Free beer on a Friday!

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Free beer on a Friday. What’s not to like?

The opportunity to try new things and experiences is always very exciting in my book. So when a can of Desperados landed on my desk during a busy day, it definitely brought a smile to my face.

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Oh hi free beer!

Nothing is ever free, we all know that. In exchange for the tequila flavoured beer the company providing the goodies required my opinion and feedback on the beverage. A fair trade I think.

Feedback is integral in most industries, especially when it comes to food and drink. Knowing what stakeholders think about your product is key in shaping public relations, advertising and marketing campaigns.

Getting test subjects and quality feedback is highly valuable but, often quite difficult with unknown or new products.

That’s where The Work Perk come in, connecting the UK’s work force and product samples. Large audiences can be found in office blocks in any city every day. Accessing these people poses a problem as many buildings are secure and managers don’t want their work force being distracted. The Work Perk neatly bridges this gap keeping everyone happy.

At regular intervals treats are delivered to the office as long as the samplers fill in a short survey about the product.

Anyway, back to the beer just in case you haven’t tried it. This beer is one of my favourites, the crisp and distinctive tequila flavour is a real thirst quencher and perfect year round. It was much appreciated this weekend with the hot little indian summer we are having at the moment. I find it very drinkable but go easy because at 5.9% they pack a mini punch!

Lots of my friends who aren’t beer fans like a Desperados. The tequila adds a really tasty element to the beer rather than being overly strong and overbearing like a bad shot on a night out. It falls between those sweet fruity flavoured beers and proper lagers. Even if you aren’t a tequila fan it would be worth giving this beer a try.

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Learning to paddle board on the Hamble

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Today was the best Sunday I’ve spent in a while. Warm sun rays peaked through the edges of my curtains and I woke up to the most beautiful day. To make things even better I had that wonderful nervous-excitement in the pit of my stomach, as today was the day I’d been talking about for a year. I was going paddle boarding.

The past three years have been a blur, pushing myself to extremes in one form or another to achieve a few important life mile stones. Now that the Masters degree is complete, the PR career is off the ground and the house has been bought and moved in to, I can finally catch my breath.

None of this has left much time to strike a good life balance. So once I reclaimed my weekends, ditching the late night second job, it was time to do something to mark my new found freedom.

About a year ago, on a much needed break, I spent an afternoon paddle boarding along the coast of a Caribbean island. Paddling through the crystal clear water I knew this was something I wanted to keep doing. It was idyllic and watching fish, stingray and jellyfish pass by was a real highlight. It was like someone had plucked me out of my real life and dropped me in to an Instagram travel feed. I was hooked immediately.

With this amazing memory niggling in the back of my mind, I knew exactly what I wanted to do when I had some free time again. At the earliest opportunity I booked a British Stand Up Paddle Boarding Association (BSUPA) Level 1 Ready to Ride.

The River Hamble is situated on the south coast of England with a mix of boats and rolling countryside along it’s banks. On sunny days it looks like something off of a postcard. Today was one of those days.

The friendly instructor Drew, from the AV SUP Club, took the group over the basics and got us all out on the water and stood up in no time. It was amazing to paddle up and down the river seeing places I know very well from a completely different perspective.

Once over my initial nerves I embraced the ‘wetter the better’ way of learning and took a few trips in to the water to learn how to react in different situations. Turns, technique and tumbles helped build everyone’s confidence and we all started to pick up speed on the paddle back down river.

It was an incredible experience and lived up to the memories of my first trip. This was the perfect way to celebrate getting a better work life balance back and a great way to spend a Sunday. I can’t wait to go again.

If you want to try paddle boarding look at the BSUPA website for further information about how to get started. I’d definitely recommend doing a Ready to Ride course if you’ve never done it before. The certification gives you the necessary skills to be confident and safe going on the water and means you can rent a board anywhere in the UK. Well worth it!

#IamTeamGB – get involved! Olympic legacy in action.

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Last week I volunteered to help out with the nation’s biggest sports day down my local rowing club. It was a fantastic day with an impressive turn out of people wanting to try the sport. However, you may ask, what has this got to do with public relations?

I am Team GB is a fantastic initiative which encourages people to get active.  ITV, one of the main sponsors, is so passionate about it that they switched off all their television channels for an hour on Saturday the 27th August to encourage people out of their homes to get active and try something new. Sports clubs across the UK were supplied with a fantastic goodie pack to make the day special including t-shirts, bunting, stickers and photo booth accessories to make the day special.

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Now I can rant and rave about the obvious PR benefits that this brings the sponsors involved, how it helps struggling sports clubs around the country attract new members and funding and how it helps fight the growing obesity epidemic. However, I’m looking at PR and legacy from a slightly different angle.

Promotion of sport is beneficial to so many and capitalising on the biggest sporting event in the world makes sense.

For my Masters degree dissertation I chose to study the public relations of large scale sporting events and the balancing of stakeholders for success. I realised that a significant part of London 2012’s aim was to set up it’s legacy. The success of the Olympic’s doesn’t just stop after two weeks of sport every four years.  Without a legacy the giant machine that is The Olympic’s can be of detriment to the host city and country. Look at the struggle Montreal has had since hosting.

London 2012 is the first Olympics that tried to use the Olympic ethos to create a long lasting legacy. But, it didn’t support it with the necessary infrastructure. LOCOG didn’t handle it right, it was essentially an after thought and unfortunately it was too little too late. It tried to do four simultaneously, regenerate a part of London that desperately needed, reduce and tackle the environmental impact of the games, get more people volunteering and encourage the uptake of sport for a healthier nation.

Any good PR campaign depends on having a strategy that includes extensive and effective communication, organisation, preparation and funding. You reap what you sow, and not enough was done to carry that legacy on.

As I worked as a Games Maker Volunteer it pains me to say there isn’t a stronger legacy in place as a result of the games. It was a magical time, one of the best times in my life and I’m privileged to have been a part of it as I’ll never see another home Olympics.

It’s such a shame that they didn’t manage to harness the wave of good will and motivation that bubbled around the 2012 games. Perhaps picking one legacy and doing it well would have been a more fruitful and effective option.

Rio has faced it’s own problems with corruption, construction, protests and poverty. People questioned if Rio would be ready in time to reach the starting blocks. But, let’s not focus on the negatives, they made it by the skin of their teeth and apart from a few glitches held a successful games with enough gossip and drama to keep the media and public engaged.

The organisers behind Rio did pick one legacy to uphold. They placed a major focus on the environmental aspects and impact of the games. An issue facing us all. An issue that surpasses every other – the environment.

Rio 2016 drove the idea of sustainability, reducing the total spend on the games, replacing flower bouquets with medal holders as well as addressing many other environmentally friendly issues with their Sustainability Management Plan.

London revolutionised the Olympic concept and Rio took the model and tried to run with it. It’s still not perfect, but in essence London did change the face of the Olympic Games, Rio recognised that and embodied as much of it as possible. I think London 2012’s actual legacy is about the importance of implementing a sustainable legacy. The Olympics should be used as a platform for good global and national changes. The Olympic’s need to get their PR hat on to strategically leverage holding the world’s attention to achieve their wider goals.

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Although, all may not be lost for London 2012, that good wave of feeling is back after August’s Olympic fever. This time UK stakeholders are capitalising on it armed with a strategy and the tools for implementation. This is a big challenge. The major stakeholders involved in I am Team GB are gently rekindling that delicate legacy by getting people involved and engaged in sport. It’s one big PR campaign.

Legacy deals with big issues. Big issues with no easy answers. PR is one way of enabling and facilitating these legacy ideas, it just needs better implementation and execution when it comes to such a large global event.

IAM TEAM GB

Launching with a Spark! A new event venue for Southampton

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If you’re looking for an event with a spark in Southampton then look no further. As soon as you walk through the doors ‘the Pod’, a red space age spark, immediately captures your attention as it floats in the centre of the room.

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Following a £30 million construction The Solent Conference Centre has opened in spectacular style. The Spark building is the newest addition to Southampton City Centre.

At the end of August over 200 guests were treated to a show case of the venue with a garden party themed launch and the chance to see the facilities for the first time.spark sweets

After a picnic dinner guests were invited to explore the new building as the organisers had hidden photo-booths, pick and mix, bubble tea, a speakeasy and other fun things to do in every corner. A Gordon Ramsay look-a-like compered and kept everyone bemused and amused.

This cleverly show cased the space in an extremely engaging manner and it was a delight to see everyone grasping their maps as they excitedly scurried off down corridors and up stairs.

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In PR, a venue can often make or break an event. Event locations are important. Making a good impression, having a good reputation – these all go a long way in the world of public relations. This new conference centre seems to have the best of everything, large exhibition spaces, full sized lecture theatres, meetings rooms, small snugs, open galleries and a deli. Having the memorable ‘Pod’ gave everyone a talking point and it was refreshing to come away from a preview having had a thoroughly great evening.

If you’re ever in Southampton, or work there, go and peak your head through the door. It would give ‘the wow factor’ and make a great base for such a wide range of events.

Spark

 

 

I’m on the list of Top 25 Female PR Career Advice Bloggers

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Top 25 Female PR Career Advice Bloggers

It’s pretty exciting to get recognised in the field you are working, especially in public relations. So I’m chuffed to have been recognised for my blog in Personal Income’s Top 25 Female PR Career Advice Bloggers.

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I’m in at number 19 between some other pretty awesome public relations professionals who I really admire and respect. If you’re looking for some other interesting PR reads, different perspectives and advice then you can read the list of top 25 PR career advice bloggers by following the link above.

Personal Income’s Top 25 Female PR Career Advice Bloggers:

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I’m back and backed up!

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Our dependency on technology has never been greater. My laptop recently took a hit and like some weird drug addict I could only get an internet fix through my phone or at work.  As a result I have lived a strange sort of digital half life, by day a fully interactive public relations professional and by night an off the grid hermit with intermittent Instagram access.

Back up your important files and technology. This lesson isn’t new and has come in many forms as technology has evolved. Important pictures, documents and music have been lost in various ways over the years that have caused me to think ‘never again will I let this happen’.

I thought I was safe, back ups were on my trusty external hard drive from university. I always save, always make copies and ALWAYS back it up.  But, this summer I got distracted by life. The pennies that would have gone in to a hard drive update went in to bricks and mortar.

The external hard drive stopped working and so did the one inside my laptop. Double fail. Time’s flown and my back up technology is now over 11 years old and not so trust worthy.

It’s not the end of the world now compared to what it would have been a few years ago but I still lost all my files, a lot of time and money. It was also annoying not being able to access important documents and neglecting this blog.

Thankfully there are a lot of clever computer experts out there who have come to my rescue. I’ve lost a lot, learnt my lesson (again!) and gained a new shiny terabyte of external hard drive.

I’m back and backed up!

Hopefully this blog post is an important reminder to everyone, especially public relations practitioners, who depend on technology in their personal and professional lives. If you’ve put off your back ups make sure you do one soon. Back up your documents, your phone, your music, those pictures of you in Vegas and check that your back ups are still fully functioning. It’s just not worth the heart ache and the hassle.

 

Adidas, there’s no U in Colombia!

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Proof reading and checking spelling are basics in PR, something that is done every day. Spelling is such an easy thing to get wrong. Some would argue whether it really matters? Does it? Of course. A simple spelling or grammar mistake has the power to bring a brand to it’s knees through causing offence, changing meaning and looking unprofessional.

This month global brand Adidas made a spelling blunder on their latest advertising campaign. Adidas have a lucrative sponsorship deal with Colombia which includes supplying club kit for the Copa America, an international football tournament in the United States this month. Despite the five year partnership between the brand and the country, Adidas spelt Colombia with a U.

You can’t help but feel for the people that created this, read it, probably re-read it and signed off on the final copy. A one letter mistake that changes everything and offends a whole nation.

Adidas went straight in to crisis-mode and swiftly removed the offensive advertising and issued the following statement: “We value our partnership with the Colombian Football Federation and apologize for our mistake. We removed these graphics and are quickly installing new versions today.”  Honest, concise and apologetic, a great crisis statement.

From a PR perspective Adidas have done all that they can to remedy the situation as quickly as possible. Let’s hope the Colombian Football Federation and football-supporters of Colombia are feeling forgiving.

The PR lesson is a clear and obvious one. Always check the copy yourself, get as many people you can to proof it and always refer to books and Google if in any doubt. A good tip that was given to me was to avoid approving copy in a rush, take your time, mistakes are harder to correct once they are out there in the world for all to see. I find it best if I leave something over night and come back to it with fresh eyes.

Read more about this situation and different media perspectives here:

One website has found a twitter user who wants to take their revenge by supporting ‘Abidas’, the knock off version of Adidas, that is apparently popular in Colombia. Read the article here at remezcla.com.

Have you made any PR or advertising spelling mistakes that you are willing to share? What do you think about this one? Do you think Adidas have done enough to remedy the situation? Share your take on the situation in the comments box.

PR is demanding, look after yourself! 5 tips to keep you on the straight and narrow

Carrie

It’s not surprising that juggling a public relations career with all of lifes other demands can sometimes get the better of you.

In 2015 being a PR executive was ranked the 6th most stressful job that someone can have in America according to CareerCast. In the UK the top ten misses PR off and all the jobs listed are front line public sector roles. This is an interesting insight in to our cultural differences and how we perceive stress.

Although PR may not currently be considered as one of the UK’s most stressful jobs, there are many demands on a PR professional that raise those cortisol levels. Two little words will set even the coolest of PR professional’s pulse racing: crisis management!

Every role comes with its own stresses. Stress comes from pressure. Add this to other life stresses and it can easily soon start to take its toll. Even good things like buying a house, relationships, friendships and trying to hit important life milestones can add to stress levels.

It’s obvious that by burning the candle at both ends it’s soon going to have a negative effect and it is also obvious what needs to be done to prevent stress. However, often we ignore the advice we give ourselves, the things we know we should do.

So here’s a little reminder of five key things that are going to dramatically reduce the damage stress can do to our bodies as well as trying to maintain some balance:

  1. Self support
  2. Sleep
  3. Socialise
  4. Sport
  5. Supplements

Self

Make time for yourself. This is always the first thing to go for me. I completely neglect my hobbies, my blog, my hair, listening to music, reading, my skin routine and other important things that look after my wellbeing. Personal and mental wellbeing is so important and after a long time in the dark it is finally becoming a talked about topic in the mental health arena. Realistically this underpins all of the other points in this list, all of them contribute to your general wellbeing and to taking good care of yourself.

Sleep

There aren’t enough hours in the day. How many times have you thought that this week? In PR we are expected to constantly be switched on and connected. The all knowing and all-seeing client eye! With email and social media at your fingertips it’s hard to put down your phone when you should be winding down for bed. But you must. The blue screen is doing you no favours.

Lack of concentration, headaches and twitchy eye are just a few of the side effect of lack of sleep. Everyone knows a lack of sleep is bad for you, so it’s time to catch some Z’s. Run on all cylinders by trying to get 7-8 hours sleep a day. Everyone’s different, you know the amount of sleep you need so adjust my recommendation accordingly – happy napping!

Socialise

Even if it’s just a coffee catch up, keep in touch with your friends. When I’m stressed I cut myself off from my friends, so I know how hard this can be. I convince myself they don’t want someone around who’s stressed. In reality good friends are your support network and they will be there for you when the chips are down.

A half hour catch up over a cuppa, a Skype call or date in the future to meet up are ways to touch base when you are short on time. Friends are a great support and distraction, they are the perfect way take yourself out of your situation for a little light relief. They will be happy to listen to you have a good old rant and they will have a few ideas of their own about how to keep the stress monster from the door.

Life is about balance, being with your friends is really good for you and your wellbeing.

Sport

It’s easy to drop the ball on getting to the gym, heading out on a run or doing whatever sport you’d normally do when you’re in the office late or working weekends. However, exercise releases all those great happy endorphins and can totally change your mindset. I find I get my greatest ideas and work through all my problems when I’m working out. Afterwards everything becomes clearer and allows me to put it all in perspective. At the moment I’ve definitely dropped the ball on this one, so last night I combined catching up with friends and going to a new trampoline park that’s opened in my city. Not only did I get a full on bounce-based killer work-out but I also got to see my friends. Win!

Scheduling in even a small amount of regular exercise is going to benefit your mind, your body and your immune system.

Supplements

Ensuring that you eat well will help to combat stress, your diet is unbelievably important. For any dietary advice or for anything medical please go and speak to your Doctor. They study for a really long time and know their stuff and are the best to give you advice if you are struggling physically or mentally.

Although I eat my five a day, I have a hectic lifestyle and a low immune system. So I make sure I take a good multivitamin to help support my body. The fitness rhetoric doesn’t change, eating right, drinking plenty of water and all those other things you read on those aspirational fitness blogs and websites are all important to make your body work right. So make sure you’re fitting in your five fruit and vegetables a day!

These five points aren’t new but they are an important reminder of the key elements to try and keep some work life balance. Now I’m off to bed to try and implement my own advice and balance my busy life!

 

Sarah Stimson’s 50 UK PR female blogger list – I’m on it!

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Today I was excited to find out that I am part of a list of 50 UK bloggers submitted by Sarah Stimson to Vuelio for some number crunching fun.

In this article Sarah points out that there were no female bloggers in Vuelio’s recent ‘Top 10 UK PR blogs list’. Sarah knows that there are a lot of us out here and has submitted a list of 50 that she is aware of to Vuelio who’ve agreed to help her with some statistical analysis. You can read her blog, which includes a list of 50 female UK PR bloggers by clicking on the image below:

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There are some cracking blogs in this list and it’s well worth a trawl through for some great and diverse PR reads.

If you are a also a female UK PR blogger you can submit your details to Vuelio too by clicking on ‘How does Vuelio decide its Top 10 Blog Ranking?‘.

Getting into PR: What to expect on a work placement

What to expect on placement

This week I had the amazing opportunity to go back to Southampton Solent University to lecture about what PR students should expect on their placements and how they can maximise the opportunity while they are there. I wrote about the lecture on behalf of Lee Peck Media:

Placements, internships and work experience are all part and parcel when it comes to getting onto the PR career ladder. Having experience continues to be an important pre-requisite to entering the PR industry. It’s the chance to impress, network and find out what the industry is actually like at the same time as adding vital skills to a CV.

In 2015 alone the amount of placements rose by 10.2 per cent, according to a survey of leading employers by High Fliers Research. Although employers are offering more opportunities the number of applicants has also increased with some roles attracting thousands of candidates. In a competitive job environment experience can provide the edge required to beat off those other candidates for that sought-after first job.

This week Lee Peck Media’s Rebecca Henderson was invited by Southampton Solent University to give a talk to second year PR students about being a PR account executive and what to expect when on a placement.

“Embarking on a work placement or PR role for the first time can be a pretty daunting prospect whether you are fresh from graduating or not. Having some relevant tools and advice before starting will help you stand out from the crowd and impress your potential future employers, which could help you land your first proper PR job,” said Rebecca.

Rebecca undertook placements at a number of different companies at the start of her career, including time at the Clinique press office and the communications team at Hampshire Fire and Rescue. Here she shares her top five things to expect on placement:

  1. Admin – This may not sound like an integral part but this is the bread and butter of PR and what justifies our work. Media cuttings, reports and keeping plans up to date are an important everyday essential that, if not done properly, will catch you out later down the line!
  2. Press releases – Practice, practice, practice! Don’t feel down if you get critiqued; use it as a valuable learning experience to improve. Remember your managers will have been writing for years, so don’t be disheartened.
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  3. Events – Be prepared. Carrying around essential tools, i.e. stationary, spare press releases and contact details, could avert disaster and prevent you from missing that important PR opportunity.
  4. Selling in to journalists – Get that telephone manner down! Use your charm, wit and guile to hook a journalist on to your story.
  5. Be ready to learn – Ask questions and get involved. There are some topics like budgets and crisis management where the best form of learning is from others on the job. Don’t be afraid to ask questions so you can learn why that’s the approach to take in that instance.

Rebecca added: “All these tips will help but your attitude matters. It may sound obvious but be proactive and enthusiastic. You’d be surprised by the amount of people who don’t and how much it matters!”


Laura Bradley, the new PR_SSU Blog Editor and second year Public Relations & Communication student has also written about the lecture for the Official Southampton Solent Univeristy blog, click here to read it!

 

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