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. 

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.

 

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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.

 

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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].

Book Review – David Randall – Great Reporters

An inspiring and thought provoking read from one of Britain’s most iconic journalists

Following from the must read The Universal Journalist, Randall brings us the insightful Great Reporters. A timeless echo of history, remembering the legends of reporting throughout the years. While The Universal Journalist was a very much how-to guide, in Great Reporters, Randall reinforces the dedication of the reporters and the hostile environments of war reporting.

 

The book puts emphasis on the struggle of war reporting and the attributes and skills needed to be a successful journalist – how to stand out from the crowd. Determination and perseverance are clearly highlighted by Randall. From Floyd Gibbons surviving nine wars with his eye blown out in the field, to Meyer Berger revising the ‘Eye graphs’ to secure his entrance into the battle field. The author’s passion and dedication to the industry adds inspiration and a great incentive to gain a career of similar stature.

Randall takes us back in time through historical events that have helped shape the journalistic industry of today. The heroic William Russell is described as being ‘the first journalist to cover a conflict’ Throughout the Crimean war until sadly passing away in 1907. Great Reporters helps explore how much journalism has changed and how it will continue to change in the future. One chapter briefly discusses Russell’s salary of being an appalling £600.00. When in fact the average journalist nowadays earns forty times more than Russell at £24.000 per year.

As the historical themes continue to roll out throughout the book, David Randall brings significant reference to the events leading up to the terrible and tragic events which unfolded throughout Germany from 1941 to 1945. What could have happened to prevent one of the world’s most horrific genocides. Enter George Seldes, “A reporter who got up the noses of the high and mighty” The chapter speaks of world war one and president Hindenberg serving as the second president of Germany. Seldes and three other correspondents ignored the travel ban in Germany and decided to track down Hindenberg to interview him. The US army heard of this and threatened them with breaching military law if the ground breaking interview with Hindenberg was published.

Seldes claimed in his autobiography “I believe it would have destroyed the main planks on which Hitler rose to power” This is a iconic and remarkable moment in history. This could have prevented the damaging and destructive nature that came with the rise of Hitler. Leaving a chilling hindsight that such events may not have happened if the interview was published. Those six million innocent men, women and children may have had their lives spared from the effects of the mind numbing holocaust.

How a London Furniture business did the most ingenious PR stunt

On the 25th November 2015, the Nill’s furniture shop in Edmonton North London was vandalised by three young men.

The over night break in disrupted the Turkish owners during the opening period of the new furniture store. Dispute this unwanted event, all but one piece of furniture was recovered from the spray paint.

Since visiting the area, I discovered that this piece of vandalism was completely staged by the Turkish owners, who thought it would be the best way to get publicity for the new store about to open.

What a fantastic way to get media exposure! Especially as most of the damaged furniture was recovered, making it even more of a stunt to pull off and salvage stock.

 

 

The world of 360

Digital media has been greatly influenced by latest revelations of technology. This includes filming in 360 and the development of virtual reality handsets. The world of VR is a new development and only time will tell in terms of the pros and cons drawn upon by consumers.

Today I attended the talk about filming in 360 from two companies: Chromatrope and Rock of Eye. They discussed 10 things they had learnt from filming in 360.

There were a few interesting things that I would like to reflect on. Glen from Rock Of Eye discussed the making of the drama ‘Echo Chamber’ which captures two people’s experience of dementia – quite a clever idea in itself. One of the biggest issues from a directing point of view is that the director cannot actually be on set. This is of course quite problematic as the director usually needs to be in the thick of it – helping to smooth things along.

This film involved shooting with a Go Pro camera. I believe Glen claimed they shot with 4-6 Go Pro cameras at a time. Must have been complicated to ensure everything was functioning correctly.

One of the biggest topics up for debate was the differentiation between 360 and VR. I can see where the confuse arises but the best way to think about it is the idea of VR solely forming from gaming. An interaction with a game and psychically engaging with a device or person. 360 is where video recordings are viewed in every direction and recorded at the same time, shot using an omnidirectional camera or a collection of cameras.

Relating this to my own experiences, I have noticed this has been implemented by Facebook. Where a user is able to take an image and uploaded it through a ‘360 view’ where other occupants can move the camera to embark upon their own 360 journey. Other examples would include the ‘panorama’ option on mobile cameras, where you can perform a 360 image by slowly moving the camera.

How much can we trust social media?

With the results from the US election, people from around the world have taken to social media expressing their shock in Mr Trump becoming the next president in line from Obama. There has been much debate about possible sources influencing the general public’s opinion of who to vote. Although it seemed as if everything was piled again Mrs Clinton after the news broke of her dodgy emails. Trump was always going to be at an advantage.

Latest trends in the media

 

This being said, Mark Zuckerberg the CEO of Facebook has been accused  in having an influence on the recent results of the US election – leading to the rise of Trump. Zuckerberg’s Facebook algorithms were under question with rumours hinting at news feeds being solely dominated with Republican content which is quite significant considering 62% of Americans get their news from social media. Of course Zuckerberg denied these claims despite there being claims of bias earlier in the year.

This shows how social media can affects the opinions of the general public – especially in this case.

There was also more of a problem with ‘fake news’ and these outlets being verified on Facebook. This made it quite unethical that these companies were making money from ads on Google and Facebook when in fact the news being sourced was untrue. This makes it hard for us to trust social media? That blue verified tick can be misleading. It is up to yourselves to research a story and decide your opinion on the matter.