On Thursday 19th April,  over 250 Birmingham City University staff and students gathered to relax with some therapy dogs and find out more about the great work them and their charities do, all in aid of National Stress-Awareness month. With both staff and students feeling the pressure of deadlines around this time, these lovely canines couldn’t have been more appreciated!

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The event, run by a group of five second year Media and Communication students, welcomed three therapy dogs to the City Centre Campus – two dogs from Therapy Dogs Nationwide, Merryn and Lewis, and one from Pets as Therapy, Joe.

Beth Morgan, one of the team members organising the event said, “We put this event on to raise awareness of stress at university and the valuable work therapy dogs do in helping mental health”, with grace Thomas, another team member adding, “Being students ourselves, we recognise how stressful upcoming deadlines are at this time of year. We wanted to put on an event to highlight the importance of taking a break to better your mental health.”

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Throughout the event, as well as taking time out to relax with the dogs, there were many opportunities to talk to the volunteers from Therapy dogs Nationwide and Pets as Therapy, learn more about the work the dogs do, and how you can get involved yourself.

The event had continued popularity throughout the day, with over 250 people taking time out of their busy university day to ‘De-Stress with Dogs’, and an impressive amount raised, of over £175, to be donated to the therapy dog organisations involved, Therapy Dogs Nationwide and Pets as Therapy, to help continue their important work.

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While the real hard-working therapy dogs were taking their break, you might’ve spotted the team’s giant pupper on a tour of the campus, continuing to raise awareness, and brighten students day when they least expected it. With thanks to the team’s sponsor, Katz Dancewear and Fancy Dress.

 

Post by Emma Benningwood, BCU Media student

The reduction of plastic straws within some of the biggest restaurant chains is certainly shaping up to be an example of a good PR movement – something I’m rather fond of, I mean, why else would I be studying it?

This year has seen many major restaurant’s bidding adieu to plastic straws in an effort to end the ‘plastic tide’ of waste that is polluting the oceans.

These changes in the plastic straw spectacle come a year after parliament faced increased pressures to tax straws in a bid to reduce the quantity of consumption, although nothing was finalised at the time – however, it appears that brands have taken it upon themselves to step up and help the environment.

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The latest restaurant to announce the switch was McDonald’s, who confirmed they would be trialling paper straws in their stores in a bid to join the movement; it is likely that other fast food chains will shortly follow suit. McDonald’s are having an inventive and productive PR season, most recently with the launch of their Monopoly campaign (ever successful) and now with this, it can be said that many of their competitors will be looking for a chance to match their reputation. (Right, Burger King?)

Other companies ditching the plastic for paper include Nandos, All Bar One, Pizza Express, Wagamama and London City Airport.

This string of events perfectly marks the ‘PR’ chain reaction. A term coined by yours truly.

A chain reaction is defined as “A series of events, each caused by the previous one”, I’ve just put the word PR in front of it, makes sense, right?

When one large brand follows, others are bound to follow suit.

The first brand to instigate the movement effectively becomes a leader in the process and is known for their ingenuity and statement their make. Brands who imitate these actions are unlikely to receive such a level of high praise – this is because it becomes almost expected of them to emulate the approaches and positions of another.

Surely, this expectancy falls somewhere within their CSR (corporate social responsibility) right? Or is it just not wanting to face the backlash of not following suit?

When one company drives for change, others must subsequently follow in their footsteps, hence, the PR Chain Reaction.

In simple terms, observing the PR chain reaction, brands are not likely to see a magical PR turn-around in return, but it will certainly lend a hand in avoiding backlash for being behind the times.

Though the PR chain reaction is a term coined by myself, this idea of a reaction makes sense.

In today’s society, PR can be seen as a game of cat and mouse. Brands are often seen to be chasing each other to try and be the best, striving to go above and beyond their competitors; let’s be honest, that just how business works.

The chain reaction, whilst not allowing a company to be left behind, is something brands should aim to start, placing themselves at the top of the spectrum, to become the leader. If a brand becomes the first organisation to release a ground-breaking campaign, and others follow their footsteps, simply put, it is going to be a PR dream for the organisation.

At the end of the day, it’s all about thinking outside the box, being creative and taking risks.

 

Post by Erin Smith, final year BCU Media PR student, class of 2018

International Women’s Day,  Tuesday 8th March 2018, was celebrated at BCU with a week-long collection of workshops, guest speakers and film screenings.

A royal visit from Prince Harry and Megan Markle to Millennium Point honoured the day itself, with the visit aimed at encouraging women to pursue careers in STEM – science, technology, engineering and maths – subjects. The celebrations addressed and raised awareness of issues relating to gender equality, women’s issues and the shortage of women in higher education.

Some highlights of the BCU activities started on the Monday, with a launch of  a ‘women of Eastside’ photo project’ at Curzon building. This explored the lives and experiences of women living, working or visiting Eastside.

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On Tuesday 8th the momentous day began with a ‘Gender, sexism and attachment theory’ workshop  hosted by Lydia Guthrie. Lydia hosted an interactive workshop around the theme of attachment theory, in particular the myths of maternal deprivation if a chose to opt out of becoming the traditional stay at home mum. Lydia also addressed the guilt surrounding women leaving children and in general sexism in the workplace.

The Big Read also took place on the Parkside atrium, with staff & students – many from media –  reading aloud from women writers every 15 mins throughout the day. There was also a pop up reading room with research and debate going on.

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The following day ‘He named me Malala’ was screened in the IMAX Auditorium; this film follows the story of Malala Yousafzai, the women’s’ rights activist who fights for all women to have an education in her home country Pakistan. Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 and is now a noble peace prize winner studying at Oxford University.

On the Thursday, a women’s creative entrepreneur lunch/ networking event was held and hosted by Nathania Atkinson. The aim of the session was to empower women and help them in their pursuit to become of entrepreneurship. Later that day, Sista’s in the Struggle was hosted by Kehinde Andrews to discuss the radical feminism of the Black Panther and feminist activism.

It is so important to keep fighting for equality like the Suffragettes did over a hundred years ago. Today, the battle fought by the #MeToo movement (which actually began in 2006 by Tarana Burke) allows women to open up about sexual assault and harassment. This movement led to the Hollywood #TimesUp campaign with many women this year speaking out about being victims of such abuse.

The finale of the week came from Alumni guest speaker Deb Leary OBE who is the founder and CEO of the international company, Forensic Pathways. She spoke of the successes and challenges of women in the workplace.

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On a wider scene, International Women’s Day also coincided with the Gender Pay Gap Report, in which major companies from all offices and fields in the UK, covering more than 250 employees had to file reports with the Government Equalities Office (GEO). The gender pay gap made for depressing reading, where companies such as HSBC, the BBC and others, revealed huge discrepancies in the pay divide. Phase Eight being one of the worst offenders, where women earn 65% less an hour than men.

As a woman about to enter the commercial world – the topic of equality is critical – let’s address it now and not in 100 years’ time as they predict.

 

Post by Elena Frankland, first year BCU Media student