Public Relations

Social or Unsocial Media?

When the epidemic of social media broke out in the early 2000’s, it meant we could connect with friends and family from all over the world. However, skip forward to 2019 and there’s a completely new purpose for social media. From selfies to likes, and influencers to trolling, the original intent of social media seems to be non-existent and totally irrelevant in our modern and digitalised society.

Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are no longer about staying in touch with old friends, instead it’s a community where people seek acceptance depending on how many likes they get on a photo or how many followers they have. It’s an addiction we all have. We feel the need to know about what both friends and strangers are doing daily, who they are with or even know what they are wearing. The question I often ask myself is, is social media making society ‘unsocial’?

Wherever you go, whether it be on a tube, in Starbucks or even walking down the street, we are surrounded by people on their phones. People are Tweeting, scrolling through Instagram or capturing an ‘unreal’ moment with friends that needs to be put on their story in case they forget about it. But instead of enjoying the fun times with friends, we’re on our phones trying to capture memories rather than just living in the moment. It seems to me that social media is defeating the objective of being social.

I can’t lie, I love social media. I’m forever scrolling through Instagram and Twitter obsessing over the latest trends and Insta-famous celebs. But what I’ve realised is, that whilst I use all these ‘social’ platforms, I’m not being social at all. Instead, I’m doing the complete opposite. I don’t use Instagram to chat to friends, if I’m honest I use it to be nosey and envy all the mega-rich influencers I follow. I get so caught up in an online and fake world I’m losing touch of reality and what really matters to me; my actual real-life friends! Whilst I’m sat in my room pointlessly scrolling through Twitter, I could be sat with my housemates chatting about real things and making real memories.

Even though I feel social media can take people away from reality, I completely understand that for some, social media offers a sense of reassurance and safety as they can be whoever they want from behind a screen. For those who really struggle with confidence or have social anxiety, social media can be a great way for them to chat to friends and meet new people; I think it’s really important we don’t forget that.

So, don’t get me wrong, I love social media, but I think  we should all take time away from the online world now and then to socialise with the people we really love.

Photo Credit: Sara Kurfess
Public Relations

Does Public Sharing = Public Property?

Over the last decade social media has rocketed beyond belief with pages popping up all over the place.  From pets to food, and interior design to weight loss transformations, with the right search on google you can find an account for almost anything these days. But the question I often ask myself is, is social media getting out of control?

A few days ago, a friend showed me an account that has been targeting girls who I went to school with. A Twitter page had been taking pictures from my friends personal Instagram accounts and posting them onto Twitter with totally awful, disrespectful and degrading captions towards women.

“Which thick s**t are you taking?” followed with a love-struck emoji face, or “Is his d**k big enough for her” whilst she stood next to her boyfriend in a picture are just a few examples of some of the content this account was sharing. The Twitter page was sexually objectifying women in a whole manner of ways, but what I also thought was so shocking was that the account had been up and running for at least 2 years with over 3,000 followers! I couldn’t understand how it hadn’t been reported sooner and how Twitter had allowed such content to be shared.

Online bullying and abuse is such a hot topic at the moment and I know of many people, both celebrities and non-celebs that are campaigning for stricter social media controls, but I feel like Platforms such as Twitter and Instagram can’t keep control of what is being shared. Granted, the page was removed as soon as it was reported, but who is going to stop this account being set up again? How is Twitter going to control these photos with degrading captions from being shared to a further 3,000 people? It seems to me that social media is out of control.

Despite the fact I completely disagree with this Twitter account as it was wrong in so many ethical ways, it did get me thinking about who was to blame. My friends uploaded these pictures to the internet for everyone and anyone to see, so does that mean that anyone has the right to take and use them in any way they want? I personally think no, but if such photos have been shared on public platforms does this make them public property?

I feel this an interesting discussion into a current topic and would love to hear about what others think about this. Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions with me about photos and content that is uploaded to social platforms.

Public Relations

Do You Really Understand the PR Industry?

As a public relations undergrad, I love all things PR and will spot a PR driven campaign or initiative from a mile away. However, throughout my three years of studying I’ve noticed that a large amount of people don’t have a clue what PR is. As a matter of fact, most people don’t even know what PR stands for.

I’ve only been involved in the ‘PR world’ for a few years now and it bothers me that firstly, people don’t know what PR is and secondly, how badly people mistake it for something it is not. Considering public relations is about reputation management, it seems there is a lot of work to be done for its own reputation.

Why do people not understand what PR is and where did its bad rep come from? I often think people relate PR with politics and crisis. When a politician or an organisation is seen to be having a crisis, people assume a PR practitioner tries to cover up the truth by spinning the facts about what has or hasn’t happened. But that really isn’t what we do in the PR industry. Yes, we try to change reputation and behaviour, but with good ethics and a clear understanding of crisis management this can be done in a transparent and totally ethical way.

In 2015, specialists at the  Reputation Leaders conducted research by asking more than 2,000 people about PR and spin. They found that 70% of people believe that PR is more spin than substance, and over two-thirds of the sample group do not trust PR professionals to tell the truth. This study is now over four and half years old so opinions may have changed, however, for my dissertation I’m going to be studying the current reputation of the PR industry to see how this affects the credibility of communication.

If you’re still confused about what PR is and what PR isn’t, here is a basic summary of what I believe PR to be. PR practitioners cover a whole range of skills and activities, but here are just a few that people seem to forget.

PR is:

  • Changing and managing reputation
  • Building and maintaining positive relationships between an organisation and its stakeholders
  • Influencing change and behaviour
  • Communicating with publics in a transparent and ethical way
  • Producing positive publicity for a client or organisation
  • Effective crisis management

PR isn’t:

  • Spin
  • Propaganda
  • Advertising, marketing or journalism!
  • Just social media

I’m sure there are other misconceptions about the PR industry, but these are the main ones that spring to mind for me.

So, moving forward into the future as the PR industry grows, how can we ensure people truly understand what PR is? Do we need more education in schools and colleges or do we just need people to stop shaming our industry? I would love to hear other people’s thoughts about what can be done to give the PR industry the credit it deserves.

Photo Credit: Jessica Ruscello
University

Kicking off Third Year with a Positive Mental Attitude

When I think right back to the beginning of my PR degree, I remember everyone said to me “The next three years will fly by” and honestly, this is the most accurate statement EVER. These three years are most definitely flying by and if I’m honest, sometimes I feel like I can’t keep up.

I don’t want this blog to bore you and tell you everything you need to do to prepare for your final year of studies, but I do want to offer my honest opinion of what I find helpful and also some things that really do suck. So, let’s rewind and start from the beginning.

Four weeks ago, I started my third year of PR studies and I didn’t quite anticipate how fast I would need to get my head into gear. From dissertation meetings to choosing teams for upcoming assignments, my first week was overwhelming to say the least. As the weeks rolled by, I sometimes felt as if I was suffocating under the workload but actually in reality, I was just managing my time poorly and I was being completely over-dramatic (typical me).

One thing I definitely didn’t realise was how fast I would be starting my dissertation, and this really frightened me. The thought of writing 10,000 words made me feel like I was never going to graduate. If I could suggest you take one top tip away from this blog, it would be that in whatever you do, don’t let panic paralyse you! In other words, don’t bury your head in the sand and hope it will go away. Believe me, procrastination is the devil.

Apart from all the amazing things I have been learning in class, the first four weeks of my final year have taught me that sometimes it is OK to not be OK. I feel like so many of us put pressure on ourselves to do well and to study 24/7 whilst also having a social life, go to work, and take time to relax. We feel if we can’t do all of this then we are failing. I want to reassure you that you are most definitely not failing and instead, you should take a moment to reflect on everything you have achieved to get where you are now! Whether you’re in your first year of study or your last, you’ve had to work hard to be where you are, and you should be proud.

So, what I suppose I am trying to say it that yes, third year is already hard (and is going to get a lot harder) but by taking the time to look after myself, this will help me stay organised, motivated and have a positive mental attitude for the year ahead! Don’t forget, you are never alone, it’s important to rely on your support networks for a little pick me up every now and then.

If you have any great tips that help you de-stress, I would love to hear them!

Photo Credit: Alex Andrews
Public Relations

The Reality of Finding Work Placements

Particularly in the public relations sector, everyone knows you’ve got to experience work placements before heading out to the industry. Whether they are one week, two weeks or even a month, as a student I am forever being told I’m not going to ‘stand out from the crowd’ without work experience. At a recent networking event, a professional said they wouldn’t even consider anyone for their internship without previously taken part in work experience. And that’s when it hit me, I really need to get into gear and find some work experience.

For the last six weeks I have been frantically trying to find work placements for my upcoming assignment for University, however what I didn’t expect was how hard it was really was going to be. From emails to phone calls, LinkedIn to Twitter messages, finding a work placement takes some serious perseverance and hard work. Yes, I was told it would be difficult, but it really does knock your confidence when you get turned away time and time again.

As I now understand the struggles of finding a work placement, here are my 5 top tips for being successful;

  1. Try and be different, produce a creative CV to go alongside your traditional CV
  2. Attend as many networking events as possible
  3. Proof read everything!
  4. Pick up the phone – speaking to some one in person can be far more effective as they get a sense of your personality
  5. Don’t give up – you must keep trying even when you get knocked down. This is going to happen all through your career so it’s best to learn how to be resilient now

From following these tips, I have successfully secured my summer placements which I am very much looking forward to!

(Photo Credit: Pexels | Alex Andrews)

Photo Credit - Marvin Meyer
Public Relations

The Importance of Transparency for Public Relations

Despite public relations being one of the fastest growing industries, I feel there is still large confusion about what public relations really means. It seems that PR is often portrayed to be about spin and manipulating stories, however I’m sure many PR professionals would argue this is not true. In fact, a large part of public relations is about building trust with stakeholders through transparent communications.

With such an increase in ethics and corporate social responsibility, transparency plays a key role for these matters. When an organisation is transparent, their communications and key messages are honest, authentic and true. There is no spin or hidden meanings.  With such a rise in social media and online press, it is pretty impossible these days to get away with non-transparent communications.

But the question is, why is transparency so important for the public relations industry?

Public relations involves building and maintaining reputation for either a person, organisation or a brand. Transparency helps to build a trusted relationship between stakeholders and an organisation and so with a lack of transparency it can negatively affect this relationship and damage their reputation. Being transparent also helps to establish a strong sense of corporate social responsibility for an organisation, which we all know can be a great reputation booster.

In fact, it has been found that 94% of consumers are more likely to be loyal to a brand if they show transparency. Surely, this should encourage organisations and PR teams to have transparent communications. However, brands are still popping up in the media due to a lack of transparency in their communications or key messages.

So, I think it’s time we left behind the negative connotations surrounding the term ‘public relations’ and instead focus on the fact it’s largely based around truth, trust and transparency.

 

Public Relations

PRCA Careers Fair 2019

On Tuesday 19th March I attended the annual PRCA Careers Fair. A day to network and speak to professionals about the world of public relations and what you can do to improve your career or studies.

The day was introduced by Anneliese Searle, PRCA NextGen Chairman who welcomed the first guest speaker, Natalie Luke (the founder and MD of Aduro Communications). Natalie really stood out for me, she gave an overview of the public relations industry and how she built her own company over the last 6 years. It was amazing to hear about some of the fun and creative work they have produced at Aduro. From working with Mr.Men, to launching the healthy snack brand BEAR, their work really inspired me and made me realise I definitely want to work for an agency once I graduate.

The professionals explained about their own success but also gave us advice to help us become successful PR professionals in the future. They encouraged us to stand out from the crowd and offered genuine advice about improving CV’s and applying for jobs.

Not only was it such an informative day, it was also great fun travelling to London for my first PRCA event. The top 3 things I took from the day were;

  • Don’t be scared to be creative and stand out from the crowd
  • Be resilient – if you get turned down from jobs or work experience (which you will), just keep trying
  • Work in area you enjoy, and if you don’t enjoy what you are doing…change!

The PRCA careers fair has made me so excited for my future career in public relations!