In recent years we have seen huge shift in the way we interact with the Public, there are so many things that have been deemed as Racist, Sexist, Ageist etc etc..

With the rise of Social media and the sheer volume of people that can be reached there is now a wider audience of people with different backgrounds, religions, beliefs and races. This presents modern PR professionals with a lot to consider when creating a Campaign, Advert or Press Release. More often than not we have seen this go very wrong for some people/businesses online.

Take Comedian and Actor David Walliams, This Halloween he has dressed up as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

This caused a media storm in which the Actor was widely accused of being Racist, while others leapt to his defence stating “Have a sense of humour”.  It was this widespread debate that unfolded over Twitter was the reason I thought of writing this piece.

I personally found this funny, I found that given that it was Halloween and likeness to the leader of North Korea it wasn’t hurting anyone. I’m sure that if the Leader of North Korea wanted to dress up as the comedian there wouldn’t be as many people saying that is racist. A lot of people have seen this as racist and given that the actor has taped his eyes. I can certainly see how this could be seen as offensive and I am in no way condoning his actions. As ever Twitter became the melting pot for yet another media debacle. Below are a few of the reactions from the users of twitter.

Another issue is that of Sexism, in what is a female led Public Relations Industry where 64% of the employees are female, I may be in the minority with my thinking that it is much easier for women to express themselves than men in today’s society. Although, It is a scandalous that in fact that there is such a huge pay gap between men and women as a study conducted by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) of salaries across 432 organisations reveals that men in senior management positions are likely earning on average £11,606 more than their female peers, putting the pay gap at 26.8 per cent when taking into account bonuses, and perks like car allowances and commission.  (

However can you imagine what the media reaction to a male host revealing a female model in the way that Ellen DeGeneres has done in the picture below. Or how a writer for the tab went around the Holylands in Belfast looking for the best looking Boys in O’Niell’s gear. I can imagine that there would be many a claim of sexism and sexually objectifying woman! I feel that this points towards the idea of double standards. However, I am not saying this is a bad thing as we all know that Sex does sell as it always has, however what has changed in how we portray that message to different genres.

Which brings me to my final point, has the world gone crazy with Political Correctness? Or does PR as an industry be more careful with what we do and say.

This is a debate that I feel will not go away overnight. However, I feel that in the direction we are going, we are going to be limiting ourselves in what we do and say. As Abraham Lincoln put it “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”. And with that I would like to add that doesn’t mean we abandon all Human Decency and become racist and sexist. Taste your words before you speak them. (SOMEONE PLEASE TELL DONALD TRUMP). With Stereotypes or Demographics playing such a huge role in how business and organisations target their audiences I feel it is only natural that they will play a part in Advertisements, Campaigns and almost all of our work, the balance has to be found where people of all genders and races are treated equally and portrayed as such in these campaigns.

Here is an interesting link to an debate on Sunday morning live from July 2017.

Also here are a few examples that have caused a stir over the past few years.


Curtis Cregan is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be contacted on Twitter: @CurtisCregan17, and Instagram: @CurtisCregan7.

Battle of the Christmas Ads


Advertising and Public Relations are two very different things. While advertising is a paid announcement shared on various media outlets, PR is a strategic communications process that works on building relationships for the company.

HOWEVER, having said that, when advertising becomes a sort of company tradition it could also be important for the company’s PR as it can help to develop consumer relationships and improve the perception of the company. This is never more relevant than right now with the epic annual battle of the Christmas ads well under way.  So let’s use these as a way to explore how advertising and PR can be linked.

John Lewis:

Let’s just imagine John Lewis didn’t run a Christmas ad next year? What would the consumer response be? Absolute outrage! Christmas would be cancelled and it would be all John Lewis’s fault.  Okay that might be a slight exaggeration but you can be absolutely sure that their reputation would suffer.

From 2007 John Lewis have launched creative Christmas themed advertisements to put their store in the consumer’s mind just before they start to spend. But in 2011 they used their Christmas ad to do so much more when they launched “The Long Wait.”

This ad was the first of theirs to create and follow a story; the story of a young boy who couldn’t wait for Christmas. He tried to use magic to move the clocks forward and rushed to sleep on Christmas Eve. Not because he wanted his own presents but because he couldn’t wait to give one to his parents. It didn’t show any of their products and instead focused on creating an emotional connection with their consumers to cement their reputation as a company that understood what really mattered during the holidays.

Now every November consumers wait, with their Christmas jumpers at the ready, for the next ad to send them into a festive frenzy. Many believe that this ad is key in starting off the Christmas season. How can an annual tradition of Christmas ads which makes this company synonymous with festivity, giving and Christmas joy not be seen as an integral part of maintaining their image and relationships with consumers?


I’m sure everyone reading this is well aware of the Coca-Cola Christmas truck ads. I would even be brave enough to say there is no other Christmas ad which so clearly influences a company’s PR activities than this. Started in 1995 the “Holidays are Coming” advert which featured the Coca-Cola Christmas trucks has now been on our screens annually for over twenty years. This advertisement has also gone on to inspire Coca-Cola’s annual PR event known as the Coca-Cola Christmas truck tour in which consumers are invited to come to various cities to watch these iconic Christmas trucks drive by. This ad and the corresponding events have done a lot to develop good relationships with Coca-Cola lovers.


However, given that it’s 2016, the year of shock and chaos, now seemed to be as good a time as any to finally make a change to this iconic advert. This year Coca-Cola removed Santa’s wink to the young boy at the end. This has caused havoc on twitter with some fans even considering creating a petition to #bringbackthewink. The fact that this small change could evoke such a passionate response shows that these advertisements have become an important part of many consumers’ Christmases and therefore can have a huge impact on their relationship with and perception of the company.

All’s Fair in Love and Ad Wars:

These two might be the most iconic and renowned, but nowadays it seems that every company can see the value in creating a formal salute to the holidays. Don’t get me wrong: I’m sure increasing profit is still the end game here. But companies would be foolish to disregard the importance of that fuzzy feeling consumers get when they watch a doll find a home at Christmas (McDonalds link below). It can create a great sense of connection with the brand and if done right and for long enough like in the case of Coca-Cola and John Lewis, it can inspire positive relationships and even further events.

Some great ads that have caught my eye this year are:



Dementia Ad


Three Network (sequel to 2015 Christmas Ad)


Chloe Peoples is a 2nd year CAM student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on Twitter @ChloePeeps or on LinkedIn at