No Freshers Fair? No Problem, Paperclip HQ has a Virtual Solution.

In these uncertain times, it is unclear how many unis will be able to reopen in September, with many already announcing their plans to continue lectures online for the foreseeable future. But what does this mean for coveted student events such as the freshers fair? Where students can usually avail of many freebies and discounts. Will the incoming class of 2020 have to miss out on these perks and rite of passage for most first years?

Well, fret no more as the team at Paperclip HQ have announced their very own ‘virtual fresher’s fair’, so you won’t miss out. You will be able to experience all the deals and exclusives you would expect at your uni’s fresher’s fair from the comfort of your own bed.  The online initiative will bring students the hottest deals straight to their inbox in the form of a virtual welcome pack. This welcome pack will be jam packed with discounts and freebies from top brands including Amazon and UberEats.

The pack is completely free to sign up for and only takes a few seconds and will entitle you to over £3,000 worth of freebies and discounts. So it’s really not one to be missed. There will also be exclusive competitions for great prizes such as holidays, iPads and cash with a 1 in 10 chance to win. The only catch is that you’ll have to wait till 20th August to receive your pack, in fitting with university start dates and traditional fresher’s fairs.

This new initiative from Paperclip comes after the success of their online marketplace platform which allows students to buy and sell their stuff such as old textbooks and electronics. This could be a great place for postgrads to make some cash or undergrads to save some dollar on their textbooks. Over 50 unis have exclusively signed up to the site already and it’s also free to join. Students can also create their very own buy/sell group for their halls, accommodation or course to help find what they are looking for.

To sign up for the virtual freshers fair head to https://yourfreshers.co.uk/

17 Things I’ve Learnt While Self Isolating

This is kind of going to be a reflective post, cause I don’t really feel like posting about anymore negative news and Coronavirus goings on. So I’m just going to have a wee chat with you all about some lessons and thing’s I’ve learnt this week while being in isolation. I’ve had a lot of time to think and do things.

  1. That I actually don’t hate going to work and uni everyday
  2. A little bit of Spanish, I’m learning it again. I’m planning on learning more because I used to speak pretty good Spanish, I’ve put my subtitles on in Spanish for my Netflix and that’s helping me remember some.
  3. That there is a limit to the amount of Netflix you can watch
  4. That playing a Virtual Pub Quiz with your family in your own living room is more fun than it sounds
  5. That keeping your sleeping pattern in check is hard
  6. That TikTok dances are harder than they look
  7. That daytime TV is not the one
  8. That some brands are getting their marketing strategies right and some are getting it wrong (check out: I SAW IT FIRST)
  9. That group Facetime calls with the girls are good for the soul
  10. That SIMS 4 is really addictive and not good for my uni schedule
  11. That everyone is getting Disney+and I haven’t caved yet, I also don’t really like Disney that much so I might not buy into it
  12. That the movies Contagion and The Platform will give you an insight into our situation and are definitely worth the watch
  13. That online shopping for clothes is less fun when you have nowhere to wear them
  14. That I’m grateful for my dressing gown and dog at this time
  15. That I took the little things for granted until now
  16. That I will never not appreciate simply being able to leave my house
  17. That being able to travel is a privilege and not a given

How Is Social Media Facilitating Social Distancing?

What is ‘Social Distancing’?

So if you’re reading this post you are probably social distancing. Social distancing can be described as an infection control measure intended to slow down the spread of contagious disease. In this case Coronavirus.

You may have heard people talking about ‘flattening the curve’, so what does this mean? Well this involves preventing a sharp peak of infections like what we have been seeing in Italy, to allow healthcare facilities to be able to cope and also provide time for treatment to be developed.

Here’s a simple diagram showing the effects of protective measures such as social distancing on flattening the curve. This is the reason that many of us are now in isolation in our own homes.

Promoting ‘Social Distancing’

So I’ve recently saw a lot of companies and LinkedIn users utilising their platforms to promote social distancing in different ways here are a few of my favourites:

Brands After Corona’ By BlueSteak Media

This campaign imagines what brand logos would like like in light of social distancing, I think it’s great as it uses recognisable brands that everyone is familiar with and takes a new take on them. This has great share-ability for social media and is great for creating awareness of social distancing.

#AloneTogether by ViacomCBS, Comedy Central and MTV

The Alone Together campaign has combined giants of the TV and Entertainment world to raise awareness for social distancing. The content utilises the power of social media influencers to share the message among their followers.

Making Social Distancing Social

So back to the title of the blog post, how is social distancing being made social? By Netflix Party of course. If you can’t have a movie night with your friends do the next best thing and download Netflix Party Chrome Browser Extension which allows you to watch the same programmes as your friends and chat about it within the same browser. Here’s a screen grab of Love Is Blind on Netflix Party:

This is a great way to stay connected with your friends whilst social distancing and I know I’ll definitely be utilising this feature. Although in everyday life it’s gets criticisms for making us anti-social, social media is really proving it’s original purpose in bringing people together at this uncertain time.

Support for Those Unable To Social Distance

Something I have also noticed is the amount of discount and support being made available for NHS Workers and those who are unable to self isolate and this is also being promoted through social. The below thread tracks all the offers and discounts available.

My International Women’s Day Winner and Loser of Advertising

Winner: The Apple Behind The Mac Campaign

The Apple Behind The Mac Ad really stood out for me this week as the best International Women’s Day Ad Campaign. At first it just seemed to be an inspiring advert celebrating women in business and tech. But upon further inspection every woman in the ad was shown for their particular contribution to their industry or their work for women’s rights, which I personally think is great.

Here are the women included in the advert:

Malala Yousafzai: The youngest Nobel laureate for her work on girls’ right to education.

Ava DuVernay: Director known for “Selma” and “When They See Us”.

Marie Kondo: Tidying expert, bestselling author and Emmy® -nominated television star.

Greta Gerwig: Director known for “Lady Bird” and “Little Women”.

Gloria Steinem: Women’s rights activist who helped start second-wave feminism.

Lady Gaga: GRAMMY® and Oscar artist and founder of the Born This Way foundation.

Megan Rapinoe and Shannon Boxx: Four-time World Cup champions, fighting for equal pay.

Olivia Wilde: Actor and director known for her feature debut “Booksmart”.

Diane von Fürstenberg: Fashion designer and founder of the DVF Awards.

Elizabeth Banks: Actor and director of “Pitch Perfect 2” and “Charlie’s Angels”.

Alicia Keys: GRAMMY® winning artist, touching hearts and inspiring the world through her art.

Lily Singh: The first LGBTQ woman to host a network late-night talk show in 30 years.

Audrey Gelman: C.E.O and first visibly pregnant woman featured on a business magazine cover.

Black Mamba: South Africa’s women-run anti-poaching unit.

Victoria Monét: On-the-rise artist and GRAMMY® nominee, known for her hit songwriting.

Tarana Burke: Founder of The ‘me too.’ Movement.

DJ Switch: A 12-year-old DJ and founder of the DJ Switch Foundation for education.

This was a very well thought out advert by Apple managing to celebrate women that awards shows have not this year. There is a great variety of sexuality, race and nationality represented in the advert which is great to see also. I also love the choice of music featuring Flawless by Beyonce in the background, who is also a powerful woman in the industry and has many empowering songs.

Loser: PSNI

I mean I’m sorry but I’m not sure who thought this was a good idea. I hate posting negatively about local companies but I couldn’t not talk about this as EVERYONE on Twitter was talking about it. The International WOMEN’S Day Event included the female staff having to nominate their MALE colleagues. Yes on International Women’s Day, women had to nominate men. The whole point of the day was kind of missed with this campaign. In a follow up video a representative tried to defend the campaign as supporting ‘equality’ of both genders in the PSNI but viewers weren’t impressed.

Is Disney’s ‘Onward’ a Step in the Right Direction for Inclusion or Another Example of Blatant Tokenism?

So I wasn’t sure whether to talk about this subject today, but it’s something that’s extremely important to me so I felt I should share my perspective. So when I heard that Disney Pixar was incorporating an LGBTQ+ character into it’s latest film I was obviously very excited by this prospect. Especially when I found out it was going to be a female character. But this is a prime example of expectations versus reality. Whilst I was expecting some beautiful Disney gay princess this is what we got:

So I have multiple issues with this:

The Appearance

Whilst I was expecting some beautiful and gorgeous Disney princess, I got this. I’m not saying this character couldn’t be considered beautiful but I don’t think young girls are going to see her as a role model. Her one eye and manly figure wouldn’t look out of place in Monsters Inc. and just feeds into negative portrayals of the LGBTQ+ community.

The Stereotypes

Obviously because the character is a lesbian she had to be very butch because apparently femmes don’t exist in the world of Disney and also a police officer. I mean could you get anymore stereotypical. I’m imagining a few Disney executives sitting in a room and thinking ‘What job would a lesbian have?’ Oh yes a police officer.

The Small Screen Time

Whilst I haven’t personally seen the movie and don’t plan to, I have heard that this character is only a side character and doesn’t have that much screen time or exploration. Appearing in one scene and casually throwing in a comment about her ‘girlfriend’ to get across that she’s gay. I think if Disney were really going to commit to this cause they could have at least gave us a main character and a little more exploration or character arc. Just another example of a brand/franchise throwing in a token LGBTQ+ personality to please both sides of the argument, whilst not upsetting traditional parents.

Maybe I’m being too harsh and other members of the LGBTQ+ community are just pleased to have been included but I feel the character is not an accurate representation of our community and is painted to look like some sort of freak. I feel this is a blatant example of lazy tokenism with a big company just trying to please everyone by I throwing in a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ LGBTQ+ moment. Can we please try and do better for our LGBTQ+ characters in Film and Television.

Tesco Proves Every Little Does When It Comes To Diversifying Their Product Range.

This week Tesco made headlines with a new addition their Health and Beauty Product Range. A new line of plasters which provided colour options in light, medium and dark. Something which has never before been done by a UK Supermarket chain and is a huge step in the right direction for inclusion of people of colour in the UK.

Whilst this might seem like only a small change to their product selection, it has received rave reviews from people of colour who hadn’t been able to find skin tone matching plasters before. The plasters also show the power of social media, as the product was developed as a response to an emotional tweet from a US Man who was able to find a ‘band aid’ in his own skin tone for the first time.

Nicola Robinson, Tesco’s health, beauty and wellness director, said: “As one of the largest retailers in the UK, we understand that we have a responsibility to ensure our products reflect the diversity of our customers and colleagues.

“We believe the launch of our new skin tone plaster range is an important step and a move that we hope will be replicated by other retailers and supermarkets across the country.”

Tesco, which is the UK’s biggest seller of own-brand plasters, said its new plasters would be available at all of its 741 UK stores.

The step to add these plasters to the range is a step in the right direction for Tesco’s representing all their customers and comes after fashion brands have been expanding their underwear ‘nude’ ranges and makeup lines have introduced larger shade ranges to incorporate all skin tones.

Hopefully this addition will see more larger companies follow suit and diversify their product range.

Why Mixed Messages Mean Bad PR for Starbucks?

So if you’ve seen the recent Starbucks #whatsyourname Ad Campaign you probably know its a huge step in the right direction for Trans Rights. The campaign depicts a Trans male being able to choose his own name at the Starbucks counter when ordering a drink despite being upset at being called his birth name on other occasions. Watch the ad here:

When I saw the advert I thought this is amazing, what a positive and inclusive message for a huge company to be promoting. A massive win for advertising inclusivity in the LGBTQ+ community, something a lot of my research focuses on.

But then I was shocked to read that although Starbucks is promoting Trans inclusivity on a national scale they don’t have the same rules for their own employees. Former Starbucks employee Maddie Wade has spoken out against the company who she previously sued for misgendering and discriminating against her as a transgender woman.

Wade’s attorney, Arnold Peter, issued a statement calling the ad “a cruel slap in the face to their own employees who have faced hateful and derogatory discrimination in the workplace. The company’s attempt at marketing their position on inclusion and gender equality is both phony and hypocritical to their own employees who have faced discrimination while working in their stores.”

Other past employees have spoken out about their struggle to get gender reassignment surgeries covered. Many people joined the company after it announced it would be expanding its’ health insurance plan to cover top surgery and facial feminisation but this surgery was not obtained by employees.

Other employees have spoken out about not being able to use their chosen name within the company without first obtaining a legal name change, often a lengthy and costly process.

My take on this, maybe have a look at your internal affairs and what you can do for your employees who commit to building your business everyday before you try and cash in on the pink pound by releasing a hypocritical ad campaign.

The Real Winner of the Superbowl was Sabra’s Advertising Campaign

If you’ve heard about the Superbowl you’ve probably also heard a thing or too about the different ad campaigns, which each company vying for the best ad, in one of the most coveted advertising spots of the year. Almost like the coveted UK Christmas ad’s one of the best parts of the Superbowl can be the ad campaigns that go along with it.

The one campaign that caught my attention this year was – Sabra Dipping Co’s Ad which aired during the second quarter of the game, and in the 30 second campaign managed a star-studded count of 19 celebrities from the world of pop culture and the internet.

The best thing about the ad was the combination of internet culture with pop culture giving it legs on both social media and on TV. The ad brought influencers off the internet and onto our big screens, showing breakout TikTok stars Charli D’amelio and Brittany Tomlinson aka Kombucha Girl. As well as Doug the Pug, a popular online canine influencer (yes you read that right).

The ad didn’t shy away from inclusivity either, showing different races including Spanglish singer Becky G and African American rapper T-Pain. As well as supporting LGBTQ+ inclusion through the use of popular Drag Queens; Miz Cracker and Kim Chi from RuPaul’s Drag Race.

The end of that encouraged viewers to share how they ‘mmus on social via the hashtag – #HowIMmus. It’s no surprise that the ad was produced by VaynerMedia.

What really impressed me about the ad was the acknowledgement of how internet culture is influencing popular culture more and more. The mix of celebrities meant there was someone that most generations would know making it relatable for the entire family. I know my mum and dad would recognise Scary Spice aka Mel B, just as I did Charli D’amelio and Doug the Pug. \

Well done Sabra, let’s see more of these informed ad’s.

Why a Career in PR is for me?

Growing up I knew I didn’t want a traditional career like a doctor, teacher, lawyer. At first I thought I wanted to be a ballerina, but I quickly realised I didn’t have many skills in that area and simply being a huge fan of ‘Angelina Ballerina’ didn’t qualify you for this career. About midway through high school I decided I wanted to be a journalist, I always had a passion for writing, public speaking and was interested in current affairs especially in the world of fashion and magazine journalism. After a week’s work experience at the ‘Ulster Tatler’ magazine and an A* in GCSE Journalism I was pretty affirmed in my career goals.

When it came to deciding what I wanted to do at University, I was torn between two courses Journalism or CMPR. My parents tried to persuade me to go for CMPR as my first choice, as they thought it was a more modern degree that adhered to many different career paths whilst journalism was somewhat of a dying art. In hindsight I should have listened to them. But being a headstrong seventeen-year-old, I decided to go for Journalism as my first choice and CMPR as my second choice.

Work trip to Google HQ in Dublin for a ‘Breakfast Briefing’

So I went to Coleraine to study Journalism, but one thing I realised, was I was a lot more interested in my Media Studies modules than I was my Journalism counterparts. In my Media classes we were looking at marketing and advertising campaigns and brand’s positioning on media issues such as gender, race and politics. I found this was inherently more appealing to me than looking at traditional in-print media. But I wasn’t going to let my dreams of being a Journalist slip that easily.

In April 2016, when I had to move home due to medical issues, I could no longer continue my Journalism degree at Coleraine. But as they say, often everything happens for a reason and I then ended up in my first year of my CMPR degree in September 2017. It’s possibly the best twist of fate that’s ever happened to me, and I would never change it for the world. I get asked a lot if I could go back, would I have rather continued my Journalism degree and pursued a career in that and the simple answer is no, my heart is firmly set in pursuing a career in PR now and I’m so glad that I took the chance on beginning a course in PR.

Three years down the line I am now six months away from graduating and I currently have my dream job as a PR and Content Creation Assistant at a local PR Agency, which I will continue full time after I graduate. So as it wasn’t love at first sight for myself and PR, why have I grown to love the industry?

My very first client at my PR job ‘Company the Musical’ at the Grand Opera House, where I managed the Influencer Marketing Campaign.

Well in the PR industry, no two days are ever the same, as mundane as a 9-5 job can sound, when working in PR it’s anything but. Whilst the overall task stays the same: make your client look good to its publics. The ways in which you could be executing this are almost infinite. From creating a PR Strategy to writing a press release to organising an event or managing your client’s social media platforms. I love the varied nature of the job, as I never know what to expect and I know I will never get bored of the industry. Depending on where you work you will also have the opportunity to work with a wide variety of clients in different niches, this affords you the chance to see what you like and don’t like before you might choose to specialise in one area. For example, in my current role I work with clients in the food and drink, fashion, fitness, arts, business and tech industries. This has allowed me to experience the different approaches and media channels which need to be utilised in each particular field. As I have always been interested in fashion, my aspirations for the future are to work in an in-house PR and Marketing Department for an online fashion brand.

One thing that attracts me to the industry is the reactive and ever changing nature, I love keeping up with trends on Twitter and often campaigns can be based off what’s trending right now. This is particularly something that I write about on my PR Blog: ‘Today on The Internet’, I am fascinated by the fast nature of the industry, similarly to Journalism where it’s important to react to developments quickly before they are ‘yesterday’s news’. This is also the case with new future developments in technology that are important to consider for your brand message. For example; Voice Based Search is becoming ever more popular with the rolling out of products like Google Home, Amazon Alexa and Apple Siri. It is important for PR Practitioners to take into account what a brand sounds like when copywriting or looking at SEO, as consumers could not be searching by voice as well as by typing. 10 years ago we would have had no idea about these developments or what social platforms would be most popular, this is something that excites me about the industry, we don’t know what it will be like in 10 or even 20 years, newspapers could cease to exist, social platforms like ‘Tik Tok’ could be the new Facebook for brand content.

Work Perks at the Press Launch of the ‘Belfast City Blues’ another client I was lucky enough to work with and manage the social media for,

Whilst developments in technology are decreasing the need for workers in some areas, I think it’s absolutely the opposite with PR. I think developments in technology are requiring brands to have an online presence and engage with their customers in more new and creative ways, therefore requiring a PR expert to facilitate this. PR is an extremely important industry and we engage with hundreds of items of PR material on a daily basis without even realising it, from the advertisements on bus stops to posts by social media influencers on our Instagram feed, these have all ultimately come from PR Practioners

As a young person I still want to travel and experience the world as much as I can whilst in my 20s. I love the freedom that a career in PR gives me. Although I currently work in a 9-5 office based role, whilst completing my degree. There are so many freelance opportunities within PR and realistically all you need is a good WiFi connection and a laptop to be able to freelance. My current role allows me to work from home should I need to and I even took my laptop on a recent trip to London and was able to keep up with my clients via email and work remotely. This freedom is a great perk of the job for me. My mum always wanted me to be a teacher (she’s a teacher) because you get the whole summer off. But why should I do that, when my office could be a beach in California and I’m doing something I love?

An Influencer event I organised at a local restaurant client

The career gives you unlimited opportunities to upskill and learn more in the industry, my boss’s mantra is ‘Every day’s a school day’ and I think that’s particularly potent in the PR industry. You can simply never know it all in the industry and I take up any opportunity to attend talks or workshops where I can learn from other practitioners. Some areas I’ve learnt about recently are; Mail Chimp, LinkedIn Marketing and Google Ads. I hope to be able to get the opportunity to speak at some events myself in the future where I can educate others on my specialities. Currently my key interests in the industry are Influencer Marketing and Inclusive Marketing and PR Campaigns and these topics form the basis of my reading and research. I think events like the Belfast Media Festival and Digital DNA in Northern Ireland are exciting events and provide a great space for learning and development of industry professionals. I look forward to being able to progress my career in the future and build up a network of contacts in the industry. There is a great community of PR Practitioners on Twitter and LinkedIn, it can be interesting to engage in conversation and hear a wide range of opinions on these platforms.

In conclusion, I may have taken the scenic route to my career in PR but I am a firm believer in everything happens for a reason and I think I am in exactly the place I should be right now. Maybe I should have listened to my parents, but I think I needed to find my way to this path by myself. I look forward to what a future in PR will look like and am excited to progress my career even further. But granny please don’t ask me what I do for work over Christmas dinner, unless you have two hours.

Clickbait Email Marketing: Good PR Tactic or Simply Unethical?

So I admit I buy a lot of clothes from online fast fashion brands, so I often unintentionally end up on their mailing list. Recently I’ve noticed a new trend in brands sending clickbait in their email subjects to try and get customers to open them. Often the subject of the email is only very loosely related to the content. And sorry I SAW IT FIRST but I’m calling you, it’s your account.

So here’s a little taster of some of the email subject’s I’ve received from them recently:

  • Reminder: Delete Your Insta Story
  • One Direction Reunited
  • Your Love Island Application Has Been Accepted
  • RE: Your Love Island Application
  • Your Festival e-ticket
  • Payment Received
  • Your Purchase
  • Your Flight Confirmation
  • About Last Night
  • FW: It’s On It’s Way
  • Pending Payment
  • Status: Delivered
  • RE: Your Bank Balance

So just as a small side note none of these emails were related to any personal account activity or orders, but were just generic mailing list emails. I’m now going to show you just a few examples of the content that came along with these emails, some of them just blatantly addressed that the title was misleading and some were just confusing.

One Direction Reunited

As you can see they literally admit that One Direction aren’t back together, and they’ve pretty much just used the title to get more opens on the email

Your Love Island Applicant Has Been Accepted

As you can see the following was the only email content for the email with the above subject and it was very misleading. It’s clear to see that I Saw It First know their target customer base of 18-30 and use this to create clickbait titles relevant to this age group.

Your Flight Confirmation

The above email is I Saw It First playing the season to their advantage, this was an email from the summer when a lot of people would be going on holiday and might open the email mistaking it for their flights.

Overall looking at this examples I think what might seem like a clever marketing tactic for the brand is simply unethical. The brand is basically trying to deceive customers into opening their emails and I don’t think this is a good strategy for a giant in the fashion world to be using. Please try and do better brands.