Thank u… but, try again.

On Sunday 22nd September, Ariana Grande brought her much anticipated ‘Sweetener World Tour’ to Dublin’s 3Arena for 3 sold out shows. Her tickets sold out within 3 minutes on release clearly showing the hype and popularity she has gathered in the past year after the release of her ‘Sweetener’ album and return to the music scene following the devastating Manchester Arena bombing in May 2017 at her concert. As a massive fangirl or “stan”, if you will, I was counting down the days until I got to sing my heart out to her endless bops and just stare in awe at the biggest pop star in the world today (in my opinion however, if you disagree I can’t guarantee I’ll listen to your argument).

Upon her arrival and stay in Dublin, the media were in a frenzy reporting on the anticipation for last minute tickets and any glimpse people got of her roaming the streets of Dublin. It was fair to say, there was much excitement in the air and after scrolling through my Twitter feed that weekend, I stumbled across a tweet from Cadbury Ireland and it’s clear they were really TRYING to get in on the hype with a little shameless PR stunt.

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Cadbury Ireland’s tweet on Ariana’s opening night

After reading this tweet and staring at it for a few minutes, I had mixed reactions, none of which were positive may I add but, I feel the most appropriate way to explain how I felt is best depicted with memes.

 

  1. Initial reaction

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If I’m honest, when I first read the tweet, I thought it made no sense. What is the relevance between a box of roses to Ariana Grande’s ‘Thank u, next’? In what world do we gift our exes a box of chocolates for the pain and life lessons they’ve given us? What is this weird point they’re trying to promote? I had too many questions for what was clearly meant to be a quick promo for a box of Roses and once, I figured out the message they were aiming for, it seemed a bit lackluster. In my opinion if a company wants to quickly promote a product or message through social media, it should be smart and easy to understand and a lot of the time, memorable for good reasons. This tweet on the other hand left me scratching my head like a lot of other Twitter users in the thread.

 

  1. Follow up reaction

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This meme really depicts my follow up reaction for a few reasons. As mentioned before, I am a Ariana Grande fan but, I’m pretty sure over the past 2 years, without even being a fan of Ariana’s, a lot of people are very aware of what has happened in her life and what led to the creation of ‘Thank u, next’.

After reading Cadbury Ireland’s tweet, it’s imaginable that the person who came up with the idea has a 12 year old niece who was going to one of the shows and despite not really knowing much about her, it was all they were hearing about from young people so, they might as well post a ‘relatable’ tweet to stay relevant with the current hype.

My main observation though was that 0 research was done and there wasn’t much knowledge on Ariana. The reason behind my assumption being that there was no regard for the insensitivity towards suggesting Ariana should have gave her exes a box of chocolates when,

  1. Her ex Mac Miller, whom is mentioned in the song tragically died from a drug overdose and
  2. Her ex-fiancé Pete Davidson struggles with his mental health and openly discussed suicide following calling off their engagement.

Both of these incidents inspired Ariana to write ‘Thank u, next’. She commemorates them for the life lessons, love and pain that they’ve taught her and ultimately allowed her to take time to love and focus on herself.

Taking all of this on board, I feel Cadbury Ireland’s social media team could have taken a better approach to engaging with Ariana being in Dublin. I understand it was likely an attempted light-hearted joke however, when promoting your products and making links to celebrities, songs, events etc. I believe it’s always necessary to have an understanding of background details like the above and to use these links with the appropriate context.

When carrying out PR work you are always trying to influence opinions and behaviours positively however, without research and knowledge on the message you are promoting, it appears less credible, sloppy and in this case a bit distasteful. Looking through the thread, twitter users were providing nothing, but negative feedback aimed at Cadbury Ireland’s marketing team, which is evidently not what their goal was.

Initially I was wondering was I overreacting and perhaps looking too deep into it however, the tweet didn’t perform overly well, with the general reaction in the thread reflecting my own thoughts.

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I began to look at Cadbury Ireland’s other tweets to gauge whether this is how their social media team usually portray themselves however, I was quick to notice that their other tweets were consistent in their social media voice and tone. This is what you expect from a company when they are interacting with their audience online. This made it all clearer that this Ariana plug was a spare of the moment thought and confirmed my assumptions that they were trying to stay on trend by feeding into the hype around current events.

 

So, on that note the only question I have left for Cadbury Ireland’s marketing team is…

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Marie-Claire Leung is a final year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Twitter – @MarieClaireL_PR and LinkedIn – Marie-Claire Leung

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

5 Things I Learned From “thank u, next”

Saturday 3rd November, Ariana Grande surprised us all with the release of her new single “thank u, next”.

A break up anthem with a difference, “thank u, next” focuses on what Ariana has learned from each of her past relationships and how this has helped her to become “so amazing”. Ariana sets and example to all her fans on how to face adversity head on and move on to better things.

Here’s 5 things I learned from “thank u, next”

1. Look back, but don’t stare

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Ariana opens the song by taking a look back at all her past relationships. Mentioning each high profile high profile ex by name, she doesn’t shy away from acknowledging her past and the issues that lead to the break up of these relationships.

The past can provide you with information about yourself and looking back at this can help you reflect. However this should not necessarily inform your future or determine your outlook. Reflecting too much on the past can make it hard to stay optimistic, we often focus on the negatives rather than the positives. Looking too deep into our past makes it hard to envisage a future without these same issues occurring.

As Ariana moves into the final verse of the song, she begins to look into the future and discusses her dreams of marriage. She hasn’t let her past failing of relationships ruin her ideal picture of her future. And neither should you.

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2. Learn from the past and take it into the future

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Throughout the song Ariana shares some painful moments that she’s been through over the past couple of years. From the death of her ex Mac Miller, the end of her engagement, family problems and her own struggles with mental health. But she also hints at how ultimately, she’s going to come out stronger from the lessons she’s taught herself.

You Learn about yourself when things don’t go the way you planned them. We learn from the mistakes we have made. Getting hurt allows us to learn more about ourselves as people and allows for self-growth. Taking these lessons with us into the future helps us to not make the same mistakes and betters us as a person. You too can turn out amazing.

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3. The importance of self-love

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Unlike other break up anthems that focus on getting over the hurt of a past relationship by scoring your exes,  Ariana sings from a place of self-love as opposed to emptiness and hurt. Instead of moving on with another relationship to get over the past, she is now focusing on her relationship with herself.

Taking time to look after yourself without compromising for others is so important. Focusing on our happiness will help us to lead a better life. Going forward into the future with self-love and acceptance will help us in all aspects of life. The Key to success in any area is confidence within yourself, no one has time for self doubt.

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4. The importance of your support system outside of your relationship

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In times of a break up we turn to the people around us for support. Ariana sings about how spending more time with her friends has helped her to stop worrying about the past. She also speaks about her close relationship with her mother, who she wants to walk her down the aisle some day.

After a relationship ends it is these people who we look to for support through the pain. That is why having this support network is so important. Laughter and good times with friends helps us to get over the bad times of the past.

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5. There’s strength in vulnerability

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“thank u, next” is undoubtedly Ariana’s most vulnerable song yet. Explicitly talking about all her past exes by name and her dreams for the future, she opens up to fans.

“thank u, next” has also been Ariana’s most successful single. It broke Spotify’s record for single day streams from a female artist 2 days in a row and became the fastest single to surpass 100 million streams in Spotify history. It is Ariana’s first number one in the singles charts in both the UK and USA.

This success was followed by and iconic video which  broke the record for the biggest music video debut in YouTube history, earning over 50 million views in the first 24 hours.

While this commercial success is amazing the real success of the song lies in Ariana’s openness with her fans which has allowed so many people to connect with the song. There is a reason so many people are listening to the song and that is because we can all relate to it in some capacity.

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Allowing ourselves to open up and be vulnerable to the people around us will help you to make deeper connections. We all go through the same struggles in life and we can all relate to each other. A problem shared is a problem halved and vulnerability can be the first step forward in moving on.

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Cathal McCaughey is a final year student on the BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations at Ulster University and a Study USA alumni of College of St. Benedict / St. John’s University MN. He can be contacted on: Instagram – @Cathal_10 / Twitter – @Cathal__10 / Linkedin – http://www.linkedin.com/in/cathalmccaughey

This Christmas, I really don’t want Snow(flakes)

Disclaimer: The author of this post is expressing their opinion, try not to be offended!

We are well and truly living in Generation Snowflake. The term has undergone a curious journey to become the most combustible insults in this decade. It emerged a few years ago on American campuses as a means of criticising the hypersensitivity of a younger generation. You can almost guarantee that in any one sitting on Twitter, you will come across a tweet about someone being offended by a company or by a product for some social justice reason.

Recently there have been numerous instances were there has been outrage at things that are seen to be normal in our society. While the list is exhaustive, for the purpose of this post I will focus on Kleenex’s TissueGate, “The Problem with Apu” and recent outrage at classic Christmas songs.

TissueGate

In October 2018 Kleenex had released a box of tissues and had branded them “Mansize” to indicate their extra size. Twitter user @LisaMHancox pointed this out in a tweet to the company saying, “Hi @Kleenex_UK. My 4yo son asked me what was written here. Then he asked, why are they called man-size? Can girls, boys and & mummies use them? I said: I don’t know & yes of course. He suggests you should call them “very large tissues”. It is 2018.”

Kleenex tweet

The tweet gained traction and after a while Kleenex responded by taking the product off the shelves, but the issue remained, are we to change every nuance in our language to conform to modern gender norms? Is this sustainable? Does it really make a difference to anyone’s life if we change to name of a manhole to a mixedhole?

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When I first seen the tweet I thought to myself there was no way her son said that, and would she really go as far as to use the fake emotive appeal of her son’s voice to make a point. When I went into the replies I expected her to have unanimous support but was shocked to see that she had a mixed response of ridicule and support. Arguments against her being very PC were made and people had begun to question if her son had really said that and before you know it, it had become a trend on twitter for people to tweet as if they were their sons, daughters or even animals for comic relief. It was the first real instance I had seen the majority of people responding negatively to a post criticising the standards of something from today, and I was surprised to see the swing in opinion.

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My problem with “The Problem with Apu”

In 2017, Indian-American comedian Hari Kondabolu released a documentary called “The Problem with Apu”. The documentary discusses the character of Apu Nahasapenapetilan from long running animated series The Simpsons. From his perspective he talks about the caricature of Apu as the only South Asian TV character gaining national coverage on American television as he was growing up, and that show employed racial stereotypes in having him work at a convenience store with his trademark saying being “Thank you, come again”.

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The release of the documentary led to unconfirmed report from a former executive producer of the show claiming that the character would be cut as a result of the documentary. Again, this lead to a firestorm of opinions on Twitter, with many saying that Kondabolu was raising points that people were too afraid to bring up during The Simpsons heyday in the 90s. People argued back saying that The Simpsons stereotyped Apu in a positive manner; as a family man dedicated to his religion and as someone who was seen to have a tireless work ethic. My problem with this documentary is the fact that no body ever brings up the fact that nearly every character on The Simpsons is a stereotype; Homer is an alcoholic middle aged white man who beats his son, Willie is a haggard Scotsman who makes little sense, Luigi is the owner of a pizzeria, but there is very rarely light shown on the racism if the person’s skin is white.

Censorship of Christmas Classics

While it goes down as the undisputed champion of Christmas Songs in my eyes, “Fairytale of New York” by the Pogues in 1987, comes under scrutiny more and more each as year as we delve deeper into this decade. The raspy Christmas song is memorably sung by Kirsty McCall and Pogues singer Shane MacGowan, in which they depict a couple of lovers who seem to have fallen in and out of love with each other.

A particularly nasty verse in which MacGowan’s character calls McCall an “old slut on junk” to which she famously retorts with “you scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot” is sang with particular glee, which pays more testament to the fact that Irish people have a self-depreciating love of insults as opposed to a love of homophobia.

The Tab in Dublin and RTE DJ Eoghan McDermott recently called for censorship due to the word “faggot” that is used, a pejorative word for homosexuals. Arguments have been made that in the context of the song the slur means a lazy person, with MacGowan himself saying that the character singing the words is a nasty person trying to question the man’s love for her.

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A cheap, lousy faggot.

Being a straight, white, Irish person, I have never experienced any discrimination, and probably won’t, other than being stereotyped for loving the drink, which, to be fair, is an accurate stereotype, but this means I will never understand the pain of hateful words being directed at my identity. I understand that there is no place for stereotypes or racial or homophobic slurs in today’s society, but I feel strongly that things that were made during a certain time when attitudes were different, should not be boycotted today knowing how people thought and acted when they were made. Sure, if a song is released today containing slurs against people of an identity, boycott it, but don’t ruin Christmas by demanding that classic songs be taken off the air.

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The next person who tries to get “A Fairtytale of New York” off the air.

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/

Digital Poster Paste

You and your mates are in a band, you want gigs, you book them yourself. Maybe you’re a promoter, with the thankless job of getting everyone in the same place at the same time. You book two or three bands; you get the sound guy there on time, charge a few quid at the door and split the profits. Sounds simple, right?
Not really. Let’s take into account the fact that while you’re waiting for a 6pm sound check, you find out that the night before the band were at Electric Picnic, taking drugs until 5 in the morning, and are too mashed to drive from Cookstown. Or what about the lead singer who decides to emulate Jim Morrison and give the audeince a bit more than what they paid in for, or the guitarist who was clinked up for, ominously, ‘something to do with his mother…’

Shane 2Yes, reader, I took the thankless job of vicariously being in a band. I had a Monday night slot for a local showcase. For every night where the band outnumbered the audience there were others that saw some spark of brilliance on stage, the first headlining slot for a band that went far and on one glorious occasion, a sell-out show.

These were the old days of the paste-bucket and poster, but now your band or your night relies on the internet to make your mark. You need that crowd. A good crowd hears your music and buys your merchandise and physical albums. A good take on the door pleases your booker, who should be cutting you in on that sweet action – (and if not, have a word). A good crowd buying drinks endears you to the venue, which can lead to bigger shows. So how should you go about marketing yourself online?

There’s a plethora of books and blogs on the topic, so I’ll just briefly tell you what helps me out. We all know that the video is king. Invest some time and money in one really good video. It doesn’t have to be the November Rain promo, but a good quality live video will work wonders for your Facebook. There’s been times when I’m pushing a show and the support act gets the glory, as the headliners’ YouTube presence consists of wobbly footage of an ‘illegal gig’ and some confusing poi display.

Think of your bio. We don’t need to know that your band is ‘like no other’. Some brief history, a few influences and some of the gigs that you’ve played really give us an idea of where you’re at. Photos are useful too, but make sure you’re genuine. I once saw a picture of a 20 something local musician on stage at the Concert for Bangladesh.

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Keep it brief as well. I was once handed a four page press release that had what the individual members liked for tea on it.

You have an online presence? Use it. Interact with me. Have fun. Send me any footage you want to use, let me know if the pictures are out of date and share, like and retweet as if your life depended on it. Your mate’s just done a new video? Let us show it first. The Ballyhalbert Examiner interviewed you lead singer? Link it up! Having a digital press pack, with all your social media links, the aforementioned video and a few hi-res photos can make all the difference.

 

Shane Horan is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on Twitter @shanehoran.

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.

Eat, Sleep, Rave, REPEAT!

If you’re a young, wild & free, hungry partier in search of paradise then look no further, Tomorrowland will have you sorted! If you’ve ever been to Tomorrowland you’ll know exactly what I mean when I say it’s ‘out of this world!’ However, with 200,000 tickets up for grabs, it can be a pretty scary place for a couple of girls. To make things even scarier, we didn’t know anyone who had been before so we were really ‘wingin’ it! Nevertheless, eager to go and failing to pull together a crowd, we thought ‘frig it’- two will do.

Deciding to go only weeks before the festival was due to take place obviously meant we couldn’t get tickets from the Tomorrowland website itself so we got them on Viagogo. Before purchasing we had read many bad reviews about Viagogo and so were a bit nervous that we were about to purchase fake tickets but we were willing to take the risk. Just short of £1,200 later, we were the proud owners of two Tomorrowland tickets. Real or fake? – We didn’t know. We booked the flights to Brussels and we were good-to-go!

With very little thought put into the trip, before we knew it, we were on our way! As we sipped on our ‘Sex on the Beach’ cocktails in the airport, we had no idea what was ahead of us. So here you have it, tip 1: leave all your worries behind, they don’t belong where you’re going.

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It’s all fun and games until you find out your tent isn’t included so tip 2: find out if your camping equipment is included before you arrive, unless you want to buy an overpriced tent or run the risk of them being out of stalk. PS. ‘Full Madness Pass WITH Camping’ does not include camping equipment! I repeat, does not include camping equipment!

We arrived to the campsite, Dreamville, where we finally found out our tickets were legit, (much to our relief) got our passes and scanned through. It was like a direct pass to paradise. We made our way along the wooden boardwalk, amidst 40,000 people trying to get settled in, it was a bit overwhelming. Tip 3: get there early to allow enough time to get organised and prepare for the Gathering Party, it’s well worth it and gives you a taster of what Tomorrowland has in store.

Woken by the sound of music much too early when severely hungover, we got up and spent some time exploring Dreamville and all it’s magical creations. So tip 4: bring earplugs if you’re not a morning person. With tons to see and do we weren’t long passing a few hours. All kinds of entertainment was on offer including their own newspaper, radio station, supermarket, tattoo parlour, Mac makeup shop and a hairdressers. We honestly couldn’t get our heads around this place, surprisingly though, it took very little time to settle in and it soon felt like home.

As we made our way from Dreamville into Tomorrowland it became very clear that the incredible line up of EDM DJ’s wasn’t the only reason people travel from every country across the globe to unite together at Tomorrowland. With so much more to offer than the music and in many ways very over-the-top, it’s so incredibly unique. We wandered through what I can only describe as a ‘fantasy land,’ attempting to comprehend what exactly it was we were experiencing. Everything was so finely carved and crafted to suit the magical theme, with surprises around every corner, it was hard to take it all in. Tip 5: explore every inch.

We made our way to the main stage for the opening act, the immense crowd put us off going anywhere near the front of the stage so we opted for the hill at the back which gave the best view and room to dance – double win! The main acts that night were Tiësto, Axwell & Ingrosso and Steve Aoki. As floods of people gathered and the stage lit up, I’ll never be able to put what I was feeling and seeing into words. It’s true that the main stage gives the best atmosphere and it really is the life and soul of the party’ but, tip 6: make sure to visit all of the stages, there are 16 and they all have new experiences to offer with their own unique theme and vibe.

Tip 7, and one from your mum: stick together (and be good!) Festivals are so much fun but they can also be dangerous so it’s important to have a meeting point because with 200,000 people around it’s so easy to get separated. Managing to somehow lose my phone twice in three days meant we relied heavily on meeting points.

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Unfortunately though, all good things come to an end with Tomorrowland being no exception. Monday comes around quick and before you know it, it’s time leave the fantasy land and all the people of Tomorrowland and head back to reality! People say there’s no place like home, but really, there’s no place like Tomorrowland! It exceeded all of my expectations and I will be back. Tip 8: book a day or two off work – you’re going to need it!

‘Live today, love tomorrow, unite forever’ – Tomorrowland.

Jessica Patterson is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @JessPatterson16 / LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessica-patterson-79a755113/