Thursday, 29 October 2009

And the winner is.......

The most hectic week of second year PR has just been and gone. A competitive pitch, a university presentation, a guest lecture, an enterprise evening and a trip to London all squashed in to one week. The passing of this week means that now I will be dedicating more of my time to work on Student Union projects, as well as putting together the team that will lead the PR unit through the year.

On Monday the PR students at Leeds Met were treated to a lecture from head of communications for Leeds City Council, Andy Carter. On the surface it seemed this would probably not be as exciting as Carl Christopher from Playstation, who intrigued us with talk of Richard Benson and The Face Magazine, however by the end of Andy's talk I was ready to welcome Leeds County Council in to the Zeitgeist.

The whole talk centred around how Andy's team had dragged the council kicking and screaming into the digital age, with its very own virtual newsroom. Andy talked of how some senior councillors were very much stuck in their ways. Most were happy enough to have the tone of their day dictated solely by The Evening News, and that the concept of an online newsroom was alien to say the least. We were shown the falling readership figures of our regional newspapers, which amongst other factors including the rise of the internet, staff cut backs and shifting audiences had taken the council's comms team from press office to digital news room.

All in all a surprisingly entertaining lecture. I went in expecting the content, although very relevant to my PR degree, to be rather dull and it wasn't in the slightest. Andy even threw in a few jokes, and although I find the line between a funny lecture and just sounding like David Brent a tricky one to walk, Andy kept the cringe worthy gags down to an absolute minimum and was genuinely entertaining. He also offered a placement opportunity which I have since applied for.

After a busy middle of the week which included a presentation on persuasion and rhetoric, in which we scored a healthy 2:1, concentration turned to the upcoming competitive pitch. Described by Lucy Laville as "A unique opportunity and a first for the PR course" competition between the level two PR students was sure to be fierce. Nathan Lane from Ptarmigan Bell Pottinger was offering five students the chance to become the very first "student consultancy". Working on real clients and being mentored by the experienced Bell Pottinger team this was a chance that few could afford to pass up.

The brief was to produce a campaign for Nestle who were launching a new character, Bluebell the Milkybar cow, as part of their CSR initiative to reduce the packaging in their Easter egg range. To view our presentation please click here. Obviously you will not get the full effect of being guided through the wonderful world of Bluebell by myself and Steph, but it may be helpful to fellow students.We are still awaiting the result of the Bell Pottinger pitch, it's like the last day of the football season when your team is teetering on the edge of relegation and the other team hasn’t finished playing yet. Ironically I'm a Newcastle fan so this analogy doesn't work, but we live in hope.

Now everything is quiet on the university PR front, I can concentrate my efforts on the PR unit. We have some really exciting projects coming up and by the end of next week will have filled all the managerial positions. We are currently working with the universities counselling department to raise awareness amongst young men of the facilities available to them, if they are suffering from any kind of mental illness. It's the first campaign that I have worked on that in essence could really change people’s lives, this for me makes it a rather exciting one. As well as this we are running the Hall Representative election process, the first of its kind at Leeds Met. Finally we are part of the national attempt to break the world record for planting the most trees in an hour, a world record, a PR's dream!!!

Anyway must dash as I'm meeting my beautiful girlfriend (she still hasn't let the swine flu article go) for some tea at Browns. Yum.


Thursday, 8 October 2009

Monday Monday

I had a bloody cracking Monday this week, the best Monday for ages. Let me share the higlights.My usual Monday morning involves driving my spectacularly better looking over half (I'm still in the dog house after the swine flu article I wrote) to work from Doncaster to Wakefield, she has just been appointed communications assistant at Wakefield NHS. After I drop her off, I immediately switch frequency from the babbling buffoonery of Chris "my definition of comedy is playing annoying sound bites of Strictly Come Dancing judges laughing" Moyles, to the voice of reason and some underrated witticism of Nicky Campbell. The topic of discussion was David Cameron's plans to cut the incapacity benefit by £25 and enforce more stringent tests to vet the supposed incapacitated masses. I'm all for getting the lazy sponges who abuse the system out from in front of their 50inch tax payer bought moron boxes, they can always Sky plus the Jeremy Kyle show.

The worrying part of the discussion came from a man in his fifties who had lost his sight two years previous and after a long career working in the manufacturing industry was forced to claim benefits. He told Nicky that he was "suicidal" over the thought of losing £25 of his £92.50 that he gets weekly. Obviously the gentleman was a legitimate claimer and Nicky tried his hardest to re-assure him that Cameron's proposal would only affect the fraudsters. It was clear that Cameron's plans had worried many and although some of his messages seemed to have been lost in translation, I do think he should have set clearer guidelines in his proposal before scaring the wits out of the genuine cases. Politics hasn't previously been a passion of mine, but I have to admit as uncool as it is I am starting to get rather interested in the political ding dong between Brown and Cameron.

Monday ended as beautifully as it started, I shared an evening with my gorgeous, intelligent and funny girlfriend (You can almost hear the shovel). We attended a Lecture by the head of sponsorship and promotion at Sony, Carl Christopher. He was a refreshing change from the usual "suits" who give our guest lectures, dressed in Fred Perry cardigan and black jeans, he reminded me that P.R is cool. With talk of Richard Benson and Kate Moss he explained how his team took the Playstaion brand from the niche markets to the global stage. Playstation embraced counter culture, made journalists speak their language and gave consumers an experience not just a video game. Carl crammed Playstations lifetime into an exciting one hour dialogue, he talked of the rise of the celebrity and how brands no longer have mystery. These days Playstation will use Kate Moss to launch their products, like in the case of the Singstar game, whereas ten years ago they would use niche magazines like Vince Noir's favourite "The Face". Instead of sending their newest games to influential journalists to create the "water cooler moments" they now inundate premiership footballers with piles of equipment.

Carl concluded by offering his opinion on what is the best personal attribute to have in PR, he told us that honesty and transparency will get you a long way, as long as you are driven of course. All in all a very interesting evening.

The group pitch for Ptarmigan Bell Pottinger is coming along very nicely, watch this space!