Celebrities, social opinion, and the political sphere.

Celebrities, social opinion, and the political sphere.

For added support, just chuck a ‘Rock’ at it.

Years ago, before the introduction of social media, we all relied on the information provided to us by media outlets like television, tabloid, newspapers, radio and the like to help us understand the world and form our opinions. In the present day, the reliance on these regulated forms of media may still be important in the formation of public opinion, particularly with the older generations, however it appears that social media has introduced an immediate two-way conversation between celebrities and their fans that never existed until recently; a type of democratisation of a fan club in real-time.

Celebrities crossing over from their usual world of popularity into the political sphere to use their huge fan-base to help influence the outcome of an upcoming election or even to simply make a political statement, is not uncommon.

Marlon Brando in 1973, was nominated for Best Actor for his performance in The Godfather. In his stead, he sent Native American activist Sacheen Littlefeather. In protest against the long-standing failure for the USA to honour the treaties it had made with Native American nations and as a proclamation against the stereotypical portrayal of Native Americans in TV and film, she refused the award on Marlon’s behalf. Before this, politics had been pretty much left out of the Oscars, and worryingly for The Academy, on the night, Sacheen’s words were met with a mixture of booing and applause.

This show of ‘political shenanigans’ prompted the Academy, who were fearing a PR disaster, to ban any future award recipients from sending proxies on their behalf. There have been many other occasions where outside politics have taken centre stage at the Oscars. Who can forget Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon in 1993, and the fine performance of Michael Moore in 2003. Yes, not exactly politics as such, but certainly showing how one human can have a strong influence on matters.

Meanwhile in politics

In 1966, an actor who starred in such films as ‘The Bad Man’ called Ronald Regan was elected Governor of California and later became the President of the United States. Moving through the years, in 2008, Oprah Winfrey and George Clooney openly and loudly endorsed Barack Obama’s presidential campaign; as of yet, neither of them have opted run for President, but who knows? During the same campaign, American musician Hank Williams Jr chose to write a song, endorsing Senator John McCain’s campaign.

Chucking A ‘Rock’ At The Election

Recently, on Sunday, Sept. 27 2020, The Rock, a man who certainly knows how to spin his own PR, decided to post a video on Instagram that was far different from anything he had posted before. In his own words, “it expressed a message near and dear to my heart”. He wanted his followers “to vote blue in the 2020 election”. So with an audience of 190 million, he officially endorsed former VP Joe Biden and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris.  

His caption read “As a political independent and centrist for many years, I’ve voted for Democrats in the past and as well as Republican. In this critical election, I believe Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the best to lead our country, and as my first ever (public) Presidential endorsement, I proudly endorse them for the presidential office of our United States.” At the time of the post, The Rock had 198 million followers on Instagram, and with him rumoured to earn up to $1 million per sponsored Instagram post, he has a lot sway in the world of social media.

“it expressed a message near and dear to my heart”

Prior to this post, when The Rock posted content, his millions of adoring fans would applaud him with nothing but kind words and platitudes, however this post changed everything.

A Rolling Rock Obviously Gathers No Moss

Many Trump fans took to his account to leave their comments of dislike, and to praise their man-child of a President. Did it harm his account?

Actually no. It has grown even more, to well over 200 million. So exactly how can we define that success? In votes? In followers? Just how influential was his message in shaping the political landscape? It is near impossible to measure. It’s not like there are statisticians standing outside each polling station waiting to ask every voter questions like “which celebrity influenced your vote”?

Public attitudes.

A recent study by the YouGov-Cambridge Centre concluded that only 14% of British voters think social media is good for society.

In the same study it shows clearly that many voters actually doubt the internet has been positive for political campaigning.

According to another recent study, the USA public attitudes toward political engagement on social media are equally as eye-opening. 42% get involved online with social or political issues that are important to them, while 37% feel that social media offers a place to express their political opinions.

I am not writing this with the suggestion that celebrities should be left out of all political discourse, however I do feel that in a world where celebrities with huge social media reach are role models and supposed policy experts, there is no limit to just much they can influence the shaping of public opinion; particularly with Generation Z.

What about the older citizens? Could older generations start using social media as an online activism tool?  Professor Jen Shradie suggests “Online activism was supposed to be a utopian dream. Rather than rely on big institutions, everyone’s voices were supposed to be heard,” she says. She goes on to suggest that online activism tends to attract the younger generations to engage, not to mention the better educated; and those with the technology and communication skills do tend to get their point across to win online arguments. After all, older generations obviously hold opinions, but many of these may not be getting captured online.

It’s voting time

So, could politically uneducated, yet powerfully influential PR astute celebrities like The Rock be seen as being a potentially dangerous combination in the overall process of forming social opinion within the political sphere? Perhaps, this is a conversation we should be engaging in more often.

Gary Gates is a final year BSc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on: LinkedIn – Gary Gates

Was the BPerfect Megastore opening a PR disaster?

Was the BPerfect Megastore opening a PR disaster?

The Belfast born brand BPerfect Cosmetics owned by Brendan McDowell launched their first “Megastore” in CastleCourt Belfast on October 1st. This event was heavily promoted on social media across each of BPerfects online social media platforms, with former EastEnders star Jac Jossa attending to launch her first ever tan, tanning mit and facial tanner called the “Jac Jossa Collection”. Many famous beauty influencers such as “MMMitchell”, “Stacey Marie MUA” attended the store launch acting as the staff for the 4-hour opening. Combined each influencer equalled over 7 million followers.  The advertising and marketing carried out prior to the launch date was well executed with the BPerfect team launching their very own “BPerfect Megastore” Instagram page in which they provided every exciting detail about the store launch along with promoting the event on their existing Instagram, Facebook and website platforms . To compliment BPerfects Megastores launch, Jac Jossa and other successful beauty influencers all promoted the store opening night on their very own personal Instagram page, to ultimately bring more people to the not to be missed event.

The BPerfect team knew the megastore would attract many fans as they are a well-established brand, celebrities were attending and of course it was the launch day of the Jac Jossa collection. CastleCourt offered free parking to everyone, and all the BPerfect team arrived in a party bus to create an air of excitement and you guessed it, it certainly attracted a massive crowd. During these unprecedented times, Brendan McDowell and his team knew they had to be responsible and obey the COVID guidelines ensuring the opening was carried out safely and did not breach public safety guidelines.

As a further measure, McDowell posted on his personal Instagram, the megastores Instagram and on the BPerfects Instagram explaining that he had consulted with both the Public Health Agency and CastleCourt to put safety measures in place such as following the one way system while entering the store, wearing a mask in-store, or they would provide one for you, providing hand sanitising stations and a security team to ensure social distancing.

With all safety measures in place, what could go wrong?

On the night of the store opening, as anticipated hundreds of fans gathered from all over Belfast. Queues of people lined up for the must have beauty products and to meet the celebrity influencers, Jac Jossa, and of course get the all-important selfie of themselves instore.

However, the next morning BPerfect were slammed as a “disgrace” by other beauty bloggers. IRadio presenter Louise Clarke tweeted “How is this acceptable? As if it was ever going to be a controlled environment. Shame on the influencers who attended and promoted the event and massive shame on BPerfect for holding it. What’s with certain ‘influencers’ thinking they’re above Covid guidelines?” Ultimately, something that was meant to be a great achievement in the history of the brand backfired and ended up being slammed in the media as a “Total Disgrace” and “A joke”.

How could BPerfect come back from something so brand damaging?

Once Brendan and the BPerfect team heard about the backlash they received, a spokesperson for the brand issued this statement to the media “Before, during and after the opening of our new BPerfect Megastore, we made numerous public pleas to anyone shopping with us on our opening night to ensure they adhered to all social distancing guidelines at all times. This included asking everyone to be personally responsible for social distancing in the outdoor queue, wearing a mask when indoors, sanitising their hands and following all instructions from security.” Brendan posted on his Instagram stating that he was extremely sorry for any offense caused and him and his team really tried to make the store launch as safe as possible for everyone involved. A spokesperson for CastleCourt shopping centre said: “We thoroughly examined BPerfects event management plans and were satisfied with the measures outlined and the focused approach taken to address public health guidelines and to promote safety advice at all times”.

The BPerfect brand had to apologise to their fans. You could argue that it is not their fault as fans chose to attend the event having received the appropriate advice and knowing the safety measures in place. On the other hand, you could argue that their timing was off. Should a successful brand like BPerfect with hundreds of thousands of followers launch their first store knowing it will attract a large crowd in the middle of a pandemic?

The BPerfect launch is the perfect example of how something so exciting and ground-breaking for a brand can very quickly be torn to shreds by the media in the space of 24 hours.  I feel this was a PR nightmare because it happened during a global pandemic when the emphasis is on personal safety and social distancing. The brand cannot undo the damage but can demonstrate how they have learnt from it. I personally feel that despite the publicity drive for this launch and  given the unprecedented times we are living in, they  could not possibly predict the outcome, that hundreds would attend or even be interested in all things beauty related when social events  everywhere have been cancelled. While I’m confident the brand will recover, there is no doubt that their next move will have to be an outstanding PR success.

Tara Hamill is a final year student at Ulster University studying Communication Management and Public Relations. She can be found on Linkedin: @TaraHamill and Instagram: @TaraHamill.

The Social dilemma – why am I scrolling more than I’m sleeping?

The Social dilemma – why am I scrolling more than I’m sleeping?

Scroll versus sleep? I recently watched The Social Dilemma and it left me feeling pretty hopeless. I thought I was pretty good at not being on my phone, putting it down at 11pm and trying not to lift it until 8am the next day. But the screen time reminder thinks otherwise. It likes to prod fun at me with jeering messages informing me my screen time is up 15% on the previous week for a grand total of 6 hr 17 mins a day. Six hours a day on my phone… how? Doing what? Achieving what? I claim that I don’t have time to read two books a week but I can do 6 hours A DAY of giving Zuckerberg more data to manipulate and sell. Scandalous. Six hours is the number of hours I sleep. More sleeping than scrolling is the healthier option here. So every week I look at my screen reports and vow that next week I will be better but better never seems to happen. Why?

Even while watching the documentary which informed us of the heinous nature of social media and the power our smartphones have over us, I still found myself reaching for my phone every time it buzzed and sometimes even when it didn’t. Our phones have become an extension of us, an additional limb; tethered to us at all times. You would be shocked if you looked at the amount of times you pick up your phone on a daily basis. Mine exceeds 200 nearly everyday. Can you imagine doing anything else 200 plus times a day that isn’t a natural bodily function like blinking or breathing? Our phones have become so intrinsically linked to our person that we pick them up subconsciously and unwittingly immerse ourselves in the online sphere rather than engaging in the physical world around us.

According to an article by Harvard University researcher Trevor Haynes,  whenever you get a social media notification, your brain sends a chemical called dopamine along a reward pathway resulting in a feel good feeling. Therefore it is no wonder our phones are such a distraction; they have become a quick and easy way to get a dopamine hit by simply getting attention from your network in the form of likes, comments, retweets, all with just a few taps of your thumb. The constant chasing of this validation is an addiction and neurologically damaging. The documentary indicated the soaring levels of anxiety and depression amongst young people brought on directly by social media overload.

We are thus left in this social dilemma – we know the constant scrolling and constant use of social media is damaging yet it also has a wide range of positive aspects. We know that it allows us to connect with friends/family on different continents, to engage with educational content, lending a platform to marginalized voices and boosting social justice movements to name a few. This is even more imperative in 2020. Perhaps The Social Dilemma needs to be taken with a pinch of salt? There aren’t three men in a room who are carefully planning and controlling every aspect of our feeds but there is a carefully curated algorithm tailored to us. It manipulates features to make our devices as addictive as possible to keep us tipping those scales towards more scroll and less sleep. Thus with this in mind – it is no negative feat to try reduce our screen time. Is it too late for us to change our habits? I don’t think so. You can take control. You can have your own algorithm in real life. Several small changes can lead to a bigger overall shift in our relationship with our phones. I have been setting screen lock to kick in at 10.30pm-8.30am, turning off notifications for apps, leaving it at home when I go on a walk and charging it in a different room are all small but significant ways I have started trying to reduce my screen time. It’s actually becoming easier as time goes on. Hopefully in a few weeks I will be reading rather than refreshing, talking more than texting and most importantly sleeping more than scrolling.

Lucy Mullan is an Msc in PR and Communications at Ulster University, working part-time at Keys Premium Finance. She can be found at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lucy-mullan-2b8309102/

How Brands Are Supporting Us During the Coronavirus Outbreak

As we’ve all seen in the last few weeks Covid-19 has caused disruption to our livelihoods, communities and businesses all around the world. However, I’ve noticed, particularly from social media that many brands and corporations are using their creativity and their social power to spread important Coronavirus health messages such as social distancing. 

Below are just a few of the brands and corporations who are doing their part to try and tackle the pandemic and keep our communities save.  

  1. Unilever promises €100 million to tackle the virus

 

Unilever – a consumer goods manufacturer of brands such as Dove, Lifebuoy and Sure, as well as being the world’s largest soap company have recognised their moral responsibility to help people around the world who are affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Unilever have recently announced that are working to make soap more readily available across the globe as demand surges. They revealed their commitment to adapting their current manufacturing lines to produce sanitisers for hospitals, schools and other institutional settings while also providing many communities with free soap, sanitiser and food valuing a total of €100 million!

We all understand the importance of washing our hands and medical authorities have made it pretty clear that washing our hands will help prevent the spread of infection, and because there’s no vaccine yet, soap remains our most trusted line of defence. As a result, Unilever have decided to teach people the most effective way to wash their hands in a hope to protect lives, families and communities.



 

 

 

The corporation are also making early payments to their most vulnerable small and medium sized suppliers, to help with any financial challenges they face at this time. Employees will also be protected from any drops in pay because of market disruption or because they simply can’t perform their job for a 3-month period.

2. Guinness reveals fund of €1.5 million to help bar staff and the elderly

With pubs closed across the island of Ireland and people consequently left out of work, Guinness has decided to provide a whooping €1.2 million to bar staff to give a helping hand to those who usually pour ‘the black stuff.’

The remaining €300,000 will be used to support elderly citizens during the current health crisis. This will be accomplished by partnering up with Alone, a charity which helps the elderly deal with loneliness, ill health and poverty to name just a few. In a time of such uncertainty, Guinness has really recognised that vulnerable communities require heightened support, and therefore they’ve shown that they’re committed to playing their part.

Also, on the run up to St. Patrick’s Day Guinness acknowledged that this year it would be a little different (which is was). No parades, no bars and no pubs. However, Guinness managed to lift our spirits and highlight what was required from all of us at such an unsettling and disheartening time.

We know that St. Patrick’s Day feels different this year. But we’ve been around for 260 years and learned over time that we’re pretty tough when we stick together. However you choose to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year, stay safe and be good to one another,” Guinness said.

3. Supermarkets provide special shopping hours for the elderly and NHS Workers plus additional measures to encourage social distancing

 

 

 

 

 

As consumers continued to ignore every supermarket’s plea to stop panic-buying many stores quickly stepped up to help make sure everyone got an equal share of the necessities. UK supermarkets (all of the above) decided to dedicate specific opening hours to vulnerable consumers like the elderly, NHS staff and social care workers all of which found themselves walking into supermarkets full of empty shelves. These hours involve opening early or dedicating the first hour of trading to those specific people. Many supermarkets have removed multi-buy promotions as well as introducing shopping limits of 3 items on every product line! I know what you’re thinking. Does this include toilet roll? And the answer is YES!

 

 

 

 

 

Sainsbury’s have announced that consumers over the age of 70 and those with a disability will be prioritised regarding their online delivery slots. While 120 Marks & Spencer franchises are committed to no delivery fees.

All of the above are great measures but you might be wondering what these retail giants are doing around social distancing? Well, Sainsburys and Aldi are encouraging people to avoid using cash and to make use of contactless card payments and Apple Pay as well as asking everyone to remain at least 2 meters apart. Tesco have made use of floor markings within their store and in car parks to ensure we can stay separate from each other. They have also installed protected screens at checkouts to help protect customers and staff.

Our UK supermarkets are doing all they can in order to keep us, and our families safe ensuring we all have the essentials we need. For food and other household items to remain in good supply we must respect these measures and help supermarkets to deal with such a crisis. Afterall they are doing all of this for us!

4. ASOS encouraging us to stay at home & Reebok keeping us stay healthy while we’re here

ASOS has encouraged us to stay at home by providing a list of activities we can do to keep ourselves entertained. ASOS have really paid attention to their target audience by focusing on activities that are all likely to appeal to millennials which they’ve done this using some gentle humour. 

Getting our 60 minutes of exercise each day is hard enough never mind when we’re faced with a pandemic like Covid-19. Fear not, because Reebok has got us covered when we’re trying to stay physically and mentally healthy. Working out may be difficult when we’re stuck inside however, Reebok has decided to create customised workouts we can easily do at home with the equipment we have. This has taken personalisation is the next level if you ask me. Check out their tweet below.

 

 

 

5. Some iconic logos staying relevant and encouraging social distancing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These logos are some of the world’s most powerful and influential brands, all of which have redesigned their logos to better communicate the current message of social distancing. All of the logo readjustments are positive images highlighting how everyone around the world must play their part to help fight against the pandemic. All of these images are communicating the same message, but it feels a little more light-hearted and authentic in comparison to the traditional media. I feel this is a great way to create a global sense of unity and to reinforce that a global effort is needed to practice all the relevant measures to combat Covid-19.

All of the brands mentioned above are examples of positive brand communication and each have shown us how they are using their power to help us during a global crisis. The next few days, weeks and months are going to be difficult, but everyone has to be willing to do their bit and each of these brands show how they’re doing theirs. They are making good of a bad situation and I believe that these are the ones that will benefit the most once this pandemic comes to an end.

Alice Byrne is a second year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found at – Linkedin: Alice Byrne and Twitter: @alice_byrne

Great brands demonstrating social distancing

As governments around the world promote staying at home to curb the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak, brands are stepping up to help. 

With consumers staying at home, brands now have a unique opportunity to craft creative digital campaigns to showcase their products as well as their social responsibility. By spending all this time indoors, it is no surprise that creativity is booming around the world, with strong messages of hope, unity and forward- thinking gracing our social media timelines. 

Cleverly, Slovenia-based creative director Jure Tovrljan reimagined some of the world’s most iconic logos for the new age of social distancing. Tovrljan redesigned 12 logos from brands like Nike, Starbucks and The Olympics. Some updates were as simple as a play on words: LinkedIn becomes ‘LockedIn’, Nike’s famous ‘Just do it’ becomes ‘Just don’t do it’.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whilst these designs are just thought experiments, some brands have made actual changes to their logos to express official recommendations surrounding Covid-19.

Fast food chains have taken their own twist on this emerging trend. McDonalds has separated the Golden Arches that make up its iconic ‘M’, whilst similarly KFC adapts its logo with a strong tagline to reinforce its message.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile Coca-Cola widened the space between the letters in its iconic script with ‘Staying apart is the best way to stay united’ situated below it, promoting the stay at home order. Whilst it hasn’t touched its famous ‘Just do it’ tagline, Nike have also made an attempt to adapt the public obligation to stay at home as a personal challenge with their new ad campaign below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not forgetting the disruption automakers have faced to production from the outbreak, Audi and Volkswagen have also joined in temporarily redefining their logo:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, we ourselves at Allstate have applied our own light-hearted approach to this trend to visually engage with our audience and remind them daily of the recommendation we face:

 

 

 

 

 

 

However, whilst not all brands are adapting logos they are being mindful about the way they communicate.

ASOS was recently scrutinised for selling chainmail face masks during this outbreak. Since then, they made the decision to the withdraw the product, and have been more mindful about the way it is speaking about the pandemic on social media. Positively, ASOS is using gentle humor to encourage social distancing, speaking about it in a tone that appeals to its target audience of millennials:

 

 

 

 

It is clear to see that in these challenging times brands are destined to stay current whilst promoting social good. Do you think these are successful?

Stephanie Daly is a third year Bsc Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University currently on placement year at Allstate. She can be found at: LinkedIn – Stephanie Daly.

The Secret World of Jeffree Star

Whether you’re into makeup or not, you will probably have heard the name Jeffree Star.

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Jeffree Star’s massive ego and personality undeniably made him one of the strongest names and forces on youtube, gathering a whopping 16.5 million subscribers. Even if you’re not interested in the beauty community, there’s no way you haven’t heard of Jeffree Star or missed his very public feuds with other celebs and makeup artists online.

The King placed back on his throne.

Jeffree Star’s past makes him one of the most controversial YouTubers of all time, you either LOVE him or hate him there’s no in-between. No one is perfect, even celebrities make mistakes. Jeffree made a BIG mistake, and in 2017 an old video resurfaced on the internet of Jeffree being a racist. Instead of Jeffree hiding from his past or hiring a major PR person to deal with the storm, he faced it himself. This revealed a lot about Jeffree’s character but it wasn’t enough to prevent the online hate and declining subscribers.

Jeffree Star was once the highest-ranked beauty guru’s on youtube until a younger more shiner version came along and knocked him right off his throne. Not for long though, poor James Charles came under fire from another beauty YouTuber considered to be his close friend, resulting in the loss of 1 million + subscribers in just 48 hours, putting king Jeffree right back on his throne.

His journey to creating a multi-million dollar makeup brand. 

Something Jeffree Star prides himself in is being ‘self-made’. Before Jeffree was a major makeup guru, he had a love for music. Unfortunately for him, this became short fated. It crashed and burned (for the best), but it wasn’t over for Jeffree. He then took his many followers that he had previously gained on a platform called ‘my space’ and combined them with his life savings to invent and create his first product line which was a HUGE success. Taking one of the biggest gambles of his life he said;

“It was either this was gonna work out for me or I was gonna have to go back to the mall… and work at MAC again,” – Cosmopolitan.

This was the first huge step Jeffree took in his career, but it paid off massively for the beauty guru. He then invented and created other product lines such as highlighters, foundations, eyeshadow palettes and so on, making Jeffree Star cosmetics the successful multi-million dollar company it is today.

 

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Money can’t buy class… 

It’s time to discuss the ‘Secret World of Jeffree Star’. Despite Jeffree Star growing a multi-million dollar company, he still left a sour taste in many youtube goers mouths. From his past to getting himself involved in many dramas and dissing Kylie Jenner, it didn’t matter how much money he was making, he was still hated by so many. People subscribed to Jeffree because of his rawness when reviewing other brands, he left no stone unturned. He went in on many brands, even his neighbor Kylie Jenner’s calling her products overpriced while throwing them in the bin. His dark humor left him very unliked in the beauty community, to the point where even people he considered his ‘friends’ turned on him. Even though Jeffree Star was rich to the point where he could cut a Chanel bag in half without thinking twice, he became not just unliked but unrelatable to.

What changed?

Jeffree Star met Shane Dawson.

 

 

So, who is Shane Dawson? In a world of unrelatable YouTubers and their Rolex watches, Shane Dawson is a beacon of light. Despite the fact that Shane has 15 million youtube subscribers and is considered an OG (he started his channel 8 years ago), he has stayed hilariously relatable and humble.

No one really knew what series 1 of the ‘Secret World of Jeffree Star’ was going to entail, but all I can say is it’s definitely not what anyone expected. Shane filmed a 5 piece documentary series on Jeffree’s life and without a doubt changed (almost) everyone’s opinion on the makeup mogul. Jeffree Star talks about many raw and personal things that he doesn’t share on his own platforms, all while giving a tour of his 7 million dollar closet. We see what Jeffree gives back to his fans, friends, and family, and it’s truly without a doubt it’s truly inspiring.

It starts with Shane taking a tour of Jeffree’s mansion in hidden hills and finishes with Shane surprising Jeffree to a visit of his first original apartment where he experienced some of his darkest times. Without ruining the documentary for those who have not seen it (highly unlikely that there’s many), Jeffree gets personal with money, business, life and let’s not forget his 6 dogs.  Shane and Jeffree’s documentary shook the youtube industry, and without a doubt helped many youtube goers fall in love with the ‘real’ Jeffree Star.

 

 

There was a massive want for a makeup collaboration between Jeffree Star and Shane Dawson, so fans got what fans asked for. They have just launched their ‘Shane x Jeffree Conspiracy Collection’ which covers lipsticks, eyeshadows, and more. It has sold to date 1.1 million palettes, and both youtube stars gained something amazing out of this. Jeffree received a massive amount of praise and acceptance from the internet and subscribers, while Shane received plenty of $$$ (even though we know he is merely interested)… Can’t relate.

 

 

For those who are interested in finding out more about the notorious Jeffree Star, you will be happy to know that Shane has just made and aired a second series called ‘The beautiful world of Jeffree Star’.

Let’s hope the tea is just as hot.

Rachael Diamond is a final year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Twitter – @diamond_rachael and LinkedIn @https://www.linkedin.com/in/rachael-diamond-31449b173

When I grow up I wanna be….a PR professional

The industry of Public Relations is one that I still struggle to explain to anyone when they ask where my degree will actually get me in life.

So the way in which I describe it to others is to tell them what PR means to me.

What PR means to me…

Public relations is having growing media representation within today’s society, whether that’s through online brand content or on the streets of your nearest city, public relations comes in many forms and is all around us, yet not may actually know what it is.

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It is becoming extremely important for organisations to have a PR strategy in place, in order to get their brand out there and increase the reputation within the industry and to their publics.

Producing a single definition of PR, to me, is impossible, there are many different interpretations of PR and so many different definitions by different organisations.

There are two top public relations organisations within the UK, the CIPR and PRCA, and even they define public relations differently.

The definition that sticks with me is the CIPR definition, as it states that public relations is about an organisations reputation, and is ‘a result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you’.

  Image result for cipr" Image result for prca"

Initial Interest 

The first time I had heard of the term Public Relations was when I was finishing my A-levels and discovered a local girl from my area who was studying a business and PR course at university and had created a blog where she discussed all things PR related. Through reading her blogs I realised that, while I had no clue what she was talking about, the topics she was discussing really intrigued me. That girl was Orlagh Shanks, now the UK’s top PR blogger for 2018 and 2019.

I then decided, (after a rejected nursing application) that I was going to apply for the Communication Management and Public Relations course at Ulster University. Even though, at this stage, I didn’t know much about public relations or what it was, or even what kind of job it would get me, I just knew that I really enjoyed reading PR related content, and that was enough for me to apply.

To this day I am thankful for that rejected nursing application, as I have been really enjoying my course at university.

Creativity 

One of the main reasons a career in PR interests me is that it allows you to be creative.

‘In the UK, public relations practitioners work in an industry with millions of pounds spent by organisations and clients to pay them to be creative and practise creativity’ (Green, A. 2010).

A job in public relations would allow you to express and show your creative mind through the development of PR strategies and campaigns. This is an aspect of mu university course that I have thoroughly enjoyed. Developing a PR strategy or campaign is exciting, it allows me to express my ideas and come up with innovative concepts to make a brand stand out and gain engagement, which in turn will benefit the organisation as it will influence a positive opinion of the brand. I have always had an interest in writing and producing online content, which is why I developed my own blog two years ago – https://siobhanmckerr.blogspot.com/. This interest will benefit me within my career in PR as it will assist me when writing press releases for organisations to be used by journalists and other media.

Public relations is an industry that is very fast paced, things change all the time, which for me is exciting. I have always viewed a job in PR as ‘fun’, and something I would love doing everyday, which would make me feel more motivated within my job. A day working in PR would never be the same as the last, the world of PR is constantly developing, things happen everyday that involve the use of PR, in news, media and online.

Social media as a tool

Another aspect of a job within PR is the use of social media. Social media can be used as a tool, whether it be to improve an organisations reputation or to grow their publics in order to gain customers, if social media is done right it can achieve all of these things.

Social media is something that I enjoy on a regular basis like most of us, however, through the development of my blog, I have also been able to see the side of social media that can be used as a tool for businesses. I often find myself looking up local businesses on social media sites, whether that be to see a menu or to see their latest promotional offers, and often I end up thinking to myself about the ways that the local businesses could improve on their social media sites in order to gain more engagement and traffic to their site and promote their business further.

Running an organisation’s social media sites would be something I would really enjoy, I would love to be involved in raising a brands awareness online and creating more engagement and watch this all improve on analytic sites. This is something I would thrive on, and I also believe, do well.

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Innocent smoothies are a company that have really changed the game when it comes to social media campaigns and they have really grown their social media presence in the last few years due to their fantastic reactive marketing campaigns and their use of crisis management in scandal situations, such as the ‘conker milk’ scandal. 

Versatile 

A degree in Public relations can take you down many different paths and can allow you to work within many different sectors of the industry, whether that be within the voluntary, public service or private sectors, or in-house vs agency.

Right know the path that interests me the most is Influencer Marketing. I want to learn more about the process of influencer marketing, such as why people online are so influential to consumers through the use of sponsored content. I would also love to learn more about how businesses and organisations work with influencers to promote their brands and become more successful online.

While this is a stem off the idea of a career solely in public relations, I feel that a job in influencer marketing would also incorporate PR as it involves working with publics and forming relationships in order to improve an organisations reputation. I hope to be able to explore many different paths within the PR industry as this would open many doors for me as a PR professional and would enable me to gain overall insight into the industry. This would also encourage me to stay motivated and inspired within my career.
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Feeling valued

Having a job where the work you do actually is important and means something will help you to feel respected and valued within the organisation you are working for. Everyone needs PR, so everyone needs your ideas and creative mind to ensure the reputation of their business stays at a high standard.  At some stage, every organisation will need some sort of content creation, promotional content, crisis management or an entirely new PR strategy, meaning that as a PR professional, you will always be valued and have meaning. This is something that is important to me when discussing a career, as feeling valued within the work place will enable you to work to the best of your ability with the team around you. This will also ensure a healthy and exciting workplace.

Success 

For me, when a think of a PR professional, I think of success. We all want to be successful and this is something I see as achievable when I think of a career in Public Relations. It offers the opportunity to progress within your career through the possibility of promotion, starting as a PR assistant and working your way up to a PR manager or even director. This means that within the PR sector there is always the opportunity for improvement and also for learning throughout your career, which is important to me as it reduces the likeliness of hitting a dead end with your career and will help to keep me motivated throughout and in return will hopefully enable a lot of success within my future career plan.

Here are some motivational quotes from successful women to inspire you!

 

Siobhan McKerr is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on: Twitter – @Siobhan_mckerr, LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/siobhan-mckerr and Instagram: @Siobhan_mckerr.

It’s time to pop your social media bubble

October 22nd 2019. For many in Northern Ireland, it was a day of liberation and celebration. For others, it was their country’s #DarkestDay. I’m sure for others, it was somewhere in between.

I’m not here to comment on the laws that passed, but the discussion that they provoked which I found gravely concerning.

Before we delve headfirst into the issue, a quick case study: The United States of America. An increasingly polarised nation, with large swathes of the country being tarred ‘Red’ or ‘Blue’ based on their two-party system, which essentially limits the electorate to 2 choices come election day. From visiting the country in both staunchly Republican and Democratic areas, the ideological disparity is plain to see. I could bore you with my ‘Gap Yah’ enlightenment chat but consider this example:

When at an extended family gathering, Northern Irish politics came up in conversation. Being fairly anomalous in that I was raised non-religiously by parents from both sides of our own country’s divide, relatives curiously and kindly picked my brains on various issues. But when American politics came up, I was genuinely taken aback about how deeply divided a nation it is, even in comparison to Northern Ireland. Before I lose you here, let me tell you this: Not one of them was good friends with, worked with, or was related to someone who voted against the traditional party of their state. I tell a lie – one’s sister was married to a guy with differing political opinions, but he was “quite weird”. These are the most welcoming, loving people and non-judgemental people you could ever be lucky enough to meet, they just happened to be operating in a politically uniform community.

Back to Northern Ireland, 22nd October 2019. Some celebrated the passing of same-sex marriage and abortion decriminalisation laws with statuses including rainbow and smiley-face emojis, whilst many others showed their disagreement by changing their profile pictures to a black square with #DarkestDay. Search this hashtag on Twitter and among these typical updates, you’ll find a worrying trend.

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Of course, these people are free to follow and friend whomever they wish, but it begs the question: are we becoming polarised?

Jon Ronson published ‘So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed’ in 2015. The book posits the idea that we are living in “a great renaissance of public shaming” in which “we’ve created a stage for constant artificial high drama. Every day a new person emerges as a magnificent hero or a sickening villain.” Scroll down your newsfeed for less than 2 minutes and you’ll find a comment thread that proves this.

Even seemingly innocuous breakfast TV shows exploit this trend. This Morning (1.4M YouTube subscribers) and Good Morning Britain (478K YouTube subscribers) boast millions on views on their most popular videos, which often consist of debates on controversial topics (or increasingly, topics made controversial) between guests of 2 polar opposite opinions. Hundreds of YouTube videos following the clickbait title trope of ‘X ideologist owns Y ideologist’ or ‘Z viewpoint shut down’ boast viewership in the millions. With click-based revenue systems, arguments play the game perfectly, bypassing any reasoned discussion. Is it any wonder our own discussions are starting to follow suit?

Some of this social media shaming culture can arguably produce positive change, such as accounts like @DietPrada calling out multi-national fashion houses for copycatting smaller brands for profit or football fans that have posted racist videos being banned from future games by their club.

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Even if we consciously choose to avoid polarising media pieces, Facebook is still in the business of social segmentation. By engaging with content that interests us, even viewing a video in your timeline, Facebook classifies you by a whole range of criteria from your shopping and sports interests to your political affiliations (head to facebook.com/ads/preferences and click on ‘Your preferences’ to see your own algorithm-imposed social media bubble). Therefore, your newsfeed is tailored to bring you information suited to these interests, filtering out content that isn’t.

This algorithm has been exploited by political PR professionals, such as in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, to target specific groups with messaging tailored to suit their particular biases on a minute level, while hiding other issues that would cause them to rethink their voting choices. Whilst the same headline news would get through to the vast majority of people, the way the events were portrayed to whole sections of the community would be vastly different – so when we unfriend people of differing viewpoints, we only make our own social media bubble more unpoppable.

There is a glimmer of light however, as media outlets facilitating more nuanced and purposefully bias-free content are gaining traction as a result of the current media climate. A personal favourite of mine is Jubilee, a YouTube channel aiming to “make thought-provoking, real and empathetic videos to create a movement for human good”. Ran by young creatives in California, their Middle Ground series finds commonalities between those with opposing views on controversial issues and their Spectrum series find differing views between pigeon-holed people groups (atheists, plus sized people, veterans etc), among other binge-worthy videos.

So when you see a mate publish a viewpoint that is completely different from yours, roll your eyes as hard as you want, but wait a minute before you unfriend them – they may well be the only unique contribution to your newsfeed.

Georgia Galway is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on: Instagram @imthatgalwaygirl – and LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/georgia-galway-24a568153/.

How to go from a reality TV star to the President of the United States of America.

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Reality TV. The genre that has overtaken our lives, from watching ordinary people find the “love’ of their lives on a luxury island, to watching important political figures such as Stanley Johnson eating kangaroo…bits. We sit down and indulge ourselves on entertaining content, usually thanking god that it’s not us having to serenade Simon Cowell.

But what if one of these TV “stars” then decides one day, “I think I want to become president” (as most normal people do). What does it take in order for this to happen? Well no, this isn’t some sort of SNL comedy sketch. This is in fact real life, and it came down to one bumbling, blonde haired man by the name of Donald Trump and the help of the now infamous Cambridge Analytica.

By this point, if you do not know who Trump is then I do believe you may be in the extremely lucky minority. For those who do, I’m sure you ask yourself on a regular basis, how did this man ever become president of the United States (which, may I add would be a completely valid observation).  Well America, you largely have the work of a data company known as Cambridge Analytica to thank for that.

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Cambridge Analytica were a consulting firm, that was set up to combine data mining, data brokerage and analysis. They were able to offer services to business and political groups who wanted to “change audience behaviour.” They claimed that they where able to use certain algorithms, specifically tailored to your businesses needs, for example the ability to analyse consumer data and buying behaviours. In the case of the Trump campaign, their main objective was to ensure Donald Trump become president, by implementing a few “necessary” (unethical) steps.

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This is my summarised “How to” guide of Cambridge Analytica’s process of transforming Trump from a second rate Alan Sugar to President of the USA. A fool proof system, made to aid the fool!

  1. Exploitation of Facebook users privacy

Exploitation. A common way to gain information on your target market, is it not? Cambridge Analytica developed an algorithm for Facebook, which involved paying participants to partake in a survey about their personalities, and as a result allowing access to all their Facebook data and information. Roughly 270,000 people took part in this survey, which as a result lead to around 30 million  peoples data being accessed, as they were able to access friends of friends, all for the sake of $5! This allowed Cambridge Analytica to have extensive amount of data of the American public, which was what they effectively needed for the next step. 

2. Breakdown of data

They then come up with a system that allowed them to group off people in certain divisions, for example people with a particular personality trait were seen to be more likely to support “the wall” being built, and therefore could be swayed to vote for Trump with a small amount of persuasive targeted marketing. They scored each personality using the Ocean model, which effectively segregated people into different characters based on things like their openness to new experiences and their neuroticism, which was then used to decide those who were sensitive from those who are more secure and confident. Who knew a small amount of information we have posted on Facebook would allow for a mass break down of our personalities, frightening isn’t it?

3. Campaigning

Once they where able to branch the individuals off into large groups and sub groups within that, they were then able to find out which participants they would tailor their marketing for the campaign towards, as these were the people that possessed the necessary characteristics to be swayed to vote for Trump. They used devised communication within their digital marketing campaigns to “promote the story” to their targeted individuals. All the data research and segregation of groups meant that one groups campaign that they saw online would be completely different from another group, as both these individuals need to be attracted to the cause in a different way, and allows people to believe in the candidate and connect with everyone in a different way- and as a result encourage and increase voting numbers. The main (only) way they could persuade people to vote for Trump- ruin the reputation of Hilary Clinton. The perfect marketing plan wouldn’t you say? 

4. Extorting politicians

What is the best way to get politicians on your side during a campaign? Make alliances with them, create a mutual relationship, build friendships through past experiences? No, Cambridge Analytica decided to go for a more hands on method with one of their chief executives appearing to say that they are able to extort other politicians by sending woman to entrap them. A conventional method to win presidency, extort politicians and create fake news regarding them, right? This gave them the endorsement and support that they may have needed to sway voters towards Trump. 

A lot of technical stuff isn’t it? In simplified terms, all you have to do to become President is unethically access large quantities of data from unsuspecting participants of surveys, manipulate their data in a way to suit your intentions and create marketing content to drill propaganda into said person, simple right? Is it ethical and morally correct? No. Will it get you off the TV and saying “you’re fired” everyday? Yes. 

Since then, Cambridge Analytica has been shut down and under investigation for a number of possible offences they may be held liable for. Does that mean our national reality show treasure like Paul Hollywood or Gemma Collins will never become PM?

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I do want to end this on a more positive note, so rather than a detailed dissection on the large global effect Trumps presidency is having on many individuals that belong to minority groups, or his lack of consideration for our rapidly dying planet, I decided to end with a few of my favourite trump memes. Enjoy!

The Fears of Social Media

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I have always been interested in social media and how it has influenced every aspect of our lives. People are obsessed with their image, likes and how they present themselves on various platforms, and as the years have went on our social skills and social anxiety have plummeted. We feel the need to be constantly connected to what people are doing, what they are wearing or how many likes they get on a photo of themselves on a Saturday night sitting on the swing at ‘Ollies’, which has manifested the term ‘FOMO’. ‘FOMO’ is simply defined as the ‘Fear of missing out’ or otherwise known as fear of regret.

It can lead to a ‘compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity for a social interaction, a novel experience, a profitable investment, or other satisfying events’. It essentially puts a fear in us that we are not spending our time wisely and makes us imagine how different our day would have gone if we had of just said the simple word ‘Yes’. It is alarming how this affects our psychological wellbeing, and can so easily add to a person’s negative mindset and depressed feelings. If we type in the ‘Fear of missing out’ the first thing that comes up is a definition, which was helpful for me as I used it in this blog, but further down there are pages upon pages of psychological websites on how to ‘deal with it’. This is not just some relatable quote a person posted on Instagram to try and get a trend going, it is real for a lot of people whether they realise it or not.

Personally, and although I hate to admit it as I got older my FOMO has only gotten worse, and that applies to my generation as we grew up with social media and it is everything we know. On that note, this vulnerability has subjected us to be an interesting market to target, as marketers are able to tap into the powerful emotional effects that are associated with this fear. On a realistic level regardless of the situation FOMO may affect people differently, whether it’s not being able to make it to dinner with your friends, not seeing the latest movie when it comes out, missing that hyped up holiday, or not attending your weekly/monthly group night out. But for many it is the sense of knowing that all your friends are out ‘living their best lives’ and you missed it due to something coming up or you just didn’t feel like it. Sometimes you may seem to find yourself checking your group chat for updates, snooping at Snapchat stories to see where your drunk friend has passed out next, or going into work the next day to find out any gossip from the night before. Without realising it you have tricked yourself into thinking that what you were doing was boring, and started to imagine how your day would have gone differently.

Whether we like it or not, we always seem to have those people on Instagram who we jump at the chance to view their stories or latest post because they go on 36 holidays a year, never wear the same thing twice, drive a brand-new Audi, have the best hair extensions, Russian lashes, fillers and around 3 different pairs of Alexander McQueen trainers. By looking at these types of people it tricks us into thinking we are not progressing in life and triggers that tiny voice in your head saying, ‘why can’t I have all that’. But if you think about it these types of people are probably so anxiety riddled and obsessed with keeping up their ‘image’ and social media status that their life is not actually so perfect after all and as the saying goes ‘you don’t know what happens behind closed doors’.

Although this topic you could say is quite sensitive, people including myself need to remember that it is not the end of the world, and someone out there could be looking at everything we do and thinking the exact same. It is nice that we don’t all have the same goals, want the same things, or live a certain lifestyle otherwise life would be dull, and moments would never be unexpected. We need to stop focusing on the what ifs and start focusing on the here and now, forget FOMO and remember JOMO (‘acronym for joy of missing out and describes the pleasure of taking a break from social activity- especially social media to enjoy personal time’).

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Chloe Light is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University.  She can be found on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/chloe-light-358421172/ and Instagram @Chloe_lightbulb