Public Relations in the Digital Age

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

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

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

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

Social Media Management

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

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

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

PR Solutions and Globalising

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

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

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

Cultural Practitioner

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rapport & Communications

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

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Reference List

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NEVER STOP LEARNING

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

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

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

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

I was wrong on both counts…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*don’t @ me for any academic decline

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

A Series of Unfortunate Events

“Any publicity is good publicity” not always true, right? PR wouldn’t be the same without the odd (I say odd lightly) reputation-damaging blunders right? There are endless amounts of contenders for the biggest PR disasters ever – however, we haven’t got ALL day – so I’m going to narrow this down to three – oh so many to choose from!

  1. Pepsi’ ad with Kendall Jenner

The internet was in uproar of April 2017 after a Pepsi ad featuring the ever so famous Kendall Jenner was aired. The short advert shows the model strolling up to a political protest – resolving it by simply handing out a can of Pepsi, however this advert was branded extremely insensitive, given the divided political climate which was going on in the United States at that time. Of course twitter went into melt down, ends on ends of tweets circulating the twitter world. Below are just some of the tweets which went viral after this tasteless ad.

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Just one day after the ad aired Pepsi apologised and removed it from the internet. You can view the famous ad that sent the twitter world into chaos on the link below.

The company released the following statement, “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace, and understanding. Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologise. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are removing the content and halting any further roll out. We also apologise for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.”

However, Pepsi were hit with a stroke of luck, as United Airlines came along and stole the thunder with their own PR disaster, causing the wind to blow over on the Pepsi ad controversy and the internet’s fury to redirect to United Airlines – talk about perfect timing!

2) United Airlines

2017 seems to be the year of PR crises! United Airlines are never short of a PR crisis, I mean their practically professionals, from banning two girls from flying because they were wearing leggings to forcing a mother to hold her toddler in her lap for a full flight after giving away the toddlers paid seat to a standby passenger – however the worst has to be demanding an elderly doctor, David Dao, to leave their flight due to an overbooking, breaking his nose and knocking out teeth in the process – apparently! Understandably, when the video of the elderly man being forcibly removed from the aircraft by officers went viral in 2017, the public went into meltdown, some even still mentioning the Pepsi controversy – no-one ever forgets.

 

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz addressed the situation stating, “This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologise for having to re-accommodate these customers.” He also called the doctor “disruptive and belligerent” which of course did not settle the public’s outrage, if anything it made it worse, resulting in many people calling for Oscar Munoz’ removal.

You would like to think that these crew members knew that when Mr Dao refused to leave the plane willingly, it was going to end Ugly with a capital U! Let’s be real, this was never not going to be caught on video and go viral! Shame on United Airlines.

3) H&M

H&M also hit a serious reputation crisis after the image of a black African-American boy modelling a jumper reading “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” hit social media. The company faced serious backlash with accusations of racism. Of course twitter users were quick to jump on to slam and shame the advertisement, many people had a lot to say, including New York Times columnist Charles Blow:

 

Although H&M did react quickly, pulling the ad and the jumper and issuing an apology, “We sincerely apologize for offending people with this image of a printed hooded top, the image has been removed from all online channels and the product will not be for sale. We believe in diversity and inclusion in all that we do and will be reviewing all our internal policies accordingly to avoid any future issues.” However, the damage was done and could not be undone. It caused the company to lose a huge brand collaborator, The Weeknd, as he vowed not to work with them again.

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This incredibly viral – for all the wrong reasons – crisis certainly left people wondering why and how somebody with H&M did not spot that this advertisement of a black child in a hoodie with the slogan “Coolest monkey in the Jungle” may be seen as racist, still do this day I ask myself how?

 

Niamh Cosgrove is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/niamh-cosgrove-62b986131/Twitter: @niamhcosgrove 

Has PR lost all Credibility in 2018?

The term PR can unsurprisingly evoke a feeling of doubt in people’s minds. PR can be seen as way the media twist the truth in an attempt to deliver a certain message. The element of persuasion can sometimes overshadow judgement and cast a damaging light on PR. However this is not the case, PR today has emerged significantly from what people may relate it back to as propaganda. People are quick to criticise PR due to reports that PR shys away from persuasion as a form of propaganda as it can be argued that the purpose of PR is to manipulate opinions. In discovering the elements of professional and reliable information people can soon realise the credit associated through PR. The progress through the years proves that PR has become more credible through their relevant and trustworthy news sources.

 

It seems that anytime I tell someone I am doing a PR degree they recognise it as standing on street corners promoting clubs or creating publicly stunts for good advertising. It is not uncommon that PR can be misinterpreted as a means to sell or exploit. Fortunately this isn’t the case, PR has a lot more than just promotion and publicity stunts. One of the more famous stunts being the white Range Rover outside Harrods in 2016, which tactically used PR and advertising to promote their brand image for the new Revere Range Rover Vogue.

People often question what is PR and why is it needed. The PRCA describe PR as the way in which organisations communicate with the public, promote themselves and build reputation and public image (Prca.org.uk, 2017). PR is in fact the back bone to organisations positively communicating key messages to consumers. Every organisation no matter who small depends on their reputation therefore PR is needed to promote survival and success in the most competitive of industries.
The world of PR is chaotic and crazy but for all the right reasons. The PR industry invites you to experience things you never imagined and learn things you never knew. Credibility is merely a small element of PR that is unfortunately sometimes negatively portrayed. Influencers and brand ambassadors create the perfect platform for organisations to promote their brand messages to their target audience and building upon their reputation. Aristotle used the term Ethos throughout PR which is given to a character such as a celebrity endorser or influential figure which gives the organisation more credibility.

 

The intensity and multitude of information and messages throughout PR in today’s modern world are at an all time high. So of course there are elements of exaggeration within the media but more importantly there is logical information that the public can rely on. The truth is that PR is everywhere you go and it is nearly impossible to escape it. There is a mass of messages and promotions in every aspect of life and it is important that we use these opportunities effectively to communicate the right message.
However the right message may not always be that simple to communicate. PR may not always be controlled and positive PR can always turn in to negative PR, which is something to consider. NYPD proved this through their social media request of asking the public to send in positive pictures with the police, which of course didn’t last too long and were bombarded with negative images and PR.

 

Although, it can be certain that PR is focused on promoting an organisations image and reputation, there is so much more planning and preparation involved. Today’s PR professionals have to processes a variety of skills within a competitive workplace. PR practitioners support their consumers and the public by communicating messages truthfully and effectively, ultimately creating a mass of credible PR.

Caoimhe Conway is a 4th year Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University, Jordanstown. She can be found on Twitter: @caoimhe_conway /  Instagram: caoimheconway / LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/caoimhe-conway-bb0b03152/

PR in the NHS

At a time when the five Health Trusts in Northern Ireland need to make combined savings of up to £70 million in their health care budgets, it is understandable that people question where the NHS money is spent. A common debate is the NHS’ spending on Public Relations.

PR is usually one of the areas that is attacked when it comes to NHS expenditure. For example, Jonathan Isaby, CEO of the Taxpayers Alliance stated in 2014, “Taxpayers expect the health budget to be spent on real doctors, not spin doctors.”

CIPR were quick to defend the role of Healthcare Communicators believing their role involves “Life changing and lifesaving work.” The NHS needs to engage with the public and tackle healthcare issues. This cannot be done without professional PR support, PR is not just about ‘spin’.

From my placement year, working as a Communications Intern in the South Eastern Trust, I learnt the importance of PR in the NHS and witnessed first-hand the misconceptions associated with working in PR.

For example, when I was seen attending events taking photographs or filming, people often said, “Your job seems so fun and easy taking photos and using Facebook.”

However, people do not realise the amount of time and effort put behind photographs: arranging large and often reluctant groups of people for a group photograph, gathering accurate information to accompany the photo in a press release, editing on Photoshop when necessary. Also, the time taken to film and direct original footage along with editing and gaining approval from the organiser before anything is released. There is a lot more effort, time and skill needed behind the scenes!

Below is a summary of what a NHS Press Officer Role entails, proving PR is not just about ‘spin’:

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Without Public relations staff in the NHS the following questions may arise:

1. Who would update the public on important issues?

Who is going to inform the public about the pressures on the Emergency Department this winter? If people are not aware of their own minor injuries unit open times or the self-help resources to use at home, they are most likely to visit busy A&E Departments and increase the pressure on staff.

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2. Who is going to recognise and promote staff’s achievements?

The NHS employs approximately 64,000 staff in Northern Ireland. Press Officers in the NHS source and publish good news stories on the fantastic work staff do. Recognising staff achievements creates a high moral and sense of appreciation among staff, which leads to a more passionate workforce who want to strive to work to these standards.

The PR team in the NHS also share patient’s positive experiences that may have otherwise not been printed by journalists who usually favour bad news stories that get more hits. Highlighting a patient’s positive experience can boost the Trusts reputation.

3. Who would keep employees and the public up to date on events and important information?

PR professionals in the NHS inform the public and staff of innovations within the trust through various communication channels. Without a PR, who would inform the local population of key decisions within the Trusts, such as the recent cost saving proposals?

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PR is also used to promote important health awareness campaigns such as cancer and stop smoking campaigns, raising awareness of signs and symptoms and the help available in the local area which can be lifesaving.

4. Who would manage Reputation?

Public Relations is all about managing reputation– protecting, maintaining, building and managing reputation.

A strong reputation is important for the NHS, considering the amount of bad publicity it usually receives. If the NHS did not hire PR professionals who would handle the 24-hour demand for news and answer the medias queries promptly and correctly? Certainly not front line staff would not have the time or experience to do this. PR professionals in the NHS help shield staff and patient’s identity from the media and some cases stop unethical stories being printed- helping to avoid a crisis.

It is especially important that the NHS has a good reputation as this attracts the right staff and builds good moral amongst the people that work there.

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As Bill Gates famously said, “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.” This emphasises that even if money is low, it is crucial to keep investing in PR to ensure a large organisation such as the NHS is run effectively.

There are endless reasons why PR is central to achieving effective healthcare. The NHS needs the resources, both internal and external, to enable this.

So, is PR in the NHS a waste of money? Definitely not.

Elizabeth Owens is a final year BSc Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on Twitter @eowens12_ or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elizabethowens32/ 

Look What ‘PR’ Makes Taylor Do – she’s not ‘really’ dead…

I’ll admit, I’m a self-confessed Taylor Swift fan – I’m a ‘Swiftie’ – and yes, I’m proud of it.

However, if you’re not a fan and have absolutely zero interest in her (or her cats or ‘squad’) then first of all: we can’t be friends. Second: don’t worry, this won’t be some typical fan-girl blog… but when one of the most influential, successful and talked about music-moguls in the WORLD, just released her new album titled ‘REPUTATION’ and we have been set the task to write PR Blogs?

Well, this was a no-brainer (and I’m joking about my first point, promise!)

Thumbs up Taylor Swift

Yes, it can be said that I’ve been through every ‘Swift era’; from the ‘old’ guitar-playing, curly-haired, country teen singing about Romeo and Juliet, to the sassy pop-star singing about the magical feelings of turning 22, to the 2014 Taylor who asked us all to ‘shake off’ the ‘haters and the players’ to the rebranded, shady ‘new’ “I don’t give af” DIVA that she is today.

So, how did Taylor manage to do this?

The answer is simple: she has a helluva-mighty PR team.

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Let’s take it back to the beginning… and THAT Kanye West infamous interruption at the 2009 VMAs when Taylor won Best Female Video. Kanye rolled up (sunglasses firmly on his head) and took her microphone “Yo, Taylor, I’m really happy for you and I’mma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time! All time!” (#ClassicKanye).

I’ll never forget Beyoncé’s shocked reaction, “Oh Kanye. Oh God.”

Oh God indeed. He was then booed off by the audience.

Kanye West Taylor Swift VMAs

Fast forward through the years and things had improved between the pair.

That is, until good ol’ Kanye strikes again. *cue eye-roll emoji here*

This time, in a reference about Tay in his 2016 song ‘Famous’ he claimed – “I made that b**** famous.” Swifty clearly wasn’t happy and called Kanye out at the GRAMMY’S (as you do). However, everybody knows Kim Kardashian, right?

Kanye’s wife who has a gazillion social media followers.

Kim claimed Taylor had approved the line and posted Snapchat videos of Kanye discussing one part of the song with Taylor… although this ‘evidence’ only showed Tay hearing one particular lyric.

“I swear I don’t love the drama – it loves me!” a lyric that sums up the Taylor Swift of Reputation, according to Rolling Stones.

Taylor’s nice girl ‘reputation’ in the public eye hit a low when Kanye and Kim ‘outed’ her and she was denounced the worst thing you could call someone in our modern-digital-era: a SNAKE *cue snake emoji*

This snake emoji followed Taylor on social media – no matter what she posted, she would be in-undated with thousands of snakes… so much so, Taylor was the first Instagram user in the world to disable comments from all posts.

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Then the most dramatic day of Taylor Swift history happened.

“They never see me coming – what I do next…” another lyric from Reputation (there’s a pattern forming…)

Described by the media as a “digital tsunami”, Swifty removed not just comments, but EVERYTHING on social media. Zero posts, tweets and unfollowed everybody in the process, leaving her 95.4 million Twitter followers, 102 million Instagram followers and 838,458 Facebook fans left in a limbo.

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 THEN THE SECOND MOST DRAMATIC DAY IN THE HISTORY OF TAYLOR SWIFT HAPPENED.

Her social media all at once posted a cryptic video of, well you’ve guessed it, a SNAKE.

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 Taylor repeats in her new album “my Reputation’s never been worse so…” but let’s not forget she “never goes out of style” and she’s not wrong. No matter what ‘bad rep’ Taylor Swift gets – there is definitely “no such thing as bad publicity” to the PR geniuses at Brand T-Swizzle who can spin just about anything.

Just like the omnipresent snakes on Taylor’s social platforms – Swifty’s team recognised she needed to ‘shed her skin’ crafting and re-inventing her with a new image (and attitude) in order to sell a multi-million number of her new albums.

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The album title ‘Reputation’ was a hint that she planned to address some of the controversies she’s dealt with in the past, and her album cover literally GLORIFIES the media with its newspaper style and use of classic font. This, as an iota (or two fingers), to the Media who have portrayed her in the light they have, since 2009.

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The ‘Taylor Swift’ we know isn’t just a person – she’s a BRAND, a case-study, a re-invention of character.

Look What You Made Me Do – the most-anticipated song of the year was released – and people were SHOOK by her lyrics directly addressing both Kanye West, and the Mass Media in general:

“The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now….

WHY?

Oh, ‘cause she’s DEAD”

Out with the old Taylor and in with the new, alongside an epic music video even mocking her previous personnas and literally OWNING what people were saying negatively about it her through the form of…. ‘the snake.’

Taylor Swift SNAKE

“I got smarter, I got harder in the nick of time. I mean, I rose up from the dead, I do it all the time” – indeed she does, or her PR team do anyways.

This comeback single is still being talked about, and hit Number 1 on worldwide iTunes for a straight consecutive 3 weeks, breaking all kinds of streaming service records in the process.

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Vanity Fair stated recently how social media has replaced the ‘traditional celebrity publicist,’ when a musician can announce a world tour through the form of a single tweet.

What did Taylor Swift do? Oh… she just announced her biggest world tour to date over the social media she deleted herself off previously. (You’re probs asking how I’ve kept up with all this…)

In total, Ticketmaster stated 2.5 million to 3 million tickets for the 44-date tour (including stops in the U.K., Ireland, Australia and New Zealand) sold out within minutes.

THIS is why Taylor Swift WINS at life basically.

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“Make no mistake, this girl’s love affair with DRAMA is alive and well,” according to Rolling Stones… but it also conveniently helps her sell just about anything she puts her name to.

Her life has evolved into a PR minefield, but to sum up this ‘drama’ of Taylor Swift to date…

I refer back to my title of this blog post:

Look what ‘PR’ makes Taylor do – she certainly is NOT dead.

 

Chloe Campbell is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/chloe-campbell-337b26152 / Facebook: Chloe Campbell.

Crisis communication – the winners and the losers

Reputation management is associated with many to be at the forefront of all PR communicative activities.

But what happens when crisis strikes?

The academic literature surrounding crisis management has detailed theories regarding how a PR practitioner should react when their organisation comes under fire.

Benoit’s theory suggests deniability and often evasion of responsibility, while the academic Coombs agrees that a PR practitioner and an organisation should be wary before assuming responsibility for the crisis. Haywood believes in a fast track approach of telling it all, telling it fast and telling true, where Winner urges caution, relaying limited information in a timely sensitive manner to the public.

Seemingly most PR practitioners may agree that each crisis will require different strategies and methods to combat the crisis.

The speed of social media’s advancement has seen PR practitioners go one or two ways – fear the consequence of potential mishaps or embracing the prospect of enhanced visibility for their clients or organisations.

There are many more examples of when using social media to defuse a crisis goes incredibly wrong, but for our first example, we’re going to focus on when it goes very, very right.

AS2Whilst they are usually responsible for distributing aid to others, American Red Cross had to come to its own aid years ago, when an employee assumed he was tweeting from his personal account when actually, he tweeted from the official Twitter of American Red Cross.

The tweet went something like this,

“Ryan found 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch beer… when we drink we do it right #gettingslizzerd.”

Whilst American Red Cross hilariously responded to the crisis,

“We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.”giphy-downsized

Although they deleted the rogue tweet, the internet never keeps anything secret and it’s still available through a simple Google search.

Some academics and PR practitioners urged caution when deleting such messages on social media, however in the case of American Red Cross, they recognised their error quickly, combined their crisis communication plan with a combination of humility and light hearted humour resulting in the crisis being quickly dissolved and presented the charity in perhaps a more favourable light than they were pre crisis.

Dogfish Head also jumped on the bandwagon promoting the hashtag and encouraging people to donate to the American Red Cross.

Speaking of which, here’s some links you can make your donation:

http://www.redcross.org.uk/

Moving swiftly on to our next example, a charity currently under extreme scrutiny, Oxfam.AS1

This is a prime example of when an organisation handles a crisis wrong. Firstly, in 2011 Oxfam suppressed emerging stories of sexual misconduct claims and sacked those responsible for this. Some PR practitioners would agree that if they had opened up about these claims initially, they would have instilled a degree of confidence in the charity and it would have protected their reputation in the long run.

Unfortunately for Oxfam, nothing these days can stay hidden for long. This, combined with the increased visibility social media inherits, means the consequences of this decision in 2011 have been detrimental to the company’s reputation. This acts as a warning for all organisations, emphasising the need for an organised and effective crisis management plan that combats and resolves the issue the organisation faces.

These case studies highlight not only how any organisation can fall victim to a crisis, but interestingly introduces the notion that charities are held to a much more stringent standard than other corporations.

Please spare a few minutes to fill out the questionnaire linked below answering questions on how you feel organisations should respond in a crisis:

https://ulstersocialsciences.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_5gXZ3FovumDIrZz

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