Monthly Archives: October 2013

Beating the bullies


Over the past month or so, I have been watching a very unnerving story unfold over in America. Shea Shawhan an 18 years old girl from Plano in Texas has been subject to horrendous bullying by some extremely nasty people at her school.

Shea has a frontal lobe brain injury. Her frontal lobes were damaged during birth from seconds of not having oxygen, which in turn caused severe swelling and overstimulated her brain. Due to this she endured multiple seizures for the first 14 days of her life and has suffered these seizures ever since. This is not epilepsy, like some people may assume, but a life threatening malfunction of the brain. Shea looks like any other 18 year old girl, but has an IQ under 70 and zero reasoning skills. It could happen to any one of us, if you were in a car crash and damaged your frontal lobes, you would still look like you, but would have what Shea has.

Keri Shawhan, Shea’s mum, set up a Facebook page to raise awareness of the situation, in the hope things would change. Shea was receiving awful text messages and it obviously needed to end. This brilliant example of how social media can be used to help a situation such as this, normally all you hear about on the news is about another case of cyber bullying!

This story went global and a huge amount of people around the world got behind Shea and helped her and her true friends succeed in finding out who was behind the horrible act and see something serious happen. It was a pleasure to read in the news the other day that somebody had been arrested in connection with the harassment of Shea, what a great result!

Head over to the Facebook page to read up on the progression of the campaign to stop bullying like this case, and buy a T-Shirt to raise money for some great causes!

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Since writing my dissertation on what it takes to be classed as influential on Twitter, I have come to know Klout very well. Klout is a website and mobile app that uses social media analytics to rank its users according to online social influence via the Klout score, which is a numerical value between 1 and 100 (1 being the least and 100 being the most influential). In determining the user score, Klout measures the size of a user’s social media network and correlates the content created to measure how other users interact with that content.

I have used Klout for around 12 months now, and I have managed to increase my score from 14 to 51. I looked at 3 different celebrities in my dissertation, each with varying Klout scores to see what differentiated them from each other and what someone using social media would have to do to attain and maintain a good Klout score.

I found that I had to engage more with my other users and post content that was of interest to get conversations started. I added all of my social media networks to my Klout account which resulted in my improved score of 51. After getting the hang of Klout, I thought it lacked something, it is a very basic application in the sense that there is not much to do on it. You can answer questions other users have based on topics you are interested in, which is a nice touch as it allows you to apply your knowledge to help other users.

The people over at Klout have just added a new aspect to the site, which I love! You update your status’ and tweets to Facebook and Twitter through Klout and it tells you the score impact the update has on your score, which allows you to see what type of content is beneficial to your score, rather than waiting for your score to go up or down without really knowing what the content is doing for you.

I think anybody who uses social media, whether it is for business or personal use, or even both, should know their Klout score and aim to increase it to give your consumers the best content possible!

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Planning – is it important?


In PR terms, yes, planning is exceptionally important. It is a perfectly good question to ask though, but the answer to ‘why plan?’ has various different answers. My answer would be to apply some order and organisation to the task in hand. I’m a person who likes to know when I’m doing something and how I’m going to do it. Whether that is in work life, or simply organising a night out with friends!

Planning applies to everything, in most, if not all professions. Whether it is to complete campaigns lasting numerous years, or simple activities such as an event or new publication. Overall, planning is important!

So, here are some different answers to the question:

  • Focuses Effort

It allows you to see what is necessary and what is not when planning PR efforts. It allows you to work on the right things apposed to wasting your time on things that won’t have any real beneficial outcomes. There is a distinct difference to working hard and working smart.

  • Improves Effectiveness

Working on the right things will have a much more valuable overall effect on your workload. Time and money will be saved, thus allowing you to allocate more budget and work hours to bigger tasks. Working to planned objectives gives targets to aim for, a sense of achievement when they are reached and effective benchmarks for measurement.

  • Encourages the Long-Term View

All tasks that you carry out tend to be more successful if you look at the long-term view. If you know what is going to happen if you carry out a specific task, it is easier to predict its success. It helps to produce a structured programme to meet future and current needs of the organisation.

  • Demonstrates Value For Money

Budgeting is extremely important in any business, and even more so in Public Relations as some budgets may be quite small, but the outcome needs to be similar to those campaigns of a huge budget. Planning allows you to be realistic with what is necessary and what isn’t.

  • Minimise Mishaps

Planning allows you to consider different scenarios and the outcomes, which in turn allows you to see which is better suited to the task in hand. It also allows you to consider all the possible problems and issues you could potentially face and put contingency plans in to place in case things do go wrong.

  • Reconciles Conflict

Planning allows for conflict to be rectified sooner rather then later. When working in a team of PR practitioners, there are bound to be conflicts of interest and ideas. This stage allows practitioners to confront these issues and come to some resolution that benefits the campaign.

  • Facilitates Proactivity

It allows practitioners to set their own agenda, which is extremely important. PR is known for reacting to media demands or crisis management but it is also about realising what is important and what is not.

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The different roles in Public Relations


To people who don’t really know much about PR, don’t really understand the depth in the vocation, and how many different roles there are. It’s not just a quick tweet or a press release, it is much much more than that!

Glen Broom and David Dozier identified that there are two dominant job roles in Public Relations:

1. The Communication Technician

The communication technician is not involved in making organisational decisions detrimental to the business but carries out Public Relations programmes such as writing press releases, editing house publications and designing web pages. Known in every day terms as a Public Relations Executive/Practitioner. This role is not heavily involved with the research or evaluating stages, but more concerned with the implementation.

2. The Communication Manager

The communication manager plans and manages Public Relations programmes, counsels management, makes policy decisions and so on. Basically this role is the decision maker, they will delegate jobs to the communication technician to carry out etc.

Within the second category, there are three main types of managerial roles:

1. The Expert Prescriber

The expert prescriber identifies Public Relations problems through research, develops programmes and implements them. This practitioner acts as a specialist on communication issues but to a large extent, independently of senior management.

2. The Communication Facilitator

This, to me, is considered one of the most important roles within PR, as the communication facilitator acts as a go-between ensuring that two-way communication is evident between an organisation and its consumers/customers. This role acts as a liaison, interpreter and a mediator.

3. The Problem-solving Process Facilitator

This is another integral role in PR, this person helps others in the organisation to solve their PR problems, this person acts as an adviser on the planning and implementation of programmes. This role is usually fulfilled by specialist consultancies.

Dozier also identified two middle-level roles that are carried out between the manager and the technician roles in a business:

1. Media Relations Role

This is a two-way function where the person carrying out this role keeps the media informed, and informs the organisation of the needs and concerns of the media. In other words it involves working with the media for the purpose of informing the public of the organisation’s missions, policies and practices in a positive, consistent and credible manner. This usually means coordinating directly with journalists who produce features in the mass media. The main goal of this job role is to maximise positive coverage in the mass media without paying for it directly through advertising.

2. Communication and Liaison Role

This role is incredibly important in terms of the organisation’s reputation at events and meetings etc. This is a higher-level public relations role representing the organisation, and positively creating opportunities for management to communicate with internal and external publics. This role is all about building networks and relationships with beneficial people.

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Golden rules of objective setting


Every PR practitioner knows that setting objectives is a huge part of planning PR campaign, and if you get this crucial stage wrong, it could be detrimental to the success of the entire campaign.

According to Anne Gregory, in her book, published in 2010, Planning and Managing Public Relations Campaigns, there are a list of golden rules of objective settings that PR practitioners should take in to account to make sure the objectives are clear and relative to the overall goals.

1. Ally to organisational objectives

In other words, the overall objectives should combine with the overall objectives of the company or client you are working for. If the campaign doesn’t abide with the objectives of the company, it will do more harm than good and wouldn’t be beneficial to your client. A PR campaign should always support the overall objectives so as to not waste anybodies time.

2. Set public relations objectives

It is incredibly important to set objectives that are achievable, this way, as a PR practitioner, you can be safe in the knowledge you can deliver to your client efficiently and achieve what you set out to do. It is important not to promise results that are outside of the control of PR practitioner’s.

3. Link to aims

All objectives should clearly support the aims so they contribute to their fulfilment.

4. Be linked to specific publics

There is no point stating that the people you are aiming the campaign at the ‘general public’ … that could be just about anybody! Ensure you link your objectives at a particular group of people such as ‘people ages 20 – 30’ or ‘people who are employed’ etc.

5. Be outcome focused

Ensure you differentiate the outcome objectives from the process objectives. It is easy to state how many brochures or surveys are being distributed, but it is crucial to have objectives to how the overall outcome is going to happen and how you want it to happen.

6. Research based

It is incredibly important to ensure that all objectives have a research based so you can prove why and how the objectives should be successful. If prior research shows that 30% of the public act in a certain way, it is acceptable to say the campaign will increase that percentage to 50%. However, if you do not know if 30% of the public act a certain way, and you set a 50% target based on no research, it could be very dangerous.

7. Be singular

Ensure you focus on the separate steps to meet the aims of the campaign. Objectives will eventually be evaluated, so objectives with multiple steps are difficult to evaluate.

8. Be precise and specific

It is not good enough to say your campaign is going to create awareness, that is an obvious statement to make. You need to ensure you say who you are going to make aware of your campaign, where, why, when and how. This needs to be incredibly obvious to people looking at and consuming the campaigns efforts.

9. Do what is achievable

There is no point setting objectives you feel aren’t attainable. This doesn’t benefit anybody, your client will be unhappy with the outcome and your reputation will be damaged. If you are ever unsure of the outcomes of ideas, pre-test them!

10. Work to a timescale

This is one of the most important things for a PR practitioner to prioritise at the beginning of a PR campaign. It is better to be explicit about the timescale in order for realist results to be delivered. Allow for the worst and that allows for back up plans to be put in to place with as little stress as possible!

These 10 rules have helped me understand what is important in planning a PR campaign, and shown me that the objectives stage is incredibly important. I have been able to nip bad habit’s in the bud in terms of terminology such as saying the ‘general public’, which I would have done if I didn’t know these rules of objective settings!

I hope this helps any readers!


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Ryanair – Own worst enemy or clever PR?


After reading a news article published on the Daily Mail regarding the latest PR stunt carried out by the Irish airline company, I can’t help but be confused as to whether Ryanair are extremely clever and using its risky name to its advantage, or if the company really does have a death wish!

The latest stunt sees the cabin crew taking a less formal work uniform approach for their 2014 Ryanair Cabin Crew Charity Calendar. Now, it is great to see a company of Ryanair’s nature raising money for the Teenage Cancer Trust by doing something like this, but I feel that the actual stunt is being used to promote Ryanair more than the charity. I’m sure the charity doesn’t mind though, considering the generous donation it is receiving from the stunt!

The stunts are part of a drive to improve the public image of the airline, as in recent years it has made a considerably bad name for itself due to the negative press it has received from angry customers who are less than impressed with the low prices and the hidden fee’s!

I find it hard to believe that this is the right way for Ryanair to repair its image, in my eyes, having the cabin crew strip down to bikini’s, cheapens the overall image of the company.

Michael O’Leary is an eccentric individual, and I suppose from a PR point of view it has worked in Ryanair’s favour as everyone is talking about them!

Well done Ryanair, you can’t do anything toned down!

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Does everything need to merge?


I am a huge social media fan, I use it, I read about it and I even wrote my dissertation on it. My question is, does every single platform have to merge and cross over each other?

Most TV programmes on at the moment use less noticeable attempts at using social media to spark up an online conversation, mainly on Twitter, using hash tags such as #TOWIE (The Only Way Is Essex) and #MIC (Made In Chelsea) in the hope that the viewers will tweet along with the programme and express their views.

I came across a programme aired on ITV2 not so long ago called ‘Crazy Beaches’, after some research I came across the press centre for ITV and they released some information regarding the 1st episode of the programme and what was involved for viewers.

Viewers are told to get only and get ready to play along. The show boasts that viewers get to predict what happens next as they follow holiday-makers and locals alike as they cause mayhem in Malia. The show is much like those of ‘Sun, Sex & Suspicious Parents’ and ‘Magaluf Weekender’ but with a twist. Each week viewers saw young Brits carry out their holiday antics and have the ‘joys’ of guessing what they get up to by choosing from three possible outcomes and using the hash tag #CrazyBeaches, if you pick the right answer, you then have to retweet it and at the end of each part the results will be delivered live and ITV will read out some of the funniest comments.
Now to me, that is an extremely long winded approach to a programme, I know I would have been put off watching the programme if I had to work so hard to watch it! I think ITV have been adventurous with their approach to merging platforms but I fear that they have overstepped the entertainment mark with this one.
I watched a bit of the first episode but it failed to impress me I’m afraid! There was too much to do and if you missed a bit of the show to make a cup of tea or go to the toilet you lost track pretty easily!
All in all I think the overall idea was good but the execution failed to achieve a seamless TV programme for me!
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Asking for trouble!


Recently, British Gas decided that it would be a worthwhile task to hold a Q&A on their Twitter account with the hash tag #AskBG. Due to the recent news that they are raising their gas prices again, right before the cold winter months, leaving many people with the fear of being unable to afford bills, let alone hindering the elderly who struggle with the cold months as it is!

I don’t think that British Gas thought that they would receive as many replies as they did, a staggering 16,000 people took to Twitter to vent their anger using #AskBG.

This is one of the biggest PR fails I have seen in my time, with what should have been a great way for a major company to personally speak to their consumers, it suddenly turned sour and detracted from the main point of the exercise. It is these coming days/weeks that British Gas should be doing everything in its power to stop the buzz of ‘fail’ being associated with their company.

What crisis management would you suggest for British Gas?

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What does Anchorman and Ben & Jerry’s have in common?


Ben & Jerry’s have just released a new flavour of ice cream as a limited batch which is currently available in America. It’s called ‘Scotchy Scotch Scotch’ – for those Anchorman lovers (that includes me) will be aware that this is also one of the famous phrases from the brilliant Will Ferrell film! As reported on The Mirror this afternoon, Ben & Jerry’s unveiled the new flavour at New York City’s Pier 36 which featured a performance from Anchor Man’s Nutty The Waterskiing Squirrel and a host of Ron Burgundy lookalikes.

This is a clear example of a PR triumph, and I think it is a great opportunity for Ben & Jerry’s who shouldn’t really have benefited from the release of the new Anchorman 2 movie that is being released in December!

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What is the deal with social media?


Do we need social media in PR? In short, yes, we really do!

During my final year at university, I chose to write my dissertation on social media and how to be influential to your followers. By choosing this topic, it allowed me to research many different reasons why somebody can be classed as influential on social media, but specifically, Twitter. 

As an up and coming PR professional, I can see where the need for social media comes from. It allows people in this profession to target audiences and markets that were not achievable before. A standard traditional PR campaign that doesn’t involve social media can only reach as many people that you target, whereas by introducing social media, it allows for a much bigger campaign for a much smaller cost.

Before social media, PR executives would have a much bigger work load in order to be able to target the volume of people social media allows. I found through my dissertation research that the pro’s completely outweigh the cons in social media and there are so many more opportunities with social media than without.

This is not to say social media doesn’t hinder our work though, with one little tweet or blog that criticises a brand, it can cause worldwide negative press, which is devastating to a brand. While we are sleeping, someone in Australia can tweet something about a client that we are dealing with, and by the time we have woke up and had time to read in to the situation, we are left with seconds to try and rectify the problem.

All in all, I like to think that social media has revolutionised public relations, and will continue to do so.

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