Yesterday, I had the opportunity to present my dissertation research at Showcasing Undergraduate Research Excellence (SURE) conference at Bournemouth University. Even though it was an amazing experience, I was terrified most of the time. What if I forget my lines? What if people don’t like my research? So many “What if” questions were in my head.
Students had the chance to present any research they have done while studying at BU, but I decided to submit my dissertation research. On the day I applied to the conference, I had only an abstract and a faint idea of what I was going to do in the following months. It was a work in-progress and it still is. I presented initial findings, because I have done only two interviews. However, I got really helpful feedback and tips, which I can use for my dissertation now.
This conference also helped me to overcome my fear of presenting my own work. I usually don’t have stage fright, but showing an unfinished research was making me nervous. But it was a great presentation (once it was over and I was able to breathe again). I realised that this conference is not a competition, but a chance for students to put themselves out in front of an audience. And I’m very glad I did. Also, it’s a preparation for my dissertation conference in May, which is a part of my mark.
I would strongly recommend to students to showcase their work in front of an audience if possible. Doing presentations helps you to overcome your fear of public speaking and improves your communication skills. Also, it’s a very effective way of getting feedback on your work.
Next stop: BCUR
When I applied to SURE conference, I also submitted my topic to the British Conference of Undergraduate Research (BCUR) that will take place in April in Wales. There will be over 500 students from all over the UK, presenting their studies. Now, that might give me a stage fright. Hopefully, I will have more findings to present on that conference, which is my last chance of getting feedback before submitting my dissertation in May. Keep your fingers crossed for me!
Stepping out of your comfort zone is not easy. Networking, public speaking, presenting; these are all normal fears that shouldn’t prevent you from developing your skills. Everyone can overcome those fears, even if you start with baby steps. Connect with people on social media and start a conversation. Go to industry events and meet new people. Share your work with other people and spark a discussion. Step out of your comfort zone and let the magic happen.
On the eve before International Women’s Day, I am looking at the two campaigns that got my attention since the beginning of this year. Two campaigns overtaking the news and the social media engagement. Two brands trying to change our culture.
Gillette’s new advert about the dangers of toxic masculinity and the importance of setting a good example for young boys has sparked a heated debate online, with some describing it as an “amazing call to action”. Others thought it’s a campaign shaming masculinity and boycotted the brand (most notably Piers Morgan, who possibly didn’t recover from the vegan sausage roll). But, there are no excuses for bullying and harassment, no matter the gender. ‘Boys will be boys’ is a saying that needs to stay in the past. I believe that Gillette took a risk and won the young generation. It took a stand for GenZ and Millennials. By joining the #MeToo movement, the brand captured a new market.
Recently, Nike released its new campaign, showing what ‘crazy’ sportswomen can do. Being emotional and fighting for equality are labelled as wrong. Every time a woman does something that society has predetermined for men, she is deemed crazy. Crazy for thinking she’s good enough. Crazy for thinking she can. Crazy for thinking she has a purpose. Serena Williams, who is one of the greatest athletes, narrates the ad in order to empower women. To motivate young girls to follow their dreams, no matter how ‘crazy’ they can be.
And crazy is not just part of the sport sector. Just take a look at the entertainment industry. Lady Gaga, who was bullied while being at university, achieved something unimaginable. In one year, she won Oscar, BAFTA, Grammy and Golden Globe. Crazy? I don’t think so. It’s called determination and persistence. It’s about not giving up.
Dream Crazier should be applied to the PR industry as well. To all those women, who are afraid to apply to that senior position because it’s a man’s role: Just Do It! Believe in yourselves and show everyone what ‘crazy’ can do.
Mad Hatter: Am I going mad?
Alice: Yes, you're mad, bonkers, off the top of your head...but...I'll tell you a secret.
All the best people are.
(Alice in Wonderland)
Ready Player One! Are you ready to lose yourselves in your own OASIS? If yes, then you have probably heard about the next big thing in the Virtual Reality (VR) industry – the Wireless Adapter from HTC VIVE. The new adapter offers a full tetherless experience, immersing you in a world of its own. Of course, only if you have the HTC VIVE or VIVE Pro headsets.
It looks cool, doesn’t it? But in order to like or dislike a certain thing/experience, people usually need to try it. However, according to a Mintel’s report (2017), 76% of the interviewed people have never tried a VR headset in their lives. So, I decided to check people’s views on social media about this new product and how it has been advertised by the company to potential customers. Surprisingly, HTC VIVE promoted it only on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, so I had limited data to work with.
Where is the love?
By analysing how HTC VIVE tried to introduce the new product to new (or returning) customers, I divided my research into three timeframes – advertising period (the launch of the promo video), beginning of pre-orders period, and the first day of the official launch. The comments, categorised into positive/neutral/negative sentiment, fluctuated in the three periods despite my expectations of full love vibe.
When the promo video was released, I thought this is the most amazing thing in the world. I was like: “HTC take my money now!”, but people were showing mixed emotions. Positive comments were leading, but people were still undecided on how they felt about the product. Why was that? Short answer: the price. Commenters were complaining how expensive the product is. And this might be one of the reason why people dislike the product or cannot decide if they are favourable towards it or not. (I hit the brakes as well, HTC don’t take my money.)
Although, there was excitement when the pre-orders started, negative comments increased. As the product became available, people were more willing to pick a side – either positive or negative. The price was the main issue again, but another characteristic of the product might have started to influence the decision-making – user-friendliness. There were a lot of complaints about the adapter not being compatible with laptops, or certain wires being needed for connection. So, people might ask themselves “Why pay so much (£300!), if I won’t be able to use it?”
What happened after the pre-orders arrived at the customers? The scale between negative and positive tipped further into negative. The two problematic areas that stood out the most during the pre-order and launch period were cost and user-friendliness.
So how does HTC VIVE deal with all those negative comments?
HTC VIVE cuts the cable on engagement
Wrong wires! Apart from comments about the product, I focused on other areas such as customer service, competitors and engagement. Or maybe I should say the lack of engagement. Once the pre-order period started, potential customers were asking questions about the adapter or shipping services, but there was low or no engagement from the brand. That’s when the negative sentiment around the price and the user-friendliness increased. Many people expressed negative views about missing shipment details and lack of information. So why does HTC VIVE not answer (potential) customer queries?
Possibly, this is a communication issue with resources or strategy. Therefore, HTC VIVE should go back to basics – Public Relations (PR) and Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM). The brand should focus on improving its customer service as it can result in customer retention and increased loyalty. Another way of regaining trust of its current customers and proving themselves to potential customers is developing the two-way communication process on social media. With 76% of people not yet adapting VR, HTC VIVE has a great opportunity to redefine their services and use what they sell. They need to ensure they use available channels and sources to answer customers, listen and improve if they want to keep their competitive advantage. If people are not happy with the brand, they will go to a competitor that offers the same or similar products.
Although it’s too late for HTC VIVE to change the structure or the price of the wireless adapter, they should pay more attention to what people are saying and improve the quality of their services. By engaging with their audience, the brand could avoid another wave of negative comments. Innovation is only half the journey, communication is the other!
Mintel, 2017. Virtual Reality - UK - December 2017 [online]. Mintel Group Ltd. Available from: http://academic.mintel.com/display/796267/ [Accessed 14 Oct 2018].
Despite the growth of digital detox, more people than ever are using social media networks daily. Platforms must balance maintaining a cool brand image and continuing to cater for long-term users. A recent example is the new long-form video available on Instagram in an attempt to lure the younger audience away from the rivals YouTube and Snapchat. However, Instagram will stay the app, where people go to upload images of their lunch or recent holiday. Instagram is the platform where you can show the glamorous life you are living and boost your confidence with the number of followers you have. The time of postcards has passed…
That leads me to the first social media project I want to share that impressed me recently:
Have you ever thought that your profile should be perfect and fabulous even if your life is not?
AMV BBDO has created a new campaign to expose the anxiety and mental health issues that come with the pressure on social media. The agency designed a satirical website Lifefaker.com, where people can purchase readymade images that illustrate the perfect life you want to have. There are several packages available from “Even my dog/cat is happier” to “My Unachievable Body”.
The campaign was done for mental health start-up Sanctus.io to raise awareness of the downsides of our overly crafted online profiles, and hopefully change the perception around mental health.
I believe this is such a great campaign that indirectly shows the negative aspects of having the “perfect” online life.
But what about our behaviour on social media? People seem to have an increasingly negative attitude toward social media, but yet, we can’t bear to be free of it.
Fake news, the Cambridge Analytica scandal and Facebook’s loose data protection have been in the headlines this year, contributing to a growing awareness of the usage of social media. But what about the potential destructive role it plays in our lives?
Social Media Reality
The second social media project that amazed me was the 3D witty illustrations by Ben Fearnley from design agency Vault49. They visually communicate the ego-boosting habits and search for validation on social media.
"Each one of these platforms encourages a different kind of communication and the amount of time we spend on social media has skyrocketed. I challenged myself to create a visualisation of how I could represent each social platform user interaction in the most simplistic way that people could relate to and find conceptually amusing at the same time," says Ben Fearnley.
More art illustrations related to the obsession with social media, you can read on Digital Arts.
Despite all the disadvantages of social media, we cannot live without it. It helps you to connect with friends, family, express your opinion and sometimes even find a job. And as everything, social media is good if it is used in moderation. 😉
Do you have a favourite social media project/campaign? Feel free to comment below or send me a DM.
When you don’t have the opportunity to go to Cannes Lions festival and have a cocktail on a yacht in South of France, the amazing Glug people give you CANNT Festival in your city (or nearest city). So last night I attended the event in Brighton.
As I walked into the venue, I got a Hawaiian garland and I instantly loved the event. Hawaiian theme party is my kind of party! There was plenty of time for notworking (something like networking, but funnier as Glug people explain it) before the speakers.
Not surprisingly the topic of the evening was Awards. Are they good or bad? Do they bring you more work or not?
First in the spotlight were Juliet Tzabar and Dominic Minns from Plug-In Media. It’s one of the most awarded agencies in Brighton with 4 BAFTAs, so I was all ears when they started their presentation.
Dominic started with a quote “Award doesn’t change the quality of a book!”, but it contributes to your portfolio he added. It sets your reputation as an expert in your field and confirms the excellence of your work. Juliet explained the internal benefits of winning an award. It motivates the team and makes them feel great about the project. And awards make your mum proud (best feeling in the world). 😊
Matt Baxter from Baxter and Bailey shared a notion from Gladwell that if you do one thing for ten thousand hours, you become an expert. It seems about right. However, he began his presentation with three cons about awards: ridiculously expensive, exclusive and nepotistic. Apparently, it costs almost £900 for one entry at the D&AD awards and to be honest, you like the awards only if you win. So are they really worth it? Yes, because the best thing is that they give you confidence. Awards not only inspire confidence in you, but also in your clients and help them to reach a wider audience with their work.
But what do creative awards such as Cannes Lions mean for the PR industry? PR agencies are failing at the PR Lions as mentioned by Danny Rogers, editor of PRWeek. Several of the Lions were won by ad agencies and only few PR agencies were given a credit. The big campaigns were earned media-led, so it makes you wonder what’s the point of PR if big advertising agencies can produce them. Fortunately, Cannes Lions is not the only place where PR agencies can prove their excellent work. Creativity in PR matters and it should be celebrated (even if it’s not at the French Riviera)!
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