What To Expect When You’re Expecting

To anyone who has clicked on this post thinking that I’m pregnant or that I am offering pregnancy advice, I’m afraid you’re out of luck. But thanks for clicking. I’m actually writing about what to expect when you’re expecting a placement, so if this may help you, please stay tuned.

When I was applying to placement (after placement, after placement) I had the mindset that I would pick a few I liked, apply, they’d love me and I’d get the job. Well, it wasn’t as big-headed or far-fetched as that but you can understand how straightforward I expected it to be. You might be in a similar mindset so I’m here to give you more of a realistic expectation to how applying for placement really works and what you should expect.

 

  1. FEELING CLUELESS

Your placement year is something you’ve known about when choosing your course, starting your course, during your whole first year and yet when second year comes around and you realise that you need to get a placement you feel utterly offended that no one had mentioned this to you or helped you with this yet.SD1

So in your best attempt to overcome complete cluelessness, you should attend a class regarding placement guidelines or at least try to keep up to date with emails. If you’re still feeling clueless, don’t worry, everyone is. At this stage it’s important to ask for help. This could be with your CV, a meeting with your careers department or even just asking people in your class.

Understanding the whole equation of everything involved in a placement takes time. Do not worry. Your clueless hours of thinking “what?” on repeat will end and you will start to get your head around what is expected.

  1. INFORMATION OVERLOAD

When checking your emails and employability portal for placement opportunities, you will quickly come to realise the vast number of placements that are actually available. There are specific key months when every placement ever seems to be open at once and you could spend days reading about the job description, the company, etc. This is overwhelming. This is information overload.

My advice in this instance is this; in your attempt to filter through the never-ending list of placements, do not rule out placements just because you haven’t heard of the company. Take time to explore the company’s website, learn about their culture and research exactly what your role will be. The time taken will be worth it and you may even be at an advantage over the huge influx of people applying to the big names. Just because they’re bigger, doesn’t mean they’re better.

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  1. NO INVESTMENT, NO RETURN

From the above, you should now realise that applying for placements isn’t just a few clicks and uploads. In my opinion, it’s the applications that are the hardest part and after that it’s a matter of waiting for replies and then preparing for interviews. But you can only really relax and enjoy the latter if you actually put time and effort into each of your applications. Each application is different. Don’t use the same cover letter with a few different words changed (trust me, they’ll notice). It’s important to understand that no two roles are the same so your applications shouldn’t be.

If you don’t invest the effort, you are highly unlikely to get anything in return. It took me three hideous applications to realise this and looking back I can’t believe I questioned why employers weren’t tripping over each other to offer me an interview when in reality they probably blacklisted my CV.

  1. TIME, TIME, PRECIOUS TIME

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If you’re second year at university, the likelihood is that your time mostly revolves around sleeping, drinking, going out, being hungover, thinking about what will make you feel less hungover, thinking your hangover is over then realising it was just the start, eating, going to university, being on your phone and on occasion, doing work for university. And in this jam-packed schedule, where on earth is the time to apply for placements?! * The truth is you have to make time. There’s no cheats or fast routes, it takes time and you need to make the time no matter what other commitments you have, drinking included. Even if you try setting out two days in the week to focus specifically on research and applications for the placements you want, it will really help.

At the start, expect to be bewildered at how it took you two and a half hours to write your CV profile section and blown away at the fact that it still sounds like the first one you read off Google and did your best not to copy. The more time you put into it, the better it will be and you’ll be constantly tweaking and fixing bits to end up with an application you’re happy with. But please, don’t underestimate the time it takes. It’s probably the most important thing for you to take from this whole piece if you take anything at all.

*Apologies to anyone who does not have the student time-schedule as the one mentioned above. I’m sorry that I stereotypically profiled you under a student experience umbrella based on what I’m used to. Well done for being studious, the rest of us envy you a lot.

  1. GETTING GHOSTED

This is probably the most infuriating thing that you should expect. And also very, very common. Expect long waits of thinking, “no I’ve definitely got this one, no point applying anywhere else, this is the one” and proceeding to find out someone else in your class got the role last week. As far as I was aware, there’s no procedures in place that say employers have to let you know if you’ve been rejected. And on the off chance that you are an employer and you’re reading this, please let a student know if they haven’t been successful in their applications, it’s polite and really helpful. So expect to be ghosted and my advice in this instance would be to set a realistic time limit before moving on and trying your best at your next application. It can be really disheartening but it’s just what you’ve got to do.

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Thank you if you’ve made it to the end and have actually read the full thing. I hope it helps you if you’re in the position of applying to placements or if you’re on placement/have been on placement, I hope you can relate to the struggle. Also, it’s not all doom and gloom and once you’ve gotten your placement you feel amazing and have such a massive opportunity ahead of you, but that’s all for another post!

 

Scout Dobbin is a third year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University, currently on placement as a Marketing Assistant. Scout can be found on Linkedin – Scout Dobbin ; Twitter – @scoutdobbin ; Instagram – @scoutdobbin

Conor Mc Gregor- PRoper Twelve

Conor McGregor – the man, the myth, the legend.  The loud mouth, Crumlin born showman has became famous for his illusive striking, crazy fight predictions and his ability to roast his opponents in press conferences to the point of freezing up when faced with him in the cage. Love him or hate him- his PR campaign works.

Recently McGregor has been making the headlines for all the wrong reasons, for example hurling a dolly at an opponent’s bus window, injuring numerous fighters, invading the cage at another fight promotion and consequently making the general public fear he was losing his mind. It could be argued that this thoughtless and irrational behaviour may have been detrimental to his reputation and public image however perhaps there is a method to his madness, after all does bad publicity really exist? I think that it is high time for the public to appreciate Conor McGregor for the shrewd, calculating businessman and PR genius that he is. Ultimately he is the one with the staggering net worth of $110 million USD meanwhile I struggle to gather up the price of his pay per view fights.

Was this a calculated stunt to promote the biggest UFC fight of all time ???? You decide.

McGregor has utilised his popularity with the millennial generation and used it to his advantage in undertaking a recent business venture whereby he has attempted to get his foot in the door of the Whiskey business. He was a huge talking point in the media recently and he has used this momentum to promote his new product  “Proper Twelve” to the next level in his UFC press conference.  With the fans behind him coming into his fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov,  McGregor took every opportunity to have a bottle of his infamous Proper Twelve glued to his hand in order to make it a household name around the globe.  He then proceeded to taunt Jameson whiskey as he claimed it was “done” and “we only drink Proper Twelve, proper Irish whiskey from a proper Irish man.” This was a huge claim as Jameson is so well established in Ireland yet he had his fans cheering “F*** the Jameson brothers” at the open workouts.  Quite a bold move but he isn’t notorious for being respectable in his approach to marketing.

Continue reading “Conor Mc Gregor- PRoper Twelve”

The Guinness Goddess

Guinness, a pint of plain, Irish champagne, the black stuff: its iconic. For a 22 year old girl I usually get a lot of stick and raised eyebrows when I order a pint of stout in a bar, however I would have to admit that I am quite the Guinness Connoisseur “an expert judge in matters of taste.”

Here’s everything you need to know about the emerald isle’s best brew about.

Guinness lingo:

The art of the G: How to pour a pint of Guinness

Bishops Collar: a head that’s just too big

Cream leak: whenever some cream dribbles down the glass of an untouched head; a major leak may suggest a watery pint but a small slow dribble suggests a healthy one.

G-man/ G-woman/ G-punter: Guinness lover

G-tache: The Guinness moustache created from a decent, creamy pint. All good pints will give you one. A watery one will not give you a G-tache

Priests’ collar: The creamy, post-settlement head on a lovely pint of Guinness.

The Birth of Guinness:

Arthur Guinness signed a 9000 year lease in 1759 on a tiny abandoned warehouse in the very heart of Dublin and completely transformed St. James gate into a brewery, and Guinness was born. By the time Arthur died in 1803 he had built his empire and passed his business on to his son Arthur II, a successful brewery with promising export trade.

Guinness is good for you:
The famous slogan and one of the most iconic advertisements of all time first appeared in televised adverts in the late 1920’s claiming the beverage to be more nourishing for you than milk. The quote is not around anymore but still remains true as a pint only contains 125 calories – less than a pint of semi-skimmed milk!See the source image

The Guinness book of records:

The modern Guinness World Records has its origins at the Guinness brewery. In the 1950s, after an argument with friends over which was the fastest game bird in Europe (failing to find an answer in any reference book) Sir Hugh Beaver (an industrialist/engineer) decided to create the now iconic book that would settle all common pub disputes.

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The Art of Pulling the Pint
There’s good reason for that finger-tapping wait for your pint. Over 119.5 seconds, the Guinness glass is three-quarters filled, rested until the nitrogen bubbles have risen (this creates the dark colour and velvety head), before being filled to the top. In my own experience patience is key in these situations, (good things come to those who wait.)See the source image
Guinness Today

Fast-forward a couple of centuries, and Arthur’s beer is now famous worldwide. Now brewed in 49 countries around the world, and served in 150, he has certainly made his mark. Surprisingly though, the largest annual consumption of Guinness is not in Ireland, but in Nigeria (hard to believe I know!).

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The perfect pint

Establishing whether or not you have been poured a cracking pint or a mediocre one is a procedure that I have been using for a few years and it all starts with the wobble test. A little shake of a fresh pint being ever so careful not to spill any – that can let on if its a watery one! Obviously the creamier the head is, the less chance of a spill there is. This step is then followed by observing the head, if its been poured correctly you should have a lovely thick and creamy finish, however if your bar man was in a rush you may have been served a pint of black watery muck with suds on top.

Where to get the perfect pint in Belfast

In my experience I have come to know that any bars that seem crowded or particularly busy will not serve a perfect pint of Guinness, however that is a broad statement and some establishments make the cut! It is often the smaller pubs that tend to be filled with old men watching the horses that do the best pints, these are the guys with the knowledge and expertise, these are the real Guinness Connoisseurs!

However, I am only a cub at 22 years of age I don’t especially like to go to the local pub on a Saturday night and would much rather be surrounded by folk my own age that equally enjoy a pint of plain, therefore I have chosen my two favourite venues that can accommodate a girl my age whilst also serving me a cracking pint.

The Duke of York: The best pint you’ll ever taste. The bar men know their stuff in this place, they don’t rush the art of pouring. Better yet (better yet) they freeze their pint glasses which I think is a beautiful touch and the reason I keep going back!

Five Points: The atmosphere in this place is second to none, the pints never fail me and are always so refreshing and consistent – not one watery one served in here!

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 –  https://twitter.com/celine_russ; Facebook –  https://www.facebook.com/celine.russell.7

 

Why Does it Feel So Good to be Banned?

Earlier this month, Iceland unveiled their Christmas TV ad for 2018 in partnership with Greenpeace which told the story of ‘Rang-tan’, an Orangutan seeking refuge after humans had destroyed his home and killed his mother in pursuit of Palm Oil. The poignant, ethical and yet simple animation had high hopes to deliver a clear message to viewers over the Christmas period and Iceland had a £500,000 media spend across TV channels to really help push the ad. However, on release it was announced that the ad was banned from TV after being deemed “too political”.

So where did it all go right?

In most instances I can image that getting your ad banned from TV would be a disastrous backfire of hard work – a very deflating feeling. But by the looks of things, the opposite can be said for Iceland.

After posting their ad to their Twitter page and letting the public know that the ad had been banned for being “too political”, there was a public outcry and people tweeted in their thousands protesting the ban. Even celebrities such as James Corden and Stephen Fry tweeted the ad which now has 17m views on Twitter.

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 The response to the ban was massive and according to Iceland’s Managing Director, Richard Walker – unexpected. Despite claims that the company knew all along the ad would be banned, Richard Walker stated, “We went into this with a straight bat and I genuinely thought this [the advert] was going to get past.” Perhaps this was for the best. Since posting, their original tweet has 92k retweets, 4.4m YouTube views and a petition to get the ad that has been signed by 670,000 people. It has tripled the views from last year’s ad and created an audience of somewhat unexpected vocal advocates in support of Iceland and what they stand for. Done deliberately or unexpectedly, the video packed a punch in terms of reactions.

IT’S A FRONT!

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Iceland have come a long way from their TV ads featuring the latest B-list celebrity standing in front of a ridiculous spread of party food, aiming to persuade us to buy a frozen pig wrapped in a chicken and bacon blanket and served in a vol-au-vent. Those days are behind them. I imagine the company look back at that time in their business lives in the same way we look back at old profile pictures.

But what’s with the new image? Why aren’t they focusing on frozen sausage-stuffed asparagus? What about our platters? Where’s Coleen Nolan? What’s changed here? Is Iceland breaking up with their old image? Well, yes.

When I first watched the ad I thought “Hmm, yeah it’s good but why do Iceland care?” This thought was a shared one with many people claiming that Iceland taking an ethical stance to their business was all a front to attract a new demographic of customers. A PR smoke-screen for sales. But I’ve come to learn that that actually isn’t the case.

Environmentalism isn’t just for Christmas

Iceland have been publicly talking about the plight of orangutans for most of the year and became the first UK supermarket to vow to remove palm oil from every item in their own-brand food label by the end of 2018. Earlier this year, they also released a stream of video footage of how palm oil was destroying orangutan’s natural habitat:

The videos were part of the #PalmOilAlarmCall hashtag (similar to their #NoPalmOilChristmas hashtag) and for everyone who shared the hashtag on social media, Iceland promised to donate £1 to International Animal Rescue to fund rescue and care for orangutans left ‘homeless’. Their vow to remove palm oil from their products is expected to reduce the demand for the product by 500 tonnes a year.

On top of this, Iceland have been a leading retailer in banning single-use plastics. In January, their #TooCoolForPlastic campaign drew attention to the fact that they were the world’s first mainstream retailer to fully remove plastic packing from all of its own-label products by 2023. Who thinks it’s a front now?

Their commitment to sustainability is quite clearly not a smoke-screen but a solid foundation that they continue to build on. Their determination to lead the way into environmentally friendly business practices is admirable and something I expect other major retailers will soon follow. Iceland have set a sustainability benchmark and not just because it will make them look good, but because it is right.

Overall, whether you think it was a cunning plan as part of a marketing masterpiece or a backlash that turned out for the better, you can’t deny what Iceland have actually done. They have opened up an umbrella of conversations about the ethicality of companies, what’s in our products and what is the true price we pay for everyday items.

Our attention has been got. Everyone is listening.

Being banned wasn’t so bad after all.

Scout Dobbin is a third year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University, currently on placement as a Marketing Assistant. Scout can be found on Linkedin – Scout Dobbin, on Twitter – @scoutdobbin or Instagram – @scoutdobbin

Is The Rapid Rise Of The Gin Industry Killing Traditional Drinking Cultures?

As I am sure you know over the last 5 years the gin industry has taken a rapid rise seeming to come completely out of nowhere. It is no surprise that the rise of the industry itself is seen as nothing short of a miracle for distilleries large or small. More and more people are being seen to spend more and buying big on premium brands of alcohol. Now more than ever, people are less likely now to go for a standard bottle of wine or beer from the supermarket and are now focusing on more premium labels, which is one of the main reasons for the rise of the industry itself.HD1

In 20018 the sales of gin reached a record high rising 40% in the combined markets of bars, hospitality and supermarkets reaching £1.5 billion, selling around 55 million bottles in 12 months. In the last 5 years the sales in the UK alone for gin have more than doubled. From march 2013 to march 2018 the sales have went from £696 million to £1.5 billion, which is an increase of 804 million, the increase itself is beyond belief when you look at the figures especially with how competitive the drinks market is with so many established brands.

 

When you look at the larger scale of the growth of the industry you can’t help but think is the rise in sales ruining traditional drinking cultures? can this rise have an instrumental effect on other alcohol markets such as the beer, wine and lower grade spirits. One key factor about the drinks industry is that people all have a preference on a certain brand and tend to stick to that brand throughout most of their life making the market relatively hard to sway especially if you are launching a new brand into the market most people seem very brand loyal to their preferred choice. For me personally I am a Guinness drinker and I tend to very rarely sway away from that brand you would never see me drink any other form of stout such as Murphy’s and I would now and again but not very often take a Hop house or Budweiser. This in my eyes would make me out as being a more traditionally cultured drinker I enjoy a simpler approach to enjoying a drink through a pint of my favourite brand and you wouldn’t see me often sway away from this to other brands. However, with this new-found gin culture you see more and more people venturing away from traditional drinking cultures, going out and maybe trying 6 or even 7 different brands of gin with various different mixers.

The sudden rise of the industry has not just brought with its major profits for the market but also brought about a different culture within the alcohol industry, even the whole idea of going out for a drink has changed people go out and spend a great deal more on the premium brands, put a lot more effort into their appearance and make more of a deal of going for a drink.HD3

Some people would suggest the days of going for a social quite pint after work are now long gone the drinks industry has now changed and grown into a more sophisticated type market. The drinking culture we once knew is now heading out of the social norm it is now becoming more and more of a monthly event with and the social, traditional culture side is gradually disappearing.HD4

If this rapid rise of the gin market keeps up it could result in the rest of the market suffering greatly, it is clearly seen by major companies the way the industry is going with Diageo now more than ever pushing out their premium drinks rage such as Tanqueray at promotions, as well focusing highly on their gin range with the new release of Gordon’s Pink gin taking centre stage the last 2 years. This itself shows not a great deal of faith in the traditional drinks industry with the major brands Diageo owns such as Guinness, Harp, Carlsberg and Smirnoff almost being moved out of centre stage to make way for gin brands.HD2

If this rapid rise of the gin market keeps up before we know it the industry itself could become one sided. The traditional drinking culture we know will gradually get smaller and possibly even disappear. As a result, this could lead to once major brands declining in sales and possibly even disappearing themselves. The social aspect of our drinking culture may be turned into an upper-class privilege and less of a social culture for everyone. Although some may say this is nothing more than a phase in the industry, and this possibly is true, however one this is for sure and that is that it has had a major effect on the traditional drinking culture we have. The industry is now becoming more sophisticated and with that comes more expense. Gin may only be the top of the industry for a few more years but what it’s done to the industry might have led to a permanent change to the traditional drinking culture we have.

Hugh Dornan 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/hugh-dornan-60376a14b/

 

 

From being the best club in the world, to the best marketed club in the world

My name is Christopher Hynds, I’m 22 years old, I am a final year Communications Management and Public Relations student at Ulster Uni, currently working part time as a Marketing and Communications assistant at Clanmil Housing Association. Oh, and I also happen to support Manchester United Football Club.

If you’re wondering why anybody would ever want to introduce themselves by bringing up such a divisive topic like supporting Man Utd, don’t worry, it’s generally not how I would introduce myself to a total stranger. Also, if you have seen the mention of the word football and Man Utd and continued this far, fair play, but this post isn’t entirely about a football team.

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When tasked with producing a blog for the first time in my life (not counting the many times we have been encouraged to post in this over the past years), my mind, like it does in most moments when I really need it to come up with an idea, came to a complete and utter blank. Panicking, I quickly started jotting down the various things that make me who I am; what I do, my interests, hobbies, my work life and my school life. Very quickly I noticed some recurring themes. Football. Man United. Going out. My job as a Marketing and Communications assistant. My studies as Communications and PR student. Football. Man United.

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All of a sudden, things started swirling in my head and I had one of those things that you get sometimes, an idea I think it’s called? Why not combine some of these. Marketing and Man Utd, genius. The biggest club in the world, through the lens of something I have studied and also happen to do for some beer money, Marketing.

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If you get squeamish at the mention of the word football from this point I apologise because from this point onward I will be alluding to some on and off field activity by Man Utd, but mostly I want to look at how Manchester United have marketed themselves since they were bought over by Billionaire Malcolm Glazer on the advent of £100,000,000 pound footballers, and how as a business, it has alienated it’s consumers, or, it’s fans so to speak.

Short bit of history of the club that is necessary for context (sorry). Manchester United Football Club for years have been one of the biggest football clubs in the world. Their Head Coach or Manager or Glorious Leader if you are a United fan, for 27 years from 1987 to 2013 was a man called Sir Alex Ferguson who, as you could imagine, managed the players and the team. He was assisted for years by a man called David Gill, in the capacity of Director of Football. This is a ambiguous term in football but it is generally someone who, working with the manager and a budget given to him by the board, decides what players to buy or sell for the club. The board ran the club and took control of all commercial issues.

United gained a lot of their supporters during Ferguson’s time in charge as they won 38 trophies in his 27 years as manager of the team, breaking records and setting precedents. With good football and success came fans, with more fans came more money and with more money around the club came more interested suitors. United were bought out in between 2003 and 2005 by the Glazer Family, billionaires from the USA, all the while being advised by an accountant named Ed Woodward who would later become Director of Commercial and Media Operations at the club, bringing the clubs commercial revenue from £48.7m in 2005 to £272.6 in 2017.

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The product of a football club is ultimately the team that is playing football for the club, and these players market the team excellently (sometimes) by playing well. The consumers of the club are the fans. When the product (the team) is good and the team are winning, then the consumer (the fan) is also happy, and that’s what I believe football should be about. But Manchester United’s only product isn’t just the team that plays for them every week, how could you make any money off 22 players who earn £100k a week? Man United’ “second” product is their vast merchandise range. It has vast commercial interests and sponsorship deals, it has its own TV channel, and a website to market these tie ins and products.

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They have gained a reputation for being the most supported club in the world, boldly claiming in 2012 to have 659 million fans worldwide. Broken down, it was estimated that 90 million of those fans came from Europe, 71 million of those came from the Americas, 173 million from the Middle East and Africa, and 325 million coming from Asia Pacific. With all those fans, comes all the sales of merchandise, and as you can imagine, when a brand new replica jersey new costs £70 to buy when it is released and you have a target audience of 659 million people, then you are going to want to market your brand well.

Fans were happy with good football on the pitch and good players, but when Ferguson and Gill left the club in 2013, the board was left with a massive task of replacing a legendary manager and a very savvy Director of Football in David Gill.

They gave the Director of Football job to the smart accountant who had overseen making the club all its money with its commercial interests, Ed Woodward. Ed may be the smartest guy in world when it comes to making money, but he hasn’t got a clue about football. And he has been trusted since 2013 to make all decisions regarding football played at the club. The guy clearly knows how to make a deal with a commercial entities though, as evidenced by these very cringeworthy corporate tie in advertisements. i will never be able to look at Wayne Rooney the same way.

The accountant in Ed Woodward makes Man United a lot of money, but this has sacrifices the quality of how they play. He has gone through three managers in 5 years, with very little success on the pitch. He signed one of the biggest managers in the world, Jose Mourinho, and has failed to work well with him, signing players that will make the club money, as opposed to players who the very expensive manager wants. He has made no effort to cooperate with new managers and give them the players they want. He signs nice players like Paul Pogba who has a generation of young fans dabbing and millions of fans on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, because he knows it is going to sell well for the club in terms of its commercial value, but he doesn’t put any consideration into the quality of the product.

A player called Alexis Sanchez is the epitome of this. The team did not need him, he was ageing, but he was a very luxurious player with a massive reputation whose wages were more than any other player in the club, although he had a very good reputation, the manager did not want him. The transfer was made regardless, there was a social media reveal with Alexis Sanchez playing a piano to the song “Glory, Glory, Man United” and Alexis Sanchez went on to break records for jersey sales, I’m sure Ed was buzzing. But the manager wasn’t, the fans aren’t. Alexis Sanchez scored 24 goals in 38 games the year before he joined United. He has scored 3 in 18 since joining, and United have slumped to eight place this season. Glory, Glory, Man United, indeed.

What you see on Instagram:

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The club has been excessively marketing itself brilliantly, and as you can see by the revenue increase every year, this has been working, with the club making massive profits. But with the ambition to succeed and make its consumers happy gone and replaced with the desire to milk the proverbial cow, it leaves a sour taste in the mouth of true fans. It’s like Apple and how they excessively market their product so well and with so much money and quality in their adverts that they have everyone thinking that the product is so great, when in reality they are alienating their customers by releasing new phones each year and making the software slower on older models. You can make your product look well but what is the use when it’s consumers are sitting with a useless product that looks shiny. Rant Blog over.

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Christopher Hynds is a final year BSc in Communications Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on Twitter: @chrissyoheidin ; LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christopher-hynds-a60531162/

The Tomorrow Lab Presents: Creative Engagement

The Tomorrow Lab Presents: Creative Engagement

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Last week I attended an event on Creative Engagement by local digital marketing agency The Tomorrow Lab. It comprised of six speakers from a diverse range of backgrounds talking about branding, social media and marketing (there was also a lot of pizza and beer, but I promise that wasn’t my only motive for attending…). Although primarily targeting those in the marketing industry, much of the advice imparted by the speakers can easily be taken as guidance for life. In the spirit of brevity, I’d like to highlight two of my favourite speakers from the day and what I learnt overall.

I’ll start with Sheree Atcheson; an impressive figure who wears many hats as a tech business consultant for Deloitte, UK expansion director at Women Who Code and founder of her own social responsibility organisation I Am Lanka. She delivered an inspiring talk about unexpected responsibility. To her, this meant being thrust into leadership (through her own hard work), at a young age. As a petite, feminine 20-something of Sri Lankan descent brought up in Tyrone, she professed herself that she was not what you would picture a typical leader to look like. However, rather than shy away from her responsibility, she embraced it and used her privilege to amplify others. She encouraged us to think about how we can all make an impact, simply by understanding our own privilege and really focusing our efforts. Sheree has an impressively long list of achievements, but the one that inspired me most was her founding of I Am Lanka. Despite living in Belfast, she facilitates important conversations and encourages Sri Lankans to champion their own homegrown talent before looking further afield. At a time when privilege is a hotly debated issue, Sheree calmly demonstrates how it is on us to use our own for the good of others.

The keynote speaker was Helena Langdon, Head of Digital and Communities at Innocent Drinks. If you’re familiar with Innocent’s humorous and quirky marketing tactics, then you’ll have a good idea of Helena’s personality. The company’s social media has spawned numerous viral campaigns, #1 Twitter trends and made it to all of the major national press, simply by being relevant in their own way. For example, did you know that Helena is responsible for #DogsAtPollingStations? And the well-traversed 4th Floor Stapler? What’s her magic formula? Basically, there isn’t one. Helena’s advice is to always keep things personal and remember that you’re dealing with other humans. This allows real conversation to happen, which in turn builds their brand from the ground up. Helena also believes in learning by doing, confessing that she has learnt many things by accident and that luck also has a massive deal to do with it. Luckily, they have an enabling rule at Innocent: “If you’re 70%, go for it.” Isn’t that a great general rule of thumb for life? It gives us the licence to take risks and make bold, brave decisions. Of course, mistakes will be made, but mistakes are there to be learnt from and help us develop in the long run.

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All six of the speakers gave their own valuable advice. Matthew Thompson, founder of Best of Belfast, encourages us to go deep, not wide, to create content that impacts and moves our audience. He believes that when you make content for everyone, you make content for no one. Alan Davison, Brand Strategy Director at The Foundation, showed us how your branding can completely change how people perceive your business (and also revealed that sometimes the best creative thoughts come from having a few glasses of wine!). Matthew Morris, founder of The Bearded Candlemakers, also believes in creating authentic content that showcases your own personal brand as well as your products. This has helped him build an Instagram community that he engages with regularly (and who all love his dog Teddy!). Sophie Smith, Senior Digital Marketing Specialist at The Tomorrow Lab, demonstrated how today’s technology can provide us with incredibly detailed insights of how our business is performing and how we can use these to take the guesswork out of building an excellent marketing campaign. I think she should also be commended for injecting a bit of humour to a talk on analytical data!

At the end of the day I left the event happily satiated with pizza, beer and some food for thought. All of the talks had one recurring ideal to me; be authentic and let your personality show through in all that you do, whether that be creating content for your brand’s social media channels or connecting with the people in your own life. I’d like to extend a big thank you to all of the speakers and to The Tomorrow Lab for hosting, I’m looking forward to the next event already!

Rachael Gordon is a second year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter @gordorachael and Instagram @rachaelgordon