Experience: Live Client Pitch

Experience is important for any university student to gain, but it would appear that for PR students it isn’t just an added bonus to have. It’s vital and a ‘must-have’ if you want to get a graduate job offer.

Yesterday saw the end of period 1 for the second year of my university course, public relations and communications. The day consisted of live client pitches that would be assessed and contribute 75% of the total grade for Digital PR unit. The course group was split into two halfs made up of 4 groups in each. One set of 4 groups were pitching for Welchs grape juice brief, whilst the others were pitching for CooperVision brief.

I was in a group with 3 others pitching for CooperVision.

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Here is a photo of my group for the pitch. Paige Hiley, Trine Larsen, myself, and Chloe Attwood (left to right). We worked really well as a group and all put in a lot of effort for the work. The day was very important and a lot of effort was put into rehearsals of the presentation. Fiona came as a representative of CooperVision along with Naomi from FiveByFive PR Agency. This added pressure and made the day more competitive as they would decide which groups would win ‘Best Pitch for CooperVision’, ‘Best Pitch for Welchs’, and ‘Best Overall Student’.

The key focus of the pitch was our groups tactics for the campaign and how we would measure the success. However, we couldn’t just said there and robot-talk through our ideas. We had to be energetic, creative, and find a way to stand out. We included little cheesy jokes and one-liners to get people laughing and also produced a short comical video to be played at the end of our pitch. The video was of myself and the other members of my group having difficulties with our glasses and subsequently wishing we had CooperVision contact lenses. It got the audience laughing and enabled us to stand out.

It was good to be able to sit through the other groups pitches as well to see their approaches to the briefs. Some groups had made a lot of effort, whilst others lacked a creative spark. After all groups had pitched it was time for feedback and for the winners to be revealed.

I was very pleased to find out that my group had won ‘Best Pitch for CooperVision’ and that we would be accepting a certificate for it from Naomi herself. Having a CooperVision representative choose my groups pitch as the winner was amazing and proved that all of our hard work had paid off. The group that I was backing to win ‘Best Pitch for Welchs’ did win it and was pleased as they had put in a lot if creative effort.

It was a great day and provided valuable experience for the future. A huge thank you is owed to the course leader and unit teacher, Sally Holland for planning the day and giving us students the opportunity to gain this real-life experience.

‘Degrading’ Pot Noodle Post

Whilst reading through the latest issue of PRWeek (6th September) it got me thinking about how much people love to complain. This thought was provoked by the article ‘Pot Noodle Facebook post banned by ASA’ written by Amy Sandiford-Watts. In short, Pot Noodle posted a photo to its Facebook page of a women half-naked provocatively posing alongside the ‘Bombay Bad Boy’ flavour Pot Noodle with the caption, ‘Phwarr is it me or is it getting hot in here? HOT OFF. Which one gets you hotter?’

Pot Noodle Banned Image

After receiving complaints about the ‘degrading’ comparison between women and food products the ASA stated it was a ‘blunt comparrison’ and was ‘crass and degrading’, resulting in the post being banned. (However, just because the photo was banned from the Facebook page doesn’t mean it’s not still floating around on the internet for the likes of me to find.) My argument here isn’t that it wasn’t ‘degrading’ to women, on some level it is, but on a larger level it’s merely a cheeky innuendo which follows Pot Noodles standard tongue-in-cheek humorous approach.

Of course some people will be offended by it, but as degrading women in the media goes it’s really not that bigger deal (especially when compared to how women are objectified in the fashion and sport industries). And of course, I’m not saying that showing women off in the media is OK as long as it’s in small doses but that’s what sells, right? Sexiness, humour and the ability to get people talking. Unilever (owners of Pot Noodle) argued that it was a ‘lighthearted innuendo’ and that they ‘believed the word [hottie] would not cause widespread offence’. Objectifying women in the media, or men for that matter (I think we can all remember the Diet Cola advert), is wrong and causes strings and strings of backlash for both sexes, especially the younger generations but in my opinion this seems to be just a case of ‘moany-mouths’ finding any cheeky or controversial piece to have a whine about.

You can find the MediaWeek powered article in the latest edition of PRWeek. (Which, is sadly the last weekly printed edition as it’s gone digitial. HURRAY!)

The Power of the ‘Ordinary’ Person

Ordinary is a funny word to use, I find. As is ‘normal’, as I have a big interest in the philosophical questions of what is ‘normal’ and who decides what is ‘ordinary’? However, by ‘ordinary’ I mean the non-professional, the average citizen, or the industry nobody. I mean the person who happens to be walking by as something phenomenal happens and they pull out their camera phone, send it off to a news corporation that then sparks off a viral news story.

I first learnt the basics of Citizen Journalism at A-Level when studying Media Studies. My tutor, Stephen Jones (who I will always give credit to for getting me to university) presented an interesting class where the students took to social media sites to find out what the ‘average’ person was talking about. At that point we all saw the twitter trends about Bin Laden and we all found out about his death via Twitter then and there in that class due to the power of the ‘average’ person. It was ideal and it was a real-life case study that we were learning from and it couldn’t have been any more current. After that I never really focused on Citizen Journalism again as the curriculum moved on and it hasn’t been presented to me again in any other studies, however, I am very interested in the impact it has upon the media, journalism and PR industry.

Twitter is a very popular platform for people to voice their opinions on and the hash-tag trends allow people to be up-to-date with the most popular and currents stories. For example, Worldwide, ‘Syria’ is trending (Monday, 26th August 2013). I had heard briefly about the news of a chemical attack against Syria on the radio but found out more of the ‘facts’ via the twitter trend. I say ‘facts’ in inverted comas as there is always the possibility of the news being exaggerated or misinterpreted by the ‘ordinary’ person. And of course the tweets that form the hash-tag trend are mostly a matter of opinion and can’t be expected to be the truth. So when looking at how much of an impact citizen journalism has on the media industry we first have to answer the question: Do people trust citizen journalism or is it being by-passed as opinion? Also, how much more trustworthy are the ‘proper’ news channels compared to the ‘ordinary’ person when it comes to bias or influential news reporting?

I created a short survey using surveymonkey.com to find out what peoples thoughts were. Below are the results.

 

Thank you to everyone who took part in the survey and the results have confirmed what I had thought: The majority will side-step Citizen Journalism due to it being fed by opinion. It was interesting to see that a few people were ‘not sure’ whether they had contributed to Citizen Journalism as this could show a lack of understanding in the area.

I would love to hear your views or answers to the survey so please do feel free to leave a comment.

‘Annoying’ Gets Noticed

Everyone knows that to get noticed you have to stand out but just emailing a company over and over again won’t cut it anymore. It’s all about personality.

I remember when I had to do a 2 week work experience placement during year 10 at secondary school and it was pretty much seen as a 2 week holiday from school. At that age I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career, I’m pretty sure I had my heart set on being an estate agent or something. It certainly wasn’t seen as a chance to gain much real-life experience, unlike university placements. Of course many students chose retail placements like Boots and New Look in the hope that they would get part-time jobs afterwards, but not me. I chose to work for 2 weeks at CrazyUdder milkshake shop, which later lost all its income and closed down. I learnt nothing from this placement as I spent the whole time either mopping the floor or sat waiting for the floor to get dirty.

However, as part of my course I have to complete 2x 2 week placements during next summer and I know they’re going to be fast-paced and a lot of hard work. There will be hundreds of students from many universities fighting for placements in the best agencies, especially within London, and everyone will be trying to stand out in some way or another.

You know how there’s always that one kid in your class who never shuts up… Not in a naughty way but in a clever and intimidating way. They’re always the first to shout out the answer and they always get it right… Well that’s who you need to be. Whilst everyone else is sitting back not wanting to answer or not wanting to volunteer to give an example, you need to be the one who does because then you’re the one who’s going to be remembered. Being the know-it-all may be annoying to the rest of your course mates, but then again the rest of your course mates all want the same job as you and you’re the one who’s going to get noticed. That’s the main lesson I’ve learnt from my first year of university, not to make friends with everyone and not to go to every party but to know what you’re talking about and talk about it with the right people. 

Smart Thinking For Smarter Cities Campaign

IBM has teamed up with Ogilvy agency to create 3D billboards for their Smarter Cities campaign. The billboards are as every bit handy as they are innovative and genius for gaining awareness. These 3D adverts act as rain shelters, benches, and ramps allowing the public to interact with the adverts in a new and dynamic way.

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The main aim of the interactive billboards were to turn communications into useful pieces of infrastructure to be used in everyday life. Susan Westre, the Executive Creative Director at IBM says, “We were looking for an idea that reached regular citizens as well as city leaders.” Despite the creative and eye-catching design there has been a lot of questioning over the health and safety of them; the ramp design in particular as many feel a hand-rail would be needed. After the long process of approval for this advertisements Westre said, “By just getting this idea out there to the world, I think it will inspire others to think about how they can innovate, make, or do something that makes life a bit better in cities.”

I think this is a genius idea for creating awareness and giving the public the ability to interact with the adverts, good job IMB. Similarly as creative as 3M Security Glass bus stop advert. bus stop ad

3M Security Glass came up with the idea to put real money, 3 million dollars, inside two pieces of their indestructible security glass with the promise of ‘if you can break the glass, you can keep the money.’ Many people attempted to break the glass, some even returning with bats, axes and tree branches, but none being successful.

This advert also allows people to see the quality of the product and the company promise that comes with it.

These two examples just show how communications can stand out and be made dynamic and interactive. These should definitely be inspirational ideas for advertising, public relations and communications agencies.

Is social media the only way to reach a younger audience?

Recently consumer PR has been catching my eye and the efforts in which brands are making in order to try and attract different audiences. Of course all companies and PR agencies want to think of a new and dynamic way to approach this but always seem to settle for social media. Every morning I read through prweek.com and have been drawn to the consumer section where article after article can be seen detailing how companies are reaching out to agencies with digital expertise. Yes, social media has been on the rise and is the forefront of modern communications but is social media the only way to reach a younger audience?

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After reading an article this morning titled ‘Umpf to help Park Inn by Radisson target younger travellers via social’ it got me thinking that many companies solely rely on social media to attract younger audiences. The article was published last wednesday (12th June) and explains how a Europe-wide pitch run by brand owner the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group has landed Umpf with the brief of creating ‘a social strategy encompassing community management and social stunts as well as wider campaigns across multiple social media channels.’ The current social activity for Park Inn is handled in the UK by FTI Consulting but has now been branched out to Umpf in Brussels. Johnson, the founder of Umpf, said: ‘The brand has great potential in the social space and we have created some exciting campaigns across a range of social channels which will bring the brand’s personality to life.’

This is just one of many articles focusing on new social media campaigns all with promises of exciting ways to reach younger audiences. The argument that I’m putting forward is whether other dynamic drives are available for these agencies. For example, a simple academic backing wouldn’t do any harm. Say for example, Umpf, on behalf of Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, did some PR stunts focussing on university graduates… Whether this was giving discounts to graduates who need somewhere to stay whilst looking for a job after finishing their course or even offering cheaper rooms to students who are still studying but need accommodation during the summer months. This approach would certainly catch my attention and I’m sure many other students as well. A tweet from Park Inn simply saying ‘come and stay here’ will only get lost in the sea of other promotional content found on Twitter, however dynamic stunts and support for the younger generation will no doubt attract attention. Just a thought.

Article and quotes found at :http://www.prweek.com/uk/news/1185568/umpf-help-park-inn-radisson-target-younger-travellers-via-social/

Creativity Cannot Be Forced

I’ve been sat here for a considerable length of time trying to think of something creative and intelligent to write a post about but have come to the conclusion that creativity cannot be forced. There’s no point in scrolling through BBC News, PRWeek and Twitter trends trying to find something to write about when I know that soon enough something will catch my eye and a blog post topic will naturally come to me.

Although, ‘creativity’ is a topic that catches my eye. I am interested in understanding how limitations affect creativity and the expression of ones self. There are many factors that could influence someones approach to creativity such as educational limitations, social acceptance, and confidence of the self.

I first became interested in ‘creativity’ as a topic of discussion when I was studying Media at A-Level. My tutor Stephen Jones set up the objective of the lesson to identify how creativity can be capped and why someone would want to cap it. We focused on the educational limitations that students face when wanting to pursue a creative idea for an assignment and why the education system enforces strict guidelines to what a student can and cannot produce. I’ve seen this happen far too many times within modules at both college and university and has become a growing issue within educational institutions. Let me try and put my point across with an example:

In all honesty the college I went to was a ‘piece of cake’ so to say, where the work was spoon fed to you so it’s not much of a surprise that university hit me hard. I went from being told exactly what to write for an assignment to being given total (or should I say 90%) freedom. I say 90% because of course lessons need structure and courses need a guidance for what the students need to produce to make sure the work is A-Level or Degree standard, but there’s a key difference between flexible guidance and creative limitations. In my opinion it seems that educational institutions are more interested in ‘face’, by which I mean they care more about producing high end-of-year results than giving students the opportunities to be creative. They’re not fussed if the students feel like they’ve learnt anything from their time at the institution as the next year will bring a new cohort for them to try and gain high grades from. This issue is a HUGE problem in my eyes as this is generating students with no real aim or achievable aspirations to be creative and make a difference.

“Fringes of education… to being seen as a core aspect of educating” (Craft, 2005) This quote is identifying the need for creativity within education and I believe a higher focus should be given to teaching students how to expand and appreciate their own creativity.

Of course, educational ‘chains’ are not the only issues facing creativity and another factor is self limitations. Whether people feel confident in expressing themselves or even just have the aspirations to achieve something will affect how creatively open they are. Below is a video of artist Phil Hanson giving a speech about facing creativity and turning limitations into a driving force. I think his presentation gives a fresh take on being creative and sums up how creativity cannot be forced. Give it a watch!

Bibliography:

http://petapixel.com/2012/08/02/embracing-limitations-to-drive-your-creativity/

Shaheen, R. 2010. Creativity and Education . [e-book] Scientific Research Publishing. http://core.kmi.open.ac.uk/display/5845042 [Accessed: 11th June 2013].