Friday, 8 December 2017

Strictly savage

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and panto season seems to be in full swing – that is, if you believe the familiar stories and array of villains we are seeing paraded on TV in the nation’s favourite reality shows in the lead up to the day itself. Nothing says ‘Christmas prime time’ quite like celebrities eating kangaroo testicles in the jungle or a fantastic dancing being accused of diva behaviour and being lampooned in the media, does it?

At this time of year, we have become accustomed to the reality show hat trick of The X Factor, Strictly Come Dancing and I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. One after the other begins, a cast of grinning and gurning presenters and judges appear and an ensemble of famous-ish / soon-to-be-infamous faces flash across our screens to our gasps and boos, all in the name of entertainment.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Max Clifford - the anti role model for PR

While sympathising with his family, few in the world of public relations will shed a tear at the loss of Max Clifford. PR is a much misunderstood industry - ask BCU students who struggle to explain to puzzled parents what it is they actually study! 

For many years, part of the problem was that its most prominent practitioner was better described as a publicist. Clifford's mission was to generate newspaper headlines, to sell stories to the tabloids, and, a source of great pride to him, to keep uncomfortable stories out of the media. 


Friday, 17 November 2017

We’ve been here before John Lewis

The John Lewis ad has become a media event and almost has a blockbuster feel of anticipation each year – and today was no different.
Well versed in creating suspense and hype around the big reveal, John Lewis this year set about leaving a trail of breadcrumbs with a mysterious Twitter account appearing a while back and an image of monster eye circulating as the buzz began.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

L'Eau de Chris - one campaign we won't forget

This week, a spoof story that sounded too ludicrous to be true - and it turned out that it wasn't it was in fact a carefully planned and ingeniously considered PR stunt that couldn't have been more targeted at the right people, with the right message, all perfectly executed. Jack Walton, a second year PR student at the School of Media, Birmingham City University, tells us why he won't be forgetting this campaign for a long time...

Source: The Sun

Today I want to talk about a PR campaign that has only happened this week; it was short and sweet and took place within a 24-hour period. However, the effect it had and the impact it has left is an example of a truly well planned PR campaign. The well thought out strategy came from men’s clothing brand Topman, working with Chris Hughes from this year’s series of Love Island and supported by the charity CALM, which is dedicated to preventing male suicide and mental health issues.

The story started on Monday morning (9th October) and the truth full revealed the following day; however, the plans for the campaign will undoubtedly run much longer, as will sales and fundraising. You’d think only giving the story 24 hours to happen would be too short - a more prolonged build up needed perhaps? Not in this case. 

It all started with multiple media articles saying that Chris Hughes was releasing a range of bottled water infused with his very own tears; the name of the product being 'L’eau De Chris'. When you say the name out loud it sounds very similar to the word ludicrous… more on that later!

I, along with many others, was confused when I first saw this, as a Topman customer myself. The story said that the water would be available to buy from Topman for £2. An accompanying video was released on Twitter and Instagram by Chris, showing him in underwear and posing with the water bottle, along with captions to say how happy he was to release the product and that more information would be available through Facebook Live on the Topman page at 08:15am the following morning. 

This quickly became a huge talking point on social media and many slated Chris, or poked fun at him, with the consensus being that it must be some sort of joke. 

Little did we know what was in store... 


Friday, 6 October 2017

Farewell Bears of Brum

Post by Rachel Hickey, second year PR student at Birmingham City University School of Media

The Big Sleuth is a project that most people in Birmingham will probably be quite familiar with by now. But for those who don’t know, ‘The Big Sleuth’ is a project run by Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity and Wild in Art which kicked off on Monday 10th July when 100 bears were scattered across Birmingham to be tracked down by eager explorers.

The bears created a free, public-art trail as each was specially designed to tell a different story. All kinds of groups within the Birmingham community came together to express their individual stories by creating these magnificent works of art that have been on display around Birmingham.

In a bid to raise over £500,000 as the former project ‘The Big Hoot’ did, all of the wonderful bears that have been dotted around Birmingham will be auctioned off on Thursday 12th October. The money raised will be put towards vital funds for Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, where it will be life changing for patients and their families.

To allow everyone to admire the bears one last time and say a sad goodbye a Farewell Weekend event is happening this weekend, over Friday 6th, Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th of October in Eastside City Park. Having been one of the lucky few to attend the opening of the event, I can safely say you will be blown away by the sight of all these marvellous, inspiring and even some quite literally dazzling bears!

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Generation Z and PR

Guest post from Jack Walton, second year PR student at BCU School of Media

I’m part of generation Z. For those of you who don’t know what this is it’s the term given to those of us who were born from the mid 1990’s to 2000, however even the dates are conflicted depending on who you ask. I was born in 1997 and definitely fit into this bracket. Your probably used to hearing the term Millennials and how they will have more jobs in their lifetime than ever before… amongst other things.

Well, step aside because a new generation now seems to be the talk of the town - hello Generation Z!


Generation Z is the most technological advanced group that there ever was, we grew up with computers, video games and now, social media and smart phones. It means our expectations are set much higher than ever before - and this increasingly puts demands on every company, from clothing retailers to hotels. 

As a generation, we aim to turn our hobbies into actual careers; we won’t settle for second best like generations before us, it’s a huge change for many to accept and automatically affects PR too. Quality over quantity is something that is important to us; clothing brands - and particularly high street ones - have had to step up their game by offering us more “out there” items of clothing which really are head turners. 

With everything, public relations has had to take notice of this. We react differently to advertising; we enjoy hard hitting campaigns which tackle important social issues. We enjoy making a difference and make sure our voices are heard a lot more, through the media and our own channels of engagement.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Interview with a first year broad course student - meet Jemma Lowman

In our latest 'ask a student' instalment, #BCUWeArePR talks to Jemma, a student who has just completed her first year at BCU and who has been bitten by the media relations bug... 

Nice to meet you!

Hi, I'm Jemma Lowman, a BCU School of Media Media and Communications broad course student from South Wales. I start my second year in September.

How is university life treating you? 
I love being at BCU! Not only is it extremely accessible, from the societies and sports teams right down to the tutors, but BCU also allows me to grow as an individual. I love being independent and also the nightlife isn't too shabby!

Tell us about your studies to date 
When I first got given my options sheet, I didn't have a clue what to choose as there were just so many options within the media that I could explore. However, as I was interested in TV already, I focused my modules around that and hadn't even thought of PR until I saw it listed as an option. I thought about it but wasn't sure what would be involved; wouldn't PR be tonnes of public speaking? I decided to give it a go and here I am, one module down. It was probably my best decision at uni to date as it was completely opposite to what I initially expected and I'm keen to do more PR related modules.


Tuesday, 11 July 2017

BCU's PR MA course receives national endorsement by CIPR

As Birmingham City University launches a new suite of postgraduate media courses, its Public Relations programme has received national endorsement by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR).
Along with new courses in Data Journalism and Media Production, the University’s School of Media are hoping its refreshed postgraduate offer will help plug the skills gap in the Midlands region.

Public Relations
Birmingham City University’s Public Relations MA course focuses on the skills needed to communicate on behalf of organisations – such as charities, NGOs and activist groups – dedicated to social change, including health, education, environment, and the public sector.
Philip Young, Senior Lecturer, Public Relations MA, Birmingham City University, said:
“Whether it is persuading people to give blood, eat more vegetables, wear a seatbelt, stop smoking or protect an endangered species, social change is driven by persuasion, relationships and trust. That is what public relations is all about.
“Our course concentrates on developing the skills needed to get causes noticed, to change opinions and then bring practical benefits, all using the latest media techniques. This is PR for people who want to change the world.”

Monday, 10 July 2017

A month of PR interning - reflections of a second year PR student

"My day-to-day tasks were never the same and was positively challenging." says Claudia, a Birmingham City University School of Media student due to start her third year in September, specialising in PR. Earlier this year, she was chosen as runner up in the regional B-Hive creative industries competition, scooping six weeks' worth of paid placements at her choice of top PR agencies in the Midlands. (In fact, the winner and all shortlisted entrants were BCU Media students).

Having completed a month working in PR at two of these - Rewired and McCann - Claudia has shared her thoughts on what she has learnt from this invaluable experience... and how she can apply this to her final year of studies, and beyond.

I've just finished a jam-packed month of interning at two award winning Midlands PR agencies; Rewired and McCann Birmingham.

Both placements were real eye openers into the world of PR and put a lot of what I have learnt in this past year (both in theory and practical modules) into practice. I had the pleasure of working alongside talented individuals who allowed me to work on live campaigns and have a real taster of what PR really is all about.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

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 Beyoncé 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. Beyoncé 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.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

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.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

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. 


Friday, 7 April 2017

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.


Monday, 3 April 2017

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. 


Friday, 24 March 2017

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.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

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.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Love your curves?

Gemma Commane is a Lecturer in Media and Communications here at the School of Media, Birmingham City University, and today we have a guest post to share, on the recent Zara 'Love Your Curves' campaign - and the unexpected backlash the brand received

Article featured on Huffington Post.

The recent ‘Love Your Curves’ campaign by Zara has sparked controversy online, all due to ‘skinny’ models being praised by the campaign for their ‘curves.’ Many social commentators on Twitter have pointed out that these curves do not exist on these models, with some seeing the poster as ironic and amusing; whilst others (both women and men alike) have felt outraged by Zara promoting ‘unrealistic’ body images. It is easy to see why the particular image, captured by a Twitter user, has caused such disagreement, especially in light of other campaigns that celebrate women with curves and try to promote positive self-esteem (i.e. the Dove Self-Esteem Project, etc).


Friday, 3 March 2017

You CAN always get what you want...but you have to ask in the right way

Today we have a guest post from Stephen O'Hanlon, Communications and Engagement Service Partner at Midlands and Lancashire Commissioning Support Unit, on why a comms brief shouldn't be pants...

Recently my wife and I have been trying to help our toddler understand that he will get the things he wants if he asks for them properly. Communicating with toddlers can be trying, to say the least! Often he will stroll into the room and just say ‘hungry!’, so we’ve been doing our best to try and correct this and so far, so good.

Similarly, last night he woke up crying but, when we asked what was wrong, he couldn’t articulate what had upset him. “Was it a bad dream? Your tummy? Your head?” all of which was met with more inconsolable wailing.

What, you might ask, does my toddler have to do with communications? Well, simply this: it can be very difficult to second-guess what someone wants if they are unable to articulate it effectively in a way that can be understood.

And so it is when dealing with a client brief: what they had in mind and what they put in the brief can – and often do – vary wildly.

Your briefs can't be pants

Us creative types are just that: creative. We take the brief you give us and turn your vision into reality – so what happens if the end result doesn’t match what you had envisioned? Often this is due to what’s in your head and what’s in the brief not matching. It is important, therefore, to ensure your brief is as strong as possible. If you have specific ideas of how you’d like to see the work completed, be sure to include them, or at least discuss them, to ensure they come to fruition. Be as specific as you can about what you do and do not wish to achieve, or how things should or should not look, or any particular requirements you have. The more robust your brief, the more likely you will get what you need from the process.

Communication should be two-way

Now, it’s not all down to you: it is the job of the creative to ask sufficient, in-depth questions to ensure brief and vision are aligned. Simply taking a brief without question is sure to end in disappointment for all parties: disappointment on behalf of the client because they haven’t gotten what they asked for, and disappointment on behalf of the creative because they feel they’ve worked hard on what was requested, only to be told it’s incorrect.

So, to ensure everyone walks away happy, ensure you have an active dialogue when submitting or accepting a brief. Take opportunities to really sell your idea to each other to try and come to a mutual understanding that makes the work as powerful and engaging as it deserves to be. Trust me; it’ll save a lot of headaches and needless back and forth.


Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Fake news, facts and the PR agenda

It seems you can't read a news bulletin at the moment without the topic or question of fake news arising. It seems to be a familiar concept for many, but it's only now that people in power, and in the media, are becoming (perhaps overly) concerned about the implications.

The crux of the argument is that news should be factual, that it should be current, relevant and informed. For many, journalism as a whole has been seen as the 'quest for the truth', writing what others do not want written, searching for the hidden angle, uncovering the covered up. Of course, these are ideals, not that any industry is exempt from such admirable aspirations. 

But in essence, news reporting is meant to be about what's 'new' - and whatever value we attribute to this concept. 

The very rise of fake news as a stream of information is perhaps an antidote to the issues that journalism and news reporting face today; that nobody trusts the news anymore. As politicians have fallen greatly out of favour, so too have reporters in the wake of phone hacking scandals and an increased awareness that reporting the news isn't just about reporting the facts anymore and does not come without an agenda.

For a long time now, the PR profession has been considered as the 'dark arts' to the 'truth seeking' journalism counterpart. Spin has been the name of the game and our recognisable role models, for those outside of PR practice, have ranged from the slimey (Alastair Campbell) and the sleazy (Max Clifford) real life examples, to the tyrannical, expletive driven manipulator  (BBC's The Thick of It's Malcolm Tucker) and the hapless label-loving lush (Eddie Monsoon from Ab Fab) in parodistic fiction. 

These are the icons the industry has had on a public level and they have worked to do nothing more than give PR a PR problem. 


Tuesday, 7 February 2017

What IS public relations?

Despite the fact I have worked in the PR industry for over 11 years and now teach its core principles to the budding practitioners of tomorrow, I still struggle to define what PR is.

And I don't think I am alone.

Ask most people about public relations and you're likely to receive one of three reactions:
  1. A blank expression – they haven’t a clue what PR is.
  2. “It’s like advertising, isn’t it?” – they have a general impression that it’s something to do with marketing but not quite sure what's involved.
  3. A slight sneer, as they think of the PR’s of old – Max Clifford, Alastair Campbell and even Eddie and Patsy of AbFab being the main cultural reference points Joe Public has had for PR professionals.
Any of these responses are perfectly acceptable. As I say, I still struggle to explain what I do in a succinct, easy to understand fashion.
And I don’t believe I’m alone. PR has a bit of a PR problem. 
Why? It’s not a new battle, but recently I’ve seen the definition and responsibility of PR challenged. We’ve never had so many routes to market. But, never before has our target end user been so savvy, so cynical or so in control.


Thursday, 26 January 2017

Bravo Bodyform

For years, advertisers of feminine hygiene products have felt the need to beat around the bush. So to speak. Ahem.

Never before has such a company felt comfortable in honestly dealing with the somewhat uncomfortable subject of what happens ‘at that time of the month’. It’s a taboo subject deeply embedded in our culture – so much so, that when women actually talk about their periods, it’s usually in hushed tones and accompanied with an awkward look – and marketeers haven’t been brave enough to talk plainly about mother nature. (Oh, don’t remind us of those awful, patronising adverts for Tampax about ‘Mother Nature coming to town’… *cringe*).
It just hasn’t come naturally. Until now.

Last year, Bodyform broke free of the prudish constraints of feminine hygiene product promotion in a series of vivid, and some would say shocking, ads that show red blood – yes, that’s right – for the first time.
Because women don’t bleed blue liquid, as most the ads would have you believe. It wouldn’t surprise us if children today grew up thinking this were actually the case...
Working on the premise that ‘no blood should hold us back’, using straplines such as ‘women bleed in sports all the time, but it doesn’t hold them back – why should periods be any different?’, the messaging behind their #RedFit campaign is as simple as it is empowering.


James Martin vs. Mums

I originally wrote this blog post when at One Black Bear, just as Iceland first announced that they were ditching their celebrity fronted campaign format in favour of real people.
At the time, they were almost moving back to the long-established ‘that’s why mum’s go to Iceland’ strapline, announcing an exciting new partnership with Channel Mum.
For those not in the know, Channel Mum is a unique coalition of blogger, vlogger and entrepreneurial mums who have pooled their knowledge and content production to now be an enterprise that many a brand is clambering to be a part of. With the emphasis on ‘keeping it real’ and showing and sharing the real lives, interests and experiences of mums today, Channel Mum is the new focus for Iceland’s marketing campaign.
Driven with fresh ads that feature real mums, the emphasis was on being honest and realistic – giving the brand a makeover that aimed to show integrity – and drive sales as a result. It didn't seem to be a fleeting idea either, with significant emphasis on content since the get-go.


Around the same time, Asda unveiled their new ad campaign fronted by Saturday Kitchen’s James Martin. One of the first celebrity chefs to come onto the scene and make a household name for himself back in the naughties, James became the face of Asda’s ads, with the aim obviously being that he brings weight and credibility to the brand – and with the much needed desire to boost sales that had been dire at the time.
He’s an interesting choice too, not what you might first associate with Asda – the ‘saving you money every day’ chain. He has a more mature audience appeal and perhaps takes the brand to a new level, leaving the ads of gnomes in mankinis as seen last year behind.
But which supermarket had the right idea?


Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Ideas, views and news

The world of PR is filled with different perspectives - indeed, PR is all about perspectives, be it understanding them, forming them or influencing them. There's examples - good, bad and unusual - all around us as PR becomes increasingly embedded in our news culture, media consumption and exposure to marketing.

This blog is a space for lecturers and students alike to share, comment and critique PR in practice and to discuss  the issues and opportunities facing the industry today from our perspectives.


Various examples and ideas are discussed in lectures and will no doubt inspire further discussion within this forum and if you're a BCU student and would like to write a post then do so - the more ideas, the more we all have to gain. Just drop me an email, put your post together and we will share your thoughts.

We're also keen to invite guest posts and interview slots with professionals who live and breathe PR and who can offer up their time, experience and perspectives for us to build a portfolio of PR posts that will inform and inspire the professionals of today... and tomorrow.

Post by: Kelly O'Hanlon, Senior Lecturer in PR at BCU

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