PRaddy PRower

As the curtains on 2019 draw to a close, there are few stones left unturned when it comes to rustling up a funky fresh PR campaign. Something which has made this all the more difficult, is of course the strong prevalence of social media.

A 5-second Instagram video of Kylie Jenner singing ‘Rise and Shine’ to her baby swept the nation instantaneously. Memes flooded in at top speeds, with Ariana Grande making a cover of the video… but that’s not the cherry on top – Kylie did not waste a second, selling hoodies displaying ‘Rise and Shine’ at the generous price of $65 to add to her $1billion net-worth. It would be difficult to label this a hard day’s graft for the world’s youngest billionaire – so how do our beloved ‘Average Joe’ companies stand a chance when it comes to launching PR campaigns? Well, as the Irish bookmaker Paddy Power has proved time and time again, the shock-factor almost always comes up trumps.

Arguably notoriously known for their devious approach to marketing and PR, Paddy Power opened their very own ‘Museum of Mischief’ in 2018 to mark their 30th anniversary. Containing a ‘Department of Complaints’ which showcased their most complained about adverts and stunts, the pop-up made it clear that the bookmakers do not plan on shying away from further mischief in the future – yay! Personally, I am a big fan of their unique approach – albeit, due to their idea of taking bets on the assassination of the USA president in 2008, I could be Obama-self on that one… But whether you love them or hate them, let’s have a proper-gander at the propaganda and top quality PR campaigns they have displayed…

 

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Brexit Means Breakfast

It seems to me that even those self-proclaimed political-professionals amongst us are still not 100% certain on what exactly Brexit will mean for us. Even so, D-Day is looming, and there is a definite sense of unease in the air regarding the unknown. As expected though, Paddy Power gave us their 50cent on the whole phenomena in the form of ‘The Brexit Bunker’. In March, Paddy Power teamed up with actor and former football professional Eric Cantona to unveil their satirically designed safe haven for the victims of the’ Big Bad Brexit’. In a bunker situated in a hidden location in the sea between England and Europe, the public were given the chance to win a two-night stay in the bunker that is ‘built to withstand even the stupidest political crisis’. In true Paddy Power fashion, they’ve dissected the most topical news story at present and taken the absolute mick out of it. All this, whilst also treating a lucky pair to a quick getaway – top class if you ask me. You can have a nosey here at how the pair got on during their um…holiday?

Time for Costa to ‘Faeces’ the Music

After a widely covered BBC investigation found “off the scale” traces of faecal bacteria in iced drinks at Starbucks, Costa and Café Nero, there was nowhere to hide for the Costa situated right next-door to Paddy Power in London:

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Whilst unfortunate for Costa, I have to admit to chuckling upon reading their extremely immature and highly entertaining encouragement for punters to come inside. I think even in the case you’re a little conservative and disapprove of such tomfoolery, you have to commemorate their unwavering determination to be positively eccentric.

‘Nacho’ Average Welcome Party

Of course Paddy Power was never going to leave the arrival of Donald Trump into Scotland unattended – instead of rolling out the red carpet, he was greeted by a certain Mexican concoction…

Playing on Trump’s controversial comments about the Mexican people, and his supposed wall enforcing the borders between the nations, Paddy Power armed the band called ‘Juan Direction’ to play for Trump as he arrived to visit his golf resort. A little birdie told me everyone is certainly on a par with Paddy Power on this stunt…another ridiculous yet genius idea executed.

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Power-ful Stuff

Even though I have only discussed a few, I think you can get the gist of what makes this Irish bookmaker tick. Whilst many campaigns launched by Paddy Power could be argued the opposite of politically correct, one constant throughout is that each campaign makes its mark – pushing the phrase ‘all press is good press’ to its limits, eh?

Sinead Armour is a Final Year BSc student in Communication Management and Public Relations at Ulster University.  She can be found on LinkedIn – Sinead Armour or Instagram – Sinead Armour 

My top PR Campaigns of 2019

Creating an eye-catching PR campaign for your business can be the key to increasing brand audience, sales or fuelling  conversation. Our world is now saturated with creative people, coming up with innovative ways to promote themselves and their business. In order to stand out from the crowd, PR companies are being pushed to the limits to think of something unique and creative that will grab the audience’s attention and direct them towards your brand. Thats why, when a particular campaign stands out from the rest, you know that it’s done the job! I have compiled a list of four of my favourite PR campaigns of 2019.

  1. Cadbury Loneliness Campaign

One of the inevitable things that is set out for us within our lives is that we will continue to grow older. It is commonly known that elderly people constantly feel a sense of loneliness and as if they are cut off from society. This year, Cadbury’s teamed up with Age UK to combat the loneliness and isolation amongst our older generation. They came up with the “donating words campaign,” in which they removed all the lettering on their chocolate bar packaging to reveal a blank package. These limited edition bars where being sold in supermarkets nationwide, with 30p of every bar being donated towards Age UK, to help tackle their mission of reducing loneliness. This campaign was an incredible way to not only raise funds for Age UK, but show how a few words or a conversation can mean so much to the older generation. The campaign sparked a lot of conversation online, encouraging people to reach out to their grandparents. So not only did Cadbury’s effectively raise money for the charity, they also increased awareness on loneliness in the older generation and made people more aware of trying to reduce this.

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  1. Tinder bully = ASOS Model

Tinder. A perfect depiction of modern day dating. What more could you want than a complete stranger deciding whether you are worthy of them, based solely on your physical appearance. Thea, who had been using the site like most people, received a message from a boy who believed it was his right to inform her that her picture was awful and her dress looked like something for a ‘charity shop,’ the perfect way to charm a woman, don’t you think? After being shocked by the comments this stranger made to her, Thea decided to share her story online, and encourage people to be less cruel online.

Well, ASOS took part in an incredible piece of reactive PR, by taking this horrible experience Thea endured, and making her an official model for that particular dress on their website. They used the image of her in a beautiful purple dress, which was on her Tinder profile and used it as the promotional picture for that dress of their website. Not only was this extremely effective at communicating and empowering woman, but it also garnered a lot of supporting from the public online.

  1. Ikea furniture or historical exhibits?

The dreaded phrase, “can you build this Ikea desk for me.” Sure, we may need a degree in product design and engineering to understand the instruction, but for the quality and the price we always go back. To try and combat the “Ikea haters”, as they are better known online, Ikea came up with a new interactive PR campaign to show how their furniture could blend in with high class, expensive furniture. They decided to partner with the Museum of Romanticism in Madrid, and strategically placed their furniture amongst the 18th Century furniture that existed in the exhibit. They then challenged their fans online to pick out what pieces where Ikea, and what were historical pieces. This campaign garnered a lot of support at the museum its self and online. More than 70% of people were unable to differentiate the Ikea pieces from the history pieces. This allowed them to creatively show their customers that their products are great value for money, but can also fit in to the most fancy . They have since went on to win many awards for this campaign. Could you spot the Ikea furniture, or did you just feel nauseous at the thought of building it all?

4. Master-cards “Acceptance Matters” Initatives

Just recently Master-card in the US ran their acceptance matters campaign, which ran to celebrate Pride Month in America, to support the LGBTQIA+ community. Their campaign called the “True Name” campaign which allowed individuals to use their true names on their credit/debit cards, without the need for a legal name change. Mastercard and undertaken a study and found that nearly one in three individuals ID’s names or gender do match with what the identify as and therefore reported having a negative experience. They realised how complex and expensive it can be to legally change their name or gender, so they wanted to find a way that they could improve their customers experience.

They wanted to promote personal identification for trans and non binary people to let their bank cards truly reflect them. With the way that our current society is, especially in America, this was an incredible way to promote inclusion and acceptance for everyone in their daily lives. This campaign received a lot of support, not only from the LGBTQIA+ community, but also from the rest of the public who are aware of the inequality the people face on a daily basis, due to the political environment in America- and want to support a cause that can improve peoples lives.

In conclusion, it is clear to see that to stand out from the crowd, a well formulated, innovative PR campaign is needed. Sometimes this may be well planned, carefully crafted campaigns such as IKEA’s, or it can be the case of reactive PR just as ASOS where able to achieve. A good campaign can not only benefit the business and increase sales/reputation, but it can always promote an important message within society and hopefully move towards and better and more inclusive world.

Meabh McMahon is a final year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations student at ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn – Meabh McMahon https://www.linkedin.com/in/meabh-mcmahon-a89b25156/  Twitter: @meabhm6

Guinness officially done with the colour black?

Disclaimer- I’m neither a Rugby nor Guinness fan but I recently feel like Guinness have been taking a slightly different but great approach to some of their campaigns during Rugby tournaments.

Unlike me, you may have watched Ireland disappointing exit from the semi-final of the Rugby World Cup in October, but did you see this tweet from one of team’s main sponsors?

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Guinness Ireland took to twitter urging fans to have a pint of Carlsberg if they are looking to drown their sorrows after Ireland’s 46-14 loss against the New Zealand ‘All blacks’.  It could be just me, but it does seem odd a brand urging their online audience to drink another beverage let alone a rival beer, however this isn’t the first time this year Guinness have suggested consumers not to drink a pint of the black stuff.

Guinness Clear

In 2019, Guinness took over as the main sponsor for the Six Nations and in the lead up, they launched their “new product” Guinness Clear.

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Initially I actually thought it was a new alcoholic drink because of all the TV advertising, the social media campaign and the media attention, but turns out its just water.

The reasoning behind ‘Guinness Clear’ was part of the brands responsible drinking campaign to encourage moderation to all the fans watching the rugby. They took into consideration that some people don’t feel comfortable ordering water in a pub, so now they don’t have too! Guinness ‘re-branded’ water so fans could stick to their favourite brand of refreshment while also being drink aware. Guinness Clear had a large presence at the Six Nations and continues to have a presence throughout rugby stadiums with branded water fonts and sampling teams. On this occasion, Guinness successfully used their Six Nations platform to raise awareness and encourage this audience to be drink aware but what reasoning could Guinness have to want their consumers to drink Carlsberg?

Guinness Ireland has been one of IRFU’s main sponsors for years, as well as being brewed in Ireland it only seems right they show their support and respect for the local team and this is how they did it, they told their social media audience not to drink a pint of the black stuff because of the associated colour with the winning New Zealand team.

Why Carlsberg?

It would make more sense if Guinness had of suggested having a pint of Hop House 13 as they brew this lager, but they considered the colours of the branding of these beers in support for the Irish team. Guinness is known for its black consistently with its white head, the same colours as the New Zealand ‘All Blacks’ kit, while Carlsberg is known for its green and white branding, same as the Ireland kit. Hop house however is red, white and black, so it wouldn’t make as much sense.
As well as taking into consideration the colours ,Guinness strategically picked Carlsberg. Carlsberg is brewed and marketed under license by the same company that own Guinness, Diageo.

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Fans were quick to praise Guinness for their response to the loss. The tweet seen 5,536 retweets and 20,160 likes on twitter and on Instagram it has received 16,211 likes, a 493% increase in likes from their previous post. As well as creating talk on social media, this stunt also created a lot of positivity for the brand as well as the Irish Rugby team.

So how can Guinness afford to be so risky with their campaigns?

Guinness has been around since 1759 and over the years they have created a well-established brand. Their popularity has given them opportunities to get creative with their campaigns and continue to be one of the most popular alcoholic beverages in the world.

Jenna Sloan is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. You can find her on – Twitter: @jennaaaaa_ and LinkedIn: Jenna Sloan 

Did I give up on my dream of becoming an artist…or am I right where I need to be?

So here’s a little bit about me: My name is Kayleigh, I am 22 years old and I am only half way through my university degree. However before I can get to the good stuff I have to take you right back.

From a young age I always dreamt of being an artist. When I was in secondary school I lived and breathed art. Although I was very academic I only worked hard in other subjects (history & business) so that I could get the grades I needed to get into art school.

Long story short… my hard work paid off and my childhood dream came true. I was going to be an artist!

The calm before the storm 

In September 2016 I packed my bags and moved to the big city (Belfast). I was full of hopes and dreams; nothing was going to get in my way. Throughout my first semester my attitude changed. This course was not living up to my expectations, my dreams. I changed as a person. My parents noticed how unhappy and unenthusiastic I had become. This course was draining my passion for art from me day by day.

I have been told it takes real courage to change direction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Insight into Art School

One thing that you should know about studying art is that the meaning is more important than the execution. For example you could be amazing at art. You could draw the most perfect portrait, or paint the most beautiful painting the world has ever seen. But the question is… WHY did you draw that, what does it mean? 

It’s pretty…yes… but it doesn’t have a purpose or a story! (This is what they will tell you)

On the other hand someone could grab a ruler and draw a straight line. Perhaps they are feeling adventurous today and draw a square. But this is no ordinary square. Their square is the lines that define society.

My point is: It doesn’t matter how good the execution/final piece is, if there is no story or purpose to the art you will not get a good grade.

So is the creative idea more important than the execution if you want to become a successful artist?

*Come January 2017 I dropped out of my degree. I felt as though my world had ended but I couldn’t continue being this unhappy.

New Strategy

In September 2017 I started a new course: Communication, Advertising & Marketing at UU. To be honest I applied for this degree blindly. My dreams had been shattered. The future, unknown.

I was taught in school that marketing was a type of business degree that involved boring people in suits sitting in an office all day long reading reports etc. You would lead an extremely boring life…but hey you would be loaded!

How wrong was I? I was led down this path for a reason.

The re-invention of myself to date

I am now 4 months into my placement year at The Irish News. Every day I am faced with a new challenge or a new campaign. We create and pitch ideas. My ideas are actually listened to and taken on board. Once we establish that magic idea, we create a brief and send it to designers. We brief them on exactly what we would like the campaign to look like. From imagery, to colours to the overall design.

So am I the artist or is the designer who knows how to use photoshop?

I may not have created the final product…. BUT I was taught in art school that the final product is worthless if it doesn’t have a purpose/a story/a message.

It was drilled into me that I had a stupid dream because being an artist was like being a pop star, “you are never going to make it” “what will you do as a job”. There was a very slim chance that the world would see my art.

 

“Don’t give up on your dream because it is not going in the direction you want. There are different routes to the same destination. Stay focused and determined.”-  Janice Harris      

 

I took a different direction to achieving my dream. The dream I am now living.

I am no Picasso or Van Gogh but I guarantee that the majority of you reading this will have seen our artwork in the newspaper, online or perhaps on the side of a bus, you just don’t know it.

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Being a marketer means that my art is seen by the world, it has a purpose, it has a message and it has made a difference.

 

So… has my dream changed or developed? -That’s up for debate.

 

Kayleigh Tinney is a 3rd year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University, current doing a placement year at The Irish News. She can be found on: Instagram – @Kayleightinney and LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/kayleigh-tinney-76b240161/.

A Career in PR …

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Public relations can offer me a challenging and rewarding career in which I will have the opportunity to work on tasks and projects that will have a diverse range of jobs to undertake. I am highly interested in current affairs such as politics and what’s going on in the business world. I find it fascinating to know what businesses, entrepreneurs and politicians/parties are doing well and what ones are on a downfall. Keeping up to date with political parties’ proposals and the likes of Brexit is an area which I am keen to be working with in my day to day jobs and tasks. To be a PR practitioner I would need to be aware of current trends and issues as it will be essential if I want to offer advice to clients or an organisation. No two days would ever be the same if I was working in PR. This spikes my interest as the same boring routine everyday would make me lose my motivation to work harder and would result in a negative impact on my productivity.

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Studying PR and communication for the past 2 years has allowed me to grow in confidence. Group projects that include us sharing presentations with our class has enabled me to be a better public speaker and to learn skills to help me when it comes to talking to a wide range of people. These skills are essential if I want to start a career in PR as it will involve speaking with clients or journalists and groups of people who may be important to an organisation or client. A job in PR would let me gain insight into the impact of communication and how it effects our day to day lives from our buying habits to who we vote for. It will allow me to have the opportunity to work in many different fields from politics, to airlines or even universities.

When I was in upper 6th in school I studied English Literature as one of A-levels. I realised I had a passion for writing and creativity but quickly learned that I had a preference towards the work I had to complete for my Business Studies class. In Business Studies we competed in a national competition which involved us creating and promoting a new cereal bar. During the task I completed a press release and a blog on the health benefits of cereal bars. It allowed me to be creative without the restraints of only analysing a book, poem or play.  As a result of this I was attracted to PR as I knew it would include creative communication. In school we also went on a trip to the Coca Cola factory where their PR practitioner met us, gave us a tour and answered all of our questions. I remember thinking it seemed like a really enjoyable job and she informed us off different tasks she would complete. She told us how she dealt with the press or the general public that had questions about Coca Cola which raised my interest. When I started to research what a job in public relations would entail communicating with colleagues, the media and the public interested me. I am extremely interested in organising events such as exhibitions, open days and press tours as it allows you to get out of the office and engage with key stakeholders. In school I was part of a debating team which allowed me to practise and sharpen my verbal communication skills and taught me how to clearly present my ideas and thinking’s. The creative aspects of PR are off interest to me as I enjoy making brochures, handouts, promotional videos and so on. Similar to most student’s social media interests me as it’s something I would feel comfortable working with. PR would include tasks such as managing and updating and engaging with an organisation or client’s social media site. Working in public relations can teach me how to create content on these platforms that will be useful and engaging to its audiences.

Writing assignments, speeches, blogs, press releases and so on interested me. I knew I had already developed writing skills in school that were essential for working in PR and I enjoyed sitting down to create a piece of work. I’m a very talkative person so the fact that PR is mainly focused on communication is a massive positive for me. I am really comfortable talking with new people, doing interviews and answering the phone. I would love to have a career that involved fostering community relations such as open days and tours that would include communicating with stakeholders. People who work in PR are expected to network and socialise which I find appealing. Dealing with clients, the media and colleagues and building and maintaining relationships with them significantly interests me as social and work life may become a little intertwined.

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One of the main benefits of working in PR I could find during my research was that PR can involve a lot of travelling depending on the organisation. This interests me as it can be exciting and motivating to be working in a new environment. It gives the opportunity to meet and learn from new people which in turn can increase your skill set and make you more employable for future jobs. Travelling with work would also allow you to visit and see places that you may not have seen before and would give the opportunity to experience new cultures, even if it is only for a short period.

I like that it mainly has a professional dress code and you will hold a lot of responsibility. Having a lot of responsibility in work helps motivate me to complete projects and be more creative with my thinking. A career in PR would open many doors for me and allow me to gain brilliant work experience which could lead to a massive variety of jobs.

 

Anna Grant is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram – annagrantx

Why a PR Career?

Why does a career in PR interest me?

Four years ago, once I finished school, I took a year out away from studies as I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and what career path I wanted to follow. Heading off away from my work and responsibilities, I lived in Australia for a year and during that time I visited family friends, from back home that moved out a long time ago whenever I possibly could. Which therefore goes on to lead me into when and why I first thought about PR as a future career for myself.

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I was first introduced to PR by a family friend in Australia, who I and everyone knew as the ‘globe-trotter’. He was constantly travelling with his job working for a PR firm but as he said, at his own leisure (if he didn’t want to he didn’t ever have to, although I understand that this may not sit well with all jobs and PR companies). The excitement of having a fluid job seemed to pique my interest, so being intrigued I started to ask more questions about what exactly he did for a living and with that, he couldn’t answer me with a set-in stone answer as his job was always continually ‘evolving’. He stated the fact that I was a good outgoing person with great communication skills, this would sit very well with people wanting to go into the PR industry for a career. I was never particularly interested in a job that was completely enclosed in a somewhat ‘box’ which would have a repeated, recurrent routine also suited my personality. Having all these thoughts in mind, one particular word that he told me stood out from the rest: ‘Stunts’. Horton (2008) says that, ‘Public relations stunts are an effective form of message delivery when integrated with concepts being communicated’. I began to think of PR stunts and how interesting they were as a form of creative communication and began to think ‘I could think of some great innovative PR stunts myself’. Having this new-found perspective on PR, this was my first overall impression of the industry itself as a whole.

‘Public relations is closely associated with whatever is newest, freshest and most fashionable – and often with what is most successful (and indeed is, disproportionately, a young person’s industry)’ (Morris & Goldsworthy, 2015). With this little seed that my family friend planted in my head, I then started to look at different PR stunts and how they went about being created, what ideas were good and innovative (even mad) by looking at the likes of Red-Bull, who creatively took ‘Red-Bull gives you wings’ maybe even too literally by having a man jump out of a spaceship and plummet to earth, these great stunts began my interest in looking up degrees surrounding PR and Communication.

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Goldsworthy & Morris (2015) state that although PR work might be portrayed as artificial, it is rarely viewed as dull and it likes to be seen as ‘a creative industry’.  The creative side to PR is very appealing to me. The artistic approaches which can be applied to a career in PR would constantly leave me fascinated and with this always thinking and creating new ideas.  In popular culture especially, PR’s role can often be thinking up of ideas for certain events, parties and festivities (which might also lead to attending them). The communication side of this and constantly meeting new people for all various reasons, in my view this has no comparison to a certified office work routine, no matter how small the reality of it may be.

On the subject about a daily office routine, people in PR, like my said family friend, can work almost anywhere, even with a permanent post in a particular business, this doesn’t seclude the fact that in this industry you might and most likely will not be working a 9-5 job every week. Society pressures of having a specific routine do not sit well with me and a repetitive almost mechanical nature in a job wouldn’t suffice. A career in the PR industry could almost guarantee little to none boredom. How the economy of today’s world is working, this further reiterates my point of wanting a job in the PR sector.

Gordon (2011) mentions different types of PR sectors, that you can choose to branch out in, depending on what interests you. ‘PR seems to offer would-be practitioners the chance to decide what interests them, do the PR for it and get paid into the bargain’ (Goldsworthy & Morris, 2015). This would interest me as I could reach out and dip into areas of PR that would suit my liking, such as fashion, music, nature and even sports. As the variety of PR is so vast and complex, this would give me multiple opportunities to experience different sides to PR and the large variety of work would leave me to choose areas that I also wouldn’t be particularly fond of therefore stay away from and areas that I would like to stick at and delve into more that would suit my particular needs and interests.

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PR consultancies are having to distinguish themselves and seek out a competitive advantage as they are ‘selling an intangible service and ultimately the difference is about personalities, but this is notoriously hard to articulate convincingly’ (Goldsworthy & Morris, 2015). This therefore means that PR practices need to keep up to date and in trend with social media and society outside of this. Keeping on top of new technologies and rapidly responding to new social trends interest me as I like to keep ‘on trend’ myself, whether it be with my peers on online, so as this is an integrated aspect of PR this would interest me and my tastes of the work surrounding this.

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Like any career, you cannot go into a job knowing everything. ‘There are few if any scientific laws in PR’ (Smith, 2013). Learning from experience is always key, but this is even more validated within the PR industry. Creative working and thinking is wisdom and collective learning is very interesting and a career in this industry is so unsolidified and not set in stone that embracing your imaginative side interests me.

PR’s role can be tough, ‘pitching stories to sceptical journalists or bloggers, or taking that difficult call when the media have uncovered a damaging story’ (Theaker, 2012). Preparation must be done in advance for these types of situations, which can be make or break for some businesses depending on how big stories or certain situations are. Some people may find the responsibility of this too much, or not wanting the stress that may come along with some ambiguous, unplanned situations, although organisations value these type of PR people, that can stay cool, calm and collected in these types of situations. As I have a very calm nature, I like to work under pressure without it being to over bearing for me and I would like to be given the opportunities to experience these types of pressures. Overcoming these aspects of the job, particularly with myself, a strong sense of job satisfaction would come out of these types of situations for me if they are dealt with properly and respectfully. As being helpful in these situations this could make you a valued representative in an organisation which certain businesses would want and would definitely have perks.

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When naming some large international PR consultancies, I couldn’t think of any at all. ‘Most people have difficulty identifying PR campaigns, and, when they try, frequently confuse them with advertising and other forms of marketing’ (Goldsworthy & Morris, 2008). This interests me are PR as a whole is quite unknown. With certain names, fact and PR concepts, PR is kept at a rather large scale as a blank canvas. The mysteriousness of PR and that surrounding it keeps an interest towards it and I find that extremely interesting.

Public relations is and continues to be a heavily influenced aspect of my personality and I implement some aspects of it into my everyday life, influencing brands I buy such as what I wear, what I eat, and I watch on television.

The fluidity and creativeness aspects of the career, such as stunts really peak my interest in the PR industry as a whole. Interestingly in today’s society PR’s work is still relatively unknown to people outside of the industry and people actually working in a PR career, this ‘secretive’ aspect for me creates a magnetic pull ever more so towards a career in PR as the unknown is exciting and somewhat stimulating.

Alexandra McEvoy is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on: Twitter – @alexmcevoy_ ; Linkedin – https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexandra-mcevoy-111ba5171/

How a vegan sausage roll became the first PR triumph of 2019

Back in December, an email was ‘accidentally’ leaked that contained details of the upcoming launch of a vegan sausage roll by Greggs. And with Greggs not confirming nor denying rumours, social media became flooded with anticipation of this new product that was set to change the way people viewed veganism.

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We all know the stereotypes that surround vegan food. Soya, jackfruit, tofu, cashew nut cheese (yes, the kinds of terms you’ll find in Lucy Watson’s instagram stories) – it’s a lifestyle that most of us (especially students) usually wouldn’t be able to afford. Veganism is widely thought of of being an expensive way to live, so this new vegan alternative to the much loved £1 sausage roll from Greggs was set to throw a massive spanner in the works. And it has.

On 2nd January, Greggs posted the launch video for this ground-breaking new product on their YouTube channel, and it was an instant hit. It mimicked an Apple advertisement, with the new alternative sausage roll taking centre stage just as the latest iPhone would in one of Apple’s annual announcements. And in keeping with their launch video, Greggs sent out samples of their latest product to journalists and influencers, encased in a white box distinctly similar to an iPhone box, complete with silver-embossed text that read: “Pastry Layers: 96, Flake Resolution: Optimal, Taste Level: Maximum, Mega Bites: 10.”

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I know what you’re thinking. All this, for a £1 sausage roll? Well, there was method behind the madness. Knowing that veganism is thought of as an expensive lifestyle, Greggs have tapped into this stereotype by presenting this inexpensive sausage roll as something luxurious and glamorous. John Brown, founder of communications agency Don’t Cry Wolf, for example, stated:

“A lot of companies would be terrified of offending the vegan lobby so it takes a bit of guts to treat the whole thing as a bit of fun – for instance with the iPhone theme. A lot of vegans do own Apple products – that’s a neat touch.”

Most of us would have thought of Greggs and veganism as being polar opposites – Greggs is the ‘cheap and cheerful’ guilty pleasure we go to when we’re skint and want a quick bite to eat; veganism is a lifestyle choice that is widely stereotyped as being pretentious and stuck-up. So by combining the two, Greggs have completely changed the game – and it’s a genius move that none of us saw coming.

The packaging and marketing of a product that sells at £1 created a lot of hype and interest surrounding it’s launch, and Greggs’ clever use of humour has meant that the sausage roll itself has gained a massive following on social media. One day after it’s launch, the hashtag #greggsvegansausageroll was the top trending hashtag in the UK. And you only have to click on it to get involved in ongoing conversation surrounding the new alternative product, and even join in the wide-spread debate – Can it really be called a sausage roll if it doesn’t contain any sausage?

Greggs themselves have caught on to the social media thing, and used it to their advantage. The product gained yet more publicity when Piers Morgan (yes, I know, of course he had to get involved) criticised the product and questioned the need for it. Greggs however tweeted him back, arguably making a complete fool out of him; and other fast food chains such as McDonalds even joined the band-wagon when he also criticised their new meat-free products.

The geniuses behind Greggs’ latest PR stunts obviously have a sense of humour, and in this case, it’s served them well. We’ve seen a few examples of this from them recently. For example, there was the time they went undercover at a food market as an up-market, niche brand called ‘Gregory and Gregory’ and asked a few posh people to unknowingly try their food; as well as the time they lay a sausage roll in a manger surrounded by the three wise men, suggesting that said sausage roll could take Jesus’ place. That campaign, however, backfired, as many Christians took to social media to complain that it was offensive to their religious beliefs. In terms of sales, however, this controversy didn’t actually do any damage to Greggs’ brand; in fact, according to website PR Week, in the weeks after the controversy stores across the UK were selling out of sausage rolls. The fact that Greggs came out of the ‘sausage roll Jesus’ controversy unscathed, then, may explain their ballsiness in attempting to mock the vegan community – a community that in recent times have been the butt of a lot of jokes. They took the risk, though, and it’s paid off.

All of the work that’s been put into this £1 sausage roll – that’s not even really a sausage roll – has meant that Greggs have been sold out of the product in stores across the UK as early as midday. People have even began bidding online for them on eBay, and paying as much as £7 for one that comes in the iPhone box packaging. So there you have it: sausage rolls, vegan alternatives to sausage rolls, and putting Piers Morgan in his place – this is how you capture the hearts of the UK public. And with a bit of clever marketing and PR added into the mix, you’re almost guaranteed success. 

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Anna Stewart is an MSc Communication and Public Relations with Advertising student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @astewart95 and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anna-stewart-b3127a139/