I’ve joined Blog Lovin’

Curation is a fantastic and helpful tool especially in the world of blogging. I am always looking for new ways to follow the blogs I like and find new ones. Today I’m trying a new service called Blog Lovin’.

I’ve got to post the link in a new post, here goes nothing…

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I will update you with my progress and what I think of the service shortly!

Online activism – social media monster or force for chance?

In The Times yesterday I couldn’t help but be grabbed by the article by @ROSAPRINCEUK with the headline Social media monster could devour Corbyn.

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It backed up the point I often make that online public relations for a divisive entity or to support a cause or for ‘online activism’ can be a double edged sword. It either is destructive force or a driving motivation for change.

Social media can be used to make a point. Rosa uses the example of Corbyn encouraging people to take to Twitter to share their heart warming stories about junior doctors. It’s a clever move given the current climate but, let’s leave the politics out of this and focus on the powerful use of PR for change.

The #theyarethedoctorswho hashtag was used over 20,000 times and almost overtook the insane ramblings of hip-hop rapper Kanye West. This surge of support is powerful, people have actively gone online to take part, engage and share. It’s obviously a topic close to so many people’s hearts and it’s well timed on Corbyn’s part as he’s called for this ‘online activism’ at a time when emotions are still running high.

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As you can see people were tweeting some very powerful and emotive messages.

For Corbyn this is another strategic step in getting people on side and motivated enough to actually vote. It worked in the run up to his vote for the Labour Party leadership and now this is being used in a wider application to make him relatable, show him as sympathetic and fighting for the average hard working Brit on the street. Who can’t relate to that?

With this sort of endeavour though you run the gauntlet between social media being a force for bad or good. Again Rosa brings an excellent topical example to the fold, Stephen Fry. Even Fry, a national treasure, dramatically quit the Twittersphere after he made an inappropriate comment at the BAFTAS and received unprecedented backlash. It only takes one comment, or action, which doesn’t have to be online to make or break someone’s reputation. Ah, there we go PR fans, we’ve reached the heart of the matter, it’s all down to reputation again!

Now it’s already blown past as yesterdays news and I am sure it won’t be long until Stephen Fry will be back to brandish 140 characters with the best of them. But, the point to make here is that, even for the popular people of the universe, the online world can be a dangerous place. Reputation is fragile and not easily repaired as we already know. It is in these situations that PR is absolutely crucial.

At present Corbyn is harnessing social media but he’s never that far from the edge. Those that have opposed Corbyn online in the lead up to his Labour Party election have found themselves trolled and he had to make a public call for more ‘civility online’.  As you can see, it may not even be your own actions that bring you close to the edge online but those who support you too.

At the end of the day all Corbyn cares about is whether this online support gets people off their bums and to the polling station come the time that matters. If this kind of PR by social media works and becomes a motivation factor for voters then it could be a very powerful force for political change. Can social media, if harnessed in the right way, be the persuasion tool that sparks people to vote? It certainly helped Obama.

Whether Corbyn being voted in is a good force for change or a bad force for change, well that’s a different topic and debate altogether. I am not attacking either political party, I am merely using it to make a point about PR. This blog is about public relations not politics.

I also have to point out here that what Corbyn is doing here is a form of PR piggybacking, a topic I wrote about in my last blog. Corbyn is capitalising on the junior doctors strikes by engaging the public by encouraging to share their emotive experiences about junior doctors. Like many strategic political PR campaigns, he is rubbing salt in the wound of the current Government’s inability to resolve the junior doctors situation and trying to turn it in his favour to get more votes for his party. This sort of political activity is nothing new, it’s just being done through a different medium.

Online activism is the a great way to engage debate, talk and discussion on difficult topics which I hope is then harnessed to encourage positive change. However, activism in its very nature can also bring negativity, so I believe that honesty, transparency and being considerate are all key in maintaining reputation online and in most real-world situations. Social media need not be a monstrous place as long as we all take a little responsibility and think about our actions.

The Independent – The beginning of the end…

…or as The Independent calls it ‘the end of an era’.

The 13th of February hailed ‘the new wave’ of digital only journalism. It was announced in an article online that The Independent will no longer have a print edition from the 20th March.

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Read the article.

The digital revolution has changed the face of public relations and it continues to evolve with new online inventions and trends. The creative industry has seen traditional journalism downscale and roles within newspapers change, diminish and come under enormous pressure.

With The Independents move to digital, others will follow.  Could this be the end of newspapers as we know it?

I want to think that it isn’t the end for newspapers. Look at the resurgence in traditional printed books after the wave of e-readers hit the market. The threat was real. Multiple books held in a conveniently compact tablet readily available wherever you go. It makes sense on so many levels.

For a long time it looked like the Kindle had killed off the print press in one swift digital punch.

However, a few years down the line, the market is saturated and there are people like me who still prefer to put the screen down and get involved in a real book. It’s a pleasant feeling to go fully offline and not succumb to the continuous draw of online content. I like books, I like the way they feel, the way they smell and the fact they don’t run out of battery! And, don’t even start me on the damage caused by screens to your eyes. I now wear glasses part-time. Anyway, as always, I digress. Book popularity has started to increase and it looks for now that the book stores have weathered the digital storm.

I hope that newspapers may have this same experience of a resurgence, but I think this may have to be tied in with some kind of content revolution.

Perhaps the best I can hope for is that by only being online the concept of the traditional journalist will endure? Hopefully online newspapers will have the resources to keep more journalists employed and the skills alive.

The cynic in me thinks that newspapers going online only will dilute the news market even further, the few remaining journalists will get lazy and the press release will be used as ‘cover-ready-copy’ without being stat checked or formed in to a real story. This sort of practice can already been seen, so it wouldn’t really be that much of a jump.

Unfortunately I think this is the next big change for newspapers and in a few years the next generation won’t have a clue what a newspaper is. They will laugh that we read things on paper and fetched the news daily from a shop. They will think us ridiculous as all they will know is that news is available at the touch of a button and you need not move a muscle to get it!

What makes me really sad though is the thought that in the future no one will derive joy on a Sunday from settling down with fresh coffee, breakfast and The Sunday Times and taking a long leisurely read of what’s going on in the world. Online reading just isn’t the same. I know all the same information is available online and I’m not against that existing too. But, for now, I’d like to keep things just the same with the option of both print and online.

I really do think that going solely online is the beginning of the end for newspapers. Now that The Independent has set the online precedent the others will follow.

I’d love to know what you think, please share your thoughts in the comments section!

Happy Valentines Day 2016

Happy Valentines Day!

It’s just a short and sweet one from me today…it’s all about communication 😉

Share the love everyday! 😘

 

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The art of PR piggybacking

Piggybacking in public relations is where a brand capitalises on an event or situation or another brand to generate awareness.

A very famous example was when the brands released adverts and social media posts during the black out of the Super Bowl. Oreo was one of the best piggybacks with ‘You can still dunk in the dark’ which went out via social media.

Now public relations for a hotel’s isn’t always the most exciting out there, but in January 2016 Adare Manor Hotel got the best out of this everyday situation.

It’s often a way to turn a situation to your advantage to get some added value and public relations that you wouldn’t usually get. Let me show you a cracking example…

About a month a go a little girl left her stuffed bunny at a hotel in Adare, Ireland. The Hotel documented the bunny’s stay until she was reunited with her owner. I think the best way to show how this through the Facebook posts from the staff at the hotel. As you will see the cute bunny’s exploits at the hotel soon went viral!

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All’s well that end well, plus it’s some pretty fun PR!

Sweetie darling, it’s absolutely fabulous!

Wheels on fire, rolling down the road!

Absolutely Fabulous is back and bigger than ever as it hits a cinema near you this summer.

The reason I’m posting about Ab Fab is that I guess it was my first introduction to the concept of public relations. They were a completely over the top, champagne swilling, extravagant, ridiculous, faux drug-fuelled duo producing comedy gold. The Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley double act made me laugh until my sides were sore and I was always doing comedy sketches with my friends trying to impersonate them both. I’m not sure my first impression of PR was very good at all in fact, oh how the tide has turned!

This program certainly wasn’t my inspiration behind going in to PR, that came much later, but it was an early introduction of some sorts. It made me wonder how other people discovered PR, what their first views of it were and what inspired them to then go in to PR. If you feel like sharing (because sharing is caring!) pop me a comment about your very first introduction to public relations.

Bad Day? Here’s a funny You Tube comment to cheer your soul…

By putting something out on social media you are opening yourself up to a whole host of different problems that could arise. Some are bad, some are good, others are just absolutely hilarious.

This quick post is just one highlighting how funny the stakeholders you are interacting with can be.

For me, it was summed up in this post that was sent to me by a very good friend who loves Ed Sheeran and Harry Potter…

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Barbie’s Brand Survival

Hitting the headlines this week is the revelation that Barbie is introducing new shapes, sizes and skin tones. Their justification is diversity, they want to be more inclusive.

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Now I don’t doubt that this is a part of the reason. Mattel have come under some heavy global media fire criticising Barbie’s disproportionate measurements and the negative effects on the children that play with them.

However, let’s not beat around the bush. Barbie’s had a hard time over the past few years. The invention of Bratz and other rival toys, not to mention iPads and other technological supplements, have opened up the field of fun for children around the world. This has meant that the humble Barbie Doll has had to adapt to survive or face its resignation to ‘Retro Toys of the 90’s’ segments on Buzzfeed and lame Christmas television shows.

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Some more of the new Barbie line up!

Now diverse Barbie’s are nothing new. My most prized possession as a child was a beautiful Benetton Barbie, one of the first modern designer Barbies that my Mum bought me back from a trip to Amsterdam.

She was stunning, her clothes were different to any of my regular Barbie dolls. Her skin tone was different, her make up was different, her eyes were more oval and she had long flowing dark hair. She looked chic and Italian. I loved her.

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Wow the power of Google – I found my Benetton Barbie online, she was called Marina!

But, I digress, what I mean to say here is, this is nothing new!

Check out the evolution of Barbie through this link.

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Check out the Twitter hash tag #TheDollEvolves

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What people are failing to ask is what is really going on here?

This is not about diversity, this is about survival. Brand survival. How does a toy stay iconic? It moves with the times and meets the expectations of it’s audience.

Barbie are cleverly using diversity to drive sales and create a strong identity that their new modern market can identify and connect with. In the past any Barbie that didn’t fit the conventional mould was labelled limited edition, like my Benetton Barbie.

They are creating this strong image for their audience to identify with by creating more shapes, sizes and skin tones and making them part of their standard range then using this to address the damaging ‘stick thin’ model mentality that’s so popular in modern media. Ah, a form of feminism for capital gains.

They are even aligning their brand by creating bespoke look-a-like dolls for influential women which are then being promoted through the UN Women’s Twitter account.

Mattel are broadcasting their acceptance of diversity and positive body imagery with a highly public and prominent PR awareness campaign. Would Mum’s around the world want to buy their child a more diverse doll to promote a healthy or different body image? Of course they will.

But don’t be fooled, this really is nothing more than clever public relations to ensure a brands survival with the additional benefit of reputation enhancement. It’s pretty impressive and powerful PR.

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Is Ken next?

P.S. If you want a giggle check out the popular ‘hipster Barbie’ instagram account – a parody of hipster insta accounts!

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Hipster Barbie has her own Instagram account!

Meet the Professionals 2016 at Solent University

Journey

I went on a pretty long journey to get where I am today and a key part of that journey was sending myself back to university to do a PR Masters in 2014. I’m hugely passionate about PR and feel that the wonderful education Southampton Solent University gave me was an important contribution in my progression. It’s given me wonderful opportunities and still does.

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One of those opportunities happened at the start of February 2016, I was invited to attend the CIPR hosted Meet the Professionals event, to represent my current company Lee Peck Media.

25 media professionals attended to offer help and advice to current students in the creative industries at a speed-networking event. Yes, this is a bit like speed dating, all the professionals stay seated while every 10 minutes the students rotate around the room.

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I spoke to lots of students across the evening and even managed to network myself a little.

Lauren Witty, the current Wessex CIPR student representative, did an excellent job at getting a large mix of regional professionals to attend. 25 in total – the best turn out in the events history. It was easily double the size of when I last attended this event in 2014. Congratulations Lauren – your hard work paid off!

Laura Bradley, one of the students who attended, has written a great blog on her site The PR Girl  with five key points that she took away from the event. I am always interested to see what people find notable and the advice they gain from these kind of events and whether that information was useful or not. It’s great to see that Laura’s experience was very positive and the key points were useful ones!

Obviously, I am now on the other side, so I thought I’d give you my five key recommendations from the Meet the Professionals event. These were the most popular things that I said in response to students questions that evening:

  1. Be brave – This isn’t easy. It’s daunting out there but be brave, professionals and companies were once where you were. We all start somewhere.
  2. Grow a thick skin – You are going to get some knock-backs, but it’s time to man up and be more elephant! Learn what you can from these experiences, can you get feedback? As soon as you can pick yourself back up, dust yourself down and keep going, your opportunity is out there. No, seriously, put that Ben and Jerry’s down and grab yourself a Kleenex – you can do this!
  3. Never stop learning – Don’t be afraid to enrol yourself on courses, speak to your peers, ask for advice or shadow a colleague. The industry is evolving all the time, but don’t worry there are many ways to keep your skills together including your CIPR membership, you tube, the infinite resource that is Google, online courses, local colleges and universities.
  4. Find a way – If it’s your dream industry or company and you’ve tried and failed to get in through a direct application can you get another job with them and then side step in to what you want? This could be an option. I did, so can you!
  5. Dig the journey – Unless you are the luckiest so and so, and if you are count your blessings, don’t worry if your journey is the path less travelled. Don’t worry if it takes you longer than others to figure out where and what you want to do, you will learn so much that will contribute to your future, more desired, career (and life in general).

Here’s a selection of my tweets from the event:

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Thanks to everyone involved – I hope to see you there next year!

No more of this ‘New Year, New Me’ bollocks…

Thank god we made it through all that ‘New Year, New Me’ bollocks that was rammed down our throats across January. Sorry, but dry January, along with the temporary wave of new gym goers and people making resolutions that are not kept can do one.

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It’s time for a quick January 2016 catch up!

January was so much fun, it has gone by in a flash, probably through the haze of Birthday celebrations. One notable Birthday highlight was a rather decadent and frivolous afternoon tea at The Savoy. This then got extended to gin and tonic’s at the Beaufort Bar in all it’s 1920’s black and gold glamour. We then went around Kings Cross Station to the Alan Rickman tributes that have been left at Platform nine and three quarters. He was one of my favourite actors.

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Then, with our lovely warm gin jackets on, we staggered around the Lumiere art installations that were across London.

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I hope you had a cracking January too, I mean it wasn’t that bad, was it?

It has been a great month apart from a couple of major exceptions, the wonderfully talented icons we have lost.

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A tribute left to Alan Rickman at Kings Cross

Bowie. Rickman. Wogan. Cultural icons who will be sorely missed. The world will be a slightly darker place without them all.

I was lucky enough to meet Sir Terry Wogan once (I know what a name drop!) on the strangest college trip ever to the Terry and Gaby Show. He sat down on the step next to me, before he was introduced on stage, and engaged me in a brief chat which ended with him elbowing my arm, throwing me a wink and saying ‘There are worse jobs to have!’. He was warm, engaging and a true professional.

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The Telegraph’s moving tribute to Sir Terry Wogan

Each in their own way helped to shape modern media, music and film. Influencers in their field.

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PR is always talking about influencers. In fact it’s such a hot topic that the CIPR has sent a new magazine out at the end of January to its members called Influence.

The tag line is ‘For switched-on Public Relations Professionals’. It’s a great tag line, if not a little obvious. I mean everyone wants to be considered as ‘switched-on’ in the PR industry?!

Emblazened on the cover is the word ‘LISTEN’ followed by ’19 essentials to engage a message-swamped world’. Why 19?! Odd!

It’s targeting three key issues that are some of the biggest PR insecurities. Being able to influence, to listen and to effectively communicated.

I haven’t read it yet but I can’t wait to settle down with a coffee, welcome in February properly and get my PR geek on! Let’s hope it lives up to the hype!

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