Political Pensioners, Power and Social Media

Political Pensioners, Power and Social Media

Social media is often considered to be the domain of the young.  Every student has shared memes mocking inept parents struggling with technology, sharing embarrassing posts on Facebook and doing the unthinkable on TikTok, but what happens when the fight for the most powerful political post on earth is being contested and it’s votes, not laughs, that are being fought for in the social media arena – and both of  the  contenders are pensioners?

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 Firstly, looking at last year’s presidential candidates, we can clearly see they are older than the average candidate. When Donald Trump became president 4 years ago, he also became the oldest president to assume the position for a first term, at 70 years old. Obviously, this year, Joe Biden, as the president elect, beat this, at a shocking 77 years old. The minimum age to take on the role of President of the United States is 35. This begs the question, should there be a maximum age? It seems very hard to imagine that someone of this age bracket, can accurately navigate all forms of social media and advertising, as it is generally believed that the majority of people this age struggle with modern technology and media.

I feel with other presidential candidates, it is very clear that they have been somewhat out of touch with social media, with very political, formal posts across various platforms. It is evident that a team of people in the background are managing their accounts, quite probably with little personal input from the candidates themselves. For example, looking at Barack Obama’s time in office, when he personally wrote a tweet, he signed it off “ -BO ”, but the majority of tweets made from his account were written by his staff. In 2009, a year after assuming the presidency, he actually admitted in an interview that “I have never used Twitter, my thumbs are too clumsy to type things on a phone.” He did not start to personally tweet until 2011 in the run up to his re-election campaign.

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Obama is seen as a pioneer in politics in terms of social media, and it is often said that his use of social media is what won him 2 elections, despite his limited knowledge on the area. This is because he knew he wanted to target a new audience. As all presidents before him did, he didn’t put the majority of his resources into trying to change previously republican voters, to democrats. He instead focused on a whole new window of opportunity. Young people. The people who were over 18 and have the right to vote, but often don’t as they are uninterested or simply feel uneducated on the subject. Obama changed this. 48.4% of 18-29 year olds voted in 2008, which at the time marked the highest percentage since 1984. So even though he openly admits his naivety regarding social media, he realised its potential. He also clearly had a very skilled marketing team behind him who were able to put his ideas into action. He is now the most followed person on Twitter, beating Justin Bieber by 13 million.

Donald Trump really couldn’t be more of a contrast in his use of media. As a candidate in 2016, he didn’t need to spend a whole lot of money trying to win the presidential election because the media (particularly television) treated his campaign initially as a novelty, then as a spectacle – as entertainment instead of politics. So Trump got lots of free airtime on cable news and major networks. The equivalent of $5 billion in free media by the end of the presidential election. Such pervasive coverage, even if much of it was negative, helped to propel Trump to the White House.

Trump has also been front and centre with his use of Twitter for some time, some would say uncontrollably.  In a documentary I watched, “President trump: Tweets From The Whitehouse” on channel 4, it said that White House staff reached a compromise with him following a series of his more controversial tweets that they would be able to vet what he was sending out. However, we can still see that his tweets are often sent around 2 or 3am. This shows the President clearly reflecting on the news of the day and responding in the visceral manner for which he is known and in what must surely be an uncensored state. The non-PC nature of his tweets is remarkable, for example the tweet below, where he insinuates that the Supreme Leader of North Korea is “short and fat”. I feel that Trump’s victory in his first presidential election is a real advocate for “any publicity is good publicity”, it seems that as long as people are talking about him, he doesn’t care what they’re saying. And despite it being so shocking, some people obviously loved this aspect of him. It showed he was a real person, with real feelings and emotions, and he wasn’t afraid to say what he thought. Ironically for a politician, he didn’t feel the need to be ‘politically correct’. Marketing advisors will often deter their clients from ever giving controversial opinions in fear of the repercussions, but Trump ….. well he just sacked the advisors who tried to advise.

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In contrast Biden in many ways has behaved like the inept parents in his use of social media. It is widely believed that he does not manage his own social media, including his Twitter feed, in any direct way and has instead asked a younger team to manage it for him. This has resulted in a completely different style of communication from Trump – far fewer personal reflections and remarks, much more considered responses with more retweets, more politically correct language in fact …. more like Obama. So while the question was what happens when pensioners use social media to fight political battles well, the answer is we don’t actually know. We only know what happens when one pensioner uses social media and the other hands his phone over to a whole team of people the same age as his grandchildren. And what we know is that on this occasion, the phone in the hands of a pensioner did all the things we would expect – he liked things he ought not to have, said what he thought when he should have been quiet and did a whole range of swiping and tapping that anyone of us under the age of 25 knows we FORBID when we show our parents something on our phones. We hold on to the phone at all times, at a distance – no matter the pleas about failing eyesight, because we know they cannot be trusted not to do the wrong thing. And this election has shown us on this occasion, the pensioner who handed the phone over to the kids who know what they’re talking about was right, as it resulted in him becoming the President of the United States, while the other pensioner is left writing childish tweets saying, it’s a fix!! It’s not fair all the votes were counted!!!! I want a do-over!!!

Charlotte Cockcroft is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Pubic Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on: LinkedIn and Twitter.

FAKE NEWS OR REAL NEWS? It’s over Mr. Trump.

FAKE NEWS OR REAL NEWS? It’s over Mr. Trump.

It’s been nearly 3 weeks since it was announced that Joe Biden was announced the 46th President of the United States to which he will be inaugurated on January 20th 2021. 3 weeks and roughly around 700 tweets later, current President Trump has STILL NOT fully accepted defeat.

Sleepy Donald – Wake up Mr. Trump.

Trump and Twitter are like Toast and Butter – the 2 go hand in hand like no other combination. On the run up to the presidential election Twitter had to implement hidden warnings that say the claims are disputed and may be misleading on the President’s Twitter account. Facebook also added some fact-check boxes to some of the messages on Trumps profile, clarifying that the final results might take longer than normal. It’s no doubt that some Trump supporters are ridiculously credulous and accept what he has to say without a lot of supporting facts, so it makes sense to have a disclaimer on every one of the posts.

Where did Trump go wrong?

Trump’s handling and preparation of a once-in-a-generation pandemic was the final straw for the people of America. Trumps constant lies, political spin and arrogance to neglect the virus has caused America to have the highest number of deaths worldwide which is currently sitting at 254k according to Statista – A figure to be absolutely ashamed of and which contributes to nearly 20% of the deaths worldwide. I’m no President but I do understand the need to preserve the lives of the people who look to you as a leader and not to just ‘brush it off’ like Mr. Trump did.

Now, I understand at the start of this year information regarding COVID-19 was more limited, but we still knew the detrimental effects surrounding it and so did the President – but this didn’t stop him saying, “It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle—it will disappear” on Friday, February 7th.

Sorry Donald, 290 days, 11.4 million cases and 254k deaths later and it STILL hasn’t ‘disappeared’ like you said it would. Below is a list of similar lies and statements which I believe contributed to the loss of the election.

  • The pandemic is “fading away. It’s going to fade away.” Wednesday, June 17th
  • The pandemic is “getting under control.” Thursday, July 2nd
  • “We now have the lowest Fatality (Mortality) Rate in the World.” Monday, July 6th
  • “What happens is, you get better” after being sick with COVID-19. “That’s what happens: You get better.” Multiple times.

Trump Tax

If I gave you 50 guesses to guess how much Donald Trump paid in tax in 2017, odds are you’re never going to guess it. It was a measly $750, according to the New York Times. This scandal led to further consequences for Trump such as the Trump Tax Calculator which allowed users to enter how much taxes they paid in 2017 and it will give them the difference in tax in which they paid than the President of the United States. This website was sheer Propaganda for the Biden Campaign – at the bottom there was an option to ‘Join our Campaign to elect Joe Biden and make “billionaires” like Donald Trump pay their fair share”.

Case of Trump defeating Trump?

I remember my six-form business studies teacher telling me that if Trump wins this election, the only way he will be defeated is if he defeats himself – which now seems pretty plausible. Nick Bryant put it best when he said,

“Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016 partly because he was a norm-busting political outsider who was prepared to say what had previously been unsayable.

But Donald Trump also lost the presidency in 2020 partly because he was a norm-busting political outsider who was prepared to say what had previously been unsayable.”

You either love what he has to say or hate what he has to say but if one thing is for certain, is that you will most definitely hear what he has to say.

Dragon Slayer Biden

The only thing more powerful than a dragon, is a dragon slayer. Trumps relish for power and chaos was the American norm for the past 4 years but in the end, succeeded defeat to Bidens promise of decency, unity and national healing. Biden’s win was once widely anticipated and stubbornly doubted – a lot like Trumps campaign in 2016.

Luke Johnston is a final year BSc in Public Relations & Communication Management student at Ulster University. He can be found on LinkedIn.

Oh Polly? More like ‘Oh No Polly!’ How a customer service nightmare shamed the fashion giants…

Oh Polly? More like ‘Oh No Polly!’ How a customer service nightmare shamed the fashion giants…

Way back in April when public displays of NHS appreciation were in their prime, 20-year-old NHS student nurse Lara Harper, found herself at the forefront of PR disaster by taking to Twitter to publicly ‘cancel’ fashion retailers Oh Polly. Things went wrong when the brand ran an exclusive competition to celebrate NHS staff working on the frontline during the strife of Covid-19, then ironically refused to award the winner as she was too busy working…on the frontline…for the NHS?? Something didn’t quite add up!

When receiving the Instagram message to be notified of her prize, Lara also received an invitation to join a virtual Zoom event the following Friday at 4pm, but notified the page that she couldn’t actually attend the event due to having to work a 12 hour shift on the front line. The response to this message took twitter by storm when much to the Internet’s dismay, Oh Polly replied with an apology and informed Lara that she wasn’t eligible for the prize anymore. Users of all ages and genders rushed to the student nurse’s defence and called Oh Polly out for their contradictive behaviour – wanting to show appreciation for NHS workers but then not allowing them to claim the prize when they’re too busy working on the front line and saving lives???

Thousands of twitter users (more than 60,000 in fact) were quick to jump behind Lara and support her disgust in the fashion brand who claims they are, “FOR GIRLS. BY GIRLS”. Many users commented agreeing that the customer service handling in this situation was completely ridiculous with one outraged supporter expressing their dismay by tweeting, “Shocking from the marketing team @ohpolly Hope this gets the negative publicity it deserves.” Given the extreme lengths that the NHS worker’s tweet was able to reach, I don’t think this is something that will be forgotten in any hurry!

The ‘Oh Polly’ Twitter page had no choice other than to publicly address their error and admit that they had made a huge mistake with their handling of the NHS competition. A thread of three tweets was published to cover their backs and explain what they believed had happened. Despite reacting quickly to the backlash that was being received, offering a written apology and taking responsibility for incident  as well as attempting to offer a solution, the damage was already done. Again, other Twitter users came out in full force to criticise the fashion giants.

To add to the humiliation of the brand, huge competitors such as ‘Pretty Little Thing’ decided to get a piece of the action and use Oh Polly’s customer service crisis as a strong marketing strategy by gaining customer’s respect. They reached out on Twitter and wrote: “Lara, we want to celebrate YOU & all the incredible things you are doing right now. DM us for a pretty little parcel. You deserve it Love PLT.”

This was a clever way of using the opportunity to subtly throw shade at their competitors but also showing full support of the 20 year-old, who at the time of the ordeal had only just began working for the health service after completing her placement as a Glasgow Caledonian University student.

In addition to large retailers, many small and start up businesses utilised the situation by offering Lara free care packages and took this as an opportunity to get their name’s out there. These kinds of comments were also well received by the public and gained numerous comments of positive feedback during a time deep negativity and uncertainty. I’m just glad that some positivity was able to come from such a disastrous situation!

Post apology from the boujee fashion brand, Lara came to Twitter to inform her rally of supporters that she said she would, “Take the new outfit that they were offering but wouldn’t be shopping with Oh Polly again.”

To be honest, I really don’t blame you Lara after this real life fashion dilemma…

Eimear Delargy is a final year BSc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn and Twitter

DRINKING ALCOHOL PROTECTS AGAINST COVID-19

DRINKING ALCOHOL PROTECTS AGAINST COVID-19

Sadly, it’s doesn’t. But the headline caught your eye didn’t it? 

You might have heard the term ‘Fake news’ being thrown around lately, or perhaps from Donald Trump, as it is one of his favourite phrases! Fake news is essentially misinformation that is spread online as real news. I suppose you could say its big news right now as there has been a significant amount of it during this pandemic, however with so much media circulating about COVID-19, how do we know what is true anymore?

According to a survey by Statista (2020), almost 64% of UK respondents came across a false story at least once a day in the space of a week during September. In my opinion, this is absolutely crazy, how is fabricated news allowed to be shared across platforms millions of us use? 

A new study by MIT in 2018 found that false news spreads more rapidly on the social platform Twitter than real news does and not because of any algorithms or technology, it’s all down to users retweeting it and sending it onto their pals. No doubt this has increased over the past two years!  

Spreading inaccurate information online is more dangerous than we think, throughout the pandemic I personally have stumbled across many fake news articles and seen plenty of users sharing it across networks like Facebook. In concerning and tough times like this, reading a headline such as “Coronavirus is a Hoax” (I WISH!!) can have a massive impact on someone’s mental health if they believe this, especially when they are being kept from seeing loved ones and being told to stay inside. 

We have seen the impact fake news has had on political campaigns in America back in 2016, where it has been used and abused to target vulnerable people and influence their political opinions, which is why I feel more needs to be done about how to combat it – If this comes as a surprise to you, I would advise watching The Great Hack on Netflix!

So, what are social media platforms doing about it?

We use Instagram, Facebook and Twitter every day, so surely these big tech companies have a part to play in stopping the spread of false news? Well, they have previously turned a blind eye to the matter however, recently many have been taking action.

Facebook has vowed that they will continue to use fact checkers to review misinformation and then remove the fake news or perhaps sometimes, conspiracy theories. For example, at the start of the year when coronavirus began to spread, Facebook focused on removing false stories surrounding cures and treatment for the virus including “Avoid spicy food to avoid infection”– which was obviously not true. They also blocked certain hashtags on their platform Instagram which were linked to the topic. 

YouTube also took it upon themselves to remove any videos that include misleading information about vaccines and that contradict local health authorities like the NHS or World Health Organisation (WHO). 

And like I mentioned before, fake news has become the centre of previous election campaigns, and recently Twitter banned accounts which had been tweeting spam in relation to Donald Trump, which is against Twitters rules. 

What can WE do?

  1. Do a quick search on Google or Twitter. By doing this you can see if it’s came from a trusted source or if anyone else has questioned it. For any stories regarding COVID-19, only listen to health organisations like the NHS or WHO.
  2. If you’re unsure if a social media post is fake news or not, don’t like, comment or share it – this can increase your chances of seeing more fake news as social media platforms like to show us more of what we interact with. The more engagement a post like this receives, the more likely it’s seen as something relevant. 
  3. If it does in fact turn out to be fake news, report it! You can do this on any social media site, the World Health Organisation has published a great guide on their website which can help you do this.
  4. And lastly, just think before you share! Sometimes it can be hard to resist a click bait headline but try get used to reading trusted sources instead of what Sandra might have shared to her 200 followers (No offence to any Sandra’s out there) …

To sum it up, I think it’s scary to see how fast false information spreads these days and, in my opinion, it’s ruining people’s opinions on real journalism as they jump to believe the false article they just read on Facebook rather than the actual facts. There is definitely more work to be done here by social media platforms to stop the spread of fake news but for now, we can only look out for the warning signs!

Shauna McKillop is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She spent her placement year at The Tomorrow Lab in Belfast, where she continues to work as a junior digital marketing executive. Shauna can be found on: LinkedIn and Twitter.

How ITV’s Love Island led ‘I Saw It First’ to become an e-commerce success

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As cliché as it sounds, watching Love Island is everyone’s guilty pleasure. It was only in the series past that I decided to give in and watch the show and I could now understand why my friends were all so engrossed and didn’t want our evening plans to surpass 9pm. For 8 weeks it was the hottest discussions in social outings, work, the gym and even my mummy tried keeping up to date with the latest goss about the islanders so she could be in the know. Whilst watching these rising celebrities to be and their relationship drama unfold did you ever wonder how and where they got the look? Last year, it was reported that the shows fashion sponsor Missguided achieved an increase in sales of 40% when the show aired. Was it possible for I Saw It First to match or exceed this achievement as they signed an exclusive partnership for series 5 of the show?

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I Saw It First, who were relatively unknown before sponsoring ITV’s Love Island are a fast-fashion brand who provide for the glamorous, fashion obsessed female. Keeping up with the latest trends they never fail to end the ‘I’ve got nothing to wear!’ dilemma and all at an affordable price. Only having been on the market since 2017, I Saw It First have been on one hell of a journey. From obtaining an innovative sponsorship with the lavish Ocean Beach Ibiza to collaborations with Cindy Kimberly, Lolo Wood and Stassie (yeah, just google them) they have managed to put themselves on the fashion map.

The majority of Love Island viewers come from millennials and Gen Z; two of the biggest generations who are the true digital natives. It comes with no shock that social media was going to manifest the experience of the show as viewer’s more than likely sit with their smartphone in hand refreshing Twitter for the latest on what others had to say, like really do we ever put them down anyway? The clothing company used this as part of their strategy to help with the increase of sales. Before the show, islanders were given a nice little allowance to choose any clothes from the summer collection to wear on-screen. Not only did this create a closer relationship between the brand and islanders, perhaps allowing for them to work together in the long run but it also provided organic content to be uploaded rather than the traditional sponsored posts, conveying good old brand personality.

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Wanting to avoid anything Love Island related? Then it was best to avoid Twitter itself if you could. Swamped with memes, spoilers and outfit highlights it was the number one app to keep updated on the goss from the villa. When the first episode of series 5 aired, reports show there were over 400,000 tweets mentioning Love Island. This was I Saw It First’s time to shine as they cleverly included the Love Island hashtag in their tweets to take advantage of the incredible reach. I mean, why wouldn’t you?

The e-tailer also created a hashtag on Twitter; #ISawIsland so users could easily search for those savvy neon dresses and funky bikinis, providing a link straight to the item so it could be purchased there and then. In addition to this, they created a Love Island hub on their website with profiles of each female islander and individual story highlights of each female on Instagram with a swipe-up link so you didn’t have to go through endless pages of clothes, very convenient. They also integrated their product placement onto the show’s click-to-buy app. When using the app to vote, users were surrounded with advertisements that provided a direct link to any of the items featured, giving viewers an easy way to find and shop the outfits seen on screen whilst allowing them to build an association of the two brands. Talk about dedication! Or just really wanting to up those sales.

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I Saw It First really do have their finger on the pulse of the fashion industry. Landing this opportunity with a show that has 6 million viewers tells us that the traditional methods of marketing makes for powerful advertising formula, using reality TV as a vehicle for influencer marketing. As a result of collaborating with the show it led them to an increase of 67% in sales month on month. They continue to be consistent with their methods throughout all their social channels and ensure their content is fresh and engaging, having gained 905k followers which comes with a fantastic opportunity to access their target market even more. The partnership focuses on an audience that have the talent of scrolling miles on their phone and watching the show at the same time.

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With social commerce on the rise, rather than consumers making direct purchases through retailer websites, they’re discovering products on social platforms and perusing their purchases there, a drive to be the new online marketplace. I Saw It First’s Love Island hub, their Instagram profile and the Love Island app provide endless opportunities to do so, a marketing masterpiece.

Fionnuala Hegarty is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on: Twitter – @fionnualaheg,  LinkedIn – Fionnuala Hegarty, and Instagram – fionnualahegarty

 

A quick guide to Public Relations Tweetchats

“Twitter is the new melting pot of ideas, people, and disruptive innovation.” Audun Utengen, Co-founder of Symplur and the Healthcare Hashtag Project

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#PowerandInfluence Tweetchat

One very high profile #PR tweetchat which took place on Wednesday 2 October 2019 was #PowerandInfluence founded by @EllaMinty who is Co-Chair of the Energy Leadership Platform @CIPR_UK, @ILM_UK Fellow, and Crisis and Reputation Management Consultant.

Conor McGrath, Lecturer in PR and Lobbying at Ulster University hosted the tweetchat which was an overwhelming success.

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A simple tip for having a peep at the Tweetchat is to log into http://tchat.io and enter the tweetchat hashtag! Give it a go! Lurk and learn. 🙋‍♀️

If you want to find out more, check out some of the best Twitter moments from the Tweetchat, click on this link: https://twitter.com/i/moments/1179497828281962496?s=13

What is a Tweetchat?

A tweetchat simply affords Twitter users the opportunity to engage in conversation with each other. A community of like minded people gather around a particular subject or keyword using a hashtag at an agreed time and date. It is a bit like watching the subtitles in silence on a fast paced TV debate although you will find there is plenty of noise!

I have taken part in many tweetchats over the years. I founded my own and co-hosted others such as #ebnjc for the Evidence Based Nursing British Medical Journal! I was also invited to speak about tweetchats at the NHS Confederation Conference in 2015. Tweetchats could potentially bring you on on amazing journey with your #PR Tribe. Typically, the tweetchat general topic(s) or specific questions will be shared by the founder and host(s) of the tweetchat in advance either on a blog or using images such as the one used below in #PowerandInfluence last week.

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Merits of #PR Tweetchats

Tweetchats are so much fun. You can connect with #PR people from academia and professional practice who are based all around the world. These PR tweeps share their ideas and expertise freely! This is important if you are a new #PRStudent seeking to understand Public Relations. It is also relevant for those tweeps with more PR knowledge and experience who wish to thrash out and debate the nitty gritty of #PR.

However, on a more serious note, a PR tweetchat also provides a #PRStudent with “real time information” as to what #PR academics and professionals are saying about a particular topic and many networking opportunities!

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#IrishMed Tweetchat NodeXL Social Media Graph shared with kind permission of Dr Liam Farrell

What is a hashtag?

In the healthcare world, Symplur have advised that if you want to understand what the conversations are all about for any topic, what is trending, how it is changing over time and learn how the healthcare stakeholders differ and what they have in common you can drill down to the individual tweets using the hashtag.

This is equally applicable to the world of #PublicRelations on Twitter.

Some of the hashtags used both on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram for finding, curating and publishing Public Relations content are:

 

#PublicRelations

#PR

#PRStudent

#WIPRNI (Women in PR Northern Ireland)

#WomeninPR (Women in PR)

I am looking forward to connecting with you on Twitter!

Nóirín O’Neill is an MSc Student in Communication & Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter @Noirin0Neill and on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/n%C3%B3ir%C3%ADn-o-neill-426b91110/

 

On Dippy the Diplodocus and childhood obsessions

You aren’t to know this but, much like myself, my mum was also a mature student. When my siblings and I were growing up mum was studying Communication, Advertising and Marketing at the very institution where I’m now studying Communication Management and Public Relations. My point? Well, basically, what I’m saying is, when we were growing up dad spent an awful lot of time trying to get the four kids out of the house.

When you have four kids most activities become expensive, no matter how cheap they may seem at first. This meant that we spent a lot of time when we were growing up hanging out at the Ulster Museum. Museums are great for families, they’re free, and there’s always something interesting going on.

Every time dad would take us to the museum, he’d tell us about two things. One, did you know there’s a giant blue whale at the Natural History Museum in London? Two, there’s also a giant diplodocus called Dippy!

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Maybe it’s because we all grew up in the 1990’s when Jurassic Park was still the best film ever, but we were all obsessed with dinosaurs. We still are to be honest, when we visited New York as grown adults three of us decided it was a great idea to do a photoshoot of us pretending to be the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum. All the pictures on this blog post are from trips to see the dinosaurs with my siblings. So Dippy always stuck with me. I was determined to see him at some point.

The first time I saw Dippy I was 18. I went to London with mum to visit my sister and celebrate my birthday with them both. And I insisted on going to see Dippy. He didn’t disappoint. He is just as cool and big and everything I thought he’d be when I was 5 years old and dad was telling me about him. He became the one thing I was going to see every time I was in the city. Saw him again at 21 with mum and always took my friends to see him when we were over for gigs or West End shows.

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So, you can imagine my complete and utter devastation when the Natural History Museum announced that they were going to take Dippy down. How dare they? Did they not know that he was my favourite thing about visiting London? And they were going to replace him with that blue whale dad loved to go on about? I mean, the blue whale is cool and everything, but he’s no Dippy!

Then came the announcement. Dippy was going on tour! And he was going to come to Belfast! Obviously, I was going to visit him.

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Going through the doors of the building we spent so much of our childhood in hearing about Dippy to see Dippy felt a bit odd. Up you go, to the fourth floor, and there he is, my buddy, Dippy looking just as good as he did in London.

By now I’m sure everyone is wondering what my original point was. After spending the day with Dippy (and my sister) taking pictures and having a great time. I tweeted about it. Twitter at this point is probably my biggest vice, it’s been distracting me from things I should probably be paying more attention to since January 2009 (that would be the first time I was at university, Twitter is a really good distraction from assignments).

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So, there’s me, tweeting about seeing Dippy and how much I love dinosaurs, add a couple of photos, post and don’t think about it again. A few days later, the Ulster Museum, the Natural History Museum in London, and Dippy himself have all replied to me. Seems silly, but having an account run by the Natural History Museum for a dinosaur exoskeleton reply to me on Twitter might actually be the social media highlight of my year.

We as public relations professionals certainly understand the importance of social media as a communication tool and for building our network. Until that point, I didn’t realise how important it might be to interact with our publics. A couple of replies on any day is just five minutes work for the person running the Twitter account, but there’s no way to tell what the feeling is on the other side of the interaction.

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I know Dippy is just an exhibit in a museum, but the person tweeting for him doesn’t know that Dippy has a history with our family. He’s in the days spent in the museum so mum can get her head showered, he’s in the trips over to visit the big sister, he’s in the gigs I went to with my mates in London. Social media allows us to build our network and interact with our publics more than any other form of communication. Recognition that there is another human being on the other side of the interaction helps us to build a more connected network and probably makes our publics care a little more too.

Annie-Rose Mulholland is a final year student on the BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be contacted on: Instagram – bananiepie / Twitter – @bananiepie / LinkedIn- Annie-Rose Mulholland.

Here’s How To Get a Job in PR – Reason #4 Will Shock You

  1. Apply for a job in PR
  2. Go To The Interview
  3. Smash The Interview
  4. Pretend to be a man because according to a recent survey they still get paid more for doing the same job. See, number 4 was genuinely shocking, I’ll be covering the CIPR State of the Profession next and go into detail. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Accept Job In PR

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Figure 1 – CIPR State of the Profession 2016

Well, now you’re here you may as well read the rest. You can skip to the TL;DR at the bottom if you don’t want to.

Everyone seems to start these things with a bit of background of themselves, so here it goes. My name’s Anthony, I was on placement at a fantastic company (don’t let them know I said that), I’ve done work experience at leading PR agencies (or so they tell me), I’m a CIPR Student Ambassador annnnnnnd I still don’t know why I’m studying Public Relations. Go figure eh? I hear you say, “obviously you know why you’re studying PR, you picked it didn’t you?” (maybe you didn’t say that, but let’s assume you did). Yeah, I did. Originally, I picked Business Economics with Marketing, then I changed my mind picked Communication, Advertising & Marketing, got accepted, changed my mind and picked PR because it seemed more fun. In hindsight, both CAM and PR are really the same but PR has a bit of politics involved. I was, still am, concerned with having fun and enjoying what I do with making money being a nice benefit too.

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I spent most of my first 2 years studying in PR wondering what I had to do to stand out in the industry. I mean if you can’t make yourself stand out, how are you meant to make a company stand out and how are you meant to make a career out of it, right? I spent hours researching everything from speech-writing to how individual leaders, from Chavez to Obama, speak. I’ve worked with members of the CIPR as a student ambassador and watched how they carry themselves in meetings. And luckily for you I’ve come to a conclusion that I want to share with the world.

You’ll never make yourself stand out if you’re trying too hard. You want to be like the CEO of that successful PR agency? Congrats, so does everyone else. You need to let go of everything and just be yourself. Are you the kind of person that cracks jokes all the time? Keep on doing it. Do you see yourself as a professional businessman/woman? Keep on business-ing. Are you rather boring? Keep on studying CAM. The point is, you need to be yourself.

Buttttt back to me, why don’t I know why I’m studying PR? Easy, cause it’s terrifying; what if I’m no good at social media? What if no one likes my writing style? What if someone finds out that I have an undying hatred for humanity? Who cares!? You’ll find your niche, trust me. I haven’t yet, so I’m not a good example but there’s loads of people on my course who seem like they know what they’re doing so I probably will one day too. If not, maybe PR isn’t for me. That’s the beauty of the world though. PR may not be for me or you, but I’ve learnt that it’s not the end of the road. PR has still done a lot for me, I’ve learnt more about businesses and how to make businesses work than what I would have done studying any business degree! The lessons you’ll learn will stand you in good stead for the rest of your career. So hang in there, you won’t get anywhere worrying about the destination. Take a leap of faith and see where it takes you!

But how do you make yourself stand out? “Gotta create your own brand” lecturers have been telling us it every. Single. Year. But how? Start with LinkedIn. If you don’t have a LinkedIn, stop reading and go make one. List your skills and get people to endorse you for them. But be honest about it. I put ‘Public Speaking’ in mine, went into work on Monday got pulled to the side by my boss and asked me to speak at the Chartered Institute of Credit Managers (NI) Legal Action Workshop on the role a debt collection agency can play for businesses. Boom, on stage in front of 100 people with a minimum of 10 years’ experience in credit control all listening to these very well-respected lawyers from North and South of the border, and then me. Banter. If you’re going to exaggerate, be prepared to back it up! Then Twitter, people who work in PR love Twitter, which means you can connect with them! And they can see everything you post and like and retweet… make a separate account for ‘work’. And then you could always start a blog! I did and hit 80,000 views in a month, but that’s a story for another time/I’ve 4 blogs to write and not giving everything away in my first.

So, go out, the tools are there, and start creating you!

TL;DR – Start of it rambles on a bit but the message might be to hang in there, don’t try too hard to be like everyone else and you’ll be just fine.

Anthony Boyd is a final year student on Bsc in Public Relations at Ulster University. He can be found on Twitter: @anthonyboyd16 or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anthony-boyd-4a5a63b4/

This Little Piggy Made A Blunder

As many of the posts on this blog have explored, social media can be an excellent tool for communicating with customers and promoting your brand. This, however, is dependent on how the brand utilises it. On Tuesday, October 17th, a Twitter user by the name of Heather Peacock (@heatherpea) posted an image of a sign outside of a school, stating “Skinnypigs will make you look better naked”.

Heather questioned how a school might not be the most appropriate place for this content; and another user by the name of Sarah (@sarahdavywrites) echoed her sentiment, going on to suggest how these types of statements can translate into body shaming.

The company in question responded. It got messy.

Continue reading “This Little Piggy Made A Blunder”