What’s the difference between a squirrel and a rat? PR.

The reality of picking a career path from around the age of sixteen that may dictate the rest of your professional life is immense. It’s a regular convention of traditional education in our generation, but just because it’s common doesn’t make it ordinary. This decision process, aided and hindered by influences such as parents, siblings, friends and teachers, tends to divide the teenage population into two categories. A spectrum exists between the two extremities, but more broadly there is one of two responses.

  1. PANIC: This response involves someone adding years on to their prepubescent bodies and minds through the futile gesture of stress. Lots of it. Everyone reading this can think of an example of this character. Teens in this category may know exactly what they want to be from a young age and are therefore aware of the snowballing pressure of achieving academic success. At the opposite end of the panic spectrum, teens in this category might not know what they want to do at all. This is often the case with smart children who are heaped with praise and told from a young age that they can be anything they want to be. When the world is your oyster, which path might produce most pearls? The pressing weight of expectation shows no mercy to the precociousness of youth.
  1. DON’T PANIC: This response has its variants, too. At one end we have the ‘wasters’ as they’re commonly known. Those who, for one reason or another, are so indifferent to academic progress that their future education doesn’t bare consideration. Alternatively, we have the academic optimists- those who believe it will be fine regardless of how much consideration is given to the decision. How can one decision at sixteen really shape your life? And the downright oblivious – fully unaware of the significance of what’s going on.

Honourable Mention; Treefish. The Treefish is a student whose intelligence can’t be measured by methods of traditional education. Stemming from Einstein’s famous quote on judging a fish by its ability to climb a tree, this type of student should not be confused with the wasters.

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I was more of a Don’t Panic. I’m not saying I was laid back, I was closer to the oblivious category than anything else (although I often fancied myself as a bit of a Treefish). I could, with some competence, identify my own internal characteristics. I was better at knowing what I liked about myself than knowing what I could succeed in as a career. I couldn’t picture working in a real job, and I failed to see how any of my personal qualities could transfer to my internalised concept of a professional environment. I wasn’t good with numbers, I couldn’t remember the periodic table and the bandsaw quickly became the banned saw in my case. I had traits – I was relatively hard working from a young age, dedicated, honest. But I never thought I had any skills. I failed to comprehend where I could take little more than a genuine consideration for people and their happiness and make a living out of it. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment that I found out about PR because the truth is, I’m still discovering it. With each revelation about the nature of the sector, I feel confident that I’m on the right track.

So, what makes a successful PR practitioner? (I think):

Communication:

“Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people”

W. B. Yeats

I’ve always been a good communicator. In every scenario apart from texting my mother to let her know I’ve arrived safe and well, I’ve always been able to get my message across. Such a talent is central to the word of public relations. Tracing back to the 19th century and predating the first recognised PR practitioner (Ivy Ledbetter Lee), diplomat Alvin Adams states “Public relations are a key component of any operation in this day of instant communications and rightly inquisitive citizens”. Communication was, and remains, absolutely vital. If only Adams (deceased 1877) had any idea how his world of “instant communications” might develop. Which brings me on to my next point.

Media & Relations:

“It is always a risk to speak to the press: they are likely to report what you say”

Hubert H. Humphrey (Former US Vice President)

To succeed in PR, a flair for media is crucial. Definitively, PR was founded on the use of mass media to achieve organisational goals (Duhe, 2007). I’ve always been interested in the capabilities of all media, particularly as it’s developed in the digital age. Figures from Statista (2018) claim that there are 2.62 billion social media users in 2018. To add context to this figure, eMarketer (2017) states that with a global population of 7.63 billion people, 1 in every 3 people is connected online via social media. Subsequently, the impact of recent social media revolution cannot be understated (Kraski, 2017, p.924). A fundamental contrast between traditional mass media and social media is that social media takes the audience from a passive role and centralizes them in the process. The role of social media from a business perspective is a “delicate harmonizing act between users’ trust and owners’ monetizing intentions” (Clemons, 2009, cited by Van Dijck, 2013). If users feel manipulated, they can simply leave the site.

I’ve always had an interest in developing good relationships with those around me. While I perhaps lend myself to it more than I should in some instances, I feel that it’s a trait indicative that I’m in the right line of work. Positive media relations are fundamental to success in any PR role. Additionally, in an age of increasing consumer control, ethical and honest media relations are essential, particularly as stonewalling isn’t as effective as it was in previous generations due to a world of hyper-connectivity and instant communication. If an organisation refuses to converse with the media, the world will quickly know about it and begin to theorise why. Hence, communication should be transparent. This brings me on to my next point.

Ethical Practice:

“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get it’s pants on”

Sir Winston Churchill

As discussed in the previous report, many struggle to trust PR as a credible, trustworthy sector. This image comes as a result of the actions of few dictating the perception of all. PR ethics focuses on “the ethical implications of the strategies and tactics that are applied to solve… the problems of organisations” (Parsons, 2016. P.148).

An example is often made of the Philadelphia 76’ers. The basketball team pledged to deconstruct their roster in order to allow for future superstars and success, with the backing of their fans amidst a risky plan. However, lies were publicly conjured about fake trade deals and injuries, and following this realisation, the fans turned their backs. A classic example of how unethical PR backfires.

Satisfying client needs is a key role of PR. But to reference back to Grunig and Hunt’s definition “management of communication between an organization and its publics” (1984), it’s nonsensical to communicate in an unethical manner that has the potential to jeopardise public opinion or trust. As an industry, the level of ethical consideration within PR practice varies. This is not a “if you can’t beat them, join them” situation. In fact, the whole issue lends itself more to Harry Truman’s “If you can’t convince them, confuse them”. Nonetheless, I enter the industry with the plan of being as ethical as possible.

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It’s hard to pin down!

Exciting Functions of the Industry

As a profession, PR is fresh and exciting. A personal attraction of the industry for me is the variance in work. From the social elements of networking to the reflective evaluation of drafting a press release, PR doesn’t fit the archetype of a normal desk job.
It’s People-Driven. People skills are easy to overlook. Considering I have them, I plan to use them and PR is the right industry to put these tools to use.
It’s a jack-of-all-trades industry. There is an interchangeability to the industry. It’s near impossible to predict which client l could be working for next, in which industry, or the insights and knowledge I gain along the way. I consider myself as being “pro stuff” and the opportunity to get involved across a variety of industries is quietly inspiring.
The industry is hard to pin down. Some can’t see its value and some feel that its literature is outdated and in need of a revamp. Phoenix Business Review (2018) placed a PR executive 8th in their list of most stressful jobs of 2017. Interestingly, Huffington Post (2012) conducted surveys with Dunkin’ Donuts and CareerBuilder.com and found that PR consumes the second largest amount of coffee annually per profession, beaten only by lab technicians. While all this may lead to to a job that is perceived as stressful, it provides an interesting challenge both existentially and academically. Proper application of one’s self to a career within Public Relations is no doubt trying, but surely rewarding. I intend to find out for myself.

Eamon Daly is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at: Twitter – @EamonDaly5 ; LinkedIn – linkedin.com/in/eamon-daly-608780137

A career in PR, is it for you?

When I started to think about my career I had no idea what I wanted to do. Unlike my friends who knew they wanted to be nurses, teachers and astronauts from age 10 I was different, I had absolutely no idea and still to this day I am open to exploring many different career paths, but I know PR is a career that is versatile, would provide variety and most importantly is exciting.

On that note, if you’re like me and wondering whether working in PR is for you here are a few reasons why a career in PR appeals to me…

Salary

It’s hard for anyone to deny that they wouldn’t love to earn a lot of money. Being a student and earning little to nothing has only motivated me more to do well in my career and hopefully one day be as happy as Mr Krabs when I receive my paycheck each month…

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A career in PR can pay well and there are lots of opportunities for development in the PR sector, an individual could start off as a “PR assistant” and work their way up to “PR Manager” and maybe one day even “Director” showing the PR industry is versatile and provides lots of opportunities. I am interested in working in a company that I can learn and develop in rather than work in a dead-end job with no opportunity for promotion or development.

Although it depends on what sector and where in the world an individual decides to delve into, according to Reed (2017) the average salary of an individual working in PR in the UK is £40,205 a year with the lowest salary for a PR professional being £30,866 a year. The idea of earning these figures is something I am definitely striving to work towards. Compared to other jobs, PR can be a well-paid job with many benefits such as flexible working hours, holidays, maternity leave and so on.

Networking

Another reason I would like to work in PR is the copious networking opportunities I could engage in within my career. Working in PR could mean an individual has to work with many different people across many different sectors. Morris and Goldsworthy (2016; pp.13) highlight a career in PR can be glamorous, it can “involve lunches, receptions, events and parties which include many different people at a range of different locations.” Attending events and working with many different companies sounds exciting and would offer opportunities to get to know more people and build up contacts within the sector.

Working in PR can mean managing events and ensuring these events go ahead as planned. Having previous experience in event management has gave me a taste of what life in PR is like. In my opinion, PR is fast paced, pressured but exciting. It requires a lot of work and communication with lots of different people to ensure needs are met and events are successful. I also like the idea of recruiting individuals to attend events and communicating messages to individuals at events that will enhance brand image.

Variety

An aspect that made PR appeal to me was the variety of jobs that are available within the industry. There are opportunities in the voluntary, public service and private sectors. Working in PR means every role is different, there are a variety in roles and positions and a variety of different companies to work for. There are opportunities to work for a private company, an agency, a non-profit organisation, governmental body and so on. For PR professionals the world is their oyster. Working in PR opens many doors and can allow an you to have a wide experience in any sector of the industry.

I have had experience within the voluntary sector and it was a very enjoyable experience for me. However, I am interested in exploring the different types of jobs within PR. Working in PR is fast-paced and no day is ever the same, so it would be interesting to find out what working in an agency or private company is like. But, it is interesting that PR can lead you down all walks of life which is why I am interested in working in this industry.

Creativity

Another reason why a career in PR interests me is the creative flair that comes with the job. Morris and Goldsworthy (2016; pp.13) claim PR is a “creative industry”. I would consider myself a creative person and working in PR will allow me to express my thoughts and ideas whilst also working with others to produce exciting and engaging content that will influence public opinion.

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To develop written pieces, online content for social media and provide content for journalists is something that appeals to me. Writing blog posts, creating engaging social media posts and designing promotional material is an aspect of PR that is very important, and I feel I have the abilities to be creative and ensure all content is engaging and unique to a client’s needs.

In my previous experience I was able to create content for a company’s online website, write posts for social media and other promotional material. Having this experience has made me determined to find a job that will allow me to do this and more within the company.

PR matters

One could ask, can we survive without PR? I highly doubt it. PR is a necessity to any organisation and is valued more than ever before in today’s society whether it be through crisis management, creating content or securing sponsorship. With PR, there will always be jobs out there because organisations are constantly trying to improve their image or promote their brand. Also, the practice of PR is adapting to keep up with current trends and the digital transformation. It’s not just about press releases, PR is so much more than that. Therefore, PR is important to society today and working in PR has a purpose.

A great pathway to success

Working in PR enables individuals to develop a wide range of skills that are adaptable and relevant. Working in PR requires good verbal and written communication skills. PR professionals need to work well in a team, they need to be able to work under pressure and be flexible to work long hour days to meet deadlines. I love working under pressure and love the idea of meeting new people and working with lots of different clients. Although working in PR is hard, I think it will teach me a lot of skills that are required in many fields of work. I think a job in PR provides individuals the opportunity to learn and develop their skills, so they can succeed to the best of their abilities in the workplace. I also feel it will help me develop as a person through the ability to express myself through the content I create. Working in PR will also improve my confidence whilst also gaining a wealth of experience in a very exciting industry.

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All in all,  PR is a versatile and exciting job that means no day will ever be the same. I enjoy the fact that PR is fast-paced, pressurizing and will keep me on my toes. To work in PR a person needs to be creative, being able to work on my own content and create my own pieces of material is something that really excites me. PR can lead to many different opportunities and there are lots of opportunities for development within the industry. There is an increased desire for PR services in business (Morris and Goldsworthy, 2016), and working in PR means there are lots of jobs out there and lots of different sectors to work in.

I look forward to pursuing my career in PR in the future!

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

 

Five Things I’ve Learned before Graduating

As my final semester with Ulster University and the stress of final year continues to loom overhead, the end is almost in sight. However, as I was procrastinating from my assignments last week, I stumbled across an interview between pop star Taylor Swift and Elle USA to mark her thirtieth birthday. The article is titled ‘30 things I learnt before turning 30’, with Taylor providing life anecdotes and advice from friendships to family. Whether you’re a fan of Taylor Swift or not, I highly recommend reading this article as I instantly felt motivated after reading it. You can read it by clicking here.

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Although I’m only 22, this article inspired me to compare Taylor’s anecdotes to my own life, and compare it to all the things I’ve learnt before graduating. It allowed me to reflect on how different I am now compared to the 18 year old girl who stepped foot at Ulster back in September 2015.  Therefore, I’ve been inspired to write this blog about 5 things I’ve learnt before graduating university. Although everyone is feeling the heat and is eager to finish, I couldn’t help but think of all the positive things that have happened since beginning my journey at university.

 

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  1. Positivity is key: Failing and rejection is normal

As clichéd as it is, and I know we hear it all the time, failing is a part of life that will never cease to exist. I remember being so afraid of failing things at university. I was very academic in secondary school, and I didn’t want this to change in university. I’d been warned by my older sister of how different university marking/grading  is compared to school, and I remember in first year receiving my grade for my first ever assignment and feeling slightly disappointed.  I’d predicted in that moment that I was failing my degree and that I wasn’t cut out for university, but in reality I was completely overreacting. It’s easier to focus on the negatives, however it’s how we deal with those negatives is the game changer. From constructive criticism on your style of writing, to improving your interview technique or even receiving criticism from friends, it’s always beneficial to use this to continuing improving and bettering yourself.

I’m a very big fan of the quote: “what’s for you won’t go by you”, therefore failing helps facilitate the opportunities that are meant for you. A positive outlook can go a long way, and you’ll never stop failing in life, so keep continuing on your journey.

 

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  1. Be involved: Take interest in your degree

I can only speak from my own experience, but to get the most out of university and your experience at university is down to adopting a pro-active attitude. Due to the nature of my degree, I discovered from first year that it is important to have an understanding of what’s out there in the industry, whether that is local agencies or companies and learning more about the work they do. The university is excellent for introducing us to key notable speakers from Northern Ireland and beyond, as well as putting us in contact with successful past alumni of the university. I’ve really enjoyed attending these sessions, and yes, although it may mean staying in university that extra bit later, it’s a great way to network and meet people in the industry. This is a brilliant way to help secure contacts for your placement year, or for later in life.  There are a number of competitions/ opportunities available through our degree. In first year I took part in the PANI (Publicity Association Northern Ireland) and had the opportunity of working with local advertising agency, Ardmore Advertising.  Fortunately, our team were lucky enough to win this competition, meaning that our campaign for local charity Shelter NI went live across Northern Ireland in September 2016. Not only did I get the experience of working with a local agency; I also got to meet new students I wouldn’t normally have been in contact with, as we completed the competition with two graphic design students from the Belfast campus.  Small things like that not only enhance your university experience, but allow you to find your feet within the industry.

  1. Getting the right balance between work/play

Undoubtedly, there is a massive jump between secondary school life and university, as well as a massive jump from first to second year in university. Especially in first year of university, I found myself with a lot more free time than I did in secondary school. I didn’t know what to do with my new-found freedom. I always found it extremely important to get the right balance between work and play when managing my time. For many, this means finding the right balance between partying and studying, but I saw this free time as an opportunity for personal development. Free time allows you to indulge in new interests. For me, I decided to use my free time to work on gaining more experience in fields relating to my degree, for others it meant taking up a new sport/hobby. As I am in the final stages of final year, it’s truly opened my eyes to the importance of having a balance between work and play even more than before. There’s always going to be an assignment you should be doing or a journal article you need to read but spending time with friends over a cup of tea, going to the cinema in the evening or going on a night out with friends shouldn’t make you feel guilty (although I know I’ve been there). It’s so important to not burn the candle on both ends, but instead enjoy everything in moderation. A motto that I’ve found myself adapting in university is: “At the end of the day, I’ll get it done.” – and you will.

 

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  1. “I need a dollar, dollar, a dollar is all I need!”

One of the best days in the life of a student is when they receive their student loan installments. I have thoroughly enjoyed these days, and I’ve even had count-down apps on my iPhone counting down the days until I receive the next installment in my bank account. (Sad, I know) The opportunities available for using your money are endless, and a new-found sense of generosity kicks in; both to yourself and others. “Shall I buy every item in my ASOS basket?” “I’ve had a long day, I deserve this Dominoes.”  “I’ll pay for the taxi, you can pay for the drinks inside!” – (this is NEVER the case).

One thing that I’ve learnt from university is the importance of budgeting money. University for many introduces a list of bills/payments, from paying for rent to buying groceries for meals. If you’re struggling to keep on-top of your spending,  simple things like creating budgeting plans or giving yourself a weekly allowance can help keep your spending in check. Just don’t go too wild with your overdrafts…

  1. If you need help – ask.

This relates to a series of problems. If you’re struggling with the workload and unsure what you’re meant to be doing on an assignment, your course director and lecturers are more than happy to answer any of your questions via email or meet in their office hours. I’ve never been someone to shy away from asking questions, as ultimately the only person you’re disadvantaging is yourself. University can be a tough time for many people, as it’s an opportunity to fully embrace independence and finding your feet in society. For many, it’s described as the best years of your life; however there is an unspoken pressure that you must be enjoying yourself and having fun 24/7 which is unrealistic. If you feel that you need to talk to someone professionally, the university has a ‘Mind Your Mood’ campaign on their website and work closely with Inspire to provide one on one counselling.  If this isn’t something you think you need, even talking to a friend and venting out your stresses will make you feel a lot better. A problem shared is a problem halved, even if the solution isn’t always clear.

In conclusion, I’m excited to see what the next stages of my career will be; however, I’ve had the best couple of years at Ulster University both on placement and with an amazing group of people in my class – I couldn’t have gone through university without them.

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

Final Year: So How Did I End Up Here?

Final Year: So How Did I End Up Here?

As I start into the second semester of my final year at university, it’s interesting to reflect on just what lead me to study communication, management and public relations. Just over four years ago, I had a very different plan.

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a primary school teacher. I had performed well all throughout school, I wanted to work in a job where I was helping people and, to be completely honest, I really did quite like the idea of summers off. I carefully chose my GCSE and A level subjects around a potential career in teaching and even progressed further throughout my grades in vocals and piano, knowing that it would serve me well as a teacher. But now, those skills simply serve me well at karaoke nights.

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In January 2015, I went for my entrance interview for Stranmillis University. With the predicted grades I needed for admission, the interview was a key aspect of gaining a place on the course and I was determined not to fall at this hurdle. Following the advice from my parents, I went into the interview calm and collected and let my personality shine through.I nervously waited for weeks for the letter that would urge me on to achieve the grades that I needed. But when that letter arrived and I learnt that my application wouldn’t be taken any further, I didn’t know what to do.

All of my life, I had planned to be a teacher. I never thought I would even need to consider a plan B. Devastated and desperate for clarity, I got in touch with the university. I needed to know why I wasn’t considered good enough. The answer I got was simply; “We don’t think that you’re teacher material”. I started to re-evaluate everything; who I was, what I wanted to do and what type of person exactly did I come across as during a 20 minute interview?

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In a discussion with one of my teachers, he mentioned jokingly that my personality really was ‘more fitting for a PR executive for a vodka company’. Whilst it was said in humour, I couldn’t deny that he was probably right. This was nothing to do with my love for every single flavour in the Absolut range, but I knew myself well enough to know that I was outgoing, organised, creative and thrived off deadlines and goals. Surely all of the skills and qualities that would serve me well working in public relations?

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But at this point, I didn’t even know exactly what PR was, never mind whether it would be the correct career path for me. My knowledge of PR stemmed from Samantha Jones from Sex and the City and thankfully I was smart enough to know that a career in PR wasn’t all about organising glamorous launch parties, going to power lunches and barely ever spending any time in the office.

But now, as I edge closer to graduation and prepare to throw myself into the big bad world of public relations, I know exactly why a career in public relations interests me.

Ask any of my friends and family and they would probably tell you that I never have a free moment. I am constantly doing something, making plans, working on projects, planning my next trip. I tend to thrive when I have more going on- I don’t like being bored! A recent study revealed that PR is one of the most stressful jobs being listed alongside careers such paramedics and advertising executives (Krietsch, 2011). It isn’t the apparent stress that is attracting me to the career, but instead the fast-paced environment. I believe that when you have a passion for what you do alongside an understanding of what is required from you, the stress of your job is minimised and stressful moments become moments that add a little bit of excitement to the day. As someone who has previously worked in jobs where the only excitement would be if somebody brought a dog into work, this is definitely an important factor that I look for in my career.

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Another personal attribute of mine that I believe has encouraged my interest in a career within public relations is my ability to ‘spin’ and persuade. Despite the negative connotations that spin within PR receives, I simply mean that I have the skill to communicate in such a way that has the ability to change how people perceive  what I am saying. By no means am I claiming to be a professional liar, but I naturally try to see the good in every situation and focus on that. As for my persuasion techniques, I’ve managed to persuade my boyfriend to make me lunches for  work nearly every day for the last two years- so if that isn’t skillful persuasion, I don’t know what is….

During my time at university, my course has provided me with the opportunity to study a wide range of modules that cover topics such as; marketing, political communication and media and society. The combination of media related topics that I have been able to learn about is one of the main reasons why I recommend my course to other people. I believe that it has been a great foundation in preparing me for a career within public relations as public relations can consist of a combination of many media related jobs. When coming up with ways to promote a client via a multitude of channels, you use skills relevant to advertising. In maintaining a strong brand image for a client, you are practicing brand management. I even believe that the skills taken to write an effective and informative press release are those that would be required from a journalist. When pursuing a career in PR, you really are pursuing a blend of many media related jobs- all of which I believe to have gained experience in through my varied university course.

As a career in public relations involves many different media related roles, it can provide you with the chance to work more specifically within an area that interests you. According to Johnston and Zawawi (2004), there are more than twenty roles and areas within the PR industry that you can specialise in. I believe that as work takes up such a large part of your life, it is important to be doing something that interests you and matches your motivation. Although I have a great interest in politics, which would suit me well to work within public affairs and lobbying, my one true skill that I believe will serve me in my future career is planning and organising. I am quite lucky to come from a family who are very laid back and even more lucky to have found friends who are happy to let me take control of most of our plans we make together. They all know that it brings me happiness to organise events, make travel plans for holidays and to have control over situations. My personality would definitely be best suited to event management. But the best thing about a career in public relations? No matter your personality, you would be able to find an area within it to suit you.

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From press releases to blogging, writing is a major element of a career within public relations. I have always enjoyed writing from a very young age. I remember our old family computer when I was in primary school; it didn’t even have the internet, but I spent most weekdays after school on this computer, writing short stories and daily diary style entries (I was basically way ahead of my time with the whole blogging craze). Whilst I never thought that I would be pursuing a career in which I would get the opportunity to use my creative writing skills, I have to say that it is one of my biggest motivations now for my growing interest in a career in public relations.

As I write this essay, it is a little over 4 months before I will be graduating from my communications and public relations degree. Given the opportunities and experiences that I have gained through studying my course, I have never been more thankful for that rejection letter I received in 2015.

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

Public Relations in the Digital Age

The Role of Public Relations to me, is having a good understanding of what your publics want, and desire.

We live in the age of technology, which allows for organisations to become evermore competitive in the race for success. Reputation in any industry must be considered by most organisations as their biggest asset, and concern. Good public relations can benefit an organisations reputation with the means of good communication between themselves, and their publics.

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Smith, R.D. (2014) argued, reputation management is the process of seeking to influence the way publics view and understand the organization.

Reputation management begins with tracking and identifying what others say, and feel about an organisation, shaping the public’s perception of the organisations online brands via the Internet searches. Lots of organisations maintain their reputation on websites that consumers would visit most, such as, Amazon, Google, and even social media platforms. Social media platforms are fantastic opportunities to target a desired audience. I am particularly interested in the social media sector as a future public relations practitioner with first hand experience of managing a large digital audience as a successful blogger via Instagram, and www.wix.com. I have developed the knowledge of how to direct these audiences, and what communications are best in driving an affective, successful, and a current feed to attract more audiences, and keep current audiences wanting more from my brand. Learning these techniques assures myself that a career in public relations is a route best fitting to myself. Having already had opportunities in creating, and managing digital content online. I am skilled in the use of Photoshop software for image, and graphic editing and image manipulation. Constant maintaining on these networks and platforms will create for myself a reputation, and adds credibility in assuring I will be an excellent PR practitioner. Public relation practitioners have many roles, and usually deal with angry consumers who can write negative reviews about them and the organisations they work for, which could cause massive implications for the organisation leading to bad reputation. Public relations practitioners must be strategic, and corporations, companies and local businesses have to stand out of the crowd in their field of business to ensure success, especially in today’s globalisation.

Social Media Management

Most smart organisations will or should take advantage of social media platforms; kd6it’s free advertising with most of the public checking various social media sites everyday e.g. Instagram and Facebook etc. An organisations survival, and successes is dependable upon reputation management. In today’s society consumers can have a massive effect to a company’s reputation especially with use of social media platforms, where consumers can buy and review an organisations business ventures or new products. This allows future consumers to read these said reviews, and ultimately make a decision on whether or not to use these facilities. My personal belief is that mass media/social media is solely becoming a reflection of our working organisational economies, and ultimately everything that an organisation must adapt too in the age of technology. To survive in the aggressive economy, adapting is key; organisations that don’t adapt will untimely see a quick demise, although this is based on personal opinion.

Grunig & Hunt (1984) suggested public relations manages communication between the organization and its public sphere.

Ideologies of public relations shapes mind-sets through mass mediums that is present to the public sphere through stature. However, whatever way one can look at it, public relations primarily associates itself in shaping societal ways of thinking, which is something I myself have a great disposition to be involved in. Creating and preserving stature is perhaps a vital representation of how public relations works for any cooperation, organisation or persons heavily involved in wanting to change mind-sets. This is one of the many reasons I am attracted to a career in public relations, it is unyielding vitality that makes myself have the belief I am doing something right for myself. According to L’Etang (2008) public relations is forever involved in communications that enables change, and adjustment of communication. This career path, that allows for unforeseen routes and unavoidable paths that come with exhilaration is everything I would desire out of a career as a public practitioner.

PR Solutions and Globalising

kd7Public relations is changing massively, to benefit the practitioners, clients and consumers especially with the introduction of public relations to mass media. Mass media is communal source that’s engages with a specific target audience, It reaches a larger group of publics in a shorter space of time. Online and digital public relations has a number of PR solutions that can be deployed against a PR issue, it’s a limitless process that changes everyday. If these tools are put in place, plans will stand above the competition. I personally have the belief I have acquired the necessary skills and tools to be utilised in assuring my success in a forever changing market. I will know how fast current trends change, and what styles I should take to make myself seem current in my future PR profession.

Robert, Z, C. (2013) made an interesting statement, which I have previously mentioned, he said the public relations professionals need to be smart individuals.

Smart public relations practitioners should already be incorporating and integrating digital solutions to stem away from traditional solutions, as the market is changing fast. Goldsworthy & Morris, (2015) noted that mass mediums, online and social media is escalating and merging, they also argued that PR in relation to mass media, is beginning to look like a force of information and commentary through a funnel. This is great advice to any young professional embarking upon the world of public relations, one in which I believe I am best suited for.

Cultural Practitioner

University has simply confirmed how much I desire a career in public relations. During my studies, I have, and still am developing an excellent eye for detail and have significant experience of reading and interpreting large amounts of materials in an accurate and efficient manner. Personally, my passion for public relations lay in the arts, media and current affairs, especially when creating my own content.kd8

Green (2007) states, a creative individual, consist in not only originating, but also evaluating what the value the creative individual contributes.

Ultimately what this says to me is, the PR individual must produce something of value that can be recognised by third parties. There is a large increasing development of public relations practitioners having to navigate across the planet, and knowing the demands of different cultures and expectations of these cultures. Public relations practitioners must become multicultural and intercultural to keep up with demands of an ever-changing globalised world.

Edwards and Hodges (2011) argued, globalization in the public relations industry, shines a light upon how cultural and societal conventions ultimately influence the industry.

These directly shape the expectation in the public relations industry, and expectations of PR practitioners. With the emphasis on cultural effectiveness, which seems to be expected in a career in public relations.

Wakefield (2007) suggested, there is key principals that are dominant contrasts linking globalized and domesticated public relation practice

Rapport & Communications

Public relations in the in the digital age, establishes the answer on how to make organisations thrive, which is something I want to be part off. These PR skills and techniques of course must be learnt over a period of time and can’t be learnt over night. The process takes creative, and strategic minds as well as many other roles to make public relations work as a career. Public relations must be an efficient tool to solve issues in the way off goods and services through good communications, and good communicators. Throughout this blog, I have looked at many examples of why a career in public relations interests myself, and what the role of public relations involves in making a successful career for myself. From reputation management through to use of digital media resources, there are numerous ways public relations can be implemented in making a career in it succeed. Moreover public relations is rudimentary in understanding the importance of the PR profession, it creates the favourable relationships between the corporations and the public sphere. By looking at all these key principals, a career in public relation would ultimately benefit my urging as creativity individual. Becoming a Communication Management and Public Relation student has allowed myself to improve and polish the skills gaining in opening the doors to a career in public relations. My future lays in relationship rapport, where I will be using communications and public relations acquired at university into the profession.

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Reference List

Edwards, L.L & Hodges, C.E.M (2011). Public Relations, Society & Culture: Theoretical and Empirical Explorations. (1st ed.). New York: Routledge Publications. P,45.

Goldsworthy, S & Morris, T (2015). PR Today: The Authoritative Guide to Public Relations. (2nd ed.). England: Macmillan International Higher Education. P 29.

Green, A (2007). Creativity in Public Relations. (3rd ed.). London: Kogan Page Publishers. P, 8.

Grunig, J.E & Hunt, T (1984). Managing Public Relations. (1sted.). England: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. P, 5.

L’etang, J (2008). Public Relations: Concepts, Practice and Critique. (1st ed.). London: Sage Publications. P, 18.

Smith, R.D. (2014) Public Relations: The Basics. London: Routledge.

Waddington, S. (ed) (2012) Share This: The Social Media Handbook For PR Professionals. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons. P, 14.

Wakefield, R. I. (2007). A retrospective on world class: The excellence theory goes international. In E.L. Toth (Ed). The future of excellence in Public Relations and communication management: Challenges for the next generation (pp. 545-568). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Chew Robert , RCZ, 2013. The Fundamentals of Public Relations. 6th ed. Los Angeles: Boldpoint Communications. P, 89.

Kevin Doonan is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at: Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/irishcuchulainn/ ; Twitter – @KevinODunain ; Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/irish_cuchulainn/ ; LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/kevin-patrick-doonan-54749056/

NEVER STOP LEARNING

Lecturers always plug extra-curricular activities, don’t they?  It’s easy to nod along in agreement, making a mental note to respond to the university’s countless invitations by email but when they land there’s a deadline looming and you’re left weighing up the value of said event versus research/writing/reading.

We have the rest of our lives to learn from other PR & Comms specialists, right?

As a mature student, trust me when I say there is always something looming, that’s life. However, there won’t always be a queue of industry experts willing and ready to meet you and share their expertise.  With that in mind, I’m very glad I took @ConorMcGrath up on his invitation to attend a discussion with Alex Aiken, Head of the Government Communication Service (GCS).

I expected two things on the day of the discussion: firstly, for the event to be cancelled in lieu of the Prime Minister’s highly anticipated announcement that evening; secondly, I assumed that if it did go ahead, our guest would be sticking to a strict script, deflecting any difficult or Brexit-related questions.

I was wrong on both counts…

Alex was extremely down to earth and spoke to us candidly for over an hour; he laid out a compelling case for communications to be seen as an integral lever for transparent, responsible governance and a hugely important function within public services.  Good news for those of us that are too aesthetically challenged to make a living out of Instagram, even better news for those of us that are constantly wrestling with their conscience when it comes to considering graduate jobs outwith the voluntary sector.

Over the course of the evening we gained a fascinating insight into the GCS and crisis management – yes, that included Brexit.  We learned of the difficulties surrounding the GCS’s response to the Salisbury ‘Novichok’ attack – namely the difficulty in disseminating information to the press and public without jeopardising classified sources; we heard about previous campaigns – ‘the good, the bad, the ugly’ – and we we were privy to the contents of national address! We were given advice on GCS strategy and the modern importance of creating a story with characters and a conflict, stories that audiences can connect with, as opposed to the historical ‘who/what/where/when/why’ of the traditional press release.No alt text provided for this image

Most importantly, we were awarded the opportunity to put questions and observations to Alex; I had a list as long as my arm but settled on raising the dilemma of ‘spin’ – do communicators run the risk of fuelling tensions in society, especially in this climate, by creating a ‘story’ for their audience?  My understanding of the answer is ‘no’, providing the intentions of the author are not to mislead or misrepresent.

Alex laid out 8 key challenges for the GCS in 2018, one being to “maximise the role of government comms in challenging declining trust in institutions through honest, relevant and responsive campaigns”.  I felt that parts of the discussion were a rallying call to humbly acknowledge public mistrust and harness its existence as motivation to prove the positive impact that communications can have in our society; as someone that is leaning towards a career in some form of public service, but often cynical about the integrity of certain institutions, the call was welcomed and now that I’m writing this, I’m reminded of an exchange that has resonated since.

A small group of us headed to the Harp Bar after the discussion, and along the way, Alex praised Police Scotland’s tackling of knife crime via the campaign to treat violence as a public health issue.  Well this obviously sent me off on a tangent about whether it’s appropriate for police forces to use social media tools (yes, the laughs never stop when I’m around).  I was giving it big licks about certain public services ‘cheapening’ their reputation by endorsing PR tactics, when it was put to me that any measure with a proven ability to reduce the numbers of people being stabbed on our streets was a positive one.  Who could argue with that?

So take it from me: if anyone is reading this and thinking about skipping a relevant talk or event in lieu of a library session, then catch yourself on.  We are extremely privileged to have these opportunities and the confidence that comes from making your voice heard among the current leaders of PR & Comms, and learning from them, is more valuable than a book chapter.*

Don’t just rely on invites from your lecturer, either.  Find out for yourself what’s on offer.  For those in or near Belfast, !MAGINE! FESTIVAL has a fantastic line-up of events and discussions between 25th to 31st March 2019.

*don’t @ me for any academic decline

Fay Costello is an MSc in Communication & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @fay_costello. 

Suite dreams are made of this

Public relations is a profound interest of mine and there are plentiful reasons why this area of expertise elevates me, particularly the communication aspect, as well as being exposed to so many interesting individuals. I am going to share my story with you, career choices and life experiences that have led me to believe that public relations is the ingredient that brings my ideas to a reality.

Anyway here’s my story (so far)…

The moment I realized that a career in public relations was for me was in 2014 when I took a year out from education; as I was unsure about which degree to pursue. I began working as a receptionist in the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa. The reason I decided to pursue a job as a hotel receptionist was with the intention of evolving my existing skill set and qualities as well as my interpersonal communication skills. With no prior experience in this field of work; I was dependent on landing the position solely on my interview and given the opportunity of expressing my ‘inner brand’. The interview was very formal and intimidating, however it was my time to shine and showcase what made me an eligible candidate for the position. The interviewers must have seen past my nerves as I was surprisingly successful and got offered a full-time position!

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The job opened me up to the public as I was the primary point of contact with the guests, meaning I was responsible for their first impressions as well as leaving the lasting impression as they departed from the hotel. At first the reception department was extremely daunting, It took me roughly three months to feel confident behind the desk, at this point my passion for public relations began to grow. I had soon become acquainted with the regular guests and catering to their needs became my second nature. I took pride in ensuring their stay was enjoyable and It wasn’t long before I started noticing my name frequently mentioned in trip advisor reviews, highlighting my ‘professionalism’ and being regarded as a ‘fantastic ambassador’ for the hotel. The recognition, gratitude and positive feedback was very fulfilling, and this was when I discovered that this was my major – representing companies whilst working alongside the stakeholders.

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Having proved my charisma, expressed my effective communication skills and established customer rapport in the business I decided it was time to enroll into university. I applied for my degree in ‘communication management and public relations’ whilst continuing to work for the organization. However, as my degree required me to move to Belfast, the company transferred me to their sister hotel – the world-famous Europa.

This environment was completely unknown to me as the hotel is twice the size of the Slieve Donard and I underestimated how demanding the job was and how busy I would be kept. This hotel is in such high demand and attracts numerous celebrities, who always must always be accommodated with VIP treatment. Over the 2 years I worked for the Europa I have checked in numerous celebrities including;  Van Morrison, Conor McGregor, Lee Evans, Jimmy Page and the entire cast of Game of Thrones. The public relations profession operates in a celebrity-driven world, and the very first celebrity I checked in whilst working in the Europa was Conor McGregor, and I can remember it like yesterday. I had only been working on the front desk for 2 weeks and can still remember the overwhelming, starstruck feeling that I got. I cant express it but every single guest that checked into the hotel, I had an overwhelming desire to go out of my way to make their stay great, whether it be a couple checking in for a little getaway for the weekend, simply upgrading their room and seeing the smiles on their faces made it worthwhile. Or having Game of Thrones stars phone down to the desk and request a wake up call at 4am to go filming, and ask to speak to me personally for knowing their room service order like the back of my hand. All these little things are what made my job wonderful.

 

Working in the Europa introduced me to so many amazing people and friends for life and even opened doors to new potential career opportunities. For example: One particular day I was checking out a lady and got chatting to her, she asked me an unexpected and extremely surprising question: “You have an amazing bone structure. Have you ever considered modelling?” I was evidently stunned by her question as I looked eagerly at my colleagues for an appropriate response to this bizarre enquiry. “No?” I replied as she handed me her business card shook my hand and invited me to attend an interview at her business ‘Alison Campbell Academy.’ I unknowingly just checked out the CEO of ‘ACA Models’ and had just been scouted as a model!

I was unsure how to feel about this proposition as the possibility of embarking on a career in modelling had never ever crossed my mind, but my colleagues were adamant that I attend the interview anyway, and I even managed to get signed onto their books. I have been placed onto various modelling jobs in which I have represented a specific brand for a certain advertising/catwalk events. Examples of brands that I have worked for include: Miss Northern Ireland, Danske Bank, Down Royal Race Course, Victoria Square and many more. It was very exciting to work as the spokesperson for established companies and represent their brand. I am frequently commended for my outgoing personality and charismatic nature working these jobs; I personally believe that my communication skills and devoted nature is what enabled my public relations abilities to blossom into a reality in the working front of an organization like this.

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Public relations is an ever-evolving industry that brings so much excitement and possibilities to the world. Public relations is deeply embedded into my personality. It is my lifestyle. Every given day is a new inspiration for me to undertake something new that will improve my professional and personal life. In the technologically advanced world we live in, there is an infinite variety of potential connections at our disposal. The  life experiences I have encountered have steered me to the realization that public relations is my bread and butter.

Thank you for reading,

© eline ®ussell

Celine Russell is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn –  https://www.linkedin.com/in/celine-russell-849ba4171/ ; Twitter –  @celine_russ; Facebook –  https://www.facebook.com/celine.russell.7