Influencers Worthy of a Follow

It’s no secret that social media and PR has become inundated with influencer marketing. With YouTubers and bloggers making more money than most upcoming musicians, artists and actors, this is a sector not to be ignored. In a recent study Influencer Marketing Hub found that the market size of ‘influencer marketing’ in 2018 was said to be worth $4.6 billion and set to rise to $6.5 billion in 2019. Figures more than doubled from 2017, suggesting that this market is likely to keep growing and growing.

In a world full of “famous” people who were made rich through selling charcoal teeth whitening strips or selling their soul on Love Island it’s hard to tell who’s actually genuine and worthy of that follow. Believe me, I watch Love Island as much as the next person but do I think they are the most authentic salespeople? No, probably not. Maybe we should look at some of those influential content creators who’ve spent years of their life building their brand on YouTube, blogging or creating products and deserve a little bit more of our respect?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Influencer Insights 2017-19 Studies

 

While it’s very easy to critique these so-called ‘influencers’, they are beginning to have a direct impact on our lives and if you work in this industry you’re more than likely going to be dealing with them at some point in your career. In 2017, Influencer Insights conducted a survey that found 47% of people turned to social media to research a brand. This is a huge element to consider when deciding what influencers to work with.

In Influencer Insights’ first study in 2017 they likened influencer marketing to word-of-mouth marketing with an updated twist. This is a very interesting outlook which forces us to ask if the novelty of influencers is their ability to relate to their consumer? And will we see this change as the years go on and honest opinions perhaps become less authentic? Only time will tell.

Influencer Insights

So, we should follow those people who drive important conversations, influencers and brands that are transparent with their sponsorships, people who create original content and ultimately those who are morally ethical with their posts (maybe not those promoting detox ‘skinny teas’). As when an influencer aligns their marketing methods with their own key values the brands they’re working with are introduced to a huge, yet targeted, segment of the market. Not only should we, as PR practitioners, choose carefully the people we work with, those people should too choose their brands appropriately and selectively.

Below is a list I’ve compiled of people that have stood out in a saturated but ever-growing industry, as well as their current Insta stats;

@Uhnonee- 131K followers

Oenone is a British personal trainer, influencer, activist, podcaster and blogger. With ‘The Tiny Tank’ as her original Insta handle, she is a ‘tiny’ girl with lots to say. She openly admits being brainwashed by social media in her earlier days and continuously calls out myths being marketed online. Upon listening to her podcast ‘Adulting’ I have learned so much about feminism, socialism and it’s really opened my eyes to the privileges I have in society. Oenone is unique, well-spoken and comes across really genuine, making her channels a must-listen. Glancing quickly at her Instagram page you would think she’s just a normal fitness influencer but if you click onto the posts and read the captions she actually juxtaposes standard bikini posts with lengthy, motivational and often significant captions. She opens conversations and initiates discussions, something hugely important in today’s society.

@SammiMaria- 571K followers

Sustainable fashion is a huge, important topic at the moment and many influencers are starting to raise awareness where they can. Check out Sammi’s video explaining how she is trying to cut down her fashion footprint and also naming brands that do their best to reduce their environmental impact.

I started following Sammi (formerly ‘The Beauty Crush’) about 7 years ago now. Influencers weren’t a ‘thing’ when I first started watching YouTube and from following Sammi’s channel alone I have seen just how much this market has grown. Unlike Tanya Burr, Zoella and Fleur deForce I never really grew out of Sammi’s content. She has been transitional over the years and despite her own worries of not being ‘up-to-date’ with the algorithms, I really think she has done well. Speaking out about her own battles with anxiety, domestic abuse and bulimia she has shared a lot with her millions of followers. Her energy is radiating, she seems truly authentic and her child Indie is one of the cutest on YouTube (If you needed any more reasons to follow!)

@HealthyLittleLifter- 71K followers

For the fitness fanatics out there Aisling is a must-follow.

For some people following tons of fitness influencers may not be beneficial to their mental health, and we should be wary of that. But for people who are looking for that motivation to improve their diet and adopt a healthier lifestyle- follow Dr Aisling Gough. She’s from Belfast and is also a registered doctor with a wide range of knowledge to support her ideas, so I think we can trust her opinion. She posts infograms with truly useful tips, shows you how you can track a Boojum on a ‘diet’ and continuously links new medical studies to better inform her audience. Despite competing in WBFF she hasn’t let this alter her food mentality. This is certainly refreshing and Aisling is a great role model for people who have an interest in health and fitness.

@NellyLondon- 46K followers

Nelly is by no means a ‘larger model’ but she has curves and comes across more ‘real’ than many people on Insta. She was part of Missguided’s #MakeYourMark campaign and regularly speaks out about body confidence, her struggles with eating disorders and her radiating confidence is motivational.

@DrJoshuaWolrich- 137K followers

Joshua recently changed his Insta handle from @Unfattening to his real name. Contrary to the ‘Unfattening’ brand he actually posted nothing about weight loss. He used this trap to get people to his page, conversely trying to encourage an anti-weight loss mindset and bettering people’s attitudes towards foods.

Already a registered NHS doctor and a following that’s growing massively, Joshua is one to watch out for. After being introduced to him on Oenone’s podcast I started following and found his content really refreshing. I’ve already learned so much from his posts and he makes you think about why you call certain foods ‘bad’ or ‘good’. Not only does he correct popular misbeliefs, he also makes you aware of the fake news that circulates the internet in terms of fat loss. In terms of health these myths can be extremely detrimental to young people’s mental health and sometimes even dangerous. This is why accounts like Joshua’s are so important in 2019.

@JBone89- 141K followers

Jordan (or Jordan’s Beautiful Life for blog followers) is a blogger, YouTuber and author who suffered a car accident in 2005, leaving her paralysed from the waist down. She writes about the usual beauty, lifestyle and fashion topics while proving that influencers don’t always have to fit a certain mould. She’s inspiring to read and follow, check out Jordan’s Instagram page here.

@JameelaJamil- 1M followers

I’m sure you’ve already seen the radio presenter and actress’ #IWeigh campaign which already has over 342,000 followers on Instagram in itself. The campaign aims to encourage people to not base their self-worth on the number on a scale, instead weighing up other attributes of your life. Jameela is using her celebrity status coupled with her own overcoming of an eating disorder to call out celebrities and brands which aren’t doing enough. She’s even recently started a change.org campaign to ban celebrities promoting detox teas which you can view here. Definitely worthy of a follow.

@GraceFitUK- 1M followers

If you haven’t heard of Grace you must have been hiding under a rock for the past year as her brand has completely blown up with an Instagram that has just crept over 1 million followers. She’s a seemingly ‘normal’ girl from London who goes to university at Oxford, maintains friendships and has created a hugely successful but also sustainable fitness brand. At only 21 Grace really is one to watch.

From a career perspective Grace produces some really informative content. In a recent YouTube video talking about the ‘influencer’ job role I learned so much information about the career and how brands can work with these people. Not only did she speak about her own methods of gaining sponsorships and commission, she also videoed an hour-long discussion with other female fitness and beauty influencers speaking openly about how much they get paid, how brands can reach out to them and interesting secrets about the industry. From both a consumer and marketing perspective I found these videos really informative, open, honest and definitely worthy of a watch.

So, to conclude, as the number of influencers out there continues to rise make sure that if anyone you follow on Instagram is making you feel a certain way about yourself, is producing incorrect information or even making you feel like you need to buy something… delete them. It’s not worth it. There is a world of content out there on the internet and we should be using this upsurge in social media use to our advantage- challenging our minds, speaking out about things that need to be spoken about and ensuring we lead a path for generations below us. In an industry overcome with successful females we should be supporting those influencers who are making a difference instead of criticising the career as a whole. We can use this career shift to our advantage. As marketers, advertisers and PR professionals we are in charge of who our brands work with so let’s make sure each influencer we work with is a truly worthy role model.

 Source: Influencer Marketing Hub, influencermarketinghub.com

 

Lauren Wilson is a third-year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University, currently undertaking a year’s placement at Belfast City Council. She can be found at: LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/laurennxwilsonn/

Click-plate

Outfit inspo, binge-worthy TV shows, dream holiday destinations… Instagram is influencing us on just about everything these days. Even down to how and where we eat.

I’m sure a lot of you can relate when I say eating out has become merely a pasttime, a way to catch up with friends – may I go as far as saying, a hobby? So, it was no surprise to me when I recently came across an article that said, “59% of millennials eat out at least 3 times a week”, and when we do, we love to share our food (not literally) on the gram. Sometimes I have to remind myself it isn’t a necessity to put up an Instagram story every time I go out for lunch or dinner. But that rarely stops me. 

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Before social media ran the world, people would have chosen where to pick up a coffee or meet their friends for dinner by a recommendation, a review they seen in the paper or wherever was most convenient for them. Or as my parents would say, “we just cooked at home, who needs to pay £14 for chicken on a bed of mash?” Yet, millennials obsession with pretty food and extravagant looking drinks has resulted in restaurants, cafés and bars completely changing their marketing strategies to make them as “Instagrammable” as possible. Some places have even gone as far as basing their menus around how their dishes will look in photos.

“Millennials today form more than 50% of our customer base and we have to give them what they want. Today’s customers want great food, great service and great photos.” 

So, what are these places doing to ensure they are the chosen location for their customers next photosho – sorry, lunch.

 Aesthetically pleasing plates

A bacon butty for breakfast or a ham and cheese sandwich for lunch doesn’t hit the spot like they used too. Now we want smashed avocado with that perfectly runny poached egg, a brightly coloured smoothie bowl and the most aesthetically pleasing salad bowl you could imagine. Who knew Instagram would improve healthy eating? 

 

 

It doesn’t stop with the food though, that would be too easy. How are these dishes going to be plated up? On a white plate? Are you crazy? The plate must be rustic, oval rather than circular and have a funky vintage print. And gone are the days of a cappuccino in a mug – you’ll now get it in a beaker, and don’t forget the classic leaf design. Or a heart if you’ve caught the eye of the Barista.

Millennials are all about this, the more alternative the better. It’s exciting and I love seeing what little personal quirks restaurants and cafés have. But other generations don’t enjoy it as much. I’ve previously experienced an older customer display great distress as I served his burger on a “ridiculous” wooden slate, and demanded I changed it over to a plate, as his wife demands her cappuccino was changed to a “normal cup” that she wasn’t going to “scald” herself with. Okay, you won’t get as many likes this way though.  

Insta-worthy Interior

Us millennials love a quirky place to sip our coffee or meet our friends for dinner and cocktails, so the effort restaurant and café owners put into their interior is pretty important. You can bet if I’m in a cool café with a quirky quote on the wall it’ll feature on my Instagram story… and none of my followers will be surprised.

 

 

Back in the day a few nice tables (or booths if they were feeling adventurous) with pristine white tablecloths and lighting that gave a nice ambience generally made a happy customer. Whether it looked good in photographs was not a restaurant owners concern. Now, they must put great thought and effort to ensure they have mesmerizing interior, an array of furniture, lighting that’ll produce insta-worthy photos and quirky quotes on the walls that will attract customers and boost social media presence. If anything, this is equally as important as the food on our plates.

Before the owners of Media Noche, (one of the most popular cafes in San Francisco), opened their first café they gave their interior designer one simple instruction –

“we want it to be instagrammable.”  

And it worked out pretty well. If you search their location on Instagram you’ll see thousands of peoples posts from their visit to the stylish café, and most of them are of the interior rather than the food.

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Another café that understands the importance of interior and visuals is Bills.

“As a social channel, Instagram has always been our most natural fit. Bill’s is such a visual brand – from the food to the restaurant décor and these two aspects are clearly big reasons why people come to us.”

Said Head of Marketing Jack Carey. And he’s not half wrong, after constantly seeing Bill’s on my explore page and the stories of my favourite influences, I was first in Bill’s for Saturday Brunch when I visited London a few months ago. As seen on my Instagram story. Obv. 

Stunt Food

The food section of an Instagram explore page can be a dangerous place. Rainbow bagels, fully loaded fries and “freak shakes.” As we scroll in awe and think to ourselves, “I need to try that.” we are falling victim to the world of stunt food.

Stunt foods are menu items made purely for the novelty factor. I mean, why exactly did Starbucks think of releasing a unicorn frappuccino? Who knows what a unicorn tastes like? But one thing they know for sure that millennials sure as hell will purchase it, post it on their social media platforms and influence others to do the same, “71% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on a social media reference”, Even though a regular Cappuccino, with a shot of vanilla pls, would be much more enjoyable.

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So there you have it. The next time you share a snap of an extravagant cocktail or burger that deserves BuzzFeed glory on your Instagram, you’ve done exactly what is expected of you and helped that particular business with their social media presence without even realising it. 

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Catherine Maguire is a 3rd year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University, currently on a placement year at The Irish News. She can be found on Instagram: catherinelauram and LinkedIn: Catherine Maguire

Business Owner at 18 : Promotion through Social Media

OM1At the tender age of 20 years old, one might ask what words of wisdom could a fresh-faced student have for a world of entrepreneurs? Well I can tell you that after turning 20 in June and going through a roller coaster of a year and seven months in business, that social media is your best friend!

After turning 18 in June 2016, I headed off to University, confident my life was on the right track. Prior to opening my business, I grew up making myself money. By selling my old clothes on eBay, cleaning anything I could around our house for extra money. I always enjoyed the idea of being my own boss. After completing 4 long years of GCSE & A-Level Art, I realised my passion was Make-Up. (queue many readers switching off).

I opened my own freelance makeup business in March 2017 at the rare age of 18 with possibly £200 to my name, a chair and a Facebook page. I had absolutely no clients and no clue how to get them. Now, over a year and a half on I have a big client base, my own premises and thankfully looking forward to the next few years, as well as being able to blog my thoughts on social media.

So firstly – 1. use Facebook as a promotional tool

I began posting up pictures of my work on my Facebook page to achieve higher engagement. In the first few months of business I done a lot of free work to get myself noticed in my area, to build a client base. I worked at a loss and I made so many mistakes. Facebook for me was a great client builder. I was able to post client photos, allow them to post reviews of my services and it formed a base for my business.

  1. Instagram is your best friend!

In 1 year, I gained over 6,500 followers on my Instagram page from posting content. Now I’m the first to say its not all about follows, likes etc. however in my business, I thrive from engagement. If you’re opening a business which focuses on visual aspects Instagram is where you need to be! Using Instagram as a marketing tool is one of the best and easiest ways to strengthen your business and interact freely with your audience. By using Hashtags to raise awareness & advertise your company.

For me many of my clients are young girls under between the ages of 13 and 20, so as you can imagine Instagram is the perfect place for me to grow my brand. Choosing a platform that connects with your target audience is the key to success.

  1. Post good quality pictures

Nobody wants to see blurry photos that look as if they’ve been taken on a toaster. Everyone on social media is upping their game which means you should too! Take a look at what your competition is posting as a way of bench marking. Studies show that users on Instagram decide whether to follow you or not based on the 3 most recent posts on your profile – so every post counts.

Try to take your pictures against plain (ish) backgrounds & make sure not to upload things nobody wants to see, try to link your uploads back to your business.

  1. Get Tagging

By tagging bigger brands, influencers etc. this encourages them to re-post your work which in turn gets your page more engagement, which is what counts. If your business creates products, posting pictures and tagging relevant Instagram accounts will help your account reach a larger audience.

  1. People want results!

For me as a makeup artist, I gain clients through posting pictures of my makeup on myself and others. As well as posting before and after pictures which shows your skills. This doesn’t just apply to businesses like me, consumers want to know that your product works / creates results before they’ll purchase. Sharing testimonials, reviews and pictures are a great way to show off your products/services on social media.

  1. Choose your social media according to your audience

For me, I want to target all ages. I post on Instagram, Facebook & Snapchat, each for different reasons. I find the older generation use Facebook more than Instagram and this is my method for advertising to an older clientele. Younger people follow me on Instagram and snapchat, therefore I market myself differently due to the difference in followers. With snapchat I feel I can be more open as its not as public as the likes of Instagram & Facebook, however I find snapchat to be the most effective in terms of selling power.

 

So, I hope you might have gained some insight into the world of social media, for me social media has changed the way we are able to promote ourselves and business. It has enabled us to target different people in ways that are engaging to them.

Olivia McVeigh is a Final Year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Instagram – @oliviamcveigh_ ; Linkedin – Olivia McVeigh ; WordPress – https://oliviamcveigh.wordpress.com/blog/ ; Twitter – @McveighOlivia

 

Under the Influence

When it comes to modern day businesses, Digital marketing is leaps and bounds ahead of all other forms of advertising. It’s expensive – companies are spending up to 1.5bn on Instagram alone – but its effectiveness means that big businesses have no hesitation in investing time, money and effort into it.

So where’s all that money going? The answer is that a lot of it is going straight into the pockets of influencers*. Influencers who are affecting our buying decisions everyday, without us evening realizing it.

*In case you’ve been living under a rock influencers can be described as “a user on social media who has established credibility in a specific industry. A social media influencer has access to a large audience and can persuade others by virtue of their authenticity and reach.”

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Basically, influencers are everyday people like you and me. They don’t have to be celebrities (although they’re often classed as one) and they don’t need to have a discernable talent or passion. Most of them just need a good iPhone camera and a cool looking selfie backdrop.

Do I sound bitter? Let’s move on.

Brands will send free PR packages to these ‘instagramers’ with as little as 5k followers in exchange for a ad post & a promo code to share with their friends, in the hope that their influence will result in more people buying their products. Gaining immense internet popularity allows an influencer to shape and impact their audience’s opinions on matters through blog posts, videos, pictures, tweets, and so on.

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And it works. In a recent report, 72% of millennials admitted to buying their fashion and beauty products based on the instagram posts of their favourite influencers. I mean, Jeffrey Star said this lipstick is amazing. So it has to be… right?

This is perhaps surprising, given that millennials often display a mistrust of those around them, be it previous generations, politicians, or people higher up in society. So why does a generation who claim to have so many trust issues have so much trust in the people they view on social media?

Well…because Millennials LOVE validation.

71% of people are more likely to make a purchase if they get a recommendation or validation from their peers or their favorite blogger. No matter how good a product may appear or claim to be, how can we be so sure? For me personally, buying a product is never simply a “add to basket” task anymore. When I spot that new eyeshadow palette I really want (but really don’t need) you can bet I’ll be looking up reviews on YouTube before buying it. Like yeah, I really want this – but what did Jordan Lipscombe think of it?

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Validation from our peers is just the same. Think of all the time’s you’ll do a catwalk for your besties of the 13 different outfits you’ve tried on and hated before having a breakdown and claiming to have NOTHING TO WEAR and are no longer going out. Despite your bed and bedroom floor being covered in more than enough clothes. But that’s part of the Scratch Monday routine really.

“People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising”.

– Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO and possible extraterrestrial who ironically talks about trusting people –

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Style envy

“Industry influencers in niches such as fashion and beauty hold a lot of sway over this consumer group,” Molz said. “They start trends, determine what’s cool and desirable, and curate the must-have items as fashion magazines used to do.”

In the noughties the public would have determined what they would have worn at the weekend by what the celebrities were wearing in the ‘style steal’ section of Closer, or copied that dress Angelina Jolie was wearing in the red carpet photo they seen in OK. This is no longer the case as instead of reading a magazine on the bus or whilst waiting on the kettle to boil, we’re scrolling through instagram. Companies must recognize and adapt to this and ask themselves ‘who has the hold over their their target audience?’ This is easy – bloggers and vloggers, publishers, YouTubers, etc.

“Getting their seal of approval could be key in pushing millennials further into the sales funnel.” According to the Collective Bias study, while shopping at a store, “60% consumers have been influenced by a social media post or a blog review.”

It’s all science

Despite the fact of having often millions of followers, more clothes than they could wear in a lifetime & earn 5 digits for a single instagram post (Zoella srsly gets £12k per instagram post) – influencers are still perceived as mostly ‘normal people’, therefore relatable for millennials. When it comes down to it, they don’t do much more than we do on a daily basis (still sorta bitter over this) except it’s shared with millions of people.

Our desire to be like our favourite influencer can be explained by the psychological concept ‘social proof’ which was popularized by psychologist Robert Ciadlini. Basically, whenever we don’t know what to do or how to act we look to others and imitate them, especially in times of crisis. Who knew that copying a makeup tutorial from your favourite youtuber and failing miserably is psychological.

Another psychological example of why influencers work is the halo effect. The halo effect is cognivite bias where we judge someone’s opinion based on our overall impression of them. Basically, if we start to enjoy someones content and have positive thoughts about them, anything they’re involved in becomes more positive to us. This is why influencer testimonial works. SCIENCE.

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Anyway, enough of that technical stuff. Back to the real world.

So yeah, innocently following a good looking instagrammer that you spotted on the explore page (wearing an outfit you can only dream being able to pull off) seems all fun and games, but who knew it’s contributing to our everyday life & companies are making MILLIONS FROM US. Is anything NOT strategic these days?

At the end of the day, social media is pretty toxic… so let’s just remember that the girl with 122k followers who we claim we’d DIE to look like (bit dramatic) gets her hair done every week for free in an exchange for a instagram post, is sent all her clothes in PR packages AND has access to any beauty treatment she wants – WHENEVER SHE WANTS IT, as long as she puts up a pic on the gram of her new lashes.

So for the sake of our own self worth – let’s stop comparing ourselves to them & stop being constantly under the influence.

Catherine Maguire is a 3rd year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University, currently on a placement year at The Irish News. She can be found on Instagram: catherinelauram and LinkedIn: Catherine Maguire

 

 

PR: GC style

Gemma Collins. “The GC”. Whatever you want to call her, she’s like Marmite. You either love her or hate her. And I love her. Here’s why.

How many of you have scrolled through pages upon pages on Facebook called ‘Gemma Collins memes’, ‘Gemma Collins reactions’ or ‘Gemma Collins appreciation page’?
How many of you have then proceeded to tag friends in the comments of said memes? And have you watched YouTube compilations of her best bits, be it on TOWIE, I’m a Celebrity or Celebrity Big Brother?
Yeah, I know you’re guilty.
I am too.
We’ve all done it, and we’ve all laughed.
A lot.

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* This quote is actually my friend’s Instagram bio. Literally just this quote. On it’s own.

The question is, are we laughing at Gemma, or with her?

Lines like “It’s GEMMA, you silly  c***” and “I’m claustrophobic Darren!” have become instantly recognisable from her stint in Celebrity Big Brother, and nobody can forget that helicopter ride on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. Gemma’s popularity on reality television has made her an internet sensation, and in a way the memes and videos circulating our newsfeeds have become free PR and marketing tools for Gemma and her various projects.

How? Well, you are constantly seeing her face everywhere you scroll. And it makes her hard to forget. Even organisations such as the BBC have got involved by posting this on their official BBC One Facebook page to brighten up everyone’s Monday:

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And, let’s not forget that infamous fall at Radio 1’s Teen Awards. For those of you who haven’t seen it, Gemma fell down a hole in the stage while presenting an award. And it was hilarious. Since then, the footage has gained millions of views online and it has contributed to Gemma’s persona as the butt of the joke. With all things considered, some may argue that the fall could have been a publicity stunt on Gemma’s part. She’s a clever woman, after all. Whether or not it was an accident, though, we have to ask ourselves:

Would it have been as funny if it were someone else?

No, definitely not.

A bit like Beyonce’s “Sasha Fierce”, or Christina Aguilera’s “Xtina”, “The GC” is a kind of alter-ego-like persona that Gemma has created in order to establish her personal brand. At the end of the day, Gemma Collins wasn’t always “The GC”. Before TOWIE, she sold used cars for a living. “The GC” is a social construct which has emerged out of Gemma’s realisation that we love it when she acts like a diva, and that we are endorsing it every time we press play on a video or ‘like’ a meme. For example, Gemma’s book is entitled ‘The GC – How To Be A Diva’, and she’s using her diva attitude and its proven popularity to sell copies of it. 

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When interviewed on Loose Women, Gemma was asked about the memes and how she felt about them. She said,

“Honestly, I find them so funny. It’s gone all around the world. I’ve got people retweeting from Florida. It’s crazy. It’s scary how something like that can just take off.”

In another Instagram post, Gemma reposted a fan-created meme in order to promote a new project she was filming, even tagging the fan-created Instagram page @gemmareacts in her post. A lot of us probably clicked on this post because we saw it was a Gemma Collins meme, not realising it was actually an advertisement. And by clicking on it, and even liking it, we gave her more internet traffic. And probably put more money in her pocket. Gemma hasn’t played any part in creating this meme culture, all she’s done is act like a bit of a diva. But now, she is reaping the benefits of a little bit of free PR.

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So, the question is, is Gemma Collins merely the butt of our jokes, or is she in on them? The publicity Gemma has gained from viral memes created by fans and endorsed by our love to laugh at her has made her a lot of money (yeah, you’re probably now thinking of her famous line in CBB: “AVVV GOT MONEY!”). As of August 2018 Gemma was estimated to be worth around £2.7 million. As well as this fortune, she also has her own clothing line; as well as lines with fashion retailers Boohoo, SimplyBe and Evans, and her own boutique in London. And yeah, she was on TOWIE to begin with – all this fame hasn’t come solely from her popularity on the internet. But it is definitely a huge factor. So, who’s laughing now? Definitely not me, although I’ll come back to you when the compilation of my funniest moments goes live on YouTube.

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PS: you didn’t really think I was going to end this blog without attaching some classic Gemma Collins content for your entertainment, did you? Because, we’re all just here to enjoy ourselves. GC style. D’ya know whatta mean? Now, get that fire exit door, I’m off!

 

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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/

The PR Diaries: Part I

Fast Fashion & the ‘Material World.’

 

I cannot believe that it has been eight months since my last blog post, time really does fly!  As I embark upon my final year of studying Communication and PR an aspect of life has my creative mind ticking. Not much has changed over the last eight months, in fact I am pretty sure that I still adore Cacti as I outlined in my last blog and I am 100% certain that my love for food, coffee shops and fashion has not changed either (throwing that out there).  I will also just add that my love for Instagram and taking aesthetic photographs still consumes me- shocker.  What has changed the most over the past few months is my outlook in life.  My outlook on how we are guilty of trying to constantly pursue the latest trends, desperately wanting to live a life full of hope and false fantasies.  Now, you may be giving me major eye rolls right now and as cliché as it sounds I genuinely believe that most things happen for good reason. We do openly follow our passions and there is nothing wrong with that. We are all a little guilty of wanting more than what we already have and if you are reading this thinking, hold up.  I do enjoy following trends, then you are not alone.  However, what happens when we place all our focus on only the most attractive and aesthetic aspects? Are you that material girl, living in a material world?

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Fashioning the self

A recent trip to London Fashion Week inspired me to think about the pressures to conform to the latest trends- let’s not forget that both leopard and snake print are dominating the population of Belfast.  So much so we could to create a second Zoo (90% of my wardrobe).  We are each guilty of religiously following others who inspire us or those who we believe to be ‘role models.’  I believe that there is a negative stigma around the material items in life and rightly so.  When we think of material items our minds wonder to Gucci, Prada and investing in luxury fashion brands.  We may even think of our favourite online influencers and how they fashion the latest trends- not to mention the ‘social influencers take on cycling shorts’ wave which left us feeling a little Tour de France/ Bradley Wiggins (Sorry, I had to).

 

Behind the seams of reality

Our Instagram platforms have become a playground for flashing material items.  It almost feels like an online shop, yet we are sucked in by aesthetic travel photographs that surround these gorgeous clothing posts.  For me, this all feels a little wrong.  I am growing tired of the volume of ‘fast fashion’ brands that are so cleverly luring us in.  Only to try on the dress to discover that it works better as a boob tube/ crop top and the material is as thin and see through as clingfilm.  On another side note, I can openly admit that I am a keen consumer of fast fashion. As much as I try to avoid it the student life really does force us to swap luxury for affordable, with little thought about the materials used- here lies the problem.

In this digital era, I believe that there is a greater pressure to showcase our lives on Instagram.  We almost use it as a mirror, reflecting an articulated image of how we wish to be viewed by our followers.  This is not healthy.  When I buy a new item of clothing I appreciate how it looks and feels, not only on the hanger but how it fits my body.  This is the beauty of fashion as it enables us to appreciate colours, prints and textures as a form of visual communication.  Taking Fashion Week as an example, I was in awe of the array of designers showcasing garments that communicated their brand story- this is the value that is important.  Designers invest time and creative effort in developing a brand, which is why following ‘fast fashion’ can defeat the purpose of buying clothing to keep in the long run.  If your closet is anything like mine, I can put my hands up and admit that I am awful for hoarding clothes.   Regardless of how many times I have tried to flog my clothes on Depop- it is a vicious cycle!

 

‘Keep the snakes away, unless they’re Gucci

The truth is that nothing should be ‘fast’ about fashion.  Investing in luxury does not consist of spending all of your pay on expensive designer gear either, nor does it mean flashing these items online.  From a student’s viewpoint, I do not believe that it is realistic for us to splash out on luxury brands, or to try to prove to others that we can afford this kind of ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ lifestyle- we are only kidding ourselves really.  The purpose of this blog post is to prove that life is far too short to worship designer brands and materialistic items (Ok, life is also too short not buy shoes, keep it on the down low).  Think about the long run.  These items will never truly matter to us, they may only influence how we feel at the time of purchase- that feeling is short-lived.  Think about the real bodies in our lives, the ones who invest in us and bring us joy.  People that are relentlessly by your side and will be a lot longer that a bottle of Gucci Perfume.

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Gucci Gang

 

It has become extremely difficult in society to identify the true value in people, especially with online platforms concealing our true selves.  In reality we are crying out for authenticity. All too often we are told to ‘get out there, follow your dreams and afford that fancy car alongside that high-powered job.’  Is it any wonder why students and young adults in their 20s feel obliged to conform to such ideas? The pressure is all too much to afford life’s ‘little luxuries.’  To live in a society that tells us how to ‘work fast and live fast’ is becoming a challenge and I can admit to feeling overwhelmed by how I should live my life. The bottom line is to work hard enough that success becomes your noise but equally to have the time of your life.  How does that saying go? Work hard, play harder.

 

Does my environmental impact look big in this?

Delving deeper into this topic I discovered that ‘fast fashion’ has received a lot of negative media coverage recently.  Our love for fashion is taking its toll on the environment as in the UK alone we are consuming 26.7kg of new clothing per head each year.  It is not only fast fashion brands that are to blame as it is also expected that 3,781 litres of water is used in a full lifetime of a single pair of Levi’s 501 jeans.  This is just a  snapshot of how our fashion consumption is spiralling out of control.  I guess we could say that having something at our disposal only devalues that item, it is all too easy to make an online purchase without adding any genuine value- a theory that applies to a lot of aspects of life.  When something is readily available, we take it for granted.  Investing in statement items that are durable, high quality and affordable is the best method.

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As I draw my fashion ramblings to a close, I want to stress how easy it is for us to feel pressured by clothing brands.  Being lured in by marketing and influencers online has a  negative effect on our mental health.  This concludes why materialistic items will never maintain true value.  Yes, clothes are beautiful, they are powerful but they will always be around for us to purchase.  Ask yourself this, if everything you possessed was striped back, what would we be left with? We may be cold and a little naked, but we would be guaranteed to be surrounded by those we love.  So, sorry Madonna, living in the material world is not all that it would appear to be!

 

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Kathryn Bigger is a final year student on the BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be contacted on: Instagram – the_fashion_fairypr / Twitter – @KatieB_05 / LinkedIn- Kathryn Bigger.

A Content Creators Perspective

During my time on placement I had the opportunity to work with PR managers across Europe and one thing I learnt was that YouTubers and social media influencers are increasingly becoming one of the most important ways to communicate with your target audience.

I was so intrigued that I have even decided to base my dissertation on their influence on consumer decision making – I will let you know come May if this was a wise decision!!

But why this growing interest?

The exchange of information between influencers and their followers is very powerful as those people who create their own content are becoming the third party endorsement that many brands need.

I will admit that on many occasions I have purchased products based on the fact that someone on Instagram, Snapchat or YouTube has recommended them or use the products regularly.

Content Creators

With interest in people who create their own content and who have built up their own loyal following coming to the forefront I thought it would be exciting to interview an up and coming beauty and lifestyle content creator. On my time in placement I became friendly with one of the outgoing interns Uche.

Uche has her own YouTube and Instagram sites and the content is beauty and lifestyle based, with 25,200 Instagram followers

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and 101,973 YouTube subscribers

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Uche is also an official ASOS Face + Body Insider.

Six quick questions with a lifestyle and beauty content creator

1How did you first begin creating make up and lifestyle content?

 I started watching university videos during sixth form which really sparked my interest in YouTube, I later went on to create content as I was bored during my first year at university.

2. How was this received by your family and friends? Did they understand what you were trying to achieve? 

 I didn’t tell anyone for years, honestly unless people are interested in it it’s not something people tend to understand or is easy to explain to people that ‘don’t get it’. 

3. Can you explain the process of creating your own content from the creative idea to finally sharing it on YouTube and Instagram.

 It’s a rather lengthy process, having a large following helps now as people are always suggesting the type of content they want to see which obviously makes everything much easier. Before then I would go with trends or what I loved myself. Once you have an idea it’s then about filming and bringing the idea to life, editing and finally posting it for everyone to see. 

4. What social media influencers do you follow?

 I tend to gear towards people with great personalities so Jackie Aina, Imogen (Imogenation) etc or really talented individuals who teach me something every time so Claire Marshall, Samantha Ravndahl or people with both like Jamie Geniveve!

5. What brands would you like to work with in the future? 

 A brand I haven’t worked with yet that I would love to is Nars for sure!

6. Have you any advice for anyone who is considering creating their own content on YouTube and/or Instagram? 

 It’s not as easy as it looks to post great content that’s high quality and also engaging so be prepared to put in time and money, if you stay committed, patient and consistent you will flourish. 

From chatting with Uche it is clear that it is much more than just posting a video on YouTube or picture on Instagram you have to ensure that your content is authentic, you have a passion for what you are doing and that you are committed to put the time and work in.

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Uche can be found here on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/uchjn/  and YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/uccch1

 

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/