As a student at the School of Communication, I would naturally love to further my career in this field. The past 13-months have taken a turn no one could have ever predicted. With the new virus taking over the world, people have gone into panic and are scared for their lives and the lives of others. People have had an unprecedented amount of new stress to deal with, and it seems the virus has touched every family in some way or someone who knows someone. It is no surprise that this pandemic has had a massive effect on recruitment and redundancy in negative ways. I’m sure there are other final year students out there who are also worried about the current job market and how difficult it may be to find a job, graduate scheme, or start a business. Which leads me to think, how will the virus affect our industry?
I said before that the virus had touched many families – mine was most certainly one of them. I contracted the virus in September, and it wasn’t an easy road. During this time, we were allowed to meet members of our family and friends outside. My boyfriend had gone for dinner with his friends, one of which unknowingly had the virus at the time and spread it to him and then him to me. It took a few days for it to come to light, as no one from the dinner started to show symptoms for around three days. Once the news came out after everyone had been tested because of their symptoms, I started my isolation period. I began to develop symptoms around day 5. I lost my sense of taste and smell and experienced extreme fatigue; luckily, I did not have any severe symptoms. Even luckier, I did not pass it to anyone who I came into contact with before isolation. I had a test sent to my house, and sure enough, it was positive. I was very fortunate that I had already started to work from home and was still able to attend Zoom meetings and complete work. However, the mental toll it takes can be severe. I was lucky enough to have family around me that would bring me food and leave it at my door, and I used an upstairs bathroom that no one else used to minimise any chance of my family contracting the virus. If I didn’t have the support of my family during those 14 days, just like a lot of people don’t, I know it could’ve been a completely different experience.
For a career in any field, it’s essential to network and link with others in your industry to make valuable connections and broaden your contacts. The virus has made this more difficult, with events now being limited and seminars having moved online, which takes away from the face to face interaction we all love. LinkedIn has become as powerful as ever. I have found myself getting more submerged in my news feed and looking through potential connections. This has proved valuable to many people as it can be a great way to find new connections, and as everyone is in the same boat, it will be much less daunting!
Thinking about how to navigate your career during this time will be tough. I think it’s comforting to believe that everyone is in the same boat. I have even seen a few changes on LinkedIn. I notice many professionals are changing their profile pictures to less formal ones to reflect their current reality of working from home. I think this is a great way to humanise the platform and show others that they’re not alone in this situation.
I believe post-Covid-19 will undoubtedly have its challenges for everyone. I think it’s essential for us to stay as resilient and look to the future positively because everything will go back to normal someday. To me, a career in Communications is a career of communicating effectively. I think this should spill into our personal lives, whereby we check on each other and ensure no one feels alone or lost. The effects of this second lockdown could be catastrophic to people’s mental health. The impacts of self-isolation on top of that are also hard to deal with.
There are many mental health websites and blogs that advise on how you can best keep your mind healthy.
Lauren Simmons is a final year student studying BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at LinkedIn
The journey from a creative to a creative PR professional
Creativity is deemed to be an essential quality of a PR professional as discovered by Parker, Wayne, and Kent Ltd. (2005) through their survey conducted amongst 104 professionals belonging to the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR). Their survey discovered that 96% of these professionals considered creativity to play an extremely important role in the public relations process.
It could be argued that I was always destined to explore a career in public relations as I was often described as a very ‘imaginative’ and ‘creative’ child throughout my younger years. ‘She has some imagination’ my relatives would have said – and so I did. I had two imaginary friends: Lizzy and Dumb. They went everywhere with me at the annoyance of my sisters who were often demoted to the boot seats of our jeep so that my imaginary companions could sit beside me. I’m not sure whether this made me an imaginative child or just downright weird. I had great aspirations for my two best friends at the time. Lizzie progressed to be a hairdresser whereas Dumb, the more academic of the two (ironic I know), went on to attend University to become a doctor – but what did I want to be when I grew up? Well, a dancer of course, what else? I dedicated many of my junior days to blasting music in my living room, dancing until my heart was content and attending several dancing classes until one day, I decided it wasn’t for me, as most children do. Expressing my creativity and imagination through my work, however, is something I always knew I wanted to do, and I knew my future career had to involve this side of myself which I discovered from a young age.
During my teen years I began involving myself in creative pastimes such as drawing and painting which motivated me to opt for Art as a GCSE subject. My creativity also transferred to paper through my writing in English which I decided to take on for A level. Although I didn’t know it at the time, this decision would be beneficial in my future career when targeting publics as throughout A level English, I was taught to provide a deep analysis of written pieces composed from different points of view. I was never an overly scientific, mathematic, or athletic student in school. My performance was very much average in these areas and I didn’t really show much interest in pursuing them in the future. It was quite demotivating when I seen many students commended for being brainboxes and strong athletes, whereas there weren’t as many opportunities for the more creative students to portray their talents. However, growing up, my daddy ensured that my two sisters and I had a strong work ethic instilled in us from a young age. This work ethic enabled me to achieve my desired grades at both GCSE and A level and to this day it still enables me to work hard against any oppositions I face to do what needs to be done. I know that this will be useful throughout my PR career as I very rarely let anything stand in my way and will put in any amount of work needed to get a job done.
When it came to applying for UCAS in September 2016, I’m not going to lie, I had no clue what I wanted to apply for! At the tender age of 17 how are you expected to know what you want to do for the rest of your life? I had expressed interest in mental health nursing as I had an unrelenting desire to help people and have an impact on the lives of others, however, upon taking part in a two-day work experience it was revealed that you had to be a very emotionally strong person with the ability to detach yourself from your patients – an ability I didn’t think I possessed and so it was back to the drawing board for me. When I was researching what I wanted to study at university, I discovered that a job in public relations would allow me to express my creativity through innovative ideas on how to make a brand stand out when developing PR strategies and campaigns (which is a concept I have thoroughly enjoyed throughout the 3 years of studying my course so far). This was what first sparked my interest in PR and applying to study Communication Management and Public Relations.
What does Public Relations mean to me?
Despite the copious hours I have spent studying CMPR over the past 3 years, when people ask me what PR is, it is still something I struggle to underpin and define as it is constantly evolving. CIPR define public relations as, “The result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you. Public Relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour” (CIPR, 2015).
It wasn’t until I spent my placement year working at The SHS Group, Belfast, and was given the opportunity to put the theory I had learnt into practice, that I gained a better understanding of what a career in PR included. I spent my year shadowing Kellie-Ann Hoey, Head of Group Communications, working as a Communications and PR intern. The knowledge and experience I gained throughout my placement year has been invaluable and has without a doubt boosted the beginning of my career in PR. My typical daily tasks at SHS included designing graphics, updating social media platforms and company websites and circulating PR communications such as press releases and emailers. I quickly realised that the ability to social network is essential in PR. Throughout my time at SHS I connected with many different contacts in the industry who only spoke highly of the work I had completed, which massively heightened my confidence in the career path I had chosen. Although I would describe myself as a very sociable person which made it easy for me to connect with these contacts, I also discovered that it is just as important to humble yourself, prepare to be flexible and adapt to different situations in the PR world to ensure you present yourself and your brand in the best possible light – especially during a crisis.
It was at SHS that I learnt that public relations is an extremely fast paced industry with each day guaranteed to be different from the last. To me this is a very appealing aspect of the industry as I am someone who tends to get bored with the same old repetitive patterns and processes. A career in PR can also quite literally take you anywhere in the world you want to go. The reason simply being that every company needs public relations to some extent and travelling with the job is a definite career perk for someone with huge wanderlust. Another perk of the job is that you are not confined to a desk like most other 9 to 5 professions. This only enhances my perception that I would love a career in PR and as they say if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life!
Although a degree in public relations can take you down many different routes, the route I mostly gauged an interest in during my time at SHS was events management. I was heavily involved and had a great sense of responsibility in the organisation of launch events, company conferences, briefings, and seasonal parties. When organising my first event, I realised there is so much work necessary to host a successful event that I hadn’t even considered before, however, the sense of accomplishment you feel when the event you organised is a success not only to you but to others as well, is second to none and satisfies my need to impact the lives of others by providing them with a time to feel enjoyment. Don’t get me wrong, each event brought it’s own set of challenges and stressful, ‘on the verge of tears’, moments as I navigated my way through the organisation of table plans, entertainment, guest speakers, taxi lists and charity activities. That is another thing about a career in PR; to be successful you must be on top of your crisis management game and be prepared for the worst to happen, armed with several back up plans and solutions for X, Y and Z. The stress that emerged from the trials and tribulations presented to me when organising events, could not outshine my desire to be successful and instead it provided me with an adrenaline rush that spurred me on and motivated me to overcome them.
In the PR world, it is essential that you keep yourself up to date with the latest trends to become fully aware of what your publics will want to see and engage with the most. As an avid social media user active on most platforms, who has a slight obsession with pinterest and reads far too many news articles, this is an enjoyable pastime for me. When I had finished my normal 9 to 5 day at SHS I often found myself screenshotting news stories and saving social media posts in the evenings which included material I thought could be beneficial to incorporate in our own PR strategies. This is the kind of work, to me that does not feel like work but that I get a great sense of pleasure out of.
Despite most of my work experience consisting of customer service and retail jobs, I value my past retail work experiences as great opportunities that have allowed me to develop skills which are frequently used in PR. I now have a better understanding of how customer needs can vary among different demographics and how in turn, they react to different situations. I hope to one day be working as part of a public relations and event management team at a global brand, but for now I look forward to improving the PR skills I have acquired so far and graduating in 2021.
Katie McKeown is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagramand LinkedIn.
“What are you going to be when you grow up?” A question that has undoubtedly puzzled the minds of all children and indeed some adults. Initially, my career drawing board held a predictable prospect, I was going to be a singer, like Hannah Montana specifically. Reach for the stars they say!
I highly doubt you will find a 10-year-old with a career aspiration in Public Relations (PR), but then again, with the widespread access to social media and internet these days, who knows?
Discovering Public Relations
During my time at school, I recall becoming increasingly concerned that I did not have a career path set in stone. “What do you want to do?”“Where do you see yourself in the future?” “What are your interests?” – all normal questions to ask an adolescent, but when you are that 16-year-old, with no clear answers and little career guidance, it is very daunting.
I am a planner. I thrive on organisation and my lack of career preparation helped shape a very anxious teen. Determined to discover my destined career aspirations, I scoured the internet, listing my qualities, interests and aptitudes, completed an abundance of ‘What career suits you?’ questionnaires and participated in countless career workshop sessions.
Through online self-evaluation, I discovered that my skills and interests paired me with the world of PR, something brand new to me, yetso very familiar.
Communication and PR – A Match Made in Heaven
With my newfound blossoming interest in mind, I chose to pursue Business Studies at A Level. I was immediately engrossed in the PR element of the subject, however, one element of Business Studies I was not so keen on was the equations and mathematical modules. My dislike for solving equations assisted me in resolving another matter, Business Studies was not the degree for me. This revelation narrowed my subject search, leading me to a course that seemed to roll all my interests into one: Communication Management and Public Relations. I firmly believe that studying Communication alongside PR will be tremendously advantageous throughout my career. Communication is key in the PR industry and being able to put my academic learnings into practice will be invaluable.
Personally, I believe I am an effective communicator and recognise I possess the capability and skills to successfully develop professional relationships with others and promote myself in a confident, friendly and formal manner. Throughout my professional career, I have been granted the opportunity to implement in practice the theoretical learnings I have obtained at university.
During my time on placement at the Irish News, I was privileged to play a predominant role in organising successful PR campaigns, briefing clients/customers and organising large-scale public events. This experience will benefit my future career in PR considerably. According to Petrison and Wang (1993), open-minded organisations are moving away from mass marketing and are placing a heightened importance on building relationships with their customers and potential clients. In this way, organisations reach potential consumers/clients on a more personal, focused level.
PR is an extremely wide-ranging industry. The ever-changing environment provides new challenges, hasty deadlines and fresh experiences each day. I am fortunate that I thrive under pressure, I endeavour to maintain a high level of organisation at all times, while multi-tasking and making effective decisions.
Building a Professional Portfolio
A career in PR provides an abundance of networking opportunities through cross-organisation events and campaigns. These experiences play a pivotal role in the development of one’s professional reputation. A particularly unique and advantageous element of a career in PR is the ability to develop your own professional portfolio. Through sharing my career highpoints on professional social networking sites, I have been able to enhance my position as a PR professional. Sharing content on LinkedIn and creating informative blog posts on the Ulster PR Student Blog have allowed me to connect with significant figures, putting my name out there, no matter how small it may currently be.
Throughout my placement, I was afforded the opportunity to work with many prestigious entrepreneurs throughout Ireland, directly witnessing how fulfilling a career in PR can potentially be. This was a highly motivational experience for me, enhancing my enthusiasm and reinforcing my ambition to strive for success in my final year at Ulster University, strengthening my vision to ultimately achieve employment in this exhilarating field.
An area of PR that I particularly enjoy is event management. During my time at the Irish News, I had the pleasure of organising multiple large-scale events, working with countless professional organisations. Successful management of these events involved meticulous planning, working as part of a team as well as independently, in a fast-paced, pressurised environment. The exciting anticipation of devising a project to capture the interest of a target audience, followed by the satisfaction experienced when the project is received, strengthens my belief that PR is the appropriate career path for me, spurring on my passion for the next venture.
Post COVID-19 Public Relations
Due to the impact of COVID-19, the professional world has changed dramatically, with remote work escalating, organisations closing, and public events being cancelled. Luckily, the PR industry is adaptable to change, making it extremely valuable at present as we plan to rectify the damage that COVID-19 has left behind. The ability to adapt to change in a rapidly evolving industry increases the appeal to follow my career aspirations. PR will be a considerable asset to organisations, applying crisis management, assisting in recuperation and supporting the adaption to online implementation, all of which excites me.
As the world familiarises itself with the ‘new normal’, social media relations have become extremely important. Although negative connotations have been associated with social media, I believe having grown up in the new digital era, I am able to identify and harness the positive aspects of social media to enhance my effectiveness in my chosen career path in the PR industry. Indeed, I have a fundamental and comprehensive understanding of the influence a successful social media campaign can provide. Moreover, through professional experience I have developed the skills to implement an effective PR campaign for an organisation with a view to increasing their exposure and making a positive impact on their reputation.
Social media is saturated with communication. In order to maintain a competitive edge, organisations must create an original, stand-out social campaign, to avoid getting left behind. Through my experience to date, I now see this is where I can excel.
As a consumer, I place huge importance on an organisation’s social media presence when purchasing a product or service. I have always maintained a passion for creativity, and I commend organisations on the originality of their online presence. Therefore, I believe this is an area that I would thrive in, allowing me to showcase my knowledge and opinions, in order to produce an engaging campaign that will influence consumers.
Finally, job prospects are uncertain at present, with many industries having a lack of job opportunities due to the collapsing economy and impact of COVID-19. Nonetheless, social media is an area of PR that I believe will thrive post-pandemic due to the continuing social consciousness of society. Fortunately, social media is the area of PR that particularly interests me and is the route I intend to pursue as a graduate.
Irrespective of the extent of potential demand in the future, I am certain that my degree and acquired knowledge and expertise will aid me in finding suitable employment locally, nationally or in the international field. I am confident however that the increasing popularity and consistent evolution in the industry will undoubtedly create a variety of future job opportunities. This combination of my degree and my professional experience should enhance my post-university PR career prospects, although the future will be a particularly challenging time for graduates.
Ellen Turbett is a final year BSc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram and LinkedIn.
To answer the question why does a career in Public Relations interest me? As well as why did I chose a Public Relations degree to study? The answer isn’t as straight forward as the questions, there are a number of different reasons and answers, for how I ended up on this career path. In this blog I’ll be (roughly) explaining my story as to how I ended up studying and enjoying the field of Public Relations. I will start by explaining what interested and attracted me to the industry in the first place as well as, how I chose my degree and what I have learned over the course of my studies.
For another who doesn’t know what public relations is, it can often be confused with advertising and mis-defined as being just about promotion. Grunig and Hunt define Public Relations as “Management of communication between an organisation and its publics”. Charted Institute of Public Relations defines it as “the discipline which looks after reputation, “It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.” It can be argued that there is no distinct definition of what Public Relations is, and in many ways it is so broadly scoped it is undefinable. Personally I believe it is about the management of multiple different relationships within an organisation/person of interest and how they use this to communicate, promote and attract attention in their interest across a range of multimedia platforms.
When leaving high school I initially accepted an offer to study Law and marketing, as in the past I had always been torn between what I wanted to study. Soon after beginning my Law degree I quickly became bored. The copious amount of reading, referencing and interpreting became boring to me. The only aspect of law I was interested in was the real life cases and how they were resolved. I was still curious about marketing and business but I had realised I was also very interested in social psychology. I decided to change courses and I began looking for something that would interest me more, within a number of universities. When I came across the course Communication Management and Public Relations I was initially struck by the many different areas of study that it involved. I wanted to learn more about communication and I also wanted to know more about how to use communication in a professional context. I also researched into the career opportunities and found them interesting. I have always been a very confident person and that is why I thought that public relations would suit my personality better.
Originally what attracted me to Public Relations was its communication aspect, how fast-paced and current the industry is. Another aspect of public relations I liked was that unlike marketing, they don’t push promotions in an informal fashion towards consumers rather convince consumers by creating connections and relationships that are mutually beneficial. Take Edward Bernays as an example. Bernays is often described as the father of Public Relations and his work and campaigns were not only successful, but they changed the world that we live in today. For example Bernays was employed by American Tobacco Companies and in 1928 he created the revolutionary “Torches of Freedom.” Campaign. Smoking at the time was a Taboo in America for women and “smoking by women in North America and Europe had long been associated with loose morals and dubious sexual behaviour.” Bernays thought he could change this idea and he believed “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society.” Bernays organised multiple demonstrations of women smoking these women included debutants as well as prominent figures from the Women’s Movement and Churches. The demonstrations obviously attracted huge media attention and as a result newspapers across the country published stories on it. It’s crazy to me that through this occupation it was quite literally possible to change the world!
During the course of my studies into to Public Relations, I have learned a lot about its uses in politics. I fascinated by the work of spin doctors and I was intrigued at how these people were able to take something that felt like bad news and turn it into something they could use for their benefit. While people often have mixed opinions over whether or not the use of spin particularly in politics is ethically correct Ludlam and Smith define it as “new strategic thinking”. I agree and, I think that there is an art to spin and it requires a great deal of knowledge as well as the ability to work on your own initiative. The labour party in England has often been accused of spinning facts to their own advantage, For example back in 2015 when Ed Miliband was the leader of the labour party, he took part in an interview which was held in the kitchen of his supposed £2 million house. These images then surfaced in an article published by the Daily Mail. The kitchen was in a modest state considering the price of the house, and the Daily Mail article compared it to a “utility room”. The article also went on to suggest that this might be the work of spin doctors as at the time Ed Miliband was running in the general election and he had just promised to introduce a mansion tax if he won. It was thought that by placing him in a less expensive looking kitchen it would favour the idea that he is a man of the people. Another example is throughout the course of Jeremy Corbyn’s time in office he was accused of spin multiple times. Back in 2016 when Owen Smith became the main leadership challenger for Corbyn. Smith gave a speech at the time condemning Conservative spending towards the NHS as well as accusing them of having plans to privatise the NHS. This was in order to present Smith as a socialist and an advocate for free health care, the only problem with this is that Owen Smith had spent five years working in big pharmaceutical companies as well as spending some of that time working as a corporate lobbyist. He also previously had the role of head of policy and government relations for Pfizer. As this information was being brought to light in the press Corbyn timed a policy announcement well, which was to remove tax relief for pharmaceutical innovation. The idea was to frame Corbyn as someone who was anti/against big pharmaceutical companies compared with Smith the “lobbyist”.
From the examples I have given I can understand as to why someone would question the ethics of the use of spin. However, I believe that spin is a strategic thought process that involves a lot of planning, timing and driving of the news agenda. This skill requires a good judgment and knowledge about the industry you are working in.
Another aspect of Public relations that I find interesting is crisis communication. When an organisation gets into a crisis situation it usually contributes to public distrust. It is the PR practitioners job to ensure as little damage as possible is done to the firm. For example Pret a Manager dealt with a severe crisis in 2016. A 15-year-old girl died after having an allergic reaction to one of Pret a Manger’s baguettes. She collapsed on a British Airways flight and went into anaphylactic shock which caused her to go into cardiac arrest. Pret a Manager became the centre of the scandal as the baguette did not have any allergen advice on its wrapper. At the time food allergen advice was produced on site, and there was no legal requirement to provide it on the label. It was expected that staff deliver allergen information orally when asked. Pret a Manger received heavy criticism from both the press and the public. In this case Pret had to take some of the blame, in the beginning they tried to blame the British airways staff but in order to save company reputation the company CEO realised a statement saying that the firm was “deeply sorry” and that they were making “meaningful changes” to prevent something like this happening again. As a result Pret called for changes on the food labelling laws, gave the family compensation and encouraged other businesses to create change in their food allergens labelling. This is a successful example of the skill involved in crisis communication and how they were able to create a positive out of the terrible situation by getting the law changed.
A career in public relations interests me deeply. Although, I’m not entirely sure as to what direction or aspect of PR that I will end up working in. I feel safe in the knowledge that it always interests me, sometimes this is a quality I think people over look when planning a career. I think if you’re interested in what you do not only will you do well but you will enjoy your work as well.
Alicia Fox is a third year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at Linkedin and Twitter.
Flashback to 2015, I had just finished school in upper six and had just applied for a Media studies degree. Patiently waiting to hear back from UCAS in the coming weeks. To be frankly honest, I knew in my heart it wasn’t the course I wanted to do, it was just something my teacher had encouraged you to apply for as it was the ‘known’ thing to do, and after all, one of my A levels was in Media Studies, it seemed the right thing to do. Skip a short while later and I decided a year out was the best option for me, as I wasn’t quite sure what direction I wanted to go in, so I started applying for every job going.
Skip along another year and after a year working in Tesco, I knew I wanted to go back to studying but just had no idea what. An email had come through to me about an information open night in Ulster University about 3 courses that seemed interesting to me. These were, CAM, CMPR and Advertising. A representative from each course had stood up and talked about their experience from each course and by the end of it I knew in my heart CMPR was the one for me. The clue being in the name with ‘public relations’ on the end. After speaking to Kerry-Ann course director at the end of the presentation she had explained that with the grades I achieved in my A-Levels, being 3 Cs, that I would not be accepted for the course. As I was walking out with my head held low, she ran after me and explained about the part-time option and I would be able to complete the course over a longer period and achieve the same degree at the end. I felt this was a sign and knew this was the beginning of my PR journey.
Apart from imagining in my head what the PR industry was like, being luxurious and glamourous or as Morris and Goldsworthy (2016; pp.13) describe as ‘involve lunches, receptions, events and parties which include many different people at a range of different locations.’ I knew it involved building relationships and meeting new people regularly and being a ‘social butterfly’ as my mum would call me, that this was the job for me. Actually, it sounded too good to be true! From learning the basics of PR in first and second year of my course, it was not until final year that I really started to dig deeper. My lecturer Conor has a massive role to play in this as his enthusiasm about the subject really inspires me and allows me to develop my own opinions on the subject and not just what you are taught through curriculum.
I would not say that I am an overly confident person when it comes to speaking in front of other people but to describe my personality I would say I am a bubbly person and love meeting new people and this is one of the reasons a PR career interests me. For example, in my workplace I am not afraid to say when I think a situation is being handled wrongly, however, when I’m in a classroom environment I do feel nervous quite easily and put a lot of pressure on myself. This is where I need to adapt the skills of giving my opinion more freely when asked, just as I would in a one to one situation with a manager for example. However, learning from other PR practitioners has helped me develop some of these skills. For example, Ella Minty a well-recognised lecturer/leader/adviser runs sessions on Twitter weekly giving advice and the opportunity to give your opinion on a variety of topics. I think this is a great way to not only develop new skills but also take on board other PR practitioner’s opinions which I think is a very valuable asset for a career in PR.
Which brings me to my next point, I love how much variety there is to be offered within a PR career. No one day is the same, and constantly learning on the job. I do not have a lot experience in the PR area with doing part time in the course I did not have the opportunity to do a placement year, however, I run a social media account for a dance school I teach in which allows the parents to keep up with everything their kids are up to on a weekly basis. Whether this be a press release or a simple image it allows me to experiment with different styles and ideas that work and those that don’t so that I will keep my audience entertained and informed.
I personally believe that PR is at the heart of all things in communication sector and holds the key to the future to all things media related. By consuming the media and being social savvy is another great way to pursue your passion and career path around PR. I would say I have always been interested in all aspects of the media, growing up in an era of the smart phone revolution I had to quickly adapt to having the up to date social media platforms where information about anything and everything spreads like wildfire and as Sophie Chadwick, 2020 says ‘it’s important to note that social media has already changed the course of public relations, almost beyond recognition.’ With the mass media still playing a crucial role in society and around PR it is important to recognise the pros of social media and how it can be used effectively within a PR career as well as sometimes causing crises.
Practice makes perfect. Throughout the course of my PR module in final year, Conor has kept on at us to practice being in the midst of what we are learning. So, whether it be a press release or a blog, practice being in the moment as there is “no time like the present”. This is how I knew I also wanted a career in PR. Nothing satisfies me more than having a diary and being organised for months ahead, or having an idea in my head and grabbing my laptop to write it all down in the hope that it might be a useful idea to come in handy someday. And like any job you cannot know everything from day one so this creative mind mapping and thinking of ideas in my head that may be useful in the future is another asset that would be ideal for a career in PR.
Although there are many great opportunities within PR and how I would love a career in it the future, I know it could be an extremely pressurised environment to work in. I think that even though there would be many rewarding parts of working in PR, there would also be times when there is a lot of pressure on staff to meet deadlines and work long hours to get a campaign finished on time. I feel that even though I would describe myself as someone who works well under pressure, at times I might let things get to me and may feel overwhelmed as I someone who likes to get things right and would put a lot of pressure on myself. I also know that I would have other team members around me and we could work together to overcome any challenges we might face using the skills each of us has gained. Eventually, I know I would become a key individual in a workplace by working within a team and becoming a valued team member which other organisations would recognise and possibly want to employ.
Like in any career, eg fireman, doctor or astronaut, I believe you can do anything when you put your mind to it. I want to try and get more experience before I begin my career in PR or whatever direction I take in the future. This involves understanding myself more as a person and projecting this in a respectable way to employers to relate and understand that I am right for the job role in PR. By keeping up to date with ongoing movement in PR is also crucial, for example on social media platforms such as Twitter where updates are being put up hourly about what is trending in PR circles. Finally, by practicing my writing when and where I can eg. writing a blog and posting it or setting myself goals to practice things I am not so confident at, such as public speaking. The drive and enthusiasm aspects that come with the career and how it matches to my personality makes me excited for the future and I hope this reflects on why I want a career in Public Relations.
Megan Strain is a part-time final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at – Instagramand LinkedIn.
Oliver, S. (2010) claims “if you asked a hundred people to define public relations you would get a hundred different answers.” To begin, when describing relations, I believe it has numerous definitions and it simply cannot be labelled to one. Different people in society would have a range of perspectives and opinions on defining “what is public relations?” However, I personally agree with the definition provided by Bernays, E. (1923) in which he states “information given to the public, persuasion directed at the public to modify attitudes and actions, and efforts to integrate attitudes and actions of an institution with its publics and of publics with those of that institution.” Bernays definition explains public relations perfectly for me as he clarifies that based on what we hear and see in the media and on the news, we then proceed to form our attitudes and views on the particular matter in question even if we are not knowledgeable in that field. We then tend to form our opinion on the topic. Bernays emphasises how the media plays a huge role in influencing our opinions and behaviour on different areas in the way it is portrayed via public relations.
Why public relations really interest me is because it is an industry that is forever changing. There are always new and exciting things happening in the world that you can never predict. For example, let us consider COVID-19. According to the CIPR (2020) “ the impact of Covid-19 and the opportunities it presents for the communications profession finds the pandemic has accelerated changes already underway within practice and concludes it has demonstrated the strategic role of communications.” This emphasizes that with the pandemic happening it has impacted public relations massively. It is so important to be up to date with new rules, covid-19 death rates around the world and in Northern Ireland, reports from the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, updates from Boris Johnson along with updates from the public health agency. It is equally important to report about the hospitality sector which has been significantly impacted by covid-19. It is so important that public relations provides this information to the public and allows them to gather important information that is very relevant and essential to know when it comes to something as unprecedented as Covid-19 and allow people to develop their attitudes, behaviours, opinion and plan. From here, they will determine what to do with this information and make vital adjustments to their life.
Grunig, J. (1989) claims “public relations is the management of communications between an organisation and its publics.” A career in public relations interests me because I have a passion for strong communication skills and being able to strategically communicate within the workplace because I know it is integral when working effectively with your colleagues, different companies, brands and media agencies. These key factors are all linked to PR and are therefore essential to develop your communication skills and how to use them effectively. Additionally, another key topic I am very passionate about is having strong organisational skills because by having both communication skills and organisation skills combined it provides you with the underpinning knowledge to nurture a relationship with your co-workers, companies you work with and essentially, it allows you to develop connections in the industry which is very important. Building relationships in public relations is key because it helps manage your reputation which is another important tool to have when working in public relations. Building a strong working relationship with a brand for example, allows you to develop trusted media connections which is vital to have in this industry. By having media connections, you can issue a press release in times of a bad advertising campaign or during a crisis when you may need crisis management support for example therefore, your trusted media connection can help you repair the damage.
Today more than ever your online presence is crucial in a world where everyone is digitally connected. “Much of social media is done in public, by the public, and the dynamics that have shaped public relations in the past media relations, interactions with opinion leaders and influencers, and of course, crisis/reputation management are not only present in social media, but often accentuated and amplified by it.” (Breakenridge, K.D 2012). This is another point to why I am interested in a public relations role because when looking for a job, promoting a product or brand or networking in the world of marketing and advertising, it is vital to establish your online presence. Having a strong online presence allows you to build connections digitally, ultimately opening the window to partnering with other brands, gaining advice from other PR professionals, and obtaining a portfolio of connections, to better identify how to maximise your content and market yourself online. Public relations are concentrated on public opinion and today social media is a forever expanding market where PR is becoming an integral part of marketing communications. Ultimately, PR effects the performance of marketing. Therefore, to achieve greater success, building connections digitally with a PR agency is an essential path.
I enjoy the strategical and planning process leading up to a campaign, and public relations covers all these components.
The PR strategy consists of:
Situation /Issue Analysis
“Having a sense of direction and of what is important is part of well-being at work and indeed being able to mark off progress and milestones is an intrinsic element of job satisfaction.” (Gregory, A. 2010) For example, when creating a campaign, I thrive on having a strategy in place and establishing on how to successfully market a campaign and make it successful. A career in PR appeals to me as I enjoy looking at the brand ethos and ensuring that is promoted relevantly and speaks to their vision and mission. When carrying out a piece of work I enjoy looking at the strengths and weaknesses of a brand/campaign, establishing what the brand is trying to achieve, narrowing down target audiences to ensure it is a success, creating a powerful message and ultimately delivering it to the public, through creativity, planning, delivery and evaluation. “Public relations play a role in assisting the organisation clarify its purpose and values”. (Moloney, K. and McGrath, C. 2020) Additionally, as I enjoy this process, I believe I would thrive in a PR role and apply the PR strategy to everything that I do to make any future job roles enjoyable and importantly successful.
Overall, a career in public relations interests me because I enjoy strategical processes, planning, organising, creating ideas and coming up with crisis management tactics because this allows me to learn more about the industry, how to create a successful business plan and make it a huge success , which is any organisations ultimate goal. Social media is a wonderful resource for PR and media communications today as it allows you to not only access an extensive network but also to take advantage of advertising and marketing opportunities in order to build awareness of your business or campaign. I have experience working in the social media and marketing world through my placement year therefore, doing this in PR environment is something I would love to be involved in.
I also enjoy keeping up to date with the latest trends and monitoring other brands and seeing how they are contributing to the “woke” era. I would love to bring this into my PR career and ensure as a brand or company we are relevant with the current times, where the outcome would be establishing a solid reputation and a great online presence in a world which is ever changing. I am interested in organisational communication as this is very relevant to a PR career where you must be able to strategically communicate and have effective interaction. Personally, a career in public relations grabs me because I enjoy industries that are evolving, and public relations offers just that. It is never the same and that is what makes it exciting, innovative and current. This ultimately, retains that enjoyment in a career where public relations keeps creativity levels high and engaging.
Tara Hamill is a final year student in Ulster University studying Communication Management and Public Relations. She can be found on Twitter, Linkedin and Instagram
When it comes to being productive, we often start off with a to-do list a mile long and a mind full of motivation. Yet come 5 o’clock the two measly tasks that have been ticked off your list fill you with frustration, leaving you confused as to where the day went.
Well that’s all about to change, for the next few minutes I invite you to read through a few tips that helped me trade my hoodie in for a suit and tie as I transitioned from CMPR student to working in a professional environment.
With so much going on in the world around us, it can be extremely hard to stay focused on the task at hand, leading to copious amounts of time wasted scrolling through twitter, Instagram, tiktok etc. constantly trying to satisfy our insatiable appetite for consuming content. Although it may be hard at times, we must resist these urges and fight to reclaim our productivity! It doesn’t matter if you are a CMPR student or an industry titan; People are always looking for ways to be more productive in their life.
Enough waffle, wage war on procrastination with the tips below:
1. Make a focused list (Big 3)
A major misconception about productivity is the belief that you need to be focusing on accomplishing more things each day. If you want to be truly productive, your to-do list needs to be concise, prioritising the most important things that need to be accomplished or, as Chris Bailey puts it: “Productivity isn’t about doing more things — it’s about doing the right things.”
What works for me is – each morning I spend a couple of minutes writing down everything that I wish to accomplish that day whether it be completing an assignment for uni or finishing a report for my manager. From this list I pull the three most important tasks that I need to get done, this is my ‘BIG 3’ and I work form here.
If you’re like me there are times when something can end up distracting you and by the time you get back to your task, your whole train of thought is gone. However, by your three high-priority tasks written down you can easily switch between them if needed without ever feeling like you are starting from scratch. Limiting yourself to three also keeps it simple, so simple that you’ll actually do it.
2. Say NO
Tip 2 requires a bit of self-control. Throughout my placement year I realised that it is okay to say no and can often be beneficial when wanting to achieve maximum productivity. A lot of people can be easily persuaded by friends into going out (myself included) but sometimes you must resist the temptation in the short term for a greater pay off down the line.
What have we learned? Say no to the pint/cocktail, instead opt for a cup of tea and an early night. After all a tired, hungover version of yourself is not optimal for smashing through your BIG 3.
3. Make use of what’s available
There will be times in a workplace when you get the opportunity to try things and develop new skills but there are also times when deadlines are fast approaching, and jobs need finished. It is important to be able to delegate responsibility and ask for help when needed.
Cultivating good relationships with the people around you and knowing when to use their strengths can work wonders in terms productivity, utilising each other’s skills can speed up a task and reduce stress levels all round.
Make sure you know what resources you have available whether it be an online tool or a person with a certain skillset. Don’t waste three hours struggling with something that can take someone five minutes – unless you have the time to devote to working on that skill.
4. Down time
No one can work at 100% all the time. For me it helps having a clear separation from work come 5 o’clock. It’s easy to get caught up in work stress even after you leave the office. I like knowing that once I leave the office I can switch off, and not worry about emails or calling clients/colleagues. Having this clear distinction helps me stay focused knowing that from 8:30 – 5:00 I am working, aiming to be as productive as possible.
At the end of the day, you can read all the self-help books, go to workshops and watch all the videos teaching you how to be productive but realistically the only obstacle to overcome is yourself. Figure out what works for you and repeat it consistently until it becomes a habit.
So why not try it? Get started with your BIG 3 and unlock the power of productivity and enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done.
Joshua Van Loggerenberg is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on LinkedIn and Instagram
If 2020 has taught me anything, it is that you never truly know what is around the corner. Imagine this time last year, your friend sat you down and said that we will live the majority of the year in some sort of lockdown, masks were mandatory in public, and we might not be able to spend Christmas with our family or friends. You’d think they were mad! Unfortunately this is the case however it has given me time to reflect on different aspects on my life, and put a real emphasis on getting my degree and hopefully a good graduate job.
It would be foolish of me to believe that PR will be the same in 10 years time as what it is now. There are so many factors that could see great change in the PR world, some for the better and some that could be worse.
PR practitioners, can technology ever replace them?
Technology is advancing by the day, with more and more jobs which used to be occupied by humans, being taken over by AI and computers. In fact, (BBC 2019) stated that by the year 2030, up to 20 million manufacturing jobs worldwide could see humans replaced with robots, 20 MILLION JOBS! There are many benefits of replacing humans with robots, costs are lower, jobs will be done quicker and they will no doubt have less sick days than the average human. However PR is a field where I feel the human beats the AI. As highly functional as these new pieces of technology are, they lack the human feelings needed to really understand PR and its core principals and intentions. A good PR practitioner must be aware of a number of things, like what the client wants to achieve and how they want to achieve it. I feel that many clients look to their PR companies/clients for advise frequently and so the lack of human contact would see less people trust the PR industry, therefore proving that (at least for now) the human race is still more powerful than the AI.
How might the PR industry evolve?
In 10 years time, some of the methods used today in PR might be outdated or have no benefit to a client and so the PR industry must constantly be analysing their posts, seeing which methods are most effective and which methods are no longer beneficial. A prime example of this is how in the past, press releases in newspapers would have been a great way of conveying a message to the public, but with predictions that printed newspapers may become extinct before 2030, practitioners will have to look for alternatives to press releases. A good replacement would be social media posts, or digital news channels being used. I for one find myself very rarely reading newspapers but still staying in the loop of current events and consume most of this news through my various social media accounts as well as news apps on my phone.
The year 2030 in PR, how might it look?
Its 2030, COVID is a thing of the past and the last printed newspaper was purchased in 2026. All of our news is consumed online and PR practitioners have adapted wonderfully to the new online environment of PR. The PR industry have mastered many fields such as native advertising and content marketing. I hope to be in New York, running my own PR company, applying all the skills I gained from my studies as well as applying new methods constantly to ensure that the company can keep up with the competitors and offer twice as many services as it did 10 years ago.
In conclusion, I feel that the next 10 years could see a whirlwind of change to every aspect of our lives, but one thing that wont change is the need for PR. In fact, I feel many companies will begin to greater appreciate the work of PR practitioners and i hope that the industry continues to grow and by 2030, is one of the most important in the business world.
Daniel Hastings is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on Twitter.
In this crazy social media world that we are engulphed in, we are aware and sometimes unaware to the extent in which public relations is utilised to save the reputations and business of many celebrities, companies, influencers, government and numerous others. The question, however, is good public relations being honest, or is good public relations doing whatever/saying whatever to save themselves, whether that be honest or dishonest.
What are the consequences of dishonesty in PR?
As with any profession, there are always going to be dishonest and inefficient workers. As a PR specialist I think it is very important to have good intentions and to be honest. Additionally, when people have been deceived, the trust is eroded. This makes them more likely to put time-sucking checks and balances in place in an attempt to maintain and gain control.
Examples of unethical in PR
• Overselling capabilities
. Some PR agencies that give you promises and guarantees that may not match their actual ethic.
• Circumventing the subject of measurement.
The PR firm ought to be to confer metrics, reporting strategies and return on investment.
The PR agency may not divulge exactly to whom they are, pitching, but they should definitely be willing to discuss how they are positioning the company and what media they are targeting.
• Blatant lying.
Claiming to haveclient,and resources they don’t have are some of the way’s PR professionals can deceive
. • Underhanded tactics.
While it’s to develop creative , movement some take things too far by planting misinformation to make clients look better or making false statements to attract attention. When the discovers this kind of behaviour, the good reputation of the entire is at risk. Remember this: If someone can be dishonest for you, he may just as easily be dishonest to you.
In my personal opinion that’s what a specialist in PR should do and I it IS in fact what the role should entail. However, same believe that good PR is using whatever method, honest or not to get out of the situation or to save their reputation. Personally, as a so called ‘Gen-Z’, I see public scandals with bloggers and Instagram influencers every week. As a reader in the scandals, I look for honesty. I believe it depicts true remorse, responsibility and will to improve or be better. For example, a tiktok influencer Tony Lopez was recently involved in a scandal which involved him being accused of making inappropriate sexual advances to minors. I imagine that he was advised to stay silent on social media while the scandal arise as he went ghost on all social media platforms. He the released a statement saying he was going to do better, and it is getting resolved behind the scenes. This sort of response instigated a flood of comments asking, is he accepting responsibility or not? Therefore, in this case we don’t actually know the truth, however, I believe that it was the most appropriate response that was obviously advised by publicists. In this case he didn’t try and depict himself as a victim of allegations, nor did he try and lie himself out of it. However, people are always wanting and NEEDING the truth.
Working as a publicist or in the PR world it is vital that you deliver your job effectively and efficiently. I believe that there needs to be an established relationship with the employer and the PR specialist. There needs to be an understanding of moral similarity. For example, a business may aim to deliver honest responses, and if not, if they aim to deliver responses to save themselves, whether it be honest or dishonest, then the employee needs to be ok with that.
This is only a slight overview of this topic. I will explain further in my next blog thank you for reading.
Caoimhe Cullinan is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University.
*Inserts Covid-19 related quote along with sentence on how the world has been turned upside down, back around and discuss the fear of uncertainty.*
I’m as optimistic as they come but I can’t be 100% honest in saying lockdown 1 was a walk in the park…it hasn’t for any of us by any means but I think I speak for many people when I say we’re now just riding the wave, waiting to get back to shore – no one is deep diving and breast stroking their way faster than others, we’re all in the same boat.
Working from home has been a breath of fresh air for many and a nightmare for others. Connectivity issues, loud pets, lack of motivation and distractions are some of the many barriers people have had to eliminate in order to find themselves performing at an efficient and effective level.
I’ve been lucky to have a mixture of both, after returning back into the office in June I’ve now had a staggered schedule which include a few days at home, a day to catch up with university work and the rest spent in the office (socially distanced of course).
With shorter days, colder weather and the threat of a second lockdown in December looming over us, the motivation levels have also got shorter and colder to say the least. When it comes to relating to specific quotes and motivational speeches, I’ve kept it pretty basic and there’s really been one that resonates with me this time round = JUST DO IT!
Do it to get the job done, do it to reach the word count, do it to finish that report, do it to make yourself feel better.
JUST DO IT!
I’ve found making slight changes in my routine & staying consistent has helped me keep focused and follow the day through with productivity at an all-time high so I thought why not share this with some of you. It might help, it might not but it’s worth a shot – if you do anything different that you can recommend, let me know I would love to hear your recommendations.
Consistent Morning Routine
Try waking around the same time every morning, you may start work at 8AM so maybe it’s best to not wake up at 7:55AM…yes you might get an extra few minutes in bed but we all know you wake up flustered, groggy & generally not prepared to take the day on. If you really love your extra time in bed, maybe pick a Friday to lay on. (Treat Yourself)
2. Get Dressed
Now when I speak about this point, I’m guilty of being miss professional on zoom from the waist up and miss loungewear from the waist down. After all, comfort is key so make the effort…even if this means changing from one pair of pyjamas to the next.
3. Make a list
This is one I swear by, in office and at home. I prefer the old fashioned way of writing down a list into my diary and ticking off as I go along. Many people prefer doing this on their devices and that’s perfectly fine, whatever works for you. Anything to keep track of what you have to do, this not only keeps you accountable for your actions but also allows you to reflect on what has been accomplished at the end of each day.
4. Network with others in your industry
As I’ve said, we’re all in the same boat looking for great ideas and recommendations to make our lives just a little bit easier. Share your best tips on LinkedIn or on your own favourite platform, even if it helps one person you’ve done a great job! Speaking with others within your industry will also give you an insight into what’s out there at the minute in terms of free courses, webinars & podcast episodes which will help you level up.
5. Go the extra mile…it’s not as long as it seems
All this extra time at home gives you the perfect opportunity to improve your skills. We’ll never (hopefully) get this chance to be at home with nowhere to go again, so take it in your stride and get productive. There are SO many free beneficial courses available, industry specific ones too that will look great on your CV along with your LinkedIn channel. REVISE – UTILISE – STRATEGISE.
6. Be authentic to your true self
If something does not feel right or you feel like you could add to a campaign by sharing your ideas = do it. You don’t ask you don’t get; you don’t contribute you don’t get featured. Even on the other end of the scale, if you feel pressured with work and need to take some time to catch up, speak out, this is NOT a sign of weakness or a sign that your incapable of handling your work load. If you have a strong & caring support group around you they will be more than happy to help you out…trust me.
I really could go on all day about there being so many tips, guides, and resources out there which can help all of us in many ways:
Those still working from home who need extra motivation.
Those transitioning back to office wanting to find their groove again.
Those who are seeking for new opportunities & want to add to their CV and personal brand.
Those looking for new job roles who want to increase their social media presence on a professional basis.
Of course I had to add in a few courses and free E-Books which I’ve found beneficial and valuable…you might too!