A Series of Unfortunate Events ft. Meghan Markle

Words I associate with a Princess;

‘compassionate’, ‘selfless’, ‘humble’

Words associated with Meghan Markle;

fake’, ‘hypocrite’, ‘manipulating monster’

I might be basing my associations off the entire range of Disney princess movies but we all know these malicious words should not define a member of the Royal family. These are only a few of the negative comments that circulate the internet and feature in the news headlines when you come across reports on the Duchess. Meghan Markle has fallen victim to an endless amount of mistreatment since she started dating Prince Harry in 2016. Upon scanning the internet, I even found that a rather infuriated member of the public who quite clearly has it in for Meghan, has taken to Urban Dictionary and coined the term ‘Markled’, defining her as; ‘someone who ghosts you once you have no more benefit’ I mean, come on? This girl doesn’t even know her! And it doesn’t end there.

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Meghan%20Markle

As you would expect, becoming a royal family member makes you vulnerable to heightened publicity and speculation. However, Meghan was already used to the fame having left behind her career in acting and being notorious for her role as Rachel Zane on Suits. Watching her go from the fictional role of lawyer to embracing the doors of Kensington Palace holding the title of ‘Princess’ in real life, I have to admit, it was strange but remarkable at the same time.

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It’s no surprise when you pop onto the news you will see Meghan Markle appear under ‘trending’ or latest stories. Whether it is discussing serious recent affairs or that she managed to shut the car door by herself (You’re doing amazing sweetie!) you’ll read it all. Tabloids take advantage of her background, race and personality to relentlessly bully her, sharing inaccurate information and feral commentary, disregarding all human costs. She faces immense scrutiny all the time. Does she deserve this? No human being does. What would the media talk about if Harry and Meghan never met?

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In the latest episode of the Markle dramas, Meghan is in the process of suing the publisher of Mail On Sunday for publishing a handwritten letter she had sent to her estranged father. With the endless propaganda she has faced over the past three years, I don’t blame her. There is only so much a person can deal with when continually being attacked by powerful forces.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/oct/01/meghan-sues-mail-on-sunday-for-publishing-letter-to-her-father

Harry spoke out about the recent actions-sharing on behalf of Meghan and himself; “There is a human cost to this relentless propaganda, specifically when it is knowingly false and malicious, and though we have continued to put on a brave face – as so many of you can relate to – I cannot begin to describe how painful it has been.” The hurt and anger transmit out of Harry’s words, only making you sympathise with their suffering and understanding why they are taking this action. As many of you would probably agree, the media’s main focus should turn to Prince Andrew, but hey that’s a raunchy topic for another day!

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The majority of backlash comes from people who have never known Meghan on a personal level. A recent release of a trailer from 60 minutes Australia features Katie Hopkins who embraces the nickname ‘Biggest B*tch in Britain’ (wouldn’t be wrong there), she is a woman who is unquestionably racist and xenophobic. Katie is someone who is not afraid to share her honest opinions and does not take into consideration feelings, causing quite a lot of controversy. In this documentary she completely degrades Meghan; “Meghan Markle is the biggest hypocrite there is”, “Abdicate. Off you go” and “a nobody” who “wears bad clothes”. Who goes so low as to criticise somebody’s clothing style? Her insensitivity is perhaps what continues to get her work in the industry but anything that escapes from her mouth should be dismissed.

Meghan only tries her best in being a humanitarian, shining an important light on many issues from gender violence to poverty and education. Recent events show the Duke and Duchess’ tour to Africa undertaking a series of public engagements. From meeting female leaders in South Africa, tackling violence against women, visiting Bishop Desmond Tutu and paying tributes to Uyinene Mrwetyana. For years she has been an advocate for women and girls’ rights-an incredibly powerful movement to be a part of and something that should be associated with the Princess opposed to the unpleasant hatred she receives.

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Meghan is the also the subject of frequent conspiracy-led and racist attacks on social media sites. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram host multiple accounts which are dedicated to sharing abusive theories about Meghan, including speculation her pregnancy is faked. Even in times when she is displaying her selflessness and caring nature it only attracts more backlash from the public. On her visit to One25 – a sex worker charity, Meghan used bananas to write thoughtful messages; ‘You are strong’, ‘You are special’. However it was only used as ammunition by internet trolls for racist tweets who devised the term “banana baroness”. One Twitter account in particular uses a photo shopped image of Meghan eating a banana as its icon.

https://news.sky.com/story/trolling-of-meghan-how-duchess-is-abused-over-race-and-pregnancy-11696606

Despite attacks like these Meghan still remains to glow, clearly she is a strong individual. The hatred she receives from trolls hidden behind computer screens is disgusting, something I, personally would not be able to deal with. It is unprecedented to anything that I’ve ever seen before – fuelled by racism and negative media coverage-unfortunately it does not appear to be stopping any time soon. So much for her fairy-tale ending.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex Visit South Africa

 

Fionnuala Hegarty is a Bsc Communication Management and PR Student at Ulster University and can be found at: Twitter -@fionnualaheg ; LinkedIn -https://www.linkedin.com/in/fionnuala-hegarty-108127160/ ; and Instagram -https://www.instagram.com/fionnualahegarty/

 

 

What would we do without PR?

Public Relations (PR) has a valid role in today’s democratic society. Moloney and Colmer (2001; pp.89) suggest “The thesis is that PR is on a journey from being the property of the UK elite to the possession of many, if not most of its citizens.” Liberalisation led to economic growth which created a sustained customer boom, therefore creating an incessant need for PR services in society and this has grown to become a necessity in many parts of today’s society.

The 20th century gave birth to a new type of media relations (Zerfass, et.al. 2016) and this has created a dynamic shift in PR to correspond with the digital age (Toledano and Avidar, 2016).

According to Moloney (2004; pp.163) “The shift to online and social media communication has impacted the practice of PR.” PR practitioners can now create online content to influence public opinion and create awareness of a company/brand but it’s down to the individual if they decide to consume the information online. This epitomises Habermas’ (1989) “The Public Sphere”, reiterating the idea that all citizens in society now have access to transparent information and whether we consume this information, is completely up to us.

PR and Mass Media

PR is now prevalent on social media in many different forms. Businesses are now promoting their brand on their Facebook pages, influencers are now endorsing products on their Instagram and celebrities are expressing their views on their twitter feeds. Therefore, social media is now a powerful way to support PR (LaMarre and Suzuki-Lambrecht, 2013). It is now possible to promote a PR campaign fully online.  Social media is free, easy to use and consumed by much of our society today.  Therefore, PR through social media is very important when carrying out any PR strategy today.

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One could also argue that PR professionals are still seeking coverage from journalists but also bloggers in today’s society. According to Walden (2015; pp.526) “Bloggers play an influential role in society by breaking news, discussing news and being cited in the traditional media, which makes this a critical stakeholder group for PR professionals to work with.” The blogger phenomenon has really grown in the past few years and now PR professionals are working with bloggers to promote brands and endorse products on their Instagram and YouTube channels. Therefore, the practice of PR is changing to meet with the current trends in society.

It is now so easy to have a direct means to publics through online PR. Social media allows PR practitioners to maintain relationships with their publics in a more coherent and sustainable way (Komodromos, 2014). PR through social media can reach a lot more people and better communicate a message around the world (Toledano and Avidar, 2016). Morris and Goldsworthy (2016) claim we are living in a creative industry and PR is prominent in popular culture, clearly showing that PR’s role in the media is very important.

Social media is only one aspect of PR in the media. Engagement with newspapers and print media is just as important. Today, PR practitioners work to try and influence public opinion through the media. Morris and Goldsworthy (2016; pp.14) emphasise this idea noting “Public Relations is at the heart of things” through being at the centre of mass media. Van den Heijkant and Vliegenthart (2018) argue “PR materials are an important and easy accessible resource for the news media and might seriously impact the actual content of media coverage.” Therefore, PR has a distinctive role in controlling content in news media today.

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PR and Business

PR also has an important role to play within business today. Organisations require coherent PR strategies to promote a new product or service to their consumers. To connect with consumers, maintain relationships with consumers and attract new consumers, organisations need to have a strategic PR plan in place.

PR practitioners can support businesses in many different ways. PR practitioners can manage any crisis that may occur within a business. A crisis can occur at any time in any place and if businesses are not prepared, they face huge repercussions in terms of their reputation and credibility. Companies can hire PR professionals to create coherent crisis management plans that will look at the possible crises and provide steps to ensure the crisis is managed effectively. PR practitioners can also speak on behalf of a company to ensure they respond to a crisis in the right way that is legally sound and will protect the company image. Therefore, PR can have a very important role in managing crises.

Another aspect of PR in business is Sponsorship. Sponsorship is used by PR practitioners to increase public awareness of a company, reinforce public awareness of a brand and enhance its reputation. According to Ronald, (2004; pp.42) “PR can help management to get more benefit from sponsorship by guiding management to projects that will produce massive national or worldwide media coverage and the most heartfelt public gratitude.” PR practitioners can use their means to promote the good that a company does and overall enhance a company’s public image. For example, a company can use PR to promote their corporate social responsibility. (CSR) If a company is involved in charitable work or has programs that support the community, PR practitioners can use this to increase brand awareness and improve the company’s image.  Ronald (2004; pp.43) goes as far to suggest that PR can “be like bread cast upon the waters that returns to thee many fold and repeatedly”. Therefore, using PR in sponsorship can have huge advantages for businesses today.

PR and Politics

PR and Politics are hugely intertwined in today’s society. PR has been used in Politics since the 1860’s but Morris and Goldsworthy (2016) argued the Thatcher and Regan years created enormous needs for PR services. Since then, there has been a huge reliance on PR in political communication. Hobbs (2016; pp.372) supports this view claiming ‘spin’ is central to processes that constitute representative democracy.  Nowadays, politicians rely on their PR advisors or “spin doctors” to influence public opinion and control the agendas of the media. Moloney (2004; pp. 967) goes as far to suggest that PR “is an integral part of political presentation in the intermediated mass democracy which is modern UK politics.”

According to Morris and Goldsworthy (2016; pp.12) “PR has become an important role in the battle to secure people’s votes.” Therefore, PR is very important in effectively communicating political messages to the public to gain support and influence public opinion. Especially today and for the past 2 years our newspapers, television screens and social media pages have been infiltrated with the word “Brexit” making it hard to avoid politics in society. Political parties and advisors have been using PR throughout the last few years to try and influence public opinion and sway voters to leave or stay in the European Union. Therefore, PR has a very important role in politics today.

To secure votes and support, political communication is about conveying the right message and PR practitioners today stand right behind politicians advising them the best route to take to gain support (Moloney, 2004). This idea of ‘Spin’ can cause some debate in the literature, some would argue that PR is the voice of people’s values and opinions as Moloney and Colmer, (2001; pp. 89) note, “We can be publicly gay, or single parents; start businesses; go on strike; campaign for consumer rights; speak for war or peace and take up nay faith or hobby which suits.” Showing that PR allows people to have their own views and express these views explicitly.

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On the other hand, Hobbs (2016) argues that spin can allow Political advisors to twist the truth and cause some ethical issues in government. An example of this is the Conservative party’s Brexit campaign, Boris Johnson in an effort to secure public support for the Leave campaign, toured around the UK in a bus with a very distinctive message on it….

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This claim that £350 million pound will be spent on the NHS could have swayed many voters to vote leave in the Brexit referendum on this promise alone, but it was then revealed that this was in fact, not the truth. After the vote it was abandoned by the Conservative party along with many other promises (The Independent, 2016). Therefore, it can be argued that PR in today’s society can be associated with manipulation just to get votes (Moloney, 2004).

Another way Political parties influence opinion through PR is through controlling the agendas of independent media organisations through information management (Moloney, 2004).  In the context of Northern Ireland some newspapers support unionist views and some newspapers support nationalist views and content of each will be targeted at audiences that support these ideals. In the wider UK according to YouGov (2017) The Daily Mail is seen as right wing, The Guardian as left wing and The Independent as centrist. Therefore, one could argue that newspapers are trying to persuade opinion rather than provide information that allows individuals to form their own opinions.

All in all, PR has a very distinctive role within politics today. Moloney (2004) suggests that it is hard to distinguish between PR and Politics and the two go hand in hand. This shows that PR has become an essential part of political presentation to communicate a message and defend this message, PR practitioners are essential to a governing body clearly indicating PR has a very important role in a mass democracy.

So, what would we do without PR?

PR is all around us and with the changing trends and creation of the digital age PR’s role has changed and adapted to these concepts. PR is not just about press releases, it’s about using social media to enhance brand image, a political image or even a blogger’s image. It is hard to ignore PR today, we see it everywhere, in our newspapers, on our televisions and twitter feeds. We are constantly being influenced through PR and PR allows us to express our own opinions and values. Therefore, it’s hard to deny the importance of PR and its roles in today’s society.

Orlaith Strong is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @orlaith_strong and Linkedin: @orlaithstrong

The Great and Good of Public Relations in Northern Ireland

The Great and Good of Public Relations in Northern Ireland

This time last year I didn’t know what public relations was.  I had no interest in or idea of the importance and relevance of “PR” in everyday life. I would automatically have thought of the stunts devised to distract the public’s attention from the real stories or those who offer discounted entry to Thompsons and Alibi on a Saturday night in Belfast. However, since I began studying an MSc in Communication & Public Relations in September, this understanding has been altered.  Recently, having attended a CIPR conference which showcased the very best of public relations in Northern Ireland, my narrow understanding has been radically altered – so much so that I’ve dedicated my first blog post to the great and good of PR in NI. (I swear I’m not hoping for a job offer at the end of this.) I should probably apologise for the delay in writing this post – juggling a full time masters degree with an internship and a part time job is more excessive than I imagined. And people say men can’t multi-task? Pfftttt! Again, this point is rubbish because I’ve edited this post while brainstorming dissertation topics over a few bottles of wine. Hope you enjoy. 

1 – “We Do Great Things And We Can Prove It”

This point had to be first as it really got me thinking. It’s the motto of ASG and Partners agency but for me it sums up what we all should be aiming for. Regardless of our jobs, positions, activities – our focus should always be on doing great things and making sure we can prove it at the end. As Gold Award winners in the Community Relations category, Sasha McKnight highlighted the positive impact which PR has not only on businesses but the communities which they are based in. Marks & Spencer (M&S, marksies, whatever you call it), in Northern Ireland utilised the expertise of ASG & Partners to mark their fifty years of existence in Northern Ireland while reinforcing their position as a supporter of the local communities which they were established in. Retaining this client for almost two decades is proof in itself of the great work this agency carries out. Without trust, success will be impossible in this business. The moral of the story – do great things and prove it! The PR industry in Northern Ireland whether public sector or private are time and again proving their greatness!!

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2 – Community Relations

This thread ran throughout these presentations. Public relations has the ability and resources to benefit and promote communities. The examples of M&S; JComms work with “The Titanic Hotel” which retold the stories of those who had worked and fell in love around the Belfast docks; the community effort of the local people of Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry who worked alongside Ruth Rodgers and the Southern Health and Social Care Trust Comms team to save its emergency department from closure; the promotion of Basketball in Northern Ireland by Massive PR and Byrony Chapman, a sport which was at one time popular among both communities and the “Let’s Keep on Supporting People” campaign run by Weber Shandwick which raised awareness of the importance of the “Supporting People” organisation in Northern Ireland are testament of the importance of this aspect. Incorporating the community into public relations strategies is key and helps to build and maintain a positive and successful reputation for the organisation.

3 – Media Relations

The interconnectedness of PR and the media was reinforced throughout the student conference. Lewis et al (2008: 2) have pointed to the dance theory – “it takes two to tango.” Essentially, PR relies on the media as a conduit for spreading its campaign messages while the media relies on PR for fresh material. The PRide campaign winners utilised an extensive network within the media frame to enhance their success. I was impressed with the different techniques used. These ranged from JComms dedicating a specific launch night for the press, ahead of the community and stakeholders and the Southern HSCT who worked extensively with the local newspaper, “The Newry Reporter” to find a positive solution. Of course, Social Media was also utilised as an appropriate mechanism for developing these campaigns. Charlotte Goss and Clearbox were tasked with bringing relevancy for Bushmills Irish Whiskey to a younger consumer. While traditional press methods were vital for the other campaigns, connecting with a younger audience through social media channels was integral for this one.  Along with 300 pieces of media coverage across online, print and social media, 773,000 reaches on Instagram and 21,700 engagements on social media posts, Clearbox effectively achieved their objectives. Being aware of your audience and how best to interact with them is important in any campaign.

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4 – Low Budgets

A successful PR campaign requires serious financial investment? Not quite. The campaigns organised by ASG & Partners and Weber Shandwick were gold standard award winners and guess what? They were both low budget campaigns. Impressive or what? What is even more impressive is the impact they had on wider society. The M&S campaign took on fifty local projects which benefited over fifteen thousand individuals inside two weeks. Incredible! On the other hand, the issue of homelessness needs no introduction for most. It’s becoming a prevalent sight in most of our cities and unfortunately is spreading into small towns. The loss of three million pounds in funding would have exacerbated this situation further as well as impacting on the elderly, young people and those with disabilities who relied heavily on the fund. Enter Johnny Stewart and Weber Shandwick. Despite not having a significant budget, this campaign ensured that £2.6 million of funding was returned and that greater awareness of the importance of this organisation was raised. PR plays a substantial and sustainable role in people’s everyday lives. This is the message I intend to share when people question the relevance of PR in today’s world.

5- Youth and Experience

This conference highlighted to us students the diversity which exists within the PR industry here in Northern Ireland. Youth and experience. Female and male. Public sector and private sector. PR grads and those who took a different path. The main point- whatever the background, with hard work, dedication and a willingness to learn, the world (and the PR industry here and further afield) is our oyster. Listening and learning from Brittany Breslin, the CIPR NI’s Young Communicator of the Year was a fantastic opportunity. Her passion for the industry is inspiring and her advice on networking with individuals in journalism and advertising was invaluable. Moreover, the success of Charlotte Goss and Johnny Stewart, recent graduates from the Public Relations and Communications undergraduate degrees at Ulster University was another encouraging moment. In a climate where graduate jobs seem difficult to find, the success of these two is very reassuring. It would be rude of me not to lavish praise on Sasha McKnight, Jane Williams and Ruth Rodgers. These three ladies epitomise the calibre of practitioners here in Northern Ireland. They both started at the bottom of the ladder and in a relatively short space of time, have reached the top. For the student body, it was an incredible opportunity to learn from all these individuals. I would like to thank all the speakers, Dr Phil Ramsey and Dr Conor McGrath from Ulster University and the CIPR NI Committee especially Arlene McPhillips for attending the conference and highlighting the benefits of student membership of the CIPR.

I realise I’m late to the blogging scene but I’ve really enjoyed working on this one. I hope anyone that’s read to this point will have learnt something about this industry and can appreciate the talented individuals/organisations that surround us. I certainly have!

Jordan Mullan is an MSc in Communication and Public Relations student at Ulster University, and a student member of the CIPR Northern Ireland committee. He can be found at: Twitter – @Jordan_Mullan ; LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/jordan-mullan-23b1a2b8/

The Real Housewives of Kensington

The Real Housewives of Kensington

When the recent news that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle would be moving out of Kensington Palace to live at Frogmore Cottage broke, speculation around the move also broke with it. Was this really such a shocking announcement for someone who (with every royal baby birth) has moved further and further down the line of succession? Was this really out of nature for a couple who have been known to break royal protocol? Was this unreasonable given that Harry and Meghan are about to start their own family? Or was there trouble brewing between the brothers?

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Unsurprisingly, the first point of call for the media was to point fingers at Prince Harry’s new wife Meghan as the reason behind the move. Anonymous sources from within Kensington Palace claimed that there ‘had been some tension’ between Meghan and her sister-in-law, Kate Middleton, claiming that there was a clashing between the ladies at a dress fitting prior to the royal wedding, in which Meghan reduced Kate to tears. Another source also claimed that Kate was said to have complained about Meghan being needlessly nasty to a royal member of staff, which had left both Meghan and Harry less than pleased.

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Whether these allegations are true or not, they were the golden nuggets of information that the press have been waiting for for months. Despite the Daily Mail reporting back in July that the Duchesses were ‘best friends’ as they enjoyed a day at Wimbledon together, as the narrative surrounding Meghan began to change it seemed only fitting that they throw in a classic girl on girl cat-fight. It’s almost as if these two beautiful, intelligent and stylish women couldn’t possibly be friends – they must be in competition with each other?! With magazines and newspapers running features that ask us ‘who wore it best?’ the desire to create a competition between the two Duchesses has always been there. The Sun have even recently reported on this rumoured conflict between the two with the headline: “Why it’s no surprise sexual Meghan Markle and introvert Kate Middleton are having a royal rift”.

Whilst I am under no illusion that these two spend evenings in Kensington braiding each other’s hair and watching chick-flicks, I do take issue in the way in which the media can only accept women being the best of friends or mortal enemies. There is apparently no room for the in-between. Ask yourself- how many times have you read a news story that depicts a potential feud between two men? Or a feature that asks you whether Prince Charles or Prince Andrew ‘wore it better’?

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It seems that seeing two women go head to head has been one of society’s oldest and most voyeuristic past-times, which has become even more popular in the modern world, with reports of spats between The Spice Girls (the very ones who coined the phrase ‘girl power’), shade being thrown between Nicki Minaj and Cardi B and the entire Real Housewives franchise running on the occurrence of female feuds.

But these aren’t two popstars throwing shoes at an awards show. These are women from two very different backgrounds who have both found themselves center-stage in one of the most famous families in the world. Most people struggle to get through Christmas with their in-laws, yet the slightest hint of tension between sister-in-laws who live and work together seems out of the ordinary?

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Understandably, stories like these sell. I for one, have probably generated most of the clicks on each website’s version of events regarding Kate and Meghan. But the underlying issue remains that reporting on alleged feuds between women breeds a culture of resentment and competition rather than what women today everywhere actually need from eachother; empowerment and support.  As readers, we can do better than falling for the same, tired-out trap of assuming that women are nothing but evil, jealous individuals who all want to be Queen Bee and are willing to tear each other down in the process. We can do so much better.

Lucy Sempey is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Twitter – @LucySempey ; LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/lucy-sempey-482ab9130/

Hush From Scratch

There’s something very satisfying about launching a new nightclub event. Especially in a small city like Belfast where the competitors witness your every move and try their best to trip you up at every hurdle. It’s a thrilling and hands-on process that brings great success, but it requires more work than you can imagine. However, the proud moment when you succeed makes the stress all that more rewarding.

Here is a little insight to how we developed HUSH, a successful Saturday night brand that was located in the city centre. HUSH was introduced to the renowned Belfast nightlife scene following a strategic 6-week launch campaign similar to any PR campaign you would see from our beloved duo, Grunig and Hunt.

First was the long and draining planning stage. It was crucial for the basis of the brand. We brainstormed the initial fundamentals of any club night; gaps in the market, where we wanted to position, the target demographic, brand names, artwork design for online and print, the music policy and things of that nature.

We sent off different brand ideas to our graphic designer who came up variations of logos in terms of font, style and colour. It was exciting seeing all our ideas slowly but surely coming to life. These variations were pitched to focus groups consisting of staff and our target market. The final call was then made. We now had a brand and a logo, it was time to get this show on the road!

Next was the implementation stage. This involved increasing brand awareness by getting as many ‘eyes’ as possible on our new brand, creating a buzz amongst our customers and giving them a taste of what’s to come. This was completed using both traditional methods and more contemporary digitalised methods.

The process involved a lot of questions and answers. “What are the best channels to reach our target audience?” It’s apparent that social media is leaps and bounds above other platforms. We discovered Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram are a club promoter’s dream. You can interact instantly with your consumers 24/7 for relatively no costs. Cheap, cheerful and easy, just the way it should be.

According to McGaritty, P. (2017), “Facebook is dominant social media platform with over 65% of adults using it in Northern Ireland.” Building the HUSH Facebook ‘business page’ was our main focus, as this was by far our most important asset. This page was our customers first point of contact where they could message us with any questions or booking requests. This is where we created events for every Saturday, uploaded photo albums, constructed a ‘guest list’ and booked in tables.

Content on the page varied, however it was designed to be interactive, relatable and relevant. This increased the likelihood of customers sharing the content from their own personal profiles and ‘tagging’ other friends. They would soon become brand evangelists and advocates! Content could be anything at all; drinks deals, funny videos or ‘memes’, DJ graphics, entry prices or generic promotional posts.

It was important to build the likes, reach and interaction amongst customers and ultimately drive all traffic through this platform. We used many tricks of the trade such as competition give-aways and a few promoter wizardry skills that need to be kept HUSH HUSH…The first video we posted was an interactive competition for the launch night to win free entry, a reserved table and drinks. To enter this, we asked customers to ‘like’ the Facebook page, share the video to their own profile and tag 5 friends. This technique caused the video to spread like wildfire and it reached 37,978 people, 16.2k views, 349 likes and 306 comments.

We did not forget about the traditional methods for our PR campaign. We smartly used our contacts to our advantage to save on major costs. The club GM was personal friends with an executive from The Belfast Telegraph and we luckily secured a press release about the launch into the paper. This was also published by ‘The Tab’ – an online newsletter for students and on Belfast Live’s website and Facebook page. One of our DJs was also a radio DJ for Blast 106. He hooked us up with a 30 second radio ad for a fraction of the price and promoted the brand every day between 6-9pm. These were great additions to our campaign and increased the awareness dramatically.

The last stage was the launch. This was Judgment Day for us. Would the long hours of tedious work be worth it? It was the most exciting day, adrenaline was flowing around the air and there was a special buzz which cannot be easily replicated. It was the time to ensure that everything was in place and making sure staff knew their roles. Knowing all the tables were sold out and seeing the guest-list numbers get higher and higher was a sign that success was on the horizon. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly nervous counting down the hours before we opened our doors for the first time.

There is no better feeling than coming up with something from scratch, building it up, utilising all methods, pulling it off and becoming a success. You know it has all been worth it after witnessing the happy customers having a great time and wanting to come back. We were a full house on our launch night and the event has continued to attract steady numbers ever since. Success for the not so HUSH!
If you want to know more about the experience, please feel free to contact me.

 

Cal McIlwaine is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on Facebook – Facebook Account / Twitter – Twitter Account / LinkedIn – Linkedin Account

Video Link:

 

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References:

McGaritty, P.  (2017). Social Media Use in Northern Ireland.

The Kardashians and their PR stunts

We all noticed last year that the Kardashians were appearing all over our social media, snapchats and online news sources about the whole pregnancy rumours. Kim was (maybe) pregnant, Khloé was pregnant and Kylie was too? But what the three sisters all have in common is not just the fact that they were ‘pregnant’ but the fact that they drove the media mad by pulling strategic PR stunts in public and on Snapchat to stir up more news stories around their pregnancies.

After Kim went public on her pregnancy, we saw Khloé and Kylie hiding their stomachs in public for the paparazzi with baggy clothes or with their handbags; to posting images on Instagram and Snapchat, carefully leaving out their stomachs. The whole rumour of ‘if’ the Kardashian’s were pregnant and their refusal to answer or respond to this huge media uproar was the core source driving all their publicity at the time.

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Ever since a source told TMZ about the pregnancies in the family, every tabloid magazine and paper in the world went on a frenzy to report on it. From simple snaps that Khloé and Kylie puts up on Snapchat, to the family ignoring comments and questions about even confirming the pregnancy. The fact is that dominated our news feed, and what’s worse is that we became so intrigued by it.

So, why is it so effective?

The Kardashians use the press to send out one way communication to the public; For example ‘sources’ said Khloé is pregnant and Kylie is 3 months pregnant, but are these sources just a press agency  devised to promote the Kardashians and get them in the public eye?

For the Kardashians there is no such thing as bad publicity. Every story out there, they make work in their favour:

“Hiding that baby bump?”: ‘Pregnant’ Kylie Jenner causes a stir on the Kardashians’ Christmas photoshoot (The Mirror)

Pregnant Kylie Jenner and Khloe Kardashian Snap Selfies Together (USMAGAZINE)

When Is Kourtney Kardashian Due? Star Reportedly Pregnant With Younes Bendjima’s Baby (ELITE DAILY)

Kylie Jenner reveals ‘baby bump’ for the FIRST time along with giant cleavage – amid reports she’s ‘pregnant’ with her first child (OK Magazine)

A Legit Clue On Kim Kardashian’s Instagram Ties Together The Pregnancy Rumours (www.refinery29.uk)

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We see with all these tabloid titles taking the media that none of them actually confirmed the pregnancies, they were all rumours. Theories were created based on their social activity and reading into captions ‘ The 3 of us…’ many tabloids and fans looked on the Instagram pic above as a coded message from Kim suggesting that the three of the sisters are pregnant, even before the official news broke.

These sort of headlines are so effective because they manage to attract those that do not even like the family. So in due course, by creating a lifestyle that many people aspire and relate to, the family not only taps in to their target audience engagement, but also reaches out to other market segments that are intrigued by their way of life.

How is this PR?

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (UK) defines public relations: “Public relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say, and what others say about you. Public relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.”

The Kardashians use the media today for free coverage to influence the public to engage with the Kardashian/Jenner brand. They ignored the pregnancy rumours for months; they post images of themselves on social media as normal, like they are not in the media spotlight? All this attention and failure to respond to the media has journalists and fans fascinating over every post or public outing they make. As a result, the public’s desire to know more is working in their best interests, helping them further their presence in the public eye and achieve their main aim to engage more people in their personal lives,

Also, considering this year is the 10th anniversary of the Keeping up with the Kardashian’s show, could this just be a PR stunt to increase viewing? Or maybe to get more people to sign up to the new ‘Hayu’ App which the Kardashians are current brand ambassadors for? All I can say is I hadn’t a clue what ’Hayu’

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was until I seen the Kardashians plastered all over it and thought hey they must have made their own app.  Just to confirm Hayu is new streaming video service that’s all about reality TV on demand which only launched last year.

To sum up, the Kardashian-Jenner clan use life events to gain publicity and ultimately engage with their brand, not just the ‘Keeping up with the Kardashian’s’ TV Show but also each of the ladies (Kim, Kylie, Kendal, Khloé and Kourtney’s) individual brands. Their strategy of creating rumours in the media and pulling PR stunts across all social media platforms gains them more credibility and interest by their refusal to address the current dramas in their life.  An excellent example of effective public relations in today’s competitive media environment.

Shannon Doyle is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @shannond_761 / Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/shannon-doyle-28b827109 

Meet the media… Cool FM and Downtown Radio

Last week I had the privilege of attending CIPR NI Meet the Media Event, hosted by Cool FM and Downtown Radio. For a lot of people getting to see where the likes of Pete Snodden, Rebecca McKinney and Gary Myles create the magic that goes into their nationwide breakfast shows is a onetime opportunity. Luckily for me, I have the pleasure of being a member of Cool FM and Downtown’s street team, so the station is not an unfamiliar sight. Getting to work for Northern Ireland’s leading radio station really is a dream come true, and ‘work’ doesn’t feel like ‘work’ when every event is even more exciting than the last.

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Although I know how successful Cool FM, Downtown and the stations newest recruit Downtown Country are, it never ceases to amaze me to see the colossal listening figures they bring in. The day began with Mark Mahaffy, Managing Director, taking us through ‘What’s New in Local Media’ and more importantly, ‘What’s New in Cool FM/Downtown’. As Northern Ireland have the strongest affinity for local radio in the UK, it is not surprising that Cool FM and Downtown are thriving, with the Cool Breakfast Show with Pete, Paolo and Rebecca alone bringing in 297,000 listeners. With listening figures at an all-time high of 697,000, PR practitioners should be utilising the power of radio to promote their clients.  But it’s not just through radio that Cool FM and Downtown reach the masses, their Facebook page has 668,000 followers. As programming director and presenter Stuart Robinson pointed out, ‘with Facebook it’s all about engagement’. With their quirky news stories and hilarious memes Cool FM’s engagement on Facebook is sky high. So being able to get a story or promotion for your client on Cool FM or Downtown’s social media accounts, could maximise exposure.

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As there were facts and figures flying about, a break was much needed. But not just any tea break, in true radio fashion, it was quiz time. Having to identify five songs from Cool FM, Downtown and Downtown Country, did not prove well for me, scoring a feeble five points (my music knowledge selective to Cool FM). Luckily for the rest of the room there were some budding music experts who won Digital Radios and Shania Twain tickets for their impressive scores. However, I did notice a few other embarrassed faces whose music taste must be similar to my own, anything top 40 from the last decade.

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Next, and most importantly for the PR professionals in the room, Caroline Beatty from the Creative Solutions department talked us through some of the creative media campaigns they have created for clients. A shining example being Metro, who wanted to promote their £2 night fare. The Creative Solutions department cleverly crafted the Metro Matchmaking campaign, where singletons took to a bus in Belfast City Centre for some speed double dating.  By tailoring to clients objectives and budget the Creative Solutions Department offer a full creative media service, to boost exposure as much as possible.

Finally, Head of News, Nigel Gould, explained the work of the news team and how best to approach getting a story coverage. With 17 daily news bulletins across the stations, news has become as big as the music. By covering consumer, lifestyle and business news alongside the hard hitting stuff, Cool FM and Downtown are appealing to all ages and backgrounds with their news coverage. His top tip to PR professionals who want to get a story covered was to ‘help yourself by recording your story, but make sure the person is being interviewed and not just reading from a sheet’.

Of course our day had to end with a tour around the studios to see where the real fun takes place. We were lucky enough to have sneak peak of the new video production suite which will be used to record local artists, Facebook videos and so much more, so keep a look out for what’s to come from Cool FM, Downtown and Downtown Country in 2018, Northern Ireland’s leading commercial broadcaster.

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Olivia x

Olivia McAleenan is studying for a MSc in Communications and Public Relations with Advertising at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter @OliviaMcAleenan / LinkedIn https://uk.linkedin.com/in/olivia-mcaleenan-88774413b /Facebook – Olivia McAleenan / Instagram @oliviamcaleenan