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’.

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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

 

A Brief Enquiry into Gun Violence and Media Relationships

Roll that 90’s VHS Tape… were our early counter arguments in the 1990’s the exact same thing, ‘it’s not our fault, it’s just a game.?’ Or is it time to look beyond this ‘he said they cause violence, she said they’re just games’ style of argument this conversation has been mired in for decades.

We need to get down to the real story, the scientific fact;

Does video game violence make people more violent?

First and foremost, the intention of my second blog post for the Ulster PR Student Blog is to talk about a relevant conversation that is taking place in today’s society, my goal is in no way to propose some sort of solution, I am in no way qualified to make such a call . Do video games make the users who play them more violent and is there a connection between video games and the ‘issue’ of gun violence in the United States of America.

 De-constructing the links between video games and crime.

In order to correctly investigate this topic, let’s begin at the start. With platforms like the PlayStation, Nintendo 64 rocketing to popularity in the mid-nineties, one of the first ‘big release’ titles to take place at the dawn of the gaming era was Mortal Kombat (1992) followed by Wolfenstein 3D (1992) and Doom (1993). These pioneers’ titles have gone on to cause an explosion of popularity in the 2000’s, turning a nerdy pastime into a pivotal experience in popular culture. The interest of gaming has also inspired negative feedback in the direction of the ‘big bad’ gaming studios that have created the modern releases of Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty and Battlefield titles.

 

FS1Source: Medium – The Incomplete History of Video Game Sales

Wouldn’t it be plausible to state that if the release of these titles in the mid-nineties and the early – mid noughties have been influencing youth culture to commit violent/ in humane acts that this would show on a registered crime statistics chart?

I beg to differ; in fact, the science proves that there is no visible correlation.

 

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Source: Fivethirtyeight – The U.S rate is up still far below it’s 1980 peak.

I believe the ideals ofconstitution of the United States in Americain which it’s citizens have the oppurtunity to buy firearms, in order to protect themselves as one of their basic human rights began well in principle.. that is, for the legal owners of registered firearms.

 

But the line is not so black and white anymore, we live in a society where violence occurs everyday, but can we blame really blame video games for the astronomical numbers of school shootings taking place in the U.S?  In my opinion, that’s a cop out and a distorted view of a much larger picture.

It’s very difficult for myself as an Irish person or a person from any other culture to critique or to talk about another country, the counter – argument would be that ‘you don’t have a right to speak about a society you haven’t grown up in.’ But as an objective earthling, it easy to acknowledge the criticism’s American society faces, that being instituionalised racism and guns.

They’re there and they are so heavily engraved in American society.

It is interesting to take note that as a society we have become more aware of the dangers of social media. But there are no guidelines from reputable bodies advising on how to properly manage your social media intake. This is an fascinating comparison in the conversation of gun violence because once you introduce a tool that becomes such an integral part of society be it guns or social media, you cannot take it away, you can’t immediately remove the source. The change must occur from within, from the individual, but this is highly unlikely to happen because there is so much to lose…money, which in this situation is more valuable than human life.

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Francis Sherry is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on Instagram: frankoosherry

 

 

Tide Pod challenge creating brand crisis?

Do you ever just remember something that was popular or trending and just think wow the human race is just insane, like really really stupid? I mean how are we supposed to be the most intelligent mammals when things like this become a thing. Well this is exactly what I thought when I heard about the ‘tide pod’ challenge

.Image result for tide pods challenge"

Basically, it became trendy to eat tide pods- yes as in the ones you put in the washing machine to do your laundry. Which by the way, contain ethanol, citric acid and other dangerous chemicals that are poisonous. The whole thing started when tide pods became known as a ‘forbidden snack’ online due to their colourful appearance making them appear like sweets. Soon after videos emerged of teenagers (yeah not toddlers) eating the laundry detergent. While it was later confirmed most people where only pretending to take a bite, a lot of people actually did. American association of poison control reported 86 cases of teenagers intentionally ingesting laundry detergent in 2017. I’d also like to highlight the point about this being teenagers involved, I mean I would of understand if my 3-year-old godson was fooled by this. The main problem was both social media and the headlines in the mass media. Social media is dangerous in that everyone seems to want to be famous on it these days so will do whatever to keep up. It also made the few serious incidents of actual ingestion look like a worldwide epidemic. Image result for tide pods challenge gronk video"

I also think the mass media look for any reason to blame the younger generation for all the worlds problems. They also in some ways fear the popularity of social media and so want to undermine its positivity. For example, headlines started along the lines of ‘teenagers eating laundry detergent pods and posting the videos online’ to ‘teenagers risking their lives for internet challenge.’

For Tide pods this was a serious PR disaster. Many headlines suggested that it was even time to ban tide pods for good. Whether people where really eating them or just pretending to it brought forward a real danger about the design of the pods. They have been known previously to confuse the elderly people with dementia and of course young kids with their bright colouring. Therefore, this viral trend had others thinking in this way and demanding something be done. The owners of tide pods could not in their right minds predict that teenagers would take up eating their products as a hobby. Due to this they were probably not well prepared for this particular PR crisis, however, their parent company Proctor and Gamble handled the situation quite well considering. They got American footballer Rob Gronkowski nicknamed ‘Gronk’ involved in the recovery. They uploaded a tweet of them asking Gronk should people ever eat tide pods to which he replies ‘no’ several times. He then goes on to say use tide pods for washing not eating. Teenagers today are obsessed with celebrities, so It was smart of Proctor and Gamble to use one promoting safe use of their products

.Image result for tide pods challenge gronk video"

They didn’t really go crazy with their crisis management over social media. There was that video and one other tweet ‘Only things that should be on today’s menu: nachos, wings and plenty of team spirit. Save your tide pods for the stains later.’ This was probably the best thing to do as most parents will agree telling teenagers not to do something seems to make them want to do it a whole lot more. The product itself was already safe as it was properly locked so focusing on the social media craze was all they could really do. They also tried to get the videos removed to stop them from reappearing or becoming another PR crisis in the future. YouTube did eventually start to delete the videos however the jokes and memes will live on forever really

.Image result for tide pods challenge meme"

That being said in a world where there are now apparently over 100 genders is it really that much of a reach that people would eat laundry detergent to gain internet fame. The real problem here is that teenagers need to learn the difference between famous and infamous.

Katie Doyle is a final year Bsc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Instagram-@katiedoyle54 LinkedIn-https://www.linkedin.com/in/katie-doyle-9a0551195/ Twitter-https://twitter.com/ktdoyle6

Does WIFI connect us?

Does WIFI connect people?

Over the past three weeks I have been learning what life is like without WIFI, through no choice of my own I might add. I have been spending my days with my two closest friends in our new flat in Belfast. We had been excited to move in, however as nice and comfortable as the flat is, our friends still will not visit for long because of one overwhelming detail, no WIFI. There have been several phone calls made to Virgin Media and several mix ups, mistakes and confusing conversations that have happened in the past weeks to try and put the problem right. It can be argued that we are a very laid-back bunch and the problem could have been sorted sooner. However here we are, still no sign of the WIFI being sorted.
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As much as I would like to consider myself as one of the very few young people today who is not completely dependent on the internet and social media I cannot help but notice, especially over the past weeks, how much it controls so much of what I do and how much it surrounds me in my day to day life. Being twenty-one in this day and age means that a lot of our news and gossip comes via group chat messages on WhatsApp. This means we felt very in the dark about things going on the outside of our flat and relied on people visiting to gather any juicy information we were missing out on. As students all on the minimum wage at our part time jobs it’s worth mentioning that we couldn’t afford to keep buying data from O2, who charge ten pounds for the smallest amount of data and get away with it because of desperate people, like ourselves. I can’t help but think, what did people used to do?

How we survived
Boredom soon set in when we couldn’t scroll through Instagram or view Snapchats or even watch a movie together because we had no television and, wait for it, no Netflix. We were forced to entertain ourselves. One major lesson I have learned over the past few weeks is how fun it can be to cook a meal with your friends and sit down to enjoy it while having an actual face to face conversation. I Felt like I was learning things I never knew about these girls I have known for several years. However, another lesson I have learned is how easy it is to overeat when there is nothing else to do… I even had a friend turn to me and say, in a very serious tone,
‘I really don’t know what I’m going to do when I finish this yogurt’ .

We decided we would not let it get the best of us, we convinced ourselves we could be entertained without any form of internet. We ventured outdoors. For anyone out there who ever finds themselves without WIFI for long periods of time I really recomCM8mend the cinema. I know it’s not the cheapest form of entertainment for fellow students but even going one night a week was a great reason for us to leave the house and do an activity together. We even started doing home workouts together, as we currently can’t afford the gym membership, which made us feel really productive and bonded us together even more. A morning walk to buy a coffee became something to really look forward to instead of it being the chore it used to be, having to leave the house. One major thing we all noticed was how out of place we felt when standing waiting in places and not having a phone to scroll through. We noticed everywhere we looked people were staring at screens or had earphones in. The overall experience has left me pondering one big question, does WIFI bring people together, or keep us apart?

Reasons I feel we need WIFI
1- The internet is an amazing invention that enables us to instantly contact a whole group of people through one easy click.
2- We can see News from around the world at any time and because of this young people are much more involved in what is happening in the world.
3- If used correctly, the internet can really be educational. For example any random question that pops into my head during the day I can google it and find the answer instantly, this saves a lot of arguments with my brothers during debates.
4- I have stayed in touch with friends from my school who have moved countries or drifted from me in real life and I can see what everyone is up to.
5- The world, in my opinion, is much more open to different cultures and knowledgeable about them because of the internet and social influencers.
6- It’s hard to feel lonely when the whole world is at your fingertips

Reasons I feel we don’t need WIFI
1- I feel like I spend so much of my day staring at screens and this feels very unnatural to me and has affected my eye sight and attention span.
2- When being on your phone takes you out of the present moment you are in with the people really standing in front of you it is hard to argue that we are more connected because of it.
3- Social media sights can turn into popularity contests very easily when young people start competing for likes and basing how they see themselves by the number of likes their selfie got.
4-There is an evil side to the online world that opens young people up to risk and danger and online bullying.
5- While not having any form of WIFI, data or phone usage I noticed how much it had taken over my life.

So basically, overall my experience has taught me that as much of a hassle as it was and as bored as I felt at times, I need to learn to be less dependent on WIFI. I now know I can live without it, it is possible, but maybe I just don’t want to.

Ever O’Neill is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram – emeroneill29 ; and Facebook Emer O’Neill