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

Ahead of the next BCU open day this Saturday, hear from two Birmingham School of Media students on what to expect:

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Jack Walton: Earlier this month, myself and fellow Eastside PR member Jemma Lowman volunteered to work the undergraduate & postgraduate open day for the School of Media. The day was filled with meeting new people, a very achy jaw from so much smiling and also learning new skills and seeing different parts of the university campus that I had yet to discover (even though I’m a second year student!).

The day started just after 9am with an official briefing from Kelly. We were given schedules of how the day would run; this was super exciting as this was my first time working an open day and also my first time even attending one for the School of Media. I made the decision to come to uni quite late, so I didn’t get to experience an actual open day event at BCU myself.

Our job was to document the day as it unfolded through our social media channels, mainly being Twitter and Instagram (please give these a follow if you haven’t already!). We posted photos of the potential students, short videos of the workshops and quite a few selfies were taken too… any excuse to take a few extra selfies is always a good one!

The first tour of the building that Jemma and I went on was really interesting. I got to see numerous TV studios that I had never stepped foot in previously, heard from lecturers on different subjects such as photography, TV, journalism, music industries and PR. Just the vast number of modules we have on offer at the school is pretty impressive and means there is something for everyone. The amount of people with parents was a great turnout considering this was the 2nd open day of the new semester.

My workshop was journalism, new media and PR. I had the pleasure of helping out my PR tutor Kelly; she certainly kept me on my toes with the panda themed task we had (don’t ask!). It was lovely meeting students interested in all things PR who already had ambitions to become PR specialists. Many had questions which I answered through my recent experiences of creating campaigns and completing placements at PR agencies within the city.

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Jemma Lowman: As a broad course student, I had seen the television studios beforehand so had a good knowledge of the studios in order to answer questions from visitors. As part of the day, I attended the different workshops – Radio, Television and Events and Music Industries – in order to capture the workshops both live on social media and in photographs for future reference. Whilst at these workshops, I even learnt some new tips and tricks from each lecturer (assignment deadlines, here I come!).

As I had been to a BCU Open Day before attending the university, back in 2015, it was so surprising to me about just how much had changed in the open day layout. The taster sessions are a fantastic opportunity for prospective students to have a go at something to do with the field they are interested in.

I always remember a student ambassador taking time to talk to me and show me around throughout the day, which encouraged me to choose BCU as my first choice (and obviously, the amazing facilities helped with that too!).

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We both really enjoyed our day working on behalf of Eastside PR and we look forward to future experiences to put our PR studies into practice.

 

Find out more about why a BCU open day and visit to the Birmingham School of Media is not to be missed.

 

Register to attend the next open day here.

 

 

On Monday 30th, I was given the opportunity by Prova PR to attend the launch of the brand-new MG ZS. The launch itself took place at Whittlebury Hall in the Training and Conference Centre, which had a show room feel displaying the cars and visually pleasing graphics, giving us further information.

As a PR student, it was an eye-opening experience to attend the launch, as previously I have helped to organise events like this and witnessed the build-up but never got to see the final result. And as I was first to arrive, Aimee gave me a sneak peak of where the presentation was going to take place before all the journalists arrived!

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The presentation began with an introduction from Matthew Cheyne, Head of Sales and Marketing and followed with a talk from Carl Gotham, Head of Design at MG Motor. Both of them spoke about how important the design of the ZS was to the brand calling it ‘A new era’ for MG, and “a great drive designed for UK roads and UK drivers”.

The MG ZS is a compact SUV which is a “premium product without the premium price tag”. The car itself has three different driving modes: Urban, Normal, and Dynamic: all of which I got to test out when I took it for a drive!

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Whilst at the launch I was introduced to different journalists from around the country, such as Luke Edwards – a freelance journalist, who gave me his opinions and feedback on launches such as this one. It was great to understand different perspectives of launch events and what they believe makes a particular launch stand out from the rest. Such as the launch for the MG ZS took place in the countryside where the roads were quiet meaning they got plenty of driving time, compared to a previous launch he’s attended for another car brand where it was based in the city and the driving time was reduced due to traffic.

It was great to meet Aimee and Georgina from Prova PR who told me about how the event was pulled together and their roles in the launch. I also spent time with people from the in-house PR at MG who provided me with advice that will be extremely valuable in my future PR career.

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By the end of the launch I was convinced I needed to invest in an MG ZS of my own and walked away with an extremely exciting press pack which included MG merchandise along with a press release and promotional film.

 

Post by Kate Harper, third year PR specialist at Birmingham School of Media

On Saturday (14th October 2017), I watched Birmingham City University open its doors for the first open day of  the autumn, welcoming a diversity of potential media students in to experience how we #DoMediaDifferently here at the Birmingham School of Media. All of the students were brimming with curiosity and interested in finding out what BCU has to offer. It was strange for me as the roles were reversed – I was in their position only six short months ago! I’m now four weeks into my first year here at BCU and I was on hand during the open day to help guide students who are in the same situation I was in not too long ago.

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 To kick things off, we began the first group tour, viewing all four industry standard studios here at BCU. This included: Studio D, the news studio (which was one of the things that impressed me the most on my open day back in June), and here it was explained that students use this in TV production but can also experience it by taking part in the Scratch TV society. Studio B is our impressive green screen and home of Milo – a motion control camera used for filming CGI animation – Studio C is used for drama with movable sets and finally we went to Studio A, which is where students learn how to produce, direct, vision mix and put together productions.

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We then travelled up to the photography studios which created a massive buzz from all the budding photographers in the room. Although, I think after walking into the room and seeing the artwork our previous students had produced,  even the people without initial interest were inspired and keen to get involved.

Following a brief talk by Julian Kilsby, Senior Lecturer in Photography, we were given the chance to learn how to ‘take the perfect selfie’ using the studios lighting equipment and three glamorous mannequin assistants.

Next up, media taster workshops! I dived into two of the four that were on offer; Radio production first off then I joined in with Events and Music Industries.

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 In the radio workshop. we all had the chance to work in pairs to create a piece of content (as you would if you took radio production as a module or specialism). Students and parents went online to research content together then went into the booth to record their clips!

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After dropping some tracks in the studio, I slipped into one of our editing suites where a group were clicking away on their Apple Macs, working on an events and music industries task. Students were asked to put together a press release about their favourite artists and Matt Grimes talked through the unique facilities that BCU offers in order to get students #IndustryReady whilst Duncan Sedgwick checked on people’s progress.

Meanwhile, students were also able to attend a Journalism, PR and New Media session where news values were discussed and stories and social posts created in less than 30 minutes, whilst other visitors were running things in Studio D, putting on a news programme.

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Zooming out of the workshops, I managed to catch one of three course chats where we were given by Head of School Sarah Jones and BA Course Leader Vanessa Jackson, as well as other key members of the lecturing team. These talks provided a comprehensive overview of how to take advantage of the facilities, what opportunities could arise whilst studying here and why BCU media #DoMediaDifferently by encouraging students to embrace being innovative.

Specialism leaders then gave brief talk on what their subjects were about, encouraging anyone curious to approach them afterwards to discuss ideas and questions further.

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I really hope that everybody visiting had an awesome time and learnt something new, I know I certainly did.

Here’s my favourite tweet of the day from a father of (hopefully) a new 2018 fresher student:

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There are two more open days coming in November, on the 4th and 25th, where prospective students can come and see for themselves everything Birmingham School of Media has to offer – and to take advantage of a unique opportunity to take part in hands-on taster workshops in a broad range of disciplines. Find out more and register here.

 

Post written by Hannah Kent, first year BCU School of Media Student