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.

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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

From student life to adult life, my placement experience.

From student life to adult life, my placement experience.

In May 2019 I started my yearlong placement in the Marketing Department of Harry Corry Interiors.  It is fair to say I was very nervous starting this role as I was used to living the student life and only ever working part time. I had never experienced working in an office 40 hours a week and being part of a team who had to do deliver results for an ACTUAL successful company! I felt a lot of pressure joining a business filled with experienced professionals who had already received their degrees and had been working in the industry for a long period of time, and here I was 3 years into my degree.

On my first day I walked in feeling anxious yet excited to gain experience from the Marketing experts. Immediately I was made to feel very welcome and a part of a great team. I jumped right in as I joined during the middle of Harry Corrys summer sale which is the second biggest sale of the year. I helped the team with promotional work and started to learn all about the role marketing plays on these key occasions.

I am very grateful for my experience on placement as I did learn a lot.  For example, I learnt how to use email marketing, social media marketing, and importantly how to market a campaign. During this period, I gained a qualification in Adobe Illustrator and had the opportunity to act as a photographer during their seasonal campaign photo shoots. There is no doubt that by having first-hand access to all these great experiences, I can implement these new skills in future job roles and add them to my CV which is always a bonus!

One of my favourite campaigns was the “Sleep Awareness Week” campaign. During this campaign we got to collaborate with local influencers. We sent them sleep essentials hampers which included duvet covers, bed sheets, lavender diffusers, towels and so on. I really enjoyed this process because as a team I felt it was perfect for us to dive into this collaboration and bring Harry Corry furnishings to a new audience. I found it very satisfying sending all the baskets to each influencer and seeing their positive reaction. I personally loved social influencer “Gerry Lavs” reaction on his Instagram as he thanked us, he expressed how much he appreciated the hard work that went into the campaign and he even said our boss should treat us to a day at the races (Didn’t happen).

Even though I learned so many great skills during my time on placement I am not going to lie and say it was easy. Working 40 hours a week, being the only placement student in the team, not being able to see my family and friends as much as I used to, not being able to join social events gave me serious FOMO. Also driving 2 hours, 5 days a week can be very challenging as it is something I had never done before. I now have a new respect for adults working full time, balancing their personal life and family life because I know for a fact it cannot be easy. I learned a lot about office culture and organisational culture which is a module I am currently studying, and I am very interested in as it is something I now have experienced for myself.

It was certainly challenging for me going from being a student in university 2/3 days for two years and working a couple days a week, to completely making that switch to a full-time working adult life. Overall, I am grateful for my placement experience as I now know what to expect when I make that transition although, more importantly I now know what I want in life, what type of work  environment I thrive in and what industry  I want to work in. In essence, my placement opportunity helped me figure out what I want to pursue in my career and crucially it helped me find my passion.

I would encourage everyone to take part in a placement year as it really does introduce you to adult life, offers you an insight into that work life balance and on a personal level helps determine where you want to be when you graduate from university. I now feel as if I am equipped to working full time in a business setting because of that experience but for now I am happy still being a student! I want to enjoy every moment before I graduate while I can.  

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

Adapting to life since Covid-19

Adapting to life since Covid-19

Since COVID-19 hit Northern Ireland back in 2020 life has changed completely. I remember I was at Limelight in Belfast at an Example concert living my best life on the 28th of February 2020 and then woke up the next morning and the first thing I saw on my phone was that Covid-19 had hit Northern Ireland, lovely! Since then, it is safe to say life has been a roller coaster.

In the beginning I thought by summer it will be gone we would all have to stay inside for a few months, and we will be good to go. Pretty sure I jinxed it. Who would have known that this awful virus would last for nearly one year with on and off lockdowns happening, selfishly the only thing worrying me at the time was the fact that we were going into a national lockdown 2 weeks before my 21st birthday? I think I was so annoyed because stupidly I did not fully understand Covid and how serious it was. To me I was in my own world having a mid-life crisis about how I was not able to celebrate my birthday. How ridiculous!

2020 in general was just a rubbish year for me and indeed everyone. With Covid happening, experiencing health issues, leaving my placement early, going back to uni online and not being able to see my friends or attend lectures, not being able to see family and friends and struggling with the anxiety of what was going on in the world.

You nearly forget what life used to be like and I struggled going back into social situations.  Although, with all this happening I believe my mentality has changed and I have a different way of thinking.

After 2020, I am very grateful for my health, friends, and family. The most important thing now in my opinion is making sure your family and friends are healthy and happy. I still get to go to uni, I still have a job, and importantly my friends and family are not sick with COVID-19. Some people are really struggling mentally, financially, physically, and emotionally with the aftermath of COVID-19. I really feel for people who are sick, who have their businesses closed and are struggling.

It is important to focus on the positives and have a positive mentality knowing that this will not last forever. Although, the start off 2021 has been questionable with me getting covid I have absolutely no idea how I got it either which is scary, it really makes you realise how infectious this is but nevertheless we move forward!

Everyone has been affected by covid in some way in their life, it is important to stay strong during this time. I really recommend “The Secret” on Netflix it helps you develop a happier, positive mindset on how to manifest your dreams. I am currently manifesting winning the cash call on Cool FM.

Being thankful for what you have during this time and doing things that makes you happy are key for surviving this pandemic and obviously staying indoors!

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Tara Hamill is a final year student studying communication management and public relations. She can be found on Linkedin and Twitter.

Was the BPerfect Megastore opening a PR disaster?

Was the BPerfect Megastore opening a PR disaster?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How could BPerfect come back from something so brand damaging?

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

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

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

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