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Fashion + Celebrities = the perfect PR fit

* Guest post from Jack Walton, first year PR specialist student

PR is that one thing that can apply to anything. Every industry will need some form of public relations, be that the media industry, hospitality industry, sport, healthcare, leisure... and of course, fashion, the list is endless. 

Fashion and public relations go hand in hand. Celebrity culture is more closely linked than ever in this. When I completed my media relations module, I had to analyse a section of a newspaper; I choose the style section of the Daily Mail. It was interesting to me how closely linked fashion and celebrities were - and just how prominent PR was in this industry. Prior to never studying PR before I was just a consumer of fashion, I was looking from the outside in. Participating in this module made me realise how much actually went into the clothing I buy and how PR has a big role to play in how it’s advertised, marketed and consumed.


When superstar BeyoncĂ© was recently seen on Instagram sporting Gucci’s latest collection, her fans and the public went mad and obviously wanted to wear and get their hands on what she was wearing. BeyoncĂ© and Gucci undoubtedly had some form of arrangement for her to pose wearing their latest collection, because they have a strong team of PR working at Gucci who all know the power of social media, particularly within the fashion industry, and how influential Queen Bey is. 

One of the photos shared received in excess of 1.8 million likes. A short Google search later and I quickly found several articles which had re-posted the images and included how much some of the items were - another example of the press picking up on a PR opportunity. Many of us know that if someone in the limelight is seen wearing something many will then buy it, even if it is for a crazy price, so the potential impact is huge.

Interview with a current BCU PR graduate: Jodie Perkins

Jodie Perkins is technically still a third year on the BA (HONS) Media and Communication degree, PR pathway, here at Birmingham City University - but having handed in her dissertation and project early, she has started her PR career full time this very week.

Here, Jodie tells us more about her studies, why she chose to specialise in PR and how it's helped prepare her for her career and exciting new role as part of The Big Sleuth; Birmingham Children's Hospital Charity fundraising event taking place across the city this summer...

Tell us about your studies and why you chose the PR pathway

I’ve just finished my three-year degree at Birmingham City University, I handed in my Dissertation and Final Year Project a couple of weeks ago and I’m just waiting to hear back what my final degree classification will be before officially graduating later this summer. 

I started the course as a broad course student, which allows you freedom in choosing different modules on offer, meaning you can have a go at TV, have a go at radio, have a go at PR and then see what you like before specializing. I started the course wanting to pursue a career in journalism as I liked writing and my favourite subject at school was English. I quickly changed my mind when I did the Media Relations module in the first semester of first year, I straight away loved the creativity involved in a career in PR and how it still incorporated the key skills needed for journalism and my love of writing. Following this module, I did a placement in a PR company during the Christmas holidays of first year, I went to an agency called Connect PR, now 8848 Agency, for two weeks, and my love for PR was confirmed. 

I then chose to specialise in PR at the beginning of year 2.

What was your perception of PR in the beginning? What is it now / how has it changed?

In all honesty, I didn’t know much about PR at all at first. At the start of my degree, I was mainly interested in journalism and through journalism modules, PR was portrayed as the ‘dark side’ and as though PR was the reason for the decline in journalism, and so I guess this was my initial thoughts. 

Now, I believe that journalism and PR need each other, and journalists need PR more than ever. Through studying the industry for three years, I now understand a lot more about PR and the academic history and theory behind it, I could talk until I’m blue in the face about what PR is, and why it’s important. 

I guess my perception of PR now is that a company who boasts a good PR team has a better chance of been understood by its target audience, and has a better chance of achieving its desired reputation and public opinion. The PR industry is a fast-paced one, and is constantly having to adapt to digital and social advances, for example 10 years ago, blogger outreach wouldn’t have been heard of in PR, but now it’s integral. 

I think that as a PR professional, and as a PR student, you have to be willing to constantly learn and develop your skills as this industry is ever changing, which means that what my perception is now of the industry, could change within the next few years.

PR disasters: who are the real winners?

Guest post

A couple of weeks' ago, we saw an incident occur within the American airline group United take place, only made worse by the fact that many of the passengers proceeded to film the ordeal on their mobile phones, then sharing it with the world, and the press of course.

The video appeared to show a male passenger being literally grabbed and pulled out of his seat, then physically dragged down the aisle of the aircraft, along with screaming and shouting from himself and his fellow passengers. Watching the short video the next morning all over UK news was one of those open mouth moments, I really was speechless. The man was being treated like a criminal, he was actually a doctor and passenger of the flight from Chicago to Louisville. 

The real reason? 

Because the plane was overbooked and the airline needed to free seats. 

It really was a PR disaster, in more ways than one... or perhaps it was a triumph for others?


The days that followed were really interesting, particularly on social media. There were multiple photos or what are now known as memes, basically taking a joke at United’s expense, people were not happy and this made me wonder if a boycott of United Airlines would appear sometime in the future. If they keep having this kind of negative press than sadly it could be a possibility and tarnish their reputation even more so than it currently is.

But PR disasters like this aren’t actually bad for everyone; many parties can actually benefit from such a scenario. 

UNLEARN // REDEFINE - highlights from the BCU School of Media PR conference

Yesterday, second year PR students from our course organised, facilitated and participated in the UNLEARN // REDEFINE conference hosted here at Birmingham City University. The conference was an opportunity for students to showcase their research and understanding of PR in context and to network with practitioners, whilst there were three prominent guests on the bill. 

Jill Pearcy, Head of Corporate Communications for HS2, gave an insightful talk about the communication challenges ahead over the next twenty years. Following lunch, we then welcomed a panel consisting of Rachel Roberts, Founder of Spottydog Communications and CIPR Midlands committee chair, and Ollie Purdom, Co-founder of Pitch Consultants, discussing how to pursue a career in PR and bridging the gap between study and entering the profession.

It was a packed agenda and we had visitors from various different backgrounds join us to hear what the students and speakers had to say, with some lively debate and interesting points raised.

Here's the full report, as covered by the BCU press team (view the news article here)...

Jill Pearcy discussing HS2

Student presentations focused on a range of topics including the recent brand reputation crisis of Samsung mobile products catching fire and the engagement ideas behind  EDF Energy’s ‘I Am Pretty’ campaign, aimed at encouraging more young females to consider careers in science and engineering.
The keynote speech at the event was delivered by Jill Pearcy, Head of Corporate Communications at HS2, who shared insights into the importance of building trust with communities and consumers.

The rise of reality TV stars is the success of PR

Guest post

When you think of reality TV stars, you probably think of the typical figures such as Kim Kardashian, Vicky Pattison and many others who don’t mind showing off their daily lives to millions of viewers, both in the UK and across the world.

Many reality TV stars are now worth millions, basically for just showing us their world and having an opinion, why can’t we all earn that sort of money for just doing that? I wonder what their secret to this fame and success could be? 

You’ve guessed it, PR is the answer! 

Most stars will have a strong team of PR people behind them, to come up with ideas to gain public interest, organise promotional events and shine them in the very best light possible. If it wasn’t for the strong PR team many of these individuals really wouldn’t be that successful, it’s just not that possible. Celebrities are completely different, they may be a famous singer or actor who already has a glittering career, but think about reality stars, what have they actually done? Sometimes it seems like they appeared out of nowhere and you can’t actually remember how or why!

Take Kim Kardashian as a big example of this. Her entire family have an executive PR team behind them. They take care of their new product launches, public appearances, even handling personal issues, one example being where Kim Kardashian was robbed whilst on a trip for Paris fashion week.
Reality TV stars becoming more popular and well known benefits many people, particularly brands. Fashion, beauty, food, and fitness brands are the main ones that benefit from a cash boost, just by including one of the stars as a brand ambassador, public appearance at one of their events or just taking a photo with a product and then uploading to their millions of followers. It’s really that simple. 

Interview with a first year: meet Jack Walton

Every student enters into a media course such as ours with a different focus and sometimes, the chance to explore the breadth of media opens up new opportunities, possibilities and aptitudes. Here we're speaking to current first year Birmingham City University (BA) Media and Communication student Jack Walton about why he won't be worried if he leaves uni doing something different to what he started...

Who are you and where do you come from?

My names Jack Walton, I’m 19 years of age and from a town called Stourbridge. I was actually born in Birmingham but raised in the Black Country.

How is university life treating you?

Wow, where do I start?! I remember visiting this University for my interview just hoping so much I’d get the grades I needed in my final year of College to get onto the media and communication course. This Uni was also my first choice on my application, it worked out so well. I’ve met some amazing people and have become involved with things I previously wouldn’t have considered doing. The new modules have been really interesting. PR was something that I’ve previously had no experience in, but was interested to start my module at the start of this semester. Doing PR this semester has made me realise just how much I enjoy it, I can’t wait to study it further throughout year 2.

Tell us about your studies to date

I’ve actually been on quite a long journey to get here. I previously studied music at College for 3 years, it was such a fun experience. I was a singer and loved performing at different gigs and learning about the music industries. When applying for University I saw the music industries option on the media course and knew it was something I wanted to do. Since then I’ve discovered PR along with event & exhibitions and have fallen in love with both of them. I remember one of the lecturers saying at my interview that if I leave doing something I wasn’t interested in doing to begin with, then they’ve done something right.

Interview with a third year PR student: meet Heather Woodhouse

Ever wondered what it's like to study PR at BCU? Heather Woodhouse is a current third year PR specialist on the BA (Hons) Media and Communication degree course at Birmingham City University.

Here, she shares her journey so far - and how she would tell her first year self to take a big gulp...

Tell us about your studies to date and why you chose your pathway

I’m currently in my final year at University at the height of Dissertation and Final Year Project. I entered first year as a Media and Communications Broad Course student, which essentially means you’re free to pick a variety of modules from loads of strains of Media (PR, Journalism, Events, New Media, TV, Radio). After having a dabble at a few in the first year, I chose to specialise as a PR student at the beginning of my second year, meaning I could develop my PR skills further with specific PR modules.

I was always told by a tutor whilst studying my A-Levels that I’d love PR, when at the time I only had a faint idea about what PR was about. I found it strange how a tutor at the time matched my personality and skills to PR, and how right she was - I love it!

I chose to specialise in PR when arguably I’d still only scratched the surface of what it was all about. My pathway decision was finalised when I did my first PR placement in the summer of my first year and knew it was me. I’ve loved my studies, but nothing has matched the enjoyment and education I’ve gained from work experience placements.
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