Sunday, 11 April 2010

A year later...

I have found second year significantly easier than my first year as we were just building on theories, ideas and concepts that we had originally learnt. Also with the help of work experience it was easier to understand the theories as I had used them in practise when working in PR. I have successfully worked as a team in group work and have achieved some good results for presentations which is very positive.

This year we have been put into groups instead of choosing who we work with and this has been a great experience as not only have I had the opportunity to work with people that I wouldn’t normally, but have also had the chance to work as different parts of a team. Previously, I have often been team leader when we’ve chosen who we were with and I tend to organise what everyone’s doing. However, I worked with people I didn’t really know as well and there were other team leaders within the group. It was a good opportunity to see how other people lead a group and it was and it meant that when I am team leader again, I can use some of the techniques they displayed for myself. For example, in one group they divided the tasks and then went their separate ways, did their work and emailed it to the team leader who put it together. However, when I do group work we all tend to sit together while doing the work and help one another then put it all together with everyone there. However, this doesn’t always work as sometimes not everyone can attend the working session and so if we divided the work up then did it separately, we may be able to share the work load more fairly and then join together to complete the work.

This year I also went for a work placement at Ptarmigan Bell-Pottinger. This was a fantastic experience and even though we were unsuccessful, our group really enjoyed working on the brief that they gave us. What was really valuable was have been given a real brief and little advice on how to go about working on it, so we did everything ourselves and our ideas were very well received by Nathan Lane, who said they were very original. It was a great experience actually pitching to Ptarmigan as it was a taste of the many opportunities Ptarmigan offered the successful student team and the enthusiasm that our group showed was clear. We worked really well as a group and we supported one another well. While we were pitching we were able to bounce off one another’s ideas and pitched with confidence and ease. It was a great opportunity to put all the information that we learnt in Public Relations Planning and Management and Persuasive Communications into practise and we used the theories that had been given to shape our pitch. Although we were unsuccessful, we were not resentful as we knew that we had done our best and couldn’t have put more in and were just grateful for the fantastic experience that Bell Pottinger offered us.

My career goals have always been that I would like to work in the beauty sector of Public Relations as that is where my passion lies. To achieve this I am determined to get a year’s work placement in one of the big beauty companies. I had an interview at Elizabeth Arden although unfortunately this was not able to be followed through as with the financial situation as it is at the moment they had to make cuts in the budget. However, I will keep looking (and hopefully find!).

Overall, although this year has gone very quickly and the work loads have been a lot more than what we were used to in our first year as well as the pressure to find a placement, I feel this year has been a good year! Lets hope it stays that way!!

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Using legal highs? Are you an oxymoron?!

Its the buzz on every one's lips at the moment. Legal highs. I find myself talking about this subject nearly everyday and it shocks me that something so irrelevant to my own life, has taken over. I know very little about drugs and moreover designer drugs and many think that I am ignorant, however, it has simply never been a scene that I have wished to act in.

Legal highs are derived from Ecstasy, by its content rather than its effects and are both dangerous and unpredictable. However, these drugs are very easy to get your hands on. I googled "legal highs" so as to learn more about legal drugs such as mephedrone and all the web pages that came up were selling such drugs not information. I then decided to investigate the prices of such drugs and I am not surprised that many have swapped their drinks for drugs - these are so cheap!

What I find most worrying about these designer drugs is that no one really knows the true effects. Obviously, the user finds the short term effects incredible, however, it is impossible to find out the long term effects of this drug. Personally, what I think the worst aspect of this new drug scene is the effect it has on your life as a whole. As many of the drugs are stimulants, it means that the individual can stay up all night . However, this leads to the need to sleep all day or perhaps to force yourself to stay awake and then use the drug again the next evening so as to keep them up for a second night running. This leads to a contineous circle.

Although as students we all have the odd day that we don't get out of bed until 3pm, the use of stimulants causes this reguarly, so university lectures are missed and the motivation and ability to work slowly disappears. Although the governement is currently looking at ways of making this drug illegal, there will always be a new designer drug to take its place.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

B-Eating Disorders

Many of us set New Year’s Resolutions to lose weight and many of us have given up by the 2nd of January when all the Christmas treats have to be finished off. However, there are many whose lives revolve around a constant diet, a continuous awareness of what they eat that their lives become consumed by food.

There are 1.6 million people in the United Kingdom diagnosed with an eating disorder, but there is thought to be many more experiencing difficulties that are yet to be diagnosed. BEAT represents the UK’s Eating Disorders Association and are celebrating 21 years of working with those affected by eating disorders. Beat’s vision is simple: Eating Disorders will be beaten.
An eating disorder is a serious mental illness that controls the whole of a person. Many just believe it is about appearance, when in fact there are many reasons for eating disorders to arise. Problems with food can be linked to many different feelings such as loneliness, anxiety and sadness but also when a person feels that they lack control over their lives. Food can often be used, sometimes without awareness as a way to solve painful issues or times of distress. However, there is rarely one single cause for eating disorders. Problems with relationships, bereavement, a certain event or lack of confidence are all situations where eating disorders may become a matter for concern and may not just be because a person feels that they are overweight.

People with eating disorders do not have a normal relationship with food. The two most serious eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa; however, binge eating and compulsive eating are also recognised as disorders.

Anorexia can be characterised by extreme low body weight and a distorted body image. Anorexics are so concerned with gaining weight that they strictly control what they eat and drink and may exercise excessively in order to burn the calories. Ultimately, the mental illness takes control and the chemicals in the brain can distort thinking patterns making it impossible to make rational decisions about food.

There are many effects that anorexia can have on your body such as dizziness, poor circulation, loss of menstrual cycle and discolouring of the skin. However, what can be more worrying to friends and family are the psychological and the behavioural side effects of anorexia such as denial, mood swings, lying and obsessive behaviour.

During an interview with a mother who has a daughter who suffered from anorexia nervosa since she was 10 years old and now aged 21 is still having issues with food. “We still do not know where her fear of eating arose from and we feel there must have been a trigger that set her off in primary school. At one point our beautiful daughter was down to five and a half stone which for her height of 5 foot 11 inches is staggeringly low. She has been in and out of hospital and even though I am not to blame, I cannot help but blame myself. It was the constant lies and deceits that hurt us the most because my daughter and I used to be very close. We love her very much and only want the best for her.”

Bulimia Nervosa is different as there is a mix of symptoms and not everyone displays the same ones and you do not need all the symptoms to be diagnosed with an eating disorder. Bulimics eat as they feel they have an emotional need that cannot be satisfied by food alone. Often sufferers binge on high calorie food or food in large quantities; however after eating there is a need to purge their food immediately by either using laxatives, vomiting or heavy exercise. Bulimia is harder for others to notice, and unlike anorexia, the weight loss is not as dramatic, although mentally it is just as tough.

Bulimia, has similar effects on the body as anorexia. In addition, the throat can become sore, teeth can decay and bad breath can occur due to excessive purging, the quality of the skin can become sallow and there is the possibility of hair loss. Bulimics may spend large amounts of money on food or food may be secretly hoarded. As with anorexia, sufferers will lie and try and cover up as much as possible as they are ashamed of their behaviour.

Eating disorders can occur at any age, although the people most likely to be affected tend to be young women, particularly between the ages of 15-25. This means that while you are at university you may have to see a friend suffer with an eating disorder. If you know anyone that shows the signs of an eating disorder you need to approach the subject with care, as sometimes people with eating disorders do not feel comfortable enough to speak to someone that close to them. When someone is suffering from an eating disorder, they find it hard to admit to themselves that they have a problem, and so admitting to someone else makes the situation real and so it is best to talk to them privately and mention that you have noticed their habits and let them know that if they want to talk that you will be there for them. Suggest other forms of contact for your friend if she feels uncomfortable talking to you face to face at first such as a letter or email and then encourage her to talk to you in person. Many people find it easier to express their feelings through writing and they are given the opportunity to write down everything that they want to say instead of forgetting or missing out information that can happen when talking face to face.

Remember, that seeing a friend go through such distress can be hard for you too, so do not feel that you have to keep everything to yourself. Talk to your parents or to a counselor who can suggest the best way to go about the situation. There will always be help for those with eating disorder and those who are affected by friends or family.

The BEAT eating disorders website can offer help ( and there are also a number of help lines which help offer support. Whether it is you or a friend that suffers from an eating disorder, remember help is at hand and with BEAT’s help and continuous support, eating disorders can be beaten.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Barnado - PR Guru?

Barnado - Saviour and PR guru
Earlier, while cooking and watching The One Show they discussed the charity “Barnados”. Barnados are a charity that helps look after troubled children who may have been raised in situations ranging from drug abuse to homelessness. They believe that every child has a right to be happy and healthy.Barnados was set up in 1867 by Thomas Barnado who moved to London in 1866. It shocked him to see young children homeless and begging on the streets and so he set up “The Ragged School” which looked after those children who were facing poverty and gave them a basic education.

One evening, a pupil at the school took Barnado to some of the poorest areas of London and showed him young boys and girls curled up in gutters or roof tops to try and stay safe and warm. Barnado then dedicated his life to helping destitute children and set up many homes for children to stay in. His motto was “No destitute child ever refused admission”.The Victorians of this time considered poverty as laziness and poor children were treated with disgust. Barnado however, needed support from the public to keep his houses running.

Barnado was a man ahead of his time. He introduced ideas for fundraising and what turned out to be great PR. Barnado used photography which was a speciality in Victorian times and took photos of every child that ended one of his homes in the state they were found in and then again several months later when they had recovered from their experiences of living on the streets. These photos were then made in post cards and sold to the public to help raise awareness of his cause and money. Captions such as “once a little vagrant now a handy workman” were seen on the postcards in an attempt to change people’s mind about poor children.

This was both successful and helped him raise enough money to open a girl’s house to help young girls living on the streets. It seems that Barnado was an early innovator in both child welfare and PR and his efforts still continue today 104 years after his death.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Our Personal PR Practitioner!

I've spent the last year studying Public Relations, but how much do others know about it? Surely our everyday life activities such as meeting people, spinning the truth and enhancing our reputation are merely examples of our own personal PR?

In the competitive world that we live in we are constantly pushed to show ourselves off. Every person has their own drive to successfully prove that they are better than others. This is clearly shown throughout development. Children push themselves to be best at skipping, sports or in class by learning their timetable prematurely. Teenagers are constantly trying to be as fashionable as Kate Moss, be the first to French kiss and get into the best universities. As adults we are motivated more by money and job security. Our CV’s are just one example of us showcasing our talents. However, the way in which we push ourselves depends deeply on our personality and motivation. I believe this can also be linked to parts of a business.
Some of us are more subtle than others. The people that shout out their talents from the street, making sure that everyone knows that they are the best - these are the advertisers of the human personality. They have no subtly with their approach to selling themselves. They want to put everything in black and white, paste it on a big screen and let everyone know that they are the best.

This can be seen as a positive trait, as they are always in the limelight, they are more likely to be spotted and their works are more likely to be displayed in places where it can be seen. These people would be recognised for who they are and what they have done. However, this can also be a disadvantage. For example, if their work was to fall through, everyone would see them fail. They would not be able to lose with dignity, and losing to these people would be a major concern. An example from the recent media is Kerry Katona, she is constantly pushing herself to be in all the papers and gossip magazines. She also makes a television show about herself and how she is coping with being bipolar. She sees this as a positive thing because she is showing the world that she is on the right track and is happy, however, with the good mood days also comes the bad days and these are what the media and people pick up on. Although no news is bad news, the media find it very easy to pick up flaws and will focus on them and sadly this is what the public remember her for doing.

Then there are the Public Relations officers amongst us who are keen to push ourselves forward and become well known, but in a more subtle way. People like this would probably become acquainted with those in higher positions, keep on good terms with these people and push themselves so that one day an opportunity would arise for them through their good relationships. Their contact list would be huge and there would never be an opportunity missed, any chance for another contact in another business would be taken seriously. These people would demonstrate their best work only, but discretely, only showing it to their target audience for examples possible future employers. They would spin the truth as to make themselves look better, if a bad piece of work was to be shown they were cover it up by producing a fabulous example of how they can do much better.
This behaviour has its advantages as only good work is usually portrayed and their ever growing contacts list would mean that many people would have heard of them. They would constantly be in contact with their contact list, ready for any possible interview for a job. However, a disadvantage of this is that they could be seen as too modest and not be pushing themselves hard enough to get to where they want to be. In the working world, especially during the credit crunch, people have to push themselves to get noticed as jobs do not arise as often as in previous years.

However, in my opinion a mix of these personalities would be necessary to be successful in life. Although, even if people are not aware of what Public Relations is, they are probably working all types of PR for themselves, to ensure they have friends close and enemies even closer. We use it to cover our everyday mistakes that we make and when promoting ourselves. In fact, we are all our own PR practitioners.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Public Relations(hips)

From my previous blog "What is PR?" I discussed the idea that Public Relations deals with reputation and maintaining relationships. From my experience of PR there was hardly a minute let alone a second that the phone did not ring or someone popped in. As Public Relations officers are constantly building relationships, what if one was to break. Its always been said that a reputation takes a life time to build and one act of bring it down. How can we keep everyone happy?


A speck of wisdom that I learnt while on my work placement is that journalists get thousands upon thousands of press releases sent to them everyday. If they were to actually reply or use every one of these press releases, well, the certainly would have square eyes. They would never get away! Especially as many of them will be round robin emails sent to everyone, not especially your target audience.

I learnt that addressing an email to person's name who shall receive it will keep their interest. Even if you've slightly messed up and sent some coverage for a new band to a paper who deal with finances, seeing their own name will make them see you've made an effort. This also means that they are more likely to get back in touch with you and maybe even suggest further contacts.

As a PR officer, you've got to remember that everything you do reflects not only yourself but also the company you are working for, the clients that you have and the public. This means always being well turned out and friendly, even if you're boyfriends just dumped you and your cat is missing.


Always make sure that when you are sending an email, letter, fax - ANYTHING that you double check it for spelling mistakes. A journalist would be very unimpressed at bad grammar or spelling mistakes and think "Idiotic PR officers, no wonder they're not a journalist!"

A mistake that I saw when working on placement which was easily amended, but was very embarrassing for the company at the time was an email to the agents of a singer they were covering saying that a newspaper had loved her. This was definitely not the case! They hadn't read the article properly and actually they were really slating her for her work! The agents thought that the company were being sarcastic and rude! Not good!

I daresay that throughout my career as a PR officer I will make many relationships and perhaps break some as well. The important fact is that each time you make a mistake you clear it up and try and get back on track! Public Relationships aren't the same as human relationships, you cant do it alone and stay single forever, you rely on them.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Can we come back please?

The comeback; what most celebrities want and what most PR officers dread. Let’s face it, if you fell out of the spotlight in the first place, then the public probably don’t want to see you back, no matter how “out there” you’re willing to be. However, it is fair to say that the celebrity world is very forgiving and Mike Paul, a New York PR expert says “Hollywood is a kind of fantasy land as far as reputations go.” Here follows some of the best celebrity come backs…

Michael Jackson – this must be one of the best come backs there has ever been. Although he was never out of the celebrity circle he did however severally damage his image and now he has people begging for his UK tour tickets. Everything from the facial surgery to his accusations of child sexual abuse he is still one of the most sought after celebrities.

Britney Spears – Everything about Britney’s life has been a fantastic PR job. From her virginity that got her up in the charts as well as boys walls to the new sassy “I don’t need a man image”, to getting married in Vegas all the way through to the troublesome time she had over the custody of her children. It is fair to say that Britney has made a fantastic come back this year with her new album reaching number one and tour that shows she’s “Not a girl” anymore and she’s here to drive us “Crazy”!

Victoria Beckham – The Spice Girls were the ultimate girl band but once they split Posh Spice was left wanting more. However, after a flop of an attempt at a solo album we thought she was gone forever. Oh how wrong we were. She is now a household name, well she is with a little help from her husband David Beckham and his right foot. Now "Posh" of Posh and Becks she has now matured her look, had three beautiful children and broken America in style. She is now a celebrity in her own right; with a clothing range, TV appearances in programmes such as Ugly Betty and part of the Spice Girls reunion tour in 2008.

Take That – Could it be magic that the best boy band of the 90’s was reunited in 2006. After the departure of Robbie Williams in 1995 the band went their separate ways, with Robbie becoming a national heart throb. Since Take That’s reunion without Robbie they have had two very successful albums and have relighted fires in hearts all over the world.