A passion for fashion and other phrases I hate…

I have been in my new role as PR account executive for six months now, and the time has flown by. Whilst doing some media monitoring the other day I came across yet another recycled phrase that was used in some guise or another in an attempt to be witty.

However, rather than put a wry smile on my face it did the opposite to me. I recoiled in horror as I saw yet another cliched phrase modified to fit and fortify a flagging press release. I’m sure it has done the same to you at some stage, perhaps an eye roll or a groan as you see one of these chestnuts nestled in the text your reading.

Starting out in PR is never easy as you navigate putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboards as the case may be. Now I’m all for using humour, familiar phrases or any other device to engage your reader, but I have noticed a few that you really should avoid like the plague.

So here are my top five phrases to avoid…

  1. A passion for fashion

    When I first cast eyes on this phrase I was at the London College of Fashion, learning from a former PR pro who had graced such wonders as Vogue, Mulberry and Woolford. I adored her as she was direct, refreshing and intriguing, she was my very first PR mentor. As soon as she mentioned her hatred for this phrase I began to see it everywhere. If you work in fashion or beauty, as I have done in the past, you will know this phrase is virtually unavoidable from the humble CV to editorial, this little cracker is everywhere.Culture

  2. Culture Vulture

    I can tell you exactly the first time heard this phrase. It was two years ago and until then I lived in blissful ignorance. My friend and I had been looking at Linked In profiles in order to improve our own and she pointed it out. She said that people often described her as a ‘culture vulture’ and she didn’t like it, not one little bit. Nor did I. Just because you are interested in life outside your own sphere does not mean you are a ready to swoop in and devour all other cultures. Everyone has interests, most people like to travel, why do we have to pigeon hole people with such a vulgar term?shakespeare

  3. To be or not to be…
    Guilty! Yes I am, I have used this phrase for my own writing, when I was ten years old in my English class. I thought I was so clever, but like most ‘original thought’ it unfortunately lacked originality. This has been done, far and wide, high and low and it is recognisable but it’s been done. Let the mighty bard rest this phrase so we can appreciate it in his plays in the future.


  4. Bond, James Bond
    Now before I lose you on this one, let’s set the record straight, I love the Bond films. I grew up curled up on the sofa, with my Grandad, eating Terry’s chocolate orange segments whilst watching the latest instalments of the series getting scared that if I ate too much of the chocolate I too would have a mouth full of gold teeth. These are some of my fondest memories. So I say this with a caveat, don’t make a cliched Bond reference, unless you are doing the PR for a Bond film or genuinely have some connection to it. Otherwise, you are wrecking a British institution.


  5. YOLO or You Only Live Once

    Often used by millenials, yummy mummys and those in mid-life crisis. So in essence, everyone. This applies to all of us. I am a millennial (people born late 80’s/90’s and formative teenage years in the 90’s/00’s) and I don’t believe anyone needs an excuse to trying something new or an excuse to do something bold. I hate this phrase, this for me is the worst because it isn’t just a phrase it can be used as an excuse, a manipulation. When I’m out I often overhear comments like ‘Should I buy these shoes which mean I can’t pay the rent? Oh well, you only live once! Hello new shoes!’. YOLO isn’t an excuse to be irresponsible or to do bad things. I’ve heard YOLO used as an excuse for affairs, silly purchases and for other socially unacceptable things. Attaching a carefree phrase doesn’t make the action any better.On a lighter note, I’ve also heard it used in far less serious context and I’m sure many will call me out and say that it’s just a bit of fun. But, I still can’t help but loathe it. Live your life the way you want to, you don’t need an excuse to seize the moment, or watch back to back episodes of Game of Thrones, in your PJ’s whilst eating Ben and Jerry’s straight out of the tub.

My best advice is to try and be original. I know this is hard when you are battling deadlines, but keep it simple if all else evades you.

These are my top five, what phrases would you advise to avoid?


Creative Campaigns #3: Powerade’s workout billboards

Looking for campaign inspiration? Well I’m back with a creative campaign that will get you thinking!

Recently in Berlin Ogilvy & Mather found a way to directly link their product to its intended purpose through advertising that actively created brand engagement.

Most companies with a service or product are looking to create active links between their brand and its purpose. By finding a link to join the two directly with its stakeholders, or customers in this case, is a fun way of actively bringing it to their attention with a reward of the product itself at the end. Everyone loves a freebie!

I get knocked down, but I get up again! – PR, rugby and concussion.

Rugby’s recent hot topic was how George North’s concussion was dealt with, which resulted in concerns being raised about whether appropriate action was taken and its impact on Rugby Union’s reputation.

Paul Rees wrote an excellent article for the Guardian (12 February) that sums this up perfectly. He states that the future of the players and sport depends on action being taken to treat concussion with the importance it deserves.

You can Paul’s article here: ‘George North’s concussion damaged him and the image of rugby union’.

Image and reputation is inextricably linked with stakeholders, and therefore a damaged reputation can have seriously harmful repercussions.

If the Rugby Union is not properly looking after it’s key stakeholders, the players, by risking their health then it calls into question rugby’s credibility. Rugby’s image and reputation becomes damaged and this then loses other essential stakeholders – the fans and the funding.

When things go wrong mitigation is key and rugby’s swift action on concussion has limited the damage to the Union’s image and to the players.

George North’s case emphasised Rugby Union’s concussion protocol and it’s importance. But, there was considerable outrage with how it was dealt with and his welfare.


George North was knocked out when Wales played England in the 2015 Six Nations Tournament



George North sustained serious head injuries but was allowed to play on

After George North’s concussion debacle it was rumoured that players often pushed themselves back to playing before they were ready, in fear of losing their place on the team. Other comments circulated that coaches were the culprits making players return. The comments didn’t go away.

Given the nature of rugby, it wasn’t long until another high-profile case presented itself and after Mike Brown went out cold during the Valentines Day match against Italy, PR went in to overdrive from the England camp. It was the perfect opportunity to rescue rugby’s reputation from what happened mere weeks earlier with George North. It was time for communication.


Mike Brown out cold after a clash when England played Italy in the 2015 Six Nations Tournament

Multiple news stories and updates were issued stipulating that Mike Brown is being protected by existing protocol and that he will not be returning until all symptoms are gone. Mitigation, through strategic PR communication, did its job and the concussion protocol fever has been sated for now. Here are some of the quotes that were released from the England camp…

BBC sport quoted England rugby’s coaches:

“This morning Mike woke up not feeling 100%. The right and proper thing to do was to make the call. His health is the main priority here and we need to get him right for the next game. The symptoms aren’t too severe whatsoever, just a little headache. He’s fine in himself and is chirpy enough, but it just isn’t worth the risk because his health comes first.” assistant coach Andy Farrell said.


England head coach Stuart Lancaster said the squad’s medical staff would continue to work with Brown to “get him back to full health”.

Although this is great news for Mike Brown’s welfare, this does mean that he will miss today’s Six Nation Ireland v England match, much to the disappointment of England rugby fans, Stuart Lancaster and the rest of the coaching team. But, in this instance, the risk is too big to chance. Everyone involved knows this and the right decision has been made. Well done Stuart. England 1 – 0 Wales.

Taking risks for reputation enhancement is not a new topic in PR and it is something I have written about before. Recently, the article I posted about Madonna at the 2015 Brit awards, talked about how far is too far in PR, using the example of Red Bull who risked a life for PR purposes. Like I said before, if the live jump from space had gone wrong then the damage to the brand would have been unprecedented. Instead it’s secured their place in the top brands of the world. Risk can equal big rewards.

However, rugby isn’t just a brand or a product, it’s bigger than that, it’s a part of our society. It’s children developing important skills, the Sunday run about with the lads, it’s the first trip to a major stadium, it’s the highs and lows of following your team. Big risk here won’t work.

It seems rugby is aware of its position, the risk and the potential damage, even if the George North situation was a reminder of why the rules and protocol are there. In this instance, strategic PR was used to manage the expectations of its stakeholders. It facilitated communication with its stakeholders by saying ‘how we dealt with that was wrong, but look, we’ve learnt from our mistake’. Crisis averted.

How far is too far in PR? – Madonna at the Brits 2015

Last night Madonna at the 2015 Brit Awards had a ‘wardrobe malfunction’. But rather than expose herself, which she does anyway as a regular fashion statement, she got caught in her cape. The tumble saw her tugged by the neck down a flight of stairs.

I was watching it live and noted two things. She struggled to undo the cape in the first place and after the fall I took an audible intake of breath, but then I quickly realised that the crowd at the O2 did not have the same reaction. No one made a peep. Silence reigned. Which made me wonder if everyone had just witnessed what I had? Was that real? Thank god for the rewind button.

Visibly shaken, she powered through her big finale. A true professional.

Today, the day after rumours have been flying left, right and centre that this was in fact a PR stunt.

Will we ever know if this is true? Probably not.

But it raises a really good question…

In PR, how far is too far?

There can be a lot of grey areas in PR. For me, risking someones health in any way is most definitely a step too far. I’m sure most people would agree with me.

Would the material girl, Queen of pop, risk falling from a height to establish headlines? Surely not?

No doubt it has secured her virtually every post-Brit headline, lit up social media and set tongues wagging round the office water coolers of the western world.

‘Someones getting fired’ and ‘Where there’s a blame, there’s a claim’ have certainly done the rounds today.

It also drew attention to the cape’s designer, Armani, with the sketch going out in every news article as well as being used by Madonna herself (well her PR team) on Instagram…

madonna sketch

Does the reward outweigh the risk?

When Red Bull sponsored a man jumping from the edge of space and broadcast it live they were taking the biggest risk in their brand history, in fact in any brands history. If anything had gone wrong it would have destroyed Red Bulls reputation. But the risk paid off and secured their notoriety.

If this was a PR stunt, then it is similar to Red Bull. Someone’s life was risked for PR. It only works if if is successful. Otherwise the reputation of the brand, service or person is damaged beyond belief.

Everyone today is commenting on Madonna’s professionalism. That will be her legacy from last night. It’s also done an excellent job in introducing her to a whole new generation of music fans.

So it’s clear to see why it was called in to question that this was a ‘PR stunt’. But like I said…we’ll never know!

What do you think?


RIP Phillip Hughes.

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A tragic and freak accident. They say a picture paints a thousand words. I genuinely don’t think that I have to write about how beautifully poignant and fitting the #PutOutYourBats tribute it is, created by a fan. Social media can be used for some incredibly negative actions, but then in moments like this, it shines. This kind of social media response is a very difficult form of communication to explain. It’s incredibly powerful, born out of love, respect and helps to capture what words are unable to.

Cricket.com.au has an amazing collection of the Phillip Hughes #PutOutYourBats tributes.

I also have to support The Sport Bible who posted Phillip Hughes amended last score and the words the Australian Captain, Michael Clarke, has said to Sean Abbott.

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A great loss to the sporting world. Let’s not make it two.

Rugby World Cup 2015 – A positive PR start…

I set out to write a piece on the Rugby World Cup 2015 ticketing but actually discovered the positive PR that is channelled through rugby and the close stakeholder relationships within it. When I wrote my PR Masters Dissertation this year I focused on ‘Global Sporting Events: Managing PR strategies in complex stakeholder environments’. I examined the top global sporting events in 2014 – the Tour De France, the FIFA World Cup and the Commonwealth Games. From this I concluded that a positive reputation hinged on good compatible working relationships between the main stakeholders before, during and after the event. Without it the brand, event and nation suffered in many different ways – audiences are perceptive, dynamic and savvy. If you compare the English and French ‘bro-mance’ that was the Yorkshire Tour De France to the boycott and corruption of FIFA, the perception of each was radically different, they were viewed differently by other stakeholders and this impacted their overall effectiveness. The power of stakeholders is phenomenal, so managing the PR strategies and relationships is fundamental to the overall success of the event.

We are gearing up for another global event in the UK. The worlds finest rugby players will be going head to head on home turf. Of course I want tickets, it’s the Rugby World Cup in the UK, practically on my door step! It’s a no brainer.

However, like many, I didn’t get tickets in the ballot. It seems to be all or nothing. But, I wanted to see what else was out there about other people’s experience and the effect it has had on audience stakeholders. Did it receive good PR? Bad PR? Or did it depend on whether you got tickets or not?

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Did you get tickets or are you still trying?


I still don’t know that yet. I got distracted. Blame YouTube. Instead I learnt that rugby as a sport has a ‘good will’ unlike any other I’ve experienced (I’m an ex-amateur rower and sports aficionado!). It is rare you hear of any hooliganism (sorry football fans!) and it has been used as a positive force to engage historical change within nations (Yes, I’m talking about Mandela, apartheid and THAT 1995 Rugby Match).

Even the Royals are on board, driving promotion of the 2015 World Cup, but also defining the town of Rugby as the ‘Proud Home of the Game’. Similar to the big three sporting events of 2014 I mentioned earlier, this event also influences the PR of nations, cities and the towns in which they take place. The positive partnerships and  sponsorship contracts between stakeholders are already radiating from the snippets of advertising and PR being released. It pre-sets a tone for the event within the media and gives us a hint that this is going to be bigger and better than the ones before it. After the success of the 2012 Olympics, the 2014 Yorkshire Grand Depart and the 2014 Commonwealth Games, we as a nation have a rather high standard and legacy of sporting and event success to maintain and develop. 

Communications between stakeholders hosting the event and their prospective audience are one of the most important to nurture and this has already started…

What happens when you take a rugby legend and the Captain of the England rubgy team? Priceless Surprises. MasterCard have got it right, they are building on the concept of national sporting pride and focusing on the sporting stars of tomorrow, youth teams. There is a bit of branding here and there, but the focus is on the relationships, using sport to influence and drive positive change. Ok, it’s a little cheesy, but it has the feel good factor and shows a great relationship between the event, the nation and the key stakeholders…


Whilst researching, I also found a partnership between the City of London Police and the 2015 Rugby World Cup, which is humorous in getting it’s point across playing on the infamous, characteristic kicking technique of Jonny Wilkinson. It warns ticket buyers to ensure they are buying from official ticket sources, which shows a clear aim to crack down on the crime but also a caring element for fans not often seen in other global sporting events (certainly not the three I looked at in 2014 anyway!). Have a look here…

This early PR strategy of collaboration is already creating an environment where positive PR is generated about the event, the nation and the stakeholders. This preparation is laying a positive foundation for the build up to the event. I can’t wait to see how PR and communications unfold in the run up to the 2015 Rugby World Cup event, it’s already an exciting start!


Proud indeed! 🙂


PR Masters Graduation 2014 – Thank you Catherine Sweet!

‘Dream big, and with focus and hard work, anything is possible’ – Paul Goodison

I did it! I now have a PR Masters, with Merit, from Southampton Solent University.

There are times you plan, organise and work and then there are the rare, beautiful moments you get to reflect upon the things you have achieved. Graduation is one of those things. Pomp and ceremony, jazzy gowns and caps signify a tradition purely focused on achievement, a pause before you swiftly move on and begin evolving further.

Reflection also allows you appreciate the wonderful people you have supporting you, and I am so incredibly lucky to have such a vivacious, fabulous, intelligent mentor in Catherine Sweet. I have spent a lot of time trying to find the words to express my thanks for guiding me through the past year and half, for your unwavering support and no amount of words seem to cut the mustard.

So it’s simple, but the feeling and appreciation behind it is genuinely gigantic…

Catherine Sweet – THANK YOU – I couldn’t have done it without you.


The wonderful Catherine Sweet!


At Graduation they said you will never forget a good teacher. I know I certainly won’t.

However, I also must thank a few other people. Don’t worry it won’t be as long as an Oscars speech and there won’t be any tears. Promise.

I studied alongside some incredible people, two of those became some of my best friends but they also helped me develop my style, understand different cultural approaches which helped develop me for the better. So, Lisa Duygu thank you for teaching me to look at every angle, to be more patient and to believe in myself. Nadia Volaki thank you for teaching me to be more bold, to take chances and to believe in myself. We made it. We did it. We are Masters!


Nadia, Lisa and myself!


The more private, but not any smaller in size, thank you’s must go to my supportive Grandparents, Mother and Boyfriend. Unwavering support that made the world of difference whilst there were so many demands on my time. Thank you. I did it!

If you’ve had any PR mentors/teachers/supporters, what was the biggest impact they have had on you? or perhaps what words of wisdom they have divulged? Please feel free to share your comments below!

Happy Halloween 2014!

I can’t help it. I seriously love Halloween. For me, it’s always been a time where my friends and family come together. We eat, we laugh, we dress up in ridiculous outfits. It’s also a chance for me to show off my pumpkin carving skills. Hooray!


A boot full of fun! From this…


…to this!

However, I’d never really seen it as a PR opportunity until today. One of my favourite brands (and product!): Jimmy’s Iced Coffee (if you don’t know it, click the link and check them out, I’m going to do a blog on them soon!) has invited their customers to choose whether they participate in Halloween and Christmas PR-marketing-social-media activity:

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Jimmy’s Iced Coffee Facebook Page- check them out!

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What do you think?

Now Jim, of Jimmy’s Iced Coffee, inventor, entrepreneur and all round ace chap (yes, I have met him, and yes his beard really is that magnificent!) has a completely different approach to his PR and marketing. It’s all pretty much done by him and his sister. No out sourcing to a media giant. Therefore, it’s always engaging, entertaining and different to what his competitors are doing. It always feels like he’s speaking right at you. So, this option for his customers to choose what the brand does (whether they should participate or not participate in Halloween/Christmas) was no surprise to me as it is exactly how Jimmy captivates his audience. The day is not over and he already has over 30 comments and 38 likes. He is giving power to his stakeholders to make real-time company decisions. Power to the people! Yeah!

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Jimmy’s got a cracker of a beard.

My vote would be to indulge in a little Halloween hocus pocus or Christmas cheer, because I am a  hug fan of those times of the year when you can be a little more frivolous. However, it’s not for everyone. What would your decision be? Do you like it when your favourite brands get a bit festive? Or, does it really hack you off? Would it make you think more or less of a brand that does participate? Let me know your thoughts below!

Happy Halloween Folks!


Pumpkin Face!

        Pump2 Pump3 Pump4

Creative Campaigns #2: Air New Zealand’s Hobbit Safety Video

Well I certainly didn’t think my next post for creative PR campaigns would be today! However, Air New Zealand has come up with a genius collaboration with Peter Jackson and the Hobbit film franchise in order to promote the film, air safety and inadvertently New Zealand as a nation. An original and entertaining concept that is clearly going to generate a lot of publicity for the three parties (the nation, the airline brand and the film) as it spreads like wildfire through social media. It’s self-entitled ‘the most epic safety video ever made’ with appropriate hash-tags to boot – #airnzhobbit. What a way to engage your stakeholders!

If you haven’t seen it yet you can do so here:

I’m off to New Zealand, who’s with me?!

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