What would we do without PR?

Public Relations (PR) has a valid role in today’s democratic society. Moloney and Colmer (2001; pp.89) suggest “The thesis is that PR is on a journey from being the property of the UK elite to the possession of many, if not most of its citizens.” Liberalisation led to economic growth which created a sustained customer boom, therefore creating an incessant need for PR services in society and this has grown to become a necessity in many parts of today’s society.

The 20th century gave birth to a new type of media relations (Zerfass, et.al. 2016) and this has created a dynamic shift in PR to correspond with the digital age (Toledano and Avidar, 2016).

According to Moloney (2004; pp.163) “The shift to online and social media communication has impacted the practice of PR.” PR practitioners can now create online content to influence public opinion and create awareness of a company/brand but it’s down to the individual if they decide to consume the information online. This epitomises Habermas’ (1989) “The Public Sphere”, reiterating the idea that all citizens in society now have access to transparent information and whether we consume this information, is completely up to us.

PR and Mass Media

PR is now prevalent on social media in many different forms. Businesses are now promoting their brand on their Facebook pages, influencers are now endorsing products on their Instagram and celebrities are expressing their views on their twitter feeds. Therefore, social media is now a powerful way to support PR (LaMarre and Suzuki-Lambrecht, 2013). It is now possible to promote a PR campaign fully online.  Social media is free, easy to use and consumed by much of our society today.  Therefore, PR through social media is very important when carrying out any PR strategy today.

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One could also argue that PR professionals are still seeking coverage from journalists but also bloggers in today’s society. According to Walden (2015; pp.526) “Bloggers play an influential role in society by breaking news, discussing news and being cited in the traditional media, which makes this a critical stakeholder group for PR professionals to work with.” The blogger phenomenon has really grown in the past few years and now PR professionals are working with bloggers to promote brands and endorse products on their Instagram and YouTube channels. Therefore, the practice of PR is changing to meet with the current trends in society.

It is now so easy to have a direct means to publics through online PR. Social media allows PR practitioners to maintain relationships with their publics in a more coherent and sustainable way (Komodromos, 2014). PR through social media can reach a lot more people and better communicate a message around the world (Toledano and Avidar, 2016). Morris and Goldsworthy (2016) claim we are living in a creative industry and PR is prominent in popular culture, clearly showing that PR’s role in the media is very important.

Social media is only one aspect of PR in the media. Engagement with newspapers and print media is just as important. Today, PR practitioners work to try and influence public opinion through the media. Morris and Goldsworthy (2016; pp.14) emphasise this idea noting “Public Relations is at the heart of things” through being at the centre of mass media. Van den Heijkant and Vliegenthart (2018) argue “PR materials are an important and easy accessible resource for the news media and might seriously impact the actual content of media coverage.” Therefore, PR has a distinctive role in controlling content in news media today.

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PR and Business

PR also has an important role to play within business today. Organisations require coherent PR strategies to promote a new product or service to their consumers. To connect with consumers, maintain relationships with consumers and attract new consumers, organisations need to have a strategic PR plan in place.

PR practitioners can support businesses in many different ways. PR practitioners can manage any crisis that may occur within a business. A crisis can occur at any time in any place and if businesses are not prepared, they face huge repercussions in terms of their reputation and credibility. Companies can hire PR professionals to create coherent crisis management plans that will look at the possible crises and provide steps to ensure the crisis is managed effectively. PR practitioners can also speak on behalf of a company to ensure they respond to a crisis in the right way that is legally sound and will protect the company image. Therefore, PR can have a very important role in managing crises.

Another aspect of PR in business is Sponsorship. Sponsorship is used by PR practitioners to increase public awareness of a company, reinforce public awareness of a brand and enhance its reputation. According to Ronald, (2004; pp.42) “PR can help management to get more benefit from sponsorship by guiding management to projects that will produce massive national or worldwide media coverage and the most heartfelt public gratitude.” PR practitioners can use their means to promote the good that a company does and overall enhance a company’s public image. For example, a company can use PR to promote their corporate social responsibility. (CSR) If a company is involved in charitable work or has programs that support the community, PR practitioners can use this to increase brand awareness and improve the company’s image.  Ronald (2004; pp.43) goes as far to suggest that PR can “be like bread cast upon the waters that returns to thee many fold and repeatedly”. Therefore, using PR in sponsorship can have huge advantages for businesses today.

PR and Politics

PR and Politics are hugely intertwined in today’s society. PR has been used in Politics since the 1860’s but Morris and Goldsworthy (2016) argued the Thatcher and Regan years created enormous needs for PR services. Since then, there has been a huge reliance on PR in political communication. Hobbs (2016; pp.372) supports this view claiming ‘spin’ is central to processes that constitute representative democracy.  Nowadays, politicians rely on their PR advisors or “spin doctors” to influence public opinion and control the agendas of the media. Moloney (2004; pp. 967) goes as far to suggest that PR “is an integral part of political presentation in the intermediated mass democracy which is modern UK politics.”

According to Morris and Goldsworthy (2016; pp.12) “PR has become an important role in the battle to secure people’s votes.” Therefore, PR is very important in effectively communicating political messages to the public to gain support and influence public opinion. Especially today and for the past 2 years our newspapers, television screens and social media pages have been infiltrated with the word “Brexit” making it hard to avoid politics in society. Political parties and advisors have been using PR throughout the last few years to try and influence public opinion and sway voters to leave or stay in the European Union. Therefore, PR has a very important role in politics today.

To secure votes and support, political communication is about conveying the right message and PR practitioners today stand right behind politicians advising them the best route to take to gain support (Moloney, 2004). This idea of ‘Spin’ can cause some debate in the literature, some would argue that PR is the voice of people’s values and opinions as Moloney and Colmer, (2001; pp. 89) note, “We can be publicly gay, or single parents; start businesses; go on strike; campaign for consumer rights; speak for war or peace and take up nay faith or hobby which suits.” Showing that PR allows people to have their own views and express these views explicitly.

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On the other hand, Hobbs (2016) argues that spin can allow Political advisors to twist the truth and cause some ethical issues in government. An example of this is the Conservative party’s Brexit campaign, Boris Johnson in an effort to secure public support for the Leave campaign, toured around the UK in a bus with a very distinctive message on it….

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This claim that £350 million pound will be spent on the NHS could have swayed many voters to vote leave in the Brexit referendum on this promise alone, but it was then revealed that this was in fact, not the truth. After the vote it was abandoned by the Conservative party along with many other promises (The Independent, 2016). Therefore, it can be argued that PR in today’s society can be associated with manipulation just to get votes (Moloney, 2004).

Another way Political parties influence opinion through PR is through controlling the agendas of independent media organisations through information management (Moloney, 2004).  In the context of Northern Ireland some newspapers support unionist views and some newspapers support nationalist views and content of each will be targeted at audiences that support these ideals. In the wider UK according to YouGov (2017) The Daily Mail is seen as right wing, The Guardian as left wing and The Independent as centrist. Therefore, one could argue that newspapers are trying to persuade opinion rather than provide information that allows individuals to form their own opinions.

All in all, PR has a very distinctive role within politics today. Moloney (2004) suggests that it is hard to distinguish between PR and Politics and the two go hand in hand. This shows that PR has become an essential part of political presentation to communicate a message and defend this message, PR practitioners are essential to a governing body clearly indicating PR has a very important role in a mass democracy.

So, what would we do without PR?

PR is all around us and with the changing trends and creation of the digital age PR’s role has changed and adapted to these concepts. PR is not just about press releases, it’s about using social media to enhance brand image, a political image or even a blogger’s image. It is hard to ignore PR today, we see it everywhere, in our newspapers, on our televisions and twitter feeds. We are constantly being influenced through PR and PR allows us to express our own opinions and values. Therefore, it’s hard to deny the importance of PR and its roles in today’s society.

Orlaith Strong is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @orlaith_strong and Linkedin: @orlaithstrong

Celebrities in Crisis: Is all PR really good PR?

“When written in Chinese, the word ‘Crisis’ is composed of two characters: One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.” John F. Kennedy.

This quote pokes the bear in the great debate about Celebrity PR scandals, and as we move away from the archaic belief that “All PR is good PR”, it’s clear to me that one critical element of Public Relations remains; Crisis Management.  Feel free to disagree, but from my experience the two go hand in hand and every PR campaign should have an element of crisis built in, just in case the “What if?” situation becomes the “What now?” situation.

What has really grabbed my attention over the past year is the amount of crises I have seen in the celebrity world amidst the huge Harvey Weinstein scandal.

Harvey Weinstein has really piqued my interest in this area over the past and I along with the rest of the developed world have watched as the dramatic, complex, and undignified scandal unraveled before our eyes.

In case you missed it (or have been in a coma for the last year) back in 2017, Harvey Weinstein, a Hollywood mogul always pictured at glamorous Hollywood parties pictured with many famous A-List stars was slammed across all media channels after a number of different women came forward claiming they were sexually harassed by the now former film producer.

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In the early hours of the scandal, The Weinstein Company released a statement to the media saying that they were launching an inquiry into the allegations,  which translated in PR language means “give us some time to try and come up with a wordy statement that doesn’t answer any of your questions but makes it look like we know what to do in this situation and has been picked apart by our lawyers to ensure limited legal liability.”

After 13 more women spoke out, celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and George Clooney condemning him, his lawyer resigning, his wife leaving him and the inevitable dismissal from his own company there really was no scope for any kind of crisis management plan. Weinstein could only deny the allegations but the mass effect the media coverage had on this huge scandal meant his reputation had no hope of a recovery.

The Weinstein case seemed to cause a ripple effect in the celebrity world and soon enough many PR practitioners representing many different celebrities, business people and even government officials were facing this unprecedented crisis.

Another case that caught my eye was The Spacey Scandal…

Kevin Spacey was one of Hollywood’s most decorated actors and personally starred in one of my favourite Netflix tv series- House of Cards.

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So, naturally when this crisis came out I was stunned.

A grand total of 30 men claimed that Spacey, made a sexual advance upon them dating back to 1982.  Kevin Spacey’s response?

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Personally, I found his response quite interesting in terms of crisis management. He doesn’t try to deny the claims like Weinstein, he also doesn’t admit that he did it. But he tries to protect his image by apologizing and revealing something very personal about his life. In terms of PR one could raise the question… is Kevin Spacey revealing his sexuality as a PR spin? Is he trying to deflect from the situation? Who knows. But, a common tactic especially for PR Spin Doctors is to bury bad news in bad news, so it could be argued that this is a tactical move.

Anyway, it’s not all about sexual allegations when discussing PR scandals in the celebrity world. Comedian Kathy Griffin faced a huge media crisis when a picture was released of her holding a decapitated head of Donald Trump (look away if you are squeamish).

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Her management of this crisis was completely different to both Spacey and Weinstein. In fact, she admitted she was wrong and explicitly begged her fans for forgiveness claiming she “went too far”. Interesting, but her career and reputation were still damaged, and she was pulled from a huge TV ad as well as having to cancel several comedy shows.

All in all, crises in the celebrity world are usually unprecedented, erupt suddenly with little time to figure out how to recover. PR has an important role to play in the world of celebrity, there are many different ways to manage the type of crises I have mentioned but no matter what, when stories are leaked in the media they are everywhere. Forever. Try as they may, it can be difficult for celebrities and top figures to comeback from these types of catastrophes.

So, can celebrity PR scandals be managed?  In my opinion, it depends. It depends on the context, the scandal, the fan following, the time, the circumstances and sometimes, just sometimes, these factors can create the perfect storm. They can be managed to an extent but evidently, PR teams cannot prepare for the types of crises that can implode on them out of the blue on a Monday morning.  Hats off to them for the effort!

Orlaith Strong is a Final Year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter @orlaith_strong and LinkedIn @orlaithstrong

Top tips for PR Crisis Management

Top tips for PR Crisis Management

Every organisation in the world is susceptible to a crisis, it’s how an organisation handles crisis that really shows the type of organisation they are.

Crisis can bring huge benefits to an organisation if handled correctly however, if an organisation does not have an effective crisis management strategy implemented, it can be detrimental to their reputation.

These top tips will help you on your way to creating one of the best crisis management strategies your organisation can have.

1. Be Proactive, Transparent & Honest

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An organisations response to a crisis needs to be quick, don’t let the media or online warriors get in there before you. After all, you are the most reliable source for your audience so be transparent and keep your audience in the loop. If the crisis is your fault, then own up to it. It’s how you own up to and deal with crisis that will help maintain and rebuild your reputation in the wake of a PR crisis. Listen to your audience, after all its them that you need to maintain your relationship with because, what’s an organisation without their audience?

2. Communication

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This can be one of the simplest mistakes an organisation can make. Keep your employees in the loop, it’s as easy as that. Keep them well briefed on upcoming campaigns and possible crises that may arise. Obviously, you can’t always know when a crisis will happen but having a well briefed team will encourage positive work ethic, trust and respect. If you don’t have this, it could lead to job losses, and they may even be the ones to speak negatively of the organisation if they haven’t been treated fairly.  As an organisation, you should have an elected spokesperson who will speak when a crisis hits, this is usually a CEO or an Executive member of staff, all employees should know how to respond to media enquiries in times of crisis.

3. Be Consistent

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In responding to a crisis, it is essential to keep your message consistent. Don’t let the crisis escalate into something it doesn’t need to. If you have different people giving out different messages, it’s just going to confuse your audience and display that your organisation clearly has very little skills regarding communication and lacks reliability. Have one spokesperson to speak on the issue, this will ensure a consistent message and reassure your audience.

4. Timing

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Timing is key! Be aware of what’s going on in the outside world. After all, PR is all about being in the know and keeping up to date with current events. If your organisation puts out something that clashes with current news, your organisation will instantly come across as insensitive and to be quite honest your audience will lose interest.

Adidas were the perfect example of this. I’m sure you’ve all heard of the mammoth mistake they sent to participants of the Boston marathon a few years back. It went a little something like ‘Congratulations, you survived the Boston Marathon.’ It makes you think, who in the right mind thought this was ok to send out? Considering the marathon had been bombed three years prior to this, it’s a perfect example of how an extra little bit of crisis control and being aware of the outside world can have a huge impact on your organisation.

5. Social Media is your best friend!

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Social media has transformed the dynamic of the PR industry, organisations now have a significant role in incorporating social media into their crisis management strategies. For many of us, social media is our preferred channel of engagement whether that be with friends, family or organisations. Therefore, in incorporating social media into your organisations PR strategy you will inevitably enhance relationships with your desired audience.

Besides this, if your audience is already highly active on social media, they will be more inclined to credit information they see online rather than through traditional methods, highlighting the importance of social media in crisis management.

6. Apologise, Apologise, Apologise

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Take responsibility for your actions, your audience will expect an apology so make sure you give one them one. We’re all human, and everyone makes mistakes, in publicly apologising and committing to being better your audience will stay with you. All you need to do is be open about the situation. Make sure you do whatever it takes to maintain or regain trust with your audience.

7. Expected the Unexpected

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I hope you’re a fan of friends, otherwise this reference will be totally irrelevant. All jokes aside, expected the unexpected. As soon as one crisis ends, another one can start just as quick, so learn from your mistakes and rework your strategy to meet your organisation’s needs. Your audience engagement and following should show the benefits of this.

We’ve now covered quite a bit on crisis management, does your organisation implement each of these steps?

Take a step back, look and adopt these top tips for an easier and stress-free life!

You can thank me later…

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Sorcha Conway is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be contacted through; Facebook: Sorcha Conway /  Twitter: @SorchaConway / LinkedIn: sorcha-c / Instagram: sorchaconway515

Time to unfollow the influencers?

Time to unfollow the influencers?

With 66% of the UK online population using some form of social media, there’s no denying that social media plays a significant role in our daily lives. It has changed how we keep in touch with friends, read the latest headlines, and how we shop for the latest fashion trends.

With most Millenniums and Generation Z’ spending countless hours scrolling through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – Brands are always looking for new ways to target their audience.

Call in the Influencers…

The latest marketing trend brands are using to target their audience is through the use of social media influencers or influencer marketing.

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After a quick Google search, a ‘social media influencer’, can be a 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 their authenticity and reach”.

An influencer can either be an everyday person like you or me (with a lot larger Instagram following), the latest Love Island contents, or the ‘official’ celebrity.

Essentially, brands will send free PR Packages to these ‘influencers’, who will then post a sponsored ad about the product on their social media accounts. Or an Influencer will be paid an agreed amount on each time they post about the brands product. Brands utilize influencers in the hope that their influence will result in more people buying their products.

Influencers are promoting everything from cars, to hotels, to beauty products, to shoes, to diets, and a whole lot more.

This is why you may have seen a lot of your fav’ celebs’ or the so-called ‘insta famous’ with #ad #sp on some of their posts.

Big business…

An influencer with an Instagram following of around a million can command £10,000 for a one-off post. An influencer with between 3,000 and 10,000 followers can expect to earn £50-£100 per post. Keeping these figures in mind, influencer marketing is fast becoming one of the most effective online marketing strategies for brands. Recently, brands have raised their budgets for influence marketing between 3 – 6%, with $2 billion in the last year being spent on influencer marketing overall.

Owner of Cocoa Brown Tan, Marissa Carter seen the full effect of influencer marketing, when one sponsored post by Kylie Jenner seen her product sell out in 24 hours.

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And it’s not just celebrities making money out of influencer marketing. In December 2018, a mother revealed to the Daily Mail that her baby boy, aged one, who is an Instagram influencer has already gotten £10k in freebies (including a different pram for every day of the week). Ralphie Waplington, aged one, from Essex, has an Instagram following of 14,000. The boy’s mother, Stacey Woodhams, runs the account, with Ralphie’s wardrobe and bedroom furniture all provided free by brands and the family enjoys days out in exchange for posts on Ralphie’s account. However, this has been received with backlash, as some seeing this as child exploitation.

On the way out…

Content creation is now in the hands of influencers and who are providing a key role in the story that brands communicate. In order for influencer marketing to be successful, influencers content must be authentic and original.

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With brands and influencers both having a very successful 2018, it’s hard in seeing the influencer marketing trend going anywhere. However, some experts predict there will be a decline in social media influencers is on the horizon in 2019.

Today alone, it’s hard not to scroll through Instagram and not spot at least one sponsored post. Influencer marketing has become too mainstream, too commercialised, and too common. Content is becoming less organic and genuine, you get a sense that influencers are only doing it to gain a few more followers, and gain a lot more money.

I may be wrong, but I feel as if influencers are on the way out for 2019.

Ruth Leonard is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram – @ruthleonard_ / Twitter – @RuthLeonard_ / LinkedIn – www.linkedin.com/in/ruth-leonard-057860129/

Have influencers felt the burn of Fyre?

I’m obsessed with Netflix at the moment – between removing everything from my life that doesn’t offer joy (thanks Marie Kondo) and being on the edge of my seat watching Fyre Festival, Netflix are killing it at the moment.

For those of you who haven’t seen the documentary, Fyre Festival (where have you been?!) Fyre Festival began with a story-style advertisement, which now has over 4 million views.

The Instagram page, website and overall aesthetic was a marketers dream – sunset, beaches, the most famous influencers, celebrities and models. All of this packaged in a stunning online presence, a beautifully choreographed Instagram profile, an all signing, all dancing website and sponsored posts by the rich and famous.

In reality, the five star accommodation transpired into disaster relief tents, luxury meals consisted of two slices of dry/brown bread (brown bread, of all choices) and cheese. Dogs roamed the luxury space, the attendees 5* service included soggy mattresses, no water, no air conditioning, no electricity. Sounds like a dream, I know.

But, within the PR and marketing world, influencers and models took the heat and were blamed for the failure of the event, not the organisers.

An article from Wired stated that ‘the influencer model is now in jeopardy. And maybe that’s not a bad thing’. Many articles offered similar opinions, following the disaster of the event.

Now, during a two hour lecture, my attention can sway, but surely the overarching aim of a marketer/influencer is to sell to people and increase sales via different mediums?

I believe the organisers should be held accountable, who were obviously out of their depth. When looking at online articles, Tweets, blog posts, YouTube videos, it was clickbait, dramatised and heightened (shout-out to A-Level journalism for that analysis). Many stating that influencers where on their last legs, YouTube is on the final countdown and Instagram business-users should be having a mental breakdown as we speak.

But, public relations is defined as a ‘strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organisations and their publics’. And the more research one does, the more you begin to realise that influencer relations, within PR and marketing, can be dated to the mid-1900’s.

In 1931, Santa was introduced as the Face of Coca-Cola – a well know, respected character was used as the face of a product to increase sales. This, in no way, differs when a YouTuber claims they are obsessed with a product in their latest video. Granted Zoella might not have a white beard and red suit, but the same message is passed over the consumer.

So, in my opinion, the influencers shouldn’t be taking the heat for the disaster what is Fyre Festival. Nevertheless, I do believe that marketers and businesses can take essential learnings from the flop.

Brand Loyalty // It’s all well and good getting the elite of the celebrity world to endorse your product, it’ll bring a huge amount of exposure to your product. However, such celebrities are only doing so because of the large pay cheque waiting for them. In order for businesses to effectively grow their brands, they should look towards those, who may have a smaller following, but are more loyal to the brand. Viewers are going to identify authenticity within the sponsored posts and in turn will generate more sales.

Content // It’s important, yes, but why spend hours pouring over a professional editing suite when the video is only going to be posted on Instagram and YouTube? The organisers of Fyre Festival poured hours into their promo video, but they were on a remote island with limited WIFI and electric. Instead of increasing budget for content product, brands should turn to a core content team, where the overall output might not be as stunning, but places the product/service in a genuine and honest setting.

Honesty // Frye festival organisers messed up and instead of taking the heat. They tired to cover up the disaster with lies, false hope and deception. Which, obviously, didn’t work. If a business makes a mistake, it’s better to own up and face the music. Communicate honesty to your customers, post an official statement – it will be hard to do so, but there is a greater chance that the trust consumers once had, can be rebuilt again.

Alex Slaine is a Third Year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. He is currently working as Media and Education Intern at Intel Ireland on his placement year. He can be found on Twitter – @alexslainee; and LinkedIn – Alex Slaine

 

Can Public Relations survive without Social Media in 2019?

Public relations has of course been around for a very long time and has been used in many different types of situations but in 2019 PR is very different from before. Social media, as we all know, has taken over basically everything in our lives? and PR is no different.

Every business nowadays has at least one social media account where they post about AN3their product or events happening etc and this is pretty standard but the use of social media is growing and with this the demand for companies to have more of a social media presence. Bloggers and micro influencers are becoming more and more popular and the only thing businesses can do is take advantage of the new age of PR.

 

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Are Micro influencers the new way of doing PR?
They say micro influencers are the influencers of the future and I would agree with this. Micro influencers are those people we see on Instagram who are local bloggers just writing about what their passion is and they have a significant amount of followers. They will promote some products for either a small fee or for free and eventually it will lead to them getting sent free items to try out and show their followers what these products do. At least that is how they start off…
Once these bloggers start to get a good following companies will tend to take full advantage of this, it seems that the public trust ‘peer’ recommendation over company advertising. If you look at the likes of Topshop, huge brand in the UK and the rest of the world they have worked out the best ways to do their PR. Topshop in Belfast have staff that are also bloggers or ‘micro influencers’ and if you look at any of their Instagrams you will see how they incorporate the Topshop brand into their social media posts = PR for Topshop and well dressed bloggers for their Instagram.


The world of blogging

Blogging has always been around but it used to be that only certain people read blogs and those people usually had blogs themselves but now blogs are everywhere! Now blogs and PR have in a way rolled into one and we can’t get away from them. In Northern Ireland alone there are so many bloggers that are working or aspire to work AN4with companies. Tiffany Brien is a brilliant example of a local girl turned local celebrity, if you look at Tiffany’s Instagram or her ‘personal blog’ as it is known you will see how affective PR can be in the world of blogging and social media. She has 56.11k followers on Instagram alone and nearly every post she put up has some type of organisation tagged in it, ‘Tantastic’, ‘Boux Avenue’ and ‘Daniel Wellington Watches’ are just a few of the businesses who have caught on to her influence in Northern Ireland and beyond.

 

So, back to the question at the beginning, ‘Can PR survive without social media in 2019?’ I’m leaning towards no… Social media is one of the biggest platforms used to connect everyone all over the world so why wouldn’t companies use this to their advantage? It creates local celebrities, it is the first place I look if I am trying to gather information on a company. I think it is actually strange if I look for an organisation on Facebook or Instagram etc and they aren’t there and I am sure I am not the only one. I hope I have give a bit of an insight into how PR and social media are becoming intertwined and who knows maybe one of you could be the next big social media influencer.

 

Aoife Ni Cheallaigh Bairr is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @aoifencb

Hamilton Not Throwing Away Their Shot …

When writing this blog, I had many ideas in mind.  After sitting thinking about which idea would be interesting for people to read, I decided to write about something that I am huge fan of, and that is the hit Broadway musical Hamilton. Anyone that knows me will know that there is nothing that I love more than Broadway musicals. One of the biggest musicals of the last decade has been Hamilton.  This is a Hip-Hop musical about the American Revolution and it has broken records that no one could have even imagined. Since Hamilton opened on Broadway in August 2015, in the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York, it has received a record-breaking 16 Tony Award nominations (The Oscars of musical theatre), winning 11 including one for best musical.

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So how does a Broadway Musical become so successful? How has it been able to attract millions of people to go to see a Hip-Hop musical about the American Revolution?  How has Hamilton been able to attract people through their doors, from members of the British Royal Family to the everyday theatre-goer? Well, it’s simple – they have been able to use public relations and marketing to make Hamilton one of the most sought-after shows on Broadway.

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Hamiltion was created by Lin Manuel Miranda and it is based on the biography of Alexandra Hamilton by Ron Chernow. Lin Manuel Miranda is one of the main factors forHamilton’s success. Having already achieved success with shows like In the Heights, he had a huge fan base amongst musical theatre fans. He was also able to use his social media profile to attract attention for his new show, even before it opened. Once the show opened on Broadway, it soon became a huge success attracting many A – list stars such as Beyoncé and Oprah, to name a few. These stars would then post photos of themselves on social media, thus creating a desire for other people to go see the show.

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With the buzz of the show, and the amount of people trying to secure tickets, the show soon made headlines. People where literally willing to pay someone to stand in line at the theatre to try and secure a set of tickets. Trying to get tickets for Hamilton soon became impossible, with tickets selling for up to $1,150. The high price of tickets caused negative headlines for Hamilton, implying that it was impossible to get tickets unless you could afford the huge prices. To manage this crisis, and wanting to make Hamilton affordable for everyone, the Ham4Ham lottery was started where you could enter to win tickets for the show. In addition, the cast would often perform for crowds of people who were waiting outside the Richard Rodgers Theatre to see if they were lucky enough to win tickets. The #Ham4Ham would often be used by people at the show gaining extra social media attention for Hamilton.

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With Hamilton gaining so much attention, and not everyone being able to make their way to New York to see it or pay the huge ticket price, there was soon a huge demand for Hamilton merchandise. In this small way, you could get a taste of Hamilton even if you could not make it to the show. Marketing Hamilton means it is more than simply a Broadway show. Hamilton’s soundtrack was charting so well in the iTunes charts that they released a mixtape of the soundtrack, with songs being covered by popular artists such as Sia, Chance the Rapper and many more. There was such a huge demand for Hamilton merchandise that there is even a store in New York to keep up with the demand from Hamilton fans.  MH12

Hamilton was soon becoming a cultural phenomenon and was being used to talk about current social issues that were happening in the United States of America.  For example, Hamilton was being used when talking about politics, with the cast even performing for the Obamas at the White House. After Trump was elected President, and with protests breaking out around the country about the policies that he was introducing, many people were seen with posters at the protests that had lyrics from the musical on them such as, “History has its eyes on you” and “Immigrants – We get the job done”. During one of the shows when Vice President Pence was in the audience, the actor who played Aaron Burr, Brandon Dixon, asked Mike Pence after the show finished, and while he was still in the audience, to respect the diversity that the cast represents.  This got widespread media attention as was caught on camera by members of the audience.  Although it received negative reactions from people, including President Trump, many others applauded the cast for speaking out about social issues that were affecting the country and using their platform to educate people about politics.Image result for hamilton musical

I believe that Hamilton has made Broadway more popular than ever and has succeeded in bringing in a whole new generation of theatre fans.  Hamilton created such a buzz about Broadway musicals that there was even a Broadway Carpool Karaoke with James Corden, which not only included Lin Manuel Miranda from Hamiltion, but other big Broadway stars such as Audra McDonald, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Jane Krakowski. This has led to the success of many new Broadway musicals such as Dear Evan Hansen, which has achieved similar success to Hamilton.  Hamilton has also helped to change the world of Musical Theatre, attracting new fans and showing that it is okay to break down barriers and change the norm.

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Muriosa Houston is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Twitter – @MuriosaHouston ; Linkedin – http://www.linkedin.com/in/muriosa-houston-32b41413b