Digital Poster Paste

You and your mates are in a band, you want gigs, you book them yourself. Maybe you’re a promoter, with the thankless job of getting everyone in the same place at the same time. You book two or three bands; you get the sound guy there on time, charge a few quid at the door and split the profits. Sounds simple, right?
Not really. Let’s take into account the fact that while you’re waiting for a 6pm sound check, you find out that the night before the band were at Electric Picnic, taking drugs until 5 in the morning, and are too mashed to drive from Cookstown. Or what about the lead singer who decides to emulate Jim Morrison and give the audeince a bit more than what they paid in for, or the guitarist who was clinked up for, ominously, ‘something to do with his mother…’

Shane 2Yes, reader, I took the thankless job of vicariously being in a band. I had a Monday night slot for a local showcase. For every night where the band outnumbered the audience there were others that saw some spark of brilliance on stage, the first headlining slot for a band that went far and on one glorious occasion, a sell-out show.

These were the old days of the paste-bucket and poster, but now your band or your night relies on the internet to make your mark. You need that crowd. A good crowd hears your music and buys your merchandise and physical albums. A good take on the door pleases your booker, who should be cutting you in on that sweet action – (and if not, have a word). A good crowd buying drinks endears you to the venue, which can lead to bigger shows. So how should you go about marketing yourself online?

There’s a plethora of books and blogs on the topic, so I’ll just briefly tell you what helps me out. We all know that the video is king. Invest some time and money in one really good video. It doesn’t have to be the November Rain promo, but a good quality live video will work wonders for your Facebook. There’s been times when I’m pushing a show and the support act gets the glory, as the headliners’ YouTube presence consists of wobbly footage of an ‘illegal gig’ and some confusing poi display.

Think of your bio. We don’t need to know that your band is ‘like no other’. Some brief history, a few influences and some of the gigs that you’ve played really give us an idea of where you’re at. Photos are useful too, but make sure you’re genuine. I once saw a picture of a 20 something local musician on stage at the Concert for Bangladesh.

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Keep it brief as well. I was once handed a four page press release that had what the individual members liked for tea on it.

You have an online presence? Use it. Interact with me. Have fun. Send me any footage you want to use, let me know if the pictures are out of date and share, like and retweet as if your life depended on it. Your mate’s just done a new video? Let us show it first. The Ballyhalbert Examiner interviewed you lead singer? Link it up! Having a digital press pack, with all your social media links, the aforementioned video and a few hi-res photos can make all the difference.

 

Shane Horan is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on Twitter @shanehoran.

Hush From Scratch

There’s something very satisfying about launching a new nightclub event. Especially in a small city like Belfast where the competitors witness your every move and try their best to trip you up at every hurdle. It’s a thrilling and hands-on process that brings great success, but it requires more work than you can imagine. However, the proud moment when you succeed makes the stress all that more rewarding.

Here is a little insight to how we developed HUSH, a successful Saturday night brand that was located in the city centre. HUSH was introduced to the renowned Belfast nightlife scene following a strategic 6-week launch campaign similar to any PR campaign you would see from our beloved duo, Grunig and Hunt.

First was the long and draining planning stage. It was crucial for the basis of the brand. We brainstormed the initial fundamentals of any club night; gaps in the market, where we wanted to position, the target demographic, brand names, artwork design for online and print, the music policy and things of that nature.

We sent off different brand ideas to our graphic designer who came up variations of logos in terms of font, style and colour. It was exciting seeing all our ideas slowly but surely coming to life. These variations were pitched to focus groups consisting of staff and our target market. The final call was then made. We now had a brand and a logo, it was time to get this show on the road!

Next was the implementation stage. This involved increasing brand awareness by getting as many ‘eyes’ as possible on our new brand, creating a buzz amongst our customers and giving them a taste of what’s to come. This was completed using both traditional methods and more contemporary digitalised methods.

The process involved a lot of questions and answers. “What are the best channels to reach our target audience?” It’s apparent that social media is leaps and bounds above other platforms. We discovered Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram are a club promoter’s dream. You can interact instantly with your consumers 24/7 for relatively no costs. Cheap, cheerful and easy, just the way it should be.

According to McGaritty, P. (2017), “Facebook is dominant social media platform with over 65% of adults using it in Northern Ireland.” Building the HUSH Facebook ‘business page’ was our main focus, as this was by far our most important asset. This page was our customers first point of contact where they could message us with any questions or booking requests. This is where we created events for every Saturday, uploaded photo albums, constructed a ‘guest list’ and booked in tables.

Content on the page varied, however it was designed to be interactive, relatable and relevant. This increased the likelihood of customers sharing the content from their own personal profiles and ‘tagging’ other friends. They would soon become brand evangelists and advocates! Content could be anything at all; drinks deals, funny videos or ‘memes’, DJ graphics, entry prices or generic promotional posts.

It was important to build the likes, reach and interaction amongst customers and ultimately drive all traffic through this platform. We used many tricks of the trade such as competition give-aways and a few promoter wizardry skills that need to be kept HUSH HUSH…The first video we posted was an interactive competition for the launch night to win free entry, a reserved table and drinks. To enter this, we asked customers to ‘like’ the Facebook page, share the video to their own profile and tag 5 friends. This technique caused the video to spread like wildfire and it reached 37,978 people, 16.2k views, 349 likes and 306 comments.

We did not forget about the traditional methods for our PR campaign. We smartly used our contacts to our advantage to save on major costs. The club GM was personal friends with an executive from The Belfast Telegraph and we luckily secured a press release about the launch into the paper. This was also published by ‘The Tab’ – an online newsletter for students and on Belfast Live’s website and Facebook page. One of our DJs was also a radio DJ for Blast 106. He hooked us up with a 30 second radio ad for a fraction of the price and promoted the brand every day between 6-9pm. These were great additions to our campaign and increased the awareness dramatically.

The last stage was the launch. This was Judgment Day for us. Would the long hours of tedious work be worth it? It was the most exciting day, adrenaline was flowing around the air and there was a special buzz which cannot be easily replicated. It was the time to ensure that everything was in place and making sure staff knew their roles. Knowing all the tables were sold out and seeing the guest-list numbers get higher and higher was a sign that success was on the horizon. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly nervous counting down the hours before we opened our doors for the first time.

There is no better feeling than coming up with something from scratch, building it up, utilising all methods, pulling it off and becoming a success. You know it has all been worth it after witnessing the happy customers having a great time and wanting to come back. We were a full house on our launch night and the event has continued to attract steady numbers ever since. Success for the not so HUSH!
If you want to know more about the experience, please feel free to contact me.

 

Cal McIlwaine is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on Facebook – Facebook Account / Twitter – Twitter Account / LinkedIn – Linkedin Account

Video Link:

 

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References:

McGaritty, P.  (2017). Social Media Use in Northern Ireland.

The Kardashians and their PR stunts

We all noticed last year that the Kardashians were appearing all over our social media, snapchats and online news sources about the whole pregnancy rumours. Kim was (maybe) pregnant, Khloé was pregnant and Kylie was too? But what the three sisters all have in common is not just the fact that they were ‘pregnant’ but the fact that they drove the media mad by pulling strategic PR stunts in public and on Snapchat to stir up more news stories around their pregnancies.

After Kim went public on her pregnancy, we saw Khloé and Kylie hiding their stomachs in public for the paparazzi with baggy clothes or with their handbags; to posting images on Instagram and Snapchat, carefully leaving out their stomachs. The whole rumour of ‘if’ the Kardashian’s were pregnant and their refusal to answer or respond to this huge media uproar was the core source driving all their publicity at the time.

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Ever since a source told TMZ about the pregnancies in the family, every tabloid magazine and paper in the world went on a frenzy to report on it. From simple snaps that Khloé and Kylie puts up on Snapchat, to the family ignoring comments and questions about even confirming the pregnancy. The fact is that dominated our news feed, and what’s worse is that we became so intrigued by it.

So, why is it so effective?

The Kardashians use the press to send out one way communication to the public; For example ‘sources’ said Khloé is pregnant and Kylie is 3 months pregnant, but are these sources just a press agency  devised to promote the Kardashians and get them in the public eye?

For the Kardashians there is no such thing as bad publicity. Every story out there, they make work in their favour:

“Hiding that baby bump?”: ‘Pregnant’ Kylie Jenner causes a stir on the Kardashians’ Christmas photoshoot (The Mirror)

Pregnant Kylie Jenner and Khloe Kardashian Snap Selfies Together (USMAGAZINE)

When Is Kourtney Kardashian Due? Star Reportedly Pregnant With Younes Bendjima’s Baby (ELITE DAILY)

Kylie Jenner reveals ‘baby bump’ for the FIRST time along with giant cleavage – amid reports she’s ‘pregnant’ with her first child (OK Magazine)

A Legit Clue On Kim Kardashian’s Instagram Ties Together The Pregnancy Rumours (www.refinery29.uk)

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We see with all these tabloid titles taking the media that none of them actually confirmed the pregnancies, they were all rumours. Theories were created based on their social activity and reading into captions ‘ The 3 of us…’ many tabloids and fans looked on the Instagram pic above as a coded message from Kim suggesting that the three of the sisters are pregnant, even before the official news broke.

These sort of headlines are so effective because they manage to attract those that do not even like the family. So in due course, by creating a lifestyle that many people aspire and relate to, the family not only taps in to their target audience engagement, but also reaches out to other market segments that are intrigued by their way of life.

How is this PR?

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (UK) defines public relations: “Public relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say, and what others say about you. Public relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.”

The Kardashians use the media today for free coverage to influence the public to engage with the Kardashian/Jenner brand. They ignored the pregnancy rumours for months; they post images of themselves on social media as normal, like they are not in the media spotlight? All this attention and failure to respond to the media has journalists and fans fascinating over every post or public outing they make. As a result, the public’s desire to know more is working in their best interests, helping them further their presence in the public eye and achieve their main aim to engage more people in their personal lives,

Also, considering this year is the 10th anniversary of the Keeping up with the Kardashian’s show, could this just be a PR stunt to increase viewing? Or maybe to get more people to sign up to the new ‘Hayu’ App which the Kardashians are current brand ambassadors for? All I can say is I hadn’t a clue what ’Hayu’

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was until I seen the Kardashians plastered all over it and thought hey they must have made their own app.  Just to confirm Hayu is new streaming video service that’s all about reality TV on demand which only launched last year.

To sum up, the Kardashian-Jenner clan use life events to gain publicity and ultimately engage with their brand, not just the ‘Keeping up with the Kardashian’s’ TV Show but also each of the ladies (Kim, Kylie, Kendal, Khloé and Kourtney’s) individual brands. Their strategy of creating rumours in the media and pulling PR stunts across all social media platforms gains them more credibility and interest by their refusal to address the current dramas in their life.  An excellent example of effective public relations in today’s competitive media environment.

Shannon Doyle is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @shannond_761 / Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/shannon-doyle-28b827109 

Digital Strategy – Have You Got One?

Two words – digital strategy. What exactly is it, why do you need one and how do you get one? Want this explained for you without all the marketing gibberish? Read on.

Authors Karel Dörner and David Edelman broadly describe digital strategy as ‘ranging from being a general vision for change to the adoption of digital tools for improving interaction and marketing communications, to achieve overall organisation goals’.


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Is your organisation strategic in the way you use digital or do you just react?

A definite no-no for digital strategy is to use an ad-hoc approach to simply react with no defined purpose or strategy. If your company is doing this – then STOP or else be prepared for your competitors to eat your digital dinner.

Why should you digitally transform your organisation? Digital business is vital in our digitally savvy era for a company’s growth, customer relationships and overall success nowadays, no matter how big or small. Ultimately, companies without a digital strategy are directionless – they have no strategic goals for what they want to achieve online or who they are targeting with their content.

A good digital strategy will successfully use various online engagement methods such as social media management, blogs/bloggers, promotional emails and search engine optimisation (SEO). When these methods are combined with analytics, which measure their success, it can be extremely potent in increasing market share and delivering a strong ROI.

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What does analytics even mean? Basically, analytics measure engagement.

Using analytics to set specific goals and track your progress as you seek to reach your audience, alongside a cohesive strategy, allows you to effectively reach your target audience using the platforms they prefer.

Building the right brand image on the internet is the hardest thing for your company so it’s important you do it prudently. To keep your brand ahead of the curve you need to constantly update your content and strategy to reflect ever-changing consumer desires. Any digital strategy requires constant and consistent attention as change is the only constant.

So, you’ve read this far and are now wondering how to develop a digital strategy for your company? You’ll be glad to hear that it’s much simpler than it seems.

Money, money, money.At this point it is important to highlight how allocating not only a substantial initial investment but also a sufficient long-term budget to your strategy is crucial – namely for promoting social pages/tools, implementing marketing campaigns and investing in analytical tools.

The SOSTAC model is perhaps the most recognised and useful tool when it comes to planning marketing strategies.

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To be strategic your company must have specific objectives, based on completion of a situational analysis, which are aligned to your overall goals.When developing a digital strategy, it is essential to know your customers – what information can you identify on your current customers? What value proposition do you currently offer and what can be offered? Following this, a strategy can be further developed for how digital will be used to achieve these goals. All of this is done with an indication of how exactly success will be measured and voilà – you have yourself a digital marketing strategy.

Objectives for your strategy can include one or more of the following examples: do you want to increase awareness of your brand? Engage with the target audience? Build trust? Create ‘buzz’? Expand reach? Generate traffic? Increase market share? Increase sales? Achieve customer relationships management goals? You get the idea.

 Strategy answers the ‘how do we get there?’question and typically follows with customer segmentation and targeting alongside positioning and sequencing. Tacticsconsist of a clear channel plan detailing how exactly your company will reach set objectives. Actions detail the tactics and describes who does what and when. Then, control– performance must be monitored and analyzed, as highlighted in the above image of the model, to evaluate success and pinpoint how to improve your strategy.                                                                                                                                                                      

Some companies continue to shy away from adopting a digital marketing strategy, but I encourage you to invest in the channels of the future today to ensure you don’t fall behind.

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Amy Greer is a second year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram: @amyagreer & LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/amygreerrr

Zuck Goes to Washington

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, testified before Congress on the 10th and 11th of April, amid the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, where it was found that more than 87 million Americans’ personal data were sold and misused for advertising purposes.

The five-hour-long sessions, where the members of the Senates’ and the Houses’ Committee grilled Zuckerberg, however, seemed to serve as an excellent opportunity for Senators, Congresswomen and Congressmen for some good ole political PR.

Each Senator had five minutes, Congresswoman and Congressman four minutes, to question Zuckerberg in the widely-broadcasted hearing. Due to the time constraints, no real probing and questioning could take place, so several members used the time available to them to appeal to their constituents and stakeholders instead. And frankly, time wasn’t the only limitation, as many of the questions also revealed the unfortunate fact, that a large number of the politicians don’t quite know how digital platforms work.

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The ‘invest in my constituency

Some members of the Committee brought up a strangely timed request for Zuckerberg and Facebook to support broadband coverage for rural areas in their constituencies – and by some, I mean at least four members.

Senator Capito of West Virginia: “My state, I’m from West Virginia, and thank you for visiting and next time you visit, if you would please bring some fiber because we don’t have connectivity in — in our rural areas like we really need, and Facebook could really help us with that.

Congressman Cramer of North Dakota directly asked Zuckerberg to consider investing in his district “Let me suggest that you look someplace perhaps in the middle of the North American continent for some people, maybe even your next big investment of — of capital could be in — in some place like, say, Bismarck, North Dakota.

The ‘I’m doing all the work

Others took a different approach and spoke about pieces of legislation they have worked on in the past or are working on at the moment to highlight their personal achievements and push their own agenda into the spotlight.

Here’s an example from Congressman Pallone of New Jersey: “Now, Congresswoman Schakowsky from Illinois and I introduced a bill last year that would require companies to implement baseline data security standards. And I plan to work with my colleagues to draft additional legislation.

Another example from Congresswoman Blackburn of Tennessee: “And you’re hearing there’ll be more bills brought out in the next few weeks. But we have had a bill. The BROWSER Act, and I’m certain that you’re familiar with this, is bipartisan.

Followed up by Congressman Lance of New Jersey: “Congresswoman Blackburn has mentioned her legislation. I’m a co-sponsor of the BROWSER legislation. I commend it to your attention, to the attention of your company. It is for the entire ecosystem. It is for ISPs and edge providers. It is not just for one or the other.

Clearly, Zuckerberg did not provide a straight answer to whether he would support any legislation, he avoided the question by answering along these lines: “in general, I think that that principle is exactly right. And I think we should have a — a discussion around how to best apply that”. At times, the viewer might have been confused whether it was a hearing or whether the members of Congress were competing for Zuckerberg’s attention and approval of their piece of legislation.

The ‘publicity stunt

Others took a completely different approach again and went for something that would grant them coverage.

Like Senator Durbin of Illinois, who seemed to be the first person to take Zuckerberg by surprise as he asked “Mr. Zuckerberg, would you be comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel you stayed in last night? You could just see Zuckerberg’s mind trying so hard to work out what he was getting at before responding with a “No”. And it worked – this became one of the most picked up parts of the hearing.

But Senator Cruz’ (Texas) questioning was, without a doubt, the most memorable of all, as Cruz came hard for Zuckerberg, accusing Facebook of engaging in “a pervasive pattern of bias and political censorship”, suggesting that right-leaning users’ content gets censored because of the political bias of Facebook’s staff. Needless to say, Cruz became the Republicans’ hero of the day.

Props also seemed to be a popular tool in attracting some attention. Large printed images (yep, Diamond and Silk), infographics, Congressman Duncan of South Carolina even brought a copy of the Constitution that he gave to Zuckerberg at the end of the hearing – an excellent photo op.

Zuck’s pre-packaged image

Now let’s have a quick look at Facebook’s CEO’s performance. Zuckerberg kept repeating a few obviously rehearsed and carefully drafted statements, which were aimed to reframe Facebook’s image from an international corporation to a dorm room start-up that somehow got too big.SB2

What he said:

“The average American, I think, uses about eight different communication and social network apps to stay connected to people.

What he really said:

We’re not a monopoly.

What he said:

“So, from the beginning of the company in 2004 — I started in my dorm room; it was me and my roommate.

“I believe, to start a company in your dorm room and then grow it to be at the scale that we’re at now without making some mistakes.

“The history of how we got here is we started off in my dorm room with not a lot of resources.

What he really said:

We don’t want to be perceived as a large corporation, even though we are. We want you to think we don’t really know what we’re doing so you can’t blame us for making mistakes.

What he said:

I don’t come to Washington, D.C., too often. I’m going to direct my team to focus on this.

What he really said:

I’m only here because you made me, but that’s all you can expect from me.

What he said:

“My top priority has always been our social mission of connecting people, building community and bringing the world closer together.

What he really said:

We want you to think that we don’t even care about money – it’s all about the people.

What he said:

I’m not the type of person who thinks that there should be no regulation, especially because the Internet is getting to be so important in people’s lives around the world. But I think the details on this really matter.

What he really said:

We want regulation that won’t really limit us, but will keep up the perception that we are being socially responsible.

Will the Cambridge Analytica scandal really hurt Facebook? We’re yet to see. Everyone expected Zuckerberg to be sweating in the hot seat, but he got away fairly easily. He apologized for making a mistake, played the victim card well, but made no concrete promises or commitments. Zuckerberg vs. Washington, 2:0.

Silvia Bajlova is an MSc Communications and Public Relations student at Ulster University. You can follow her on Twitter and contact her on LinkedIn.

Choose me or lose me!

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There are some advertising campaigns that people will always remember – Nike’s “Just do it” slogan, Coca Cola’s “Share a Coke with” campaign.. I have the feeling that Walkers latest PR drive will be as memorable as these.

While studying CAM, I have started to become more aware of PR campaigns from many kinds of companies. I have started to see the meaning and reasoning behind some of ways they advertise products. A lot of the theory we study can be directly related to what is happening in these campaigns, from the message to the way it is showcased through design.

Putting its faith in the British public, Walkers Crisps asked people to “Choose me or lose me?” by voting for their favourite flavour in the campaign. Walkers have many classic flavours which people love, my favourite without doubt being the Prawn Cocktail.

Each of the classic British flavours is being challenged in the campaign by a new internationally inspired flavour. American Bacon and Cheddar challenges the popular Smoky Bacon, Spanish-inspired Paprika went against Prawn Cocktail and the classic Salt and vinegar versus lime and black pepper from Australia. The campaign attracted all the necessary attention that they set out to achieve. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram were all targeted and people began to worry that their beloved crisp flavour may cease to exist soon. Short television adverts would flash up with the words “Choose me or lose me” to keep the campaign in the public eye without over playing it. Walkers did some simple research and chose the flavours up for choice because they were the more regularly bought variants in the UK and their own countries.

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“The campaign is based on the importance of snacks to British consumers and the opportunity to have their say. (Thomas Barkholt; marketing director at PepsiCo)

“Our consumers feel passionately about their favourite Walkers flavours and we wanted to give them the opportunity to vote in regard to which flavours will be staying on shelves.

“We know consumers love our flavour campaigns and retailers benefit enormously from the buzz they generate. We are confident that by bringing back the voting element, this campaign will really capture consumers’ interest, stimulating demand and driving growth in the savoury snacks category.”

This was a great marketing style to use as it was very easy to spread the word about the product. People would happily share the “vote post” with their friends on social media platforms hoping that they too would vote. The simplicity of the idea behind it is so refreshing from a PR perspective. There would be so many people talking about it, and depending on what option they voted for determined if they talk was positive or negative!

The campaign ran from 14th August until the 22nd October.

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An interesting aspect of this campaign was that the outcome would be determined 80% by the packs of crisps bought in store, and 20% by the online vote. This is possibly the type of information that they haven’t publicised all too well. Walkers is not in fact allowing democracy to have the final say, instead favouring the invisible hand of the market. The underlying message behind this whole campaign may well be “buy more crisps”. The more crisps that are sold, the happier the company. The simple fact that there was more publicity around Walker’s crisps should have in turn resulted in more people being swayed to buying their crisps.

 

The Walkers marketing team will be hoping that its latest PR trick fares better than the 2017 champions league final giveaway which invited football fans to send in photo of themselves which was then inserted into a video with one of their leading advert stars, Gary Lineker. Social media users responded only as social media users would, sharing videos of the Walkers lead man with images of people from the past who were surrounded by controversy. In my opinion the coverage this gained will have done the company no harm at all! As the saying goes, “there is no such thing as bad publicity

They will however be hoping that this “Choose it or lose it” campaign will be remembered for all the right reasons.

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Daniel Lewis is a final year CAM student at Ulster University. He can be contacted at: LinkedIn

No phone? Welcome back to real life!

Following on from Hannah’s post (read here) regarding involuntarily taking three weeks away from social media, I thought I’d post about a similar situation that happened to me over the last few weeks. My iPhone has well and truly gone to phone heaven at this stage but I’m not so sure if all of my 3,000 photos/videos have gone with it! Hence why I am still holding out hope that my iCloud will be restored in the coming weeks. I received that same lovely message as Hannah,

“To verify your iCloud account, a code has been sent to your device ending in *********41.”

The only problem is that both my Irish and French numbers end in 41. It turns out my phone is backed up to my French number which no longer exists. Therefore, I now patiently wait for the next couple of weeks to see can all be restored.

In the meantime, these are the following five things that I noticed whilst I was phoneless.

  1. Everyone is addicted to their phones

It’s not just me who has this habit. Sometimes I feel rather depressed when I think about all the time I’ve wasted just doing nothing and scrolling through Instagram, Twitter or whatever. But everyone around me appears to be addicted to looking at their phone screens too. Addicted to looking and scrolling through nothingness essentially.

  1. Our need to share everything online

This became even more apparent on special occasions like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. If someone needs to share every aspect of their happy relationship online, how happy or secure are they really in that relationship? Also, it now seems that we all feel obliged to post something online on Mother’s Day.

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We all continue to portray an image online of how we would like the outside world to view us and our own lives. When you’re off social media, you start to genuinely not care about these things. You’re spending all your time and energy with the people you care about or doing the things you care about to even be bothered about checking back in with the online world.

  1. Our need to have a phone when we’re out for food

This is a habit that’s always annoyed me even before I went phoneless for a couple of weeks. Sitting with someone who is on their phone and not listening to a word you’re saying is hardly the height of craic. What is the point in going for lunch if you’re not even going to bother fully immersing yourself in a conversation with the people you’re with? I find it hard to adapt back to our lunchtime habits after living in France where lunchtime lasts up to two hours. You chat and eat over the two hour period. That’s the whole point of it (This is also most likely why I now appear to be the slowest eater when I’m out with friends!). Anyway, the point I’m making is, if the French can talk over two hours of lunch and digest their food at a much slower pace, then why do many of us feel the need to have our phones out while we eat our food in basically 20 minutes or less?

  1. I felt less stressed away from it

You don’t quite realise the anxiety that comes with the constant feeling of needing to keep up all the time until you’re away from it all and phoneless. Perhaps not everyone feels that way but I’m sure I’m not the only one. Chances are that whilst you haven’t heard or seen a story on social media first like everyone else, you can be sure that people are going to tell you about it regardless. Whilst you feel like you might be missing out on something, you’re actually not. You’re just discovering or being told about some important viral videos a couple of hours or days after everyone else (sarcasm intended!).

  1. We can’t flake on people as easily

Finally, just like Hannah, I didn’t miss social media as much as I thought I would. In fact, when I went back to Toulouse for a couple of days to visit friends, I particularly noticed this. I have not one single photo from the few days away (very uncharacteristic of me!). Also, I winged it every day by messaging everyone in the morning from my friend’s house and telling them my plans for the day. Then I would just turn up at the bar or wherever and hope for the best that they would turn up at the time I’d said earlier on in the day. I was phoneless so if they didn’t turn up then I couldn’t tell if they were just late or weren’t coming at all! You feel more of an obligation to meet people at the time you’d previously specified because you have no way of simply messaging them a few minutes before meeting up to cancel on them. I think that’s a positive, don’t you?

 

Louise Harvey is studying for an MSc in Communications, Advertising and Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @louiseharvey_ // LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/harveylouise/