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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Each in their own way helped to shape modern media, music and film. Influencers in their field.
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!
Technology has brought us humans so many good things. We can communicate. We are entertained. We are safer. We are progressing, developing and continually learning. But, it also gives us a greater power to help others.
Project 256, co-ordinated by Chris Courtney, has been created to give a voice back to the homeless through art and technology. It wants to change the perception of giving to the homeless and prevent homeless people from becoming shunned or invisible.
First of all a street artist paints a huge image of the homeless person in a prominent public position with a unique QR code and a web-link. The web-link shows you a video about the homeless person featured and the QR code is linked to a Bitcoin wallet that belongs to the homeless person in the portrait.
A donation can be made that is both direct and instantly received. The homeless person is supplied with a phone for them to be able to utilise the donations. This means you know the donated money is going directly to help that person to buy food or shelter for the night, or to save for larger purchases.
The homeless person isn’t dependent on being there to receive the donation and I can imagine that this could make donations more consistent and reliable? I guess we will see as the project unfolds!
The project is starting in London and Paris where there is a lot of free wi-fi available on the street. However the project hasn’t been without its teething problems. Initially the phones were quickly sold to make instant cash. However, now the phone is looked after by the street artist or a volunteer for up to a month with the hope that the homeless person will understand that it will provide an income with potential long term benefits.
The artist’s image makes it a positive talking point and individual stories can be followed. Columbo was the first man in Britain to be featured. He has been painted in Shoreditch, in East London by Bom.K. and can be seen at the top of this page as the main article image and below.
Art is being used to PR the cause, to tell a story and change people’s perceptions. There is a story, a person, a life behind the homeless person you donate to, a story told through beautiful street art imagery and amazing advances in technology. But most importantly this facilitates the ability to be able to help.
The more I learn about PR, the more I see it as a glue that holds projects together, it has the ability to create a platform where it can help to inform, educate and facilitate. PR is powerful. It comes in various forms and functions.