From wind-ups to lucky pants, are Paddy Power the kings of PR?

From wind-ups to lucky pants, are Paddy Power the kings of PR?

Paddy Power, if you haven’t heard of them before, are an Irish bookmaker who operate in the UK and Ireland. Paddy Power are a very established name in the betting industry, with shops in over 600 locations. However, many people will mostly be familiar with Paddy Power through their social media accounts. With over 1.5 million likes on Facebook, and over 650,000 followers on Twitter, it is very unlikely that you will not have come across one of their witty posts on your timeline.

Paddy Power use their social media accounts for a mix of betting information and poking fun at others, with the latter being their main point of focus. There is no doubt that if your favourite football team lose a game at the weekend, Paddy Power will pull no punches and be quick to have a laugh at their expense. The bookmaker is also very famous for their PR stunts, which usually come with plenty of talking points and sometimes some controversy. These stunts often get a lot of attention, some good some not so good, but certainly play a part in Paddy Power’s brand image.

One of Paddy Power’s biggest PR stunts was in the lead up to the 2014 FIFA World Cup which was taking place in Brazil. The Irish betting firm posted a message of support for the England national team in preparation for the tournament:

No sooner had this message of support been tweeted until the backlash started. Had Paddy Power really chopped down trees in the Amazon rainforest just as a publicity stunt? Not exactly, however they did let people have their say on social media before revealing the truth.

One user tweeted “@paddypower did you really commission that rainforest stunt? Disgusting! I hope you all go to jail or a long time!”

Another said “Jesus, @paddypower actually did wreck a portion of the rainforest as a publicity stunt? What a clusterf*ck.”

In typical Paddy Power style they replied to one of these tweets stating “we haven’t cut down that much!”

This was quickly picked up by the press and many articles were published, criticising the organisation for this seemingly lack of awareness of a massive global issue, all to raise publicity.

The reality was, Paddy Power had not cut down parts of the Amazon rain forest. In fact, they hadn’t stepped foot in Brazil at all. This was all a 3D model that was created by the guys at Paddy Power in order to create this publicity stunt. After letting the lie go on throughout the weekend, they eventually came clean, and it turned out that they were in fact attempting to raise awareness of the issue of deforestation in this area.

Their campaign to #SaveTheRainforest rather than #ShaveTheRainforest was a welcome relief to many on social media who had first of all slammed Paddy Power for the initial tweet. This in the end was a fantastic PR move by the organisation as they created lots of conversation around the initial post that in turn raised awareness for this wider issue, and presented the organisation as one who cares, rather than one out to destroy the Amazon rainforest for a few retweets.

This of course is not the only stunt Paddy Power has done prior to a World Cup tournament. The latest edition of the competition was held in 2018 in Russia and again the organisation opted for a shocking approach to get people talking about a wider issue. This time, the issue was polar bears and the stunt was not as straightforward as the previous one.

Again, the image and footage of Paddy Power “spray-painting” the St. George’s Cross onto a Polar Bear was leaked to the press causing outrage about this lack of respect for an endangered species. However, as it always goes with Paddy Power, not all was as it initially seemed. This again was completed with the aid of technology and the help of Polar Bear Agee and owner Mark Dumas. The stunt was again an attempt to raise awareness of Polar Bears in Russia and was fairly successful yet again in causing a stir on social media.

The stunts don’t stop there, Paddy Power also enjoy taking advantage of showing the brand on the biggest stages when the whole world are watching. They don’t do this in regular ways such as advertising hoardings at these events, instead they showcase their Paddy Power lucky pants!

In the group stages of the European Championships in 2012, Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner scored against Portugal and proceeded to lower his shorts slightly and raise his jersey to show off his ‘lucky pants’ which were covered in the Paddy Power logo.

The stunt was accepted as funny by the large majority. Unfortunately, in the minority of those who found it not so funny, were the tournament organisers UEFA. They fined the footballer €100,000, which Paddy Power coughed up for, however this was a ludicrous punishment in comparison to the fine handed to the Croatian FA for racist chanting in the same week which was €80,000.

Bendtner was not the only sportsperson to don these infamous pants. In 2017, one of the biggest boxing fights in history took place between Floyd Mayweather and UFC star Conor McGregor. Paddy Power took advantage of this opportunity to show-off their pants with the world watching by getting Floyd to wear them at the weigh in for the bout. The logo on this occasion accompanied a pinstripe print that read ‘always bet on black’ and cost around £3,000 to manufacture, again showing that the betting firm don’t do things by half measures.

It’s fair to say Paddy Power are not afraid of the limelight, whether it be for the right or wrong reasons, and this brazen approach tends to work and hit its mark in majority of cases. There has been times where this close to the wire approach goes too far, such as running betting odds on the first species to be driven to extinction as a result of the BP oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico back in 2010. However, I would personally say that their approach is very effective as regardless of whether the conversation happening is good or bad, at least the conversation is happening. Making change involves making noise, and Paddy Power certainly attempt to do that with stunts like the #SaveTheRainforest. Crowning them the ‘Kings of PR’ may be a bit premature, but it is impossible to ignore them when it comes to high profile PR stunts. Their ability to go as close to the line as they possibly can without crossing must be commended and if they keep this approach, I look forward to what they come up with next.

Phelim Sweeney is a final year BSc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on LinkedIn

Influencers or Brainwashers

Influencers or Brainwashers

The debate continues if social media influencers can be classified as positive influences on younger generations, or are they brainwashing them? 

The emergence of social media in the last 20 years has drastically changed people’s prospect on what they believe to be true, due to what they read online. A study conducted by the New York Times Consumer Insight Group investigated the motivations for individuals sharing content on social media platforms. They revealed that people desire to share valuable and entertaining content to others as it helps define them, enables them to grow and nourish relationships as well as emphasises the brands and causes they like to support.

The job role of a ‘social media influencer’ involves possessing a sizeable following on public platforms which is retained through regular publication and interaction with their followers. Social media influencers are frequently approached to market companies’ offerings such as a recent product launch or a new service available. I mean who doesn’t love a freebee?

Social media plays a key acquisitions in shaping our lives as it is current in every-day life. The average amount of time spent a day on social media by 16-43-year-olds was proven to be three hours a day. Many of these hours are spent scrolling through and watching their favourite social media influencers promoting what they believe to be the best products and services available.

A local social media influencer well known in Northern Ireland and beyond in countries like Australia and Dubai is Louise McDonnell, better known as ‘LMD’. LMD is a make-up artist by trade but also is a beauty influencer with a giant following of 115K on Instagram and 70K on Facebook. LMD shares all her beauty tips and tricks on a regular basis on her social media platforms, keeping her followers up to date by uploading content to her stories as well as posting pictures and videos to her social media grid.

But is LMD a positive influence on young people you ask? LMD can be seen as a role model as she built her dream job as a youngster into a successful business career and has now opened a salon in Magherafelt, launched her own beauty products range and collaborated with businesses such as BPerfect and Oh My Glam.

However, LMD acting as a public figure may not always be a positive influence on younger generations, some argue that she frames this fantasy world about how we should live, what luxuries we should have, creating false hope and expectations about reality. Young people will desire the things that she claims that are ‘must have items’ and this reflects negatively, brainwashing the younger generation that if LMD has it, they have to as well.

It has been proven that 70% of teens would trust social media influencers more than traditional celebrities. Teens are more likely to follow advice from influencers over conventional TV and sport celebrities, evidently indicating how influential these influencers can be on younger generations.

Joe Wicks better known as ‘The Body Coach’ is another social media influencer, he is renowned for his virtual PE classes that he held during the first lockdown back in March.  Joe is a massive public figure in the UK and has a following of nearly four million on Instagram. That many followers for just recording exercise classes in your living room? Where do I sign up?

Joe has been trying to keep the nation fit and active as well as keep spirits high during lockdown through his fitness videos posted on social media as well as on his Youtube channel. His work has not gone unnoticed as he recently obtained an OBE from the queen. In November 2020, Joe also raised a phenomenal £2 million for Children in Need.

Joe as a social media influencer is impacting young people in a positive way as he is encouraging behaviour that improves their overall mental and physical well-being. Thus, the debate that all social media influencers brainwash younger generations and promote negative messages is not totally correct. Joe Wicks is a prime example of an influencer who is using his social media platforms to promote a healthy and promising lifestyle to the wider public and therefore lessens the idea that all influencers are brainwashing young people with the messages they broadcast on their social media.

Despite what is viewed online by young people cannot always be monitored, influencers can determine what they upload, share, and promote on their social media platforms. Therefore, they must try and establish a balance between what they publicise is realistic to younger generations in comparison to what is ‘brainwashing’ and reflecting negative towards them.

Emily McCann is a final year BSc in Communication, Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn

From Global Pop Star to Public Relations Practitioner… CAREER GOALS

From Global Pop Star to Public Relations Practitioner… CAREER GOALS

“What are you going to be when you grow up?” A question that has undoubtedly puzzled the minds of all children and indeed some adults. Initially, my career drawing board held a predictable prospect, I was going to be a singer, like Hannah Montana specifically. Reach for the stars they say!

I highly doubt you will find a 10-year-old with a career aspiration in Public Relations (PR), but then again, with the widespread access to social media and internet these days, who knows?

Discovering Public Relations

During my time at school, I recall becoming increasingly concerned that I did not have a career path set in stone. “What do you want to do?” “Where do you see yourself in the future?” “What are your interests?” – all normal questions to ask an adolescent, but when you are that 16-year-old, with no clear answers and little career guidance, it is very daunting.

I am a planner. I thrive on organisation and my lack of career preparation helped shape a very anxious teen. Determined to discover my destined career aspirations, I scoured the internet, listing my qualities, interests and aptitudes, completed an abundance of ‘What career suits you?’ questionnaires and participated in countless career workshop sessions.

Public Relations.

Through online self-evaluation, I discovered that my skills and interests paired me with the world of PR, something brand new to me, yet so very familiar.

Communication and PR – A Match Made in Heaven

With my newfound blossoming interest in mind, I chose to pursue Business Studies at A Level. I was immediately engrossed in the PR element of the subject, however, one element of Business Studies I was not so keen on was the equations and mathematical modules. My dislike for solving equations assisted me in resolving another matter, Business Studies was not the degree for me. This revelation narrowed my subject search, leading me to a course that seemed to roll all my interests into one: Communication Management and Public Relations. I firmly believe that studying Communication alongside PR will be tremendously advantageous throughout my career. Communication is key in the PR industry and being able to put my academic learnings into practice will be invaluable.

Personally, I believe I am an effective communicator and recognise I possess the capability and skills to successfully develop professional relationships with others and promote myself in a confident, friendly and formal manner. Throughout my professional career, I have been granted the opportunity to implement in practice the theoretical learnings I have obtained at university.

During my time on placement at the Irish News, I was privileged to play a predominant role in organising successful PR campaigns, briefing clients/customers and organising large-scale public events. This experience will benefit my future career in PR considerably. According to Petrison and Wang (1993), open-minded organisations are moving away from mass marketing and are placing a heightened importance on building relationships with their customers and potential clients. In this way, organisations reach potential consumers/clients on a more personal, focused level.

PR is an extremely wide-ranging industry. The ever-changing environment provides new challenges, hasty deadlines and fresh experiences each day. I am fortunate that I thrive under pressure, I endeavour to maintain a high level of organisation at all times, while multi-tasking and making effective decisions.

Building a Professional Portfolio

A career in PR provides an abundance of networking opportunities through cross-organisation events and campaigns. These experiences play a pivotal role in the development of one’s professional reputation. A particularly unique and advantageous element of a career in PR is the ability to develop your own professional portfolio. Through sharing my career highpoints on professional social networking sites, I have been able to enhance my position as a PR professional. Sharing content on LinkedIn and creating informative blog posts on the Ulster PR Student Blog have allowed me to connect with significant figures, putting my name out there, no matter how small it may currently be.

Throughout my placement, I was afforded the opportunity to work with many prestigious entrepreneurs throughout Ireland, directly witnessing how fulfilling a career in PR can potentially be. This was a highly motivational experience for me, enhancing my enthusiasm and reinforcing my ambition to strive for success in my final year at Ulster University, strengthening my vision to ultimately achieve employment in this exhilarating field.

Event Management

An area of PR that I particularly enjoy is event management. During my time at the Irish News, I had the pleasure of organising multiple large-scale events, working with countless professional organisations. Successful management of these events involved meticulous planning, working as part of a team as well as independently, in a fast-paced, pressurised environment. The exciting anticipation of devising a project to capture the interest of a target audience, followed by the satisfaction experienced when the project is received, strengthens my belief that PR is the appropriate career path for me, spurring on my passion for the next venture.

Post COVID-19 Public Relations

Due to the impact of COVID-19, the professional world has changed dramatically, with remote work escalating, organisations closing, and public events being cancelled. Luckily, the PR industry is adaptable to change, making it extremely valuable at present as we plan to rectify the damage that COVID-19 has left behind. The ability to adapt to change in a rapidly evolving industry increases the appeal to follow my career aspirations. PR will be a considerable asset to organisations, applying crisis management, assisting in recuperation and supporting the adaption to online implementation, all of which excites me.

As the world familiarises itself with the ‘new normal’, social media relations have become extremely important. Although negative connotations have been associated with social media, I believe having grown up in the new digital era, I am able to identify and harness the positive aspects of social media to enhance my effectiveness in my chosen career path in the PR industry. Indeed, I have a fundamental and comprehensive understanding of the influence a successful social media campaign can provide. Moreover, through professional experience I have developed the skills to implement an effective PR campaign for an organisation with a view to increasing their exposure and making a positive impact on their reputation. 

Social media is saturated with communication. In order to maintain a competitive edge, organisations must create an original, stand-out social campaign, to avoid getting left behind. Through my experience to date, I now see this is where I can excel.

As a consumer, I place huge importance on an organisation’s social media presence when purchasing a product or service. I have always maintained a passion for creativity, and I commend organisations on the originality of their online presence. Therefore, I believe this is an area that I would thrive in, allowing me to showcase my knowledge and opinions, in order to produce an engaging campaign that will influence consumers.

Job Prospects

Finally, job prospects are uncertain at present, with many industries having a lack of job opportunities due to the collapsing economy and impact of COVID-19. Nonetheless, social media is an area of PR that I believe will thrive post-pandemic due to the continuing social consciousness of society. Fortunately, social media is the area of PR that particularly interests me and is the route I intend to pursue as a graduate.

Irrespective of the extent of potential demand in the future, I am certain that my degree and acquired knowledge and expertise will aid me in finding suitable employment locally, nationally or in the international field. I am confident however that the increasing popularity and consistent evolution in the industry will undoubtedly create a variety of future job opportunities. This combination of my degree and my professional experience should enhance my post-university PR career prospects, although the future will be a particularly challenging time for graduates.

Ellen Turbett is a final year BSc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram and LinkedIn.

The rise of the Momfluencer

The rise of the Momfluencer

A help or a hinder?

influencer

[ˈɪnflʊənsə]

NOUN

a person or thing that influences another.

“he was a champion of the arts and a huge influencer of taste” · 
            marketing

a person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media.


The universal definition of an ‘influencer’ that comes up when you type the word into google. It is hard to define the term influencer in everyday conversation. Does it depend on your  amount of followers? Amount of likes? How ‘pretty’ you are? Your fashion sense? How many brands want to work with you?. The influencer marketing hub carried out research on influencer marketing in 2020 and found large companies have doubled the amount of creators they activate per campaign in the past two years. The influencer marketing industry is set to grow to approximately ¢9.7b by the end of 2020. But with the rise of influencers, comes the rise of the momfluencer. 

There are many types of momfluencers, in the same way there are many different mums. The indie, hippie, van travelling mum. The stay at home, cleaning obsessed, bargain hunter mum. The picture perfect, themed snack, full time job mum. All different but in a lot of ways all the same. Mum blogs, parenting websites and online support groups have all been around for a long time, however the momfluncer is a new wave of ’support’. A lot of fellow mums question whether momfluencers really are there for support and advice, or are they just there to make you feel bad about what you’re not achieving. If you follow mums from each of these categories, you’re going to wish you could be just like each of them in different ways, which is impossible. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of momfluencers who are honest and open about the realities of motherhood. The sleepless nights, tears and tantrums (and not just from the children), the relationship struggles, financial worries and mental health problems. However, when you look at some momfluencers with their matching pyjamas, full-face of makeup, multiple smiling children and gleaming house you wonder how much of it is real and is it truthful advertising?

Stacey Solomon, a popular ‘Momfluencer’.

It is hard to judge momfluencers as a whole, as there are so many, both macro and micro influencers. Some who aim to spread awareness of important topics such as maternal mental health, baby loss, pregnancy struggles and parenting advice. Others give useful tips on cleaning, cooking, juggling work and relationship advice. Like most things, exposing yourself to momfluencers can be good in small doses. It is really up to the individual to manage their exposure, and take time to learn that not everything online is what it seems. Momfluencers are here to stay, so love them or hate them, choose the ones that are a help and not a hinder.

Brand’s however, love the momfluencer. Momfluence.co is a website that was launched specifically for brand’s to find the right momfluencer: ’Our platform will make it easy for you to find the right momfluencers for your brand, and set up campaigns that actually make you money and grow your business’.  Brand’s such as Pampers, Dove, Johnson and Johnson, Ella’s Kitchen and Tommee Tippee all use brand ambassadors, influencers and paid stories and posts in their marketing. Influencers can paid anywhere between £50 – £500 to advertise a brands product or service. Mum’s buy things more than any other consumer group, and with mum’s always having a fear of judgement or not seeming good enough, most will do (buy) whatever it takes to keep up the image up of a good mum. 

With lockdown babies continuing to be born through the current pandemic and online shopping not showing any signs of slowing down, the Momfleuncer is here to stay.

Aileen Gallagher is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at LinkedIn and Twitter

Why does a career in PR interest me?

Why does a career in PR interest me?

Flashback to 2015, I had just finished school in upper six and had just applied for a Media studies degree. Patiently waiting to hear back from UCAS in the coming weeks. To be frankly honest, I knew in my heart it wasn’t the course I wanted to do, it was just something my teacher had encouraged you to apply for as it was the ‘known’ thing to do, and after all, one of my A levels was in Media Studies, it seemed the right thing to do.  Skip a short while later and I decided a year out was the best option for me, as I wasn’t quite sure what direction I wanted to go in, so I started applying for every job going.

Skip along another year and after a year working in Tesco, I knew I wanted to go back to studying but just had no idea what. An email had come through to me about an information open night in Ulster University about 3 courses that seemed interesting to me. These were, CAM, CMPR and Advertising. A representative from each course had stood up and talked about their experience from each course and by the end of it I knew in my heart CMPR was the one for me. The clue being in the name with ‘public relations’ on the end. After speaking to Kerry-Ann course director at the end of the presentation she had explained that with the grades I achieved in my A-Levels, being 3 Cs, that I would not be accepted for the course. As I was walking out with my head held low, she ran after me and explained about the part-time option and I would be able to complete the course over a longer period and achieve the same degree at the end. I felt this was a sign and knew this was the beginning of my PR journey.

Apart from imagining in my head what the PR industry was like, being luxurious and glamourous or as Morris and Goldsworthy (2016; pp.13) describe as ‘involve lunches, receptions, events and parties which include many different people at a range of different locations.’ I knew it involved building relationships and meeting new people regularly and being a ‘social butterfly’ as my mum would call me, that this was the job for me.  Actually, it sounded too good to be true!  From learning the basics of PR in first and second year of my course, it was not until final year that I really started to dig deeper. My lecturer Conor has a massive role to play in this as his enthusiasm about the subject really inspires me and allows me to develop my own opinions on the subject and not just what you are taught through curriculum.

I would not say that I am an overly confident person when it comes to speaking in front of other people but to describe my personality I would say I am a bubbly person and love meeting new people and this is one of the reasons a PR career interests me. For example, in my workplace I am not afraid to say when I think a situation is being handled wrongly, however, when I’m in a classroom environment I do feel nervous quite easily and put a lot of pressure on myself.  This is where I need to adapt the skills of giving my opinion more freely when asked, just as I would in a one to one situation with a manager for example. However, learning from other PR practitioners has helped me develop some of these skills. For example, Ella Minty a well-recognised lecturer/leader/adviser runs sessions on Twitter weekly giving advice and the opportunity to give your opinion on a variety of topics. I think this is a great way to not only develop new skills but also take on board other PR practitioner’s opinions which I think is a very valuable asset for a career in PR.

Which brings me to my next point, I love how much variety there is to be offered within a PR career. No one day is the same, and constantly learning on the job. I do not have a lot experience in the PR area with doing part time in the course I did not have the opportunity to do a placement year, however, I run a social media account for a dance school I teach in which allows the parents to keep up with everything their kids are up to on a weekly basis. Whether this be a press release or a simple image it allows me to experiment with different styles and ideas that work and those that don’t so that I will keep my audience entertained and informed.

I personally believe that PR is at the heart of all things in communication sector and holds the key to the future to all things media related. By consuming the media and being social savvy is another great way to pursue your passion and career path around PR. I would say I have always been interested in all aspects of the media, growing up in an era of the smart phone revolution I had to quickly adapt to having the up to date social media platforms where information about anything and everything spreads like wildfire and as Sophie Chadwick, 2020 says ‘it’s important to note that social media has already changed the course of public relations, almost beyond recognition.’ With the mass media still playing a crucial role in society and around PR it is important to recognise the pros of social media and how it can be used effectively within a PR career as well as sometimes causing crises.

Practice makes perfect. Throughout the course of my PR module in final year, Conor has kept on at us to practice being in the midst of what we are learning. So, whether it be a press release or a blog, practice being in the moment as there is “no time like the present”. This is how I knew I also wanted a career in PR. Nothing satisfies me more than having a diary and being organised for months ahead, or having an idea in my head and grabbing my laptop to write it all down in the hope that it might be a useful idea to come in handy someday. And like any job you cannot know everything from day one so this creative mind mapping and thinking of ideas in my head that may be useful in the future is another asset that would be ideal for a career in PR.

Although there are many great opportunities within PR and how I would love a career in it the future, I know it could be an extremely pressurised environment to work in.  I think that even though there would be many rewarding parts of working in PR, there would also be times when there is a lot of pressure on staff to meet deadlines and work long hours to get a campaign finished on time.  I feel that even though I would describe myself as someone who works well under pressure, at times I might let things get to me and may feel overwhelmed as I someone who likes to get things right and would put a lot of pressure on myself.  I also know that I would have other team members around me and we could work together to overcome any challenges we might face using the skills each of us has gained.  Eventually, I know I would become a key individual in a workplace by working within a team and becoming a valued team member which other organisations would recognise and possibly want to employ.

Like in any career, eg fireman, doctor or astronaut, I believe you can do anything when you put your mind to it. I want to try and get more experience before I begin my career in PR or whatever direction I take in the future. This involves understanding myself more as a person and projecting this in a respectable way to employers to relate and understand that I am right for the job role in PR. By keeping up to date with ongoing movement in PR is also crucial, for example on social media platforms such as Twitter where updates are being put up hourly about what is trending in PR circles. Finally, by practicing my writing when and where I can eg. writing a blog and posting it or setting myself goals to practice things I am not so confident at, such as public speaking. The drive and enthusiasm aspects that come with the career and how it matches to my personality makes me excited for the future and I hope this reflects on why I want a career in Public Relations.

Megan Strain is a part-time final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at – Instagram and LinkedIn.

Why does a career in public relations interest me?

Why does a career in public relations interest me?

Oliver, S. (2010) claims “if you asked a hundred people to define public relations you would get a hundred different answers.” To begin, when describing relations, I believe it has numerous definitions and it simply cannot be labelled to one.  Different people in society would have a range of perspectives and opinions on defining “what is public relations?” However, I personally agree with the definition provided by Bernays, E. (1923) in which he states “information given to the public, persuasion directed at the public to modify attitudes and actions, and efforts to integrate attitudes and actions of an institution with its publics and of publics with those of that institution.” Bernays definition explains public relations perfectly for me as he clarifies that based on what we hear and see in the media and on the news, we then proceed to form our attitudes and views on the particular matter in question even if we are not knowledgeable in that field. We then tend to form our opinion on the topic. Bernays emphasises how the media plays a huge role in influencing our opinions and behaviour on different areas in the way it is portrayed via public relations.

The Modern Day Publicist: Traditional Public Relations (PR) Vs. Digital PR

Why public relations really interest me is because it is an industry that is forever changing. There are always new and exciting things happening in the world that you can never predict. For example, let us consider COVID-19. According to the CIPR (2020) “ the impact of Covid-19 and the opportunities it presents for the communications profession finds the pandemic has accelerated changes already underway within practice and concludes it has demonstrated the strategic role of communications.” This emphasizes that with the pandemic happening it has impacted public relations massively. It is so important to be up to date with new rules, covid-19 death rates around the world and in Northern Ireland, reports from the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, updates from Boris Johnson along with updates from the public health agency. It is equally important to report about the hospitality sector which has been significantly impacted by covid-19. It is so important that public relations provides this information to the public and allows them to gather important information that is very relevant and essential to know when it comes to something as unprecedented as Covid-19 and allow people to develop their attitudes, behaviours, opinion and plan. From here, they will determine what to do with this information and make vital adjustments to their life.

Grunig, J. (1989) claims “public relations is the management of communications between an organisation and its publics.” A career in public relations interests me because I have a passion for strong communication skills and being able to strategically communicate within the workplace because I know it is integral when working effectively with your colleagues, different companies, brands and media agencies. These key factors are all linked to PR and are therefore essential to develop your communication skills and how to use them effectively. Additionally, another key topic I am very passionate about is having strong organisational skills because by having both communication skills and organisation skills combined it provides you with the underpinning knowledge to nurture a relationship with your co-workers, companies you work with and essentially, it allows you to develop connections in the industry which is very important. Building relationships in public relations is key because it helps manage your reputation which is another important tool to have when working in public relations. Building a strong working relationship with a brand for example, allows you to develop trusted media connections which is vital to have in this industry. By having media connections, you can issue a press release in times of a bad advertising campaign or during a crisis when you may need crisis management support for example therefore, your trusted media connection can help you repair the damage.

Today more than ever your online presence is crucial in a world where everyone is digitally connected. “Much of social media is done in public, by the public, and the dynamics that have shaped public relations in the past media relations, interactions with opinion leaders and influencers, and of course, crisis/reputation management are not only present in social media, but often accentuated and amplified by it.” (Breakenridge, K.D 2012). This is another point to why I am interested in a public relations role because when looking for a job, promoting a product or brand or networking in the world of marketing and advertising, it is vital to establish your online presence. Having a strong online presence allows you to build connections digitally, ultimately opening the window to partnering with other brands, gaining advice from other PR professionals, and obtaining a portfolio of connections, to better identify how to maximise your content and market yourself online.  Public relations are concentrated on public opinion and today social media is a forever expanding market where PR is becoming an integral part of marketing communications. Ultimately, PR effects the performance of marketing. Therefore, to achieve greater success, building connections digitally with a PR agency is an essential path.

I enjoy the strategical and planning process leading up to a campaign, and public relations covers all these components.

The PR strategy consists of:

  • Context
  • Situation /Issue Analysis
  • Objectives
  • Publics
  • Messaging
  • Planning
  • Implementation
  • Evaluation

“Having a sense of direction and of what is important is part of well-being at work and indeed being able to mark off progress and milestones is an intrinsic element of job satisfaction.(Gregory, A. 2010) For example, when creating a campaign, I thrive on having a strategy in place and establishing on how to successfully market a campaign and make it successful. A career in PR appeals to me as I enjoy looking at the brand ethos and ensuring that is promoted relevantly and speaks to their vision and mission. When carrying out a piece of work I enjoy looking at the strengths and weaknesses of a brand/campaign, establishing what the brand is trying to achieve, narrowing down target audiences to ensure it is a success, creating a powerful message and ultimately  delivering it to the public, through creativity, planning, delivery and  evaluation. “Public relations play a role in assisting the organisation clarify its purpose and values”. (Moloney, K. and McGrath, C. 2020) Additionally, as I enjoy this process, I believe I would thrive in a PR role and apply the PR strategy to everything that I do to make any future job roles enjoyable and  importantly successful.

Overall, a career in public relations interests me because I enjoy strategical processes, planning, organising, creating ideas and coming up with crisis management tactics because this allows me to learn more about the industry, how to create a successful business plan and make it a huge success , which is any organisations ultimate goal. Social media is a wonderful resource for PR and media communications today as it allows you to not only access an extensive network but also to take advantage of advertising and marketing opportunities in order to build awareness of your business or campaign. I have experience working in the social media and marketing world through my placement year therefore, doing this in PR environment is something I would love to be involved in.

I also enjoy keeping up to date with the latest trends and monitoring other brands and seeing how they are contributing to the “woke” era. I would love to bring this into my PR career and ensure as a brand or company we are relevant with the current times, where the outcome would be establishing a solid reputation and a great online presence in a world which is ever changing. I am interested in organisational communication as this is very relevant to a PR career where you must be able to strategically communicate and have effective interaction. Personally, a career in public relations grabs me because I enjoy industries that are evolving, and public relations offers just that. It is never the same and that is what makes it exciting, innovative and current. This ultimately, retains that enjoyment in a career where public relations keeps creativity levels high and engaging.

The Art of Selling in Public Relations | "What's HAppening" Blog

Tara Hamill is a final year student in Ulster University studying Communication Management and Public Relations. She can be found on Twitter, Linkedin and Instagram

HOW FASHION COMPANIES EVOLVED THEIR BRAND TO SUIT DEMAND

HOW FASHION COMPANIES EVOLVED THEIR BRAND TO SUIT DEMAND

Fashion is a market that thrives on evolution. Every season, we explore a new trend, influenced by ever-changing pop culture, runway design and brand marketing. The fashion industry is equipped to deal with fast paced universal change.

Although, I am not so sure they had anticipated a global pandemic that would overturn the world. 

COVID-19 was completely unprecedented (a word we hear all too much, I know, I know), hijacking the fashion industry in a matter of weeks. Many retailers struggled to sustain their business, resulting in a decline in revenue, staff layoffs and company closures.

We often hear the term ‘we are worlds apart’ being used to describe the differences between cultures and countries. Depending on where you are in the world, fashion is different. This is due to diverse trends, lifestyles and inspirations. It could be argued that this is no longer the case and for the first time ever, the world has never been so comparable.

Thanks to mandatory lockdown which strained to all corners of the world, our new daily routines are surprisingly similar. We are all staying at home, working remotely and finding ways and means to entertain ourselves in our free time (which there is noticeably a lot more of… so long social life). 

Although this situation is far from ideal, I think it is extremely important that we realise how lucky we are to have social media, allowing us to remain together, in a time when it is so important to remain apart. Not only does social media help us to keep in touch with our families and friends, it allows us to connect and share our experience worldwide. The pandemic has evolved consumer behaviour considerably, leading to unique global trends that suit our new ‘at home’ lifestyles.

Have you baked banana bread, learned Tik-Tok dances or completed a Chloe Ting workout?

No? Why lie? Of course you have.

The fashion industry has particularly benefited from this ‘global connection’ and has found itself amongst some of the most popular lockdown trends. In order to maintain sales, it is important that fashion companies place a high focus on monitoring these trends, evolving their brand to suit the demand.

Quick-thinking companies jumped at the opportunity to transform their brand into COVID-19 Chic. With the world now working from home, gone were the days of office dress codes, smart shoes and warm coats. The trend of 2020 quickly became driven by comfort dictated consumer spending, with loungewear coming out on top, with the slight exception of a smart shirt for a zoom meeting.

MODELS AT HOME

An area that was hugely impacted for the fashion industry was modelling opportunities. E-commerce fashion brands rely on models and clothing shoots to advertise their pieces online. Regrettably, like everything else, this could not happen, as these shoots involve a huge entourage of professionals in a studio to get the perfect shot.

Fashion brands have had to once again get creative, asking their models to style their new-in looks at home. This strategy proved very effective for brands, especially ASOS who have launched their ‘Models at Home’ campaign. Seeing clothes being styled at home by models of all different shapes and sizes, allows consumers an insight never seen before.

This ‘Models at Home’ strategy has created a refreshing change, removing the robotic, studio environment, allowing consumers to see how ‘normal’ people style outfits in their own environment.

FACE COVERINGS

Face coverings have quickly become an essential accessory during this crisis and in some cases have been a lifeline for fashion companies. The demand for face coverings was immediately colossal, becoming a wardrobe staple overnight.

Brands have been quick to avail of this demand, creating fashionable masks to allow consumers to replace their disposable, unflattering versions with trendy and exciting creations.

This trend was valuable for fashion brands in several ways. It has created a new design path to go down, generating product sales to make up for those that they will have lost. It has also created a demand for work within companies, saving jobs and creating new trends.

Face coverings have created a new way for fashion brands to increase their sustainability, allowing them to use their material offcuts, reducing waste. This is beneficial for their environmental reputation, something that often has negative connotations for fashion companies.

These companies can create positive media exposure for their brand by utilising the sustainable approach and showcasing this on social media. This will benefit them in several ways, promoting their desire to contribute to the fight against COVID-19 and creating an effective sustainability PR campaign, presenting their drive to increase sustainability within the fashion industry.

Social media influencers have embraced the fashionable face coverings. With lockdown restrictions easing slightly, there is a desire to dress up when we are finally getting out and about again. To keep up with this evolving trend, it is important that fashion brands not only create pretty face coverings but also create co-ordinating versions, to allow consumers to match with their clothing. This links with the sustainable approach, using patterned offcuts as well as generating further sales.

Matching your mask to your dress? That’s so fetch.

LOUNGEWEAR

A ground-breaking trend during lockdown has been loungewear. Wardrobes once overcrowded with uncomfortable jeans and stiff blazers are now significantly softer, showcasing comfortable, yet respectable transitional pieces. Although we were all advised to ‘stick to our work routine’ when at home, I think we can all agree that the work uniform was the first thing to go.

The demand for loungewear had already increased pre-lockdown, with social media influencers showing off their casual outfits of the day (#OOTD) for their workout routines and online meetings. It could be argued that many influencers already lived that ‘Working from Home’ lifestyle due to their workload being predominantly online.

However, this could not have prepared the fashion industry for the immense appeal for matching gym sets and velour tracksuit bottoms. Like all of us, fashion companies were unsure how long this pandemic would last and therefore did not know the longevity of demand for loungewear. It was important for brands to create something that would be comfortable yet functional and versatile, ensuring the pieces could be used both lounging at home but also could be dressed up for a socially distanced lunch date in town. 

Brands such as ASOS, Pretty Little Thing and Topshop utilised the ‘comfortable yet functional’ ideology when creating their loungewear pieces, ensuring they looked stylish, steering clear of the dreaded ‘is that loungewear or pyjamas?’ question.

With most of the world working from home, it can be agreed that the office dress code has been long forgotten. This begs the question, ‘will it ever return?’ After spending months curled up on the sofa with our laptop, in our cosy, yet oh so stylish loungewear, will we be itching to get back into our blazers for a sense of normality, or have our priorities permanently shifted?

The fashion industry has so far excelled throughout the pandemic, adapting to a huge change in trends, assisting in the making of personal protective equipment (PPE), maintaining a presence on social media, without the help of fashion shows/runways and using their imagination in order to fulfil tasks.

At this stage, we cannot be sure when this will all come to an end but one thing, we can be sure of is… WE HAVE CHANGED.

Will we ever return to our office uniform?

Will we ever put ourselves through the torture of high heels in a nightclub again?

Will face coverings ever go away?

Who knows?

But one thing is certain, COVID-19 has changed the fashion industry forever and companies have evolved their brand to suit demand.

Ellen Turbett is a final year BSc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram and LinkedIn.

Netflix – The marketing platform that resurrected Formula 1

Netflix – The marketing platform that resurrected Formula 1

Picture the scene; just finished a long day of lectures and finally completed that assignment you’ve been working tirelessly on all week. You’ve got a cup of tea in hand and are ready to switch on the TV to watch the final episode of your favourite Netflix series that you’ve been totally consumed with for the past few weeks; life is bliss. Then it hits you; what am I going to watch when this series ends, I’m getting tired of watching the same sort of genres, it’s time to switch things up but I don’t know what other types of series would interest me. This is why I love Netflix, don’t get me wrong I love watching a series that I know I’ll be interested in, there’s nothing better than switching on an episode of Gavin and Stacey on a rainy day to lift the mood. However there’s something about becoming fascinated by a Netflix show you thought would never interest you that can’t be beaten.

It is widely known that Formula 1 is a predominately male sport, it involves expensive motorcars and high speed racing. Before its premiere to Netflix on 8th March 2019, if asked about Formula 1, the only piece of information I would have known is that Lewis Hamilton drives in a red suit. This is in fact incorrect as Lewis drives in a sparkling white one for Mercedes Benz, information I only found out from watching the Netflix series. I would never have stumbled across this Netflix series only that I began noticing how much my dad who was a big football and rugby fan, talked about it from the day he began watching it. I mean who could have pictured it; a young female driver of a 2008 Ford Fiesta, who doesn’t break the speed limit, stalls on average around 3 times a day, completely engrossed in a Netflix series all about high speed racing, cars reaching up to 200mph to determine over a number of races who is the F1 World Champion. But that’s the power of Netflix.

When searching up Formula 1 on google, the suggested drop down menu’s presented many negative connotations, one that struck me was: is Formula 1 a dying sport? Although it is unlikely that Formula 1 bosses have ever seen this question specifically, it is without doubt that they would have gathered information over the years about the public’s views on the sport and its popularity. After furthering my search, I came across many articles that suggested Formula 1’s success was behind them and that the sport had started to be considered ‘stupid’, other articles provided statistics showing the drop in its popularity over the years. Not only this but Formula 1 had received much backlash for its lack of diversity and how it was still very sexist in terms of being predominantly, if not an all male sport. Formula 1 had failed to move with the times and this had not went unmissed by the general public. It was clear to everyone that something needed to be done if Formula 1 wanted to continue its legacy.

Up until 2017 Formula 1 was limited to what they could broadcast across social media. This all changed when Liberty Media purchased the global motorsport business and gave drivers and their teams the freedom to post across mediums such as Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. To an extent this worked well, it gauged supporter’s attention and allowed for much needed interaction amongst supporters and drivers. However the real genius was in the creation of their Netflix documentary. Formula 1 could not have choose a better platform to market their competitive motorsport than the online streaming mastermind that is Netflix. Their careful decision making enabled them to reach an audience of 158.3 million Netflix subscribers all around the world. Drive to Survive performed particularly well in the United States where it had a higher demand than 96.1% of all Documentary titles as shown in the graph below.

Current Renault and previous Redbull driver, Daniel Ricciardo also noted the he has seen an increase in the amount of people recognising him in the United States and said that Drive to Survive put Formula 1 racing on the map. He said that before Drive to Survive “not really anyone would say hi to me – not in a bad way, but they wouldn’t recognise me from being an F1 driver. And now it’s all ‘we saw you on Netflix, it was great, Drive to Survive’.”

Data from Research Agency Digital-i found that in its first 28 days, the Netflix Documentary Drive to Survive had been streamed over 1 million times in households within the UK. This has been hugely successful for Liberty Media whose aim was to expand its audiences, particularly to younger demographics which has also proved successful as since 2017, 62% of Formula 1’s new followers have been under the age of 35. Netflix has proved to be one of the most pivotal factors in the boost in popularity of the Formula 1 motorsport.

Liberty Media also made strategic use of Digital Marketing to promote Formula 1 further. As I mentioned earlier through restrictions being lifted on the content that was allowed to be posted, social media has been hugely effective in keeping fans of the motorsport engaged and interested. Content posted on Instagram including Instagram lives being filmed as drivers prepare to race, Youtube videos being posted to their 4.58 million subscribers on a daily basis and Tik Tok videos showing highlights from the races using popular sounds on Tik Tok are a few of the effective marketing methods used by Formula 1 to promote their motorsport further. Even with the coronavirus pandemic, Formula 1 showed fans how they could adapt and continue to interact across the world through the creation of the Virtual Grand Prix Series which proved a standout. Its run was able to pull in 21.8 million views on digital platforms, as well as 695 million impressions across social.

It was no surprise that Formula 1 Netflix Documentary: Drive to Survive has been a hugely successful marketing strategy employed by Liberty Media. The Netflix Documentary highlighted a side to Motorsport racing that had never been seen before. The previous two seasons have shown a more human side to a largely mechanical sport. Viewers are exposed to the emotional side of the motorsport not just for the driver but for their families and all the team involved in the success of a driver. From turmoil to triumph, this Netflix Documentary uncovers a candid glimpse into the life of an F1 driver and shows much more than just the on-track action that fans are used to seeing. I’m already excited about season 3 even though a release date is yet to be confirmed, but as I said before, that’s the power of Netflix!

Aoife Teague is a final year BSc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram and Twitter

TikTok is thriving, but have you got what it takes to go viral?

TikTok is thriving, but have you got what it takes to go viral?

It is no secret that the social media platform has taken us all by storm over the past year, but what sets TikTok apart from all the others and where does your brand fit on the platform (if at all)?


Let’s go back to the start. Vine has been and gone, the mums/Karens have taken over Facebook, Instagram is full of advertising and irrelevant content. It’s 2019. (Brighter days might I add). You see your 13yr old cousin performing some strange form of dance whilst recording themselves on the latest iPhone they got from Santa, while lip-syncing at the same time. You ask them what they’re doing. “Making a TikTok” they respond. This is a foreign phrase to you at this stage, but you’re intrigued. You type ‘Tick Tock’ into your search bar on twitter, your go-to platform these days when you unlock your phone, to find not much more than a Rolex advert and a few dodgy memes. You go about your day all the same, unphased.


Later upon opening Facebook, you come across a sponsored article posted by LADbible- ‘How TikTok Is Making Teens Thousands Of Pounds For 15 Seconds Of Lip-Syncing’. You think to yourself, ‘was my phone listening to my discussion earlier?’ You click to open the article wondering is your cousin making thousands of pounds from what she was doing earlier. You come to learn that TikTok is an app which allows for 15sec videos of dance, lip-syncing, comedy, creativity, tricks and the list goes on. You decide to download it (but vow you will NEVER post) and suddenly you find yourself down a rabbit hole of hilarious, engaging entertainment 4hours later sat in the same position as when you downloaded the app.


And we’re back in 2020. Although TikTok was founded in 2016, 2019 was when it started to really gauge traction and recognition, priming it for the success it possesses today. Since then, the app has evolved massively by listening to its consumer and improving features such as- allowing for better quality in-app editing tools, longer recording times and overall has become more accommodating and complex. It might be difficult to get a grasp of the app from a brand perspective, but if TikTok is something you’re thinking of getting on to then you must read the room first. Will TikTok reach your target audience? Do you have the budget for their pricey paid content options? Are you going to learn the latest trending dances and include product placement in your clip? There are so many things to think of before jumping on the band wagon. Hopefully I can give you advice here, as someone who’s video went viral with over 20million views while working for a popular beauty brand (shameless plug I know, but I like to think I know what I’m talking about).

You may be reluctant to join, yet there is indeed room for everyone on the app, as long as you remain true to brand tone of voice. For example, if you are a high fashion brand, it may be too cheesy and irrelevant for you to jump on the latest trends to get noticed. Instead, you could gift clothing to some of the leading ‘creators’ on the app that fit with your brand, or hone in on the creativity aspect of the app and show how some of your pieces in their journey from a design idea to a finished good. The key is to remember that you need to have your own voice/USP and to refrain from copying what the other brands are doing. I have highlighted two successful examples of viral content from completely different brands below.

  • Chipotle: With 1.3million followers, the American food chain have gone viral gaining millions of views on a single post, numerous times. Their USP is very much so humour, as it only takes a quick scroll through their videos to have you giggling. They create and partake in trends that are relevant and re-post humorous videos created by other users. They’ve ran their own #GuacDanceChallenge and more recently they launched a collaboration with an American TikTok house (house full of TikTok creators) to promote their new group ordering feature on their app. They ran a competition with the hashtag ‘#ChipotleSponsorUs’ in which users would create a video explaining why they should win a free takeout using the group feature, with 5 winners. The challenge received an overall reach of 38million, which is great for an organic, unpaid challenge on the app.

  • The Washington Post: Similar to Chipotle, TWP use humour to engage their audience. A further USP for the American Newspaper is that their staff feature in almost all of their videos, to the point they are recognisable and almost ‘influencers’ in their own right. This is a really good example of showing a more personable side to a brand that consumers wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Their content may not be heavily branded, but they have definitely succeeded in reach with over 750k followers. This is also proof that TikTok is a way to engage with consumers that may be outside your target market, as Gen Z may not physically go out to buy a paper, yet they will engage with the brand on social media.

From the examples mentioned and a quick nosey at other brands on TikTok, it is clear to see there is space for every type of brand on TikTok. The app in itself is very light hearted and this is the approach that all viral brands have in common. It’s important to think outside the box and take a risk with your content. It may flop, but it’s often the underdog videos that end up viral. My three main takeaways I will leave you with if you’re thinking about getting started on the app would be; don’t take it too seriously, get creative with your content, and stay true to your tone of voice. Go get ’em!

Grace Blaney is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter and Linkedin.

How a job in PR could look in 10 years time.

How a job in PR could look in 10 years time.

If 2020 has taught me anything, it is that you never truly know what is around the corner. Imagine this time last year, your friend sat you down and said that we will live the majority of the year in some sort of lockdown, masks were mandatory in public, and we might not be able to spend Christmas with our family or friends. You’d think they were mad! Unfortunately this is the case however it has given me time to reflect on different aspects on my life, and put a real emphasis on getting my degree and hopefully a good graduate job.

It would be foolish of me to believe that PR will be the same in 10 years time as what it is now. There are so many factors that could see great change in the PR world, some for the better and some that could be worse.

PR practitioners, can technology ever replace them?

Technology is advancing by the day, with more and more jobs which used to be occupied by humans, being taken over by AI and computers. In fact, (BBC 2019) stated that by the year 2030, up to 20 million manufacturing jobs worldwide could see humans replaced with robots, 20 MILLION JOBS! There are many benefits of replacing humans with robots, costs are lower, jobs will be done quicker and they will no doubt have less sick days than the average human. However PR is a field where I feel the human beats the AI. As highly functional as these new pieces of technology are, they lack the human feelings needed to really understand PR and its core principals and intentions. A good PR practitioner must be aware of a number of things, like what the client wants to achieve and how they want to achieve it. I feel that many clients look to their PR companies/clients for advise frequently and so the lack of human contact would see less people trust the PR industry, therefore proving that (at least for now) the human race is still more powerful than the AI.

Humans over computers every day of the week!

How might the PR industry evolve?

In 10 years time, some of the methods used today in PR might be outdated or have no benefit to a client and so the PR industry must constantly be analysing their posts, seeing which methods are most effective and which methods are no longer beneficial. A prime example of this is how in the past, press releases in newspapers would have been a great way of conveying a message to the public, but with predictions that printed newspapers may become extinct before 2030, practitioners will have to look for alternatives to press releases. A good replacement would be social media posts, or digital news channels being used. I for one find myself very rarely reading newspapers but still staying in the loop of current events and consume most of this news through my various social media accounts as well as news apps on my phone.

The year 2030 in PR, how might it look?

Its 2030, COVID is a thing of the past and the last printed newspaper was purchased in 2026. All of our news is consumed online and PR practitioners have adapted wonderfully to the new online environment of PR. The PR industry have mastered many fields such as native advertising and content marketing. I hope to be in New York, running my own PR company, applying all the skills I gained from my studies as well as applying new methods constantly to ensure that the company can keep up with the competitors and offer twice as many services as it did 10 years ago.

In conclusion, I feel that the next 10 years could see a whirlwind of change to every aspect of our lives, but one thing that wont change is the need for PR. In fact, I feel many companies will begin to greater appreciate the work of PR practitioners and i hope that the industry continues to grow and by 2030, is one of the most important in the business world.

Daniel Hastings is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on Twitter.