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?!

Creative Campaigns #1: The Fun Theory

Creative Campaigns #1: The Fun Theory

One of my favourite aspects of PR is branding and campaigns. Sometimes companies just get branding right. They nail it. If the term ‘x-factor’ wasn’t now mainly associated with a TV talent show, this is exactly where you’d use it. It’s a mixture of innovation, creativity and genius.

I’ve decided that I’ll feature my favourites in this blog, some you’ll know, others you won’t, some will be old and some may be new, but whatever they do I hope they bring a smile to your face and inspire you in your own PR creations.

Have a look and watch the videos at…

www.thefuntheory.com

The fun theory doesn’t focus on the VW brand. It’s focus is on entertainment, engagement and behaviour change and that’s where it wins big time. I remember when this first came out in 2009, it was one of the first brands to adopt this concept that didn’t totally focus on shoving the brand in your face. It’s still used as an innovative example to this very day, as I was recently shown it in one of my PR lectures. Enjoy!

 

 

PR Buzz Word #1: Millennial…

New words form a part of our vocabulary all the time especially in the PR industry, some are buzz words, others are key terms. I’ve decided to start with Millennial partly because I didn’t fully understand it myself.

Millennial
mɪˈlɛnɪəl
noun
noun: millennial; plural noun: millennials
noun
1. a person reaching young adulthood around the year 2000.
“the industry brims with theories on what makes millennials tick”

Take note of the latter. Apparently I’m one of them. You could be too.

This is the new term coined by PR and marketing experts to categorise people of my generation (mid-twenties, in case you were wondering!).

We along with those who are younger are apparently ‘the ones to watch’, what we’re consuming and how we’re consuming it is the hot topic for branding, PR and marketing professionals at the moment in order to capitalise on our habits. Entrepreneur.com has featured an infographic from Koeppel Direct which conveniently conveys the demographic and consumer trends.

Millenial infographic from: www.koeppeldirect.com
Millenial infographic from: http://www.koeppeldirect.com

I’m not sure I’m fond of the term. There are, as always, categories within categories as we pigeon hole our way through life trying to make sense of our society. However, this for me is a bit like the term yuppies or generation x. It’s great for understanding habits, trends and helping companies target their stakeholders more effectively but does it really tell us anything we don’t know already? For me changes to consumer habits change in line with affordable technology advancements. I think that although my generation has grown up with it, the changes in media and news consumption applies to the global population as a whole as and when the technology become viable. My Nan has an iPad, watches more You Tube videos than me and buys online regularly. My uncle is a regular social media user, shares art and videos and is always ahead of the latest gadget. Two examples of people who’s only criteria for not fitting the term millennial is age.

Today I noticed that the term has started to creep into Facebook and Linked In. But I’m not sure that everyone fully understands it. I didn’t. What do you think? What term was coined for your generation? What do you think about it? Do your habits and age fit the ‘millenial’ description? Or do you break the mould? Please share your thoughts below.

Venturing down the rabbit hole of job-hunting…

Venturing down the rabbit hole of job-hunting…

I can’t believe it has been two weeks since I got my results. I now have a Masters (with Merit!) in Public Relations. I am still in shock but it’s finally beginning to process and I am bursting with pride. Holding down a full time job and a degree though definitely took its toll and it was time for a break. Beautiful Barcelona has so much to offer. If you like architecture, art and epic amounts of sea food then it’s the place for you. Although don’t forget your walking shoes, we covered over 40 miles in four days! However, I am now back and ready to start my hunt for employment.

fountain
The magic fountains of Barcelona!

Many of you will be in the same place, whether you have just graduated, are looking for your next stepping stone or a new career altogether. It can be pretty daunting. There are so many places to look that knowing where to start is half the battle. It’s been a while since I had to properly look and as always things have evolved. But, the old faithful’s are still there.

  1. The Linked In job section has vastly improved making it easier to actually use the network of connections you have built up and apply for jobs directly. You also see a lot by being part of relevant industry groups, monitoring the main news wall and setting up bespoke job searches. Fantastic.
  2. The world of recruiters has expanded, specialised and now contact you via Linked In. Being actively sought out makes the job hunt that bit easier as they have already matched your skills to roles they have in mind.
  3. It is now much easier to be direct. Contacting the company directly in person or by phone, via their website, snail mail or social media have all become easier. For the PR’s reading this remember to be creative in your approach. It’s a creative industry! Beat the monotony and stick it to the black and white cookie cutter CV if you dare! Just look at one of my previous blogs to see the extent applicant’s are now going to, it may alter your perspective of what a CV should look like.
MTmxS0g
Creative CV’s to catch your future employees eye!

Asking for advice and feedback is the quickest way to improve gas it’s the most appropriate for the industry you want to go in to. So many people having been giving me advice on my CV and covering letter and all of it is different. They may not be wrong but they can conflict. Remember it’s subjective and everyone’s opinions are different.

Now I’m no expert, but I’ve done my fair share of job hunting, asking professionals, consulting CV and covering letter experts and I have also hired my own team once many moons ago. Although I may not be able to comment on some of the finer details here are six basic golden rules to get you started:

  1. Get expert advice from CV professionals or people in your industry. Your CV and covering letter should constantly be under review. (But remember it’s subjective- so if you’re not feeling it ask for a second opinion or a third!)
  2. Scrap the unsupported statements. Back everything you say up. It’s no good saying you’re a team player without some sort of example to support it. I mean you could write anything then…I’m a space cowboy with four Oscars who majored in graphic design, law and quantum physics whilst simultaneously running for Prime Minister. Err…like I said use examples of your work or experience to back up your claims. What? Where? When? How?
  3. How are you going to help the business? Remember, this is not really about you. This about the company and finding someone who is going to earn them lots of money or save them lots of money. Unfortunately in our crazy capitalist society it really is all about the money, money, money!
  4. Proof read your CV and covering letter. If the language is not your first, or your grammar isn’t the best, get it checked.
  5. Have a tidy digital footprint –no employer wants to see your drinking escapades, your pet cat fluffy or your pouting/gym selfies. Google yourself, what can you find? Be thorough!
  6. Keep it concise and relevant because their time is valuable (as is yours!). Your CV should be two A4 pages maximum. Covering letter should be a couple of paragraphs, maximum one A4 page. Adopt the American philosophy – time is money!

 

I’m looking for CV and covering letter advice for the PR industry. If you are in a position to give advice about the specifics of PR CV’s and covering letters and want to share your knowledge then please do. It would also be interesting to hear how other people have got their jobs, and any tips or tricks to landing that dream role. If you have any links, advice or experience then I’d love to hear from you – get in touch via the comments box below.

Good luck new job hunters!

THAT Dissertation Photo…

THAT Dissertation Photo…

 

 

Ah, the obligatory ‘I’ve handed my dissertation in – thank god for that’ photo…

bex2

 

 

A deliriously happy photo, with a beaming smile clutching the 20,000 words you’ve written…

…a badge of honour for all students.

bex3

Congratulations to the Class of 2014! We did it!

1 Day To Go…

1 Day To Go…

I’m at the end of a year long journey that started as a bit of a joke…

About two years ago I gave myself six months to July 2013 to find a job in the PR industry and if I hadn’t found one by then I’d venture back into education to get some credentials and learn the tools of the trade.

However, I really thought this was seriously never going to happen and the joke became bigger and bigger.

My friend Mischa, a journalist, had been looking in to Master’s degrees and had been helping me improve my writing skills and she made it sound like quite a good idea so I had a glance myself.  Before I knew it a prospectus landed on my doormat. My local University, Southampton Solent, actually had one of the best PR Masters courses in the UK, but I was reluctant and it made a permanent home on the side gathering dust.

July rolled around pretty quickly and the idea of the Master’s hadn’t gone away. In fact, it was niggling away at me.

I picked up the prospectus. I put it down. Crisis of confidence hit big time. Could I go back to University?! I mean academically I’d got lazy. What if I couldn’t do it? I picked it up and then down it went again. Could I? Couldn’t I?

And then it hit me. What was I waiting for?

I want to move forward and progress and to do so I needed to bring out the big nerdy glasses and stick my head in some books and learn what PR was actually all about (and before this degree, I really didn’t have a clue! I thought I knew, but I was wildly wrong!).

So I crafted my application and within a month I’d submitted and been accepted. I was in. Holy Guacamole.

Fast forward to a year later,  I have held down a full time job, a full time Master’s degree, rode a roller coaster of emotions and been a social recluse. Now I find myself on the eve of the dissertation hand in deadline equipped with the skills to achieve my goals.

What’s next, who knows? But whatever it is, I’m ready!

Sports fans, I need your help!

So, it’s that time. The dissertation deadline is looming and it’s time to conduct some good old primary research! Oh yeah, for those of you not in the know, I’m a Public Relations Masters Student…I really need to write my ‘About Me’ section!

If you could take 5 minutes to help me out that would be fantastic…

Do you like the FIFA World Cup, the Tour De France or the Commonwealth Games?

If so, I would be incredibly grateful if you could fill out one (or more!) of the surveys below for my Masters Dissertation.

Each survey takes approximately 5 minutes (15 questions per survey).

World Cup fans, please fill out this survey:
http://kwiksurveys.com/s.asp?sid=j6f8a3isgedx01w400391

Tour De France fans, please fill out this survey:
http://kwiksurveys.com/s.asp?sid=ul7tpfpfyqvxn75400436

Commonwealth Games fans, please fill out this survey:
http://kwiksurveys.com/s.asp?sid=92qb0xygfg7fijd400456

A big, huge whopper of a Thank You and an internet high five is coming your way!

Brand Reputation: Is this the beginning of the demise of One Direction?

Well, they couldn’t stay squeaky clean forever could they?

Let’s remove opinion about their music and have a look at this in a PR context. Britain’s latest x-factor global export has been milking the boy band cash cow for a solid 4 years. Without a doubt they have created an extremely strong brand that transcends language and cultural barriers. Merchandise has gone nuts as every teen worth their salt grapples for a piece of the 1D phenomenon. Their initial stakeholder targeting of the youth pop market was tried and tested and worked to rocket them into the global limelight. But like their child-hood starlet predecessors, Britney, Bieber, Lohan and even Take That, eventually the sugar coating wears off.

Stakeholder salience theory was adhered to but they have fallen in to the classic trap. Salience theory does not consider stakeholder changes over time. Not only do you have a rapidly evolving 1D audience (Yes, boys now like them too!) but the audience and the band itself is growing up. How do the young men evolve from their boyish pop persona? Why of course, like many before them they will play with the boundaries of what’s socially acceptable. The chaps are apparently pictured with a rather large joint. We could discuss the drug debate but that’s opening up another can of worms’ altogether. Let’s not go down that slippery slope on this occasion. There’s a lot of other ethical concepts and consideration to be made here. What this does do though is tarnish their whiter than white image. Will you still love them if they are ‘bad boys’? If their PR team does a good enough job at fixing their reputation you will!

You're going to need more puppies and cable knit boys!
You’re going to need more puppies and cable knit boys!

Not even an exclusive Radio One Big Weekend interview could shy the media away from the content in a leaked video taken in Peru (I can’t verify the video, these opinions are all my own etc!). If you haven’t seen it. Have a peek here.

As a role model to children and teens everywhere, it’s impossible to measure the effect this will have as their reach is so large. Louisot and Rayner state that good reputation is achieved when expectations are consistently met or exceeded. So far for 1D that’s been golden, however this little escapade has planted the seeds of doubt. I’m pretty sure that any parent in any country will not condone drug use (whether the band were smoking drugs or not, the connotation and implications are enough to instigate parent alarm bells). Will this have an impact on their popularity and reputation? Only time will tell.

I can’t even say I’m surprised at this ‘revelation’. They aren’t the first or the last. No doubt someone somewhere is being fired for leaking the footage, unless it was the band member themselves, in which case, smacked wrists from the management team are coming your way! Simon Cowell has a kid of his own now, might this cause him to consider how much pressure he’s putting on the continually touring band? Can we blame the management and unrelenting work schedule? Or perhaps you think ‘lucky so and so’s living the dream’? Whatever your opinion, can you say you are surprised or shocked?

My biggest shock came at the two band members sneering at their fans. Lads, don’t forget who pays the bills, it’s those kids and the parents with the pennies. You could easily be outranked by a cartoon pig in the blink of an eye. Fame is fickle.

I’m sure there are some media moguls who have been working very hard round the clock to create a strategy to deal with this crisis and to repair the damage to the 1D brand. Perhaps I’m wrong and they are revelling in even more coverage. All publicity is good publicity, right?

If they do try and repair any damage that’s been done I wonder what path they will take? Will they acknowledge it in a carefully scripted PR statement or press release? More charitable activities? Or perhaps they will brush it under the carpet as ‘just a cigarette, the boy’s were just mucking about!’? Public relations, reputation management and crisis communications are clearly key to repairing damage but it leads me to think what apsects and skills must be drawn upon as a new PR practitioner. Does the added dimension of ‘celebrity’ change how you would deal with the situation compared to an organisation or service? Crisis communications state that communication is key but we are yet to hear anything from the 1D camp. It’s been a wee while now, time’s a ticking team Syco! It will be interesting to see how they handle this matter and how they recover and rebuild the damage caused to their reputation. Lessons to be learnt by all.

 

(I will add that this is just an opinion on activities that may or may not have happened, before one of 1D and Syco’s legal team beat me financially into oblivion. My main concern is with the PR activity and what actions you should take in a crisis to repair brand reputation when it’s damaged.)

But first, let me take a #Selfie…is this the ultimate in Vanity PR?

But first, let me take a #Selfie…is this the ultimate in Vanity PR?

At the moment you cannot avoid it. There is even a song about it. From no make up versions to power pouts, it’s a trend you can’t seem to escape and it looks like it’s going to be around for a while.

But first, let me take a… The Chainsmokers and the infamous #selfie song!
But first, let me take a… The Chainsmokers infamous song!

Love them or hate them, you have to question what kind of culture they are fostering online? And is it restricted to gender? Tragically a man recently became a selfie recluse and tried to kill himself when he couldn’t obtain what he deemed to be the perfect picture. It’s an extreme example, but an example none the less. This sounds like it has taken the form of addiction but in the case of Eat Pray Love star, James Franco, he know’s exactly what he’s doing. An article in Marie Claire has researched that he is full aware that in the age of hyper-connectivity and online noise, attention is power. Cornelissen, author of Corporate Communciations: a guide to theory and practice, identifies a power, urgency and legitimacy model when it comes to stakeholder salience. People taking selfies can become powerful stakeholders if they gain adequate enough attention. Last night James Franco posted an almost nude and very odd selfie and removed it an hour later (Marie Claire have captured it though, take a look). What did it create? Attention, everyone’s currently talking about…James Franco. Everyone will be paying attention to his twitter account for a little while, so whatever he says is going to have an enhanced focus and a larger reach and therefore when you are trying to be heard amongst the crowd this can be a powerful tool. Large companies are starting to recognise that they could potentially be a profitable trend too. Samsung have identified that selfies are powerful and have decided to capitalise upon it releasing a selfie-specific camera. To be fair, the camera is actually very cool, with some super features, but it does lead to asking the question what or where next for the selfie?

Screen Shot 2014-05-02 at 19.32.00
Space selfies already exist – what next?!

There is also the element of people who are fishing for compliments. Cancer Research UK not only identified this trend but also harnessed it as a PR campaign, which ultimately used vanity PR and converted it into direct donations, the charities main aim. It played upon women empowerment, image and personal identity. By women posting not only were they saying they were confident enough to show the world their face make up free, warts and all but they could also align themselves with being a better person, it just screamed ‘Look everyone, not only am I confident, but I’m generous!’ Through the nominations aspect, other women questioned their peers, willing them to participate, but are they really asking ‘Are you a confident and generous person too?’ No one wants to be seen as insecure or a scrooge! Ultimately it generated a lot of money for charity, which can only be a good thing, I’m just not sure I fully agree with the method, but no one can deny it was a clever PR campaign.

Screen Shot 2014-05-02 at 19.34.55
‘THAT’ Oscars selfie!
Do you pout?
Do you pout?
Or do you look longingly?
Or do you look longingly?

Having not grown up in the age of the selfie I can’t help but think of the impression it may have had on me. Teen Vogue take a psychological stance and address the issue of low self esteem recommending a shift in perspective if all you are looking for are comments. The advice they give is healthy, they don’t say selfies are bad but to make sure they are fun and avoid excessive use. I think it’s important that influencers like Teen Vogue do put out positive messages like this so there is some guidance for people growing up in an ever-image obsessed world. The ‘What I see’ project discusses both sides of the selfie but within a feminist context with a dose of philosophical musings and makes for a very interesting contribution to the debate.

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Would Marilyn Monroe have taken a selfie?
Screen Shot 2014-05-02 at 19.31.46
Will selfies become modern art?

Grace Dent who writes for The Independent also makes the argument that selfies are about self-branding, celebrity-alignment, social climbing and proof of happiness. The more I read the more negative it gets. Are there positive aspects to the selfie? Perhaps I don’t understand the selfie. Do we need to prove to other people that we are happy? What constitutes happiness? Do people want to see others pouting in front of the camera?

What do you think?

Share your comments below, or if you find any good articles or points of view please post them too!