Marie Curie – sharing memories this Christmas!

So, that time of the year again – its Christmas season!

And what’s more typical for Christmas than a huge tree covered in lights?

I agree, nothing! Who doesn’t love a huge, green, tinsel-covered monster in the corner of the room?

…but, what Marie Curie have done blows all of us average-Joes out of the park.

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As the hustle and bustle of Christmas begins, it’s easy to forget about what’s important. It’s not about the presents, or the fancy clothes or the big turkey dinner (although they are all additional positives!).

It’s about spending time and making memories with family and friends while we get the chance!

Every day we see more and more negative posts on social media whether it be politics and the latest news story, a not-so-uncommon celebrity scandal or Phil from down the road ranting about the local pub prices.  *YAWN*

However, this Christmas, the terminal illness charity Marie Curie, have created the world’s first ‘memory-powered’ Christmas tree.

Placed in front of the iconic London Eye on the Southbank, this visual spectacle started on the 4th of the month and runs right up until December 17th.

Each of the individual fairy lights on the tree will be powered by people sharing their memories on Twitter and Instagram by using the hashtag #LightUpXmas.

In other words, the more people that post using the hashtag, the brighter the lights will shine.

Simple but GENIUS!

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The tree brings the charity to life as it serves as an important reminder of the work Marie Curie do providing care and support to people living with a terminal illness, some of whom will be trying to enjoy what might be their last Christmas with their family.

This piece of art symbolises the light that Marie Curie brings to every individual they help. It highlights how they allow families to spend Christmas together, making special memories with their loved ones.

A Marie Curie representative stated,

‘We’ve launched the memory-powered Christmas tree, to show the importance of creating positive memories, and show support for people living with terminal illnesses.’

You can share your special memories on Twitter or Instagram using #LightUpXmas – it could be any happy memory – your first memory, a Christmas memory or a memory of a loved one you’ve lost.

Marie Curie work tirelessly throughout the year helping thousands of families across the UK dealing with terminal illness.

It’s one of those things that you don’t really think about until you’re in the situation, right? Hopefully, this wonderfully thought out idea will bring the charity the recognition and awareness which they deserve.

Below is examples of posts which thousands have already shared – just AMAZING.

 

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Come on, if this doesn’t melt your heart and get you in the Christmas spirit I don’t know what will and if you haven’t already, get sharing – Let’s light up London this Christmas!

A heart-warming, eye-watering and just downright beautiful PR stunt by the charity. 10 out of 10 for inventiveness and execution in my opinion.

BRAVO, Marie Curie!

 

Lauren Kearns is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University, Jordanstown. You can reach her on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/lauren-kearns-90819710b

Are you afraid of the dark… or afraid of Moz?

Like many people, I do await the Christmas TV ‘adverts’ around this time of year.

It’s that time of the year where high street stores compete in the sphere of PR, Advertising, and Marketing, (and in most cases all three), for the most original Christmas idea – trying to encourage consumers to ultimately go to their stores and spend a lot of well, money.

But in our modern digital age, these are no longer ‘just an advert’ between X Factor and I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here these days.

In particular, anticipation for the ‘new John Lewis Christmas Ad’ has become public fascination with a multi-mix media communication operations behind it to generate as much publicity as possible; promoting with the biggest companies and brands such as Google, Spotify, Whatsapp, Sky and teaming up with the children’s charity Barnardos, with 10% of proceeds from merchandise of cuddly toys and mugs, going to young child carers.

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A spinning wheel of publicity, to reach as many people as possible, to get as many people talking abut you as possible, and to build excitement in as many people as possible, at the busiest time of the year.

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Previous John Lewis campaigns have included the compelling stories of the Man on the Moon, Monty the Penguin and Buster the trampoline bouncing Boxer; a recurring theme to center on emotional stories, and remove branding to ensure attention from a captivated audience.

Their latest campaign introduces us to the lovable Moz the Monster, which focuses on the tale of a little boy and his friendship with an imaginary monster living under his bed.

I have to admit, on first watching the advert, I felt underwhelmed from the lack of “Christmassy feelings” I got, and had to watch it a few times to understand what the message of the campaign was.

But as always, with major publicity, these campaigns don’t always please everyone.

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And as it turns out, not everyone is entirely happy with poor Moz.

Since the ad has aired, many parents have aired their concerns, with tweets joking “John Lewis putting the fear in every child thinking there is a monster under their bed! 10/10 guys.”

One annoyed parent also tweeted: “If your child is struggling with sleep related psychological trauma… John Lewis suggests you need to make them wait til Christmas for a bloomin’ night light.”

However, the glorious world of PR allows many to take on your own perceptions to the messages we receive from the media on a daily basis.

John Lewis’ tale is all about imagination.

My own interpretation is that to beat his fear of the dark, Joe creates an imaginary friend to overcome this fear… (albeit losing his recommended 8 hours sleep in the process).

But still, I believe the clever folk behind the John Lewis spinning machine aimed for the ad to be a very heart-warming, compelling story once again.

As always, parodies have made their way onto YouTube with millions of views, a nightlight featured in the ad was sold out online the next morning and #MozTheMonster and #JohnLewisChristmasAd was the top trending topic worldwide on Twitter, whilst many good-humored people also jumped on the bandwagon….

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Asking my fellow peers how much they thought cost to make the ad, the general answer was £500,000 to £1 million.

Add another £6 million… and the advert is reported to have cost a whopping £7 million to make!

Many are outraged to hear of such an expense, with public opinion being that instead of spending so much money on ‘one ad’ (that is ‘lackluster’ in general) this money could actually have been put to good use and given to charity – that the 10% ‘proceeds of merch’ to Barnardo’s just doesn’t cover it.

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However, brands are expected to spend a record £6 BILLION on Christmas advertising this year. This according to the Advertising Association, who state it is being driven by intense market competition, especially within the retail sector, and the rise of big-budget campaigns.

It believes spending on ads has jumped nearly 40% in just 7 years!

But with the likes of the delightful Ed Sheeran jumping on the Moz bandwagon – (and who doesn’t like Ed Sheeran these days?) is easy and cheap publicity in itself.

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So, was £7 million worth it on good ol’ Moz? Not Christmassy enough? Too scary for children?

I think my overall call to action is to start a petition to get the wee Man OFF the Moon for 2018.

Yup. (I will be posting the link for you all to sign it).

 

Chloe Campbell is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/chloe-campbell-337b26152 / Facebook: Chloe Campbell.

The strange thing about Stranger Things

The strange thing about Stranger Things

Two unheard of writers with no previous television hits, a bunch of dorky Dungeons and Dragons playing kids, and a random girl with a shaved head and some freaky powers. How did all of this turn in to the most watched Netflix series to date?

Note: For those who do not watch Stranger Things, I do apologise for the references in this post that you will not understand.

If you haven’t yet seen Stranger Things, then you must be living under a rock (or in the ‘Upside Down’, but you obviously don’t know what that is). The thrilling Netflix series is set in a small fictional town in Indiana named Hawkins and stars four young monster-obsessed boys.

The sci-fi sensation crept on to our Netflix home pages with an unanticipated effect. Fans of ET and the Goonies would be patiently waiting for the series arrival. But how did the non-monster loving fans get so hooked?

The phenomenon that is Stranger Things took the world by storm, so much so that people are wondering what they ever did without the show.  According to the shows writers, the Duffer brothers, the show was rejected 15 to 20 times by various networks before Netflix took it on (Thank you Netflix).

 So what is the strange thing about Stranger Things?

 Unfamiliarity 

Prior to watching Stranger Things, had you heard of any of the cast before? Probably not.  Most of them have had brief TV appearances before, except of course for Winona Ryder (Will’s mum) who is said to be one of the most iconic actresses of the 1990s.

The unfamiliarity of the cast is immensely successful, despite all odds. It is interesting to watch the characters and develop your own opinion on them, rather than comparing them to a previous show you’ve seen them in. Think about it, do you really see Daniel Radcliffe in any other film and not instantly think of Harry Potter?

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 The kids

There is typicality about shows on Netflix nowadays with most being drug, prison or White House related. So what made Stranger Things stand out?

It’s simple – the kids! Of course, the story line itself is a very far stretch from drug mules and prison gangs but ultimately it’s the use of unheard of kid actors that make it so original. I think Stranger Things has everything that Netflix was missing – a cute adorable little dork like Dustin.

It’s difficult to grasp the challenge of a series starring teenagers, but not specifically directed towards a teenage audience and the Duffer Brothers did this perfectly! The average age of the Stranger Things fans is 18-29, a social media obsessed audience, which is evident in its media coverage online.

As well as this, there is a relatability about Stranger Things.

Dungeons and Dragons author David Ewalt says,

“You don’t have to have been a nerd in the 1980s to see yourself in one of those kids,” Ewalt continues. “We were all kids and we were all kids who faced our own monsters, whatever they were, and we’re going to relate to these characters who have a mission and troubles they have to face. Even a kid who’s that age today can look at Stranger Things and relate to it.”

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 Nostalgia and the absence of tech

Imagine if Lucas, Will, Dustin and Mike could Snapchat each other instead of using walky-talkies? What if Will could somehow text his mum from the Upside Down instead of talking to her through the light bulbs? Or if Nancy put out a ‘Missing person! Find Barb, please like and share’ on Facebook?

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The absence of modern technology makes it for a much more exciting series. By stripping communication lines back to that day in 1983, it has our adrenaline racing considerably more.

 What is even stranger about Stranger Things?

As I previously said, there was nothing to warn us about the arrival of the demogorgon, the shadow monster or the darkness of the upside down.

So how did this sci-fi thriller turn in to an overnight sensation?

Just plain and simple Word of Mouth marketing

It’s easy, we trust our friends! If your friend tells you with their blood shot eyes that they have shamelessly been living under a duvet and bingeing on Stranger Things for two days, you are going to believe that it really must be something worth watching.

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Sometimes, word of mouth marketing is the only option, and it is a huge risk. The Duffer Brothers had a low budget and therefore had to gamble that people would love the show, and then talk about how much they loved the show – and this is exactly what they did.

Thanks to the success of Season 1, The Duffer Brothers had extra budget to splurge out on the ultimate advertising opportunity for the Season 2 premiere – The Super bowl. It captured the most social media buzz out of the 65 ads that were showcased during the game and generated an undeniable excitement 9 months before the series even returned to Netflix.

Strange Partnerships

What could be better than Topshop AND Stranger Things? The quick-witted Topshop launched an exclusive collection in partnership with Netflix to join in on the Season 2 excitement, and obviously massively increase their sales – clever Topshop! They flaunted Stranger Things retro inspired tshirts, jumpers and bags as well as a massive in-store Hawkins experience at their Oxford Circus store.

There is no doubt about the massive buzz about the new sci-fi Stranger Things, a show you never thought you would be this obsessed with (I know I didn’t). However, if you made it to the end of this blog and still haven’t watched Stranger things…

ST Shocked

…why haven’t you?

Loren Ward is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @lorenward and LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/loren-ward-b93049a8

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!

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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

Burger King Tackles Bullying

When someone says the name Burger King what do you think of?

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Fast food, unhealthy food, convenience? But what about anti bullying?

It is not a connection that I would have originally made myself however, as part of anti-bullying month Burger King did a PR stunt in an undisclosed restaurant in LA where hidden cameras where used and Burger King employees served beaten up Whopper Jr. hamburgers whilst at the same time paid teenage actors are physically bulling another teenage boy.

What is the spot about?

The spot is called “Bullying Jr.,” and was created in honour of National Bullying Prevention Month which took place during the month of October in the US to raise awareness that 30 % of students are bullied each year.

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The stunt was to highlight the sad truth of bullying that in many cases bystanders will not get involved and in this instance it turned out to be true, with only 12% of customers reporting the bullying of the child whilst a staggering 95% of customers reported the ‘bullied’ Whopper Jr. Burger.

The campaign has been viewed more than a million times on YouTube and been retweeted hundreds of thousands of times.

Burger King partnered with US anti-bullying organisation No Bully and the CEO and Founder Nicolas Carlisle had this to say about the ad:  “We know that bullying takes on many forms, physical, verbal, relational and online. But the first step to putting an end to bullying is to take a stand against it…our partnership with the Burger King brand is an example of how brands can bring positive awareness to important issues. You have to start somewhere and they chose to start within.”

Link to the video on YouTube:

Why I think it worked:

Although the ad received some criticism due the obvious product placement and the fact it only confronts one element of bullying, physical bullying, I think that the ad worked very well for a number of reasons:

  • Real Life Situation

It was a real life situation that any of us could find ourselves or have found ourselves in so the relatability factor had you questioning what you would do in that situation and by the end of the ad it may have you questioning what you might do in the future if you are ever in a similar situation. The fact the situation is real life reactions emphasises the figures presented at the end of the experiment.

  • Support Of A Recognised Charity

As the campaign is supported by an anti-bullying organisation, No Bully, this helps ensure that the message gets across without it seeming like another ploy to promote a fast food chain. It further adds authenticity to the facts and figures provided during the ad increasing the strength of the message. By partnering with an anti-bullying organisation this highlights the good that globally recognised brands can do to shine a light on important issues.

  • Emotive

The ad is very emotive as it shows a child getting bullied in the video and that can be hard to watch. Combined by the fact very little people stand in to helps further heights how distressing bullying can be if you are in need of help but people chose to ignore your plea.

The comparison of people’s reactions to the bullying and their ‘bullied’ burger increases the emotion as it is hard to comprehend that people would be more concerned with food being bullied than a child.

The ability to involve people’s emotions and possibly draw on their own experiences is very powerful as it adds an extra dimension to the ad and helps ensure that it is memorable, thought provoking and engaging.

Final Thoughts:

Burger King says it wants its position to be clear.

“The Burger King brand is known for putting the crown on everyone’s head and allowing people to have it their way. Bullying is the exact opposite of that,” the company said.

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At the end of the ad when they speak to the people who intervened when the child was being bullied it was interesting to see their reasoning behind helping – many of them had been bullied as children and wished that someone would have stepped in to help them. Does this then raise the concern that ignorance is bliss? Are we living in a society that if you have not been directly affected by bullying that it is easier for you to choose to ignore it even if it is happening right in front of you? In my opinion the ad does make you consider your own actions and how you might act in the future.

In order for any campaign to be successful the message needs to be clear, memorable and with a call to action and I think that Burger King managed to do all three within this ad.

 

Caoimhe Fitzpatrick is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @caoimhef_95 / LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/caoimhe-fitzpatrick-0b8682110/

Flight Centre UK find PR potential in a mundane scenario

As I passively scrolled through my Twitter feed, I stumbled across a post regarding a situation that initially appeared somewhat passive. A few clicks later and I’m intrigued by a simple, yet subtly clever, PR move. For me, it is the fitting reminder that we, as PR practitioners, need to make the most of every opportunity regardless of whether it’s big or small. We shouldn’t overlook the potential within simple monotonous day-to-day situations that we all encounter.

The scenario: A young guy, George Armstrong, goes on a night out, gets drunk and loses his ID card. Standard. The outcome: A travel agency, Flight Centre UK, find his ID, return it to him and then some. You may ask yourself, how have these two managed to cross paths? Very simply. The travel agency had found his ID outside of their premises. They then took it upon themselves to post it back to George and most likely gave him a slight scare in the process of doing so.

Upon opening the letter, George was welcomed with his nicely laid out travel summary. It appeared that he had treated himself and booked flights from London Heathrow to the Maldives (#treatyoself). The following page thanked him for his custom and gave a subtle reminder that his rather modest balance of £5,289.87 would be due by the end of the week. However, he was finally put out of his misery when he came to the last page. It stated that the entire thing was just a joke and that they had simply found his ID outside of their premises. (Note the lovely ‘Just make sure you consider us for your next holiday. Take care!’ at the end).

Those who are inherent sticklers when it comes to grammar, can’t quite seem to get over the faux pas that was the incorrect use of the word you’re instead of your. For the rest of us mere mortals who saw past this faux pas, it was simply a kind act and an imaginative move all in one by the travel agency.

Flight Centre UK has somehow eloquently mixed humour with fear – not quite the same fear that George thought he’d suffer from after his night out on the town. Facts are boring; playing on emotions will spark true reactions and grab people’s attention. This example backs up that statement. Imagine if Flight Centre UK had have returned George’s ID and attached nothing else. Well, you don’t have to imagine because that passive act would have been just that. Dull. Boring.

Having just clicked back on the post, it appears that George has paid a visit to Flight Centre UK to meet the guy who made it all happen – Steve. Instead of robotically signing off the letter as an unnamed member of the team, Steve took the personal approach and simply used his first name. Everyone wants and appreciates that personal touch when dealing with corporations and particularly with bigger corporations. George appreciated his gesture so much so that he even got his photo taken with his new-found friend Steve. A happy, humorous ending to a simple mistake.

Louise Harvey is studying for an MSc in Communications and Public Relations with Advertising at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @louiseharvey_ // Instagram: @louiseharvey93 // LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/harveylouise/ 

The Confessions of a PR Girl

So, here it goes …

I am Kathryn Bigger, lover of fashion, PR (shocker) and collecting cacti.

As a third-year student studying Public Relations and Communications I have certainly learnt a lot about myself and most importantly what I am capable of.  If you too have a love for all things PR, Fashion and Cacti (Avocados are so overrated) then I know you will feel right at home here. My mission is to provide insight into the wonderful world of PR and to let you know that it is OK to mess up along the path of reaching your goals. Trust me, this is a tough industry and the more you learn to dust yourself off, pick yourself up and progress forward the better!

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When I thought about writing my own content I have in some ways been put off by the negative stigma that surrounds the blogging network.  Within Northern Ireland word spreads faster than I can spread Nutella on toast (true bill folks).  Just like our small but widely diverse communities, our NI blogging network is tightly knit.  Those who fail to understand the network are quick to judge, it is nice to be nice (I see you keyboard warriors).   It is time that we focused on the positives by supporting those who are confident, courageous and creative enough to showcase their lives online – You go Glen Coco!

I will let you into a little secret, a secret that I am slowly learning to share… I wear my heart on my sleeve. Some believe that to work in PR you must be utterly glamorous, cut-throat and super confident.  This is NOT the case.  One of the many reasons why I decided to write this blog was to share with you that it is absolutely OK to be yourself. You can remain successful by being humble. Climbing the slippery ‘social ladder’ in PR may seem daunting at first, however my best piece of advice is to remain true to yourself.  Let success be your noise!

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Communication is KEY.  I am pretty sure that if my friends and family had to write one thing about me they would jot down immediately that I LOVE to talk (just as my phone bill would suggest).  Whilst chatting for hours may not be your cup of tea it has helped me immensely in the world of PR.  Making solid connections with clients is vital, it not only boosts morale but will help you to nurture new and existing relationships. Ok, so we are all capable of communicating but what is that magic ingredient that brings our ideas and conversations to life? CREATIVITY (Yes, this word deserves capitals because it is the Queen of sass).

We are created to create.  I love to communicate through illustration, just as the saying goes ‘a picture is worth a thousand words.’ The moment I put paintbrush to paper the world around me stops.  Being able to express my thoughts and feelings on a blank canvas is the most rewarding feeling.  One simple, understated design can progress into something rather beautiful.

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So, discover what you are good at and make it work for you. Exercise your talents and remember stay true to who you are. Authenticity is an extremely attractive characteristic; only you can determine your own success!

Kathryn 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.