Will Influencing Last Forever?

Will Influencing Last Forever?

This is a question that has been bouncing around in my head for a couple of weeks now, after I was ‘influenced’ to buy a mascara and guess what? That’s right…two days later the same influencer was promoting a DIFFERENT mascara on her story. What about the one I had just ordered? It was supposed to be the best mascara ever created.

This influencer completely lost my trust, I felt tricked and gullible.

Is it really all about money for influencers? Will they say anything if they are paid? It does prove one thing though, influencing works and it is not the first time I have bought a product due to a recommendation from an influencer, but it could be the last.

How can influencing go wrong?

Terrie McEvoy and Tower Jewellers

Irish influencer and blogger Terrie McEvoy partnered with the company Tower Jewellers; she rigged a sponsored contest so that friends of hers won the prizes — two bracelets from Tower. After the backlash on social media, McEvoy and Tower Jewellers apologized, and McEvoy deleted her Facebook account.

Scott Disick and Bootea

Scott Disick’s first Instagram post on behalf of Bootea products was a huge flop. He accidentally copied and pasted the campaign instructions from the PR firm he was working with as part of the post. The post read: “Here you go, at 4pm est, write the below Caption: Keeping up with the summer workout routine with my morning @booteauk protein shake!”

Opps Scott, amateur move!

I simply, cannot leave out Fyre Festival, the fraudulent luxury music festival founded by Billy McFarland, CEO of Fyre Media Inc, and rapper Ja Rule. The event was promoted on Instagram by social media influencers including Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, Hailey Baldwin and Emily Ratajkowski, many of whom did not initially disclose they had been paid to do so. Tickets cost up to $100,000 (£75,000) and guests who booked were promised luxury accommodation and “the best in food, art, music and adventure” in the Bahamas. Instead they turned up to mattresses on rain-soaked floors, meals of cheese slices on bread and their luggage thrown into an unlit car park. Hit up the Netflix documentary if you have not already.

The influencer marketing industry is on track to be worth up to $15 billion by 2022, up from as much as $8 billion in 2019, according to Business Insider. The industry has become so monetized, it’s possible there is an anti-influencer sentiment on the rise, many people are becoming less trusting of influencers and more careful of who they choose to follow due to the increase of dishonest practises. Instagram influencer engagement is nearing an all-time low as social media allows for more people to achieve fame and influencer status, meaning social media quickly has become oversaturated with influencers.

Tips for working with influencers

  • Influencers need to display authenticity, likability, and authority to create trust with followers. Brands need to be careful who they choose to represent them, the best practice would be partnering with influencers who have used and liked a product or service before even entering an endorsement deal, but at the very least, marketers should make sure they partner with influencers who have authentic connections to their brand.  
  • Some influencers have inflated followings, with very little engagement which is why it is great (and cheaper) for brands to work with micro influencers. The authenticity of common interests between a micro-influencer and their followers evokes a credibility that a large influencer cannot replicate.
  • Tik Tok made me buy it… Following in the footsteps of Instagram, Tik Tok is set to become a major player in the influencer space with 41% of users aged 16-24.

Will influencing last forever? I cannot see it slowing down anytime soon. But I can see it changing at a rapid pace, brands will have to choose meticulously each influencer they work with ensuring they are ethical, honest and create authentic content in order to be successful working with influencers.

Will I be influenced again? Probably…

Cliodhna Donnelly is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn and Instagram

Does Good PR Mean being Bad?

Does Good PR Mean being Bad?

One explanation to why transparency in PR is taking the business’ middle stage is a direct result of web-based media. It’s simpler now for clients to consider brands responsible for their activities. Regardless of whether it’s an awful survey on a blog, or an appeal circling Facebook, people in general are progressively vital in shaping an opinion or reputation of a business or anything. Subsequently, organisations are clamouring to give their clients a greater amount of an understanding into their cycles and to assist them with remaining educated. However, I’m sure all will agree that this method is truly the most dignified and morally correct, however, there are many depending factors that can shape a companies reputation. These are the more dishonest factors. I am stuck personally between what is morally correct and as a public relations official I would like to think that by being honest and dignified would make me a great at pr. In contrast to that though, I see why some would think as a Public Relations official, they should do anything as long as its legal, to protect that company or save their reputation. Surely that would count as doing great PR?

Another explanation is that an apparent absence of honesty ponders gravely an individual or association, whether or not or not they have something to ‘cover up’. Take David Cameron’s past contribution in the Panama Papers embarrassment. At the point when inquired as to whether the Prime Minister was holding cash seaward, a representative for Downing Street answered with, “It’s a private issue”, which, obviously, lead to far and wide doubt about the PM’s monetary dealings. Cameron later uncovered insights concerning his own funds, yet it’s protected to state that Downing Street’s press office might have spared themselves a terrible part of issue had they been straightforward and delivered the PM’s expense records sooner, as opposed to keeping away from the inquiry. So, what could the Prime Ministers PR team done better?  The fact that they states something so inaccurate and dilly dallied around the subject, just led to more of an uproar as it in a way, confirms to the public, in THEIR eyes that he is guilty of the story’s accusation. If the PR team had chosen to be honest, there would have been a commotion so maybe it does mean that not being completely transparent all the time is a good thing.

A Good example of transparency in PR…

An extraordinary case of this was Mars’ declaration in April that suggested its Dolmio and Uncle Ben’s sauces should just be eaten ‘at times’ because of their high salt, sugar, and fat substance. Heaps of individuals addressed whether such a declaration was ‘brand self destruction’, and would welcome on a decrease in deals, however numerous PR experts extolled the move, saying that it was established in social duty and authentic promise to the client

.At the hour of the declaration, PR Week addressed PR experts for their conclusions. Rickki Weir, head of customer brand at PR consultancy Cirkle, stated,

 “It’s an innovative nod to the educational role that many manufactures will continue to take. It informs consumers and leaves them with the choice of how often they consume the product.”

Eventually, the reaction to the news was generally sure, with loads of experts remarking on how it considered Mars and their obligation to their clients over deals. Fiona Dawson, Mars’ worldwide leader of food, drinks, and multisales, fortified the part of trandparency in building associations with people in general, expressing that the move was tied in with conveying what clients need, 

“Customer have been getting progressively confounded about what is solid and what isn’t sound. We have to step in and guarantee that we convey the straightforwardness they state that they are searching for.”

In any case, how honest is honest PR, truly? What’s more, where do you take a stand?

…And a not so good example. Or is it?

A wile ago, a photo and video of Megan Trainor cam into question, pop star Meghan Trainor brought her most recent music video down from YouTube, asserting that her midsection had been Photoshopped. Subsequently, Trainor was commended for her genuineness and demonstrating regard for her relationship with fans. It was additionally gotten by bunches of major news sources, making it a decent piece of exposure for the pop artist. 

In any case, after it was later uncovered that Trainor did in fact endorse the video before its delivery, a few people addressed how she might have missed her clearly intensely photoshopped midsection, proposing the arrangement was to pull the video from the start. As stated, the story was covered broadly, and it helpfully fitted in with Meghan Trainor’s picture as the banner young lady for body inspiration … maybe excessively advantageously. So was this an astute PR stunt which played on the public’s requirement for straightforwardness? It’s difficult to tell, however it unquestionably concretes that straightforward PR (or what resembles straightforwardness in PR) is acceptable PR in the public’s eyes.

Summed up, like, a just don’t know what to believe. To me there is two sides that just cannot get to the bottom of. 

Anyway, you may not of gotten any clarity from this blog post, but I hope that you enjoyed it and thank you for reading.

Caoimhe Cullinan is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University.

Honesty in PR: The Truth will set you free?

Honesty in PR: The Truth will set you free?

Honesty or Survival?

In this crazy social media world that we are engulphed in, we are aware and sometimes unaware to the extent in which public relations is utilised to save the reputations and business of many celebrities, companies, influencers, government and numerous others. The question, however, is good public relations being honest, or is good public relations doing whatever/saying whatever to save themselves, whether that be honest or dishonest.

What are the consequences of dishonesty in PR?

As with any profession, there are always going to be dishonest and inefficient workers. As a PR specialist I think it is very important to have good intentions and to be honest. Additionally, when people have been deceived, the trust is eroded. This makes them more likely to put time-sucking checks and balances in place in an attempt to maintain and gain control.

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Is honesty the final piece to the PR puzzle?

Examples of unethical conduct in PR

Overselling capabilities

. Some PR agencies that give you promises and guarantees that may not match their actual employment ethic.

 • Circumventing the subject of measurement.

The PR firm ought to be subject matter to confer winder metrics, reporting strategies and return on investment.

 • Deficiency of transparency.

The PR agency may not divulge exactly to whom they are, pitching, but they should definitely be willing to discuss how they are positioning the company and what media mercantile establishment they are targeting.

 • Blatant lying.

Claiming to haveclient, tangency and resources they don’t have are some of the way’s PR professionals can deceive

. • Underhanded tactics.

While it’s amercement to develop creative , movement some take things too far by planting misinformation to make clients look better or making false statements to attract attention. When the populace discovers this kind of behaviour, the good reputation of the entire system is at risk. Remember this: If someone can be dishonest for you, he may just as easily be dishonest to you.

 In my personal opinion that’s what a specialist in PR should do and I it IS in fact what the role should entail. However, same believe that good PR is using whatever method, honest or not to get out of the situation or to save their reputation. Personally, as a so called ‘Gen-Z’, I see public scandals with bloggers and Instagram influencers every week. As a reader in the scandals, I look for honesty. I believe it depicts true remorse, responsibility and will to improve or be better. For example, a tiktok influencer Tony Lopez was recently involved in a scandal which involved him being accused of making inappropriate sexual advances to minors. I imagine that he was advised to stay silent on social media while the scandal arise as he went ghost on all social media platforms. He the released a statement saying he was going to do better, and it is getting resolved behind the scenes. This sort of response instigated a flood of comments asking, is he accepting responsibility or not? Therefore, in this case we don’t actually know the truth, however, I believe that it was the most appropriate response that was obviously advised by publicists. In this case he didn’t try and depict himself as a victim of allegations, nor did he try and lie himself out of it. However, people are always wanting and NEEDING the truth.

Working as a publicist or in the PR world it is vital that you deliver your job effectively and efficiently. I believe that there needs to be an established relationship with the employer and the PR specialist. There needs to be an understanding of moral similarity. For example, a business may aim to deliver honest responses, and if not, if they aim to deliver responses to save themselves, whether it be honest or dishonest, then the employee needs to be ok with that.

This is only a slight overview of this topic. I will explain further in my next blog thank you for reading.

Caoimhe Cullinan is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University.

How to go from a reality TV star to the President of the United States of America.

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Reality TV. The genre that has overtaken our lives, from watching ordinary people find the “love’ of their lives on a luxury island, to watching important political figures such as Stanley Johnson eating kangaroo…bits. We sit down and indulge ourselves on entertaining content, usually thanking god that it’s not us having to serenade Simon Cowell.

But what if one of these TV “stars” then decides one day, “I think I want to become president” (as most normal people do). What does it take in order for this to happen? Well no, this isn’t some sort of SNL comedy sketch. This is in fact real life, and it came down to one bumbling, blonde haired man by the name of Donald Trump and the help of the now infamous Cambridge Analytica.

By this point, if you do not know who Trump is then I do believe you may be in the extremely lucky minority. For those who do, I’m sure you ask yourself on a regular basis, how did this man ever become president of the United States (which, may I add would be a completely valid observation).  Well America, you largely have the work of a data company known as Cambridge Analytica to thank for that.

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Cambridge Analytica were a consulting firm, that was set up to combine data mining, data brokerage and analysis. They were able to offer services to business and political groups who wanted to “change audience behaviour.” They claimed that they where able to use certain algorithms, specifically tailored to your businesses needs, for example the ability to analyse consumer data and buying behaviours. In the case of the Trump campaign, their main objective was to ensure Donald Trump become president, by implementing a few “necessary” (unethical) steps.

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This is my summarised “How to” guide of Cambridge Analytica’s process of transforming Trump from a second rate Alan Sugar to President of the USA. A fool proof system, made to aid the fool!

  1. Exploitation of Facebook users privacy

Exploitation. A common way to gain information on your target market, is it not? Cambridge Analytica developed an algorithm for Facebook, which involved paying participants to partake in a survey about their personalities, and as a result allowing access to all their Facebook data and information. Roughly 270,000 people took part in this survey, which as a result lead to around 30 million  peoples data being accessed, as they were able to access friends of friends, all for the sake of $5! This allowed Cambridge Analytica to have extensive amount of data of the American public, which was what they effectively needed for the next step. 

2. Breakdown of data

They then come up with a system that allowed them to group off people in certain divisions, for example people with a particular personality trait were seen to be more likely to support “the wall” being built, and therefore could be swayed to vote for Trump with a small amount of persuasive targeted marketing. They scored each personality using the Ocean model, which effectively segregated people into different characters based on things like their openness to new experiences and their neuroticism, which was then used to decide those who were sensitive from those who are more secure and confident. Who knew a small amount of information we have posted on Facebook would allow for a mass break down of our personalities, frightening isn’t it?

3. Campaigning

Once they where able to branch the individuals off into large groups and sub groups within that, they were then able to find out which participants they would tailor their marketing for the campaign towards, as these were the people that possessed the necessary characteristics to be swayed to vote for Trump. They used devised communication within their digital marketing campaigns to “promote the story” to their targeted individuals. All the data research and segregation of groups meant that one groups campaign that they saw online would be completely different from another group, as both these individuals need to be attracted to the cause in a different way, and allows people to believe in the candidate and connect with everyone in a different way- and as a result encourage and increase voting numbers. The main (only) way they could persuade people to vote for Trump- ruin the reputation of Hilary Clinton. The perfect marketing plan wouldn’t you say? 

4. Extorting politicians

What is the best way to get politicians on your side during a campaign? Make alliances with them, create a mutual relationship, build friendships through past experiences? No, Cambridge Analytica decided to go for a more hands on method with one of their chief executives appearing to say that they are able to extort other politicians by sending woman to entrap them. A conventional method to win presidency, extort politicians and create fake news regarding them, right? This gave them the endorsement and support that they may have needed to sway voters towards Trump. 

A lot of technical stuff isn’t it? In simplified terms, all you have to do to become President is unethically access large quantities of data from unsuspecting participants of surveys, manipulate their data in a way to suit your intentions and create marketing content to drill propaganda into said person, simple right? Is it ethical and morally correct? No. Will it get you off the TV and saying “you’re fired” everyday? Yes. 

Since then, Cambridge Analytica has been shut down and under investigation for a number of possible offences they may be held liable for. Does that mean our national reality show treasure like Paul Hollywood or Gemma Collins will never become PM?

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I do want to end this on a more positive note, so rather than a detailed dissection on the large global effect Trumps presidency is having on many individuals that belong to minority groups, or his lack of consideration for our rapidly dying planet, I decided to end with a few of my favourite trump memes. Enjoy!

Forget The Greatest Showman – was P.T Barnum ‘The Greatest SPINman’ of all time?

If you haven’t been aware of The Greatest Showman bubble we’ve all been living in since Christmas, do you even own a phone with acceptable 3G coverage? (or clearly you haven’t been paying the Wifi bill in your student houses).

Because if Hugh Jackman Gifs are not dominating your Twitter, or Zac Efron all up on your Facebook newsfeeds, then you’ve definitely heard the glorious soundtrack that’s been number 1 on iTunes for as long as Apple have had, well, an apple, as their logo.

For those of you who weren’t like me and went to see the musical phenomenon 3 times… yes, you did read that right (“the biggest-grossing original live-action musical EVER”)!

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But let me assure you, there are *no spoilers* in this Blog.

However, what this blog is written about is the very man (played by the delightful Hugh Jackman) that this global movie is ‘loosely’ based on – the infamous life of the legendary showman and crowd-pleaser Phineas T Barnum, which many historical critics argue is “the man who in the 19th century possibly invented entertainment as we know it today.”

He may have invented entertainment, but he also invented his own style of questionable PR.

A man full of bigger-than-life ideas – Barnum marketed to an audience interested in mass, and often crass, entertainment regardless of how factual or ethical such displays were.

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With the real question being… did PT Barnum use PR in an ethical way? Especially, when The Greatest Showman – the movie – is feel-good, joyful viewing, painting a celebratory “body-positive evangelism for diversity” and celebrating those in the world who are unashamedly different.

These different people – the ‘human freaks’ – in “the movie about a circus” have their backgrounds and anatomical achievements humorously exaggerated just a trifle by PT… for publicity purposes (of course). As the famous lyrics are musically sung by the All-Star cast – “impossible comes true… this is the greatest show.”

Greatest Showman Gif

Impressively, the ‘Irish Giant’ on the advertising posters wasn’t actually Irish. But the circus audience didn’t know that one… as PT says in the movie “the press will love it!”

However, the arguable thing about the real Barnum recorded in history, is that he was known to have presented “freakishness” in the form of “living curiosities” through active exploitation.

And although it’s not a spoiler, this explains why the movie shows so angry protesters outside the circus after every performance.

Unlike in the movie, which in musical style rejoices “I am me, I am who I’m meant to be” about the uniqueness of human beings, Barnum and his colleagues are said to have created ethnic stereotypes when cordoning off this swath of humanity as “different”.

The Guardian writes: “Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump has been frequently likened by political pundits to PT Barnum. A professional bullshitter with a penchant for loud rhetoric, fake news and racial prejudice? He doesn’t play down the comparison.”

So Donald Trump is the new PT Barnum?

I suppose the White House HAS been actively referred to as a ‘Circus’ in the past year…

In 1865, Barnum’s book Humbugs of the World aimed to inform the public he wasn’t a con-man – that he hadn’t achieved his rags-to-riches success story by scamming the public.

He wrote: “There are various trades and occupations which need only notoriety to insure success,” he claimed – concluding no harm, no foul, so long as at the end of the day customers felt like they got their money’s worth.

As the song suggests from the movie – “It’s everything you ever want, it’s everything you ever need.”

I could go as far as to say PT Barnum was a remarkable publicity man who knew how to work Public Relations in his career… to HIS advantage. (Maybe just not so much the people he caught in his webs whilst spinning whatever he could to achieve whatever he wanted).

The Greatest Showman musical has just reached a whopping $160.766m domestic total in the cinema, and let’s be honest ‘The Greatest Showman’ is what you will find – in PT Barnum or in Hugh Jackman’s efforts alone –  whether you agree with it or not.

It’s a thumbs up from me. 

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