Marie Curie – sharing memories this Christmas!

So, that time of the year again – its Christmas season!

And what’s more typical for Christmas than a huge tree covered in lights?

I agree, nothing! Who doesn’t love a huge, green, tinsel-covered monster in the corner of the room?

…but, what Marie Curie have done blows all of us average-Joes out of the park.

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As the hustle and bustle of Christmas begins, it’s easy to forget about what’s important. It’s not about the presents, or the fancy clothes or the big turkey dinner (although they are all additional positives!).

It’s about spending time and making memories with family and friends while we get the chance!

Every day we see more and more negative posts on social media whether it be politics and the latest news story, a not-so-uncommon celebrity scandal or Phil from down the road ranting about the local pub prices.  *YAWN*

However, this Christmas, the terminal illness charity Marie Curie, have created the world’s first ‘memory-powered’ Christmas tree.

Placed in front of the iconic London Eye on the Southbank, this visual spectacle started on the 4th of the month and runs right up until December 17th.

Each of the individual fairy lights on the tree will be powered by people sharing their memories on Twitter and Instagram by using the hashtag #LightUpXmas.

In other words, the more people that post using the hashtag, the brighter the lights will shine.

Simple but GENIUS!

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The tree brings the charity to life as it serves as an important reminder of the work Marie Curie do providing care and support to people living with a terminal illness, some of whom will be trying to enjoy what might be their last Christmas with their family.

This piece of art symbolises the light that Marie Curie brings to every individual they help. It highlights how they allow families to spend Christmas together, making special memories with their loved ones.

A Marie Curie representative stated,

‘We’ve launched the memory-powered Christmas tree, to show the importance of creating positive memories, and show support for people living with terminal illnesses.’

You can share your special memories on Twitter or Instagram using #LightUpXmas – it could be any happy memory – your first memory, a Christmas memory or a memory of a loved one you’ve lost.

Marie Curie work tirelessly throughout the year helping thousands of families across the UK dealing with terminal illness.

It’s one of those things that you don’t really think about until you’re in the situation, right? Hopefully, this wonderfully thought out idea will bring the charity the recognition and awareness which they deserve.

Below is examples of posts which thousands have already shared – just AMAZING.

 

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Come on, if this doesn’t melt your heart and get you in the Christmas spirit I don’t know what will and if you haven’t already, get sharing – Let’s light up London this Christmas!

A heart-warming, eye-watering and just downright beautiful PR stunt by the charity. 10 out of 10 for inventiveness and execution in my opinion.

BRAVO, Marie Curie!

 

Lauren Kearns is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University, Jordanstown. You can reach her on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/lauren-kearns-90819710b

Life Advice from a 3-year-old

Life Advice from a 3-year-old

A doting godmother to a 3-year-old boy, I am constantly amused and intrigued by Jude (biased I know). Whether it be his fascination currently with thinking the word ‘poo poo head’ is so funny or his constant questioning of EVERYTHING, he definitely has a fresh and light hearted look on the world. Which got me thinking, could we benefit from approaching life like a 3-year-old?

A few things I have observed from this blue eyed boy with a devilish grin can definitely be applied to ‘adult life’ (or the beginning of it for most of us).

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He never says “I can’t”

If his brother says “See how far you can go if you jump off the sofa” he will. If I tell him to try and lift me up to see how strong he is, he will. Granted, I go on my tip toes to pretend he lifted me, but he still looks at someone three times his height and doesn’t think twice to wrap his tiny arms around my legs and give it a go.

Jude doesn’t think of setbacks, obstacles or any reason as to why he can’t do anything. He charges in, gives it a go and if it doesn’t work out – oh well. Either on to the next thing, or he will keep trying until he can.

He never gives up

If he wants a drink of your coke, he will get a drink of your coke. No, it’s not giving in – it’s giving my head peace! Jude will climb on top of you, climb on top of the table, constantly ask and talk about this glass of coke – anything until he gets what he wants. Once he gets a sip, he’s happy and away.

So if you don’t get the first job you applied for, you apply for another. And another, and another and another, until you get the job you want. It won’t come easy, but if you give up it won’t come at all. This is in all areas of your life – the cliché of “nothing worth having ever came easy”. Yep, even Jude knows that.

He constantly asks Why?

All. The. Time. The first 8 are alright, but when you’re knee deep into the 23rd why, you just answer “because”.

“I have to go to the shop now”

“Why”

“To get some dinner”

“Why”

“Because I’m hungry and we eat dinner in the evening don’t we?”

“Why”

You get the point.

But why don’t we ask why? We are dangerously slipping into a culture of acceptance. That’s just how things are, that’s just how the world works, it’s been like that for years it won’t change now.

Constantly, news articles are accepted as they are. Why did the Journalist write about that topic? Have they an agenda for the politician they are writing about? Is it really true that coconut oil is the best oil for us because these bloggers all use it? The answer to that one is no by the way – it is the same as any other plant based oil.

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He keeps it simple

You are either happy or sad. Big or small. Hungry or full. In a 3-year-old’s mind the world is simple. Yes, they are oblivious to many ‘grown up’ things, but for the most part, they are pretty tuned in.

Jude can tell if you are sad, and if you are sad Jude will try and make you laugh to make you feel better, or give you a hug. That is simple. Problem + remedy = solution. And you know what, it always works. So why don’t we keep it simple?

We are always over complicating things. Over complicating situations, over complicating assignments and deadlines, over complicating our lives. Strip it down and make it simple.

  • Is what you are doing right now making you happy? No.
  • Do you know what makes you happy? Yes.
  • Well why don’t you stop doing what makes you unhappy and do what makes you happy? I don’t have time. I don’t know how to start. It’s too hard. Scrap those excuses and just do it. Simple.

And finally, he always finds the fun in things

Cleaning up the toy room? We can make this fun; I’ll throw the toys see can I get them into the box. Long car journey? Ok, I’m going to sing some songs and see how many birds I can see.

In a stressed out, serious world, it’s easy to become bogged down with must-dos and have-tos. Find the fun things in everyday tasks like playing your favourite music when doing housework or better yet, make time to do things you enjoy or to spend time with people who make you laugh. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.

From someone whose day consists of breakfast, nursery, playtime, dinner, bath and bed, Jude has a very good outlook on life. Not to say he doesn’t have his bad days where he falls or throws a wobbler – but when he has his bad days he brushes them off very quickly and moves on (another thing we can learn).

Keeping things simple, always having a laugh, never giving up, always questioning, not sweating the small stuff and believing he can – I think he’ll do alright if he keeps that attitude up.

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Lauren Toal is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University, Jordanstown. You can follow her on Twitter @laurentoal5 or reach out on LinkedIn at  https://uk.linkedin.com/in/laurentoal.

With great power comes great responsibility…

With great power comes great responsibility…

We all want to see ourselves as somewhat ‘superheroes’ in whatever profession we find ourselves in. Something which we can be proud of when some asks the question, what is it you do for a living? Some are doctors, some are nurses, firemen and women, others, well others are PR practitioners.

What is a PR practitioner’s super power I hear you ask? The power of persuasionpow-1601674_960_720

Every day we are being exposed to thousands of messages, all persuading us to act or do something a certain way! It can be done through a restaurant’s drool-worthy Instagram of the food or the day or a popular influencer showing off an upcoming collection from a brand – this doesn’t seem too frightening, right? Right!

So why does this word leave such a foul taste in a PR practitioner’s mouth? Why do some feel it veers a little too close to propaganda? PR is all about persuasion! It’s not a dirty word, it’s not a word that should be whispered in the dead of night in a dark lit alley. Instead of wearing the art of persuasion like a badge of honour, we shy away from it, we purposely leave it out of definitions of the industry.

All PR practitioners don’t use their powers for evil, this is a common myth amongst publics and journalist who sometimes forget about the positive effect we can have in society through the power of persuasion.

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Take a look at these next examples to highlight how life changing working in the PR industry can be!

Turning ‘left over women to power women’

The social expectation of China, is to marry young. Anyone over the age of 25 and who isn’t yet married is referred to as ‘Sheng Nu’ which translates to, ‘left over woman.’  In Shanghai, parents will pay to post ads and find matches for their children at the Marriage Market. The ads will list weight, height, income and a description of either their son or daughter’s personality. The children being advertised may not even know their ad is being listed.

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The Marriage Market in Shanghai.

A beauty brand in China, SK-II released a video in 2016 which promoted a woman’s right to exercise her freedom and to choose when she gets married and more importantly, who she gets married to. As part of this campaign, women who chose to defy their parents’ wishes and social pressure, printed images of themselves throughout the Marriage Market and with the tag lines delivering messages to their parents. One was, “I don’t want to get married for the sake of marriage. I won’t live happily that way.”

The campaign was designed to persuade and change the Chinese traditional way of thinking, not to marry for the sake of being married before becoming a ‘leftover woman,’ but to be proud of their daughters maybe unconventional, yet passionate views on marriage. See the campaign in action:

 

 

Like my addiction

This health campaign captured the world’s attention and inspired PR practitioners alike. Although a tad deceitful, it was all in good faith.

The Instagram account of Louise Delage documented a young girl’s flashy, jet set lifestyle causing her to gain 18,000 followers and an average of 50,000 likes per post in a short space of time. Although having an Instagram account is completely the norm for young adults these days, there was one problem.

Louise Delage didn’t exist.

The account was set up by a French PR agency on behalf of their health care client, Addict Aide. The campaign drew young adult’s attention to how easy it is to ignore the signs of addiction, but by liking the picture or video, you are also enabling it. It persuaded people to keep a watchful eye over people who may be suffering from addiction and notice silent cries for help.

Watch this eye opening campaign here:

 

 

Astonishingly, when the plot was revealed, the story was published in over 140 articles, it became a trending topic on Twitter and there was massive traffic to the Addict Aide website, bear in mind little money was given to promote the campaign. It was all through social media.

These amazing campaigns were only a few examples of the amazing things PR can do and the positivity it can spread.

Proving PR practitioners are not your stereotypical manipulative masterminds you see on movies or TV shows, they aim not just to highlight tough issues, but also provide solutions to tackle it, to change outdated suppressive social conventions and present a more forward thinking world.

From your friendly neighbourhood practising PR practitioner,

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Annie Shivers is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. She is on Twitter at @ShiversAnnie and LinkedIn https://uk.linkedin.com/in/annie-shivers-9085b810a

 

 

 

 

 

This Little Piggy Made A Blunder

As many of the posts on this blog have explored, social media can be an excellent tool for communicating with customers and promoting your brand. This, however, is dependent on how the brand utilises it. On Tuesday, October 17th, a Twitter user by the name of Heather Peacock (@heatherpea) posted an image of a sign outside of a school, stating “Skinnypigs will make you look better naked”.

Heather questioned how a school might not be the most appropriate place for this content; and another user by the name of Sarah (@sarahdavywrites) echoed her sentiment, going on to suggest how these types of statements can translate into body shaming.

The company in question responded. It got messy.

Continue reading “This Little Piggy Made A Blunder”

Once upon a placement…

In June 2016 I began my placement in The Walt Disney Company EMEA in London as Regional Communications intern for Disney Channels.

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Writing this now it is hard to believe that it has been four months since I have finished my year-long (AMAZING) placement with Disney and as this is my first ever blog post I thought that an insight into the best year and experience of my life would be a great place to start.

This was my first job in PR and in the beginning I had zero confidence and like most people beginning their placement journey I did doubt my ability and was hyper conscious of doing a good job and completing every task to the very best of my ability. I also had the added worry of moving to London, a city where I didn’t have a network of family or friends. Daunted about the prospect of tubes and the size of London when I first arrived I can honestly say it is an amazing city and living in London has made me more independent person. It is a city I am very glad to have called home for a year.

Looking back I am very proud of myself for taking the plunge as it was the best decision I have ever made.

My role was Regional Communication Intern for Disney Channels and I was across franchises such as Star Wars and Marvel.

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The Regional Communications team supports campaigns in Europe, Middle East and Africa. On a day-to-day basis I liaised with PR managers across EMEA – this involved ad hoc requests, distributing assets, setting up phone opportunities with talent, playing a key role in organising asset creation days and talent tours and EMEA coverage reporting.

I was extremely lucky to have such a wonderful team who encouraged me and gave me roles of responsibility throughout my time as an intern. In addition the strong network of interns enhanced the experience even more.

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As the only Irish girl in my department there was a slight language barrier in the beginning and the spelling of my name confused 99.9% of the people I worked with, experiencing more variations on the pronunciation of my name than I can even remember! But my Irish brogue and slang did provide many entertaining moments and laughs I still look back on – explaining an appropriate response to “what’s the craic” being a highlight!

The PR department in Disney is very busy but it is best just to dive right in and learn as much as possible by absorbing all the information you hear and by taking advantage of every experience there is too offer.

My top five placement tips from my time with Disney:disney5

  • Communication

Obvious to start with I know, but good and continuous communication with your managers and supervisors is key to ensure that you complete every task to the best of your ability and to manage your work load.

It is also vital, especially in PR to make contacts and the best way to start that is through effective communication, taking note of who you are communicating with and what you want to achieve.

Throughout this experience I have relied strongly on the ability to communicate effectively whether it be through good interpersonal skills or clarity, focus and accuracy in my writing skills which are the foundations of effective communication in PR.

  • Organisation is key

Without sounding too like Monica in Friends, organisation is Vital. I had my trusty diary and my daily to do list by my side at all times to ensure that I kept up with deadlines and important dates and embargoes. By keeping a diary of key dates and events this ensures that you have a more informed view of what’s happening around you. A placement student that is highly organised with key information on hand stands out.

  • Participate

No idea is ever too small or too silly, as Walt Disney once said, “I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing, that it was all started by a mouse.”disney3

In the beginning I was hesitant to put forward ideas especially in a group context but as the year progressed I began to understand that no idea is a silly idea and that your managers are eager to hear what we as placement students think. Don’t forget we are the social media generation: we are a useful tool to PR practitioners.

  • It is ok to make mistakes

The age old mantra “you learn from your mistakes”. I found this to be very true. Everyone makes mistakes as long as your correct your mistake and learn from it, as one wise person in Disney once said to me, “its PR not ER”.

  • Lots of tea and treats

My wonderful managers had a slight addiction to tea and throughout my year on placement I found that a cup of tea and a biscuit goes a long way especially on a busy day!

New experiences can be daunting and at times quite beastly but just remember, the beauty is that you get out what you put in.

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Caoimhe Fitzpatrick is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @caoimhef_95