You could have knocked me down with a feather when I had a response from THE Alfie Deyes@pointlessblog on my Instagram post about his latest interview with Blogosphere magazine. Never in a million years did I think he would comment. (I’m not oblivious that it could be one of his social media team responding but, shh, stop ruining it for me, ok?!)
When I was reading the Blogosphere article a thought struck me. What happens once you’re at the top of the PR influencer industry? How do you continue to grow, stay relevant and what direction should you take?
I took a while to answer Alfie’s Instagram reply asking what I thought about the article, it was Christmas after all! Here are my thoughts on what direction Alfie could take next.
PR powerhouse Ella Minty is sharp, smart and savvy, and she’s the one you’d want on your team if things go pear-shaped.
Ella has almost 20 years experience in various public relations roles and currently works as a management consultant, specialising in risk and reputation management.
If you’re starting out in public relations, Ella is exactly the sort of practitioner you should be following. She’s engaging on social media and regularly blogs about relevant and interesting topics.
Reading her comments and advice on PR issues will give you valuable insight into the industry. It will also give you a good steer on how to deal with certain situations you’re likely to come across in your career.
In this interview for The #StartingOut Series find out why Ella won’t let gender be a challenge to her in PR and why she’s all about admiration not inspiration.
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!
All’s well that end well, plus it’s some pretty fun PR!
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.
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.
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.
But, I digress, what I mean to say here is, this is nothing new!
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.
Almost exactly a year ago, in 2014, I was a student and I graduated from the PR Masters degree at Southampton Solent University.
One year later and the situation had reversed, rather than sitting in the lecture theatre ready to take notes, I was the one giving the talk. Talk about a one eighty!
I was invited back to speak about the way PR, advertising and marketing are starting to merge together to form a hybrid and to explain the necessity of having a wide skills set that cover these fields.
This blog is what I took from the conference, my perspective and what I found valuable. Livi Wilkes, from Solent PR, has already shared all the golden nuggets of information about employability in the following two blogs, which are definitely worth a read:
My journey has been a long one, with many experiences which has contributed to where I am today. it sounds cliched but it’s true. That experience wasn’t invalid, I just wasn’t aware of that until recently. Isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing?!
I think, for me, it was also important to show other people who are about to enter a creative industry that the path isn’t always smooth and straight. It’s not easy to open up about struggling. I had tried so hard to get in to PR through various means and although at times I felt I was never going to get there or that I was on the wrong path, I never gave up. So coming back to my university and being able to relay my journey and where I am now was really exciting.
When I was there I met one of the 2015 graduates from the PR Masters and she shared her feelings with me via Twitter, and it was a reminder of how powerful face to face interaction and social media can be. Remember that you aren’t alone, it’s ok to be ‘lost’ sometimes and to take the road less travelled. Not everyone is living that glossy life they so readily portray to the world on social media. Not everything comes easily. Most of the best things don’t come easily. Trust your intuition.
Catherine Sweet, my wonderful lecturer and mentor, opened the conference by explaining the changes in the industry and why they were important. Her career in PR/Marketing/Advertising/Marketing/Politics is incredible and she has topped it off with lecturing at Southampton Solent University passing on her knowledge.
Steve Woodgate, Solent University MA Graduate and Marketing Manager at Microsoft UK, who was the first guest speaker advised the attendees at the conference to ‘be a squirrel, gather nuts of knowledge’. This struck me like a lightening bolt. I had been a squirrel, foraging, learning and gathering nuts of knowledge along my journey.
A varied set of skills will make you more robust and ready for any future roles.
He also identified four sub-sets of characters within the creative industry:
Steven said you would predominantly be one of these characters and that it would be helpful to identify which one you were so you are able to identify your strengths. I completely agree with him, identifying your strengths is very helpful but I think that some people may cross these sub-sets.
The last major thing I took from Steven’s talk was that he said:
“Digital is more significant than the industrial revolution. We just don’t know it yet.”
I was up next and I had to rapidly overcome my public speaking fears (and the monster cold I had!).
I used my journey, examples of other people journeys and current client work to show just how important a varied skill set is and what I had learnt along the way. The time flew by and soon I was back in my seat not knowing what just happened, hoping it went ok.
Thankfully I had some positive feedback after the talk and some really lovely tweets!
Following my talk was Dr Emma Wray, the new head of PR and Communications for Southampton Solent University. She was engaging and told us about her incredible experience (just ask her about working at the BBC during the Olympics!) and the changes she is seeing to the PR and communications industry and how we can adapt to survive them. Emma also had some top tips for those about to enter the creative industries…
Caroline Barfoot, from Solent Creatives, concluded the talks with a focus on getting work experience and freelancing. She drew attention to this years John Lewis Christmas campaign and it’s multi-faceted nature. She also made the point that ‘at the heart of everything is the consumers. Products only work if the consumer wants to use it.’ This phrase is great to take with you throughout your career, remind yourself of it to keep you focused and critical when working on projects.
After the talks the conference was divided in to two to debate current PR topics. I helped panel the debate which questioned the valued of earned and shared media. It was really interesting to see what a cross section of the current university students studying creative topics and a number of business people thought. It was concluded that there is value in a combination of the both earned and shared media. A lot of emphasis and importance was placed on being critical of the source.
It was a great day and I was honoured to be invited to take part, honoured to be able to give something back and honoured to represent the company I now work for. I am lucky to work for a company who can see the value in giving back and leading the field. I am extremely thankful to Catherine Sweet for believing in me and guiding me through my Masters and to Lee Peck Media for giving me the opportunity to work in PR and to experience a converging career!
So my next thing to tickle your creative tastebuds has to be the trailer that Banksy released today for Dismaland! I know – I’m obsessed. Dismaland is my cup of tea, so why not celebrate the things you like?
The video follows a family, who start at the breakfast table and is questioned by a narrative that asks ‘is there something missing in your life?’.
They then head to the park to experience a classic rip-off of Disney’s infamous tag line ‘the happiest place on Earth’ but then experience all sorts of ‘dismal’ happenings once there.
It’s a creative rip off of the Disney TV adverts and is the perfect homage to his bemusement park and the extremely on point art works which pick up topical provocative political and cultural themes.
We’ve all been there, something really interesting comes up on your Facebook newsfeed but you don’t have time to read it. Later you can’t find it as it’s so far down your newsfeed that it’s disappeared for good.
Well fret no more, Facebook has come up with a feature that really deserves more attention, the save function.
Save that article for later by clicking the top right arrow on the article, a drop down menu will appear and from that click save!
To find it later, click the top left ‘F’ button…
Then look down the left hand menu to see ‘Saved’, click on it and ‘Et Voila!’ every article you have saved is safely stored here for you to read at your leisure.
Now you won’t miss a thing! Happy reading fellow Facebookers!