No Direction

‘Write about something you’re interested in’!

That statement along with the likes of , ‘tell the class something interesting about yourself’ (thanks Conor for covering that one)  or ‘what does that degree get you…you know what do you do with that?’, should come with trigger warnings.

So, just write a blog post about a passionate of yours, ok! Umm, (thinks , thinks, gets distracted ..thinks…) For God sake, why can’t you just give me a topic?

 

This might make me sound completely mental or hopefully, be slightly relatable to at least one other person. I, genuinely, don’t have a passion, an interest, a hobby or the faintest idea of what I want / should be doing. I’ve battled with this for ages but now, in final year, it seems like I’m really going to have to face it and deal with it head on. Not only do I have to think of something that I can withstand writing 10,000 words about for dissertation but after that, this escape from the ‘real world’ we call uni is over and it’s every woman/man for themselves.…

 

After a failed attempt to think of my passion, I literally Goggled (and not for the first time) ‘how to find your passion?’ Alas, ‘8 ways to find your passion’. Brilliant! There it is, when this load, I’ll have it. Ok …off to a good start, I suppose I’m not the only own to fill a little lost or unmotivated, but none of these articles, forums or blogs are providing me with what I need. It’s all about how to quit your job and fulfil your passion, but I’m looking for how to find it. Anyway, after reading and scrolling through comments – I couldn’t help but roll my eyes a little when ‘tash83xo’ told us that ‘waking up at 6am for a 45-minute run and an expresso/vanilla protein shake before the kids got up changed her life’. I needed more depth, more meaning and insight… Audible!

Dusting of that old app paused in the middle of ‘The Wisdom of Sundays: Life-Changing Insights from Super Soul Conversations’ by Oprah I began listening again and fell in love with it. Honestly, it’s such a great listen and I’d recommend to anyone, even if you’re not going through some sort of quarter life crisis, which is what I’m calling it at this point. Philosophers, phycologists, monks, ex-criminals take on different chapters and talk about everything from food, loneliness, road rage to life’s purpose.

Inspiration comes in waves when listening to it in the car driving to and from work, Oprah calls these ‘ah-ha’ moments. When something is said and it resonates, hits you in the gut or you get little butterflies and I think ‘I do that’, ‘I get that’.  I write notes on my phone, saving quotes which provide momentary relief or revelations.

One of them, probably the most relevant when it comes to uni or going out into the world of work, would be from Alan Watts “If you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you’ll spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing thing you don’t like doing, which is stupid.” Very Pinterest but Agreed! Ah-ha moment alert!

Image result for alan watts getting the money

I remember walking into placement on a Friday morning, Frappe Fridays to be specific, and me and the two other girls in the office began one of many Friday morning ‘deep chats’. What’s the point if everyone hates their job?’ ‘We literally live to work so shouldn’t we at least enjoy it’ ‘I think you should travel, and you’ll just figure it out’. After being so inspired on the way into work, I’m stuck again. Coffees finished, wisdom running out we contradicted everything we said and got back to the mundane tasks we didn’t care about until 5pm.

Now, I understand that nobody loves every aspect of their job and that not a single person has a perfect life where everyday is all sunshine and lollipops, but I also reject this idea that everyone completely hates their job and that’s just life because that’s bloody depressing. I want to have a job I’m passionate about. I refuse to be part of a ‘eat, sleep, work, live unconsciously, repeat’ society, at least, not forever . I want to at least be working towards a life that I feel my skills and attributes contribute to. To make a tiniest bit of difference to something would be quite cool.

So, I’m left still searching for what I love. For what I care enough about to dedicate a quite huge chunk of my life to. And, if it’s not going to come to me in an ‘That’s so Raven’ like vision, I’m going to need to figure it out and fast .. there’s another blog to write!

 

Megan Gillespie,  final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be found on: InstagramFacebookLinkedIn

PRaddy PRower

As the curtains on 2019 draw to a close, there are few stones left unturned when it comes to rustling up a funky fresh PR campaign. Something which has made this all the more difficult, is of course the strong prevalence of social media.

A 5-second Instagram video of Kylie Jenner singing ‘Rise and Shine’ to her baby swept the nation instantaneously. Memes flooded in at top speeds, with Ariana Grande making a cover of the video… but that’s not the cherry on top – Kylie did not waste a second, selling hoodies displaying ‘Rise and Shine’ at the generous price of $65 to add to her $1billion net-worth. It would be difficult to label this a hard day’s graft for the world’s youngest billionaire – so how do our beloved ‘Average Joe’ companies stand a chance when it comes to launching PR campaigns? Well, as the Irish bookmaker Paddy Power has proved time and time again, the shock-factor almost always comes up trumps.

Arguably notoriously known for their devious approach to marketing and PR, Paddy Power opened their very own ‘Museum of Mischief’ in 2018 to mark their 30th anniversary. Containing a ‘Department of Complaints’ which showcased their most complained about adverts and stunts, the pop-up made it clear that the bookmakers do not plan on shying away from further mischief in the future – yay! Personally, I am a big fan of their unique approach – albeit, due to their idea of taking bets on the assassination of the USA president in 2008, I could be Obama-self on that one… But whether you love them or hate them, let’s have a proper-gander at the propaganda and top quality PR campaigns they have displayed…

 

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Brexit Means Breakfast

It seems to me that even those self-proclaimed political-professionals amongst us are still not 100% certain on what exactly Brexit will mean for us. Even so, D-Day is looming, and there is a definite sense of unease in the air regarding the unknown. As expected though, Paddy Power gave us their 50cent on the whole phenomena in the form of ‘The Brexit Bunker’. In March, Paddy Power teamed up with actor and former football professional Eric Cantona to unveil their satirically designed safe haven for the victims of the’ Big Bad Brexit’. In a bunker situated in a hidden location in the sea between England and Europe, the public were given the chance to win a two-night stay in the bunker that is ‘built to withstand even the stupidest political crisis’. In true Paddy Power fashion, they’ve dissected the most topical news story at present and taken the absolute mick out of it. All this, whilst also treating a lucky pair to a quick getaway – top class if you ask me. You can have a nosey here at how the pair got on during their um…holiday?

Time for Costa to ‘Faeces’ the Music

After a widely covered BBC investigation found “off the scale” traces of faecal bacteria in iced drinks at Starbucks, Costa and Café Nero, there was nowhere to hide for the Costa situated right next-door to Paddy Power in London:

Paddy Power Costa

Whilst unfortunate for Costa, I have to admit to chuckling upon reading their extremely immature and highly entertaining encouragement for punters to come inside. I think even in the case you’re a little conservative and disapprove of such tomfoolery, you have to commemorate their unwavering determination to be positively eccentric.

‘Nacho’ Average Welcome Party

Of course Paddy Power was never going to leave the arrival of Donald Trump into Scotland unattended – instead of rolling out the red carpet, he was greeted by a certain Mexican concoction…

Playing on Trump’s controversial comments about the Mexican people, and his supposed wall enforcing the borders between the nations, Paddy Power armed the band called ‘Juan Direction’ to play for Trump as he arrived to visit his golf resort. A little birdie told me everyone is certainly on a par with Paddy Power on this stunt…another ridiculous yet genius idea executed.

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Power-ful Stuff

Even though I have only discussed a few, I think you can get the gist of what makes this Irish bookmaker tick. Whilst many campaigns launched by Paddy Power could be argued the opposite of politically correct, one constant throughout is that each campaign makes its mark – pushing the phrase ‘all press is good press’ to its limits, eh?

Sinead Armour is a Final Year BSc student in Communication Management and Public Relations at Ulster University.  She can be found on LinkedIn – Sinead Armour or Instagram – Sinead Armour 

My Top Favourite Campaigns!

Ever since I started to study PR and started to understand the effort that goes into creating a PR and marketing campaign, I have gained an appreciation for a campaign that can make me stop and think!

For me, the campaigns I remember the most are those were companies use their platforms to highlight the social issues happening all around the world to gain consumers attention to the social issues as well as the product they are promoting.  These campaigns are always very controversial and inspiring, social media however allows everyone to post their opinions and views without focusing on the issues being promoted. Campaigns are becoming increasing more difficult to promote as consumers are always finding ways to avoid watching or listening to ads, which requires companies to work harder than ever to gain our attention.

Here are a few of my favourite Campaigns that focus on social issues:

Nike

“Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

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Like many, I didn’t really understand the sacrifice that Kaepernick made when taking a knee during an NFL game, it wasn’t until I seen the Nike campaign that I actually researched what it all actually meant. Nike took a stance on a social issue for their 30th anniversary campaign, the campaign featured former San Francisco 49ers quarterback. Kaepernick took a knee during a pregame playing of the American national anthem in 2016 to protest racial injustice America, as a result of this he has not been signed by another team. This caused outrage among many people including President Trump who attacked the advert ‘’I think it’s a terrible message that [Nike] are sending and the purpose of them doing it.’’

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Many went as far as to burn or cut the Nike logo off their products in solidarity with their country, many felt it was unpatriotic and incited rage among consumers.. However, the campaign actually increased Nikes stocks by 5%.

Following this controversial campaign, Nike also launched a campaign featuring women in sports.

 

‘Dream Crazier’

Nike also released a campaign focusing on ‘crazy’ women in sport. This campaign worked to redefine what it means to be a ‘crazy’ woman and remove the negative connection of the word. It focuses on female athletes who have worked to break down barriers, to inspire the next generation of female athletes.

It features tennis champion Serena Williams who speaks throughout the campaign as she has personal experience of being called over emotional. She was questioned by both the media and social media when she returned to the sport after giving birth to her daughter.  Throughout history women have always been seen to be inferior to men within sport, to this day these negative stereotypes still apply.

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I have always appreciated Nike’s ability to tackle the most controversial issues without worrying how it will affect their brand but focusing more on bringing attention to issues that they support. Nike founder Phil Knight, said “It doesn’t matter how many people hate your brand as long as enough people love it.”

Jigsaw

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Jigsaw is a luxury British Fashion clothing and accessories retailer, that took a stand on immigration with their ‘Heart Immigration’ manifesto which challenged the idea that  anything or anyone 100% British.

NM24This comes at a time when no one knows what is in store for us in regard to Brexit and what this means for immigration. It focuses on the idea that is nothing is ever completely British, it is a little of this and a little of that. This was done exceptionally well by working aside ancestry UK to show how diverse fashion is as ‘British style is not 100% British. In fact, it’s just as diverse as we are’. It received a lot of support from social media as well as critiques who felt that it is not the brands place to speak on such a controversial issue.

Are we ever just one thing, if you look within your family or friend group are they a mixture of different nationalities or all one? I don’t believe any of us are just one. By using none traditional ways of promoting there brand they made me click into their campaign and look at the clothes in a more in-depth way than I would a brand who just use the same pretty pictures with pretty clothes as everyone else.

Gillette

It is  impossible to not know what the ‘me too’ movement is unless you have been living under a rock for the last few years. Gillette is just one of many brands who had to change their stance. They changed their tagline from ”The best a man can get”, replacing it with ”The best men can be”.

As a well-known men’s brand, Gillette challenged sexism, the dangers of toxic masculinity and the importance of setting a good example for boys. Throughout the ad, it shows examples of cyber bullying, sexual harassment and mansplaining. The advert also highlights the proliferation of the phrase “boys will be boys” as a means of excusing harmful or violent behaviour exhibited by young boys.

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This ad has been praised as being ‘pro humanity’ as opposed to ‘anti-male’. Actor Terry Crews supported the campaign ‘I was told over and over that this was not abuse. That this was just a joke. That this was just horseplay. But I can say that one man’s horseplay is another man’s humiliation.”

Throughout the ad, there was many examples of ways for men to improve the negative stereotype surrounding them following such a huge #metoo movement, I felt it was a very well thought out campaign that used the timing of the #metoo movement to their advantage. This is only one step they have take to actively challenge the stereotypes and expectations of what it means to be a man. As a company they have promised to donate $1m a year for three years to non-profit organisations with programs “designed to inspire, educate and help men of all ages achieve their personal “best” and become role models for the next generation”.

Piers Morgan tweeted ‘I’ve used Gillette razors my entire adult life but this is absurd virtue-signalling PC guff may drive me away’. Does he really think anyone cares about his opinion?

Project 84: Calm

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Did you know that 84 men every week commit suicide? It is one of the leading causes of death among men in the UK. CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) started a conversation about male suicide On World Mental Health Day, by creating 84 sculptures standing on top of This morning Studios in London.

NM20On the projects websites there are names and details of each of the men, who stories were told by those close to them. It shows that no matter where you’re from, what age or race you too can struggle. This campaign was implemented to put pressure on the government to make a change, this was achieved by the first UK suicide prevention minister being appointed. This campaign raised awareness for a every growing issue within the UK with  powerful message in a dignified way.

 

I can’t wait to see what campaigns are coming in 2020, as I embark on a carer in PR myself.

Niamh McNally is a final year BSc Communications Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @NiamhMc_Nally 

 

Is social media normalising being unhealthily overweight?

Is social media normalising being unhealthily overweight?

Everyone has a love-hate relationship with social media; why?

Pros:

  • Easy way to keep in touch with friends
  • Easy access to current affairs
  • Enables us to educate ourselves

The list goes on. There are endless reasons why we love social media; the extent to which can be seen in cities like Augsburg, Germany where pedestrian crossings signs have been put on the ground; because we spend most of our time with our heads down, engrossed in our phones. 

Cons:

  • Depression
  • Cyberbullying
  • FOMO (Fear of missing out)
  • Negative body image
  • Unrealistic perceptions of other people’s lives

Social media also has its pros and cons on the subject of body image. It can be a source of ‘fitspiration’ to people striving to lead healthier lives. Aroosha Nekonam battled with anorexia for years and claimed social media helped her in the midst of her eating disorder. https://www.healthline.com/health/social-media-choices#inspiration-vs.-expectation 

female bodybuilders’ Instagram and Youtube accounts provided something to aspire to

This is, on the other hand, is one of social media’s biggest downfalls; and dangers! Constantly flicking through Instagram, seeing models with perfect physiques on regular holidays; wearing expensive clothes, and driving expensive cars. This can have a profound impact on someone’s mental health; especially when they start comparing their lives to what they see on Instagram.


The question I pose is: are the various body positivity campaigns such as the 2012 #FatKini, or #LoseHateNotWeight encouraging us to be more physically unhealthy? In a time where positive mental health is so important, could we be losing sight of how necessary good physical health is to compensate?

losehatenotweight

For years, the ideology that you have to be a size 4 to be regarded beautiful was all that we knew. In an age of mental health being so prevalent, businesses and individuals with a platform have tried to combat this mentality, which in my opinion is a huge positive and step forward. It is completely unrealistic to assume that all women should be a certain size as we come naturally in different shapes and sizes.


Dr. Stephanie Buttermore, a Ph.D. academic turned fitness model from Canada, is going “all in” in an attempt to prove that people’s bodies have a natural ‘set point’. Buttermore describes going ‘all in’ as eating until your hunger is completely satiable. Stephanie expects that by the end of the process her body will return to a size where it is genetically supposed to be.

Stephanie Buttermore

She delves into the process on her YouTube channel, self-titled, Stephanie Buttermore https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DotlyWhBhak


Returning the focus to social media body positivity campaigns: I fully understand the main point of these; to be happy in your skin. As we are trying to push away from the thinking that you have to be ‘skinny’ to be viewed attractive. For example, Dove’sReal Beauty’ campaign, showing a diverse range of models; one that I thought displayed the message of body positivity in a healthy way.

dove

Another company that I feel tried to jump on the bandwagon with this, and in my opinion, failed was Gillette. Gillette’s April 2019 Twitter advert featured a plus-size model, Anna O’Brien.

Gillette

This campaign faced major backlash stating that the model shown is not healthy, and listing health problems that arise from being obese.

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Companies like Dove are positively combating the mentality that being dramatically underweight is not healthy, however, they are not using models at the other end of the spectrum to show this – surely this would be contradicting anyway?


We cannot deny the implications that come with being overweight: In England, obesity rates have increased from 16.4% in 1993 to 26.8% in 2015 in women (with similar statistics in men) costing the NHS £6.1 billion between 2014-2015 alone. Obesity is a trend that is on the rise and these figures are only going to vastly increase.

Now let’s look at the actual health risks associated with obesity:

  • 3 times more likely to develop colon cancer
  • 2.5 times more likely to develop high blood pressure (higher risk of heart disease)
  • 5 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes

Obviously, obesity blame is not solely on campaigns like Gillette but isn’t helped by businesses on social media trying to normalise it to appear more inclusive with the sole purpose of generating more sales; disregarding the physical health risks that are brought with it.

I appreciate that businesses using these campaigns have an aim to make women feel more confident in their skin; although I think that we need to be more conscious of how this can be perceived. Many people may look at these campaigns and think that being physically healthy is not a priority so long as you’re happy, which to an extent may be true. Looking at social media for a perfect figure is unhealthy as often these figures are naturally unattainable. Pictures have been airbrushed and models have had surgery but it can be a great source of information and motivation to get on the right track.

My point is that we cannot neglect our physical health in the hope that we will feel more mentally healthy, instead, we need to work on getting to a place where our bodies and minds are both happy and with a healthy diet and regular exercise this can be achieved.

 

Orlaigh Doherty is a final year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on: LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/orlaigh-doherty-7351a7139/ 

My top PR Campaigns of 2019

Creating an eye-catching PR campaign for your business can be the key to increasing brand audience, sales or fuelling  conversation. Our world is now saturated with creative people, coming up with innovative ways to promote themselves and their business. In order to stand out from the crowd, PR companies are being pushed to the limits to think of something unique and creative that will grab the audience’s attention and direct them towards your brand. Thats why, when a particular campaign stands out from the rest, you know that it’s done the job! I have compiled a list of four of my favourite PR campaigns of 2019.

  1. Cadbury Loneliness Campaign

One of the inevitable things that is set out for us within our lives is that we will continue to grow older. It is commonly known that elderly people constantly feel a sense of loneliness and as if they are cut off from society. This year, Cadbury’s teamed up with Age UK to combat the loneliness and isolation amongst our older generation. They came up with the “donating words campaign,” in which they removed all the lettering on their chocolate bar packaging to reveal a blank package. These limited edition bars where being sold in supermarkets nationwide, with 30p of every bar being donated towards Age UK, to help tackle their mission of reducing loneliness. This campaign was an incredible way to not only raise funds for Age UK, but show how a few words or a conversation can mean so much to the older generation. The campaign sparked a lot of conversation online, encouraging people to reach out to their grandparents. So not only did Cadbury’s effectively raise money for the charity, they also increased awareness on loneliness in the older generation and made people more aware of trying to reduce this.

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  1. Tinder bully = ASOS Model

Tinder. A perfect depiction of modern day dating. What more could you want than a complete stranger deciding whether you are worthy of them, based solely on your physical appearance. Thea, who had been using the site like most people, received a message from a boy who believed it was his right to inform her that her picture was awful and her dress looked like something for a ‘charity shop,’ the perfect way to charm a woman, don’t you think? After being shocked by the comments this stranger made to her, Thea decided to share her story online, and encourage people to be less cruel online.

Well, ASOS took part in an incredible piece of reactive PR, by taking this horrible experience Thea endured, and making her an official model for that particular dress on their website. They used the image of her in a beautiful purple dress, which was on her Tinder profile and used it as the promotional picture for that dress of their website. Not only was this extremely effective at communicating and empowering woman, but it also garnered a lot of supporting from the public online.

  1. Ikea furniture or historical exhibits?

The dreaded phrase, “can you build this Ikea desk for me.” Sure, we may need a degree in product design and engineering to understand the instruction, but for the quality and the price we always go back. To try and combat the “Ikea haters”, as they are better known online, Ikea came up with a new interactive PR campaign to show how their furniture could blend in with high class, expensive furniture. They decided to partner with the Museum of Romanticism in Madrid, and strategically placed their furniture amongst the 18th Century furniture that existed in the exhibit. They then challenged their fans online to pick out what pieces where Ikea, and what were historical pieces. This campaign garnered a lot of support at the museum its self and online. More than 70% of people were unable to differentiate the Ikea pieces from the history pieces. This allowed them to creatively show their customers that their products are great value for money, but can also fit in to the most fancy . They have since went on to win many awards for this campaign. Could you spot the Ikea furniture, or did you just feel nauseous at the thought of building it all?

4. Master-cards “Acceptance Matters” Initatives

Just recently Master-card in the US ran their acceptance matters campaign, which ran to celebrate Pride Month in America, to support the LGBTQIA+ community. Their campaign called the “True Name” campaign which allowed individuals to use their true names on their credit/debit cards, without the need for a legal name change. Mastercard and undertaken a study and found that nearly one in three individuals ID’s names or gender do match with what the identify as and therefore reported having a negative experience. They realised how complex and expensive it can be to legally change their name or gender, so they wanted to find a way that they could improve their customers experience.

They wanted to promote personal identification for trans and non binary people to let their bank cards truly reflect them. With the way that our current society is, especially in America, this was an incredible way to promote inclusion and acceptance for everyone in their daily lives. This campaign received a lot of support, not only from the LGBTQIA+ community, but also from the rest of the public who are aware of the inequality the people face on a daily basis, due to the political environment in America- and want to support a cause that can improve peoples lives.

In conclusion, it is clear to see that to stand out from the crowd, a well formulated, innovative PR campaign is needed. Sometimes this may be well planned, carefully crafted campaigns such as IKEA’s, or it can be the case of reactive PR just as ASOS where able to achieve. A good campaign can not only benefit the business and increase sales/reputation, but it can always promote an important message within society and hopefully move towards and better and more inclusive world.

Meabh McMahon is a final year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations student at ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn – Meabh McMahon https://www.linkedin.com/in/meabh-mcmahon-a89b25156/  Twitter: @meabhm6

Effortless PR Campaigns that blew up the world of social media

Hearing new and creative PR stunts happening every day, leaves you curious how people come up with these bizarre ideas. Always so simple yet so fanatically smart. As I came across one comical PR campaign back in September, I became hooked, it has become a weekly ritual for me to look up PR stunts of the week. Some successful, some not so successful.

What makes a good PR Campaign? Personally, and most obviously, I would say that the most important factor of a good PR campaign is that it should be engaging and entertaining. Something humorous is often a success, depending on the brand or product of course. It is important that the campaign is going to make the customers want to share it with their friends through different means; social media, sharing links privately or even making people talk about it in person.

Here are some of the most successful campaigns that caught my eye over the past few months.

  1. KFC will give $11,000 to first baby born on Sept. 9 who’s named Harland

Want a quick and easy way to make $11,000? Have a baby! Well… maybe not quick, and definitely not easy. But it certainly is a way, as KFC are offering $11,000 to name your baby after Colonel Harland David Sanders himself to mark the 128th birthday of KFC.

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This bizarre idea is a brilliant way to get the conversations sparking between customers. It is also memorable, as there is going to be a human walking around to ensure that people don’t forget the famous name.

Although this is a great way to guarantee your future child a hard time growing up at school, is it really worth $11,000?

  1. Deliveroo’s homage to the Friends meat trifle

Everybody loves friends (well, if you’re not a millennial), and Deliveroo is no exception. They boldly decided to celebrate the 14th anniversary of the final episode of friends which was back in 2004, by putting one of the show’s most infamous meals on the menu.

In “The One Where Ross Got High”, Rachel contributes to their thanksgiving meal by making the glorious meat trifle. Of all meals on the Tv show, Deliveroo decided to put this meal on the menu, available to order for £6.

Combining lady fingers, jam, custard, raspberries, beef sautéed with peas and onion, bananas and whipped cream (you read that in the voice of Rachel, didn’t you?). The desert was available to order through Deliveroo’s ‘Regina Philange’ pop-up shop for a limited time.

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Apparently, to my surprise, it actually didn’t taste like feet! Reports suggest that it was unexpectedly tasty. Although as much as I fully support this campaign, the dessert would not be my cup of tea!

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  1. Church stages screening of The Exorcist to raise money for restoration

This is something that I would most definitely NOT be taking part in. But it is without a doubt going to get people talking.

One of the most profitable horror movies ever made, The Exorcist was screened in a church in Strasbourg, France on the 20th of September this year as part of the annual Film Festival. The purpose of this campaign was to raise money which will go towards the structural restoration of the church.

The choice in venue goes hand in hand with the film which is based on a real-life exorcism carried out by a Roman Catholic priest in the US.

You certainly need to be a brave character to even consider appearing at a screening like this

This campaign is relative, engaging and audacious!

  1. Russians promised ‘free pizza for life’ in exchange for a permanent Domino’s logo tattoo

Unlike the above campaign, this is one that I would 100% consider taking part in. I mean, free pizza? For life? For a cute pizza tattoo? Yes please!

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Domino’s Pizza in Russia launched this competition to give free pizza’s for life for anyone who got the domino’s logo permanently tattooed on their body. This took over social media pretty swiftly and there were more than plenty people willing to jump at the opportunity. Again, free pizza? Why wouldn’t you?

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With these kinds of comical PR campaigns, the media will come to you, and the news will spread by itself. However, it is still important for the company to make it as shareable as possible. The campaign needs to be distributed wisely to the audience, ensuring that the correct target audience, socials and journalists are being reached. This will guarantee that your creative idea for a campaign won’t go to waste.

Aoibheann McKinley is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn – https://uk.linkedin.com/in/aoibheann-mckinley 870316112 ; Twitter – @aoibheannmckinl ; Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/aoibhymcmua/?hl=en

CIPR/UU Student Conference 2019

CIPR/UU Student Conference 2019

On Wednesday 20th February, eager students gathered to hear a variety of talks by CIPR Northern Ireland PRide winners showcasing their award winning campaigns. They were set for a highly informative conference. The room was booming with inspiration with representatives from private agencies and also the public sector.

Jane Williams, brand communications director for JComms, spoke first, explaining how they had won the best use of media award generated for the Titanic Hotel construction and launch. She first settled any ambivalent feelings students had about it, by placing prominence on community throughout the campaign and building amicable relationships with those who had ties to the Titanic Hotel Belfast. They faced a huge brief but persevered and dove deeply into history focusing on the authenticity of the Titanic. They were research focused so they could be well informed. Jane  gave valuable insight on how to prevent media fatigue for launching big events. AA7

Following on as Gold Award winners in the community relations category, Sasha McKnight from ASG & Partners raised momentum again with her opening quote “We do great things and we can prove it”. ASG set the bar high with M&S to capture the milestone of 50 years since its first store in Northern Ireland opened. They took on 50 projects in such a short space of time. Sasha tenaciously reiterated that their focused approach highlighted the importance of going back to objectives. Stating they had to unearth new meaning for coverage in Northern Ireland, she felt that stakeholder engagement was key to a successful campaign.

The theme of building strong local ties through human interest stories was brought to life by Bryony Chapman of Massive PR (the outstanding small consultancy winner), who faced the brief of repositioning the Basketball Belfast classic as a world class event. She spoke of strategies used to optimise media coverage to build awareness for the Belfast classic and the Sport Changes Life Foundation. Bryony gave us great insight into managing media relations which was the epitome for a successful campaign. Charlotte Goss of Clearbox described in detail their spirited campaign with Bushmills Irish whiskey and how they transitioned the traditional image of Irish whiskey for younger people. The stellar results of their research showed that 76% of young people from 25-35 years of age hadn’t answered their call and were not doing what they loved. They transformed this statistic into a campaign by #AnswerTheCall. This campaign brought to the forefront the sheer power in partnering with local creatives.The CIPR NI’s young communicator of the year, Brittany Breslin, stressed the importance to students of internships and gaining experience within the industry. She emphasised that networking was valuable to those entering the industry.

Next came a speaker from the public sector. Ruth Rogers, head of communications for Southern Health & Social Care Trust (winner of the issues, crisis and reputation management category), described in detail the crisis facing her team with the Emergency Department of Newry’s Daisy Hill hospital and the possible threat of reduced hours. Ruth exposed the bones and  mechanisms behind the strategy used which placed community participation on a pedestal as it was the key to the success of the project. Ruth instilled in us that creativity is at the forefront in public sector communications.

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To conclude the conference, Johnny Stewart from Weber Shandwick outlined their award winning low budget campaign with “Supporting People” who provide accommodation for the elderly, homeless, young people and those with disabilities. This campaign called for almost £3 million of funding to be returned to 80+ providers of the Supporting People programme. Johnny informed us about the “media kits” that were introduced and numerous guides produced for the SP providers, ensuring they equipped the SP providers in the best way possible. They managed to see £2.6 million of that funding returned. It hit home to the students how PR plays a pivotal role in peoples’ day to day lives and not just ostentatiously in the world of influencing.

To the students’ delight there was a great mix of solid campaigns. It gave us the students, plenty of scope and food for thought for a career in public relations. The conference showed that the world is your oyster when it comes to public relations and that it will be impactful and exciting whatever career path you choose.

20 February 2019, Mandatory Credit ©Press Eye/Darren Kidd

Catherine Mockler is an MSc in Communication and Public Relations student at Ulster University, and a student member of the CIPR Northern Ireland committee. She can be found at: LinkedIn – https://ie.linkedin.com/in/catherine-mockler-01b40b94.

How a vegan sausage roll became the first PR triumph of 2019

Back in December, an email was ‘accidentally’ leaked that contained details of the upcoming launch of a vegan sausage roll by Greggs. And with Greggs not confirming nor denying rumours, social media became flooded with anticipation of this new product that was set to change the way people viewed veganism.

vegan sausage roll

We all know the stereotypes that surround vegan food. Soya, jackfruit, tofu, cashew nut cheese (yes, the kinds of terms you’ll find in Lucy Watson’s instagram stories) – it’s a lifestyle that most of us (especially students) usually wouldn’t be able to afford. Veganism is widely thought of of being an expensive way to live, so this new vegan alternative to the much loved £1 sausage roll from Greggs was set to throw a massive spanner in the works. And it has.

On 2nd January, Greggs posted the launch video for this ground-breaking new product on their YouTube channel, and it was an instant hit. It mimicked an Apple advertisement, with the new alternative sausage roll taking centre stage just as the latest iPhone would in one of Apple’s annual announcements. And in keeping with their launch video, Greggs sent out samples of their latest product to journalists and influencers, encased in a white box distinctly similar to an iPhone box, complete with silver-embossed text that read: “Pastry Layers: 96, Flake Resolution: Optimal, Taste Level: Maximum, Mega Bites: 10.”

iphone packaging

I know what you’re thinking. All this, for a £1 sausage roll? Well, there was method behind the madness. Knowing that veganism is thought of as an expensive lifestyle, Greggs have tapped into this stereotype by presenting this inexpensive sausage roll as something luxurious and glamorous. John Brown, founder of communications agency Don’t Cry Wolf, for example, stated:

“A lot of companies would be terrified of offending the vegan lobby so it takes a bit of guts to treat the whole thing as a bit of fun – for instance with the iPhone theme. A lot of vegans do own Apple products – that’s a neat touch.”

Most of us would have thought of Greggs and veganism as being polar opposites – Greggs is the ‘cheap and cheerful’ guilty pleasure we go to when we’re skint and want a quick bite to eat; veganism is a lifestyle choice that is widely stereotyped as being pretentious and stuck-up. So by combining the two, Greggs have completely changed the game – and it’s a genius move that none of us saw coming.

The packaging and marketing of a product that sells at £1 created a lot of hype and interest surrounding it’s launch, and Greggs’ clever use of humour has meant that the sausage roll itself has gained a massive following on social media. One day after it’s launch, the hashtag #greggsvegansausageroll was the top trending hashtag in the UK. And you only have to click on it to get involved in ongoing conversation surrounding the new alternative product, and even join in the wide-spread debate – Can it really be called a sausage roll if it doesn’t contain any sausage?

Greggs themselves have caught on to the social media thing, and used it to their advantage. The product gained yet more publicity when Piers Morgan (yes, I know, of course he had to get involved) criticised the product and questioned the need for it. Greggs however tweeted him back, arguably making a complete fool out of him; and other fast food chains such as McDonalds even joined the band-wagon when he also criticised their new meat-free products.

The geniuses behind Greggs’ latest PR stunts obviously have a sense of humour, and in this case, it’s served them well. We’ve seen a few examples of this from them recently. For example, there was the time they went undercover at a food market as an up-market, niche brand called ‘Gregory and Gregory’ and asked a few posh people to unknowingly try their food; as well as the time they lay a sausage roll in a manger surrounded by the three wise men, suggesting that said sausage roll could take Jesus’ place. That campaign, however, backfired, as many Christians took to social media to complain that it was offensive to their religious beliefs. In terms of sales, however, this controversy didn’t actually do any damage to Greggs’ brand; in fact, according to website PR Week, in the weeks after the controversy stores across the UK were selling out of sausage rolls. The fact that Greggs came out of the ‘sausage roll Jesus’ controversy unscathed, then, may explain their ballsiness in attempting to mock the vegan community – a community that in recent times have been the butt of a lot of jokes. They took the risk, though, and it’s paid off.

All of the work that’s been put into this £1 sausage roll – that’s not even really a sausage roll – has meant that Greggs have been sold out of the product in stores across the UK as early as midday. People have even began bidding online for them on eBay, and paying as much as £7 for one that comes in the iPhone box packaging. So there you have it: sausage rolls, vegan alternatives to sausage rolls, and putting Piers Morgan in his place – this is how you capture the hearts of the UK public. And with a bit of clever marketing and PR added into the mix, you’re almost guaranteed success. 

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Anna Stewart is an MSc Communication and Public Relations with Advertising student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @astewart95 and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anna-stewart-b3127a139/

 

 

Spinning a yarn

The world of politics is something we shouldn’t shy away from, especially from a communication angle, it’s important we all have a vague understanding of it.  It really does affect our everyday lives, from policy to taxation, so it’s important to incorporate keeping up with current affairs into our daily routines – it’s all too easy to fall down YouTube rabbit holes for hours. The U.K have a particular communicative style, from the bustling and shouting in The House of Commons, to the tabloid media and everything in between, communication in politics is rife with interesting techniques and strategies. But first, let’s strip it back to the core.

Image result for uk politics

Public opinion, Political communication and the media go somewhat hand-in-hand.  “Somewhat” because essentially, public opinion is formed in the public domain, outside of any authority. It concerns matters that are discussed and debated about. Simply put, this is our sense of “nation” (Goodin, Pettit, 1997). So, those 2am discussions at your friend’s table can be important- Talking about our thoughts on political matters with those around us, in a democratic society, gives us the ability to act together when it comes to voting. The media, in turn, is how we receive most political communication.

Media relations

It’s been widely discussed that Media relations can be used to craft specific, “tailored” communication for the public, in what’s called “spin” (McNair, 2007). Often, “tailoring” is achieved through marketing strategies, like opinion polling, focus groups or surveys to better understand the electorate. Gaber (2000) divides spins into “above” and “below” the line spin – above concerning the usual press releases, interviews and articles, and “below” usually being associated with spin doctors.

While there are many tactics and techniques used in Political communication, there’s just too much we could go into. Here’s a brief, condensed outline of some of the main devices used in the dark arts of below the line spin.

  1. Staying on the message

This is when a consistent line is kept across political figures so that information isn’t miscommunicated to the public. A great example of this, Labour’s 2003 “FivImage result for five a day campaigne-a-day” campaign, wherein all political members stayed on the message about the benefits of eating your fruit and veg. This allowed political figures to speak as one on the matter, leading to effective communication to the public (One of your Five a Day is still plastered on foods 15 years later).

  1. Spin.

“Spinning a yarn” is a term most of us have heard at one point or another. We’d associate this with telling a story, which gives us some meaning for this tactic. Spin provides context to a story, or a certain interpretation. We can think back to the Brexit Campaigns, with leavers claiming economic gains for the UK severing relationships with the E.U. Spin offers a perspective to the public, usually, to shed a “favourable” light on matters and make one thing sound more appealing than the other or protect reputation and to “sway” public opinion (Wilcox et al, 2015) .

Image result for Brexit headline nhs(Source: http://www.themediablog.co.uk/the-media-blog/2016/02/ukip-candidate-dislikes-the-eu-shocker.html)

  1. Agenda Setting

Ever tried to steer the conversation a certain way? Maybe you’ve a point you want to get to, news to share or hide. I think we’ve all been guilty of trying to avoid talking about certain topics at one point or another. What we didn’t realise, that on a much smaller scale, we were implementing “agenda setting”. This is the act of controlling what is discussed, the scope of discussion and how it is discussed. This can take forum in giving journalists exclusives, deciding the time frame of when news is exposed.

  1. Fire Breaking

You could think of this is pointing far away and shouting “Fire!” in hopes that it’ll distract people enough so you can throw your rubbish out the back door. Basically, setting up a diversion, or “planting” stories to take the medias attention away from a scandal (Gaber, 2000). A successful enough case of this was the Cook affair (1999), it was exposed that the then Foreign Secretary was having an affair, so to avoid a sex scandal (there’s been a fair few), Peter Mandleson, former Director of Labour’s Communications, suggested saving Britannia to media outlets- a hot topic at the time. This in turn, set the news agenda, as it stole the headlines, leaving the Cook affair in the dust.

Image result for throwing out rubbish

  1. “A good day to bury bad news”

This one is a bit “next level” House of Cards. Burying bad news refers to releasing somewhat unfavourable information while the media’s attention is redirected on to another issue. Probably the most famous example of this was right after 9/11 when former press officer, Jo Moore, told her team “It’s now a very good day to get out anything we want to bury. Councillors’ expenses?”. Essentially, living in the hope that something happens at the time of a scandal so the media is too concerned with other matters to focus on your dirty laundry.

In conclusion…

You can see how these tactics can be useful to keep in mind, because it allows others (and us) to set the scope, frame and as a whole, improve our media relations skills. Being aware of these techniques, whether you agree with them or not, can help us better understand the wider world around us. They could prove useful across many kinds of campaigns, not just political ones. Keeping a consistent line between staff, for example, can help in communicating a message a lot more clearly, than if everyone was running around telling us something different.

The thought of actually going and watching Prime Ministers Question Time 4 years ago would have sent shivers down my back, but once you start to familiarise yourself with it, a massive interesting world opens up, and in turn, it helps us better our communication skills, and be aware of how we communicate and the best ways to carry it out.  Make grabbing the newspaper in the morning, tuning in to PMQ on Wednesdays or even just following a few political figures on Twitter part of your routine, with these tactics in mind we’ll learn a lot about press management, as a P.R practitioner this is a very valuable skill.

References:

Gaber, I. (2000) ‘Government by spin: an analysis of the process’, Media, Culture & Society 22, p508-p532

Goodin and P. Pettit (1997), Contemporary Political Philosophy. Oxford: Blackwell, p73-p124

McNair, B (2007) PR must die: spin, anti‐spin and political public relations in the UK, 1997– 2004 Published online: 17 Feb 2007, p03-p47

Negrine, R. Stanyer, J. (2007) The Political Communication Reader. London: Routledg, p254

John Wiley & Sons. Wilcox, DL, Reber, B.H. and Cameron, GT. (2015) Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics. 11th ed. Harlow: Pearson Education. p248-p295

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1358985/Sept-11-a-good-day-to-bury-bad-news.html

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/1997/aug/09/labour.mandelson

Griana Fox is a final year CMPR student at Ulster University. She can be contacted at https://uk.linkedin.com/in/griana-fox-a7561a11b, and on Facebook @ Griana Fox.

My Top 5 Favourite PR Campaigns of 2018

As we enter 2019 bright eyed and hopeful, it is almost impossible to not reflect and reminisce on the year that has just passed us. For me, 2018 marked the end of my placement year working as a Regional Communications Content Intern at the Walt Disney Company, Ltd. in London, but also saw my love for all things PR heighten. Living in London and working in Communications exposed my mind to some absolutely amazing and absurd PR campaigns/stunts. The creativity and detail is second to none, and taught me a lot about the logistics behind creating/brainstorming PR campaigns to seeing them gain viral success. From small scale PR stunts or wide scale events, the process behind creating an idea or event and the entrepreneurial nature of PR is something that I strive to be involved in.

On that note (and in no particular order), I think it is only fair to showcase some of my absolute PR favourites from 2018:

FRIENDS DELIVEROO

  1. The One with Deliveroo recreating Rachel Green’s infamous ‘Meat and Sweet’ trifle from FRIENDS

Like the majority of the population, I truly am a FRIENDS fanatic (especially now that it graces our screens via Netflix!) so this campaign immediately caught my eye. Back in May, Deliveroo cleverly saw a perfect opportunity to optimise on the 14 year anniversary since the last episode of FRIENDS aired on television. Created by Talker Tailor PR and paying homage to this iconic moment from the show, the £6 trifle is a duplicate of the iconic desert (a concoction of lady fingers, custard and beef) , which saw character Rachel mix-up two recipes stuck together in a cookbook.  FRIENDS fans were able to order the trifle via the Deliveroo app for one day only, or get a taste of the action at the Regina Phlange pop-up shop.

In the words of Joey Tribbiani, “what’s not to like? custard, good. jam, good. beef, GOOD!”

GREGGS

  1. Gregg’s Goes Gourmet for Valentine’s Day

Although Gregg’s is an up and coming dining experience in Ireland, it is a fan favourite franchise in the UK. My colleagues were shocked and appalled that I had never tried the delicacy of a Gregg’s sausage roll or meat pie, so I took it upon myself to try this local cuisine whilst in London. After hearing so much about Gregg’s, it was impossible for me not to spot their Valentine’s campaign day (especially considering the campaign attracted a whopping 350 pieces of coverage).

For some people, love equals a fancy three course meals, to other it equals a meat pastry. Created by Taylor Herring PR, selected shops ranging from London to Newcastle were transformed into restaurants designed for romance. Complete with mood lighting, a cellist, roses, candelabras and white linen tablecloths – this was a Valentine’s Day date you could dream of, and all for just £15 for one day only. This limited edition menu included 4 courses, each with a Valentine’s Day twist.

This cheap but tasteful alternative went down a treat for millennials, struggling to treat their better halves to a romantic Valentine’s Day experience. The novelty of this PR stunt combined with the Instagrammable/ Snapchatable aspect was the perfect combination for a PR success story.

M&S1

  1. Marks and Spencer: The Royal Re-Brand

 Living in London (did I mention I lived in London this year?) it was impossible to avoid the wedding of the century, an utterly British celebration of the Royal Wedding between Harry and Meghan. As a quintessentially British brand, Marks and Spencer (with their own in-house PR team) became a royal wedding machine and utilised this special occasion to their full potential. Firstly, they changed a select number of stores names to: Markle and Sparkle. Although some describe the stunt as cringe-worthy, it allowed customers up and down the country to unify in the celebrations as the M&S’s website, social media accounts and store windows in the eight Royal boroughs re-branded to Markle & Sparkle to commemorate the brilliantly British occasion.

M&S2

As Harry was deemed the ultimate romantic by proposing to Meghan during a chicken supper (and who said love is dead?), M&S honoured him by changing the name of their roast chicken sandwich to ‘The Proposal’. Following the confusion over whether public guests attending the wedding will be offered food on the day, the supermarket has pledged to give away free meals to those fortunate enough to be invited. M&S proved that the simplistic details can go a long way in PR and resonate well with customers.

 

4. KFC (FCK) We’re Sorry Campaign

Although it may be deemed a PR disaster, this campaign was a personal favourite of mine and a prime example of the best way to handle crisis communications chaos. Chicken lovers across the UK and Ireland were distraught to learn that KFC experienced a chicken shortage, which was kicked off after KFC switched its delivery supplier to DHL. DHL blamed “operational issues” for a disruption in deliveries, causing the fast-food chain to close most of its UK outlets. How could KFC, a brand that incorporates the word chicken into its own name, recover from a chicken shortage?

Despite some negative traction from customers on social media, some decided to tackle the shortage with humour:

KFC1

Keeping with the humorous theme, KFC and Mother London PR created the following communications to combat their negative feedback:

KFC2

The print ad rearranges the letters of its name to spell out “FCK” on a chicken bucket, utilising chicken related connotations with their website sub-heading reading, “The chicken crossed the road, just not to our restaurants.” KFC’s honesty and humour throughout this crisis allowed them to retain their loyal customer base. They remained consistent with their own brand reputation, as a brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously. They took a risk, and as a result have set the standard for future brands experiencing a crisis.

BANKSY

5. Banksy: “Going, going, gone…”

Described by the Drum as “the PR stunt of the year”, Banksy’s famous artwork “Girl with a Balloon” was the final item of the evening sale at Sotheby’s and was sold for £1,042,000 in October. It is well known that Banksy is not keen on his work being sold at auction. To combat this, he fitted a secret shredder within the paintings gold frame, on the off chance this piece would someday go on sale.

The stunt immediately went viral, leavings fans distraught at this iconic image being destroyed and wondering how this freak accident occurred. However, Banksy himself confirmed via his Instagram that the destruction was intentional. The artist posted a picture captioned: Going, going, gone…” as well as a detailed video explaining how he built the shredder in 2006.

Despite the picture failing to fully shred, it is believed the piece has now doubled in price, as well as being remained “Love is in the bin”. Banksy’s dedication to his secretive identity and privacy is admirable and keeps fans on their toes, in anticipation that one day he will reveal his identity.

I’m certainly excited to see what 2019 brings to the world of PR, both locally and abroad, and hopefully get involved in the action myself.

 

Abigail Foran is a final year BSc Communications, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @abigailforan ; LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/abigail-foran-755800118/