For the Love of PR – Valentines Day Stunts

Valentines Day, love or hate it?
Personally I’m neutral. I think it’s a nice idea, but now four years in, my boyfriend and I stopped doing anything for it after our first.
One of the girls I work with hates it. And another’s eyes light up as she gushes about the hampers of roses, teddies and Ferrero Rochers she gets every year.

But, in honour of tomorrow’s debatable celebration, here’s some of the good, the bad and the ugly of Valentines related promos and PR stunts, past and present.

But first a cute puppy.
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Take-Out Make-Out
Yesterday Australian smoothie chain giant, Boost released a Valentine’s Day promotion via their Facebook page. Apparently, anyone who takes their date to Boost and gives them a “passionate 5 second pash” (and they add “no pecks!”) will get a free smoothie with any purchase. My heart goes out to all the bandana wearing employees who tomorrow will have to stop their blending in order to witness (and count. Five seconds, remember?) cheap-skate couples make out for a free Mango Magic.
And while we’re on the topic of takeaway chains and their V-Day contributions, even more bizarrely, Pizza Hut has released a signature fragrance, “Eau de Pizza Hut.” Want to win a bottle? Head to their Facebook page and write a 50-words-or-less love letter containing the 355955-pizza-hut-fragranceword “smell.”
Last year in the US, they released the $10k “proposal pack,” complete with limo service, fireworks, engagement ring (a red ruby, of course) and a $10 pizza and breadstick meal.

 

Britain’s oldest lovebirds start tweeting
Together for 82 years, and aged 100 and 99, in 2012 Lionel and Ellen Buxton took to Twitter on behalf of wedding video company ‘Shoot it Yourself’ and spent Valentine’s Day sharing the secrets of a long and happy relationship. They haven’t logged on since that day, but you can still see their tweets here: @lionelandellen
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Barbie and Ken’s reunion
Probably one of the most famous PR stunts based around Valentines Day.
In 2004, Mattel and/or little girls got bored of Barbie’s long time (we’re talking 43 years) squeeze Ken, and had her ditch him for a new doll: an Australian surfer named Blaine.
Blaine didn’t really take off though, so in 2011 it was time for Operation Make-Up. Starting on the 24th of January that year, billboards started appearing in LA and New York, sporting Ken’s face and pleas such as “Barbie, we were made for each other.” It worked, and on Valentines Day it was announced that Barbie was taking him back.
Kencampaign.grid-4x2And one for the haters
Valentines still really not your thing? Last year New Zealand radio station offered one lucky(?) couple a free divorce for Valentines Day. The station would pay for the filing fees on one condition – the person who wanted this freebie would have to deliver their spouse the news on live air. Despite harsh criticism, the stunt went ahead.
But in the end it backfired – the competition was “won” by a lesbian woman, who confused the hosts when another woman, rather than the “Andy” they were expecting, answered the phone and called them “f***ing idiots.” The gay couple later explained that they entered (and won) in order to prevent the stunt going ahead as planned and hurting someone.

Hoping everyone has a lovely day tomorrow. Try not to be too bitter, but no over the top PDAs either, even if it means missing a free smoothie.

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I come from a land down under

The majority of my readers seem to be from the UK, so take this as an education on another aspect of the gigantic and sparsely population place I call home.
For any Aussies, here’s my two cents worth.

Tomorrow is Australia Day.

australia-day

A.K.A Citizens’ Day, Invasion Day, Bogan Pride Day, aaaand a few others.

Which means it’s time for the usual wave of blog posts, articles and tweets suggesting that the idea of celebrating our place of birth is ridiculous and only for the uncultured, and we should instead see ourselves as citizens of the world. On the flipside, our Facebook newsfeeds are full of photos of Australian flags and kangaroos, many with captions of varying political incorrect-ness depending on your demographic.

Personally, I like Australia Day.  I don’t get blind drunk on our national holiday, but I do like an excuse to eat copious amounts of BBQ food and lamingtons, and wave around a cheap flag with friends and/or family. Preferably near a pool.

Because I am proud of being an Australian. And contrary to what a lot of people seem to believe these days, that doesn’t mean I’m racist or homophobic. I don’t condone Southern Cross tattoos. Despite my partner having recently returned from Afghanistan as a member of the Australian Army, when laws change or a horrible crime happens, I don’t turn to Facebook to express that this clear violation of my rights is most certainly not what our troops are fighting for overseas.

I don’t even claim to live in the greatest country on the planet: I’ve seen the rich history of Europe, and the indescribable beauty of New Caledonia and Vanuatu. Every country has something amazing that others don’t.

But I’m grateful to have been born into a country where as a girl, I can do more or less whatever I please. Where there are cures for so many illnesses which in other countries could kill. I love that our entire country has less than the population of Shanghai, and the relaxed (and clean!) atmosphere it allows us, no matter how many disagree. I find enjoyment in informing foreign visitors about the terrors of dropbears and hoopsnakes. And yes, I’m one of those people who like the Dick Smith ad released for Australia Day this year – I mean come on, it was hardly that bad. (uncensored version at the end of this post for your viewing pleasure.)

Fairfax journalist Ben Groundwater published an article last week saying he doesn’t agree with the idea of having pride in ‘the dumb luck of having been born on a certain piece of land that then becomes “yours.”‘ (Read it here: http://www.smh.com.au/travel/blogs/the-backpacker/why-im-not-a-proud-aussie-20130116-2cs1z.html#ixzz2IyEwwxsn )

But that’s just it. Australia Day for me isn’t about declaring how proud I am to be Australian, though I am. It’s about celebrating how freaking happy and grateful I am that I live here. Hence the official slogan: Australia Day. Celebrate What’s Great
I’m not racist. I don’t want to stop the boats. I’m just the girl who in her last year of high school spent many weekends in Byron Bay’s best backpacker bar, Cheeky Monkeys, screaming the words to Men at Works’ “Land Down Under” with her German and Peruvian friends.
Now here’s Dick
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Skydiving – done

736676_10151339884974648_565849113_oJust thought I’d let you all know I made my bucket list one item shorter today, and went skydiving!
Although I think I know where all my money is headed because it was so addictive.
Planning on doing a guided solo jump next!

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The Competition: My 2013 new years resolution.

I first started to realise the scale of the competition on the 7th of August, 2011. It was at the open day of the university I so desperately wanted to be accepted to. More specifically, it was an information session on Bachelor degrees in journalism and communication, the course I so desperately wanted to study. It was a huge room, and there were literally hundreds of kids my age sitting there with their parents, soaking it all up. The presenters were amazing, and we all got swept away. But as the speakers stopped, it dawned on me: if I wanted to be sitting in this room the next year, I had to be better than these kids. Not all of them, but enough.

I went to a tiny high school, where there were only 40 people in my graduating class, and everyone knew their place in the “smart” scale. Mine was in the top three. Positions would swap and change and be vied for between the three of us. But we were above the rest. I was smart.

 But sitting in the auditorium of competitors, I had no idea of my chances.

2012 came, and there I was, a student of that university. The first lot of competitors have been whittled away. Some will probably make their way back up through Arts, but in the meantime, I’m part of the Bachelor of Communication, class of 2014 cohort.

The smugness that came with that didn’t last long. A few looks around lectures and it didn’t take long to realise that there were still hundreds of us. And that was just at my uni, not to mention the other two major universities in Brisbane. And then there’s the rest of the state, and the country.

These are the people who I will be competing against for jobs.

And I’ve gotta be honest, I’m not in the top few in this competition. Despite my distinction average gained in my first year, I have no practical experience, and we all know that in PR that’s what matters. Plenty of other first-year-going-on-second-years already have experience. Some have done brief work experience stints, others have ongoing internships. Some got it via Daddy’s contacts (its who you know, after all, so no judgement, just envy) while others are just super motivated go-getters who take advantage of every opportunity.
Then there are the models. Seriously, there’s an over-representation of girls who are literally models in my classes. I’m not saying they get gigs based on their looks. I’m saying I’m envious because I’m pretty sure it’s easier to look professional and be confident when, unlike me, you have a clue how to do your hair and makeup properly.

Then there’s me. I alternate between being under-confident, and just plain lazy. I have good intentions and wild inspirations, but just never get around to acting on them (except in one case, where I ended up on a coffee/interview meeting with arguably the most  famous/important Muslim woman in Queensland. I’ll write a post about that later actually, it was a good story.)

Anywho, in 2013, this stops.
I will stop saying “I don’t have time” and “they want someone more experienced.”
I will make it to more uni Journalism and Communication society events and start networking my ass off.
By the end of this, my second year, I plan to be much more competitive.

And I will work out how to do my hair in a decent bun.

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Cutting ties… well, sort of.

So, in following some intelligent advice, I’ve deleted all the posts that were obviously written when this blog was just an assessment piece for one of my uni courses.

I’m a bit sad to see them go to be honest, because I thought some of them were rather well written, but as the advisor said, they were just tying me to uni and that particular course. I suppose there’s nothing to say they really were my true views and opinions, but simply writing what I wanted the tutor to hear.

By removing anything explicitly saying where I study, who my lecturers were etc, I’m stopping myself from being put in a box with all the assumptions of whose views I might actually be expressing, and also saves my university from any liability in the chance I say something stupid.

That said, my blog looks a little empty and sad now, so I guess it’s time to knuckle down and start posting much more often.

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Hello again

I know! I didn’t think that would happen either!

So a lot has happened since my last post.
The boyfriend got back from Afghanistan, and its so good to have him home again.
I decided to stay at my new job after all, and accordingly learned to be organised enough to catch two trains to Graceville every day.
I saw one of my best friends for the first time in over a year since she moved to England for a gap year.
And uni is over until late February 2013.

So I am (if everything goes to plan from here) a third of the way through my degree!
I’m a bit terrified that in two more years I’ll be qualified and out and about applying for real jobs without a great deal of experience, instead of traipsing around to restaurants with my reasonably impressive hospitality resume and picking up an interview everywhere I go. But I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it, right? In the meantime I’ll just have to look for opportunities in everything.

Now that uni’s over, I have a ridiculous amount of spare time on my hands. I haven’t had a class in over a month and my last (ok, only. I love you communication) exam was 3 weeks ago, and as usual, things have kind of gone like this:
So instead of scrolling through tumblr and constantly clicking refresh waiting for internet traffic to slow down so I can get to the newest episode of Scandal, I’m going to do something productive with all this time sitting in front of the computer.

First, I’m going to sort out my posture. My old band conductor would be ashamed if she could see what I looked like 10 seconds ago.
Secondly, I’ve decided to keep on with this blog, and not let it die like the I-don’t-even-know-how-many I’ve had in the past.

I’m also going to start being brave and actually putting the link out there so more people find me, which is a little scary but otherwise what’s the point right?

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Why PR?

Since this is supposed to be a blog about my “professional development” in terms of PR, it probably makes sense to include a post on why on earth I’m heading down this path rather than that of teaching, nursing, or brain surgery.

Long story short? I’m not entirely sure.
From the age of 12, I wanted to be a journalist. Than when I was 14, I came across a UAC (QTAC’s New South Wales equivalent) guide, and saw that the University of Wollongong offered a dual degree – a bachelor of journalism combined with a bachelor of communication. I wasn’t entirely sure what communication was, but I thought it sounded interesting and would help getting a job if I had both. I sought out the same thing in Brisbane to be closer to home, and that was the plan.

Then gradually I started losing interest in journalism. I think a bit of that came after two family friends died in the 2007 Newcastle floods: by 6am the day after Mr and Mrs Jones’ car was found washed up near the river, the media was at my grandparents’ door asking all sorts of questions – the answers to which they didn’t listen to anyway it seemed, because the papers were full of all sorts of nonsense about the sort of people they definitely weren’t.

THEN I watched a movie – can’t even remember what it was now – that made me decide I wanted to be a publicist. And THEN the first ever series of the Gruen Transfer came out. So I was set on Communication instead. Still not sure how I came back to PR.

So here I am. Though looking back I was always doing PR, in my own way. Through all my school years I was often a diplomat, running back between groups of students and sometimes teachers, trying to put forward one view or another (sometimes a little less professionally than others… there was one occasion during my final week of high school which involved me charging across the school in a bikini and blue hula skirt to explain to various groups of my classmates why the way we were spending the fundraising money was the best way), was often a representative for my poorly-reputed school in public, and administrated the Facebook page of the youth mentoring program I was part of.

I’ve also been waitressing for a few years now, which is another PR job in itself – staying cheerful, smiling and answering any questions people and just generally may have can get difficult when it’s 10.30pm, you’ve been on your feet for over 6 hours, table 2 has been waiting too long for their cheese platter and the bartender just wants his cigarette break.
My first waitressing job was working for a chef who was a perfectly lovely person, who just happened to go totally off his nut when he was stressed. I hadn’t been there long before I was the face of the Golf Club at functions – the party would have almost nothing to do with my boss on the night, and if they did it would often result in me having to play charming and sort out some dispute that came up when my boss snapped at someone out of frustration.

So what’s next? Ultimately, I want to go into corporate or government public relations, although next year I’m planning to start some advertising subjects so that might change the direction a little. Before that, an internship or too and as much work experience as I can. We’ll see I guess (:

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