Suite dreams are made of this

Public relations is a profound interest of mine and there are plentiful reasons why this area of expertise elevates me, particularly the communication aspect, as well as being exposed to so many interesting individuals. I am going to share my story with you, career choices and life experiences that have led me to believe that public relations is the ingredient that brings my ideas to a reality.

Anyway here’s my story (so far)…

The moment I realized that a career in public relations was for me was in 2014 when I took a year out from education; as I was unsure about which degree to pursue. I began working as a receptionist in the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa. The reason I decided to pursue a job as a hotel receptionist was with the intention of evolving my existing skill set and qualities as well as my interpersonal communication skills. With no prior experience in this field of work; I was dependent on landing the position solely on my interview and given the opportunity of expressing my ‘inner brand’. The interview was very formal and intimidating, however it was my time to shine and showcase what made me an eligible candidate for the position. The interviewers must have seen past my nerves as I was surprisingly successful and got offered a full-time position!

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The job opened me up to the public as I was the primary point of contact with the guests, meaning I was responsible for their first impressions as well as leaving the lasting impression as they departed from the hotel. At first the reception department was extremely daunting, It took me roughly three months to feel confident behind the desk, at this point my passion for public relations began to grow. I had soon become acquainted with the regular guests and catering to their needs became my second nature. I took pride in ensuring their stay was enjoyable and It wasn’t long before I started noticing my name frequently mentioned in trip advisor reviews, highlighting my ‘professionalism’ and being regarded as a ‘fantastic ambassador’ for the hotel. The recognition, gratitude and positive feedback was very fulfilling, and this was when I discovered that this was my major – representing companies whilst working alongside the stakeholders.

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Having proved my charisma, expressed my effective communication skills and established customer rapport in the business I decided it was time to enroll into university. I applied for my degree in ‘communication management and public relations’ whilst continuing to work for the organization. However, as my degree required me to move to Belfast, the company transferred me to their sister hotel – the world-famous Europa.

This environment was completely unknown to me as the hotel is twice the size of the Slieve Donard and I underestimated how demanding the job was and how busy I would be kept. This hotel is in such high demand and attracts numerous celebrities, who always must always be accommodated with VIP treatment. Over the 2 years I worked for the Europa I have checked in numerous celebrities including;  Van Morrison, Conor McGregor, Lee Evans, Jimmy Page and the entire cast of Game of Thrones. The public relations profession operates in a celebrity-driven world, and the very first celebrity I checked in whilst working in the Europa was Conor McGregor, and I can remember it like yesterday. I had only been working on the front desk for 2 weeks and can still remember the overwhelming, starstruck feeling that I got. I cant express it but every single guest that checked into the hotel, I had an overwhelming desire to go out of my way to make their stay great, whether it be a couple checking in for a little getaway for the weekend, simply upgrading their room and seeing the smiles on their faces made it worthwhile. Or having Game of Thrones stars phone down to the desk and request a wake up call at 4am to go filming, and ask to speak to me personally for knowing their room service order like the back of my hand. All these little things are what made my job wonderful.

 

Working in the Europa introduced me to so many amazing people and friends for life and even opened doors to new potential career opportunities. For example: One particular day I was checking out a lady and got chatting to her, she asked me an unexpected and extremely surprising question: “You have an amazing bone structure. Have you ever considered modelling?” I was evidently stunned by her question as I looked eagerly at my colleagues for an appropriate response to this bizarre enquiry. “No?” I replied as she handed me her business card shook my hand and invited me to attend an interview at her business ‘Alison Campbell Academy.’ I unknowingly just checked out the CEO of ‘ACA Models’ and had just been scouted as a model!

I was unsure how to feel about this proposition as the possibility of embarking on a career in modelling had never ever crossed my mind, but my colleagues were adamant that I attend the interview anyway, and I even managed to get signed onto their books. I have been placed onto various modelling jobs in which I have represented a specific brand for a certain advertising/catwalk events. Examples of brands that I have worked for include: Miss Northern Ireland, Danske Bank, Down Royal Race Course, Victoria Square and many more. It was very exciting to work as the spokesperson for established companies and represent their brand. I am frequently commended for my outgoing personality and charismatic nature working these jobs; I personally believe that my communication skills and devoted nature is what enabled my public relations abilities to blossom into a reality in the working front of an organization like this.

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Public relations is an ever-evolving industry that brings so much excitement and possibilities to the world. Public relations is deeply embedded into my personality. It is my lifestyle. Every given day is a new inspiration for me to undertake something new that will improve my professional and personal life. In the technologically advanced world we live in, there is an infinite variety of potential connections at our disposal. The  life experiences I have encountered have steered me to the realization that public relations is my bread and butter.

Thank you for reading,

© eline ®ussell

Celine Russell is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn –  https://www.linkedin.com/in/celine-russell-849ba4171/ ; Twitter –  @celine_russ; Facebook –  https://www.facebook.com/celine.russell.7

An Inspirational Woman

There are a lot of women in my life who inspire me ever day. Like my mum, a very lovable Belfast bred woman who isn’t afraid to share her opinions. Which is something that I admire about her. She is witty, creative, kind and just a well-rounded woman and mother.

As much as my mum is an inspiration to me, it isn’t who this blog is about.

The Past

Born on 21st August 1932 and adopted by Elizabeth and James (Jimmy). Jimmy a former solider in the Horse Regiment during the war, who later in life took on shipyard work to make a living for his family and Elizabeth who became an invalid during an accident in her late 20’s. The pair lived in Bruce Street sandwiched between the Dublin Road and Great Victoria Street.

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They also had two biological daughters Grace, who moved to England and Annie who went to Scotland because their parents couldn’t look after them. Years later Jimmy and Elizabeth adopted 4 girls. Margaret (Maisy), Elizabeth (Lilly), Annette (Netta) and Pearl.

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The woman in the photo above is the woman who brought my mum up to be the person she is today. My Granny Pearly. Who met my grandad Gerry when she was 14 in a video arcade in Belfast. From the night they met my granny says that she never looked at another man again.

Pearl and Gerry decided to keep their relationship as secret as possible from their parents because of their different religious backgrounds, Pearl being a Protestant and Gerry being a Catholic. One-night Pearl fell off the back of her friends motorbike on her way home and had to go to hospital to get her wrist checked. A couple who had seen the incident drove Pearl to the hospital while her friend told Gerry what happened, who she was meant to meet up with later that night to tell him what had happened to Pearl.

Pearl left the hospital with her sister Lilly who took her home to find that in the kitchen her father and Gerry where sitting together in the same room and talking! After a nervous Pearl left the kitchen to walk Gerry out, they thought they had gotten away with her father not knowing that Gerry was a Catholic. However, Jimmy knew from the moment he met Gerry that indeed he was a Catholic and didn’t try to separate the two as he got on with Gerry and knew he would be good to his daughter and that she loved him.

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Pearl and Gerry married on the 27th May 1949 in Great Victoria Street Baptist Church. Pearl aged 18 and Gerry 22 at the time…Pearl had worked in a handkerchief factory in Belfast… Pearl and Gerry went on to have kids…. Gerry’s father disowned him…2 sons and 3 daughters… on Sunday 8th August 1971, they were put out of their house…the house had been ransacked…. the family moved to Lisburn…

As you can see, I’m still trying to piece together the information about my granny’s life. So much happened to her and my family throughout World War Two and the Troubles in Belfast.

The Present

Pearl recently fell in her house trying to mop the floor and ended up breaking her pelvis. After a couple of weeks in Hospital and a few more weeks in a rehabilitation home she could go home. The family did what they could to make her life at home easier for her, but it was obvious that she wasn’t happy and kept telling us how her memories were being ruined because of all the changes to her house.

To help the family out I would go to her house and cook dinner for the two of us. I then thought… I know nothing about my granny and her life. I started asking her questions, ‘Where did you meet Granda?’ ‘How many siblings did you have?’ ‘where have you worked?’ simple questions that expanded into story after story about her life.

I decided to write this blog about my granny, as I do think she is an amazing and inspirational woman. She is witty, intelligent, kind, and caring but I also want to let people know that its okay to ask questions.

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Get to know your grandparents, you parents, aunties and uncles, anyone. Because what you hear and find could surprise you. Asking questions can:

  • Help us to acquire knowledge
  • Help us to eliminate confusion
  • Help to allow someone else to feel special/important
  • Help to strengthen a relationship

If you take anything from this blog post, I hope that it is to help encourage you to ask the people around you about their life and be inspired to listen and take on the stories they tell you. to remember what their stories for them and to pass on their legacy which is exactly what I tend to do with my Granny’s stories.

Aimee Orr is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on: LinkedIn: aimee-orr Twitter: @aimeeorr13

 

 

 

The things I learned from 13 year olds

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked by St. Mary’s College, Derry to come to their school during Global Entrepreneurship week and talk to year 9 students about myself. As you can imagine, I was feeling a mixture of emotions which included genuine shock and horror of what they would think of me, and why would they want to hear me ramble on for an hour?

I think that’s what our problem is, many of us are so over whelmed with self-doubt that we don’t enjoy things that push us out of our comfort zone. I pondered over the e-mail for around an hour before just impulsively replying saying ‘yes, ill do it!’. At the time I didn’t know if my impulse answer was a blessing or a curse.

The entire journey up to Derry I felt ill. I wanted to e-mail the school and tell them I’d accidently ditched my car, or fell off the face of a cliff through no fault of my own, but I’m too scared of karma/ going to hell so I thought, ‘better not’.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, I survived the journey, and arrived at the school – which by the way is stunning! And wandered on in introducing myself to the receptionist, who pretended to know who I was, but actually had no idea what I was doing there. I was met by Claire who had been emailing me throughout the weeks previous to this day and she guided me to an assembly hall closed off by two solid doors. She opened the door and 100 odd tiny faces turned to look at me.

I handed over my USB to the technician guy and the teacher at the time introduced me as ‘young entrepreneur Olivia McVeigh’. At the sound of my own name I was near sick all over their tired looking heads, but you’ll be glad to know I wasn’t.

I began my talk and I chatted to them about how, I was only a makeup artist, I didn’t start an app or invent a machine that washes your ma’s windows. But I make a living for myself using my own two hands. I proceeded through my talk, telling them about my school life, chatting about how terrible UCAS is and how scary it was starting university on your own. I told them about how I promoted my business through social media, like every other john, dick and harry online and the dangers of our social media lives today. I finally got to the part where I had inserted an ‘activity’ as a contingency plan in the case I forgot all my words and would have time to gather my thoughts.

I walked off the stage and went down to chat to the girls sitting in front of me, they told me they were only 13 and they all wanted to be makeup artists like me. I told them that I was nervous to come and talk to them this morning and they said “why? Sure its only us?” which I had a good laugh at. I found it hilarious that they put me at ease just like that, and this whole time I had nothing to worry about. I asked them did I bore them too much and their reply was “we get out of class for an hour to listen to you talking about makeup, we’re loving life” which I also had a good laugh at. Their ideas were so simple, that I wished I could go back to their age.

At the end of my talk I asked them did they have any questions for me, I was shocked at how creative their little minds were, and how brave they were to ask out in a big crowd. I answered questions about how I dealt with stress, hate and people judging what  do. A young girl also asked did I know her cousin as he also lived in Tyrone, which I also thought was funny.

However, what shocked me the most about these young girls was when asked would any of them want to start their own business, the whole room of students put up their hands. I was amazed at how far we’ve come from when I was back in year 9, granted it might not be that long ago, but if someone had asked my year group that question, I’m not completely sure how many of us would have answered. These girls were so motivated to learn and better themselves, and it was so inspiring!

When I arrived home later that day I was surprisingly inundated with messages from the students, telling me about their experiences and thanking me for coming to talk to them. I found it shocking (in a good way) that they felt they were able to chat to me and tell me about how they felt online, which I suppose shows one of the advantages to our socially connected online lives in this day and age.

What I learned from these group of girls was that, they are braved than I ever was at that age, and maybe even now, they were brave enough to admit they were scared, yet brave enough to say they would still take the jump and become their own bosses, which I’m all for!

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

How to stay organised and manage your time effectively – as an influencer, student and full time employee 

One of the things I do well is managing my time. I work 40 hours a week, in full-time education, I have a 16 hours a week internship and I am an influencer – which means I have to produce content daily! I also sew, go to the gym, cook, look after my cats and all the normal day to day stuff that comes in between. So, how do I manage my time and stay organised? This is a good question! Well, forget about all those booooring time management courses you had to watch or thought about watching because I am going to quickly outline for you, the 5 things you need to do to stay on top of things and manage your time effectively.

  1. Write a to-do list

I know this one might seem a bit obvious but honestly it can help so much! Try to be as specific as possible, so for example, if you have a meeting don’t just write “meeting” write “meeting today at 3pm with x”. This will give you and your head good clarity. If you’re meeting with a photographer for example (I know us influencers love to dab into photographer meetings) then you write a more in-depth list (see picture for example). In terms of time management, if you have to prepare some outfits for this meeting then its  probably best to prepare the night before. If you know you are meeting at 3 and you have to prepare some outfits and you know it takes you 2 hours to get ready but you also need to have breakfast, feed the cats, send some emails then this is what your list might look like…

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As you can see I’ve used an online program to make my lists, it’s called Trello. You can get the app version as well so if you are out and about and need a quick peek at your list it’s only a finger swipe away.  As you can see preparing stuff the night before can really help in saving you some time the next day, also writing down the times will help measure how long you have to do each activity which will help you stay on track. Always prepare your lists the night before or the day before, this will give you clarity of what needs to be done and give you some headspace.

2. Don’t be lazy when it comes to creating

Easier said then done I know but being able to manage all of these means action, action, action. There is no time to sit down and binge on your favourite Netflix series. Think of it this way. While you’re sitting watching the next episode of YOU there is someone else out there doing! Doing and getting ahead of the game.  Influencing is becoming a very competitive market and every day a new influencer is raising the bar. If you want to become successful you need to produce content. With that said always ensure your content is authentic and you are actually enjoying what you are producing as this is meant to be a fun industry that provides you with freedom by being your own boss.

3. Split your week with set times – set a routine

Always have set times for each activity you have to do, that way you get into a routine/habit of doing things and you don’t fall off track. For example, every Tuesday, I focus on university for the first few hours of the morning, in the afternoon allow some time for my internship (I normally work from the office) and later that evening go to work. Because I work a late shift on Tuesday it means on Wednesday I’m either off or on a late again which means Wednesdays are my days of creating content because I have the full day with no interruptions to do so. As you can see this gives structure and routine. To me this is the best form of organisation and a great way to manage my time this is because I know what to expect which means I am always one step ahead.

4. Make use of the night before

I touched on this earlier but let me go into more detail. Okay, so, giving yourself 1 to 2 hours every evening to prepare for the next day will help you with managing your time, it also will give you clarity and some headspace. Sometimes if I have a lot to do – or I think I have a lot to do – I write my list, prepare everything the night before and I realise that whilst in my head there’s a lot going on, in reality there isn’t much to do. This allows me and my brain to rest which means I can have a good night sleep – if the anxiety doesn’t kick in – and the next day I feel more prepared to attack the day.  Here’s a list of things you can prepare the night before to save you some time in the morning …

  • Breakfast (I like overnight oats)
  • Lunch (Make this the night before to avoid worrying about it the next day and saves you money)
  • Prepare you’re outfit/what you’re going to wear
  • Prepare a bag (I do this when I’m going to uni or the gym)
  • Write a list for the next day
  • If you’re going for a shoot – prepare everything the day before
  • Iron your clothes etc…

 

5. Give yourself study weeks

As I mentioned previously I am also in full time education. Right now I am in my second semester of my MSc degree in Communication and PR at Ulster Uni. Guys, this is a FULL ON COURSE, it’s hard! But by managing my time and keeping organised I am able to do it. Other than putting time aside each week for reading, researching and planning etc… I create ‘study weeks’. In these weeks I will focus on nothing but university. I will ensure I have some stock content for Insta so all I need to do is upload but wouldn’t do it as often as in my normal weeks. I will ensure I am not overloaded in work or stressed and I will focus all my time and energy towards uni. I do these sporadically across the semester but intensify nearer to deadlines. I will do nothing but assignments, I will be at one with my assignments and I will be, the assignment. Basically I will put everything that I do on normal days as 0 priority and focus everything on planning and completing assignments to get the best results. This worked really well for me in the first semester which means I will definitely be doing this again.

6.  Lastly, don’t forget to take a break!

I highly recommend holidays! Rest is very important especially if you are juggling so many things at once. You can either schedule time in the day or take a week off. For me, I go to the gym. It helps me clear my mind by focusing on my body and soul. Yoga would be great too. For others, maybe reading a few pages out of a book, going for a drink with a friend, watching an episode of YOU. Whatever it may be, make sure you get some ‘me time’. However, linking back to point two don’t forget doing ‘too much resting’ can turn into a routine and eventually become your habit.

Do you have any tips? something I missed? I would love to hear from you as well… drop me a comment below.

India Reed is an MSc in Communication and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Instagram – indialee_reed ; YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCujm8EoQQuxyAjf2Z1wJYQ ; and Twitter – @indialee_reed. India is also on WordPress at https://indialeereed.blog/ – check out her most recent post A Guide to Belfast Charity Shops

 

Final Semester. Final Year. Final Stresses

The first semester of final year was a frantic, challenging yet worthwhile semester. For me it was a bumpy, bendy road fraught with many surprises and many late nights in the library with pressure levels heightened due to the fact that this really is our last chance at achieving the status quo in society “A degree”. Now in final semester, we can see university life ending and working life beginning. I’m starting to understand that stress is customary in final year; they go hand in hand like strawberries and chocolate. However, stress is necessary, if you weren’t stressing then you really should be asking yourself do I even really care? I decided for this blog to write about how I can plan to manage my stress over the next 3 months that involves just the simple things.

Here are three steps that I plan to implement in 2019 , in the hope that this will help my fellow final year student’s in putting an end their toxic relationship with Mr/Mrs Stress.

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Numero Uno:

Laugh.

So laugh, laugh, and laugh – no not in the library like some crazy lunatic if that’s what some of you are thinking and secondly no not in the lecturers face.  I mean laugh with friends, laugh on your own or laugh at some random funny videos on your phone. For me personally my go to app to really get me laughing is YouTube, from epic fails to the funniest news bloopers.  Laughing is by far the quickest and best stress reliever. It really is a workout, one study I found particularly interesting when I was scouring the internet found that laughing hard for one minute is the equivalent to the cardiovascular workout of running a mile- yes it does actually burn calories, unfortunately it won’t do anything for that beer belly! So next time you’re stressed out and someone tries to make you laugh don’t say “don’t make me laugh” just laugh and crack a smile.

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Coffee.

Rarely will you see the words “drink more coffee” on a list of techniques for reducing stress. I know you’re wondering coffee why would I drink coffee if I want to relax?  I’m not saying drink loads of it. I’m saying drink it in moderation, like anything in our diet and lifestyle it’s all about moderation. I myself never believed in coffee, I was an anti-coffee evangelist, but it wasn’t long until I was converted and seen the light. Having one cup before or during studying, I found that it kept me alert and drastically reduced my feelings of stress, reading up on how coffee affected stress levels I found that studies show it can also affect neurotransmitters in the brain to help you fight of symptoms of stress.

Numero Tres:

Exercise.

Think about the last time you were stressed after a long day studying or working on coursework – did you exercise that day? If you haven’t, then you’re missing out. From my experience after spending the majority of my day in the library or in university completing work, I try to always go to the gym or fit in some form of exercise even if it is just 30 minutes. Fortunately for me I have housemates who motivate me to go and they too see the benefits of this. We learn and see about the physical benefits of exercise, but we rarely are told about the mental benefits of it. It is one of the best things you can do to develop a healthier brain and reduce stress levels. If you feel regularly stressed like most final year students (Unless your Einstein) and aren’t frequently exercising, a bit of physical activity might be just what you need. So in this final semester when coursework deadlines, exams and final dissertation drafts are approaching take one or two hours of your day to do a physical activity which you enjoy, because I know I will.

Don’t skip a chance to exercise; you’ll be doing yourself a favour.

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Travis Kelly is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/travis-kelly-509007150/

Hamilton Not Throwing Away Their Shot …

When writing this blog, I had many ideas in mind.  After sitting thinking about which idea would be interesting for people to read, I decided to write about something that I am huge fan of, and that is the hit Broadway musical Hamilton. Anyone that knows me will know that there is nothing that I love more than Broadway musicals. One of the biggest musicals of the last decade has been Hamilton.  This is a Hip-Hop musical about the American Revolution and it has broken records that no one could have even imagined. Since Hamilton opened on Broadway in August 2015, in the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York, it has received a record-breaking 16 Tony Award nominations (The Oscars of musical theatre), winning 11 including one for best musical.

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So how does a Broadway Musical become so successful? How has it been able to attract millions of people to go to see a Hip-Hop musical about the American Revolution?  How has Hamilton been able to attract people through their doors, from members of the British Royal Family to the everyday theatre-goer? Well, it’s simple – they have been able to use public relations and marketing to make Hamilton one of the most sought-after shows on Broadway.

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Hamiltion was created by Lin Manuel Miranda and it is based on the biography of Alexandra Hamilton by Ron Chernow. Lin Manuel Miranda is one of the main factors forHamilton’s success. Having already achieved success with shows like In the Heights, he had a huge fan base amongst musical theatre fans. He was also able to use his social media profile to attract attention for his new show, even before it opened. Once the show opened on Broadway, it soon became a huge success attracting many A – list stars such as Beyoncé and Oprah, to name a few. These stars would then post photos of themselves on social media, thus creating a desire for other people to go see the show.

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With the buzz of the show, and the amount of people trying to secure tickets, the show soon made headlines. People where literally willing to pay someone to stand in line at the theatre to try and secure a set of tickets. Trying to get tickets for Hamilton soon became impossible, with tickets selling for up to $1,150. The high price of tickets caused negative headlines for Hamilton, implying that it was impossible to get tickets unless you could afford the huge prices. To manage this crisis, and wanting to make Hamilton affordable for everyone, the Ham4Ham lottery was started where you could enter to win tickets for the show. In addition, the cast would often perform for crowds of people who were waiting outside the Richard Rodgers Theatre to see if they were lucky enough to win tickets. The #Ham4Ham would often be used by people at the show gaining extra social media attention for Hamilton.

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With Hamilton gaining so much attention, and not everyone being able to make their way to New York to see it or pay the huge ticket price, there was soon a huge demand for Hamilton merchandise. In this small way, you could get a taste of Hamilton even if you could not make it to the show. Marketing Hamilton means it is more than simply a Broadway show. Hamilton’s soundtrack was charting so well in the iTunes charts that they released a mixtape of the soundtrack, with songs being covered by popular artists such as Sia, Chance the Rapper and many more. There was such a huge demand for Hamilton merchandise that there is even a store in New York to keep up with the demand from Hamilton fans.  MH12

Hamilton was soon becoming a cultural phenomenon and was being used to talk about current social issues that were happening in the United States of America.  For example, Hamilton was being used when talking about politics, with the cast even performing for the Obamas at the White House. After Trump was elected President, and with protests breaking out around the country about the policies that he was introducing, many people were seen with posters at the protests that had lyrics from the musical on them such as, “History has its eyes on you” and “Immigrants – We get the job done”. During one of the shows when Vice President Pence was in the audience, the actor who played Aaron Burr, Brandon Dixon, asked Mike Pence after the show finished, and while he was still in the audience, to respect the diversity that the cast represents.  This got widespread media attention as was caught on camera by members of the audience.  Although it received negative reactions from people, including President Trump, many others applauded the cast for speaking out about social issues that were affecting the country and using their platform to educate people about politics.Image result for hamilton musical

I believe that Hamilton has made Broadway more popular than ever and has succeeded in bringing in a whole new generation of theatre fans.  Hamilton created such a buzz about Broadway musicals that there was even a Broadway Carpool Karaoke with James Corden, which not only included Lin Manuel Miranda from Hamiltion, but other big Broadway stars such as Audra McDonald, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Jane Krakowski. This has led to the success of many new Broadway musicals such as Dear Evan Hansen, which has achieved similar success to Hamilton.  Hamilton has also helped to change the world of Musical Theatre, attracting new fans and showing that it is okay to break down barriers and change the norm.

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Muriosa Houston is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Twitter – @MuriosaHouston ; Linkedin – http://www.linkedin.com/in/muriosa-houston-32b41413b

We Want Change

I know what you’re thinking, “I’m in for a 10 minute snore-fest on how things need to change with the uncertainty of Brexit”.  I’m afraid that’s not exactly what I mean. I mean that I am one of the many people within the country that actually want change. Literally change. I want your 50p’s. Give them to me.

From no age I have been an avid coin collector. My journey kicked off early as I was making my communion, I received an envelope and found that there seemed to be a coin rattling around the bottom of one of my cards. As I gritted my teeth in utter disbelief, not knowing that the content of this card would give me a life long hobby,  I tore opened the card anticipating another pound coin. There was something different in this one, a special coin, a £5 coin.

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This coin grabbed my attention immediately, it was the weight of it and how it felt, nothing to do with the value of it. I had something that nobody else had. As of that I began to pay more attention to the face of coins, I started to notice that they weren’t all the same and there are numerous different faces to collect. I became hooked. I had an unnatural obsession with coins and had every Tom, Dick and Harry on the hunt for me.

As much as I loved collecting all different types of coins I developed an obsession with 50p’s. Beatrix Potters, Isle of Man, Kew Gardens, 2012 Olympics, you name it I have them. There was something about the shape of the coin and the look of them that grabbed my attention over all the other coins I had. I took all my 50p’s from the ugly mug which I stored my coins and put them into a fresh velvet 50p holder to show their superiority. I disregarded my other coins and went on my quest to have every 50p there is. Its hard to believe its been going on for over 10 years.

 

(These images display the 2012 Olympics 50 pence pieces and the 2016 Beatrix Potter collection)

The ultimate goal for all 50p collector is to get your hands on a “Kew Gardens”. It comes from the 2009 collection and is worth quite a bit of money. Averaging £140 on Ebay it is a much sough after coin. I couldn’t live knowing that the least circulated 50p wasn’t in my possession and got it for Christmas. (Try explaining to your parents you want them to spend 300 times the worth of a 50 pence piece on one.) As you could imagine, it didn’t go down too well, but being the supportive beings that they are they pulled through and now my baby rests in the velvet cradle beside some of the most iconic 50p’s in my possession.

DH5

To be honest acquiring coins on the internet isn’t something I do but for a Kew Gardens I had to make an exception. I have all my friends tortured who handle cash in their day-to-day jobs – but this is the exciting bit. As they say the chase is always the best part! On a daily basis I receive snap-chats from my friends with 50ps, “Have you got this one” often to get my response, “I have it keep looking”, and it may seem monotonous but I cant get enough of it.  Its far more satisfying finding them in your change and your friends change than purchasing them online which I find boring.

10 years and 63 50p’s later I am still as hooked as ever and don’t plan on giving up my quest to complete every collection there is.

 

David Hughes is a Final Year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on: Twitter – @DavidHughes34 ; LInkedIn – linkedin.com/in/david-hughes-2a9117172.