Generation Meme

I haven’t posted a status on Facebook since I was about 14, yet I always check my news feed. I follow a couple of thousand people on Instagram, but my news feed isn’t filled with people I particularly know. I don’t follow hundreds of celebrities on twitter like I used to when I was a teen Fangirl, yet Twitter is my most visited app every day.

So, what am I using my social media platform for? Well isn’t it obvious… MEMES.

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My twitter direct messages are constant threads of myself and my friends sharing the latest memes with each other, most of my following on Instagram are meme pages and I only use Facebook to tag my friends in 100 posts a day with the comment “me.” I see them daily, relate to them more than anything and spend my time looking through them when I should be doing something else. Sound familiar?

Memes are part of our culture now, a way of life, a cure to our sadness. They’re how we communicate online and offline as meme quotes become a normal part of our vocab. So where did it all come from, what’s the appeal and why do we create and share them so aggressively?

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We can thank evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins for introducing the world to memes way back in 1976, where he coined the term in his book “The Selfish Gene.” Science is not my strong point so don’t quote me on this, but here’s what I gathered. Dawkins defined memes as a unit for carrying cultural ideas or behaviour, similar to how genes carry genetic information from one generation to the next. According to Dawkins, when one person imitates another, a meme is passed to the imitator, similar to the way blue eyes, skin tones and so on are passed from parents to children through genes. So the cultural ideas and satirical posts we post online are sort of like tiny bits of cultural DNA that we share with each other over social media.

So memes have been around for quite a while, but they weren’t always the way we know and love them today. Memes used to be simply playing a song, sharing art and old fashioned non internet-based stuff. Memes as we know them are digital files made especially for the internet including combination of images, video’s, gifs and hash tags. Typically they’re a funny photo or clips from a popular television show, interview or vine (miss you vine, rest in peace) which users add a humorous, satirical or usually ironic catchphrase or caption to then share it with their friends and absolute strangers on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram. And we love each other for it.

So why are we so obsessed? Communication researchers have legit spent time & money looking into why we spend so much of our precious time scrolling through memes rather than you know doing something more productive e.g. getting our degree’s.

We’re all in this together

As a generation who are so insecure and lonely that it hurts, feeling like we belong is what we crave, and memes do exactly that. Sharing the latest memes with your friends makes you feel like the part of something, it makes us feel intelligent (about the stupidest things), funny and in the know. Following the latest meme trends are conversation starters, become inside jokes between friends and are even a way to keep up with old ones. Personally, as ashamed as I am to say, I mightn’t find the energy to text a friend that I haven’t talked to in a while, but you can sure as hell bet I’ll tag them in a meme that reminds me of them and if that’s not real love I don’t know what is. Think of how your Ma connects with all her friends over recipes, cleaning tips and Cliff Richard. We connect over memes.

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Je Parle Meme

My first language in English incase you hadn’t gathered. I have a GCSE in French and could probably still recite my Oral as I still have PTSD from it. I’ll throw a Dia dhuit and Slán about the odd time. But if I was asked what my second language was – em, does Meme count?

Don’t know what to say to make your friend feel better on a bad day? There’s a meme for it. Get into an awkward tiff with your friend and don’t know what to say to break the ice? There’s a meme for it. Just had the most horrifyingly embarrassing moment and you can’t even put into words to tell your friends about it? There’s a meme for that too. Believe me, I’ve used plenty of them. There’s a meme for just about every mood, reaction or scenario that could possibly happen that sometimes you don’t even have to use words to communicate with your friends, just send them a meme and they’ll know exactly what you mean. Although it may appear ridiculously anti-social, It’s our generations favourite way to communicate and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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They make us feel good, even when we feel our worst

Plain and simple. Memes make us feel good. They make us laugh, they make the worst possible situation seem not as bad and help us laugh through the pain. I could be a hour away from a deadline with a final paragraph and conclusion still to go, but if there’s a meme relatable to that you sure as hell bet I’m gonna laugh, send it into my group chat with the caption “me rn” and I’ll be laughing when I really shouldn’t be.

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And who else feels good when they see a meme about a unfortunate situation on Facebook, and see that loads of your mutual friends have liked it, tagged their friends and related to it too. All of a sudden you don’t feel as bad for laying in bed all day when you have 101 things to do, using the last of your wages on a night out or the fact that it’s nearly summer and you forgot to work on your summer body. For the 5th year in a row. It’s as though memes put a hold on the chaos that is our generation.

21st Century Education

Just think of some of the most viral memes over the last couple of years. What’s often common context behind them? Politics. Don’t get me wrong, our world at the moment is not something to laugh at, even though America could be a satirical sitcom in its own right, yet some of the most pressing political moments in the past 2 years have made the most viral memes. (I wonder why..).

I for one don’t read the news often unless it’s an article on my timeline and I’m sure a lot of you can say the same, you should all pick up the Irish News though, so memes are like tiny little pieces of information to educate us and help even the most naive people understand what’s going on in the world and what ridiculous thing Trump has said that week.

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Memes are our lives now. They’re shaping our culture and changing the way we think, act and communicate. They bring us together, take the seriousness out of everyday life and they make me question if any of us are half wise. To sum all my blabbering up memes are class, I love them and I sure as hell hope they don’t go anywhere anytime soon, I’m already sad that I’m seeing less of the tracksuit man on my twitter timeline.

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

Digital Strategy For Beginners

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We all love a good browse through the internet.  So it comes as no surprise that Internet use has been on the increase in recent years, with a record high of 3.58 billion internet users worldwide this past year (statista.com 2017). Smartphones lend explanation to sky rocketing internet use, having given people more convenience to use the internet throughout the day – we have only to think of ourselves, and how frequently we check our own smartphones!

The web has been called “the most important communication revolution in human history” (Meerman,  2013, p26). With that in mind it’s hard to believe that “50% of businesses don’t have an integrated  Digital Marketing Strategy” (Smartinsights.com).  So, it seems there may be some kind of phobia around having or creating a digital presence for businesses. But, never fear! There is nothing to be afraid of, as you’ll see while we walk through this beginners guide on getting started on creating a digital strategy.

 

What is a digital strategy?

We can think about a digital strategy as “a series of actions” carried out to achieve “particular objectives” using technology as an asset to allow for new business avenue or maintain a “competitive edge”  (Mithas and Henry, 2010, p4). This might be, for instance, to generate more visits to your site and further brand awareness.

Why is a digital strategy so important?

As we’ve discussed, the world is becoming more and more digitized, so it’s more relevant than ever that your organization has an online presence and is visible to the online world (Preece, 2001 p4). Besides this, there are so many benefits to a digital strategy…

  • Cost effective –  reduces overhead fees (McGinnity, 2016), we can look to Amazon for reference, who have eliminated the costs of running individual stores in varying locations
  • Delivers “relevant messages more precisely” (Plummer et al, 2007, p7) to costumers through gathering behavioural data – for example, how long they interact with a product, clicks, logins and time spent on a site (Plummer et al, 2007 p7)
  • Allows for further market research (Li and Bernoff, 2011, p34)  – for example, through building communities to listen to, and helps in influencing target audiences.
  • “If you’re not on the internet, you don’t exist!” (Preece, 2001, p6)

With more and more people flocking to the web, digital strategy is ever more important. As Li and Bernoff  (2011) point out, there is a “social trend” wherein people are using technologies “to get the things they need from one another rather than traditional institutions like corporations” (p33), this might be through sites like EBay, Etsy or Amazon. So, it’s vital that organizations attempt to intercept this trend and develop a solid plan (Chaffey and Smith 2013, p6).

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But where do I start?

A great start to understanding strategy is an article by “Michael E.Porter – What is Strategy”. Once you’ve given that a read, we’re ready to move onto the planning process: Chaffey and Smith (2013, p25) have set out 6 stages which can help us keep on track with the planning process. When selecting your objectives, Chaffey and Smith have supplied some additional tips.  Think about the “5s’s”:

  • Sell – “using the internet as a sales tool”
  • Serve – “using the internet as a customer- service tool”
  • Speak – “using the internet as a communication tool”
  • Save – “using the internet for cost reduction”
  • sizzle – “using the internet as a brand- building tool”

(Chaffey and Smith, 2013, p43)

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Exploring Digital Strategy

Creating social media accounts such as a Facebook and Twitter pages are some great first steps to take once you have considered the above plan. It may help in giving a more perceived value to your organization, with many organizations using social media in order to “build advocates” and “engage with communities” (Waddington, 2012, p61)

it’s important to remember that while a digital strategy carried out on social media can be a great way to measure success, it’s not without its potential issues. It can damage a company’s reputation (Chaffey, 2013, p267); we only have to think of the gaffs made by Dove (2017) and McDonalds (2017). Have a read through some of the Do’s and Don’ts of Social media and how to handle your accounts. It may help you avoid some nasty backlash!

You should also consider constructing/redesigning your website; this can be used as a direct one-way communication method. It’s important, at this point, that you position your site properly; who do you want to talk to? And how can you reflect this in usability/content/design of your site (Drayton, 2007, p155). This will insure success in your websites reach, and will allow you to monitor website traffic and impressions (Plummer et al, 2007, p41).  Here are some tips to get you started with your website: 5 Steps to Designing A Great Company Website.

Finally…

Once you’ve given all the above ideas some thought and narrowed it down, be sure to focus to make sure it turns out a success.  While the digital word may seem overwhelming and challenging, it can really boost your organization and place you on the map, so to speak. Give it a go, it’s a learning process, we’re all constantly developing our skills in the fast paced digital world. You never know, you might enjoy it! The exciting digital world gives us a chance to connect with people, explore and develop. Welcome the challenge.

Griana Fox is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be contacted at https://uk.linkedin.com/in/griana-fox-a7561a11b, and on Facebook @ Griana Fox.

Why I chose a PR degree…

Why I chose a PR degree…

I remember when I was really young, the first thing I ever wanted to be when I grew up was a pop star – big surprise there, every 6 year old girls dream! Watching Britney Spears on the TV every single day and admiring her so much, can you blame me?

As I began to grow up a little more, I wanted to then become a hairdresser, then a pilot, then an astronaut! My dreams came crumbling down around me when I found out that to be a pilot or an astronaut, you have to have perfect eyesight – I wanted to break my little round face glasses into a million pieces. As if my eyesight was the only thing holding me back from being an astronaut and not the fact that I had a really average set of GCSE’s!GA10

As I was getting a bit older, around the time of my A-Levels I had started to become really interested in social media – Instagram in particular. I was completely in awe of all these ‘Instagrammers’, who were making a living out of advertising products on their page, like teeth whitening and big makeup brands. How had they built themselves up so well that worldwide companies wanted them to advertise their products? I couldn’t get my head around it.

My aunt, who works in PR, was able to explain to me all about advertising and social media and how it is such a big platform today for companies and businesses to advertise their products through, with the help of influencers and celebrities. From then, I have always been so intrigued and loved researching all about it.

As an A-Level business studies student, we learnt all about marketing, advertising, media and communication, and I knew from then that it was what I wanted to further my education in. I began researching University courses that could accomodate this. Originally, I wanted to go away, to Edinburgh or Liverpool, to study, but I had happened to stumble upon the CMPR course at Ulster University. I couldn’t believe my luck when I began looking into it, and all the different modules it had. I was immediately drawn to this course, and put it down as my number one option.

One of the aspects of PR that interests me the most, is the variety. PR really is just a blend of everything media related. Promotion, advertising, campaigns, keepingGA11 up an image, brand management, press releases, media releases – the list goes on! There is a mix of absolutely everything. The reason I like this so much, is because I enjoy working in a fast-paced and dynamic workplace, rather than just doing the same thing day in and day out. It makes work interesting and different each day, and that’s what excites me the most about any of my future careers that I may have in PR.

As I mentioned earlier, I have an aunt who works in PR. Although i’ve never really realised it, but she’s been one of my main influences to choose a degree in PR. She has built her way up to the top of an extremely tough industry, and her success is inspirational. Although she works hard, she also has a lot of perks to her job and recently worked on the Strictly Come Dancing Tour, and was sending me all her selfies with the celebs and judges! I was so envious! I can remember being younger, and she used to take me to the premiers of all the newest films, as she worked for CineMagic. They are some of my fondest memories.

These are just a few of the reasons that I chose a degree in PR! Why did you choose PR?

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Grainne Arkins – final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/grainne-arkins-a54401173/ and Twitter: https://twitter.com/GrainneArkins

 

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/