Ge ne uis or l’eau de chris?

Weirdest title ever? I know! Bear with me though there is a method to the….madness?

As this is my first blog post I should probably start by saying a few things about myself, I am a final year Communication Management and Public Relations student, I am on my 5th year of university after doing a year in Leeds studying Event Management. Unfortunately, that didn’t quite work out for me, so here I am 5 years on from leaving school, in Jordanstown approaching my last 9 months of university, oh also I am obsessed with my dog and love, love, love, Love Island!

Now I don’t exactly love, love, love Love Island, I could definitely still live without it but it leads me onto what this blog post is actually about.

It’s the 9th October 2017 and Chris Hughes, a contestant from summer ’17 series of Love Island has just released he will be partnering up with Topman, one of the UKs biggest high street retailers for men (and women, great for an oversized hoodie ladies!) to sell bottled water named L‘Eau de Chris, infused with his own tears. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook any social media platform you can think of went into melt down.

Now, if you haven’t heard or have no interest in the Love Island frenzy, Chris was known on the show for shedding a tear here and there, and rightly so, everyone has there moments, right? Everybody hopped on the band wagon “oh this is just another way for them to make money” “absolutely ridiculous, selling your own tears, you should be ashamed of yourself” to state but a few of the harsh tweets- I have inserted a few below to have a chuckle at when this was released, allowing a good 16 hours to pass of mixed reviews of his new business partnership, receiving praise from some and not so much praise from others. Over these 16 hours Chris allowed his followers to drop and rise, twitter to go crazy and Instagram to be bombarded with horrible comments, all whilst knowing the real reason behind his new “business venture”.

  

  

The plot thickens, Topman was not Chris Hughes newest venture, CALM- Campaign Against Living Miserably, a leading UK based charity to help against male suicide was.

This new campaign was in fact in aid of increasing awareness of male suicide, smart, eh?

Chris Hughes is now in fact one of the newest ambassadors for CALM and face of their campaign #dontbottleitup, this all came from his courage and openness whilst being featured on the show, as I said *or typed* before, everybody has their down moments so why keep it in, male or female? Chris Hughes has openly spoke about his problems with anxiety and how talking about problems and speaking openly has really helped him.

Chris stated in his interview with CALM “it’s like halving the problem straight away when you talk with someone about it” and that I completely agree with and commend him for how open he is, obviously I am a girl but by being around my brother, dad and boyfriend I know how hard it can be for men to show emotion or open up. There is that stigma now that men need to be ‘masculine’ and women are the ‘emotional’ ones but I completely dis agree and this is exactly why I think this PR campaign is one of the best social media has seen. Any suicide, male or female is absolutely horrendous and soul destroying, so campaigns like these are what is needed in this generation to get people talking, talking about their problems and opening up.

Okay, to the title, ‘Genius or Ludacris’ get it now?

The name behind the bottled water in the first place means Ludacris i.e. its Ludacris to feel like you should bottle it up, this was all very fitting as it was also World Mental Health Day, the day the initial campaign/prank was released.  After it the cat was out of the bag, opinions completely changed and so did the general public’s view on Chris Hughes, very quickly.

This whole campaign and PR stunt helped to spread the hashtag around not just the UK but around the world and really, I think that is the perfect venture for someone with his following and platform to go towards. Don’t get me wrong I can’t help but have ‘FOMO’ (fear of missing out), when I miss just one episode, I can’t be the only one to admit to that? But usually end up hating them all once they come out and take over my Instagram and twitter with their horrendous teeth whitening discount codes or new merch, but this changed my perception on Chris completely….and hopefully will change yours too!

Sarah Heath is a final year BSc in Communications Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @sarahmeganheath,  Instagram @sarahmeganjane, LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarah-heath-375053a6/

 

Under the Influence

When it comes to modern day businesses, Digital marketing is leaps and bounds ahead of all other forms of advertising. It’s expensive – companies are spending up to 1.5bn on Instagram alone – but its effectiveness means that big businesses have no hesitation in investing time, money and effort into it.

So where’s all that money going? The answer is that a lot of it is going straight into the pockets of influencers*. Influencers who are affecting our buying decisions everyday, without us evening realizing it.

*In case you’ve been living under a rock influencers can be described as “a user on social media who has established credibility in a specific industry. A social media influencer has access to a large audience and can persuade others by virtue of their authenticity and reach.”

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Basically, influencers are everyday people like you and me. They don’t have to be celebrities (although they’re often classed as one) and they don’t need to have a discernable talent or passion. Most of them just need a good iPhone camera and a cool looking selfie backdrop.

Do I sound bitter? Let’s move on.

Brands will send free PR packages to these ‘instagramers’ with as little as 5k followers in exchange for a ad post & a promo code to share with their friends, in the hope that their influence will result in more people buying their products. Gaining immense internet popularity allows an influencer to shape and impact their audience’s opinions on matters through blog posts, videos, pictures, tweets, and so on.

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And it works. In a recent report, 72% of millennials admitted to buying their fashion and beauty products based on the instagram posts of their favourite influencers. I mean, Jeffrey Star said this lipstick is amazing. So it has to be… right?

This is perhaps surprising, given that millennials often display a mistrust of those around them, be it previous generations, politicians, or people higher up in society. So why does a generation who claim to have so many trust issues have so much trust in the people they view on social media?

Well…because Millennials LOVE validation.

71% of people are more likely to make a purchase if they get a recommendation or validation from their peers or their favorite blogger. No matter how good a product may appear or claim to be, how can we be so sure? For me personally, buying a product is never simply a “add to basket” task anymore. When I spot that new eyeshadow palette I really want (but really don’t need) you can bet I’ll be looking up reviews on YouTube before buying it. Like yeah, I really want this – but what did Jordan Lipscombe think of it?

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Validation from our peers is just the same. Think of all the time’s you’ll do a catwalk for your besties of the 13 different outfits you’ve tried on and hated before having a breakdown and claiming to have NOTHING TO WEAR and are no longer going out. Despite your bed and bedroom floor being covered in more than enough clothes. But that’s part of the Scratch Monday routine really.

“People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising”.

– Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO and possible extraterrestrial who ironically talks about trusting people –

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Style envy

“Industry influencers in niches such as fashion and beauty hold a lot of sway over this consumer group,” Molz said. “They start trends, determine what’s cool and desirable, and curate the must-have items as fashion magazines used to do.”

In the noughties the public would have determined what they would have worn at the weekend by what the celebrities were wearing in the ‘style steal’ section of Closer, or copied that dress Angelina Jolie was wearing in the red carpet photo they seen in OK. This is no longer the case as instead of reading a magazine on the bus or whilst waiting on the kettle to boil, we’re scrolling through instagram. Companies must recognize and adapt to this and ask themselves ‘who has the hold over their their target audience?’ This is easy – bloggers and vloggers, publishers, YouTubers, etc.

“Getting their seal of approval could be key in pushing millennials further into the sales funnel.” According to the Collective Bias study, while shopping at a store, “60% consumers have been influenced by a social media post or a blog review.”

It’s all science

Despite the fact of having often millions of followers, more clothes than they could wear in a lifetime & earn 5 digits for a single instagram post (Zoella srsly gets £12k per instagram post) – influencers are still perceived as mostly ‘normal people’, therefore relatable for millennials. When it comes down to it, they don’t do much more than we do on a daily basis (still sorta bitter over this) except it’s shared with millions of people.

Our desire to be like our favourite influencer can be explained by the psychological concept ‘social proof’ which was popularized by psychologist Robert Ciadlini. Basically, whenever we don’t know what to do or how to act we look to others and imitate them, especially in times of crisis. Who knew that copying a makeup tutorial from your favourite youtuber and failing miserably is psychological.

Another psychological example of why influencers work is the halo effect. The halo effect is cognivite bias where we judge someone’s opinion based on our overall impression of them. Basically, if we start to enjoy someones content and have positive thoughts about them, anything they’re involved in becomes more positive to us. This is why influencer testimonial works. SCIENCE.

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Anyway, enough of that technical stuff. Back to the real world.

So yeah, innocently following a good looking instagrammer that you spotted on the explore page (wearing an outfit you can only dream being able to pull off) seems all fun and games, but who knew it’s contributing to our everyday life & companies are making MILLIONS FROM US. Is anything NOT strategic these days?

At the end of the day, social media is pretty toxic… so let’s just remember that the girl with 122k followers who we claim we’d DIE to look like (bit dramatic) gets her hair done every week for free in an exchange for a instagram post, is sent all her clothes in PR packages AND has access to any beauty treatment she wants – WHENEVER SHE WANTS IT, as long as she puts up a pic on the gram of her new lashes.

So for the sake of our own self worth – let’s stop comparing ourselves to them & stop being constantly under the influence.

Catherine Maguire is a 3rd year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University, currently on a placement year at The Irish News. She can be found on Instagram: catherinelauram and LinkedIn: Catherine Maguire

 

 

PR: GC style

Gemma Collins. “The GC”. Whatever you want to call her, she’s like Marmite. You either love her or hate her. And I love her. Here’s why.

How many of you have scrolled through pages upon pages on Facebook called ‘Gemma Collins memes’, ‘Gemma Collins reactions’ or ‘Gemma Collins appreciation page’?
How many of you have then proceeded to tag friends in the comments of said memes? And have you watched YouTube compilations of her best bits, be it on TOWIE, I’m a Celebrity or Celebrity Big Brother?
Yeah, I know you’re guilty.
I am too.
We’ve all done it, and we’ve all laughed.
A lot.

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* This quote is actually my friend’s Instagram bio. Literally just this quote. On it’s own.

The question is, are we laughing at Gemma, or with her?

Lines like “It’s GEMMA, you silly  c***” and “I’m claustrophobic Darren!” have become instantly recognisable from her stint in Celebrity Big Brother, and nobody can forget that helicopter ride on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. Gemma’s popularity on reality television has made her an internet sensation, and in a way the memes and videos circulating our newsfeeds have become free PR and marketing tools for Gemma and her various projects.

How? Well, you are constantly seeing her face everywhere you scroll. And it makes her hard to forget. Even organisations such as the BBC have got involved by posting this on their official BBC One Facebook page to brighten up everyone’s Monday:

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And, let’s not forget that infamous fall at Radio 1’s Teen Awards. For those of you who haven’t seen it, Gemma fell down a hole in the stage while presenting an award. And it was hilarious. Since then, the footage has gained millions of views online and it has contributed to Gemma’s persona as the butt of the joke. With all things considered, some may argue that the fall could have been a publicity stunt on Gemma’s part. She’s a clever woman, after all. Whether or not it was an accident, though, we have to ask ourselves:

Would it have been as funny if it were someone else?

No, definitely not.

A bit like Beyonce’s “Sasha Fierce”, or Christina Aguilera’s “Xtina”, “The GC” is a kind of alter-ego-like persona that Gemma has created in order to establish her personal brand. At the end of the day, Gemma Collins wasn’t always “The GC”. Before TOWIE, she sold used cars for a living. “The GC” is a social construct which has emerged out of Gemma’s realisation that we love it when she acts like a diva, and that we are endorsing it every time we press play on a video or ‘like’ a meme. For example, Gemma’s book is entitled ‘The GC – How To Be A Diva’, and she’s using her diva attitude and its proven popularity to sell copies of it. 

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When interviewed on Loose Women, Gemma was asked about the memes and how she felt about them. She said,

“Honestly, I find them so funny. It’s gone all around the world. I’ve got people retweeting from Florida. It’s crazy. It’s scary how something like that can just take off.”

In another Instagram post, Gemma reposted a fan-created meme in order to promote a new project she was filming, even tagging the fan-created Instagram page @gemmareacts in her post. A lot of us probably clicked on this post because we saw it was a Gemma Collins meme, not realising it was actually an advertisement. And by clicking on it, and even liking it, we gave her more internet traffic. And probably put more money in her pocket. Gemma hasn’t played any part in creating this meme culture, all she’s done is act like a bit of a diva. But now, she is reaping the benefits of a little bit of free PR.

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So, the question is, is Gemma Collins merely the butt of our jokes, or is she in on them? The publicity Gemma has gained from viral memes created by fans and endorsed by our love to laugh at her has made her a lot of money (yeah, you’re probably now thinking of her famous line in CBB: “AVVV GOT MONEY!”). As of August 2018 Gemma was estimated to be worth around £2.7 million. As well as this fortune, she also has her own clothing line; as well as lines with fashion retailers Boohoo, SimplyBe and Evans, and her own boutique in London. And yeah, she was on TOWIE to begin with – all this fame hasn’t come solely from her popularity on the internet. But it is definitely a huge factor. So, who’s laughing now? Definitely not me, although I’ll come back to you when the compilation of my funniest moments goes live on YouTube.

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PS: you didn’t really think I was going to end this blog without attaching some classic Gemma Collins content for your entertainment, did you? Because, we’re all just here to enjoy ourselves. GC style. D’ya know whatta mean? Now, get that fire exit door, I’m off!

 

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Anna Stewart is an MSc Communication and Public Relations with Advertising student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @astewart95 and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anna-stewart-b3127a139/

Donald Trump’s PR spin war

 

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The 20th of January 2017 is a date which will forever stick out in my mind as it is the date that Donald Trump was officially elected as the 45th president of the United states of America and the political sphere of the world changed forever. The strangest fact of the entire election was that Trump didn’t win the popular vote he actually lost it to Hillary Clinton by 2.8 million votes, this is the highest margin that a candidate has ever lost by in the popular vote and still won the election. However, a story at the time which stated that Trump had won the popular vote had over 450,000 shares on Facebook, this is increasingly ironic as in the Trump era of “fake news” one of the first articles of his presidency was indeed fake news.

This increasingly shows us how in this technological age how there is now a new form of propaganda which gives the user a voice and an opinion and it doesn’t have to be factual or accurate and with the American first amendment for the freedom of speech it is almost impossible to halt. Propaganda in the modern age of public relations was defined by Edward Bernays in post-World War One society, however at this time the media sphere was limited with only a few broadcasters. The narrative that they put forward was easily manipulated. Now in the modern media sphere with the limitless web that is the internet there are many broadcasters and now for the first-time individuals are the greatest creators of content not organisations and this cannot be manipulated or censored to the degree that it was.

The president’s public image has been something that has stood out throughout his term and campaign. In late 2015 Donald Trump openly mocked a disabled reporter Serge Koraleski he stated “you’ve got to see this guy” before jerking his arm in which I can only describe as a condemnable act. Trump later denied that had not intended to mock the reporter and was not aware of his disability, however the reporter in question later said that he had known Trump and they were on first name basis and that he was aware of his disability. I now ask the question how could the American public vote for such a man, the simple answer is Trump is somewhat of a public relations master.

Whatever we personally think about Donald Trump what he has accomplished is something incredible. How could a businessman with many successes and failures and with no prior political experience become the president of the United States. The secret to his success you could say is down partly to the fact Trump had an excellent public relations team.  A good public relations team will soften past incidents and will enhance the positives. During his campaign Trump used very well-placed campaign tactics to win over the public, his campaign focused on stimulating the silent masses who had felt that they were under-represented by the previous more liberal Obama administration and he also tuned into their lack of understanding on the improvement of the economy by stating he was bringing American jobs back to America in places such as Detroit in the efforts to “make America great again”.

The fact that Trump was already a well-known celebrity also certainly aided in his campaign, Trump had appeared in over twelve movies and was also the star of the America version of The Apprentice.  In a society that knows more about the Kardashians’ children than of their own government Trump’s recognized celebrity status meant that he had to spend very little on advertising and publicity. In another smart move Trump ensured he spoke directly to the people and avoided confusing political jargon that would distance him from his target audience. Trump made clear cut straight to the point language and did not sugar coat the problems he faced and made fun of political opponents and this connected with his audience as he aimed to be a man of the people not just another academic politician.

With over 5.5 million Twitter followers and 5.5 million Facebook likes Donald Trump has become the mastermind of social media politics. He actually referred to himself as the Ernest Hemingway of 140 characters which is ironic if you have actually read his tweets and they are not what you can describe as a masterpiece. Through the use of Instagram and YouTube Trump has given himself free publicity as they are regularly picked up by news channels. As I asked early how could Americans vote for this man? The simple answer is Donald Trump like any good business man knew his audience and the brand he was selling, and he sold it with 100% conviction, he knew what the American public wanted, and he gave it to them in abundance. I believe with all the certainly in have in my mind that Donald Trump will be re-elected as he has given the majority the political freedom and in the land of the free what more can a person want.

Jordan Arthur is a 2nd year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at: LinkedIn – linkedin.com/in/jordan-arthur-864694173 and Facebook – facebook.com/jordanarthur.71 

The Tomorrow Lab Presents: Creative Engagement

The Tomorrow Lab Presents: Creative Engagement

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Last week I attended an event on Creative Engagement by local digital marketing agency The Tomorrow Lab. It comprised of six speakers from a diverse range of backgrounds talking about branding, social media and marketing (there was also a lot of pizza and beer, but I promise that wasn’t my only motive for attending…). Although primarily targeting those in the marketing industry, much of the advice imparted by the speakers can easily be taken as guidance for life. In the spirit of brevity, I’d like to highlight two of my favourite speakers from the day and what I learnt overall.

I’ll start with Sheree Atcheson; an impressive figure who wears many hats as a tech business consultant for Deloitte, UK expansion director at Women Who Code and founder of her own social responsibility organisation I Am Lanka. She delivered an inspiring talk about unexpected responsibility. To her, this meant being thrust into leadership (through her own hard work), at a young age. As a petite, feminine 20-something of Sri Lankan descent brought up in Tyrone, she professed herself that she was not what you would picture a typical leader to look like. However, rather than shy away from her responsibility, she embraced it and used her privilege to amplify others. She encouraged us to think about how we can all make an impact, simply by understanding our own privilege and really focusing our efforts. Sheree has an impressively long list of achievements, but the one that inspired me most was her founding of I Am Lanka. Despite living in Belfast, she facilitates important conversations and encourages Sri Lankans to champion their own homegrown talent before looking further afield. At a time when privilege is a hotly debated issue, Sheree calmly demonstrates how it is on us to use our own for the good of others.

The keynote speaker was Helena Langdon, Head of Digital and Communities at Innocent Drinks. If you’re familiar with Innocent’s humorous and quirky marketing tactics, then you’ll have a good idea of Helena’s personality. The company’s social media has spawned numerous viral campaigns, #1 Twitter trends and made it to all of the major national press, simply by being relevant in their own way. For example, did you know that Helena is responsible for #DogsAtPollingStations? And the well-traversed 4th Floor Stapler? What’s her magic formula? Basically, there isn’t one. Helena’s advice is to always keep things personal and remember that you’re dealing with other humans. This allows real conversation to happen, which in turn builds their brand from the ground up. Helena also believes in learning by doing, confessing that she has learnt many things by accident and that luck also has a massive deal to do with it. Luckily, they have an enabling rule at Innocent: “If you’re 70%, go for it.” Isn’t that a great general rule of thumb for life? It gives us the licence to take risks and make bold, brave decisions. Of course, mistakes will be made, but mistakes are there to be learnt from and help us develop in the long run.

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All six of the speakers gave their own valuable advice. Matthew Thompson, founder of Best of Belfast, encourages us to go deep, not wide, to create content that impacts and moves our audience. He believes that when you make content for everyone, you make content for no one. Alan Davison, Brand Strategy Director at The Foundation, showed us how your branding can completely change how people perceive your business (and also revealed that sometimes the best creative thoughts come from having a few glasses of wine!). Matthew Morris, founder of The Bearded Candlemakers, also believes in creating authentic content that showcases your own personal brand as well as your products. This has helped him build an Instagram community that he engages with regularly (and who all love his dog Teddy!). Sophie Smith, Senior Digital Marketing Specialist at The Tomorrow Lab, demonstrated how today’s technology can provide us with incredibly detailed insights of how our business is performing and how we can use these to take the guesswork out of building an excellent marketing campaign. I think she should also be commended for injecting a bit of humour to a talk on analytical data!

At the end of the day I left the event happily satiated with pizza, beer and some food for thought. All of the talks had one recurring ideal to me; be authentic and let your personality show through in all that you do, whether that be creating content for your brand’s social media channels or connecting with the people in your own life. I’d like to extend a big thank you to all of the speakers and to The Tomorrow Lab for hosting, I’m looking forward to the next event already!

Rachael Gordon is a second year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter @gordorachael and Instagram @rachaelgordon

Digital Poster Paste

You and your mates are in a band, you want gigs, you book them yourself. Maybe you’re a promoter, with the thankless job of getting everyone in the same place at the same time. You book two or three bands; you get the sound guy there on time, charge a few quid at the door and split the profits. Sounds simple, right?
Not really. Let’s take into account the fact that while you’re waiting for a 6pm sound check, you find out that the night before the band were at Electric Picnic, taking drugs until 5 in the morning, and are too mashed to drive from Cookstown. Or what about the lead singer who decides to emulate Jim Morrison and give the audeince a bit more than what they paid in for, or the guitarist who was clinked up for, ominously, ‘something to do with his mother…’

Shane 2Yes, reader, I took the thankless job of vicariously being in a band. I had a Monday night slot for a local showcase. For every night where the band outnumbered the audience there were others that saw some spark of brilliance on stage, the first headlining slot for a band that went far and on one glorious occasion, a sell-out show.

These were the old days of the paste-bucket and poster, but now your band or your night relies on the internet to make your mark. You need that crowd. A good crowd hears your music and buys your merchandise and physical albums. A good take on the door pleases your booker, who should be cutting you in on that sweet action – (and if not, have a word). A good crowd buying drinks endears you to the venue, which can lead to bigger shows. So how should you go about marketing yourself online?

There’s a plethora of books and blogs on the topic, so I’ll just briefly tell you what helps me out. We all know that the video is king. Invest some time and money in one really good video. It doesn’t have to be the November Rain promo, but a good quality live video will work wonders for your Facebook. There’s been times when I’m pushing a show and the support act gets the glory, as the headliners’ YouTube presence consists of wobbly footage of an ‘illegal gig’ and some confusing poi display.

Think of your bio. We don’t need to know that your band is ‘like no other’. Some brief history, a few influences and some of the gigs that you’ve played really give us an idea of where you’re at. Photos are useful too, but make sure you’re genuine. I once saw a picture of a 20 something local musician on stage at the Concert for Bangladesh.

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Keep it brief as well. I was once handed a four page press release that had what the individual members liked for tea on it.

You have an online presence? Use it. Interact with me. Have fun. Send me any footage you want to use, let me know if the pictures are out of date and share, like and retweet as if your life depended on it. Your mate’s just done a new video? Let us show it first. The Ballyhalbert Examiner interviewed you lead singer? Link it up! Having a digital press pack, with all your social media links, the aforementioned video and a few hi-res photos can make all the difference.

 

Shane Horan is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on Twitter @shanehoran.

Hush From Scratch

There’s something very satisfying about launching a new nightclub event. Especially in a small city like Belfast where the competitors witness your every move and try their best to trip you up at every hurdle. It’s a thrilling and hands-on process that brings great success, but it requires more work than you can imagine. However, the proud moment when you succeed makes the stress all that more rewarding.

Here is a little insight to how we developed HUSH, a successful Saturday night brand that was located in the city centre. HUSH was introduced to the renowned Belfast nightlife scene following a strategic 6-week launch campaign similar to any PR campaign you would see from our beloved duo, Grunig and Hunt.

First was the long and draining planning stage. It was crucial for the basis of the brand. We brainstormed the initial fundamentals of any club night; gaps in the market, where we wanted to position, the target demographic, brand names, artwork design for online and print, the music policy and things of that nature.

We sent off different brand ideas to our graphic designer who came up variations of logos in terms of font, style and colour. It was exciting seeing all our ideas slowly but surely coming to life. These variations were pitched to focus groups consisting of staff and our target market. The final call was then made. We now had a brand and a logo, it was time to get this show on the road!

Next was the implementation stage. This involved increasing brand awareness by getting as many ‘eyes’ as possible on our new brand, creating a buzz amongst our customers and giving them a taste of what’s to come. This was completed using both traditional methods and more contemporary digitalised methods.

The process involved a lot of questions and answers. “What are the best channels to reach our target audience?” It’s apparent that social media is leaps and bounds above other platforms. We discovered Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram are a club promoter’s dream. You can interact instantly with your consumers 24/7 for relatively no costs. Cheap, cheerful and easy, just the way it should be.

According to McGaritty, P. (2017), “Facebook is dominant social media platform with over 65% of adults using it in Northern Ireland.” Building the HUSH Facebook ‘business page’ was our main focus, as this was by far our most important asset. This page was our customers first point of contact where they could message us with any questions or booking requests. This is where we created events for every Saturday, uploaded photo albums, constructed a ‘guest list’ and booked in tables.

Content on the page varied, however it was designed to be interactive, relatable and relevant. This increased the likelihood of customers sharing the content from their own personal profiles and ‘tagging’ other friends. They would soon become brand evangelists and advocates! Content could be anything at all; drinks deals, funny videos or ‘memes’, DJ graphics, entry prices or generic promotional posts.

It was important to build the likes, reach and interaction amongst customers and ultimately drive all traffic through this platform. We used many tricks of the trade such as competition give-aways and a few promoter wizardry skills that need to be kept HUSH HUSH…The first video we posted was an interactive competition for the launch night to win free entry, a reserved table and drinks. To enter this, we asked customers to ‘like’ the Facebook page, share the video to their own profile and tag 5 friends. This technique caused the video to spread like wildfire and it reached 37,978 people, 16.2k views, 349 likes and 306 comments.

We did not forget about the traditional methods for our PR campaign. We smartly used our contacts to our advantage to save on major costs. The club GM was personal friends with an executive from The Belfast Telegraph and we luckily secured a press release about the launch into the paper. This was also published by ‘The Tab’ – an online newsletter for students and on Belfast Live’s website and Facebook page. One of our DJs was also a radio DJ for Blast 106. He hooked us up with a 30 second radio ad for a fraction of the price and promoted the brand every day between 6-9pm. These were great additions to our campaign and increased the awareness dramatically.

The last stage was the launch. This was Judgment Day for us. Would the long hours of tedious work be worth it? It was the most exciting day, adrenaline was flowing around the air and there was a special buzz which cannot be easily replicated. It was the time to ensure that everything was in place and making sure staff knew their roles. Knowing all the tables were sold out and seeing the guest-list numbers get higher and higher was a sign that success was on the horizon. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly nervous counting down the hours before we opened our doors for the first time.

There is no better feeling than coming up with something from scratch, building it up, utilising all methods, pulling it off and becoming a success. You know it has all been worth it after witnessing the happy customers having a great time and wanting to come back. We were a full house on our launch night and the event has continued to attract steady numbers ever since. Success for the not so HUSH!
If you want to know more about the experience, please feel free to contact me.

 

Cal McIlwaine is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on Facebook – Facebook Account / Twitter – Twitter Account / LinkedIn – Linkedin Account

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References:

McGaritty, P.  (2017). Social Media Use in Northern Ireland.