Make the most of your mobile by making a movie…

As one of the @CIPR_NI student ambassadors I have the pleasure of attending their events. This week I attended the Mobile Movie Making workshop hosted by the lovely Niamh MacCauley, Video Marketing Officer at Purple Dot Videos (@DgnEnterprise). Before attending this event I always thought of myself as a wiz at making movies, mostly for family events or to make a university presentation that bit more interesting. Little did I know how impactful a video could be to promote a product or make a company’s website stand out from their competitors. Niamh summed up just how important video marketing can be for her clients by pointing out that ‘it only takes two minutes to watch a video that would take ten minutes to read.’ In today’s digital age, everything can be done on our phones. Need to book a taxi? Use your phone. Want to pay for a coffee? Use your phone. Want to make a promotional video for a client? Use your phone!
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Many people would assume that videos made for a company are filmed using the most high tech equipment to make sure everything looks professional, think again! Niamh showed an example of a video she had made for a client, asking the audience to pick out which frames had been filmed using a phone and which were captured on a drone. It was impossible to tell! The whole video was smooth and high quality, I would never have guessed any of it was filmed on an iPhone. Whether you need a video for Facebook or for the foyer of a waiting room, a mobile can be used to capture and edit the piece. Niamh’s first golden rule of making a video for any occasion is to keep it short and sweet, especially for social media, no longer than sixty seconds. The workshop was graced with workers from Q Radio (@goQRadio) and Belfast Telegraph (@BelTel) to name but a few, many of whom use mobile journalism (mojo) on a daily basis. Niamh relayed her mojo tool kit; the first item may surprise you… a selfie stick. Yes, the holiday maker’s favourite selfie stick can be used to film mobile videos and create weird and wonderful angles. The only downside is you need an incredibly steady hand or you may end up with a rather shaky video. If you are not blessed with a steady hand a trusty tripod can also be used for mobile videos.
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The next piece of equipment Niamh recommended was the Mobile gimbal, which can cleverly transform a mobile into a smart motion camera. Although it may set you back around £200, a mobile gimbal is a must have if you want to create smooth and slick videos. A slightly cheaper must have to keep in your mojo toolkit is a power bank. As many of you may realise taking videos can drain your battery, so if you are taking footage at an event don’t be caught out by that red flashing low battery light.
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I don’t want to give away too many of Niamh’s top tips, so I’ll give you an insight into the practical elements of the workshop. Create your own coffee advert… In a group of tea drinkers, I was assigned to be the coffee drinker, not that I was complaining on a Friday morning. Our brief, to show the coffee being enjoyed and stirred. Once Niamh had rounded up all groups videos she was able to quickly edit it all together using the video editing programme Magisto, to show us the finished product. Magisto converted our mobile videos into a captivating story in a matter of minutes.
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Not only can your mobile be used to record videos it can also be used to edit your work. Niamh’s favourite editing app being Splice. Niamh finished by highlighting that a ‘website is fifty times more likely to appear on the first page of a search engine results page if it includes a video.’ So, get your mobiles out and start videoing!

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

PRide and Joy: NI’s outstanding communicators celebrate 2017

PRide and Joy: NI’s outstanding communicators celebrate 2017

Friday 13th may be unlucky for some, but for many of Northern Ireland’s PR practitioners, the night ended in trophies, applause and possibly some sore heads in the morning!

For the past 18 months, I have had the privilege of sitting on the CIPR NI Committee as a Student Ambassador. During my time I have sat opposite some the leading lights in Northern Irish public relations and have witnessed the organisation of some brilliant events for PR professionals across the country.

There is however, one event on the PR calendar which can’t be missed – The PRide Awards.

Now, I’ve heard the rumours about PR, “it’s all parties and drinking and schmoozing”, and despite what this post may suggest, trust me it isn’t. But for one night a year, that stereotype might be a little true.

The CIPR PRide Awards NI is an annual awards ceremony to recognise the hard work and creativity of PR professionals and communicators over the past 12 months. It’s that one night of the year when professionals put away their laptops, put down the phone and come together for a night of celebration and healthy competition.

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Like previous years, the PRide Awards 2017 were held in the Culloden Hotel, Holywood. Taking the lead in organising the event along with the team at CIPR HQ were Seona McGrath from Smarts Communicate, Jane Williams from JComms along with Sinead Doyle and Alana Taylor from MCE Public Relations, who put together a brilliant evening.

I was kindly asked to be this year’s trophy assistant at what would be my first year in attendance, which much to my surprise included an official announcement and my name on the screen, hopefully, the amount of make-up on face hid my reaction. The awards portion of the night was hosted by Stephen and Cate from Q Radio, while I was tasked with delivering winner envelopes and passing on trophies. Thankfully, I didn’t manage to mess it up.

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There I am, in the background, looking the wrong way

The big winners on the night were PR agency powerhouses Smarts Communicate, with Seona McGrath deservedly picking up the Outstanding Young Communicator Award, and JComms. Also showing very strongly, proving the strength of practitioners across the country were in-house communication teams. Some of the winners included Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, North West Regional College and Translink.

Click on this link if you want to see a full list of the winners from the night along with the winning case studies: https://www.cipr.co.uk/content/awards-events/pride-awards/northern-ireland/results-and-case-studies

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For those of us studying and working in the industry, we know first-hand that public relations is often one filled with misconceptions. For most, PR is ‘selling tickets to nightclubs’. The PRide awards are the perfect response for those who criticise the industry and its professionals, and give us students who face questions about how ‘serious’ our degree is, some back up for those unwanted questions.

Another important aspect of the night, was supporting the CIPR NI charity of the year, AWARE. AWARE NI are the national depression charity for Northern Ireland and provide vital support across the country for those suffering from a mental health condition. Led by an incredible team, AWARE NI offer many essential programmes which require funding. Thanks to some great raffle prizes and generous donations, £1450 was raised impacting the lives of 96 pupils across NI – a job well done!

If you want to find out more about AWARE NI check out their website:

http://www.aware-ni.org/

The PRide Awards and the CIPR NI in general offer a great chance for young professionals to meet established practitioners, so if you get the chance check out one of the social events I would really advise doing so. Our industry is in great hands and growing year on year which can only be a good thing for those us who need a job in the next few years.

Images are courtesy of Press Eye

Kirsty Wallace is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be contacted at www.linkedin.com/in/kirsty-wallace-851504115 and on twitter @KayyWallace

Stateside Summers

Stateside Summers

Every summer, there is a reoccurring theme that happens on our Facebook timelines. Groups of 18/19 year old Ibiza-goers checking in at the Lagan Bar at Belfast International Airport with a caption along the lines of ‘are you even on holidays if you don’t check in at the Lagan?’

For me, I opted out of the tradition and the alcohol infused headache as I can barely cope with a hangover on a Sunday morning, never mind one that lasts for a week or more. Instead, I chose to spend my summers of 2015 and 2017 in the States, and not one ounce of me regrets it.

So, if you are the same as me and are thinking of doing something else with your summer, here is a little about my experience.

In 2015, I got my first J1 visa and worked at a summer camp in upstate New York called Camp Hilltop. I was hired at Hilltop to be a lifeguard (despite the fact that I wasn’t qualified and hadn’t dipped as much as a toe in a swimming pool in 5 years) but luckily I was fully trained on my first week and spent the most of my day in a swimsuit topping up my tan and watching American kids scream at each other.

One question I’m always asked is about my typical day at camp, a question I always find difficult to answer. There really is no typical day at camp because every day brings something new. I could have been lifeguarding and teaching Gaelic in the morning, building rockets or making tie-dye t-shirts in the afternoon, and dressed as an absolute horror in the evening. (Hoping the picture doesn’t scare you too much!)

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The best way to describe camp is that it really is its own little world and it’s a world you will learn to love, to be yourself and to meet people from all different backgrounds. When you leave that world, the real world doesn’t seem as fun anymore.

As accommodation and food is all taken care of at camp, it leaves you with quite a bit of saving for travels. After camp, myself and a few others decided to spend a few days in New York and Boston before flying to Las Vegas, driving to LA, Santa Monica, and Santa Barbara.

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When I finished placement in 2017, heading to the States again for the summer was a definite, the decision was to return to camp or try something new. I opted for something new – working in a Mexican restaurant in Boston.

I had originally been hired as a waitress in a Sports bar at the Boston Seaport, but instead the managers landed me in the job of a ‘host’ – where I made $12 an hour and no tips (some could call it slavery). Shortly after, I found myself a new job in a Mexican restaurant as the only Irish, non-Spanish speaking person. I had to learn how to pronounce and recite the entire Spanish menu, greet customers with an ‘Hola!’ and prepare fresh guacamole tableside – you could say the craic was great, and the money was even better!

Living away from home, even if just for a few months, is an incredible learning experience. One of the most important lessons for me was to value your money. I saw first hand how tough it is to earn it, so I was very reluctant to spend it as easy as I usually would have in Zara when my student loan comes in. I’d be lying if I said it was all smooth sailing, it really wasn’t, but I can’t help but feel a sense of pride looking back on everything I have accomplished.

After saving every cent that we made, myself and my boyfriend decided to finish out the summer with a road-trip to Philadelphia, line dancing in the Honkytonks in Nashville and snorkelling in the Bahamas.

So if you are thinking of heading off on a J1 visa, this is my advice to you:

  1. Don’t think you are missing out on party holidays; there is plenty of time for that. You are only applicable for a J1 when you are a student, make the most of it (especially before Trump scraps it).
  2. Whether you choose Camp America, working in a restaurant or playing for a GAA team, research the state you want to go to, the location of your J1 can have a huge impact on your experience.
  3. For Camp based J1’s, you can definitely go by yourself. If none of your friends want to go, it’s fine; you will meet people from all over the world who will become friends for life.
  4. ENJOY IT! If you are ever having a bad day, remember that in a few weeks/months time you will be back in university sitting in lectures or studying for exams wishing you could be back in the states, I know I do!

As cheesy as it may sound, the summer is short but the experience, memories and friendships last a lifetime. If I haven’t yet persuaded you to consider doing a J1, have a look at my video from this summer!

Loren Ward is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @lorenward

THE BANALITY OF NUCLEAR THREAT: My Time in Korea

THE BANALITY OF NUCLEAR THREAT: My Time in Korea

Just a few weeks ago I was packing my bags, preparing to head off on a little bit of an adventure in Asia. My brother, who has lived in South Korea for five years now, had invited me to visit him in Seoul, where he’s currently settled.

And although it meant missing one or two classes from my Communications & Public Relations course, I figured the travel experience would be worthwhile, despite it being my fourth visit to South Korea (and second visit in 2017!). Okay… So I love to travel, and I’m especially fascinated by Korea; its history, its culture, its economic dominance in Asia, and of course, its love for Kimchi (a sort of fermented cabbage delight).

But as I was packing, I couldn’t help be aware – even nervous – of the fact that I was about to spend two weeks essentially locked in the crosshairs of Seoul’s nuclear neighbour just 35 miles north of the city. At a time when tensions on the Korean peninsula are at an all-time high – North Korea’s recent ICB missile test, Trump’s twitter tirades and ‘declaration of war’, as well as the US Army’s show of strength dangerously close to the border of North Korea – a vacation in South Korea was seemingly ill-advised.

Closing my eyes, sticking my fingers in my ears, yelling “la-la-la-la-la-la-la”, I went anyway.

And what I found was remarkably the opposite to what I had expected before setting sail. I mean, I had been to Korea several times before, but not when relations had manifested into physical or visible acts of provocation. I was expecting to witness a subdued Korean people living in an atmosphere of extreme uneasiness, almost as if conflict could kick off at any moment between the two Koreas – or at least that’s how CNN portrayed it.

The reality however, couldn’t have been further from my expectation. I found a Korean people apparently unfazed by the recent hostilities on the peninsula. People I met were either happy to greet a tourist, or just too busy glued to their smartphones to even care. Nobody even bats an eye when a Korean soldier in uniform uses public transport. Their concerns appeared to be much simpler; a few minutes-late subway train was considered much more of a catastrophe than the threat of mass nuclear annihilation.

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Nosedive: Subway passengers using their smartphone on their commute.

Besides, my visit to South Korea coincided with Chuseok, a major thanksgiving festival and week-long public holiday for all Koreans. I’m told it’s a pretty big deal. So maybe spirits were relatively high, with people being simply too busy with family festivities to even fathom the possibility of all-out warfare.

Or maybe Koreans have become so accustomed to the threat of nuclear annihilation that it has now become part of the norm, almost banal. Similar to the violence during the Troubles; no matter how horrific the event, it just became expected and part of the daily narrative.

But as with any trip to South Korea, my brother and I visited the final frontier between North and South Korea: the Demilitarised Zone, or, ‘the DMZ’, if you’re cool.

Ironically named, the demilitarised zone demarcates the physical border between the two Koreas, and despite it intended to be a neutralised area, its actually the most heavily militarized border on the planet. So it’s a bit of a misnomer to say the least. Tourists are required to go through several security checks before embarking on the guided tour, and we were even made to sign a declaration of responsibility in the event of our deaths.

The tension on the DMZ is palpable. Soldiers from opposing Koreas engage in an incredibly tense standoff from the safe havens of their respective jurisdiction, and we were even lucky enough to hear the distant mumbles of propaganda music played by North Korean soldiers, in an attempt to intimidate tourists visiting from the Southern side of the DMZ.

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The Demilitarized Zone demarcates the physical border between North & South Korea. (22/09/17)

Upon returning (safely) from the DMZ, I asked my brother’s fiancé how Koreans really feel about the threat of conflict breaking out on the Korean peninsula and whether she thinks the U.S are helping or exacerbating the current situation. Sun Joo Choi, 35, from Boryeang, outside Seoul, told me,

“Most [South] Koreans really aren’t very concerned about the threat by North Korea. People having been living with this threat for so long that they no longer take it seriously. They are far more concerned about what is happening locally with our own politics in South Korea than they are with a rhetorical threat by Kim Jon Un. But the U.S are definitely not helping to resolve any tensions right now.”

So if that is true, that people aren’t at all fazed by North Korea’s nuclear programme, have the media got it wrong? Are they slightly misjudging the current public opinion in South Korea to the recent hostilities? Do they care more about the bread and butter issues than they do about North Korea? Or does a genuinely credible nuclear threat actually exist on the Korean peninsula as to warrant extensive media coverage?

Or maybe, more accurately, as the Guardian reported, some South Koreans are far more worried about the threat of U.S President Donald Trump, than they are their nearest neighbour.

 

Conán Meehan is an MSc Communications & Public Relations student and Executive Assistant for International Student Marketing & Recruitment at Ulster University. You can follow him on Twitter @ConanMeehan

Mayday – Why Theresa Should Have Taken Some Improv Classes

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ll have seen how badly Theresa May’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference went.

First off let’s reiterate just how important the leader’s speech is at any political conference. It’s the only bit anyone outside the conference really pays attention to. In recent years they’ve become dull because party leaders simply cannot afford to mess up so they play it safe. If you want to find the last Leader’s conference speech that was as disastrous, you have to go back to 2003 and Iain Duncan Smith’s infamous “quiet man” speech.

Mrs May took to the stage with all the usual pressure and then some. This year’s was even more important as she recently led the party to  a disappointing General Election result, there’s tension in the cabinet and Brexit negotiations don’t seem to be going well.

With that in mind it couldn’t have gone worse.

You’ll have read about the voice loss. You’ll have read about the sign falling apart directly behind her. But the part of the speech that got the most coverage was undoubtedly when comedian Simon Brodkin gave Mrs May a P45, supposedly from Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

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Look at that! That is brutal! It’s iconic and it’s going to follow Mrs May around for the rest of her political career. There’s not much she could have done about the sign falling apart and sure, she could have rested her voice to try and avoid the cough, but once it started she could only struggle through. The one thing she had full control over was (as the stoics tell us) her reaction to the stunt.

Ignoring the question of how a man got that close to the prime minister,  May’s reaction completely fed into the image of her as an unemotional character. By all accounts she is a very warm person but in this instant we can see a microcosm of how people perceive her. Distant. Staring ahead. Droning relentlessly on.

Eventually she took the P45 from the comedian, placed it gently on the floor and continued on with her speech. As he was escorted out by security, she tried a joke about Jeremy Corbyn but by then the whole thing had gone on too long and it didn’t really land.

While Mrs May is undoubtedly damning every comedian under the sun, any comedian worth their salt would be able to tell her how to have handled it. This guy was just a heckler. I’ve worked with loads of comedians and they all have their own ways of dealing with hecklers, because being heckled is a part of being a comedian, it’s a skill they have to learn. The best advice I’ve heard for hecklers is “cut them off early and use the crowd”.

To explain what that means, let’s imagine the situation had gone differently. Imagine if instead of trying to ignore the comedian, May had reached down, taken the P45 out of his hand and spoken directly to the crowd. Remember she’s addressing conference, this is her crowd, it’s the heckler who’s in enemy territory (this is the same with comedians and their hecklers). Now imagine May had said to the crowd something like “This man wants to hand me a P45, but I say we’ve got too much work left to do, are you with me?”

The crowd would have gone wild for it. If May had ripped up the P45 while she said it, the party faithful would have torn the roof off the place and the press coverage would have shown May as triumphant, not awkward; victorious, not embattled.

It’s easy to think of what you should have said in hindsight of course and if I’d been in May’s shoes I might have just cried when I saw that P45, but there was a moment where she could have turned it around, she just didn’t have the skills for it.

I think there’s a really important lesson to be learned here, one that has come up already in my studies and that’s the importance of creativity. Suggesting to the Prime Minister of the UK that she sit in on a comedy class would probably have you laughed out of the room, but  May has for a long time had the communication problem of seeming like she’s incapable of reacting to other people naturally and in that context comedy classes could be a creative solution to a genuine problem.

So my question is this; What’s the most creative/left field/wacky solution to a communication problem that’s worked in real life? Tweet, email or comment, I’ll update if I find any really good ones.

 

Jason Ashford is studying for a MSc in Communications and Public Relations with Political Lobbying at Ulster University. He can be found on Twitter @jasonashford89.