent Practitioner three times.

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What do you think are the fundamentals to a successful PR campaign?

“There’s no one guide that fits all approach, however by applying SMART objectives and using the PESO model, both will definitely help with the structure. I can’t emphasise enough the importance of setting objectives and then working towards expected outcomes. Always ensure the campaign is being measured throughout to ensure the campaign delivers what it set out to do”.

What is a favourite PR campaign of yours?

“A favourite PR campaign of mine is #missingtype for National Blood Week. NHS convinced big brands including Nando’s, Odeon, Waterstone’s and Daily Mirror to remove the A, B & O’s from their name to highlight the lack of people signing up to donate blood. Even the street sign on Downing Street took part. An extra 30,000 blood donators signed up in the first year of the campaign in 2015 and in 2016 the campaign was rolled out across 21 countries. The campaign was started as there were 40% fewer new blood donors in 2014 compared to 2004. The campaign was designed to strengthen the donor base for the future and it has definitely paid off”.

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What information would you give to young PR professionals today to advance in the workplace?

“PR is a management discipline and it’s important for our industry that practitioners are strategic in their thinking about the value PR can bring to a business”.

 

So, there you have it folks. Simple and to the point, these words of wisdom have obviously worked for Chris, and hopefully you can take something from it for yourself in the world of PR!

 

Lauren Toal is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University, Jordanstown. You can follow her on Twitter @laurentoal5 or reach out on LinkedIn at  https://uk.linkedin.com/in/laurentoal.

PR- Out with the Old, In with the New?

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Grunig and Hunt developed the idea that PR creates two-way communication between an organisation and its publics… and guess what social media does? The exact same thing!

Why is it so powerful?

Out with the old, in with the new. If you have been faithfully relying on traditional PR tactics, it’s time to change. Maybe not all of your tactics but definitely some of them. It is important that you take a more social approach allowing you to communicate key messages instantly with your stakeholders. The shift from traditional PR to digital PR is continuously and rapidly evolving. It is important that you adapt your PR tactics to meet the demands of this new way of communication. Digital PR tactics enable you as a PR practitioner to communicate and connect with the media and bloggers in a space where they are proactively searching for news and resources. This is a better way of targeting instead of spamming them with chunks of information (like traditional press releases) that they simply do not want or cannot share immediately.

The Changing Landscape of Digital PR

Adapting to the complex world of digital can be daunting. With the rise of social media platforms as key tools for communication, the mediating role played by traditional media between companies and publics has increasingly diminished. Due to the rise in use of social media, it is now the company’s role to monitor individuals feedback and comments 24/7 regarding its products and services online. The company also has primary responsibility to monitor, manage and deal with a crisis in a timely manner in order to protect and save the public image and reputation.

Due to the continuous growth of social media platforms, it is important that you understand what tools to use, how to use them appropriately, and how to measure their effectiveness. The structure of social media presents greater opportunities to reach out to segmented audiences that have been previously ignored or neglected.

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations suggest the importance of understanding the social network landscape. They suggest that the main focus must always be on the communities within their social media platforms whether they are connected through specific interest groups, trusted friendships, similar interests or driven by passions. In this case, it is a prime opportunity for you to connect with and get involved in conversations that are of relevance to your key publics. This then allows you to build relationships, influence further communications and ultimately lead to the end goal of advocacy and trust.

Hints and Tips on the Best Way to use Social Media for PRAR1

  1. Network with journalists; This is a great way to get your company name and products out there and directly cut through the noise, however selection when choosing who exactly to network with should be carefully thought through. Be specific– ensure that the journalists you pick to network with are professionals whose interests are somewhat aligned with your company’s interests. Taking time to establish a strong relationship with key journalists and sharing their articles through your own outlets, creates a solid two-way rapport which benefits both parties long term.
  2. Publish on LinkedIn; LinkedIn is a great way to highlight your client’s experiences, disseminate content, find influences, gain industry insights and connect with new clients. It is a great platform to also discover key media opportunities, identify business opportunities and increase and maximise clients’ media coverage. LinkedIn now offers a publishing platform that you can now share content directly and know that you are targeting the right audience. Why not post content on LinkedIn that you have created for a newspaper article or for an industry publication? LinkedIn is a faster way of reaching your key publics than waiting for traditional media to publish your contribution.
  3. Use social media in your press releases; A great way to extend your reach of your press release with positive news is by sharing it across social media. Press releases posted on your company website should be accompanied with ‘share’ buttons for each social media platform available to make it easy for readers to pass your news on. A great way to maximise your press release coverage is by writing blogs that then link to them. This can be done by using concise messages which can be tweeted with an accompanied image to meet the needs of each preferred social media platform. Imagery and the use of infographics increase a posts appeal for sharing, so be sure to include some of these in your posts too.
  4. Seek bloggers coverage; Blogosphere is the ideal link between social media and PR. Bloggers are actively on social media and many of them are closely monitored by journalists. An easy way to seek blogger coverage is through having your service or product reviewed by them. Whether you’re pro-actively seeking coverage or not, your product or service will most likely be reviewed by followers of the blogger anyway again maximising media coverage and exposure. Free platforms such as Tomoson are available to help you get your product featured on niche blogs. This further increases your chances to be noticed by journalists.
  5. Prepare a Crisis Management Plan in advance; Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. PR disasters can happen at any time and it is disastrous to be caught completely unprepared if and when it does happen. With no plan B, your company could potentially take years to re-establish public trust and brand appreciation again. Having a plan B can help to at least control or manage the situation better. Having a standard press release designed and social media posts planned can minimise stress and impact of the crisis. The best approach to crisis management is a genuine apology signed by a MD or SEO of your company, accompanied by a plan of action to what you are going to do to fix the problem. Whatever the plan, make sure it is accurate, current and seeks approval from management beforehand so that if a crisis does occur your reaction can be quick and save your company’s good reputation to the best of your ability.

Finally, the use of social media can be extremely powerful for getting your key messages out there for product launches to promoting company branding to managing public relations campaigns. Social media efforts can be tracked and analysed through viewing their analytics which can then be tweaked and changed to be even more effective next time. Ensure that social media is incorporated into your PR campaign from the start to maximise the effectiveness of raising awareness of key messages to your key publics.

Through using the hints and tips above, your company’s PR effectiveness will instantly improve. Out with the old and in with the new.

 

Aimee Rourke is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aimee-rourke-593013109/ 

 

Blogger Brunchin & Insta Launchin’

Welcome to the ‘Blogosphere.’

The beauty of having a creative mind means that I am constantly daydreaming, sketching and thinking of new ideas (98.8% daydreaming about food).  Recently I have been thinking about life living in the ‘Blogosphere.’ No matter which city or countryside that you choose to visit, there will be an abundance of beauty, fashion, foodie and travel bloggers.  However, each Blogger has a unique story to share. If you wish to find out more about my recent blogging and PR adventures, then you have come to the right place.  I have also included my all-time favourite ‘blogger girls.’

In November (3 months ago, I know I’m a bit late) I was encouraged to attend the ‘NI Blogger Brunch’ in Babel, Belfast.  I could write a single blog post about Babel itself as the interiors are just so dreamy.  Marble coffee tables, bubble gum pink and forest green walls with a splash of 1950’s & 60s design- let’s not forget the foliage, did I mention the cacti? Babel really was the perfect setting for this event and I instantly fell in love with this gem of a rooftop bar (even before glancing at the cocktail menu).

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Ok so, I may have just got majorly distracted by all things interiors, however it played a huge role in the success of the event.  As Student Ambassador for CIPR NI, attending the brunch enabled me to network with bloggers, online influencers and PR professionals.  It was surreal meeting bloggers that I follow on Instagram. In fact, I felt as if I knew everything about them before we engaged in conversation.  A little bit creepy, right?  This is the beauty of the ‘blogosphere.’ Over the last decade blogs have evolved from glorified online journals to much more personified accounts.  It is something that we should encourage, we often perfect our CV’s ‘on paper’ (Amber Davies eat your heart out) and forget about building our online portfolios.  Showcase your writing skills, upload that cute picture of your Doggo and share your passion with others.  You never know what positive leads will evolve from a well written blog post.  On a side note, can you guess why I chose to include this Instagram account? Basic.

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Aware NI- It’s ok not to be ok.

The fabulous Sinead Doyle from MCE Public Relations and previous Chair of CIPR NI opened the Brunch, providing insight to supporting charity ‘Aware NI.’  This amazing charity aims to support those with depression, anxiety and bipolar disorders.  Many of the great workings include their support programmes which help to educate communities, schools, universities and the workplace. It is all too easy to feel disengaged from our social circles, feeling isolated online.  I believe that Instagram has advantageous frills however like all social media platforms it harbours bullying and negativity.  As someone who cares way too much of what the world thinks of her I have quickly recognised that I am not alone.  I used to care about those likes and comments to a point where I would question what I uploaded.  Now, I ask myself if I feel happy with the content that I am posting.  The bottom line, do not post for others as they cannot determine your happiness. Only you can.  Learning to be mindful and to relax has helped me immensely with my anxiety.  Take a step back and observe others, you might just gain much-needed inspiration!

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An appetite for the ‘Digital Diet.’

Whilst I am trying not to type forever, I am a self-confessed Instagram addict and have no shame.  It is nice to know that your friends may worry about you if you haven’t posted in a while!  To some it may feel like I use Instagram every hour of my life, well you are not far wrong.  When I visit a small or local business, I feel an urge to share and promote their story online, especially if I feel connected to their brand/story. Sharing my experiences with others is something I value, we should inspire others through creative content. I pledged that I would spend less time on my phone this year (good joke Kathryn). It has been a challenge to say the least, especially when you are immersed and study in the world  of PR/Digital communication.

It is also important to note that not everyone will be your biggest cheerleader along the way, so keep it real. If you are honest what is there to fault? You cannot be someone who you are not, people are not so slow in this digital age.  One valuable piece of advice that I gained from the Blogger Brunch was to post what you want, when you want, do not be put off by negative judgement.  So, what if your post does not reach 150 likes or you have not hit the 1k follower mark?  If you post a photograph that you feel good about then let that be your success.  If posting boosts your confidence, then do it.  The basic algorithm behind a successful Instagram is authenticity, interesting content and engagement.

Taking inspiration from this funky lady.  A groovy gran with style that would put your own wardrobe to shame!  ‘Baddiewinkle’ rose to fame after her granddaughter created an Instagram account for her.  What can we conclude from this? Age has no limit. Do you really think ‘Baddie’ cares about the negative comments? Absolutely not. She’s living her best badass life with no shame!

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Finally, for a nosey…

To round off this post I have picked out four special ladies that I feel I can relate to the most.  Each of their Instagram accounts are a true representation of just how lovely they are.  First up we have Niamh Serena.  I am proud to call Niamh a friend and what she has achieved so far is amazing, recently collaborating with ‘Pretty Little Thing.’ For fabulous fashion and outfit inspiration take a peek at ‘Niamhserena.’ For all things lifestyle, blooms, family life and fashion follow Anna (‘blossomingbirds’).  This girl has the most amazing interiors and collection of Emma Bridgewater mugs (an obsession of mine) I just love how humble Anna is.   She fosters an incredible work ethic combined with family life but is never afraid to voice the blips along the way.  Last but certainly not least twins Lucy and Zoe (‘allthingsbeautifullymade’ & ‘alittlebitoflife’). These ladies are incredible.  Once you visit their blogs you will understand how brave, courageous and beautiful they are.  With every story that they post I feel inspired and empowered.

If you would like to check out some of latest illustrations, fashion posts and travel adventures then hit me up at ‘the_fashion_fairypr.’

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Warning: may contain the occasional photograph of the Eiffel Tour.

Love,

K x

Kathryn Bigger is a third year student on the BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations at Ulster University. She is currently undertaking her placement year at Marks Design Collective. Kathryn can be contacted on: Instagram – the_fashion_fairypr / Twitter – @KatieB_05 / LinkedIn- Kathryn Bigger.

 

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/

http://releasd.com/d5de

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