Cohesive Communications Internship

My 5-week internship took place at a PR and marketing agency called Cohesive Communications, who specialise in B2B tech upstarts from around the globe.

I helped out on a number of accounts, from cloud data management vendor Rubrik to IT security solutions provider Barracuda Networks.

My responsibilities included:
– Attending weekly Monday morning catch-ups.
– Attending account meetings, discussing strategies.
– Analysing and tracking client media coverage.
– Informing team of any cyber security breaking news.

Tasks

– Media Relations: I successfully pitched to a number of tech journalists, securing interviews at VM World Europe & Barracuda’s Partner Event in London.
– Completing write ups to enter client into various award programmes.
– Social media research and analytics. Used Buzzsumo to monitor tech based content and influencers.
– I documented the Bike To Work scheme that the company took part in and edited a Vlog style video ready for social media.
– Helped compile a tweet social calendar in the build up to a client event.
– Wrote a blog on the company website about my experiences.

Successful at:

  • Pitching to journalists was enjoyable once I had got to grips with the process.

I didn’t have great amount of confidence from my previous placement so being able to overcome this was a bit positive for me.

From a media relations point of view, I felt I build up particular relationships with certain journalists. Zac Emmanuel from Computer Weekly was a recent graduate so felt like we were on similar levels. It was great persuading the journalists to book in for an interview and tick them off the media list. As I’m sure many people know, it is hard getting a journalist to answer the phone let alone have a conversation with them.

Struggled with:

  • I think because I enjoyed the placement so much, there wasn’t a great deal I personally felt I struggled at – I was always keen to get my teeth stuck into something.

In the first few weeks I was still getting used to things so that was likely to be my most vulnerable patch.

We had a team meeting about content and ways of developing the website. Another intern was there and she was a lot better at brain storming. I didn’t understand the tasks so my points were a bit vague. Looking back on it, it probably would’ve been more progressive to think of loads of ideas and explain how they were relevant. Create more of a discussion.

Other than that I thought it was a fantastic placement and I learn a lot!

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Soil Association – July 2017 

My first placement of the summer was at the Soil Association based opposite the Bear Pitt in Bristol. I worked in the Press Office as an intern where I was delegated a number of tasks.

My daily tasks

The role of a Press Officer is to check news coverage on a daily basis. This is done by using a program called Precise, whereby the user selects a number of publications and keywords to be picked up during a search. From here you can select if the organisation has ‘influenced’ the article and then add it to a database category. In this case it would be adding the article to one of the Soil Association’s campaigns, for example Innovative Farmers of the Organic BOOM Awards.

It is then hugely important to distribute these articles to other members of the team and other people involved with the Soil Association.

The next step would be to check national newspaper coverage such as The Telegraph and The Guardian. Relevant news would be sent out to other members of the Press Team in order to be categorised for future use.

These tasks would often take up most of the morning and early afternoon depending on how much Soil Association coverage there was.

Throughout the weeks I was delegated other tasks such as working on the Organic Newsletter which was published weekly. This involved breaking down the weekly news into a bite size platform for members to read and be informed of up and coming features in the media.

I also started to work on the Food For Life Served Here (FFLSH) Summer Guide. This was another part of the organisation where schools and cafes/restaurants could be awarded Soil Association certification for the food being served.

This was broken down into bronze, silver and gold awards. Bronze would be awarded by changing the nutritional content of recipes, for example lowering saturated fats or sugars. This would be visible for other customers to see and learn from. Gold and silver awards would involve more dedication to achieve. There would need to be a high percentage of organic foods on the shopping list to be used in the menu.

I started writing a summer guide aimed at parents and where to take the kids of the summer holidays. From here there would be a focus on promoting these Food For Life verified restaurants and cafe from around the country. In this case there was particular reference on National Trust sites where the FFLSH award is held at many food establishments.

The Soil Association’s BOOM Awards took place during my placement in Borough Market, London. Me and another volunteer Liam were given the task to highlight the judges’ comments to be issued at the awards and for other journalists to use if need be.

Near the end of my 4 weeks I also worked on content for one of the campaigns called Organic September. Working closely with an external PR agency we were asked to gather case studies for some of the BOOM Award winners that were particularly interesting. This involved browsing each companies’s website and gather as much information as possible. To gather richer data we also made a phone call to each company to ask for specific information.

Finally, I was also given a task to complete for the Policy team. This was to do more case studies for BOOM winners but to highlight the local MP’s of the constituency where the BOOM winner was situated. These case study summaries would be used in letters ready to send to the MPs – pointing out the importance of organic food and promoting this company.

Concluding my placement, I was given an exit interview to discuss my thoughts on the position and how to improve the experience of future Press Volunteers.

What I was good at

Following the meeting it was clear that I was enthusiastic and always keen to take on news tasks. I was also keen in terms of coming in early before shifts and starting the daily coverage. My team skills involving other volunteers was also highlighter as a good skill. I was also told by one of the press officers that I used my initiative which was also good to see. Another big plus for myself was being able to work to a deadline which one of the press officers said I was compete with.

What I struggled with

Being the way I am, I’ve always taken criticism to heart no matter who constructive it may be. My lack of experience was always going to be a big negative for myself but at the end of the day that’s why you’re there, to get experience!

One of the plus points involving my initiative was also a minor downfall in the eyes of the other Press Officers. The reason for this was that I tended to go off on a tangent without asking whether that was the right thing to do. Perhaps that is my predominant retail background where I’ve always had freedom to get the job done where I judge to be acceptable. In this case it was ignoring chain of command and authority. In regards to the Organic Newsletter, I emailed a draft copy to the press manager instead of to one of the press officers to send up to first. A small error but it was things like that that tended to bring me down during the placement.

I also sent an email out to a council member about one of the cafe being a FFLSH candidate – this in tern came back to the press manager which didn’t come back to me in an overly positive light!

Even though I communicated well with other volunteers, I should have been more talkative with members of the Press Team and updated them of my progress throughout the day.

But all in all, I enjoyed the experience and most definitely learnt a lot to help me progress in the future.

Summer Work Placement 

After a very unproductive summer last year, I decided it was time to get as much experience as possible this time around.

This meant that I could enrich my CV with some new positions and contribute towards the key elements of the Work Experience module starting in third year (September 2018). 

My first placement that I have stated this week, is at the Soil Association. The NGO is based in Bristol city centre. They are a charity that focus on sustainability via a number of key themes, from farming to supporting children’s meals at school. 

Working at Waitrose has helped my understanding of the way the Soil Assocation functions. Particularly through the food side of things, since Waitrose sponsor the organisation. The John Lewis partnership have also formed their organic brand (Duchy) through the soil association, certifying many products to ensure they meet the correct standards. 

My second placement commencing in August is a PR company based in Chepstow that specialise in technology, in particular tech start ups.

This will give me a good scope in terms of industry. Two very different specialities from sustainability to technology communications. 

Book Review -The Social Organism, David Luckett & Michael Casey

“We are all, in effect, algorithmically tied to each other by Google”

Oliver Luckett and Michael J, Casey bring us The Social Organism. The book is build upon the foundations of an insightful metaphor, visualising the digital world as if it was a living breathing creature. Luckett and Casey take us on a journey disassembling the online sphere but to what magnitude is this world taking over our lives’?

 

“Facebook, which manages 1.5 billion identities… Google (500million) and Twitter (320 million)”

As the book unfolds, troubling questions begin to emerge. How much trust and responsibility do we actually confide in these corporations? The authors impose Facebook and Google could continue to infiltrate our lives by an array of algorithms that continuously scrutinize our everyday news feeds. So much so that Facebook introduced ‘picture memories’ which are extremely insensitive to those users who have tragically lost a family member in the past.

The book claims to be a ‘A Radical Understanding of Social Media to Transform Your Business and Life’. It also proves that social media can benefit the way in which public relations functions. During a Super Bowl XL match a stadium black out occurred, whereby biscuit brand Oreo ingeniously tweeted “You can still dunk in the dark” resulting in 10,000 retweets and over 18,000 likes in just over an hour. A quick yet witty PR manoeuvre.

“The open petri dish of our noisy, uncensored world of social media”

Social media is a huge part of this book, reiterating the massive role it plays in our society. Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Instagram, the list goes on. Since the release of this book, we’ve all kissed goodbye to the innovative social media platform Vine –  which was reluctantly closed by Twitter.

The social media phenomenon Vine, brought fame to stars like Andrew Bachelor, who were more popularly know as ‘King Bach’. He received a ground-breaking 15 million followers and weighed in with 5.6 billion Vine loops. The app increased his success to such an extent that he secured profitable acting roles in Black Jesus and The Mindy project. This just proves how people can make a living from the online world.

Before you choose to read on, there’s an essential lesson to take from this book. Social media and the internet have the ability to dismantle your life. One wrong move and that post could live to haunt you for the rest of your life.

We’ve all heard about Justine Sacco and her controversial tweet that ruined her life. Similarly, there was a man by the name of Tim Hunt – a molecular physiologist. He was notoriously sacked for declaring women “fall in love with you and when you criticise them they cry” A harmless ‘joke’ during a female talk in South Korea. Sadly, the damage was done, the journalist had already released the story to the media and his career was never the same again.

An all round sophisticated and inspiring read – with a fantastic wealth of knowledge to navigate you around the dense and fast pace environment of cyberspace.

 

 

Word count: 509

 

 

 

 

The Importance Of Blogging 

The Web Log or more famously known as The Blog, is one of the oldest surviving forms of social media. The majority of people have read a blog, but are people fully aware of the true power that comes with blogging?

  • There are currently more than 8 million blogs in the Digi-sphere.
  • Every 7-8 seconds a new blog is created somewhere in the world.
  • There are almost 3 million new posts made every day.

First launching around the mid 1990’s, the blog is one of the oldest forms of social media.  It’s roots are therefore fully embedded in the stimulating membrane of the world wide web. It has been absorbing content well before web 2.0.

If there isn’t any more of a reason to get blogging, then you must seriously be missing the point. While many people invest huge amounts of money in google analytics and paid for advertising, blogs automatically bring more traffic to your website through the key words that Google picks out from websites.

Building your brand image

According to information obtained from a PRCA training webinar: 70% of people admitted they learn more about a brand via it’s blog than through it’s paid for advertising.

This just goes to show how effective a blog can be. The amount of organisations around the world that invest large amounts of money into advertising and promotional services, when there’s a free alternative right on their doorstep. This reinforces how PR is adapting to the technological developments of the digital age.

With free blogging websites available such as Blogger and WordPress, there’s no excuse to get set up on the vast landscape surrounding blogging.

If you want to go the extra mile, you can pay for your own domain name, however this is only optional, you can include your company name in the WordPress header.

Case study

Once upon a time, there was a rather large fellow by the name of Mark price – the managing director of Waitrose. Believe it to not, his unflattering body image actually benefited his retail giant in more ways than one.

Waitrose were keen advocates of the blog, eager to post on a daily basis. However, they were missing one vital point, engagement. In order to create a successful blog, it must contain a certain style and personalisation.

Waitrose began by throwing out content left right and centre. This resulted in maximum effort but little engagement. This brought about a sudden change in tactics. The clever team and Waitrose thought up an ingenious strategy of creating a blog about Price and his quest to lose weight. Because of the witty blog title, The Chubby Grocerthe site took off and engagement doubled. They integrated the story of him losing weight as well as discussing the new weekly Waitrose recipes.

This was a great way of promoting recipes from the Waitrose magazine and giving Mark Price good publicity. All round fantastic PR. This is a perfect example of how companies like Waitrose are adopting to the fast paced environment of the digital age.

References

PRCA Training Online Webinars: http://www.prca.org.uk/training/courses

My Public Relations Journey 

I was first introduced to the exciting world of Public Relations last year during the ‘Introduction to Public Relations’ module. For a number of weeks, I struggled to distinguish the true understanding of this industry. Was it just a fancy name for marketing?

Our aim for the year was to pick and monitor an organisation over a scheduled period of time. Having worked for Waitrose for the past 5 years, I chose to see how renowned owners John Lewis communicated as a successful retailer. This involved the way in which the partnership reacted to various issues that the media broadcasted to the masses.

As the weeks progressed, I felt myself becoming more curious than ever and wanting to learn more about the subject. Christina Zaba and Richard Bailey quickly engaged us with vital information regarding greater chances of employment after graduation. Employers are looking for generation Y and Z which makes us quite valuable considering we’ve been brought up with the technological advances in social media and the web.

I found that Public Relations was far from marketing. It was an exhilarating industry with something for everyone. Surrounded by vast areas of information with new and exiting techniques growing by the day. This is what has given me the inspiration to pursue a career in this fast paced landscape.

Progressing into my second year, through studying digital communication management, I have continued to absorb as many techniques and information as possible. In terms of my progress outside of the UWE workshops, I have taken full advantage of the PRCA online webinars. Considering students get a phenomenal deal of £12.50 for a yearly membership, it is an offer you simply cannot refuse. Bearing in mind each webinar averages £95.00! I hope to complete the 18 webinars over the next few months to claim the reputable qualification from the PRCA.

Over the course of my degree, I feel my preferred style of learning has involved a mixed approach. I deal well with theory based work but benefit hugely from implementing practical based work in a professional environment. This is a great way of putting what you’ve learnt from the classroom to progressing toward a real life scenario – hugely useful in future careers.

My future work experience includes a four week placement at the Soil Association in Bristol – a non profit sustainable PR company that has established itself in organic farming in and around the UK. I’ve also lined up some experience at a tech PR company in Chepstow called Cohesive. I’ve always been interested in technology so I’m willing to fully immerse myself in the opportunity.This gives me a variety of experience in different areas of the public relations industry, to hopefully widen my employability for when I graduate next year.
cohesiveSA

 

I’ve also been given a chance to work on the Waitrose internal magazine: The Waitrose Chronicle. Considering I’ve been with the partnership for 5 years it puts me in a good position to progress internally – an opportunity I plan to pursue in the ongoing years.

word count: 499

 

Social Media Policies 

For my blog post this week, I got inspiration from Timmy Garrett’s intriguing book review, ‘So you’ve been publicly shamed’ by Jon Ronson.

It brings reference to a particular case involving Justine Sacco. She decided it would be a fantastic idea to post something rather unnecessary. Robson believes Sacco should be forgiven for her actions and that ‘She didn’t do anything wrong’ I personally think that is outrageous. Whether it’s a joke or not, you cannot be stupid enough to post something so insensitive for millions of people to see.

 

justine-sacco-tweet

Picture credit: realitywives.net

We see this a lot throughout social media, where people just do not think. That second of poor judgement could ruin your career and impact you for the rest of your life.

Enter Emily Thornberry. Back in 2014 during the Ed Miliband days, Thornberry was part of the Labour shadow cabinet until she was involved with some shenanigans on Twitter.

thornberrytweet-2

Picture credit: The Guardian.

 

In hindsight, I feel she was slightly hard done by considering  she didn’t criticise the house in the subject of the photograph. Many users felt she intended for the image to alienate the individual from the public domain, identifying this person as patriarchal and have a working class status. This could potentially tarnish Milliband’s chances of making it into parliament.

These two examples show clear evidence of how cautious you need to be on social media channels. Do not put anything out that could effect your online profile or company reputation.

 

Communicating via social media has become like second nature, but at what point should you restrict the type of content you post?

From a Public Relations stance, it has always been about how a company communicates with the public. Whether it’s a press release, a campaign broadcast or an event promotion. Reputation is a massive concept in Public Relations.

The CIPR published a Slideshare presentation on social media guidelines for people working in Public Relations. The listicle below explores the what not to do on social media:

Don’t

  • Forget that everything you put out on social media will represent your brand image. Content posted online cannot be undone, the digital world is unforgiving so one wrong post could spoil your reputation.
  • Make you audience feel uneasy. Develop a writing style that does not force your customers to do anything they don’t want to do. Creating a palaver on Twitter, such as an argument, could also scare your audience off and prevent them from following your campaign.
  • Publicise client or company information. It is an absolute must to ensure this information is not revealed to the wider public. It is ethically wrong and irresponsible to share client’s private information online or with people face to face.
  • Be false. It is massively unappealing to produce fake blogs and unauthorised material. These blogs are used to promote a specific product or service, the common term being known as ‘Astrosurfing’ or as the CIPR puts it “the practice of falsely creating the impression of independent, popular support by means of orchestrated and disguised public relations activity”.

Word count: 510

References

Boffrey, D & Helm, T (2014) The Guardian. Available from:[https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/nov/22/labour-war-emily-thornberry-tweet-rochester-strood].

CIPR, (2013) CIPR. Available from: [https://www.cipr.co.uk/content/policy-resources/toolkits-and-best-practice-guides/social-media].

Newman, J (2015) Rolling Stone. Available from: [http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/jon-ronson-why-we-should-forgive-infamous-tweeter-justine-sacco-20150331].

Walsh, J (2014) The Guardian. Available from: [https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/nov/21/emily-thornberry-resignation-explain-outside-britain].

 

The Idiot Proof Guide To Snapchat 

Since the progression of ‘web 2.0’,  we have seen vast developments and changes in applications and various social media tools.

Two of the biggest and most prevalent social media applications are Snapchat and Instagram.

Snapchat

Since originally launching in 2011 as ‘Pictaboo’, the application began with a measily 127 users and after a year of the founders arguing over equity, the application was later renamed to ‘Snapchat’ in 2011. By the summer of 2012, Snapchat had finally found it’s calling with an exuberant 100,000 users – the app quickly spreading throughout cyberspace.

How does it work?

Snapchat’s intended usage was for participants to send ‘snaps’ from user to user, with a timed feature. This meant the user could select for the image or video to be seen for up to 10 seconds. Therefore, the content was unsalvageable and could only be seen on a one time basis.

However, the catch 22 was screenshots. The opposing user could screen shot a certain image or video to save the content permanently. As the app has continued to evolve, the opposing user is now notified if their content has been screen shot or viewed by followers.

The app enabled the user to send characterised text or other keyboard features such as emojis and other phone symbols.

Snapchat Stories

One of Snapchat’s unique selling points (USP) was the Snapchat story. This gives you the control to create your own story of events, using both pictures and video. It works like a running thread of content which lasts up to 24 hours from the posting date and time.

As an account holder, you are also able to save the story to your mobile phone and keep as a permanent copy. Which enables you to keep the content after the 24 hour time out has been exceeded.

Geofilters – otherwise known as Location filters

Another USP for Snapchat is the interactive filters which can be used on various smart phones. This makes any content produced in this manner Snapchat exclusive, which is easily recgonisable among other social media.

 

dog

 

These filters were initially introduced for humourous purposes and to help friends interact with each other in a comical and entertaining manor.

The filters worked via face recognition, transforming an individuals face, such as superimposing an animal’s face with an animated tongue integrated (see image). One of the many exciting filters added to the system.

 

 

 

 

 

The team at Snapchat have thought of even more ways to encourage cash flow into the company. According to TechCrunch Snapchat has 2 types of filter; the community Geofilter  and the sponsored filter. This can come at a cost if you choose to go down the marketing route.

Community filters are free but cannot include logos or any marketing content. For example, an ideal design for a community filter is the name of the town or city or popular location in the world. This is triggered via the location features enabled on smartphones to identify the exact location of an individual.  img_0437

The sponsored Geofilters enables big brands to cover large distances with marketable content which of course involves money- a clever tactic from Snapchat. The image below explores the marketing many companies used for Black Friday.

The minimum range parameters for these filters to be accessed is from 5000 square feet to an astonishing 5,000,000. There is also a minimum time frame of 30 minutes to a maximum of around 4 weeks. You can design your own filter here by directing yourself through to the Snapchat website or click here for more details.

snapchat-sponsored-geofilter-1-1img3-copy

So how much does it cost?

Considering how much flexibility the application gives you from a marketing perspective, the price is quite reasonable. I did a small grid reference around my house in Bristol and found it would cost roughly £16.00 to have the filter active for 1 hour. It was a basic PNG image with small icons inside it.

 

img2img1

On the opposite end of the spectrum, it would cost around £3000.00 to have the filter active till the end of the month (21 days) which seems a lot more expensive in the grand scheme of things.

How does this complement PR?

This is an absolute godsend for PR professionals, particularly for campaigns and promoting an up and coming event.

The Sponsored Geofilter would be extremely effective for a PR stunt or campaign. It would enable the public to engage with the event interactively and share the information on other media. This would work particularly well if a hashtag took off and as a result, began trending on Twitter and Instagram. Running the filter for just 1 hour (£16) seems like a feasible alternative to promoting your event.

The idea you can save stories gives you the accessibility in reposting to other social media  such as Facebook, Twitter and other popular platforms. The large advancement means you can create a social media loop whereby the user is directed around each of your social media channels.

If it is a PR campaign you can encourage consumers to ‘add us on Snapchat to see more behind the scences of the campaign and what else we are up to’. A fantastic way to consistently put out content for customers to view back to back. It should also encourage users to follow you on your other platforms, increasing awareness of your campaign.

It is obvious that Snapchat is a great tool for eager PR people but with the constant shift of activity in the digital age, Snapchat’s reign could soon come to an end. According to Owen Williams (2017), since Instagram coincidentely acquired their own ‘story feature’, more people are returning to Instagram to do the same thing they originally became obsessed with on Snapchat. Either way, both platforms give plenty of food for thought among practitioners in the public relations world.

This again reinforces how PR is adapting to the digital age, through the various advancements which are happening on a monthly basis. New applications and social media tools are always being launched and integrated with current successful media. This shows the versatility of PR and how it can be easily moulded to majority of new resources and materials in the ‘digisphere’.

Word count: 1030.

References

Crook, J (2016) Tech Crunch. Available from: [https://techcrunch.com/gallery/a-brief-history-of-snapchat/slide/15/]

Williams, O (2017) LinkedIn. Available from: [https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-im-leaving-snapchat-so-all-your-friends-owen-williams-1?trk=v-feed&lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_search_srp_content%3B%2Fyk7XfR6Ucmms7UXwBsVwg%3D%3D].